Riverview Park and Waterworld29th May 2006
Riverview Park has no admission charge, and has the option of both ride tickets or wristbands. This, of course, suits sad coaster enthusiasts down to the ground, as one need purchase a total of fourteen tickets to ride the three coasters therein. We had budgeted for up to two hours in this park, but it quickly became evident that this was one hour fifty eight minutes too long.
First port of call was the Orient Express (#718), staffed by a very enthusiastic gentleman who spotted immediately that we must be coaster enthusiasts. He started telling us all there was to know about his ride, not at all easy when you're operating a Dragon Wagon, but the gesture was appreciated nevertheless. With two adults on board the train only barely made it over the mid course hill; I'd estimate it was coasting at speeds approaching two miles per hour!
Next up was Galaxi (#719), only my second encounter with what was a common production design in the United States in years past. These rides make a huge amount of noise when operating, which suggests rough tracking, but this is not the case. The train does suffer from a bit of vibration, but this is not enough to affect what is a good fun coaster. The final stop was a coaster we didn't immediately spot. In fact, George ended up asking a staff member where the third coaster was. The response was as only an American could put it; there are only two coasters in the park, but there's a mouse coaster over by the wave pool. Right, so. The Mouse Coaster (#720) is actually a Big Apple, but who am I to argue?
The concept of being a pedestrian is, as readers will know, relatively speaking an alien concept to the average citizen in this country. George and I decided to tempt fate and walk the quarter mile distance across the road to Mount Olympus Theme Park. We were astonished to discover that there were, in fact, pedestrian crossings; I can only speculate, but might the last people to use them have been the group from the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain who travelled here two years ago?
Mount Olympus Theme Park29th May 2006
Since my first days as an enthusiast there have been a small number of parks on my must-visit list. Most of these have been checked off in recent years; Cedar Point, Holiday World, Fuji-Q Highland, and Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach to name four. However, one that remained for me was Big Chief Carts and Coasters, now rebranded into Mount Olympus Water and Theme Park. It felt really good to be on site at last.
A cursory glance at the water coaster, Dive to Atlantis (#721), indicated that this would be a sensible place to begin. The main reason was the length of the queue; there were about fifteen people in front of us, and the limited capacity of the ride meant that even this would be a ten minute wait. A closer inspection indicated that this ride was on the far side of drenching, so we elected to board independently, each leaving things which should not get wet with the other party.
Log flume boats were never made to turn corners, and Miler Coaster Inc was never meant to build a ride over about thirty feet. Dive to Atlantis violates both of the above rules, and for the most part gets away with it. However, riders are treated to one pretty major slam as the boat collides with the corner at the top of the major drop, which is more than a little painful. This gripe aside, however, getting soaked in weather which had hit nearly one hundred degrees fahrenheit was well worth doing.
With this done, it was time for some wooden coasters. First stop was Cyclops (#722), where we managed to get yelled at by the Bulgarian ride operator. It seems that the back row of the car was closed off, but rather than block off that piece of queue, the closure had been indicated by putting a seat belt through the lap bar. This is common practice in other parks when no rider is in a given row, and we had assumed (incorrectly) that this was the case here. We were not alone in this perspective; during the next cycle, when we had boarded in second to back, someone else attempted to take the back row and got yelled at too. Pure genius. Later on in the day, the back row was open. Go figure.
On riding, however, it became immediately clear why the back row was roped off. To descripe Cyclops as insane does an injustice to it; the ride is quite possibly the most intense wooden coaster I have been on. Several of the drops were positively superb, with riders even in second to back being launched at full pelt into the lap bar and seat belt combinations. George described the experience using a four letter expletive which is very unlikely to be in the vocabulary of the average reader. I, on the other hand, immediately became more understanding of what had been to that point an odd state law in Wisconsin, which forbids those under eighteen from riding in the back car of a coaster.
Next stop was Zeus (#723). Though a fairly decent out and back design, the ride was without question completely eclipsed by its smaller brother. Of all the coasters in the park, throughout the day this one had the shortest wait time, and it wasn't hard to see why.
The signature attraction at Mount Olympus is currently Hades (#724), the first coaster to be built by the Gravity Group. The ride presents an impressive appearance, with two regions of wooden track separated by a huge span of car park. When built, the ride had the longest underground section of any ride in the world, with track in the tunnel featuring ninety degree banking. One completely unexpected benefit of this was the temperature in the tunnel, providing six or so seconds of refreshment before heading back outside into the sweltering heat. During our first ride the lights were left on in the tunnel, which allowed a first hand view of the track therein.
The kiddie coaster in the park, Little Titans, was off limits to adults. Having already suffered through one Miler Coaster ride today we decided to look upon this as a fringe benefit.
The remaining wooden coaster, Pegasus (#725), was in need of retracking, but was fun nevertheless - not least because of the excessive political correctness on the ride sign. While lots of American men look pregnant, no known examples of this have occurred in reality to my knowledge!
This left Opa (#726), a Zamperla bastardisation of Reverchon's timeless spinning mouse design. The main difference is redesigned seats and individual lap bars, which are altogether less comfortable than the original.
After a bite to eat, we encountered the wife of the park owner, whose name escapes me right now (oops!). She suggested we should have a look at a t-shirt design she had come up with aimed particularly at coaster enthusiasts. This turned out to be an excellent plan, and both of us bought one. It was refreshing to find a park that doesn't feel it necessary to charge nearly thirty dollars for a T-shirt (*cough* Six Flags *cough*).
It would have been wrong of us not to try at least one of the karting tracks in the park, and the one we ended up with was the Trojan Horse. Riders get two laps of a fairly long course, giving a six or seven minute ride in total due to the limited power engines in the karts. There is no real ability to overtake, as the course can be easily covered without ever lifting off the accelerator. Nevertheless, I managed to pass out three cars when people elected to brake into corners, for reasons best known to themselves.
Mount Olympus is a park I will do my best to return to in the future, as it has several great coasters while maintaining the atmosphere only possible in a small family run park. My only gripes, as listed above, were trivial things, and it was very obvious from our discussions that the park owners really care about what they do. It shows.
Timber Falls Adventure Park29th May 2006
The final port of call in Wisconsin was Timber Falls, which put itself on the map in 2004 with the installation of a S&S wooden coaster, Avalanche (#727). The ride opened to rave reviews, so we had high hopes for it, which, I'm sorry to say, turned out to be entirely misplaced. While the ride ran well through the straight track sections, the less said about the cornerning the better. Once was without question enough; the all day wristband is a waste of money unless you're wearing padded clothing. What a pity.