Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is stupendous. Now I can rest easy knowing that if you read nothing more, you’ll still know how I feel about Six Flags.
For those of you who require slightly more detail than that California surfer dude descriptor, allow me to elaborate.
We visited Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo on a sweltering day. Think triple digit temperatures (in the 40s for you Celsius fiends). There were still crowds of unfazed visitors, cooling stations, stomach churning rides, shows and food.
I had some expectations for these theme park, considering we’d been to California’s Great America just weeks before.
ABOUT SIX FLAGS DISCOVERY KINGDOM
Let’s begin with the most obvious first, as Third Brother asked me when I mentioned we were visiting the theme park “Why’s it called Six Flags?”
Why indeed young sir? Gather round children and I’ll tell you a very short story. Back in 1961, the first theme park in the chain was opened in Texas. It was called Six Flags Over Texas for the six countries or nations that ruled over the state.
For the history buffs out there, that’s Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States and the Confederate States of America (which existed for a total of four years).
Now they have parks in the US, Canada and Mexico. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom used to be a Marine Theme Park (and still is) before it was acquired by the Six Flags juggernaut.
The 135-acre property is now an animal theme park with a marine area where you can pat sting rays, marvel at the cute little penguins and watch dolphin shows.
Apart from the animals, there are a plethora of roller coasters and rides for everyone to enjoy.
I’m a little hesitant when it comes to animal “shows”. I guess because there has been so many instances in the past where animals have been mistreated purely for human amusement.
But animals are the basis of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and can’t be glossed over as such. There are Land and Sea areas of the park, dedicated to animals from the respective habitats, such as:
- Alligator Isle
- Cougar Rocks
- Lion’s Lair
- Ocean Discovery
- Penguin Package
- Reptile Discovery
- Shark Experience
- Tiger Island
- Walrus Experience
Then there are animal “Experiences”, where you can get up-close and personal with the fauna:
- Dolphin Discovery
- Butterfly Habitat
- Giraffe Encounter
- Seal Cove
- Sharks in the Dark
- Trainer for a Day
- Wildlife Discovery Tour
Basically, you’re not going to feel like there’s not enough animal attractions at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. They’re everywhere.
Our first stop to escape the heat was the Bottlenose Dolphin Show. Similar to other such shows, the handlers talk about caring for their charges, and their intelligence level while the animals show off in the water.
It was a really educational show, and be warned, the first few rows get splashed good and proper. For little marine enthusiasts, there’s no better way to see dolphins up close and get an idea of what they’re capable of. And no, I don’t mean in The Simpsons-taking-over-the-world kind of way either.
As we wound our way through the Sea portion of the park, we came face-to-face with swimming seals, meandering African penguins, stingrays (don’t think we’ve forgotten what you did to Steve Irwin), brilliantly-coloured fish and menacing sharks.
Sharks in the Dark is an awesome way to see these majestic creatures from all angles, from behind glass of course. A travellator takes you beneath their pale bellies as they effortlessly glide through the water. Before you make your way into a room that showcases all kinds of sharks and fish in a large aquarium.
This is the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom part I was waiting for – a few rides to take my breath away. Ever since I stopped being deathly afraid of upside-down roller coasters a few weeks earlier, I needed to take my new-found confidence for a spin.
The Skyscreamer is not your regular flying swings experience. The seats climb 150-feet in the air and spin at 43 miles per hour Dangle from a startlingly tall 150-foot tower in a 69 km/h (43 mph/) spin.
Watch riders of surrounding roller coasters scream as they hurtle through the air, get a birds-eye view of the theme park and feel weightless as you glide in circles.
Next stop – Medusa. Don’t be deterred by the lines, this thrilling roller coaster is worth the wait. It’s the longest and tallest coaster in California. Also, there’s no floor beneath you.
Be warned though, there aren’t any cubbies to hold bags, hats or sunglasses. You’ll have to pay for a locker outside of the ride entry and stow your stuff there.
If you’re into sudden drops, Medusa is your lady – a 45 metre (150 foot) climb just leads into a drop of the same distance. Hold onto your stomach is my advice.
It runs at 104 km/h (65 mp/h) at 4.5 G’s but surprisingly, I found it to be one of the smoothest rides I’ve been on in ages. Plus there are some killer loops.
If I never ride Kong again it’ll be too soon. I am not exaggerating, I almost lost my cool on that roller coaster of doom.
Okay, it’s not THAT bad, but remember that I’m new to thrill-seeker rides and this was well outside of my comfort zone. I’ve never wished for a ride to be over so much in my life.
While most rides have a height minimum, this one has a maximum as well, I suspect because if you’re too tall, your feet will hit a support beam.
It takes you upside down, sideways, in spirals, feet in the air… just thinking about it is giving me the shivers. Just watch the video please.
That was enough excitement for one day for me.
THE SIX FLAGS DISCOVERY KINGDOM DETAILS
As with California’s Great America, it pays to scout around for your tickets. There are deals online everywhere especially towards the end of the summer season.
At the moment, during September/October, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom opens at midday on the weekends and at 4pm on Fridays.
Also be sure to check the Special Offers page on the Six Flags website. If you don’t want to lug your stroller into the park, you can rent one at the park, as well as a wheelchair or a mobility scooter.
You can’t bring your selfie stick into the park, you’ll just have to be satisfied with regular photos that you or your friends take. If you have special dietary needs you’re welcome to bring your own food, otherwise outside food and drink isn’t allowed in the park.
Parking costs $25 for the day or $65 with a season pass, while daily park tickets are around $70 and season passes are around $224 but you can find them cheaper during sale time. At the moment they are $59.99 for the 2018 season.