DelGrossos Amusement Park29th July 2006
DelGrossos is a name more associated with spaghetti sauce then amusement rides. Nevertheless, the company park has more than thirty rides, and will be hitting the big league next year with the recently announced purchase of a second hand coaster with three inversions that once operated at Libertyland. In some ways, therefore, it was nice to get there before this happened, as it will provide a better point of comparison should we return in the future.
Our main reason for visiting was oddly enough not the two coasters, though that was of course a draw. It was much simpler than that, namely location; given the park was just ten miles away from Lakemont Park, it seemed almost criminal not to call in briefly to ride both the Crazy Mouse (#820) and Wacky Worm (#821).
Like many other parks on this trip it seems that the biggest attractions for guests are the water rides. Given the temperature in the United States at this time of year this shouldn't be much of a surprise. Nevertheless, it did seem strange that the water park area was relatively small, with just five slides and a water play complex. The amusement area, on the other hand, had a good selection of flat rides in addition to the two coasters, as well as a good sized dining area, the latter seemingly designed for private hire.
One of the nicest things from our perspective was the availability of individual ride tickets. This is something found in quite a few of the smaller American parks, and it makes a lot of sense, both for those with limited financial means and for those who only want to ride one or two attractions in total. It also means the park is completely free to walk around for parents wanting to give their children a fun day out, a sharp comparison to the large corporate parks where parents have to pay full price even if they don't intend to ride anything at all. We were able to spend three dollars apiece to ride the coasters, which made for the best value of the day.
Lakemont Park29th July 2006
Lakemont Park is not a particularly well known attraction either, but for those interested in amusement park history it is an absolute must, for one simple reason. It is home to the oldest operating roller coaster in the world, at over one hundred years old. As a little bonus, this ride was scheduled to become George's 700th coaster.
There was a single operator on Toboggan (#822), who was sitting over at the ride controls. He indicated by means of a gesture that I should board the next car, so I did so, carefully lowering the roof of the car into place. It seems that this was a wholly inappropriate thing to do, as it drew a angry shout, a clatter of footsteps, and an official shouting at; we close the lids. Maybe you do, but there was absolutely no way for me to know that ahead of time, so yelling at me for doing so was utterly uncalled for.
For what it's worth, there are some coasters that make you question whether being a credit counter is worth the effort. Vekoma Boomerang coasters can be brutal, but at least the layout is interesting, and occasionally one encounters a smooth model. The Chance Rides Toboggan, however, has nothing whatsoever to recommmend it; it isn't interesting, it isn't fun, and it isn't comfortable. Having said that, this particular installation was the least unpleasant of those found in my travels, probably due to a somewhat lower maximum speed than usual. This appeared to be due to the condition of the track, which was covered in rust and chipped in lots of places, no doubt increasing the friction between wheels and rail.
With the junk out of the way, it was time to enjoy the timeless classic Leap the Dips (#823). The coaster has several large placards in front of it, one documenting the history of the ride, another listing off the hundreds of people who contributed financially to restore the ride to operational condition in the late nineties. Today it was operating with just a single four seater car, which meant a pleasant ten minute wait watching other riders exeperience their own little bit of history. The ride itself isn't particularly tall or fast, but it is still a lot of fun. One cannot help but wonder what people though of this attraction when it was first built, more than one hundred years ago.
We were not allowed to ride the Little Leaper kiddie coaster, leaving the Skyliner (#824) as the last ride of the morning. The coaster track goes along the side of a stadium, which makes for an interesting backdrop for riders (and probably players/spectators too). The train, which uses a buzz bar and no seatbelts, provides extreme air time in both front and back seat, to the point that even seasoned coaster enthusiasts like us felt compelled to hold on to the restraint. In short, it was another classic wooden coaster maintained to a standard where it can still provide a great experience for every rider.
Dutch Wonderland29th July 2006
As a children's park, Dutch Wonderland was never going to be a particularly long visit for us. Most of the attractions are aimed at twelve year olds or younger, and the mascot for the park bears more than a passing resemblance to that most frightening of children's characters, Barney the Dinosaur. If the only coaster in the park had been Joust (#825) we wouldn't have even bothered to stop despite the fact we were driving past it anyway. As the pinnacle of engineering from Chance Rides (see above) about the only positive thing to be said about this ride is that it wasn't another Toboggan.
The wood coaster in the park, however, turned out to be a fantastic little ride. Sky Princess (#826) manages an excellent sense of pacing, with the speed being maintained right up to the brake run. The only caveat? Those who painted it must have been colo(u)r blind, with the whole ride a mixture of purple and sky blue. Those planning to visit the park would do well to wear tinted lenses in order to minimise optical dysfunction.
Clementon Amusement Park29th July 2006
Clementon is a park that we'd tried to visit during a trip last year, but due inadequate road directions and no Satnav we arrived after closing. Given the hassle we had finding the place last time round it was an absolute treat to hear those sweetest of words arriving at destination on right, only to look up and find, for a change, that the computer was completely and utterly correct.
It was well into the evening by the time we arrived at the park, and we were already pretty tired. Though on paper this day was far less crowded than wednesday the reality was somewhat different; today had no ninety minute ferry crossing to relax through; just additional driving. Nevertheless, the prospect of a wooden coaster was enough to wake us up again. The only real downside was that it was too dark to get useful photos; my camera is worthless in low light situations.
One interesting thing about the park from our perspective was the demographic of the patrons. There cannot have been more than fifty white-skinned people in the park as a whole, which made for a reverse of what we are used to. Interestingly, a large number were conversing in Spanish, which no doubt is perfectly normal for the area but took me, the ignorant foreigner, by complete surprise.
The park is home to a classic 1919 wooden coaster, the Jack Rabbit. Unfortunately, this ride has not run since the end of the 2002 season, and the station building, located right in the centre of the park, is boarded up. Having a disused building right in the heart of the park doesn't do a great deal for the atmosphere of the place to say the least, though things are rescued somewhat by the new coaster, J2 (#827), formerly known as Tsunami but renamed following the events in the far east in 2004.
The new coaster is described in the station announcements as seriously aggressive, words which invite contemplation about the maintenance of the ride track. Fortunately, the words apply only to the speed and intensity of the ride, which approaches The Voyage in sheer relentlessness, even if it is a great deal shorter. We would have liked very much to ride a second time, but the prospect of another half hour wait was not appealing given our state of fatigue, thus after a brief discussion we elected to give it a miss.