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TR: Northern California and Pacific Northwest Trips 2013


rcdude
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I remember visiting Harrah's Automobile Collection when it was housed in a bunch of warehouses on the other side of Reno from where the museum is now. The collection was even larger then, but the new museum is a much nicer facility (Harrah bought a lot of duplicate cars that were eventually sold off).

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Time to wrap this up. Since the other two parks are both small and we spent less than two hours at each, I'll just combine them into one report. Note that pictures will be limited (although I'll include a few bonus ones from the drive home).

 

Pacific Northwest Park 2: Oaks Amusement Park-August 10th, 2013

 

Oaks Amusement Park is one of Oregon's two parks. The place is located in Sellwood Riverfront Park south of downtown Portland. While getting to the park is a little awkward, there are plenty of signs to guide you. It is quite small, but the ride selection looked decent for a couple hours. Add in the roller skating rink, go karts, miniature golf, and just looking around the general area, and you could probably spend a half day here fairly easily. We only had a couple hours, so we just did a few rides.

 

One other thing worth noting about Oaks Amusement Park is that it is incredibly cheap. Free admission, free parking, and rides are only $2.50 each (excluding go karts). An unlimited wristband good for everything except go karts and golf is $15.25 (go karts and golf are $6 each, or a $10 upcharge on the wristband for one ride and game). The wristband even include the roller skating rink, although you do have to rent skates ($1.50 to $5 depending on model). As for food prices, we got ice cream cones here and we got two cones for less than the price of one at Wild Waves, so definitely less than most parks. Finally, if you're visiting check the website for promotions: I found a coupon that got us unlimited ride bracelets for $8.

 

Ride Reviews: I rode each of the following once.

 

Looping Thunder: The biggest, most intense coaster in Oregon, this is a standard Pinfari ZL42 model. This was my first experience with a Pinfari, and while the ride was far from great it was not as bad as I was expecting. Due to the car design you really feel every jerk in the ride, but other than that it wasn't bad. I actually preferred this ride to Wild Thing as it did more.

 

Rock-O-Plane: An old Rock-O-Plane ride, this one was very good. It felt significantly faster than the other version of the ride I've been on (the one at SCBB), and it was possible to get the cars flipping with little effort. Even though I find these rides somewhat sketchy, they are still one of my favorite old-school flats.

 

Cosmic Crash: I had heard Oaks Amusement Park's Scooter Cars were among the best bumper cars out there, but sadly I discovered they had been replaced with more modern bumper cars. Fortunately, this park doesn't have any of the restrictive rules common nowadays and the cars run full speed, so it was still a pretty good bumper car ride.

 

Zoooooom: A Miler Family Coaster, this was probably my least favorite of the type as it was quite jerky. The ride is the larger 16 ft model with a helix and does two laps.

 

We also rode the train (don't remember if it had a different name), which was just a basic lap around the picnic area and not all that interesting. The rest of the rides are mainly carnival rides, although there is a mix of new and old attractions.

 

Overall, Oaks Amusement Park is a decent park, but I certainly wouldn't go out of my way for it. Even on a Saturday evening, the place wasn't too crowded and operations were very good so even the longest lines would only take 10-15 minutes. Even though the ride section feels like a permanent carnival the park has a nice atmosphere and has some history behind it.

 

Pacific Northwest Park 3: Enchanted Forest-August 11th, 2013

 

I've been curious about Enchanted Forest ever since I discovered the place, so I was really glad we were able to fit it into the trip. The park is about 10 minutes south of Salem, Oregon, and is located right next to I-5. It's a small park, and there are only 4 adult rides, so don't expect to spend more than a couple hours here (we were here less than two). The park charges an admission fee of around $10, and then it is pay per ride (rides were $1-4, unlimited wristband was about $25 on top of admission).

 

Half of Enchanted Forest consists of a variety of fairy tale displays. Many of the fairy tales are familiar, especially if you're a fan of Disney movies, but the displays are quite strange. Some feature basic animatronics, but most of them are static, and slides are everywhere (I counted at least four). The other half of the park has several streets each themed to a different era (Wild West street, Medieval street, etc.). The place was nice, but you could tell it was done as cheaply as possible. While there are only four rides, I'd say all four are must-ride because they are unique.

 

Ride Reviews: As we were doing pay per ride, we only did each once.

 

Haunted House: Technically not a ride but a walkthrough, the Haunted House featured a variety of animated displays and cheap effects. It's not that scary for an adult, but I can see how a kid would be scared. Many of the effects seemed similar to those found in Disney's Haunted Mansion, but done on a budget and changed enough to avoid any kind of lawsuit. The walkthrough is also quite long, so it is definitely worth the price.

 

Big Timber Log Ride: A Miler Water Coaster, the Big Timber Log Ride is half log flume, half roller coaster. The ride is about four minutes long and features two lifts, three drops, and a decent flume section before the coaster track starts. Due to staff shortages, they were only running two logs when I rode, but there was no line and the operators talked with us until it was time to go. Decent flume ride, though not spectacular, and as for the question...I'd call it a credit, but a strict counter wouldn't.

 

Ice Mountain Bobsled: This was a funky custom built coaster that looked more like an alpine coaster and the theming made it feel like a ghetto Matterhorn. The ride was actually decent, probably the best steel coaster of the whole trip, but it is more for kids. The ride is long, so since only one train was running there was a bit of a wait, but it was still only 15 minutes or so.

 

Challenge of Mondor: Not only is this the best ride at Enchanted Forest, but it is one of the best dark rides outside of Disney and Universal parks. The ride is a trackless shooting dark ride, and unlike other similar rides it takes advantage of being trackless. The vehicles move forward, backward, spin, and go down dead-end paths only to reverse out. Theming is great, although the story doesn't make the most sense. I scored around 1,700 points, my Dad got a couple hundred higher, not bad for a first ride (2,000 is considered a good score here, 3,000 a great score). If you score the high score of the day (around 3,200 when we rode) you get a special medal, and if you can beat the all time high score (over 5,000) you get an even better prize.

 

Enchanted Forest was a nice park. Of the three I visited on this trip, I'd say it was probably my favorite, but it certainly has the smallest ride selection. The park is really more for kids, but I'd still recommend checking it out if you're in the area. Employees are great and very friendly, and according to a couple we talked to the park is often dead outside of Saturdays and Sunday afternoons, so crowds are not an issue here.

 

Pictures:

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After leaving Washington on Saturday, we arrived in Portland around 7 P.M.

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We went searching for an Ice Cream shop recommended by a relative (Salt & Straw), but after finding a massive line we ditched that plan and went straight to Oaks Amusement Park.

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Looping Thunder is the biggest, most intense coaster in the state of Oregon, but it's just a carnival coaster.

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The loop on this ride has to be one of the smallest anywhere.

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Time for the Rock-O-Plane. This is probably the park's best ride.

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I always like the look of carnival parks at night. They just seem to come alive when the lights turn on.

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Unlike most modern bumper car attractions, there are no "one way only" or "avoid head-on collisions" rules here, and the cars run full speed.

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Unfortunately, I was greeted by this. A bit disappointing, but I'm still glad we rode.

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Time for the bumper cars. I was excited to try an old Lusse Scooters attraction.

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An old Spider all lit up. It's nice to see the park has old rides like this...

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Right next to new thrills like Scream N Eagle. This ride got very close to the trees.

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The site of the old Lewis and Clark dark ride. A sign said something new is coming soon, but I don't know what.

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No park is complete without a Carousel.

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The next day we visited Enchanted Forest, Oregon's other amusement park.

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The witch's Gingerbread House from Hansel and Gretel. This is the first walk-through encountered on Storybook Lane.

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The crooked house was toward the end of the trail. I took several pictures of other displays, but sadly due to low light most are quite blurry.

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At the end of Storybook Lane, you end up on Wild West Street. To give an idea of size, this was half the street.

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It's great when parks add little details for a laugh.

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The Haunted House is partially hidden by trees. You can't see the full three story building until right when you get to the steps.

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RC boats for kids. This is one of the nicer areas I've seen on one of these attractions.

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The big drop on Big Timber is bigger than the biggest drop on Looping Thunder. Even though you approach this drop at speed since it comes at the end of the coaster section it is still too slow to give any airtime.

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The Big Timber Log Ride is located at the junction of Wild West Street and Medieval Street. The station is themed to a sawmill and includes a second story observation deck.

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Heading down onto Medieval Street, the location of the park's other two rides.

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Ice Mountain Bobsled, the best coaster in the state of Oregon.

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Part of the ride is on an artificial mountain, and the other part runs along the natural hillside.

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The ride has two lift hills, giving it a ride time well over two minutes and leading to a long wait when there is only one train.

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After leaving the park, we drove down the California coast and passed through Redwood National Park.

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A view of the Pacific Ocean.

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There isn't much to do in Redwood National Park in terms of attractions (most of it is longer hikes), but we did stop at the biggest tree in the park.

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Sounds like a Cedar Fair name, but it gets the point across.

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One more look at Big Tree. You sure feel tiny standing before a 300 foot tree.

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We spent the night in Eureka, so we went exploring the Samoa Sand Dunes in the evening.

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The beaches out here are quite rocky, but we saw a few people relaxing.

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Sunset from the Samoa Sand Dunes.

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One last look out to sea. This concludes my 2013 summer trip report. Thanks for reading!

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Nice Photo TR. Those small parks seem like fun and all the non-coaster stops in Oregon seem very nice. I'd definitely like to visit this part of the country as I've never been to Washington and I was barely in Oregon for a few hours and I didn't go near the places you did. Sounded like a great trip.

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Cosmic Crash: I had heard Oaks Amusement Park's Scooter Cars were among the best bumper cars out there, but sadly I discovered they had been replaced with more modern bumper cars.

It hurt to read this. That was one of the greatest sets around, even among Lusses. Quality bumper cars are dying out at an alarming rate these days.

 

I'm calling the rockin' Rock-O-Plane their star attraction as of now. Glad to see confirmation that something will replace the quirky dark ride; hoping it's more of the same with a better theme.

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Nice TR! The Pacific Northwest is definitely not for a coaster specific trip but should not be written off as they are many nice natural sites to see and some of the cleanest air one will ever breathe. Growing up, my family did several Northern California camping trips including visiting Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Redwood National Park and the State Parks inside of it, Oregon Caves National Monument, Crater Lake National Park, Lava Beds National Monument, Mount Shasta, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Burney Falls State Park, and Lake Tahoe, amongst other places.

 

In November 2010, I did a road trip to visit a friend who had moved to Seattle and drove up Hwy 1 north of SF until it merged back with US 101 and drove up the Oregon Coast over a couple of days. I stayed in Seattle over a week and saw sights in and around Seattle including a day trip to Olympic National Park. I also drove to Vancouver from Seattle and spent a couple of nights there and to drove to North Cascades National Park on my way back to Seattle. I got to experience sun, rain, and snow while in Seattle. After Seattle, I took I-5 south and spent a night in Portland on my way home. All in all it was a really fun trip and your TR reminded me of a mix of my summer camping trips and my road trip. The only NW theme park I have heard of back then was Wild Waves, and I assumed it was going to be closed in November. I think I saw some waterslides off of I-5 south of Seattle and was pretty sure it was Wild Waves. I thought about spending a night at a Great Wolf Lodge in WA but I wanted to get further south of Seattle in a day so I decided against it. Had the Great Wolf Lodge been located in central OR, I probably would have spent a night there. I had originally planned to drive towards Mt. Rainier but scrapped it was snowing/raining my whole drive from Seattle to Portland and I couldn't see Mt Rainier or any mountain in the background.

 

I definitely would want to do another NW road trip when I get a new car, but in the Spring or Summer. There are places I wanted to see that I just didn't get around to (or weather wouldn't permit) and they are places I wouldn't mind revisiting. If I was staying with my friend in Seattle again, I would invite him to Wild Waves for a day as a thank you as he also likes theme parks and water parks, and I could cross that park off my list.

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Giant Tree, Humboldt Redwoods State Park

One more look at Big Tree. You sure feel tiny standing before a 300 foot tree.

 

 

 

A suggestion for Big Tree Photography: since ancient trees are beyond the scale that we experience with the young trees surrounding us, having a human or even some object in the foreground helps with a sense of scale.

 

The only "theming" I like at SFMM is the foam Sequoia tree, which is peeling from years of sun exposure and no maintenance. I wonder how many customers realize that actual Sequoia trees (Giganteum) can grow that large?

 

The best coasters in the Northwest are at Silverwood. I hope Rocky Mountain makes something for them soon (in addition to Topper Track) since they are almost next door. I haven't been on Coaster in Vancouver, yet.

 

Mark in Oregon

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Nice! You made it into my new home! Looks like you had fun. The outdoors is really where oregon shines and it looks like you took full advantage of it! Sucks you couldnt make it out to silverwood. Ill be making it out there at the end of September.

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The best coasters in the Northwest are at Silverwood. I hope Rocky Mountain makes something for them soon (in addition to Topper Track) since they are almost next door. I haven't been on Coaster in Vancouver, yet.

 

You're in for a treat when you do finally ride Coaster at Playland. Just like Timber Terror, looks can be deceiving. It's just a real fun coaster with some crazy airtime. I also agree that Silverwood has some of the best wood coasters around.

 

I actually have Coaster, Tremors, and Timber Terror in my top 10, having been on most of the woodies here in the US/Canada.

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Nice Photo TR. Those small parks seem like fun and all the non-coaster stops in Oregon seem very nice. I'd definitely like to visit this part of the country as I've never been to Washington and I was barely in Oregon for a few hours and I didn't go near the places you did. Sounded like a great trip.

 

It was a great trip. I definitely recommend anyone into nature stuff visit Oregon and especially Washington at some point. None of the parks have anything spectacular but they're all fun for a 2-4 hour visit and I generally find that small parks are just as much fun to visit as major parks since most of them have certain things that make them unique.

 

Cosmic Crash: I had heard Oaks Amusement Park's Scooter Cars were among the best bumper cars out there, but sadly I discovered they had been replaced with more modern bumper cars.

 

It hurt to read this. That was one of the greatest sets around, even among Lusses. Quality bumper cars are dying out at an alarming rate these days.

 

It is rare that I find something I'm not expecting at an amusement park, but this was one of them. My dad was a little surprised I considered the bumper cars a must ride attraction when they looked just like standard bumper cars. Fortunately the ride was one of the better bumper car rides, but I'm sure it used to be great. The change must have just happened this year as I'm guessing someone would have discovered it by now if it hadn't.

 

A suggestion for Big Tree Photography: since ancient trees are beyond the scale that we experience with the young trees surrounding us, having a human or even some object in the foreground helps with a sense of scale.

 

The only "theming" I like at SFMM is the foam Sequoia tree, which is peeling from years of sun exposure and no maintenance. I wonder how many customers realize that actual Sequoia trees (Giganteum) can grow that large?

 

I had a picture that showed the base, but due to the light it was very blurry. I've been to Sequoia National Park twice and Kings Canyon National Park as well and it's always amazing how big the trees actually get. Until I saw the real things, I thought the SFMM Sequoia had to be exaggerated, but it's not.

 

Nice! You made it into my new home! Looks like you had fun. The outdoors is really where oregon shines and it looks like you took full advantage of it!

 

I definitely agree with this. There is little in Oregon that is not nature-related that I'm interested in. While the state is not somewhere I'd necessarily like to live, it is definitely one I wouldn't mind visiting from time to time just to get out of a city environment.

 

The best coasters in the Northwest are at Silverwood. I hope Rocky Mountain makes something for them soon (in addition to Topper Track) since they are almost next door.

 

Sucks you couldnt make it out to silverwood. Ill be making it out there at the end of September.

 

I also agree that Silverwood has some of the best wood coasters around.

 

Silverwood is one of those parks I really want to get to but probably won't get to for a long time. In order to fit it on this trip, we probably would have had to skip Wild Waves, Mt. Rainier, the Columbia River Gorge, and possibly even Mt. Hood and still would have only had a half day for the park. Next time I visit the Pacific Northwest, Silverwood will be a priority (especially since I don't really care about returning to the other parks unless they add major new attractions).

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