My last visit to San Francisco was made before I began to count roller coasters, and as a result, there were quite a few small and pathetic credits in the area for me to shoehorn into this trip. The first of these was Tiger Express (#2049) at the Oakland Zoo, a standard ride spruced up considerably by the addition of a superbly ornate train. All passengers were being treated to three laps, the third presumably designed to ensure that the complimentary bruises wouldn't fade too quickly.
The ride area at the Oakland Zoo is found just outside the zoo entrance, so enthusiasts do not need an admission ticket. It is still necessary to pay eight dollars for parking however.
Pixieland Amusement Park
24th May 2014
Pixieland Amusement Park is a family park aimed at young children. Ride tickets are heavily discounted when purchased in large quantities, to the point that it was cheaper for us to buy more tickets than we needed to enjoy experience the Flying Dragon Coaster (#2050). We thought about using the extras on the Carousel, but decided to give them away after discovering that only children were allowed on the horses.
Fun Town at Micke Grove
24th May 2014
Micke Grove Regional Park wasn't a particularly convenient addition to our itinerary today, but there was enough time to squeeze it in, and given that we figured it'd be rude not to. Most of the journey consisted of driving across farmland; enthusiasts should be aware that there are almost no roadside services in the immediate area.
It was an unpleasant surprise to find that the car parking fee had doubled for the holiday weekend, but we handed over our money and in due course found the entrance to Fun Town. The tiny Roller Coaster (#2051) was being enjoyed by a young child with special needs whose father mentioned that the only other coaster he would ride was at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.
Happy Hollow Park and Zoo
24th May 2014
We had no discounts available for our fourth park, and the gate price coupled with the parking fee combined to make Pacific Fruit Express (#2052) the most expensive individual credit of the day. To add insult to injury the queue time was almost an hour, partially due to the inclusive nature of the ticket, but mostly due to painfully slow loading procedures. The ride itself had comfortable individual lap bars for each seat, but apart from that was typical Miler; a credit, but little more.
California's Great America
24th May 2014
Almost ten years ago the fine staff at California's Great America refused to let me ride the coaster then known as Runaway Reptar. There were no such problems today on Woodstock Express (#2053), although I had quite a lot of trouble fitting in the train. The back of each car was a total impossibility, as my knees were too big to sit down, but I managed to shoehorn myself into the front after crossing my legs. The operator insisted that the seatbelt be locked, which was tricky to do but just about manageable after breathing in. It was well worth the struggle; the ride itself was surprisingly good for what it was, with one significant drop followed by a descending helix and an effective airtime hill on the way back to the station.
The main reason for our visit today was Gold Striker (#2054), which is marketed as the tallest and fastest wood coaster in Northern California. This is an accurate if somewhat aggrandising statement given that there are only threeothercontenders for the title. The ride is located very close to an office building owned by Prudential, and for this reason it has a large number of noise mitigation measures, including foam padding, side walls, and a number of tunnels. The result looks more than a little odd, especially from above, but the on-board experience is still exactly what one would expect from GCI. We'd have liked to have ridden more than once, but the line was moving very slowly despite two train operation, and we decided our time would be better spent elsewhere.
We spent a bit of time taking photographs from the Star Tower observation deck and the Eagle's Flight cable car before joining the queue for Flight Deck, the coaster formerly known as Top Gun. This ride still delivers after twenty years, despite its anaemic name, and its bright red track looks fantastic in the evening light.