Thursday, 21 June 2012

Discovery Kingdom

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was called Six Flags Marine World when I visited it in 2002 and back then it was the first coaster on the trip, on my first ever big club trip, so I have fond memories of the park.

Again, this is how an amusement park should look with a good selection of rides dominating the skyline. I recall V2, the red one on the left, being yellow last time and it being down.

Since the last visit the park had added animal theming, foliage and water fountains. All good stuff that gave a better impression than the rides slapped on concrete that I remember.

We started the day with an exclusive ride session on Medusa, the B&M floorless coaster. The park did a really good job for us and especially the ride ops who were full of enthusiasm first thing in the morning.

The coaster is excellent despite being muted (they fill the structure with sand so that it doesn't roar) and although the best ride is in the front row I chose to spend the entire session trying all the other rows. The park had done some really good work on adding loads of foliage around the ride. Much better than 10 years ago.

Following that we had an official take over on one of their kiddy rides. It did get some bemused looks from the public who were running for "first rides" on Medusa and wondering why we were choosing to ride this one instead. Today was t-shirt day in case you're wondering why we're all dressed the same.

Kong was an SLC that actually chose not to ride. I'd done it before but was deciding that I'd just be taking it easy today. The temperature had gone up a bit since San Diego and I wanted to ensure I wasn't left too tired or dehydrated by the end of it.

The park have a proper StarFlyer with chains holding the seats up rather than the more safer version of the ride seen a Knotts.

V2 was up next and I was definitely going to be riding this one. These rides are so much fun and this one is unique in that it's twisty end is at an angle and not straight up (this is the other non-twisty end) which is fine.

That's the twisty end. This ride was a lot of fun and like Medusa seems to offer the best ride in the front. Whilst you don't go so high on the rear spike you do get the full rotation at the other.

Roar is the park wooden coaster, and whilst the rest of the group went and rode it like the enthusiasts should, this one went and looked at penguins.

and very cool they were too. The enclosures were quite open but had staff permanently on hand to keep an eye and answer any questions you might have. This park has a history as a marine park before getting the rides in and now does a good job keeping a balance between the two. 

There aren't just good coasters here. You can ride a killer whale if you wish.

and there are some questionable rides too. For some odd reason I did actually ride their boomerang again, and it was just as bad as I recall.

New to the park and unfortunately not open for us was the new Superman ride, which looked a bit insane to be honest. It's like a Maurer skyloop but launched and with a non-inverting loop to follow. Whilst we were there all they seemed to do was remove a flag from the top of the ride. It opened 3 weeks after the trip ended. The last of the elephants.

They do have characters here, unfortunately nobody wanted their photo taken with this one. Poor person inside must be pouring buckets and has nobody to wipe the sweat onto.

One of the many adverts in the park and whilst I'm not a fan of this personally I fully understand the need for parks to generate additional revenue. I don't think you can buy the wipes here though, I just got offered a paper napkin when I bought lunch.

At lunch we were given our own little area with a good selection of American food.

As a special treat the park staff brought along some animals for us to get up close to including a baby crocodile, porcupine and by far most popular, some otters who were extremely cute.

The hardest coaster to find was tucked away in the Loony Tunes part of the park behind the rather camp Daffy Duck statue. Last time this was out in the open and I remember the final turn being a bit too tight for adults causing us all to fly around and almost injure our ribs. So I watched others going through that this time and realised that the turn is just as wild.

For those that are into their wet rides they have a pretty drenching big splash ride and a fairly decent rapids ride, and located around both are the obligatory quarter dollar water cannons, which we would have spent a small fortune on only the change machines weren't working :(

Later in the day the rapids broke down and we got to watch the evac process, which took a little long to get going but was pretty swift once underway.

Cliched skycoaster shot. I wish a park would give them a basketball to shoot at a far away hoop with a cash prize if they nail it. Perhaps one day, or perhaps I enjoyed Santa Cruz's ring tossing carousel a bit too much.

The end of the day was spent just checking out the animals and I'm pleased to say they seemed pretty content and I didn't see any of the pacing back and forth that usually blights zoos.

There's a good mix of animals and I'm quite sure we didn't get around everything.

I'm pleased to say that the park has probably undergone the most change since the last trip and all for the better. There's still the great selection of rides and they have a decent zoo offering too, but with the addition of foliage and, more importantly shade, the park is much better. Perhaps having been here before and not needed to run about also helped.

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