Spent a week in Southern California last week, primarily visiting theme parks. My son is a Roller Coaster junkie and I wanted to ride everything I could right along side him. We visited Six Flags Magic Mountain, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knotts Berry Farm, DisneyLand and Disney’s California Adventure. All are good parks in some ways.
My big beef is with two of the parks: Six Flags and Knotts. Both have some high quality rides. However, both have rides that are so poor that they should be dismantled and the land used for other purposes. Seriously.
At Six Flags:
Psyclone – an old style wooden roller coaster – this ride is absolutely terrible. I honestly felt like the train was barely connected to the track. It was extremely high-vibration, very very bumpy. It’s like riding a skateboard over a gravel surface at 45 miles per hour. Coming off that ride, my brain was Tapioca.
At Knotts Berry Farm
Boomerang – a small steel rollercoaster with a cable lift that shoots riders forward through poorly banked twists that cause their head, neck, and shoulders to be jarred repeatedly, until it reaches a steep incline where the coaster stops and proceeds to run the entire course backwards, with the same body-jarring effects. My old son came off this ride shaken. My 11 year old was traumatized. As for me, my head hurt and my shoulders were aching for two days. I ran into other folks who rode this ride and had similar stories to tell. If you go to KBF, avoid this ride like the plague it is.
GhostRider – a very large wooden roller coaster that is the centerpoint for the park. This ride, while nowhere near as bad as the Psyclone at Magic Mountain, was unnecessarily rough. It bounces and jars the rider with an extremely high level of vibration. I honestly think that simple maintenance of the cars and track can fix this ride, returning it to some semblence of grace. As it is, the ride is wearing out, and you feel it on every inch of track.
Negatives aside, though, I have a few very positive things to say about some fun coasters:
At Six Flags Magic Mountain:
The Riddlers Revenge – This ride is beyond Excellent. It is fantastic. If you ride one coaster this year, make it RR. You ride standing with the cars suspended from an overhead track. All the G force is pointed to your feet, so if you have a sensitive stomach and cannot handle most roller coasters, you may be able to ride this one just fine, even though it flips, spins, and spirals with the best. It is fast and fun.
Batman the Ride – Just a hair behind Riddlers Revenge, an amazing Ride. A floorless coaster with excellent speed, smooth and fun.
Tatsu – Fly like superman. You cannot see the coaster. You are suspended, face down, throughout the ride. This one is excellent.
At Knotts Berry Farm:
Xcelerator – a slightly smaller version of a very similar ride at Cedar Point, this steel coaster is small but extremely fast. Honestly, this is the only coaster I’ve ridden where the best, and most thrilling part, is leaving the station. The coaster accelerates to 80+ miles per hour in under three seconds. Shoots vertical, over the top of a hill, and vertical down to a series of loops and turns. It’s over in less than 30 seconds. My kids (the same ones rattled by the bad rides above) couldn’t get enough. My 11 year old rode it more than 10 times!
At Disney California Adventure
California Screamin – this steel beauty is not the fastest, not the tallest, not the scariest. But it is, far and away, the smoothest ride for a steel coaster I’ve ever been on. You can safely take a seven-year-old on this coaster (if he or she is tall enough) and they will come off screaming… for more. If you are a teen thrill seeker, this ride won’t impress you. But if you are a father, like me, you will love the fact that you can introduce your kids to coasters with this sweet, kid friendly roller coaster.