Silverwood, Athol, Idaho, USA
Repost from my blog...
One of the things I realized this summer about living in Seattle is that I'm about as close as I'm ever going to get to Silverwood, the little theme park north of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It's just short of five hours from where I live, and who knows how long I'll live here. Combine this with the frustrating lack of roller coasters in my life, and you know I gots to get there.
We very spontaneously decided to go. Planning involved was less than a day. Hotels were hard to come by, which makes sense because it's summer. (Eastern Washington actually has seasons, including summer, where it gets into the 80's.) We found a solid deal at this place called Pheasant Hill, with a spa suite. The first of our issues came with the reservation. They were over-booked, so they had to move us into a normal king room for the second night. Not a huge deal, because we ended up getting $85 refunded, and Hotels.com is sending us a $100 voucher. But wow, that room was sweet.
Here's what I've learned about amusement parks, or any kind of travel with Simon. You basically have a four or five hour window, and after that, there's no telling how he's going to be. The one exception was Holiday World last year (at six months), where he managed to do pretty well all day. Granted, we had help, with our friend Beth spending a lot of time with him. There's always risk involved when you travel like this, and we've had mostly wins.
All bets were off about how the day would go, when Simon woke up at 2 a.m., and never went back to sleep for more than 30 minutes or so. It was a long night, and when he's a hot mess, he brings out the worst in us. We actually ended up going to breakfast at 6, since we were up. Fortunately, we did sneak in a nap from 9 to 11, with all of us piled into the bed. I don't sleep well with him, because I'm worried I'll squish him.
So we rolled with the issues and got to the park around 1. First impression: Charming, kinda like Holiday World. There's a sit-down restaurant right inside the gate, so we started our day there. Fairly reasonable, great service, and real mac-and-cheese that we probably ate more of than Simon did. That was about as good as our day was going to be.
Next stop: Information. We grabbed a park map, and Diana asked if they did parent swap or something. She was greeted with expressions implying she was nuts. Trying to be optimistic, I just went with it, and figured the lines wouldn't be that long as people would be piled in the water park.
We did a loop around the park to survey the landscape. Deja Vu, that's weird. I can't believe that ride was almost 2,000 miles east at Six Flags Great America. I snapped a few photos that I really liked of it, and will add those to the CB database. Tremors and Timber Terror were sporting hour-plus lines, though we had to guess by our later experiences, since there are no wait times posted. All of the coasters are one-train deals, so this was not encouraging. Watch ride ops check restraints on Aftershock Vu move at a glacial pace was also not encouraging.
After our loop, we ducked into a little kids area, and found Tiny Toot. Simon makes tiny toots all of the time, and laughs. This little powered coaster looked just tame enough that I could take him on it, and there were no height restrictions beyond "no infants." He seemed pretty interested in the ride, so I figured we'd give it a shot.
Of course, Simon's first concern was the gates. He loves to close doors, so making sure the gates were secured was a huge priority for him. We sat in the second row, because it looked the least aggressive from watching. It was really hard to decide if he was ready, and I tried very hard to take my own desires out of the equation and think about how he'd react. I was somewhat reluctant, but decided to go for it.
Once seated, it was clear that he was pretty well boxed in, and even if he slid to the floor (he tried), he'd be pretty safe. The first few times around, he was fine with it, but the last few, he was definitely ready to get off the ride. He kept trying to slide down. I don't think he was scared, he just wanted to do something else. It wasn't the magical first roller coaster ride I would have liked, but I'll definitely take it. He now has one coaster on his track record!
We spent some time in a play structure next to Tiny Toot for a bit after that, and from there looked for refreshment. First ICEE attempt was a failure, because of a broken machine. We probably should have just had water.
I decided we should take turns, suck it up, and each go on one of the coasters. I chose Tremors first, which ended up being about a 40 minute wait. The operations were dreadful, with dispatches going eight minutes or more. I would have killed to have some kind of upcharge virtual queue service. I would've settled for faster loading.
Side note: I think I realize now how spoiled we are as Midwesterners. These relatively little rides were talked about by people in the queues as if they were the ultimate rides. The dude in front of me took a photo of himself on the ride just to prove it to his girlfriend. Weird.
In any case, Tremors is a solid ride. I love the first drop under the gift shop. The ride is generally in pretty good shape, and only had one real pothole I can remember, on the first drop. The big turn after that is kind of uninteresting, but the rest of the ride is good. They've got a very nice ride there.
I hoped that Simon would pass out for a little while, but he had other ideas. Diana then queued for Timber Terror. She enjoyed it, and thought it was pretty good overall. She said it didn't really let up at any point. She was also sitting next to some jackass who recorded the whole thing on his camera.
By this time, it was already getting later, and I decided that I just wasn't going to put my family through me waiting for another ride for more than a half-hour. While Diana was in line, I hung out with Simon, and he was clearly more interested in being up and about, and was a little moody.
We didn't get much chance to ride anything else. Diana wanted to do the carousel with Simon, but he was tired out of his mind. Alas, after four hours or so in the park, we decided to bail.
I really wanted to hit all four adult coasters, but it just wasn't meant to be. For each of us to do one adult ride, it was taking an hour and a half, with no V-queue and no parent swap. It sucked. And since they were so damn slow, it was worse than it had to be. I was not impressed. It probably would have been better if we had a third party so we could ride stuff together. Both of our last visits to CP got us on stuff together, and ditto for HW and Universal. That's just how we have to roll.
I'm not saying the park was total crap, but they're not thinking much about families. The lack of parent swap really kicked our asses. I doubt we'll ever be back again, and that's a bummer, because I really would have liked to do Terror, and even the Corkscrew, just for historic purposes.
Nice report, Jeff. It's too bad to hear about the operations; I had previously heard nothing but great reviews about this park and it's coasters. How it is the Holidayworld of the (whatever area of the country that Idaho is in, is called).
Perhaps they will eventually run a 2nd train on their woodies, and Simon will be tall enough (and want) to ride them with you!
Nice TR, Jeff. Perhaps Silverwood will take your concerns seriously, seeing that you are the CoasterBuzz webmaster. Did you stop in their Guest Service office? If not, you should write them a letter just to make sure they know.
The small amount of celebrity status that you have in the roller coaster enthusiast circles could be used for the good of the park. Maybe they are unaware how beneficial VQ and parent swap could be to their customers.
Last edited by LostKause, Sunday, August 21, 2011 1:30 AM
Edited for really careless spelling mistakes.
Simon was getting tired and cranky, and I was in no state to be fair and rational, so we split without talking to anyone.
My comparison to HW was for the " enthusiast charm." It feels a lot like HW in terms of the landscaping and what not, in most places at least. There are some rough spots (like the Corkscrew footer just kind of sticking out in the midway in the dirt), but it has lots of trees and what not.
I suppose if I were a single guy with no child, maybe I'd have left with a different opinion. If they had premium queueing, I'd definitely have been happier.
And I don't think my microcelebrity status goes very far most places. I'm not Gonch.
And I don't think my microcelebrity status goes very far most places. I'm not Gonch.
I'll put in a call to Silverwood on your behalf.
One train ops, no VQ I can get past, but not having a child swap is BS.
Giving feedback to a park is not a bad thing. Constructive criticism can be a very positive experience for both parties.
The small amount of celebrity status that you have in the roller coaster enthusiast sircles could be used for the good of the park.
I think your status as a paying customer who drove multiple hours to visit their park is enough.
Come to think of it, even if you lived next door and had free entry, letting them know what you did not like (and perhaps noting what you did like) is a good thing. A letter, call, email, whatever it may be.Last edited by CoasterDemon, Saturday, August 20, 2011 4:14 PM
Come to think of it, even if you lived next door and had free entry, letting them know what you did not like (and perhaps noting what you did like) is a good thing. A letter, call, email, whatever it may be.
Letting the park know if something exceptionally good or bad is happening is great.
Turning into 'that guest' is not.
It's a fine line.
If I'm having a lousy time at a park, I typically want to get the hell out. Kudos to those who don't mind putting in the extra effort to tell guest services or fill out a formal complaint or whatever. I'm usually not one of those people.
I suspect anyone in my situation, with a crabby kid, would probably be in that boat too. It generally is just easier to just blow it off and never come back. A part of me wants to believe that they don't know any better, because frankly I doubt their guests would know any better. I mean, the only other park in all of the Northwest of any size is Wild Waves, and I doubt people from Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana are going out that way.
Parks (and other businesses) that want to thrive and improve would seek out and appreciate any constructive criticism that came their way.
On the other hand, I grew up when "mom-and-pop" outfits hadn't become obsolete dinosaurs, and most of those places were run with the intention of passing the family business on to their kids - so maybe you should discount my opinion. Shame though, because small businesses grow when they listen to their customers with an eye toward serving the people better (and making more money from it).
I am sorry to hear about the trip and the bad experience you have. I am a ride operator at the park and this sickens me to hear this. We actually do allow the parent swap. Did you ask any of the operators? I like the idea of a virtual queue. Or at least signs. I will pass along this information for next season to our Operations Manager and my manager for the ride department. You really should also write to the park. There is a Contact Us link online at www.silverwoodthemepark.com. Actually, during the time you went, we were in the midst of hiring new operators for the remainder of the season and they learn on the job. Once again, I am sorry that your experience was not up to par and I will pass this along to upper management. Hope you will return and find your experience to be better.
It probably doesn't matter at this point. While I will certainly visit Seattle, I'm not optimistic that I'll roll out to Idaho.
Just goes to show you, treat every operating day as if it is the first time your customers are visiting, and persuade them to visit again by offering a fantastic experience. You never know how far positive or negative word-of-mouth will go, especially in the days of the internets.
Jeff might not get back to the park, but since he posted that he found his visit there disappointing, many other potential customers might decide not to visit.
Providing a good experience to your customers everyday is very important.
I know the owner. I am going to mention this TR to him if I get some private time on the floor. if not, I will send the link. All valid points.
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