Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

3rd July 2004

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

The Six Flags web site advises all potential guests to explore an exotic land that's practically in your own backyard. Describing Discovery Kingdom in such terms is a bit of a stretch for me, but nevertheless the park is certainly well served by public transport. The most relaxing way to get there is by high speed ferry from San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. All inclusive tickets for this are very good value.

The morning began by quickly ticking off the two production Vekoma coasters, neither of which we were particularly expecting to enjoy. As such, Kong (#287) was quite a pleasant surprise, proving to be one of the smoothest SLCs I've ridden. The Boomerang (#288) was also running better than average. Perhaps the engineers in the Discovery Kingdom maintenance department know something that their colleagues in other parks do not.

Medusa (#289) was the second floorless coaster to open to the public, just a week behind the first. Due to space restrictions the ride was installed in what was originally part of the car park, and sadly no attempt has been made to hide that fact. Removing the concrete and planting some foliage would certainly have added to the fifteen million dollar price tag for the ride, but it would have been money well spent in my view. At any rate, appearances aside the ride quality was superb, making it a definite candidate for the best coaster in the park.

A quick lap on Cobra (#290) brought us to what is currently the strangest looking coaster in the world. Vertical Velocity (#291) was originally a standard model impulse coaster, identical to that found at Geauga Lake. At the time Discovery Kingdom was subject to a height limit of 150ft, which the management sorted out by reducing the published statistics for their coaster, the reverse of what normally happens! Unfortunately, someone in the city noticed that the ride was a bit taller than it should be, and ordered its modification. The changes reduced the height of the rear spike, and adjusted the angle of the forward spike to 45°. The result is a unique ride, albeit one which is not as much fun as the original; stopping at awkward angles on the front spike is not particularly comfortable.

Roar (#292) was also not particularly comfortable, at least in the front of the train. The shuffling of the car and the resultant bruising made it impossible to enjoy what looked to be a thrilling layout. Seats further back were better, but even still the ride was not a coaster to marathon on. That accolade instead went to what was once a german fair coaster; Zonga (#293) made its move across the pond at the end of 1997, spending a few years at Six Flags Astroworld before being relocated to California. The ride formerly known as Thriller now features a slightly insane queueing system that zig zags back and forth through an area no more than eight feet wide, but other than that oddity the ride itself was stunning, especially when one considers that it is almost twenty five years old.

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Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

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