Trip Planning & Photo TR: NW PA/Western NY- Labor Day

Conneaut, Waldameer, Martin's, Seabreeze, NYS Fair
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Re: Trip Planning & Photo TR: NW PA/Western NY- Labor Day

Postby ejot » Wed Sep 09, 2015 1:50 pm

Glad you enjoyed the pics. Unfortunately I did not make it back to the park for the night event. I'd had every intention to, but a number of factors piled together to make me scrap the plan. In retrospect, I should have just doubled back and gone, and skipped MFI to get some sleep. Hindsight 20/20, as they say.

Agreed on the front car rehab. Crazy that the bench popped off during your ride, that must have been interesting. Wonder if that initiated the work? And they were indeed stopping the train with the curved brake only. I doubt that will change anytime soon since they only run the one remaining NAD train. I've heard the Vettel train is actually quite a bit tamer, even with fixed bars only, on account of much less airtime. I've also heard the Century Flyers don't fit the track quite correctly, and that's part of the reason for how jarring the ride is.
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NAD CF forground, original Vettel background
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UP NEXT! - Waldameer - daytime
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Re: Trip Planning & Photo TR: NW PA/Western NY- Labor Day

Postby ejot » Thu Sep 10, 2015 8:48 am

I forgot about my breakfast before CLP. Sheetz is a chain gas station/convenience store/sandwich shop common in PA, especially the western part. Big Sheetz fan here, I actually prefer them to Wawa (runs and hides).

Walker Breakfast Ranger!!
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It was really delicious! (Look at that list, how could it not be?)
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How about a quick ride count for Conneaut?
Tumble Bug - x2
Blue Streak - x9
Devil's Den - x1
Witch's Stew - x1
Flying Scooters - x1
Paratrooper - x1 (this 'trooper runs really great, very fast, by the way!)
Bessemer Train - x1

I bid adieu to CLP around 3pm and headed north to Erie, getting into town a bit before 4:00. First stop was Sandbar Drafthouse which is just down the road from the park. Had a BLT and some sort of regional crafty IPA. Both were fine but not exceptional, and the service was a little slower than I'd hoped. Definitely a good stop to relax after a visit, though.

Within half an hour of getting through the gates, I was absolutely in love with Waldameer ... and it just kept getting better from there. The atmosphere was second-to-none here. It had a warm, community feel with respectful guests. It fell into a sweet spot size-wise, not a tiny park where you're bored after a few rides, and not an overwhelming maze of endless filler activities. The layout is simple and smart; you always know where you are and anything you wish to find is a snap. It's clean and appropriately, but not oppressively, monitored by security. And finally - the attention to detail was outstanding. No, it's not mind-blowingly themed like Disney or Phantsialand. But the flowers, landscaping, bronze statues, impeccably maintained signage is consistently topnotch any direction you look and gives the feel of a classic, passionately maintained park that is a center of strong pride for the community. Take away the knowledge of ride manufacture dates, and an evening at Waldameer has a truly timeless feel to it. They way they integrate rides with one another, like how RVIII is nestled adorably right under the big wheel, is next-level among parks of this scale.

Now, cleanliness and statues, nice details and park layouts, are all well and good, but of course the rides really have to deliver as well. And here, well...they do.

I started with a quick spin on Comet, their junior woodie. It sits smack in the middle of the park, and the level of care bestowed upon it reflects that. This 60+ yr old PTC/Schmeck machine looks like it just opened this year - absolutely immaculate. There are a couple sub-40' woodies I prefer, but it's still a ton of fun. The curved loading station is very cool, and how the ride is mounted to the station roof, also a neat design.

It was a simple walk over to the far side of the park for Steel Dragon (a Maurer Spinner) and X-Scream (a Larson/ARM tower). Each were great, as expected. I did just did the lake view side of the tower for now.

Next up I spied Spider, an octopus, a mesmerizing flat ride. The mechanical linkage that drives the motion is really cool to watch, and I'd never seen one of these rides, so was excited to give it a go. Loading went pretty slow, and you got one heck of a long cycle, so there was a bit of a wait here. The cars are very neat how they load: They unfold to form the staircase that allows you to step up into them, then fold back up to form your enclosure/restraint. Neat! The ride experience was definitely unique - fun but a bit dizzying.

Whacky Shack and Pirates Cove, two 1970's William Tracy dark attractions, were up next and were very much worth the 20 and 10 minute waits. Again, every time I do these dark rides I like them more and more. Without giving them away, some really neat effects here! I managed rides on quite a few other attractions as well.

Finally the main event - the primary objective - their pièce de résistance - the magnus opus of the modern Wald am Meer:

Ravine Flyer II. It was time.

Fifteen minutes later I was seated in the front row. The slow crawl up the beginning of the lift, then speeding up to reveal a majestic view of Lake Erie, the little hold at the apex - awesome! And then the real fun began. This is one wild, out of control ride that is relentlessly smile-inducing through the full course. My second lap was from the backseat, and I preferred that option, and really began entertaining the notion this would break into top-10. My only wish was that it could be a little longer.

And yet the best part of a Waldameer visit was still to come. For now let's see some of the daylight views.
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Spider. It was fun for the first 27 minutes of the ride cycle but then I just kinda wanted to end...
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The '78 Hopkins Skyride was seeing perfect supply and demand: no queue, all seats filled. (This style has seats that are always fixed on the line and moving during the ride.)
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Going up or down?
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Simple and wonderful.
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Tacky and wonderful.
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Hopkins went for the "less calculating, more steel" approach to flume construction.
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There were many, many statues and I was strangely compelled to photograph just about each one I saw.
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They add a great charm to the atmosphere.
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They spelled the club wrong.
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"Holy %&^* what did that thing just do to us"
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Comet's "station footer"
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This is an evil Disk-O. Now, I like Disk-O's and I've been on quite a few of them but none have ever crushed my manparts like this ride did. I think maybe it spins a little faster than normal? Thus accelerating the "jewels" into Zamperla's wonderful hard plastic saddles with a bigger v-squared for its r, d'oh!! I'm not sure, but no re-rides on this one!
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Lies! I believe this has actually been a picnic pavilion since the 1920's though? I might be mixed up...
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Waldameer became even more magical as the hours passed.
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How many can you count? Still all full!
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Merry-go-Round roof aka scrunchy guard.
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Bustling, scenic Waldameer as summer winds down... awesome.
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The big wheel really anchors the park's skyline even more than RVII due to it's central location and prominence from all angles.
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Let's go for another ride on RVII! The lines were under 15 minutes all afternoon, and thinned out even more later (to come...)
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A beautiful lifthill that still hides how awesome the first drop is.
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Oh, you thought you were done seeing statues? Muahahaha....
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Awwww...
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"Hey, if it works for coaster track, it should work for the carousel building." -some engineer, a hundred years ago
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It was whacky and shacky!
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Re: Trip Planning & Photo TR: NW PA/Western NY- Labor Day

Postby SFOG1991 » Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:19 am

I'm really enjoying this TR!

I went to Conneaut 3 times last year (I live in Atlanta and I am a crazy person yes) but have not been able to go this year. It's too bad they weren't busy when you were there. They have had some pretty busy days this season and were absolutely slammed on their $5 Sunday in July. I really hope the park can continue to be saved by someone or some method. The park honestly deserves it for its historic value, free public amenities, and just the fact that they have fought so many times for so many years.

It's too bad you missed the park after dark event! I was dying to go.
Last edited by SFOG1991 on Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:32 am.

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Re: Trip Planning & Photo TR: NW PA/Western NY- Labor Day

Postby coasterbill » Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:30 am

Great Report! Thanks for sharing. I'm a huge fan of Waldameer too, it's incredibly well taken care of and had a great atmosphere.

ejot wrote:Big Sheetz fan here, I actually prefer them to Wawa (runs and hides).


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Re: Trip Planning & Photo TR: NW PA/Western NY- Labor Day

Postby ejot » Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:21 pm

Good to see a few people are enjoying! ^LOL
It's great to hear Conneaut had some busy days this year. I'm always pulling for them, but do fear the worst.

As the sun began to set, I headed back to the car to leave my camera & phone to enjoy a bagless evening ride session, especially with the log flume in mind. But upon re-entering the park, I was stunned how beautifully decorated and lit it was, and was compelled to go back to the car so I could get a few shots.

This is the main difference I'm finding in my experiences between big corporate parks and small, typically family-owned, parks. The former somehow tend to lose something as night falls while the latter just come alive and really display their character. An incredible amount of work has gone into the fine details of lighting at Waldameer and it's absolutely my favorite night-time park.

The Music Express did indeed run a fast, fun cycle and was great way to get back into the action and mood. Afterwards it was straight to Ravine Flyer for my go on its famous night rides. This was definitely one of my most memorable coaster rides ever, and I'm sure it was running very fast, still well over 80 degrees out. Night-time absolutely magnifies the out-of-control sense. There is no letting up, but it's also a very comfortable ride. I'm still working out where I'll rank it, it'll be up there. By 8pm there was only a station wait and the crowds continued to die down as the night went on, so it was very marathon-able.

I also took the chance to reride X-Scream with the view towards the park, and the Skyride, for some neat views of this beautiful place.

Finally closing time came and I sadly had to leave Waldameer behind. I will certainly be back. The flume did escape me, a situation I resolved to fix at Seabreeze.

My last decision for the night was whether to double back for the night event at Conneaut, which would mean getting into my hotel in NY around 4am in front of a very busy, long day. Completely torn. I'd twice tried calling my upcoming Motel 6 to let them know of my already late arrival and could never get an answer at the desk. Finally I decided: if I could get an answer at the hotel and confirm I'd still have access to a room at 4am, I'd go. Otherwise, I didn't want to risk being stranded. After 5min of calling, calling back, letting the phone ring dozens of time, I finally gave up. I still regret missing out, even though I probably would have ended up with no room for the night.

Next Up: Herschell Museum & Martin's Fantasy Island
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Trippy!
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Big wheel and Comet showing off their looks.
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The tower lighting program was totally mesmerizing. I watched it for a good five minutes, and while patterns would show up again, there was no sense of a loop repetition.
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The patriotic theme would show up quite often, and last awhile. It would also put a rainbow up for just a couple seconds, and I kept trying to get a picture but would miss by a split second each time, like three times in a row haha.
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When a Maurer Spinner looks this striking, you're doing it right.
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Quintessential RFII.
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Snuck in one more :P
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Very photogenic wheel.
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HA! Fiiiinally got the "pride" tower!
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Even though Waldameer itself wouldn't be doing fireworks until the night after my visit, I still got a taste.
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Ka-booooom.
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If I get one good picture per trip I'm happy, and this one's does it.
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Re: Trip Planning & Photo TR: NW PA/Western NY- Labor Day

Postby SFOG1991 » Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:37 pm

Conneaut Lake Park had some days that were so busy lines ran down the entire midway. It was insane. I'll have to find a pic and share it.

Can't wait to read more of your TR!

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Re: Trip Planning & Photo TR: NW PA/Western NY- Labor Day

Postby n1ch0las » Fri Sep 11, 2015 2:37 pm

Sounds like an awesome time at Waldameer - totally agree with your assessment of the park's wooden coasters; they are so well taken care of its really awesome to see. RFII at night is just one of the best experiences as well, that thing feels so fast at night and just runs so smooth. Was just outside my Top 10, but a great ride.
Favorite Steel - 5. Skyrush 4. Bizarro 3. Maverick 2. New Texas Giant 1. X2
Favorite Wood - 5. Outlaw Run 4. Ravine Flyer II 3. Phoenix 2. The Voyage 1. El Toro
Total Coasters - 355

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Re: Trip Planning & Photo TR: NW PA/Western NY- Labor Day

Postby Philrad71 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:51 pm

Sheetz > Wawa.

I used to think the opposite until a few different stops at Wawa last weekend. They seem to have gone downhill where Sheetz is very clean and has more offerings. Still like the free ATM usage at Wawa, but the bathrooms were in dire need of attention - yuk!

Glad that you liked Waldameer and agree with your assessment on Sandbar - wonderful beer selection but their cooks could step it up a notch with the food quality.
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Re: Trip Planning & Photo TR: NW PA/Western NY- Labor Day

Postby ajfelice » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:03 pm

Glad to see you had a great time at Waldameer. Too bad we weren't able to cross paths at some point. You picked the best day of the weekend. Heat wasn't too extreme and crowds were lively but manageable. Hope you come back again soon!

As for Sandbar, it's a good place to sit outside for a couple beers once you have already ate, but that's about it.

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Re: Trip Planning & Photo TR: NW PA/Western NY- Labor Day

Postby ejot » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:11 am

Sheetz just needed some more outdoor seating; there was just one fully occupied picnic table. The bagelwich was creative, perfectly prepared, and delicious. It really was the perfect visit at Waldameer weather- and crowd-wise. Definitely one of the cooler stops in both temperature and, uh... awesomeness.

SFOG1991 wrote:Conneaut Lake Park had some days that were so busy lines ran down the entire midway. It was insane. I'll have to find a pic and share it.
That would be awesome to see!

Work has kept me very busy the last few days but I'll get the next park pictures up soon.

Getting to, and getting checked into my hotel turned into something of an adventure. But I was up early the next morning and ready to visit Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. Right at 10:00am. For opening. On a Sunday.

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Or not. #&@%!!!
While I was taking pictures, two other parties arrived, having made the same mistake. One guy said, "Well then, I guess the website was wrong." The website was not wrong, we both just messed up.

Anywho, I snapped a few pics and moved on the to the local Tim Hortons for coffee and muffins. This was my second Tim Horton's and my first without the rude Quebec attitude. If you like black coffee, sweet breakfasts, English-speaker-friendly staff, I highly recommend visiting a Buffalo-area Tim Horton's.

Here's Herschell from behind the gates. Stay tuned for my first ever ride evac at Martin's Fantasy Island (a park, which was ... how do you say... pretty crappy, and fulfilling from a comedic sense).
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My first sign that something is not right here.
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This guy should have double-checked his plans.
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Ooh look, stuff.
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RCDB does not have an entry, but I wonder if KTP ever hosted a kiddie coaster?
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Neither admissions nor snacks were staffed today :P
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Not even a rotating operator. In all seriousness, they do run this park for limited hours, and I did know this area would be closed during my visit.
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You're welcome. I'll have to stop back for another time around.
Recent Visits:HIKennywoodCarowindsKDAdventureland (NY)NW PA/Western NYHersheypark
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Top Rides: 1Skyrush(#72) 2Phoenix(#2) 3ElToro(#45) 4Fury325(#165) 5Phantom'sRevenge(#184) 6RavineFlyerII(#147) 7Tatsu(#14) 8Blue Streak(#112)

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