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Re: Photo TR: Andy's California Adventure

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:22 pm
by The Great Zo
Part 2 -- Six Flags Magic Mountain / West Coast Bash Day 2
September 9, 2018

I've spent my whole life going to Cedar Point, a park that has billed itself as "America's Roller Coast" and the "Roller Coaster Capital of the World," among other things. Yet in those great days of the coaster wars, it was a property on the other side of the country that always seemed to be the foil to my midwestern home park's claims. In recent years, you probably won't find many arguments as for which park is the more well-rounded, or has the better overall collection of coasters. Still, when I'd heard even recently of people who considered this Californian destination their favorite park, I just had to see for myself.

How would Six Flags Magic Mountain hold up? Did we have a Six Flags day?

Welcome to Day 2 of West Coast Bash. Let's start with the agenda.

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So, this one was a really, really early morning -- a solid hour of driving to get from John's place to Six Flags in Valencia. Or is it Santa Clarita? Eh, whatever. It's in the desert north of LA somewhere.

Before we even got to the gate, I ran into an issue. In six years of traveling with a Gorillapod for my camera, and going to tons of theme parks every year (usually with TPR) I ran into some overzealous security who wouldn't let it in. "We don't allow selfie sticks." "That's not a selfie stick." "Well, we don't allow, um, anything that connects to a camera." Whatever. With the West Coast Bash event ending at 8PM, I probably wasn't going to get many night pictures anyway. I took the Gorillapod back to the car. We're gonna dock a flag for that, so we're down to five.

Check-in was next, and man, Robb and William have some epic levels of patience. "No, the registration table is not quite ready yet, we'll let you know when it is!"

So, once we got in, it was off to begin our ERT! What better place to start than on Twisted Colossus? Very good ride. Best ride in the park. We even dueled for most of our ERT rides, or at least came close to it! It looks like it's tough to get the drops to match up exactly, but for the most part it was within a second or two.

We got a spin on New Revolution -- or is it Revolution? Or Revolution Classic? I can't keep track of what they're calling it. Anyway, it was a perfectly fine ride on an old Schwarzkopf. Not the most exciting thing ever, but smooth and enjoyable.

We headed over to Chop Six where the park was serving breakfast. Donuts and juice, not orange chicken and general tso's, just to clarify. And you know what, their donuts were quite enjoyable.

X2 had just gone down for a break in the action, so we headed up to Tatsu, which was probably my second-most anticipated ride at the park. It delivered! So, uh, if I'm reading the Kings Island thread correctly, there are actually people who prefer Vekoma flyers to B&M flyers? You folks are insane.

X2 opened back up, so, well, we experienced that. Yeah. It was an experience. I'll save that for the coaster review section below.

With ERT complete, we headed to the front of the park and then began to make a lap around the place to take out the rest of the rides. John and I did not get Flash Passes, and this would work out just fine -- the park was not very crowded. It was a Sunday, which is a day you might expect to be somewhat busy. However, it was also close to 100 degrees. That might have kept some people at home.

We started out by riding the Helpful Honda Express to the top of the hill. If that sentence doesn't make any sense to you, well, now you know: it's a funicular that sold out its naming rights to a car company. You're welcome.

Ninja was running one train, so as we were already at the top of the magic mountain, we hopped on that first. From there, we hit up Superman, Gold Rusher, and all the coasters at the north end of the park. We basically walked right on to everything, maybe waiting a cycle or two for seating preferences. John headed back to the car for a break, Zach Z went to ride a few more things, and I did some photography. Then, John tried to get his meal plan put on his season pass, and had to run back and forth between two or three guest services locations while they tried to deflect responsibility to someone else. Yep, that was entertaining! Docking another flag. We're down to four.

At 2:30 PM, we all met up for lunch. For this special lunch event, we were treated to a Q&A with park president Neal Thurman. Neal was a great speaker, and took a barrage of questions from the WCB attendees. Let me just suggest that this might not be the most advantageous time to complain for a solid two minutes about how you lost a dollar at the X2 fluffy-bunnies. Also, John did his best to get me an invite to the top of the long-closed Sky Tower, but despite his immense charm, the efforts were unsuccessful. If you want a little more of what Neal talked about, check out John's trip report.

Oh, and there was a photo contest! Which I wasn't even really trying to enter (that's my story for why I didn't follow instructions!!!) but apparently won anyway. So, I got a prize. Want to see what it was? It's in the pictures below! Robb said some stuff about how I'm a good photographer (aw shucks) and that people should follow me on Twitter. I checked and I gained exactly zero new Twitter followers on that day. Them's the breaks. Thanks for trying, Robb!

After lunch, I continued my photo lap of the park, as it was hot and I really didn't feel like riding much. Oh, but I did get on the log flume, even though I had to ride that one by myself. It had a bit of downtime, but the line was not too long.

Random: in my Knott's report, I made a mention about how TPR bash crowds are different than TPR trip crowds. That came up again at SFMM! Because TPR trip crowds know how to not lose their keys on Tatsu, and TPR trip crowds know not to stand on the exit platform of Twisted Colossus for a full minute, talking to your friends across the train, delaying the dispatch and screwing up the dueling rides that the employees were honestly trying really hard to get right. Don't do that, friends. Don't do that.

Evening ERT was good. Even though it was shared with another group, the added crowd was hardly noticeable at all, because ERT extended to the entire park. We got in line for CraZanity right as ERT started, and had to wait a few cycles as the general public finished going through. That was really the only wait we had all day, and it was maybe 25-30 minutes. From there, we rode Lex Luthor (which was somehow cycling both sides with only two or three ride ops) and took a few more spins on Twisted Colossus.

Oh, am I forgetting something? YOLO! We finished the day on YOLOcoaster, or -- as John puts it -- "where's the second half of the coaster?" Two rides on that and it was time to head home.

How was SFMM? Well, what's my tally at? Four out of six flags? I think that's about right, honestly. Look, this is a Six Flags park. It's full of advertising, concrete, and roller coasters. I knew what to expect going in. The good news is that this is a comparatively good Six Flags park. It's honestly one of my favorites in the chain that I've been to. It can't beat Great Adventure (my #1 SF park by a long shot) but for the overall experience, I'll put it in the next tier with Georgia, Fiesta Texas, and maybe Over Texas.

How was the coaster collection? Well, there's really no competition here with Cedar Point at all. Cedar Point has better coasters in virtually every category, and Cedar Point has 4 or 5 coasters I'd rank above the best coaster at SFMM. Also, we all know that SFMM is a park that inflates its world-record coaster count with kiddie coasters. But here's where I'll give them some credit -- compared to a lot of other theme parks that aren't Cedar Point, their second-tier of coasters is actually pretty strong. Batman, Scream, Goliath, even Ninja and Revolution. These are legitimately good rides. And sorry, Cedar Point, but in the battle of 1976, Revolution is a million times better than Corkscrew. Do they need more flats? Yes, but they're clearly working on that. Lex Luthor, Justice League, and CraZanity are all very good rides -- and all are recent additions.

SFMM is big. There's a lot of terrain. Combine that with the sheer number of rides, and it's an exhausting park to get through. West Coast Bash was the way to do it. My thanks go to John and Zach Z for the coaster rides, and Robb and friends for setting it all up!

How were the rides?

Twisted Colossus -- My fourth new RMC this year! How did it stack up? It's so different that it's tough to say. It's definitely weird basically having the ride split into two halves, with a break on the lift hill in the middle. I love the first (blue) half, but I'm kind of indifferent on the second (green) half, which isn't among RMC's more inspired designs. When dueling, this coaster is a ton of fun, and most of our ERT rides were dispatched correctly. Give the crew some credit, because they were working their hardest to make sure that happened! Overall, although this is a really good coaster and probably my favorite at SFMM, it'll probably rank near the bottom of my RMC list. That will still put it in my top 30-40 overall, out of over 400 coasters, so that's nothing to sneeze at.

Tatsu -- Tatsu is really good. The pretzel loop is crazy, yes, but I think the overall layout and progression of elements is the best of any flyer I've been on. Manta's close, but Tatsu takes the top spot for me.

X2 -- Um, well then. This was a ride, alright. I was genuinely kind of not sure what to expect from this, and I was a bit nervous going in. The first half wasn't that bad. I actually enjoyed the drop. Then it gets rough, it gets crazy, and it flips you around in ways you aren't expecting. My head was jackhammering against the seat back. At one point, both of my legs were flying over the seat divider onto the right side! No, I wasn't in any danger of slipping out, but that's not a very comfortable position to be riding in. I just don't know what to think of this thing. I just remember that when I got off, John and I looked at each other and were like "nope." So, we're gonna go with that.

YOLOcoaster -- The infamous YoloCoaster was not a favorite of mine at all. The launches aren't that strong, and it's way too short. My biggest complaint, though, is the speed at which you hit the brake run while you're still coming down from the top hat. That was very uncomfortable. Sorry, YoloCoaster, but I'm just not a fan.

Batman The Ride -- It's a Batman clone, so you know what to expect. Lots of fun, and very intense -- a little more intense than I prefer.

Riddler's Revenge -- Probably one of the best B&M standups, but it's still a standup. It's a good coaster, but I only needed to ride it once.

Scream -- A good floorless, though not to the level of Dominator or Superman Krypton Coaster. Still, you can do far worse than this for a mid-tier coaster.

Goliath -- I've been on Titan at SFOT, so I sort of knew what to expect. Still, what a weird, inconsistent ride. It's got a huge drop, but with such a shallow angle that it's basically forceless. It's got what may be the best perfect floater airtime hill on the planet. Then, it's got the crazy grey-out helix near the end. I'm still not sure what to make of this one!

New Revolution -- Really enjoyed this one. It's nothing special by 2018's standards, but I'm all for keeping pieces of coaster history like this one around if they still ride well.

Ninja -- A pretty good Arrow suspended coaster. We didn't hit any branches, but I swear we came close.

Gold Rusher -- It's a mine train! The only thing I remember about it is the giant pile of hats and shirts laying underneath the track about halfway through the ride.

Superman Escape From Krypton -- This thing was a big, big deal when it opened. I was pretty unimpressed. It's hard to ride something like this when you've been on TTD and Kingda Ka and, heck, even Xcelerator the day before.

Lex Luthor Drop of Doom -- It's a giant drop tower with killer views, and sometimes that's all that needs to be said!

Honda Express -- It's a funicular! At an amusement park! Best funicular I've been on since Hillbilly Golf in Gatlinburg. (hi, Russ/Jared/Nathan!)

Jet Stream -- I know people like to talk about Log Jammer, which looked like a pretty awesome flume. But you know what? Jet Stream is pretty good in its own right. Better than I expected, for sure! Not too wet, either. Pretty much exactly what I'm looking for in a standard log flume.

Justice League: Battle for Metropolis -- I think this is the first time I've ever seen the pre-show for one of these. I also think it's the first time I've had all the effects working properly, but this one's just a year old, so that makes sense. I really enjoyed Justice League, and have to say that it's a lot more fun than Iron Reef.

CraZanity -- This thing takes a while to get going, but once it does, it puts the Huss models to shame. It runs a pretty long cycle, too, so you get several big swings once it hits full speed! Every park needs one of these.

Re: Photo TR: Andy's California Adventure

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:23 pm
by The Great Zo
Pictures from SFMM -- Part 1!

Re: Photo TR: Andy's California Adventure

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:23 pm
by The Great Zo
Pictures from SFMM -- Part 2!

Re: Photo TR: Andy's California Adventure

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:00 pm
by Canobie Coaster
Fantastic report! I actually remember Twisted Colossus being one of the better RMCs, but I have ridden almost all the other ones since then so I need to reride it. I really need to get out to West Coast Bash one of these years.

Re: Photo TR: Andy's California Adventure

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:18 am
by ytterbiumanalyst
Thanks for the shoutout! I totally agree with you on Jaguar! That ride is underrated. It's not at all intense, but it is fun. And I kinda love the faded colours on Xcelerator.

Re: Photo TR: Andy's California Adventure

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:51 am
by jedimaster1227
Your Jet Stream photos have me intrigued... The second drop has the mechanism and drop channel in place for boats to alternate between paths but it appears that the second trough has been cut and is no longer in use. Interesting that they kept the remnants of it in place while the rest of the ride continues to operate.

Thanks for sharing another great update from your trip!

Re: Photo TR: Andy's California Adventure

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:49 pm
by Mike240SX
jedimaster1227 wrote:Your Jet Stream photos have me intrigued... The second drop has the mechanism and drop channel in place for boats to alternate between paths but it appears that the second trough has been cut and is no longer in use. Interesting that they kept the remnants of it in place while the rest of the ride continues to operate.

Thanks for sharing another great update from your trip!


SFGAdv did the same thing to their HydroFlume midway through its life as well.

Re: Photo TR: Andy's California Adventure

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:26 pm
by joelwee
Great report again, Andy! SFMM is my home park and I'm always interested to hear other people's opinions about it. I have to agree with you about SFMM vs CP; both have great coaster collections, but there are several coasters at CP that are better than SFMM's best coaster.

As for the question, "Is SFMM in Valencia or Santa Clarita?", the answer would be, "Yes." :lol: Santa Clarita is a city that encompasses several smaller towns/communities - Valencia being one of them.

jedimaster1227 wrote:Your Jet Stream photos have me intrigued... The second drop has the mechanism and drop channel in place for boats to alternate between paths but it appears that the second trough has been cut and is no longer in use. Interesting that they kept the remnants of it in place while the rest of the ride continues to operate.

Thanks for sharing another great update from your trip!

That's exactly what happened. The ride opened with two drops, but the second drop was blocked off in the late '70s/'80s. Why? I don't know. (Oddly enough, the park still brags about Jet Stream's double-channelled drop on its website.)

Re: Photo TR: Andy's California Adventure

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:13 pm
by coasterlvr
joelwee wrote:
As for the question, "Is SFMM in Valencia or Santa Clarita?", the answer would be, "Yes." :lol: Santa Clarita is a city that encompasses several smaller towns/communities - Valencia being one of them.



So Valencia is like Los Angeles where there's all these areas within, but not actual real cities?

Re: Photo TR: Andy's California Adventure

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:35 pm
by joelwee
^ You have the right idea, but Santa Clarita is the big city that encompasses a bunch of smaller "cities" that aren't real cities, but just unincorporated communities - namely, Valencia, Newhall, Canyon Country, and Saugus.