After missing out on Casino Pier's kiddie coaster and Steel Pier, my plan to make Laff Trakk my 400th coaster got derailed. Laff Trakk ended up being credit 399. With no new credits at Knoebels or DelGrosso's, my next credit was slated to be non other than Kennywood's Phantom! No not the awesome Morgan coaster. No the bait for a credit whore, Lil Phantom. However, on principle I really did not want that credit to be number 400. Or the dinky little coaster at Fun Fore All. Instead I found a park I had never been to in Idlewild.
I had heard the park was a nice traditional park that catered more to kids. If the Rollo Coaster were open, Idlewild would have been a no-brainer but I was originally intending to pass it since the only other coaster they had was a wild mouse. When I thought about it, I decided I'd rather have a mouse as credit 400 rather than a kiddie coaster (skipping the kiddie coasters wasn't something I considered
). When I pulled into the parking lot I was greeted with a list of closed rides. Rollo Coaster. Expected. Tilt-a-Whirl. Didn't care. Wild Mouse. No! Don't do this to me Idlewild. The sign did have an asterisk next to Wild Mouse saying it would open later. I hoped later wasn't too late so I wouldn't eat too much into my time at Kennywood. I decided to take a gamble and entered into the park.
With Wild Mouse down, my first stop was the most unique thing about Idlewild, the Story Book Forest. I remember seeing bits of it on Great Old Amusement Parks (still my favorite theme park special) and thought it looked cool. Though the only thing I really remember was the tiny little keyhole and I'm proud to say I fit through as well as a B&M wing coaster.
The area definitely seems frozen in time. Most of the sections were well taken care of despite their age. The thing that most impressed me was the size. I was expecting a short little area. Instead it was a huge, sprawling area that passed through many of the children's stories I remember loving as a kid. I think the Story Book Forest took up at least half the park's area. This definitely is a must in a visit to Idlewild and shouldn't be skipped over despite there being shiny credits on the other side of the park. It probably took me about a half hour to walk through and it was really relaxing. Shady and laid back.
The first ride I stumbled upon after leaving the Story Book Forest was Paul Bunyan's Loggin' Toboggan. The flume is kind of in a weird spot as it's off in its own little area (Hootin' Holler) along with a random spinning ride, separated from the rest of the amusement rides. This is where I learned about a major flaw at Idlewild, capacity. While I thought Lake Compounce was bad for only having 4 logs running on their flume, Idlewild beat them by running half that. Despite only having 20 or so people ahead of me in line, I had to wait almost 20 minutes. They wouldn't send out a log until the previous one returned.
Aside from the poor capacity, Paul Bunyan was cute. Not the muscular logger, but the ride. This may be the shortest layout I've ever seen for a flume, but I'll take a short flume over no flume. The drop fits in with the rest of the ride as it's comparably small. I'd guess it's maybe only 20ft tall. However, it was decently steep so it was a solid drop. Overall it was a fun flume and perfect for the park, but I wasn't going to wait for it a second time as the line had gotten a little longer. 6 out of 10
I was planning on stopping at Kennywood's Potato Patch later in the day, but I didn't have to wait that long as I passed by Idlewild's version of the popular food stand. Typically I only get the plain fries but on this day I was feeling daring. I was in the mood for an artery clogging mountain of gluttony. Potato Patch provided that with the cheesy bacon fries. The first few were quite good. Extremely cheesy and tons of bacon bits, but by the second layer and beyond had gotten very soggy, which was disappointing. I also started to feel like I'd have a heart attack, and this is from someone who routinely orders one pound burgers at Fuddruckers. I think I'll stick to the regular fries in the future since after the first few fries, they were really diminishing returns due to the sogginess.
I decided it was time to check on Wild Mouse. Unlike when I optimistically walked to Jukebox Junction last month only to find a giant wooden lawn ornament, I saw an open queue line and an adorable mouse car high above the treetops. Sweet credit 400 here I come! I just wasn't expecting a 45 minute wait. Much like the flume, the Wild Mouse had a painstakingly slow line. The park only had two cars and they couldn't dispatch the next car until the previous one completed its circuit. Thankfully the line was shady and provided some great views of the ride.
Going in, the only thing I knew about this mouse was the awkward tilted lift hill and it was a Vekoma. I was impressed to see how expansive the layout was for a Wild Mouse. It was nicely tucked between the trees and had a custom layout with quite a few drops. Finally I boarded and everyone rejoiced for credit 400. And when I say everyone, I mean just me. The first two drops were quite fast and had really nice pops of air after, much stronger than air I've gotten on any other mouse. The turns were pretty good and the laterals got heavier and heavier as the ride progressed. Plus the ride felt much longer than your average mouse. This is my new favorite traditional wild mouse.
Aside from the line, the only other bad part were the brakes. Typically you have to brace while riding Vekomas, but that's because most of their loopers are medieval torture devices that try and turn your skull to porridge. On this one, the brakes are brutal. The park has signs warning riders since the brakes bring the train to a full and very abrupt stop. This is most evident in the station where the operator by the unloading area is specifically warning riders when the stops are coming. Still this was a minor issue since I knew to brace myself after the first one. Overall this was a great wild mouse coaster and I just wish the capacity were higher so I could have ridden twice. 7 out of 10
I got lucky with Wild Mouse opening. No such luck for Rollo Coaster, but I knew that would be the case considering the circumstances why the ride was down. The trains didn't look any different from old photos, so I wonder if they're ordering entirely new trains with new restraints. The ride looked fantastic with the classic station and its natural setting. It reminded me of a mini Boulder Dash. Hopefully the park can get the Rollo Coaster open again soon and I'd love to drop in for a ride when it does open.
The Olde Idlewild area is where the park keeps most of the rides. This is the area with the two coasters and a majority of the park's flats. Like the Story Book Forest, their flat collection seems frozen in time since they only seemed to have older rides and all of them were of the family-friendly variety. I took a ride on their Spider and flying scooters. The Spider was fun and the tubs were extremely easy to spin. The Flying Aces (flying scooters) was a major disappointment. With the rest of the park's classics, I was hoping for a snappable set of scooters. Instead I was greeted with a modern Larson installation, which sadly meant no snapping. They were run decently fast, but the fins didn't have enough movement to get any snapping. The cycle was also painfully short.
Idlewild also had 4 other areas- SoakZone water park, Racoon Lagoon kids area, Jumpin' Jungle play structure, and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. I didn't venture into the water park, but it definitely seemed to be one of the smaller ones I've been to. I was disappointed to find out Mister Rogers was replaced with Daniel Tiger. I grew up loving Mister Rogers, so finding whatever the eff Daniel Tiger is wasn't a nice surprise for me. I walked over to the area and didn't see a trolley in sight, so I decided to skip out after seeing how putrid the capacities on the flume and Wild Mouse were.
After about 2 hours, I decided it was time to hit the road to get some thrill rides in at Kennywood. Idlewild is definitely successful where it tries. The park is a paradise for kids with the family friendly rides, well-shaded pathways, and laid back atmosphere. I would have loved having this park growing up. As a thrill-seeker, this is one of those parks that I really couldn't spend an entire day at though. I will be back someday when the Rollo Coaster opens, but that will probably be on a day that I also visit Kennywood.