Cliffs Amusement Park May 8

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Friday, May 13, 2005 7:03 PM
I had to be in Albuquerque and Santa Fe on business May 9th and 10th so I decided to fly in a day early and visit Cliff's Amusement Park.

Now I know what you're thinking: abandon Mom on Mother's Day for a coaster? Don't fret, I took mom [with Dad] to dinner and a movie ["Kung Fu Hustle"...they loved it and I highly recommend it] the day before.

But I digress. I arrived at Cliffs around 4pm and headed right to New Mexico Rattler, the last wooden coaster CCI ever built -- well, actually they abandoned the project leaving the park to finish the job. And if how the coaster was performing is any indication of Cliff's talent in building and maintaining wood coasters they did an excellent job.

My first ride in the 6-car standard PTC train was in seat 6:1. While I never got a front seat ride due to rather slow operations and a long line I did mange to ride a dozen times throughout the train, including as far forward as row 2:1. So how is it? Here's the play-by-play:

After a quick dip and 90* right hand turn to the lift it took no time at all for the train to reach the apex of the lift...definitely one of the fastest-moving lift chains I've experienced. The excellent twisting first drop is reminiscent of Cornball Express and the sensation in the back half of the train is that the car is falling out from under you. Its how I imagine the first drop of Thunderhead feels.

A double up with a slight turn at the crest of its first landing -- with a VERY nice pop of later air in the front half of the train -- leads to signature CCI dipping turnaround and the second drop, which is quite steep and produces ejector air in the back half of the train. All of which can be seen here.

A second, slighly oddly-shaped double up leads to the tall third drop hidden under the lift structure. The combination of the steep third drop and curving bunnyhop that follows is the best of two great moments of air on the ride. Riders in the back are treated to excellent pops of air on the drop and bunny, while riders near the front get a nice dose of laterals and extreme air on the bunnyhop.

The element that follows is one I've dubbed the Pretzel [because it kinda looks like one] that encompasses two of the park's flat rides. Trains first rise into a high flat turn [which I assume gives a nice does of laterals when the coaster is really warmed up] then down into a Legendesque curved tunnel.

The only dull moment of the ride comes next [a rampy rise and drop] but it sets up the second great moment of air on the ride. Imagine an "m"-shaped bunnyhop...as if someone has taken their thumb and pressed down on the highest point of a bunnyhop until it is indented. The train races over this element providing an extreme double pop of air for all riders regardless of where they're sitting. A quick swooping 300* helix leads to the final brakes and curve into the station.

The single PTC tracked wonderfully. Considering it had only been operating a few hours that day and the weather was cool the train speed thru the course with only one dead spot [the aforementioned "dull moment"]. While not as intense as some earlier CCI creations I'd give NM Rattler a solid Top 15-20 ranking when its time to do Mitch's next poll.

Because I was alone the only other ride I took during my short stay was the park's well-run Galaxi. Three 2-car trains and minimal braking was the order of the day...definitely one of the best-run I've encountered.

The park itself is small and quaint but pretty. The park's Yo-Yo sits on an island in a small lake; their flume encompasses the lake as well. There were a lot of nice western theme elements placed throughout the landlocked park. I don't see any chance for Cliff's to expand unless it purchases some of the businesses surrounding it.

The park is only missing one signature element: a dark ride, and I know why they don't have one. Every time I exited Rattler and walked down the ramp in the station I couldn't escape the feeling that it was not built for the ride but had housed something previously. And then I noticed a telltale sign on the concrete floor: tire marks! Then I noticed where walls had once stood and even where the center rail had been. It seems the park removed its dark ride for the coaster.

*** Edited 5/14/2005 12:33:27 AM UTC by Mamoosh***

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Saturday, May 14, 2005 7:05 AM
Glad to hear you enjoyed your visit mOOSH!
And yes, Kung Fu Hustle is highly entertaining.:)
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Monday, May 16, 2005 2:15 PM
I too think this is a top 20-25 coaster. Unfortunatley I have about 50 coasters in my top 25... :-)

*** Edited 5/16/2005 6:15:35 PM UTC by Jeffrey R Smith***

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Monday, May 16, 2005 3:03 PM
LOL JRS! With so many good woodies being built in the last 10 years one's Top 10 or Top 20 can get awfully crowded ;)
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Monday, May 16, 2005 3:54 PM
That's why I can't rank rides or make lists. I tried really hard this year to give Mitches Wood Coaster Poll a go but I just couldn't get anywhere with it. I like diffferent rides for different reasons.

I think I can generally make a group of rides I like and rides I don't like but that's about it. :)

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005 2:54 PM
Glad you enjoyed it Moosh. I was there last Father's Day and loved it. I only got to spend about 2 hours there though. I wish we could have spent the whole day.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2005 4:50 PM
Man, we were REALLY bummed that it wasn't open for our honeymoon the year it was supposed to open. Sounds like a lot of fun, and what a great catch by Moosh figuring out that the station was their old dark ride.
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Monday, May 23, 2005 2:25 PM
I compared last year and this years park maps of Cliff's and it turns out that they put in 3 new rides but took out 3 even better ones.

I still want to go, though.

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Monday, May 23, 2005 2:31 PM
What are these rides?
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