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Photo TR: Dutch Winter Wonderland


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Several years ago, my now-fiancee Kelly, her daughter Lauryn and I began a tradition of visiting a theme park on Thanksgiving weekend. This year due to a travel conflict, we postponed the trip until the first weekend in December and chose Dutch Wonderland, a place I had never been (despite living just two and a half hours away) and that Kelly hadn't been to in about a quarter century.

 

To say it surpassed expectations would be an understatement. All three of us really enjoyed the park--it focuses on kiddie attractions, but it's not just for kids. Highlights for me included teaching Lauryn how to shoot at the shooting gallery, which I had promised her we would do the next time we saw one; riding the carousel as a family--something we rarely do; and finding out the bathrooms were just as decorated on the inside as the rest of the park was on the outside! It was nice that the crowds were minimal, as well.

 

We also had something extra to celebrate: After being unemployed for six months, Kelly began her new job that week!

 

Anyway, enjoy the pictures. Happy holidays!

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Welcome to Dutch Winter Wonderland!

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For Christmas, they turned the entrance castle into Santa's house (yes, it was still also a gift shop). No photos allowed of the big man, unfortunately, unless you cared to drop some cash to buy them.

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It's just like a picture print by Currier and Ives!

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The carousel played Christmas music!

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These holiday dioramas were all over the park. It was a nice little addition.

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I call this picture "Jason and Lauryn prepare to ride the Ripcord."

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Going down!

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Dutch Wonderland has some awesome photo ops!

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Kelly and Lauryn love their new Amish family!

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They're also pretty happy about their new Inuit family!

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No, Lauryn! Do not eat the giant chicken!

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"Grrr! I'm crazy polar bear! Gimme some fish biscuits!"

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Is it ironic that electronic dioramas are used to depict the ways of life of the Amish--who shun electricity?

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Push the button to watch them sand the bench!

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But enough of that. You came here to see rides! Rides like the Crazy Plane! It's crazy!

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Come on, everybody! Clap your hands!

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This thing looked really cool spinning around in the dark.

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Let us pause for a moment to remember the real reason for the season.

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OK, that's long enough. Now let's ride the Space Shuttle!

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For me, this was one of the two coolest rides at the park (the other being the Dutch Wonder House): an original 1970s Astroliner! What made it even better was that they had replaced the movie screen and projector with a digital flat-screen TV... which showed a recording of the original scratchy, poor-quality 1970s 16-millimeter film! It's an awesome way to preserve the vintage cheesiness of this classic ride.

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Rudolph wants to ride the Astroliner!

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The Voyager was kind of like the next-generation Astroliner, equally as cheesy, but not quite as charming. Basically, upon boarding you learn that a nuclear war has destroyed the world in the distant year 2000(!), and your job is to travel back in time to ancient Egypt to capture some sort of magic doohickey for reasons I didn't fully understand.

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Lauryn will take the traveling carnival rockets any day (though given the opportunity to ride a single attraction a second time right before the park closed, she chose the Astroliner).

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Much like NASA, Dutch Wonderland's mission control is located inside a corrugated tin storage shed.

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This actually was a cool little "value added" attraction in the park's space-themed area, with a handful of 1980s-era science center-type activities.

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Space facts!

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We figured five hours would be plenty of time to do the entire park. Boy, were we wrong! We really didn't have time to sit through any of the shows, but we did catch the opening of the ventriloquist's act. She didn't move her lips, though that could be because with temperatures in the 20s that night, they were frozen in place!

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I want to live in a birthday cake house!

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Hi Joey!

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This was, by far, the best haunted swing I've ever ridden. The closeness of the walls made it much dizzier than any of the larger ones I've been on.

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A tiny church? I wonder what could be inside.

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Why, it's a Bible kiosk! That's right, kids. Forget Disneyland, Six Flags and Universal Studios--come to Dutch Wonderland and read the Bible!

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This was another seasonal attraction that seemed really cool that we didn't really have time for. Oh well. We can decorate our own cookies at home, anyway.

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The polar play area was full of plastic-and-foam ice blocks that kids could stack and climb on. Lauryn wanted to stop for a few minutes and try it herself, but Kelly wouldn't let her, as the place kind of smelled like dirty diapers, and she didn't want her daughter getting E. coli for Christmas.

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Teacher says every time a bell rings, there's some little kid pulling the rope at the other end.

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Another simple little attraction that kids love. It's a shame more parks don't have stuff like this.

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Now this school has some class! (ba-dum-ching!)

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Look! It's Prince Dill Weed!

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Yet another great holiday attraction that we missed out on due to time. Oh well. At least we got to see the strolling carolers pass by the smores stand.

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Dutch Wonderland had a collection of kiddie flats I had never seen before, including these bulldozers that allowed kids to raise and lower the front-end scoop.

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Hmm... bees... honey... something tells me these bears weren't always painted in the panda style.

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With freezing temperatures, none of the water rides were running; alas, our search for the Lady Gay was fruitless. However, the sky ride was operating, offering a great--if absolutely chilly--overhead view of the park's decorations and synchronized music and light show.

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The reindeer refused to come out of their shed into the cold--and I refused to jump the fence and go in after them--so this is the best photo you're going to see of them in this TR!

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Lauryn was only a passenger in the monster trucks...

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...but she got to drive the antique cars! We began the theme park season this year with a meltdown when she was half an inch too short to drive similar cars at Six Flags America by herself, so she was elated when she measured up during her final park of the year!

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Also, no stopping, lap sitting, making the car stop or sitting in laps.

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We ended the evening with a roundtrip on the park's train.

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We passed through a mine shaft with some neat little dioramas; unfortunately, we were going too fast for my camera to take adequate photos. Then, on the far side of the track, we passed this. Which is fine and all... except there were no other references to "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" whatsoever (at least not that I noticed). It was kind of odd--like they really wanted the whole poem, but this was the only section they could afford.

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Goodbye, Dutch Wonderland! Thanks for a great evening!

Edited by printersdevil78
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I didn't know that Dutch Wonderland had a Christmas event. The uber cheesy Astroliner and Dutch Wonder House are the best attractions there.

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I considered going down there this past weekend to see how it is, but decided against it since they didn't have many adult rides open, but from going past the place it looks really lit up!

 

I could always go next summer and get my Joust and Kingdom Coaster credits and see how much the place changed since my last visit in 1997.

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This was definitely worth the money. I was there last weekend and their light show is top notch. I just pray that Palace keeps this going as it's extra money in their pockets.

 

Chris, the place is alot better than it was in 1997. I'd say it looked no different in 1997 than when I last went as a child in 1994 (except with the addition of Pipeline Plunge). I was was amazed at how much better it looked when I came back in 2008. I never rode the Joust as I didn't know how to feel being an adult on there with a bunch of kids, but I guess that shouldn't matter too much as I'm pretty much like everyone else here...a coaster enthusiast lol! But the Kingdom Coaster, without a doubt, does pack a punch even though it may look tame. I highly recommend checking it out!

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I just don't get why they have 2 simulators next store. I love the rides that think 2000 is the future and stuff it makes me laugh. Especially the old Carousal of Progress. The future you will have the Wii (in better terms) AMAZING!!

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It does look pretty cool, great TR. Also, great to hear that Kelly's employed again - and on a slightly odder note, I've never seen you looking more psychotic than in the Ripcord and pretzel photos...

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I considered going down there this past weekend to see how it is, but decided against it since they didn't have many adult rides open, but from going past the place it looks really lit up!

 

I could always go next summer and get my Joust and Kingdom Coaster credits and see how much the place changed since my last visit in 1997.

 

Maybe next year with new owners, they will consider opening up the coasters for this event? I haven't been to Dutch Wonderland since 2003 and would go back if I could ride coasters in November or December.

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^^Nope, I've worked at a snowball stand, a newspaper and a university, in that order, but I've never worked at an amusement park.

 

^I don't think it's up to park management whether or not to open the coasters; I think it's up to the temperature. As cold as it was that night, I was surprised more things weren't closed.

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I took my daugther to this event a few years back and we had a great time! The park with even it's changes, has stayed true to what the park should be. I went as a kid and it still feels like the same exact park. I have alot of memories there as a kid and being a father. Hopefully the park doesn't change with the new owners.

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