Friday, Sept. 12, 2014 | 5:33 p.m.
First, you merely stare in suspended belief.
You stare at the crowd massed far below as you are harnessed into a contraption hooked to a metal wire more than 100 feet above Fremont Street Experience.
And you stare at a teetering stack of 10 pancakes set in front of you at Du Par’s in Golden Gate.
These causes for pauses are connected.
The Slotzilla Zoomline provides that 100-foot-high (or, 114-foot-high, to be precise) view of Fremont Street.
The pancake stack at Du Par’s is called Stackzilla. It is a cross-promotion with Slotzilla and a way to remind diners that the art of excess is not limited to a thrill ride. It also can be served a foot high and slathered in syrup.
The Stackzilla was informally unveiled back in June, about the time the Zoomline at Slotzilla was expected to open. The unveiling of the Zoomline was delayed, however, until Aug. 31. So, the menu item at Du Par’s was held, too, until it was formally introduced last week.
But back on June 11, I squared off with Juan “More Bite” Rodriguez, who is a competitive eater and personal trainer, in a contest to see who could finish Stackzilla the fastest.
Juan “More Bite” put away his stack in eight minutes. I made it halfway through in 30 minutes before announcing, “I Juan No More!”
Most diners — and riders — will tell you that it was worth the wait to have the dual ‘Zilla offerings available to the public. Having faced down both Slotzilla and Stackzilla, I offer the following compare-contrast:
The challenge: For Slotzilla, the ride — or flight, as officials prefer — is a minute-long voyage down the FSE canopy, from the launching point at Neonopolis and the FSE garage to the edge of the Plaza. For Stackzilla, the challenge is to polish off 16 pancakes with no assistance.
The duration: For Slotzilla, the ride lasts about a minute. For Stackzilla, the time allotted to meet the challenge is a firm 15 minutes.
The cost: For Slotzilla, the Zoomline experience is $40 per ride. For Stackzilla, the price is $16.99, unless you can consume the teetering mass of pancakes in less than 15 minutes. If you can do that, it is free.
The optical illusion: For Slotzilla, it is that the lip of the FSE light canopy is 108 feet high, while the Zoomline’s launching point is 6 feet higher. Thus the illusion at the launch that you might actually slam into the canopy face-first. That won’t happen, but you think it will. For Stackzilla, it’s that eating the stack of 10 ‘cakes is an achievable task if they are cut into quarters. Forget it. Unless you are Juan “More Bite,” you won’t finish them.
Equipment: For Slotzilla, it’s a harness of eight clips and straps and a vest that feels a little like a straitjacket to keep you fastened to the metal rod guiding your flight. For Stackzilla, you’re given a knife, fork, butter, syrup and glass of water.
Physical positioning: For Slotzilla, you are in a Superman or, for Marvel Comics fans, Captain Marvel flying pose. And during the duration of the Zoomline experience, you do feel as if you are flying. For Stackzilla, you are seated with utensils in hands and a napkin across your lap. And, during consumption, you do feel as if you will not be able to stand from this position.
Moment of panic: For Slotzilla, it is when the metal door at the launch point is lifted open and you see the FSE canopy and the revelers far below. For Stackzilla, it is when you slice into the stack with a butter knife and watch as it topples sideways onto the table, looking a little like the implosion of the Sands.
Reasons for confidence: For Slotzilla, members of the design and construction team took 100 flights each to ensure that it is a safe attraction. For Stackzilla, Esquire has dubbed the pancakes at Du Par’s as the best in the country. They might be filling, but they are so good.
Reward: For Slotzilla, it is the end of the ride, being jerked to a halt and thinking, “I want to do this again, right now.” For Stackzilla, it’s understanding that you’ve been defeated by the sheer volume of flapjacks but thinking, “I want to do this again, but in a week or so.”