Having been uber busy, I've left this TR unfinished for almost a year and every now and then it bugs me... so lets wrap this up!
After building up an appetite all morning laughing at the comically woeful Martin's, it was time for some food (and a DRINK!). What better way to celebrate the Buffalo area than with some wings? Duff's on Sheridan Drive has a long history and is renowned for serving up some of the best wings you can get your hands (messily) on. The parking lot was absolutely slammed and I had to wait a few minutes for a table in the early afternoon... good signs!
So let's see what they're serving up.
We'll heed the warnings and hit up 10 medium-hot wings and a Sam Adams. No sweat, right?
HA! WRONG! These were the hottest wings I've ever had, including many other places' "suicidal" or what-have-you level. Within three pieces, I stopped trying to keep up with my severely runny nose and just fully embraced the absolute mess developing all over my face. At seven pieces, the scalp began to lightly smolder; after ten, you could have fried an egg on my forehead.
While the heat was a little over the top, these were also PHENOMENAL wings. Perfectly crispy skins ... tender, moist, fall-apart chicken, great sauce flavor. Definitely worth the hype, worth the wait, and worth a stop in should you find yourself in the area. An experience for sure.
On to Seabreeze.
This entire trip came about around my fascination with the history of Seabreeze, in particular its centerpiece Carousel. I'm not sure if any single family has invested more effort, passion, time, and love into a park - or endured more heartbreak - than the Long family has with Seabreeze, starting in 1904 and continuing right to this day, now in their fifth generation of involvement.
The Longs had been building carousels for almost 30 years when George Sr was given the opportunity to move one of his family's machines from Virginia to Seabreeze, right across the boarder from his brother's at Ontario Beach, for the '04 season. After graduating engineering school and leaving a prestigious hi-tech job, young George Jr joined the park's operations for the 1915 summer. The same year - no longer building carousels - the Longs purchased PTC Carousel #36, brand new and of the latest and largest design, and began operating it at nearby Seneca Park Zoo.
George Jr poured tireless effort into the park. He hand built multiple carousel pavilions and their first Dodgem building, carved new legs for their ageing carousel so that it could be converted to a jumping horse variety, oversaw construction of a Virginia Reel (an inspiration for later Wild Mouse coasters), and swapped the Seabreeze and Seneca Zoo carousels in 1926, bringing the illustrious PTC #36 to the park. Concurrently, Seabreeze's trolley line owners were amassing one of the finest coaster collections of the roaring 20's.
But time marched on, and combined with the mounting Depression, disastrous fires in 1930, 1933, and 1935 nearly brought the park to its knees. George Sr. passed in 1932 and his son took ownership of the park's carousel. By 1937, his legendary work ethic made it clear he was the one to save Seabreeze, and he leased the park from its trolley company owners, immediately initializing vast revitalization. By the end of WWII, Mr. Long was full owner.
George Long ran Seabreeze passionately and tirelessly for thirty more years, constantly expanding, improving, and rebuilding. By the late 60's, he returned to his youth and again started hand-carving carousel horses as a hobby. Having inspired in his grandchildren a great love of the park, by the mid 1970's he had successfully passed on the torch. Yet for better than another decade he remained close to Seabreeze, keeping a workshop in the carousel basement, maintaining the carousel, carving both full-size and miniature horses, and building fully functional miniature carousels. George Long passed away in 1988.
PTC #36 and its accompanying display of Long carvings and three dozen rocking chairs was the Heart and Soul of Seabreeze, a renowned meeting place for all of Rochester.
It "was" ... because in March 1994, the whole shebang burned right to the ground in less than two hours, taking with it an additional 10% of Seabreeze before 175 firemen got the blaze under control.
The truly heartwarming part is how Seabreeze recouped from this disaster and paid tremendous respect to the Long legacy. Let's pick up the story tomorrow, and then take a look at my visit!
People like this are to thank for our hobby existing. A truly inspiring individual.
^I do believe it's "tomorrow" now! Kidding, kidding. But take it as a compliment that I was thinking of pestering you to finish this when I noticed you hadn't posted Seabreeze yet. As I have and/or at some point will make very clear, I share your fascination for the park and carousel(s).
I missed this report so glad that I scrolled down. I can't wait to see the Seabreeze report as I still have not visited this park even though it's less than three hours from my house. Perhaps this might kick me in the can hard enough so that I will take the time to visit this year.
The last time I had Duff's medium, they weren't quite as hot as I was expecting, so next time, I'm going all in and ordering the HOT! Perhaps I should bring the camera with me so you guys can see the steam coming off my forehead while I eat them?
PS - I know you already know this ejot, but yes, Duffs does seems to blow away the Anchor Bar's wings.
During my last couple visits to Duffs, I have had great wings, while the Anchor Bar has been hit or miss. By that I mean that the sauce was the same, but the wings were slimy on the inside, which I hate. Actually the last time that I can say that I had great Anchor Bar wings was at the one at the Buffalo Airport when I had their BBQ wings - they were awesome!
So I'll pick up the story of Seabreeze's Carousel in the words of Jim Futrell, from Amusement Parks of New York.
With the 1994 season behind them, the family turned their attention to rebuilding the attractions destroyed by the fire. Seabreeze was able to quickly have a new 5000-square-foot arcade building ready for the 1995 season, but George Long's grandchildren deliberately took their time finding a replacement carousel.
It would have been easier to purchase an off-the-shelf merry-go-round with fiberglass animals, but they know it would not be a fitting legacy for the beloved lost carousel. Acquiring another antique ride would prove problematic, because few were available and their cost was prohibitive. As a result, the family decided to continue tradition and create their own carousel. The intent was not to replicated the lost carousel, but to recapture the spirit of the original ride by creating horses in similar styles.
Rob Norris headed a team that evaluated eight different manufacturers and a dozen carvers before coming up with a concept for the new ride. As the heart of the new carousel, Seabreeze was able to locate a frame from an antique Philadelphia Toboggan Carousel machine dating to 1914 that had been stripped of its horses many years ago. It was completely overhauled by a team headed by George Norris.
To repopulate the ride, Ed Roth of Lakewood, CA, was hired by Seabreeze to hand-carve thirty-eight new horses and two chariots. For eighteen months, Roth worked almost around the clock to create horses reflective of vintage carving styles. Six horses that were not on the original machine at the time of the fire, four from the original PTC #38 [sic(?)], and two that were carved by George Long were also included on the new $500,000 ride.
A new $300,000 building, measuring 86 feet wide and 42 feet tall, was constructed to house the new carousel. Since a Wurlitzer 165 band organ was not available, Seabreeze contracted with J. Verbeek Organ Manufacturing of Belgium to create a new version. The park was fortunate to discover parts of an original Wurlitzer 165 to incorporate into the new organ.
With the carousel and band organ in place, replacements for the famous red rocking chairs were still needed to make the new ride complete. No plans existed for the chairs, and it took three different prototypes to get them just right. But on June 1, barely two years after the fire, the ninth carousel created by the Long family opened to a grateful public.
Seabreeze was a wonderful visit for me. I arrived about 20 min before their evening discount tickets started (5pm I think), and took a stroll down to the lake, catching a few different views of Whirlwind than were available within the park.
First order of business was a long-awaited lap on Jackrabbit, the second-oldest overall and oldest continually operated coaster in the US. The station, lifthill, and brakerun are the only sections of this ride really visible from offride, which is very Miller-esque, and pretty cool. They keep these sections immaculate. I was really blown away how absolutely beautiful this ride looked.
It really does deserve more classic trains than these clunky Morgans, though.
Next up was the Flyers. This was an example of the somewhat rare, smaller, 8-tub vintage Bisch-Rocco model. Beautifully decorated and maintained. However they were indeed un-snapable on account of some ingenious modifications. Probably for the best, on this model. I'd imagine this ride would tear itself apart quite easily otherwise.
Onto this wacky ride—Bobsleds—a (who else?) George Long creation. A really cool little kid chatted it up with me in line and since we were both single riders we rode together. You can't help but smile and giggle on this ride.
These were more hilariously "speed-bumpy" than "air-timey", but there were also a couple pops of air, elsewhere, on Bobsleds.
How about another lap? Jackrabbit was being run by one operator and she was absolutely rocking it! This coaster still has vintage brake levers and she put just about every ounce of strength into stopping the train each lap. Wish I had caught her name so I could tell the park how hard she was hustling around and cranking trains out. Awesome! Oh, the ride was great fun too, not intense but utterly smile-inducing, and just oozing of nostalgia and history.
Onto Whirlwind. Same model as Waldameer's Steel Dragon, but in a much more picturesque setting overlooking the lake from high above it. Spinning coasters are awesome and this was no exception.
You've heard all about the carousel so here it is. Errrm, awkwardly, I didn't capture any good shots of the machine itself. You'll just have to get yourself to Seabreeze and see it for yourself!
A few pics from the museum inside the carousel building....
So what was, ultimately, the true highlight of Seabreeze for me? The Log Flume!! OMG this thing was fantastic. So steep, so classic, so beautiful. Towards the end of the night there was NO line. The weather was still beautiful and I got in probably 10-15 very zen rides.
The train engine is beautiful, and the carved wooden cars (which I also managed to mostly miss in my pics) are charmingly whimsical. The train ride around the flume was incredibly peaceful and enjoyable as dusk set in.
And that wraps up Seabreeze. My visit to the State Fair ended up being quite short, but I'll get up a few pics soon to complete this TR.
Here's a mini report backlogged from Monday 8/8. Rather than start a new thread or one specific to the park, I'll build on ejot's report if that's okay.
Tonight I tackled public transit to visit Seabreeze in the Rochester suburb of Irondequoit. As I was working in the area, I’d considered venturing out to Darien Lake but there’s so little there that appeals to me. I’d also considered Canada’s Wonderland, but the distance / cost of car rental and hotel didn’t seem worth it given that I’d ridden versions of a number of their rides elsewhere. Waldameer, was a huge draw (awesome dark rides), but a little too out of the way given the driving I’d already done and more rental cars would have been a pain. Seabreeze, however, was close, and a coaster fan at Kentucky Kingdom had instructed me not to miss it. It’s small but charming spot on the southern perimeter of Lake Ontario, reasonably priced (post-5pm discount) with plenty to do. I don’t know much about the park’s present ownership, but the the place seemed well run and it noticeably embraced its long history. There was a healthy crowd there, but the longest wait for a ride was maybe five minutes.
The place is small but has a lot of character.
A nearby food spot. Not sure what "frozen custard" is and I wasn't about to find out. The area surrounding the park is great, though.
Game stalls make up the park's version of a midway.
Jack Rabbit (x5):
Kudos to the park for conserving this so well; given that it's older than various hills, it runs flawlessly. Manual brakes and no air gates while modern trains provided a temperate ride. It doesn’t look like much but several of the dips are sunken, diving into excavated land and through a small ravine. The ride provides polite floater air on three of the hills, and there’s an alarmingly dark tunnel with a concealed drop inside. The ride’s tame by modern standards, but still holds its own in terms of thrills and fun. Despite its age, it doesn’t look a day over twenty. During my last ride, some loathsome horrors climbed out of their restraints and rode standing up, freaking out the rest of the train in the process. While they survived this one unscathed, I’m sure they’ll be future recipients of Darwin awards. 8/10
Well-preserved station and signage.
There's nothing unusually forceful about it, but it's a blast.
You can see how it makes use of various trenches and ravines.
Jack Rabbit doesn't look like much from outside the park, but it's a great old-school woodie.
There's a drop inside that tunnel.
The manual brake operations were fun to watch.
A million points for quirky ingenuity, the ride looks knocked together with scraps from the hardware store and a few old pipes. It sits on a slope which it uses to its benefit, adopting a weird chain mechanism to haul cars back into the station. It rides like equal parts wild mouse and Matterhorn bobsleds, albeit a tamed version of both. The drops are negligible but the peculiar track design is what makes it a hoot. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. 7/10
The awesomely weird bobsleds.
It's a small ride, but like Jack Rabbit, is surprisingly fun.
You can get a sense of how the bobsleds are built onto the slope of the land.
This is the weird chain lift that drags the cars back to the station once they've climbed up the final slope.
About to drop.
The undulating track of the bobsleds.
A mass-produced spinning coaster, but a first for me and I enjoyed it more than expected. A smooth ride with a decent drop, nippy turns, and all the right elements to give the car a really good spin. Two young girls that I rode with threatened to perforate my ear drums with their screams. Despite the park being slow-ish, they were running four cars and there were always two in the circuit at all times. 7/10
Log Flume (x2):
Celebrated for its steep drop, this was a top-shelf flume overall. Much of the course was a cement trough with slopes, tunnels, and turns. The circuit forms a rectangle with some added bits and the drop is, indeed, more thrilling than you’d expect. This is due to the angle that starts reasonable then increases midway down. You get momentarily launched from your seat as the result. Rather than sliding down the inside of a chute, the drop resembles that of a coaster: a flat wooden surface with low rails and side-friction blocks. It results in a generous splash and it’s quite a soaker, so be warned if you prefer to avoid dampness. 7/10
The coaster-style log flume drop.
The log ride's final splash down is fairly splashy.
Right before the part where it throws you off your seat.
The tipping point.
Sea Dragon (x1):
A standard pirate ship but with a wide arc that produced air at each end. It seemed to instill panic in a number of unsuspecting riders.
A standard pirate ship, but very fun all the same.
Music Express (x1):
I’ve never ridden one of these (or at least I don’t think I have) so I jumped on board. I suspect people sign up for the music more than anything as the ride was uneventful: a series of undulations, forward and backward; little more.
Wave Swinger (x1):
A customary chair-swing ride with some decent elevation. It flies right through one of the park’s smoking section, so be sure to hold your nose and sneer.
Great chair swings that fly through a smoking section of the park.
Screamin’ Eagle (x1):
I guess this is a stock flat ride as well but I’d never tried one before. It looked utterly sickening (and it was) but I rode it anyway (one must, mustn’t one?). Duller than anything, it featured awkward hang time and a decent view of the sky. It looks intimidating so I assume it’s a hit with the crowd, but most of the people on it looked bored — as was I.
This ride's bark was much bigger than its bite. It was actually kind of dull.
I feel like I'm missing what everyone else sees in these rides; I’ve ridden a few and they’re just not for me it seems. These one seemed like all the rest — round and round, up and down, with some potential cable twisting in between. They look good and, according to park history, have been there forever, so there’s that. When I rode, an OCD-driven young lady from the previous cycle insisted on straightening all the fins of the cars before exiting.
I don’t think I’ve ever ridden one so I jumped on board, Sort of what I expected it to be — lots of forces when it hit the right hill and the right time, but plodded along otherwise. Fun, though.
A fairly intense tilt-a-whirl.
Revolution 360 was down, but it didn’t look like much of anything really. In total I spent three hours at the park and never ran out of things to do. What impressed me the most was how well Jack Rabbit was running, stressing that the park understands the importance of preservation. They had several pieces of old rides displayed in the carousel building — including parts of a ghost train — and I couldn’t help but wonder why that hadn’t been preserved. There’s a number of wonderful old pretzel dark rides in the area, and that’s the one thing that a park like Seabreeze could surely preserve so well. If you’re in the area and have a few hours to kill, the place is worth it for Jack Rabbit, Bobsleds, and the Log Ride, but there’s more to it than just those three.
There's a lot of quaint detail around the place.
The park embraces its history and does a nice job of keeping the past in the present.
Some old dark ride features.
I couldn't help but wish that this ride was still around.
Again, the entrance to the park.
Looking out toward the lake from behind the carousel building.
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