I had not been to the park since the summer of 2001, shortly after Cedar Fair acquired it. Even then, I was there for probably less than an hour, in town in neighboring Grand Rapids for business.
I'm happy to say that the potential I saw in the park on that visit has absolutely been realized. As I said in the podcast, the park is best described as "shiny" these days. Lots of paint, landscaping, fences, etc. While the layout of the park is a little awkward in places (how well do games do when they're on the way to two rides?), it really is a gem of a park.
First thing we did was ride Mad Mouse. It opened a few minutes late, and they seemed to move people through it kind of slow at first, but no matter. I remember back in the day people complained that they braked the ride too much, but that wasn't my experience. I thought it was good fun. A little shorter than a stock Mack mouse I think, but good times.
Next up, we went to the Falling Star. Kara told me all about her fond memories of the ride growing up, and it really is good fun. For some reason I had never been on one. We did the Yo-Yo and Tilt-a-Whirl as well.
I was surprised to see that the park not only got the Dodgems from Cedar Point, but they actually put the whole building up there. Seeing the ride made me remember how wooded that area of Cedar Point was, now occupied by Dragster, and that kind of makes me sad.
Without further delay, we queued for Shivering Timbers. Waited for a front seat ride, maybe three trains. The ride overall is running pretty well if you ask me. It might need a little smoothing out in the second and third drops, but it's not horrible at all. Great floating air throughout the ride in the front. I had a bit of a headache, maybe from a lack of caffeine, so I opted to not ride it again later. Still a great ride if you're an airtime whore, but straight out-and-back rides, without something interesting at the out, don't really invoke a lot of long-term interest for me.
We hopped on the little gas-powered train. Watch your head! This is a nice relaxing way to roll to the Grand Rapid area. It looks like the natural extension of things will be to some day build a midway down that side of the lake as well, create a big loop.
Grand Rapids is an absolutely beautiful ride. It's the most visually interesting river rapids ride I've seen in a long time. The smaller boats make it more agile, with more bouncing around and spinning. The entrance area is very well done. The only thing I can fault them with is not purchasing older trees to hide more of the ride and make shade, but when it fills in, this entire part of the park will be just beautiful. I didn't ride since I had no change of clothes, but I'd really like to next chance I get.
Looping around the back of the park, I finally got a closer look at the water park. What a great facility! They have a great collection of rides there, and three wave pools. I especially like the way the slides between the pair of wave pools is faced with rock work and the water flowing over it. Well done.
Kara decided to try and make me barf by taking me on this Drummer Boy kiddie ride. Looked harmless enough from the midway. Then when it started moving she got it spinning so hard that I was almost sure I'd spew. I don't get motion sickness, but damn did that thing get to me.
Next up we hit Zack's Zoomer, which is pretty hilarious because tall freaks can't really sit in the little trains properly. It's a nice kiddie coaster without being weak.
We ended our ride on the Gondola Wheel, which looks really fabulous with new paint and new lights. They have a really odd loading process, and I swear we were on the thing for fifteen minutes.
After getting kettle corn and cotton candy, we wrapped up the visit and headed out into the metropolis that is Muskegon for lunch. I really enjoyed myself at the park, and I'm not a bit surprised at the attendance increase. Lots for the kids to do. The only thing it really "needs" is some infrastructure changes, like restrooms and food stands in various places. Great little park!
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