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TR: Memorial Weekend in the Bay Area


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  • TR: Memorial Weekend in the Bay Area

    You can see photo's from our trip here:

    5 Days, 4 Parks, 4 Bridges, 1 Rock, 1,030 miles and LOTS and LOTS of people

    Day One

    Our first day consisted of driving from Camarillo to Gilroy. The fun didn't really begin until day 2 although we did see some Penguins.

    Day Two

    Thursday 7:00am

    We leave the Super 8 Motel in Gilroy to head up to SF to start our vacation. We were planning on doing PGA on this day, but they were closed until Saturday.

    Our first stop, Alcatraz. This was something I had wanted to do on my previous trips to SF, but never did. Since this was Kristi and the kids first trip to SF we figured why not. Our reservations for the boat were at 10:45am so we figured we would have a few hours to get to the city, drive around and get there in time. It didn't take as long to get into the city as I thought it would, and we actually got to Pier 39 at about 8:30am. Picked up our tickets and actually decided to take an earlier cruise.

    Our Cruise left the harbor at about 9:45 and we took the short ride to Alcatraz, getting some nice pictures of SF and the Golden Gate on the way. Unfortunately, in typical SF fashion, it was quite overcast and foggy that morning. Gotta love SF in the Spring and Summer.

    We arrived at Alcatraz, opting to not do the audio tour (I don't think we missed much) and just walked the island at our own pace. It was quite interesting to see the place where so many bad- called home. We also learned some history of the island I didn't really know about. Kristi and I definately enjoyed it more than the kids. It's not something I would need to do all the time, but I'm glad we did it and I would certainly do it again.

    We only spent about an hour on the island and once we got back to shore, we were all pretty hungry since we skipped breakfast. We decided to have lunch at Bubba Gumps at Pier 39. We don't usually splurge on big meals like this but we figured this may be the only chance we would get for some good seafood. I had the Coconut Shrimp (to die for), Kristi had Shrimp and Steak Atkins style, Josh had Shrimp and fries and Amanda had Pizza (she doesn't like seafood). It was awesome, I certainly recommend it.

    At this point we had a choice. We were going to do the Jelly Belly tour, but didn't know if we had enough time to make it up to Fairfield by 4:00 and still do what we wanted to do in SF. The only things we really wanted to do were Ghiradelli (sp?) Square and the Golden Gate. We decided to skip Ghiradelli Square and go to the Golden Gate then up to our Hotel in Vallejo then to Jelly Belly.

    After paying our $18 parking fee we were heading out of SF

    Driving through SF we didn't get lost, although we got turned around once on Van Ness, no biggie. We made it to the Golden Gate which no longer requires a toll going North, just south. I had been across the bridge before, but it certainly doesn't dissapoint. Certainly one of the great Modern Marvels.

    We then continued north and across the Richmond Bridge (kinda weird looking) and up to Vallejo via I-80. Checked into our Days Inn, freshened up and continued on to Jelly Belly.

    The Jelly Belly factory is only about 13 miles north of Vallejo and is certainly worth the tour. The tour is free, but unfortunately you can't take pictures during the tour for security reasons, whatever those are. The tour itself shows you the complete process of the Jelly Belly, the art of Jelly Belly and how they come up with new flavors. It was really cool.

    We then dropped about $50 in the Jelly Belly store on Belly Flops, sweat shirts (on sale) and various other things. It was certainly worth it though.

    Then back to our hotel, had dinner and just relaxed so we wouldn't be too tired for day 3 at SFMW.

    Day Three - SFMW and SCBB:

    Day Three began rather early. For some reason I woke up at 6am every morning of this trip. I don't know why.

    We checked out of our Hotel at about 7:30am and headed to IHOP for breakfast before SFMW opened at 10am.

    Headed over and we were actually the 3rd or 4th car in line. We were hoping that since it was only Friday that the crowds would be light. They werent'.

    But, we did get to meet a pretty cool guy, who became our tour guide for the day.

    Wally (PhishyBrewer from TPR) had PM'd me last week and said he would be at the park that day. We didn't actually think we would run into each other, but we did, before the park even opened. We are usually kind of leary of meeting on-line people but Wally was totally awesome, and it was a pleasure to meet him.

    Wally decided to hang with us and show us around the park because we had never been there.

    As soon as the park opened we headed over to V2. This was Kristi and my first impulse, and it didn't dissapoint. I loved it. We actually got a mini-marathon on the ride getting 2 front row rides and 1 back seat ride, all solo. I have heard this is the worst of the Impulse coasters, if that's true then I can't wait to ride some more.

    Next up was Roar. I had heard this was a good ride, I heard right. This is without a doubt the best woodie in CA, not like that's saying alot, but it's a really good ride. Probably my #2 woodie behind GASM. The kids then decided to ride the whale spinny ride before heading over to Medusa.

    We figured that Medusa wouldn't be too bad since it's a B&M, high capacity and the park didn't seem THAT busy at that point. Plus we had our trusty "Tour Guide" who assured us that although the line looked long, it wasn't that bad. Well, it was long. We ended up waiting an hour. Not that it could be helped. It wasn't really the line, but the God-awful operations that made the wait that long.

    The ride itself was actually REALLY good. Much better than Scream and pretty close to my #1 Floorless, Superman at SFFT. At this point we could see the park was getting pretty full. We hit Cobra and then said goodbye to our Tour Guide since he had worked the 12:00am - 8:00am shift at the brewery, and it happened to also be his 1st wedding anniversary, and he was spending it with us, at SFMW of all places.

    After making sure he was going to pick up flowers on his way home we said Adios.

    Amanda and I were going to hit Boomerang, but the line was about 45 minutes, not worth it for a measly Boomerang credit, the SLC was about the same. No thanks.

    We went through the kids area, got the Road Runner credit and left the park at about 1pm. 3 hours in the park which included a 1 hour wait for Medusa. The rides here are fun but I don't know if I need to come back up to this park anytime soon.

    We then decided to drive to our hotel in Santa Clara, check-in, then drive to SCBB for the afternoon.

    We made pretty good time and made it to SCBB by 4pm.

    I had been to SCBB about 12 years ago and had a really fun time, this time would be no different. It's definately a great old-style seaside park. Opting out of the $10 parking fee we found some meters, yay!!! We were going to get the bracelets, but seeing as Josh couldn't ride alot of stuff we opted for just 60 tickets. First up, Giant Dipper. I had the credit and didn't care to ride it again, so Kristi and Amanda got their credit.

    According to them the ride is REALLY rough now. I remember it being a really fun ride when I rode it, but I guess 12 years can do some wear and tear.

    We then did the sky-ride, the Himalaya, Ghost Blasters and a few other rides then called it a day, heading back to our hotel and then to dinner.

    Day Four - PGA

    This was my first visit to PGA in something like 26 years, back then it was Marriot's Great America. I was really looking forward to this park.

    We arrived at the park at about 9:15 so we could get our Vouchers exchanged for tickets. Turns out it took pretty much that whole time to get them exchanged as the Guest Services people were rather slow.

    This weekend, aside from being Memorial Weekend was a Salute to Heroes weekend at the park. I think it's great that parks have things like this, I just don't understand why they had to do it on an already busy weekend.

    After getting our tickets just as they were opening the gates we got in and headed straight for Top Gun only to see the area in front of the ride was still roped off. They finally opened the area at 10am and it was a mad dash for the ride. We ended up waiting about 20 minutes for the ride.

    This is definately my new #1 inverted coaster. It is rather short, but it is really fun.

    Next up was the flyers which was a first for all of us. Amanda and I really enjoyed them, Kristi and Josh not so much. We then proceeded to make our way around the park hitting the Spongbob 3-D ride, Taxi Jam, Spongebob's Boatmobiles and Runaway Reptar. All were pretty much walk on's at this point.

    It wasn't until we got back to Psycho Mouse that we started to see just how busy the park was getting. We waited about 35 minutes for the ride, but it was fun.

    Walking around to Drop Zone, Grizzly, Demon, Invertigo and Vortex we see lines of at least an hour for each. Not cool at all.

    With no Fastlane, Fastpass, Freeway type system and no Single-Rider lines for anything this was shaping up to suck, big time. To add to this it was WAY too cold for Boomerang Bay stuff.

    At this point it was about 1pm we decided to leave the park to have some lunch, chill at the hotel for awhile and head back.

    We headed back to the park at about 3:00pm and ran into even more crowds. As people who are used to using Fastpass and Q-bot systems we don't deal with lines that well anymore. Not to even mention that the lines were for rides that only Kristi and I could ride so that wouldn't be very fair to the kids.

    We did the Enterprise, Log Ride, walked around Boomerang Bay and did the sky-tower then called it a day at about 6pm. We all really liked PGA, they have good rides, an awesome kids area but their operations leave alot to be desired. They could really use some single-rider lines on their 54" attractions, we were seeing empty seats all day on Top Gun, Vortex, Invertigo and Drop Zone. Empty seats that we would have been glad to fill.

    Day Five - Bonfante Gardens

    I think this is the park Kristi and I were looking forward to most, and it certainly didn't dissapoint.

    Hands down Bonfante Gardens is the most beautiful park we have ever been to. It's not a thrill park by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn't mean it's not a fun small park. It certainly appeals mostly to families, but that doesn't mean that your average thrill seeker can't find fun here.

    We arrived to the park WAY too early, a theme for this trip. We were the first car in line. They opened the parking area at 9:30 and we were one of the first cars in.

    The park opened at 10am and we headed straight for Quicksilver Express. It was still testing so we wandered around and took some pictures of the park.

    Our first ride of the day was the monorail. It doesn't go all the way around the park, but it does show a nice birds eye view of Quicksilver and the Monarch Gardens.

    When arriving back to the station we see that Quicksilver was open so we headed over there. This is a typical Arrow Mine Train that delivers moderate thrills, but it's a fun coaster. We managed to get 3 rides without leaving the station. It certainly is more thrilling in the back than the front.

    Next up was the Ferris-Wheel. Not the biggest one ever, but again gives a nice arial view of the park. Amanda and I hit the Mushroom swing, which was actually REALLY good. Next was the "Spinning" raft ride, that's not really supposed to spin. I couldn't get it going as fast as I wanted it to since nobody else wanted to help. We then hit up the spinning garlics before lunch. This ride was totally awesome. It's a typical tea-cup style ride, but it's bigger and faster. Kristi almost fell over a few times and we got some cool video.

    We grabbed a quick lunch then decided to take the train around the park. From there we walked around the Rock Maze, hit the parks other coaster Timber Twister and rode the awesome Banana Split (Dragon Swing). I wish more parks that had Dragon Swings ran a good program like this one. Certainly one of the more thrilling rides at this small park.

    By this time it was about 2pm and we were ready to head home. It had been a LONG weekend. We hit the Garlic Store on the way home, bought some garlicy stuff and arrived home at about 8pm Sunday night.

    All in All we had a really fun weekend. Sure some of the parks were a bit more crowded than we would hope for, but those are things you can't help. It was more about having a fun family weekend, and we certainly had that.

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