During our three-day stay in Santa Clara, California's Great America was just down the street, within walking distance from our awesome Best Western Avatar hotel. Some TPRers walked there our first night and used their Cedar Fair season passes to get a jump start on the park. Personally, however, CGA was the one park on the trip I had little interest in. Had we still had the hotel that day, I may have chosen to stay there, sleep in and rest my still-sore foot.
Alas, we didn't, so off I (and we) went. I will say that as far as Cedar Fair parks go, this one wasn't half bad (it was, however, still approximately 48 percent bad).
For some reason the sun was always in the wrong spot as far as my camera was concerned for the first half of the day, so some of the photos are a bit streaky or washed out. But... what can you do? Anyway, enjoy. Or at least try to....
Only three flags? Well, that's just ominous from the beginning.
Having visited CGA's sister park (now Six Flags Great America) in June, I can honestly say I liked Six Flags' entry plaza more than its California counterpart. Why cover up that beautiful fountain with a sign? (And just FYI, this sign on the official CGA website still has the Paramount logo on it.)
But really, who has time to look at fountains or signs when ERT on Fligh Deck awaits?
I spy TPR members!
I spy TPR members... and sharks!
Unfortunately, this is the only photo of Flight Deck in motion my camera was able to capture due to whatever funky lighting was going on. But everyone pretty much knows what Flight Deck looks like anyway... right?
If you sqint, it kind of looks like the American flag. Minus three stripes and about 45 stars, of course.
After ERT ended at 10 a.m., a bunch of us went over to get our Grizzly credit only to find this. We later discovered that "11:00 a.m." is Cedar Fair code for "Whenever we feel like it."
This was the day before it made national headlines for getting stuck.
Upon finding out we would have quite a long wait for Grizzly (it ended up being closed for another hour and a half), Mike Moody and I went off in search of open rides (they weren't exactly easy to find) and decided to try our luck on Berserker.
Following my amazing experience with the Bayern Kurve at Kennywood earlier ths year, I was expecting a really good ride. What I got was a Bayern Kurve look-alike that went around five times at a top speed of approximately two mph.
This sign is much cooler than it has any right to be.
And this is the coaster that goes with it.
For some reason I got a picture of this sign, but not the coaster itself. Guess I just wasn't "feeling" it that day.
Show of hands: Who here knows who Barney Oldfield is? Anyone?
Still, naming a racecar ride after a racecar driver no one has thought about in three quarters of a century is better than randomly theming it after Road Runner and Coyote, so CGA gets the edge on its Six Flags counterpart in this instance.
The tree tunnel may have been the best attraction at the park open before 11 a.m....
TPR takeover of Drop Tower!
Another pre-11 a.m. view. I hear they did start running boats on this. Eventually.
Survivor: The Ride seemed like a fun little attraction, though I'm confused as to why they thought paying royalties to the "Survivor" people would boost attendance on this thing. Seems like a better Cedar Fair name would be "Disko With a Hill in the Middle."
Maybe that tiki idol thing is what packs 'em in....
I did really like the Psycho Mouse building. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's the best "mouse" station I've ever seen!
Aww, it doesn't look that psycho to me. Maybe it's just a poor, misunderstood coaster....
"Who moved my cheese? God help you if you moved my cheese!"
Random flat rides at the park included Centrifuge...
...Delirium (which I think a couple of our people were told they were too tall to ride?)...
...Flying Eagles (found on page 224 of the "Cedar Fair Book of Generic Ride Names")...
...and some chair swings.
Sorry, rapids fans, this is the best I could do on this day.
You know, right in the middle of all this concrete, CGA has to go and put in something like this. Almost makes me want to... *like* Cedar Fair. Almost.
As I've stated in previous TRs, I love Hanna-Barbera lands. With all the Camp Snoopy takeovers coming, I'm not sure if this one will be around next year (the official announcement said Snoopy would overtake the Nick Central area, but said nothing about KidZville). However, given that the focus seems to be on centralizing the licensing, I wouldn't be surprised if this year isn't the death rattle for Scooby and his friends.
So here, possibly for the last time, is the iconic Cartoon Carousel.
You know, one of my favorite things about Hanna-Barbera lands is the fact that parks pay large amounts in licensing fees for characters that no one under 30, much less the kids they want to attract to these areas, has ever heard of. Pixie and Dixie could be the poster-mice for this argument.
Round One: Name these long-forgotten Hanna -Barbera characters.
Top row, from left: Dixie, Dick Dastardly, Touche Turtle and Wally Gator. Bottom row, from left: Wally Gator, Boo Boo Bear and Secret Squirrel.
Ready for Round Two?
Top row, from left: Yogi Bear, Snagglepuss, Magilla Gorilla and Dixie. Bottom row, from left: Quick Draw McGraw and Wally Gator. (Boy, Wally Gator sure is represented on these swings a lot.)
From left: Hong Kong Phooey, Baba Looey and Atom Ant.
Remember Granny Sweet and Precious Pupp? Neither does anyone else!
Mr. Peebles? Yep, he's a household name!
A few people *might* remember Magilla Gorilla... ah, but what was the little girl's name?
(If you said "Ogee," you're correct!)
Ah yes, Top Cat, the animated world's answer to Sgt. Bilko... whoever he is.
And what was the name of Top Cat's friendly nemesis from the police department?
(That would be Officer Dibble.)
Fun fact: Quick Draw McGraw's last feature cartoon was made in 1961. That's nearly half a century ago, kids.
Wow, Pixie and Dixie are so popular, they made not just one but two ride signs at CGA! Also of note: Dick Dastardly and Muttley.
At least some kids have probably heard of this cartoon....
OK, I was all excited about this because I thought it was some kind of boat-driven Scooby-Doo dark ride.
Wrong. This thing that looks like a mildly themed cue... that's the ride! I don't really understand how it works myself, but I guess each kid who goes in gets a toy boat, and then he/she follows that toy boat through the little waterways, passing the random flats up close along the way? I can't decide if the person who came up with this should be given a medal or hung.
"Cheese it, Scoob! The fuzz!"
"Let's split up! Velma, you go with Shaggy and Scooby. Daphne and I will search behind this bush for about 20 minutes...."
Of course, CGA has the standard Paramount/Cedar Fair Mystery Machine photo op (actually, theirs looked slightly better than some I've seen), but it was so far removed from the other Scooby stuff that it wasn't really being utilized, at least not while I was hanging around there.
Rounding out our tour of KidZville, we have everyone's favorite generic credit whore coaster, Taxi Jam!
There are definitely some people on that train who could be related to Natalie....
Just before noon, I finally got my ride on Grizzly.
It was getting pretty hot, and with that out of the way, I decided to head back to the entry shops to take a break and sample something I'd seen earlier and wanted to try: frozen Orange Crush. For the record, it was amazing! Also, this officially begins the "food segment" of this portion of the TR.
Looks like it's not just for Disneyland anymore!
OK, how many of you out there would actually trust theme park sushi? Yeah, that's what I thought. (This officially ends the "food segment" of this portion of the TR. Stay tuned for more food in the next report!)
I was contemplating attempting the massive line for the Psycho Mouse when I ran into Chris, Darren, Gary and a few others and opted to ride the sky ride with them instead. We started on Eagle's Flight...
...and landed at the Delta Flyer.
After a couple flats (and a couple benches), we made our way back to the picnic area at the appointed time for lunch.
The second-best part of lunch was this Smurf house, randomly sitting by itself in a small patch of sand near the rest rooms. What was the best part of lunch, you ask? Impromptu Q&A with a park manager (Jim, I think?), who told us officially, more than a week before it hit the message boards, that Planet Snoopy was taking over Nickelodeon Central in 2010.
Having had our fill of Cedar Fair for one day, we voted 45-1 to leave CGA an hour early, giving me just 30 minutes to complete my new self-appointed mission: document Nickelodeon Central for posterity (and eventual profit when theme park/Nickelodeon enthusiasts who are kids now start scouring the 'net (or whatever we have then) for photos of places they loved during their childhoods).
Farewell, Wild Thornberrys!
You'll be part of a miniature golf course soon!
"That's strange. I think I see a beagle in a World War I-era fighter plane... and he's headed this way!"
Actually, Nick Central seemed pretty heavily themed to the Wild Thornberrys.... Is that show even on anymore?
Hmm... a quick Google shows that it was last shown on U.S. television in 2007.
So long, Runaway Reptar. We'll miss your massive theming!
Out: Angela Pickles. In: Cedar Fair trashcans.
"If I push this building over on Tommy, then I'll be the big "Rugrats" star! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!"
Dora will no longer explore here...
...or here. On a more serious note, I wonder what theme parks do with their character costumes once the license runs out. Are they destroyed as part of the license agreement? Are they owned by Nickelodeon and leased to the parks, thereby returning to Nickelodeon for use at other parks and promotional events? If that's not the case, does Nick have an option to purchase them for those uses? I'm suddenly intrigued by this minor detail of theme park operations.
No more SpongeBob (which is a good thing since the world could always use less SpongeBob)...
...or faded 4-D shows starring SpongeBob and Patrick.
So long, Jimmy Neutron. I hope you get to be used in promotional appearances instead of sent to the shredder.
Avatar will bend minds no more... but the Best Western Avatar hotel will live in our hearts and dreams forever!
Goodbye even more obscure characters, like Snap from "Chalk Zone" (which actually was a pretty good show)...
...and Powdered Toast Man from "The Ren and Stimpy Show." (Wait, what, seriously? They made a sign for Powdered Toast Man? I think I would have opted for a third with Pixie and Dixie instead of... Powdered Toast Man? Seriously?)
OK, so I went into the Nickelodeon Store to see if I could get change for the pressed penny machine outside. The conversation went something like this:
Me: "Excuse me."
Cashier: "What?" (This, I've come to believe, is how Cedar Fair instructs its employees to respond to guests who approach them--I've heard it so many times that it can't be a coincidence.)
Me: "Would it be possible for me to get change for the penny machine outside?"
Cashier (rolling her eyes and shaking her head before I've even finished the question): "I can't open the cash register unless you BUY something. Are you planning to buy anything?"
Me: "Just a pressed penny."
Cashier: "Then there's nothing I can do for you. Sorry."
Let me just say that I'm a firm believer that when a company treats its employees decently, its employees will treat its customers decently. With that in mind, I'm also a firm believer that the only people Cedar Fair must hate more than its customers are its employees.
Sadly, the takeover of Camp Snoopy also means no more beer and wine at the Nicktoons Cafe (I don't know about you, but when I think "cartoons," I always think "wine"). Maybe Charlie Brown will open his own tavern here with Great Pumpkin Ale or something.
You know, I'm starting to believe CGA may just be the king of irrelevant character spotting. I mean, had this game been open, I'm not really sure which I'd rather have won: 1960s Harvey comic book "star" Hot Stuff or 1960s "Superboy" comics bit player Krypto the Superdog.
Though both, I suppose, would be better than winning a Robot Monkey. Is this even a "Robot Chicken" character, or did they just randomly decide it would make a "cute" stuffed animal?
When I die, that's how I want to be delivered to my grave: hanging on to the roof of the hearse!
Our CGA day may have been one of our more lackluster park days (of course, "lackluster" on a TPR trip beats a normal "great" day any time)... but at least we got some cool bus signs out of it!
During the long drive from Santa Clara to Valencia, Robb primed us for the next day's park, Six Flags Magic Mountain, with an old "KidSongs" video that had been recorded there! Altogether now: "Water, water everywhere, we're gonna get wet!"
Two really cool things happened that evening: 1. After dining at the world's slowest Taco Bell during our highway rest stop dinner break, I discovered at the convenience store across the street that they still make Hostess pudding pies! I hadn't seen them since I was maybe 12! I bought two, and they were both the pinnacle of deliciousness.
2. As we approached our hotel, just down the street from Magic Mountain, Robb got on the microphone and said, "So how would you guys like to go to the park tonight?" He had been in contact with Magic Mountain, let them know we were pulling in ahead of schedule and arranged for us to have bonus time at the park during its final 90 minutes of operation that evening!
The one caveat was, we would have to walk back to the hotel on our own after park closing, which pretty much left me out, what with my bum foot still slowing me down. It was just as well since I knew we were going to have 14 full hours at the park the next day (no, that's not a typo), and I was pretty beat from the long days we'd had already. Still, I was just a teensy bit envious when I found out later that the folks who went over that night also got bonus ERT!
No matter; the next day would provide me with my fill of SFMM and provide still more amazing moments to remember long after the day ended.
^^^I don't know if it "valleyed" as much as it "hung." Basically, according to the news reports I found online, a trainful of riders was stuck on the ride 80 feet off the ground for five and a half hours in temperatures up to 90 degrees while the park brought in a tower truck to get them all down. Again, according to online reports, the park "made up" the situation to the riders by offering them free pizza and drinks. Which at a Cedar Fair park, of course, is approximately a $200 value. (Yeah, I got in one last dig--but wait 'till we get to Knott's!)
^^Thanks, Mike... and Legoland is still to come!
^It wasn't, but that's just my opinion. I'm a little biased against CF after some bad experiences in the past couple years at Cedar Point, Kings Dominion and now, on this trip, Knott's Berry Farm. Compared to them, CGA fell into the OK/nothing special category (as opposed to the "I won't be going there again" category... though based on geographic distance, I probably won't anyway). Also, I must be just old enough to have missed the KidSongs craze because a lot of people on the bus went nuts when Robb started that video, but it was all new to me.
Anyway, the next day brought us to (and most of us back to) Six Flags Magic Mountain! For most of us, this place was something special because of all the amazing coasters it held. For me, this place was special because of all the TV and movie memories it held! "National Lampoon's Vacation," "Step By Step," one of my favorite episodes of "CHiPs"... the list goes on. To come here and not think about them would be like, if you're of a certain age, going to Kings Island and not thinking about "The Brady Bunch."
Be that as it may, SFMM was one of the most awesome parks (and definitely had the friendliest employees, including Disneyland) we visited during the West Coast Trip. It was a long day, so photos are split into two sections. Enjoy part one!
How close was our hotel to Magic Mountain? This was the view from the parking lot!
It was a real thrill to know we were sleeping so close to the Six Flags California Gift Shop!
Oh noes! The gates are locked! Did they not know we were coming early for ERT?
Nah, they were just waiting for some special guests to come open them for us!
Actually, that's not entirely untrue. They did send a special guest to open them for us: SFMM Operations Manager Neil Thurman! (Seriously, Neil is awesome.)
Watch out for trucks during ERT!
In memory of John Hughes, who died a couple days prior, I wanted my first ride of the day to be on the Whipper Snapper.
OK, so actually, even though he was responsible for some really amazing movies, I didn't really care about John Hughes. The fact of the matter is, I had never ridden a vertical loop roller coaster, and I wanted the very first one to be my very first one.
Love that retro paint job! This is how it looked in that episode of "CHiPs."
So how was my first vertical loop? I really enjoyed it (enough to ride four more times)! Honestly, I'm glad the train pretty much braked at the edge of the slope before going into the loop. That really helped calm my nerves the first time through. After that, though, it was like, "What are we stopping for? Let's go through the loop!"
We also had ERT on Tatsu...
...and Viper (which is one of Six Flags' catch-all names--in various parks it's used on steel coasters, woodies, whatever, as long as the logo looks good on the sign).
So counting ERT on Terminator: Salvation that night and bonus ERT on Goliath the night before, that's... six coasters' worth of ERT at SFMM. Did I mention these guys rock?
OK, this is just one example of what makes Magic Mountain's employees stand out so much (with others to follow): Toward the end of ERT, after my fourth spin on Revolution, I hung around in the station, waiting for them to dispatch the retro train (they had two; the other was just plain). The op in charge of safety checks started talking to me, asking me about TPR, etc., and wanted to know if I wanted one more ride before the GP came in. I told him actually, I had been hoping to get a picture of the retro train in action (I didn't go into how it looked like the one from "CHiPs") from the offload platform, but since no one was around to ride it, I would just wait for the GP to come in if that was OK.
His response: "Why wait?" He then called up to the op in the control booth and cleared the train for dispatch. They ran the retro train, empty, just so I could get this photo. I felt like a VIP!
Robb had told us to meet up after ERT to get our Gold Q-Bots for the day at Katie's Kettle...
...or is that Katy's Kettle? Either way, no standing in line for us. Because, you know, Gold Q-Bots!
Theme parks, roller coasters and... flying mules?
Ninja's sign did a really good job of hiding in the shadows. We almost didn't see it for our first "GP" ride of the day!
"Coaster enthusiasts! I'm scared, Chang!"
"Wu! You sissy boy! You shut up and look at my man boobs! Look at them!"
If you want a better shot of the train than this, you've come to the wrong TR.
If, however, you're looking for a nice aerial view of the track... then welcome!
After Ninja, Mike Moody and I followed some other TPRers over to Superman: The Escape. Mostly this was just to check it out and get a few photos because there was no way you were getting either of us on that ride!
This used to be the 99-Cent Super Store.
Thanks to Six Flags' decorative foresight, we can determine just what year this coaster was built. Otherwise, we would have had to cut it open and count the ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings.
This coaster actually kind of confuses me. I mean, what are you escaping from? The Fortress of Solitude? Not really; you go right back down there. And you're not escaping from Superman; you're actually speeding toward him. Maybe this is explained in the pre-show. I dunno.
Mike and I thought maybe Goldrusher would be more our speed.
We thought wrong. If Superman: The Escape was too intense, then Goldrusher was at the exact opposite end of that spectrum. This thing would have bored KidTums. But hey, it's vintage '71!
The Screamy Meemy, on the other hand, was one of my favorite coasters of the trip!
"Rusty? Can I call you Rusty? I had a bad experience on this ride once. I threw up."
The only thing I'm a little confused about on this coaster is when exactly they moved it from Port Washington, Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, we missed the fireworks. By about 31 years.
And now you know!
Back on the topic of things that confuse me, why is this secton called the "Gotham City Backlot"? Are they filming a movie about Gotham City here? Is this not the real Gotham City?
I'm also not sure exactly what this...
...or this have to do with Gotham City.
Of course, there's really only one reason anyone comes to Gotham City (or the Gotham City Backlot)....
OK, so I'm going to offer this suggestion, and if Six Flags wants to pay me for it, that's fine; if not, that's fine, too: Wouldn't it be uber-cool if they actually had a Bat-signal in the DC Comics/Gotham City areas of the various Six Flags parks? I mean, they're strapped for cash right now, but for the cost of a spotlight and some plywood cut into the shape of a bat, they could have a really cool new attraction to draw people to the parks in 2010. They could build a whole advertising campaign around it, maybe spoof it with a "Mr. Six" signal in the commercials.
Just a thought....
Wow, I'd heard that Six Flags was turning things around, but what with all this pollution and these run-down buildings....
Oh well. At least it's dedicated to families (especially ones with dads who have ripped abs).
One more thing I don't understand and then I'll move on: Why isn't Riddler's Revenge located on the Gotham City backlot? It's right next to Batman: The Ride, but you can't get there from here, if you know what I mean.
Maybe it's supposed to indicate that Batman finally forced the Riddler out of Gotham? If so, then I applaud you for your symbolism, SFMM.
While we were back there, we took a brief tour of the rest of the back side of the park, including Cyclone 500...
...Deja Vu (What's up with those 90-degree ends? California parks sure do like to "tweak" their boomerangs.)...
...and the Awesomeness (note the capital "A") that is Terminator: Salvation!
On another note, why do parks feel it's necessary to add "The Ride" to attractions based on movies? Is anyone really going to get off the coaster and say, "How misleading! I thought I was going into a movie theater"?
Ah, but then it was time for the real fun to begin!
We stood below Sky Tower, keeping an eye on the trees that apparently escaped and followed us from Gilroy Gardens, as we waited for the elevator to descend and take us to...
...Magic of the Mountain!
If your do-rag has a cross on it and you're not happy about that, you made a Valentine with a Band-Aid on it, or you have a see-through stomach and recently swallowed a giant peanut, you are advised not to view these exhibits. Please keep all hands, arms and legs in Magic of the Mountain at all times. Thank you, and have a Six Flags day.
Did I mention this place was Awesome? Didn't I read somewhere that an intern came up with this? If so, then props to him.
1971 L.A. Times supplement.
If they still sold pennants that looked like this, I would have bought one in a heartbeat!
There was a lot of stuff up here featuring the trolls. That's not a bad thing; I miss the days when parks had their own unique mascots instead of licensing nationally recognized characters (though that does make more sense from a marketing standpoint).
I find it odd that Trollywood was a city...
...yet it had its own king. Or maybe this was just a local eccentric who liked wearing Jughead hats.
The two in the middle look more than a "little" crazy, if you ask me....
Mappy map map map map....
Boogie down at Magic Mountain, jive turkeys!
More troll paraphernalia... in shirt form!
And now, here's Bugs.
Kind of makes you wonder why snap shirts never caught on....
OMG! If anyone sees one of these for sale on eBay, I want to know! Seriously, someone find me one in an XL. I know what I want for Christmas this year (really)!
The vintage literature on display called the park's former Spillikin Corners "the largest craft village in the West." What it probably should have said was, "Why go to Knott's Berry Farm? We have all your rustic shopping needs met right here!" Much as I hate to admit it, the closest thing that still exists to Spillikin Corners is probably Cedar Point's Frontier Trail.
You know, if California politicians spent more time balancing the state's budget instead of doing things like drafting proclamations for Bugs Bunny's birthday, maybe the state would be in a little better shape right now. Just sayin'.
Magic Mountain never sends me a Christmas card. Now I know how Charlie Brown feels.
And now here's something we hope you'll really like (if you're a coaster geek, that is)!
"Sufferin' succotash, Magic Mountain! You've got a great museum here, but...
...you're doing it wrong!"
Somewhere out in that vast arid desert lies TPR headquarters....
Back again to things I don't understand: Why is the highest point in Magic Mountain called "Samurai Summit"? Regardless, I guess at least it makes the "Orient Express" name work.
For those who are wondering, the Orient Express is the park's incline railway, and as the day wears on, it's a godsend. Whose idea was it to build a park on a real mountain, anyway?
On our way to lunch, we passed a few random sights, including one of the park's half-dozen flats, the Scrambler...
...Daffy and Bugs...
..and the most Cedar Fair-named restaurant ever (not at a Cedar Fair park, ironically).
There are about 28 Johnny Rockets at SFMM, but this was the one we were interested in...
...because that's where our trip-included meal was being served! Served by whom, you ask? Why, none other than SFMM President Jay Thomas and his executive staff, of course!
This really blew me away, and it goes a long way toward proving the point I made in the preceding installment of this ongoing TR: employees who are treated well are more likely to treat customers well. Here we have a park president who's not afraid to be seen serving burgers to a bunch of coaster geeks when he could just as easily have been sitting in his air conditioned office, playing Solitaire on his computer (that's what park presidents do, right?). We certainly didn't expect this treatment, and we would have enjoyed SFMM without it, but the executive staff really set an example for the employees to follow... and I got the impression it wasn't something they did just to put on a show for us.
This was one of the best Johnny Rocket burgers I'd ever tasted (TPR makes everything better!), but when they brought out the milkshakes... well, that pretty much made this the best lunch of the trip!
And lunch seems like a good place to break. More to come in part two!
Love your trip reports Jason!! I really enjoy reading your perspective on everything!!!
I didn't notice all the Hannah-Barbera cartoon characters. Guess I was too busy riding! Thanks for posting those! It was a trip down cartoon lane for me!! My favorite's are Muttely, Quick Draw McGraw, and of course Yogi!!
And now at this time I would like to present the Most Great and Awesome Park Award! On this TPR Summer of 2009 I hereby present this Award to Six Flags Magic Mountain!!
From beginning to end Magic Mountain did not disappoint! I Love Magic Mountain!!
Love the shots of the museum! I was a little sad going through though, because my brother actually had one of the Magic Mountain Pendants and one of those classic Troll t-shirts! However I was young and now I have no idea what happened to that stuff....
Did I mention I LOVE Magic Mountain!!
In the words of Jay Thomas himself "Spread the word out there about us, tell everyone you can, So that more people come and then we can make this park even better than it already is!!"
Great TR. I liked seeing the old Hannah-Barbera themed rides. I remember seeing rides like that at Canada's Wonderland and also Kings Dominion when I was younger. I always liked to ride sitting on Jabber Jaws on the carousel.
Also, nice Vacation references. Classic movie, one of my favorites.
printersdevil78 wrote:On another note, why do parks feel it's necessary to add "The Ride" to attractions based on movies? Is anyone really going to get off the coaster and say, "How misleading! I thought I was going into a movie theater"?
, that is so true. I'm glad you took a step up and rode your first looping coaster. Did you try any of the park's other coasters?
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