Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Playland, Silverwo

Associated parks:
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Friday, August 1, 2003 4:22 PM
My wife and I took a trip recently to the Northwest with a mixture of sightseeing (through Seattle, Vancouver, the Canadian Rockies, and Glacier) and coastering in mind. I thought I'd write a report about the parks we visited, as I always like to hear other enthusiast's opinions about individual coasters. I'd note that I am not one who enjoys a flat ride, so I won't be commenting on them from the parks we visited.

Also, I enjoy ranking coasters even if it is pretty difficult to really be 'accurate' in doing so. Since my current tally is 129 steel and 71 wood, I'll mention at least where each ride ended up on my list.


First up after flying into Seattle was the Fun Forest Amusement Park near the space needle. A bit of a concrete jungle itself but surrounded by nice gardens and with a pleasant atmosphere. They had a nice looking kiddie coaster that, as always, I skipped. I wish a few other ACE members felt the way I do about kiddies - that they're embarrassing and even a bit sad to ride as adults. Call me arbitrary but 25 feet tall is my limit and below that I won't ride. My one exception to this has been Knoebels High Speed Thrill Coaster just due to its reputation among enthusiasts. But anyway, back to Fun Forest. The one adult coaster at the park is a Windstorm, the first of its kind for me.

Windstorm - solid +2 (on -3 to +5 'Griswold' scale). Good enough for #45/129 on the steel coaster list. Really surprisingly intense ride for a small package. No real straight negative g drops (my favorite) but a wonderful, wicked twisting dive drop in the middle of the ride and some pops of airtime throughout. Good seat sliding action through the laterals and tight helices. I was pleasantly surprise and liked it better than the Galaxi, Zyklon, Flitzer, Jet Stars, Wildcats, etc I've ridden.


After a couple of days in Seattle and then crossing the border, next up was Vancouver's Playland. Considering the beauty and cleanliness of the city, I was pretty disappointed in the park. VERY limited attractions with many boarded up shacks and all concrete. Couldn't even get a souvenir unless I wanted a Hellevator shirt (their S&S tower ride). Friendly enough crowd though - in fact pretty much everyone in Canada was quite friendly.

Wild Mouse - +1, #87/129. Based on this one being #87 and the Windstorm #45 you can tell I rank a lot of steel coasters in the +1 to +2 range. The bottom line for me is below +2 and you're probably a one ride for the credit kind of ride. This was, to me, a slightly above average wild mouse. I usually like the older mice better than the newer ones (esp the one in Ocean City, NJ), but this one was only OK. For one thing, the park did not allow single riders and the ride was tight for 2 adults. This led to discomfort instead of fun after a particularly wicked turnaround. The ride was good 'up top' with nice pacing and no strong brakes but lacked any significant airtime it the humps/camels 'down below'. The bottom line for me is that wild mice aren't that great.

Corkscrew - +1.5, #69/129. Not a bad offering from the notorious headbangers, Vekoma. You know, the thing is, it was sort of long and slow, but comfortable and pleasant with a nice view of the mountains. And the corkscrews gave nice hang, something I like a lot. I always ride these Arrow/Vekoma corkscrews in the 2nd to back because I'm always looking for back seat air (not much here, maybe one small moment) and so I can better compare them to each other. This one got plusses for being relatively smooth and having the hang, but lacked much oomph elsewhere.

Coaster - +4.5, #8/71. Now this was a ride that met and exceeded my expectations. Having just ridden Phoenix a few weeks before, I enjoyed comparing the two. While very close, I think I prefer Coaster. It is a near perfect ride, esp in the back, lacking only a little of that CCI perfected out of control feeling to move into my top 7 (all are CCI's by the way). Still, that isn't what this ride is about, and even without the raw speed, its pacing is beautiful. As are the trains, complete with the world's least restraining lap bars and great padding. Most of all, this ride is great because it tracks so wonderfully. It has NO bad roughness, no head shaking, no shuffling, but delivers plenty of strong forces, often throwing you viciously into the restraints and slamming you into the sides of the train. I loved the repeated drops in the back seat that varied in their set-up from straight, to somewhat twisted, to the very best, the second drop which, like the 2nd drop of the GA Cyclone throws you out laterally before yanking you down. Great, great ride. The front ride was quite nice too, if a bit less intense. I hope I'll get another chance to ride this one.


We then spent a couple more days tooling around through Vancouver, Kelowna, and finally the Banff/Canmore region. Needless to say, the scenery and wildlife here is truly wonderful, but not the purpose of my trip report. Upon leaving to head down to Glacier, we swung by Calaway Park in Calgary. Maybe it was just the weather and the view of the mountains to the west, but I found this place quite charming with another very nice crowd. I WAS disappointed to find that their "super jet" was not, in fact, 70 feet tall as stated in my ACE Guide to Ride, but was more like 10. Oh well, I'd counted on 2 credits for my price of entry but the charm of the park made up for it.

Corkscrew coaster - +2, #40/129. All the kids waiting in line were so excited as they tested this ride for the 10AM opening, saying how tall and great it was. I, of course, was steeling myself for a possible headache. Well, the kids were right. I mean it, if you've ever wondered how an Arrow corkscrew was meant to be, this park has a perfect example. Perfectly smooth, B&M smooth, no kidding. I didn't even have to hold my head back against the restraints, just held it freely and even looked around during the ride. The ride itself had a very nice, if brief, pop of air in my usual 2nd to back seat, and great hang in the 2 corkscrews. While this standard Arrow corkscrew was certainly brief at 1250 feet long and can't compete against my upper tier steel rides, it was really a lot of fun. I could've ridden it all day long.


After touring a bit through Glacier National Park and finding it probably even more beautiful than our Canadian travels (and luckily missing the closures due to forest fires), we headed over to Sandpoint, Idaho. A visit to Silverwood was certainly one of the featured destinations for our trip. Silverwood itself, set amidst the lakes, forests and small mountains of northern Idaho was not as pretty as I'd expected. It was built right along the highway, had limited shade trees (and it was 102 that day), and was a bit reminiscent of Michigan's Adventure or maybe Visionland in terms of charm. Also, it was a long and narrow 'linear' park that simply ran along the road. But its collection of wooden coasters did not disappoint.

Gravity Defying Corkscrew - -1, #120/129. Needless to say, if Calaway has the best corkscrew I've ridden, this park has the worst. For me to give a ride a negative score, it needs to have limited or no fun and be painful or unpleasant. That pretty much describes this ride, as the shuffling and headbanging started on the turnaround after the lift hill (when the train is going maybe 5 mph). Let's just say it didn't go away as the ride picked up speed.

Timber Terror - +4.5, #7/71. To me, this was the surprise of the entire trip. I knew people liked this ride, but I always thought it was clearly 2nd place to Tremors at Silverwood. To me, it was sort of like Shivering Timbers Jr. with repeated moments of airtime all the way out and most of the way back. In the back seat, it has a great 1st drop (at least 9/10), a perfect speed hill, then a double up that you first land in the middle of and then are dragged over the top of. Then comes a nice helical swoop before another very good back seat drop, 2 more low speed hills (the second was a bit dead) and ending helix. Then, to top things off, it has a semi-vicious drop-pop-lateral slam finale. The front seat is probably even better (though I am so addicted to great back seat drops I spent more time in the back) with multiple types of ejector and floater air throughout, combined with that great sensation of launching up and landing laterally in the helical turnaround. I really loved this ride and wished I'd been able to ride it at night (park closed at 8pm that day and it was still VERY light). To me, it is a great out and back that provides near perfect airtime in the front and the back, is wild and fast with a unique ending, and is only mildly 'rough' (in very back in helices). Maybe I just got lucky and caught it on a good day, but to me it was very very good.

Tremors - +4, #9/71. Well, maybe I caught this one on a subpar day but it was still a truly top tier ride. First the good - it provided another fantastic first drop (probably not quite as good as TT). I think it, like TT, was able to deliver a great 1st drop because they both use a small swooping turnaround off the lift so the back seat is dragged 'up and over' the drop. Raven and, particularly, Rampage use this trick to their advantage. Then, it dives into a nice tunnel through the gift shop before flying over a speed hill into a 2nd tunnel. This is one of the most perfect moments I've ever experienced on a coaster and I've truly never felt anything quite like it. Maybe it's the tunnels and the visual changes or just the design of the hill, but you feel like you fly up out of your seat, briefly touch down and then are then violently bounced upward again. In a way it feels like being 'double bounced' on a trampoline (if you know what I mean). This was really the highlight of the ride and one of a handful of signature wooden coaster moments to me. The problem is, the rest of the ride was a bit flat (as in less exciting), but I assume it was only the way it was running that day. Its layout includes 3 helical turnarounds, and these aren't ever my fave, with camels between them that didn't deliver much air in the back. To top things off, there is a drop later into a tunnel where your picture is taken that looks like it would have extreme air, but it just didn't deliver. The ride in the front was fast and smooth through the helices and delivered more consistent air pops and pop/laterals into the helices, but wasn't 'special' either. All in all, I liked Tremors a lot and it ranks right up there, but I just didn't get any top-5 rides on it.


Well, this is getting longer than I intended, so for anyone who is still reading, we ended our trip by driving back to Seattle. Here we had time to head over to Wild Waves and Enchanted Village. As it was late in the day there was no parking charge, meaning this was a totally free park once we used or SF season passes to get in. All in all, the park was average to a bit below in terms of our overall impression. Parts were kind of pretty, esp the area with their new wooden coaster, Timberhawk, while other parts looked a bit neglected.

Klondike Gold Rusher - 0.5, #93/129. An average wild mouse to me. Up top it was about right without braking and with decent pacing. Down below it really lacked any 'humps'. Instead, its larger drops headed back up high and were followed by hairpin turnarounds. For me, I like wild mice to have small hops with airtime and turnarounds that include some small spiraling drops. Oh well, it was fine.

Wild thing - +1, #74/129. Due to park policy of assigning seats, we were not able to ride in our customary Arrow loop/screw 2nd to back, but did get 2 rides in a row. This one was still better than average for its genre with a decent drop, good corkscrew hang, and only mild headbanging except for a bit of a slam in the loop. Very tolerable ride.

Timberhawk - +2, #50/71 and my 200th coaster (my wife's 189th). Because I like almost all wooden coasters, a +2 woodie ends up ranking a lot lower than a +2 steel ride. This one, to be honest, was quite a disappointment, although still fun in the way all wooden coasters are. I'm not sure exactly what the park wanted, but for the sake of future S&S power woodies, I hope they wanted a family ride. The thing is, this ride looks very impressive, smells so new and shiny, and surely cost a decent amount of money. It just doesn't deliver a lot of forces. Starting with the 1st drop, which you can easily see lacks significant steepness, it doesn't have any true wildness. As others have commented, this ride is hurt because most of its 'drops' are very brief and the coaster spends a LOT of time high overhead without plunging down to the ground. It also has a bit of a crunching shuffle to it that is certainly not uncomfortable (the ride is too slow and the hills too gently sloped), but makes you feel like the train is burning all of its energy by grinding away at the track instead of throwing you out of your seat. All in all, it wasn't nearly as forceless as Thunder Eagle (for those that haven’t ridden it, I found it to be truly a scenic railway), but had only one really good moment in both the front or the back midway through the ride. It also has a strange section of very straight track after the final turnaround leading to the ending. It seems like something, a small drop and bunny hill at least, should have been done here. As I keep saying, it wasn't like the ride was overly stressful even for very old or very young riders.

Thanks for reading. We had a great trip and hit 3 fantastic wooden coasters that I have desired to ride since getting started in this hobby 3 years ago. A bit too bad that Timberhawk had to be #200 but at least it wasn't a boomerang.

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Friday, August 1, 2003 5:25 PM
Phwew, I made it through. Excellent descriptions and rankings. I'm surprised you liked Windstorm as much as you did, I have yet to ride one of these but, now I look forward to (someday). Good to hear Coaster runs so great and how pleased you were with it.

I'm also disappointed to hear yet another underpar report on Timberhawk. It's a shame it didn't turn out to be all it seemed it would become.

BTW, is the Corkscrew coaster at Calaway park a typical arrow corkscrew coaster? I'm asking because I haven't heard anything about the coaster before just now, and RCDB does not have any pictures of it. Thankyou for taking the time to write such a descriptive trip report, I hope your trip outside of the amusement parks was just as fulfilling.

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You know how they say every day is the first day of the rest of your life. Well that's true for every day but one, the day you die. "American Beauty"

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Saturday, August 2, 2003 6:18 AM
Glad you made it through! This being my first major trip report, I had more to say than I expected.

And yes, the corkscrew at Calaway Park was your typical arrow corkscrew with the same up, down, 2 corkscrews and you're done layout. I don't know what made it so smooth, but it really surprised me compared to others I've ridden. It made me think highly of the park that they could make such a simple ride so much fun through good maintenance or whatever.

The rest of the trip was as good and probably better than the coastering. Thats one thing I like about this hobby - it helps give us an excuse to travel.

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Saturday, August 2, 2003 4:38 PM
Another report signifying that I am right: Coaster is the best unheralded ride in the Northwest. (Well, to me, anyway);) Glad your trip was so good. Next time, drop me a line. Heck, I live here, man....
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Death on two legs
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Thursday, August 7, 2003 6:27 AM
Does SFEV assign seats on Timberhawk, or is it just on Wild Thing?

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Sue Barry
CoasterSue@aol.com

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Thursday, August 7, 2003 8:13 AM
Coaster does indeed ROCK and it sits right at the bottom of my Top 10. It's been 4 years since I've been to Vancouver and I can't wait to get back.

16 days and counting ;)

mOOSH

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It's coming Aug 18th, and your 2004 will never be the same!

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Thursday, August 7, 2003 9:11 AM
Sue, seats aren't assigned on Timberhawk.
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Yummy for your tummy
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