I stayed overnight in a cheap hotel a few miles north of Six Flags Magic Mountain. In an ideal world I'd have covered a decent chunk of the distance to the San Francisco area first, but I thought it best to play things safe given that I'd been awake at the crack of dawn. I'd intended to leave the hotel at 6:00am, but decided it was worth delaying things half an hour to take advantage of the proffered free breakfast, and that was definitely the right call.
Funderland Amusement Park
29th May 2016
It was almost five hours later when I arrived at Funderland Amusement Park for the second time in my life. I'd not expected all that much from Flying Dragon (#2242) given that it was a Wisdom product, but it was actually respectable enough. The operator told me to ignore the seatbelt but to cross my legs so that the lap bar could lock at its lowest point, and by following his instructions I managed a fairly pleasant ride. The train did still shake badly as it crossed each tyre motor, but the rest of the layout was fine.
Scandia Family Fun Center
29th May 2016
I arrived at Scandia Family Fun Center about forty minutes after opening, and immediately noted that the various amusement rides and associated car park were behind a locked gate with no sign of any activity. My immediate thought was that I'd made a mistake when checking hours, but as I drove around the facility I spotted a park sign above an amusement arcade, and I went there to investigate. It turned out that the various rides were not scheduled to begin operation until an hour after the advertised time, and thus my last minute lie-in proved a godsend.
I spent a bit of time exploring the place, which turned out to be very well presented. The outdoor area was divided into three sections: a miniature golf course with elaborate theming, batting cages, and amusement rides - including bumper boats, a slide, flyers, go-karts, a scrambler, and Scandia Screamer, a booster-style attraction of indeterminate provenance. Unlimited wristbands were available, though there was one huge caveat; to quote from park signage, due to the high demand for the Scandia thrill ride, we can only guarantee one ride during peak times. This policy ensures that participants who are riding for the first time today get to do so in a timely manner. Re-riders must wait until the First Time Today Line is empty before re-riding.
Crazy Dane Coaster ($7.50 per ride) is a wild mouse that was originally installed at Casino Pier just fifty meters away from the now infamous Star Jet, a ride that became iconic after it was unceremoniously dumped into the Atlantic Ocean by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The ride layout consists of a standard upper section followed by a curved drop that goes almost all the way to ground level, a climb out, a straight drop of similar height, a turnaround, and a descending helix that leads to the final brake. The tracking quality isn't the best, to put it mildly, but for all that the experience is considerably more thrilling than its dimensions would suggest.
There were two points of particular interest today. First, the track seemed to have taken a certain amount of damage, in that the various segments didn't line up cleanly when compared against video footage from before the hurricane. This was particularly obvious from on board, as each visible kink was accompanied by a dramatic thump. Second, the ride was being operated in manual mode, which one very rarely sees nowadays. The top of the operator console had a clear and unambiguous warning in capital letters; HANDS OFF CONTROL PANEL UNTIL COASTER IS STOPPED AT STATION OR YOU WILL BE FIRED.
Sonoma TrainTown Railroad
29th May 2016
Two years ago I spent a very pleasant hour at Sonoma TrainTown Railroad. Today I decided to do a quick hit and run for the Mine Train (#2243), a custom-designed family coaster from Miler that took the place of the old Dragon. The new ride follows a custom layout with two helices and a double-up element that worked fairly well, though as with most Miler rides more accurate fabrication would have been nice. The track was completely unpainted, with its metallic silver gleaming in the afternoon sun. My $2.75 ticket covered two laps which was ample.
29th May 2016
My final planned stop for today was at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, where I'd hoped to experience Joker on its opening day. Unfortunately however the ride was experiencing technical problems, and an enthusiast I spoke to at the entrance confirmed that it had been down for the entire day. He'd apparently waited almost eight hours in front of the entrance on the off-chance that the issue would be resolved. I decided to park myself in the shade nearby with my book, as I had no massive desire to ride anything else. Two hours and eleven chapters later an apologetic operator announced that Joker would not be opening today, and I decided that was my cue to go for an early dinner.