Speed Zone – Review

Editors Note: with the popularity demonstrated by traffic driven to our recent Star Tours review article, we will be utilizing some of our resources to review theme park attractions in addition to films and games. For the moment we’ll be sticking to Southern California and surrounding areas, but stick with us as we branch out across the country.

Last month, I went to Speed Zone Los Angeles (in City of Industry) to use a Groupon my wife and I had purchased.  It was for a 4-hour pass of unlimited go-karts, mini golf, and video games.  We met a couple friends there to make an afternoon of it.  With the variety of go-karts (4), plus golf and dozens of games, I figured we couldn’t lose.  Well…read on.

I was most excited for the go-karts, starting with their Grand Prix track.  We were soon informed that you can’t race other people.  You are released individually to race the clock.  And yet their clock was broken!  And looked like it had been for a while.  So while it was fun to drive the karts, there was no racing to speak of.

Next was their Top Eliminator Dragster, 300-horsepower machines on fixed rails that burst out of the gate up to 70 mph.  These truly were fun, but oh so brief.  The line moved slowly, and the noise and fumes made the wait uncomfortable.  The actual racing was great, no complaints, but the discomfort to get to it was significant.

We played mini golf next, since one of our friends, amazingly, never had!  The course was bland, with a minimum of interesting features, and even 2 things that I can’t believe were actually designed.  Every single hole had a break in the rim of concrete near the hole.  Theoretically this is so people could walk to the next hold with tripping over concrete.  But in practice, it just made a giant gap that let balls escape the green with the simplest of putts.   Maddening.  Worse, one hole had the cup actually on a slope.  No flat at all.  Which means you either sunk the ball, or it rolled all the way back.  It’s hole-in-one or nothing here.  Absolutely insane.  Our group all took a 6 before giving up.  So her first mini golf was not a positive experience.

Next was the Slick Trax go-karts, which have such a slick surface that you slide around corners like in Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift.  This one actually DOES let you race other people, finally.  The drifting was a skill that was difficult to master, but fun.  Other than the ridiculously slow line (again), I’ve got no complaints about the actual racing.

After our friends left, my wife and I skipped the final type of go-kart.  We just didn’t want to deal with the slow lines.  We spent our last 40 minutes or so playing non-stop arcade games, mostly racing games.  The one game we really wanted to play, a pirate/shooting game, was never left alone by the hordes of children.  So we wandered around doing other stuff.

Overall, the go-karts were fun, but the lines and noise and smell made it not worth our while.  The Groupon price was good, but if we’d paid full price, we certainly wouldn’t have gotten our money’s worth.  The mini golf is atrocious.  We did only play one out of two courses, but I can’t imagine the other course is significantly better.  The arcade was fine, especially with an unlimited pass, considering how expensive individual games are.  They also have a prominent restaurant, but we didn’t visit that.

For a better racing experience, I highly recommend K1 Speed.  This chain is better in several categories.  They have electric go-karts, so there’s no engine noise or fumes.  The courses are longer, and you can race  with all your friends at the same time.  The facilities are indoors and air conditioned, so you can lounge while you wait.  Then they call your name, so you never have to wait in a line.  Plus, each kart is electronically tracked, and you get a detailed printout after the race, showing each lap time, your average time, best time, worst time, and race position.  Tons of fun for comparing with friends.  Highly recommended, especially compared to Speed Zone.

Speed Zone is located at 17871 Castleton Street, Industry. (626) 913-9663
See www.speedzone.com for more details
K1 Speed has 9 locations in California, Washington, Arizona and Florida. See
http://www.k1speed.com/ for details

Ryan S. Davis

I love board games, thrill rides and travel. I'm happy to watch and review all kinds of movies, from mainstream blockbusters to art house indies. As a Warner Bros. employee, I'm privileged with a glimpse of Hollywood many don't see, but my opinions here are my own and not representative of the company.

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