08/22: Conneaut Lake and Waldameer Park (long)

Associated parks:
None

Monday, August 26, 2002 6:48 AM

Where: Conneaut Lake Park, where everything old is new again.

When: Thursday, August 22

Weather: Mix of clouds and sun, temps in the upper 80's

Crowds: Moderate

Time Spent: 12:45 pm to 3:45 pm

Closed Rides: Sky Thriller (imagine that!!) and the Bessemer Railroad

You really can't help but have a good time at Conneaut Lake Park. Celebrating its 110th Anniversary this season, Conneaut is looking better than ever thanks to some recent paint jobs at the front entrance and within the park itself. And when we arrived at the park and saw the "new" train rumble around the Blue Streak's turnaround, we couldn't help but get excited.

We arrived at the park around 12:45 and noticed quite a crowd at the front ticket booths. Now, it was a weekday and I was fully prepared to spend my $8.95 (plus tax, of course!) for a ride all-day pass. In my eyes, $8.95 is a fantastic deal as it also includes the waterslides and lazy river. Well, when the woman at the ticket booth said "That will be $6.19", I was completely shocked. She explained that it was a "Back To School Week" special and that this weekend admission will be just $9.95 (compared to the normal $13.95). So, for roughly $2 less than Six Flags Worlds of Adventure's Parking fee, we got a ride-all-day pass. While Conneaut's ride line-up isn't anything huge, there is enough to keep you busy for a few hours.

With the skies looking a bit threatening, we made our first stop at the Blue Streak. The "new" old trains looked spectacular as they rolled into the station. The line was actually down the ramp for the Streak, and at one point, we saw the queue all the way into the first switchback! We were really looking forward to trying out these "new" trains and I was just ecstatic once I saw that there was a stationary lap bar and a leather strap as our restraints. This reminded me quite a bit of Kennywood's Jack Rabbit. Capacity has been cut by 8 people with these trains, but once we started on our journey, I really didn't care much about capacity. You are REALLY open in these trains as the lap bar doesn't really cover your lap. Our first ride was in seat 4.1. As we plunged down the first drop, I noticed that the ride did seem a bit smoother than riding in the "old" NAD-fronted train. As we made our way over the second and third drops (which seem to slow the train at the top of each hill), I REALLY noticed a difference. The ride tracks much better and while it's still rough, it's nowhere near as brutal as it used to be. The turnaround was next and that rib-cracking slam to the right of the car seems to have been all but eliminated. When we returned to the station, I thought the ride was good, but not great. That would all change later.

Next stop on the tour was the "new" for 2002 Chance Toboggan. I really wasn't too keen on riding, but I had never been on one of these before and decided the only reason I was riding was for the cheap coaster credit! On my first visit back in June, the Toboggan was sitting idle as it did not have a chain. Yesterday, the ride was running and was thrilling riders with its descending turns and VERY sudden drops. This hellish ride was truly a claustrophobics nightmare. The small, coffin-like cars are supposed to hold 2 passengers, but my friend and I opted to ride separately. If there would have been an extra person in my car, I think I would have totally freaked out. Despite the 2-car operation and low capacity, the operator kept the cars moving pretty quickly. I climbed into the red car and the ride op lowered the lid. I actually had to duck a bit for the lid to close completely. A HUGE padded lap bar cut off the circulation to my legs, which were sticking straight out from my waist. I could not move at all, as my head was brushing the top of the car and my legs were literally smashed! With a "pssss" of air, I was soon tilting back.... back.... and back some more till I was on my back looking straight up the vertical lift inside the tube. The anti-rollback device is extremely loud and I wouldn't be surprised if I suffered some permanent hearing loss! :) At this point though, I had two major fears: 1- This car is WAY too small and 2- What happens if the chain breaks or the ride stops while I'm inside the tube? There is no way to open the car is there? Anyhow, as I'm creating my own mind games in the cramped cell on wheels, I breathed a sigh of relief as the car exited the tube and began to spiral down the tower. The descent really isn't that thrilling since the majority of it is braked, but I could imagine that if it weren't braked, there would be some serious forces exerted. After what I believe were 5 downward spirals, the car hit the most painful dip I may have ever experienced. The car violently jolts down a small dip, smashing my head into the front of the car (I tried to brace myself per RideMan's instructions in another thread, but couldn't move my legs!), and my back felt an extremely sharp pain. A left turn led to 2 small bunny hops and after 60 seconds of terror, the ride ends. The ride op unlocked the lid and I literally jumped out of the small cage. I can see why Chance never really got into the steel coaster market (before the Morgan merger) as this was really a painful and uncomfortable ride. The sad thing was, even after all the bashing I just did on Conneaut's new addition, I was back in line later on for another torture session. I freaked out again and just do NOT like the small, confining cars. The ride itself is an interesting concept, and the spiral section is kinda fun..... but as soon as it hits that first drop, all fun and games are over! It was funny listening to the obscenities come out of the cars as other riders negotiated that section of track!

We took a ride on the Ultimate Trip, an outstanding enclosed Scrambler ride that runs at a very high speed. The cycle time was quite long here as we got to listen to "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi in its entirety. Unfortunately, the ride op didn't seem too interested in flashing the lights in time with the music, but it was still a fun ride. We then headed to the Devil's Den... the infamous dark ride that thinks its a coaster. The stunts didn't seem to be firing at the right times since the space between cars wasn't what it normally was.... but nonetheless the Den is a hokey, cheesy dark ride that should be experienced at least once on a visit to CLP. Thankfully the "gum wall" was free of yellow jackets!

We also hit the Traver Tumble Bug, where we had a VERY long ride cycle time. I love the Bug... it's an old favorite of mine, but after 4 or 5 minutes, it gets to be a bit much. There was a constant line for this ride as well, which is a good sign. The YoYo was another stop for us, and I was disappointed as the ride barely even "Yo's" at all. I know the ride is capable of producing a terror-filled experience as last year the top was tilting so much, our chains were buckling.

With my sudden interest in cable-snapping, I had to take a spin on the Flying Scooters. I rode twice and while I felt a few minor bumps, I was still unable to do any cable snapping. No big loss though as we got a good 4 minute cycle time each trip, and we managed to really swing our tubs out quite a bit. I was in a groove where I was stalling the tub on a regular basis... but couldn't get any vicious launches. I REALLY like Flying Scooter rides. I hope some more parks contact Larson and start re-building this vanishing breed.

Hunger was setting in, so a stop at the Original Park Fry stand near the Blue Streak was in order. The fries were outstanding... hot and fresh out of the grease. The "small" order of fries (which was pretty good sized) cost a mere $2. Add in the bottled water from the soda machine for $1, and for $3 (no tax), we had a good lunch. Again, funny how Six Flags Worlds of Adventure charges $3.95 for a small order of fresh cut fries... and that's without a drink!

Our last ride on the Blue Streak was a doozie. We ended up in seat 4.2 (the very last seat ). We were asked by the ride op if we could fasten our leather strap one more notch. We complied and there was still quite a bit of room between the strap and our laps! What a difference one row makes. We were literally standing on the way down drops 2 and 3... and with these open cars, it was kind of scary! I LOVE these new trains. The ride runs so much better with them and while there's still a bit of roughness, it's nowhere near what it was with the NAD trains. These "new" trains looked great, were well-kept and I hope the park maintains these so we can ride them in the coming years.

As the skies darkened, we decided to leave Conneaut and begin our trek up I-79 north to Erie and a brief visit to Waldameer Park.

Where: Waldameer Park

When: Thursday, August 22

Weather: cloudy and some rain, temps in the 80's

Crowds: Light

Time Spent: 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm

Closed Rides: none

As we headed up I-79, the skies let loose with a pretty nasty downpour. It didn't look promising as we arrived in Erie and it was still raining pretty hard. I opted to park in the W. 6th Street parking lot to avoid sinking into the mud in the parks main lot off Peninsula Drive, and as we pulled in, the rain started to let up and the skies started to brighten just a bit. It was almost like the amusement park gods were saying "Go and enjoy the park... but quickly, as it will rain again soon!". We entered and bought a few tickets since we didn't plan on staying too long.

Our first stop was the Comet, a 1952 Herb Schmeck junior woodie. For those who have never been to Waldameer, the ride sits nestled among the trees and while it may not be a very big ride, it sure packs quite a punch! The junior PTC trains are rather small when 2 people are crammed in the seat, but it's not uncomfortable. The Comet's loading station is a semi-circle... where the train unloads on one end and loads at the other, and one of the rides turnarounds is built directly over it. It's a little unnerving hearing the train rumble overhead and watching the station shake! Anyhow, Comet takes riders up a small lift, then features a series of hills and turns, including a sort of double down that actually produces some (gasp) airtime! I've said this in prior TR's: the Comet is one of those rare rides that you can take someone who doesn't like coasters on and they'll come off with a smile on their face.

Waldameer has two dark attractions- the Whacky Shack dark ride and the Pirate's Cove walk-thru. We decided to just do the Shack, which is an old favorite of mine. After being subjected to the park's automated spiel over and over and over ("Hellooooo Earthlings... I have some instructions you must obey before coming into my house". Ugh!), we hopped into our car and began our perilous journey. There are all sorts of weird things inside the Shack- doors that knock on their own, tortured souls on rotating drums, slanted rooms, giant mice..... yes, the variety is endless! All of the stunts were working, with a new horn being installed before the outdoor "drop" (there always was a horn, but this one had a different sound) and the "crashing square" hallway was painted neon orange.... overall a great dark ride and one that is very well-kept.

Our final stop was on the L. Ruth Express, Waldameer's Chance-made CP Huntington train ride. It appears that the park installed a new engine on this, and even better, a working PA system was added. The passenger cars always had speakers, but ever since my first visit in 1992, I don't recall the park ever using it. The train takes passengers past the Water World water park, which is a very clean and well-maintained water slide area featuring several tube slides, 2 speed slides, a lazy river, and a kids area. The ride continues on past the Chance Giant Wheel, behind the Chance Sea Dragon and Chance Wipeout (see a pattern here? ;)), then returns back towards the station along the same stretch of track. The ride continues past the park's picnic pavilions and through a tunnel where the conductor said "OK ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.... here comes the Waldameer tunnel! Everybody scream real loud". Now, I'm not trying to sound mean or anything, but the conductor kind of sounded like "Special Ed" from Crank Yankers. I kept expecting him to go "Yayyyyyyy!" after everything he said. In any case, the L. Ruth Express is a relaxing ride and is well worth the $1.70 admission.

Waldameer's ride selection also includes an ARM Ali Baba, a Hrubetz hydraulic-model Paratrooper, an Eli Scrambler, a bumper car pavilion with no rules regarding head-on collisions, a Hopkins flume, a Hopkins cable car ride, a Chance Carousel, a Sellner Tilt-A-Whirl, Eyerly Spider, and the aforementioned Chance rides (Sea Dragon, Wipeout, Giant Wheel). The rain started again as we disembarked the train, so we thought we'd take off and call it a day.

Western PA has some excellent parks, and these 2 are truly worthy of a visit if you're into the small park scene. Heck, between the two parks, I spent less than $20! I can only hope that Conneaut continues to prosper and that Waldameer manages to build that long-delayed Ravine Flyer 2.

ray p.

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Monday, August 26, 2002 7:28 AM

So you rode a Chance Toboggan? Fun little torture deivces, aren't they?

I swear that is where the company took their name... Chance, 'cause that is what you take when you climb aboard this contraption known as a Toboggan. I guess they decided on the name Toboggan because a more apt and descriptive name like "Back Breaker" or "Snapped Vertabrae Roulette" didn't play too well in marketing research.

All that Toboggan bashing aside... just debating if I want to make a trip to Conneaut lake to ride the darned thing (it was closed in mid june when I was there) and also to try the different trains on Blue Streak (the NAD trains were running in June).

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Kind of hard to take a post as objective if a park or coaster name is part of the "user name"

*** This post was edited by SLFAKE on 8/26/2002. ***

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Monday, August 26, 2002 8:52 AM
I was at Conneaut that day, but later, around 6 or so. I swear I will never again subject myself to riding that horrific Toboggan ever again. I was nearly bent in half. I forgot to warn my brother about the head bashing dip. Whoops.

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AIM: Pritti Kittie

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Monday, August 26, 2002 11:23 AM

If the Toboggan had open air cars, it may not have been so bad. When that "padded" bar comes crushing down into your lap, it's not exactly a pleasant feeling. I guess some sort of enclosure is necessary as the car travels pretty close to the supports, but the size of the car is just a bit too confining for my liking. Chance (and Eyerly with their O-Plane series of rides) must have enjoyed trapping guests in cage-like enclosures for their rides as the Toboggan, SkyDiver, Zipper, and Turbo all required guests to be caged up.

ray p. (who still has a bruise on his leg from atempting to jump out of the Toboggan car too quickly)

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Monday, August 26, 2002 11:38 AM
Did you really try to jump out of the Toboggan too quickly? Or did your back just snap back into position like it was spring loaded because of the way it was contorted in the car, throwing you out of the car, and thus giving appearance of you jumping out too quickly?

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Kind of hard to take a post as objective if a park or coaster name is part of the "user name"

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