A couple of summers ago, my wife and son gave me a present for my birthday. It was one they felt would last and last: a season pass to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, just up the road apiece in Vallejo. It would be worth the forty-five minute drive to the top of the Bay for some roller coaster action. In the parlance of our family, "Why not?"
Well, as it turns out, the amusement park section of my brain was not fully satisfied by the lines and rides found beneath those Six Flags. Sadly, I have become impossibly spoiled by all those trips to Disney properties over the years, and the absurd standards that I hold for my amusement are now ridiculously high. It would be foolish of me not to reconcile the relative costs of these adventures. It would be foolish of me still not to recognize the value of a year's worth of high-speed turbulent roller coaster type rides compared to a day's worth. Why not take the family out for a Northern California day full of deep-fried food and a series of apparatus that would make it hard to keep that deep-fried food down? It made fine fiscal sense to do that, as long as I was going to need to scratch that itch every so often.
We went once.
Again, I blame myself. The Six Flags experience wasn't special enough. Not for me and my Disney sensibilities. This makes me a snob, and it pains me to confess it. Coming from a guy who spent his drinking years throwing down case after case of "the best beer you ever kept down," Miller Lite, how could I have managed to let my theme park aesthetic get so out of hand? What is the theme of Disneyland? What Disney owns which, at this point, is most everything. Six Flags has Bugs Bunny. Which does not diminish my love for Bugs. Not in the least. But he's not Mickey and Donald and Luke and Han and Spidey and Cap. And Snow White and Cinderella and Ariel and well, you get the idea. The cast members from the turnstiles on the way in to the hand stamp on the way out are so unrelentingly pleasant that the time you spend in what used to be an orange grove is like a visit to the happiest place on earth. Vallejo is still working on becoming a destination place, and one might expect that the addition of live seals and sharks and butterflies should make the trip completely worthwhile.
It was a good time. But we haven't been back. I feel bad about missing out on all that fun. And value. Now that I don't drink anymore, however, I can tell you that Miller Lite isn't good beer.