Playland at the Pacific National Exhibition is a very pleasant amusement park filled with a good selection of attractions. As the name suggests, its grounds are used for an annual fair. During this period, the park rides remain open but switch to a pay per ride basis. We elected to visit on the last day before this switchover, and though there were plenty of people in the park the queues were manageable; as it turned out, three of the four coasters were walk-ons. The only one that wasn't was the classic wooden Coaster (#1050), and it was immediately obvious why. This ride delivers positively frightening airtime, throwing riders repeatedly into the fixed position lap bar. The word brilliant doesn't even begin to do this ride justice; it is absolutely grade one fantastic. It'd be really nice if every major city had a wooden coaster like this one in its midst.
People who are superstitious should possibly skip the rest of this paragraph. After all, it would be utterly ridiculous to think anything could possibly happen following a ride on the Corkscrew (#1051) that was made famous by its starring role in the movie Final Destination 3. Surprisingly enough this ride was very smooth indeed, an wholly unexpected bonus given the experience one has gome to expect from the equivalent designs in Europe.
We followed this with the wholly unique and antiquated Wild Mouse (#1052) that probably only completes its circuit thanks to heavy sandbags at the front of each single seater car. Unfortunately the bags in my car were loose and kept rising off the bottom of the car over each airtime hill, and landing with a crunch on my ankles. I pointed this out to the operator who relocated the bag to prevent this happening to the next patron. The final port of call was the Kettle Creek Mine (#1053), a gentle family ride which whiled away a few minutes, nothing more, nothing less.
17th August 2007
Visitors to these pages could be forgiven for thinking that the only thing on my agenda while on holiday is to ride as many roller coasters as possible. While it is certainly true that a lot of my holiday time is spent chasing down the aforementioned credits, it is always nice to do something different and unusual. George found a brochure in last nights hotel advertising tours of the Boeing aircraft factory, something that appealed both to him as an engineer and me as a student pilot. The guide advised booking in advance, so we did just that, choosing the last tour of the day.
Unfortunately, our grand plans were scuppered by almost a two hour wait to cross the border from Canada back into the United States. Every two or three minutes we could drive forward the length of two cars before stopping the engine and waiting some more. It was acutely frustrating, but there was nothing we could do. When we finally got to the front of the queue the inspection was quick and painless, but it was too late; satnav said we'd arrive at Boeing fifteen minutes after our tour was supposed to depart, and that was that. An hour of contingency time had been insufficient.
Dealing with border control for the United States has to be one of the least pleasant experiences one can have as an international traveller. International tourists are put through rigorous checks that seem far more rigorous than any other country I've visited. Every time I travel to this part of the world I wonder if it's worth the hassle to drive into Canada given what I'll have to go through to get back. My heart goes out to those poor souls who have to cross this border on a regular basis; one forgets that the situation we have in the European Union is very much the exception, not the norm.
Fun Forest Amusement Park
17th August 2007
To make up for the loss of the Boeing tour, therefore, we headed to Fun Forest Amusement Park, a small facility located in the shadow of Seattle's famous space needle. In the park we found possibly the most frightening roller coaster in the known universe. The staff operating the Windstorm (#1054) dispatched an empty test train as we approached, and having watched the train complete the circuit once we deemed it possible that it might do so a second time, despite visual evidence. The grab bar on the front of the one and only train was hanging loosely from the front, with one bolt completely missing and the sheared remains of a second in the middle. The cars bounced up and down on the rust-covered rails to an alarming degree, leaving us convinced something was going to break. The net result was a feeling of being totally out of control, and while that is the essence of a good coaster it was a relief to escape from this one in one piece.
Always the credit whores, we took a quick ten laps on the Rainbow Chaser (#1055), an airtime laden machine (seriously) that was great fun and the ideal machine to introduce younger folks to the joys of coasterdom. We also spent a bit of time wandering the park. The highlight for me was observing some locals enjoying the Booster, with the high pitched screams of terror mingled with delight, the usual response from those new to Fabbri's finest machine. Personally I'm avoiding these rides until the recent incident in France is fully explained (and resolved), but there's no denying that they give an amazing experience.