Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Update - April 3rd, 2021
The Rides Are Finally Back!!
The day we've been waiting for for a year is finally here: the rides at SFDK are open again! And of course, we were there to cover it for you! The park has been keeping itself afloat as a zoo since its rides closed (and doing a good job keeping it fresh) but now that the rides are back it can function as intended: a great combination theme park and zoo! As expected the majority of this update will be about the rides but there are a handful of other changes in the rest of the park as well! Keep reading to find out how the opening went and any other updates from the park!
I think it's worth separating out the COVID related procedures for reopening into its own little section. To start with, you can expect the same need for a reservation as well as the same exact entrance procedure that was used for the Marine World Experience. That's a great thing since it's so much smoother than the previous, more invasive (and slower) metal detectors. Hopefully it sticks around after the pandemic is gone! As expected, masks are also required through the park still except when eating or drinking or in designated spaces. I've praised SFDK in the past for having extremely good mask compliance and although it seemed a little worse than it had in months past, the majority of guests were still correctly wearing their masks. Social distancing is still required in the park, including when in line. This inflated the lines making them look a lot worse than they actually were.
The rides underwent a thorough cleaning every hour and were socially distanced on the ride cars themselves. We'll go through what that looked like for each ride in each ride's section.
Overall, I always felt very safe at the park. I think SFDK did a pretty good job enforcing their rules and I'm very glad that the state allowed the park to reopen!
I had previously expressed some skepticism that the park would be able to open on that target 4/1 date considering the amount of staffing, training and certification that would be needed to open all of the rides. And although I was mostly wrong (since the park obviously did reopen on 4/1), I was kind of right in that all of the rides were not open. I'm not entirely sure why but I'd expect that it was a staffing issue. I know that the park did struggle a little with staffing in the offseason even during normal times. Add in COVID and I'm sure it was a struggle to staff the park on such short notice. As such, only a subset of the rides were open. Of the coasters, only Joker, Batman, Superman, Medusa and Kong (later in the day) were able to open. The majority of the flat rides in the park were closed with the notable exceptions being Wonder Woman, Monkey Business, Thrilla Gorilla and Scatabout. I expect more and more rides to open as time goes on and the park is able to staff up to more appropriate summer levels.
Good to get back into DC Universe after only being able to longingly look at it for the past year!
Wonder Woman Golden Lasso
Wonder Woman was loading groups with a couple of seats between groups
Which caused it to get a massive line. Later in the day from when I shot this, the line stretched all the way to close to the entrance to Superman
Like all rides at SFDK, it featured a cleaning cycle hourly
But luckily it looked just as good as it did before the closure!
Superman: Ultimate Flight
Superman might have been the scariest sight of the day wrt Covid restrictions. A low capacity ride as it is, Superman was loading what I assume was one group per car (not sure how it would've been handled if two groups of 6 wanted to ride together) so if you have two groups of two (a common arrangement) then 4 people would be on the cycle
On the plus side though, it was off of Flash Pass as far as I saw so the line you saw was the line you got
I've never seen the line stretch up to this building until today!
Joker also got very busy. This was before they opened all of the switchbacks but once opened, they completely filled up
It was running one train with socially distant rows but my Flash Pass said the wait was only 45 minutes to an hour so not too bad. Looked longer than that to me considering that there was usually a couple of rows between the riders but idk!
And it was running fantastically! I forgot just how intense the airtime is
One of the most frustrating parts with some RMCs is that the layouts get a little repetitive and lazy. Joker isn't like that. It has a great mix of elements that keep the ride fresh all the way through
Also worth noting that I forgot to get a shot of: the tables next to Joker's photo stand are back from being removed last March! So now you can eat your Big Belly Burger in a shady spot next to the ride.
Batman was putting one group in each train. This ride had the quickest line all day since it usually only has a max of 4 people per train per side anyways so even in the worst case with a single rider, it was only running 3 people down
Other DC Universe Notes
In a year of constant changes, it's good to now that one thing will stay constant. Death, taxes and Harley Quinn being closed!
Flash was closed off and its entrance plaza became a mask break area
Penguin is closed but that's expected given that it's still early in the year
The stand near the exit of Superman was closed
As was the snack stand near Batman
Which actually still had items on its menu from 2019
Finally, Big Belly Burger was open!
Medusa was thankfully running two trains! Even with some rows being empty, it had the highest capacity in the park!
And (because of that?) had a line that went almost all of the way back to Cobra
But it was still so good to have it back!!
Kong was closed when I walked by but allegedly it opened up after I left for the day
Cobra was also closed for the day
Sky Screamer was closed and its entrance plaza was used for a mask break area. It was actually a really nice quiet place to relax for a couple of minutes with some great photo opportunities of Medusa
Like this one! I'm getting better at my panning shots!
Seaside Junction was open along with Air Penguins, Merlin's Seaside Tours and the splash pad
But most of Tava's Jungleland was closed. Here's the back side
The front side was too
Looks like they might've been training staff in the area?
The only exception was Frog Hopper open at the backside of Tava's Jungleland
Other Ride Updates
Boomerang was closed for the day with a train valleyed in between the back spike and loop. There's a winch on the back spike so nbd but I still thought it was interesting!
As expected Monsoon Falls and White Water Safari are both closed
Scatabout was one of the few flats open and as such had a pretty long line
So some other park fans have named a couple of rides at SFDK as candidates for removal based on their lack of web pages on the site. One of those opened today (Seaside Tours) and currently has a web page so I'm not ready to say that lack of a webpage is a death sentence yet. Tazmanian Devil does not currently have a web page and wouldn't shock me in the least if it was removed. I don't think I've ever seen it running and I've been coming at least once a month since 2019
The Ark is one of the other ones that has no web page. On the other hand I'd be surprised if this goes. Seems like a common ride model (so parts can't be too hard to find) and doesn't seem like it'd be expensive to run although I'm certainly the first to admit I don't know that for a fact
We'll see though. FWIW it was closed today!
General Park Updates
The Renaissance Fair vendors are still in the main plaza! Works for me since I get to buy more of those delicious candied nuts
Remember that old Voodoo sign that appeared the other month? Well it's gone now
Surprisingly, the shark exhibit was also closed. Wonder if it's a renovation thing at this point since it did open last October when the county was in the red tier
Another month with no real progress
Consider me doubtful this will open in 2021
We'll find out!
Let's finish our update out with an animal update!
This keeper was in the pen with the penguins as I passed by. The little birds were following him around as he walked through the pen
Sadly Pakak, one of the park's new walruses died last month and as such, the walrus exhibit was closed
Giraffes were photogenic as always
It was a great day at the nursery! In addition to this sleeping sloth, I got to watch keepers play with a couple of cute sleeping ferrets in addition to some other mammal I wasn't able to identify
And that'll wrap it up for the day! It's so so good to get back on the rides at SFDK! For an opening weekend I was pretty happy with how the park operated. As time goes on I expect operations to get smoother and smoother. Expect another update from me in late May!