Six Flags Vallejo

Yesterday (Sunday) Francisco, Mike & myself went up to Six Flags in Vallejo, which is northeast of San Francisco. It’s a surprisingly quick drive, given it’s highway all the way, but when we got into Vallejo at around 11:30am or so, we were greeted by our first queue of the day – the queue to get off the I-80. That took a while. Then there was the queue to get off I-37. That at least finally led into the fairground carparks, where we were at least able to park relatively quickly, and within sight of the park itself, too.

But we did stop for a bite to eat at a Carls Jr. (McDonalds clone), which was about the only thing around. We knew it’d be insanely expensive inside the park for food, and we were absolutely correct ($40 a pizza, anyone?), so that was a wise choice.

If you buy tickets online you save $10 or so. But you’re meant to print them. I don’t have a printer, so I just jotted down the confirmation number, with the understanding that I just had to go up to their customer service centre when we got there to basically have them print it for me. Francisco also bought a ticket online, except he bought it for Greatest America, which is another themepark in Santa Clara. Whoops. :) Mike had actually printed his ticket, so when we arrived he went straight on in, while Francisco and I hopped into our respective queues.

My queue, to the single customer service window, didn’t take quite as long as Francisco’s general ticket queue, but there wasn’t much in it. Because of course my queue was customer service, every second person was trying to argue something with the employees, and took ages to process. Grrr.

We got in eventually, some 30 or 45 minutes later or so.

I think all in all, it took about three hours just to get from home to the inside of the entrance. Not a good start.

We headed first to one of the nearby rollecoasters, the Medusa. The queue for that didn’t seem too long, except as soon as we arrived, they announced they were having technical difficulties and the ride was shutdown. We stayed in the queue, betting on it being a quick fix, but it ended up taking 45 minutes or so. Thus, it took as pretty much spot on an hour to actually get onto the ride. It was quite fun, but over in all of about sixty seconds, so it didn’t set a very optimistic example for the rest of the day.

After that we watched a few people trying their luck on the rope ladder things they have – rope ladders with wooden slats, attached only at a central point at top and bottom, on a 25 degree or so angle. The idea is to make your way from the bottom to the top, at which point you can claim whatever prize is being offered. The prizes seemed pretty reasonable, actually – an electric guitar, at the one we were looking at. Although Mike & Francisco were pretty confident they were $50 Walmart jobs. They didn’t look anything special to me, but then again still seemed like perfectly real and functional electric guitars.

Anyway, long story short of course no one got that far. Mike was confident he could do it, but his approach – tilting the ladder on it’s side – wasn’t allowed (probably because it would actually work, and therefore make the exercise plausible to complete). He ended up having a go just before we left at the end of the day, and actually did pretty well compared to most other people, but didn’t make it on any of his three attempts. And at $5 per three attempts, you quickly realise that even if the prizes are good quality electric guitars, there’s no danger of them giving away more in prizes than they rake in.

So after that we tried Kong, another rollercoaster just nearby. The queue for that also was a good 45 minutes. It’s a hanging rollercoaster – where the rails are above your head, not below – which I can’t recall ever being on before. I quite liked it – it’s definitely a different feeling having nothing below you.

And we wandered around, going on a few other little coasters – the Boomerang – and whatnot. We were trying to find food much of the time, but all the places there were dodgy little booths serving massively overpriced crap, and the queues for many of them were over half an hour long. So not worth it.

At 4:10 we went into the Shouka stadium to watch the 4:30 show. Shouka is the name of the orca they have there. It would have been kind of nice to sit down the front, in the first ten rows or so that get splashed throughout the show, but the queue for those was miles long, and we ended up going in only because we were walking past the back entrance and noticed it open. I don’t think Mike or Francisco were particularly enthused by the idea of watching the show, but I was tired of waiting all morning in queues, and figured it might be good – Gus, whom went a few weeks back, had mentioned the show a few times in a positive light.

The show wasn’t bad – standard sort of thing, having Shouka jump out of the water now and again, wave to the crowd, do simple tricks… it was over pretty quickly though, and in the end I wasn’t all that enthralled by any of it.

I guess I’ve been spoilt a bit in recent years; I’m not used to queuing. Sure, we had to wait three days to skydive in Queenstown, but that was just anticipation :D, and when we actually got there we were up and jumping very quickly. And when we weren’t we were enjoying watching others.

I can’t remember queuing for anything in New Zealand. Waiting, sure, while others had their turn, but that’s not necessarily queuing… it’s the mentality that goes with it. Watching the guy before you bungy just builds the anticipation; watching a bajillion other people stand around lifelessly is just depressing.

Anyway… after that we went over and did the other two major rollercoasters, Roar – and old wooden one, which wasn’t too bad but very ricketty – and Vertigo or somesuch, which is an impulse coaster – where you’re launched (using what seem to be electromagnets in railgun fashion) up a spirally bit, then you run back down and up a vertical bit, and then repeat twice more. It was actually really cool, but not so much for the excitement as simply the view you got from up the very front, which I had waited very patiently to do. In fact, I was wishing it would pause a second up there so I could continue appreciating the view. :)

By the time we finished that all up, it was something like 6:30. The park closes at 8, and Francisco wanted to get back so he could work (pffft), and didn’t want to get stuck in traffic resulting from everyone leaving on 8. But I convinced him we could have one more shot on Medusa or Kong, so we wandered over there. Medusa’s queue was an hour long, but Kong’s was only twenty minutes or so. So we did that. Twice. Then Mike had his shot at the guitars, failing, and we left.

There wasn’t too much traffic going out, which I attribute to people leaving in a fairly steady trickle over the last few hours, so we were back home in no time. Mike dropped me off at home, and I just bummed about for the rest of the night (aside from going shopping).

I was playing Civilization 3 for a while, but then all 13 computers declared war on my simultaneously, and even though I was an entire age ahead of them all, it was simply taking so bloody long to animate their moves, that each turn took about half an hour. Eventually they took my capital by sheer weight of numbers and extremely unlikely good luck, and I got frustrated and deleted it. It’s invariably what happens every time I install Civilisation. Brilliant game concept, piss-poor implementation. I am nonetheless interested in buying Civ 4 at some point, perhaps after I get an Intel machine sometime in the future, since there have been games – like Civ 2 and Alpha Centauri – which were really good. Civ 3, sadly, wasn’t one of them.

So to work off the frustration from that, I played Halo online for a bit. In theory there should be no lag here, as when I played from Australia my ping time was ~100ms typically, which is actually very good all things considered. Oddly, though, my ping time here is the same, and – while maybe it was just the server I played on – it was very glitchy. It was fun, though. And after that, I simply went to bed, and slept in for 9 hours. :D

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