Worlds of Fun (Thursday 8/23/2007)

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A recent business trip put me in the Kansas City area and I took the opportunity to visit Worlds of Fun. Now all of us have had the fantasy of having a theme park open only to us and on this visit, I pretty much lived that dream. Surprisingly, it is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I arrived at the park at 9:45 AM and the place was dead. I pulled right up and got a front row parking spot. There were maybe 30 other cars there. It was 92 and partly cloudy. I walked to the gates and waited for the place to open. Being a CF park, I was surprised that they didn’t play the national anthem or anything as they opened, but I didn’t really care. The gates opened at 9:59 and there was a rush of maybe 40 people to get in. There were several ticket takers so there was never a line. My primary goal on this visit was simply to see the park. I only had about 4 hours to see everything before I had to get back on the road for an 8 hour drive home.

The park was quite eerie as I walked through it. There was simply nobody there. Kansas & Missouri schools had stared earlier that week so the usual crowds just weren’t there. Most of the games and smaller eateries were not open simply because there wasn’t enough staff to operate them nor enough guest to utilize them. The park itself was extremely clean and had beautiful well-maintained landscaping. I kept waiting to hear the roar of coaster trains and the screams of riders. Silence. I walked by Ripcord (Sky Coaster) and the operators were taking turns riding it. As I passed some flats it appeared that they might be closed, but there was a single ride operator at the controls just waiting for anyone who wanted to ride. I made my way over to Patriot. It was a walk on and there were only people on the front and back seats. Other than that, it was empty. It wasn’t until 2 hours later that I saw a train go out more than half full. And this was with single train operation as was the case with all the coasters that day. Spinning Dragons looked like a fun little coaster and spun much more than I anticipated. I’m definitely not known for my iron stomach and this one definitely did a number on me. Afterwards, I just sat down and watched Patriot run for a few cycles. I wanted to get a drink, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay $3.25 a pop. Holiday World definitely has me spoiled. Luckily, there were several water fountains available.

Once the place quit spinning, I continued on until I came across Timberwolf. I found it a bit amusing that there was a warning sign at the entrance advising that “extreme vibrations and roughness is a natural element of this ride” and was no cause for alarm when you experience it. Another walk on. 3 ride operators and nobody in the station. I waited for the front seat. The train completed its circuit and the four returning riders were complaining about how rough the ride was. I’ve heard all the rumors about how much this one beats you up, but I rode it anyway. I had the train to myself. I didn’t find it all that rough. Now you can visually tell that several sections have been re-tracked and the coaster doesn’t look to be in the best shape cosmetically. I thought the coaster had a pretty good layout though the train seems to almost not be wide enough to properly fit the track and kind of pinballs from side to side the entire time. Still, it’s a decent ride. When I got back to the station I was greeted with nobody waiting and “Rider! (not Riders) How was your ride?” I gave the thumbs up, but it was a letdown not to hear an excited group clapping and cheering.

I kept making my way around the park and checked out Camp Snoopy. Less than a dozen kids across the whole place. They had one of those “ball houses” where you get to shoot/vacuum/manipulate hundreds of foam balls. I’ve always wanted to go to one of these. Had he been there, my son would have loved this. I tried to have fun, but it wasn’t much fun playing with all of this stuff alone. I decided to head towards Mamba. Along the way I had ride operators actually solicit me to come on their rides. They were that bored! The operators on Detonator commented that it must be some kind of record. The park had been open for nearly two hours and they hadn’t had a single rider yet. The guys at Thunderhawk said the same. Mamba had been running much like Patriot all morning; front and back seats full, empty train in between. Mamba was an excellent ride. Forget the 200 foot drop, that 70 mph helix is far and away the star of the ride! After that, I passed Fury of the Nile which was down and had a large maintenance crew knee deep in the water apparently repairing a broken conveyer. I was disappointed as that one is supposed to be one of the better river raft rides out there.

I explored the park some more and got several more ride solicitations. I obliged the Scrambler operator who let me ride until I told her to stop after about 6 minutes. I then made it to the Boomerang, whose entrance is strangely nowhere near the actual ride. I came upon it at the exit side and felt I was well into another section of the park before I finally found the Boomerang sign and entrance. The ride ops there were clearly bored and talked perpetually across the mics during ride operation. I don’t know if that is against procedure, but it sure was annoying. On one run, I watched as a rider taped a POV with a camera. The ride op spotted it and told him 3 times to put his camera away before the train was dropped from the lift. He never put it away or made any attempts to hide his filming. When the ride was over, I expected security to come or at least the ops to say something to him. He just walked away scot free and watched his footage as he came down the exit ramp. I made my way further around the park until I was back at the main gate. The entire time I never passed more than a handful of people at a time and I kept seeing the same people even though I was in different sections of the park. It was quite odd. I also want to mention that WoF has one of the nicest trains I’ve seen in any park. It’s a true steam train and it is gorgeous and meticulously maintained! It’s kind of a shame that it doesn’t go around the entire park, but it’s still wonderful.

I kept exploring and riding until I was back at the main gate and had seen the whole park. I had an hour left so I decided to visit some of the shops. I was searching for a nice Peanuts t-shirt for my 2 year old (which I never found) when I realized that I simply wasn’t having fun. My entire life, I have always dreamed of having a theme park all to myself and today I had it. And the truth is, theme parks just aren’t as fun if you don’t have family, friends or at least an enthusiastic crowd to experience it with. I came out of one of the stores to find Snoopy playing with the few children who were there to meet him. It instantly made me miss my wife and son so much that I turned around, walked to the gates and left. They were just a short 8 hour drive away. Walking out, I noticed that the first lot was still only a third full at best and the other 3 lots were empty. And this was halfway through their operating day…

So I guess it just goes to show be careful what you wish for, you might just get it. I’ve always wanted to have an amusement park to myself and when I finally got it I found myself a bit bored and quite lonely. If you had told me a week ago that I wouldn’t enjoy an empty park to myself, I would have flamed you to bits. Now I know better. I have no complaints about World of Fun. It is an excellent park with a perfect mix of rides. I’ll definitely go back when I’m in the area, but I will be sure to take a friend with me next time… *** Edited 8/28/2007 8:44:48 PM UTC by Emiroo***

Acoustic Viscosity's avatar
I completely agree. A park just isn't fun without the enthusiasm of a crowd around you. I love to be able to walk on to rides without a wait, but not at the expense of having an empty train, uninterested ride ops and not hearing all the happy chatter that a park should be full of.

AV Matt
Long live the Big Bad Wolf

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