On leaving my hotel this morning Hortense warned me about a toll on my route, and offered to calculate around it. With no shortage of time I decided to let her offer a suggestion, which turned out to be a ninety minute detour. The five dollar toll across the Benicia-Martinez Bridge seemed like an absolute bargain in comparison.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
30th May 2016
There was a lengthy queue to get into the car park at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom an hour before the advertised opening time. Rather than follow the multitudes to spaces close to the entrance I decided it'd be best to go to the end of one of the rows so as to make my car as easy as possible to find. This was definitely the right approach, as it greatly streamlined my departure.
When the barrier dropped, I joined the throng heading to Joker, which I'd seen testing, but the ride was still not open. A number of people chose to queue anyway but I decided not to join them, and instead went to Superman Ultimate Flight. The somewhat neurotic loose object policy evident on my last visit had been relaxed somewhat and the operator allowed me into the queue after I demonstrated that my camera and wallet would be placed into zipped pockets before riding. This approach came across as refreshingly sensible in a world where some well known parks have chosen to use metal detectors at the entrances to queues with absolutely no regard for guest satisfaction.
Seats were being assigned today, but I was lucky enough to be offered a front row and I wasn't about to turn that down. In that location ride experience was absolutely brilliant, and I'd have done another but for the fact that the queue had ballooned past one hour by the time I disembarked and waiting seemed like far too much effort. Instead I made my way over to Medusa where efficient two train operation meant that the line was very short. Over the course of half an hour I rode twice, once in the back-right and once in the front-left. Both rides were equally good, and I couldn't place one over the other.
At this stage there was nothing else that I really wanted to do, so I decided to park myself in the shade next to the new coaster to see what might happen. An early evening flight meant that I had a rigid departure time of 2:00pm, and I wanted to give myself the best possible chance of riding. Test trains had been running all morning but I wasn't holding out a lot of hope when the words load her up came down from the ride station. The cheer from the surrounding guests said it all, and there were no more than thirty people in front of me when I joined the queue. Amazingly there was nobody in the front row pen, and I wasn't about to look a gift horse in the slightly terrifying wide and scary mouth.
Joker (#2244) began with some gently undulating track that was similar but more spaced out than the beginning of Twisted Colossus, followed by a climb to the top of a one hundred foot lift hill. The curved first drop led into a moderately intense barrel roll, but it was the second inversion, a top gun stall, that was the definite highlight. The rest of the course was a blend of powerful airtime hills and curves, concluding with a third inversion right before the brake run. The experience was well up there with everything else Rocky Mountain has built and a huge upgrade over its predecessor, though to honest I'm still inclined to give the overall top grade to Twisted Colossus.
The wait had lengthened considerably by the time I disembarked, but the attendant estimated it to be thirty minutes, giving me just enough time to get in a second lap in the back seat. In that location the ride was considerably more forceful. I'd have liked to have done a few more laps so as to properly collect my thoughts on the layout, but that'll have to wait until the next time I'm in California.