Monday, July 30, 2012

Road Trip! Funtown Splashtown U.S.A.

The second leg of our Road Trip took across the wilderness of Vermont and New Hampshire to Maine, where Funtown Splashtown U.S.A. awaited us.

We're here!  Funtown Splashtown U.S.A.

Funtown Splashtown is located in Saco, Maine, adjacent to Route 1 and not very far from the beach.  I don't associate Maine with the beach, although I know darn well that it has quite a stretch of them, but when you arrive at the park you can almost smell that the water is near.

The park has its origins back in 1967 when two individual operators of typical roadside amusements joined forces and created Funtown U.S.A.  As the years went by more rides were added, and bigger ones at that.  Eventually the two operators split once again, with one buying the other out, only to have the former owner open a similar park with water slides right next door.

This view of Excalibur greets guests in the parking lot.
Well fast forward some more and the water park was then purchased as well by the operator of Funtown, and then Splashtown was added to the property.  That may have been a bit complicated to follow, but what matters is that in the end Funtown Splashtown became what it is today - a thriving family owned amusement and water park combination.

And no doubt a big part of why we visited was for Excalibur, the park's large wooden roller coaster.

Not the first drop, the second, actually.
Excalibur opened in 1998 and in my opinion really moved Funtown Splashtown up a notch on the great amusement park fame scale.  It was built by Custom Coasters International (now defunct), and starts with a 100 foot tall lift hill into the trees.  The ride is located across a small creek from the park proper, so guests get to cross a decorated bridge, complete with themed music, to get to the ride's station, also nicely themed as a castle.

Floating hair and hands up, that's how to ride!
A reader tweeted at me while I was visiting that the ride has just finished up a multi-year re-tracking project, and I can believe it.  I was a bit worried that the ride might run a little rough, but it was actually quite nice.  Several bits of air-time, good speed, and overall a comfortable experience.  The aging of rides like Excalibur is so dependent on the park's penchant for proper maintenance, so hats off to Funtown for this one.

Up and over, guests head to the rides.
But how about the rest of the park?  Funtown features a nice selection of rides, all tucked between the trees on winding pathways.  I will admit that it is not the easiest park to navigate, but once you get the lay of the land it becomes easier.  The section with many bridges links to many attractions, like the Thunder Bolt and Flying Trapeze above.  There are older parts of the park that remind me of many family parks I've visited, which is always nice.  There's definitely no corporate feel anywhere at Funtown.

Taking a voyage on the Sea Dragon.
The park appears to put a lot of care into its appearance, taking time to plant plenty of beautiful flower beds around the property.  Here the park's Sea Dragon, which has its own water feature beneath it, swinging high above the sword in the stone - which leads the way to Excalibur.  Little stuff like this always impresses me at parks.

I have a soft spot for Log Flumes, too.
Another treat of this road trip was that almost all of the parks have their own Log Flume rides, many of which are older and now sadly a part of a dying breed.  At Funtown Splashtown their ride is named Thunder Falls and is advertised as the longest and tallest in New England.  The ride splashes through the trees through some interesting rapids before the big climb, naturally followed by a plunge into the pool below.

Thankfully the visitors at the geysers left us alone when we floated by!

The park's family oriented roller coaster.
Funtown's other coaster is a Maurer Sohne Wild Mouse named... you guessed it, Wild Mouse!  The ride's yellow and purple paint scheme makes it hard to miss, even though it is tucked in the back corner of the park. 

The ride was actually moved to Funtown from Jolly Roger Amusement Park in Maryland, where it opened in 2009.  It replaced Funtown's Galaxy coaster, which had operated there since 1978.

Great name for bumper cars!
There were a lot of flat rides at Funtown as well, like for instance the bumper cars, called Sock It To Em here.  Love the name!  Another really popular ride is the Astrosphere, an indoor scrambler that has both thumping music and a lightshow.  There's plenty of kiddie rides, too, a wide variety in fact.  There's a kiddie log flume, a Frog Hopper, and some real classic older rides.  You known it is an older ride when it is named "Trucks" or "Kiddie Cars!"

The park's Antique Car Ride lets kids drive their way through a big part of the park, under bridges and past some larger rides, past even more well maintained landscaping.

2012 is the year of the dragon.  Really! It is.
Before Excalibur opened Funtown made its name known by adding a really tall ride, the 220 foot Dragon's Descent.  The ride has the massive dragon sculpture pictured above that guests walk under to get to the queue, sure to make an impression on riders.  The S&S Tower ride slowly takes the carriage up to the very top, only to suddenly blast them downward at faster than gravity speeds.

New for 2012 - six new "thrill slides."
Splashtown is portioned off from the dry park, which allows visitors to pick whether they want admission to one or both.  In a world of combination theme parks, it was sort of nice to have the choice!

But on the hot Summer day we visited it seemed that many folks made the choice for the Splashtown side of things, judging from the lines snaking down the towers.  The park has some older slides that date back quite a while, but also some modern ones like a gigantic Tornado funnel slide, and a Mammoth family slide.

This year saw the addition of a new slide tower named Mt. Olympus.  Hey, isn't there an entire water park named that?

My. Olympus standing tall over Splashtown.
Mt. Olympus has Triton's Twist, the green slide, Poseidon's Plunge, the blue one, and Amphitrite's Challenge, which is four racing mat slides all packing into one structure.  The tower is high capacity, and I have a feeling with the crowds descending on Splashtown that was something they needed.  More capacity is a sign of more crowds, so good for the park!

We didn't spend as much time as a family could while at the park, considering all that is offered to guests.  I'm quite pleased that we stopped by to check the place out - it was out of the way but worth the effort.

Stay tuned for our next stop!