The Park With a Good Kind of Identity Crisis

TPWGIC002 (Large)Occasionally, when we visit theme parks, we visit one that feels a little out of place. One that lacks an identity, one that lacks what the general public is in general used to. This though doesn’t necessarily mean the park is of lesser quality. In some cases, especially this one, it creates a unique experience for guests. Something that’s quite different than other parks are able to offer.

We’ve got a park like this in California. In Northern California to be exact. My guess is that by now, you’ve guessed what park we’re talking about. Indeed, it’s Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. This park is a Six Flags park, but one that doesn’t feel like one at all. It opened in 1968 as Marine World in Redwood City, the park was ‘relocated’ (in other words; moved to and reopened at a new location) in 1985 to its current location, Vallejo. In 1996 Premier Parks purchased the Marine and Wildlife park and started to turn it into an amusement park. In 1998 the park’s transformation became apparent with the addition of the first two coasters, Boomerang Coast to Coaster and Kong. This marked the rapid transformation to what it is now, or what it isn’t. In 1999, the year following the Premier Parks purchase of Six Flags, the park got ‘flagged’ and became Six Flags Marine World. This is where the real crisis hit, the identity crisis. The park’s a Six Flags park but didn’t and doesn’t feel like one at all. In 2007, the park was named Six Flags Discovery Kingdom after the park was re-branded with their ‘Land, Sea, and Sky’ theme.SFDK Coverage001 (Large)

The issue, or actually the exact opposite of an issue, was this re-branding. The park has been a Six Flags Park for 16 years now, and yet it doesn’t resemble one. The park’s surrounded by a lake, Northern California Hills, and is mostly all green. Now, where the park differs so insanely much… due to its history, most rides are crammed up in two plazas near the front of the park. The Oasis Plaza, on the right of the entrance, that is home to Medusa, Cobra, Kong, Sky Screamer, and the new Dare Devil Chaos Coaster. And then there’s the Roar Plaza, that is home to Roar, V2, Tsunami Soaker, and Superman Ultimate Flight. The rest of the park exists of a marine park and a zoo. With several flat rides (and Boomerang Coast to Coaster) in it. Since the park has simply been adding over the years and kept most the rides away from the animals, the park seems to lack a real focus.

Due to the slow transformation, the park doesn’t feature many of the usual Six Flags themes, in fact Superman Ultimate Flight is the only ride related to a DC Comics character (Which didn’t open ’til June of 2012, meaning it took 13 years for a ride to be named after a DC Comics related character). The park also deals with a 150 feet height restriction, meaning that all rides are 150 feet tall, or shorter of course. This helped create the amazing V2, unlike other Intamin Impulse Shuttle coasters, this one spirals at a 45′ degrees, inverting riders. Due to the limited space, the park includes some other fun alternative coasters/layouts, such as Medusa with the world’s only Sea-Serpent Roll, Superman Ultimate Flight (though being placed everywhere now…), and the uniquely short 150 feet tall Sky Screamer.V2ICpromo001 (Large)

The park is clearly set up to still be a Marine Park and Zoo as well, which actually makes the park so unique. As the only park in the United States that offers Marine-life, Wildlife, and thrill rides, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has entertainment that’s almost unheard of. Especially for Six Flags parks! With multiple dolphin shows, bird shows, wildlife demonstrations, walrus demonstrations, tiger demonstrations, and much more, there’s a lot of entertainment. In addition, the park has countless many animal exhibits, as well as a very large Shark exhibit featuring a large aquarium. It’s very clear their focus was purely on the animals in the past. But that’s what makes it so amazing, there’s no specific focus since they received the Six Flags seal.SFDK Coverage002 (Large)

Guests visiting Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will be immersed by a bunch of different kinds of entertainment, from crazy rides (they do have the best coaster line-up in Northern California), to peaceful strolls by the lake, to incredible live-entertainment, to animals everywhere they look. It’s a Six Flags Park that doesn’t feel like it’s Six Flags. Often when parks don’t have a focus, their entertainment and ‘feel’ lose track and the park experience will often feel incomplete. But then there’s Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, where there’s no apparent focus or identity, and the identity crisis will likely never end… but the experience is complete, unique, and amazing for all members in the family.

The park is, sadly, not very well-known. But, we HIGHLY recommend you visit the park sometime. Sometime soon. It’s something entirely different. Make sure to read about their current shows, here. And tips for your visit can be found here! (All Six Flags Pass Holders, from all SF Parks, can use their pass to enter Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for free on any operating day!)

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