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Ultimate Rollercoaster > Discussion Forums > Roller Coasters, Parks & Attractions > Trip Report: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (long)

Trip Report: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (long)

LoneStar LoneStar Profile

Posted:
10/27/12 at
7:41:30 PM

Yesterday I made my first visit to SFDK. I was in San Fran for a Cutco conference and stayed an extra day, of course, to ride coasters.

SFDK is an easy drive from downtown San Francisco.

OVERALL PARK IMPRESSIONS:
SFDK offers beautiful views from the roads. All the coasters except Boomerang are squeezed into the front section of the park close to the major roads.

I am impressed with how SFDK shoe-horns in so many coasters in a tight space. It makes walking from one coaster to the other very, very easy and quick. When SFDK added Medusa about a decade ago, I was really upset that they stuck it in a former parking lot. Now that I see how short on space the park is, I can cut them a little more slack. I was also impressed how the park entrance is kind of in the middle of the park, and the rides and paths snake around it and enclose it, kinda-sorta.

The park was not as sprawling as I thought. Many areas were closed off due to Fright Fest, but it was smaller than I thought it would be. Plus it was very densely laid out with all attractions - animal and ride - very close to each other. So, even if you are walking a long distance it doesn't seem like it.

I love how the animal attractions are intertwined seamlessly with the rides and coasters. Every step you take it feels like there is an animal show or display close to you. You don't have to trek all over the park just to get to the big animal show arenas.

There's so much in terms of animal shows at SFDK that I'd love to visit again to experience them all. I've ridden just about every ride in the park, so on a return trip I'd love to leisurely enjoy everything else the park offers.

I enjoyed the park much for than I thought I would (even though I was only in for 4 hours). It really didn't have a Six Flags feel - no cheesy theming or themed areas that "don't really work anymore." The park's marine theme was consistent all over the park. The park was VERY clean. Landscaping was nice, but not overdone. I'm glad they didn't do too much to "over theme" the park in disconnected sections. It sort of reminded me of Cedar Point, only more quaint.

PARK OPERATIONS:
Fair ride operations. I arrived well before opening at 4:00, ran to V2 at rope drop, and sure enough it was not operating yet. I walked over to Roar, and sure enough, it wasn't open yet. UGH! I hate it when SF parks don't have coasters operating at opening. Plus, the park opened at 4:00, so they had plenty of time to get everything ready. With the park only open 5 hours, losing 15-20 minutes at park opening really cuts into everyone's ride time.

V2 didn't open until at least an hour after park opening. Kong didn't open until at least 2 hours after park opening. (No loss there, though). Roar shut down for about 20 minutes. As I was in line for Medusa it shut down for 10-15 minutes.

So, coaster operations were pretty typical for a SF park. But these delays were minor headaches, and I have experienced much worse.

Ride ops were actually pretty good. Not super-fast but definitely not lazy. Very little stacking occurred on Kong, Medusa, and Roar.

SF:UF they were getting us on and off FAST! It seemed like as soon as my butt hit the seat we were launching the train. AWESOME!

The longest waits were for V2. With 14 rows to check, the ops were struggling. Plus they were under-staffed. Also, it seemed before every launch there was a rider who didn't fit or a rider that screwed something up and they had to unlock the restraints. Still, my longest wait was about 25 minutes.

THE RIDES:
Again, the park was open only 4 – 9, so I knew I had to hustle. I got 17 rides in in just for hours ( I was very proud of my pace and surprised I squeezed in so many). The crowds grew tremendously after dark. At around 8:00 lines for coasters were over 20 minutes. I had my fill and didn’t want to wait that long for rides I had done multiple times already. So I left at 8:00 very satisfied with my day.

MEDUSA: OMG! WOW! Heck yeah, now this is a coasters. I hate to say it, but Medusa West has replaced Superman Krypton Coaster as my favorite floorless. This was the biggest surprise of the day.

My favorite place to ride was the very back. The first drop – straight down, not curving like so many B&Ms – produced hyper coaster-esque airtime. I floated all the way down. The vertical loop is HUGE and in the back you float all the way through it with more mega airtime.
The zero-G roll does throw you around a little too much in the back, but after that, roll over is an amazing element. It’s not any better than a cobra roll, but unique (How many times did I create this element on Roller Coaster Tycoon, just waiting for a coaster to have one?!). I’m surprised we don’t see more of these.

Finally, the transitions between the final 2 corkscrews are the best on any B&M. This is what makes Medusa stand out above the rest. Rather than boring, forceless inter-locking corkscrews, the trains plow through powerful helices between each one, then a final ¾ helix that, in the back, is very forceful. On so many B&M coasters the ride after the MCBR is lackluster, but Medusa is amazing.

SUPERMAN: Ultimate Flight:
Giggle factor galore! Man what a surprise this thing was! Although very short, this coaster was all kinds of fun. And unique! Quite a creative concept for a small-footprint ride. I hope to see more.

The best spot to enjoy Superman’s unique elements is the very back. On the launch, the backwards run up the spiraling turn is quite disorienting - very similar to the shoot up the backward spike of Wicked Twister.

Next, after shooting to the top of the structure, the heartline roll, taken ever so slowly so high off the ground is wicked awesome! I remember yelling out, “Trust physics and the engineers” as we flipped upside down and my thighs pressed hard against the lap restraint. Try holding your hands up on that element, because you feel like you could fall face first to the earth. It’s crazy!

After the heartline, you plunge and twist back straight downward, so in the back you get whipped out of your seat and thrown downward - but comfortably, no pain here. Just a forceful plummet. The non-inverting loop is cool, then you return to the station.

Quite a fun experience. Not the greatest coaster every, but a unique ride that I rode 3 times and wished I could have done more.

V2:
I’ve always had mixed opinions on impulse coasters. I’ve been on 3 of the 4 varieties (WT, V2 at SFGAm, and now V2 at SFDK). WT is probably still my favorite, because shooting up the backward spike while spiraling over 360 degrees is a disorienting element that can’t be beat. The standard impulse coasters are kind of boring – the launch and acceleration are always good, but the forward spike is kind of boring. The reverse spike is pretty cool, but nothing to write home about.

So, SFDK’s v2 is unique in that its forward spike is at about a 45 degree angle. This is totally awesome! I don’t understand why RCDB doesn’t list this coaster has having an inversion, because it definitely is.
What I love about V2 is how different the ride is in the front and the back. In the front, you got thrown around heartline roll extremely fast, especially on the 2nd forward launch (both going forward and backward through the inversion.) In the back you kind of crawl through the heartline, which is a great experience itself. Plus, going backwards you get shot up really high up the backwards spike, whereas in the front, you hardly make it up at all (and this is really boring).
What’s really fun is how on the 1st and 3rd forward launches, on almost every seat of the ride, when the train doesn’t make it all the way up the twisted front spike, you pause with your body in varying degrees of upside-down. This is really disorienting and fun.

BOOMERANG:
A few months ago I confessed to being a Vekoma Boomerang fan. This one is a little rougher than others, but still a great ride.

ROAR:
This was the most disappointing coaster in the park. This is only my second GCA coaster, and while it’s pretty fun, it did not thrill me.
Now, the first drop in the very back seat is awesome. Major ejector air – almost but not quite Cyclops air. I wish this continued on the rest of the coaster, but unfortunately airtime was almost non-existent. The train meanders through some fast turns and drops some of which are fairly forceful. But at the end of the ride each time I found myself saying, “That was it?”
I enjoyed Kentucky Rumbler much better. I didn’t get to ride Roar in many different spots on the coaster to truly explore all that it has to offer, maybe I missed something, but overall Roar is not all that.

KONG:
OK, I admit, I rode Kong just for the credit, and man did I regret it. This is the worst SLC I have been on, right up there with Batman at Six Flags Mexico. It hurt my whole body, not just my head and ears. Interestingly, the OTSRs on Kong are very narrow around the head. When I would try to put my head all the way back on my headrest, both my ears could almost touch either side of the padding at the same time. I knew I was in for pain when I discovered this on the lift hill.

COBRA:
I rode Cobra because I always enjoy Tivolis. I’m always surprised at how long the trains are on these rides!

FLATS:
SFDK has a generic yet enjoyable selection of flats.
Hammerhead – not sure who designed this flat or what model it is. The best I can describe it is a carnival Kamikaze with open, feet-dangling seats. This was really fun flipping head over heels, but the cycle was a little too short.

Tasmanian Devil – Huss Frisbee, always fun
VooDoo – Huss top spin with a super short, super boring cycle. And the water effects weren’t working. Turbo lame.

Waveswinger – I judge a park by the quality of its swingy chairs, and these are very fast and fun. In fact, the chairs swing so fast, I could twist them 180 degrees without hardly having to steer with my legs!

REVIEW:
In review, I enjoyed SFDK much more than I expected. I expected to find a worn-down marine park that SF just dropped in some cookie-cutter coasters into, then add some generic theming to make the park look cheap. Instead I found a park with unique character that gave me a very enjoyable 4 hours.

The coaster selection, although uninspired (2 Vekoma cookie cutters, clone woodie, modified impulse coaster, Tivoli, plus 2 custom coasters) is really a good selection for the park. I am thoroughly impressed with how densely packed in the coasters are, so navigating from one to the other is super easy. I’m surprised I got so much done in only 4 hours.

The marine and animal exhibits are nicely done. It has just as many as Sea World minus the big whales. I’d love to return and enjoy them all someday.

The park is very very clean, and the theming is perfectly matched for the character of the park. It seems Six Flags didn’t ruin anything when it took over (although I never visited the park pre-SF). The park seems to understand its identity and completes it very well. It has a perfect mix of rides and animal attractions to meet varied interests, and the rides don’t dominate the entire park and take away from the experience. However, there are plenty of thrills to go around.

Thanks for reading.

- Pat-O

Re: Trip Report: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (long) by frontrow frontrow Profile at 10/27/12 10:15:26 PM
Nice TR Pat. I've never been to California, but SF Discovery Kingdom does look nice. I didn't realize it was that compact. That's surprising to hear that Medusa is better than Superman Kryton Coaster. That's pretty good that got 3 rides on Superman, being that it has a low capacity. It sounds like you had a good time. SF Discovery Kingdom is on my must do list.
Re: Trip Report: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (long) by glutton glutton Profile at 10/28/12 12:46:08 AM
SFDK is my home park, and I live less than 30 minutes from it. We decided to go for a short visit today when they announced in the email newsletter that there would be "exclusive ride time" for season passholders on Superman, Roar, and V2, for 30 minutes before the park opened to the public. We arrived just in time for what was supposed to be the "exclusive" ride time, and found that there were already thousands of high school kids and their families in the park for a Key Club special event, and they apparently had "exclusive" access to all of the rides too! We headed to Superman, and noticed on the way that Roar wasn't even running at all. Had to wait at least 30 minutes for Superman. The line looked to be twice as long when we exited. After that, Roar was still closed, so we went to V2, which had what I would guess would be about a 5 train wait... except that it was shut down right after we got in line. We headed to my favorite ride, Medusa, which had a 20-30 minute wait, which is longer than usual (considering that I avoid going at "peak" times.)
The park was mobbed, and we had just planned to take advantage of what we THOUGHT was exclusive ride time, then maybe get in a few more rides after the park opened to everyone, so after Medusa, we decided to just call it a day. I don't think I've ever seen the park that crowded at opening during the Fall; usually, if we're there when it opens, the rides will pretty much be walk-ons or just 5 minute wait for the first hour or so. I'm pretty ticked off that park management would claim to have a season passholder exclusive ride time event on a day when they had another event with thousands of participants that actually started 2 hours before park opening. We have a season parking pass, so all that we lost on the day was gas money and bridge toll, but still not a worthwhile trip.
Pat-o, I'm glad you had much better luck on Friday night, since you only had that one evening to spend here. It is a fun park, and they've been making some improvements to the season pass perks, but today was poorly planned!
Re: Trip Report: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (long) by LoneStar LoneStar Profile at 10/28/12 10:52:00 AM
frontrow said:

Nice TR Pat. I've never been to California, but SF Discovery Kingdom does look nice. I didn't realize it was that compact. That's surprising to hear that Medusa is better than Superman Kryton Coaster. That's pretty good that got 3 rides on Superman, being that it has a low capacity. It sounds like you had a good time. SF Discovery Kingdom is on my must do list.

I rode SUF early in the day, so the park was pretty empty. But man, they were churning us out on that ride. With only 6 rows to check, and only lap bars, it doesn't take long. On my second ride, it seemed I sat down, an attendee checked my restraint without my knowing it, and we were off. I was completely surprised by the launch, like, "We're launching already? I just sat down!"

- Pat-O

Re: Trip Report: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (long) by Fatsoccerguy191 Fatsoccerguy191 Profile at 10/30/12 11:41:21 AM
Nice TR. I agree with you on Kong. It's one of the most PAINFUL SLC's I've been on!!!!, Medusa at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, and Great Adventure, (now Bizzaro) are also my favorite floorless coasters. Superman Krypton coaster at SFFT was incredible, but I think Medusa packs a punch. I also believe Medusa is the largest coaster so far at SFDK. I rememeber when I was waiting in line for V2, I thought it was weird and looked dumb, but man was I wrong!!, the is one amazing coaster. I like Roar at SFDK better than SFA's, it's much smoother.