Washington State Fair

12th September 2009

The Washington State Fair is locally known as the Puyallup Fair, after the town in which it is held.

The Showplex Exhibition Center at Puyallup, a few miles south of Seattle, is the only remaining fairground anywhere in the world to feature a classic wood roller coaster. The problem for enthusiasts is that the rides at the ground only operate during two short windows every year, one in April and one in September. Both time periods are outside of regular amusement park seasons, making the place quite challenging to fit into a coaster trip itinerary. In this case, flight complications with my recent trip to China (a very long story) meant that I could return home the wrong way around the world for less money than a more sensible flight choice, thereby enabling a trip to The Big Fantastic.

America in a nutshell

The imaginatively named Coaster Thrill Ride (#1467) is a middle of the road wood coaster, very rerideable and not extreme in any way. The restraints are truly excellent from an enthusiast perspective, as the fixed position lap bar locks in place a good six inches clear of anyone with an average build. There is a seat belt, but it is clipped to the lap bar as a backup to the locking system, thereby allowing unimpeded airtime. A placard in the station proclaims that a three year project to replace the ride structure is now underway, and indeed the portion that has been rebuilt already is immediately visible as the new wood has not been painted. Intriguingly there is no noticeable difference in track quality between the new and old sections, but since the coaster only runs four weeks a year this is perhaps not surprising.

Three other coasters are permanently based at the ground. Kersplash (#1468) is a water coaster that thankfully only sprays riders with a tiny bit of what can only be described as malaria water; the colour of the liquid within being more than a little unpleasant. There is also a standard Schwarzkopf Wildcat (#1469) and a Herschell Monster Mouse (#1470). The latter two have a no single riders rule, though in both cases I managed to find someone else to join me.

Beyond the coasters, I tried out the two dark rides, called Ghost Pirates and Haunted Mansion. Both were among the worst dark rides I've had the misfortune to experience, with ride times of less than thirty seconds and poor quality scenery within. The Giant Wheel and Skyride provided a few photograph opportunities, and the Al's Brain in 3D attraction (starring Weird Al Yankovic) provided a few moments of comic relief, though I'd have preferred to see the man himself.

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Washington State Fair

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