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Photo TR: Conneaut Lake Park


saginawhxc
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I had already had a two day trip planned with visits to Darien Lake and Waldameer, so when they announced the re-opening of The Blue Streak it fit perfectly into my plans for the weekend. So my trip consisted of spending half a day at Darien Lake on Saturday followed by the second half of the day at Niagara Falls, and then on Sunday spending the first half of the day at Conneaut Lake Park and the second half of the day at Waldameer. It was a great weekend.

 

Since everyone is most interested in Conneaut Lake Park and The Blue Streak right now I am gonna start there and Tarintino this trip report. In fact I'll start with a bunch of Blue Streak photo's and later today I'll post pictures of the rest of the park. I took a lot so it should be pretty thorough before all is said and done.

 

After I wrap all of that up I'll start on rest of the trip.

 

Blue Streak:

I arrived at quarter to one and unfortunately they didn't get it up and running till sometime after three. They said they had been running it pretty hard the day before and wanted to go through it very carefully and make sure it was in operating condition. I observed them doing some work to the track and at several points could hear hammers and power tools back in the woods. After a couple hours wait they opened her for business.

 

I had never ridden it before so I can't compare as to how it used to run. I though it ran pretty good though. My first ride was about 2/3's of the way towards the back of the train. It felt slightly rough at the bottom of a couple of hills but not bad. Very re-ridable. I was sitting on the left side of the train and coming back out of the turn around I found my self being whipped clear across my seat to the other side of the seat where I managed to smash my funny bone so hard it felt like my arm exploded. Note to self, hold on to the bar at the same point during the next ride. On my second run I was lucky enough to be right in line for a front seat ride and decided to do something I had never done before. I asked if it was okay if I took a few pictures during the ride, and after a nod of a head I wrapped my strap around my arm real good and gave it a go. I thought the front of the train had some nice little spots of air coming back up and over some of the hills, but the back of the train had some pretty decent dropping airtime coming down the hills.

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After all the talk and all the voting this summer it was exciting to finally be here.

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You can really tell that it looks like it is in rough shape and still needs plenty of work.

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It's layout takes you back through the woods.

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Which limited how much of the ride was accessible to cameras, but I think I still got some real nice shots.

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I wanted to take the train so I could get some more structural shots back through the woods but one thing led to another and I never got around to it.

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I wouldn't of minded spending more time at the park and I regret only having half a day.

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A close up shot through the woods.

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This coaster doesn't go through a path through the woods it goes straight through the woods.

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A combination of being very worn looking and being so tight to the trees created a very photogenic ride for the section you could get to.

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Out around the front of the park you could see the ride emerging from the woods.

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I heard they re-tracked some of this ride but I couldn't find the section they had done.

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It actually stuck out like a sore thumb.

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Coming out of the turn around there is a little drop right here and then you pull up and turn and dive to the left. That is when I smashed my elbow. I didn't expect it to have the whip that it did.

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While waiting for them to get the track ready for the day I snapped a couple of pictures of the trains.

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Buzz bars with no seat belts made for a fun ride.

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I spent at least half an hour or more watching them inspect the track.

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They went over it very carefully.

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Through the trees and climbing the second hill.

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Occasionally you could see one of them running back and forth with power tools.

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Including at one point they had a sawzall in hand. I'm not sure I want to know what that was for.

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After the repairs were done I caught this picture of their test run.

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They must of been happy with what they saw because a minute later here came a fully loaded train.

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Making my way back to the queue I found about a half an hour wait.

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With no seat belts to worry about dispatch times were pretty quick.

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Most people seemed pretty excited to be here.

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Like I said on my second run through I decided to try my hand at shooting a couple of pictures.

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From the top of the lift hill.

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Looking down the first drop.

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Heading into and coming out of the back turn around.

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The back turn around is where most of the work has been done so far.

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One of the first couple hills shot on the way back to the station.

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I think this would be a fantastic night ride.

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After my two rides I snapped a few more pictures.

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People seemed genuinely thrilled to be riding.

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After all the talk and all the voting I was proud to see the thing up and running.

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This is the last of my Blue Streak photos. Later today I'll post pictures of the rest of the park.

Edited by saginawhxc
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Thanks for the update. It's been many,many years since I rode it and remember it it being a very fun coaster. Running through the trees was nice, running through the trees at night even better, running through the trees at night with the headlights on was WAY-COOL! Only time I ever experienced that in my coaster riding travels. Maybe that can get restored in the future also.

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Okay now that we got the Blue Streak pictures out of the way I'll post some pictures of the rest of the park.

 

First I want to share a few quick thoughts. During my two hour wait for Blue Streak to open I walked around and started snapping a few pictures. I ended up spending the bulk of my day talking with a few people that I have met at other events and a couple of locals. So unfortunately I never got around to walking down the midway or getting pictures of either the toboggan, the beach house, or the hotel. I didn't even think about this until I was already on the road.

 

During my walk around the park several different locals started talking to me. I have to pass on that everyone that I talked to seemed to just have an overwhelming love for the park. Everyone I talked to had stories about how they grew up coming to this place. The lady that worked the campground especially touched me as I could swear I could see the pride just bursting from her as she talked about sitting in the campground the night before and being able to hear The Blue Streak through the trees. There has been a couple of comments being made that this is a park that isn't worth saving, and one comment went so far as to say "let the park die with dignity." I think as "enthusiasts" we often look at parks from a very different angle than the general public or the people that are local to what ever park we are talking about at the moment.

 

We have a sports arena here in town that I practically grew up in and right now it is in danger of closing down. If it closed would you care? No, but I'm telling the absolute truth when I say I will cry if it does. Why? There's other places within an hours drive for me to go see sporting events, but this place is a place I practically grew up in. It is a piece of me and who I am. Some of these parks mean this much to the people that grew up near by. So to you it may not be a park worth saving, but to some it is much more important than most of us understand.

 

There is a path leading up to the train and both sides of the path are lined with red bricks. Each brick is inscribed with a name and/or message. I'm assuming these are bricks that were purchased with a "donation" to the park. I sat there and and spent the time to read each and every brick and taking pictures of many of them for my own personal collection. As I sat there and read the bricks I couldn't help but smile and think about how happy all of these people are to see this park up and running.

 

Just remember to us it may be just another park. A place we visit once every couple of years. We can talk about it's historical value, or its collection of unique rides, but to some people Conneaut Lake Park is so much more.

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$5 Parking lot across the street.

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Walking up towards the park.

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Entrance gate for the park.

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I don't remember where else I've seen one of these, but I haven't seen many.

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I would of liked to spent more time riding some of these, but time got away from me.

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I'm planning a huge north eastern trip next year and I think a stop here will be in order to ride some of these gems.

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The Paratrooper.

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I always loved this ride growing up.

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I'm very upset I never got my ride on the flyers.

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Umm... please can I enter? I promise to play nice.

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I don't know if I've ever seen one of these before.

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Random Swamp Thing theming! Who remembers Swamp Thing? I do!

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As the park filled in I noticed that this ride seemed to have a pretty steady flow of people into it.

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Music Express.

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I just caught a little bit of the gate at the bottom of this picture, but even with that I think this was my favorite picture of the day. I dare you not to smile as you look at this picture.

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It's hard to get more classic than The Carousel.

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Would it be creepy if I put a "Welcome Children" sign in my front yard? Probably, but thankfully it's not creepy at an amusement park.

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This guy gives the Devils Den a thumbs up!

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I seem to remember riding one of these somewhere once when I was young.

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The Trabant looked kind of lonely off in the corner all by itself.

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But it looked much happier when it had riders.

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No park is complete with out some bumper cars.

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Not running. Besides the toboggan in the back I think this is the only one I saw not operating.

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I can't believe I never made my way down there. Right after I took this picture some lady asked me if I was a reporter and then I ended up talking to her for about 15 minutes or so. After that I never made my way down the midway.

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I really would of liked to ride the train if for no other reason then for getting the chance to snap a few pictures of Blue Streak.

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I was impressed by their collection of kiddie rides.

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It was kind of empty when I walked through it but I think it filled in a little later in the day.

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They had this cute little carousel.

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I would of given almost anything to gotten a picture of my oversized friend riding it. I had to settle for a picture of him next to it.

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Because nothing is cooler than riding a boat through a puddle.

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Tub Of Fun theming>Your average Cedar Fair theming.

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This one looked like it had a fresh new coat of paint.

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I got a few weird looks walking around taking pictures of empty kiddie rides.

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This one was themed to Beetle Bailey! I was so excited about it that I forgot to take any pictures of the cartooned canopy.... Sorry. It really was themed to Beetle Bailey though which is really awesome.

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The cleverly named Tot-Gun.

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How many kiddie rides do they have in this place?

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An impressive amount for such a little park.

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Almost done though.

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Last but not least their kiddie coaster.

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Lil' Dipper and The Blue Streak.

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I'm not sure who Connie Otter was but I had a strange desire to stick my face through hers.

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The bathrooms in the kiddie area. It makes me sad that anyone could do this.

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I'll close this trip report out with my favorite of the brick pictures. Every other brick contained similar kind of messages.

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It looks like the lines got a lot longer on Sunday than they were on Saturday. We waited at most one train for Blue Streak. Your visit seems to be much nicer than what we experienced. My sweatshirt got tons of grease stains from the restraints and more of the flats were closed. We had fun, but I was a little disappointed.

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Can you imagine what an extra $70, $80, $100 grand could do for this park - repaints, landscaping, really not that much money is needed to really make this special....I know they have new owners, and I hope they can get the proper financing to really make this park special again.

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I'm happy to see that this coaster has re-opened. I remember having some epic rides on this coaster when I rode it about 5 years ago. Hopefully, I'll be able to get to the parks in that area again next summer and have some more wild rides on Blue Streak, Ravine Flyer II, and some of the other coasters in that area.

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Thanks to anyone who has taken the time to check out this report and comment on it. I received this wonderful email today and wanted to share it with you guys.

 

"I don't know if I can even express to you how grateful I am for your sentiments and time at CLP. I am one of the Trustees of the Park (the newbie), and admin of the CLP facebook page. I was also one of those that you described, I grew up there. I used to take the ferry over to the park to go to the dances in the ballroom, our proms were in the hotel, and it was all part of my childhood in a way that I never could have imagined would have turned into such a passion. For not being a "local", you captured the essence of this park in your visit. You found out why the park is more than just a collection of rides, etc. it represents memories of times with family and friends and a place that is very rich in history. Now, to be able to experience all that while riding the Blue Streak with my son...???!!! It's truly priceless. I've shed many tears over this Park, but lately those tears are joyous. The process of promoting the Pepsi grant has revealed support for this park from so many people all over the country, many of whom have never been there. They told us to fight hard to save our Park while we still can, as their Idora, Chippewa Lake, Geauga Lake, West View, etc. is gone. It is this kind of message, and your words that give those of us on the "front line" the support and encouragement to keep up the fight and forward progress. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your understanding and support of this very special place.

Lisa"

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I think Lisa in the above e-mail put it very well, about the park being more than just a collection of rides! There is so much more going on, and so much more that has been done at that park, than the average amusement park, and I think that is why it has made it this far. She stated about the dances and proms, but there is also weddings, family get outings, the beach, The Beach Club, Hotel, car and motorcycle shows, and so much more. I know this for a fact, as my wife and I got married there seven years ago, and my brother just got married there this year. But before that, I have great memories of my grand parents there and growing up, going there every summer. The kiddie coaster that is still there today was my first coaster, and the Blue Streak was my first big coaster. I could go on and on about how many "Firsts" I had at that park. I also now know how it feels as a parent to ride the carousel for the first time with my daughter and think about riding it fro the first time with my parents and grandparents, and watching her run from ride to ride as I did in kiddie land as a kid, on most of the same rides.

 

However, I do know nostalgia an memories can not run a park, but hard work, money, future memories, and a ton of support can. I wish I could help with the money, but all I could do was help with the hard work attending cleanup weekends, which I have done in the past.

 

While I know the midway looks horrible now, the rest of the park looks better than it has in many years. Hopefully that can be corrected in the next few years. I just think sometimes people that are just stopping by to ride the coaster are failing to see the rest of the beauty of the park, such as sitting on the hotel porch, and watching the lake and people, strolling the boardwalk, or grabbing a drink in the beach club.

 

I guess what I am trying to get at is, I don't think that the rides will ever be the main draw again as they were in the past, but maybe with the right combination of things and events the park could turn a profit, and be around for years to come, because part of me feels that the ending of this summer was the best I have seen in years, and hope that is a good sign for next summer. I always make it a point to visit on Memorial Day weekend and Laborday weekend.

 

Here is to hoping for good things for Conneaut Lake Park

 

Sometime this weekend I will post a picture of my wife and I, and the rest of our wedding party taking a dip on the Blue Streak, which we did directly after the wedding.

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Those are very nice comments and the trip report was a nice testimonial to the park itself. It is nice to know that there is so much fire & passion to keep this park open!

 

I can tell from the time that I did trip reports of the park sitting empty a couple of years ago, the Halloween haunt and to when it it re-opened till now, that the appearance has improved dramatically.

 

Lot's of the rides looked newly painted...and I noticed that the Music Express was open! I am sure that eventually they will get the Roll-O-Plane and Chance Toboggan re-opened as well. If they keep up the maintenance and keep trying to clean up the park, it could easily be one of the most charming little parks in America!

 

I hope to get down there if they do the haunt again this year. I would love to get a ride on Blue Streak at night!

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Okay as promised I am gonna go back in time to the start of this trip. We left Saginaw Michigan about 2:30 am and found ourselves pulling into Darien Lake's parking lot about 10:45 am. It was a new park for me and my non-enthusiast friend. I was looking forward to Ride Of Steel and..... Okay I was looking forward to Ride Of Steel. Predator ended up being better than I expected it to be though, but still average at best. I put in about 4 rides a piece on Ride Of Steel and Predator and one on each of the others. Than we hit the road for Niagara Falls.

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We drove through the night and arrived at Darien Lake.

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It's always exciting to be at a new park.

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Walking into the park I had a very short list of things I was looking forward to from Darien Lake.

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The park had a pretty nice, simple layout.

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To kick off the day we headed back to Motocoaster.

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I was curious about it's unique "motorcycle" style trains, and was kind of looking forward to giving it a try.

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It was exceptionally smooth, kind of fun, but slightly uncomfortable. It is a great little family coaster though.

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I don't know why I was so amused by the scenester kid sitting in front of the motocoaster sign, but I chuckled and made some joke about scenester camo to my friend and then snapped this picture.

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"Are we tall enough to ride Motocoaster yet?"

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________ Ride Of Steel was one of the few things I was looking forward to at Darien Lake.

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I'm a huge fan of it's clone in Maryland and couldn't wait to ride this one to see how it stacked up.

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I don't think this one ran quite as well, but I still think it is an above average coaster.

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What is it about pulling your shirt over your head that says "Hey look I'm having fun on a roller coaster." I just don't get it.

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This ride offers several spots of nice air time.

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Just so we are clear on this, if you remove the sides of a Superman logo it is no longer a Superman logo, and everyone will just assume the S stands for "Steel"

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Next up was Predator.

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I was a little apprehensive after all the negative things I had heard.

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It looked like it had a decent layout though.

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In reality I didn't find it to be that rough at all. Maybe it's really been helped by it's new trains though.

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It's been a weird year. I've now ridden Raven trains on Voyage, and Voyage trains on Predator.

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I thought the back was kind of blah but the front had some decent pops of air.

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After that we made our way over to Viper.

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It was decent for an Arrow looper.

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I'm glad we hit it when we did, right afterwards they closed it down for a special event.

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Next we got ready to have our mind erased.

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My buddy had never been on a Vekoma SLC before.

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I don't think this one ran as good as Thunderhawk at MA, but I don't think it really ran all that bad either.

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I thought putting the logo of the ride on the lights in line was a nice little touch.

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I don't think I've ridden very many coasters that don't have any sort of gate right on the loading station.

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Yes Ray, we know you think your a bad ass. Way to prove it by sitting on the sign that says not to sit on the fence.

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The boomerang was my first missed credit of the trip.

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"Not for the lily livered"

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I don't think I really missed that much.

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We were both pretty tired and the casino was calling our names so we didn't ride any flats unfortunately.

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The Corn Popper looked fun though.

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The Twister was in an out of the way location in the back corner of the park.

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I think these are kind of fun, but not my favorite either.

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Pirate Ship sitting on the lakes edge. Always a nice touch.

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I love me some swings.

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The kiddie coaster. I'm not a big credit whore. I didn't even ask if I could ride.

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I thought the theming on this was slightly odd.

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We did ride this. Funny thing is they had no maximum height requirement and my oversized friend did not find it very comfortable when he couldn't even hold his head straight inside. It was especially amusing when we were dangling upside down. I was cracking up and even the young teenage girls behind him were laughing their butts off.

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Grizzly Run was closed. I had no plans to ride it anyways.

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The Scrambler is one of my favorites.

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I thought about giving a quick run through on their flume, but decided to pass.

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Their UFO got very vertical. Much more so than it was in this picture.

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After haven driven 8 hours to reach the park I was not in a hurry to drive some more. Sorry antique car enthusiasts.

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Also closed today.

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They had a nice little carousel.

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How bad of a paddle boat driver do you have to be to get your paddle boat stuck on the shore, and how awesome is it that this guy needs to run around the lake and push you away with his giant squeegee?

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Okay this wraps up the Darien Lake pictures.

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Nice TR of Darien Lake! You have no idea how much those new trains helped Predator. When I was there in 2009, it was almost unrideable. This year, it's 100% better than it used to be. Sure, it's still a little shaky and rough, but nowhere near as bad as it used to be.

 

Also, I'm glad I wasn't the only one to notice the old Superman logo still hanging around the Ride of Steel station. I also took a picture of it

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