Quassy 5/25/09 - memory lane

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Thursday, May 28, 2009 7:15 PM

Erin and I made it out to Quassy on Monday. We bought a stove from
the Home Depot in Waterbury, CT and while getting into the car I asked
if she would want to go. Our original plans for the day were to go to
the new CT Science Center, or Dinosaur State Park, but the science
center doesn't open until next week and Dinosaur State Park is closed
on Mondays. I had wanted to take a quick run to SFNE since it's in
the same area as both of those attractions; but after buying
groceries, the stove, and all of the various other things you quickly
find out you need after moving in to a new house I didn't really feel
like driving an hour to ride a coaster that I'm already anticipating
giving me a headache. I'll make it there soon enough, but today
wasn't right.

Our new house is about 20 minutes from the park in Naugatuck, and with
the relaxing long holiday weekend, the beautiful weather, and no entry
fee, it seemed like a natural choice. She agreed without hesitation,
and we started down the windy tree lined street to Lake Quassapaug.

This is not going to read like a typical trip report, but more like a
story. Just to warn you, this report makes no effort at laying out
what occurred in chronological order. This park has played a role in
my life since I was very young, and I'm going to try to share with you
the feelings this park brings about in me. I went to this park a lot
growing up; I don't know how many times, and I don't remember when
these visits occurred. But I do have the memories, and the emotions
they provoke. Some of these emotions I do not even have memories to
back up, but to me that does not make them any less real. Some of the
more factual things I may be wrong on, but that's okay.

Despite growing up about 30 minutes from the park, she had never been.
The reason is the same for many families in CT - the park is seen as
a dump, it's seen as an overgrown trashy carnival with less
interesting rides than the one that will pop up on the church parking
lot a few times per summer, but worst of all the park is seen as a
death trap.

There seemed to be a string of deaths at the park in the 90s. Although
I can only remember one specific death, it felt like the park was
constantly receiving bad publicity in the 90s and then it dropped off
the map. My next visit following this string was around 03 or 04 when
Josh came out for a long weekend of riding, and at that time most of
the good, well run, antique flat rides had been removed.

This past weekend was my first visit to the park since that trip 2ound
5 years ago. The mouse and kiddie coaster were still there, but now
the only larger rides are the tilt-a-whirl, trabant, paratrooper, and
an uncovered thunderbolt. The old Saturn ride which was always my
favorite has been gone for years. I also noticed that the kiddie
rides which used to be in front of the big arcade has been moved
closer to the beach.
The park had a small crowd. Not much in terms of lines or people
riding, but enough to keep most of the rides cycling continuously.
The employees weren't waiting on riders to fill up the seats, which is
a nice change but not exactly cost effective. All employees we
encountered during our 90 minutes or so at the park were very
friendly, helpful, and patient. The ground was mostly clear of trash
and the spots with grass or flowers seemed well kept. But since most
of the park is free game for walkways, the more traveled upon were
just dirt. Not a detraction from the park, but more a willingness to
accept the general behaviors of patrons.

There is a newer play/splash water area that looks very nice, and
admission to that seemed to included with the beach - a smart business
move. There are other water slides awkwardly located at the other end
of the park, which were not there when I was young.

The park overall looks rather nice. Upkeep and maintenance on the
buildings has been good, and overall the park has lost some of its
trashiness witnessed in that 03 visit. The rides (what little there
are) could use face lifts, and replacing or at least repairing the
blacktop would go far to improve the atmosphere, but it is not
necessary right now. More important is adding more rides or
activities.

Erin and I stopped in at the restaurant for a drink, and the food
looked sub par, but still above six flags quality. The prices were
also too high for the park's main base, but still below six flags
prices. Quassy is mainly visited by lower income families from
Waterbury, and it would be nice to see the park take ownership of that
fact and shift their food and drink prices accordingly. They would
probably see a drop in how much any spending family spends, but an
overall increase in the people that fall into that category. Pure
speculation, of course. We ended up paying $4.50 for a small slushy.
On the good side, they were selling yards of McSorleys for only
$6.00...but being a new homeowner and light on funds, I made the wise
decision to pass. There were a few other food stands scattered
throughout the small park, including a kennywood/lake compounce style
potato patch fry stand that looked good.

We stopped in at the gift shop at some point, because you get 50% off
with your parking ticket. I bought Erin a nice glass dolphin for only
2 dollars (originally 4 bucks, seemed like it would have no problem
selling for 20 in another environment.) All of the items in the gift
shop were priced reasonably, but most were sadly outdated. This year
marks either the 101st or 102nd anniversary for the park, but you
would have no idea from the gift shop. Everything in there is
promoting the 95th anniversary back in 03. I guess they ordered way
too much merch that year, which is understandable, but the lack of
commemoration for the much more important 100th was disappointing.
Aside from that, the gift shop was small but nice, and the prices were
very reasonable.

There did seem to be a decent amount of non-ride entertainment
available at the park. Around 3:45 an announcement was made for a
4:00 magic and comedy show on the stage right near the kiddie coaster.
The stage was visible from the outdoor patio of Le Ristorante De
Quassy, so we sat down with our slushy to watch. Around 4:10 or 4:15
we got up and walked away because the show hadn't started. There was
motion backstage, but we're impatient on things like that. We went
over to the picture spots, where I pretended to be a gorilla, then
Erin hugged a big cock and tamed a lion.

We rode the mad mouse, or little monster depending on which sign you
read. The pricing in the park is a solid 3 bucks per ride. There is
also an X tickets for Y dollars discount, and a pop option. The beach
and splash zone can be added on, or I think it was 10 bucks or so on
its own. Aside from the beach there is no entry fee to the park,
which is always nice.

We bought 4 tickets and lined up for the little monster coaster. This
coaster was the first non-kiddie coaster I ever rode. My grandma
would bring me, my sister, and our 4 cousins here once per summer when
I was very young. I'd guess it was around 87 through 92 or so, before
the string of deaths/accidents which resulted in the removal of their
best rides.

I was probably about 4 or 5 when I first mustered up the courage to
let my dad drag me on. The ride terrified me to the point where I
thought I was going to die, and continued crying and trying to punch
my dad for a while after disembarking. I was scared off coaster until
I was maybe 9 or 10 when I fell in love with Riverside's Thunderbolt
(now SFNE). I didn't give the monster another run until I was maybe
11 or 12.

The ride continues to terrify me. The thin sheet metal looking
structure feels flimsy, and seems to bend under the weight of a car.
I didn't see anything this time, but when I went with Josh on my last
trip there was a posted restriction that combined human weight was not
to exceed 350 lbs (or was it 300, any idea?). Josh and I were
somewhat over that limit, which added to the monster's terror, but
Erin and I fit nicely under the restriction.

The coaster is basically just a typical 50s wild mouse (Herschel?),
very similar to the one at Lakemont. The main difference is that off
the lift you do one switch back and hit a large drop all the way to
the ground. This actually gives off some airtime, but there is only a
seat belt (which was not there during my childhood) holding you in.
After a turn there is a slight incline which requires its own small
lift chain. Growing up there was a car stopped there more often than
there were cars riding on the track. It probably used to be a block
without that chain, adding it on was a good move.

From this point on I think the ride follows the same layout as the
Lakemont mouse. Switchbacks on the top, some shallow drops, a big
banked turn, and then some tiny bunny hops into the breaks.

The ride still runs, and it's not really rough or bumpy, but its not
exactly pleasant. The 'gonna fall off the track' feeling that most
wild meece are trying for is on this ride in spades. I would say it's
almost too present. As in, I wouldn't be surprised if one day a car
went around a sharp turn and the whole structure collapsed. This year
is the ride's last, so it probably wont get to that point. Growing up
with the park having that death shadow hanging over added a lot to
this feeling, but go and ride it yourself to see. Get there before
the end of summer though, because word has it the ride is coming down.

The other ride we went on was the paratrooper. It ran fast and for a
long cycle. A little too long for me in my old age (I'm only 25, can
you believe it, two years ago I could handle anything...now a
paratrooper is making me queasy). It was good fun though. Only the
two of us and two preteen girls in another seat.

We wandered around a bit and ended up over by the train. This area,
between the tilt a whirl and the train was where the Saturn used to
be. I remember the ride being gigantic, with each of the spaceships
holding ten or twenty people. In reality it held maybe 4 or 6 if the
kids were small enough. When the arms would swing out the bottoms
would brush against the tree limbs which always seemed to be hundreds
of feet in the air. The older people could reach out with their long
arms and grab the leaves. This was one of the perks of growing up.
But now the ride is gone, and the tree branches will remain untouched
by my now adult arms, no matter how hard I strain, no matter how far I
stretch.

-Mike
I hope you enjoyed this


There are all types of funky things going on with the formating pulling this off of word, so I hope this time it's readable.

Last edited by mike okay, Thursday, May 28, 2009 7:31 PM
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Thursday, May 28, 2009 8:32 PM

Man, I miss Quassy. That time I was out there was a complete blast. 2 of us, at around 180 lbs each being told to cram into that little wild mouse car with the sign that said "Maximum weight 200 lbs per car" or whatever it was, was hysterical.

You guys have to come out this way once we get into the house, and get the kitchen/bath done. :)

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