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Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Previously known as Marine World (1968–1970s)
Marine World Africa USA (1970s–1997)
The New Marine World Theme Park (1998)
Six Flags Marine World (1999–2006)
SFDK Logo.jpg
LocationVallejo, California, U.S.
Coordinates38°8′16″N 122°13′48″W / 38.13778°N 122.23000°W / 38.13778; -122.23000Coordinates: 38°8′16″N 122°13′48″W / 38.13778°N 122.23000°W / 38.13778; -122.23000
StatusOperating
Opened1968
OwnerSix Flags
SloganThe Thrill Capital of Northern California
Operating seasonYear round
Area135 acres (55 ha)[1]
Attractions
Total40
Roller coasters10
Water rides3
WebsiteOfficial website

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (formerly known as Six Flags Marine World, Marine World, The New Marine World Theme Park, and Marine World Africa USA) is a 135-acre (55 ha)[1] animal theme park located in Vallejo, California, off of Interstate 80 between San Francisco and Sacramento. The park includes a variety of roller coasters and other amusement rides. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has been part of the Six Flags chain of amusement parks since 1999.[2]

Transportation and facilities

Daily public transportation to the park is provided by Amtrak Thruway's 7 Route to Martinez station, Evans Transportation also provides daily service between a Courtyard by Marriott hotel (located adjacent to the northeastern border of the park) and Oakland International Airport. Vallejo's local public transit provider SolTrans serves the park Monday through Saturday, connecting the park with Fairfield Transportation Center, Vallejo Station, and other points in Southern Solano County.

A 7.5 MW solar canopy shading the parking lot was installed in 2019, and provides 11.9 GWh of energy per year which is about 80% of the park's energy needs.[3]

History

Early history

Further information: Marine World/Africa USA

1970 orca show at the original Marine World in Redwood City
1970 orca show at the original Marine World in Redwood City

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom first opened in 1968 as Marine World, a small zoo in Redwood City, California.[4] In the mid-1970s, it merged with a failing land-animal park called Africa USA and became Marine World Africa USA.[5]

In late 1985, the increase in value of the park's property became too great a tax burden. Following an intensive search for a new site led by Michael B. Demetrios, construction began on a new and larger park in Vallejo, California, about 55 miles (89 km) north of Redwood City. The new Marine World opened to visitors in 1986 and remained under control of the non-profit Marine World Foundation, using Garfield the cartoon cat as a mascot at various points.[6] The park defaulted on its debt to the city of Vallejo, after which the city took ownership in 1996.[7]

Conversion to a theme park

Vallejo hired Premier Parks (now known as Six Flags Entertainment Corporation) to manage the property, upgrade it, and improve its attendance. Premier added some non-animal attractions, particularly amusement rides, to increase attendance. In 1997, the park added two major ride attractions: Popeye's Seaport and DinoSphere. Popeye's Seaport offered eleven children's attractions, including an interactive foam ball play structure and an interactive water play area. DinoSphere took the place of the park's Australian Walk-A-Bout attraction (also the former home of the Dinosaurs! attraction). DinoSphere was an Iwerks Turbo Theater, capable of seating 100 riders per showing. The theater played the Iwerks film Dino Island for its first season of operation. The theater has since changed films numerous times.[citation needed]

The number of amusement rides increased over the next few years, including the addition of several major roller coasters. In 1998, the park's name changed again to The New Marine World Theme Park. The 1998 season saw the addition of two major roller coasters: Kong and Boomerang: Coast to Coaster. Kong was relocated from Opryland Themepark after the park shut down in 1997, and opened at Marine World in May 1998.[8] Other major additions that year included Hammerhead Shark, a Zamperla Prototype Hawk 48; VooDoo, A HUSS Top Spin; Monsoon Falls and White Water Safari, Intamin water attractions. DinoSphere also received a new ride film, Dino Island II: Escape from Dino Island, which featured improved special effects along with a new storyline.

Addition to the Six Flags chain

Roar: Discovery Kingdom's former Wooden Roller Coaster, now the Joker an RMC hybrid
Roar: Discovery Kingdom's former Wooden Roller Coaster, now the Joker an RMC hybrid

After the final operating day of the 1998 season, October 31, the park officially became Six Flags Marine World.[citation needed] The change in ownership brought many changes to the park, including the addition of Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes characters. The park also received the wooden roller coaster Roar. Built by Great Coasters International Inc., Roar was the first coaster to feature Millennium Flyer trains.[9] The 1999 season also saw the introduction of Tasmanian Devil, a Frisbee flat ride manufactured by HUSS, and Scat-A-Bout, a typical Scrambler flat ride. Although both rides opened in 1999, they were purchased by the park in 1998 but not constructed until 1999 due to construction timetables that prevented their opening in time for the start of the 1998 season. Popeye's Seaport was rebranded Looney Tunes Seaport and received the Roadrunner Express kiddie coaster.[10]

In 2000, the park opened its fourth major roller coaster dubbed Medusa. Medusa was designed by Bolliger & Mabillard. Medusa lasts three minutes; starting with a 150-foot-tall (46 m) drop, it then executes a 128-foot-tall (39 m) vertical loop, a dive loop, a Zero-G roll, a sea serpent roll, and two corkscrews.[11] Medusa is one of the park's most popular rides.[12] With the addition of Medusa, the park also received the Cobra family coaster and built a new parking lot south of the park.

The park received its fifth major roller coaster in 2001, V2: Vertical Velocity. Built by Intamin, the ride was the first Spiraling Impulse Coaster on the west coast and took the record for being the tallest and fastest coaster in northern California.[13][14] The ride was plagued with technical issues when it opened, which resulted in extensive down time. The park also eventually turned off the LIM motor on the back tower that held the train in position for a few seconds on its second trip up the tower.[verification needed] During the same time, the park also added the Warrior of the Dawn film to the DinoSphere.

In 2002, due to local building restrictions, the height limit on all roller coasters at the park is 150 feet (46 m), while V2: Vertical Velocity exceeded that limit by about 36 feet (11 m). Thus, they lowered the coaster's reverse tower 36 feet (11 m) and turned the forward tower into a 45° angle with an incline heartline roll that spiraled over the park's main entrance; Vertical Velocity is the only Impulse Coaster to do this.[15] The park re-activated the LIM motor on the reverse tower in the 2002 season; however, the motor failed to hold the train completely in place and slipped significantly. The motor was eventually turned off again in the 2003 season.[original research?] The park also began to show 7th Portal, a 3D comic book film by Stan Lee, in the DinoSphere Theater during this season.

The park added its sixth major roller coaster, Zonga, in 2003. Designed by Anton Schwarzkopf, the ride was relocated from Six Flags Astroworld and received major track modification by Premiere Rides before it opened at Marine World.[16] Zonga opened in late April with a sporadic operation. The ride was often closed because of mechanical problems, and when it did operate, it often closed for short periods of time due to ride errors. Eventually the park delayed its opening to 12 noon every day, completely blocking the ride plaza to park guests. Zonga's last season of operation was 2004; it then sat dormant until it was removed in 2006 and placed in the parking lot for storage. By the beginning of the 2007 season, Zonga was removed from the parking lot. It is now operating at the San Marcos National Fair in Mexico. The park also began showing Stargate SG3000 in its Iwerks 3D Turbo Theater, which finally received new branding and was no longer called DinoSphere.[citation needed]

On October 30, 2004, an accident on nearby I-80 caused power to go out in the park, resulting in several dozen riders getting stranded on roller coasters. No injuries were reported, but the park did close several hours early.

In 2006, Tava's Jungleland opened, a children's area located in the back of the park near the main land animal displays featuring nine new wild animal displays.[17][18]

Rebranding to Discovery Kingdom

Discovery Kingdom, seen from the parking lot
Discovery Kingdom, seen from the parking lot

On January 17, 2007, the park announced its new name: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.[19] The new name reflects the image of an animal park, a thrill-ride park, and a marine park. The park was separated into different themed areas: Land (exotic land animals), Sea (marine mammals) and Sky (roller coasters).[1] US$16 million was spent on modifications including new heavy duty titanium bars in the animal cages, new shows, and converting the 3D theater into a "4D" theater. The park also added a Thomas the Tank Engine-themed children's area called Thomas Town, which opened June 20, 2007.[20]

On June 5, 2007, Six Flags Parks confirmed media reports that Six Flags would exercise their option to buy the park.[21]

In 2008, the park closed the IWerks 3D Turbo Theater due to escalating repair costs on the out-of-date operating system and hardware. The park received its eighth roller coaster named Tony Hawk's Big Spin, which was located on the former Zonga concrete pad. The ride featured a unique layout compared to the three other coasters which share the name, including a base frame instead of permanent concrete footers and a higher top speed. Tony Hawk's Big Spin opened on May 23, 2008.[22] That same year, the park completed its longest operating season offering "Holiday in the Park" through the first week of January.

In 2009, Discovery Kingdom introduced the all-new Odin's Temple of the Tiger. The new tiger show features a diving white tiger named Odin. Discovery Kingdom also initially acquired two new Bengal tiger cubs, Nalin and Akasha.

In late 2010, Six Flags Parks began the process of removing licensed themes from attractions. They terminated several licenses including those with Thomas the Tank Engine and Tony Hawk. Tony Hawk's Big Spin was renamed and re-themed to Big Spin, then Pandemonium. Big Spin was later removed and replaced with Superman: Ultimate Flight opening in 2012. Thomas Town was renamed and re-themed as Seaside Junction in time for the 2011 season.[23] For the 2011 season, the park introduced the SkyScreamer. The swing ride is 150 feet (46 m) high and soars in a 98-foot (30 m) circle at speeds over 43 miles per hour (69 km/h). The ride opened on May 27, 2011.[24]

In 2012, the park added a steel Premier Rides roller coaster called Superman: Ultimate Flight.[25] It is the tallest roller coaster inversion west of the Mississippi River, measuring 150 feet (46 m) in height.[1] It includes "two upside down twists and two vertical rolls over a track length of 863 feet (263 m)".[26] In some places, riders traverse speeds of 62 miles per hour (100 km/h).[1]

The park added Cirque Dreams for the 2013 season; the show was held seasonally in the Dolphin Theater area.[27] This show combined acrobats and aerialists performing alongside or above dolphins.

In 2014, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom held a press event for the new Tsunami Soaker water ride, during which the park announced a May 31, 2014 opening to the general public.[28][needs update] On August 28, 2014, Discovery Kingdom announced the new Dare Devil Chaos Coaster flat ride for the 2015 season.[29] It is a standard 22M Larson Superloop pendulum flat ride that rocks riders back and forth inside a 360 degree loop.[30] It opened to the public on May 23, 2015.[31] On July 16, 2015, the park announced that Roar would close on August 16, 2015.[32]

On September 3, 2015, the park announced their tenth major thrill coaster, The Joker, which is a hybrid transformation of Roar. The conversion was performed by Rocky Mountain Construction. The coaster features a 100-foot height, a 78-degree drop, and three inversions including the world's first step-up under flip inverted roll.[33]

In February 2016, the park opened Pacific Rim 5-D, an in-theater, special effects 3D movie, on a limited and trial-run basis.[34] The experience is based on the Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' sci-fi movie Pacific Rim. Guests watch part of the movie wearing 3D glasses while sitting in seats that move, shake and bounce in response to the action on the movie screen.

In April 2017, Six Flags entered into an agreement with the owner of Waterworld California in nearby Concord, to operate the water park, which was formerly owned by Six Flags. As of 2018, the water park was renamed to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord.[35]

Seasonal events

Each fall, Discovery Kingdom opens Fright Fest for Halloween, consisting of six haunted houses, scare zones, and many ghouls are added throughout the park. Tinseltown Terror haunted house is located in the park's bumper car ride and the Brutal Planet haunted house is located in the Roar plaza. The scare zone is located between Ocean Discovery and the entry plaza, where cockroach eating contests are held. In 2007, Discovery Kingdom introduced the Wheel of Fright and the Coffin of Fear for Fright Fest. 2007 also brought the addition of the Kamp Khaos haunted house, replacing Brutal Planet. Kamp Khaos was placed inside the Monsoon Falls water ride lagoon.

The other major seasonal event, Holiday in the Park, made its debut November 23, 2007. The event features Santa Claus, holiday-themed shows, and other seasonal items. That year, Discovery Kingdom also featured the world's largest Christmas tree as part of the celebration. The tree was 125 feet (38 m) tall and had a diameter of 4 feet (1.2 m). Due to its size, a Chinook helicopter was needed to set it into place.[36]

Rides and attractions

Roller coasters

Name Manufacturer Opened Model name Location
Batman: The Ride S&S Worldwide 2019 4-D Free Spin DC Universe
Boomerang: Coast to Coaster Vekoma 1998 Boomerang Land
Cobra Zierer 2000 Tivoli - Large Sky
Kong Vekoma 1998 SLC (689m Standard) Sky
Medusa Bolliger & Mabillard 2000 Floorless Coaster Sky
Roadrunner Express Zamperla 1999 Family Gravity Coaster 80STD Looney Tunes Seaport
Sidewinder Safari Zamperla 2022 Spinning Coaster Land Still in construction, coming 2022
Superman: Ultimate Flight Premier Rides 2012 Sky Rocket II DC Universe
The Flash: Vertical Velocity Intamin 2001 Twisted Impulse Coaster DC Universe
The Joker Rocky Mountain Construction 2016 I-Box - Custom DC Universe

Thrill rides

Name Manufacturer Opened Type Location
Dare Devil Chaos Coaster Larson International 2015 22m Giant Loop Sky
Hammerhead Shark Zamperla 1998 Hawk Sky
SkyScreamer Funtime 2011 Star Flyer Sky
Wonder Woman: Lasso of Truth Zamperla 2017 Giant Discovery DC Universe

Family rides

Name Manufacturer Opened Type Location
Boardwalk Bumper Buggies C & S (Floor) and Ninja (Cars) 1998 Bumper cars Sky
Monkey Business 1998 Teacups Land
Scat-A-Bout Eli Bridge 1999 Scrambler Sky
The Ark Zamperla 1998 Swinging Ship Land
Thrilla Gorilla Zamperla 1998 Caterpillar Land
Wave Swinger Zamperla Unknown Wave Swinger Sky

Water rides

Name Manufacturer Opened Type Location
Monsoon Falls Intamin 1999 Spillwater water ride Sky
The Penguin Mack Rides 2014 Twist 'n' Splash DC Universe
White Water Safari Intamin 1999 River Rapids Land

Children’s rides

Looney Tunes Seaport
Looney Tunes Seaport
Looney Tunes Seaport (formerly Popeye's Seaport from 1997 through 1998)
Tava's Jungleland (all rides opened in 2006)
Seaside Junction (all rides opened in 2007 in the former Thomas Town)

All rides were re-themed to "Seaside Junction" in time for the 2011 season.

Upcharge attractions

Animal attractions

Past rides and attractions

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Burstyn, Rochel. "Let's Go To Six Flags Discovery Kingdom". Binah Bunch, June 28, 2012, pp. 26–211.
  2. ^ "Bankruptcy filing won't close Vallejo Six Flags". sfgate.com. June 14, 2009. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  3. ^ Shahan, Cynthia (December 13, 2019). "Six Flags Discovery Kingdom To Be 80% Powered By Solar Carport". CleanTechnica.
  4. ^ "Guide To Six Flags Discovery Kingdom". sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com. May 24, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  5. ^ Desmond, Jane (1999). Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World. The University of Chicago Press. p. 193. ISBN 9780226143767. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  6. ^ "Park nearly ready". The Press Democrat. May 28, 1986. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  7. ^ "Six Flags Discovery Kingdom 2019". negative-g.com. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  8. ^ "20 years after closing, some Opryland rides live on". wsmv.com. December 29, 2017. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  9. ^ "Roar - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom". rcdb.com. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  10. ^ "Frankie's Mine Train". CoasterGallery.com. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  11. ^ "Medusa - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo, California, United States)". rcdb.com. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  12. ^ "Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Ranked by Rider Vote". Theme Park Critic. August 17, 2011.
  13. ^ "Flash: Vertical Velocity - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom". rcdb.com. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  14. ^ "New Marine World coaster flips and thrills". sfgate.com. June 15, 2001. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  15. ^ "V2 Vertical Velocity SFDK". coaster-net.com. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  16. ^ "Zonga - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom". ultimaterollercoaster.com. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  17. ^ "Marine World opens new attractions". thereporter.com. April 30, 2006. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  18. ^ "Six Flags Marine World unveils new children's adventure area". napavalleyregister.com. May 5, 2006. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  19. ^ "Six Flags renames Marine World 'Discovery Kingdom'". themeparkinsider.com. January 18, 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  20. ^ "Theme park revamp brings more people to Six Flags". timesheraldonline.com. January 18, 2008. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  21. ^ Brown, J. M. (June 6, 2007). "Six Flags to buy Discovery Kingdom". Vallejo Times Herald. Archived from the original on June 9, 2007. Retrieved December 8, 2008.
  22. ^ "Roller coaster is new attraction at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom". eastbaytimes.com. May 11, 2008. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  23. ^ MacDonald, Brady (November 25, 2010). "Six Flags amusement parks prepare for thematic makeovers". LA Times. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  24. ^ "Sky Screamer for Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in 2011". coaster101.com. October 7, 2010. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  25. ^ MacDonald, Brady (September 1, 2011). "Six Flags unveils new attractions for every park in 2012". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 12, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  26. ^ "Bird? Plane? It's Superman coaster at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  27. ^ "World Premier of Cirque Dreams Splashtastic - the Most Amazing Show Above H2O at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom". prnewswire.com. May 23, 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  28. ^ Mirgoli, Nicholous. "Review of Tsunami Soaker Water Ride - Now Open at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for 2014". www.ThemeParkOverload.net. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  29. ^ Maginnis, Amy (August 29, 2014). "Dare Devil Chaos Coaster set for Six Flags debut in 2015". dailyrepublic.com. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  30. ^ "Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Dare Devil Chaos Coaster". dailyrepublic.com. August 28, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  31. ^ Widjojo, Irma (May 23, 2015). "Real 'daredevils' try Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's newest ride". eastbaytimes.com. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  32. ^ Mirgoli, Nicholous. "Six Flags Parks 2015 New Attractions Confirmed - EVERY New Ride/Attraction for Six Flags Parks Nationwide". www.ThemeParkOverload.net. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  33. ^ "'The Joker' Roller Coaster Coming to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo". nbcbayarea.com. September 3, 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  34. ^ "Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Debuts 'Pacific Rim' Ride". travelagewest.com. February 1, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  35. ^ "Waterworld California Becomes Six Flags' 20th Property". Business Wire. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  36. ^ "Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to Present the Biggest Christmas Tree in the World" (Press release). PR Newswire. October 22, 2007. Retrieved November 5, 2007.
  37. ^ California Coaster Kings (July 31, 2014). "Throwback Thursday–iWerks 4D Theater (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom)". TheCoasterKings.com. Retrieved February 16, 2020.

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