Conneaut Lake Park -- August 9, 2006

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I finally made it to Conneaut Lake. Because of high gas prices, I combined my trip there with a visit to the outlet mall in Grove City to do some shopping. After buying two pairs of shoes and some kitchen pans, I headed to the park, arriving at 2:30.

After buying my wristband, I headed directly to the Blue Streak. This remains a true classic with the old Vettel train. This coaster starts off with the "skunk tunnel" with two looping turns in the dark. After the lift, it has several intense drops that come quickly, one after another, as is expected in a good out-and-back design. The big surprise for many riders is that quick left turn just after the turn around that slams you hard to the right. That’s what an ACE classic is all about with its lack of seat dividers. The ride seems a bit rough in some spots which seems to indicate that some track work should be done soon. Overall, it is still a good coaster that does so much for this park’s image. I was to ride it 4 times during my visit.

Devils Den was next. This quirky, gravity powered darkride is one of two remaining. Interesting how the ride operator shoves the cars to get them started. The gum wall is still there along with the dip and the wildmouse like turns in the dark, interspersed with simple but effective stunts. Another classic ride.

My first flat was the Roll-O-Plane. CLP runs a long cycle with both forward and reverse movement and the tilted horizontal mode. Great lateral G forces as expected from this vintage thrill ride. This was followed by the Tumble Bug. The work that was done on this rare historic ride is superb. The bug’s eyes even light up. The ride is much better than the Kennywood ride, thanks to the smooth seats that allow you to slide into the other riders. KW should get rid of that TPM and go back to the smooth seats.

The Tilt-a-Whirl was an interesting combination of old and new, a traditional old style ride that was retrofitted with the newer metal floors and braking system. It gave some decent spinning. I also enjoyed the Paratrooper with its up and down movement and the initial swinging motion that is similar to that on an Enterprise. .

The Witches Stew (Tempest) was the last flat that I rode. This is a good family ride that gives strong forward and lateral Gs.

One ride that I really was looking forward to was the Bessemer & Lake Erie RR. This is an Allen Hershell Iron Horse train with a scenic route under the Blue Streak and into some forested sections of the park. It’s a nice relaxing ride that is quite long. Thanks to all who made the restoration of this ride possible.

I left the park at 6:30 having enjoyed my time there. Nice that there are parks that you don't have to spend an entire day at to have a really good time. .

Regarding the rest of the park, the Carousel has a real band organ. Some of the horses are newer ones but the antique feel is still there. The Kiddieland is respectable in size with about a dozen rides including an Allen Herschell kiddie coaster and a rare pony track.

There is a small beach at the far end of the park with a boardwalk between it and the hotel. The park is well shaded with trees in most places and has a relaxed feel unlike the big parks. A small water area with a couple of slides and a play area is also present. A number of picnic shelters are available in various locations.

The park was not overcrowded. Most rides were anything from a walk-on to a two-cycle wait. That’s one of the great things about the smaller parks. Much less waiting in line. The park was clean with some nice landscaping in some places. A few spots are a bit less attractive with rides next to plain walled buildings. Overall, however, it feels more like a park than a permanent carnival.

Operations were generally good with one exception. The Ferris Wheel had a problem when the ride operator didn’t balance the riders correctly. That’s one of the drawbacks of the old, cable-driven Eli wheels. The only ride not operating was the Round-Up.

Conneaut Lake has come a long way from the misadventures that plagued the park starting a decade ago and which continued almost up to this year’s opening. Hopefully, the park’s worst troubles are now behind it. Probably the main things that the park should do now are to do that track work on the Blue Streak and to add some more water attractions. It might also help if they acquired one or two of Erieview’s attractions after that park closes. CLP should promote itself more in NE Ohio and Pittsburgh and should go after more group picnics.

This park is a nice change-of-pace from bigger parks such as KW and GL. It seems to have forgotten the passage of time. Parks like this are the ones that preserve many of the historic rides that many of the larger parks can’t be bothered with. Hopefully, more people will rediscover such parks that are like the ones from a generation or two in the past.

Arthur Bahl

Good TR Arthur.

The park does look better than last year. When we were there last weekend, every game booth was open. I haven't seen that happen in over 5 years.

Did you noticed the collapsed house by that road next to the tilt-a-Whirl? We got pics of that.

Great Lakes Brewery Patron...


By the way, does anyone know the whole story about how the skunk tunnel on the Blue Streak got its name. I do know that a real skunk was involved at one time.

Arthur Bahl

The real story is that from time to time skunks wander into the tunnel, and hang out. Sometimes the train collides with the skunk, and well, the outcome is not good for the skunk, or anyone else in the train.

Now that the train is running, and more people are using the Blue Streak Grove for picnics and cookouts, you may see experience some skunk action.

When we are KW on July 16th, the TPM was removed in the tub we were in. I wouldn't necessarily say it was smooth but it had been removed nonetheless.
Just wanted to clarify the meaning of TPM. It means "Theme Park Mentality". Some of this is good as in the case of Holiday World's friendliness but other elements of it aren't so good as when a ride or its operation is modified in a way that makes it less enjoyable.

KW is more of a traditional park than a theme park but many of the operational qualities of a theme park are there, mostly good but in a few cases not so good (e.g. the Turtles seats, the seat dividers on the Racer, etc.)

Arthur Bahl

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