Washington State Fair (Puyallup Fair)
European fair midways are awesome. You have insane flats operated by crazy carnies. Heck, you sometimes even have a portable 5 loop Schwarzkopf coaster.
Most US carnival midways are embarrassing. They’re a wasteland of Orient Expresses and Dragon Wagons. If you’re lucky they may even have a portable galaxy/zklon or one/two great flats. The Washington State Fair (Puyallup Fair) is an exception.
I actually split my visit over two days. After Wild Waves closed, the prudent decision was to start the drive to Silverwood. It was a good 5 hours away. But I couldn’t pass up the fair. I reserved a large chunk of time on Labor Day, but this gave me two shots to ride everything and a chance to see the fair at night.
On the Friday night, ride lines were minimal to non-existent since there wasn’t a pay-one-price wristband offered. Compare this to Labor Day when the coasters had half hour waits.
My priorities on Friday night were anything that was unique. So my first stop was the Classic Coaster. And I was ecstatic to see the same restraints as PNE Playland’s Coaster. No seat belts, no seat dividers, and a lap bar a good foot above my lap.
My ride up front was pretty tame. Half the hills had small pops of air. Half the hills did nothing. The only shock was when the second-to-last hill tried to launch me into orbit. That hill was great!
So I gave it another whirl in the back and noticed something interesting. This row had seatbelts. I figured there must be a reason and there sure was. The third drop is downright lethal! You get these wicked laterals combined with powerful ejector air. The fourth drop has similar airtime as well. Classic Coaster is undoubtedly a back row ride. Outside of those two hills, it’s a lot of weak pops of air.
Classic Coaster’s third and fourth drops are reasons to plan a visit to the Seattle area when the Washington State Fair is underway. This coaster is very smooth and contains some surprising OFMG moments. 8 out of 10
Most enthusiasts prioritize the credits, but my next priorities were two flats- Inferno and Tango.
Inferno is a Zierer Hexentanz. If you don’t know it by that name, I didn’t either until a minute ago. This is the same ride as the former Tampico Tumblers at Knott’s Berry Farm and Mall of America. I thought this ride was extinct, so I lost it when I saw the Washington State Fair had one.
The movement is certainly peculiar and it results in countless near-misses. I was disappointed it didn’t result in any airtime though. It would have with some more speed though. In short, this ride isn’t a reason to book a trip to Washington. But it’s an enjoyable flat for its uniqueness. 7 out of 10
KMG Tangos exist to tease me. Canobie used to have one and it blew me away. All the degrees of freedom and range of motion resulted in a truly wild ride. It may also be the reason why they never run.
Equinox was at Canobie for parts of three years, but I only rode it once. Equinox was closed on all but one of my visits and even on the sole visit where it was open, it broke down constantly. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have ever ridden it.
I’d say the one at Canobie was damaged goods, but I’ve had no luck elsewhere. The one at Reithoffer Shows was closed a few years ago and the one at the Washington State Fair was down for maintenance both days I visited. I guess this is my new white whale.
Since I couldn’t exactly use my remaining ride tickets on Tango, I figured it would be a swell idea to finish the night with Rainier Rush. This is universally considered one of the worst coasters in existence and I had a morbid curiosity to see just how bad it really was.
Let’s talk about the trains. You’re head gets trapped between this minimally padded OSTR and your knees rest below a metal lap bar that’s too far away for any reasonably sized human being to grab.
As we crested the lift, the ride started with a literal bang. The ride kidney punched me in the back. And if I’ve learned one thing about riding coasters, it’s this. A coaster that screws up a lift hill or brake run is bound to screw up everything else.
The first drop and inclined loop were intense (definitely not 5.8Gs like they claim), but they’re filled with nonstop headbanging. But that isn’t even the worst part. About halfway through the ride, there’s this off-axis airtime hill. Now it admittedly gives great floater air. But remember how I said your knees are below a metal pair? I felt like I got a crow bar to the knee caps.
Folks, Rainier Rush is the real deal. This ride blows. 1 out of 10
After two days passed, I returned to the Washington State Fair to reride Classic Coaster, knockout the remaining coasters, try some crappy dark rides, eat some artery clogging food, and give the one fingered salute to Rainier Rush.
I started with a reride on Classic Coaster. Despite every single switchback being full and the queue extending back to the ticket booth, the line was only 30-35 minutes thanks to insanely efficient operations.
Wildcat was a bit tricky to ride as the park has a ban on single riders. After hanging around the back of the queue for 10 minutes, I paired up with a father and his two sons. He just warned me his kids had one requirement, we had to ride in the Seattle Seahawks car.
For better or worse, Wildcats are basically jumbo galaxy coasters. The helices are forceless, but the second and third drops give quick pops of air. 5 out of 10
I then nondescriptly made my way into Sillyville to grab the kiddie credits. Dragon Wagon was off-limits to adults, but there was no such ban on Speedy Coaster or Tiger Express. I waited far too long for both coasters, but at least I can say I’ve ridden them.
Speedy Coaster was a wacky worm. It was slow and uneventful. But it was perfectly smooth. 2 out of 10
Tiger Express was torture. After being stapled, I was treated to not one, not two, not three…but 13 freaking laps on this rattly dumpster fire of a coaster. 1 out of 10
I have a low bar when it comes to carnival dark rides, but the two at the Washington State Fair failed to meet that.
All the effects on Haunted Mansion were mistimed. That could have been forgivable had they not looked like trash and the ride been hotter than a furnace. At the time, I thought it was the worst dark ride I had ever ridden. 1 out of 10
But the I rode Ghost Pirates. After hearing a loop of Pirates of the Caribbean’s theme in the station, you are treated to a ride that takes the term “dark ride” a little too seriously. It’s mostly an empty building. There were at least two spots with audio and no discernable visual effect.
If a long ride has two effects out-of-commission, there’s still enough there to compensate. But Ghost Pirates wasn’t even 30 seconds long! That meant those two effects were like half the ride. This ride is so bad that it may have beaten Rainier Rush as the fair's worst ride. 0 out of 10
Due to the lines on the coasters and dark rides (yes I actually waited for Ghost Pirates), I only rode one additional flat in El Nino. I believe this ride is known as a KMG spinout and it was a lot of fun.
When the ride transitions from rightside up to upside down, you are treated to a surprise pop of ejector air that morphs into sustained hangtime. And at the same time, you’re still getting high Gs from the spinning. It’s a work of art. It’s just a shame the ride is as short as Ghost Pirates. 8.5 out of 10
I also took a roundtrip journey on the Skyride. The views of the midway were spectacular, but I really can’t share any since the windows were so dirty.
Of the non-rides, the highlight was undoubtedly the pig exhibit. You had a litter of 9 piglets cuddling their mom. It was such a heartwarming scene. It makes you see pigs for more than bacon, but rest assured, they have a sign above the exhibit reminding you which section of the pig pork and bacon comes from.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the food. I went with the tried and true fried dough and a unique chicken and waffle bowl, but they had some odd items here. The most notable was deep fried butter. Yuck!
I thoroughly enjoyed the Washington State Fair. While it can’t quite match the electric atmosphere of a European fair, the ride lineup is comparable and obliterates anything else you’ll find in the US.