My friends and I decided earlier this week it might be fun to drive down to Camden from our hometown and spend a few hours at this classic park. We arrived at about 5:30 after the one hour drive and parked. The parking lot was only about 1/5th full, which was really disappointing. About two years ago the park would be packed on a Friday night, but this evening it was virtually empty. It now costs $3 to park as well.
We took three rides on the classic Big Dipper, two in the backseat and one in the front. In my experience, the backseat airtime is rivaled only by the Jack Rabbit at Kennywood. My thighs literally slammed against the lap bar as the train descended the longest drop. The coaster appeared to have quite a bit of new lumber, and it even looked as if some of the ride had been painted.
One of the most disappointing discoveries of the trip was the Log Flume. All of the cattails that used to surround the second half of the ride have now been removed. The Flume is basically a trip through a grassy field now. I always thought the huge cattails gave the ride a lot of personality. Does anyone know when they were cut down? The ride itself was rather fun and quite soaking for my friends in the front of the log.
We snuck in a ride on the Little Dipper after the Log Flume. I am usually not one to ride kiddy coasters, but there was no line so we did. I believe the steel support structure used to be painted blue, but it was green tonight. It must have been repainted recently. While we were in the back of the park, we also hit the Kite Flyer. Those Zamperla restraint systems are really uncomfortable, I can only imagine the pain on one of their flying coasters.
The Haunted House was missing tons of the old effects it used to have. Almost every turn is empty or filled with props that no longer work. It’s still a fun ride, basically a mini wild mouse coaster in the dark.
We hit most of the flats the park has to offer, and especially had fun on the Whip and Dodgems. The Whip has a ride vehicle that “hops.” Two of my friends rode in it, and if you lean correctly when you round the turn it literally hops off of the floor. After the turn itself the vehicle snaps back and forth more than the others. The ride operator was really into the whole thing, he was explaining how to do it properly and laughing each time they rounded a turn.
A few comments about the park:
As I stated earlier, it was really disappointing to see such a nice old park virtually empty on a Friday night. I would love to see Camden make a comeback and be able to afford a few new rides and maybe a new coaster someday. Unfortunately, I just don’t see how that could ever happen if their attendance isn’t any better than it was tonight.
The park was full of small children and their parents or grandparents. My three friends and I were probably the only people in the park between 18 and 20. It was a bit odd because usually amusement parks are a big draw for teenagers, but I guess Camden’s target market is much younger/family oriented.
The park itself was very clean and less rundown feeling than I remember it being a few years ago. The management is doing a nice job of keeping the park up, but it really lacks landscaping. With the removal of the large tree in front of the Haunted House, there is virtually no shade anywhere in the park. It was also sort of sad to see the Thunderbolt missing from the skyline. I know it was probably best that the ride was removed, but it just seems like the park is missing one of its icons now. The park has a lot of potential, but it just needs help getting there.
Overall, the evening was a fun one and it would be nice to do again another time this summer. If you are ever passing through the area, be sure to stop by and check out this historic park and do your part in helping it survive. Thanks for reading!
*Edit* Also, be sure to check the park's website before you plan your visit, their operating schedule can be a bit limited. *** Edited 6/12/2005 5:53:00 AM UTC by TopGun***
Glad you had a great time!
I had a blast there when I visited a couple months ago, especially the *Whip on Crack* and Skydiver.
I hope to see it revive as well, and it's well on it's way. You just can barely find parks like that anymore.
Seeing how it's come along makes you realize that there are still too many out there who take the small parks for granted. Luckily the locals and enthusiasts who have had the pleasure of visiting have kept it alive.
*** Edited 6/12/2005 6:38:43 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***
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