Disneyland23rd March 2008
If only this holiday had been one day longer. Today was a mad dash around several different parks, brought on chiefly by my desire to ride a number of specific coasters before catching an evening flight back home from Los Angeles. While it was possible for me to ride everything on my shopping list the day could not be described as enjoyable, as many other attractions that caught my eye simply had to be left aside for a future visit. It would not have been difficult for me to spend an entire day in Disneyland alone, and I didn't even make it next door into the California Adventure park. With luck there'll be more time on my next visit.
The park could well have been rebranded today as the busiest place on earth, with ridiculous numbers of people in the place. This should not have surprised me given the fact that it was a holiday weekend, but this meagre factoid had somehow slipped beneath the radar during my trip planning. By the time my feet brought me to the queue for Space Mountain (#1141), a little before nine in the morning, the wait was already an hour long. Fast pass tickets were being distributed for two in the afternoon, a nice idea but not practical with my planned schedule.
As I'd expected the installation here was basically identical to that at Hong Kong Disneyland, making it by default a contender for one of the best indoor coaster experiences in the world. The only difference that I could determine was the lack of a single rider queue on this version, with the result that a small but significant number of seats in each rocket were going out empty. Hopefully this is something that will be resolved in the future.
A quick walk around the park showed waits exceeding an hour on every ride worth the effort, with only the two high capacity dark rides bucking the trend. Pirates of the Caribbean has been refurbished since my last visit, with several obvious ties to the movie. I'm not sure that these were an improvement to be honest, but to each their own I suppose. The Haunted Mansion had also changed from what I remembered, and in this case the result was stunning. Some of the effects made me wonder how on earth they were achieved, which is truly the mark of an outstanding attraction.
Knotts Berry Farm23rd March 2008
Today marked my third visit to Knott's Berry Farm, and my second where I was able to look at a new coaster under construction. It wasn't possible to see a huge amount of the Pony Express site, but the bits that were visible looked to be a lot of fun. I'm not expecting to be back in California at least for a couple of years, but when my travels do bring me to this part of the world I'll be sure to return to this park.
The real interest for me today was only the second spinning coaster to be built by Mack Rides, a full decade after the original. Euro Mir featured controlled spinning, with cars changing direction at set points in the course. Sierra Sidewinder (#1142) takes a more traditional approach; the rotation mechanism on the cars is unlocked at the top of the lift hill and gravity is allowed to take its course. The end result is amazingly good fun even if it was suffering from some reliability issues today. If the park can sort these out it will have a winner on its hands.
Castle Amusement Park23rd March 2008
Castle Amusement Park is not somewhere that I'd heard of before this trip; in fact it only came up on my radar when I was searching for coasters in the greater Los Angeles area. Much to my surprise it turned out to be a very pleasant family park, with a good selection of attractions for all ages. It is probably not the best place to visit if you're interested in exciting coasters, though Merlin's Revenge (#1143) did seem to be running noticably quicker than most equivalent roller skaters.
Spring Fair23rd March 2008
Martin had told us about a travelling fair with two small kiddie coasters that he apparently found by accident when driving back to his hotel. One of these, The Incredible Coaster, was out of commission due to an overheating motor. No such problems were evident on the Orient Express (#1144). It was only afterwards that I realised that this tiny kiddie coaster had become my last of a two week trip, a minor embarrassment to be sure. There's only one solution for that; I'll have to go ride some more coasters as soon as possible!