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Great Wonders Amusement Park - June 21st, 1982


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Great Wonders Amusement Park - April 2nd, 1982

 

A small park located in my hometown has grown from a Ferris wheel, a hot dog stand, and some go-karts to a tiny amusement park. The park opened in 1980 and I've yet to experience it! I've recently moved back to the area and I've been dying to see the park in person, as I've heard some pretty great things about it...

 

 

I arrived at Great Wonders at around 2 in the afternoon. The entrance was empty, and I expected the same for the park. The view is very photogenic, with the old Wonder Wheel and all.

 

 

As I stepped through the gates, it became evident how crowded the park was, judging by the line of the Wonder Wheel... I noticed immediately the amount of large and obnoxious groups of teenagers/young adults...

 

 

I decided to head left to Twister Plaza. The crowds were large and a very... awful smell filled the air. It was like walking next to a dumpster and my appetite was lost. I pushed my way through the crowds and made a rush towards The Corkscrew.

 

 

The Corkscrew is a very photogenic and beautiful ride, but sadly the ride experience doesn't live up to the visuals. The chain-lift sounded like a chainsaw hitting concrete. The first drop and loops smashed my head into the shoulder harness multiple times and gave me a headache. I'd never been so happy to get off a roller coaster...

 

 

This is the Blue Banquet Cafe and the restrooms building, taken from the line of The Corkscrew. I was looking forward to the Blue Banquet, as it is the park's full-service dining location. I was seated and it took about 10 minutes for the waitress to notice I was here. She quickly ran over and asked what I wanted to eat. I order a veggie lasagna and a water. It took an additional 40 minutes for my food to come out and the lasagna was COLD! This restaurant was a very un-pleasant experience, though it was supposed to be the "nice" restaurant of the park.

 

 

After "lunch", I headed out of Twister Plaza to the right-side of the park; The Town Square. Here is the Wild Whirl, just a classic Tilt-a-Whirl. These rides are always fun and there was about a 20 minute wait.

 

 

This building is the queue for Swamp Thing, a spinning ride themed to a monster. You can't really make out the ride, but it's through the trees. Where those rocks are is the Wonder Spring, a natural spring that has been here before the park and what the park was named after. Nice seeing something as natural as this!

 

 

This is the theater which houses the live action show, "Cowboys and Vampires". I skipped out on this show after seeing the peoples faces as they exited the show... (they weren't very enthralled and some were laughing... at how bad it was.)

 

 

These are the Vintage Cars. They are very relaxing as they wind through the trees and rocks and even past a waterfall. Kids and adults can enjoy this attraction together and I highly recommend it.

 

 

This little "alley" takes guests past the Vintage Cars and the queue for Swamp Thing to the best ride in the park; Wooden Rumbler!

 

 

Wooden Rumbler is hidden by the trees, so I couldn't get a lot of pictures, but what a fun ride! Though I had to wait for about 35 minutes, it was worth it! The ride is a simple "out and back" coaster, but it offers plenty of airtime. Heck, it was far smoother than The Corkscrew.

 

 

Overall, Great Wonders Amusement park had it's ups and downs, but it was still an enjoyable park, and I can't wait to visit in the future!

Edited by Bryce
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At least one thing brightened up an otherwise crappy trip. It was a shame to see the Corkscrew get knocked on like that. I really love Arrows. Also I noticed you used Maylenes Corkscrew cars. Just a tip. You might want to try Safari J's Arrow Pack as it is best if you want a real accurate Arrow. Good job here though. I love the way everything is. I cant wait to see more.

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At least one thing brightened up an otherwise crappy trip. It was a shame to see the Corkscrew get knocked on like that. I really love Arrows. Also I noticed you used Maylenes Corkscrew cars. Just a tip. You might want to try Safari J's Arrow Pack as it is best if you want a real accurate Arrow. Good job here though. I love the way everything is. I cant wait to see more.

Thanks! And I'll for sure look into getting that set.

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@Christopoll - Thank you!

 

Great Wonders Amusement Park - April 22nd, 1982

 

I recently found out who owned Great Wonders Amusement Park... the elusive McGarnott family. They purchased the property in the early 70s from another family who operated the previous go-kart tracks. The park has flourished since then and has become a local hang-out, but rarely attracts people a lot of outside visitors who aren't from Virginia. Getting this back-story was interesting and left me excited for my next visit... If only park operations were better...

 

 

I snagged a picture of the parking lot. The Corkscrew looms over the lot, beckoning people in. The Corkscrew is also very much visible from the highway the park is located off of.

 

 

The walk from the parking lot to the main entrance is ridiculously long. At least it looks empty from here... possibly due to the fact I arrived around 4 in the afternoon.

 

 

The park entrance really is charming. Again, it looks relatively empty at first glance.

 

 

Then you enter and you realize how crowded it is with school kids and families who love visiting this park. The sad part is that some locals don't care about the conditions of the park and carelessly litter, only to have the trash roll around, going unnoticed by park employees. Anyways, I decided to give the old Wonder Wheel a spin, and it was nice and relaxing.

 

 

I headed to the right-side of the park for The Town Square. I hopped in line for Wild Whirl, and after about 15 minutes of waiting, a group of teenage girls skipped me. I tried notifying a near-by employee, but he shrugged it off and the girls were let on before me.

 

 

Swamp Thing was another must, as I skipped out on this attraction last time. This ride sounds awful. Every time it begins, it sounds like it is about to collapse at any moment, sending happy families for a swim... on the asphalt. The ride would be rather enjoyable, if it was actually maintained well. The indoor queue is nice though.

 

 

I thought I'd brave Great Wonder's "Broadway style" show; Cowboys and Vampires. Note: This was how it was listed on the park map.

 

 

Just to let you know, this is mid-show. Guests just got up and left through the emergency exits. People were laughing, some were rolling their eyes and others plugged their ears due to the singing that "Borthmomma the Vampress" belted out to her cowboy lover, James Horse. What even was this show? This is disgrace. Some of the worst singing and acting I have ever seen. The idea is horrible to begin with!

 

 

 

After that fiasco, I quickly walked to the Vintage Cars, where I had a nice relaxing ride through the woods. A few families were clearly enjoying every minute of this cute little family attraction.

 

 

The alleyway where Wooden Warrior is was very crowded... and yes, I said Warrior. The attraction was recently renamed because some guests thought it would be an unpleasant ride due to the name "Rumbler". Yes, this was an actual concern from some guests... Anyways, this was another great ride on this classic coaster, even though the line clocked in at around 35 minutes.

 

 

I headed to the left-side of the park to give The Corkscrew another go.

 

 

This time, I sat in the middle part of the train and it wasn't as rough as before... actually, it was pretty tolerable and made the ride much more enjoyable. Those corkscrews are pretty forceful, but very fun! The wait for this attraction was around 45 minutes. Very busy!

 

 

The Blue Banquet cafe was a no-go for me today. I wasn't hungry and last time's experience was... awful. As I was leaving the park, I realized that this was, in fact, a locally owned park. I couldn't expect everything to be perfect. And given the circumstances that the park is over-run by wild kids and young adults 24/7, they've got a lot on their hands. That being said, they still need much better customer service and ride maintenance.

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Great Wonders Amusement Park - June 21st, 1982

 

It has been a few months since I've visited Great Wonders, and I decided yesterday that I had to get to the park to see what has been going on. As a approached the exit for the park, I saw two giant cranes emerging from above the tree-line, even taller than The Corkscrew...

 

 

First off, the park has added some new signage out in the parking lot!

 

 

And a new "entrance" that holds the first set of turnstiles for bag check before guests must take the long walk to the main entrance. This makes things much more efficent because now at the main entrance all guests have to do is either buy their ticket or enter with a ticket that they already have. There is no more bag check then ticket check right after another.

 

 

 

As you approach the main entrance you see the two cranes. One is near The Corkscrew and the other is near Wooden Warrior. Lets take a look inside the park...

 

 

The park is, once again, fairly busy. The main strip is relatively unchanged from my last visit. This shows The Town Square, where guests will find Wild Whirl, Vintage Cars, Wooden Warrior, Swamp Monster and Cowboys and Vampires.

 

 

Wild Whirl was having some major issues. The ride was down for a lot of the day. This is in the morning, before it started having problems. The ride-ops for this ride were also very troublesome, as they were slow to load guests on to the ride.

 

 

Swamp Monster had just as slow ride-ops as Wild Whirl did. However, they managed to keep this ride running consistently for the entire day...

 

 

Cowboys and Vampires was not running any shows today... Darn. I really hope the park does something with this sad waste of space.

 

 

And here is the first construction site, going on right by Wooden Warrior. The workers were busy, as you could hear the buzz of power tools eminating from over the fence. As for Wooden Warrior, the park was only running a single train today, which meant for extremely long lines.

 

 

Here is the second construction site, happening around the back half of The Corkscrew. This site was far quieter, but you could tell something is planned for back there...

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You got a nice park on your hands, but I have only a few suggestions. Well the first suggestion is that you should space out your lights and maybe try put some lamps or something on the side of your buildings. Another problem is that you should add a higher fence around some of the bigger rides, especially the coasters. Also you should brighten up your color choices, some of colors that I seen in the photos just make the park in my opinion look boring and dull. Other then that your park is good.

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You got a nice park on your hands, but I have only a few suggestions. Well the first suggestion is that you should space out your lights and maybe try put some lamps or something on the side of your buildings. Another problem is that you should add a higher fence around some of the bigger rides, especially the coasters. Also you should brighten up your color choices, some of colors that I seen in the photos just make the park in my opinion look boring and dull. Other then that your park is good.

Thank you for the suggestions! I agree that those fences need to be higher, particularly around The Corkscrew. One of the new areas planned will be very bright, don't worry! I will probably repaint some of the buildings to a brighter tone, like you suggested. The park has big plans for the future.

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