-First, the park is much MUCH bigger than the map depicts distance between attractions. While the map appears as if a walk to the back of the park is quick, it is a long, uphill walk to the back, but all with great scenery.
-Next, get FlashPasses no matter the crowds. X2 and Terminator are ALWAYS going to have hour or longer lines through every day. Plus, the experience with the little q-bots from the flash passes is quite enjoyable. From the q-bots, you reserve a ride, are notified how much time you have until a ride or when your time has come, the ability to cancel a reservation, if a ride is closed or as reopened, and there are always exclusive discounts on food and merchandise displayed throughout your visit. And, lets not forget this will allow re-rides that may not be possible going through normal lines.
-Make sure you spend the extra 10-20 dollars for FlashPass access to Terminator Salvation and X2, as these are the crucially packed rides of each day. Both, however, are some of the most memorable experiences of your visit (you will be surprised just how little time you spend on rides versus the great coasters)
-Lastly, here are my reviews on the coasters from my very first and so far only experience:
Viper: This is a very thrilling coaster, and while older and at times rougher, is very fun. 7/10
Gold Rusher: Eh, ride it for the credit, but the fact you are not secured single rider by rider has you lurching to the sides constantly. 5/10
Revolution: A great terrain coaster that is very thrilling for a ride that only has one loop. 6/10
Tatsu: This ride will leave you amazed if you haven't ridden a flying coaster before (still even if you have) and is a thrill unlike any other! 9/10
Deja Vu: Much more enjoyable than most bad reviews plotted it out to be. Very fun ride: 7/10
Terminator: Salvation: The theming is amazing, the speed, quick turns, and smoothness astonishing, and the fire blast towards the beginning surprising and awesome, making this out to be one of the best woodies out there! 9/10
Riddler's Revenge: Many claim stand-up coasters test your "manhood" but Riddler probably does so the least, and while all of the inversions are thrilling, the last corkscrew is surprisingly INSANE! 8/10
Superman: Escape: Funny story. I was ready for the 100mph launch up 410 feet and when I got to the front row, I was nervous like crazy. Surprised the riders behind weren't even preparing for the launch, I soon realized it did not go the full 410 feet, it took 7 seconds to launch (very long time for a coaster launch), and did not actually go 100 mph. It was disappointing (especially for the dreary walk to the top of the hill), but worth getting the credit. 5/10
Batman: The Ride: I expected a great ride from the reviews, but the little B&M invert just didn't satisfy as much. 6/10
Scream!: Here is where I get into defense mode for Scream. Everyone says how terrible the ride is because it is placed on a parking lot, but don't listen to them. This ride is crazy awesome, the smoothness, the airtime, the weightlessness you feel through the inversions. Whoever is paying attention to the barely visible parking lot spaces on the ground clearly has better things to do than be riding this great coaster. 8/10
Goliath: I wish I could give a great review (not that it is a bad coaster though), but after the amazing first drop, it is the strangest thing... I honestly can't remember the rest of the ride. So I can tell you the first drop into the tunnel is AWESOME, but I can't remember the rest! 8/10
Ninja: While it appears to be a family coaster, this one packs a punch and is quite the thrilling fun ride, especially as you go swinging over the water! 7/10
X2: XXXXxxxxxx22222....Is everybody in? Your heart is racing....blood pumping....sweat puring down your face.... your body is about to go through an experience unlike any other, as it is thrown relentlessly tumbling through the air, mist, and fire. You loose all sense of direction and your mind and body is put to its limit as you experience the craziest, wildest, most thrilling and greatest attraction man has ever built. Are you ready for what is at the moment, my number 1 coaster in the world? 10/10
Well, I hope all of this helps!
Also, bring sunscreen and drink plenty of water while you are there. SFMM shaded queues are far and few between.
Also, avoid the food in the park if you can. The only place I've wanted to spend money in park on food is with Disney. There is a mall area a mile on the other side of the 5 freeway with standard chain restaurants. This also helps to avoid the heat during the 1-3pm hours of the day. (of course it eats into your ride time [pun intended])
And as with all parks, arrive early. If you head to Goliath first, and then around to Scream, Colossus, Batman, Riddler, you can knock out a few right away. Then come over the mountain to X2 and work back around Viper, Revolution, Tatsu, Ninja.
On a summer weekday, the park is somewhat crowded but it is still possible to ride everything in one day without a Flash Pass. You will have limited time for re-rides but it can be done relatively easily. If they are running everything at capacity, the only rides that have long lines are X2, Tatsu, Goliath, Riddler's Revenge, and Terminator Salvation. Deja Vu doesn't have that long of a line, but it takes a long time because of how slow the line moves. Most other coasters (other than Superman) are usually a 20 minute wait or less. If you want to spend the monay, a Flash Pass will allow you to ride everything as much as you want, but it is not absolutely necessary if you don't care about re-rides.
When I visit the park, I usually use the following touring plan:
1. Be at the park before opening. When the gates open, go up to Revolution but go through the Flash Pass walkway. Head up the hill and ride Tatsu.
2. Go down the back of the hill and ride Terminator Salvation.
3. Ride Deja Vu if it is open.
4. Head back up to the top of the hill and ride Ninja.
5. Go over to Superman and ride.
6. Head down the back of the hill and walk around it, bypassing Riddler's Revenge and Batman to get to Goliath and ride.
7. Go next door and ride Colossus.
8. Continue down the walkway to ride Scream.
9. Head back over to the front of the park and ride Revolution.
10. Head over to Viper and ride that.
11. Ride X2. By now the wait is usually around a half-hour on a weekday.
12. From here it doesn't really matter what order you go on everything else. The coasters you won't have got to yet are Riddler's Revenge, Batman, and Gold Rusher. In addition, you have all the non-coaster rides to try. Make sure you do the other three roller coasters, then you can do non-coaster rides and re-ride your favorites.
Unlike a lot of people, I don't recommend heading straight to X2 in the morning because it often doesn't open right away and the line shrinks a few hours after opening. I've found it is best to hit the ride between 3 and 7 in the afternoon for the shortest waits. Just make sure to avoid it until at least 2.
If you choose to purchase a Flash Pass, I do not recommend the above plan. Instead, I recommend you go straight to X2 in the morning and ride it, then go pick up your Flash Pass. You can then ride the rides in whatever order you want without worrying about long waits.
Get to the park as early as possible. 9:30 is great, but even 10:00 can work really well. Right at opening can mess up your opening plan, because you're right behind the opening crowd and will get to everything after them. 11:00 and up defeats the purpose of opening, and causes a change in plans. The following plan is assuming you are getting to the park sometime before 10:30. If later, let me know, because I have also been to the park several times after opening.
As soon as you're in, RUN to X2. Yes, apparently there are some occasions when it doesn't open with the park, but with the exception of a 5-10 minute extra wait for some testing, I have never experienced a delayed opening on X2. Even if it doesn't open with the park, and instead opens 30-45 minutes later, that's still a small wait compared to the rest of the day! Trust me, running on X2 first is worth the risk. It's great to get right on the ride and watch guests wait possibly 2+ hours later in the day when you just walked on. Besides, no other ride as worth running to at opening, as X2 is by far the longest all day and all other rides' lines die down at some point.
Once off of X2, you can either ride Tatsu, go to Cyclone Bay and ride Deja Vu/Terminator, or do both in either order. It doesn't make a huge difference which choice you make, but I always like to go to Cyclone Bay first as Deja Vu gets the second longest line in the park and Terminator is also nice to get out of the way. I usually come back to Tatsu at night when the wait is 10 minutes or less...
Now a good plan is to go around the park clockwise. Hit Riddler's Revenge, Gold Rusher, Batman, Scream!, Colossus, and Goliath. The waits for these rides most likely won't exceed 30 minutes at this time of the day, but get longer as the day goes on. They are also a lot shorter at night, or at least towards closing.
You are now free to do whatever you want. Eat lunch, get the credits on the mountain, ride the Sky Tower, water rides, etc. I would not even bother looking at X2's queue around this time, though.
Some other things to keep in mind:
- SFMM keeps the queues open until closing, so get in X2's queue right before and you are guaranteed a ride.
- X2 and Terminator are fantastic night rides. Goliath is very good at night as well.
- SFMM is a huge park that gets very hot, as previously mentioned... So pace yourself and stay hydrated.
- Ride X2 in an inside seat towards the front of the train. You will get a smooth and enjoyable ride.
Lastly, a Q-BOT IS NOT NECESSARY. If you follow the plan above, you will get all the coasters in plus re-rides. I still have yet to purchase a Q-Bot and my ride-counts are usually huge at SFMM.
I wasn't sure about whether or not to run to X2 first thing. Does it usually run two trains during the week?
Also, does Superman: The Escape run both sides regularly? What's the best time to ride? I'm concerned about how long that line will take if they only run one side.
Thanks again for the tips!
Superman does not run both sides, and hasn't in years... I've never even seen it. I always ride Superman in the middle of the day, because even though the line is about 30 minutes, a cool off is NEEDED and what better why to do it than while waiting for a ride?
Anyway, I bring up the heat because of an earlier post where someone rated the rides. There is a water rafting one that is not on a track and you get ABSOLUTELY SOAKED. It was the best ride when we wanted to cool down, I think next to Tatsu.
Speaking of, definitely splurge for the Flash Pass. We bought them and in some instances, the people working the rides gave them back to us. I'm tempted to say ride X2 first because the wait later in the day and into the evening gets ridiculous... but there is nothing like riding it at night... if you don't mind the wait.
We hit Tatsu first, then Viper and randomly walked around hitting other rides. Had absolutely no plan but still got on everything we wanted. The longest wait was 45 minutes for X2.
Have a blast!