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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's 2017 US Adventures


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Kennywood

 

I'm at the airport and have some time to burn so I'm going to try something ambitious, a trip report from my phone. After leaving Idlewild, I got to Kennywood around 5. The parking lot was relatively empty, which I figured would be great for lines. And it was! The downside was the park realized it too and planned to close a half hour early. 4.5 hours was plenty of time to get the rides in, but I wasn't able to time a night ride on Phantom since Kennywood closes their queues early, something I ran into back in 2011.

 

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Follow the sign carefully. Failure to do so leads to an interesting looking neighborhood to put it mildly.

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Lake Compounce take note. Kennywood isn't closing their sky ride.

Kennywood is one of my favorite parks. I'm a sucker for classic theme parks that aren't afraid to keep up with modern times and that perfectly describes Kennywood. They have the old wooden coaster and flat ride collection you'd expect from a park nestled in the middle of a neighborhood, but there's something weird and awesome seeing an epic hyper towering over the decrepit buildings around the park.

 

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The entrance reminds me a lot of Lake Compounce with the underground tunnel by the entrance.

I planned to hit Phantom first, but saw Sky Rocket had absolutely no line so I couldn't pass that up. While it's not as intense as the Sky Rocket II's, I prefer the expanded and unique layout. The ride is glass smooth and has a great first 2/3. The launch isn't super powerful but it's fun. The top hat gives great airtime and the weird holding brake results in abrupt air in the back. The first zero-G roll gives marvelous hangtime thanks to the lapbar only trains. The drop off the brake run gives fantastic ejector air in the back and the second zero-G roll is as good as the first.

 

The ride then just dies. It's like the Falcons in the Super Bowl (totally not biased but I think that's the best Super Bowl ever). After the second zero-G roll, the ride crawls through a slow trick track section and two final hills so drawn out that they give no air. If the ride kept up the first 2/3, Sky Rocket would easily be a 9 or 10. Also why do the back rows on Sky Rocket have way less space than the other rows or the back rows on the other Sky Rocket II's? I loved the back but found the fit very tight. 8 out of 10

 

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Kennywood's newest coaster, but that may change in the next year or two based on the rumors.

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The top hat gives some seriously good air.

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Inversions are so much better with just a lap bar.

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Sky Rocket is amazing until the last third when it pretty much does nothing in its return to the station.

Sky Rocket could only distract me so long. It was time for Phantom's Revenge! I only got one ride on it in an abridged visit last year so I was hoping to marathon it. Unfortunately I quickly found out the park pulled a Boulder Dash and was only running one train. I regretfully skipped the very front since it had double the wait of other rows, but I waited about 20 minutes for each of my 3 rides (2 in the 2nd row, 1 in the back). One of my favorite things about Phantom is the restraints. There's a seatbelt and a lap bar like most hypers, but because of how the weird lap bars come from the side, there's an inch or two gap between you and the bar.

 

That meant airtime heaven. The first drop gives good laterals and builds good speed. The second drop is legendary. The view of the factory over the ravine is quite imposing and that tiny little passage below the Thunderbolt looks too small to fit a coaster train. This drop gives a great pop of ejector air in the back and goes on for what seems like forever. The following overbank is fast and forceful and that's followed by the finale. Yes Phantom's Revenge is short. But the finale consists of 5 or so insane pops of ejector air. I forget if there's a double up, double down, or both but the main takeaway is that there's no way your butt will be on that seat.

 

I remember Phantom being a great coaster, but it absolutely blew me away this visit and it shot into my top 5. I preferred the front due to the stronger air during the finale but the back is great too thanks to that 2nd drop. I would love to get a ride on this in total darkness someday, but my last ride was around sunset. I got off only to find the line closed off. 10 out of 10

 

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Phantom's Revenge was better than I remembered. It's a top 5 coaster for me.

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The first drop looks fantastic from the parking lot.

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The ride's famous second drop is as good as advertised. Great air and what a view.

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Note the transition from Arrow to Morgan restraints.

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Y'all ready for airtime?

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Just look at that hair! That's some serious airtime.

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It's short but there's never a dull moment.

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The Phantom's layout surrounds the park's classic Turtle.

Thunderbolt is my favorite of the three woodies. Like most rides at Kennywood it's unconventional. Unfortunately the ride did add seat-belts this year which took away some of the air, but the drops into the ravine all still did provide decent air. Then again, airtime isn't Thunderbolt's primary goal. It's all about sitting next to someone and being forced against your will into the side of the train with those laterals. 8 out of 10

 

I also had the most Kennywood of rides on Thunderbolt at the end of the day. When Phantom closed early, I decided to finish on the classic woodie. As I hinted at the beginning, Kennywood isn't in the nicest of neighborhoods and that's putting it mildly. For those familiar with Thunderbolt, you know it has a separate load and unload area. After the incoming train unloaded, an army of 13 teens (seems too specific to be true but I counted, more on that later) hurdled over the queue and filled up half the train. The staff turned their eye at the stampede but the ride was empty so they didn't end up cutting anyone. Being a single rider, I had to wait for a partner to ride. When I noticed an odd number enter the train, I knew someone needed a partner. I made a new friend. And for those who remember my Clementon report, you know I have bad luck with new friends.

 

The ride started as usual with the great drop out of the station. Then I was treated to the most violent ride of my life. Not bumpy but in this case I started witnessing a WWE wrestling melee between them. Pushing, slapping, choking using doo rags- I got everything. Meanwhile I threw my hands in the air pre-emptively in case the police were at the exit and becasue it's the right way to ride a coaster. Since a winner wasn't crowned in round 1, the ops (who either didn't care or didn't notice) started round 2 since we were the last train of the night. More of the same. Thank god they left me out of it. I don't think I'll ever witness anything like that again.

 

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Kennywood's best coasters all use the ravine to perfection.

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See the lack of banking? This is your chance to get revenge on someone with powerful laterals.

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Gotta love those classic trains.

Jack Rabbit is a one trick pony (or is it rabbit in this case), but it's a great trick. I got a seat in the back car and that double down gave airtime stronger than Phantom's Revenge and the restraints are even more minimalistic. The rest of the ride is smooth and uses the ravine well but the double down is the whole ride. Much like how Mike Trout is the entire Angels team. 8 out of 10

 

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It looks so cute but the double down is intense. Unbelievable how much air it contains.

Racer is often considered the worst of Kennywood's woodies but it's still a really good coaster. I was fortunate to get the back seat in the pick-a-seat free-for-all since a few of the drops give nice air in the back. The racing is a lot of fun and unlike a lot of other coasters, it genuinely seemed like a 50-50 which side would win. Like the other two woodies, Racer runs perfectly smooth too. For what it's worth, my side won. 8 out of 10

 

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And they're off!

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Are you ready to slap hands?

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3 or so of the drops gave fantastic air in the back.

I wasn't planning on hitting Exterminator since that line was one of the slowest and worst I had ever been in. I didn't want to burn an hour on a day with limited time in that queue, but I checked in an hour before closing and lucked out. I only had to wait 15 minutes in the sweaty, overheated scream box of a queue. The ride itself has decent theming (just a step above Dark Knight) but the most critical thing is the darkness and narrow passageways really enhance the spinning. 7 out of 10

 

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The queue was surprisingly short so I was able to ride the spinner in a box.

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The darkness really enhances the spinning.

Time for the kiddie coaster portion of this report. Yes I rode Lil Phantom and of course I was the only adult on the train. It was pretty poor even by kiddie coaster standards. 1 out of 10

 

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What a cute little phantom.

Kennywood has some fantastic flats. The one I was most looking forward to riding was Black Widow. I've never tried one of the Zamperla giant discoveries and was interested to see how they compared to Huss giant frisbees. While waiting for Phantom, I saw the ride was testing. The ride certainly looks impressive and appeared to have a super long cycle. When I went over to the ride, the employee removed the "Closed" sign so I felt lucky. I could only dream of that happening in my last visit to Dollywood. Well before we could board we were told to leave the queue and the ride didn't reopen or test the rest of the night. Bummer but maybe SFNE or SFGAdv will get one of these in the near future.

 

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Black Widow looked awesome. I say looked because...

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Crap. Guess the spider being on a ride is a universal sign a ride will close and not just a SFNE thing.

Of the flats, I rode SwingShot, Kangaroo, and the Whip. SwingShot is still my favorite Screamin' Swing. For whatever reason the air seems stronger on this one. Speaking of air, the unqiue Kangaroo ride gives exactly that in bunches and also makes that quirky sound every time a vehicle jumps. The Whip is about as well run as any whip other than Rye Playland's (that one is run sadistically fast so you crush your partner).

 

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My favorite screamin' swing.

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If you like airtime, this is the ride for you.

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Boing, boing, kangaroo!

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Skipped it this visit. Still looks as fast as ever, but I remember it being bumpy.

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Lost Kennywood really comes alive at night.

The park also has a great trifecta of water rides. I skipped the Raging Rapids and Pittsburg Plunge since I preferred not to be soaked to the bone. I did ride Log Jammer and it's still an above average flume. The final drop is pretty decent, but it's the first drop and the subsequent uphill section that's the real star. I've heard one rumor this ride could be removed for Kennywood's new coaster and I hope that's not true.

 

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The last drop may be taller, but it's the first one that's better.

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Splash.

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Bigger splash.

Kennywood also has 2 great dark rides in Noah's Ark and Ghostwood Estate. For those keeping score, I know Kennywood has 3 dark rides. The third one doesn't qualify as great nor average or even mediocre. Garfield is an embarassment of a ride that should be gutted. Noah's Ark is a rare, quirky walkthrough that I somehow forgot to take a picture of. Ghostwood Estate may look like your typical Sally shooter from the outside, but it has a Haunted Mansion-esque pre-show and the ride has detailed figures that react with each target. Much better than the cardboard targets on many of their other rides.

 

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Two thumbs way up. Much better targets than your average shooter.

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Two thumbs way down or two middle fingers way up. Either work in this case.

Even in a half day I was able to hit pretty much everything I wanted aside from the closed Black Widow. Phantom alone makes Kennywood worth visiting, so when you add in the classic woodies, a good launched coaster, great flats, solid water rides, and cool dark rides, you have a truly special park.

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Being a single rider, I had to wait for a partner to ride. When I noticed an odd number enter the train, I knew someone needed a partner. I made a new friend. And for those who remember my Clementon report, you know I have bad luck with new friends.

 

The ride started as usual with the great drop out of the station. Then I was treated to the most violent ride of my life. Not bumpy but in this case I started witnessing a WWE wrestling melee between them. Pushing, slapping, choking using doo rags- I got everything. Meanwhile I threw my hands in the air pre-emptively in case the police were at the exit and becasue it's the right way to ride a coaster. Since a winner wasn't crowned in round 1, the ops (who either didn't care or didn't notice) started round 2 since we were the last train of the night. More of the same. Thank god they left me out of it. I don't think I'll ever witness anything like that again.

 

I don't know what sounds worse: those teens, or coasterbill's MagnumCreep.

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Great TR at my home park. I agree completely about Garfield's Nightmare. The ride needs a re-theme.Something less trippy. The best fun is forcing all your weight to one side of the boat and essentially stopping. I remember back in middle school, I had the last boat of the day with my friends and we came to a halt with a few empty boats getting stuck behind us. It's really impressive how it is all gravity driven with the small little lift at the beginning of the ride. Also, I really hope they don't remove the Log Jammer. I dunno, I'm not sure a huge new woodie will fit in with the rest of the park, but I guess we'll see.

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But if you try and stop the boat, you'd get stuck in hell longer.

 

The ride system is definitely cool. They just need anything but Garfield. Lake Compounce removed the Garfield IP from their kids section a few years ago so maybe the day is coming when Garfield leaves the Old Mill too.

 

I don't know what sounds worse: those teens, or coasterbill's MagnumCreep.

 

I'll go with those teens. Magnumcreep was definitely creepy but at least he wasn't violent. I've seen crazy enthusiasts before, but this is the first I've seen a brawl like that on a ride.

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Great update! Loved all your pictures from this one!

 

One of my biggest coaster related regrets is not spending more time @ Kennywood. We only stopped for an afternoon on the way to Cedar Point and managed a handful of flats (Paratrooper, Garfield, Bayern Kurve <3) and most of the coasters (all but Exterminator). We all loved it (except for those foul Potato Patch fries) and I hope to get back there sooner rather than later. Phantom is amazing, especially up front. Loved Jack Rabbit and Sky Rocket also (tho you're absolutely right about the last 1/3 of it). I need to go back and do more of the flats and hit those coasters once again. The missus has family in Pittsburgh and we often talk about going out there for a visit... eventually. lol

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Thanks for the TR. Doesn't surprise me that Phantom was only running one train. Maybe the crowds weren't big enough to warrant two on your visit but it's always been one of my pet peeves with the operations of the coaster that they'll start the day with one train and then later on add the second train knowing well enough that it's the park's signature and most popular attraction.

 

I am surprised, though, that Garfield has lasted as long as it has. I thought they were planning on redoing the Old Mill a few years ago.

 

I'd love to see what Kennywood looks like lit up at night as well as ride Phantom in the dark but with the neighborhood a bit on the sketchy side and a 2.5 hour drive home at night just doesn't sound appealing to me.

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Great update! Loved all your pictures from this one!

 

One of my biggest coaster related regrets is not spending more time @ Kennywood. We only stopped for an afternoon on the way to Cedar Point and managed a handful of flats (Paratrooper, Garfield, Bayern Kurve <3) and most of the coasters (all but Exterminator). We all loved it (except for those foul Potato Patch fries) and I hope to get back there sooner rather than later. Phantom is amazing, especially up front. Loved Jack Rabbit and Sky Rocket also (tho you're absolutely right about the last 1/3 of it). I need to go back and do more of the flats and hit those coasters once again. The missus has family in Pittsburgh and we often talk about going out there for a visit... eventually. lol

 

I do like the Potato Patch fries if they are plain but think they are overrated. Knoebels has better fries. Kennywood definitely needs a full day the first time. I had that luxury my first time there and needed it to get on all the different rides since their lineup is so strong and diverse.

 

Thanks for the TR. Doesn't surprise me that Phantom was only running one train. Maybe the crowds weren't big enough to warrant two on your visit but it's always been one of my pet peeves with the operations of the coaster that they'll start the day with one train and then later on add the second train knowing well enough that it's the park's signature and most popular attraction.

 

I am surprised, though, that Garfield has lasted as long as it has. I thought they were planning on redoing the Old Mill a few years ago.

 

I'd love to see what Kennywood looks like lit up at night as well as ride Phantom in the dark but with the neighborhood a bit on the sketchy side and a 2.5 hour drive home at night just doesn't sound appealing to me.

 

I feel fine once I am in my car. I made a pit stop at a nearby Primanti's since I had never been but was advised by a friend to not be there at night after the fact. The sandwich was worth it though.

 

At least they will add two trains when it becomes necessary. Lake Compounce is firmly sticking to one train on Boulder Dash even if the line fills the queue. Honestly the line just slowed rerides but 20 min was still not too bad of a wait for a park's signature ride.

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Waldameer

 

I was afraid I would miss out on Waldameer. The day before, I noticed the weather forecast predicted a 100% chance of thunderstorms and heavy rain. A forecast like that could give pause to a major park opening and would close most smaller, family parks like Waldameer. I called the park the day before asking what their rain policy was. They said as long as it wasn't thundering, they would run everything. Even in heavy rain? They said yes. I went to bed the day before hoping the forecast would be wrong just in case, but it wasn't.

 

The skies were grayer than Obama's hair after he left the office. On the way to Waldameer, I planned to hit Fun Fore All (my hotel was just 5 minutes away, definitely not a coincidence ) and Conneaut (any season could be that park's last). As I pulled into Fun Fore All's lot, it started to rain. Unfortunately, that shut the coaster down. The FEC had a really nice arcade so I stalled for a bit playing pinball and a few games I had never seen before, but the rain didn't stop. I'm not above stopping for a credit, but I wasn't going to wait around like a dog begging for food for a coaster less than 10ft tall to open. That's where I draw the line.

 

Fun Fore All didn't work out, but maybe Conneaut would? Before I could even call them, I saw their Facebook page said they would be closed due to weather. I feel like that's a park that excels in closing so that was expected. I was bummed to miss out on Blue Streak, but at least I should have another better woodie to hit at Waldameer. I called the park again on the way to confirm they were open and they greeted me with an enthusiastic yes. An hour later, I rolled into their almost entirely empty lot (it had less cars than Clementon, a true feat) as my car was pelted with rain. But the park was open!

 

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I had a tough time finding a parking spot.

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On this day, the ride side was also known as Water World.

I messed no time heading towards Ravine Flyer II just in case the weather took an even darker turn for the worse. I was not going to miss this acclaimed wooden coaster. As I walked through the empty queue, the rain slowed down a bit. That was enough to get me in the front for my first ride. The lift gives a breathtaking view of Lake Erie that is as good as the views you get on the lifts at Cedar Point.

 

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No way I was going to risk missing Ravine Flyer II.

The first drop was very steep and I quickly learned Ravine Flyer had an affinity for tunnels. I believe there were 4 or 5. The airtime hill over the bridge gave amazing air and that was followed by an aggressive pop of ejector and a weaker pop on the turnaround hill. The train crawls over the top of the turnaround, but the drop is basically a 2nd first drop so you get all that speed back. The second bridge hill and the two tunnels afterwards give outstanding air and feel even faster than they are thanks to the ride diving in and out of tunnels. The ride loses a lot of speed in parts of the second half when it climbs back up the ravine, but there are still 4 smaller pops of air and a 90 degree turn. What a great ride!

 

I tried Ravine Flyer II in the back afterwards and the ride was excellent as well. The first drop was absolutely crazy, one of the best I've ridden. The major ejector air combined with the view was hard to beat. The air in the second half was weaker in the back, but not by much. I got almost 30 rides in both the front and back (as you can see crowds never became an issue). I preferred the front by a small margin thanks to the better second half and a slightly smoother ride. Despite several aggressive turns and direction changes, Ravine Flyer II is a very smooth ride. It's a great coaster. It just barely misses out on my top 5 since it does let up a tad in the 2nd half. 9.5 out of 10

 

Remember when the employee on the phone said they run everything in heavy rain, they weren't kidding. Most of my rides were in light to no rain, but a few were in the midst of a torrential downpour. For anyone who has ridden coasters in the rain, yes that can be a tad painful to say the least. But with my rain jacket, it was totally worth it and I applaud Waldameer for still running Ravine Flyer II even if I was the only one crazy enough to ride it. I also want to applaud the ride's staff. Despite the low crowds, they were still loading and checking the trains fast. They were also very sociable and among the friendliest I've come across at a park.

 

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The ride had 2 huge drops. This one being the drop off the turnaround.

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The ride absolutely hauls through the first half and has incredible airtime.

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The second half has some intense turns, including a 90 degree one.

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The ride loses quite a bit of speed by the end, but the last few hills still give small pops of air.

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It didn't matter how hard it rained, Waldameer kept sending out trains as long as people were in line.

Steel Dragon was a stark contrast to Laff Trakk. Laff Trakk was braked to death and had the interesting glow-in-the-dark theming. Steel Dragon had as little theming as humanly possible. It was a portable installation; however, once you crest the lift, the brakes don't engage until the very end. While I can appreciate a themed ride, I'll pick the faster, crazier spinning in this case. Also being the only one on the ride ensured there was even more spinning than usual since the car was grossly unbalanced. 8 out of 10

 

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No theming whatsoever, but I'll take that in exchange for an unbraked ride.

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You can really tell how much in rained from the water that pooled below Steel Dragon.

Comet was a solid little coaster. Tucked in the trees, the layout is loaded with some decent headchoppers. I'm pretty sure most other parks would have removed most of those branches but not Waldameer. The setting and slightly longer layout makes Comet better than the junior woodies of comparable size, but the ride experience is otherwise similar. There was one hill with air if I remember correctly. I would have said rain-slicked tracks would help, but the lighter than usual trains probably negated that. 5 out of 10

 

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I really love curved stations.

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The layout is pretty similar to other junior woodies, but none of the others have tree coverage like the Comet.

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This is probably the most full train I saw on any coaster all day.

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No air, but a solid junior woody.

Ravine Flyer 3 was a credit I wasn't expecting. I remembered reading that Waldameer only allowed kids on this one. That was a shame since it looked to have a considerably better layout than most kiddie coasters and was over a fountain. However, I didn't notice any signs banning adults so I casually walked up and the op let me on. Hooray! That made up for the lost credit at Fun Fore All. The ride is mostly smooth, has great placement, and the drop over the shed was a nice touch. I'm not sure if adults are always allowed now or if it depends on crowds, but as far as kiddie coasters go, this is top notch.

 

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Waldameer has a serious affinity for fountains. Keep that in mind as you continue with this report.

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Ravine Flyer 3 was a surprise. I wasn't expecting to get the credit.

Waldameer is also well known for their two classic Bill Tracy dark rides. Whacky Shack is an acid trip of a ride if I've ever seen one, but that's what makes it awesome! From the creepily friendly welcome spiel running non-stop in the queue to the peculiar odor given off by the ride that should be scented by Yankee Candle, Whacky Shack has so many minor touches that makes the ride special. None of the effects are anywhere close to cutting edge, but they were all immaculately maintained and every square inch of the ride was populated with gags. It also had a drop so I'm sure some of you out there would count it as a credit. I really wish more dark rides like this existed. The nostalgia and classic feel of the ride honestly make Whacky Shack better than some of those multi-million dollar dark rides found at Universal or Disney. 10 out of 10

 

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Everything a classic dark ride should be. This is the true hidden gem of the park.

Pirate's Cove is an interesting fun house. Like Whacky Shack, Pirate's Cove tries to disorient riders with rotating lights, darkness, and angled platforms. The ride was incredibly simplistic but a true joy to experience. I came off most rides stumbling side to side like a pirate who had just downed 2 kegs of rum. I would also pay to watch people who were absolutely hammered race through Pirate's Cove since I guarantee you they wouldn't stay on their feet the whole way. 8 out of 10

 

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Ahoy matey, batten down the hatches.

Thunder River was an amazing flume. It's a long ride with two fairly steep and tall drops, a nicely shaded setting, and a long, mist-filled tunnel. The ride is also designed to provide the perfect amount of wetness but that was completely irrelevant on a day when the man upstairs spent the day wringing out his laundry over everyone in the park. 10 out of 10

 

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Want to get even wetter? I had nothing to lose today.

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The smaller hill gets a Canadian flag.

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And the taller hill gets an American flag. I found that hysterical for some reason.

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Splash!

Waldameer also has the beloved Larson/ARM tower in X-Scream. Rising high above the treeline, X-Scream gives absolutely breathtaking views of Lake Erie. I would have loved to see how much I would have been able to see on a perfectly clear day, but it was so serene seeing an empty shoreline and smelling the fresh raindrops. And then you hear the little click and the peace is disturbed as the car drops like a rock and you hover a good foot off your seat the whole way down. There's still something unnerving and awesome the moment before the brakes when you realize your butt is 100% off the seat and you are thrown back down. 10 out of 10

 

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Still the best standard tower out there. This one needs no gimmicks to be absolutely terrifying.

The Sky Ride can be thanked for several or my park photos. It ran down a good chunk of the park and passed by over a dozen rides. It only had one station, but that's fine for a park as small as Waldameer. It's really all about relaxing and getting a birds eye view tour of the park. This was a day before the accident at Great Escape and am still trying to figure out how someone could have fallen the way she did.

 

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Almost a quarter of the photos in this report are brought to you from the Sky Ride.

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Even Waldameer knows how to subtly add advertisements to their rides unlike a park with more than 5 flags.

The rest of the park's ride lineup consists of a mix of new and old flats such as a Spider, Wipeout, Bumper Cars, etc. A few of the ride ops were bouncing across flat rides. One in particular who I ran across at the Flying Swings was particularly awesome. He was clearly excited to have people finally board his ride that he was interacting with us through the speaker all ride. He was also heckling riders on Ravine Flyer II as they flew by. He was so awesome that I stopped by the Happy Swing (it was as meh as you'd expect) when I saw him there later in the day.

 

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The Ferris Wheel probably gave good views. I instead chose to sight-see from atop the drop tower or Ravine Flyer II.

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I've come across a lot of Spiders this year and that's perfectly fine by me.

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North End is synonymous with world class Italian food for me. At Waldameer, it's all about a swing ride.

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The park has a massive disk-o anchoring the South End.

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Another great op was stationed at the Music Express. The louder you were, the faster he cranked the ride up. Since I was the only one on the ride, I experimented and found that to be 100% true.

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Wipeout's queue was right next to Ravine Flyer II's queue. Wipeout never even had a chance with me.

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Something seems to be missing on the inside but I can't but my finger on it.

I skipped the water park since Mother Nature turned the ride park into a water park. I was absolutely soaked to the bone throughout the day, but after the initial bout of rain, I was having too much fun to care. As far as water slides, they looked to be pretty average and nothing worth paying for since Water World is an additional cost on top of the ride side.

 

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Maybe if I wasn't already dripping wet from the monsoon like weather...

Amusement parks are well known for fried food, but I found a new fried delicacy I had never seen before at Waldameer, the deep fried pretzel. The park literally takes a super pretzel, deep fries it, and sprinkles a few bits of extra salt on top. It tasted like a hybrid of two of my favorite theme park snacks in fried dough and soft pretzels so I was in heaven. I had two of these. And they were less than $3 too!

 

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Wtf is a deep fried pretzel?

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It was like a hybrid of a soft pretzel and fried dough. They were absolutely glorious.

With the low crowds, Waldameer closed two hours early at 8. I don't blame them one bit, but I commend them for staying open that late. I think they were hoping the better weather in the evening (last bit of heavy rain was around 4) would bring people in, but it didn't. I think I was the only person on well over half of the rides I took on Ravine Flyer II and the park's other rides.

 

Waldameer is an amazing park. While small, the park has an amazing collection of rides and really knows how to treat the customer well. This is the type of park I wish was closer to me since you can run in for a few hours and be guaranteed to have a great time. Ravine Flyer II alone is worth visiting for, but everything else makes Waldameer better than many of the larger, corporate parks I've been to. It's a bit out of the way, but I will definitely be returning in the future.

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Canobie, we had a day very similar to yours with the mostly all day rain several years ago. Your photos took me back to that day. Everything was running (except for the flume, bummer). There was only about 20 cars in the parking lot. They also closed early at 8. Need a new category for Amusement Parks. I vote it "Best park ever to go to on a rainy day."

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Everything was running (except for the flume, bummer).

Out of all the possible things to close...

 

Awesome report, Canobie. I'm gonna be near there next month, hadn't planned out any time to stop in, but I might just have to figure out some way to wedge it into an already-packed schedule.

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I agree. There is absolutely no way the park made money on the day I was there, but they did earn a repeat customer for sure. I've had few days at a park that were that awesome.

 

Canobie, we had a day very similar to yours with the mostly all day rain several years ago. Your photos took me back to that day. Everything was running (except for the flume, bummer). There was only about 20 cars in the parking lot. They also closed early at 8. Need a new category for Amusement Parks. I vote it "Best park ever to go to on a rainy day."

 

That's ironic the flume closed, but really crummy since I haven't found many that are as good as Waldameer's. It's on par with the one at Knoebels.

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Great Escape

 

On the way home from Pennsylvania, I decided to make a pit stop at Great Escape. It was only an hour out of the way and I hadn't been on the Comet in a few years, so I was due for a ride on one of my favorite wooden coasters. Little did I know that I would be attending on one of the most infamous days in the park's history, June 24, 2017.

 

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Welcome to the Great Escape, aka a family park trying to resist being transformed by the Six Flags corporate virus.

After only having 7 pages of activity in 1.5 years on the Park Discussion page, the park achieved 7 pages in a span of 1.5 weeks. Did the park announce that they would RMC the Comet? Thank god they didn't. Besides the point that the park would never receive a coaster that noteworthy to generate that much discussion, the park unfortunately was the site of one of the oddest and most miraculous accidents ever with their Sky Ride. I left before the accident occurred, but I am still in shock how the girl managed to slide beneath the bar and am very impressed that the parkgoers risked their own safety in order to break the girl's fall and save her life.

 

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I'm stiff baffled how someone could be reckless enough to fall from this thing. Props to the people who broke her fall.

I rolled into the lot at 11:15. Like my visit to Great Adventure earlier in the trip, I had a short and simple plan for Great Escape. I needed to be back in my car by 12:45 to make it back to Massachusetts in time to return my rental car, so my plan was as follows:

 

Step 1- Ride the kiddie coaster.

Step 2- Ride the Comet in the front.

Step 3- Ride the Comet in the back.

Step 4- Ride the Extreme Supernova (time permitting).

Step 5- Avoid the Bobsled at all costs since that ride's putrid capacity would tank Steps 1-4.

 

11:15- I got out of my car.

 

The walk to the entrance gives a great overview of the park's Great Escape Lodge on the way. I was skeptical how well Six Flags could manage a hotel considering their legendarily bad foray into the barbershop industry (look it up if you don't know what I'm talking about), but the Great Wolf Lodge knockoff was actually quite good. The water park doesn't appear to have expanded at all since then though, but they had 3 slides with some tiny pops of air and the whole resort was well-themed. Only negative was the food. The food was as bad as the park food. Guess that's one constant with Six Flags.

 

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Basically a Great Wolf Lodge. Just replace Wolf with Escape.

You also get some great views of the Arrow loop-screw, but I try and forget that the Steamin' Demon exists.

 

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My head hurts just looking at it.

11:20- Made it past the metal detectors. Wow that was well organized for a Six Flags park. Usually it's a sea of people with a poorly marked line...

 

Oh there's the bad line, it was after the metal detectors at the turnstiles.

 

11:35- Made it into the park after being line jumped by who knows how many families. The mosh pit to enter the park was like boarding a plane when people refuse to form a coherent line and instead march forward like a pack of zombies.

 

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You know why I'm in the kids area. And I can't use Bugs Bunny as an alibi this time.

11:40- Entered the line for the kiddie coaster. It appeared to be a two train wait. It's still weird that the park doesn't have a Looney Tunes area. Instead they have a generic Timbertown area, but it looks really nice.

 

The operator was trying to operate the kiddie coaster at maximum efficiency so he asked for a single rider. I didn't see anyone else throw their hands up, so I figured why not and threw my hand in the air much to the shock of the ride op. I tried to board as quickly and nondescriptly as possible. The kid I was paired with sat on the seat closest to the ride platform and just looked blankly at me. I kindly asked him to move since I sure as heck wasn't going to climb over a kid, but he didn't move a muscle. At this point, I was drawing even more attention but I was committed. The boy's dad noticed what was going on and eventually hollered something over in French and finally I had my throne of shame laid before me on Frankie's Mine Train.

 

11:50- Credit obtained. Dignity barely in tact.

 

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No clue who Frankie is, but he has a mine train.

I moved towards the Comet. Along the way I kept telling myself not to get distracted by the Alpine Bobsled. There was no way a coaster with a capacity that low wouldn't already be pulling a 30+ minute wait. But then again, this could be the coaster's last year. The temptation was strong, but the Alpine Bobsled had my back. It was closed.

 

11:55- Successfully walked past the closed Alpine Bobsled.

 

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This ride is just barely open more than Lightning Rod.

12:00- Entered the queue for the Comet.

 

Despite being far and away the park's best attraction, it almost always has the shortest line in the park. Even on a Saturday with clear, sunny skies in June, I figured the ride would have a 10-15 minute wait. I was wrong; I overestimated the wait by 10-15 minutes. That is because it has by far the best capacity of any coaster in the park. The Comet runs two trains and usually dispatched the second train before the previous one hit the brakes (granted they didn't exactly have many restraints to check).

 

I was able to get 2 rides in the very front and 1 ride in the back. Last I rode the Comet in 2013, I remember it being a top 5 wooden coaster for me with fantastic airtime on every hill after the first turnaround and some aggressive laterals on the turns. Having tripled my credit count since then, the Comet wasn't as good as I remembered. It's still a very good wooden coaster, but it's no longer a 10/10 kind of ride for me. The airtime was weaker than I remembered, but it was present on each hill after that first turnaround. The ride is still incredibly smooth which is a borderline miracle to me after seeing the state some of the chain's other wooden coasters. I preferred the front, but the back was really good as well. 8.5 out of 10

 

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The park's star attraction and it isn't even close.

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Every hill after this turnaround has airtime. Not crazy ejector, but moderate floater.

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Still smooth despite the ride's age and Six Flags.

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Not a 10/10 ride like I remembered, but still a very fun wooden coaster from start to finish.

12:15- Stepped off the train after ride number 3.

 

12:20- Entered the line for the Extreme Supernova.

 

After successfully getting 3 rides in the time I expected to get 1 ride, I had some extra time. With that, I decided to try my first Zamperla frisbee, the Extreme Supernova. I'm glad the park finally added another dry ride near the Comet since that section of the park was pretty lonely outside of the adjacent water park. It's still very weird that you have to walk through the heart of the water park to get to the Comet, but in some ways I think that keeps people getting to it since they are distracted by the brightly colored slides and chlorinated water.

 

Most frisbees only give 4 or so max swings. Extreme Supernova instead has a really strong cycle and has plenty of full swings. The full swings aren't as intense as they are on other models, but they do give nice little pops of air. In a Six Flags park that is oddly lacking in the thrill ride department, the Extreme Supernova is an above average frisbee and one of the park's better rides. 8 out of 10

 

12:30- Stepped off the Extreme Supernova.

 

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This is a new sight.

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A pretty good frisbee. Long cycle and it gave plenty of full swings unlike most other models.

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On the left is the park's new for 2017 attraction, the Banzai Pipeline. You can also see just how weird the Comet's placement is.

12:35- Lured into the queue for the Alpine Bobsled.

 

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Well wouldn't you know? It actually opened! But why is it so quiet?

I started making my way towards the front of the park. I was tempted to hit the Bobsled, but I didn't hear the ride's familiar roar so I figured it was still closed. But as I walked by, something was missing. The "Ride Closed" sign was gone! Maybe the ride just opened and I could sneak on without a wait. As I walked into line, I noticed an already sizable queue. But why is the ride so quiet? Then I saw the orange safety vests of doom and a train stuck on the lift hill. Figures the Bobsled would break down.

 

12:36- Nope. Not today. But I hope the ride isn't removed since it's seriously the park's second best coaster and the best steel bobsled in the country in my opinion.

 

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It would manage to get stuck on the lift immediately after opening.

As I made my way towards the gate, I took some photos of the rest of the park. The middle of the park is surprisingly well-shaded for a Six Flags park and has two pretty good flats in Blizzard (among the fastest scramblers out there) and the Screamin' Eagles (not snappable, but great location and fast). The front used to be more charming, but it's now dominated by Sasquatch, Flashback (the renamed Boomerang), and Greezed Lightnin'.

 

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Arguably the fastest scrambler out there.

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I love the location of the flyers.

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A surprisingly smooth boomerang, but I didn't have time to ride it today.

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The park's newest "coaster" does look pretty intimidating at the front of the park.

12:45- Pulled out of the lot. Mission complete.

 

Overall, I had a very short visit to the Great Escape, but I did everything I needed to. The Comet wasn't quite as good as I remembered, but it's still a fun classic. I will likely be back sometime in the near future since my girlfriend wants to go on a trip to Lake George in the next year or two and I'm definitely going to pop in again for a visit. Despite being owned by Six Flags, the park feels somewhat different. It doesn't feel entirely like a family park, but it also doesn't feel fully corporate. It's the grey area in between so I hope the park can continue to hang onto the classic parts that it has retained.

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It's good to hear Comet still runs well. Last time I rode the Comet was when it was sitting along side Lake Erie at Crystal Beach. And one of the reasons I made the trip there was because of my mother's tales of riding it when she was a kid back in the late 1940's. Loving this TR of yours.

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It's really impressive how well the park maintains the Comet. Six Flags isn't the best at maintaining their woodies, but they often aren't the park's star attraction. In this case, the Comet is easily the park's best ride so I think they do pay closer attention to it.

 

That also may be why El Toro has remained smooth all these yeras as well. I know it's a plug and play woodie, but Heide Park proved that even one of those coasters can get rough without the right TLC.

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We ended up missing you by only a couple days. Rikki and I were there on Monday, having decided to make the drive up after her sister's wedding the day before at Bear Mountain. She was so annoyed that the sky ride was closed (she loves those things), especially after learning of the idiocy that shut it down to begin with. Love the charm of that place, especially compared to the corporate feel of the other Six Flags parks that I've been to. Alpine Bobsleds was running a couple days later just fine (and tried to kill me). Looks like you had a great time, though, awesome pictures!

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A secret to getting good rides on the Bobsled is to ride in the 2nd or 3rd row. I find that the front and back rows take the brunt of the impact when the car gets banged around entering into a brake run.

 

I do enjoy Great Escape quite a bit. I know it's out of the way for most people, but Lake George is a good weekend trip for people up north. After the Comet, I think the Around the World/US mini golf is the second best thing in the town. Lake George is the sleeper mini golf capital since I hear everyone rave about Myrtle Beach or Pigeon Forge, but rarely hear about Lake George.

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Ahh, that makes sense then. Ride ops were looking for two riders, and after Rikki and I volunteered, we realized it was for the front row. Here I was thinking that was actually an awesome thing! Still was a great view, and I'm glad to have experienced a little piece of my home park's (SFGAdv) history.

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Huck Finn's Playland

 

With this report I bring you a park that's new to TPR, Huck Finn's Playland!

 

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Hoffman's Playland has reincarnated as Huck Finn's Playland.

After 62 years of operation, Hoffman's Playland closed its doors at the end of the 2014 season. Home to a credit, the bigger loss was the park's classic Lusse bumper cars (as fast as Knoebels, but with no center divider so you could absolutely crush people). It was sad to see another park bite the dust, even if it was more of a kiddie park, but from the ashes rose Huck Finn's Playland.

 

In one of the weirder relocation stories ever, a local furniture store purchased all of Hoffman's Playland's rides and relocated them adjacent to their warehouse. Almost all of the rides were saved and the park is in the midst of its third year of operation. Unfortunately the one ride that didn't make it was the Bumper Cars. However, the coaster lived on and was the main reason for my visit.

 

The park's location is odd and I thought I was going to a construction site. When you get off the highway, you drive down a barely paved road lined with chain-link fences and deserted buildings. This is one of those times that I thought my GPS was trying to kill me. I knew the park had a Ferris Wheel, yet I couldn't see it. But at the end of the road, I was greeted with Huck Finn's Playland.

 

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There's the cute Ferris Wheel. It's somewhere in between a kiddie one and an adult one.

My visit was the definition of credit whoring and a pit stop. I spent less than 10 minutes at the park and that was enough time to take pictures of all the park's rides and ride the coaster. The park is extremely small like Hoffman's was, but Huck Finn's Playland was decently crowded. The ride lines were minimal, but the midways were pretty crowded, probably because for every kid riding something there were 2 parents and a stroller on the midway.

 

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The park is mostly made up of classic kiddie rides.

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But there are some classic flats like the Paratrooper.

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And the Scrambler.

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A Tilt-a-Whirl.

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And this Train that runs around the perimeter of the park.

I paid $2 for my coaster ticket. On the way over, I was snapping photos of the Roller Coaster (yes that's its name) and the Ferris Wheel. The ride operator watched me do this and when I went up the ride ramp, he asked if I was a roller coaster enthusiast. I guess an adult riding a kiddie coaster all alone is a tell-tale sign nowadays. I proudly said yes and grabbed the best seat in the house, the front. I have been on a few of the Herschell kiddie coasters, but this one has a unique "high-speed turn" after the lift instead of the slow, flat turn. This turn did give some laterals thanks to the minimal banking, but it was bumpy. The rest of the ride was fairly smooth and I got 3 laps.

 

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The operator was staring me down as I photographed the park. He could tell I was a coaster enthusiast.

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See I wasn't the only adult riding it...except I think he had a kid next to him.

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Check out that high speed turn.

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Huck Finn's Playland is the perfect pit stop if you're in the Albany area.

I'm glad to see Hoffman's Playland reincarnated as Huck Finn's Playland. I hope the park can find a way to add the Bumper Cars back since they were true gems, but in the meantime it looks to be bringing in the families on the weekends. If any of you credit whores are passing by Albany, I recommend popping in for a few minutes since it's free admission and just 1-2 minutes off the highway.

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Story Land

 

Story Land is, as one of my coworker's says, the "Disneyland for poor people." For kids, that's a very fair point. Instead of Mickey Mouse, they have Duke the Dragon. Instead of Cinderella, they have, well they actually have Cinderella. And each ride in the park has great attention to detail that makes a standard tilt-a-whirl or tea cup ride just a bit more special and memorable for kids.

 

For a single adult, Story Land can be a little awkward, but Roar-o-saurus is such a good roller coaster that it's worth waiting in line with dozens of kids half your size as parents confusedly look at you wondering where your kid is. Also while the theming is meant for the younger audience, I can still appreciate just how well themed the entire park is.

 

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Welcome to, as my coworker calls it, "Disneyland for Poor People."

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This may not be Disneyland, but you can still meet Cinderella.

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No really, the park actually has their own Cinderella.

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Lake Compounce advertises Story Land. Story Land advertises Lake Compounce. Now that's a good business relationship.

Being a Story Land veteran, I knew how to tour the park. The key is to not run towards Roar-o-saurus. Not only would a single adult running through a children's park draw unwanted attention, but Roar-o-saurus opens a half hour after the rest of the park. So what did I do instead? I rode Story Land's coolest coaster, the Polar Coaster. By taking the shortcut up and over the hill (Six Flags Magic Mountain make all other hills seem puny), I was on the second train of the day.

 

What would otherwise be an uneventful junior coaster is actually a decent ride thanks to its location on the hillside. The first half is a series of slow turns, but the second half has a decent little helix and a small little hill over the water. It's not a very thrilling ride, but it's a coaster I grew up on and better than a few of the mine trains I've been on. 5 out of 10

 

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This is without a doubt the park's coolest ride.

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The Polar Coaster has a really nice setting on the hill.

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Helix of death!

After that, I made my way over to a ride that's certainly a mouth full to say, Dr. Geyser's Remarkable Raft Ride. On hot summer days, this ride can actually start to pull half hour waits, but I entered an entirely empty queue building and was able to get two solo rides back-to-back on the river rapids ride. Actually I lied, Dr. Geyser's isn't really a "river rapids" ride. It's more of a gentle stream with sprinklers, misters, and geysers around every corners.

 

While most rapids rides can get you uncomfortably wet for the rest of the day, Dr. Geyser's actually provides the perfect amount of wetness in most cases unless you hit the jackpot and get absolutely nailed by every single one of the geysers. The latter happened on my second ride but I didn't mind since it was 90 degrees and I had my belongings safely tucked away in zip lock bags. 8 out of 10

 

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Not the distinct lack of rapids on the "river rapids" ride.

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But there are geysers!

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And a mist filled tunnel that smells as dank as a pair of used rain boots.

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Dr. Geyser's blows his load.

It was 9:50, so I had 10 minutes until I could board the park's innocent-looking but incredibly awesome Gravity Group wooden coaster. No better way to spend it than riding the park's adorable log flume, the Bamboo Chutes. If you don't look at those boats and go "aw", there's something seriously wrong with you. It's a pretty short layout for a flume, but the park has some great landscaping around the flume, a giant dragon that is a squirter instead of a screamer, and a good final plunge built on a hillside. 7 out of 10

 

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Bamboo Chutes is the cutest flume around. Just look at those panda logs!

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Bamboo Chutes is good; Pablo Sandoval is not. What a waste of 0 million dollars.

The clock struck 10. The rope dropped and the dinosaur section was open to park guests. Quite a few kids and parents had the same idea as me, but the weak dropped out as they were distracted by the Magic Submarine sprayground, cotton candy, or their own light-up sneakers. I made my way to Roar-o-saurus and saw an employee standing out front. Closed...

 

I did not just drive 3 hours to visit a park whose star wooden coaster would be closed all day. Thank goodness I didn't. That would be Dollywood. The employee assured me Roar-o-saurus would be up and running sometime in the next hour. Phew. That was a crisis averted.

 

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My faith and justification for visiting a children's park rested in their hands.

With an extra hour to explore the park, I sampled a few of the park's other rides. I tried the park's Splash Battle and got much wetter than I anticipated. While at Dollywood, the older guests barely used the off-ride water sprayers since they were afraid of getting wet themselves, the younger guests at Story Land had absolutely no reservations getting soaked to the bone since they didn't have to worry about leaving with non-functional cell phones or soggy wallets. They stood in there like a major leaguer taking a retaliation fastball and made sure I left the ride dripping wet.

 

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The pharaoh reigns down on his subjects.

Their flat collection looks amazing. Honestly, I think they theme their flat rides better than the flat rides at Disney or Universal. Their Alice in Wonderland tea cups ride has a well-themed queue with the Cheshire Cat. The tubs of fun is located in an elaborately themed cuckoo clock. And the park built an entire Dutch Village just to go with their little roto jets ride where you ride in Dutch Shoes. I'm really not kidding, just look at the photos how well they theme all their flats.

 

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The tea cups ride theming is on par with Disney.

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But then the queue blows Disney out of the water. Now you see me.

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Now you don't.

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I honestly think the theming must have cost more than the ride here. Just look at that theming!

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There's an entire village around the little Dutch Shoes ride.

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Still the only park I've ever seen this flat at.

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These were the best themed tubs I had ever seen on a Tilt-a-Whirl until I saw Holiday World's turkeys. I mean you can't beat a turkey. Unless it's on Thanksgiving.

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Slow and unsnappable, but they look pretty good. Not quite good as Canobie's cocks though.

After riding Flying Fish, I heard the clickity clack of a lift hill and saw Roar-o-saurus cycling trains. I made my way back to the dino area and 5-10 minutes later, the ride reopened. My first few rides on Wooden Warrior absolutely blew me away (like everyone else) and I was amazed a ride that small could provide that much air. When Story Land built a similarly sized Gravity Group wooden coaster, I hoped it would be equally as amazing but was afraid Story Land would tame the ride down due to the park's clientele. Much to my pleasant, Roar-o-saurus is actually wilder and a more aggressive ride.

 

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Woohoo, the maintenance guys did it!

Every single hill give a very brief but abrupt pop of airtime. The ride feels very much like a buckling bronco. While most coasters have some downtime between elements, Roar-o-saurus doesn't let up and has some of the tightest transitions I've seen on any coaster between elements. This keeps the intensity up, but unfortunately it adds some shuffling. Nothing too rough, but it was definitely noticeable. I got 5 rides on Roar-o-saurus. It wasn't quite as good as I remembered last year, but it was still a great coaster and by far the best ride in the park. 8.5 out of 10

 

After my last ride, I saw a teenager complaining to the operator about his lost phone. Despite the park having free storage bins and warning riders the coaster is much wilder than it looks (both verbally and with a detailed whiteboard listing how many riders in the day and season have lost keys, wallets, and phones), the guy lost his shiny iPhone 7 and it landed face-up in the middle of the ride. I'm honestly impressed the screen didn't shatter, but the teen wasn't impressed that the park refused to stop operations to retrieve his phone.

 

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It may only be 35ish feet tall, but the ride is aggressive. Air on every single hill.

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Just look at that guy's face in row 2.

One other particularly unique attraction is the Antique Carousel. Instead of going up-and-down like 99% of the other carousels out there, Story Land's classic carousel allows riders to rock back and forth. I think the intent is for parents to rock their kids gently back and forth, but this can easily turn into one heck of a workout violently rocking the horse back and forth on your own.

 

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It's like the Derby Racer except normal speed.

I had also planned to hit Attitash and Whale's Tale in the same day, so I called it a day after 5 rides on Roar-o-saurus. On my way out, I passed through the park's older area. I used to spend hours in this section as a kid since they have some animals acting out childhood classics as well as playgrounds galore.

 

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Where's the wolf?

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Goat big or goat home.

I know it's primarily a children's park, but if you are in the area, I definitely recommend checking out Story Land. Roar-o-saurus is a really good wooden coaster. I know I seem to be in the minority as I like it over Wooden Warrior, but the ride has more to it at the expense of being slightly rougher.

 

After leaving I stopped at my favorite restaurant in the area for lunch, Glen Junction. It's a really good breakfast place and they have model trains running around the restaurant which is a definite plus from me.

 

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Best restaurant in the area.

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They have great food and trains.

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