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Photo TR: BACT in the Bay Area

Sun Sep 09, 2007 9:02 am

Seems like a new tradition that every year over Labor Day we head out to California. Last year we went to San Diego and had an awesome time, and this year we expected the same by going out to the Bay Area. Of course, we went out mainly for the beer (see the beer thread for that), as none of the coasters or parks seemed that exciting, but we did need some coaster credits afterall.

After arriving on Saturday, our first stop (after beer) was Gilroy Gardens, what used to be known as Bonfante Gardens until Cedar Fair decided to change the name. I wasn't expecting much from the park, but it's really freaking beautiful. It's probably as close to a European park as you can get in America; beautiful gardens, winding paths, and just overall relaxing rides for the family.
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Welcome to the newly named Gilroy Gardens, home of garlic and Circus trees
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The entrance plaza isn't that fancy, so I wasn't expecting a whole lot
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But walking inside it already has become beautiful. Trees everywhere, even coming out of the bridges. Are you sure this is a Cedar Fair park??
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There are trash cans, but they don't have CF logos on them, and there aren't 600000 of them either, there are just enough
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First ride of the trip, Timber Twister, just a medium sized Tivoli with a big ole snake
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With nobody around, we decided to take the front seat. (we're usually nice credit whores and save that for the kiddies)
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POV!
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This be a Circus Tree, it's all modeled and stuff
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Lots of kids chilling out on the lake in their swans
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Very Europeanish, a Rock Maze
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I crawl thru a tunnel in search of the exit from the maze
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Heath's all "yo, help me find the exit, we got another coaster to ride here!"
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That coaster being a Morgan mine train, Quicksilver Express; now with video onride
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and some crazy rascals of raccoons playing with TNT
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part of the park path requires you to walk thru the butterfly exhibit
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we didn't see any butterflies, but there were plenty of pretty flowers, water gardens, and benches to just relax on
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both the monorail and the train also go thru the building
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another Circus Tree, this one actually molded around the kids play structure
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Heath and Kim enjoy the tranquil sounds of Bonfante Falls
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Spinning artichoke ride!
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another Circus Tree
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Spinning garlic ride!!
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very European, a spinning raft ride, just mellow and wandering around with different topiaries to look at. This turned out to be the longest line of the visit!
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Giant Shroom Swing!
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another circus tree
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and I'll leave you with more waterfalls. As you can probably see, this is just a really cool little park, not super thrilling, but very laid back and fun. It's as close to a European park as Americans can get without trying to get a passport! Next stop, Santa Cruz...
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Sun Sep 09, 2007 9:34 am

Much like Hersheypark, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is celebrating the big 100 this year. I kept hearing how great this place was, but then again, some Californians claim SFMM and Knotts are great, so I usually take that with a grain of salt. Turns out they were right this time around! The park has a great feel to it, has 2 ok coasters and 1 fantastic one, a few cool darkrides, other classic things, and some modern stuff too. This is one time I definitely agree with the Golden Ticket Awards, as this really is the best seaside park out there. Just such a different feel from the stuff in Maryland and New Jersey.
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Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, celebrating 100 years
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There be the Pacific Ocean
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Parts of the pier and the Double Shot (which you can hardly see because it blends in with the sky so well) :P
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Here I am, rock you like a Hurricane!
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Overall not a bad ride, love that 2nd drop of twisting doom
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I've never heard anything about this darkride, but it was really nicely themed all throughout
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Heath and Kim enjoyed it, especially the cameo from Emperor Palpatine
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Giant Dipper, the best woodie in California, IMO
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Even though it has the evil Morgan trains, this ride is filled with thrills, fun, and airtime. The only thing odd was the loading/unloading
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Totally different design from Belmont Park's Giant Dipper, this one is awesome
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After a fun tunnel, a trainful of happy riders gets ready to take the plunge
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Fireball, sweet!
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We didn't have time to go on the log flume, but it looked really long and fun
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Final credit of the day, Sea Serpent
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Cha-ching!
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Cave Train was really neat, with excellently done scenes. Much better than the junk at Wildwood or that horrid Garfield's Nightmare at Kennywood. Just plain fun and cute
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Ghost Blasters was one of them Sally shooting darkrides, and this one also was really done up nicely. I found it easier to hit the targets than on some of their other ones
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Heath's a big Sally fanboy
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SCBB also has a carousel in which you can grab the ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings. Even though the outside horses moved up and down, the thing went so slow you could grab like 3 ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings at a time. And no brass ring, the object was to get it in the clowns mouth. And the thing went half empty every cycle because everyone only wanted to ride on the outside horses. Give me Knoebels anyday!
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and I'll leave you with one final shot of Giant Dipper. Day 2 coming soon
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Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:56 am

Great America was the last Paramount park that we had to visit, and we kept putting off coming here figuring that the following year they'd add some amazing new coaster. Well, that never happened, so we finally said "screw it, let's go!" So when a new coaster sprouts up next year, you have us to thank ;)

Great America wasn't a bad park, but it's really funny when you compare it to SFGAm. Years ago they were pretty much identical, but yet they got separated. One chain realized the parks potential and built it up to be one of the best in the chain, the other constantly neglected it and treated it like it's red-headed step child, just throwing in mediocrity here and there. It would kind of like be having twins where both parents died, one child went to live with a rich aunt who always wanted to have children and treated him with love and money, where the other child went to live with Uncle Cletus and Aunt Sally Jo at the trailer park and their 8 children and treated him as just another mouth to feed when he whined enough. It's really sad when the most popular and best coaster at the park was added 14 years ago and enthusiasts in the area are so desperate for a coaster that they start counting flatrides. :lolr:

Local BACT members Rick, Gwyndolyn, and Kevin would meet up with us for the day to make sure we had fun.

Sun Sep 09, 2007 11:30 am

Our final park on the trip was one I visited last year while out for a conference in San Francisco, only this year it got a new name and some new theming as Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. While it may appear the park is trying to be more animal driven, it really didn't seem any different this year than last year as Six Flags Marine World. Sadly, this would also be the first Six Flags park we've been to this year that was acting more like the old Six Flags we all remember. The park was supposed to open at 10:30, but didn't really open until 10:40 because they made us stand and watch the opening ceremonies. Why they couldn't start this at 10:20, I have no idea. Then upon opening, the only coaster that was running was Medusa. Kong and Roar wouldn't open until 11:30, V2 until 12, and the Boomerang until like 12:15. I guess they really want you to go to the whale show and stuff! Still, we managed to get everything done in a timely manner, and we were pleased with what animal stuff we saw.
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The newly named Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's new entrance sign
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a look at the park from the parking lot across the lake.
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Hello old Zonga station, maybe next year you'll be used for a spinner!
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Medusa completes its morning testing as a giraffe awaits Wes' visit
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Some work going on over at V2, maybe it'll run today for Heath and Kim
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This update brought to you by cameltoe
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Medusa, with appropriate theming, not some dumb story about being locked up in a mine in the old west
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Greek temple with snakes, seems much more fitting to me!
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Down the drop into the parking lot theming
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I'll give it to the crew this time, they were actually hustling, unlike last year's visit
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um, yeah, loop. Tallest in the world??? I think not
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World's only Sea Serpent element, kinda cool and not as jarring as cobra rolls
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speaking of cobras
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Kong, with its new entrance also being the exit, but being closed for the moment
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Still, we saw them doing testing on it, so we figured we'd wait it out now instead of actually having to wait for an SLC
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me: "Um, Rick, I know Heath and Kim need this credit, but why are WE riding it?"
Rick: "because we're good friends, or because if we ride this again, we can pretend we rode it at Opryland and count it again?"
Me: "sounds good to me!"
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Shouka be the whale's name
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and a long line formed for the unopened Boomerang, but Kim and Gwyn inspected it, and there were no ops in the station, so we left for now
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yay, turtle!
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Coolest themed flat ever, so says SharkTums
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New signs to the "sea" section of the park. Why the whale and dolphin stadiums aren't in the Sea area, I have no idea.
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Yay, Roar is running with people. Time to ride the 2nd best woodie in California
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The gang enjoys their ride on the first Millennium Flyer trains
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This one is so much better than the one at SFA, and I think it's all because of the trains, sorry PTC
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Oooh, V2.1 is running now too, score!
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I just love these rides!
Heath and Kim be riding in row 2
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Dolphins chilling in the pool
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"Jahan, where are you?"
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For killing Steve Irwin, you will spend the remainder of your life at Six Flags.
"Nooo!!! I didn't mean it, it was an accident, I swear! Please don't sentence me so harshly"
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Lamest splash ever! But at least it was running on this hot day, unlike the rapids!
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Heath checks out the guide to Six Flags rides. Kinda cool for enthusiasts who travel, showing all the rides in the chain, not just the coasters
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Back to "The Land" to see if we can ride the Boomerang yet
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Score, it's running. Time to ride it and run!
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The front stage was pretty cool, they'd bring out different animals from time to time and talk about them. Here's a porcupine
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Fairwell good Roar, I'll be sure to say hi to your older twin and other siblings back East
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and I'll finish this off with a shot of the screwed up but very cool V2.1. No more updates, post away!
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Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:49 pm

Nice TR, and great pictures!

Gilroy Gardens looks like a pretty unique park for the US.

Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:59 pm

I've barely seen pictures of Gilroy Gardens. It seems awesome in terms of family parks and those Circus Trees have to be the craziest trees I've ever seen. It's like what Cypress Gardens wishes to be, only with landscaping instead of carny rides.

ParaKnott's Great America, still a pretty decent park, just needs a "real" new coaster (Survivor doesn't count).

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom still looks like a wonderful Six Flags park, despite your report of the park operating like the old Six Flags. Looks like you and your crew had an awesome time still.

Great pictures.

Sun Sep 09, 2007 1:29 pm

Very nice TR man! I get to relive my NorCal trip (I was up there for my birthday). Some of my friends and I hit the Boardwalk and SFDK on the 27th and 28th of August. I have to agree with you on the Boardwalk, its just awesome! Giant Dipper has by far exceeded my expectations. SFDK was a nice surprise for us and Roar! is pretty kick ass as well. Glad your buddies got the V2.1 credit. I didn't when I went, but all the more reason to go back.

Sun Sep 09, 2007 2:43 pm

Great overview, Derek.

While at the west coast Great America for the first time in 2000, it was an almost spooky experience as I too had visited the Gurnee version many times prior to that. Everywhere I looked, I kept trying to compare the two parks. Funny that even under different management, they got lots of similar rides (B&M inverted, B&M stand up, Vekoma inverted boomerangs in different sizes, etc.)

Perhaps the biggest bonehead move made at Great America was the removal of their train. As you probably saw, the front berm where the hometown square station is at SFGAm was leveled and is now home to the Zierer Wave Swinger (which came from Carowinds).

Many of the park's coasters had custom supports incorporated into their designs to allow for the train tracks to pass under them. Your photo of Vortex from the skyride illustrates this perfectly, as you can see the old trackbed under the ride. Even Stealth had funky custom supports to allow the train to pass underneath, and less than 3 years later, both rides were no longer at the park! The supports can still be seen on Borg at Carowinds.

Biggest factors that have held back development/new coasters at Great America are:

a)Low height restrictions in most areas of the park due to the San Jose Airport being down the road.

b)Nasty corporate neighbours who the city of Santa Clara have to bend over to make sure are happy. The city of Santa Clara still owns the land that GA sits on, and leases it to the park operator (long term lease, and something in it that says the property *must* be used as a theme park). Without that guarantee, you know the park would have been swallowed up by the tech boom that was pretty much born out of the surrounding Silicon Valley. Heck, if not for Santa Clara stepping in to buy the park after Marriott got out in the mid '80s (they had no problem selling the Gurnee park), the west coast Great America would have bitten the dust long ago.

-Mark

Sun Sep 09, 2007 3:39 pm

It's not only that they are near the San Jose airport but also Moffett Air base. So basically they have an airport within a couple of miles to the north and south.

Didn't Great America actually get approval to build a 220ft Intamin hyper called rebel rocket (or something like that) seven or so years ago, only to have the Paramount chain decide against it at the last moment.

Talk about a rumor from the past...

Great TR, I'm glad to see you finally visited Nor Cal's best amusement park (SCBB) and hope that next time you come to visit there will be something more here.

Sun Sep 09, 2007 4:22 pm

It's not only that they are near the San Jose airport but also Moffett Air base. So basically they have an airport within a couple of miles to the north and south.

Didn't Great America actually get approval to build a 220ft Intamin hyper called rebel rocket (or something like that) seven or so years ago, only to have the Paramount chain decide against it at the last moment.


I'm not so sure the Intamin coaster was anything more than rumor. It is for sure, however, that the original S&S Thrust Air launch coaster was slated to open at PGA in 2001, but for unconfirmed reasons (corporate neighbours IMO), Paramount opted to put the ride into PKD last second. Because the spot PKD chose for the ride was not able to accomodate the original configuration, S&S had to make last second changes to the ride's layout (actually shortening the track leading to the awkward track layout that Hypersonic has today).

Seems the Great America has pretty much free reign to do what they want on the eastern edge. It's the western edge (Grizzly-Demon-Whitewater Falls) side that borders those office buildings that the park has the hardest time working with (where the S&S coaster was slated to go).

-Mark
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