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Great addition for the park but very curious on the decision to snake it around the existing slides and cluster up the area. Will be very interesting to watch it be built and see how it impacts the water park visually.

This will be Waldameer's biggest single investment to date at $7-8mil, coming in at roughly $1mil-ish more than RFII cost to build ($6mil).

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Not sure if it’s been mentioned on this forum (too lazy to check) but there was a news article a few months back that said Waldameer was going to invest “over $50m within the next 10 years”. To me that is a hefty investment for themselves, and I’m all for it. The water coaster aligns with that article.

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  • 3 months later...

Wow, that's gonna be a huge hit for them.  Looks nice and long, does anyone know the lengths of the longest water coasters and where this lies?  I seem to remember the Dollywood one was on the short side (after riding those at Holiday World especially).

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We aren't breaking any records, but hopefully the setting really makes this attraction stand out. Definitely a skyline-altering addition for Water World. Vertical construction of fiberglass will likely not be very visible until late-winter, so we will have to wait to see in-person how tight this thing is crammed in.

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It looks great... I asked about the length b/c it definitely looks longer than the one at Dollywood.  Waldameer can't go wrong, love the place.  A rare class act, top notch everything. 

I'm a huge fan of Comet... that special smart AND classic station.

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  • 1 month later...

Not a great light being shined upon ProSlide by Paul Nelson with Rocket Blast likely a miss on being ready for the opening of Water World:


Article might be paygated, so here is the contents:


Waldameer's new $9 million water ride likely to miss opening-day deadline

Published 5:12 a.m. ET Feb. 16, 2023

Paul Nelson, the owner of Waldameer Park and Water World, was in no hurry for the summer of 2022 to come to an end.

On the heels of two disappointing seasons, this past year was a record-breaker. The weather was good, the crowds were large and, for the most part, the park was able to find the staff it needed.

But there was a silver lining to the end of the season.

It meant work could begin on Waldameer's new $9 million water coaster, a 67-foot-tall ride that will use water jets to blast riders uphill.

"It's going to be a very thrilling attraction," Steve Gorman, the park's president, said in August. "You can go up and down and you will be intertwined with other existing slides."

Plans called for truckloads of materials to begin arriving at the Millcreek Township amusement park shortly after it closed on Labor Day.

And Nelson had hoped to have the new ride — which goes by the name RocketBlast on the ride maker ProSlide's website — ready when the water park opens on Memorial Day weekend.

But that seems unlikely. Months later, construction remains stalled near the starting line.

The problem is a familiar one. Waldameer can't get its hands on the steel, fiberglass and countless pieces of hardware needed to build its newest attraction.

Shipments of materials were supposed to begin in September, but five months later, Nelson estimates the park has received only half of what it needs. Some concrete has been poured for the ride's foundation, but not much else has happened.

In what's been a mostly mild winter, "We expected to have it half done by now and we've got maybe 10%," Nelson said.

That means the park's plan to open the ride on Memorial Day weekend won't likely happen. While the rest of the water park is expected to open by that date, Nelson expects the new ride might not be ready until mid- to late June.

Nelson knows that supply-chain issues are everywhere. For more than two years now, the auto industry has struggled unsuccessfully to catch up with demand.

But that doesn't mean Waldameer's 89-year-old owner is OK with the delay.

"It would be nice if this was easier," he said. 'They (the ride company) promised us the world, but the world is not coming to us."

ProSlide did not respond to emailed questions about the delay.

The Ontario, Canada-based company did report on its website that 2023 was likely to be a record year.

According to the company, "By the end of 2023, ProSlide will be on pace to complete close to 50 projects and commission almost 200 attractions around the world."

After putting new attractions on hold for the past two years, Nelson said he's been looking forward to something new.

"I am not happy," Nelson "I have never missed a (scheduled) opening in all the years I've been here."

Gorman, the park's president, prefers to look on the bright side.

"The positive part of this is I think we will be very happy when this is done," he said. "I think it's going to be a great addition to the park."


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To clarify the statement below....


"I am not happy," Nelson "I have never missed a (scheduled) opening in all the years I've been here."

The following attractions have all missed their "Scheduled Opening"

  • 1986: Water World 
  • 1996: Thunder River
  • 2004: Steel Dragon
  • 2008: Ravine Flyer II (excluding delays in construction approval)
  • 2015: Wave Pool
  • 2016: Kidz Slide and Spray Zone
  • 2017: Battle of Lake Erie
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"I am not happy" Nelson said...

I love Waldameer and will support them every year, but is Mr. Nelson ever happy?  😁  I don't think I've ever seen him crack a smile when he whizzes past in his golf cart!

Seriously though, God bless him.  89 years old and still going strong.  Much respect.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Well, Waldameer finally did what I figured they would do ever since purchasing the old Inn at Presque Isle... The finally bought out the Village Mobile Home park, which sits along 6th Street between Peninsula Drive and their other entrance on West Lake Road: https://www.yourerie.com/news/local-news/slapped-in-the-absolute-face-village-mobile-home-residents-upset-on-new-park-ownership/

For those that are curious, the mobile home park is highlighted below.

The news article mentions that Waldameer is acquiring 27.5 acres of land. The mobile home park consists of only 13.7 acres (according to tax maps) so I wonder what other property is included in the purchase.

Big expansion possibilities.


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It has been expected for a long time.  It makes me wonder how different the park is going to look in the next 10 or so years, that's a pretty large addition of land, but they'd need to make some large changes in the park to make it accessible.

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11 minutes ago, pryonisys said:

It has been expected for a long time.  It makes me wonder how different the park is going to look in the next 10 or so years, that's a pretty large addition of land, but they'd need to make some large changes in the park to make it accessible.

Unless they turn the new space into parking lot and develop the old portion of the lot.

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I remember when we visited the park I found it strange walking through a trailer park trying to find the park. They can make a nice new parking lot and entrance and expand the park!

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If they don't expand the waterpark into the current Parking lot and turn the mobile home park into a new lot then I would say turn the old lot in the back of the park into new expansion. They could create one large lot in the front and develop the older lot into more ride space. But it seems like they will be looking to expand the water park. I know when we visited last year the water park was packed, they had a line extending to the entrance of the park from the water park entrance just to get in and this was pretty much all day. So a water park expansion seems likely.

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On 5/8/2023 at 4:35 PM, _s3_ said:

The news article mentions that Waldameer is acquiring 27.5 acres of land. The mobile home park consists of only 13.7 acres (according to tax maps) so I wonder what other property is included in the purchase.

The purchase is the mobile home park only which is in the ballpark of 12-15 acres of land. There are no immediate plans for the property, but the opportunity to purchase was presented and the price was right. It will stay as a mobile home park for the time being. 

Things of note when it comes to far off future land use:

  • The parking situation needs improvement. This is a shared thought across management. You can combine the acreage of the west parking lot and its overflows and still have significant land to spare to increase parking further within the acquired land. Parking across Peninsula Drive on Saturdays in July and August is not ideal at all.
  • Water World isn't likely to expand too far outside its current boundaries.

For future attractions anywhere in the park is anyone's guess. Personally hoping for some upgrades to the amusement park section.

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Just saw on Facebook that the train will not be ready for Opening Day this Saturday due to construction of the new Rocket Blast Slide.  Also, the park stated that the Chance Wipeout will “not be available this summer”.  Hmmm…. 🤔

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17 hours ago, BitterOldHag said:

Just saw on Facebook that the train will not be ready for Opening Day this Saturday due to construction of the new Rocket Blast Slide.  Also, the park stated that the Chance Wipeout will “not be available this summer”.  Hmmm…. 🤔

I feel like Whipeout has been having problems for years now

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I just looked at the Waldameer website and it says that Wipeout will be back spinning in 2024, so I guess it's just a full-blown rehab.  I thought maybe they'd replace it with one of Chance's newer FreeStyle models or an SBF Reverse Time.  But it sounds like the Wipeout will be sticking around for a while after this season.  

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Took my dad to Waldameer for Opening Day today and had a great time as always.  Park looked fantastic, the new Rocket Blast slide is truly crammed in to the space it occupies in Water World (and it surprisingly is bigger than I expected), and aside from the train and Wipeout as previously mentioned, all rides were running.  Wipeout has a sign stating they are waiting for a custom part.  As usual, here are my observations from my brief visit.

Whacky Shack was in fine form as all stunts were functioning and the line actually seemed to move.  Waited about 10 minutes, but this ride is worth any wait!  Sky Ride and Giant Wheel were walk-ons and the staff at each were courteous and pleasant.  Ravine Flyer II was a one train wait and I have to say that even after more track work was done, the ride seemed a bit shaky this time around.  Celebrating its 15th year in 2023, RFII is still one of my favorite coasters.  I guess I may have just got a fluke ride. 

Some of the ride prices went up this year, as rides that were previously $3 are now $3.50, rides that were $4.50 are now $5, and formerly $5 rides are now $5.50.  Considering the prices of rides like the coaster at New York New York in Vegas is $25 and Freedom Flyer at Fun Spot Orlando is $12, to me, $5.50 is still an absolute steal. :)

And finally, I believe this is new for 2023 (if not, my apologies), but if you want to play any games in the park’s arcade, you have to have points on a Wally Card first, then use them to purchase an arcade card.  Most games take 4-8 credits ($1-$2 each), so credits will go fast.  And after years of tickets being spit out of the redemption games, now your tickets are stored on your arcade card.  So be prepared to double up on your Waldameer Cards if you want to play any arcade games. 

Oh and if anyone ends up at the park this season, try the Strawberry Cheesecake fudge from the Fudge Kitchen.  Not sure what I was expecting, but it is delicious!  Wishing Waldameer a great season, and with the addition of Rocket Blast, I have a feeling it’s going to be a big one for them!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Won't say much but an article was just released that Waldameer owner Paul Nelson passed away yesterday morning at the age of 89. Just read the article and it's pretty emotional to say the least...


Article may be have a paywall attached so I'll copy the contents below





Paul Nelson, who made his Waldameer Park & Water World an Erie treasure, dies at 89
Nelson started working at Waldameer when he was 11 years old. Park thrived with his sharp-eyed planning, love of his job and dedication to community. He liked having as much fun as his customers did.
Ed Palattella
Erie Times-News

Paul Nelson's stewardship of Waldameer Park & Water World was legendary
The park expanded into a regional icon under the guidance of him and his family
Nelson also advocated for Erie as his park welcomed thousands of visitors every summer
Paul Nelson, who delivered fun and thrills to generations of Erie residents and tourists as the owner of Waldameer Park & Water World, a once moribund collection of outdated rides that he transformed into a regional icon and recreational powerhouse yards away from the natural playlands of Presque Isle State Park and Lake Erie, died on Sunday.

He was 89. Nelson's family confirmed that he died at about 6:15 a.m. Sunday at UPMC Hamot.

Until the very end, Paul Nelson ran Waldameer like a big kid — maybe Erie's biggest kid.

Paul Nelson, who died on Sunday at age 89, made Waldameer Park & Water World into one of the biggest attractions in northwestern Pennsylvania. He is shown at the park in August 2022.
As he pushed 90, he still roamed Waldameer daily, pacing the grounds with a walkie-talkie or tooling around in a golf cart. He grinned and laughed much of the time, but was always moving, as the Erie Times-News described him in a profile in May 2021. He was like a cross between Willy Wonka and Peter Pan — a larger-than-life character eternally dedicated to his realm of fun.

But Nelson was also a towering figure. He was one of the best-known business owners in the region, and his work at Waldameer earned him national renown among amusement park trade groups and aficionados of thrill rides.

Nelson saw giving back to Erie, through his devotion to his beloved park, as something of a duty.

Lots of thrills:Waldameer Park's financial ride: Ups, downs of Erie's amusement park, pandemic included

"I have a feeling and its deep within me that we owe this community an awful lot," Nelson said in 2015, when Waldameer won an Erie Times-News Commitment to Erie award.

A year earlier, Nelson himself had won the Commitment to Erie Legacy Award. He was honored for his foresight.

Community recognition:Smith Provision, Waldameer among honorees at 2015 Commitment to Erie Awards

"Nelson has continued to invest in the Erie area by expanding the park in ways that not only increase the viability of the park but also ensure that the legacy of Waldameer is here for generations to come," one of the Commitment to Erie judges said.

Waldameer is the 10th-oldest amusement park in the United States.

"This is my hobby, instead of golf," Nelson said in a 2015 interview. "My community is my hobby. I like Erie, I like my community, and I want to keep it that way."

Legacy award:Commitment to Erie winners announced

Growing up at an amusement park
Nelson grew up at Waldameer, and never left.

He began working there at age 11 in 1945 for then-owner and family friend Alex Moeller, who went on to adopt Nelson and promise him the park. Nelson started out washing dishes and cleaning bathrooms and preparing picnics. He worked his way up to general manager and then took over the park when Moeller died in 1965.

Waldameer Park & Water World owner Paul Nelson walks near the new Whirlwind family coaster, left, at the park on April 21, 2020. Construction on the new ride was halted during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Waldameer kept going in the 1960s and 1970s and into the mid-1980s, but Nelson said he felt the park, in Millcreek Township, had stalled. In an event that has become part of Erie lore, in the mid-1980s Nelson sold the wooden horses and other animals on Waldameer's historic carousel. The move raised $1 million, which Nelson invested in the park and used to help open Water World in 1986.

"If I hadn't done that, the park would never have grown," Nelson said in a 2019 interview.

Merry-go-round:It took a thief: Loss was the end of the revolving road for Waldameer's original carousel

He replaced the old carousel with a less-expensive merry-go-round that has fiberglass animals and carries more riders.

Following the water park, Nelson added rides including the Sea Dragon in 1992, the 100-foot-tall Ferris Wheel in 1994, the Thunder Driver log flume in 1996, the Steel Dragon spinning coaster in 2004 and, in 2008, the much anticipated and celebrated Ravine Flyer II wooden coaster that carries riders over Peninsula Drive. One of its biggest rides, the Rocket Blast, is set to open this summer.

More:Ever-evolving Water World expands appeal for Waldameer Park

A park Paul Nelson never wanted to get old
Nelson's strategy was to add improvements to the park every year, whether with a new ride or new landscaping or a new water feature. He loved tinkering with Waldameer like an automobile enthusiast loves assembling a classic car or a gardener loves planting a new flowering shrub.

"I don't do what I want to do," he said in an interview in 2021. "I do what the customer wants me to do."

Money and water:Helping the cash flow: Ever-evolving Water World expands appeal for Waldameer Park

"We plan long range," he also said. "We put something big in every year. That keeps us in the public’s eye.”

If Nelson feared anything more than slowing down, it was the thought that his beloved amusement park would become stale and decline due to lack of interest in old rides.

Over the past three years, Nelson navigated Waldameer through the pandemic, one of the most difficult periods in the park's history.

In his final weeks, Nelson oversaw the installation and near completion of Waldameer's newest attraction — the $9 million Rocket Blast, the biggest investment in the park's history, a "water coaster" that features more than 800 feet of twists and turns.

The new Rocket Blast water slide under construction at Waldameer Park & Water World is shown during season-pass photo day at the Millcreek Township amusement park on May 6. The new slide will be roughly one third taller than shown at this point in construction.
In his final weeks, Nelson also oversaw a key purchase designed to make sure Waldameer has enough land to expand well into the future. Waldameer on May 1 bought the mobile home park located on both sides of the driveway that leads to the parking lot on the southwest corner of the park. The purchase price was $2.65 million.

Long history:From the Comet to the Whirlwind, a look at when Waldameer Park & Water World rides opened

Waldameer, under Nelson, honored its origins as it expanded into the future. Nelson was proud to recount the history of the park, which opened under the Waldameer name in 1896 and celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2021.

Huge investments:Waldameer plans for future with $2.65 million land purchase; new ride nears completion

It was founded in the late 1800s as Hoffman's Grove, a secluded picnic spot overlooking Lake Erie just south of Presque Isle State Park, according to Waldameer's official history. The Erie Electric Motor Co., the city’s main trolley company, saw the grove as a recreation destination and a way to increase ridership on the weekends. The trolley company leased Hoffman’s grove in 1896 and renamed the land Waldameer, German for "woods by the sea."

The Whacky Shack at Waldameer Park & Water World in Millcreek Township, is one of the park's oldest and most iconic rides. Park owner Paul Nelson is shown inside the ride on April 9, 2021.
Waldameer continued to grow, particularly under Alex Moeller, Nelson's adoptive father, who took over the management of the park in the 1920s. Moeller became the owner of the park in 1945, the same year he hired the 11-year-old Nelson.

Nelson nearly walked away from the park when he was 50. He said he tried to retire, but was in Florida only three weeks before he told his wife, Lane, that he had more to do at Waldameer. He returned to Erie and asked his bankers how much he could get in loans.

"I have been in debt ever since, but I enjoy it," Nelson said with a laugh as he recounted his near retirement in an interview in 2015. "It makes you work a little harder. And I enjoy working with all the young kids."

Waldameer, for Paul Nelson, was always a family business
Nelson kept Waldameer a family business. Though the park now has more than 100 rides and other attractions, its management has stayed under the control of Nelson and his family. His wife handles human resources at the park, and their son-in-law Steve Gorman is the president and general manager of Waldameer, where he started working in 1995. Gorman's son, Brian Gorman, also helps run the park as vice president of operations.

Paul Nelson's survivors include three daughters, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Nelson, a resident of Fairview who was born on Oct. 7, 1933, also boasted an extended family of sorts. Waldameer has employed countless teenagers over the years, making Waldameer a dual engine for the local economy. Thousands of people visited his park each year to spend money, much of it used to pay the young workers who kept the park operating under his careful eye.

Nelson, known for his ready laugh and no-nonsense manner, engendered loyalty because no one worked as hard as he did.

Wild ride:Erie's Whacky Shack still thrills Waldameer visitors – and owner Paul Nelson

He was known to try out every new ride before Waldameer bought it. His favorite, he said, was the L. Ruth Express, the train named for his adoptive mother, Lydia Ruth Moeller.

Steve Gorman, left, president of Waldameer Park & Water World and park owner Paul Nelson, Gorman's father-in-law, sit in a car of Waldameer's Ravine Flyer II roller coaster car on Jan. 16, 2019, when the popular thrill ride was in winter storage.
Nelson was there when Waldameer opened for the day and as the train and the other rides started operating. He was there during the hot and crowded afternoons. He was there when Waldameer closed for the night, when its loudspeakers blared the 1950s classic, "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite."

"I love to work," Nelson said in an interview in August. "My wife has to tell me to go home every night."

Free admission to Waldameer was part of Paul Nelson's philosophy
Nelson also loved to work as an advocate for Erie. He was instrumental in furthering the region's tourism industry, and he was outspoken in his desire to make his park a place that was accessible to all.

Planning pays off:Waldameer's transformation

Nelson always said he had no plans to charge visitors for admission or charge for parking, an arrangement that makes Waldameer unusual among amusement parks. Visitors to Waldameer can walk in for free and buy nothing or lots of things, such as ride tickets and food while strolling the 60-acre grounds.

"I think it is very important, because I will tell you what happens: A lot of grandparents with little kids don't want to ride, or they will ride a couple rides," Nelson said of free admission in the 2019 interview.

Nelson said he was committed to letting as many people as possible use the park, a pledge he said means allowing visitors to get into the park for free and spend as little or as much as they want. Waldameer also lets visitors bring in their own food for picnics.

Paul Nelson, owner of Waldameer Park & Water World, in Millcreek Township, is shown on July 22, 2020, as the park navigated restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I want the poorest family to be able to use my park," Nelson also said in 2019. He said he wants children especially to have the advantage of walking into Waldameer for free, just like anyone else.

When they are at Waldameer, Nelson said, "The kids don't know they are poor. That's how I like it."

Well-known venue:Waldameer's storied ballroom: Rainbow Gardens hosts renowned musicians through the years

Nelson was also a dedicated member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Millcreek, where he was known for his generosity and support of ventures at St. Mark's and throughout the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. He was the diocese's former treasurer and in 2017 was awarded the diocese's Bishop's Cross, given to a person in the diocese who has shown dedicated service to parish, diocese and community.

The diocese said Nelson's funeral will be held sometime after Memorial Day at St. Mark's. The Burton Quinn-Scott Cremation & Funeral Services is handling arrangements.

'Work for something you like to do'
As a businessman, Paul Nelson had an incredible run. Though the pandemic eroded Waldameer's revenue in 2020 and 2021, the park rebounded in 2022 with what Nelson called its best year ever.

Bouncing back:After a record season, Waldameer is looking to make a $7 million splash with new attraction

"I have run the park every year since I was 23. I am now 88," Nelson said in August as he described Waldameer's revenue trends. "I had increases every year except the last two years."

Nelson didn't live to see the opening of the park's most recent ride. But the ride will open and the park will go on, said Steve Gorman, the park's president.

"Ownership of the park passes to his wife, Lane Nelson," Gorman said. "There are still three generations of the family operating the park. The park will continue as were Paul Nelson's wishes and vision. We want to continue the tradition of Waldameer serving the community."

As often as he took pride in Waldameer's success, Nelson was always quick to emphasize that money was not what drove him to go to work every day. He enjoyed his job, he said. He enjoyed helping other people enjoy themselves and have fun.

What more could Paul Nelson ask for?

"What I tell my kids: Don't work for money. Work for something you like to do," he said in 2021. "Usually, you will be a success if you are doing something that you like. But if you are looking for the bottom line, you're not going to be a success."

As owner of Waldameer Park & Water World, Paul Nelson was also the amusement park's historian. He is shown looking through records in the park's main office on April 20, 2021.
In a more recent interview, in February, he touched on how long his career at Waldameer might last.

"I love what I am doing," Nelson said. "I am going to do it until I die."

Staff writer Jim Martin contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Return to GoErie.com for updates.


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