This past decade has been quite the roller coaster ride for the bay area parks. Many things came and many things also departed from us. There were tense moments that made us feel very uneasy and there were moments that made us rejoice. We are going to take a look at the past decade and reflect on the various events that happened.
|The sun sets on a late December 2019 evening|
2010 was kind of a quiet year and it ended on a sour note. After a major mishap in 2009, Invertigo at California's Great America made a very brief return late in the 2010 season before we found out that it was going to be removed. For those unfamiliar, Invertigo was the park's Vekoma "inverted boomerang" coaster that was added in 1998. Our last ride on Invertigo was on a rainy end of October where we rode it in some steady rain. It was quite the proper send off for this coaster. 2010 set the stage for what was to come in the following year.
This year was rather bleak for California's Great America as the park was in an "attraction drought." Park goers were greeted by an empty dirt plot that had become known as the "Invertigarden." During this period, the park's Halloween Haunt event made large strides and continued to grow. At the end of the 2011 season, it was unveiled that Cedar Fair would be letting go of the park and selling it off to JMA Ventures, a real estate company. Many park fans including ourselves were sweating bullets, not knowing what would happen or if there would even be a Great America.
|A dirt lot remains after Invertigo's removal. It wouldn't be until 2018 that a new coaster fills this area.|
Meanwhile at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, 2011 kicked off the trend of "a new attraction every year" with their 150 foot tall Sky Screamer. Later in the season, Superman Ultimate Flight (Premier Skyrocket 2 coaster) was announced for the upcoming 2012 season.
Back over at Great America, park fans let out a huge sigh of relief in December to discover that JMA Ventures backed out of the purchase while Cedar Fair announced that they would continue with California's Great America as a change of management had occurred at corporate level. The Levi's Stadium politics had suddenly vanished and new management had seen a synergy with having an upcoming stadium next door as opposed to previous management not quite agreeing with their new neighbor.
A year to rejoice for CGA fans - permits were discovered to build a 108-foot-tall wooden roller coaster. Many fans including ourselves thought that this coaster was history after such long delays and red tape/politics. In May 2012, the park broke ground for Gold Striker.
|An early rendering of Gold Striker that popped up in 2008.|
Superman Ultimate Flight opens at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and introduces the bay area to "ejector airtime" - a concept that was never experienced here. It also reintroduced the bay area to inversions with only a lapbar (previous coaster to invert with only a lapbar was the defunct Tidal Wave that was at Great America).
It was also a year to bid farewell to an iconic compact steel coaster, Hurricane, at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Hurricane was to be succeeded by Undertow, a Maurer Sohne spinning coaster. We made the trek to SCBB to get in our last rides after attending our first media event, the announcement of Gold Striker. The day was a bittersweet one.
Late 2012 was an interesting one as "Global Winter Wonderland" took over CGA during the winter months. GWW was a Chinese Lantern festival that included 6 of CGA's rides and had added several carnival rides inside of the park including a Gravitron, ferris wheel, super slide, funhouse, and various kiddie flat rides. This event gave us the opportunity to check up on Gold Striker's construction at a time that the park would otherwise be closed.
|A 50(?)-foot tree sits in the reflection pond|
|The "Original" Candy Cane Lane...who knew that this is where |
Candy Cane Lane would appear for WinterFest 2016-17
|A children's train ride sits in Orleans Place|
|While a Gravitron sits in the Great America Pavilion|
This year is a no-brainer. Gold Striker made its big debut. We got to "preview" Gold Striker for a couple of weeks for a "promo shoot" (and noise tests with riders) where we scored about 50 rides in after those 2 weeks. During those weeks of riding, we watched the ride evolve with more walls and tunnels each day. The ride sat dark for a short while after when it spontaneously opened in June.
Over at Six Flags, it was a quieter year for them. No new ride was added but the park had added a full on stage production (pool production?) known as Cirque Dreams: Splashtacular! which incorporated cirque acts with dolphins. This show was quite different from your typical "animal demonstration show" that the park usually has. We wish the park would have more entertainment offerings like this.
2013 also brought us down to SoCal to visit some parks that I hadn't done in years: Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, and Six Flags Magic Mountain. A lot had changed since my last visits with Disney and Knott's being in 1998 and SFMM in 2000.
After several delays, Undertow quietly opened late 2013 and introduced itself as a 2014 addition to the Boardwalk.
Late 2013, Thrills by the Bay was established.
After the success of Gold Striker at CGA, it was time for a quiet year while Gold Striker began to move itself up the ranks on the golden ticket awards and establish itself as Northern CA's premium wooden coaster experience.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom added Tsunami Soaker (now the Penguin), a Mack Twist 'n Splash ride adjacent to Roar (now Joker).
WaterWorld in Concord unveiled its pair of unforgettable slides. We got to take a construction tour of it and were invited back a few months later to check out the drop capsule slides, Break Point Plunge!
Another quiet year for CGA outside of celebrating it's 40th season (not to be confused with it's 40th anniversary). The park had a special show that ran for 2015 and 2016 known as 40 Seasons. The show reflected on Great America's past as well as music from the time periods moving on up to current time.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom added another flat ride to its lineup, Dare Devil Chaos Coaster. We know, it's not a coaster so we just refer to it as just Dare Devil. Dare Devil is your standard park model Larson Looper.
We were introduced to RMC for the very first time when we took a trip down to Six Flags Magic Mountain. During our stay at SFMM, it was leaked online of what Discovery Kingdom was to get...and our jaw dropped after we rode that wave of RMC hype...and made us excited to have our very own RMC in our backyard practically.
A big year for us personally but we'll get to that in a second. California's Great America was celebrating it's true 40th anniversary. The park had also reintroduced the motion sim theater with an upgraded system, new seats, giant 3d video wall. This attraction is known as Mass Effect New Earth. Mass Effect is dubbed a 4d holographic experience as the show includes a live actor, 3d visuals, and smells.
Joker opens at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - the highly anticipated RMC conversion of Roar. After our positive experience on Twisted Colossus back in 2015, we were ready for this. While currently not the strongest RMC out there, it's still an excellent addition to the park.
WinterFest makes its debut at California's Great America and quickly makes itself the bay area's favorite theme park holiday event.
Late 2016 - I joined California's Great America's entertainment team just in time for their new WinterFest event. For those wondering what I do - I get to have fun! In all seriousness, I am responsible for the visuals seen in the park's shows as well as various graphics pertaining to entertainment! My job combines 2 of my passions: graphic design and theme parks!
California's Great America begins to make strides to further improve the park. After the previous year's motion theater upgrade, the next thing was to be upgraded: the aging Vortex. Vortex, the park's former B&M stand up coaster was converted to a floorless model. This provided a much more comfortable ride experience and made it from a ride we seldom ride to one we now ride all the time.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom adds Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth to their strong flat ride lineup. Wonder Woman is possibly (and arguably) the best flat ride in the bay area.
|© Six Flags|
|© Six Flags|
2017 also brought us a rather spontaneous closure of Great America's Huss Topspin, Fire Fall as the ride was quietly removed before the season began. The continued trend of ride removals continued on as the final rides on the park's log flume, Logger's Run, "drifted away". In addition, we also saw the removal of HMB Endeavor at the end of the season which silently went away.
|Several enthusiasts despised of Firefall and were glad to see it go. We were of the minority|
who actually enjoyed it even if it didn't flip much. It did other moves we had never seen a Top Spin do.
|Endeavor was not quite our favorite ride but was still sad to see it go nonetheless.|
|The Demon temporarily became an icon for CGA's Haunt for 2017|
|The park had added pyro and lighting to Demon for the 2017 Haunt.|
Photos taken during a media event.
WinterFest at CGA continues to grow.
This was yet another huge year for CGA with the addition of one of the world's first RMC single rail coasters. RailBlazer proved to be an instant hit among park guests and coaster enthusiasts alike. Today, RailBlazer photos appear to dominate the Roller Coasters subreddit.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom also went on the single rail prototype hype train with a less than stellar addition - Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster. It looked like a fun concept but at the same time, it appeared to be redundant and too similar of an experience to Dare Devil, just a different inversion. Regretfully, we have to say that Harley Quinn was not a ride for us as we found it too rough and uncomfortable to really enjoy. Not to mention, only 1 side of the ride takes guests so it missed the whole dueling aspect with other riders.
We also regretfully have to note that this year also marked a point that SFDK seemingly began to fall into an operational slump with rides not opening with the park, multitude of ride breakdowns and single train operations on peak days in the summer. This rut seemingly carried into 2019.
|Sorry folks! The ride's closed. The moose out front should have told ya so!|
2018 brought us to our first "outside of California" theme park and what we considered to be an enthusiast's "rite of passage", Cedar Point! Steel Vengeance was definitely worth the trip back there!
In addition to new "Cedar Fair coasters" we took the trip down to Knott's Berry Farm to check out Hangtime, their new Gerstlauer infinity coaster. It was a worthy addition and replacement of their poorly aged Boomerang.
WinterFest at CGA doubles in size and goes "whole park" after quickly establishing itself.
A quieter year for CGA, it was announced summer of this year that Boomerang Bay would be getting a massive facelift and rebranding. This includes a new slide tower, dining options, and new kiddie slides.
While 2018 was forgettable for SFDK, 2019 made up for it with their new Batman S&S Freespin coaster. Batman takes riders on a free-flipping journey through wavy track (that looks much like a bobby pin). Each ride is quite unique as we recently binge rode it experimenting with various seating arrangements/weight distributions.
In addition, SFDK obtained 4 new lion cubs. When a day went south at SFDK with the previously noted ride blunders, we'd go say hi to the 4-legged friends to make our days better...after all, we can't pass up on a cute lion cub!
|Oh I just can't wait to be KING!|
Out of state travel included a trip to a park we least expected we'd visit but were glad we got the opportunity to check it out - Six Flags St. Louis! This was a charming smaller Six Flags park and is one of the original 3 Six Flags parks. While lacking in a unique signature steel coaster, this park shined with its wooden coaster lineup. Mr Freeze though was quite the experience!
As we close 2019 our last coaster of the decade was Kong. What was your decade highlights? Let us know in the comments below!