Lake Compounce Haunted Graveyard (10/11/03)

Associated parks:
None

Monday, October 13, 2003 11:17 AM
On Saturday, my friend and I finally made it up to Lake Compounce for our yearly visit, which for the first time, coincided with the park’s Haunted Graveyard event. We left NJ at 3:00 and made the drive in an hour and 45 minutes (I remember it taking longer, almost 2 and a half hours in years past- something which I can’t entirely explain as we took the same roads we always take), which meant that we were pulling into the parking lot at 5:00 for the park’s opening.

After paying the surprisingly-low $2.00 parking fee and purchasing combo tickets for the rides and Graveyard, we were in. I’ve heard that the Graveyard got ridiculously crowded in years past, and it seems that the park is doing things differently this year to rectify that problem. After purchasing “admission”, you are given a receipt and a ticket for the Graveyard. At the turnstiles, you hand over your receipt for a wristband which indicates that you paid to ride the rides. Once inside, you go to a tent to the left of the turnstiles and hand over your Graveyard ticket for another that indicates a time for you to return to the attraction for admission… kind of like Disney’s Fastpass or whatever they call it. We were given the option of a 7 to 7:30 or 7:30 to 8 window, and we took the former.

The first ride we hit was Wildcat, which had a short line (it has the tendency to get rather long, with only one 18-passenger train in operation). I think that I am a bigger fan of the Wildcat than most enthusiasts, who dismiss the ride as either rough or uneventful. Personally, I like the first drop and the two sweeping fan turns, which are low and fast. The one disappointing thing about the ride is the lack of airtime, which should be in abundance since the ride consists of numerous speed hills, many of which are on curves like the Great Escape Comet. The only hint of airtime comes on the final speed hill (a straight one after the third and final turn) and on the final rise into the brake run, kind of like the Lake Winnie Cannonball. Overall, it is my least favorite Schmeck coaster, but its still a respectable ride, and the only reason I don’t ride it more is because of Boulder Dash being right behind it. If this coaster were located at any one of a dozen or so other parks, I would ride it over and over again.

En route to BD, we passed by the new Carousel building, which I had completely forgotten about. The ride didn’t move too far at all- instead of being in front of Wildcat’s station, it now sits sort of behind it. While I admit to being saddened that the park decided to demolish the old building for a waterpark expansion, I must say that the new building is beautiful. It looks much larger than the old one, and its open on all sides so you can now see the ride in all its splendor, which was never possible with the old building when you passed it. Also notable was the construction where the Musik Express used to be, which confirmed the addition of an S&S tower for 2004. What puzzled me was why the park decided to put the ride in between what are probably the two most popular rides at the park (Wildcat & BD). Why not put the ride on the other side of the park where the Top Spin used to be, so traffic isn’t concentrated in that one area? The “newer” side of the park could definitely use a big attraction, as Zoomerang just ain’t bringin’ the crowds down that way.

Speaking of BD, the line was already stretching across the bridge, thanks to one-train operation. The loading crew was very quick, but that’s really a mute point as the thing that kills this ride is the fact that it is LONG. For those of you who have never ridden BD, it is quite an experience. First of all, the ride is hidden… from the station, all you can see is the bottom of the first drop and a few of the speed hills before the brake run. That’s it. The train leaves the station, climbs the lift hill (which is completely out of your line of sight from within the station), comes roaring back behind the station about 30 seconds later, and then disappears. For a good, long time. After the train speeds away, there is silence. And just when you think that the thing is gone so long that they’ll need to send a out the troops to recover it, the train comes back into view as it crests the last few hills before the brakes. We worked our way into the station and grabbed a front seat ride. As usual, BD was running phenomenally, especially considering that the ride had only been open for less than an hour.

After a back seat ride (and an even longer wait, as the line continued to grow), I decided to stop by guest relations and complain about the one-train operation. Now, keep in mind: I am not the kind of person that goes to guest relations about every little thing. In fact, in all my years of coastering, I can’t ever recall a time when I had to complain to guest relations! But this time, I feel that I was justified- one train operation on a busy Saturday night was something that the park could not possibly have an excuse for. The lady behind the window assured me that “operations” was looking into the problem and would make adjustments if they saw the need to do so. Feeling blown off by what seemed to be a standard response, we grabbed a few slices of pizza at Harborside Pizza and ate it indoors at the Crockpot restaurant, as the seating area that borders the waterpark was closed off. In fact, that entire side of the park was closed off, including the chair lift attraction.

After dinner, we ventured over to the Graveyard, which turned out to be a great experience- much better than we both had anticipated. After being spoiled by Halloween Horror Nights and whatever Halloween event that Busch holds in Tampa last year, I guess that our expectations were pretty low, especially for a “small” park Halloween event like Compounce’s. We should have expected more, as the Graveyard turned out to be excellent. Not wanting to ruin any surprises for anyone who plans on attending, I’ll just say that it is basically a collection of haunted corridors of various themes, connected by some trekking through the dark woods that border the park. It’s a long attraction, too- about 45 minutes from start to finish- and definitely makes you feel as though you got your money’s worth. The only downside to the thing is that one admission buys you one trip through. While I’m not the kind of person who would go through twice in one night (what’s the point in doing that?), I could see some people finding that to be an issue.

When we returned to BD, we had noticed that the line had grown even longer. After mumbling a few choice words about park operation, we got in line and noticed that they had indeed put on a second train! The line, which stretched all the way to the entrance off of the midway all night, moved a lot quicker, and we were able to get at least a dozen rides by the time the rides had started to close down at 11:00. Once it got dark, BD was running exceptionally well- I think I got my best BD rides ever that night, and it was the first time that I felt the Phoenix’s crown as my favorite wooden coaster being threatened! I think that both might have to share that #1 spot for the time being, and I’m sure that many other people can agree. I would be shocked if BD doesn’t knock Shivering Timbers out of the #1 spot on Mitch Hawker’s poll this year.

Each time we go to LC, I wind up liking the park more and more. The place is small but with that comes a feeling of quaintness that is hard to come by. The place is very clean, the grounds are beautifully landscaped and the park is filled with enormous trees that many amusement parks lack. I love the area by the Wildcat’s station… you can sit on a bench there after the sun goes down and be mesmerized by the atmosphere. The Wildcat, illuminated by chaser lights, roars by every so often. The Carousel music fills the air as the ride spins majestically in its new home. People pass by, laughing and talking… it feels like a true traditional amusement park experience.

Yet each time we go, I also feel the sensation of a park that is screaming to be more. While BD is great, the park seems to be stuck in neutral. An S&S tower is a step in the right direction (and is something that I have been anticipating as a logical addition for years), but when you think about it, all it does is replace the Top Spin that went to Kennywood. The return of the Flyers was great, but that was just a relocation of the ride that was originally removed for a waterslide, and if the Musik Express goes away, its actually a loss in the flat rides department. After adding BD in 2000, the park seems to be lacking another “headliner” for people to ride when they desire something new. It wouldn’t have to be a big B&M coaster- perhaps a ride package that includes a Crazy Mouse, a Zamperla Power Surge and a Huss Frisbee (for instance) would do the trick. Personally, I feel that a big steel coaster would ruin things, unless the park decided to revive those old plans of a mountainside steel monster. Something like Hershey’s new coaster might fit in surprisingly well if it was partially hidden by the trees.

But as it is, LC is a wonderful traditional park with a wonderful wooden coaster, and that alone is enough to keep us coming back, year after year.

------------------
-Rob
A.C.E. member since 1990
Posting @ Coasterbuzz since 2000
E.C.C. member since 2002
*** This post was edited by Rob Ascough 10/13/2003 4:57:08 PM ***

+0
Tuesday, October 14, 2003 6:09 PM
What a fantastic trip report. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I recently received a reply to a letter I sent to the park, and along with addressing my comments, they mentioned that the Music Express would be renovated and relocated to make way for the drop tower. However, I don't know if they meant that it would return next year or at a future date.
+0
Thursday, October 16, 2003 7:00 AM
Thanks for the nice words! I know that my TR's tend to be on the long side, but I love to get into detail... if those details are able to help someone understand something about the park or help them when they visit, then I'm happy!

I'm glad to hear that the Music Express will be returning... it seems that LC has been stuck in a give/take situation the past few years, where one thing is removed for another, and it would be great if they could actually increase their number of rides.

Just being curious... what were your other comments to the park? I'm wondering if you notice some of the same things that I notice...

------------------
-Rob
A.C.E. member since 1990
Posting @ Coasterbuzz since 2000
E.C.C. member since 2002

+0
Thursday, October 16, 2003 2:53 PM
Rob, your TR wasn't too long. It was thorough and well written which is a good thing. I had written to the general manager to share my general enthusiasm for the professionalism with which they seem to manage the park and to thank him and his staff for their committment to quality service. I mentioned some examples such as their helpful staff, unique food choices, reasonable prices, good variety of attractions for all ages, and the overall attractiveness of the park. I think LC is managed in a way that many other parks should emulate. I also suggested that they install a wild mouse ride. I commented that the Music Express to become so worn looking. It is badly in need of paint and general renovation, and the ride is not as smooth as other newer models. I also commented that the Wave Swinger looked unattractive at night with so many burned out light bulbs which made the park look neglectful when it usually cares about details.

I received a very nice response addressing my comments, and I was impressed that it in no way resembled a form letter.

I think the drop tower will be a nice addition to LC, but I agree with you that something needs to be done near the Zoomerang to liven up that corner of the park. I think a wild mouse could do that.

+0
Friday, October 17, 2003 5:46 AM
For years, I have been saying that a Crazy Mouse is just what this park needs (that, and an S&S tower). I'm glad to hear that the park was so receptive to your comments... most parks just blow off comments about their operations.

------------------
-Rob
A.C.E. member since 1990
Posting @ Coasterbuzz since 2000
E.C.C. member since 2002

+0

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2018, POP World Media, LLC
Loading...