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Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review)

chris92se chris92se Profile

Posted:
7/14/12 at
9:52:56 PM

My wife and I took a road trip through Northern California, so we spent part of Thursday (7/12) at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California.

If you don't want to read all this, skip to the bottom for a basic breakdown.

I bought tickets online and they were on sale for kids' price if purchased 3 days in advance. The total for 2 people with an $18 parking pass was about $100. I also bought the parking pass online, but there was no savings.

I did some homework and I did not take anything requiring a locker -- no backpack, wife had no purse, I had shorts with zipper pockets -- one phone, one camera, one wallet. Lockers are $15 at the front of the park, $1 for I think an hour at each ride. On most rides, attendants will not let you ride and set your bag off to the side. On one ride, I was not allowed to set my hat off to the side (I held it).

We arrived at the parking lot at opening time (10:30 a.m.). Parking is about 1/2 mile from the park entrance, so you need to wait for the tram, or walk. Not really a big line to get in, but we missed the actual opening by maybe 15-20 minutes after parking and walking.

There were many buses full of summer camp kids (all wearing those lovely matching T-shirts) and we thought the park would be kind of busy. Wrong -- it was not busy at all. In between coasters, we checked out some of the animal exhibits, too.

The park layout is circular and I misread the map a couple of times. Initially, we wanted to ride Superman first, but we took the wrong path and ended up at Medusa. We got on with less than 5 minute wait. We sat in the very back row, but that was a little disappointing compared to other back row experiences (Montu comes to mind). Still, it was a great coaster.

Medusa is a very nice, smooth, 7-inversion, floorless coaster and I think it is the best ride at the park. My favorite elements are the straight drop and zero G roll. The drop is 150 feet and no slow curve leading into it like almost other coasters of this type.

After Medusa, we walked back to find Superman Ultimate Flight. We waited 45 minutes to ride it, which was our only real wait the entire day.

Superman was an interesting coaster, but short and not quite as thrilling as I had hoped. I liked it, but for something brand new, I was really wanting more. I read that it goes 65 mph. Considering the small footprint of the coaster, I thought that it might be really intense, but the way you get to that speed it a bit awkward. Well, maybe more like "lazy-ish."

You start out in an enclosed launch tunnel. The seats are snug and only a lap restraint (no shoulder restraints). Initially, you are propelled by the LIM (or is it LSM?) forward, but not really hard, just enough to go up maybe 1/3 the way of the main loop. You roll backward and the LIMs grab you again and propel you faster up the secondary inner loop, where you nearly reach the crest, stall and begin going forward again -- this time hitting more speed and launching a bit faster through the LIMs a third time, up the main loop, now with enough speed to reach the top, then goes rather slowly through the heart line roll. This is the most thrilling part of the ride, for sure. After that, you head down the other side, drop straight down with a twist, twist again and hit the smaller loop before returning to the station.

I would prefer you get a monster launch, but Superman has more of a "pendulum" effect. It was also so quick (entire ride is about 30 seconds) that you feel a bit ripped off. For 30 seconds, I want more intensity. They could have made it faster, added more or gone higher, IMO. It's a brand new, 2012 ride -- push the limits some and get thousands more in the door. Plus, one car holding 12 people just adds up to a long, growing line. We did want to ride it again, but the line kept getting longer and there was no real line for anything else in the entire park. It is a good coaster and worth riding, for sure. I just feel it could be much better.

The heart line roll without shoulder restraints is the element to remember. You do feel like you might fall out and I grabbed onto the lap restraint really hard. haha

After Superman, we rode Roar, which is a wooden coaster. The wait was 2 cars, so maybe 3-5 minutes and we sat in the 2nd to last row. Roar was better than I was expecting. It was fast, had great twisting turns drops with lots of elements and it feels really fast. Not a lot of airtime for a wooden coaster, though.

We followed Roar with Vertical Velocity (V2). Another short wait -- two trains went while we were in line, so about 10 minutes or so. I love the launch and how you hang upside down on the end of the twisty part. I read that they reduced it after complaints early on. You don't get close to the end of the track, that's for sure.

It was getting to about lunch time, so we grabbed a quick snack at the park and decided to take in a couple of animal shows. The timing was good, as we watched the bird show and the tiger show with just a couple minute wait between them. The bird show was so-so. The tiger show was good, mostly because it was amazing to see tigers swimming. One tiger missed the steak they threw in the water and he was under there for close to a minute trying to wrestle with it right in front of us. Pretty cool.

After the Tiger show, we decided to skip the Boomerang. It didn't look like much, plus there was a large group of kids in yellow T-shirts all lining up for it. We headed back the other way and rode Kong.

There was no wait at all for Kong, we walked on. In fact, I went to set my hat down on the "sports drink" shelf and they had already locked in my seat harness. I had to ride in a different seat than my wife. Lame! Then, the attendant running the ride just said, "get in that empty seat or wait for the next one," so I just hopped in as the other attendant was dropping the empty harnesses down and the ride took off with barely a safety check.

Kong was the worst steel inverted coaster I have ever been on. It was really bumpy and jerky. It also sounded like it was going to break -- creaking and groaning. I honestly didn't feel very safe on it. None of the elements were spectacular or stood out. I was busy wondering if I was going to make it back to the platform and did not enjoy the ride. My wife had a bruise on her cheek from the headrest.

The water ride (White Water Safari) was closed for most of the day and we didn't bother going back to it and we also didn't ride the Monsoon Falls.

We did do Medusa and Roar again (no wait on either), then left the park. We were done by 2:30 p.m. We did skip some of the shows and only viewed about 2/3 of the animal exhibits. Just a couple months ago we spent two days at Busch Gardens Tampa, so we had our fill of animals, for the most part.


Breakdown:

Medusa -- excellent, worth riding
Superman -- very good, worth riding
Roar -- good wooden coaster, worth riding
Vertical Velocity -- good, fast, worth it if you like launch coasters
Kong -- bad, not worth riding

Pros:

short lines
good variety (rides and animals)
relaxing atmosphere
biggest coasters in Northern California
animal exhibits and shows

Cons:
Below average customer service
No "super duper signature" coaster(s)
Expensive food and drinks
Lockers are a ripoff

Overall -- SFDK is worth the price of admission, especially if you get discount tickets. For two people, $100 and change was reasonable.

I would suggest going on a weekday. I did read reviews where weekends were busy and lines for almost all rides were over an hour. We experienced no traffic around the park, either. There is a Costco nearby and we bought some cheap liquor and filled up the car before heading to Napa for a farmer's market that started at 5 p.m.

Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by frontrow frontrow Profile at 7/15/12 4:17:17 PM
Great TR. The more I read about this park, the more I want to visit. Last week Medusa was featured on the Travel Channel. The park itself looked very nice. Between Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, northern California is a must destination sometime in the future.
Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by chris92se chris92se Profile at 7/17/12 3:52:14 PM
IMO, go to Six Flags Magic Mountain above any other park in California for coasters if you have not been there. I know it's in SoCal, but everything else in the state really does pale in comparison. SFMM is made for coaster enthusiasts. All of the other parks in Cali just have a few mixed in with other stuff.

If you are going to be in NorCal, SFDK is a decent coaster stop, but it only has a handful. I would not consider the area much of a coaster destination, unless you just need a couple to fill out a complete list. Superman is unique and Medusa is really good.

I have not been lucky enough to visit parks on the east coast (except all of them in Florida) but it always looks like most parks have at least 10 coasters. Carowinds, Kings Dominion, SFGA, Hershey, Cedar Point, etc. It is a bit frustrating to go to a park and not ride anything "new" after just a couple of hours.

Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by looper77 at 7/18/12 12:26:07 AM
One thing that always bugged me about SFDK is the entrance. The parking lot is on the opposite side of the park than the entrance, then you have to walk between rides to get to the entrance. In fact, Medusa is built on the old parking lot, so at that time, it wasn't so odd looking. It just feels like very poor planning, which is a big pet peeve for me. Heck, they couldn't even figure out the height limits for Vertical Velocity, which is why it looks so strange, but I must admit it's pretty fun!

I also don't get why, in a park themed to the animal kingdom, do you name a ride Superman??? It just seems lazy and careless.

I wish Six Flags for once and for all would stop naming rides after superheroes. It's bad enough in the other parks where they totally ignore the existing themes, but at SFDK it really makes no sense.

Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 7/18/12 4:58:22 AM
looper77 said:

One thing that always bugged me about SFDK is the entrance. The parking lot is on the opposite side of the park than the entrance, then you have to walk between rides to get to the entrance.

Do I understand that correctly? You say "walk between rides." Does that mean you have to actually walk through the park, bypassing rides, in order to get to the entrance where you pay or scan your pass? I'd like to think there's something I'm missing or mis-reading, because that seems awfully stupid (not to mention vexing)to me...

Mike

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by glutton glutton Profile at 7/18/12 6:32:16 PM
beastmaster said:

looper77 said:

One thing that always bugged me about SFDK is the entrance. The parking lot is on the opposite side of the park than the entrance, then you have to walk between rides to get to the entrance.

Do I understand that correctly? You say "walk between rides." Does that mean you have to actually walk through the park, bypassing rides, in order to get to the entrance where you pay or scan your pass? I'd like to think there's something I'm missing or mis-reading, because that seems awfully stupid (not to mention vexing)to me...

Mike

There are fences separating you from the rides while you are walking towards the entrance, but one or two of the coasters pass overhead a bit as you are approaching the park entrance.

Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 7/18/12 9:20:25 PM
glutton said:

beastmaster said:

looper77 said:

One thing that always bugged me about SFDK is the entrance. The parking lot is on the opposite side of the park than the entrance, then you have to walk between rides to get to the entrance.

Do I understand that correctly? You say "walk between rides." Does that mean you have to actually walk through the park, bypassing rides, in order to get to the entrance where you pay or scan your pass? I'd like to think there's something I'm missing or mis-reading, because that seems awfully stupid (not to mention vexing)to me...

Mike

There are fences separating you from the rides while you are walking towards the entrance, but one or two of the coasters pass overhead a bit as you are approaching the park entrance.

So you're walking on a fenced-in pathway through the park? Ah. I think I got it now.

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 7/18/12 9:35:19 PM
looper77 said:

One thing that always bugged me about SFDK is the entrance. The parking lot is on the opposite side of the park than the entrance, then you have to walk between rides to get to the entrance. In fact, Medusa is built on the old parking lot, so at that time, it wasn't so odd looking. It just feels like very poor planning, which is a big pet peeve for me. Heck, they couldn't even figure out the height limits for Vertical Velocity, which is why it looks so strange, but I must admit it's pretty fun!


I also don't get why, in a park themed to the animal kingdom, do you name a ride Superman??? It just seems lazy and careless.

I wish Six Flags for once and for all would stop naming rides after superheroes. It's bad enough in the other parks where they totally ignore the existing themes, but at SFDK it really makes no sense.

Well, as long as the chain still has the rights to the DC characters, they will still use them regardless of the park. But otherwise, would you prefer them using goliath or some other overused name? Seems all the good names have been used up.

But it could be worse, look at KD and their 'congo' area. You have 'Italian job', Fof and I305. If there's a place that needs to be rethemed, it's KD.

Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by chris92se chris92se Profile at 7/18/12 11:37:42 PM
beastmaster said:

glutton said:

beastmaster said:

looper77 said:

One thing that always bugged me about SFDK is the entrance. The parking lot is on the opposite side of the park than the entrance, then you have to walk between rides to get to the entrance.

Do I understand that correctly? You say "walk between rides." Does that mean you have to actually walk through the park, bypassing rides, in order to get to the entrance where you pay or scan your pass? I'd like to think there's something I'm missing or mis-reading, because that seems awfully stupid (not to mention vexing)to me...

Mike

There are fences separating you from the rides while you are walking towards the entrance, but one or two of the coasters pass overhead a bit as you are approaching the park entrance.

So you're walking on a fenced-in pathway through the park? Ah. I think I got it now.

You actually walk on a fenced path right next to the rides, but it is annoying. It's a pretty long walk, too. I don't mind walking (didn't take the tram) but it does seem awkward compared to all the other parks I have been to.

I agree that the theme used at Six Flags parks is odd sometimes. This park didn't blend the animals and the comic heroes well at all. Except for Disney, I am not really too concerned about theme, though. I go to SF parks for the coasters and that's pretty much it.

It is especially stupid to name four rides Superman: Ultimate Flight when the one at SFDK is completely different! Think of some other name, please!

Maybe Flight of Superman, Superman: Extreme Flight or Superman: Supreme Flight...whatever, just use some variation.

Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by looper77 at 7/19/12 12:21:29 AM
Cyclone_Phil said:

Well, as long as the chain still has the rights to the DC characters, they will still use them regardless of the park. But otherwise, would you prefer them using goliath or some other overused name? Seems all the good names have been used up.

But it could be worse, look at KD and their 'congo' area. You have 'Italian job', Fof and I305. If there's a place that needs to be rethemed, it's KD.

Sorry, but, I am a creative person, and there are people way more creative than me and that is just a cop-out. I don't mean that directed towards you, but to the parks. It's like saying all of the great books have been written so don't write any more. Or just like with the movies, Hollywood keeps cranking out the same crap over and over again, remake after remake because studio heads have no creativity. It's not because there are no ideas left...

And just because they can use them, doesn't mean they should. For Six Flags, look at El Toro, a great name, Raging Bull, and even Goliath. Cedar Point came up with Leviathan (a name that I always thought as a kid would be a great coaster name). Marketing people just have to use their brains and not fall into the trap of just name it after some super hero because people know what that is. It's laziness.

Same with KD and KI. Although not a coaster, the old Tomb Raider ruins Rivertown. It could have been themed to an old mine, surely there was a western movie or something more fitting...

And your right, KD is completely screwed up. Too much for me to even go on a rant about. I know some people don't care about theming, but to me, there is a big difference between walking into BGW and being wowed by your senses and say Dorney, KD (in it's current state, not the KD of the 70s/80s), and even CP.

You might as well just build coasters over a parking lot and call it a day.

I know everyone is different, but I like the whole package, scenery, theming, great food... Going to a park for me is something special, more than "let's just ride some coasters."

Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by alpengeistno3 at 7/19/12 3:01:48 AM
KD was just sloppy. While the themes fit the rides themselves, they didn't put any thought into whether rides fit the theme of the area. Let's not forget that "Anaconda" is a snake native to South America and could someone please tell me about the "Volcano" in the African "Congo"?

Looking at this special on how much thought Busch put into Verbolten just shows how little thought KD and some other parks put into theming their attractions.

Paul

Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by chris92se chris92se Profile at 7/19/12 3:56:34 PM
looper77 said:

Cyclone_Phil said:

Well, as long as the chain still has the rights to the DC characters, they will still use them regardless of the park. But otherwise, would you prefer them using goliath or some other overused name? Seems all the good names have been used up.

But it could be worse, look at KD and their 'congo' area. You have 'Italian job', Fof and I305. If there's a place that needs to be rethemed, it's KD.

Sorry, but, I am a creative person, and there are people way more creative than me and that is just a cop-out. I don't mean that directed towards you, but to the parks. It's like saying all of the great books have been written so don't write any more. Or just like with the movies, Hollywood keeps cranking out the same crap over and over again, remake after remake because studio heads have no creativity. It's not because there are no ideas left...

And just because they can use them, doesn't mean they should. For Six Flags, look at El Toro, a great name, Raging Bull, and even Goliath. Cedar Point came up with Leviathan (a name that I always thought as a kid would be a great coaster name). Marketing people just have to use their brains and not fall into the trap of just name it after some super hero because people know what that is. It's laziness.

Same with KD and KI. Although not a coaster, the old Tomb Raider ruins Rivertown. It could have been themed to an old mine, surely there was a western movie or something more fitting...

And your right, KD is completely screwed up. Too much for me to even go on a rant about. I know some people don't care about theming, but to me, there is a big difference between walking into BGW and being wowed by your senses and say Dorney, KD (in it's current state, not the KD of the 70s/80s), and even CP.

You might as well just build coasters over a parking lot and call it a day.

I know everyone is different, but I like the whole package, scenery, theming, great food... Going to a park for me is something special, more than "let's just ride some coasters."

I think you are right about wanting the whole package. That is why I still love Disneyland and Disney World so much. Compared to Six Flags, the Disney rides are meh, but the theming is outstanding.

I would prefer a "complete package", but I suppose I have learned to accept that Six Flags sucks at theming and I just go to enjoy the coasters -- even ones like Scream (it's an awesome coaster that flies over parking lot).

The themes, schemes and tie-ins are something parks should take more pride in, but aside from Disney (the best hands down), Universal and Busch Gardens, it seems like few really do. That's why Disney is so damn popular. One would think that other parks would work really hard to emulate it, but I guess they just haven't figured it out.

Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 7/19/12 7:43:12 PM
looper77 said:

Sorry, but, I am a creative person, and there are people way more creative than me and that is just a cop-out. I don't mean that directed towards you, but to the parks. It's like saying all of the great books have been written so don't write any more. Or just like with the movies, Hollywood keeps cranking out the same crap over and over again, remake after remake because studio heads have no creativity. It's not because there are no ideas left...

And just because they can use them, doesn't mean they should. For Six Flags, look at El Toro, a great name, Raging Bull, and even Goliath. Cedar Point came up with Leviathan (a name that I always thought as a kid would be a great coaster name). Marketing people just have to use their brains and not fall into the trap of just name it after some super hero because people know what that is. It's laziness.

Same with KD and KI. Although not a coaster, the old Tomb Raider ruins Rivertown. It could have been themed to an old mine, surely there was a western movie or something more fitting...

And your right, KD is completely screwed up. Too much for me to even go on a rant about. I know some people don't care about theming, but to me, there is a big difference between walking into BGW and being wowed by your senses and say Dorney, KD (in it's current state, not the KD of the 70s/80s), and even CP.

You might as well just build coasters over a parking lot and call it a day.

I know everyone is different, but I like the whole package, scenery, theming, great food... Going to a park for me is something special, more than "let's just ride some coasters."

No, I understand. I don't like the generic naming either and do wish they did try harder to either fit the surroundings or at least come up with some original name theme...

Paul, great vid. BG once again with a winner.

* This post was modified at 7/19/12 7:45:03 PM *

Re: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo California (long review) by looper77 at 7/19/12 9:38:12 PM
alpengeistno3 said:

KD was just sloppy. While the themes fit the rides themselves, they didn't put any thought into whether rides fit the theme of the area. Let's not forget that "Anaconda" is a snake native to South America and could someone please tell me about the "Volcano" in the African "Congo"?


Looking at this special on how much thought Busch put into Verbolten just shows how little thought KD and some other parks put into theming their attractions.

Paul

I am willing to give KD some leeway on Anaconda and Volcano because at least those fit in with the original safari/jungle theme of the area. However, a bobsled in the jungle doesn't not belong at all, neither does a NASCAR or MiniCooper ride belong in a safari. The park has fallen a long way from what I remember as a kid. When I was a kid, I had Hershey, Dorney and SFGA as my home parks, but KD always seemed magical. Now it borders on being a dump. Everything there is done in a half-@ss way.

I don't think the theming has to be scientifically correct, but it should be thematically or aesthetically correct. As in an Asian tomb does not belong in the Old West....