Vallejo - Santa Clara - San Francisco
 Friday August 26th - Monday August 29th, 2016
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, California's Great America

Gharidelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street

La Victoria Taqueria - Ike's

Click each picture to make it bigger, then back to return here.

Preface - Visited 2 California parks and added one coaster to my bucket list.     Fly all the way from FLL to SFO just for one coaster?    Yes, when it's an RMC.       I also rode a wooden coaster called Gold Striker.     In 2000, Laurie and I had visited SFO going to Six Flags Marine World, and Paramount's Great America.     16 years later, I was back to ride The Joker, a new RMC coaster on my list.    I basically retraced my footsteps from that 2000 trip going to the same places.      Here is the bucket list.    Click back to return here.      
Top USA Steel Coaster List

Day 1 - Friday August 26th 2016.   Picture 1, I arrived FLL at 5am and that was the line going through TSA.     I had a Priority boarding pass on American Airlines because I was using miles.      I was able to go through a shorter line.     Picture 2, after getting through security, there is a billboard on the wall.    This is what the other parks need to do in Orlando to draw visitors from other cities.     Picture 3, I'm blasting off from FLL.     I went through DFW with a 3 hour lay over where I ate lunch.    Picture 4, the rental car in SFO, a Kia Soul that averaged 30 mpg.  

Picked up the rental car at 5pm and drove north across the Golden Gate bridge.    Traffic was horrible going through Sanfranciso.    Took me an hour to reach the bridge and cross.       For those who don't know, it is free to travel north across the bridge, but there is a $7.50 toll when traveling southbound.     This causes a problem with rental cars, as the tolls are cashless and the rental car company will charge you an extra $20-$30 dollars to process the toll, billing your credit card directly..     In my case, when I traveled southbound, I ended up going through the Oakland side down to Santa Clara.    Otherwise, there is no way to get back to San Francisco withough paying a toll.    This is similar to what NY does when crossing a bridge to come into the city.    It's free to leave, but there is a toll when entering.    Best advise, be sure to set Google Maps to Avoid Tolls.     There was more traffic on the CA-37 heading towards Vallejo.  At times, this is two lanes that merge into one, horrible traffic.   

  

After 2 hours of rush hour driving, I finally arrived Vallejo where I passed Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.   It wasn't open at this time.    I checked into the Best Western Discovery Kingdom, which is a couple blocks from the park.   The reason I stayed at this hotel was the free parking so I wouldn't have to pay $25 at Six Flags.    They have a free shuttle that runs to the park, info on that is shown in picture 6.    They use wrist bands for the breakfast and free shuttle rides.  
Best Western Discovery Kingdom

Pictures of my queen suite room.   I stayed here one night.  

 Day 2 - Saturday August 27th - Here I am at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom early in the morning.   I took the shuttle from the Best Western which left at 10am and dropped off.     In picture 3, a long line formed getting through security with only 1 lane open.    As the opening time approached, they opened more, but this long line sucked.    Pictures 4 and 5, The Joker, the entire reason for this trip.   It was running as they had an ERT event for Comcast employees.   In the 6th picture, is the line of people waiting to run to The Joker.   When the park opened at 10:30am, everyone ran which is called the Running Of The Bulls.      

Finally, after spending an entire day flying across the country, waiting 30 minutes to get into the park, I was there.      For this ride you can't pick your seat.   The guard at the top of the platform puts you in a row.   Mine was in the back, and the guard said this was the best seat.   He was right, the ride was great.     This is the 55mph family RMC version, but it packs a punch with 2 hanging inversions and many air time hills.     For my next ride, I ended up in the front seat when I was first in line for the next train.      The ride in the front is fun to see the track, but the back is the best because you get whipped over the hills.   53mph,  100 feet high, 3200 feet length.      Mission Accomplished, I got two rides.  
The Joker

Up next, Superman Ultimate Flight.   This is a Premier Sky Rocket II which I classify as a carnival coaster.    There's 3 of these in the USA, this was the first I had been on.     Each train holds 12 people.    The ride rockets forwards, backwards, then forwards shooting the train up to the top, an  inline twist, and a non inverting loop.    The ride was ok, but it's still a carnival coaster and this was not the reason I came to this park.    For example, BGW and Lake Compounce installed these and I won't be visiting those parks until they put in something better.      

Two pictures of Medusa.    Laurie and I rode this coaster back in 2000.     On this day they were only running one train which sucked.   This made the wait 30 minutes, and I think SF does this so people will pay extra for their flash pass system.    A kid and his date made it all the way to the gate of the station, only to be told they couldn't ride because the kid had a back pack.   Seems the guards at the entrance of the ride and the loading platform didn't notice his back pack.    The wait up to this point had been 30 minutes.    The ride was great just like it was back in 2000, but waiting 30 minutes with only one train running, and seeing a couple be told they had to buy a locker really sucked.   

A girl looks super bored waiting in line for Dare Devil Chaos.     This is a Larson Looper (not a coaster).   Six Flags installed these in all their parks.    In picture 2 is the line, it's only 15 people.    The idea this ride will help capacity of the other rides is a total joke.   I didn't go on this and have no desire to ride it.   This is a carnival flat if there ever was one.     The ride rocks back and forth, leaves riders hanging at the top, and finally loops a few times before ending the torture.      Behind this in the background, is Kong, a Vekoma SLC Inverted.   It was down, which is a good thing, because this is another type of coaster I will no longer ride.   

In contrast to the carnival ride I just talked about, let's look at the queue line to The Joker mid day at noon.    It's a full queue, the wait is about 45 minutes.        The is the longest wait in the park and proves everyone wants to go on the RMC coasters.  

As I was walking out, I stopped to take a couple pictures of the penguins interacting with humans.   They seemed to enjoy it.    In my opinion, only animals that accept being held captive should be in a zoo or park.   Meaning, animals like lions, tigers, elephants, gators, chimps, gorillas, and orca whales should not be held in parks because they snap and kill humans.    Of coarse someone could say the same thing about dogs, but I'm talking in general here.    

Another thing to note, is water rides like these that soak the passengers, I'm no longer interested in.   These rides require a lot of maintenance, offer little thrill, soak the passengers, make the t-shirt wet, shoes water logged, not fun.  

After a great day at SFDK, I walked back to the Best Western, got in the rental car, and drove to my next stop, La Victoria in Hayward.    To get there, I set the Avoid Tolls option in Google Maps, which took me to the Oakland side of the bay.    It took me longer to go this way, but I wasn't going to pay $7.50 to cross the golden gate bridge from the north side.    There's no way to pay the toll because it's cashless.   The rental car company will charge $20-$30 to process the $7.50 toll by automatically billing the credit card.    

Here I am at La Victoria Taqueria in Hayward.    Above is the menu.
http://www.lavicsj.com/

Above is a veggie burrito with extra everything (beans, rice, salsa, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and lettuce).   They have orange and green sauce in bottles.   When not in use, the bottles are stored in cold containers.        The chips and salsa are only 50 cents.    All that food for $9.30, what a deal.    This was definately a Man V. Food moment.    I ate all of it, because it was so good, I was stuffed.   In picture 3 you can see the cups of orange sauce for the to-go orders.   The orange sauce is like spicy Queso, but in a liquid form.   It's great on everything and I put it on every bite.      

 

Here I am at the Best Western Sunnyvale near Santa Clara.       Here is my king room.   This was a newer clean hotel with a nice breakfast area.

Here I am at California's Great America.    The last time I visited here was in 2000, 16 years ago.    The reason for coming back was that I had a season pass.    Free parking, free admission, and they have a new woodie called Gold Striker which opened in 2013.

Here I am riding Gold Striker.     This coaster is made by GCI, similar to Gwazi at BGT, Renegade at Valley Fair, or Ghost Rider at Knotsts Berry Farm.    The ride is fast, feels like it's out of control, many twisting turns.
Goldstriker
I went on Flight deck and Vortex before heading out.      Two parks in one day, plus a food stop.     

Day 3 - Sunday August 28th - I stopped by Costco in Santa Clara near the airport to fill up the rental car with gas.      There was a line at 7am, incredibe.   I can't imagine what this place looks like during the day.

s

Here I am at Ike's in Santa Clara.    I had a sandwich called, "Sometimes I'm a Vegetarian."      All the flavors blend to make a great taste.   Sourdough bread, grilled mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, pesto, provolone, dirty sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onions, pickles, and jalapenos.   You could probably make this sandwich at home, but it would take you a while.         I also got a sandwich to go called the "Steve Jobs."   I took this sandwich through security at the airport in a gallon zip lock bag and ate it while I was waiting for my red eye flight home.    Food is allowed through security check points.   I even bring a big bag of popcorn on my trips.    
https://www.yelp.com/biz/ikes-place-santa-clara-3

After eating half a sub at Ike's, I headed out driving 2 hours through downtown San Francisco to Ghiradelli Square, following my footsteps from the year 2000.    It was interesting to be back here.

I walked from Ghiradelli Square to Fisherman's Wharf.    It's about 5 blocks with many restaurants and shops along the way.    Finally I was at the iconic landmark.  

Sea food anyone?

 

Picutre 1, Alcatraz.   Picture 2, submarine tour.   Picture 3, The Museum of Mecanique (antiques, pinball machines, skee ball).    One could spend hours in here.

 

More machines.

Lombardi Street.    I walked half way down taking pictures.

 

Here I am driving down Lombard Street.   

 

More views from the car with everyone taking selfies.

Drove the rental car back to SFO, went through security at 5pm, ate my sandwich, waited a few hours for my red eye flight on American to push back at 10:23pm.    The plane took off at 10:30pm, arrived in Charlotte at 6am EST.    4 and 1/2 hours in the air, plus the 3 hour time change.    I had an exit row seat with extra leg room, but it was still a tough flight sitting in a chair for 4.5 hours.     I got a couple hours of sleep on and off, was awake most of the flight, the plane finally landed.       After a 1 hour lay over in Charlotte, I flew 1.5 hours to Fort Lauderdale landing at 09:45am.          

Conclusion:  Visited Six Flags Discovery Kingdom checking off The Joker from my bucket list.   So where do I rank this coaster?   It's 7th out of 9 in the RMC category.   It's not that any of these rides suck, it's that others are simply better.   Go check out my bucket list page to see where I rank them, then back to return here.   
Top USA Steel Coaster List
What I didn't like about SFDK was forcing everyone to buy lockers for back packs, and one train operation on Medusa, which seems like they wanted long lines to make people buy The Flash Pass.   That being said, let's rank all the Six Flags parks like I did with Cedar Fair in the order I feel they would appear.   There are 11 parks in the USA.  

SFMM
SFNJ
SFGAm
SFoT
SFoG
SFNE
SFFT
SFDK
SFA
SFSTL
SFGE

How about California's Great America?   Good park, especially since adding Gold Striker.    But the rest of their steel line up is lacking.     They will convert Vortex to a floorless, but the layout really sucks.
Vortex
Why waste the money on a track that is only 1920 feet in length, only 91 feet tall, and only goes 40 mph?      This coaster won't make my bucket list.    There's really only 2 coasters worth riding as a thrill fan, Gold Striker, and Flight Deck.  
Such a waste as this could be a really good park, and I'm sure the market would support more rides, but the suits won't do it.    Once again, we can look at how I rank the Cedar Fair parks.    CGA is 6th on my list because they got Gold Striker.        

Cedar Point
Carowinds
Kings Island
Kings Dominion
Dorney Park
California's Great America
Knotts Berry Farm
Worlds of Fun
Valley Fair
Michigan's Adventure

Click each link to bring up the RCDB page and look at when each park last got a coaster, then click back to return here.    

End of Report.   Thanks for reading. 

Email me at skiguy777@bellsouth.net.

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