Gold Striker at California’s Great America

The new woodie at CGA is definitely the best wooden coaster in California. Gold Striker came to the park after a long time without any new rides, the ride that they chose to create is definitely worth the long lines.

Gold Striker is conveniently located at the front of the park, next to the Star Tower, and the Carousel. The ride is filled with tunnels, and thanks to it’s millennium flyer trains, is also incredibly smooth. It’s longer than the rival park’s woodie, and is the longest woodie in northern CA, with a track-length of 3,197 ft. Gold Striker is 108.2 ft tall, and reaches thrilling speeds of 53.7 mph. Gold Striker is a GCI woodie, and has 2 trains with 12 cars per train. Riders are arranged 2 across in a single row for a total of 24 riders per train. Continue reading “Gold Striker at California’s Great America”

WindSeeker-ness

With the closure of WindSeeker at Knott’s Berry Farm, and the possible removal of it, we are looking into the design of the WindSeekers. 

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WindSeeker is a 301-foot-tall (92 m) swing ride at several Cedar Fair parks. The rides are Wind Seeker models manufactured by Mondial. They opened for the 2011 season at Canada’s Wonderland in Ontario, Cedar Point and Kings Island in Ohio, and Knott’s Berry Farm in California. Carowinds in North Carolina and Kings Dominion in Virginia opened their WindSeekers in 2012. The first four each cost US$5,000,000, and the next two each cost $6,500,000.

The three-minute ride features 32 suspended twin seats spinning around a central tower. A lighting package was installed on all WindSeekers, consisting of strips of LED lights mounted on the arms that support the swings and (except at Knott’s Berry Farm) colored floodlights to illuminate WindSeeker’s tower from above. Knott’s also has a different color scheme that, together with the customized sign, fits the Mexican theme that the area it resides in has.

Continue reading “WindSeeker-ness”

Stealth

On July 22, 1999, Paramounts Great America announced they would open a roller coaster made by Vekoma named Stealth. CGA called it the first ever Flying Coaster. The construction of the ride forced the reconstruction of the lower half of the parks Arrow Dynamics log flume ride (loggers Run). Stealth opened on April 1st, 2000, and was painted gray red and white.
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The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk area of Knott’s Berry Farm used to house Perilous Plunge, which closed on September 3, 2012. On October 22, 2012 Cedar Fair Entertainment Company filed a trademark for Coast Rider . Knott’s Berry Farm officially announced Coast Rider and two other rides on November 1, 2012. These 2 other rides together with the Mack Wild Mouse were to open in the Spring of 2013.

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The ride opened up along with the rest of the brand new boardwalk on May 25, 2013 Continue reading “The Boardwalk”

Corkscrew – Knott’s!

For our 6th Throwback Thursday we are looking at the first ‘modern’ roller coaster to invert. Corkscrew at Knott’s Berry Farm.

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When Corkscrew first opened at Knott’s Berry Farm, it achieved two things of historical significance. Corkscrew was not only the first modern inverting coaster in the world, but it also was the first roller coaster to take riders upside down twice. Continue reading “Corkscrew – Knott’s!”

Pony Express!

This is the ride review for Pony Express from Knott’s Berry Farm.

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Pony Express opened in 2008 in the back corner of the park. Pony Express is located next to Bigfoot Rapids in the Ghost Town area of the park. Pony Express is themed after the Pony Express mail service from the old west and is a Zamperla coaster. Pony Express has 2 trains with 16 riders per train. In these trains riders ride horses which are located with 2 on a row for 8 rows. The ride is a launch coaster and travels over the existing locomotive that the park also operates. Continue reading “Pony Express!”

Silver Bullet!

This is a ride review on Sliver Bullet at Knott’s Berry Farm.

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When you enter at the main gates of the park there is a giant red/yellow cobra-roll towering above you. You look the the side and a western-style wagon shows the Silver Bullet logo. You pass under the track at multiple points to get to the ride’s entry plaza. Once you arrive you pass by one of the operators next to the test-seat to enter the line. The line exists out of 2 big sets of switchbacks that are located on ground level, and look kind off boring. They are basically grey switchbacks on concrete located under the transfer track of the ride. But with a little luck, there is no line, and you will be able to wait on the stairwell that leads upto the station. Once arrived at the station, you will have to make a decision on what row you choose to ride in. If you are a larger guest, we advise you to ride on row 4, it has a seat with longer seat belts. Before you get to ride, you have to watch a Silver Bullet safety video that are shown on multiple tv screens throughout the station. Once you enjoyed your view from the significantly elevated station, you get to ride. You sit down in the 32 passenger train, and close your restraint and seatbelt. Right after that, a “cowboy” or “cowgirl” comes by to do a safety check, and off the train goes. You turn to the right before the train hits the lift hill that will bring you to a height of 146 ft., this is followed by a slight turn in which the 109 ft. drop starts. After the drop riders fly into the 105 ft. tall verticle loop, which is followed by a unique overbanked turn. This overbanked turn doesnt deliver many extreme forces, but it gives some nice “air”, and “flow”-time. The train then hits the Cobra Roll in which it will take pictures of the riders, and leaves riders with no time to catch their breath because it immediatly runs through a zero-G-roll. After the rather slow and a little force-less zer0-G-roll, the ride makes a sharp turn into 2 corkscrews before winding up the helix towards the break-run. The helix is one of the highlights of the ride as the train comes close to the water, and has a fountain spray under the rider’s feet.

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Notice how Silver Bullet is the only thing you see when approaching the park.

 

Silver Bullet is a pretty mild B&M inverted coaster, and is good for the daring families. It has nice elements that no other inverted coasters in California have, and it delivers a really nice mix of G’s. The ride’s theming is not the best compared to other Knott’s rides, but part of the ride travels over the water, so much theming isn’t needed for the ride experience.

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This picture shows how the ride interacts with the water it towers over.

Silver Bullet opened in 2004, and was Knott’s last big coaster to be added to their line-up. Riders must be 54 in or taller to ride. And we advise first-timers to ride on the inside seats of the row of 4, since the ride experience tends to be milder in those seats. Silver Bullet hits a top speed of 55 MPH, which is 5 MPH faster than the other B&M Inverted coaster in SoCal, Batman the Ride (Six Flags Magic Mountain). The ride is conveniently located at the entrance of the park, and there’s a tunnel leading from the center of the park to the line.

(the following is an interactive map to follow along, to see what element you are on, simply click on the element.)

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Due to its location in the park, lines can form at different times. The are not too bad in the first hour of operation, but get pretty long from around 11AM-1PM. Most of the guests have found their way to the park by now, and ride Silver Bullet first, because it’s literally right in front of you as you enter. Around 2-4 PM, the lines tend to be pretty short, not even reaching the switchbacks at times, since most guests have made their way into the park by now. But since the park is pretty small, and lines don’t seem to get awfully long anywhere in the park, the last lines start forming when guests decide to ride the fan-favorite Silver Bullet once again, around 5 PM. The park is never very busy after 6 PM, so don’t expect crazy lines after this time, please do realize that when it gets dark lines can format any given time as people like to ride rollercoasters in the dark. We can’t determine when these sudden lines appear since the park is not that crowded at night.

The unique overbanked turn that gives a surprising pop of "flow-time", rather than extreme forces.
The unique overbanked turn that gives a surprising ‘pop’ of “flow-time”, rather than extreme forces.

Silver Bullet is a must try when you are at the park since it’s one of the park’s largest coasters. There are some unique elements and experiences this ride offers that makes it a fan-favorite, and we advise you to ride it as many times as you can since this is also one of the best credits to get while in the park.

 

California’s Great America

Marriott’s Great America, built by hotel and restaurant operator Marriott Corporation, opened to the public on May 20, 1976. Less than two weeks later on May 29, the company opened a second Marriott’s Great America – later known as Six Flags Great America.

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The park, though profitable, was still an earnings disappointment for Marriott, leading the company in 1983 to explore options to sell. An interested party, Caz Development Co., appraised the land value at US$800,000 to $1 million per acre. Marriott also involved the city of Santa Clara in negotiations, which was already leasing 55 acres (22 ha) of parking space for the amusement park. The city eventually acquired the park for $93.5 million from Marriott, which retained 20 acres (8.1 ha) from the sale for development. Caz Development settled and was allowed to build a hotel and office near the park, which the city renamed Great America. Kings Entertainment (Kings Island and Kings Dominion for example) Company, who owned and operated other amusement parks, was hired in 1985 to manage Great America for the city.

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Paramount acquired Kings Entertainment, and created Paramount Parks. Viacom, the parent of MTV Networks (including Nickelodeon), then bought Paramount in 1994, allowing Nickelodeon theming and merchandise into the park as well. During the Paramount era, attractions from the Action FX Theatre, Nickelodeon Splat City (later Nickelodeon Central), Drop Zone Stunt Tower, Invertigo, and many more modern thrill ride attractions were added in. In 2000, the park added the first flying coaster in the world to their coaster line-up, Stealth. Stealth was a Vekoma Flying Dutchman, and was extremely popular among guests. The park had to remove the fan-favorite in 2003 to make room for their in-park water park Boomerang Bay. Stealth got moved to Carowinds, also Paramount by that time, and has since recieved a make-over and is currently named Nighthawk.

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After Viacom and CBS Corporation split, Paramount Parks became part of CBS. The merger did not last long, as CBS announced plans to sell the theme park division.

In May 2006, it was announced that Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. would be acquiring the entire amusement park division from CBS. The transaction includes licensing agreements with Nickelodeon and Paramount, providing the park the option to retain its Nickelodeon and Paramount theming for several years.

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The park seemed to have had a hard time the last couple of years, with removal of Invertigo, and Cedar Fair wanting to sell the park. The last new coaster before Gold Striker opened in 2001, Psycho Mouse, and many were delighted to see the park add a new big ride in 2013. The park seems to be ready for the next couple of years.

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Below you’ll find a list with all current rollercoasters the park operates. Click on the name of the ride to get the statistics from RCDB.com .

  • Demon is an arrow looper, that started it’s life as ‘Turn of the Century’. The track got altered along the way to add a double loop into it, and got renamed Demon.
  • Flight Deck is a unique custom designed B&M inverted coaster. It has a relatively small layout, and is definetly one of the park’s major attractions. It used to be named Top Gun, with the Paramount License still active.
  • Gold Striker is the park’s newest addition, and is the longest wooden coaster in nothern CA. It is a GCI that had some noise problems, but these have been solved and the ride is running smooth. It is believed to be CA best wooden rollercoaster.
  • Grizzly is the park’s first wooden rollercoaster, and is believed to be rough now-a-days. It is still a fun classic woden coaster ride.
  • Psycho Mouse is the park’s wild mouse coaster made by arrow. This is one of the last arrow coasters to be opened.
  • Taxi Jam is a coaster for the younger visitors of the park.
  • Woodstock’s Express is too.
  • Vortex is the 2nd B&M coaster to be built. The ride is similar to Vortex from Carowinds, which opened as 3rd B&M, but has some significant differences in the track layout. Vortex is a stand-up coaster.

 

Invertigo. Inverted Vertigo…

For our 3rd Throwback Thursday we have Invertigo.

Invertigo is a suspended Vekoma Boomerang Model (Vertigo) having riders sit with their backs to one another facing the other riders at the same time. Invertigo looks like the regular Boomerang models when looking at the track layout. The only differences are in the train hanging under the track, the height, and the looping exits on the opposite side.

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Invertigo was located next to the park’s first woodie, Grizzly, and has had some operational errors making people believe that’s one of the main reasons the ride was closed and left. Invertigo was blue(supports) with yellow(track). The top speed of this machine was 50 MPH, and it stood a 131 ft. tall. The ride went through the Cobraroll and Looping both forwards and backwards (like every other boomerang model similar to this from Vekoma). The coaster is known for being powerful as the train isn’t only suspended but also has a max. amount of G’s of 5. The ride’s duration is about 1:30 minutes.

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Invertigo came to California’s Great America in 1998, and closed at the end of the 2010 season. Invertigo is now located in Dorney Park, and is renamed and re-colored to become Stinger.Stinger_HomepageSlider

Dinner With Mrs. Knotts

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The original sign from Mrs. Knotts’s Fried Chicken from 1934, that has been refurbished over the years.

Since 1934, tourists and locals alike line up for a delicious dinner at Mrs. Knott’s Fried Chicken.  The restaurant opened in 1934 as a small five table tea room where Cordelia Knotts did all the cooking and her daughters waited tables.  Since its opening, the restaurant has served over 20 million guest.

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Mrs. Knotts Fried Chicken restaurant with Ghost Rider’s lift hill rising above it from behind.

The meal comes with a quarter fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, a salad, soup, biscuits, your choice of corn or spinach, and for desert, a slice of boysenberry or apple pie, or a scoop of boysenberry sherbet.  The restaurant also offers an all you can eat Sunday brunch.

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Many of the components that go into a chicken dinner at Mrs. Knott’s.

This Ride Got Jammed

 

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On March 26, 1997, Knott’s Berry Farm opened Windjammer Surf Racers.  The ride had two indepedent tracks, that raced each other. The park used wild mouse like trains, but a full length track. Many people complained of headaches due to the fact that the rides over the shoulder harnesses had no padding.

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The ride was themed to represent the southern california coastal lifestyle, complete with sand, palm trees, a life gaurd tower, and a mini lagoon. The photo booth for on ride pictures was inside a yacht.

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The ride had many technical problems and shortly after opening, and just weeks into operation, it broke down and Knott’s had to pay over 2 million dollars on repairs. In retaliation, Knotts sued TOGO, the ride’s manufacturer for 17 million dollars, claiming design flaws such as missaligned track, as well as problems of stalling in even slight breezes, which the park claimed to be a “joke”.

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Knotts lost the law suit, but it was such a publicity nightmare for TOGO, that it forced them to go out of buisiness. After spending 4 years to find a buyer for the coaster, with no luck, thepark dismantled it in 2001.

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The ride began with a 69 foot drop into a vertical loop at 40 miles per hour. After this, the tracks winded around each other and up and down small hills until it came to a stop.

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A year after the closing of this ride, Xcelerator was built in the same spot, giving Knott’s fans an all new coaster experience that you couldn’t experience anywhere else, since it was the first Intamin Accelerator Coaster.

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Gilroy Gardens: Smelling like a rose…

Although Gilroy is known for its garlic growing, the amusement park is sweet.

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Gilroy Gardens was founded by Michael and Claudia Bonfante after selling their Nob Hill Foods supermarket chain to build the park. The park was constructed gradually over a period of 25 years. Before it became an amusement park open to the public, it was known as Tree Haven, and was a commercial plant nursery, as well as a recreational facility for employees of Nob Hill Foods. The park opened to the public in June 2001 as Bonfante Gardens. The name was changed to Gilroy Gardens in February 2007. It features 19 rides, 27 attractions and six gardens.

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The park struggled with financial difficulty and low attendance the first two years it was open. It closed early for its first two seasons and the park’s management debated whether to open at all for the third season. Paramount Parks began to manage the park on contract starting with the 2003 season.

Gilroy Gardens now operates under the management of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which acquired Paramount Parks from CBS Corporation on June 30, 2006.

Some popular rides in Gilroy Gardens are:

  • Banana Split — Banana-shaped swinging ship ride.
  • Mushroom Swing — Mushroom shaped swing ride.
  • Timber Twister — Rattlesnake themed junior roller coaster
  • Garlic Twirl — Garlic-themed “tea cups” style ride.
  • Sky Trail Monorail — Monorail ride through Monarch Butterfly Greenhouse.
  • Paddle Boats — Duck shaped paddle boats.
  • Rainbow Gardens Boats — Raft ride though flower gardens.
  • Coyote & Redwood Railroad — Train ride around park perimeter.
  • Quicksilver Express — Mine-themed roller coaster.
Quick Silver Express is the only Mine-Train coaster ever built by Morgan, and is the park's top attraction.
Quick Silver Express is the only Mine-Train coaster ever built by Morgan, and is the park’s top attraction.

 

Montezooma’s Revenge

The Entrance to the Ride
The Entrance to the Ride

In our Throwback Thursday article on Deja Vu, we have been talking about Vekoma Boomerang Coasters. But often forgotten are the Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loops. Sadly today we only have 5 of these still in operation, and 1 is re-opening soon in Belgium. The only one in operation in the US is Montezooma’s Revenge here at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA.

Notice the orange/blue roller coaster passing through the center of the loop. (Jaguar)
Notice the orange/blue roller coaster passing through the center of the loop. (Jaguar)

Montezooma’s Revenge opened at Knotts Berry Farm on May 21st, 1978.  It is a Schwarzkopf  flywheel launch steel shuttle coaster. It continues to be one of Knott’s most popular rides. The ride was named Montezooma’s Revenge after a blue grass band with the same name that performed in shows at the park. Knott’s ride Jaguar opened in 1995, and part of the track passes right through the middle of Montezooma’s loop.  The shuttle-loop was repainted teal and yellow from its original yellow in 2002.  Knott’s installed the ride Pony Express in 2008 with a similar launch system. The ride starts with a forward launch at 55 miles per hour into a 72 ft high vertical loop, and into a 135 ft tower, that you then drop back wards from, back through the loop backwards, through the station, and into another 135 ft tower, that drops you slowly back forward and into the station in only 35 seconds.

The former yellow paint-scheme is to be seen here.
The former yellow paint-scheme is to be seen here.

The ride is a an incredible experience, but not worth a long line wait, and its best features are its launch into the looping and the looping backwards. You sit down in one of the seven cars which all hold 2 rows of two seats. You buckle your seat-belt and pull down the restraint (lap bar) and get launched through (which seems to be) a ring of lights into the first loop. Riders who are lucky will see Jaguar chase by while they’re in the loop. (Jaguar is another roller coaster at the park that goes through the center of MR‘s loop). The ride is exhilarating, and you do not want to miss out on it while in the park as long as there’s not a long line. Long lines often seem to not be worth it due to the fact that the ride-time is only 35 seconds. The ride is a an incredible experience, and its best features are its launch into the looping and going through the looping backwards.

Here the MR train shoots up 1 of the 135 ft towers.
Here the MR train shoots up 1 of the 135 ft towers.