West Coast Extravaganza

Monday, May 3, 2004 12:52 PM
I think it's time for my obligatory new topic of the quarter.

So, in celebration of getting a new job as a "slightly more than minimum wage lackey" or "teacher," I decided to go on a quick jaunt to California, visit friends, and visit places I haven't seen in 18 years. Oh, and by "teacher," I don't mean, like, certified with a classroom or anything. I'll just be working with science education enrichment programs and things that travel to real classrooms with real teachers. So, y'know, no undue respect or anything, please.

Most of my reservations are made and whatnot, but I'm still looking for some advice from those who are better traveled than I or more familiar with these places than I am. I imagine a lot has changed in 18 years.

In particular:

- Mapquest says that it's approximately 1 hour from San Jose Municipal Airport (SJC) to Six Flags Marine World. Is that an accurate assessment for a Tuesday afternoon at about 1:30 PM? I wanted an earlier flight, but I'm not going to complain about $110 r/t airfare.

- Is 4.5 hours enough time to get a season pass processed and ride Marine World's unique rides? I'll be there Tuesday, June 1 if that's useful.

- Mapquest indicates it's a 6 hour drive from San Jose to Anaheim, with Six Flags Magic Mountain being an hour's drive north of Anaheim. Is it unrealistic to expect to arrive at Magic Mountain from San Jose in five hours if we were to leave San Jose at 5 am?

- Magic Mountain closes at 6 PM. What's up with that?

- I've a reservation at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel for 4 nights, Wednesday through Sunday. This hotel appears to be within walking distance of the Disneyland Resort. Is that true? Also, is this hotel skanky? I have an incredible rate of $45/night.

- I've planned for one day at Knott's Berry Farm. I think it'd be wise to go to DLR on Thursday, June 3 and get one weekday visit in. Sunday, June 6 is a half-day. So, that leaves Knott's for either Friday or Saturday. My preference is leaning toward Saturday, but I have no idea what Knott's is like on a crowded day. So, any advice? Is there a marked difference in attendance between a Friday and Saturday? Also, they haven't posted their park hours yet. What should I expect?

- Is leaving Anaheim at 6 or 7 PM on Sunday and heading north to San Jose a really stupid idea?

- My flight leaves at 12:45 PM from SJC -- what other interesting things might there be to see in San Jose or nearby that I can take in early that day?

- What is the meaning of life?

Okay...so, my dorky questions are out of the way. I don't feel too dirty.

*** Edited 5/3/2004 4:53:43 PM UTC by Chernabog*** *** Edited 5/3/2004 4:54:58 PM UTC by Chernabog***

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Monday, May 3, 2004 1:38 PM
I can't answer most of these, but in planning my family's recent trip to Anaheim I discovered that the Disney Faithful *love* the HoJo Anaheim. Love love love it.

My sense is also that if you have to be in either Disneyland or Knott's on a Saturday, you'd rather it be Knott's.

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Monday, May 3, 2004 1:50 PM
I stayed at the HoJo, loved it, free internet! And yes, it is w/in walking distance. You can see space mountain from the hotel as well as the fireworks.

My only question is why are you flying out of SJC? Why not fly out somewhere cloase to Anaheim like LAX (or I think there is even another airport closer to Anaheim)?

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Monday, May 3, 2004 2:24 PM
I've been reading a lot of the reviews of the Howard Johnson and they all seem to be positive -- but the rate of $45/night just makes me a bit nervous, I guess. I understand it's also right by I-5, but that doesn't seem to be too much of a problem for most people.

I suppose I forgot to mention that I'm making the trip to Anaheim with two friends from San Jose, so that's why I'm flying there instead of straight to LAX/SNA/LGB. Also, airfare to those three airports was at least twice as expensive as airfare to SJC.

Thanks for the replies so far :)

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Monday, May 3, 2004 2:53 PM
Okelie Dokelie, lemme see where I ca help

Chernabog- Mapquest says that it's approximately 1 hour from San Jose Municipal Airport (SJC) to Six Flags Marine World.

'Tuan - I would give it an hour and a half. It takes me 40 minutes to go from Sunnyvale to San Francisco and that is my best time to date. Go to Vallejo and add another 30 minutes. Plus if you take 101 all the way there might be some intermittent traffic.

Chernabog- Is 4.5 hours enough time to get a season pass processed and ride Marine World's unique rides? I'll be there Tuesday, June 1 if that's useful.

'Tuan - That is more than enough time ;)

Chernabog- Mapquest indicates it's a 6 hour drive from San Jose to Anaheim, with Six Flags Magic Mountain being an hour's drive north of Anaheim. Is it unrealistic to expect to arrive at Magic Mountain from San Jose in five hours if we were to leave San Jose at 5 am?

'Tuan - It took me 4.75 hours to drive from SF to Magic Mountain. Ofcourse it is a little more direct than San Jose since it is easier to catch the I-5, so I guess they may be right

Chernabog- Magic Mountain closes at 6 PM. What's up with that?

'Tuan - Dunno. you know them blasted SF folks are screw'd up ;)

Chernabog- I've a reservation at the Howard Johnson Plaza ..........

'Tuan - I have no clue

Chernabog- I have no idea what Knott's is like on a crowded day. So, any advice? Is there a marked difference in attendance between a Friday and Saturday? Also, they haven't posted their park hours yet. What should I expect?

'Tuan - I went on a Saturday in the dead of Summer and the longest line was Ghostrider at 20 minutes. Does that help?

Chernabog- Is leaving Anaheim at 6 or 7 PM on Sunday and heading north to San Jose a really stupid idea?

'Tuan - er.....ummm......no..I think

Chernabog- My flight leaves at 12:45 PM from SJC -- what other interesting things might there be to see in San Jose or nearby that I can take in early that day?

'Tuan - Not a damn thing. San Jose is as boring as they come. On second thought there is a tech museum which I hear is totally radical and junk (my friend's words)

Chernabog- What is the meaning of life?

'Tuan - Eat, Shyt, Die...

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Monday, May 3, 2004 3:29 PM
It also takes me about 1.5 hrs anytime to get from San Jose to SFMW, regardless of what route I choose to take.

4.5 hrs. will be enough for everything at SFMW, though the ops and some of the policies were horrid last year. I've never processed there and honestly, there really isn't too much that's unique. Anyone know if Zonga's going to be operating more than 1 train?

If you need a couch on which to crash, I live about 4 miles from SFMW. I'll probably be there that Tues. (well, and everyday) too, if you want a riding buddy.

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Monday, May 3, 2004 3:38 PM
Since I'm not a local I'm not sure how practical this is. But SCBB isn't all that far from San Jose. I think it took my under 45 minutes the one and only time I did that drive. Don't know what time they open or if it would be possible to get there, ride the coasters and get back to the airport for a 12:45 flight. But the Dipper should not be missed IMO.
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Monday, May 3, 2004 8:49 PM
Congrats on your new job! Yes, you ARE a real teacher. You deserve the title, since you got the job.
-Just a friendly congrats cause I think education is so darn important. Enjoy your trip! :)
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Monday, May 3, 2004 10:18 PM
Maddie; to burn off that morning, look into the Winchester Mystery House, or the Rosecrucian Museum. Both are fun, and can be done quick.
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Monday, May 3, 2004 11:02 PM
LOL, Robobob....we tried in vain to go to the Rosecrucian Museum....alas, they were closed. WHEN we go back, I really want to do the Mystery House as well, that just looks like TOO much fun...

Of course, the NEXT time, we won't *arrive* in the San Fran area on the LAST day of NorCal's coaster season, LOL...when's the Gilroy Garlic Festival anyway? :)

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Tuesday, May 4, 2004 3:34 AM

ApolloAndy said:


Anyone know if Zonga's going to be operating more than 1 train?


It's probably not going to happen until a little later in the season sorry to say. But the wait shouldn't be too long even with one train. Hopefully Roar is running two trains though, because even when the park is empty, the wait has been 40minutes with one train.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2004 8:26 AM
The wait shouldn't be too long? I know the ride has been all but neutered, but it was still an hr. wait most of the days it was running (that I was there) last summer.
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Tuesday, May 4, 2004 12:19 PM
Ooh, the Winchester House sounds fun -- and kinda creepy. I'm not so great with haunted places, but what sort of ghost haunts at 9 am on a Monday morning, anyway?

Zonga is what I'm looking forward to most at Marine World because I've ridden Roar's kinda-twin at Six Flags America. I'm also interested in Medusa, but it seems to be only a slightly atypical floorless coaster, so I won't lose sleep over missing it. Of course, it also seems like it'd be the most reliable coaster and have the best capacity, so I'm most likely to ride that one repeatedly.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2004 1:33 PM
Oh but Maddie you should lose sleep. It is Kraken's twin in terms of the most flawless looping coaster ever built. Best capacity....meh, they stack even with two people in line. Still worth it though. Our Roar is also better because A) it's ours :) and B) those MF trains. As for Zonga, that ride is going to surprise you!!!
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Tuesday, May 4, 2004 3:07 PM
Yeah, Maddie. Roar is particularly sweet, and Medusa West is wonderful. A great ride.... with a sea serpent!!!! ;)

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Tuesday, May 4, 2004 3:53 PM
Do I lose geek cred for disliking the MF trains from GCI? I mean, they're pretty and look amazingly graceful navigating the course...but those lapbars are just not any fun at all.

The east coast Gorgon is saved by its zero-g roll. The rest of the ride is fun and solid, but not mind-blowing. I am interested in seeing how a sea-serpent rides compared to the cobra roll, as well. The straight drop out here on the west coast seems like it'd be more fun as well, as the only redeeming feature of The Ride Formerly Known As Batman: Knight Flight was the straight drop off the brake run.

I've driven by Kraken once or twice, but couldn't justify the admission to ride it. There are many better experiences to enjoy in Orlando and so I'm always considerably less focused on coasters while there. I expect a trip to Disneyland to be the same, for the most part.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2004 4:59 PM
I'll be the devil's advocate here and throw in some contradictory experience for ya ...

I was staying right near San Jose's airport (and PGA) and I made it to SFMW in an hour easily, with Mapquest directions. This was on a Tuesday, and I left mid-morning. Coming back was a little rougher, as I came back through rush hour. SFMW can be done in that amount of time. I will totally disagree on Medusa West. I absolutely loved Medusa East, it's my #1 looper, but Medusa West just bored me. I don't know if it was the "parking lot coaster" aspect, or what, but I found nothing particularly exciting or worth that much fuss about it. Roar on the other hand (although I hadn't ridden the SFA one) was great! V2 was definitely unqiue if you get the seats that stall you upside down on the front "spike", and Zonga was the worst roller coaster I have ever been on. If you think you can handle headbanging pain (and if you're around 5'8") be ready to experience something compeltely beyond your realm. I can stand just about anything (even enjoy the occasinoal SLC and boomerang) but Zonga was absolute torture - I banged my head on the chain lift for gosh-darn's sake!!

Magic Mountain closing at 6 means you'll have more than enough time to do whatever's open until about 5pm, then go get in line for X. That's my best advice on that park (X's line does close early, so check out the sign posted outside before you ride Viper, they're real close together). Also, if you've never been to SFMM, get a map beforehand if possible and study it a little - the park is VERY confusing to first-timers.

As for what else is in SJ - PGA is located about 10 minutes drive from the airport. A nice inverted, an Invertigo, an early B&M standup and some other fun rides and it's a great way to spend the time you're waiting for your flight (I believe it opens at 10, so you could do 2 hours there, then head over to the 'port).

These observations based on a late-March trip to California last year, take them for what they're worth! Hope you have a good trip, and congrats on the new job.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2004 8:48 PM
Andy, the wait for Zonga wasn't all that bad this last summer. I went about 15 times from June to August, and only waited over an hour on one trip. Usually the wait was 10-30 minutes.

Impulse-ive, I can see how you would maybe find Medusa boring in comparison to the east coast version, but ours is *different.* It's not as out of control, but rather you get lots of floating and a better second half IMO. I would not say Zonga is the worst ever, although it has good and bad days. You have to sit in an odd numbered row, and in the first or last car. Heat and cold really have a strong influence on the ride, as well as the wheel condition. I wouldn't say it hurt more than Revolution at Magic. Just my opinion though...

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Tuesday, May 4, 2004 9:02 PM
A little off-topic here, but while Kraken itself isn't worth the price of admission, SWO is more than worth it. Check it out. :)

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Tuesday, May 4, 2004 9:25 PM
I went 6 times all in one week in August and it was almost never running and when it was, it was frequenetly around the 1hr. mark.

I personally really dig Kraken and have no love for Medusa West. The trench/tunnel work on Kraken, the better setting and the second loop give it a significant edge over Medusa.

Last season, Medusa West had it's third train in storage whenever I was there, and they still managed to stack for long periods of time.

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