Raphael, our special correspondent from Brazil, visited California for the first time this July. As a Florida park-fan, he decided to visit the opposite coast, and visited almost every single park in the state. His enthusiasm and great re-telling of his Californian adventures continue in the second of many iCCK articles. Let him take you to the Santa Monica Pier, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Disneyland, in this brand new article!
My journey in the LA area began by the ocean, visiting some nice beaches like Malibu, the world-known surf paradise. This place gave me the first impression of the Dodgers fans (so many hats): it seemed as if happiness is located everywhere. Everybody smiled all the time! Walking on the boardwalk of Malibu became a surprisingly experience as some surfers invited me to surf with them! Although I love some adventures, surfing in unknown waters is not something I felt prepared for. Who knows next time, right?
Besides Malibu, I went to the insane Venice Beach, where I felt at home for some time with all these souvenir stores and people selling things or doing some kind of crazy entertainment. However, before this, I made a visit to the historical, magical, and beautiful Santa Monica Pier.
As a fan of Disney/Pixar’s Cars, being in the west end of Route 66 was kind of realizing a dream. Nevertheless, the best was yet to come: Pacific Park. After a delicious meal at the Bubba Gump, it was time to ride the long-awaited Westcoaster! A very fun coaster, if you ask me. The hills after the first turn are so great, especially with the Pacific breeze in your face! Made me miss Santa Cruz pretty badly.
More heights and views came in the Pacific Wheel. What a gorgeous view! Beach, amusement parks, wind, friendly people. How can California do better?
The park itself is not even medium-sized, but the rides can amuse everyone, from children to adults with family flats such as a scrambler and swinging ship. In addition, they are very well maintained, looking very new. By the way, Pacific Park is more like an important part of the Pier, but not the stand-alone star as it is also used practically by local fisherman.
The next day came, and so did Disneyland. Being a person that visited Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom first, I was very curious how this day at the original Disney Park would be. Even sounding cliché, the word that came to my head is different. Very different.
The first surprise was with the train station. It’s more rustic, simple, old school, like being transported right back to 1955, and The Diamond Celebration only contributed to that type of feel. As I got into the park, I saw tributes and homages everywhere, as the signs of the signature attractions in the tunnels, and the light representing Walt Disney at the Fire Station. Beautiful!
Exploring Town Square was very nice as I discovered some nice places like the Walt Disney museum, but it was time for some Main Street. Seeing the Sleeping Beauty castle so small at the end definitely gave me a strange feeling as it so different when you see the Cinderella Castle for the first time. This situation made the beginning of my day even more nostalgic. Besides, the castle is stunning, even more so with the special decoration.
Before my trip, Matterhorn Bobsleds was on the top of my to-do list, so I went right to it as I walked through so many diamonds in the streets. Arriving, I got very surprised how Disney handled ride security for loose articles. The guest takes it all with them! Moreover, you can go with cameras and whatever you want to. This kind of attitude make the lines goes a little bit faster, but makes Six Flags Discovery Kingdom looks like a pro when it comes to item security.
Matterhorn is a unique ride and it is a good representation of what Walt Disney was trying to create for parents and children in the same ride. The rollercoaster is not smooth at all (It is from 1959), except the turns, the Yetis and sudden drops made me smile and were very satisfying. In addition, the left side is definitively a little bit more thrilling with more drops.
Disneyland is a good opportunity to ride classic rides that do not exist anywhere but California, like Snow White Scary Adventures, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Alice in Wonderland. The recently renovated Peter Pan’s looks amazing and fresh. It is not only these rides that makes Fantasyland so historical, but also the King Arthur’s Carousel just behind the Castle and Dumbo behind. Perfect atmosphere.
While Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland has the brand new high technological (and problematic) Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Disneyland seems to want to preserve their classic rides, and it works. The Storybook Land Canal Boats and the Casey Jr. Circus Train were with solid traffic all day, just like their neighbor “It’s a small world”. By the way, this attraction at Disneyland has a triumphal facade, which I liked very much, as it is one of the most important rides of the park.
Going to the Adventure Land area, I immediately went to the Indiana Jones Adventure, a ride that everyone who has gone before me told me about how amazing it is. To my happiness, the ride did not disappointed me. Actually, it is one of the best attractions in the park. Indiana looks similar to Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom, but the big drops and all the bumps as well as superior theming makes this one a win over Florida. I did not get very excited like this at Tiki Room and Jungle Cruise though.
Then, I got into my first themed area that does not exist in Orlando, the New Orleans Square. I was curious to know why Disneyland has a New Orleans area, so with a little research over the internet, I found that Disney was an honorary citizen of the real city.
The main highlights of Pirates of the Caribbean are the two drops in the dark along with the restaurant inside the ride, reminding me of the Mexican pavilion at Epcot. Disneyland’s Pirates is darker than the Orlando version, besides the thrill factor it also has superior theming and is much longer. Moreover, The Haunted Mansion just next door has a more immersive story and music, making all the scenes a hit. I must say that the technology behind the ghost dancers in the dining room impressed me a lot.
The other “new” area was Critter Country, home of Splash amazing Mountain and Winnie the Pooh. As for the former, I got really soaked in the second row, I loved it! However, the Pooh ride gave me the opposite feeling. It is the worst Disney ride ever, being so careless about the theming in a way I would not expected to see at a Disney park.
The Soundstational Parade made me stop at the Main Street for a while, and it was very satisfactory in its insanity. Disney got it right putting classic characters like Aladdin, Snow White, and Tinkerbell along with the new ones, like Merida and Tiana. To myself, it was awesome to see Zé Carioca in the parade! He even responded to me!
Frontierland at Disneyland seems a little bit confusing as the themed buildings and structures are a little bit far from each other, having no significant theming between. The major attraction, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, is a better version than the Florida one, as it has a little more airtime and it is a little bit smoother. To complete my frontier experience, I ate an excellent barbecue at the Ranch.
Toon Town was the next spot and it is so much more charming and complete than the one that existed at the Magic Kingdom! I really felt getting into a faraway cartoon town ruled by Mickey and his friends. The buildings are so unique and well themed that I wanted to spend my time there just taking pictures. Gadget’s Go Coaster is more enjoyable than the Barnstormer, especially with those frogs spitting water. Mickey and Minnie’s houses did not disappointed me, neither did the other characters buildings. It is a fun place and should not be destroyed!
Disneyland fame in Brazil is about being a place with the best attractions at Walt Disney World, like a “greatest hits” resort. Tomorrowland helped this kind of fame, being home of Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear, Space Mountain and previously Innovations. However, the moment I got into the area I felt very sad. All the structures look faded, especially the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (a capacity nightmare) attraction. The amount of closed things like the Innovations pavilion, Rocket Rods, Starcade and the stand-alone stopped Observatron structure did not help in anyway. In addition, Space Mountain’s empty queue line, without any kind of interaction or scenery, makes the long wait for the ride even worse.
However, Space Mountain can give a good experience to the riders. Its speed is great, as the scenery. Also, it is more comfortable and smooth than the Orlando one. About the Nemo ride, I think that if the aquarium had living fishes, it would be more rideable; as it can give some kind of unique experience to people that had never been on submarines.
Finally, it came the time to see the night spectacles: Paint the Night and Disneyland Forever. I skipped “Fantasmic!” just because of the insane amount of people together in a tiny space in front of Rivers of America. I have seen this at Hollywood Studios, so no big deal.
The two nighttime events gave me different feels. While Paint the Night was the most brilliant Disney parade that I have ever seen, Disneyland Forever was a disappointment. First, I could not see the show for three days in a row; because it was cancelled by “high winds”, although no one felt such winds. The day I could finally see it, I did not get the reason of the name. Basically, Forever shows random scenes from Disney animations, nothing related to the park. However, the fireworks and the projections are good, which made the show pleasant.
Overall, it was a good first time visit at Disneyland, but my best experiences in Cali were about to come, starting at Six Flags Magic Mountain with the very CCK owner, Sean.
Being located in a mountainous area, Magic Mountain has numerous gaps by stairs and ramps, making the visit a challenge. To “complete” the situation, the park is right in the middle of a valley with a desert climate, having high temperatures and. The help comes from a California law that allows the visitor to request a free cup of water at any snack bar.
There are so many roller coasters that it’s hard to choose one at first, but I started with Full Throttle, which has the world’s largest loop record. Loved the hangtime in the highest point of the loop! However, did not like the station AT ALL. That rollercoaster could have one of a heck station, with a good light job inside it and music, but oh well.
Going left and taking Orient Express, we arrived at Samurai Summit. It is so sad, the fate of Sky Tower, that I wish I could do something for it. Leaving this behind, we headed to Ninja and Superman: Escape from Krypton. At the first one, everything went well as the ride had not had a line and it is delightful ride through the trees on a train swinging slightly to the sides when cornering.
However, Superman had technical problems all day. Even with a Flash Pass in hands, I waited near forty minutes to ride because of a problem in one of the towers. The good thing was that I loved the ride, making it on my top 10 of roller coasters. That was the moment I realized that launched coasters were starting to be my passion.
Leaving Samurai Summit, there is Gold Rusher, a mine train that I did not enjoy very much, mostly because of the small falls and low speed curves on the hill. Unfortunately, throughout the ride I saw belongings that fell from the roller coaster, which seemed that were never cleaned, creating a strange appearance.
The next one was the magnificent Riddler’s Revenge, a soft yet quite intense experience, being one of the best roller coasters at the park. To take advantage of the back of the park still being empty, we went to Apocalypse, an uncomfortable wooden coaster with sharp drops and hairpin turns.
Tatsu was all about to see the beautiful mountains around the park as the train makes its way, disorienting and beautiful. In addition, the train flies over the hill and passes very close to the Revolution, which took me some time to found a way to make the ride enjoyable. You should keep your head in the back in order to avoid unnecessary headaches.
Directly across from the Panda Express is the amazing Viper! I had been imaging all my life about how a ride on these classic Arrows would be. Unfortunately, Great American Scream Machine was scrapped, but Viper could realize my dream in the best way possible! The ride is very pleasant and the intensity every time it is upside down is unique! In fact, throughout the ride I saw several hats lying on the ground, which like Gold Rusher, seemed have been there for a long time.
The next roller coaster is located beyond the park entrance from the Viper and has giant marquee to announce it: Goliath. The tribute made by Six Flags to this warrior is valid, as the Goliath has a drop of 77 (255 feet) meters and a speed of 137 km/h (85 mph)! Unfortunately, the roller coaster was closed during the visit with a huge crane on the site.
Without thinking too much, we went straight to the new area of ??the park: the Screampunk District. Based on speculative science fiction genre steampunk, you can find various sculptures themed to the topic, giving an atmosphere of an industrial future.
The most amazing roller coaster I have ever ridden in my life is located in the Screampunk District: Twisted Colossus. Airtime on some roller coasters is usually a very brief sensation in falls with strong negative gravity or inversions in slow speed. In Twisted Colossus, the situation is different. You can feel airtime for 90% of the ride, making a ride on the roller coaster more than merely exciting: unforgettable. Besides, it promotes a race from the time the train goes to the green section. It works like this: while the train is climbing the blue lift, its speed is slowed not exceeding the green lift’s train speed.
By the side of Twisted Colossus is another roller coaster full of inversions: Scream!, considerably less intense than Kraken or Medusa. The good news coming from the coaster is that it looks like it’s brand new, being amazing to take pictures of it, even more so during sunset!
The penultimate stop of visiting the park is the DC Universe. It holds the second tallest free fall tower in the world: Lex Luthor Drop of Doom, which was closed too. Returning to the direction of roller coasters, two more heroes were also given an adrenaline representative. If you have seen the latest movie Green Lantern, you realized that he is somewhat awkward learning how to fly. Make the visitor experience this scene is the mission of Green Lantern: First Flight. Some people calls this ride a man-nightmare, but it is just to sit properly and wisely that everything goes almost ok. (Editor Sean, disagrees, 😛 )
Moreover, Batman makes visitors enter the Gotham City Park, in which a battle against crime ensues. Arriving at the station, a replica of the Batcave, I started my ride, which was not very intense but provided good adrenaline. This coaster specially had many technical problems this day.
They say it is the best for last. It was at this vibe that I went to the most iconic roller coaster of Six Flags Magic Mountain: X2. It had to be me, so we got into the queue in late afternoon, walking right away to the seats. the emotion to sit on them was something as exciting as the airtime of Twisted Colossus. Riding it was a childhood dream that has been delayed for too long. X2 has outstanding forces, mainly in the first fall, which is aggravated by the spins of the seats. As Tatsu and Green Lantern, you lose sense of direction very easily, especially in the two inversions. Therefore, it was very good to realize a child dream, but I had better experiences in the park like Tatsu, Riddler’s Revenge and Twisted Colossus.
Six Flags Magic Mountain has other rides, being many of them versions that even Brazil has too like the Grand Carousel, Jet Stream, Bucanneer, Slingshot, Devil Dive, Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth and the Flash ride. Besides that, Roaring Rapids and Tidal Wave soak a lot, just like their similars. Scrambler definitely is a popular ride in the US, but not in Brazil, so it is very fun to ride it every time that is possible. However, the most unique flat ride at SFMM to me is the Swashbuckler, a crazy looking wave swinger.
The children’s area is the Bugs Bunny World, themed by the Looney Tunes, just like Hopi Hari. There are 12 children’s rides, including four roller coasters, mini towers, small rides and a playground. You can also take a picture with all the Looney Tunes characters, as well as buying stuffed animals and other souvenirs. It is important to notice that even the park offering good options for children, is not very suitable to spend the whole day with them. Other parks such as Knott’s Berry Farm (best cost / benefit), Disneyland and Legoland (the latter two with considerably high prices) fit the role better.
The Magic Mountain contributes to overcoming of the hot, dry climate with many trees and vapor fans in the queues. There are several options for resting in the thematic areas, with their well-defined themes.
There were no noticeable flaws in the attractions that I noticed. The park had two rides closed, the roller coaster Goliath, whose lift-chain was being replaced, and the Drop of Doom tower. Despite the apparently serious problem, it is impossible not to regret the fact that one of the main roller coasters are closed in midsummer. There was a failure in the air conditioning of the Superman: Escape from Krypton, station which was quickly corrected. The cleaning of the park was not bad, but the belongings abandoned in the roller coasters areas should be removed.
Some roller coasters operated with just one train, while others have two or more. This makes the times for the park queues quite mixed, significantly differing from attraction to attraction. It is worth remembering that the attractions Superman: Escape from Krypton and Full Throttle can easily take an hour or more. I would not recommend visiting the park, under any circumstances, on Saturdays or Sundays if you don’t consider buying a Flash Pass. In mid-summer that is.
Six Flags Magic Mountain is indeed one of the best parks in the world. Its portfolio of roller coasters wins over the Orlando area, and is considered unbeatable over the world. The adrenaline is so high that the end of the day, if possible, I would have power to do it all again!
To close off this part of the adventurous adventure posts, here’s the on-ride X2 photo of Sean and Raphael. 😀
Thank you for checking out this part of Raphael’s adventures, if you haven’t read the first part yet… well, you’ve missed out! Catch up here!
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