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Posts tagged “Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Coaster Con XXXVII in the Bay Area this week

All this week, Great American Thrills will be bringing you insider coverage from Coaster Con XXXVII – the biggest event on the American Coaster Enthusiasts calendar – and the first time ever the event has been held exclusively in Northern California.

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From behind the scenes tours, special VIP events and even a few surprises along the way…stay tuned to Great American Thrills as we update the site every evening.

You can also follow our social media accounts – as we’ll be updating LIVE as we can with these hashtags across all the platforms:

#CoasterCon

#GreatAmericanThrills

#LostParks


Tsunami Soaker a Watery Blast of Fun

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Each amusement or theme park is different. They each “need” attractions based on their audience and climate.

Many park fans (and even general public guests) have argued that one ride Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was desperately missing was another water ride. The park had two Intamin water rides (both debuted in 1999), a standard 20-person splashwater and rapids flume. But that was it. With temperatures easily pushing above 90 during the summer heat waves, the park needed something more – something new.

For many years, a rumored “log flume” was on the books, designed to interact with the animal exhibits already in the park. Consider it a “Water Safari,” but for whatever reason, the ride never materialized.

So, it was with great anticipation that I rolled up to the park last week to test drive the new Tsumani Soaker – a Mack built “Aqua Twist.”

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The ride is deceptively simple: Four turntables (one large, three small) sink down into water when the ride begins and slowly rotate. Riders are seated in “barrels” that actually float, as they “battle” other riders, those waiting in line and would be passerby’s with water guns attached to their barrels.

As soon as the ride cycle starts, the entire platform sinks, revealing the water though the grated platform. From there – the best I can describe it is this: ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE. Water is flying literally everywhere – even the ride operator’s booth isn’t out of the firing line.

Part of the cool interactivity of the ride is the fact that you can still cool off – even if you never go on the ride. Five water guns are stationed outside of the ride’s fence, allowing non-riders to soak those on the ride. Just remember, you’re in range of the guns on the ride, too. You can even nail people waiting in line – which should be interesting to watch if people begin stampeding to try and stay dry.

And don’t let the small streams of water fool you – you will get soaked on this ride, there is no “wet.”

That being said, there are some minor flaws. All of the Great American Thrills team that day noticed a lack of a “long enough” queue line for the ride, which is bound to spill would-be riders into the midway.

I also imagine it’s a matter of time before the ride is modified, to include some form of seatbelt or restraint. Many riders on Media Day were seen standing up or switching seats to avoid the watery blasts. While riders were always safe and secure inside their barrels – most parks would rather you be COMPLETELY secured…in your seat.

The ride cycle is also quite long (this is a complaint?!?) but there’s a reason why this point ends up here. You see, all of the ride’s “guns” are built for right-handed people. We found that we had tired out from the one arm firing about halfway through the cycle (as did many of the other riders).

That being said, the long ride time also ensures no one will leave the ride dry. Scratch that – the ride’s cycle length ensures no one leaves the ride that isn’t drenched. Even with only one-fourth of the seats occupied, the entire Great American Thrills team was soaked to the bone. I can’t imagine how quickly you’ll be drenched when this ride is operating at full capacity.

Despite my qualms (and I’m a picky person), Tsunami Soaker is the perfect “family flat ride” that Discovery Kingdom desperately needed. It will be a welcome relief during the summer and if you bring an extra set of clothes. (You can always use the air dryer that’s now conveniently located at the ride exit too – though it’ll cost you $5.00 for three minutes).

WORD OF WARNING: Get a locker before going on this ride. Any electronic device is NOT safe from the inevitable drenching in your pocket, or in a backpack or other bay lying on the side of the ride.


Six Flags Wins Court Order To Ban “Animal-Rights” Protests From Property

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If you’ve visited Six Flags Discovery Kingdom this year, odds are a group of animal-rights activists were there too, trying to pass out leaflets and dissuade you from entering the park.

Well, you won’t have to worry about them interrupting your day, at least for now.

According to the Times Herald, a Judge has ruled that the protests (if they occur) can only be done from the sidewalk of the park – not on park property, as they were being done prior to this injunction.

The activists are angry over what they claim is “mistreatment” of animals in captivity at the park. Activists have also claimed that this captivity has lead to premature deaths of animals, something the park strongly denies.

The protests were already a distraction outside the gates, when Deborah Classen and Janet Locke purchased season tickets to the park, for the sole purpose of handing out leaflets inside the park, hoping to disrupt park operations. The passes were officially revoked on April 13, according to court documents.

But, this is not the end of the saga – Six Flags’ corporate offices are still looking to get permanent injunctions against the activists, to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Now, in all fairness – I have yet to see the controversial film, “Blackfish,” which has been used as a rallying call for animal-rights activists over the past year. The film has certainly done a good job of polarizing people, however: it entrenches people who already had a strong opinion on either side of the argument. From my sources in the industry, serious questions have been raised about how it was produced, and the lack of the “other side” being presented.

I have also seen how many of the animals have been treated at this park, behind the scenes. I have never seen anything that these activists call “mistreatment.” In fact, I have only seen a caring, nurturing environment fostered by the park and it’s animal handlers. Many are deeply bonded with the animals under their care – and that relationship is clear from my interactions with them both in the past, and through the present.

No matter what your opinion or thoughts on the topic, the fact of the matter is this: You can’t do whatever you want on private property, that’s why it’s called PRIVATE property. I look forward to waving at the protesters as I happily drive into the parking lot of the park, soon.

 

 


Industry Leaders Support Great American Thrills

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You’ve seen the recent support from coaster fan sites for Great American Thrills®, now – we’re proud to have industry leaders Irvine Ondrey Engineering stepping up and sharing our idea for a better amusement park travelogue show!

Industry leaders support Great American Thrills®

You know you’re onto something when fans of the industry you want to highlight like the idea – but when companies WORKING in the industry you’re looking to highlight want to help spread the word – that gives you an extra-special feeling.

I’m fairly certain “Insane Coaster Wars” (by Indigo Films) or “Ride-iculous” (by High Noon Entertainment) don’t have that sort of support from within the industry they’re covering; but then again, neither of those shows are as “authentic” as Great American Thrills®!

Thanks again, Irvine Ondrey Engineering – and remember, we can’t do this without YOU! Keep sharing the video with all your friends, family and favorite television networks – let’s get Great American Thrills® on the air, together!


Great American Thrills TV Pitch Gaining Steam!

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This week, we were honored to watch as several of our friends in the amusement industry stood up and said, “WE WANT GREAT AMERICAN THRILLS® ON OUR TV’S!

From our friend, The Coaster Guy:

Kurt Dahlin, The Coaster Guy

To our friends on Screamscape:

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To our new friends at BehindtheThrills:

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It looks like the Great American Thrills® pitch is really gaining steam! We’ve also been contacted by several other sites interested in interviewing both Nicholas, Robert and I about the project – so stay tuned and KEEP SHARING THE VIDEO WITH YOUR FAVORITE CABLE CHANNELS!


Great American Thrills® Official Pitch

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After months of planning and years of dreaming – I am proud to present the official “pitch” video for our Great American Thrills® concept:

But, we need YOUR help! We need you to share this video with all of your friends, family and websites that you visit, especially television social media pages, such as Discovery, Travel and Destination America. The more eyeballs that see it, the better the odds of it being discovered – so SHARE AWAY!

From our press release today:

NEW COASTER SHOW CONCEPT AIMS TO SHOWCASE AMERICA’S GREAT AMUSEMENT PARKS

 REDWOOD CITY, CA: Today, Kris Rowberry and Nicholas Laschkewitsch, producers of the popular “Lost Parks of Northern California” series, are proud to debut the official television “pitch” for their Great American Thrills® travelogue show concept. It can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeIJ6Kd__M0

The show follows host, Kris Rowberry, as he and his crew – headed by Laschkewitsch – travel the country to find their next thrill, based on suggestions and recommendations sent to them via social media, using the #GreatAmericanThrills hashtag.

“We all know social media is a huge part of our lives now,” said Rowberry. “So why not use it to its full potential – beyond just getting something trending?”

“Other shows may use hashtags or handles, but we’re the first one to utilize the medium to this level,” said Laschkewitsch. “In the process, we’re getting the authentic park experience from the people that know parks the best – their fans.”

Contributors to the show have the opportunity to join in on the fun: if their post is chosen, they get an automatic invite onto the show – which offers the chance to be on TV.

“We noticed that most ‘coaster shows’ have featured the same three parks,” said Rowberry. “We want to tell the stories and meet the people of the other 99% of amusement parks here in America.”

“When coaster enthusiasts aren’t watching the current slate of ‘coaster shows,’ that should tell you something,” said Laschkewitsch. “Our concept is simple: Bring back the passion of enjoying the great American amusement park, with the latest in modern technology.”

“But we can’t do this show alone,” said Rowberry. “We need fans of coasters and travel shows to tell their favorite cable networks they want to see Great American Thrills® on the air this summer!”

Both Rowberry and Laschkewitsch are proud members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts, an organization dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of roller coasters worldwide.


Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Dolphin Announces Birth of Bottlenose Dolphin

Photo by Nancy Chan, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Yesterday, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom proudly announced that Bella, a nine year old Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, gave birth to her first calf. It is not yet known if the calf is male or female – though it is surmised that it is female, the first time one has been born at Discovery Kingdom since Bella nine years ago.

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Photo by Nancy Chan, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

As it is her first calf, Bella will be closely monitored in the first few weeks of life.

“For a first time mother with no prior experience, we are very excited that Bella is demonstrating her maternal side in a big way,” said Michael Muraco, animal care director. He added, “…the first 30 days will be critical to the young calf’s long term survival.”

Photo by Nancy Chan, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Photo by Nancy Chan, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

“Our technology to monitor and track the calf’s progress is much more advanced than in the past, but ultimately, it is up to mother and baby,” he said.

The birth has attracted significant attention in the animal research field, as Bella may have been communicating with the calf in utero – similar to how we as humans play music for our new arrivals in the womb. Bella’s behavior could help us better understand our own development, in addition to the groundbreaking research on dolphins.

But, don’t plan to visit the park and expect to go see Bella and the newborn just yet. While the park is now open year-round, Bella and the calf will be secluded away from park guests while animal staff members care for the two during this, the most critical days of it’s life.

Photo by Nancy Chan, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Photo by Nancy Chan, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

An announcement will be made when the calf will be able to be viewed by the public. For now, get ready for the bottlenose baby shower!


Superman – Ultimate Flight Outfitted with Seatbelts

Riders on Superman - Ultimate Flight will be greeted by an additional restraint the next time they ride. IN addition, they are being asked NOT to lower their restraints. Photo by CGA Insider, Billy D'Anjou. Used with permission.

The train of Superman – Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has been modified while the park was closed this past week.

The single train of 12 passengers now includes seat belts as well as upgraded, metal side guards. Originally the ride included only plastic guards along the sides of the seats, however, they were continually broken due to guests leaning on them in order to enter the train.

Riders on Superman - Ultimate Flight will be greeted by an additional restraint the next time they ride. IN addition, they are being asked NOT to lower their restraints. Photo by CGA Insider, Billy D'Anjou. Used with permission.

Riders on Superman – Ultimate Flight will be greeted by an additional restraint the next time they ride, and are asked not to lower their own restraints. Photo by CGA Insider, Billy D’Anjou. Used with permission.

Superman Train Modifications, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Metal, more resilient side guards have also been installed on Superman’s trains. The old ones were plastic and broke easily. Photo shared by CGA Insider, Billy D’Anjou. Used with permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to riders on the coaster this weekend, the seatbelts have made the ride uncomfortable, with a “pinching” effect on the vertical drop.

Seatbelts seem to be the “new norm” on coasters across the country, in addition to the ubiquitous lap bar roller coaster restraint. It would appear the “dual restraint system” is here to stay – especially with the ride in litigation against parks in recent years. We shall see if it affects operations as the year goes on. (Superman’s crews are traditionally the most efficient in the park due to the single train design of the ride).

As for the side guards – these should prove to be much better and resilient than the plastic ones that debuted with the ride in mid-2012. These trains are not the easiest to get into our out of – so a more solid place to lean on will be a welcome addition!

Thanks to our site partner, CGA Insider (Billy D’Anjou) for the photos – you can visit his page at: au13watch.blogspot.com


Featured on BBC News!

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Yes, you read that correctly – I had the honor of being featured in a BBC News video released today about roller coaster technology and the  “plateau” some say we’ve reached. (I don’t think we have, by the way).

BBC Capture

You can view the whole video by clicking here.

Or, you can copy and paste this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24553630

The backstory behind this interview is just as intriguing -

I had already planned to attend Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s “Ghoulish Gathering” VIP event last Friday. When the tram dropped us off at the front entrance, I noticed a OMB (One Man Band) setup, with a man struggling to cope with the sound of the many rides in the area. In hindsight, I should have gone over to offer my assistance – but I digress…

When I asked the Public Relations person at the event about the cameraman, she immediately said, “Oh, he’s with the BBC…I should introduce you to him!”

Pinch me.

After we grabbed a bite to eat at the event, I got to talking with Richard, who quickly found out (and said), “I should interview you…”

You had to ask?

Careful to make sure I didn’t step on any known “land mines” when you do interviews like this, Richard slapped a lav mic on me, and into the sun he pointed me!

Now, it should be noted, that short of begging, I did my best to convince the segment producer to stay longer, so my Lost Parks Producer, American Coaster Enthusiasts Asst. Regional Rep AND all-around quality news source on all things coasters, Nicholas Laschkewitsch could arrive to be interviewed as well – but sadly, Richard had to leave before Nicholas could arrive. Thanks, BART Strike…

But, for now, it’s yet another milestone in my journey to be in the world of television. “Great American Thrills” has officially jumped the pond and gone international…WOW.


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Photo of the Day: Roar! at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Roar at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2013, Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

When it opened in 1998, Roar! was the first modern wooden coaster to feature “Millennium Flyer” trains. Using patents and designs from the 1920’s, Great Coasters, International were able to make this version of Roar! with tighter curves and sharper transitions, simply because the trains’ were able to negotiate them better. All GCI installations since now feature these “throwback” trains.

Sadly, this coaster has deteriorated rapidly in the past few years – and is so rough, that I’d have to recommend a PASS on riding it – which is hard to do, considering it’s amazing layout and speed.

Roar at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2013, Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Big thanks goes out to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

Interested in purchasing / using some of my photos? Check out my 500px: http://500px.com/GreatAmericanThrills

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Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Show Review)

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2013 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

Yesterday evening, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was kind enough to invite Great American Thrills™ out to the park for an exclusive preview of their latest entertainment offering – “Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic.”

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

The colors of the performance – just like the performers – are vibrant & stand out.

This program is unlike anything we’ve experienced here at a Northern California park – it’s very glitzy and the production value is VERY high. If you were a fan of the “Marriott Era” of entertainment offerings at, say Great America, or the quality of shows that Disney parks offer – then this show will bring back good memories for you.

It also sets a very high precedent for entertainment offerings in the coming years at all the Bay Area amusement / theme parks. (I.E. You’re on notice!) Unlike many other shows at parks which are produced in-house, Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic is a partnership between Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Cirque Productions.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

There are seven individual performances in all, this one featuring a hula loop artist.

If you’ve ever been to a “cirque” style show before, you’ll see many of those elements in the program (we can’t really call this a show – it’s much more than that). The program features a showcase of talents, that as the park says, “…combines the grace, power and agility of our bottlenose dolphins and the amazing spectacle of of true performance artists…”

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

If you don’t feel out of shape after looking at this, you must be one of these two performers!

As you would expect, the entire program is themed with an aquatic flair to it. Costumes mimic sea life, actors are adorned with prosthetics to give them a more “fishy” quality and the entire amphitheater (formerly Dolphin Harbor Stadium) is adorned with colorful graphics strewn about the facility.

There are seven parts to the show in all, each with their own featured characters and skills on display. During pre-production of the show, nearly 300 acts auditioned to be one of those seven featured performances.Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2013 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

The pace is good and the program keeps moving for the most part with no real lag time. During the human performances, the dolphins show off their stuff as well, including a particularly entertaining dolphin hula hoop behavior that you’ll simply have to see for yourself.

The show was created, produced and directed by Neil Goldberg, an acclaimed Broadway director who also founded the Cirque Dreams troupe over 20 years ago. In other words, this guy knows what he’s doing.

“Our goal was to complement the personalities of the dolphins and performers through playfulness…and unparalleled showmanship,” said Goldberg. “It will be one of those unique, memorable entertainment attractions rarely experienced.”

I’ll be posting a full, exclusive interview with Goldberg later this week.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2103 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

Colorful characters abound in this production – the first for a Northern California amusement park.

The only thing that I can find wrong with the show, is that it has a limited run – just from Memorial Day Weekend though August 11th. But in a way, that works – it makes it a limited engagement, so the performances are better and more special to those who witness them as spectators. It’s quality over quantity, and something that most parks would not think twice about.

I’ll be posting a full interview with the Creator and Director of Cirque Dreams Splashtastic, Neil Goldberg, later this week.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2103 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

The dolphins are not always at center stage, unlike how most aquatic shows tend to be – rather, they work in tandem with the performers to create a sort of serendipity on stage.

For now – get your plans in now and get out to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to experience this one of a kind piece of amusement park entertainment – it’s certainly worth the trip.

As always, Great American Thrills™ would like to thank those who made this post possible: Neil Goldberg, Nancy Chan, Lee Munro as well as the entire staff and crew of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic!

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2103 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

The entire cast takes a bow at the end of the program – to a standing ovation no less – during the first public performance.

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New Banners!

If you’ve gone around the site lately, you’ve noticed our new, spruced up banners.

Which one is your favorite? Be sure to comment below!

Special thanks to my employer, BorrowLenses for allowing us to take awesome camera equipment out on the weekends! All the photos you see below (except for the second to last one) were shot using BL equipment!

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Water Rides and “Acceptable Amounts of Water”

Ah yes, the summer heat will soon be upon us. But you won’t find me on many water rides…

Your host is no fan of “extreme water effects”

Why, you ask? Well, because there’s water involved!

An old acquaintance of mine used to judge water rides based on a single factor: whether or not they had an “acceptable amount of water” that you would be taking with you (via your clothes) through the exit.

I laughed at him at first, but then realized that he was absolutely correct. Water rides with purpose-built soaking devices are just, well – not entertaining to me! (We’re talking waterfalls etc., here, by the way)

If you have to wear a poncho (which you’ll rarely see outside of Japan and Islands of Adventure), then it’s already defeated the purpose.

Going on a log ride is about the challenge, the risk of getting wet. Getting soaked with certainty is certainly no fun! Where’s the surprise? How will I drive home still smelling of chlorine and making that creepy “squish” sound?!?

So enjoy then, our next segment – this time on the double life I live when it comes to water rides. Not fun to ride, but oh so much fun to interact with…


Park Preview: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

1001 Fairgrounds Drive

SFDK's logo is unique among the rest of the Six Flags chain

Vallejo,CA 94589-2001

(707) 644-4000

www.sixflags.com/parks/discoverykingdom

Brief History:

Originally started as an oceanarium inRedwood Cityback in 1968, this hybrid park has not forgotten its roots as an educational outlet for the animal kingdom. Today, hundreds of species of birds, fish, tigers, sea lions, dolphins and orca live at the park, giving guests a stark contrast to its larger thrill rides.

Built next to the bay along Redwood Shores, Marine World was a small oceanarium whose mission was to educate as well as entertain. In the mid 1970’s, the park merged with the fledgling Africa USA fromLos Angeles. By doing so, it infused many more species of animals that guests could only dream about seeing on an African safari.

Rising land prices eventually forced the park to search for other locations and found one at it’s current site,Vallejo,CA. Today, the park has grown quite a bit since its inception. There are now eight roller coasters to its colorful collection. However, the park keeps a firm hold on its mission to provide a thrilling, memorable experience while taking away a greater appreciation of the animal world.

The Three Areas of Six Flags DiscoveryKingdom

The park has recently spent several million dollars upgrading the interior of the park, most notably in themeing each third of the park for easier navigation. For the casual visitor, this makes navigation much more simple.

Land This area is where most of the animal species reside in the park, and is the oldest section of the park. Don’t miss: Odin’sTemple of the Tiger, Elephant Encounter, Giraffe Dock and the Butterfly Encounter.

A quick side note on the Butterfly Encounter: if you’re not a fan of flying insects or extremely squeamish, I suggest you just visit the gift shop. Butterflies (although perfectly harmless) grow quite large in here and can get very friendly with guests. Plus, they don’t like being swatted or smushed.

Sea Home to most of the park’s aquatic species, attractions here include:

Sea Lion Stadium: Let Odin & Seasil bring smiles to everyone’s face with their wild and wacky antics.

StingRayBay: Pet a real Sting Ray.

Dolphin Encounter: See and feed Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins.

Walrus Experience: Them tusks are big!!!

Penguin Encounter: These adorable flightless birds show their true talent, “flying” through the water.

For the thrill seekers, three of the park’s coaster’s reside here:

V2– Vertical Velocity: A unique inverted shuttle coaster, it takes passengers from 0-70mph in just a few seconds through a barrel roll and then backwards up a vertical spike. The ride will perform three “circuits” before coming to a stop back in the station.

Roar: A throwback to the classic wooden twister coasters of the 1920’s, Roar is a powerful and intense wooden coaster that is not for the faint of heart.

New for 2012 is the completely unique Superman, Ultimate Escape. Concept art courtesy of Six Flags.

Superman, Ultimate Escape (OPENING SUMMER 2012): Discovery Kingdom shocked the coaster world in late 2011 with the surprise announcement of this prototype attraction from Premier Rides, the innovator of the linear induction or LIM launch. While the park already has a LSM launching coaster in V2, Superman is a complete circuit coaster complete with a NON-inverting loop.

Sky – Aptly named area of the park; this is where you’ll find most of the larger thrill rides in the park, literally right up front.

Boomerang: Shuttle forward and backward through three mind bending loops. This coaster is very intense – all the inversions (loops) are one after the other, with only a small pause in-between.

Medusa: The park’s signature attraction; riders are whisked 150 feet up, only to flip through eight different inversions, all while riding above the track, with no floor below! Don’t look down, she could turn you to stone…

Kong: This inverted coaster packs a punch not many other coasters can. Five dizzying inversions will leave you speechless; it’s all done while hanging below the track!

Where to Eat – 

Besides the usual theme park fare found in the food court (which is located just past the games areas) the park offers several unique food options to parks, including: Gordon Biersch Oasis Club, Panda Express, Johnny Rockets, Subway and a Cold Stone Creamery.

Six Flags recently began an “Online Meal Voucher” program, which claims to save you both time and money by purchasing your meals ahead of time, and redeeming your vouchers for food the day of your trip. Although innovative, I’ve found it really doesn’t save you much time. The only way it really saves you money is by preventing you from eating more food at other locations.

This is a good idea for those who love to have everything planned about their trip well ahead of time. (Even what you may feel like eating that day!) Be advised, if you feel like eating something else when you’re at the park – there are no refunds or exchanges on your meal vouchers.

Plans – 

Thrill Seekers:

It’s not very difficult to find the major coasters here, as they stick out predominantly on the park’s skyline. If the park looks or even feels crowded, the best course of action is to hit every major coaster as if you’re circuit training. Start at one end of the park, and work your way to the other. If time is a significant issue, consider investing in a “FlashPass.” For $15 per person, you can reserve your space in line, while you visit other attractions. When your predetermined time comes up, simply enter through the “FlashPass” entrance and your wait will be significantly reduced if there’s a wait at all.

Families with Children:

When you arrive, make sure to pick up a park map and show schedule. Try to convince the kids to save the rides until later on in the day and see every show you can. Your kids will thank you when they get to play tug of war with an elephant. (Spoiler alert: The elephants have never lost!) Another must-see show is the Shouka Spectacular. If you want to stay dry, stay away from the lower bowl of seats. The kids on the other hand, should experience what it’s like to be hit with several hundred gallons of cold salt water at least once in their lifetime. Try to keep the rides to a minimum until later in the day, when most of the shows are no longer scheduled. If you have time flexibility, be sure to check out Thomas Town and Looney Tunes Seaport. This can also be the same plan used to tackle the park if you’re bringing grandkids.

Other Tips – 

When walking to or from the parking lot, be mindful it’s a long ½ mile walk. To get the juices flowing at the start of your day, you should make the walk to the park from the lot. But definitely wait for the tram when you head back out, no matter how long the line appears.

Once inside the park, jet on over to the all-day use locker pavilion past Guest Relations and behind the funnel cake restaurant. Make sure to bring along anything you might want for the rest of the day, to avoid the long trip back out to the car and back. This includes pants and a sweatshirt if the weather is expected to be cool later in the night. This way, you’ll have more time and energy to spend in the park, rather than walking back and forth that ½ mile to your car and back. These time-costly trips can easily take 30 minutes away from your day inside the park.

Final Tips – 

If at all possible, avoid visiting this park on weekends during the summer as well as during any Cheerleader Competition or live concert by Lake Chabot. The park can be quickly overwhelmed with people and crowding can become an issue in smaller pathway areas.

If you’re a fan of being scared or really love Halloween, be sure to experience Fright Fest. Zombies take over the midway, haunted mazes pop up inside the park. You might even catch an authentic “freak show.” This spooktacular event begins around 4p.m. each October operating day and is not recommended for those under 14 years old. You have been warned!

Also, make sure to try and visit during the winter “Holiday in the Park” event, as this is one of only two parks open for significant periods of time in the winter here in Northern California.


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