McLaren: Today I headed to the beloved Six Flags of the Bay Area (my current home park) on a moderately cool Saturday, with a nice set of varietal weather. Lets jump right to it!
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The day started off with clear skies for the most part, a slight breeze, and light to moderate crowds… perfect!
Today my main curiosity was centered on the status of Harley Quinn’s construction, which was announced on August 31st, 2017 for the 2018 season. This photo below is what I saw two weeks ago; all the supports in the far right corner of the main parking lot, waiting to be transported to cite and assembled, meaning that vertical construction was upon us.
Just as I thought, massive progress has been made in the past week! It’s so exciting to be able to see the very first Skywarp coaster by Skyline Attractions being erected here on the West Coast. I’ve said this before and I definitely feel as though it appropriate to say it again in this instance: Discovery Kingdom has become a professional when it comes to finessing attractions into extremely small plots of land as we’ve seen them repurpose Zonga’s site twice, angle rotate Wonder Woman perfectly between Joker and Superman, and are now able to fit Harley Quinn in an area where I never would have seen to have potential. Round of applause Six Flags, round of applause.
By looking at the 3D promo videos, you don’t ever really get a realistic feel as to how large/steep certain attractions are until you see them in the flesh, and that’s just the case here. I was shocked as to how intense the angles look on this thing so far. I think having this ride protrude up from this area compliments the whole DC Comic attraction lineup very well.
Just for verification purposes, I did return back to the corner of the parking lot where the supports had initially been two weeks ago just to see if there were any still there, which I came to find out the answer was no. Based on that, plus the fact support system seems to be complete in this photo below, all that remains to be done as far as the heavy lifting goes is topping off the dive loops/Immelmans.
I feel as though at this point, rides like this are a wise investment for a park like Discovery Kingdom. This attraction can be marketed as a truly new ride, it allegedly costs fewer than 2 million dollars, exists under Vallejo’s 150’ height restriction, and has a very impressively small 30’ x 120’ foot print, making its installation very versatile.
It was to my initial understanding that this ride would be a drive tire only system, however on both ends of the ride, there are short chain assemblies beyond the tires at the bases of the tracks. I have done a good bit of regarding this topic, however I have yet to find anything concrete. If I had to guess, I would say that maybe the chain hoist the trains up and out of their loading position only for them to be released shortly after, allowing the train to already posses some kinetic energy before hitting the drive tires; essentially I think these chains are a way to boost the beginning of the ride cycle so that the drive tires do not have to carry the entire responsibility of providing the first push. I think I’m on the right track with this, but could be wrong… regardless, we’ll know soon enough and I cannot wait to try out this one of a kind attraction for the first time in just a few more weeks.
Due to Harley Quinn’s construction, Superman’s entrance as well as exit have been rerouted temporarily. They are currently requiring riders to enter through Zonga’s old loading platform instead. Once Superman’s train come to a halt after the cycle is complete, you actually get off on the same side where you boarded, and then proceed to exit though the door to the left on the turnstile. A bit odd, however this detour does not negatively effect or slow down operations, which I was thankful for.
The sky cleared up for me as I decided to take a spin on Wonder Woman, which seemed to be running a very long ride cycle today. On the way there, I was greeted with a lovely picture to the left that is the signature RMC ejector airtime… art.
Wonder Woman had a fairly long line as per usual, however like I mentioned, it seemed to have a double-length ride cycle, with about 6-8 major swings, so to me it was totally worth it. This thing’s sheer power, side, speed, and weightlessness easily make it one of the most enjoyable flat rides I’ve had the pleasure of riding.
Not to mention is looks awesome at night with its extensive RBG LED package that offers a variety of colors and programmable patterns.
V2: Vertical Velocity, one of the most bizarre Intamin Impulse coasters with an even weirder history. I remember when this coaster opened back in 2001 when I was still a kid and not even tall enough to ride it yet. It was still yellow and blue, 186’ in height, and U-shaped, with that lovely vertical spiral. How Six Flags managed to operate this coaster while not abiding by the 150’ building restriction for an entire season is something I’ll never know.
In 2002 is when the park was offered with two options, either modify the ride or shut it down. Obviously the park took the second option, which is why we now have a 150’ Intiman Impulse coaster still with a vertical spike, and a 45-degree zero-g roll behind a long section of sloped track that conveniently spans over the whole entrance. Anyway, this ride usually has a short line, as its popularity has seemed to decline over the years yet Six Flags is still holding onto this coaster. This personally isn’t my favorite ride in the park, but I do still very much enjoy it and think it offers a nice variety to the ride roster. I’m hoping this ride either stays with us or gets that faintly rumored DC Comic retheme.
Another happening at the park as far as construction goes is the beer and snack stand that was just to the left of V2. The whole building has been demolished and leveled to make way for a new restaurant coming to the area called Big Belly Burger. Previously, only things like nachos and pretzels were sold here, however the new restaurant coming is going to offer much more hearty options and will be the only place in this particular area of the park to do that so I think it will be an awesome addition for this summer.
Due to the fact that this was technically the only area in this part of the park that had decent food options and no longer exists for the time being, Six Flags has decided to compensate for that by opening the temporary Blazin’ Backyard Grill directly in front of the construction site.
This “restaurant” was simply comprised of a tent, a smoking grill, and some classic picnic tables where you place your order. While it may not look like much, the food is actually very good and I’m glad to Six Flags is still working to adequately provide for its guests between now and when Big Belly Burger actually opens closer to the summer time.
After I grabbed some food, I decided to take the long way around the back of the park along Lake Chabot towards Boomerang. I made a stop by Hammerhead Shark to, “Grab A Fin… And Hang On,” however it was unfortunately closed for maintenance this past weekend.
If you pay close attention of some of the seats, you can see that some of the padding has been replaced as some of them are a much more vibrant orange color. This has been a ride that I’ve ridden for years, as it’s been in the park since 1998 and ever since I first started attending “Marine World” as the park was still called at the time. This beefy Zamperla Hawk 48 has great capacity and a decent amount of hang time, as it is well counter weighted and only takes 3 swings to reach full rotation.
Alright, let’s have a conversation about this situation: notice anything missing here? These are the posts that used to hold up the African themed sign for the last Huss Top Spin on the West Coast… VooDoo. This attraction has stood silent since 2016 when it randomly closed, but that was also after down time on and off over the years due to the plague of technical problems.
When I checked around 6 months ago or so, it was still there but was labeled temporarily closed, which caused me to believe that we would eventually hear that signature break squeaking sound around Tava’s Jungleland again. Having noticed the sign had now been removed, I proceeded to whip out my phone to see if it was even still under the rides tab on Discovery Kingdom’s website, and it was nowhere to be seen. Keep in mind that there has been no confirmation from the company that this ride is 100% leaving, however its hard to see otherwise at this point
Along with Hammerhead Shark, this ride opened in 1998 as well and it seemed as though these rides were the hype of the 90’s and early 2000’s, however these rides have been known to suffer a plethora of mechanical issues and costly maintenance. VooDoo became one of those rides where I really never knew whether it was going to be open or not when I visited, but it looks like we finally have a permanent answer.
These rides aren’t necessarily the most thrilling or even comfortable for that matter, but its one of those good ole flat rides from the 90’s that offered a retro adrenaline rush that I always enjoyed. One of the reasons I’m exceptionally bummed to see it go is that we’ve already lost FireFall at California’s Great America as well as Riptide at Knott’s Berry Farm (Hangtime’s station is where the ride used to be so I’m not going to complain about that particular ride’s removal… like, at all), so VooDoo was truly the last Top Spin in California. Like I said before, it wasn’t the greatest ride and had a slightly underwhelming cycle aside from the triple flip and hang time towards the end, but I still thought it was fun. While Discovery Kingdom focuses on its projects that need to be completed by summer, it seems as though this situation is on the backburner… still. I hope the back of the park will be brought back to life eventually. RIP VooDoo.
Boomerang only had about a 1-train wait today and was running VERY well. A couple months back, the ride underwent thorough maintenance and its showing as it was one of the smoothest rides I’ve had on this coaster in a very long time.
These rides get bashed more often than they should be. I hear a lot of the typical “those are too rough” complaints, but its part of the Boomerang package and experience, and I personally love these. Now that we’ve parted ways with Knott’s Boomerang, I’m very grateful one in Northern California still stands and operate well for that matter. Count your blessings, folks.
Last stop of the day was Medusa. I. LOVE. THIS. COASTER. It’s one of the most reliable, has a lovely straight drop, and has stayed exceptionally smooth over its almost 20 year lifespan. Only had to wait for about 15 minutes to board one of the two trains the park was running that day. This thing still has a beastly capacity. Medusa is one of those coasters that’s hard for me to complain about.
There isn’t a ton changing in Oasis Plaza, but the one interesting thing I did notice regarding our beloved NorCal B&M Floorless is the brake pads on the pre-drop trim as well as this one following the zero-g roll have been removed, and the air pressure valve has been disconnected. The mechanisms themselves are still there, only the actual parts that would pass by on either sides of the brake funs are gone. Usually, you would hear this brake release periodically between trains passing by while in line for SkyScreamer, but it is now quiet. I don’t know whether this is permanent as they are not required for safe operations and/or B&M/Six Flags has found a more efficient way to manage running trains, or if these parts are just simply being replaced and the ride can temporarily operate without them. The main midcourse brake run is of course still being utilized, however. Regardless, the coaster was running beautifully that day, just a bit of nerdy technical info for your Monday.
It was about 8:15pm and time to head out after a great day at the park. I always have good time here, and it brings about feelings of nostalgia every time I go because its been my home park for the majority of my life now. Thank you always, Discovery Kingdom.
Before we wrap up, lets get back to one of the most anticipated parts of this article really fast. I was able to snag some shots of Harley Quinn’s drive system after sundown, and its looking super rad thus far. Like I was talking about earlier, it’ll be very interesting to see how these tires work in coordination with the chain systems on both rides of the ride.
Lastly, something caught my eye where the drop off/pick up lane is to the left of where I took the previous photo; They’re the massive pieces of track that are going to top off Harley Quinn’s pair of dive loops, which are only a couple hundred feet away from the ride site… meaning this ride could very well be completed within the next week or two. We’ll keep you guys posted.
This officially concludes our update from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Thank you guys so much for reading, and stay tuned as we cover the opening of California’s sickest attractions for 2018!