Funtown is a park that I almost bought a season pass for the past two years. They have a good wooden roller coaster, some nice flats, a fun log flume, and a great water park. They are also only an 1-1.5 hours from me. So what's stopping me? The value. While a season pass costs over $100, Funtown offers one of the best deals on twilight tickets in the industry at $10-$13. That's an amazing deal! Since I definitely wouldn't make it to the park over 10 times per year, the twilight ticket is the way to go.
For a 10 pm closing, the super discounted twilight ticket begins at 6 pm. With the low crowds Funtown gets, 4 hours is more than enough to hit the major attractions and get several rerides on Excalibur. They also have another twilight ticket starting at 3 pm that's $20. For that reason, I don't feel the need to get there at opening and pay almost $40. I made sure to visit on a Saturday when the park was open until 10 to get some night rides on Excalibur.
We started off with the Grand Prix Racers go karts. Unlike most parks that have go karts as an upcharge attraction, Funtown includes them with park admission, no strings attached. Well actually there are strings attached; you only get two rides, but honestly one is sufficient. In a world when FECs charge ~$6 for go karts, I'll happily pay double that to also get rides on everything else at Funtown. As far as go karts go, these ones are just average, but they are just gravy on top of everything else the park has to offer. 6 out of 10
After some disappointing S&S towers down in Texas, I was afraid I had built up an immunity to turbo drops. Dragon's Descent quelled those fears. While not an Intamin or ARM/Larson tower, this is the strongest drop on any of the S&S towers I've been on. That's combined with the breathtaking views at the top (make sure you face the entrance so you can see the Atlantic Ocean) and how awesome the theming is around the ride. The dragon at the main entrance looks like something worthy of a Disney parade and the control tower/compressor building look fantastic. 8 out of 10
It was at this point I had a realization about the park's "theme". Why does a park called Funtown U.S.A.
have sections themed to China (Dragon's Descent), Europe (Excalibur's area), and Mexico (the big restaurant across from the Antique Cars) yet nothing themed to the US? The park looks great, but it was just a weird observation I made during my most recent visit.
Up next was the park's flume. One of the better ones out there, Thunder Falls has a pretty long layout and occupies a large chunk of the park's used land. The ride only features one drop, but it's a very good one. It's quite tall and you are pretty much guaranteed to get soaked. Not from the splashdown, but from water cannons. The park has 6 of them and you are pretty much guaranteed to see a line of rapid New Englanders with quarters in-hand and the focus only a Dunkin Donuts coffee can give them. 9 out of 10
Enough foreplay, it was time for Excalibur. This CCI creation is the coaster that really put Funtown on the map. At one point, Excalibur was my favorite coaster. The ride hasn't gotten any worse, I have just been on over 400 other coasters since I first rode Excalibur. It's still a good coaster and in the top third of the woodies I've been on since the park has maintained it well.
Like Dragon's Descent, the park did a great job theming Excalibur. The Camelot theming is a very nice touch, but the best part about Excalibur is its setting. It is located entirely in the woods, which conceals the layout for first time riders and creates one heck of a memorable night ride when the sun sets. For that reason, I strongly recommend visiting Funtown on a day when it is open until 10 so you can maximize night rides on Excalibur.
Despite only running one train, crowds weren't an issue as it was only a 2-3 train wait for the front or back seats. It's a toss up which seat I prefer, so I distributed my rides equally. RMC and Intamin have since surpassed Excalibur in this area, but at one point Excalibur had one of the steepest drops on any wooden coaster. The first drop still packs a mighty punch in the back seat.
The first half of the ride has some amazing speed and air. The first turnaround gives a major pop of ejector air combined with some laterals. The next turn is probably the roughest point on the ride, but it's still completely tolerable. It's a lightly banked turn with some great laterals. The next bunny hill is puny which gives airtime that is anything but puny. The subsequent turnaround is much like the first one with some fantastic air and laterals.
Unfortunately Excalibur does peter out in the second half. There is another pop of air and some decent laterals, but the speed and breakneck pacing of the first half disappeared like the sun did on Monday. If Excalibur had a better second half, I honestly think this ride could have been as good as Holiday World's Raven with the setting and pacing of the first half. 8 out of 10
I had every intention of returning to Excalibur at the end of the night, but first we had to hit some other rides towards the front of the park. Up next was the park's smaller coaster, the Wild Mouse. A Mauer Sohne version, this one is barely braked and is up there with Hershey's for my favorite standard mouse coaster. 6.5 out of 10
Along with Dragon's Descent, Funtown has two other great flats in Atsrosphere and their Bumper Cars. Astrosphere is an amazing indoor scrambler that's more like a rave than a spinning ride. The park employees pride themselves in putting on crazy shows with lasers, fog, and projections all while ELO's Fire on High (an amazing song for a ride) is blasted. 10 out of 10
Funtown also has a very underrated set of bumper cars. With old classic cars, no divider, and a very long ride time, Funtown's Bumper Cars are among the best I've been on. While most parks are openly against head-on collisions (even without the divider), Funtown couldn't care less which gives you the perfect opportunity to ram full speed into your friends and absolutely launch them. 9 out of 10
With a half hour left, we returned back to Excalibur to finish the night. We got a ride in the back and it was even better at night. The entire layout was pitch black outside of the lift hill and the ride felt so much faster.
Since it was a complete walk-on at this point, the park was more than willing to save you a trip down the long exit ramp. They had you exit the train and herded everyone just beyond the exit gate. After they opened and closed the air gates, it was the running of the bulls for any open seat. Since we didn't want to elbow anyone for the best seats, we instead chose to walk around to get one last ride in the front row.
We re-entered the queue around 9:55 and were next in line for the front. Two 20-something year olds entered the queue line behind us. The ride ops came over and said the next ride would be the last of the night. Sweet! We got in line just in time. The ops asked the two behind us to switch to another row. 95 times out of 100, people may be disappointed but they will move. These two dug their feet in the sand.
"We had our hearts set on the front seat. We didn't drive 50 minutes to be denied the front. This will run our whole visit." Eventually the employee said they could run another train. On one hand, that was great since we would get one extra ride on Excalibur (albeit probably in the middle with the stampede for the seats). On the other hand, I wish the employees hadn't caved into them.
As we boarded our train, we heard the two behind us saying, "Those people [us] look like they have their hearts set on the front seat too. If they weren't selfish and moved back a row, the employees could have made this the last train of the night." I had to try so hard not to make a scene, but I'm sorry that we're being selfish for not giving up our spot in line for two people who didn't want to wait an extra 5-10 minutes earlier in the day to ride in the front row.
We got back and those two sat down in the front row. We let the masses choose their seats and then ended up in the 3rd to back, which was a great choice all things considered. It was another great ride. As we returned to the station, the two in front started a "One more time" chant. Again, we were being the selfish ones.
Funtown may not be as good as Canobie or Lake Compounce, but it's another smaller park that serves as an alternate to Six Flags New England. I can safely say that I'll be making at least 1-2 visits up to the park per year for the foreseeable future as long as they keep that great twilight ticket going.
Afterwards, we stopped at Old Orchard Beach to get some greasy goodness at Pier French Fries. A staple of OOB, the pier fries are crispy crinkle fries that will certainly clog your arteries. But they are so good we quite frankly don't care. The place is directly across from Palace Playland, OOB's beachfront amusement park.
It really has the feel of a permanent carnival rather than a theme park so we didn't stop in, especially since it has been quite some time since they added anything new. I'm hoping they replace the Galaxi with a new coaster in the near future, but honestly I wonder if the park will be sticking around after so many other New England beach parks closed. I mean this is the one that lasted?
The weird thing I observed about the park's closing is that it occurred in phases. The back half of the park closed at 11. The front left closed at 11:15. And the final quadrant closed close to midnight. It was pretty weird seeing them keep a Yo-Yo, 40 ft tall drop tower, and Troika open over everything else, but they still had riders so I don't blame them.