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TR: Waldameer 6/21/08


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My partner Mark and I took a day-trip from Rochester to Erie, PA in order to visit Waldameer Park. Waldameer is really just a hole in the walk kind of amusement park that happened to build a giant new roller coaster this year, and that in itself was the big draw. Sure, I'd seen pictures of the park before, and they have in their possession a classic old wood roller coaster that I had figured I would love as well. Ravine Flyer II was just the item that sealed the deal and gave me reason enough to travel down. Anyway, after driving through a few rain showers, we arrived at Waldameer three hours later, with little idea of what to expect.

 

We parked in a grassy parking lot, overshadowed by a few older water slides, and wandered in through some picnic groves. It was now 1:15 and the park had just opened for the day. Many folks had already been picnicking, with burgers, cakes, brownies, and every other delicious smelling food around us. We continued in and glanced at the old rickety-looking coaster (Comet) that rode along the back border of the picnic area. Certainly not the largest roller coaster in creation, it had a neat look to it which was occasionally enhanced by the rattling and rolling of a train of screaming kids. We continued to walk in and I saw a beautiful old carousel building on the left, which now housed another picnic area. On the right was a new carousel, with band organ music rolling away through a speaker system. Because Waldameer is one of the few parks that allows you to buy either individual tickets, or unlimited wristbands, we had already entered the park and saw ahead of us the ticketing area. We purchased unlimited wristbands, had our hand stamped with the most thick ink that I have ever seen, and wandered over to Comet. My first observation was that the coaster itself was really neat. The station itself is curved, and growing through the inner edge is a giant tree. I'm willing to bet that it was growing back when the coaster was built years and years ago. The spare train was missing a car, but the other train rolled in and out of the station relatively quickly. Being a Junior-sized coaster, the trains are much smaller than you would like them to be. With that, I plunked myself in the front seat, and Mark sat behind me in the second. We were off. As we climbed the hill, I noticed how nicely the coaster was sitting among a mature patch of trees. Drops of red paint on freshly painted hand rails speckled the white lights that must flicker in the dark hours. We reached the top, and then clunked and rattled through the ride. While a classic, I have to admit that Comet is a real clunker. It rattles and shakes around as if it could fall apart any moment, and reminded me a lot of my first rides on the Williams Grove Cyclone and Whalom Park Comet. Both were rides that I had hoped to enjoy, but they just didn't deliver. We later returned to ride further back in the train, and my sentiments didn't change a whole lot.

 

We decided to take a stroll through the park and see what else they had to offer. With the intention of later visiting the Water Park, we moved through the ride area first. Waldameer is a relatively crowded park; not in terms of guests, but in terms of attractions being cramped in. It's definitely an old park! We made our journey back to Ravine Flyer II -- the main reason for our visit. The line itself was relatively short, although I was surprised at how high the station was from the ground. After walking through a few switchbacks, we climbed the ramp up to the station. The coaster looked to have impressive speed. It's hard to see much of the ride from the park itself, as it crosses the road during it's journey, but it certainly did fly the couple of times it came near the queue, and it hit the brakes with a lot of force. Thanks to a two-train operation, the line moved quickly, but not as quickly as it could have. Call me demanding, but my idea of a great operation is along the lines of how the Riverside Park Thunderbolt operated with two trains, at least until the crash of 1995, or The Knoebel's Phoenix. Still, they did a pretty decent job with it, and I'd give them 4.5 flags out of 6. The wait itself was never really bad, with the longest perhaps at 20-25 minutes or so.

 

The ride itself is simply amazing. The climb to the top is deceiving. You reach the top, with the most amazing view of Lake Erie... and then you look down and have a drop much larger than you thought you wood staring you in the face. From there, the ride is a blur. You fly--through tunnels and over hills. The thing never lets up. It twists and turns a few times, and rampages through a few more tunnels. Then, before you know it, you're slamming into the brakes. It takes a moment to catch your breath, to even realize what you just experienced. It's simply an amazing ride. From the ride itself, you can see a neighboring campground right along one side of the coaster. I know that the owner of the campground fought the construction of the coaster with vigor--and I can't say that I blame him. I also would be the first to admit that I'd love to have a campsite right along the coaster. How cool would that be?

 

After a trip on Ravine Flyer, we opted to take a whirl on the Wipeout. Big mistake. Sure, Mark who isn't a big amusement park fan did fine. Me, on the other hand, I thought I was going to die. I felt sicker and sicker with each spin, and the icing on the cake was when it came down at the end and started to spin faster and faster! Finally we managed to escape, and I spent about 5 minutes on a bunch getting my guts together. It's a sad day, but I think I'm finally getting old.

 

A few minutes later, after watching the Spider and other surrounding rides twirl for a little bit, we headed over to the Wacky Shack. From the outside, the ride looked corny, perhaps even a little bit ghetto. In essence, it was a ride-through fun house style ride, but the effects were simply great! I dare to say that this is my favorite dark ride, yes, even over Knoebel's famed Haunted Mansion. Were the line shorter, we would have ridden again--but we instead opted to have a bite to eat.

 

Waldameer has no shortage of foods to choose from. Smack dab in the center of the park is a building with your typical array of fair and carnival foods. Pizza, Burgers, Hot Dogs, and the such. I had a Cheeseburger, and Mark had the Chicken Rocks. Now, the first surprise is that while the Gift Shops and Ticketing areas accept credit cards, the food areas do not. This seems silly to me, frankly, but that's another rant for another time. Let's talk about the food. For $14, we had what looked like a decent amount of food for an amusement park... sadly, it was probably the worst food I've had in a long time. The cheeseburger tasted exactly like one from McDonalds, and chicken nuggets were hard as rocks. The fries were okay; they too tasted like McDonalds, and I tend to enjoy theirs on the rare occasion that I go there. So, in the end, the food was probably one of the most disappointing parts of the park.

 

We moved on to the Pirate's Cover, which is a walk-through fun-house style ride. A few really cool effects, the thing goes on forever, and half-way through you just want to get the heck out. We did eventually, but what I noticed most was that the exit doors within the attraction had locks on them. It made me hope to heck that the thing wouldn't catch fire while we were in there! How dangerous!

 

Next up was the Steel Dragon, a spinning coaster that wasn't anything really exceptional as I have ridden the identical ride at Seabreeze a million times. I like how Waldameer hides that their rides have any lines by hiding them down along the side behind a few bushes. The ride was running 3 or 4 cars (out of 8) and the line moved relatively slowly, but at a consistent pace. Still, while the ride was nothing new, I really loved the paint job that the cars had! Really, really cool!

 

Being big fans of log rides, Mark and I headed over to the log-flume. The best part of the ride was probably waiting in line. Waldameer has it set up so that the queue goes right through the middle of the ride. All around you are boats splashing, fountains, tunnels, and the whole effect is very well done. I thoroughly enjoyed waiting to ride this flume, and the ride itself was also very well done. Probably one of the best rides of the day, honestly!

 

We took a couple more spins on Ravine Flyer II, managed to sneak a ride on Ravine Flyer III (the kiddie coaster), and then took a spin on the carousel before heading to the water park. Sadly, it's on the Carousel that tragedy broke loose and I was brutally attacked by the wing of a dragon. My leg in pain, I hobbled around for the rest of the afternoon.

 

The water park was pretty old-school. There are a lot of water slides of various types (body, tube, big drops, lots of twists), a lazy river, and a heated family "relaxing pool." We began with the slides at the furthest point in the park, and I quickly realized how this thing has been pieced together over the years. To get to these slides, you climb a set of stairs up and down over the track of the train ride, walk a mile to get a tube, and then walk back to the stairs you just climbed down to begin the trek to the top. We took a couple of rides on these, and they were quite fun. We rode most of the tube slides, and the lamest body slide in creation that was mostly straight sections with a couple of turns. We then took a ride on the most insane Lazy River that I've ever ridden--not insane for the ride itself, but insane since the patrons are simply out of control. In the course of one ride, I banged my head, banged my elbow, got about 6 hands in my face, and had 3 tidal waves come splashing over me. I made a few comments to scare little kids along the way, and that seemed to help at least temporarily. I was very glad to get off of this thing!

 

We ended the night with a last ride on Comet and another spin on Ravine Flyer II. Just as it started to storm, we headed out and began the journey back to Rochester. We drove through a pretty nasty storm, stopped for dinner just to have the storm move through again, and then had to drive through it yet again. All in all, it was an enjoyable day at Waldameer. I'd definitely recommend a visit to anyone considering heading out that way. We had spent about 6 hours at the park, with 2.5-3 of them at the water park. This was more than enough time to do all that we had wanted to, but there were certainly other attractions that we could have experienced along the way.

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Heya wildcatroc,

 

Thanks for posting the review. We try to get to Erie a couple of times a year and usually hit Waldameer at least once.

 

We normally stay at that campground (Sara's) when we go, and the coaster wasn't built when we were there last year.

 

You're right, the owners of the campground had issues with the coaster being built. But, from what they told me at the time, it had more to do with the fact that parts of the coaster go OVER their property, and unlike the bridge that goes over the highway, there's nothing really protecting the people underneath from things that may come flying out of those cars when passing overhead.

 

Sara's had to fight off the state a couple of years ago when they were trying to confiscate the land through eminent domain. The land across the road next to the coaster where the Ridge Environmental Center is was claimed that way. It used to be a drive-in movie theater. So, the owners of the campground have become a bit sensitive about things over the last couple of years. But, concerns about safety were probably at least a little valid.

 

I'm not sure if any of that was eventually addressed when they approved the final design and layout of the coaster or not.

 

It looks like an amazing ride, though. And, if people actually travel to Erie for purposes of riding it, it can only help local business.

 

On the other hand, Sara's has never lacked for customers.

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I just went to Waldameer for our company trip on Saturday. The place was packed (for as small as it is), but the half hour wait for the Ravine Flyer II was well worth it. I thought that the dispatching was great considering the line. I have encountered much worse at the corporate owned theme parks! What an awesome coaster though...all I can say is people better get out and ride this baby before they trim it to death and it becomes just another rough riding wooden coaster! Hopefully, they will maintain it and it will retain it's awesomeness, but I have had similar wishes about other coasters.

 

I agree with what you have said about the food. My niece paid like $3.50 for three cheese sticks and my partners review of the corn dog was, "mehh."

 

Our experience on the lazy river was about the same. Too many kids, but they were having fun and that is the main objective. They could use some upgrades to the water slides and I have heard rumors of them doing just that. Not sure where they have room to expand unless they move the parking lot, or somehow buy more land.

 

You should try the Sara's campground experience sometime! If you get there early enough, you can pitch a tent right on the beach. The sunsets over Lake Erie are simply amazing on a nice, sunny day. We actually caught the sunset Saturday night, just as it was dropping into Lake Erie...while we were on the way up the lift hill of RFII!!!!

 

All in all, an awesome day. I am glad that you enjoyed your visit to Waldameer. It is great to see the park doing so well with the new coaster. Now if someone could do the same for Conneaut Lake, but I fear that it is too late.

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Great TR! I loved my first trip to Waldameer this summer. RFII was incredible, but I enjoyed several other rides as well. I thought Comet was good for what it was, I was very surprised by how fun the flume was, and the drop tower was much more intense than I expected, and had an awesome view! As far as the food goes, I agree that the food in the middle section wasn't too great, but their fresh cut fries from the stand near the water park entrance were wonderful!

 

Here is a picture of us hamming it up for the on-log photo!

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This was supposed to be more posed, but we all look like idiots instead!

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I'm glad that you enjoyed Waldameer, but I have a tip for you and anyone else who plans on visiting the park. Don't waste your time eating in the park (sorry Waldameer). You guys hit the nail on the head with the food because it isn't worth paying that kind of money for. I recommend waiting until you leave and driving down the road a little further to Sara's (it's decked out with old cars and old Coke machines). The food is simple, but very good.

 

I also recommend making Presque Isle a visit because they have some awesome recreational areas and beaches. Beach 10 (Budny Beach if I remember correctly" is my favorite because it's at the very tip of the peninsula and you get the biggest "surf" I believe.

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looking down towards the main land

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surf

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Lake Erie through the trees!

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I agree that the food in the middle section wasn't too great, but their fresh cut fries from the stand near the water park entrance were wonderful!

 

Ahhh yes! The fresh cut fries by the water park entrance are probably the way to go if you are hungry. Kinda like the one's at CP and Kennywood...greasy goodness loaded with cheese!

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Thanks for the Trip Report! I'm looking forward to checking out Waldameer for the first time myself at some point this summer. I was always on the fence about heading up there, but it's only 90 minutes from home, and with RFII now on board, how could I not go?? It sounds like a neat little park, and I think they hit a home run with RFII. I've heard nothing but glowing reviews of that puppy! My #1 coaster is a GG installation, so I'm more than eager to hop aboard another one!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just got back from Erie this evening.

 

Sara's campground was a nice experience, as always. The weather was good for most of the four days I was there.

 

Due to some other things going on, we didn't get to go to Waldameer until yesterday (Saturday).

 

You can really see how business has picked up since the RFII has started up. But, by and large, the crowds aren't terrible (even for a weekend) and the lines seemed to move relatively quickly.

 

Waldameer is actually two parks in one for those who are curious.

 

Waldameer itself, and Water World.

 

Water World, which is, of course, a water park, actually opens two hours before Waldameer, at 11am. Something to keep in mind.

 

Admission to Wadameer itself is free most of the time, but you need to either buy tickets or an all day pass if you want to ride the rides.

 

All day pass to Waldameer is $19.95.

All day pass for Water World is $14.95.

 

Best deal if you like water parks is to get the combo pass for $21.95.

 

You an find discount coupons for $3 off on weekdays and $1.50 off on weekends at local McDonalds.

 

We spent the first several hours at Water World. It's not too bad. The Lazy River was overly crowded, but otherwise decent. The rest is essentially what you'd expect of a water park. A combination of body slides and tube slides. No real swimming pool at Water World. A heated relaxing pool that is time limited when the park is crowded is as close as it gets.

 

A kiddie pool area with mini slide for the little ones as well.

 

Waldameer itself probably isn't the type of park that would normally bring people from great distances. It's not very big, and chances are there are bigger parks closer to home.

 

It does have your basic assortment of rides, however.

 

Complaints about the food are, for the most part, accurate. It's not bad, mind, you, but it IS over priced for the quality of food you get. McDonalds, which is about two blocks away, is probably a better option.

 

I will say this, though. They have a funnel cake that's topped with ice cream and fruit that's just plain awesome if you have a sweet tooth.

 

Waldameer has two "dark rides." Pirate's Cove and Wacky Shack. Pirate's Cove isn't actually a ride, but rather a walk through fun house. It's the type of thing that's moderately entertaining the first time, but nothing you'd want to make a habit of going through, I wouldn't think.

 

I've always preferred Noah's Ark at Kennywood, but, that's just me.

 

Big Thunder Mountain is their version of a log ride. I've ridden these elsewhere, as have most of us. Basic ride but they do have a tunnel that it goes through that is pretty dark and full of mist. Kind of cool, I guess.

 

This log ride actually has two drops. One smaller one and the big finale at the end, which is kind of nice.

 

The line was extremely short for this later in the day, so I was able to go a few times with virtually no wait. It was pretty busy earlier in the day when it was really hot, though.

 

If you're looking to relax, their train is a nice little ride (which just happens to give you an up close and personal look of the RF2 from underneath).

 

And, their Sky Ride (a park length ski lift) is a decent way to kill some time while relaxing as well.

 

As mentioned elsewhere, Waldameer has four coasters.

 

The Ravine Flyer 3 is strictly a kiddie coaster, and a pretty small one at that.

 

The Comet is an old school all wooden coaster. Nothing really exciting here. About 30 seconds long and not very fast or high. It's ok for the first ride of the day sort of thing, though. A few quick dips may get your blood pumping a little, but it's really just a slight step up from what many would consider a kiddie coaster.

 

The Steel Dragon is a four seat twisting steel coaster. Fun if you like them, nauseating if you don't. Sitting facing forward when the ride starts seems to yield a better experience. But, that's just me.

 

And, of course, the Ravine Flyer II. I wasn't sure what to expect with this ride, so I saved it for last.

 

Waldameer does a great job of hiding it's lines, so you really don't know how long the line is until you're actually in line. Two trains were running, so the line, while long, moved fairly quickly. Less than a half hour, I'd say. Which, is pretty good for a Saturday.

 

A quick word of note about this. From what I can tell, unlike the other rides in the park, every seat MUST have two people on the RF2.

 

This was a slight problem for me, as I was the only one I was there with who likes roller coasters (amazing, but true). They will gladly pair you up with other single riders, though. So, if you don't mind riding with a complete stranger, it's no biggie.

 

The ride itself was amazing. From the moment you come over the first climb it doesn't let up until the ride is over. The videos simply don't do it justice.

 

I've been told it reaches up to 65 mph. Others here have said 57. Dunno. All I know is that it feels like it's going a lot faster than that.

 

10 total spots of air. None of them huge, but a number of them come in succession, so their effects are amplified a bit. Very fast turns. And, the view from the top of the climb of Lake Erie is amazing (for all the longer that view lasts).

 

I can't say for certain that I'd drive thousands of miles to this park for this one ride. But, I can say that I'd ride the two hours from Pittsburgh to Erie to ride this before I'd drive the 45 minutes to Kennywood for the Phantom's Revenge.

 

Then again, there's more than enough other stuff to do in Erie to make it worth the trip for longer distances.

 

Often times, parks of this size are little more than kiddie parks. I don't think catering strictly to the under 4' set was Waldameer's goal, but the addition of the RF2 puts to rest any thoughts that this is place is for kids only.

 

Incidentally, there are a number of inexpensive motels within walking distance of Waldameer. I've been told that El Patio is decent and relatively inexpensive (they advertise a $39 single).

 

Saras is at the bottom of the hill and the only campground in the area that lets you pitch a tent right on the beach. Nice place. But, it does NOT take reservations, and more and more of the camp sites are being taken up by people who have opted to make Sara's their second home with seasonal lot rentals. So, the number of tent sites has declined a bit over the years (they actually lost some sites due to the building of the RF2... they're that close). So, keep that in mind if you plan to go there. Sites can go quickly, especially on holidays and weekends.

 

Their Drive-in Diner, as mentioned in this thread, has some decent food. Their Italian Steak sandwich is awesome, and not overly expensive.

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I'm glad that you enjoyed Waldameer, but I have a tip for you and anyone else who plans on visiting the park. Don't waste your time eating in the park (sorry Waldameer). You guys hit the nail on the head with the food because it isn't worth paying that kind of money for.

 

I've eaten at Waldameer twice and found it to be noticeably better than your average SF/CF sawdust and soy microwave burger of death. And not really overpriced considering it's an amusement park.

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I've eaten at Waldameer twice and found it to be noticeably better than your average SF/CF sawdust and soy microwave burger of death. And not really overpriced considering it's an amusement park.

 

True, for an amusement park, the food isn't terribly priced. And, as I said, it's not awful. But, I've had better food at other amusement parks. And, most have more options.

 

I don't think there's an actual restaurant type place in the park.

 

I got a hamburger combo. A burger that seemed to be slightly bigger than a Wendy's Jr. but not quite a quarter pounder either. I added lettuce and tomato. Combo came with a decent amount of fries and a medium drink. I seem to remember it being around $6.

 

Cheaper than Kennywood, but not any cheaper or better than any fast food place that's only a block or so away.

 

They have an 8" meatball hoagie for the same $6 (without the fries and drink) that didn't look too bad. You could probably do that with some potato patch fries and a drink for maybe $10.

 

Again, I've had far worse food in places such as this. I've also had better.

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Hi guys. First time poster, long time . . . well, you know the drill. I'm a recovering contributor from another site, and I hope you don't mind if I join your little party over here.

 

Now that Geauga Lake is gone, Waldameer is my second closest park (the first being a certain little place in Sandusky). Waldameer is a pleasant old park with lots of character. Make sure to get a ride on the Ferris Wheel, which has some terrific views of the Lake. Wacky Shack is a must-ride, as is the old Comet (just love that curving station and the old style hand brakes). As for RFII, it's in my top three woodies (along with Kentucky Rumbler and Voyage). What an amazing, and may I say singular, layout. Can't wait to get back there before the season ends for another go at it.

 

Mike

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  • 2 weeks later...

Went to Presque Isle last week to check out the beach. Decided to walk up to the RFII bridge and take some pics.

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Beautiful sunset on the beach.

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Sara's/Sally's diner right at the entrance of Presque Isle.

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Far away shot.

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First drop.

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Bridge and turn-around.

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Sexy RFII.

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