TR: Ft. Worth Stock Show Carnival

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TR: Ft. Worth Stock Show Midway

Date: 2-2-06

This is a trip that I have anticipated ever since January. The Ft. Worth Exposition and Livestock Show is held every January and a little into February. They have a small midway of carnival rides brought by Talley Amusements evrery year. This year, they expanded a little bit, bringing a Rubertz Paratrooper (DDM), Ayerly Spider (called Caterpillar), and more. This year, they also had an Ayerly Rock-O-Plane. I was really looking forward to that one. We’ll get to it later.

The carnival didn’t open till four, so when it was time, my grandpa and I headed for the carnival, stopping off to buy me a cheap $60 digital recorder which I would use for most of the day. When we got there, I headed for the Celner Tilt-a-Whirl. This particular one was shorter than most. I only got about 3 really good spins. At least it wasn’t like last year when the carnie didn’t even spin the cars at all.

Next, it was off to something I hadn’t ridden before. It was a circular platform with gondolas that had lapbars in them. The circular platform rotated, and the seats swooped in and out. It was a Wisdom Aladin, an old ride that is very rarely seen these days. This one was made in 1960. I never thought I would get to ride one, and here I was getting ready to board. I got in, pulled my recorder out of the way of the lapbar, and the ride started. I had no idea it moved around a track. It actually went backward. The ride was overall very tame, with no forces at all.

Next, I headed to the one that I was really looking forward to, the Rock-O-Plane. I had read so many good reviews of this ride that I just had to try it. However, it was DDM, but it would be fixed in 10 minutes. Fine with me. So I headed to the Dartron Cliff Hanger. It was my first one as an enthusiast, and I liked it. It was kind of fast, with some positive G’s. Very enjoyable.

Then it was off to the Giant Wheel, in this case a 67-foot Ferris wheel from Eli Bridge Company. I remember this one from a fair I used to go to in Mangum, Oklahoma. It was nice to get on it again. I miss the Chance Giant Wheel that was at that carnival for years. I like the Chance ones better; they have no restraints and they give a longer ride. This was my first Eli wheel since becoming an enthusiast. I may be totally blind, but I have a soft spot for giant wheels. I don’t know why, but I ride them even though they’re meant for observation. My grandpa and I were the only ones on the whole wheel so we got a double ride, which was great. It was the perfect day to ride it; it was not too hot and not too cold, with a gentle breeze. I just hated the fact that we had lapbars and no roof in the cars; I’m spoiled by the Chance wheels. Until last year, the Chance wheel and the Eli wheel could be found at opposite ends of the midway. You could choose which one you wanted to do; the Chance one was taller than the Eli one.

Then, we went back to the Rock-O-Plane which was now operating! First off, thanks to everyone who told me how to control the cage. I got in and asked the op where the brake lever was. He showed me a small ring that people had told me would be there. I was the only one on the Rock-O-Plane, and I had control of the brakes. Who could ask for better. It only took me about 10 seconds to figure out how to do acrobatics, and next thing you know, people were on the ground gawking at me. That ride was so awesome! So good in fact that I rode again without getting out of the cage. I did plenty of crazy stunts, including Coasterville Dave’s stunt (stalling the car upside down, then letting gravity do the rest). Some of those flips were so violent that I almost snapped my neck. This particular Rock-O-Plane was in fair condition. I’ll get to why I don’t say better of it in a minute. This quickly became my favorite ride on the midway, and I wound up riding it 4 times. I mean, I love this thing! Too bad I have to go all the way to Carolton and Sandy Lake Amusement Park to ride one again. I started a stream of people coming to ride. I’ll explain that later too. Let’s just say that I think people were watching me and then by my fourth ride, they were joining in and we were all messing with our brake levers! I mean, it was walk-on all night. I have a bad feeling that I may never see this one again; I don’t think it will be back next year because of unpopularity. People just don’t understand, do they?

Next, I headed across to another ride that I had been looking forward to, the Power Surge. One word: tame. There was hardly any action and only one good flip. I rode facing forward. It was a real letdown; I still prefer the Top Scan. I mean, there was hardly any movement and no speed and intensity. There were parts of the ride where it felt like a Top Scan, with good spinning and fast rocking motions that felt like it would flip the seat over. However, this ride just isn’t one that I would go out of my way to ride again.

Well, since I was let down by that ride, I headed back to my new friend the Rock-O-Plane. I had a teacher from my old high school and his daughter riding the wheel too. They had ridden the Power Surge and liked it. I wanted to get them on the Rock-O-Plane. So, we all headed over there. Apparently, there was a tub on that ride that had no brakes. None! Even when I asked the op to show Mr. Count the brake lever and how it worked. We just couldn’t get there brakes to work. He got so sick that he refused to ride again. I got a tub where the lever was working, but the brakes were kind of stiff. It took some effort to get it to flip and hang. The first two rides, I had had a tub in which it was no problem working the brakes; they were well-oiled and worked flawlessly. This was different. I got some good acrobatics, but it wasn’t the same as that other tub. Seems that not all tubs were created equal on this ride, as I was to find out later.

Then it was back to the tradditional ferris wheel to relax. This time, I got the entire wheel to myself. Grandpa didn’t ride, and no one else was riding. It was absolute heaven. It was so quiet; I couldn’t even hear the loud music when the wheel moved. I could really sit back and relax and just enjoy the breeze. I mean, how rare is it when you get an entire wheel to yourself? I got a tripple ride, doing more revolutions than I could count. I would say at least 50. The wheel was also kind of fast.

Then it was off to the Fun Haus, one of a ton of funhouses on this midway. I tour it every year and it never grows old. Except for the rolling barrel finale, which I absolutely hate. I even asked them to turn it off. Mom and Dad were waiting for me at the other end. Grandpa had to leave, so Mom, Dad, and my older sister came.

First ride for me after they showed up was the Fabbri Kamikaze. The looping ship is one of my favorite types of rides. This one was running well, doing about 4 revolutions in each direction. Not as good as last year, but still ok. Then it was off to the Wisdom Storm, which was running well. Mom and my sister joined me for it. It was intense and it ran a longer ride than it did last year.

Then, I rode the Wisdom Starship 2000. This was far too short. We only went up two times and it seemed to run slower than some I’ve ridden. After that, it was off to the Avalanche, the Wisdom take on the falling star-type rides. There version is very very fast, with airtime and more laterals than you could want. Plus it’s bi-directional. I wanted to ride the Paratrooper next, but it was DDM (the generator wasn’t working).

Then it was off to a ride that I got to ride for the first time last October. The State Fair of Texas featured a Tivoli Scorpion which Talley had bought. I really enjoyed it, and when I found out that it was going to be there, I was pretty excited. I got on it, and it was the same ride op that ran it at the state fair. He was, as usual, playing hip-hop and starting the ride slowly at ground level, then asking if we wanted to go faster before kicking it to full speed. It was still very enjoyable. BTW, people tell me a Scorpion is like a Troica. Is it really?

Then it was off to the bumper cars. Dad joined me for these, and he bumped into me so many times that he hurt my feelings. These were Reverchon bumper cars with no restraints. I got in and found that they had already started the cars. I just had to push the pedal and go. These ran reasonably well too. Then we went to the exhibits, but that’s all I’ll say.

After that interesting walk through the exhibit hall, I wanted to go back to the midway, so we headed back. The Ayerly Spider was still not operating, so I still have not ridden a Spider. So Dad took me thorugh the German funhouse, which was ok. There was another stupid rolling barrel at the end, but that wasn’t near as bad as the miniature ropes course that was one of the stunts. Then it was back to the Rock-O-Plane to end the night, supposedly. This time, I got a tub whose brake lever was pushed forward no matter how hard I tried to push it back. I wound up having to hold the lever in place. However, this ride was the one where I was upside-down more than upright. One time I was stuck for about 6.5 seconds before I was violently jerked back up again. There were other people on the ride by now; I could hear the clanging of brake levers and people yelling below me. People finally figured this out! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who knew about the lever.

Then we sat down to eat. I had a foot-long corn dog that wasn’t too bad. It was then that we ran into some old friends and I got there son Garrett to ride the Zipper with me. I love the Chance Zipper; it’s one of those don’t-miss rides. This one was running great, with more flips than are necessary. I mean, we flipped so much that I was wondering whether we would snap off the main boom. After that, it was time to leave.

Overall, this was an outstanding trip. This was the perfect day to go to the midway. The weather was perfect. The Stock Show runs until February 6. I think the midway’s last day is Sunday, February 5.

Thanks for reading.

John Moore

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