Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Vicarious Visit to Silverwood Theme Park - Part 2

Last time we left off having just checked out the park's Country Carnival area, but there are a couple more rides to see before we head on.  New this year are a duo of children's attractions, both provided by S&S Worldwide.  The Butterflyer is a new swing style ride, and the other new attraction is a classic Frog Hopper - recently given a new look and some upgrades by the manufacturer.

The next section of the park is more recently developed, and is known as Roller Coaster Alley for good reason.  The park's two wooden rides sit across from each other, with a winding midway going between them.  There's also a more recently coaster addition to the area, but we'll get there in a bit.

While the Corkscrew had put the park on the map for coaster lovers, they really grabbed everyone's attention in 1996 when they added the Timber Terror.  Designed by Custom Coasters International, the ride stands 85' tall and travels over 2,700 feet of track.  Stretching proudly along N Highway 95, it also serves as quite a billboard for the park.

The Timber Terror is an out-and-back style ride, filled with air-time hills and a speedy turnaround at the far end.  The ride is ended by a tight 360 degree helix before the train hits the brakes.

The outside world is almost shaded from inside the park by the ride, too.  This is a shot giving you an idea of the impressive visuals that "roller coaster alley" gives visitors.

While Silverwood was (deservedly) enjoying the notoriety that the Timber Terror gave them, they didn't rest on their laurels.  1999 saw the follow up to the first wooden ride when Tremors was built at the park, further grabbing the attention of ride lovers.

The ride was also provided by Custom Coasters, though its design was dramatically different than the park's first ride.  Tremors is not only a twisted ride, but it also contains 4 below grade tunnels.  It's also a bit bigger than its sister ride, standing 100 feet tall and containing 3,000 feet of track.

Tremors' twisted nature doesn't mean it lacks air-time, however, as our fearless Mom reported that she felt plenty of it.  She also patiently waited for the train to come roaring into the gift shop tunnel above - only to then find out the train exits that way!  A solid try, anyway!

In addition to building various roller coasters, Silverwood has added plenty of other rides to its lineup.  Here we see Panic Plunge, standing 140 feet tall in the middle of roller coaster alley.  Riders are lifted slowly to the top only to, well, as the name says, plunge back down.  Drop towers like these provide a quite reliable thrill.

One more part and then we'll wrap up our look at Silverwood!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dorney Park 7.30.11 Update

Twas a busy and hot day at Dorney Park today, but it was time for an update so off I went!  Let's start with the big pink duck at the entrance area:

Dorney Park, like many other Cedar Fair parks is currently raising funds for Susan G. Komen For The Cure, for each $5 you donate you can put a pink duck in the pond for a chance to win a TV and Dorney season passes.  A portion of online ticket sales are also being donated.  I think this promotion might have started at Kings Island but has spread to other parks... a great effort by Cedar Fair.

Monster Watch 2011 continues... with no updates.

As for work on the park's new for 2012 ride, well there's been some progress since we last visited.  Whenever you see a big drill on a work site that means... footers are coming!

While there are certainly some new things dotting the former home of Laser, they don't look much like roller coaster footers to me.  Mostly drainage and the like.

The former kiddie rides that were down here finally had their fences, queues, etc removed.  The area looks more open that ever right now.

A wider view of the work site.  I believe that there's a new footer right in the middle of the photo, but it looks exactly like a lamp post support to me.  I think that the heavy work on ride footers will begin soon, though - there are rebar cages back closer to the rest rooms that have arrived.

Finally this shot was taken next two Revolution's queue line, you can see they had to use this area for parking again.  A new Haunt is rumored to pop up here this Fall, but hopefully with the new land purchased areas like this can permanently become part of the park, and not have to be let open for parking on busy days.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Western View - An Eastern View: Part 1

Today’s A Western View, along with the next two, are going to be a little different in that we will actually be taking “An Eastern View” of things and checking out some of the awesome parks the east coast has to offer. Fresh off my first trip to the Washington DC area, I’m eager to share with all of you what my trip was like. With the temperatures still in the high 90’s low 100’s feeling even hotter with the humidity, why not spend some time with NPN and enjoy these great parks in the AC?

First stop was a half-day Six Flags America. Due to the things I heard about the park, it wasn’t hard to decide to only spend half of the day there (I spent the other half checking out Washington, DC). Turns out I thoroughly enjoyed the park!

The park’s entrance is great. It fits the American Colonial theme and stands out as a grand portal into an immersive world of fun.

Inside the park, there is actually a decent collection of roller coasters. The big 3 are in the Gotham City section of the park. They are Batwing, a Vekoma Flying Dutchman; Jokers Jinx, a Premier LIM coaster; and of course Superman: Ride of Steel, an Intamin Hyper Coaster and the star ride of the park.

Superman had a little Intamin rattle going on but was a great ride nonetheless.

It had been a while since I’d ridden a Vekoma Flying Dutchman. My last ride on Stealth was in 2003 before it headed east so it had been 8 years since I’d been on one of these bad boys. I remember Stealth being a bit violent in it’s final year but was happy to find Batwing to be both forceful and fun!

When I went back for photos, the ride was experiencing some downtime but I was able to snap some pictures of a few empty test runs.

Jokers Jinx was my first outdoor coaster of its type. I was very happy that this one wasn’t heavily trimmed in the middle like the Flight of Fear coasters making the end very intense.

Wild One had to be my biggest surprise of the park. Why doesn’t this thing get more attention than it does?

With great lateral forces and decent airtime, it is seriously a great ride!

Roar at SFDK was the first ride I ever learned to operate so it has a special place in my heart, and though the east coast version was a great start, I feel like the west coast version is the more dominant of the two.

The park’s Intamin drop tower, Tower of Doom is a short 140ft tower with only 3 gondolas. That being said, it gave a great little drop!

Finally we end with Mind Eraser. Because of SLC’s reputation across the board I can’t blame the park for this one, but sometimes as a coaster enthusiast I have to ask myself, is the credit worth it?
Now, lets do a quick recap of my day at the park.
Best Ride: Superman: Ride of Steel – With great speed, forceful helixes and quality airtime, this is a hard ride to beat at the park.
Best Crew: Batwing – Very friendly team operating at a quick pace. They seemed to generally care about the guests experience.
Most Amusing Oddity of the Park: Superman’s location in “Gotham City.” - With a land completely themed towards Batman, it’s ironic the park placed a ride themed to the man of steel within it.
Highlight of the Day: The crowds – the heat was so much that what little crowd there was, they all headed to Hurricane Harbor leaving the park basically empty and little to no lines at all.

Next Friday we'll check out Kings Dominion. Hope to see you then!

Next Week Is Announcement Week!

Holiday World has a $9 million secret and they're going to clue us all in on August 3rd.  While not giving any revealing information away, the park has said that what will be announced will be "the largest single ride project in the park's 65-year history."

I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty nice to me!  It sounds like there will be something for both the theme park and Splashin' Safari, though the ride for the theme park sounds like the really big addition.

If you are in the park on the 3rd the announcement will be open to the public in the park's Holiday Theater at 11 am CDT.

Six Flags Great America is also planning a large announcement for August 1st.  The park has slowly been revealing some clues on their Facebook page, but unless you're proficient in reading blurry there's not much to know yet.

You can tell that whatever it is it has to do with the County Fair section of the park, at least part of it will be blue, and it might use a slogan of "It's baaaack."

From that I pretty much still don't have anything! 

Smack dab in the middle of both of these announcement is Hersheypark's big reveal, to take place in the park on the 2nd at 12:12 pm.  With so much viral game playing going on with that one I'm sure everyone will be more than ready to finally get the skinny on what the park is building!

Sounds like a fun week, if you ask me!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Countdown to 2012 With Canada's Wonderland

I haven't a clue what Canada's Wonderland is announcing in 20 or so days, but I'm now more anxious than ever with new teasers going up on the park's website.  They have a page with a countdown to the announcement, and their main page also features a stormy graphic/explosion type thing going on.  The slogan "prepare to be blown away" leads me to think that it could be a launched ride, but also that it could be themed to some kind of storm or weather event.

The footer work has continued at a rapid pace - there's now numerous ones poured with plenty more on the way.  Can't wait to see what it is!

Splashtown Expansion for 2012

Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco, Maine has big plans for next season, as shown above. This major new high-profile attraction includes six individual slides, two of which will feature the terrifying "floor-drop" effect to launch riders onto the slide. At this point, the ride's manufacturer is unknown. According to this article, the park will be opening a new restaurant and restroom as part of the project, and relocating some other guest service facilities.

A Blast From The Past - Holiday World's Raven Pt 2

Last week's Blast covered the Raven's design and construction, this week's Blast is going to be a little different than the norm. So much has been said about the Raven, that I thought I would tell about our first ride on the Raven!

I had been to Santa Claus Land in 1972. At that time the park didn't have a roller coaster or much else for of interest to me, but my then eighteen month old nephew had a great time. I on the other hand would have rather gone to that brand new park just north of Cincinnati.

Fast forward to the summer of 1995, when we made the pilgrimage to Holiday World, for our first visit and first ride on the Raven. This was before the world wide web wide. We had picked up a brochure in April so we knew when the park opened.

We had driven down the night before, but the park was closed when we drove by. We were up bright and early, and were at Holiday World before they open. We waited in the parking lot until the gates opened and then waited in the shade in front of Kringles, for the park's other coaster, the Firecracker, to open.

As we sat there, proudly wearing our ACE shirts, a petite blonde lady in her late fifties or early sixties walked by (yeah, you know where this is going, but humor me.) She commented on our shirts and ask if we were there to ride the Raven. We said that we were, but we wanted to ride the Firecracker first.

The lady laughed and said to make sure we stopped by later, as she would be running the Raven and she wanted to know what we thought of the ride. The entire park finally opened and we headed to the 4th of July section of the park for a ride on the park's Pinfari Zyklon. We also rode a few other rides in the area, including the park's oldest ride, the Freedom Train.

Eventually, we found our way back to the Raven. The line was short and as is our tradition we waited for the front seat. The blonde lady was "driving" the coaster, she saw us and waved as we entered the station. The ride was smooth and full of airtime.

As the train re-entered the station, the blonde lady suggested we try the backseat. So, we walked around and waited for the back. We chatted with the lady until it was our turn. She shared a bit of history on the park and spoke of the future, if the Raven was as successful as they were hoping.

The backseat was amazing, this was back when the Raven had buzzbars and I was off my seat more than I was sitting on it! We rode a few more times in the back and then ended the day with a front seat ride. We had save the best for last and it was time to head out. As we were exiting, we saw an employee wearing a tie and asked him where Guest Relations was located. He asked if he could help us, we said we wanted to leave a compliment for an employee and described the petite blonde lady. The man chuckled slightly and explained that she and her husband owned the park. So...our first visit to Holiday World was also our first interaction with Pat Koch.

The years have passed and I think we will all agree the Raven has been very successful. The park has gone on to shatter many attendance records, even in a recession. And, Mrs Koch is greeting visitors at the park on a daily basis.

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!