Trip Report: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (long)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Tasmanian Devil – Huss Frisbee, always fun
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!
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.
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!
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!"