TR: SFMW, 4/25/03 - Zonga's Opening!

Associated parks:
None

Saturday, April 26, 2003 9:14 AM
Day: 4/25/03
Place: Six Flags Marine World, Vallejo, CA
Weather: Mid 50's, slight sprinkles.

Yesterday, while killing time back in California before going back to
Washington, my non-coaster enthusiast friend Paul and I went to SFMW, since
I knew that it was scheduled to be Zonga's opening day. We arrived around
5:45 PM, which would give us just over 2 hours in the park before it closed
for a private radio station event.

After walking in, we immediately went over to the new Zonga plaza. SFMW is
really going to have to do something to replace the Roar queue - while the
crowds were light, it'll be a big problem when the park is more crowded.
Zonga was running empty trains for a while, as it had been raining earlier -
due to the tire-driven lift hill, Zonga can not operate in the rain. While
waiting, we decided to take a spin on Roar. Roar is still a great coaster,
although the springs in the lap bars still aren't strong enough to stay up
thru the entire course. However, the shed is still one of my favorite
elements on any wood coaster, as well as the pop of air that is encountered
right after entering the shed.

Zonga was still not running, so we went over to Medusa. While the floorless
concept works well in the front row, it is lost in the rest of the rows.
Ride was smooth and relatively unimpressive, with the exception of the sea
serpent element, which still kicks butt to this day. While we were climbing
the lift, we saw that Zonga had people in the queue and full trains, so we
ran over to it.

Zonga is a coaster that has always intriged me. From the first time I saw it
in a photograph, I knew that I wanted to ride it. When I found out that it
was being relocated to SFMW from SFAW, I was incredibly pleased, as I had a
feeling that the cooler climate would lead to it running more often than in
the heat of Texas. The bright blue color that it is painted is a stark
departure from the yellow track and the royal blue supports that it had
while in Houston, and the blue track and white supports while it toured the
fair circuit in Germany. After a 30 minute wait or so, I boarded the front
row of the third car.

The new harnesses (manufactured by Larson Int'l, who also made the Flying
Scooters ride at PGA) are quite comfortable - well padded, with grab
handles. After dispatch, the train starts up the spiral lift hill. SFMW
didn't do anything to attempt to clang from the anti-rollbacks, which are
quite loud. After the ascending 1/2 circle, there is a brief section of
straight, upward track before the top. The drop, while 9 feet shorter than
it's original incarnation (according to reports), still packs quite a punch,
diving down and to the right. The loops (yellow, then green) are full of
hangtime at the top, and are quite interesting since they're closer to
circles more than most of the loops out there. The mid-course brakes (all
three of them) are very interesting, since as the train enters them, the
train is leaning to the left. After the first brake run, the train dives
down and to the left, and does a figure-8 type maneuver to enter the third
loop, which is the red loop. A run up to the second brake run - again,
tilted to the left - and then a dive out into the fourth "loop" - while it's
painted purple, I hardly consider it a loop - it's more like a 1/2 loop
followed by a corkscrew type element, and easily my favorite element on the
ride. A couple quick turns, and then the final brakes.

Overall, I love Zonga. It is a great combination of elements with the design
of Schwarzkoph. I think that provided SFMW can keep it running, it'll bring
in the crowds. However, I did notice that some people were walking off the
ride and complaining about headbanging - I didn't notice any.

Mike

+0
Saturday, April 26, 2003 10:58 AM
All the more reason to get lap bars!

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"Jessica, you're turning me into a criminal, when all I want to be is a petty thug." -Bart Simpson

+0
Saturday, April 26, 2003 11:12 AM
At least it doesn't have shoulder restraints *and* lap bars like another certain slaughtered coaster I could name...

How fast was the loading on the coaster? I'm heading up to ride it tommorrow morning.

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Evanescence-My Immortal. Coming to a rock opera near you...

+0
Saturday, April 26, 2003 12:15 PM
I've heard this ride's nothing but a glorified fair ride. Is this true? Or are people just blowing smoke?

Thanks...

+0
Saturday, April 26, 2003 12:31 PM
Who cares? If it's a fun ride, then it's a fun ride...

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Evanescence-My Immortal. Coming to a rock opera near you...

+0

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