Six Flags Discovery Kingdom tips

Thrill rides remain the biggest draw to Discovery Kingdom

Thrill rides remain the biggest draw to Discovery Kingdom

1001 Fairgrounds Dr.
Vallejo, CA

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom may seem more like a destination than a pitstop, but given its location off I-80 and near the I-5 corridor between LA and Sacramento, it serves as a great overnight break from long-distance driving. We stopped on our way home to Oregon from Laguna Beach this past summer, staying one night at the Courtyard by Marriott Napa Valley (which was very comfortable although predictably packed with families) directly across the street and playing for one day at Six Flags before continuing home.

In the interest of full disclosure, my family enjoyed the park using complimentary admission vouchers. We did, however, pay full price for all food and extras. This compensation came with no expectations or agreements for a positive review (as you will see).

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom tips:

We had not visited Six Flags for a number of years (I believe it was Marine World Africa USA last time we were there) and this trip, we found our enjoyment of this park varied greatly depending on our age and propensity toward high speed thrill rides. Perhaps it’s not fair to compare Six Flags to the likes of Sea World, Disney World, and Legoland, but we did¦and they must too, since their admission prices are compatible. The staff we came in contact with at Six Flags was generally apathetic and at times downright rude. We found the areas geared toward young children to be lacking; in short (no pun intended) there wasn’t enough for someone under 48 to ride. This was especially hard for our thrill seeking 36er and our almost tall enough 47-and-a-halfer. The family attractions, such as the animal shows, were nice to have on hand, but compared to the degree of professionalism at Sea World (from both the trainers and the animals), Six Flags fell flat.

That said, our ten-year-old loved the park. As in, absolutely LOVED everything about it. He couldn’t get enough of the roller coasters and thrill rides (and so those of us tall enough to accompany him did so over and over and over again).

We purchased the Flash Pass for three people in our group, which allowed us to squeeze more quality time out of our experience in the park. Simply put, the Flash Pass is a programmable beeper you can rent which will essentially hold your place’ in line, much like the buzzers handed out at casual restaurants to let you know when your table is ready. Basically, it calculates how long you would wait in any given line at any given time of day, then sets a timer for you. You don’t have to be physically present in the line until it beeps, and then you walk through a separate entrance (the exit) to get on the ride. It worked well (though not as well as Disney’s Fast Pass, which, of course, is free). My theme park philosophy is always to do what is necessary to make the most of your investment–in other words, saving time equals saving money. Therefore, even though we had to pay extra for this service, I’d recommend renting a beeper (for those members of your group tall enough to take advantage of most of the rides) if you visit on a busy day in summer.

In summary, we found Six Flags to be overpriced for what it offers. In the future, we’ll stay a night in San Francisco and explore the city for the better part of the day instead.

(I do, as always, welcome additional parent reviews of this pitstop. If you stopped at Six Flags recently and loved it, tell us why!)

Date last visited: early August 2009

Distance off the interstate: two minutes from I-80

Hours and Admission Prices: General Admission: $44.99
Child Under 48″: $29.99
2 & Under FREE
Everyone is admitted for the child’s price if tickets are paid for online.

Food Services: There are many counter service restaurants, all of course, priced in the theme park’ range. The souvenir drink bottles sold throughout the park (with free refills) is a good deal, even if you’re only drinking water. The lines for refills can get long, however.


Directions: From San Francisco/Oakland: take Highway 80 eastbound. Take the Highway 37 exit, just five miles east of the Carquinez Bridge.

From San Jose/South Bay: take Highway 680 over the Benicia Bridge. Then Highway 780 through Benicia to Highway 80 and then east to the Highway 37 exit.

From Sacramento: take Highway 80 westbound. From Highway 80, take the Discovery Kingdom exit.
View Larger Map