Yesterland

Maliboomer
 
“What goes up, must come down!
These three 180 foot high towers
will launch true thrill seekers
straight up at a dizzying rate.”
 

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000, Ding!

Have you seen the high-striker game at a carnival midway? It’s also known as the strongman game or the strength tester. The customer swings a big mallet onto a wooden block, launching a puck toward a bell at the top of a strength gauge. If the bell sounds, the customer wins a prize, perhaps a brightly colored plush toy. It can be legitimate. But sometimes it’s rigged, allowing the operator to goad the customer into trying (and paying) again and again: “Are you a man or a boy?”

Yester California Adventure is no ordinary carnival, and Maliboomer is no ordinary high-striker game. Here, there are three towers; they’re ten times the height of a typical high-striker game; and you get to be the puck!

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

Maliboomer, as in Malibu

Actually, Maliboomer is not really a high-striker game—but it’s themed to look like one. And not just any high-striker game, but a space-themed one.

Okay, it really doesn’t look much like a high-striker game. It looks like an S&S Space Shot attraction purchased from ride manufacturer S&S Worldwide, Inc. Because that’s exactly what it is.

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

WARNING!

There are a bunch of warnings. Here’s one more: Don’t a eat a Malibu-Rito right before riding Maliboomer.

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

Any children must be tall children.

Remember that question, “Are you a man or a boy?” (Or “Are you a woman or a girl?”) Here’s where it matters. If you’re not at least 52 inches—4 feet, 4 inches—tall, you can’t ride. That’s unusually restrictive. (You only have to be 40 inches tall to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, or Splash Mountain at Disneyland.)

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

Scream alone.

If everyone you’re with is too small (or too chicken), you can save time with the single rider line. The seating is in groups of four, so there’s often an empty seat when another party consists of an odd number of guests.

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

The anticipation is mounting.

It’s almost your turn.

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

Do they look comfortable?

Here’s something that you normally don’t see on Space Shot rides: each seat has a plexiglass shield for each rider’s head. The shield is not for the protection of the riders. It’s to protect people outside the park from having to hear loud screams.

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

Sixteen seats surround each tower.

Try to get a seat that faces into the park. You might get a great view if the ride doesn’t drain you of the ability to do anything but scream.

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

No footrests

Ready? A high-powered, compressed-air system launches you straight up with a force of 4 Gs. The trip to the top is short, but intense.

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

Near the top

Ding!!!

You reached the top. Remember, this is supposed to be a high-striker game—thus the ring of the bell.

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

This ride has its ups and downs.

You now head downward at freefall speed. You feel weightless in your seat. Before you get to the bottom, you find yourself heading upward again, but not as far. Then it’s down again. Up again. Down again. It’s sort of like bouncing.

Less than a minute after your launch, you’re already back on the ground exiting from your seat.

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

Park after dark

Even though you made it to the top and the bell rang, you don’t get a brightly colored plush toy. Sorry.


Maliboomer was one of the original attractions when Disney’s California Adventure opened in February 2001—and, at 180 feet, the tallest attraction in the new park.

It was surprising that the decision-makers for Disney’s California Adventure chose to include an attraction that looked so similar to Supreme Scream (an S&S Turbo Drop), which opened in 1998 at nearby Knott’s Berry Farm. At 312 feet, with guests ascending and dropping a whopping 252 feet, Supreme Scream has bragging rights as the tallest Turbo Drop ride in the world and the tallest structure in Orange County, California. The big difference, other than the lesser height of Maliboomer, was that the biggest thrill at the Disney attraction was the high-speed ascent, while at the Knott’s attraction it’s the “beyond freefall” high-speed descent.

Maliboomer at Disney's California Adventure

Paradise Pier before its Extreme Makeover (2007 photo)

Maliboomer was a perfect example of why many Disney fans were disappointed by Disney’s California Adventure in 2001. It was easy to compare two attractions that both offered thrills from fast ascents and descents: the detailed, immersive Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Florida, and the slightly-decorated, “off the shelf” Maliboomer at the new park.

Paradise Pier was supposed to take guests back to the “heyday of the great seaside amusement park piers,” but there was nothing nostalgic, authentic or charming about Maliboomer. An S&S Space Shot is a decent regional park thrill ride for people who like that sort of thing—but that’s all it is.

In May 2004, the California park got its own Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Although not as detailed the Florida original, the difference between the Maliboomer and the new thrill tower was night and day.

In late 2007, Disney announced a $1.1-billion makeover for California Adventure. Maliboomer was conspicuously absent from any drawings, models, or maps showing plans for the revamped park.

Its neighbors, the Sun Wheel and the Orange Stinger, were given a strong infusion of charm and Disney theming, with great results. Apparently, the Imagineers felt the Maliboomer could not be saved. (And maybe the Maliboomer could be dismantled and sold at a decent price.)

Maliboomer closed permanently on September 7, 2010.


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© 2010 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated October 29, 2010.

Photo of Maliboomer with California Soarin’: 2002 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Maliboomer entrance: 2006 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Maliboomer warning sign: 2007 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Maliboomer height limit: 2010 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Maliboomer single rider sign: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Maliboomer queue: 2009 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Maliboomer empty seats: 2009 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Maliboomer loading area from above: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Maliboomer riders with dangling legs: 2010 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Maliboomer vehicle at the top: 2002 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Maliboomer vehicle on the tower: 2010 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Maliboomer at night: 2009 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Maliboomer across Paradise Bay: 2007 by Allen Huffman.