According to the Roller Coaster Rollback™: 8/7/1954 - Trolley service to Lakemont Park ends.
We decided to commemorate this historical event by going to Lakemont on Tuesday. Well, actually, it was just a pleasant surprise that it worked out that way. But the point is, we went to Lakemont! ;)
And DelGrosso's! We decided to make a quick stop there to ride their only coaster, a Zyklon model. It was closed when we arrived, so we decided to look around the park. It's quaint, but struck me as being very clean. We sat and watched a very talented mechanic change lights on the carousel while it was in rotation. After a couple minutes, the coaster opened and we took a lap. The couple drops provided some pretty unexpected airtime, but the helices were kind of boring (as they almost always are to me). As GregLeg would say, "Ding." A nice little ride, but nothing special. Let's all hope they get that wooden coaster they're looking into, eh?
We stopped in a small gift shop to get the obligatory keepsake with the park's name. A nice lady asked about my CoasterBuzz shirt and asked a few questions about Knoebel's and Phantom’s Revenge. I gave simple, polite answers as any coaster enthusiast should. ;) Interestingly, she said that the day before was actually DelGrosso's Day at Kennywood.
So, on to Lakemont. We had a little bit of trouble finding the correct way in. Could a local Buzzer (perhaps the one we saw in the park?) tell me what the buildings outside the park on the opposite end from the ballfield are? The kind of looked like condominiums or something, but right there? Also, while we're on the subject, that looks like a very nice ballpark. Is it new? If not, they're doing a damn fine job keeping it up. The grounds crew were cutting and watering the grass while we were there, and it just looked absolutely fabulous.
After paying the extremely cheap $7.95 ride-all-day price, we marched towards Leap-The-Dips, which happened to be my 60th coaster. Even though they were only running one car, the wait never got more than three cars all day. I suppose that's because the park (aside from the waterpark) was almost completely empty.
Leap-The-Dips is unlike any coaster I've ever been on. It's the world's oldest roller coaster and one of the last remaining side-friction coasters. There are absolutely no restraints in the cars and only a bar to hold on to. The seats are very comfortable, roomy and soft. Wonderful little things.
The car has to be pushed out of the station to the lift, where it passes an odd-looking setup of anti-rollbacks. Thick, green pieces of wood stick out on to the course. The car pushes them up, and when the car has passed, the wood falls back down to its original position. That way, if the car were to slide backwards for some reason, it would hit the wood and go no further.
The layout is a figure eight. The first drop is barely there, as are most of the drops on the ride. There are very few "up" sections of track, actually. (Remember, there are no upstop wheels.) The name "Leap-The-Dips" is very appropriate, as over the whole course, there are small valleys and hills. The biggest drop, a nine-footer, comes at the end of the ride. It's a real hum-dinger!
It's not the best coaster in the world, but it is a hell of a lot of fun. You may not enjoy cool old stuff like I do, but I really think it’s something special.
We moved across the midway to the Mad Mouse coaster. This small ride features one-person cars with a lot of padding. The padding itself holds you in! It’s an intense little fair-type ride, but very fun nonetheless.
From there, we decided to head over towards Skyliner, a relocated woodie. Just like the rest of the rides in the park, there was no line. This ride was nothing that I expected. What was I expecting? A fun little mediocre woodie I could ride a few times throughout the day. What did I get? A neck that is still sore as I write this. Joe and I decided to ride in the extreme back seat, with Gaddis in the row in front of us. As the train started down the first hill, Joe and I were ejected from our seats. It totally caught both of us off-guard, and we looked at each other in amazement. Then...
We came crashing down into our seats, hard. The jolt threw my glasses from my face, though I was able to catch them and hold on. I’ve been on some rough rides in my tenure of enthusiasm, such as Cedar Point's Mean Streak and Corkscrew and Dorney's Hercules, but that first drop hurt me. I'm only 16 years old, so my body's still pretty resilient, but that really threw me off. As I mentioned, I'm still feeling the effects. Later in the day, we rode it again – not in the back seat – and it was better. Still a little rough, but be warned: If youre waiting to board the Skyliner roller coaster at Lakemont Park, do not wait for the back.
After that rough ride, it was time for a little fun! I had been waiting for this moment for over a year, since the first time I saw Dave "RideMan" Althoff's web page. Check it out:
It's a very informative site with a bunch of cool mechanical stuff like descriptions of trains, blocking, and LIMs, not to mention various adventures of his. But for now, take a look at Dave on the front page, trompsing around beneath Skyliner.
As an homage to our very own RideMan, we decided to try this:
It came out better than expected, actually. Check Dave's site first, then check that second URL. Hope you enjoy! ;)
Moving on... While Joe took more pictures, Gaddis and I took a lap on the new-for-2001 Tin Lizzy's Antique Autos. I was the driver and Gaddis was riding in the back, and I gave my best shot at a Hoke impersonation. Sadly, he didn't get the joke. (Note: I wasn't clever enough to sing "Whiskey In The Jar" or "The Boys Are Back In Town" while riding Tin Lizzy's Antique Autos. ;) In retrospect, I should have. But we did sing "The Long And Winding Road" while riding later in the day. ;))
I walked right past the Little Leaper kiddie coaster, but Joe told us to go on. The little ride's a rough one for a big guy like me, but it's all about having fun, so why not. Ding.
At this point, it was around 3:00 and we were all ready for a break from the sweltering heat. We all had some $2 bottled water in the shade, and then decided to partake of some Cousin Ralph's Pizza. There must be something about amusement parks and pizza that I just like, because this was some of the better pizza I've ever had. Normally, and I know a lot of you will disagree wholeheartedly with me, I think Pizza Hut has the best pizza on the market. However, this year, Hersheypark's Mamma Ilardo's pizza, Lakemont's Cousin Ralph's pizza, and a slice I had at Dorney near Dominator knocked my proverbial socks off. And by the way. If you happen to be at Lakemont soon, check in Cousin Ralph's for the MagicTouch machine. Try your hand at Breakin' Bricks. You'll see "Bootsy" in second place. That's me! :)
After letting the pizza settle, we decided to ride the coaster that we’d all been avoiding all day: Toboggan. This this is quite literally hell on wheels. It looks like the illegitimate child of a drunken wild mouse and creaky old county fair ride that was neglected by its mother in its youth. This thing literally freaked the crap out of me.
And as it turns out, I had reason to be frightened. This thing has enclosed, one-person, truck-looking cars that have a big ol' lock on top to keep you in. So while you’re sitting in these little death traps, you move forward and directly up – vertically – through the middle of the tower. The loud clicking of the anti-rollbacks (anti-rolldowns?) echoes through that thing as if it’s teasing you. "You’re mine now!"
Once you finally reach the top, it spits you out into daylight again, where you're subject to six revolutions down the tower before a couple small drips and bunny hops lead you do the brake run. I'm a fairly tall fellow, and my head almost touched the top of the vehicle just by sitting. I was smart in preparing myself for the drops, because had I not ducked, Skyliner might have been dethroned as the roughest ride of my life.
It’s not a "bad" ride, just extremely freaky. We all agreed as we got off: "That’s the scariest coaster I’ve ever been on."
The rest of the day was a mish-mash of rides. We hit Leap-The-Dips a lot more, as it's just such a fun ride. Joe and I took a lap around the Island Waterpark in a paddleboat, which, somehow, during the day, had taken on a significant amount of water. Not a very reassuring sight, but we made it.
Sadly, according to the extremely-inept employee working in the Leap-The-Dips gift shop/museum who needed to ask a visiting friend how to calculate the tax on my items because his tax button was broken, the minature train had "blown a thermostat" earlier in the day. I really love little trains that go for long distances, especially away from the park. We didn’t get to ride it all day. Darn. (Note: For anyone reading this who plans on going to Knoebel's for the first time soon, ride their train! It's great! It starts near the pool and goes under Twister, then takes you far out into the woods. Don't forget to reach out and touch the trees!)
The time rolled around to about quarter past six, and we decided to head home for the night. It's a small place, and with the short lines, we had time to do everything we wanted to, numerous times, in about a five-hour span. Nice little park, and if you're in the Altoona area, try to hit it, if only for Leap-The-Dips.
I suppose I'll post a small follow up to Mr. Lynch's fine trip report.
While not being the most thrilling coaster, Leap-The-Dips ranks high on my list of coasters that are just plain fun. The small four seater cars are great to ride in with friends, as you can talk to each other throughout the ride (such as "it's a real hum-dinger!" ;)). I love the sound of the car slamming back down onto track after the hops.
Unfortunately, I didn't like Skyliner as much as I expected. It gave a great view of the Curve's ballpark next door, but that's the only part I truly enjoyed. It's still a wonderful woodie, it's just a little too hard on my back I guess.
To be honest about it, Toboggan scared the crap out of me. As soon as they slammed the roof of my car shut, I began to think I was being sent into a torture chamber of sorts. The coaster wasn't horrible, but certainly nothing great.
Mad Mouse and Little Leaper were interesting little coasters, neither of which gave a bad ride.
I picked up a nice Leap-The-Dips pin and magnet (for grandma :)) in the Leap-The-Dips gift shop with the "interesting" employees. None of the employees were downright rude, but few seemed to be enjoying their jobs.
Both Del Grosso's and Lakemont are wonderful little parks and I surely wouldn't mind revisiting Lakemont while I'm at Knoebels for PPP in October.
Ah yes. I have never been on the Toboggan, but I know the ride, and have been searching portable carnivals nigh 20 years to ride one. When I saw a picture of one on their site, I new that I would eventually find my way there. Sounds as scary as it looks.
As for the train, me too. I grew up next to a model live-steam train park that gave out free rides on a very long track every other Sunday. That was heaven!
Y'all are lucky to live within driving distance of all those kookie little parks. you can have the heat and humidity though.
The pic with the Althoff pose just cracked me up...a near-perfect imitation!
As for the Toboggan, I remember riding one of these when I was a wee lad with my mother at a local carnival. I remember the enclosed vertical lift almost made me cry. Isn't there a really sudden drop right after the thing gets done spinning around the lift? At the time I remember thinking the track ended and the car just dropped, crashing onto another section of track below. I suppose a kid would think like that, but that shows how violent of a ride this is. It must have really scared me because I still remember it today.
Nice TR, Lynch. Great reading from start to finish. Also nice to see that I don't write the longest TR's on this board! :)
There aren't too many of the Tobbogan's left in operation. They were one of Harold Chance's first rides. It was one of the early one-two trailer rides(depending on how it was racked) and gave new meaning to the term "pig iron" It is very heavy (i.e. expensive to transport)and low rph. Pretty much doomed it to a short lifespan.
Hey Lynch, I'm the Buzzer you saw in the park, I was on a coaster marathon this week, I started Sunday at Hersheypark, Monday at Great Adventure and Tuesday was spent in the morning at Knobbles with the afternoon at Lakemont and the Railroad museum. I too was shocked by the back seat of the Skyliner, but the front was lamer than MeanStreak was this morning!!. My ride on Leap-the-Dips was interesting, I rode with a local couple but when we returned to the station the "Leverman" could not stop us!! we went right back up the lift chain w/o stopping!! that was priceless!! Also in this trip I got Kenneywood on Wednesday, good crowd for as hot as it was!! Thursday and Friday were spent at a Tech School and this morning I got a couple laps in at CP on Maggie and the rest of the back midway before the park became jammed and I had to head back home to get yelled at by Jake the Cat for leaving him locked up in the Apartment for a week.
That great ballfield looks just like Victory Field in Indianapolis Trip report will follow ------------- Parks for 2001: PKD,PKI 3x CP 2x SFKK 2X, SFOG, SFStL,SFWOA, SFGAm,SFGAdv HOLIDAY WORLD 2X INDIANA BEACH 2x Kenneywood Knoebles Lakemont
*** This post was edited by kneemeister on 8/11/2001. ***
*** This post was edited by kneemeister on 8/11/2001. ***
Leap-The-Dips reride? Very nice indeed! Sounds like a pretty big trip, but filled with great parks! Hershey, Great Adventure, Knoebel's, Lakemont, Kennywood, CP... that's the cream of the crop out here!
Sorry I didn't stop to chat, but I was a little taken aback at first by your greeting. I really wasn't expecting to see a Buzzer at Lakemont on some random Tuesday. Small world!
Those buildings you saw next to Lakemont were constructed during Lakemont's brief stint as "Boyertown USA." Did you happen to wonder about the large elaborate entrance gate too? I don't know what those buildings are used for now. I wish I could have seen Lakemont before the Boyertown experiment destroyed most of the old park - like back when the park had large trees and shade!
Leap the Dips was only running one car on my visit as well. Does it ever run more then one?
Mad Mouse sure looked rough when I was watching it but it turned out to be quite comfortable and a lot of fun!
I really enjoyed my visit to Lakemont, the price is right and they have an interesting assortment of rides. Leap the Dips is a great coaster and I actually enjoyed Toboggan!
millrace said: Those buildings you saw next to Lakemont were constructed during Lakemont's brief stint as "Boyertown USA." Did you happen to wonder about the large elaborate entrance gate too? I don't know what those buildings are used for now.
Leap the Dips was only running one car on my visit as well. Does it ever run more then one?
------------- everything's better with a banjo
I think there are shops in those buildings now, kind of like a plaza. To my knowledge, Leap the Dips has never used more than 1 car in its 101 year history.
And if you're in the area around Christmas, don't miss Holiday Lights on the Lake. That display is amazing.
I can't believe you had the pizza at Lakemont and NOT Delgrosso's. In my opinion, they have the best amusement park pizza anywhere! They even bottle and sell their own sauce! It's incredible...as is their cole slaw. They actually *sell out* of it!
BTW, nice "Great Old Amusement Parks" references! ;)
I just went to Lakemont last week, and Leap the dips was closed, because the chain derailed or something like that.
I was amazed at Skyliner though. All I had hear about it was that it tracked badly, was slow, and was boring. Quite the contrary! I just about peed on myself as I cane just about out from under the lapbar at least 3 times in the back seat. I was like WOW, and OW at the same time, but I figured out how to foil the OW part of it.