McLaren: Typically, people start their day with a cup of coffee to get their energy levels up to an adequate day-starting level. Last week, however, the coffee wasn’t needed until much later in the day as California’s Great America provided an ever more effective way to wake up… RailBlazer.
– Over the years, many of our images have popped up on other sites and forums, awesome that our coverage spreads, not so awesome that not everyone mentioned where they got the images from. We are totally fine with our audience using our images, BUT ONLY IF credit is given to californiacoasterkings.com. Thank you! –
Let’s get this early morning party started, shall we?CGA blessed us by allowing us to begin the media event as early as 6am; we entered the park and things were freshly washed, and sun had just recently come up, virtually no other people in the vicinity, and peacefulness blanketed the park with the only exceptions being the morning birds chirping and the distant roars coming from Northern California’s newest coaster.As we approached the first RMC Raptor on the West Coast, the first thing I noticed was how insanely fast the train whips through the layout, almost to the point where it looked too aggressive… in a good way, in a good way.In most cases, such as rides like X2 and many B&M coasters, trains appear to move slowly through their layout, but once on board it’s a totally different story. Based on the fact that RailBlazer didn’t appear to have a single slow moment as seen from the ground, I knew I was in for a treat. Let’s take a ride, shall we?Contrary to the mirrored version (Wonder Woman Golden Lasso at Six Flags Fiesta Texas) of this coaster, these trains make full and complete stops in the station instead of having a slow forward roll. RailBlazer’s dispatches do not seem to be negatively effected by this, however, and employees were being extremely quick and efficient when checking restraints (ohhh the restraints… we’ll touch on tat shortly.)Upon boarding, you take a nice and pretty steep incline up the 106’ tall lift before taking a snappy 180 degree turn to the left. To be honest, I would have loved for this high turn to be naked, as in no catwalks and nothing to hinder the view to the ground. It would have even been a little better if it were just flat chain link fence that you could see through and is seen on many other areas of the layout, but I do realize that the wooden deck style catwalk is a safety measure in the rare event the train valleys right before the first drop.Anyway, back to the coaster itself. The first drop is absolutely nuts. I have never been yanked so hard toward the ground in my entire life. The front seat gives you a very intimidating view of the entire layout and surrounding areas as you have a nice second or two of dangle over the 90 degree drop that leads right into a cave/tunnel at the bottom. The backseat tears you over the curve and gives a brutal feeling of ejector airtime followed by utter weightlessness under the track begins to level out onceNow that the 8-person, single file train has blasted out of the rockwork, you rocket up into the first inversion which is a very interesting dive loop. In most cases, such as Medusa at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for example, dive loops are a graceful upward sweep and roll over to the left (or right) followed by a smooth half clothoid loop. RailBlazer’s dive loop is nothing like that, as you almost start to level out again giving you a pop of airtime before aggressively rolling over to the left and getting thrown back into the mess of track.You then haul through an airtime hill up to the right where you change directions and then drop down to the left where you enter an extremely fast and tight upward helix back to the right. Once you’ve spiraled up to the top, you have a very brief moment when the track straightens out, but don’t be fooled, you’re still carrying a decent amount of speed. Also, shout out to the awesome band that was playing live pop/country music to serenade the guests before the ribbon cutting ceremony. Cedar Fair has impressed us a lot over the past few years with their extensive media events; more on that later.As the track drops back down beneath you and the airtime levels shoot back up into the beyond overbanked turn directly over the stations roof, which I personally loved. On another note, one of my favorite things about this coaster is the fact that Cedar Fair and RMC worked together to make this attraction interactive, and what I mean by that is the line as well as other surrounding areas wind very tightly through and around the ride’s layout, giving up close and personal views that many other rides don’t allow.They so kindly provided us with a hefty breakfast that included fresh fruit, quiches, stuffed cheesy jalapeños, fresh & hot coffee, donuts, and other various and tasty early morning eats. Small details such as these are more than enough to make event attendees feel as though they’re VIP.As if that wasn’t enough to feel spoiled by CGA, they actually hired a company to create for them RailBlazer ice sculptures for both tables that added a high-end touch to the buffet. This particular one is exceptionally impressive as it actually contains the entire layout in ice. Knott’s Berry Farm has also proved itself over the years when to comes to extensive media events, so it was nice that the Northern Californian cousin was just as closely paying attention to details like thisThis dive loop is seriously one of the most interesting I’ve ever seen, and I kept finding more angles throughout the course of the morning that showed off its true unique shape. Upon rolling out of the overbanked turn, you then proceed to roll back over toward the right as you float beautifully through the final inversion: a seemingly stretched out corkscrew that offers a very bizarre yet totally thrilling weightless sensation that’s very different from your snappy B&M or consistent Arrow versions. As most of us are aware of, engineering isn’t 100% perfect and sometimes flaws occur that can be minuscule, yet still noticeable; I may be totally wrong but that’s my theory when it comes to the weird bumping through the very last high-speed, over-banked turn back into the station. It pulls major force through there as your speed is great and positive Gs are intense, which means the slight difference in track connections can totally be felt. I felt as though these were kind of painful and uncomfortable in a way, and it seems as though the track connections didn’t line up perfectly so they resorted to sanding down the sharp transitions. This is definitely not a deal breaker, however it does feel odd due to the fact that the entire ride is very smooth until this section. Anyway, enough with that petty rant…You then rocket back up a small hill into the sloped break run as you come to an abrupt yet fluid transition from flying to a gently coasting journey back around the right hand turn back into the station once the train other train clears the station. All in all, I personally think this ride is KILLER and I’m not just referring to the description I would give to the restraints against my shoulders, (I kid, I kid… kinda (lol)) but the entire experience altogether. I thought it was paced delightfully; the theme was well fitting for the surrounding area…While on the topic of the restraints, let’s take a look at the test seat to get a better idea of what they would actually feel like. First things first, these single row trains wrap around the top half of the track, meaning that your legs end up spreading wide enough to straddle beyond the width of the orange rail. This, at least to me, feels slightly awkward because I have never personally ridden anything that required such a wide thigh angle, however it does not necessarily make this characteristic a bad one, just odd.The signage for this ride I thought was super dope, mainly because its 3D. The letter “Z” in “RailBlazer” is actually a piece of metal that curves away from the main surface of the sign, giving it more of a nice protruding pop that can so flawlessly grab the publics attention. The ride is aesthetically pleasing, compact, interactive, thrilling, fast, snappy, doesn’t let up, and leaves you out of breath and with a racing heart. Major props to CGA for investing in this ride; I’m very pleased and cannot wait to see what else the park has in store in the neat future. The morning approached 9:45am and RailBlazer closed to us as the official ceremony commenced, with the announcement that the new coaster would reopen to the general public once the ribbon was cut and the clock struck 10:05am. Lucy, Charlie Brown, as well as Snoopy greeted us as we all gathered around the same stage that the band played us pleasant tunes just shortly before hand.The music lowered and Lisa Gillmor, the current, upstanding, well spoken, and respectable mayor of Santa Clara joined us. She gave us a few words as to how CGA has brought the region great attention as well as revenue over the past few years, and how she looks forward to seeing what else develops with the park. The general manager of CGA, who goes by the name of Raul Rehnborg (along with a colleague), then accompanied Lisa on the stage. The two of them profoundly shook hands and then took position with Snoopy as they took hold of the oversized pair of scissors to cut the ribbon so they could release the new crazy, adrenaline-inducing coaster to the unprepared and anxious public. Raul said, “let’s countdown from eight, in honor of the fact that RailBlazer‘s trains take eight people per train.”BOOM! And just like that, the ribbon has been cut and those of us who were fortunate enough to witness it, immediately felt that rush of, “yes, this is just the first step in CGA’s glowup.” The music started blasting and it was time for RMC to flex with their new Raptor coaster as Lisa announced, “this is the first run on the new officially opened RailBlazer!”We all were able to observe the ride’s beauty in front of a sensory elixir, which included an emotion inducing playlist as well as a plethora of pyrotechnics that shot off periodically up against the already hazy Silicon Valley sky. Right at 10:05am, park security officially removed the chain that was holding back the diehard general public who had entered the park right after opening and allowed them to rush into the new ride area, in hopes that they could either be the first to ride or at least beat the 2+ hour wait the was expected to carry on throughout the of the day. A huge thank you Cedar Fair for having us, and for always providing a quality event. We here at CCK are more than stoked to see what else this park as in store, while there have been on many occasions mentions of how this is just the beginning of a bright future for the park.
Thank you for joining us at RailBlazer, California’s Great America first step in a series of amazing changes that will elevate the park to new levels in the next few years. Sister park Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California also opened a new coaster this year, HangTime. Check out our HangTime report, here!Make sure to follow us on our social media for exclusive coverage! Facebook–Twitter–Instagram