Winter after the holidays is typically a slow time for theme parks, even more so for the regional parks with greatly reduced hours if not complete shutdowns. California’s Great America is in the latter category, but the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom have weekend hours, and Six Flags Magic Mountain has gone to 365 day operation in 2018. It’s pretty obvious that there’s not a lot going on right now even without your humble narrator pointing it out. While waiting for the new rides opening this year, there have been some minor announcements for the upcoming summer, so let’s gather them all up, and take a look. For the word averse in the crowd, I’ll scatter in some photos from a recent, brief visit to Discovery Kingdom, as well as this year’s Clam Chowder Cookoff at the Boardwalk.
At some point most park aficionados wonder what it’s like to work at a park; my first regular photo gig was at California’s Great America. If you’ve wanted to move beyond the idea and take the plunge, this is the time of year when those seasonal hirings begin, so if that sounds like something you want to try this year, here is where to begin.
For any of the Six Flags parks throughout the country go to www.sixflagsjobs.com
This weekend from 10-4PM the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is conducting instant interviews, with five free rides for all applicants, but if you are unable to immediately rush over there, you can always check https://beachboardwalk.com/Jobs
California’s Great America is hosting twice-weekly job fairs on Wednesday and Sundays to hire 1,000 worker for 2018. Applicants should apply online at cagreatamerica.jobs before attending.When: Wednesdays 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. & Sundays 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (ongoing) Where: California’s Great America Human Resources, 2401 Agnew Road, Santa Clara, CA 95054.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Geographical differences prevented me from attending a construction tour of the upcoming record-breaking pendulum ride, CraZanity, But Discovery Kingdom assembled their similar Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth fairly quickly, so CraZanity should be spinning and swinging soon. “CraZanity will debut in a newly-themed So Cal Beach Boardwalk zone. This updated area will feature enhanced Bumper Cars, plus renovated dining, games, and shopping” according to Six Flags.
A coaster calendar I received from Magic Mountain made no mention of VR on the New Revolution page, and as Discovery Kingdom has not yet reached the season for seasonal VR on Kong, it appears that Six Flags may be reevaluating the whole coaster VR craze. My one go at New Revolution Galactic Attack had a problematic display in the headset. While I applaud and encourage the attempt to upgrade the guest experience, this may not be the way at this moment on the space time continuum. However, a new VR game at Magic Mountain looks to provide a terrifying alternative. “On Vertigo, you’ll put on a VR headset and take an elevator ride up 50 stories. The narrow plank you’re about to walk is only eight inches wide – just barely large enough for you to put one foot in front of the other. In reality you’re only a few inches off the ground, but through the VR experience, you’ll feel like you’re 500 feet above a busy downtown street as you make your way across to rescue the stranded cat on the other side. You’ll need to cross the beam without losing your balance and falling down. Vertigo is located in the Boardwalk Center Ring games area. Just take one step out on the beam and you automatically win a prize.”
I certainly feel safe at high altitudes while snugly held into place by a modern restraint system on rides and coasters, but I could not bring myself to peek over the edge of Half Dome. My Magic Mountain visits tend to be about three focused hours of coasting and shooting at the Joker, but this may require further study my next time traveling into SoCal; it probably qualifies as a cardiac stress test.
Passholders should make sure to subscribe to the park’s newsletter for the latest news and discount information With 365 day operations the park is offering many bring a friend days, including weekdays the weeks of March 5 and 12. Discounts are electronic, and the Six Flags app lets you know what is available at a glance.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
“Waterworld Concord will be rebranded Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord, when it opens this spring for the 2018 season. Northern California’s biggest and most thrilling waterpark will debut an exciting new attraction—Splashwater Island—a colossal water play area featuring more than 100 interactive sprayers, water jets and geysers. The park will also receive extensive theming and upgrades throughout the 30-acre property.” While the Hurricane Harbor moniker is common enough, don’t plan to easily spend time in the hot afternoon cooling off between sea lion shows and corkscrews, because this water park isn’t adjacent to Discovery Kingdom, but is 18 miles away. Still, it is available for passholders in that area.
Six Flags has “announced an ambitious new initiative to power two more of its parks—Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California and Six Flags Magic Mountain, near Los Angeles—almost entirely with solar power.” (concept art courtesy of Six Flags)
In addition to generating a large percentage of the parks’ electricity, the solar carport structures provide a number of enhancements to the guest experience, including:
- Covered parking for the majority of parking spaces;
- Integrated electric vehicle charging stations;
- Increased security through new closed-circuit cameras; and
- Enhanced parking lot surfaces.
Separately, Six Flags recently announced that Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey will soon begin construction of a solar energy project. In addition to these three announced plans, the company is investigating other opportunities at more parks across its North America portfolio.”
It has become a common sight to see animal rights protesters at the park’s entrance.
Seeing a line of poster-boards itemizing animals that have died in the park’s care seems ominous. On the other hand, many of the animals listed have not been displayed in years, if not decades. Common sense would indicate that over 50 years some animals, particularly those with a lifespan of less than 50 years, would pass on from old age. If anything the park has been reducing the animals in their care, with the orca Shouka going to Sea World to be with others of her species, and the resident elephant herd departing a few years back. The former location for an elephant to demonstrate its logging skills and have a tug of war with guest volunteers is now a garden.
There is not much room for rides beyond those with a small footprint such as the upcoming HARLEY QUINN Crazy Coaster (no sign of any work on that yet), so it would not be surprising if the trend of fewer animals continues in the coming years. Meanwhile, I have no insight beyond what is visible to the public. The protesters say it is abuse; period. The people in the dolphin show say they love the animals to an extent that cannot be put into words. The truth lies somewhere in between I expect.
California’s Great America
Work to erect the new RailBlazer single rail coaster commenced before the official announcement was made, but the current off-season closure of the park means I can’t confirm the progress for you. Meanwhile, Cedar Fair has announced more improvements to the guest dining experience, and more spaces available for private events comprising 50-500 attendees, the latter certainly done with an eye to the corporate crowd attending events at the adjacent Levi’s Stadium. Here’s the rundown for the changes affecting the regular folk as supplied by the park.
The brand new, full-service Starbucks will be situated in the park’s Hometown Square area, just past Celebration Swings. All Starbucks favorite beverages including classic coffees, Frappuccinos® and Macchiatos, exotic teas, seasonal beverages and more will be available. The food menu includes fresh sandwiches, fruit and protein snacks, and bakery treats like scones, bagels, cakes and cookies.
FRENCH QUARTER FUNNEL CAKE & CHURRO FACTORY
An entirely new home is being constructed for French Quarter Funnel Cake & Churro Factory. The ever-popular Great America funnel cakes will be taken to another level in 2018 with a myriad of flavor combinations that can be mixed and matched to individual preferences and created right in front of guests. The classic strawberry and powdered sugar funnel cakes are here to stay, and will be joined by new great flavors like blueberry, caramel, apple, cookies and cream, tropical coconut and pineapple. The innovative churro selections include Campout (s’mores), key lime pie, strawberry shortcake, creamsicle, cookies and cream, tropical (coconut, pineapple and rum flavor), macha (white chocolate and Bavarian cream), cotton candy, apple pie and many more flavors.
SIERRA CREEK LODGE
Dining in the Planet Snoopy kids’ area will take on a completely new flavor and feel, as Joe Cool Café is re-imagined into Sierra Creek Lodge. The family dining experience will introduce a mountain lodge feel from the exterior woodwork to the interior décor. Murals featuring wild animals will don the walls, and the indoor furnishings will add to the Sierra atmosphere. The serving lines will be doubled for faster service, and an extended patio will offer more space for families to gather, dine and relax. New food selections will include a Panini bar featuring fresh vegetables, lean meats and savory sauces. A new Coca-Cola Barrilitos™ station will feature agua fresca (juice and water blends) such as pear cucumber, mango lime, strawberry hibiscus, and pineapple. Kid favorites like chicken tenders, mac and cheese, and pizza will still be available.
ORLEANS CANDY KITCHEN
Another sweet food addition for 2018 is Orleans Candy Kitchen, a classic confectionery that includes a station where guests will order specialty caramel apples, choose their personalized toppings and have the delectable favorites made right before their eyes. From classic caramel, to house-made pralines, to an assortment of crushed candies and nuts, the possibilities for custom-tailoring are endless.
MAGGIE BROWN’S SMOKEHOUSE & FRIED CHICKEN
In 2017, the iconic Great America restaurant reinvented itself by delivering mouth-watering barbeque favorites like brisket, pulled pork and ribs. Now the dining experience will be modernized with more ordering kiosks for faster service, a giant rotisserie and smoker visible to guests, an expanded outdoor patio, and interior design renovations.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Change comes slowly beside Monterey Bay, and after the new entrance constructed last year for the Boardwalk’s 110th anniversary, it will likely be a return to the familiar, like the annual Clam Chowder Cookoff benefiting local parks in February. Now spread out over two days, there is now room to actually move between the booths which feature amateur chefs on Saturday, with the pros stepping in on Sunday. All you need is a recipe and a pun, maybe some pirate costumes, and you’ll be ready to compete.
Was my decision to ride the Spinning Sea Swings after exhausting our supply of tasting tickets the best decision I made that weekend? I reckon not. But have to kill the time while the weather in these parts decides whether to be T shirt time or a wind chill factor of Montana, right? There’s new stuff on the horizon, Micechat will be on the scene, but that will be on the next Day by The Bay.