Waking up early, we picked up breakfast and headed north to Six Flags Magic Mountain. This was the only time I’d ever actually been in any of the infamous LA traffic. Friday morning…wasn’t terrible. But we did get caught up in traffic. I think if you go into it with the mindset of it IS going to happen, it’s much more tolerable. I had gotten online a couple days before on Wednesday and signed up for a Six Flags membership, which is like a season pass but you’re locked in for 12 months of around $7 per month payment. After the initial year, I can either cancel or continue. With taxes and fees, SFMM was around $12 on this trip and the first non special event theme park admission I’d paid for.
After we arrived we paid for parking, went to the front gate, and Isaac got his season pass ticket all before opening. We headed over to the Season Pass processing center to process our passes. It was quick and painless. I will say this, the park needs a lot of cosmetic and infrastructure work (nothing that hasn’t been said before), and the Season Pass center could use just a few touch ups to be really nice, but it looked run down. A theme for the day. Once we got in we headed directly to one of my favorite coasters of all time.
X2–I still love this coaster. We ended up on the left side. We put our stuff in a locker and got in line for the front seat. Isaac was excited to try it out. The audio was different than my last time around. The wait was about 30 minutes or so. That first drop is still amazing. You swing to face straight down (well, almost) as you fall down a nearly vertical drop. The ride is a little rough, and shakes, but I like it. The whole ride is just so different than most coasters out there, and I’d really like to see Six Flags purchase a non-free spinning 4D coaster by S&S Sansei at one of their parks for a marquee attraction.
Waking up we once again headed back to the beach. Huntington was familiar so we headed there for beach time. I did hang out in the pool that morning. Huntington was just as nice during the day and there were again plenty of surfers. Also, there were birds for Isaac (an avid birder). I acclimated to the water quite nicely, but he was kind of on and off with it. The surf was up and fun, and we spent a nice morning playing in the water and laying out on the beach.
We had lunch reservations at 2:50 at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland, and thanks to a good friend, got hooked up with tickets for 2 days while in the area. Because of poor planning and GPS usage on my part, we were a little late meeting our contact, but we did get there not long after we’d planned to meet at the Grand Californian Hotel. Unfortunately, once we parked and got to the resort, another GPS mistake had us walking all thru Downtown Disney and going to the hotel the long way. But once we got in, we met up with our new friend and headed into California Adventure first before heading directly over to Disneyland proper.
My last visit to the Disneyland Resort was in 2005, just before they started the 50th celebration. I hadn’t been to Walt Disney World at that point, but now I’d been to the Florida parks a couple times. So it was nice to compare with the original with a fresh perspective. I love Disneyland, and the last time my group only had a 1 day park hopper pass so we tried to cram too much into one day and didn’t spend nearly enough time at Disneyland. I loved California Adventure even then, before the changes, but I really needed more Disneyland time.
September 26, 2016 Buena Park & Huntington Beach CA
Monday morning we woke up and headed to a neat local diner with great food and homemade salsa for eggs that was not far from the house, then we headed back to Knott’s Berry Farm where we found a nicely shaded parking spot in the lot by Ghostrider. After getting inside we headed over towards Ghostrider first, but it wasn’t open quite yet, so we headed around and hit up Pony Express.
Pony Express–I really like it. I’d be happy if Carowinds got one of these. The launch is fun, there’s airtime, and the train is really neat. It would serve as a great family coaster in whatever park it’s in, but that it’s themed to the Pony Express near Ghost Town makes it all the more interesting. The launch isn’t that intense but it is fun, and the twists and turns are mildly thrilling. The finale with the tunnel is quite fun.
Next we hit up the Log Ride and Mine Train again before heading into the 50s section of the park. We got in line for Xcelerator and with absolutely no line or wait we rode in the front seat. And it was glorious. Then we were allowed to switch to an untaken seat and ride again. We rode two or three times more and then headed over to another ride close by.
Supreme Scream–I like the S&S towers. They don’t scare me that much, though I’m really starting to be less and less scared by drop towers. Don’t get me wrong, I love the drop, but the journey up the tower scares me. Supreme Scream has a nice view, and it’s a shame I didn’t have my camera up there. And the drop was a lot of fun.
We headed over thru the Fiesta Village section next. My last visit to Knott’s wasn’t very busy, but this day was absolutely dead. And it was fantastic. It was time to get some Jaguar and Monte love in.
Jaguar!–I love the queue. It’s really, really long, but really cool. But there was a loud announcement made and you couldn’t make out a word that was being said. They need to fix the speakers. Jaguar! is a great family ride. It’s a long ride, it gets done what it needs to, it’s great for kids and families. No major airtime, but it’s just so much fun going up, down, around, and thru the other rides in the area.
We headed over to another classic, one of my favorites, and a dying breed next.
Montezooma’s Revenge–We had a mishap (with no line, mind you) of the people beside us getting in our seats for some odd reason, and wouldn’t move, because they wanted to ride with their friends who were in the queue right behind them. It was weird. But whatever. Monte is a classic and I’m so glad Knott’s keeps it up. The launch is fun, the loop is intense, and the first spike, while sunny, was really fun. And that back spike really is better on the fly wheel versions of this ride.
We walked over thru Camp Snoopy next. They have one of the best Camp Snoopy sections in any Cedar Fair park, I really like it. Then we walked back to Ghost Town. I had some unfinished business from the night before.
I’d mentioned when Cedar Fair announced that Ghostrider would be getting completely retracked, refurbished, and new trains all done by Great Coasters International that I had a bit of trepidation. I loved Ghostrider with PTC trains. Even in 2012, with the MCBR mostly stopping the train on the MCBR I still thought the ride was really great. I never got one of the infamous ‘rough’ rides. So GCI’s modifications gave me pause. We rode in the back of the train. I like GCI, I like Millennium Flyer trains, but in the past, switching to those trains have not fared well with enthusiasts.
Ghostrider–The ride is very smooth. It definitely feels GCI smooth. The first drop was really good, and the first couple of hills were fun, though the amount of airtime was not what it was before, and that comes from simple physics. The trains are different. Also, there was some reprofiling of the layout. You go right thru where the MCBR used to be and the whole last part of the ride is fast, furious, smooth, with airtime and laterals in the helix. So what did I think, and how did it compare? For my first ride, I was slightly disappointed that a few of the more powerful airtime moments were gone, but what it lost in intensity it gained in speed. Ghostrider now feels like a coaster built by GCI, and that isn’t a bad thing. I liked it, but decided to hold off on officially making a decision until another ride later. Though slightly disappointed, I still really like Ghostrider just based off of that ride.
We walked to the Mystery Lodge but I’d just gotten a Boysenberry Icee so I had to finish that instead. I first experienced Mystery Lodge on my last visit and unfortunately it led to me not getting to ride Jaguar! or Monte because of my time crunch. But since we had Platinum Passes and were less than 2 miles from Knott’s I didn’t mind waiting this time, and the wait was actually far less than it was the last time. If you haven’t seen it, it’s an interesting show using Pepper’s Ghost and a live action actor. The actor last time was much better, but it really is a well done use of the PG effect.
We were getting hungry so we walked out of the park and over to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Restaurant, newly renovated and with a new head chef. It. Was. Amazing! I love the chicken there anyway, but the mashed potatoes (dairy free, not that i care, but you just might) were out of this world and the whole meal was really good. As was the Boysenberry punch (see a theme here?).
Heading back in I believe we went over to the Stage Coach next. This was my first time riding it and it was a lot of fun. Then we rode the train. They had the smaller one running in the off season. I love trains and the smaller, more unique one was really neat. The outlaw that held us up was funny too.
We walked over towards the Fiesta section again and rode La Revolucion. I love these rides, and this one was no exception. It made me hope Carowinds gets a frisbee type ride at some point. We walked back over again to Camp Snoopy. I discovered some random ‘cave’ and had to check it out. It reminded me a little of the Treasure Cave (R.I.P.) at Kings Dominion. I really love Knott’s for things like this. Next was Sierra Sidewinder, another credit for Issac, and just a fun ride.
Sierra Sidewinder–Knott’s has another home run as far as family coasters go. It spins, it has a few fun drops and turns. We spinned quite wildly as our car was a little bit off balance, which was great. The layout is really one of the better ones for a spinning coaster.
We took a re-ride on Voyage to the Iron Reef. This time on Voyage, we got stuck just near the end of the ride. I still hope we get one of these at Carowinds and at other Cedar Fair parks. We also rodehe Sky Tower for some photos. They need new windows.
Also, Isaac wanted to ride the flyers. Up to this point in my life, I’d yet to snap flyers. I tried hard, but never have. Even at Knoebels. Even at Carowinds. These were no different, but I do like the setup of the boardwalk section. We took a spin on the Log Flume too before our last ride on Silver Bullet. And we got some last daytime rides on Xcelerator.
We headed out of the park and back to the house for a bit. I tried again to get in the pool, and I think I stayed for a few minutes. It was warmer in the mornings, but not so much in the afternoons or evenings. I did manage to nap by the pool one day, and we laid out by it one night.
That evening we decided to head to the beach for my first ever sunset on the Pacific Ocean. Huntington Beach had been suggested so we headed to the Pier there. And we were glad we did. There were still tonnes of surfers in the water and the sunset was spectacular. Plus I got to see what my new camera could do in low light and at night. And I’m very happy about that. We hung out at the pier and at the beach for a bit before heading back to the house
Sunday was a fresh new day so we woke up early, got ready, checked out, and headed towards Buena Park where we would be staying the rest of the week. Isaac was feeling somewhat okay and so we headed to Knott’s Berry Farm for a few hours to see if he could handle going to parks. It was busy for a Sunday but Isaac was feeling better, and he had been excited to get to the park. Obviously I was willing to go because I really love Knott’s Berry Farm. After getting in the park we headed to Ghostrider first.
It had a decently sized line and immediately broke down. With new new work on it and new trains I wanted to ride it as it is one of my favorite wooden coasters, but there was no reason to wait that long, especially since we were staying right down the street and have our Platinum Passes that allow us to visit the park any time.
Instead we walked thru Ghost Town. I hate that Ghost Town Alive ended just prior to our arrival, I’d have loved to have seen it. Our first ride of the day was Calico Mine Ride which I’d not been on since it’s renovation. I love dark rides, and the refurb on this was really well done. My favorite scene is the large ‘glory hole’ room in the middle because it’s rather massive for a park of this size.
Next up it was time for a new credit. Normally, I’d do a rundown but Coast Rider, the park’s newer Mack Wild Mouse is something I’d ridden several times, including earlier in the year at King’s Dominion. It’s a fun mouse with a great first drop, and it looks great where they put it at Knott’s. Plus I like the play on Ghostrider with the name. It’s a much better ride than what used to be there. Up next we headed over to Xcelerator, which didn’t have much of a wait, surprisingly.
Xcelerator–I still don’t care much for the queue in the station. I’m not sure why they decided to group by car instead of by row because it doesn’t always work. We sat near the back. During the off season they were running one train, but in all three visits to the park on this trip that was plenty. This is one of my favorite launched coasters. Even with a short track length, the launch is really powerful, with great airtime over the tophat. I greyed out in the 2 turns.
We walked thru the Fiesta Village area and planned to ride Montezooma’s Revenge but decided we needed water and a bathroom break first. We headed thru Camp Snoopy and back over to Ghost Town. We toyed with getting in line for Mystery Lodge, but decided to keep it for another day. I got some Boysenberry goodness in the form of an Icee and it was delicious. Then we hit up another amazing dark ride that I wasn’t able to ride last time, and haven’t been on since it’s refurb, Timber Mountain Log Ride. Again, another amazing refurbishment. I don’t remember a lot about the ride before, but we didn’t mind that we waited in line because again, it was just so well done. Then we headed around the park, at some point hitting up Silver Bullet.
Silver Bullet–This is one of my favorite inverted coasters. Most people don’t like it, I think it’s underrated. I like the rampy first drop that most don’t. Also, the Stengle Dive-esq turn is really awesome. The ride is very well paced, and then you hit that very intense helix at the end. I wish it were closer, because I love Silver Bullet.
Heading back around the park again we ended up getting in line for something else that was new since my last visit. And if this is any indication of what Cedar Fair can do with new dark rides, I want one at every park, including Carowinds, a.s.a.p.
Voyage to the Iron Reef–The queue is nicely done. I felt it was on the level of at least a Busch park, if not nearly at Universal Studios level of theming. And the whole ride is just fantastic. The gun I had was slightly off, but it worked, and the scenes where you’re shooting were a lot of fun. I also liked the throwback to the older rides no longer at the park. I really liked it. I want a Pirate themed one at Carowinds, please…
Calico Mine Train is a fun dark ride, so we rode it one more time and then left the park as it was nearing time for us to go check in to our amazing AirBnB house a mile and a half away. Once we arrived we checked it all out, checked out the pool, put our stuff away, and then headed to the grocery store to get some stuff for the week, finding an amazing authentic Korean restaurant along the way. Isaac loves Korean food, and I love what I’d have of it, but this made me wish I could have it more often. The food was amazing. For most of the dinner, we were the only non-Korean customers in the place, and it was fairly popular.
We headed back to the house and I tried to get in the (now cold) pool, but didn’t last long before heading to bed.
The last time I was in southern California was December of 2012. I was on a week’s vacation to Las Vegas and when planning the trip decided to drive out for a day to spend the morning at Knott’s Berry Farm theme park and the afternoon at Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park. Previously I’d spent time at both parks in 2005 on my first west coast SoCal trip. This trip was initially planned for spring of 2016, but because of my onset of medical problems it got pushed back to September instead. Which is fine as this was a great time to go.
We flew out Saturday morning from Greenville, SC’s small airport. I like smaller airports because it’s just easier to park, get thru security, get a bite to eat, and relax before the flight. Plus it was cheaper and Southwest is way better than I felt it used to be. Our flight was around 10:30 with a 2 hour layover at ATL.
Getting to LAX and out to our rental car agency was pretty easy, and the trip to the rental car agency wasn’t nearly as long as when I’d done this 11 years ago as it seemed like Enterprise was a good 30 minutes away from the airport, if I recall correctly. We ended up in a cute VW Bug. Which excited me…until we started driving it. It had great gas mileage, but that was about it. I didn’t like how there were not accommodating handles on the door for when you were trying to open or shut it, and you couldn’t lay the seats back. It’s just not for me. This is actually the first time I’d ever driven a VW Bug. And I really didn’t like it. Neither did Isaac.
I left Knott’s Berry Farm at 12:30 PM. I should have stopped and gotten something to eat, but not knowing how L.A. traffic would be midday on a Monday, and not knowing exactly how long the ride would be, I waited till I got to Six Flags, which was a mistake I’ll get into in a bit. Overall, it to me about an hour and six minutes to make the drive from Knott’s to Six Flags. Not bad, from what I can tell, in moderate traffic. Who says driving in L.A. is hard?
It went from beautiful to partly cloudy, to pretty dreary by the time I got to Magic Mountain. Why was it always dreary when I go to Magic Mountain? I was, however, excited when I arrived and saw things that made me happy. First, X2 was running. Second, there was only 1 open car lane in to the park, which I hoped meant that it was about as busy as Knott’s. Third, getting into the parking lot, seeing a couple hundred cars, and parking right behind the handicapped spaces. Fourth, only one gate into the park was open, followed by empty midways. There were more employees at Magic Mountain than guests.
Already, I was in a better mood than my first miserable experience, but then I was just heading in to the park. Would the park be clean? Would the rides be opened? I figured without pressing my luck too much, I would head to my favorite coaster in California thus far…
I had gone back and forth on what day I wanted to drive out to L.A. and visit some parks. After checking on line everyone said that it would be a busy week, especially the weekend. I was going to go on Sunday and meet up with someone, but they weren’t feeling well, so I pushed it back to Monday hoping it wouldn’t be as busy. I woke up and headed out from Vegas around 6 AM. I stopped for gas and a Red Bull and actually made it to Knott’s Berry Farm around 10:30 AM, and that was with traffic. I also passed by 2 overturned vehicles and two tire blowouts on the way.
Going in to the parking lot I flashed my Platinum Pass at the gate to park and headed to the front entrance. It didn’t look to be too busy at this point and I was only planning on staying at Knott’s for about 2 hours. Unfortunately, my pass wouldn’t scan at the front gate so I had to get a comp ticket, but that didn’t take very long. Once inside, I was reminded of how much I loved Knott’s Berry Farm. It’s such a charming, clean, and beautiful park. I headed over to my first credit. At this point, the midways were all but abandoned. There were people there, but not a lot.
Sierra Sidewinder–I wasn’t really looking at this as more than a quick credit. Both trains were running, but they were only loading one, and the wait was maybe 6 or 7 minutes. I sat facing backwards in the front car by myself, with 2 larger guys sitting in the same car facing forward. I REALLY liked this ride! I was surprised at how well I liked it. The first curved drop was great and it has some fun laterals, a bit of airtime, and great spinning action. Everyone on the ride seemed to enjoy it as well. I went in not expecting much, but this was actually a really fun ride, and a great way to start my day.
Some time in 2004 some kid on Coasterbuzz sent a private message telling me I wasn’t much of an enthusiast because I had been to neither Cedar Point nor Six Flags Magic Mountain. That, at the time, was untrue as I had in fact been to Cedar Point, but I had let my membership for Cbuzz Club expire, thus I wasn’t able to update my track record from the 51 coasters at that time it had shown I’d ridden. Surprisingly, this was not the first time I had gotten some random email telling me something similar. To the kid that sent me that message, you can sleep better now, because I’ve been to both Six Flags Magic Mountain and Cedar Point. Multiple times.
Like I care.
This is a story about the worst day I’d ever had at an amusement park. This is also the day I had the biggest case of anticipointment I’d ever had. Its not filled with twists and turns, but happens in a rather linear fashion. It wasn’t just because I was at Six Flags Magic Mountain, a notoriously hard park to like, that the cause of my bad day.
Winter Coaster Solace a great event. Great food, fun rides, and lots of friends. This would be my second event. I didn’t want to arrive too late since they were only offering ERT for 2 hours. But we had plans for the evening, so we weren’t going to be at the park until it closing time as we had for most other parks.
Since it was Sunday we were told that traffic wouldn’t be terrible going to Magic Mountain, but we’d need to leave at least an hour before we expected to be there. ACE SoCal and Ride World were holding West Coast Bash from 8-10 AM and I wanted to hit X as much as possible. So at about 7 AM the alarm went off and I called up to Tim Danner’s room to let him know we were up and getting ready to leave in just a few minutes.
Today I would attend my first ever theme park event. Knott’s Winter Coaster Solace 2005 begat at 7 AM with 3 hours of Exclusive Ride Time (ERT), a full 3 hours before the park opened to the public. During this time a substantial amount of coasters and a few thrill rides were running.
I had wanted to arrive at the park around 7 or 8 but after our concert the nite before, neither Jamaal nor myself was able nor willing to walk up so early. Plus, Tim had fallen ill at the Pre-Solace Radisson event, so he was okay with a later arrival. Eventually, we made it to the park around 9am. The first thing we needed to do was get registered for the event. Apparently, Robb and Elissa Alvey (of Theme Park Review fame) snagged the last lanyards for the event, so no lanyard for us.
Tim ended up paying for our registration fees with his credit card so that we could hand over some cash, which he didn’t have. This proved to be useful for us because Tim had a Cedar Fair season pass as he worked at Dorney Park, which meant that we were able to purchase our registration packets at a reduced rate. Because of our steep discount, Tim was covered for gas for the weekend, as he had planned to ride with us to the weekend’s events.
Waking up Friday morning, Jamaal and I got ready with plans to head over to Stratosphere with the gang to see if we could get a ride on Insanity since it was closed the night before. We’d had the breakfast buffet at our hotel the day before, but no such luck today. We rode over by Stratosphere but, after talking to Bill, decided we weren’t going to wait till the rides opened later in the day as we had plans to go to a concert that evening in Hollywood, so we left Las Vegas.
I wanted to get a picture of the billboards on the way back that said, “What happens in Vegas” & “Dosen’t get past this billboard” but we went by too quickly.
Speed was fun for the 2 rides, the food we had was great, Manhattan Express wasn’t the worst, and High Roller Sucked. The other rides (that were running) on the Strat were fun even if we didn’t get to ride Insanity. And Star Trek: The Experience was awesome.
But now it was time for coaster credit #106. We headed towards Prime, which is about 40 minutes outside of Vegas, on the NV/CA border.Buffalo Bills was interesting.The casino was nicely themed, and the Log ride looked like fun but we only got tickets for Desperado, even passing up what would be our 3rd S&S tower.
Desperado–It could be slightly rough, yes. But the trains were prettier than those on Magnum. The station is inside by the casino. Jamaal and I were in front seat with two other guys in the very back. We waited for a few minutes and then were dispatched. You go down a dip and then start up the lift that takes you outside. The first drop was great, just a bit rough at the bottom, but still fun. The subsequent bunny hops were filled with airtime, and both of us liked the ride, which circles the outside of the casino. I’d rate it above average. Another hypercoaster in the books. Another former record breaker ridden.
We were already 40 minutes past Vegas and our drive back from here wasn’t bad. Eventually we stopped at a gas station in a little settlement in the middle of the desert where we had stopped on the way to Vegas. I don’t think the temps ever got below 80 the couple days we were there.
Though I may have wanted to do more sightseeing, once we arrived in Hollywood it was already around 4pm, with a concert at 8:15. After parking at the bottom of the hill we rode the tram up to CityWalk. We had dinner at Panda Express and did some shopping. It was getting much cooler than Las Vegas had been. We really didn’t have a lot of time before getting in line for the concert.
Universal Amphitheater was a nice venue. We made it to our seats, which were a welcome to my tired legs. We still didn’t know who the opening act was, then someone told us-Phantom Planet, the guys that sangthe theme song for ‘The OC’. Plus we found out this was the opening nite of the tour.
Phantom Planet was great. They had a fairly long. It’s always refreshing to hear a good *Live* band. During intermission we went for a potty break, and I spotted someone I walked by that looked familiar. I knew I recognized this person. At the top of the stairs, I mentioned it to Jamaal, and coming back down the stairs, he was like “oh my, it is him”, our first celeb sighting…Ian Ziering from 90210. We had better seats than he did.
The lights went down and Maroon 5 came out to screaming fans. They did the songs off of their album and some new songs as well. Another refreshingly good live band. The lights went down and stayed until the encore. Then they went into my favorite Maroon V song, and I knew the end was near. I really love She will be Loved, and the audience went wild for that one as well.
After that, Adam Levine mentioned that the drummer had been off the tour due to injury and they had a back up drummer. But since it was L.A. and this was their hometown, Adam took the drums as the Drummer came out to play guitar and sing 2 songs. Their rendition of “Seven Nation Army” by White Strips, and then “Highway to Hell”, which just happens to be a song about being on tour.
They would be performing in Morgantown a few weeks later, but I wouldn’t be able to go. One interesting tidbit: The lead singer from Phantom Planet actually sat with his girl friend and family right behind us for the entirety of Maroon 5’s set. Great nite. Then it was a late arrival at Days Inn in Buena Park. We met up with Tim Danner who was also staying there that nite for a few minutes before bed.
Some years later, after meeting a friend’s wife, we found out that we were both at the same Maroon V concert, her in the pit just in front of us. Disney was right, it really is a small world. Jamaal and I were tired, and we had to get up early for Exclusive Ride Time at Knott’s Winter Coaster Solace the next morning, so we headed to bed.