Williams Grove - 9/2/2001

Associated parks:
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Tuesday, September 4, 2001 9:59 AM
With Labor Day quickly approaching, I knew that if I wanted to add Williams Grove's "new" Wildcat Coaster to my track record, I would have to do it soon. So, on Sunday after changing from our "Sunday going to meeting" clothes and letting the dog out, we headed toward Mechanicsburg PA to the park (around a 20 minute drive).

When we got there we encountered a traffic jam on the road to the park (believe it or not!). Turns out that they have some sort of Steam Engine festival (or something like that) on the back side of the park from the last week of August until Labor Day. We made our way past this and to the gravel and grass lot across from the entrance of the park. While not as full as the back lot was for the festival, it was still pretty full (a lot fuller than the nearly empty lot we encountered in our visit last August). After crossing the bridge and paying our $2 admission fee, we cut to the left and decided to hit the old Cyclone first.

I once said that I would never ride this coaster again. I thought my first ride last year was going to kill me… if not for the shaking of the train, I was worried that the entire structure would collapse… it looks to be in that bad of shape. Well, you know how it is… can't go to a park and pass up a coaster, so we found ourselves in the last seat of the Cyclone. For this coaster, the 6th seat is the last seat as it's train only consists of two cars with 3 rows of seats per car (12 riders total). The operator (the only one… odd for a coaster… especially one that still uses hand breaks) told me "better take off your glasses… you picked the wrong seat if you want to keep those on." Well, I assured him that I would be okay and he shrugged as if to say "Okay… I warned you." He then pulled the big lever and we glided out to the base of the lift hill. The train clattered and rumbled as it rose and I decided that the ride op may be right so I took my glasses off and held on to them. I am glad I did. The first drop was very fast and the climb to the top of the second hill is too. However, the train nearly stalls on the top of the hill, but it does make it and down over the double dip. The back seat was throwing us all around. That little coaster has some wickedly (and painful) air time. My wife was cursing the fact that we picked the back seat from the 2nd drop until the station (and even on the ride home in the car!). This coaster could be great if it were only maintained a little better and smoothed out. But oh well… with the budget that the park seems to be on, it is a wonder that it is able to run at all!

Walking back through the main midway we got on Dante's Inferno. This dark ride seemed much darker last year. It could be that last year they were only running one car since the park was near empty. On this day they were running 4 and we could see the light of the door opening as the other cars entered as we made our way through. Anyway, it just seemed to be "lighter" in there this year.

As we made our way to the opposite side of the park and the Wildcat, I took a spin on their paratrooper ride (the "Airborne" as they call it). I love these old rides. Somehow they can give me more of that "falling stomach" feel than many coasters.

Then it was time for Wildcat. New to Williamsgrove, this coaster looks like it has a good many miles behind it (it is rumored to once have run on the Steel Pier at Atlantic City). It screeched and groaned as the cars made their way through its course. I noted that the cars barely made it to the crests of each hill. My wife decided to sit this one out. For safety reasons (in the event of a stall I guess), while they have two cars for it, they only have one running at the time… the other is loading and waiting to be dispatched. Only when the first returns is the second sent off… when the second returns the first is then sent off again… etc etc etc. There were some kids in front of me and one said to me "you may have to ride with the three of us." I said "No problem… I think this thing needs as much weight as possible to make the top of the hills." My Kraken T-shirt got lots of questions from them… truly amazed the youngest of them (around 7) that there were bigger and faster coasters out there than the Williams Grove Wildcat. Anyway… while the ride was a little slow (and cramped), the drops were fast and the helices kind of "intense". Also, some wild headchopper effects with the supports. When I got off, my wife asked me, "Going again?" I assured her that once for the record was fine and I did not feel like standing in line again for it.

We walked back to the opposite of the park (if you are familiar with this park, you know that is a short walk) and back to the cyclone. I rode while my wife (and my glasses) sat this one out. Again I took the back seat. It was rougher than the first time! Being the sole occupant of the seat, I was thrown around more. Getting off, I got right back in line. This time it was a middle seat. I was buckled in and the ride op asked me if I minded if this one little girl rode with me. No problem, I undid the belt and she boarded. First of all, the ride in the middle was better because it was not as brutal and I could enjoy the air time. Secondly I could not keep from laughing at this little girl as she was constantly squealing with delight as the Cyclone tore through its paces.

We then headed home (we were taking my mom out to dinner and we had to be at her place around 4:30… an hour away). Williams Grove did not change (with the exception of the Wildcat) from last year… or from the year before that… or from the decade before that. We did notice that since there were more people there than during our visit last summer (it was nearly abandoned that day), it did not seem quite as "surreal" this year compared to last.

Anyway, is it worth traveling to get to Williams Grove? From out of the area, no. But the 20 minute trip from home to here is worth it, if only for the rickety old Cyclone. If the park is open next year (every year it seems like could be the last) and if the Cyclone is still standing and running (every ride seems like it could be the last), we'll probably return.


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"I wasn't always this cynical, but then I started kindergarden..."

*** This post was edited by SLFAKE on 9/4/2001. ***

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Wednesday, September 5, 2001 3:55 PM
Is the Cyclone THAT bad?
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Got a problem with RWB/MS? you've got a problem with me!
www.woodencoaster.com
I pray that I will never see a Six Flags Conneaut Lake
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Wednesday, September 5, 2001 5:45 PM
I LOVED it. But didn't you wonder about the rails that are sticking up off the boards?? Reminded me of Chippewa Lake in Ohio, although these rides were running!!
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My score on PCW's Scooby Doo Haunted Mansion: 2370!
www.angelfire.com/oh4/tk173
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Thursday, September 6, 2001 5:45 AM
The Cyclone is not THAT bad... but it is rough and it does look like it needs a good dose of TLC.

On Wildcat they have two cars but only send one through the course at the time. The slow speed the cars have when they crest hills makes a roll back an extreme possibility and to run more than one car at a time would risk a serious crash.

On Cyclone they only run a two car train (total of 12 people). I am not sure why this is. Can't the coaster take anymore than 2 cars on the train, or are two cars all that they have. The story goes that the train came from the now defunct Palisades Park's Cyclone coaster... did they only get two... are two all that are still runable? Who knows.

But the coaster is ROUGH. In the last seat it is bone jarring. The lap bar keeps you pinned in your seat and it feels like it will rearrange internal organs when you crest the hills. It is a much more enjoyable ride forward in the train.

At the crests of some hills the train almost slows to a stop and the wheels squeal and groan as they run across the rails. Again, is it the condition of the coaster causing this slowing or the fact that only a 2 car train is being run (less cars equals less weight equals less speed).

While I may comment about praying that the coaster holds together through the ride, I must not consider it too dangerous as I rode it 3 times on my last visit. Truthfully, I believe that the Cyclone will probably be running after their "new - used" Wildcat will be history.


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"I wasn't always this cynical, but then I started kindergarden..."

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Thursday, September 6, 2001 5:59 AM
My family and I visited Williams Grove for first time this past June.  I "forced" them into a side trip during our PA trip (HP, Knoebel's and Dorney). The park certainly is surreal.  But the Cyclone was fun.  It seemed just to ride it you were "getting away with something" (your good health when it's over!).  Yet, I wouldn't hesitate to ride it more.  Did you see sections of track and chain lying rusted under the station/lift?  Not concerned with P.R. there! Of  note is the policy to have at least six riders, which on that June day caused us to wait for more riders to show up for both of our rides.  Surreal!!  Also, I noticed the track rails were the narrowest of any I have ever seen.

Anyway, my son (14 years old then) had the best comment about the Cyclone.  He said the structure looked dry and dead and ready to break like brittle bones.  I had to agree...new paint might make it seem alive, I don't know.  But, I (we) never thought that about any other woodie; they all seem "alive" as well they should!

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I know you rider
Gonna miss me when I'm gone

*** This post was edited by MABrider on 9/6/2001. ***

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Thursday, September 6, 2001 6:24 AM
I did not notice the rusted sections of track and chain under the station lift, but I did notice that the track rails did not exactly match up on the section of track as you enter the station from the break run. There is a little bit of an off set at least on the right rail.

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"I wasn't always this cynical, but then I started kindergarden..."

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Thursday, September 6, 2001 12:43 PM
Cool. I think I might have to ride it as a challenge :)
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Got a problem with RWB/MS? you've got a problem with me!
www.woodencoaster.com
I pray that I will never see a Six Flags Conneaut Lake
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