The last time I visited Waldameer, I visited in a monsoon. Ok technically it wasn’t a monsoon, but it was dang close. My hotel lost power. Drivers were nervously cruising down the highway 20 mph below the speed limit. And every other park in the area was quick to close except Waldameer.
I figured that had to be a mistake. Surely this little park in PA wouldn’t dare open in such conditions, would they? Oh you bet they did! I was one of like only 10 people in the park all day and despite the fact I know they lost money, they stayed open for 8 hours. For this reason, I had zero trepidation visiting Waldameer on a day with a 100% chance of thunderstorms.
The forecast kept pushing the storms later in the day, so it was no surprise to find the park more crowded than last time. Since it was just a pit stop on the way to Niagara, we decided to forego the wristband in favor of individual tickets. Usually this is a hard no for me, but Ravine Flyer II is a steal at $4.50 per ride.
The heavens could open up at any moment, so we wasted no time getting our rides on Ravine Flyer II. I loved the coaster in 2017, but remembered it running out of steam towards the end. But there was a caveat there, I was literally the only person on the train for most of those rides.
With a full train, Ravine Flyer II was flying. The first drop is one of the best out there. One minute you’re admiring Lake Erie and the next you’re getting standing airtime as you plunge into the ravine. I do prefer the front row, but this drop is the reason to get at least a few rides in the back.
This is followed by an incredible moment of sustained airtime over the bridge. Next comes an aggressive turnaround with not one, but two pops of air and a crazy fast turn. After another sizable drop (with air in the back of course), there’s a basically a clone of that first hill as you cross back over the road.
And the airtime doesn’t stop there. You pop into yet another tunnel, getting two more bursts of sustained airtime on the way. The coaster does lose some steam when it climbs out of the ravine, but the remaining 5-6 hills all give quick pops of air. Plus there’s a beautiful dive back into the ravine towards the end.
Ravine Flyer II is a rush. Despite it’s incredibly aggressive layout, Ravine Flyer II navigates it without a hint of roughness. After Steel Vengeance and Millennium Force, this was probably my favorite coaster of the trip. It does everything I could possibly want in a wooden coaster. 10 out of 10
The skies were darkening and the winds were picking up, so we tried to ride the last outdoor ride we cared about in Thunder River. But it was down. Fortunately it appeared to be unrelated to the weather as the drop tower was still cycling like a champ.
So instead we took a consolation lap on Whacky Shack. The park is home to two classic Bill Tracy dark rides, but this is far and away the better of the two. Essentially it simulates an acid trip. Each element drives you closer and closer to insanity until you finally lose your mind in a strobe room.
With your mind turned to putty, Whacky Shack has a deceptively fast downhill stretch littered with laterals and jump scares. Most haunts try and get you with skeletons and ghosts, but you’d never believe what you’ll come across on Whacky Shack. It’s a complete WTF in the best way possible. 8 out of 10
Thunder River decided to reopen so we moseyed on over. I chivalrously granted my girlfriend’s request of the front seat and she served as a wonderful human shield. I came off comfortably wet, but she got soaked. I dodged a bullet there...until she went in for a hug after the ride.
This is definitely one of the more underrated flumes out there. It has a long mist-filled tunnel and two drops, both giving pops of air. In many ways, this flume reminds me of the one at Knoebels that’s universally praised. 9 out of 10
We capped our visit with a food item I’ve yet to find anywhere else, a deep fried pretzel. Screw cinnamon bread, this is what a true snack looks like.
It tastes exactly how you’d think. The outside tastes like a fried dough and the inside still has that distinctive soft pretzel taste. One wasn’t enough for me, I went with two. It was an easy decision considering how cheap food is at this park. Each one was under $3.
While I didn’t ride it, the new-for-2019 frisbee was attracting quite the crowd. Waldameer purchased an inverting model, but Chaos was interestingly programmed to stop just short. It seems like the park is testing the waters a bit since it’d be the park’s first inverting ride if they set it to go over the top.
It pained me to leave Waldameer so early, but we had a country border to cross. Waldameer is the perfect family park. It’s clean, charming, friendly, and affordable with a balanced ride lineup. In many ways, it reminds me of Canobie Lake Park. Except there’s one major difference; Waldameer has a bonafide world-class coaster in Ravine Flyer II.