Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Where's Wally Bear?" Part 2

This is the second in a two part series of NPN's look back at our recent trip to Waldameer Amusement Park. If you missed Part 1, click here to check it out.

Welcome back! Let's start off by discussing why this article's title is "Where's Wally Bear?" Well, it's because Sabrina said it! She really wanted to see him! Sadly, only I caught a passing glimpse of Wally during our visit. One day Sabrina, one day.

But speaking of Wally, if you want to read more about the story behind the bear, check out the Waldablog's detailed series of posts that take a hard look at his origins.

Last time I spoke of the beautiful location of Waldameer, then I realized I had this photo to prove it! This is a look at Lake Erie from the park, you can see the Ravine Flyer II's tunnel in the bottom to give you some perspective.

The park's mega-new for 2009 ride is the Mega Vortex. Part of the park's $2 million expansion, Waldameer actually expanded their South midway in order to add the ride.

Mega Vortex is visually impressive, spinning riders back and forth on its track much to their delight. I usually am weary of rides of this kind, mostly for my stomach, but found it to be a really good time!

Mr. Gorman said they traveled to Kennywood last fall and heard that their Cosmic Chaos ride was extremely popular with guests, and that helped 'seal the deal' with their decision to add the ride. Great choice, I say!

Pirate's Cove is the park's second classic Bill Tracy dark ride. Well, in this instance it's actually a funhouse, not a dark ride. It is wonderfully preserved, though - and really long! I kept expecting to turn a corner and be done but it just kept going and going, much to our delight. I have a soft spot in my heart for anything with moving floors, I suppose.

Steel Dragon is the park's largest steel roller coaster, added to the park for the 2004 season.

The restraints were pretty comfortable, too.

Designed by Maurer Sohne, the ride features bright red track atop bright blue supports. It's individual cars also spin freely throughout the ride, adding to the experience.

The spinning was less intense than Exterminator at Kennywood, but very enjoyable nonetheless. Steel Dragon also has a much more unique layout than our typical Wild Mouse ride, which adds many more opportunities for fun spinning action.

Walking around 4 parks in three days will make you tired. Secretly, that's why I wanted to ride the train at all the parks we went to... just don't tell Sabrina! We waited to take a spin on Waldameer's L. Ruth Express, and I'm glad we did.

A nice long rest for your feet.

This train provides one seriously long ride! It heads from the middle of the park all the way out to the edge of the park by Ravine Flyer II, then across the length of the park to the picnic pavilions and back.

Future home of a swingin' good time.

Speaking of the area near Ravine Flyer II, this spot has been reserved for a Chair Swing ride sometime in the future. It's planned for 2010, but when we spoke to Mr. Gorman he wasn't sure it would still be added, citing the less than fantastic season parks across the country are having this year.

The park hadn't even narrowed down which manufacturer would provide the ride when we visited, and I haven't heard if they decided either way yet. We'll have to stay tuned. The plan for the ride was actually announced way back in October of last year.

The park is filled with these beautiful bronze statues.

Alright, enough waiting. Let's 'hop' on over to the park's big draw: Ravine Flyer II.

The struggle for the park to build the Ravine Flyer II was long, but I dare you to find anyone who would say it wasn't worth the park's time. It opened in 2008 and immediately received rave reviews, eventually winning the title Best New Ride of 2008 in Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards.

The ride also helped Waldameer achieve some record breaking business the year it opened, when the park saw some 20% gains across the board. Mr. Gorman couldn't be happier about the ride, just hearing him speak about it makes it clear what a success the project was.

As for the actual ride? It's intense, thrilling, and amazing at night. The Gravity Group really came up with a masterpiece when they designed this one. It just does not let up from the moment you head down that first drop overlooking Lake Erie.

Some of the best coaster rides I've ever had are on the Beast at Kings Island at night. I dare say that some sections of Ravine Flyer II provided a similar experience: that out of control, high speed type of fun only a really great coaster can provide.

Check out that view of the lake!

The ride's use of tunnels also makes it stand out of the crowd. Among them, there's this unique one that sends riders over the road that leads to Presque Isle State Park. And let's not forget that Ravine Flyer II does feature 90 degree banking!

The coaster's addition to the park really helped draw visitors from far and wide. When we visited, Mr. Gorman had just spoken to a lady from Australia who came just to take a spin on the Ravine Flyer II. He also said that the closing of Geauga Lake has also helped improve Waldameer's visitors from the closed park's former market.

I'm quite excited to watch Waldameer continue to grow and develop. They really have a wonderful park as is, and it sounds like they have great plans for the future. Many thanks again to Steve Gorman for speaking with us!

Like all good things, that brings us to the end of the reviews from our Western PA Park Tour. It was a grand adventure - and many thanks also to you, our readers, for coming along for the trip!


Sabrina said...

Um... Er... What addiction to park mascots?? --->

lol - This comment is going to make zero sense once I change that photo!