I have lived in Southern California my entire life, and I've been a Theme Park Review member for several years. I've finally decided that it's time to start a photo collection of my local parks here on TPR. Why now? Because I am VERY excited about these next two years at all the So Cal parks. 2011 and 2012 are promising to be very good to theme park enthusiasts. Here's a list of the major upcoming attractions at my home parks (2011, 2012, and beyond):
Disneyland - Star Tours (2011) California Adventure - Little Mermaid (2011); Cars Land (2012); Soarin' (2016) Universal Studios - Transformers (2012); Despicable Me (2014); Fast & Furious (2015); Harry Potter (2016) Knott's - Coast Rider, Log Ride (2013); Mine Ride (2014); Iron Reef (2015); Ghostrider (2016) Magic Mountain - Superman, Green Lantern (2011); Lex Luthor (2012); Full Throttle (2013); Colossus (2015); Revolution (2016) Sea World - Manta (2012)
Interestingly, the first new ride to debut in Southern California in 2011 was at Belmont Park in San Diego, so I thought that would be a fitting place to start biosciking's So Cal Thread. I'll be updating whenever I get a chance to visit a park, especially when the new attractions make their debuts. I'll of course be sticking to theme parks, roller coasters, water parks, etc., but I might throw a few other places into the mix every now and then to further showcase the Southern California experience.
Belmont Park opened Octotron this past Sunday (1/16). It is a Unicoaster flat ride from Chance Morgan, only the second one introduced to the U.S. Brain Surge at Nickelodeon Universe has looked like a very entertaining ride ever since its opening, but I've had no idea when I'd ever get the opportunity to actually try it out. Imagine my surprise late last year when Belmont quietly announced that they'd be adding a Unicoaster to their park.
Octotron was actually supposed to open in December, but minor delays set it back a bit. No fair complaining, however. Belmont Park had already added two new attractions in 2010, Sky Ropes Adventure and Control Freak. Since my previous visit a few years ago, Belmont has also introduced the Magical Mystery Mirror Maze and the Vault Laser Maze. All of these are very unique, very welcome additions to Southern California. I'm happy to see Belmont expanding (with what they have to offer, if not necessarily the physical size of the park itself), especially given the brief scare we had late last year about the park's future.
I visited the park on MLK holiday (Monday 1/17), the day after Octotron's opening. An all-day ride wristband is $22.95 and an all-day attractions wristband is $20 (the two are operated on site by separate vendors). If you want to do all of it, therefore, you'll be set back $42.95, which may seem like a lot for a relatively small park. It's well worth it, though, when you compare this to the individual attraction prices. For example, one ride on the Giant Dipper costs $6, one ride on Octotron costs $5, and one crack at the Sky Ropes costs $8. Also keep in mind that parking is free.
Anyway, on to the pictures.
The entrance to Belmont Park, located on Mission Bay in San Diego, right alongside the beach.
I'll start with the Giant Dipper, the park's classic wooden coaster. After exiting the station, the train travels through a lengthy pitch black (and I mean PITCH BLACK) tunnel, before reaching the lift hill.
Coming down the first drop. It's banked and makes a complete 180 turn.
Up and over the second hill.
The turnaround on the opposite side of the coaster from the first drop. Note that there is a lot of banking, but there are also a lot of lateral g's as well.
I rode several times in the front, middle, and back, and I'll give my vote to the back for providing the best and wildest ride (as I tend to do).
A couple of the smaller hills toward the end of the ride provide little pops of airtime.
Because it's difficult to get an unobstructed shot of the coaster's complete layout, here's a picture of the model of the ride located inside a small museum they have at the ticket booth. The Giant Dipper opened in 1925, making it the oldest operating coaster in Southern California.
The opposite angle. Although most argue that Belmont's Giant Dipper plays second fiddle to Santa Cruz's Giant Dipper up north (and I would agree), I still think this is a very good ride. I'm happy that this classic has been preserved as well as it has.
Okay, on to Octotron.
The control stick in the center was very easy to operate, and it was great fun getting the seats to flip forward or backward continuously, or mixing it up and suspending yourself in all kinds of unusual positions.
It's kind of hard to get a full shot of the ride in action, but here's a close-up view of the ride vehicle. Believe it or not, this picture was taken while the ride was in motion (not waiting to get started or coming to a stop). These two just didn't want to spin their seats I guess.
It was (almost) as much fun to watch as it was to ride. Everyone I watched riding was really enjoying it. I'd call Octotron a winner for Belmont Park, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more of these showing up at other parks.
Now for Control Freak, another new ride at Belmont.
This one was super cool too. Buttons on the OTSRs allow you to rotate the ride arm forward or backward and to lock your car in place or let it swing freely. One car controls the ride for the first half, and then control is relinquished to the other car for the second half. With just four people per cycle, you'd think this would be a capacity nightmare, but I never waited more than two cycles to ride.
Control Freak reminded me of a cross between a Zipper and a Top Spin, and that's a pretty good pedigree. It was intense and crazy.
Another headliner at Belmont is the Beach Blaster.
It was quite good, swinging up to some pretty high angles. Note the kiddie boats in the foreground, one of a few kiddie rides at the park.
They also have a tilt-a-whirl and a kiddie submarine ride. The tilt-a-whirl actually used to be in Octotron's location, and a Chaos flat ride existed in this spot. They removed Chaos to add Octotron, and moved the tilt-a-whirl over here.
I didn't actually get around to riding this one. I therefore can't tell if the open cars would make a tilt-a-whirl more comfortable or more sickening once the cars really start whipping.
Belmont Park also has a standard bumper car ride...
...a crazy car ride...
...a small merry-go-round...
...and a small drop tower that is mostly for kids, but it's a little bigger than a frog hopper so it's kind of appropriate for more grown-up folk as well.
That's it for Belmont Park's rides. Now let's check out their other attractions, starting with the Sky Ropes Adventure.
This is one of those elevated obstacle courses that are starting to pop up here and there, but this is the only one so far in Southern California, and the first one I've ever tried.
I thought it was great fun. There was plenty of room to get around even though the structure wasn't huge and there were several people climbing at once, there was a good variety of obstacles (each path had something different to do, which really surprised me), and, even though the structure wasn't extremely tall, it was still a little unnerving when the ropes you were traversing (and your legs) started wobbling.
I saw little kids, macho guys, and grandparents all having fun on this. I can definitely see why they are becoming so popular, and I'm looking forward to trying others. I imagine the larger versions are really great.
The employees working the Sky Ropes Adventure were way cool too. Not only did they get everyone harnessed in and hooked up very efficiently, but they also let me take my camera up to get the most complete shot I could find of Octotron.
In here is the arcade and the mini golf. When you buy an all-day attractions wristband, you get 20 arcade tokens. Is anyone else as addicted to the Deal or No Deal game as I am?
The miniature golf is an indoor, black light, glow-in-the-dark course themed to pirates. Very cool looking.
It's really only half a course, as there are only nine holes instead of the usual eighteen. But I was totally satisfied with it.
Plus it's just so cool looking.
Another indoor attraction.
It wasn't exceptionally big (though with all the mirrors it looked huge), and you entered and exited the same way, so it wasn't very hard to find your way out. But it was still kind of neat, and the psychadelic theming worked well.
Here are three of me taking a picture of three of me. Trippy.
The final two attractions are laser games. Not laser tag; they're actually much smaller scale than that. On the left is the Laser Evader. I didn't quite grasp the concept of this one. You go into a small room and try to press the buttons on the walls as many times as possible without being hit by the lasers. I could barely get started, but it looked like quite a workout for those who knew what they were doing (the TV screens let you watch the people inside). On the right is the Laser Maze. You can kind of see what it looks like on the TV above and the picture on the wall. It consists of a relatively small room that you have to make your way through James Bond and Mission Impossible style, trying not to trip the laser beams. I wasn't good at this either, but I did think it was fun and would have liked to have spent a little more time practicing and getting better (you can choose the level of difficulty; I never got past easy).
I should also mention that, operated separately still, are a couple of wave machines. I didn't try these, but I will have to give a Flow Rider a shot one day.
A Flow Barrel, on the other hand...I think not. I was impressed by the acrobatics of those who were riding it though. I know I would wipe out before I even got upright on the board. Also of note at Belmont Park is the Plunge, a large indoor swimming pool. I don't have any pictures because you have to pay an entrance fee (or have a membership) for it. According to Belmont, the pool has been around as long as the Giant Dipper has.
Finally, let's not forget that the entire park is right alongside the beach. Let's also not forget that this is mid-January. One of the reasons I've lived in Southern California my entire life!
Last edited by biosciking on Mon May 30, 2016 8:21 pm.
Brings back fond memories of the night we spent at Belmont during West Coast 2009. I didn't really rank Giant Dipper at first - it hurt a bit - but I loved watching the others make a$$es of themselves on the Flowrider, the blacklight minigolf was great - as was the following mad 'pool as many arcade tickets as possible for a fake security camera' rush that immediately followed (we didn't get the fake security camera in the end), and Giant Dipper was vastly improved by night ERT and many, many glowsticks.
West Coast 2009 ~ UK 2010 ~ IntimidaTour 2010 ~ Southern Japan/Tokyo Disney 2011
Well, your trip report convinced me that next time I go down to Belmont (should be within the next few months) I need to sample some of the other rides as well.
I loved the Giant Dipper though... it wasn't my first coaster, but it was my first CLASSIC coaster. And you're right about that tunnel... I seriously didn't think it was going to end when I went on it.
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