As the evening came, I had anticipated that I would be hanging out at the hotel for the night while RD & Randy would be joining Gregg and Josh on behalf of Park Journey to cover the festivities of Hang Time's Media Night. Then there was a point where I got a text message from RD that said "Get over here, we're getting you in!" as they spoke with someone who had a spare pass for the event. It was awfully kind of them to help in finding a way for me to join, and I appreciate the folks who offered their extra pass.
Having been to a couple media events for the likes of Italian Job (now Backlot Stunt Coaster) at Kings Dominion and Joker at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, this was a much bigger event than those I had attended before, almost feeling like a special premium event you would find at Disney with special themed entertainment, special food items and multiple rides open. Right upon entry to the event, Snoopy made an appearance for photos with attendees.
In the main part of the Boardwalk section, some of the park's performers were hula hooping with visitors, and the stage had a live band playing a variety of favorite beach themed music, including several Beach Boys tunes.
Something else that really stood out about this event was the variety of food options to enjoy, and they were spread out which helped spread out the crowds and prevent long times to pick up some eats. If you came here with an appetite, you'd be set!
Another aspect of the event that was different than most media events I had been to was the inclusion of Coast Rider and Xcelerator for attendees to ride while waiting for the grand opening ceremony for the star of the show.
As that hour came closer, folks gathered near the stage where the band had been playing popular beach tunes, as this would be the place for the opening ceremony of the ride.
As part of the ceremony, Snoopy and some of the park's performers had a routine set to some other popular tunes, and then members of the park's management came to share their thoughts and appreciation to those who helped in the creation of the newest thrill ride in the park that was about to have it's ceremonial first ride.
And as they finished, a countdown began as the ride's lighting package came on, and fireworks began to erupt as the first riders train completed went through the twisted layout of Hang Time.
As the confetti fell, and event attendees made their way to the ride's entrance, the band came back on stage to play more song and the performers danced the night away.
And while the entertainment, food and additional rides were great, it was time to try this new steel beast, and it did not disappoint! Being the first Infinity model coaster I've ridden from Gerstlauer, I found that it offered a really smooth ride when compared to some of their smaller Eurofighter coasters, and this ride offered a very twisted layout that seemed to keep it's pace throughout the course. While it is a little bit on the shorter side in terms of ride time and length, it pretty much goes throughout the entirety of it. I certainly enjoyed the nice airtime pop that comes from the small hill above the entrance that leads into the cobra roll about 3/4 of the way through the ride. This ride was an excellent replacement for Boomerang, and has easily become one of the best in the park! The ride lighting package also really makes it stand out.
As a fun side story, While I waited at the exit for some friends who were riding to complete their turn, I was passed by a member of the park's staff who was escorting a few folks through the exit to get a chance to hop on the ride, and it turned out that one of them was skate boarding legend Tony Hawk! While I don't have the picture to verify, considering the way he was being escorted and just how close I was to him, my former Disney Cast Member instincts sort of kicked in as I figured that they wouldn't want people asking for photos/autographs, and it would be have been a bit odd for me to take my phone out to take a picture of him since he was essentially standing right next to me, so it'll just have to remain a story of a brief moment in time of a near contact with fame.
As the event drew to a close, it was awesome to get to be a part of this special event, and to be among the first to experience this brand new coaster for it's debut. I appreciate the folks who shared their extra ticket for me to join, and to the Park Journey crew for their help in facilitating it. While I would have the opportunity to try it out the next day, it was really cool to see it and ride it at night, especially it's first night!
Next, it's one more day of enjoying Knott's Berry Farm before heading home.
It's not very often that I make a trip specifically to coincide with the opening of a new coaster. But when two friends are doing the so, and they offer to let you join them in splitting the hotel room for the few days, plus it's a short flight to get there, then why not? This is essentially what lead to a nearly last minute trip down to California for the sake of the opening of Hang Time at Knott's Berry Farm. I would be joining my friends RD and Randy for a couple days checking out Walter Knott's playground.
Since I was heading down the West Coast to LAX, Alaska Airlines would prove to be one of the best options, as it often is for West Coast routes, although Delta has been contending with Alaska lately because of making Seattle a Western hub, but I generally stick with Alaska if the pricing is close, especially because of having MVP status, which does lead to an occasional upgrade, as it did on this flight!
And before I knew it, I landed at LAX. RD and Randy were both arriving later in the afternoon, and I was going to catch the shuttle over to Knott's with Randy when he arrived, as we were going to be sticking with Knott's for the duration of the stay. Since that would be later, I rented a car so I could make a side trip, which kicked off right at the beginning of lunchtime, which was perfect so that I could make a customary stop to a favorite California burger chain of mine....
After grabbing lunch, I rode on down South to spend the afternoon riding a new coaster! But it wasn't Hang Time at Knott's as it hadn't opened yet, and we would be riding it on opening day.
Rather, I went further South to check out Electric Eel at SeaWorld San Diego, making for a chance to get two new coasters this trip! This was my second visit to SeaWorld as I had been here two years earlier when visiting several places for credits and making my first visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain as part of Park Journey's Mountain Madness event that year. With the addition of Electric Eel, that gave me a reason to make the couple-hour drive to San Diego.
Electric Eel would be my second of the Premier Sky Rocket II coasters, after having ridden Phobia Phear Coaster at Lake Compounce the previous season. One thing that I kind of liked about the coaster was the shades of blue for the track, which I understand is a requirement for the ride because of it's location near the coastline in this particular area.
Electric Eel's queue is pretty basic, as it's just curved paths with some information boards about eels, although they at least tried to give it a beach feel with the sand and the use of beach umbrellas for the shade. It was kind of interesting to see a lack of railings for much of the queue though, as I would think they would want to try and keep folks waiting in line off of the space in between portions of the queue.
As for the ride itself, I don't know if it was because of the third car, but this one felt a bit more sluggish than Phobia did. It didn't seem to have the same airtime pops or speed that I was remembering, although with the lighter crowd, it could have been more to do with fewer riders giving the train less weight, which would have effected it's momentum through the course. I also wasn't a fan of the "comfort collars" that they have in the form of the straps over the shoulders. They are a bit clunky and it made getting into the seat a bit trickier because of the need to hold the collar up as you sit down. I would have rather they went with the lap bar only version featured on other versions of this coaster, but it wasn't bad enough to say this was a bad ride. I did still enjoy it, and the view from up top is pretty nice as well!
The location of Electric Eel is right alongside the area of Journey to Atlantis, the Mack Water Coaster that is the most coaster like of the three Journey rides found at the different SeaWorld parks. While I appreciate that this version offers a bit more of the coaster element, Orlando still has my favorite version because of the dark ride portion.....when it's actually working (which honestly probably hasn't worked properly in a good while if we're being honest). Still, it was fun to ride this again.
In between some of the rides, I did take a few moments to see some of the sea life in the park, which I didn't actually do a whole lot of the first time I was here as I wanted to spend more time with my brother and his wife and son when I came that first time.
Of course, I couldn't help but to take another ride on my favorite attraction in the park from my first visit, and what remains my favorite after this one. Manta, the Mack launched coaster, is such a fun coaster that offers some nice airtime in it's twisted layout that really interacts with the area and pathways well! In many respects, I feel like this is one of the more underrated coasters in California, especially as it offers a very unique course. It also didn't hurt that like the first time I came here, crowds were light which meant a few quick re-rides to really enjoy it.
Another neat feature of the area of Manta is their touch tank of actual rays located near the ride station. This gives visitors a chance to see and learn more about one of the neatest creatures of the sea, and this is especially beneficial for those with younger kids who may not be tall enough for the coaster, as they can watch the rays in the tank while the older kids and adults take a spin on the coaster.
During this visit, I took a chance to enjoy another attraction that I hadn't done in my previous visit, which is the Bayside Skyride. While seeing skyrides that do a loop where they run to the other side and then come right back isn't completely unusual for amusement parks, it's usually not the way VonRoll style sky rides like this operate, and what I wasn't aware of at the time of riding was that there used to be a restaurant on the other side that you rode this to access while crossing over Perez Cove. It would be neat if more places used that concept of having a ride be the way to access a restaurant of another attraction, but regardless, this sky ride offers some excellent views of the park, and the surrounding areas of San Diego and Mission Bay!
Of course, that isn't the only way to enjoy some excellent area views at the park, as you can also hop aboard the Skytower which offers different angles for your viewing of the area as it's located closer to the center of the park, and it takes you higher. A great vantage point for those full-coaster pictures that you may wish to add to your collection, or to see even more of the greater San Diego area.
Before heading out, I went to see the Discovery Pod with their Cabs and Octopuses. I have to admit, I got a little bit of a surprise seeing the spider crabs as I hadn't seen any in person before, and was taken back by just how large they can be, although from what I've seen since this visit, the Japanese Spider Crab can be even larger. While I understand that some people are opposed to places like aquariums and zoos for various reasons, these kinds of places can be eye opening to people who may no have a chance to explore the natural habitats of various species and see them in person, just as seeing these large crabs had for mayself.
As the afternoon drew closer to the evening, it was time to head out as I only had the rental car for the day since I would be meeting up with Randy back at LAX and catch the shuttle to Knott's hotel to catch up with RD. I really enjoyed getting another visit to SeaWorld San Diego, and I look forward to seeing what they add to the park in the future if Electric Eel is the start of a new trend for the park adding more rides.
Up next, it's the first of two days visiting Knott's Berry Farm!