I have not been doing trip reports lately since the only parks I’ve been to recently have had seemingly hundreds of trip reports about them. But anyway, I thought many of you might be interested about Cliff’s and their brand new wooden coaster, the New Mexico Rattler.
First, a little history. Cliff’s started out in 1959 as Uncle Cliff’s Kiddyland with about 10 kiddy rides and a go-cart track. The location was moved to the present site in 1964. The park started adding “bigger” rides, such as a scrambler, bumper cars, paratrooper etc. Eventually a Mad Mouse (1964) was put up, but later was replaced by Galaxi (1976). Finally, around September of 2001, the park decided to construct their first major ride, so they contacted CCI. The project was put on hold, but eventually construction started during February of 2002. Well, as most of you know, CCI closed its doors right in the middle of the project. Not to worry though, Cliff’s hired CCI’s workers right away to finish the project in-house. After numerous delays, problems, and overall bad luck (two of the cars on the PTC train being damaged on the way to the park and had to be sent back, and during the first test run, the train did not make it through the course ), NM Rattler opened for about five weekends during Cliff’s final month of operation in October of 2002. All these delays were quite tough on the park seeing as they had to keep canceling media days.
To the park!
After a little confusion getting to the park (took a guess on which direction the park was after exiting the highway, turned out to be correct :)), and driving straight past Osuna Road (where the entrance to the park is), we made it to the parking lot. Free parking!
Soon after entering the park around 9:00-9:30, we were shown to the picnic area, where they had a lot of free breakfast food. Unfortunately I already had had breakfast back at the hotel so I wasn’t that hungary. Sooner or later we got an interesting history lesson (some of which is above) from the owner, Gary. When this was all said and done, it was time for an hour of exclusive ride time (ERT) on the NM Rattler.
When everyone got to the station, which has a neat mural of a snake painted on it, most people lined up for the front and back rows. The entrance to the queue is kind of strange because there are really three entrances-one for the front car, one for the back car, and one for the rest of the train. I think a better setup for the queue would be to have a single entrance, with shorter queues for the front/back later in the queue. So as I was saying, most people lined up for the front or back rows, so I just hopped on somewhere towards the back for the first ride of the day.
The trains are your usual comfortable PTC 2-bench trains, and are painted green with each car alternating either the NM Rattler logo, or the sponsor (Creamland). I was certainly happy when Twister II at my home park Elitch Gardens received brand-new PTCs this year.
The NM Rattler would become just my third experience on a CCI coaster, so to say I was excited was probably an understatement. The ride starts out with a quick right turn out of the station. The 80 foot lift provides a view of the surrounding area, including the mountains (more on that later). The first drop twists to the right at the top and drops you 75 feet down through the first “shed.” What’s the deal with these sheds anyway? Roar West has one, and so does Ghostrider. While I know the one on Ghostrider is to try to cut down on the noise level, what are the point of the others? The train cruises up into the turnaround (*1). This is where you’ll find your first moments of airtime. Next, the train rips through the steel structure back towards the lift hill and into a 90 degree left-and turn parallel to the lift hill. Another drop to the ground followed by a straight, airtime-filled hill leads you to the “pretzel element” which the park claims is a first for CCI. The rest of the ride includes an underground tunnel, a double-down, and a helix to end the ride (not to mention a lot more airtime). The picture below might help you get an idea of what it’s like (*2).
So how was the ride? Fabulous. While it’s not quite my favorite, it certainly lives up to CCI’s reputation. I ended up taking six rides during the ERT, and two more later in the day. My one complaint would be that the ride ops seemed to go a little overboard. Not only did they make sure your lap bar was as far down as possible, they personally tightened your seat belt for you as tight as it would go. Sure you could just loosen it a little on the lift, but the whole process just slowed the loading down. Seemed a little silly to me. On the bright side, all the the ops at the park were extremely friendly. Most were shocked that all of us “came all the way to our state just for the park.” Everyone wanted to know what we thought about the Rattler, and I heard (and gave) nothing but positive remarks.
The ERT ended, and the group of ACE members went their separate ways. I headed over to the other coaster in the park, Galaxi. This SDC creation looked great, especially when compared to the other two Galaxi coasters I’ve been on in Maine. These rides may not be too thrilling, but they’re good for a ride or two.
Next, I went over to Rocky Mountain Rapids, also known as a log flume. I wanted to give it a try after hearing that it was the only log flume other then Splash Mountain to have a 45 degree drop. Apparently some of the “higher-ups” from Disneyland actually visited the park for a day, just to see the flume. The flume is pretty much like most standard flumes. The log floats around for a while, circles the Yo-Yo, heads up the lift, and dives down drop, which cools you off perfectly in the hot New Mexico sun. I enjoyed it.
It would make perfect sense to dry off on the Yo-Yo, so that was next. This certainly isn’t your ordinary Yo-Yo, or so it seems. First of all, this ride seems to be really cranked up. It doesn’t just glide around in a smooth circle, but whips you through the air really quite fast, all while it moves up and down. Take that, plus a five minute cycle time (I know, I timed it, make fun of me :)), I will guarantee you will be dizzy afterwards. I wasn’t feeling nauseous, but I did have to sit down for a little while.
It was now time for our group picture to be taken in front of NM Rattler’s entrance, and after that was finished, we got our lunch of BBQ chicken sandwich, chips, etc. Then came quite a nice surprise. The park presented us with a whole package of goodies including a coupon for a free shirt. Good stuff! :)
After that, I took two more spins on NM Rattler. The park had definitely become a lot more crowded, and I ended up waiting at least 30 minutes for the back seat. The park sure does draw a nice crowd! Well, the rides were fantastic, and just like any coaster, better than in the morning. Laterals and airtime were everywhere.
I took one last ride on the Train, which took a long tour around the park. This thing gets extremely close to mostly all the rides. Cliff’s is a little cramped for space...I think they should buy and rip out the car dealership next door. ;) Actually, parking is one of Cliff’s biggest problems, as many people end up driving up and down the rows looking for parking spaces.
So with my ride on the Train, my day ended at Cliff’s. I left a little early (around 4:00, the park was open until 8:00), but I was certainly satisfied. The park is clean, landscaped nicely, and well maintained. I’ll be back.
Back to the mountains, I went over to check out the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. At 2.7 miles long, it’s the longest tramway in the world. The ride provides a great view of over 11,000 square miles, and you travel over a frightening 900 foot canyon. If you happen to be in Albuquerque, check it out. I wouldn’t mind coming back during the winter with a snowboard or a pair of skis, since there is a ski area at the top. :)
Thanks for reading my rambling trip report, try to get to Cliff’s if you can!
For the rest of my pictures of NM Rattler, go here:
And the pictures of the rest of the park:
For all you RCT2 fans by the way, I have finished and will upload shortly a very accurate recreation of the NM Rattler and Galaxi (down to the trees :)).
edit-looks like html tags did not work, oh well...
*** This post was edited by PT300 5/26/2003 10:53:07 PM ***
"Damn The Man! Save The Empire!"
-Mark, Empire Records
Nemesis: Inferno 
UK-Although the park estimated they paid something like an extra 40,000-50,000 more to finish the ride, they seem very happy with the results.
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