Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

4th July 2004

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The main reason for my visit to California this year was the Apple WWDC conference, and as such I'd made no special arrangements to visit the smaller parks in the greater San Francisco area. As such, it was a very pleasant surprise to receive an e-mail from JC offering to bring me down to the Beach Boardwalk for the day; there was no way I'd turn down an offer like that. Hopefully I'll be able to return the favour some day.

My first impression of the boardwalk was of a relic from another era. The vast majority of rides were classic attractions from years gone by, with only the occasional modern attraction sticking out like a sore thumb. Among the treasures could be found a Rock-O-Plane, a Round-Up, and of course the Giant Dipper (#294). The only major change to be made to this ride in the last eighty years was the replacement of the old manual brakes in favour of modern automatic ones; other than that, the classic out and back coaster remains just as thrilling as it would have been when it opened in 1924.

Though the Hurricane (#295) is a production coaster it is a relatively rare model, with just three operating worldwide. Most of the ride was undistinguished, but the second drop made up for everything; it was almost impossibly steep and twisted, very reminiscent of the magnificent Mine Train Ulven. With that out of the way, we finished off the coaster roster by trying out the Sea Serpent (#296). This ride is one of the larger coasters to be built by Miler, and fortunately this means it is big enough for adults to ride without feeling embarrassed (unlike certain other examples!). It is surrounded by flowers and a waterfall which make it one of the more scenic coasters I've encountered of late.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The Cave Train Adventure dark ride was one of the strangest dark rides I've had the pleasure to enjoy. It looked much like it would have done in 1961, and in this case I'm not entirely convinced this was an advantage. Having said that, some of the characters appeared to have found new homes on the Sky Glider (see across). Much more normal was the Ghost Blaster, a Sally target shooting dark ride. I managed the worst score of the three of us, but then again I was up against a regular Time Crisis player (Jonathon) and someone who had ridden before (JC).

After lunch, we went for a wander through one of the arcades, which proved to be home to one of the largest collections of classic games outside of an emulator. Among other things, I spotted a Tempest, a Q-Bert, a Battlezone, an Outrun, an Operation Thunderbolt, a Pac Man Plus, and a Millipede. There was also a Dance Dance Revolution Extreme, and after watching some people playing on beginner mode Jonathon and I decided to show off. We played a game on standard mode, and by the end of the second song we'd built up a substantial audience!

The Haunted Castle dark ride was the last ride we tried, and it proved yet another classic. The high sided cars did block a certain amount of the potential view, but other than that the experience was top notch. Unfortunately, the effect of a spinning tunnel towards the end of the ride wasn't working properly today. Hopefully next time!

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Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

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