Wild Waves, Federal Way, Washington, USA
I'll preface my TR with this: Seattle (I'll use the city name to define the entire area henceforth) is probably in my top five for the most amazing places I've ever been. Its natural beauty is exceptional and the state of Washington clearly embraces what they have, with widespread access to trails through mountains, valleys, lakes, etc. It's simply spectacular.
However, that characteristic does not really extend to the area's sole real-deal amusement park. My wife and I decided to take a little detour down to Federal Way to check out Wild Waves. We did the online special at $30 a ticket, which is pretty reasonable, I would say, if you're going to spend your day there. We were there less than two hours, so it wasn't great value for us, but I don't say that as a complaint against the pricing because it was our decision to be there such a short time. This was intended to be a credit trip and that's all it ended up being.
The park itself is pretty generic. It's not large by any means, nor would I have expected it to be. Half of the park is essentially unshaded pavement with a substantial portion of the park's rides and the waterpark scattered amidst the sea of asphalt. Seriously, though, there was absolutely no shade in a good chunk of the park, which is something that would become an issue later.
The other half of the park is rather well-shaded, scattered amidst the tall trees, and shade was very prevalent. This was the part of the park that sat up on the hill and back behind The Wild Thing. At the top of the hill stood the park's "signature" coaster, Timberhawk. We headed up there first as we both wanted to knock out the hill and be done with it. Our first lap was after a very brief wait for the front row. The wait was a welcome surprise given how full the park's lot was, and also given the extreme slowness of operations that could have easily resulted in a very long wait even with few people (this was especially true later on The Wild Thing), but the waterpark was clearly housing most of the park's guests during our visit.
Timberhawk itself was really bland. I had never heard much about it one way or the other, so it wasn't like I had any expectations of it to sway my opinion prematurely, but it was a bunch of elevated, meandering turns with only a modest amount of air. In the front row, there were some nice pops as the train would climb up and then bank beneath us, but those would be followed by flat turns taken at pretty unimpressive speed. The ride is a short one, so it became apparent pretty quickly that what started out rather weak was not likely to deliver a surprise finish. My wife's opinion was even more critical of mine, and she compared it unfavorably to White Lightning, which is more or less her benchmark for small wooden coasters (although I'd put Timberhawk more along the lines of a mid-sized wooden coaster, but even so). Mr. Baker, I would like to thank you and your company for setting the standard for such rides at such a high level. ;)
I should've asked her how it stacked against Mystic Timbers or The Voyage, but I didn't want to make her any more disappointed than she already was. ;)
I went back for a second lap, this time in the back row, to see if maybe that would improve things. It didn't.
We went down to The Wild Thing next, a variation on the original Arrow corkscrew production model with a loop thrown in to give it a third inversion. The ride only has one train, but I was shocked at how quickly it was dispatched on a number of occasions. As I entered the station, though, I understood why. They were giving each train two laps. I thought that was actually a pretty cool touch. Sure, it slowed the line down, but it made for a pretty unique touch on an otherwise generic ride.
When I finally disembarked, we called it a day and headed back for the car. As I've mentioned before, she and I don't share parks as a passion, but she has enjoyed our previous park visits. This one was a swing and a miss for her, though, and honestly, it was a swing and a miss for me. I'm sure the park serves the community well enough, but there's nothing really stand-out about it.
I hate to deliver such a negative review, and I will say that I'm still glad I went so I can say that I experienced it, but if you don't make it out there during any Seattle trips you may take, you aren't really missing much. I wouldn't call the place terrible, but I'd just summarize it with the same word I used to summarize Timberhawk: bland.
However, our evening was well-salvaged by an impromptu run down to Mt. Rainier, which was just awesome. ;)
I've been spending some time in Seattle recently for work. I had considered a trip to the park, but after looking at what it had to offer, vs admission price, vs sheer amounts of other stuff to see and do in the area, I took a pass.
I too went hiking in Mt Rainier National Park and it was amazing! It's such a long loop around that I did not have time to exit via the southern half of the loop, thereby missing the box canyons, waterfalls, etc. I cannot wait for my next opportunity.
We're heading to Seattle on the 10th for a week. A couple of days in the city, then Victoria B.C. for Butchart Gardens, then to Puyallup for the fair. I'll get a couple of coaster credits at the fair, and I'm anxious to try their old wooden ride after it's muti-year renovation project. I hear they have a nice carousel, too. And it will be another new state fair to add to my list.
We looked into Wild Waves, but they won't be open when we're there. No matter, I love the area and we'll have plenty to do. And this review makes me think one of us would be grouchy about the park, anyway. (Not me, I'll go anywhere once.)
I'll go anywhere once as well. As I was explaining to Karla, I pride myself on finding at least one thing that makes a park special. Sometimes, the small parks are genuinely really special. I'm reminded of Canobie Lake, one of the biggest surprises from my travels in recent years. The Yankee Cannonball was a blast, and there was just something about the peaceful setting/atmosphere of the place that made it so much more than the sum of its parts. Wild Waves, however, just didn't deliver the goods. I think that if the entire park were buried amidst the trees, that would have given me something to really be impressed over, because it was genuinely very pretty in a lot of spots. However, that giant, wide midway with absolutely nothing attractive about it was a bit of a buzzkill.
I do wish we'd hit the area when the fair was open as I seem to remember solid reviews for the fair's wooden coaster, but given how much my wife did not enjoy her Wild Waves visit, I think the fair would have been a no-go anyway.
Oh, Canobie is one of my favorite parks ever, I love the old traditional places and that park really fit the bill. Quaint, clever, and beautiful. A couple of years ago, on a state fair trip to the Big E in Springfield Mass, my husband surprised me with a suggestion that we drive up there after seeing Boston. ("Isn't there another little amusement park around here you'd like to visit?" Hell yes!) We had already planned a day at SFNE and I was pretty sure that was all he would take, but Canobie was a place we both really enjoyed.
We also drove right by Mt. Holyoke, and it's a shame I was about three decades late for Mountain Park.
Despite living in Seattle for two years, I never went to Wild Waves. Even living there, it was never a priority. Too many other amazing things to do.
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