Weather: Low 50's, rain off and on.
Attendance: Low - under 1,000 people.
Silverwood is a special place. No, not special like taking the short bus to school, but a special theme park. In my rather limited traveling compared to others, I’ve only had a handful of parks make such an impression upon me as Silverwood did today. Is the park perfect? No, not yet. Then why it make such a good impression on me? Friendly staff, good location – and oh yeah, two GREAT coasters.
I left the Seattle area around 6:30, and after a couple stops (gas, money, and Krispy Kreme for donuts and coffee) I was on my way across I-90 and Washington State. I had considered catching one of the numerous commuter flights between Seattle and Spokane, but I was a bit in the mood for a road trip (plus, I was feeling cheap, and didn’t want to pay for the rental car as well as the plane ticket). 4 ½ hours later, and I’m exiting I-90 onto US95 in Coeur d’Alene, and driving north to Athol, ID. I felt a bit like I was driving to Michigan’s Adventure, with nothing else being in the general vicinity of the park. Also, after you pass a grove of trees, you’re presented with the out-and-back design of Timber Terror running parallel to US 95.
After paying $2 for parking, I made my way under the freeway via a tunnel very reminiscent of Knott’s connecting the overflow lot with the front gate of the park. I opted to purchase a two-day pass for $43.99, as season passes were an astonishing $109.95. I would love to attend Silverwood more to justify the purchase of a season pass, but I just couldn’t do it. After buying my ticket, I walked right in – no metal detectors set on ultra-sensitive, no security guards on a power trip – nothing.
Roller Coaster Alley is at the far end of the park – so in order to get to it, you have to traverse the length of the park. Not a problem, as it allowed me to break out the cameras (both digital camera and DV camcorder) and get some pictures and footage of the park. This was the first day that the park was open to the public, and while the weather might have had something to do with it, the crowds were extremely light. After looking at the famous Corkscrew, I continued on back to the Alley, where both Tremors and Timber Terror were calling my name.
I entered the queue for Tremors, which was extremely short – less than 5 minutes wait. For those of you that are familiar with Silverwood, the line wasn’t even out of the station house. I boarded the back row, and tried to lower my expectations. Many people had told me that the coaster was incredible, but I didn’t want to suffer from “anticipointment.” A quick trip up the 90” lift hill, a turnaround, and then the first drop plunged underground. The first drop, then immediate speed hill into another tunnel, is a great one-two punch of first elements. The undulating helix provides great laterals, and then it was on to two more airtime-laden hills. The far helix by the Roller Coaster Alley sign was taken at breakneck speed, followed by two hills and then two more dives underground. A quick ½ helix, and then slamming into the brakes, and finally riders could catch their breath.
Was I impressed by Tremors? You bet your ass. While some people’s favorite types of woodies might be the traditional out-and-back or a twister, I prefer the combination of airtime and laterals provided by such rides as Boulderdash, Raven, and Cornball Express. Tremors is right there with the previous 3 as my top-tier wood. Even though it was the beginning of the season, and the trains and track had just come out of storage and hibernation, respectively, the ride was running beyond great. I can’t wait to see how it runs during CAC 2003! I had a discussion with one of the maintenance workers about how good both coasters were running, and I was told that they had shaved two seconds of time off a complete circuit for Tremors – not a large number, but when a circuit after the lift is only 55 seconds, it’s a huge amount. The grease that they use to lube up the wheels is $70 a tube, and they use 2 tubes a week to keep the trains in perfect shape.
After a couple more times on Tremors, I figured it was time to give Timber Terror a try. I’m not a huge fan of out-and-back coasters (Shivering Timbers isn’t in my top-tier wood list), but again, I had heard good things about it. After boarding the train (two-bench, buzz-bar PTC trains) up the lifthill we went with me in the rear of the train. The first drop is splendid, accentuated by the fact that if it’s timed right, you can race cars or even big rigs hauling their loads down US 95. The second hill was just a warmup to the double-up, which is one of my favorite elements – nothing like getting slammed into the lapbar twice in quick sucession! The third drop was full of precious floating air, and then quickly rose up and back down into the far helix turnaround. A quick “click-click-click” over an anti-rollback section, and then the train dove back to the ground again. Three hills occur in quick succession, and then the train arrives at the near helix to burn off a little bit of speed. Not to worry, though, as there’s still plenty to have the train screeching around the turn, upstops rubbing against steel tracking, just trying to break out of the track. A quick dip took me by surprise after exiting the second helix, and then it slammed into the brake run.
Timber Terror is a very good ride. The double-up works wonders, as well as the dip before the brake run. While I don’t place it as high as Tremors, it is a great companion to Tremors, and together, they make a great one-two punch.
I alternated between the two wooden coasters for a while, even getting a couple two-click rides on Tremors. The ride ops were incredibly efficient – each coaster only had two ops, yet dispatches were very quick.
The rest of the day was very laid back. I got hungry after a while, so I tracked down one of the food stands near the front of the park. For $6.50, I got a very good BBQ Beef Sandwich, fries, and a Mt. Dew – they even had In-N-Out Burger salt packets, which I found a bit strange. Even though it was raining sporadically and was cold (low 50’s), people were still riding both the log ride and the rapids ride, which provided me the opportunity to break out the quarters and get some people wet.
The line for Corkscrew was very short all day, so I wasn’t in any sort of hurry to go ride it. The ride is the original Arrow Corkscrew that was installed at Knott’s in 1975, and was relocated to Silverwood after Knott’s removed it to install Boomerang. It’s a simple ride – lift, drop, double corkscrew, brakes. However, it’s a very historical ride, and even though it’s a bit rough in spots, it still holds a very important place in coaster history – the first modern coaster to turn riders upside down.
I walked up to the front of the park to take a ride on the train, which goes around the perimeter of the park. Silverwood has 500 acres, yet they’ve only developed 100 acres of it, including the waterpark. I’d love to see some more flat rides – a flat-ride alley with some more extreme flat rides would do the park great. I also think the park could take a cue from Holiday World and get a S&S tower ride – I know that I would love to rise up above the park and see it from above.
Overall, I had a great day at Silverwood. The park is truly a gem in the Northwest. If you haven’t been there – you’ve got to go.
--Greg, aka Oat Boy
"I can't believe I just left a nuclear weapon in an elevator." -- Farscape
When was the last time you drove 251 km/h (156 mph)?
CAC is gonna be sweet, and it looks like there are a lot more people going, so the cost should come down as well. YES!!
Timberhawk opens in June! I'm gonna beat you to it... ;)
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