California's Great America
Gotta love on-site interviews! As I look for my next opportunity, I’m at the stage where companies fly me out to their HQ and interview me. (edit - as of the time of writing this, I’m finished with my interviews and will be starting my new job as a software engineer at Google within a few weeks! Expect to see a lot more from California soon) This week’s interview took me out to San Francisco. I was given the option of when to arrive on Sunday and when I saw an opportunity to go to CGA I jumped at it. My flight got in at 10am and after getting my car, grabbing lunch and dropping my stuff off at the hotel, I rolled through the front gates at CGA at around noon.
The last time I had been at the park was 2016 so I was really looking forward to getting on Railblazer but also looking forward to trying out Patriot. So now I can say that until Firebird opens at SFA, I’ve ridden all of the standup->floorless conversions. And I’ll have my thoughts on that process later! In addition this was the first park I’ve been to since I bought my new camera, so I was really excited to put it through its paces.
So like I mentioned, I got to the park at around noon and my first destination after getting there was Railblazer. Since I consider it my goal to ride all RMCs this was the one ride that I would be bummed to miss.
Railblazer - 85/100
So I was really impressed with the looks of this ride. Where a lot of RMCs don’t let you in the infield of the ride, Railblazer interacts extremely well with the paths and the area around it. I loved the fact that I could take some awesome pictures while I waited for the ride.
And wait I did. Not only does the ride have single person seats, but it also was only running one train. There couldn’t have been more than 100 people ahead of me but it still took around an hour to get on the ride. At least the wait wasn’t terrible since the trains pass right over the queue so I got some great shots while standing in line.
So what did I think of the ride itself? Well, it was awesome but a little underwhelming. The community as a whole tends to hype up RMCs as the most incredible rides in the world - which I do agree with in general, take a look at my top 10 - and I think Railblazer was a victim of that overhyping. The main issue with the ride was that it was just to short. People say the same thing about Goliath at SFGam but Goliath has some incredible moments to make up for it (the zero-g stall is still my #1 element on a coaster). These seem to be incredible rides for smaller parks but I was hoping for a bigger ride for CGA.
So now that I’ve talked about the negatives of this ride, did I hate it all? Of course not! A lower tier RMC is still miles ahead of most other coasters. So my favorite part about the ride was absolutely the drops. As per the advice of the roller coaster subreddit, I decided to sit in the far back row. And wow, do I understand why. Going down the drops, the first drop in particular, you just get absolutely whipped over the top which is an incredible feeling. I really enjoyed the finale as well, digging through the rock work and going through some really tight elements. So yeah, overall, I did really enjoy the ride even if it didn’t live up to the massive amounts of hype I had for it!
Drop Tower - 7/10
Pretty standard drop tower here. Like all Intamin drop towers, the drop was pretty intense! My only thing I didn’t like about this ride was that I chose probably the most boring view, looking back over Grizzly and mostly into office parks. Next time I’ll make sure to get one that looks over the rest of the park!
Woodstock Express - 55/100
Yep, I was that 23 year old guy riding the kiddy coaster. But this one was pretty interesting! It gave a really long ride with some actually surprisingly long and intense drops. So overall a really great showing from this coaster!
Mass Effect - 7/10
This is a really cool ride for a Cedar Fair park (and I even think Disney and Universal could learn from it). From the outside it looks like a pretty traditional motion simulator which is what I expected going in but I forgot that there was a live actor as the narrator inside the theater. And I thought that that made the biggest difference! I feel like it adds the reridability factor that nearly all motion simulators lack. So yeah, I can definitely see myself riding this again at my next visit to the park! Maybe next time, I’ll learn more about the IP!
Flight Deck - 83/100
And now to the biggest surprise of the trip. I don’t remember a ton about Flight Deck from my last. trip. So I figured I’d leave this one pretty underwhelmed but absolutely not! First, I want to know why some of Great America’s coasters don’t have station roofs? Specifically Patriot and Flight Deck. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, maybe because the San Francisco area doesn’t tend to get much rain so they felt like it would be a waste of money? Whatever it is, I’ve never seen it in any other parks besides CGA.
But yeah, I was pleasantly surprised by how awesome this ride was! I thought that the first drop and loop was way more intense than I remember, causing me to gray out. My favorite part of the ride however was definitely the finale with the helix and corkscrew over the water. The corkscrew had a ton of whip on it and I loved it being over water. What a great ride!
Gold Striker - 65/100
Gold Striker was by far the disappointment of this trip. So when I last rode Goldstriker I remember it as being this really intense, out of control ride that really blew me away. I didn’t get any of that this trip. Instead I got a GCI that really felt mediocre, not particularly fast feeling and not particularly special. Why do I think that’s the case? I don’t think it was running slow today although that’s always a possibility. I think instead in the meantime I rode Renegade at Valleyfair and was really blown away by that ride. Renegade felt so much faster than Goldstriker which is why I liked it so much more.
Patriot - 50/100
Like I mentioned I was looking forward to getting onto Patriot since it was the other “new” ride since the last time I came to the park. So unlike what I thought about Rougarou at Cedar Point (namely that it improved the experience since Mantis always really hurt my legs), I felt the opposite about Patriot. Without its stand up gimmick , it was a ride without an identity. It was a serviceable looper but nothing out of the ordinary. Not particularly interesting or intense, just kind of meandering through the layout. It was definitely a disappointment but that’s okay, not every ride can be great!
At this point, I decided to go check out Railblazer again and see if the line was any shorter before I left the park. Unfortunately it was probably even longer this time. So instead I just decided that I was done with riding for the day and instead walked around the park one more time to get some pictures.
So it was overall a pretty god trip to CGA. If I end up living in the Bay Area, I will buy the season Fast Lane which would probably go a really long way to alleviate my issues with Railblazer. I’m also hoping that 2020 or 2021 brings a B&M hyper to CGA. I feel like although Railblazer is great, the park really needs a marquee attraction that towers over the skyline!