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TR: AJ's 2012 Summer Adventures

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Now that I'm mostly done with running around for this summer, I figured its time to start my trip report thread for 2012. Unlike previous years, this will be a little out of order since I'm going to do the LeviaTHON trip before my Europe trip, and then I'll add the So Cal stuff at the end.


My rating system (all ratings are calculated to the tenths place):


10-One of the best rides in the industry. I reserve this rating for rides that are the best of their type and really impress me.

9-A really good ride, definitely one I'd wait over an hour for.

8-A must ride at the park, but not worth going to the park just to ride it.

7-Worth riding when visiting the park, but not an absolute must ride.

6-Worth riding, but not worth waiting in line for.

5-I'd ride again if I was with others who want to ride, but I probably wouldn't bother with a re-ride if visiting by myself.

4-Only worth riding for the credit, or if you have never done a similar ride before

3-Not worth a ride unless you are a credit whore

2-I'd skip this even if you don't have the credit

1-Reserved for rides that are legitimately painful or extremely boring


So without further ado, here we go.


LeviaTHON: Day 0 (July 25th, 2012)-Seabreeze


Seabreeze was not an official part of the LeviaTHON trip, but since it was only about 90 minutes from our starting point (Buffalo, NY), a group of about twenty of us decided to go visit the park. Even though it required an overnight flight, I decided to join everyone going, as I figured there was little chance I'd visit this park otherwise.


I carpooled to the park with Bill, Corey, and Corey's friend (whose name I cannot remember), and we arrived about 1 P.M. After everyone got inside, we headed to Whirlwind.


Whirlwind: This was the first Maurer Sohne Xtended SC2000 of the trip (the second was at Waldameer a couple days later). I thought this ride would be better than it was. It was still good, but not something I'd wait more than 10 minutes for. It was still my favorite of the park's coasters. 6.8/10


Bobsleds: Another ride that looked like it would be decent, but ended up being only okay. It was certainly a unique coaster, but was a bit jerky and uneventful. My least favorite of the park's coasters. 5.6/10


Log Flume: A basic log flume with only a single drop. The drop was pretty good, but the rest of the ride was uneventful. It got you pretty wet, but isn't the wettest log flume I've been on. 5.3/10


Jack Rabbit: As this ride opened in 1920, it is now the oldest roller coaster I've been on. Unlike the other two coasters at Seabreeze, this one was better than I thought it would be. There was a little airtime and the ride was reasonably smooth. Certainly not worth going out of the way for, but if you're there it's worth a ride or two. 6.5/10


Yo Yo: I usually like Yo Yo swing rides, but this one was just boring. No tilt at all, and it didn't seem very thrilling either. 2.2/10


At this point, we met up with some other TPR people who came a bit later. A couple of them went to ride Bear Trax (the kiddie coaster...I skipped it), then we re-rode Bobsleds and Whirlwind. As I didn't know how late Corey was planning on staying and it was close to 4 P.M. by this point, I decided to leave the group and go spend a little time in the waterpark.


Hydro Racer: New for 2012, a Proslide Octopus Racer. This was fun, better than a standard Mat Racer, but it was still a pretty simple slide. The only slide I did twice at the waterpark. 6/10


Vortex: An enclosed innertube slide. Pretty standard ride, with a standard serpentine layout. Due to the turns, only single tubes are permitted on this ride. It would be better if it was a dark tube instead of a translucent one, as the ride was pretty boring. 5/10


Riptide Slide: The open flume innertube slide. Similar to Vortex, but a little better. Still nothing special. 5.5/10


Helix: A Proslide Cannonbowl. Probably the best slide in the waterpark, but bowls are one of my favorite slide types. 6.5/10


After I was done in the waterpark, I got a text from Corey letting me know they were ready to go. We all got in the car and headed back to the hotel. I then joined a group of people for dinner at T.G.I. Friday's across the street, then early to bed (after two days on less than 2 hours of sleep, I was very tired).


Overall Thoughts: Seabreeze was decent for a small park, but it is small. The park reminded me a lot of Quassy Amusement Park, but about twice the size and with a better ride selection (although they are mostly standard rides) and a pretty good, although small, waterpark (at least for an included one). I wouldn't recommend going out of the way for this park, as there isn't anything special about it, but if you're in the area it's worth a stop. Plan about 1/3 to 1/2 of a day for it, as if you plan more you'll run out of stuff to do.


Ride Count:


Bobsleds: 2

Jack Rabbit: 1

Log Flume: 1

Whirlwind: 2

Yo Yo: 1

Helix: 1

Hydro Racer: 2

Riptide Slide: 1

Vortex: 1


Total: 12 rides in 4 hours (3 rides per hour)




First up, Whirlwind. It was decent, but didn't spin as much as I thought it would.


This ride was unique. It was interesting, but wasn't that great of a ride.


Log Flume. Good drop, but not much else going for it.


Jack Rabbit, the star attraction of the park. This is the oldest continuously operated roller coaster in the world.


There aren't many rides left that still use manually operated brakes and lack any kind of safety gates on the platform.


Nerd shot of the skid brakes.


The ride ends with a tunnel containing a surprise drop. I would have given this more than one ride, but it had the longest line in the park.


This and the swinging inverter were probably the two best flat rides in the park. Of course, I didn't ride either of them.


The park also has some classic flats like the Tilt-A-Whirl...


A kiddie coaster that requires a kid (although the park was letting us ride without one...I skipped it anyway)...


Several rides for the kids...


And the most disappointing Yo Yo I've been on anywhere.


You can see most of the waterpark in this picture. The innertube slide tower is on the right, and Hydro Racer is on the left.


Another view of Hydro Racer. This was the main reason I decided to do this waterpark.


And I'll end with a picture of Helix, the best attraction in the waterpark.

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Okay, continuing on with the trip.


LeviaTHON: Day 1 (July 26th, 2012)-Martin's Fantasy...er, random stuff


Well, day 1 of the LeviaTHON trip didn't go as planned. We were originally scheduled to go to Martin's Fantasy Island for the day, but Robb got a call about 5 minutes before departure that they would be closed due to weather (it was a gentle drizzle for most of the day). We were told to grab passports and meet at the bus.


The day began with a surprise lunch at the Anchor Bar, the birthplace of buffalo wings. I'm not a huge fan of wings, so I got chicken strips dipped in wing sauce (medium hotness). It was good, but it wasn't great, and I'd probably ask for plain strips with the sauce on the side next time since they were a little too saturated for my tastes. I also would avoid going here an hour after breakfast. Once everyone was done eating, we were told that as an alternative, we'd be visiting the Allan Herschell Carousel Factory, then heading to Niagara Falls, Canada.


The Carousel Factory was an excellent alternative to Martin's Fantasy Island. We were given a 90 minute tour, and got to see the workshop where carousel horses were carved. We were then shown the library of band organ scrolls. The tour continued into the paint shop, which has been repurposed as a display of the history of the Allan Herschell Company, showing off carousel horses from different time periods, as well as other carved animals. Finally, the tour went past a bunch of vehicles from other Herschell kiddie rides before concluding with a ride on a 1916 carousel. As carousels are the origin of mechanical amusement rides, this was a great look at amusement park history and also was informative.


After the Carousel Factory, we headed to Niagara Falls, Canada. The border crossing took quite a while (it was probably the longest of the trip), but we eventually made it. We were dropped off near the falls and told to be back at the bus by 6:30. As I had been to Niagara Falls previously, this wasn't really something I cared about too much. I went and walked over to the falls, mainly for the purposes of taking pictures, then headed up Clifton Hill (the tourist trap street of Niagara Falls). This area had several interesting attractions, but I didn't see anything I felt like spending money on, so I just walked back down the street and waited by the pick-up spot until the bus arrived. I'm sure other people had a good time, but I'm just not that into tourist trap stuff and Niagara Falls is kind of a "once you've seen it, no need to return" destination.


Crossing back into the US was a bit quicker, so we got back to the hotel around 7:30. We did the snack exchange at the hotel (probably the best selection of goodies this year out of the three trips I've done), then I headed to McDonalds for dinner. When I got back to the hotel, I hung out in the lobby with some other TPR people, then when enough people returned we got together and played Cards Against Humanity (basically a politically incorrect adult version of Apples to Apples), which was a lot of fun. Around midnight, the game broke up, and we all headed off to our rooms as it would be an 8 A.M. departure the next morning.




The Allen Herschell Carousel Factory, once a place where these rides were manufactured, has now become a museum about these staple attractions.


The tour begins in the workshop, where each carousel horse was carved by hand.


Each carver was responsible for a specific part of the horse, and then they were all assembled by the master carver.


We then took a look at the scroll library. I forget what number of scrolls they said were stored here, but I think it was somewhere around 600.


According to our tour guide, this is the only place in the world where band organ scrolls can still be manufactured using traditional techniques.


A master scroll. These are used to create paper scrolls.


The paper scrolls are then played by a band organ, such as this Wurlitzer.


We were then taken into the paint shop, where a number of different carousel animals are displayed.


The company went through four generations. Initially, they made track carousels and gigantic menagerie machines.


When the company became the Herschell-Spillman company, they transitioned to more traditional carousels.


After Herschell left the business, it became Spillman Engineering Corporation and began building travelling carousels.


Finally, Herschell founded the Allen Herschell Company, which focused not only on carousels, but also on kids rides as well.


The museum had a variety of kiddie rides on display by the main entrance.


Most of Herschell's kiddie rides had some type of interactive feature. Cars had horns, boats had bells, and sky fighters had guns. The museum plans to restore four kiddie rides and open them in the near future.


This is the area outside where they will be located. Another room had information about the rides, but I didn't take the time to look in it.


They also have the original Little Dipper testing track here. If it ever gets rebuilt, I'm sure many enthusiasts will stop by this museum.


Of course, what is a carousel museum without a carousel? This particular one is a kiddie carousel.


I don't think we can ride this. Is there a full size carousel anywhere nearby?


Of course. Time for TPR to have ERT on the carousel since Silver Comet ERT got cancelled.


Although carousels are something I often skip at parks, they are one of the most important attractions. Riding one of these, especially with a working organ, is definitely worth doing.


This carousel even had a random teacup. I'd rather ride a horse, and save the spinning for an actual teacup ride.


That's about it for the Carousel Factory. Onward to Niagara Falls.


Well, first we have to cross the border. Notice the traffic on the bridge.


Yay, we made it. Now to look at tons of water.


Niagara Falls actually has two parts. This is American Falls...


And this is Horseshoe Falls. There's also a third one (Bridal Veil Falls), but nobody cares about that one (it's directly adjacent to American Falls).


Hi Marineland. We'll see you in a few days.


Most people view the falls from the walkway, but for those who want closer views there are a few options. First is the Maid of the Mist.


This gets you pretty close to the falls. I did it on my previous trip, and it definitely comes with an unacceptable amount of wetness.


There is also this observation platform, part of the Journey Behind the Falls attraction (did this previously as well...not recommended).


Finally, the American side has a boardwalk. I didn't do this one, but it looks like it could be fun.


Enough with the water, it's time to climb Clifton Hill.


I spy an observation wheel.


There's also a defunct drop tower on top of a building.


Once you reach the top, you're in tourist trap central.


The Great Canadian Midway is a large arcade with a Ghostblasters ride inside.


I'm not really a fan of haunted houses.


What is the deal with Canadians and rides on top of things? There are at least three of them on this street.


Dinosaur Golf. I would have done this, but I was worried I wouldn't be able to finish in time.


It looks more fun than Dinosaurs Alive, however.


Oh no, the raptor is escaping! Run!!!


And finally, the Observation Wheel from the front. I would have done this, but after seeing that it was $12 I passed.


We'll end with a picture of the river walkway, not because it is a great picture of the walkway but because it shows the weather decently. This is what closed Martin's for the day. This actually ended up being the best weather day for our three US days.

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Get ready for a long one...


LeviaTHON: Day 2 (July 27th, 2011)-Conneaut Lake Park & Waldameer


Due to the closure of Martin's Fantasy Island, Friday ended up being the first park day of the trip. It was also the longest, as we left the hotel at 8 A.M. and didn't return until 1 A.M. However, it was worth it, as this was probably the best day of the trip.


The day began with a two and a half hour bus ride from our hotel near Buffalo Airport out to Conneaut Lake Park a small park located in Conneaut Lake, PA (aka pretty much nowhere). Due to the somewhat limited operation schedule (they're only open Thursday through Sunday and don't open until the afternoon), Robb and Elissa arranged for the park to open a few rides for us. The original plan was for Blue Streak, Devil's Den, and the Tumble Bug to be open to us until 1 PM, but the day before we were told that the Tumble Bug may not be running and they would try to open up some other stuff instead. It turns out that the park's mechanic was working on the Tumble Bug until midnight and got it working, and in addition the park was able to open 9 of their 11 adult rides for us (plus a few kiddie rides for the young ones on the trip, or so I heard). Essentially, we had a couple hours of full park ERT, though not with all the rides running the whole time (since there were only four operators present). Here's how it went:


One operator started out running the Devil's Den. Once everyone was done with that, she moved to the Bumper Cars, and then to the Carousel.

A second operator was assisting on Devil's Den. I believe she went to the kiddie area with the kids afterward, but I don't remember.

The third operator started at Witch's Stew, then moved over to the Tumble Bug. When everyone was done with that, he took a group down to the far end of the park where he ran a cycle on the Flyers, Tilt-A-Whirl, and Paratrooper (in that order) so that everyone who wanted to ride could do so.

Finally, the fourth operator stayed at Blue Streak the whole time and ran it from when it opened until they were forced to close it.


When we arrived, Devil's Den and Witch's Stew were ready to go, and the other rides would be up shortly. I started out with Devil's Den.


Devil's Den: A very old gravity-driven Pretzel dark ride, one of only two left in the US. This ride was very interesting, as it is entirely manually operated (other than the chain lift): At the beginning of the ride, the operator gives your car a good push, and occasionally the cars wouldn't quite make it to the lift, and at the end an operator stops the car by standing in front of it, then pushes it down the track to the load position after you disembark. The ride itself was very cheesy, with a bunch of light-up static props and a couple sound effects. It is very dark and very narrow (I brushed against the wall a couple times), but although the ride really doesn't do much it was still fun. I rode twice just because I wasn't sure if I'd ever get back here. Oh, and for the record, this is NOT a credit (there was a big debate about this). 6.3/10


Witch's Stew: A bizarre inclined teacups type attraction, except the spinning wasn't controllable. For whatever reason, the ride didn't really spin when I rode. It was having some difficulties (the previous party got stuck on the ride for about five minutes because it wouldn't stop), but I still got to ride it. A little fun, but nothing special. 6.4/10


Blue Streak: This is the reason to visit Conneaut Lake Park. I was expecting an uneventful, rough out and back, but this ride surprised me. There was quite a bit of air time on the ride, and with the exception of the first two drops the ride wasn't too bad for roughness. The ride does need work, and it shows, but it was a very pleasant surprise. Not a top ten woodie, but it's better than Cedar Point's Blue Streak and definitely worth riding a couple times if you stop by. 7.3/10


Tumble Bug: A lot of people really liked this. It was fun, but I didn't feel that it was great. It is a unique ride, but it's not worth traveling out of the way for. There was also a debate about whether or not this is a credit...absolutely not. 6.3/10


Bumper Cars: These have seen better days, but they were at least decent. I think they would have been better if there were more than 4 people on them when I rode, but I did enjoy playing the momentum game with empty cars (you hit an empty car with the goal of crashing it into another rider). Interestingly, each of the cars went at a different speed. The operator let us stay on until more people showed up, so it was probably close to a five minute bumper car ride. 6.4/10


Carousel: One of the better carousels simply because it has a working organ (although it did sound horribly out of tune). Other than that, a standard carousel. 7/10


Flying Scooters: I have limited flyers experience, but I thought these ones were decent. They were old and somewhat sketchy, but they flew decently once they got going. 6.6/10


Paratrooper: I don't remember the details of this ride because the rain went from moderate to torrential downpour during the cycle, and I was distracted by the thunder we were hearing. I do believe that this is the only Paratrooper I've been on, as the only other place I may have ridden one would be a random carnival. This was probably my favorite flat ride at the park. 7/10


By this point, the pleasant weather that we had upon our arrival had turned into a torrential downpour. Most of the group was huddled under the cover by the mini golf course, but I decided to join a few other people and take one last ride on Blue Streak. Due to the rain, the ride was slipping on the brakes, but the operator said they could probably run it once more. We boarded the train and took off. I don't remember everything about that particular ride because what happened next surpassed all of it. When we got back to the station, the brakes were so wet the train wouldn't stop, and we shot through the station and back into the tunnel. We finally stopped at the bottom of the lift, where the operator came and got us off the ride. That is the second ride I've been evacuated from, and the first coaster. Yay!


Anyway, it was time for lunch, and getting there involved running down a very uneven path to reach the picnic area. When we got there, most of TPR was already present, as were the park representatives. They spoke to us briefly about the park, then got in their golf cart and rode off. We were left there for about ten minutes until they returned in a car and unloaded box lunches (hamburger, sausage, and fries) and brought a few coolers of soda. We all had lunch, during which the rain cleared up, then everyone headed back to the bus, during which the rain picked up (by this point, I was dripping wet and didn't care anymore). We all boarded the bus and headed off to our next destination.


Overall Thoughts: Conneaut Lake Park was a decent place. It definitely had that classic park feel to it, although I didn't see all of the park. From what I heard, if you went to the other end of the park you would find an area full of dilapidated rides and buildings damaged beyond repair. I certainly saw some signs of disrepair, but overall the part of the park that currently operates is in decent shape. I do not know what will happen as this park has been on the verge of closing for a while, but I hope it survives. With some investment, this could be a nice 1/3 of a day park, but as it is now they've only got a handful of rides, and only one worth multiple rides. It may be because the staff treated us very nicely, but I enjoyed this place and if they ever get it together and restore it to what it once was, I will certainly be back.


Ride Count:


Blue Streak: 4

Bumper Cars: 1

Carousel: 1

Devil's Den: 2

Flying Scooters: 1

Paratrooper: 1

Tumble Bug: 1

Witch's Stew: 1


Total: 12 rides in 2 hours (6 rides per hour)


The day continued with a second park, Waldameer. We arrived at this park around 3 P.M., giving plenty of time to explore the park. After I got my wristband, I immediately headed off toward the park's signature attraction, Ravine Flyer II.


Ravine Flyer II: For some reason, I've found that (with a handful of exceptions) the smaller the park, the better the wood coaster. Ravine Flyer II is no exception to that rule, as it is an excellent ride. The ride is currently number 5 on my wood coaster list (bumping Apocalypse out of my top 5), and if it wasn't for a couple rough spots it would place even higher. Ravine Flyer II is short, but it never lets up during the ride. There's airtime, a couple good drops, tunnels, a 90 degree turn, and more on this ride. Definitely a must ride for any enthusiast, and the reason to visit Waldameer. 9.1/10


Whacky Shack: A very bizarre dark ride, this had the longest line in the park due to low capacity. However, it was worth waiting for. The ride makes no sense, and is mainly worth riding for the WTF factor of the attraction. Not the best dark ride ever, but still a classic and still a decent ride. 6.5/10


Pirates Cove: I liked this crooked house more than Whacky Shack. It is another bizarre attraction that we dubbed "queue line: the ride" due to the forced switchbacks at points of the attraction. Parts of the walkthrough are very cramped, including a couple dark, twisting, slanted hallways. The cheesy pirate theming adds to the attraction. Not to be missed. 7.4/10


X Scream: This drop tower didn't really do it for me. I thought the drop would be surprising and catch me off guard, but due to the noise of the motor I was able to anticipate it. The plunge itself was really a little too short, so while this is good for a small park it doesn't really compare to larger drop towers elsewhere. It was fun, but nothing special. 6.1/10


Steel Dragon: Another Maurer Sohne Xtended SC2000, identical to the model at Seabreeze. I liked this one a little better, as I thought it spun more. However, just like Whirlwind, it is good, but not great. The best steel coaster in the park, although it's only competition in that category is a kiddie. 7.1/10


Thunder River: Waldameer's log flume, this ride has two lifts and two drops. This is one of the better unthemed log flumes, and had a reasonable amount of wetness. 7.5/10


Ali Baba: I honestly found this ride a bit weak in the force department and a bit boring. The program only consisted of three revolutions in each direction. Add the uncomfortable steel bar harnesses, and I'm still surprised I rode twice. 4.3/10


At this point, I decided to split off from the rest of my group and go visit the waterpark. I figured I'd hang out there until dinnertime, but since most of the slides were short waits I ended up finishing early.


Raging River: Standard open-air innertube slide. The better of the two older innertube slides at the park, but unfortunately you usually need a double tube to ride this (since there were no doubles in line, they let singles ride to lighten the load on the companion slide). 5.4/10


Lake Erie Dip: A pretty boring body slide, but still better than the innertube slides in the waterpark. I almost stalled on this due to lack of speed. 5.5/10


Free Fall Slide: A straight plunge from a six story platform. The best slide in the waterpark. This one didn't cause back pain like larger versions of these rides often do. 7.7/10


Bermuda Triangle: A tower with three enclosed body slides. Two are a single helix, and the third is a straight drop. This ride was fun, but I prefer the straight drop body slides to the spiraling tubes. 7.6/10


Awesome Twosome: Enclosed innertube slide, the best of the three I rode. Still not that interesting of a ride, but this one was somewhat fun. 5.4/10


Presque Isle Plunge: The other large winding body slide. This one was better than Lake Erie Dip, but I find long winding body slides somewhat boring compared to speed slides and enclosed body slides. 6.5/10


Speed Slide: The companion slide to the Free Fall slide, this one isn't quite as good since it has a hump in the middle. Still fun, and still one of the waterpark's best rides. 7.7/10


Wild River: The worst slide in the waterpark. This innertube slide requires single tubes due to a short enclosed section. Other than that, it is pretty similar to Raging River. 4.4/10


When I was done with the waterpark, I had just enough time to pick up the two remaining credits before dinner.


Comet: An okay junior woodie, this ride wasn't too exciting. It was a little better when we did a TPR takeover of the ride, but I still think I prefer the various Ghoster Coaster versions. As of right now, one of my bottom 5 wooden coasters. 5.7/10


Ravine Flyer 3: One of the better Miler kiddie coasters, this is still just a Miler kiddie coaster. 4.3/10


It was now time for dinner, which was okay. Slightly better than what Conneaut gave us for lunch, but still not that great. At dinner, we did a Q&A with the park manager, who then took us on an extensive backstage tour of Ravine Flyer II (details in the photos below). I then went to explore the park some more, mainly to re-ride my favorites and ride a couple additional rides.


Sky Ride: Not that interesting of a sky ride, although you do get a good view of the lake on the way back. It was fun riding this with a bunch of TPR members, including some who do not like chairlifts. Other than that, not worth it if there's a line. 4.3/10


Dodgems: Not that great as far as bumper cars go, but still fun when you've got a group of TPR people on the ride. 7/10


Scrambler: I really like scramblers, as they are simple rides yet are a lot of fun. This one was decent. It spun fast enough to provide plenty of laterals without being so fast I couldn't walk after riding. After the Astrosphere last year, I don't think I'll find a better scrambler, but for outdoor ones this was pretty good. 8/10


At about 9:45, I headed back to Ravine Flyer II for night ERT. Even though only one train was running, people started dropping out after about 15 minutes so we were able to just stay on and keep going around. I lasted until about 10:45, at which point I had had enough and headed back out to the bus. The rest of the group arrived about 15 minutes later, then we headed out for the drive back to the hotel.


Overall Thoughts: Waldameer is probably my favorite small park. It has an excellent ride line-up, my favorite old-school waterpark, and a very traditional feel to it. The employees were also very friendly, and none of them seemed bored with their job. Add in Ravine Flyer II and you have a must visit park. It reminded me a lot of Lake Compounce and Canobie Lake Park from last year's trip, but although it may be smaller I enjoyed Waldameer more. Unless the park is busy, Waldameer is a half-day park, but it is a very enjoyable one and is worth more than just a credit stop.


Ride Count:


Ali Baba: 2

Comet: 2

Dodgems: 1

Pirates Cove: 2

Ravine Flyer 3: 1

Ravine Flyer II: 7

Scrambler: 1

Sky Ride: 1

Steel Dragon: 2

Thunder River: 1

Whacky Shack: 2

X Scream: 2

Awesome Twosome: 1

Bermuda Triangle: 2

Free Fall Slide: 1

Lake Erie Dip: 1

Presque Isle Plunge: 1

Raging River: 1

Speed Slide: 1

Wild River: 1


Total: 33 rides in 8 hours (4.125 rides per hour)




The first section of pictures are of Conneaut Lake Park. The next section show Waldameer. The final portion are from the Ravine Flyer II backstage tour.


Welcome to Conneaut Lake Park, a decent park with plenty of room for improvement.


Either someone planted a cloaking device on the Yo Yo, or the ride has been removed (or, given the sign remains, possibly stolen).


This section of the park contains the operating rides. From here, it looks nice.


Heading in the other direction leads to a not-so-nice area. I never ventured down this way, but I heard a few people did.


Even small parks need a gift shop.


About a minute after I took this picture, a car pulled up and the park staff stepped out. Before that, we were completely alone at this park.


First up, the Devil's Den, home of the infamous gum wall.


The ride does have a lift hill.


In fact, it is entirely gravity driven.


Despite a coaster-like dip and a wild mouse-type layout, this ride is not a coaster. I'm sure people count it, but I certainly don't.


Right next door is Witch's Stew, the teacups/scrambler hybrid.


Hooray, Blue Streak is ready.


Apparently, ACE thinks this ride is worth saving. For once, I agree.


The bumper cars appear to have seen better days.


However, they still run and are better than the bumper cars at most major parks.


Any carousel that has a working organ is worth a ride.


One of the few rides the park wasn't able to open for us.


Fast forward 10 minutes. The weather went from pleasant to rain, and it only got harder.


Flying in the rain.


Despite the wetness, the waterpark was not available today.


It didn't look like it had been used in years, and I doubt it will be open this year either.


You have encountered a guard dog. Options: A. Fight, B. Run, C. Stop and take a picture, D. Ignore it


Finally, we've reached the picnic pavilion. Looks pretty deserted.


And we will end Conneaut Lake with the results of the latest suspicious fire. Will the park succeed, or will their hopes go up in smoke? Check back next season to find out.


We've now jumped an hour north, to Waldameer in Erie, PA.


What is that I see next to TPR's dinner pavilion?


It's a spider, one of the few rides I absolutely will not ride.


Whacky Shack, a very bizarre dark ride. The whole attraction made no sense.


They've also got a walkthrough here as well.


The big steel coaster at this park is another Maurer Sohne Xtended SC2000. Most say the one at Seabreeze was better, I say the opposite.


Chairlift enthusiasts will like this shot.


Waldameer definitely has an adequate selection of kiddie rides.


I spy credit whores.


Now it is time for the backstage tour to begin. To get back to Ravine Flyer II, we must first walk the tracks of the slowest train ride ever.


We made it.


This is the lift motor. If you've ever wondered how you get to the top of the first hill, it's this machine.


To be more specific, this is the actual motor.


I don't think it is possible to not like this ride.


Okay, everybody, get ready for the train.


I wonder what the people on the ride think when they see this.


You can't get these shots unless you go on a TPR trip. Okay, there may be some miscellaneous other opportunities, but you get the point.


This picture is 90% short on train.


Waldameer let us get extremely close to the ride. In fact, I think this is the closest I have ever been to an operating ride without actually riding it.


Who's ready to play limbo with the chain? (I'm not joking, we actually did that...twice)


Of course, there is one signature element of Ravine Flyer II that I haven't mentioned yet.




Time to go tour the maintenance room.


Getting close to a PTC train.


I definitely prefer this style of lap bar to the alternate style found on GhostRider and a few other rides running PTC trains.


Ravine Flyer II's mechanic apparently is into coasters 2/3 of the time and women the other 1/3.


The ride was shut down so we could walk across this track back to the station. It would seem to be the end of the tour, but wait...there's more.


We are under the station. "Beware of the gates" has a new meaning here.


Coaster parts!


This is where Ravine Flyer's nuts and bolts are stored.


Fun Fact: Waldameer has never had to replace a wheel on Ravine Flyer II. Holiday World, on the other hand, replaces the wheels on Voyage each season.


What exactly is a Cue Line?


We will end with this picture of Ravine Flyer II. If you haven't ridden it yet, make a point of adding Waldameer to your next trip to Darien Lake or Kennywood (it's also within 3 hours of Cedar Point). The park is definitely worth a visit.

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OHSA would have a field day over that..

Actually, they wouldn't. We weren't doing anything that would have been deemed unsafe. Kinda annoyed that you would think that a park would actually allow something to happen that would have been outside the realm of common sense.

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^ I dont think that its unsafe at all because of the guest that went back there. You all know how the ride functions and know what to touch and what not to touch. It was merely an observation how a small park like that can treat its fans so nicely! Would Disney do that? No because of what could go wrong. So many safety measures put in place here...


Sorry, a few runins with OHSA at Disney have put me in an interesting mindset...


But this is a very indepth PTR. Nice use of rating system as well! I can wait to see more! Suscribed.

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OHSA would have a field day over that..



Actually "OSHA" (OCCUPATIONAL safety and health administration) wouldn't, as we aren't employees of the park; Nor were we forced as employees into a dangerous work environment.



That being said, during this tour (which I was on) there was 0.0 (note the point) % chance of any TPR member being injured. You know why? Smart people plan intelligently.



-chris "just sayin"

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^Chris - if you're implying that 100% of TPR Tour participants are smart....well I'm not going to say you are wrong....but I will ask you to reassess that line of thinking.



Well said....I should be a bit more definitive. 100% of the people who plan these trips are intelligent. ... Percentage wise- here is how TPR members skew.... 15 percent- REALLY? SERIOUSLY? WTF? 65 percent- Party all the time!.... 20 percent- English is my second language, but I'll still party (possibly even harder)..


At the end of the day, It's still a party.

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Great pictures, but why so much negativity for a great trip?


What negativity? Other than the Niagara Falls detour, I really enjoyed everything on the trip up until the last day (which was still fun, but was definitely my least favorite day of the trip). Even though I wasn't particularly excited about Niagara Falls, that was still better than sitting around in a hotel all day. If you mean ride reviews, I'm just trying to be honest on my opinions of them, and not every ride is necessarily great. Otherwise, please give me an example of what you mean, because I don't intend this to be overall negative and if it is coming off that way I want to correct it.


On another note, I planned to do the next update today, but I've been a bit busy. Darien Lake and Martin's Fantasy Island will be up tomorrow, then the two Canada days will be posted next week. After that, I'll get started on my Europe Trip (which actually happened before the LeviaTHON tour, but I didn't want to start the trip report with two or three posts containing a sum of zero coasters).

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Great pictures, but why so much negativity for a great trip?


Cause its bloody AJ, come one you just gotta laugh that some people just don''t get it!


imagine if we had Goggles and AJ together on the one trip, sh*t I would have had to drink ALOT of beer then!


I am to lazy to write trip reports but all I can say is if you ever thought of doing a TPR trip, just effing do it, amazing time, met some amazing people, had some classic effing laughs, even Amber had grown on me by the end. Oh yeah rode some kick ass coasters to!


And remember....drink beer MF'ers

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Pretty much every ride you didn't like and it comes off that you kind of hated the trip. I'll keep looking at your report for the pictures, but to me with everything mostly being rated low, shows that you just have way to high expectations for everything, and really didn't take the time to enjoy all the quirks the trip brought along.


But that's just me, and if everyone else loves your low ratings so be it.

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Pretty much every ride you didn't like and it comes off that you kind of hated the trip.

Yeah, I pretty much thought the same way. And like, if he doesn't like our trips or what we have to offer, he probably shouldn't do them anymore. Maybe I'm just reading it totally wrong, or I don't get your style of writing, I just find the report to be kind of obnoxious towards us.


--Robb "Just calling it like I see it." Alvey

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It does come off as negative towards the tour organizers. I have always found that on tpr trips the thing I admire most about the organization is thier outstanding ability to adapt to problems when they arise. (which is rare)

P.S AJ please dont spin the expidition geforce thing as a negative on your europe trip. Just saying

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Pretty much every ride you didn't like and it comes off that you kind of hated the trip.

Yeah, I pretty much thought the same way. And like, if he doesn't like our trips or what we have to offer, he probably shouldn't do them anymore. Maybe I'm just reading it totally wrong, or I don't get your style of writing, I just find the report to be kind of obnoxious towards us.


--Robb "Just calling it like I see it." Alvey


I don't see him bashing the trip organizers, but rather the generalities on the trip. The whole report has a somewhat, "blah, this wasn't that great, neither was this, the weather sucked, the rides were so-so," BUT I still had fun. It reads really oddly to me. Like he didn't like what the parks had to offer, but loved the trip.


I find the rating system odd, at best. 6.3 out of 10? What's the criteria?


Most of the captions are what get me. The Conneaut captions just read very negatively, even if it's not the true meaning behind them.

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Pretty much every ride you didn't like and it comes off that you kind of hated the trip. I'll keep looking at your report for the pictures, but to me with everything mostly being rated low, shows that you just have way to high expectations for everything, and really didn't take the time to enjoy all the quirks the trip brought along.


Yeah, I pretty much thought the same way. And like, if he doesn't like our trips or what we have to offer, he probably shouldn't do them anymore. Maybe I'm just reading it totally wrong, or I don't get your style of writing, I just find the report to be kind of obnoxious towards us.


It does come off as negative towards the tour organizers. I have always found that on tpr trips the thing I admire most about the organization is thier outstanding ability to adapt to problems when they arise.


Wow, I honestly did not realize it sounded that way. I guess for most people, when they see a ride rated a 6 they think it's not that great of a ride, while I see that as I ride that I enjoyed, but just don't think it would be worth going out of my way to ride again. There are actually very few rides I do not like (aka rides I wouldn't want to ride again), and those are the ones that I assign a 4.0 or lower to. I did enjoy the trip a lot, and I've enjoyed every TPR trip I've done so far. Robb and Elissa do an outstanding job putting them together, and I really think they are the best way to tour theme parks, both for value and for the experience.


I think what would be best is if I leave the ride ratings off for now, at least for non-coaster rides. Either that, or maybe I should equate them to a letter system since that would probably make more sense to people. I'll think about it today and then use whatever I decide with my Darien Lake/Martin's Fantasy Island report this evening.


P.S AJ please dont spin the expidition geforce thing as a negative on your europe trip. Just saying


No need to worry about that since I didn't even visit Germany and the only parks I went to in Europe were the Disneyland Paris parks. I was not on the TPR Europe trip (although I would have liked to have gone), and I have a feeling that Expedition GeForce would be one of my favorite coasters.

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Pretty much every ride you didn't like and it comes off that you kind of hated the trip.

Yeah, I pretty much thought the same way. And like, if he doesn't like our trips or what we have to offer, he probably shouldn't do them anymore. Maybe I'm just reading it totally wrong, or I don't get your style of writing, I just find the report to be kind of obnoxious towards us.


--Robb "Just calling it like I see it." Alvey


Robb I think it is just how AJ writes and comes across. Now don't everyone start hating on me but I am going to generalise a bit here. I'm an Aussie, yes we are all breast fed fosters beer and box on with kangaroos. A generalisation but hell 90% true!


Now AJ is studying to become a Mechanical Engineer.......lets be honest they are a different breed! I am in the customer service industry to, we build and install people their dream kitchens and as soon as I meet someone who is a mechanical engineer and start dealing with them I know straight away. They over analyze, they are VERY literal and you learn to adapt to deal with them. But at the end of the day even when I am standing in their maginificent new kitchen while the wife is telling me how great it is the husband Mr Mechanical Engineer is pointing out something so miniscule or irrelevant I will actually ask them if I am on candid camera.


End of the day Robb and Elissa put on a first class....let me rephrase that Elissa puts on a first class show, nothing classy about Robb or us male contingents on the trip buts lets be honest thats what makes them uniquely TPR.


AJ keep wiriting your trip reports, maybe round up your scores and in future if you were ever to write about the Anchor Bar or bonus Niagara Falls trip in the future. Just say how awesome it was that in the face of MArtins closing on us, Robb and Elissa managed to organise in the smallest amount of time a side trip to the Falls which is still stunning even though I have been there before, say you are not a huge fan of wings but to be able to go to the original birth place of them was fantastic..... you are a smart and nice guy I am sure you get it!


Aussie "Also calls it like he sees it" Steve

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^I get what you're saying, and I've been told that sometimes my reviews and ratings come off as quite a bit harsher than I mean them to. I think it is probably because I pretty much always notice things I don't like, even if they are miniscule, and those can sometimes outnumber the positives in a write-up, causing it to sound wrong. I also do have a somewhat bizarre rating system that can be misinterpreted. Like you said, everything on the trip was pretty much as good as it could be given the circumstances, and I would still rather be sitting by a fountain at Niagara Falls with TPR members than probably 80% of the other places I've been.


Speaking of ratings, I think I'm going to try using letter ratings for coasters, as they are less specific and generally more well understood, and omit the ratings for non-coaster rides. Here's what each letter roughly translates to:


A-One of my favorite rides, usually my top 10 wood/25 steel coasters or anything else I'd consider an absolute must ride regardless of wait time

B-A ride I would consider a must ride unless the wait is excessively long, but not worth visiting the park just to ride it

C-It's worth riding if the line isn't too long, but isn't really something I'd typically do multiple times in one day

D-Not one of my favorites, I'd do it again with others but would probably skip it when visiting on my own

F-A ride I would refuse to do again. Very few rides get this rating, and it is usually reserved for rides that are exceptionally painful or rides that make me sick


We'll see how this one works. I may go back and revise the ratings in the previous posts, but I'll definitely use them from here on out unless they end up causing confusion as well (in which case I'll probably drop ratings all together).


So let's continue. Hopefully there isn't any more accidental negativity involved.


LeviaTHON: Day 3 (July 28th, 2012)-Darien Lake & Martin's Fantasy Island


This day began just like every other day of the trip, but with one exception: since we were moving to Canada, it was time to load luggage. At 8:30 A.M., the bus left to head to Darien Lake, only a half-hour or so away. We ended up arriving to find a cloudy sky and a gentle drizzle, but the rides were testing. After getting our tickets, lunch coupons, and beer wristbands, we were escorted back to Ride of Steel for an hour of ERT.


Ride of Steel: What to say about Ride of Steel? Well, it is a great ride, it's got plenty of airtime, it's very smooth, and this is one of those rides you could just stay on all day. The only issue I have with the ride is that it has too much straight, flat track (the same issue I have with Millennium Force). Honestly, if this ride had a few more hills and none of those flat sections, it would probably be in my top ten. As it is, the ride is still a must ride coaster, and I certainly could have ridden more and not gotten tired of it. A


After ERT ended and we were allowed to leave Ride of Steel, most of us headed over to Predator. The ride had some issues in the morning (it wasn't the only one), but eventually it opened and I got to ride.


Predator: To say this ride was good would be a lie. However, to say it was as bad as I expected it to be would also be incorrect. Predator is one of those rides that has the potential to be a decent ride, but is just too rough to ride more than once per visit. I'd do it again, but I probably wouldn't wait more than a couple trains to do so. C


I was on the first train of the day on Predator. From what I heard, the next train didn't dispatch until over 45 minutes later. This was only the first of several breakdowns I encountered at Darien Lake. From Predator, I headed to Boomerang only to find it still wasn't open. I then tried for Moto Coaster. Being a Saturday, it already had a moderate line at this point and only one train was running. I waited for probably 20 minutes, then when I was 2 trains from boarding it broke down and they kicked everyone out of line. Annoyed, I decided to head back to Boomerang and either ride or wait until it opened. Fortunately, it was open by the time I got there, although it had a 20 minute wait.


Boomerang Coast to Coaster: Yes, it's a boomerang. Fortunately, this is one of the better boomerangs I've been on, with no headbanging and a relatively smooth ride. The staff seemed to be making an attempt to run the ride as efficiently as possible, so I give them credit for that.C+


After getting off Boomerang, Moto Coaster was running again, so I decided to go wait in line again. Fortunately, this time I did get to ride.


Moto Coaster: I was expecting this to be boring and uncomfortable like Pony Express, but I was pleasantly surprised. The ride was actually quite fun, and although still a bit uncomfortable it wasn't bad. This is probably the only coaster at Darien Lake other than Ride of Steel that might be worth multiple rides in one day. I also give the operators here credit for unloading, loading, and dispatching this slow loading coaster as quickly as possible, although they really need two trains on this ride (the second was nowhere in sight). B-


Next, I headed to Viper. Surprisingly, it was a walk-on and was running two trains.


Viper: I was hoping this would be a decent ride, but sadly I'd rank it in the bottom third of Arrow Custom Looping Coasters (I've been on 11), and the worst of the three on this trip. The layout was unique, but the ride was a bit rough and uncomfortable. Still not the worst Arrow out there, but I wouldn't bother riding if it had a line. C+


I then decided to do Mind Eraser with the hope of getting all my credits done before lunch. The line crawled, however, due to the worst operators in the park.


Mind Eraser: A generic SLC. This one wasn't too bad in terms of roughness, but I don't find SLCs to be that great in general. I'll ride them, but once I've got the credit I wouldn't wait more than a couple trains to ride again. C


I then headed to lunch. I was a little late, so I missed the vote, but the group had decided to leave at 2:30. No complaints there, as while I would have liked to stay later I also wanted to do more than just a credit run at Martin's Fantasy Island. I had a quick lunch then headed back out to see how many non-coaster rides I could get done before it was time to leave.


Shipwreck Falls: I wasn't planning to do this, but Corn Popper broke down as I headed over to it and this had no wait. I actually enjoy splash boat rides, and while this was a pretty standard one it was fun and had just the right amount of wetness (enough to cool you off but not enough to get you dripping wet).


UFO: This was easily the best of the four non-coaster rides I rode at Darien Lake. Much more intense than a round up, and definitely a unique sensation to be essentially standing on a wall. It also seemed to run a fairly long cycle.


Silver Bullet: This is a unique enterprise as it is the only one by Heintz Fahtze still in operation. Other than that, not much different than a standard enterprise (not that there's anything wrong with that).


Corn Popper: I don't know if it was all the spinning in a row or just this one ride in general, but after I got off it I wasn't feeling too good. The ride was not as good as it looked like it would be, and I honestly don't think I'd bother with riding again on a future visit.


After Corn Popper, I considered doing the log flume but the wait looked prohibitively long. Instead, I ran into Mike and Rosie, and just sat and chatted with them for 10-15 minutes. It was then time to head back to the bus. When we started walking, it was drizzling. Within a minute, the rain had turned into a torrential downpour. Fortunately, this time I had my TPR ponch with me, and made it back to the entrance without too much soakage. Randomly, the rain let up just as I got to the park entrance. We then headed outside and waited for the bus to arrive.


Overall Thoughts: I really want to like Darien Lake, but the park just had so many annoyances that I couldn't. It definitely has potential, and I'd love to see Herschend bring it up to the quality level of their other parks, at least in the food and operations departments. Yes, I do think my day was marred by an abnormally large number of breakdowns and a relatively short span of time to get everything done, but I was able to make the best of it and got on a decent number of rides. Next time I'm in the area, I'll give the park another try, visit on a weekday, and devote at least 2/3 of a day to it so I can be sure to get everything done. I will also say this: I would much rather return to Darien Lake than return to La Ronde, even with the aid of a Gold Flash Pass at La Ronde. The issues I had with Darien Lake were mostly the result of bad luck, while those at La Ronde I don't think are likely to go away anytime soon.


Ride Count:


Boomerang Coast to Coaster: 1

Corn Popper: 1

Mind Eraser: 1

Moto Coaster: 1

Predator: 1

Ride of Steel: 4

Shipwreck Falls: 1

Silver Bullet: 1

UFO: 1

Viper: 1


Total: 13 rides in 5 hours (2.6 rides per hour)


We then headed over to Martin's Fantasy Island. Upon arrival, the park manager came out to greet us, then escorted us over to Silver Comet so we could all ride without waiting in line (a very nice way to make up for our cancelled ERT). I know this caused a few complaints from those waiting in line, but since the regular line was only about fifteen minutes I think they may have been somewhat unjustified, especially since the situation was explained to them.


Silver Comet: Although Silver Comet is small and isn't really very intense, the ride is still pretty good. It is a lot smoother than most other CCIs, with only one significantly rough spot. The ride has a couple airtime moments, but nothing in the way of strong airtime. It somewhat reminded me of a smaller, less intense version of Excalibur at Funtown Splashtown USA. B


I then headed over with the other TPR members to get the other credit at Martin's Fantasy Island. While we were in line, Robb came by and told us we were free to do whatever we wanted, but the bus left at 5 P.M.


Crazy Mouse: I don't really like these Zamperla Twister Coasters. It spun a bit, but not as much as Gerstlaurer or Maurer Sohne's designs, and had a much less interesting layout. Worth riding for the credit, but not worth multiple rides. C-


Since the line for the Crazy Mouse took a while, we only had about 45 minutes before the bus left. I went off with my roommate, Michael, and we managed to get two additional rides in before heading back to the bus.


Flight: I enjoy tower swing rides, and this one was no exception. It ran a decent length cycle, and moved up and down the tower during the ride. Still nothing to go out of your way for, but a fun ride nevertheless.


Devil's Hole: Standard gravitron that seemed like it ran a shorter cycle than most of them do (although I could have been imagining it). Another ride that is fun, but not particularly unique or worthy of a significant wait.


At this time, it was time to depart and head off for Canada.


Overall Thoughts: Martin's Fantasy Island reminded me a lot of Funtown Splashtown USA, but seemed a bit smaller and with a more generic ride selection. It seemed like a nice park, but again it is one of those places I need to return to in order to fully experience. I am glad that we did get to go here, however, instead of just having it get deleted from the trip, and I did enjoy my brief visit.


Ride Count:


Crazy Mouse: 1

Devil's Hole: 1

Flight: 1

Silver Comet: 1


Total: 4 rides in 1.5 hours (2.67 rides per hour)


En route to Canada, we watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World on the bus. I like that movie, but it's one of those movies people tend to either love or hate, and I spoke to several people who didn't care for it. The border crossing wasn't as bad this time, and I think it was around 7:30 when we got to our hotel in Toronto. It was then time for the special dinner extravaganza: a taco buffet at Dave & Buster's with unlimited video games and 200 credits for redemption games. Out of all three TPR trips I've done, this was probably the best non-park activity (Zorbing in Pigeon Forge comes very close). It was a lot of fun just hanging out with everyone and playing games until midnight, at which point I decided to head back to the hotel. The next day would be an 8 A.M. morning, and I wanted to get some sleep before Leviathan Bash.




Due to all the running around at the two parks trying to get everything done, I didn't take that many pictures on this day. However, I will post what I have.


Darien Lake, a former Six Flags park that is now managed by Herschend. The park itself looks nicer than most Six Flags parks.


Predator was testing from the moment we walked in the gate. It appeared to have been having difficulties all day, as it opened late and broke down almost immediately.


But we're here for Ride of Steel. Unfortunately, since I left my bag in a cubbie during ERT, I didn't have my camera with me to take further pictures of the ride.


Darien Lake's swing ride. There were three waveswingers on the trip, and this is the only one I didn't get a chance to ride.


Moto Coaster running its course. Better than Pony Express, at least in my opinion.


Viper, the world's first roller coaster with five inversions, and the first ever batwing.


This ride is very photogenic, and since the queue winds under part of it you can easily get some good shots.


Viper corkscrewing over the queue line.


We were told that no adults were allowed on the kiddie coaster. I saw a couple other TPR members try while walking to Mind Eraser. The result: Denied!


Mind Eraser is a bit removed from the rest of the park. Unlike the other Mind Erasers, it is located partially above water.


Darien Lake's ferris wheel looks a bit odd, with groups of three cabins spaced around it instead of evenly spaced gondolas. I'm sure there must be a reason for it.


Silver Bullet, a unique enterprise that feels pretty much the same as every other one.


Thunder Rapids looked like the best log flume on the trip. It's too bad the line was too long.


To end Darien Lake, a random shot of Mind Eraser I took while waiting for the bus.


We're now at Martin's Fantasy Island. This looked like a decent Antique Car Ride.


A smaller ferris wheel for a smaller park.


I can't imagine how long the wait for the log flume was. The logs were at least 45 seconds apart.


Flight is likely the best flat ride at Martin's.


On one side of the walkway they had the full size version.


On the other side was the kiddie equivalent.


Despite several parks having them, I went this whole trip without riding a Disk'O.


Lastly, Devil's Hole. I have no idea why the park replaced their old gravitron with a new one, but this one has only been there a couple years.

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Thanks for posting about your adventures! I live in Western NY and it has been fun following your trip around the parks in the area! I especially have enjoyed your comments and ratings (although some would disagree with me). I think they are heartfelt and honest. I like that. We live in a world where everything is sugarcoated and everyone gets a trophy... but sometimes it's the stuff that's right from the heart that is the best.


I've never been to the carousel museum and I found that one of the most fascinating parts of your journey. I'm going to have to check that out sometime.


I have heard that they are refurbishing the gondolas on the Darien Lake ferris wheel in groups of ten and are swapping them out as they go. I have to admit that it looks a bit funny with the missing cars. Also I'm glad to hear that they got Shipwreck up and running; it had been closed all season as of my last visit in early July!


Thanks again for sharing!

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