Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Vicarious Visit to Silverwood Theme Park - Part 1

What better a use for a private runway then a theme park?  I have to wonder if Gary Norton pondered that back in 1981 when he purchased the Henley Aerodrome, which would eventually become Silverwood Theme Park.  The impetus for the theme park development was his purchase of a 1915 steam engine train to run on the property, which we will cover later.  Still, the purchase of the train must have got him thinking, because plans were announced for a transportation inspired park to open in 1988.

After much work the park opened in June of '88, and visitors flocked to the park to check out Victorian themed buildings, the elaborate train ride, and in the early years even an afternoon air show above the park.

But you might be wondering why this is a vicarious visit to Silverwood - well that's because I wasn't there!  No instead my dear Mother ended up spending a day at the park with some friends and was kind enough to take photos for her park-blogging son.  Hopefully some day I'll visit the park, but until then this is a nice way to stop by!

As Silverwood developed many more rides and attractions were added to keep the crowds coming, and that's just what they did.  1990 saw a significant expansion which included the Corkscrew roller coaster and plenty of other rides.  Today the park contains five large coasters, water attractions, live entertainment, and an entire new water park, named Boulder Beach.

The Country Carnival area is where many of the original rides were added to the park during the early expansions.  Now that time has passed the area has grown in nicely - one thing I'm noticing in these photos is that Silverwood looks to put a lot of pride into their landscaping!  Much of the park seems littered with small landscaping details that are beautiful.  Or maybe my Mom just really likes flowers. 

The Country Carnival area is home to the park's flume, named the Roaring Creek Log Flume.  Oddly the park seems to only call it Log Flume in print and online, but elsewhere it has a more elaborate name.  Regardless, we all know I like coasters, especially mine trains, but I also love log flumes.  Naturally this Arrow design peaked my interest.

Silverwood's flume has all the essentials in a classic Arrow ride - a meandering course through a wooden area, a tunnel to add a little mystery, and a drop at the end to cool things off.  Long live the log flumes, I say!

Elsewhere in Country Carnival a large selection of classic flat rides can be found.  The Ferris Wheel, seen above, gives views of the area which includes a Sky-Diver, Scrambler, Round-Up, Tilt-a-Whirl, and Paratrooper among others.  A river raft ride, named Thunder Canyon, is another sure way to get soaked on a hot day.

The biggest ride of the area is the Corkscrew, a coaster that's about as full of history as one can be.  Originally this ride resided in California at Knott's Berry Farm, where it was the first modern coaster to turn riders upside-down, which gave it considerable notoriety.  

As Knott's expanded over the years their need for Corkscrew to remain in their portfolio of rides must have dwindled, as it was sold off and moved to Sliverwood where it opened in 1990.  It was a hit at the park, and added much needed capacity to the growing property.   Today it's not the biggest, fastest, or most popular coaster at Silverwood, but it's history alone makes it unique.

And yes, Mom took a spin on it!  Reports are exactly as you'd expect for a 1970s Corkscrew, so props to her for riding in the name of NPN. 

There is plenty of park yet to explore, but that will come as time allows.  See you for part 2!