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I had decided to join the Coaster Zombies Great Northwest Coaster Tour as an opportunity to visit some parks I might not otherwise ever visit, including PNE Playland, Oaks, and Silverwood among others. This is my first trip to the West Coast, and I am pretty excited about it. I got out a day early so that I could do some hiking and get a little bit of the flavor of the area. I unfortunately through my back out on the trip out, just a muscle pull, so I decided to go light on it and do a little bit of lighter hiking down in the Olympia area. On the way to a local park, Priest Point Park, I stopped at the fantastic state capital building in Olympia and took a few pictures outside.
Then I put in about five miles at the park over some moderate terrain, and enjoyed every minute of it. The trees are just amazing here. They seem to reach to the heavens, many of them straight as an arrow. And the backdrop of snow covered mountains is just awe inspiring.
But, enough about that, I am sure most of you want me to get on with the report on the tour.
The bus ride was interesting. This was the bus driver's first trip across the border as well. That being the case, she did not know she had to take the bus through the truck lanes at the crossing (and there were no signs saying so either). When she got to the booth, the Canadians had us turn around and head back the the US, which had more then half an hour wait, only to be able to turn around again to get into the correct lanes. With that done, it was a quick ride to PNE.
The tour was timed so that we would be at Playland when the Pacific National Exposition was going on, which essentially tripled the size of the park. You would not know it though, as the whole park looks like a fairgrounds. It also added some rides, brought in by West Coast Amusements (WCA).
I got into the park and headed for Coaster, only to find it closed, so I hopped on the Crazy Beach Party, a Huss Frisbee. It was being driven, but not very well. When I go off, Tony, who will be my room mate for the week, joined be and we ventured further into the park, where we found WCA Twin Flip, an awesome flat ride.
I am not really sure how to describe Twin Flip. Basically, you sit in a car that is on a pivot attached to a pod of four cars, which is then attached to an arm that reaches out from the center. The arm lifts up, the pod spins, and your car also spins, flipping all over the place. It was a blast.
Check out the video here: http://www.penncoasters.com/downloads/twinflip.MOV (14MB) (Please right click and Save As...)
We next walked around to the Wild Mouse.
I don't know the builder of this ride off hand, but I can say that it looks old. It runs these tinny little cars that are held onto the track y center wheels and a third rail. Operations were painfully slow, but luckily the line was not too long yet (he park had just opened), so within 20 minutes we were on this painful little ride.
Next to the mouse was a Break Dance, also being driven. It was not run too badly, we got some nice spinning action.
After a quick ride, and then headed over to the Sky Scraper.
The were running a special, two riders for $20. Can't beat that, so e got a ticket and hopped on. I liked this Sky Scraper if only because it had OTSR's, instead of the nylon straps. The girl running it was running it full throttle, which was neat, but because she was not varying the speed, we got very little flipping action.
Behind the Sky Scraper was the Corkscrew, a Vakoma that has some extra hills and a helix. It also looked like it was actually a portable ride, as it was sitting on blocks and had large concrete blocks holding it down. We waited about 15 minutes and managed to get a front seat ride (they only let enough people into the station to fill the train). The ride was not too bad, I only got banged a little bit, and the hills produced some decent airtime, especially the first little hill, which really throws you out of your seat.
We decided since the Sky Coaster also had the same special as the Sky Scraper we would get a ride on that as well. It was a small one, only 100 feet tall, but we did some nice swings on it and was worth the ten bucks each.
Across the way is a Huss Top Spin, Hell's Gate.
I've been on some bad Top Spins, and this one is right near the top of that heap. They were running it on the weakest program imaginable, with just one flip, which was made worse by the breaks being applied when it could have done a few more flips. It also ran a very short cycle. Even the other riders seemed very disappointed in this ride.
As we were riding, we saw the Coaster start up. We booked over there, and after a 10 minute wait, we were on the last seat of the ride. This is a vicious little ride in the back. Every hill throws you up into the lapbar violently, knocking the wind out of you. I would ride it later in the day again, this time in the front for a much better ride, but still not a great ride. I will say one thing, the ride is interesting. It has a strangely intriguing layout, a triple out and back with add hills, banked fan turns, and funky long straight away. It also runs these unique old trains, with single bench trailored cars and flanged wheels, making them look much like Prior and Church trains, even though they are not.
After our ride on the Coaster, we headed toward the PNE portion of the park, on the way catching a ride ride on a fantastically run Orbitor, also owned by WCA. I love this ride, fast, with loads of G's.
The PNE area is just plain huge, and while this area has no rides, there were a ton of shows, every imaginable food, and even a casino. This I found most interesting. Why bother trying you luck for a stuffed prize, when instead you could try your luck for some cash. They actually had this little game tables all over the park's midway, but here they had the real games, poker, blackjack, baccarat, among others. So got some chips and played some. I actually walked away $10 richer.
We continued down the long midway, and upon reaching the end, found more midway spanning in either direction. The midways were lined with booths selling every gizmo and gadget you could ever want. If you have seen it on TV, you were sure to find it here. We headed to the left, finding nothing of much interest. At the end of the midway they had an area set up for street performances, and here they had two Scottish acrobats. We did not linger long, but the little we saw seemed pretty good.
Also here was the huge Marketplace building, where inside you could find even more gizmos.
We took a quick walk around and headed back down to the other side of the midway where an arena was located.
The arena had performing dogs showing, not something I was very interested in, so we headed down next to the arena on a midway that seemed to head back to the park. There we ran into a parade.
Tony had enough and decided to head toward Coaster for some rides, I wanted to photograph the park a bit more, so I snapped some shots of the very odd looking parade, and worked my way back towards the park, where I did a circuit just photographing, with a ride here and there, and another trip to the casino, where I won $20 more.
I walked through a neat display of Lego constructs, including a working coaster with a loop, which was pretty neat.
I also ventured into the farm exibite, but just inside the front door where I saw this pair of draft horses, and figured my sisters would kill me if I did not get some photos.
They also had a furrier demonstation going on in there with this beautiful horse.
I also grabbed a ride here and there, as well as got an Emu burger to eat (it was pretty good, very lean, but not bad). Finally I ventured over to the coaster to get one final ride in before leaving the park.
The ride back to the hotel was more of the same as the first time around. The driver missed the turn off and we had to turn around and go back into Canada before we could get back into the US. At least there was not a massive line this time.
Well, next up should be Enchanted Village and Fantasy Forest. Hope you enjoyed.
*** Edited 8/23/2005 8:18:51 AM UTC by Cyclonic***
The Coaster is a cool ride. It reminded me a bit of the CI Cyclone in looks but rode more like a GCI. The P&C trains ride good for being around 50 years old. A little shimmy but not bad they could have used a little more padding on the seats but nothing to complain about. I can see why Mike Boodley modeled the Millennium Flyers after them. There were even some moments I thought I was riding an old GCI with the transitions into turns and the one speed hill halfway thru the ride.
The Wild Mouse was cool! Too bad I only managed to only get one ride in on it. Way better then the Herschell mice!
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