Conneaut Lake Park 6/19- Actually not bad! (lots of pics)

Saturday, June 20, 2009 6:07 AM

Took a trip with my mom to Conneaut Lake Park on Friday, to take advantage of the $5 ride pass deal. From what I had heard, I was expecting the worst, but I was pleasantly surprised with how things are coming along.

I left Youngstown at about 3:30 and made it to the park at a little after 5. My GPS took me a weird route, and ended up taking me behind where the entrance to the park is and to a dead end street, back in the residential area by the pony ride. Once I figured that out, it really wasn't hard to get to. I hadn't been there since the last year the Century Flyers were used on the Blue Streak (so 2001 I think? which means I would have been 11).

Upon pulling into the parking lot, I was shocked at the number of people there. Even though it was a heavily discounted day, severe storms and even tornados were being projected in the weather forecast. My mom and I expected to be just about the only ones there, but the parking lot was at least half full.

We walked into the park and I was surprised to see lines for every open ride. They were small lines, but it still shows that there were a decent amount of people there. I noticed the Skydiver right where the old ferris wheel used to be, and it looked pretty much like you'd expect for a carnival ride. The tilt a whirl, paratrooper, and parasails (I think that's the name for them, I'm not sure) were all in pretty great shape- the signs were pretty faded, but that's to be expected after sitting for two years.

We turned the corner to the Blue Streak/Tumble Bug midway and I was happy to see that the carnival food stands and games really don't make it look as tacky as I had heard. Honestly if I didn't know any better, I'd have thought they belonged there. We walked through this to the old games midway. This, of course, doesn't look great, but there was a game open in the middle, and it looked like several of the old midway games were ready to be opened (they were set up, but no one was running them). The spot where the ballroom used to be looks pretty much as you'd expect, a flat slab of concrete, and that end of the midway is still showing some fire damage. The former Ultimate Trip building is still a mess, with a lot of debris left over, and a lot of caution tape up blocking it off. Past that, the Toboggan and what's left of the Round Up look like crap- they really need to get those out of there.

We ate at the Beach Club, which was deserted when we went in, but was getting pretty busy when we left. The food wasn't amazing (it's no kennywood), but it was pretty good and fairly priced. Leaving there, we walked over the boardwalk, which will look great when the rebuilding is done, and to the Hotel. The Hotel looks pretty good inside, exactly as I remember it, and I'm hoping to stay there later this year. There were some cars rolling in for the weekly car cruise in. There ended up being only about a dozen total, but that was pretty impressive considering the weather forecast.

After this, we bought our ride passes, and went straight to the Devil's Den. For some reason this actually had me a little afraid- it's completely black inside, and knowing it sat deserted for two and a half years makes it kinda creepy. We then hit the Tumble Bug a couple times, which looks absolutely GREAT, and seems to be way faster than the Kennywood Turtle. Then we decided to play some mini golf. $3 per person is pretty reasonable for mini golf, but the course has definitely seen better days. It really, really needs redone, the carpets are moldy, dirty, and soggy, and the holes are filled with wet leaves. Not great, but it was still fun. The old guy running it was quite a character too. Next up was the Skydiver, which was a ton of fun. I had never been on one before, and didn't know what to expect at all.

We walked around a little more, I took about a million pictures of everything, rode the Tumble Bug a few more times, and got some of the best soft serve ice cream I've ever had from the stand in front of the mini golf. I decided I wanted to get a shirt before leaving, so we headed over to the gift shop... where they had four racks of completely random clothing, and two of stuff actually related to the park. This kinda confused me. The only park t-shirts were tye dye, so I bought a hoodie instead. It was kind of bizarre buying a hoodie in June, but whatever.

In summary, it was a pretty good day at the park, and definitely worth the hour and a half drive. We spent about 4 hours there, and had a great time. The Blue Streak looked pretty run down... so pretty much the same as it did when it was running. The rides that were running looked way better than I remember them looking back in 2001. The normal $20 ride price seems pretty ridiculous to me. It's definitely a deal for $5, I think they'd do a lot of business at $10 or even $12, $15 max, but 20 bucks is just excessive for nine rides, especially since that's about what Waldameer charges. Once they get everything cleaned up and going again, especially the Blue Streak, I can see paying $20. One thing that struck me as kind of odd is that the train wasn't running- it was in a tunnel behind the mini golf, and looked to be in great shape, but it wasn't running. Overall, the park is definitely looking better than I expected, and I think if they can keep it open and continue making improvements this year, it has the potential to be a great little park by next year.

In summary:

The good:
-Everything running was in great condition, minus the skydiver which was in carnival ride condition.
-All of Kiddieland was operating, including the Little Dipper
-The Tumble Bug is amazing
-It looks like the midway games might be starting to re-open
-The Beach Club is open and serving pretty decent food at reasonable prices
-The Hotel Conneaut is looking good, other than one boarded up window
-Far busier than I expected given the terrible weather forecast
-Kaylee Belle (boat) is running and looking pretty good
-The Boardwalk will look great once it's finished

The bad:
-Still a little rough around the edges, some things could definitely use a paint job
-Mini golf was a little run down and dirty (although cheap)
-The Blue Streak obviously not running yet
-Why wasn't the train running?
-The gift shop was lacking in park related stuff, and didn't have any bags
-Shut down rides all over the place- there are still remnants of the Yo yo, Round Up, and Musik Express that really need to be taken out soon.
-Rollo-Plane isn't running, making an entire path completely useless- they need to get something running down by where the Yo Yo and Rollo Plane were.

The ugly:
-Remnants of the Ultimate Trip building, just looks awful sitting there
-Fire damage to midway from the Ballroom fire
-The Toboggan needs to go ASAP, it brings down that whole section

I took over a hundred pictures, which can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39616646@N03/sets/72157619885827089/

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