Weather: Hot and HUMID!!!
Okay, this was supposed to be Day 3, Park 3, but due to the Great Blackout of 2003, we decided to skip our visit to Paramount Canada’s Wonderland on Friday and wander around Niagara Falls, Ont instead (which for what ever reason was one little enclave in that area that DID NOT lose power). Not sure how true this is or not, but later we learned that PCW was in fact closed on that Friday because of the power outages (can’t confirm, that is just what we heard from others).
Anyway, we crossed back into the U.S. early Saturday and spent the morning visiting Fort Niagara on Lake Ontario. Later in the afternoon we turned south and headed toward Grand Island NY and Martin’s Fantasy Island.
First off, to dispel rumors... "Martin" does not stand at the front gate in a white suit with a midget (in a matching suit) at his side saying "Welcome to Fahntasy Island" as you enter the park.
After arriving and parking, we used our $3.00 off coupon that we clipped from the AAA magazine sometime last spring and entered the park. Even though this is a small park, the first order of business was to get a map, and even with this map, I somehow managed to make a wrong turn and started off in the wrong direction. Thanks to Michele’s intervention, we got back on the right path (a theme that was repeated through out the week while driving too… She had the map and told me which way to go, but my “instinct” told me to do something different… and 9 out of 10 times we wound up back tracking and following her original and correct directions).
Anyway, Martins is laid out in 3 sections. The section just inside the entrance is mostly kiddie rides, the next section looks like an old western town, and the section in the “back” of the park contains the adult and thrill rides. This is the section we were interested in. On the way there, we did have to pass through the old western town and we took notice to the canoes in the little pond/lake. What was interesting is that they had these “out riggers” on each side of them so that they could not be flipped over… they looked like canoes with “training wheels”.
Once we arrived at the back of the park, Michele found a nice shaded picnic table and umbrella to sit under and I headed off for the Silver Comet. This coaster looked good from pictures and in person, but somewhere along the line I read that Martin’s at one time implied in their ads that this was a “newer version” of the old Crystal Beach Comet (now residing at Great Escape), but that it was a “pale successor”, so I was not exactly expecting that much. Was I wrong. I was taken by surprise as the train topped the lift hill and made the first drop and never let up on the speed after that. Pops of air on the crests of the hills (in the front seat) and heavy positive G forces (for a wooden coaster) at the bottom of the hills as headed up the next, along with some very strong laterals. And just when you think it is over… the train heads into its last turn before returning to the station and I swear the speed picked up. I don’t think I know of a faster run into the station on a coaster of that size. Very impressed and actually a little out of breath from my first ride, I cycled around and grabbed a back seat ride. Still a good ride… but not as spectacular as the front.
From Silver Comet, we walked to the far end of this “midway” and I jumped aboard Wild Cat. It’s a standard steel “Wild Cat” model, nothing more and nothing less. Slow cresting some of the hills, it does pick up speed in the drops and in the helices with their wild head chopper effects. A fun little coaster, but with the line that was there, I did not want to wait again.
Across the way from this, Michele and I both grabbed a ride on the Antique Cars. Nice long run… but very barren… no trees… its like driving through the Tundra.
This then brought us back to the Silver Comet area. Michele grabbed her bench again and we each ordered French fries at the little stand that was there. Nothing spectacular, but not bad. Good news, they were “made to order”… when you order them, they drop them and make them. You have to wait a little, but at least they are hot and fresh. Question… Is south central PA, Wildwood NJ and Ocean City MD the only places that puts Apple Cider Vinegar on French Fries? The only Vinegar here was White Vinegar. We have noticed in other areas (including Kennywood) they use white vinegar.
Anyway, while sitting there eating we were watching a ride called Nitro. It’s very similar in design to Hersheypark’s Claw. Michele asked if I was going to try that. I looked at the restraints and saw they were different than the claw (they were contoured to the sape of the human body, not straight down), so I said I would give it a try and hope I could close them (I can’t on the claw). I sat down and brought the restraint down and had not problem what so ever. Not only did it close, but I had plenty of room and it was a comfortable fit. Nitro is a Zamperla model of this style of ride and just as wild as Reihtoffer’s shows Wild Claw that makes its appearance at the York Fair (York PA) each September. The difference is… with Zamperla’s restraint design, hardly any one is turned away because of the OTSR configuration.
Four more re-rides then followed on Silver Comet, all front seat or second seat. Again I will say that I was truly impressed with this coaster and will go as far as to say that it was probably my favorite of the entire trip.
With the heat building and our energy level draining and knowing that we had a bit of a drive ahead of us yet this day (we wanted to reach Rochester before dark making stops at two light houses along the way) we decided to call it a day at Martin’s. On our way out, we had to maneuver around the crowds that had gathered for the Wild West Show and Shoot Out in the old western town. I used to do Civil War re-enacting and I look at things like this with a bit of a critical eye as far as realism goes. Now I don’t mean to be picky, but I do not think that sheriff’s in the old west wore mirrored sunglasses and black leather cow boy hats… I could be wrong… but somehow I doubt it. But the crowd seemed to be entertained by this and we were there for the rides, not the show, so we continued on our way to our car.
All in all Martin’s is a good little park… not a great park… but a good park. The Silver Comet as I said completely caught me by surprise and blew me away. As for the rest of the rides… some of them seem to have the look of a traveling fair that found a permanent home. For instance, we didn’t ride the log flume, but it looked quite possibly like it could have been a portable flume (though I could be wrong). The buildings were in good shape and the landscaping, while not out of this world, was nice. The park was clean and the employees that we dealt with were courteous and efficient. The one ride op on Wildcat seemed to be a little gruff, but not overly so. The rides themselves were in good shape with the exception of Wild Cat and the Antique Cars. Wild Cat looked a bit rundown and in need of some paint and the Cars also looked a little beat up (missing headlights on some, etc), but these deficiencies were all cosmetic… Mechanically and structurally these rides (as all others) seemed to be in good working order. All in all it is an average little park with a rather laid back atmosphere.
Is Martin’s a place that I need to get back to… would I make a special trip just to the Buffalo NY area just for it? Probably not. However, if I ever find my self in the area in the future (like on the way to a non blacked out Paramounts Canada’s Wonderland), would I stop in again?Absolutely… the Silver Comet alone is worth the price of admission.
Half of the people surveyed agree, half disagree and another half are unsure.
*** This post was edited by SLFAKE 8/26/2003 11:06:52 AM ***
*** This post was edited by SLFAKE 8/26/2003 11:14:34 AM ***
*** This post was edited by SLFAKE 8/26/2003 11:28:04 AM ***
From what I hear, the Silver Comet is one of the most underrated wooden coasters in the country. Needless to say, I would love to get up there to ride it one day.
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Posting @ Coasterbuzz since 2000
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