Please note, I will be visiting on a Saturday and/or Sunday since the park is only open on weekends in September.
So, SFMM experts... what say you?
(If you have any other tips, ticks, or traps for SFMM, feel free to let me know those as well).
1. Full Throttle
3. Green Lantern
4. Batman The Ride
5. Riddler's Revenge
7. Tatsu (if line is over 45 minutes, return at the end)
10. Gold Rusher
13. Road Runner Express
14. Canyon Blaster
A few notes about SFMM's coasters in general:
-Full Throttle, Green Lantern, and Superman all have low capacity, so you absolutely want to get all of them done before lunch.
-Colossus, Gold Rusher, and Revolution rarely get significant lines. Ninja, Scream!, and Viper are also typically less than 10 minute waits unless only one train is running.
-X2 has a huge line in the morning, but it typically drops to around 30 minutes or less by mid-afternoon (it gets longer in the evening if the park is open late). Goliath, Apocalypse, and sometimes Riddler's Revenge develop long lines in the afternoon that don't typically vanish completely, but are often dead in the morning. Tatsu consistently has a long line all day.
-The kiddie coasters are rarely busy. Note that Magic Flyer has a maximum height restriction of 54", no exceptions, so you won't be able to ride (hence why I didn't include it in my plan above).
-Be aware that X2 has recently had some issues (broken chain and/or motor) and likely will be closed until at least October. If this is a deal breaker, you may want to hold off on a visit, but fortunately this is not SFMM's only top-tier coaster.
I'm actually going to a special event at SFMM tomorrow, so if I find anything different about crowd patterns than what I wrote above I'll post here (though since I'll be at Knott's on Sunday, probably not until Monday/Tuesday). If you have any other specific questions about SFMM or other So Cal parks, let me know as I live here and visit most of them frequently (I've had passes to SFMM, Knott's, and the Disneyland Resort for years).
However, if, as you wrote, X2 is down for an extended time frame, that situation is a deal breaker. Despite the park having a lot of world class coasters, X2 is really the only reason I am willing to take time out of my Disney vacation and spend the extra dough to visit a Six Flags park. If you hear anything else regarding X2, please let me know.
I was planning on visiting SFMM Sept 21 and/or 22.
Maybe Park Traveler was spot on when he wrote that I would need "good luck"! =(
Another question for you, AJ, what do you think about us going to Knott's Berry Farm on October 1st or 2nd, a Tuesday or Wednesday? Hours are only 10 - 6, but is that enough time to visit most of the major attractions on what should be a very slow day?
-In my personal opinion, Tatsu, Full Throttle, and Goliath are all better coasters than X2 as while X2 is unique it is insanely rough and uncomfortable. If you tighten the restraint all the way you feel the shaking all throughout your body, and if you don't the ride throws you around like a rag doll. It is an experience that is absolutely worth trying but if you don't like rough rides it is a nightmare.
-I don't know how many days you have planned for Disneyland, but if you have two or three other days I would advise avoiding Sunday. Due to the number of passholders, Sundays are packed all year long (I've seen 60+ minute waits on Sundays in January). If not going that day would only leave you one (or two including Saturday) for the resort, it's better to just go, but expect the park to be packed.
-You can get tickets to SFMM for $42 on their website, which is much less than other parks (granted the park isn't as good as other parks). Especially if you go on Sunday you really only need one day for the park.
I will let you know if I hear anything at the event tomorrow, but otherwise if you have flexibility in your schedule I would recommend calling the park a couple days before to find out if X2 will be running and decide then. If your schedule is not flexible, decide if an extra day at Disneyland is worth missing a number of world-class coasters (for me it would be, but for some it wouldn't).
As for your Knott's question, I will say this: I routinely visit Knott's after class when I get out of school early and usually only stay for about three hours. In that time, I often do close to a dozen rides and have never seen a wait longer than 15 minutes. As long as you don't care about doing all the generic attractions (spinners and such) and there isn't a special event going on, you should easily be able to do all the major attractions at Knott's in a day on those dates, get any re-rides you want, and perhaps even leave a little early.
I ended up skipping Magic Mountain when we were out there in July, and I don't regret it a bit. I just wish we had also skipped Universal Studios Hollywood, as I absolutely loathed that park. We'll have to pick up SFMM next time we're out there, and holy crap I can't wait to get back out there.
Man, now I want an Umami Burger.
Contrary to what some have stated, I despise most midway rides and carnival spinners. At Knott's I am most interested in Timber Mt. Log ride, Calico Mine Ride, some of the coasters, and the Mystery Lodge. I think you are right that I will have no issues visiting all those attractions in eight hours on a Tuesday.
I appreciate what you have said about Magic Mountain's eclectic collection of coasters and I am sure you are right that X2 is not the best one in the park, but for the most part I can get those other coaster experiences elsewhere in the nation. X2 is a singular, although painful sounding, experience. It is on my "bucket list". Anyway, I do have some leeway on my dates but if X2 is closed into October I probably cannot visit this time around.
And Steve, I completely agree with you about Universal Hollywood. $85 a person to take a Tram Tour and ride Transformers seems a bit extreme to me. Not even Harry Plopper's BENCH: The Ride can make that park a good value, IMHO. I'll just hold off on Universal until I get back to Orlando.
But if we actually wanted to ride ANYTHING, we had to get Express passes, which were around $77 per person. The most enjoyable ride there ended up being the escalator rides to GET OUT of that hell hole.
Zero stars. Would not go back for free.
At Knott's, I'd recommend riding all the non-clone coasters (ride the clones as well if you need the credits or just want to ride), Timber Mountain Log Ride, Calico Mine Ride, Calico Railroad, Stagecoach, Bigfoot Rapids (if you like rapids rides) and Supreme Scream and see Mystery Lodge. You should be able to do all this in 4-6 hours on the dates you selected. I'd recommend starting with Xcelerator in the Boardwalk and going counter-clockwise, stopping at attractions as you go, but as crowds should be minimal it doesn't matter all that much. Most of the other attractions are of the carnival variety so ride what you want (if any). One other tip: Eat outside the park. Everything inside is overpriced and poor quality.
Five days is more than enough time for the Disneyland Resort, especially with four weekdays. I was just there yesterday and got over 30 rides done, so off-season weekdays really aren't bad crowdwise. I'm guessing you've probably got a good idea of what you want to do there, but be sure to do both Halloween attractions as they are superior to their normal versions and if you are a show person absolutely do not miss Aladdin (in my opinion the best theme park show anywhere).
Finally, one more vote for USH is a ripoff. I would only recommend this place to someone who has never been to Universal Orlando and can find a discount as it is a six hour park at best and everything except the tram tour is cloned in Florida.
Back to X2, I have sent a couple emails to Six Flags MM asking "how long will this signature coaster be down" but have not yet received a response. Let me know if you find out anything when you go this weekend.
Steve (and AJ), besides the Umami Burger (can't do mushrooms but some of their other gourmet burgers look good), any other offsite Anaheim dining locations that should not be missed?
The rest of the trip should still be a lot of fun, however. Disneyland is one of the best parks I've been to and while Knott's isn't a top tier park it is still a nice place to spend a day. I can't help you with restaurants as I don't even know what's around the parks, but when I travel places I just do a yelp search and pick the highest rated places that look like somewhere I'd like.
Have a good trip!
I do have one Disney question for you AJ.... World of Color is not listing any performances in October, but I see nothing about a refurb. Any ideas?
To be completely honest, if you see Fantasmic and miss World of Color you are missing very little. I know some people are really into World of Color, but it's just a bunch of colorful fountains and a giant water screen showing clips from Disney movies for 30 minutes. I've seen the show twice, and I didn't even make it through the second showing because it got boring less than halfway through. I guess if you've never seen it it's worth seeing, but if it comes down to a choice of World of Color or Fantasmic, go with Fantasmic.
If you do go see World of Color, either get to the viewing area early or don't bother with the showpasses and find somewhere on the bridge or next to Golden Zephyr. If you're not right at the front of one of the viewing tiers you'll have an obstructed view and the lampposts scattered throughout the viewing area only hinder it even more.
Incidentally, I am looking to move up our DLR dates one week to the first part of our SoCal trip. If that happens, then WOC shows every night that week (22 - 28). Plus, it gives us an opportunity to hit Magic Mountain if a miracle occurs and X2 gets that first week of October. We'll see....
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney California Adventure
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Hollywood