Six Flags Marine World
WEATHER: Hot, muggy, sunny, 95 degrees.
ABOUT ME: Male, age 37. Coaster rider since 1977 and fanatic since 1986. I have more than 330 adult coasters on my "track record". I generally prefer wooden coasters to steel because airtime is one of my big criteria. Also, I don't mind a little headbanging on coasters.
RATING SYSTEM: I subscribe to the ubiquitous Griswold scale, which rates coasters and parks on a scale from -3 to +5. Zero indicates a mildly positive rating.
Kong (1996 Vekoma SLC, relocated 1998) +1
My first ride on this standard 5-inversion Vekoma SLC was quite good, with none of the hang 'n' bang I encountered on the only other SLC I'd previously ridden, Kentucky Kingdom's T^2 in 1997. Subsequent rides, however, proved you can't expect a Vekoma to behave like a B & M forever. Ouch! Ugly brown/orange (peeling) paint job. For those of you unfamiliar with Vekoma SLC's, they are production-model 2-across inverted coasters with fairly compact layouts and five fairly similar inversions. The first two inversions (a vertical loop which you "corkscrew" out of and another half-corkscrew) come after the turnaround following the lift hill and ensuing first drop. Immediately after another banked turnaround you do pretty much the same thing again, bank another turn and then finish with Vekoma's approximation of a zero-g roll. SLC's are pretty vanilla coasters. I didn't really get much sense of disorientation on this ride.
Boomerang Coast-To-Coaster (1998 Vekoma Boomerang) +1
I've ridden a ton of these. I like them, but they're all the same. A little headbanging, but nothing surprising (Arrow-style trains have never bothered me much, since I grew up riding Arrow coasters). For those of you unfamiliar with this style of coaster and its dozen or so siblings, this is the modern "shuttle loop"coaster. Instead of a launch system like Schwarzkopf shuttle loops employed, Vekoma Boomerangs merely ratchet the 7-car train backwards up a large incline and let you go. After flying through the station, you go through a 2-inversion cobra roll element (which of course changes your direction of travel) and a vertical loop, at which point you are ratcheted forwards up a lift hill the same height as the one you started out on, and which is in fact on the same support structure. You then are released and go through all the elements backwards.
Medusa (2000 B & M floorless) +3
This was my first B & M floorless coaster. Medusa was a good ride; its six inversions are well paced and there are plenty of good moments of airtime. Very little trim action noticed on midcourse brake run. Was this coaster built on a former parking lot?? It sure looks like this, Kong and Roar all were...you can see the stripes on the asphalt. The coaster's third and fourth inversion combo unexpectedly shot me out of my seat, probably the coaster's greatest thrill. I can only describe this combination as the first half of a vertical loop and the other half of a vertical loop connected by a tight midair corkscrew. The inversions are as follows: vertical loop, diving loop, double-inversion thing described above, and then two half-corkscrews separated by a banked turn.
Roar (1999 G.C.I. twister) +4
The only thing separating this ride from the elusive +5 is the rolling stock. Seat dividers and individual lap bars detract ever so slightly from this phenomenal, airtime-laden, lateral-filled, smooth-tracking, gorgeous roller coaster. Ejector air time just about anywhere and great whip action in the back. WOW. A perfect dark ride on this rounded out my full day at SFMW. Is there a single straight piece of track anywhere on this ride? It twists and twists and twists!
THE PARK: +3
Approaching the park from I-80, one can't help but notice the imposing structure of Medusa and Roar, right up front, with Kong barely behind them. Parking was a good distance away, but trams are available. It was a beautiful day. The park is beautiful and well maintained (except Kong's paint job). There are lots of food outlets (expensive, unfortunately), and plenty of things to do besides ride the coasters. The Butterfly Habitat (despite its climate-controlled 90 degree, 90% humidity environment) and Shark Experience are quite good. There is an OK selection of flat rides (not my thing, for the most part) including a couple evil ones I'd never seen before. Line jumping was not at all evident. I had pizza from the stand down by Voo Doo and Boomerang in the back of the park. It was actually pretty tasty. The park was full of people. I mean full to the gills, hard-to-walk-down-the-streets full, yet lines for coasters were virtually nonexistent (except Roar, which was down to one train operation because of lap bar problems on train two). How is this possible? Well, this park appeals largely to families with very small children. I have never seen so many strollers at one park, ever! The park's narrow walkways clogged easily with these numerous strollers, which never seem to be traveling with the flow of traffic; rather, they always seem to be going perpendicular to it. The park has taken poor shade measures in ride queues. This was especially obvious at Roar with the long wait. The park also has a poor layout; finding my way around was difficult due to 1) not receiving a map at entry 2) no signage or park maps anywhere 3) winding, confusing paths. However, what is nice is the reward received for exploring the whole park - an incredibly beautiful, landscaped, well-cared-for park, including a gorgeous, natural lakeside section with food outlets nearby. I'm looking forward to seeing this park develop over then next few years because it was a big surprise how nice it was, not at all like some of the other recently Flagged parks. I'm glad they did not seriously eliminate the former park's animal attractions, which give this park a depth not found in most other Six Flags properties.