The Alpine Coaster is a relatively recent invention, with the first installations dating from the late 1990s. Over two hundred different installations operate worldwide as of this writing, the vast majority in Europe, although a number have appeared further afield in places like Brazil and Vietnam. The first installation in the United States opened in 2005. Fourteen others have opened since, and several more are under construction, including the improbably named Goat Coaster in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Riders of alpine coasters have the potential to be quite badly hurt if they fail to follow safety instructions, and the bizarre legal system in the United States defaults to making business owners liable for any injuries that might occur even when guest behaviour is the root cause. For this reason, a signed waiver is a prerequisite for enjoying any of the attractions at Greek Peak, though the member of staff on duty today neglected to collect ours. We were still subjected to a five minute long safety lecture prior to our ride, but this wasn't a huge problem as it virtually guaranteed that we wouldn't have a slow rider blocking the track in front of us!
The lift hill on Nor’easter Mountain Coaster suggested that we were in for a good ride, with four distinct segments that between them took three and a half minutes to climb. However, the descent portion never seemed to pick up much speed, and we hit the final brake just seventy seconds later, making it a pretty short experience for the ten dollar ticket price.
Sylvan Beach Amusement Park
23rd July 2014
Lots of coaster enthusiasts have a list of parks that they really want to get to. Occasionally these targets have worthwhile credits, but more often than not they are best described as a tick. The reader is invited to decide for themselves whether my use of this word is to describe a check box or an irritation that will not go away. Sylvan Beach has been on my personal bucket list for a while now, as I've been trying to track down the few remaining Galaxi coasters before they are retired permanently. Time is of the essence with this mission; several installations have closed in recent years, and most of the rest date from the 1970s, and as such are already well beyond their design life.
The Galaxi (#2080) at Sylvan Beach was originally built for Fun Forest Amusement Park and operated there for eighteen years prior to its relocation to the other side of the United States. It looked quite shabby today, with an abundance of visible rust and only one functional two car train, but the ride quality was fine, with the various transitions negotiated smoothly. There was a fairly steady vibration throughout our single lap, though this wasn't irritating; Megan described it as a "lovely foot and ankle massage".
The rest of the park looked equally run down. The concrete paving was uneven in places with weeds sprouting through gaps. Most of the flat rides were in need of fresh paint, with only the Himalaya and Tilt-A-Whirl looking presentable. In particular the Crazy Dazy tea cup ride looked like something from a museum, with wooden panels that had seen better years. We decided to skip all of these in favour of Laffland, a dark ride built by the Pretzel Ride Company in 1954. It would probably be more accurate to describe this as an extremely dark ride, insofar as much of the ride was taken in complete darkness. The various effects inside were what one would expect to find in a typical haunted house; the occasional skeleton, a few ghosts, and for some reason, a car horn.
Martin's Fantasy Island
23rd July 2014
It was an overcast and cool evening when we arrived at Martin's Fantasy Island shortly after the discounted evening admission price kicked in for the day. We'd timed our visit well; though there were other guests in the park the majority were finishing up for the day, rendering almost every ride a walk-on. Our first stop was at Max's Doggy Dog Coaster (#2081), a standard Big Apple made moderately interesting by to its gloriously elaborate train cloned from the german fair circuit. Having such an enormous figurehead on a children's coaster seems a little bizarre to me given that it completely blocks the view for smaller riders, but on the plus side, it does at least allow for some cute photographs.
The loading procedure for Silver Comet tonight made me very glad that the park wasn't crowded. The operators made a first pass of the train for seat belt checks, and insisted on pulling them tight enough to restrict blood flow. Next, they made an announcement instructing riders not to pull down their lap bars, but to wait for it to be done for them, putting their hands in the air. My bar was secured competently on my first ride, but on my second ride it was left sufficiently loose that I'd have been able to climb out of my seat were the seatbelt unfastened. In the interests of my own safety I decided it would be best to ignore the announced rule and close my bar two additional notches on the lift hill, which still left me ample room for airtime.
Abstruse policies aside, however, the CCI ride has held up well, delivering a good experience even in the back seats. At some point in the last decade the single six car train has been repainted in a gradient running from a deep red at the front through to yellow at the back, and the result looks considerably better than the original solid purple. I don't remember a whole lot about the layout as I write this trip report, but I do remember wondering why the brake run has a ten foot drop into the station; does anyone know?
During my last visit to the park almost ten years ago I wrote in unflattering terms about the lacklustre Crazy Mouse, pointing out that this installation runs a good thirty seconds slower than the norm due to a large number of trim brakes. The result is boring, and worse yet, on windy days the cars have to be loaded with a minimum of two adults and two children to prevent them stalling. Tonight each right hand turn was accompanied by a horrible clunk and a slam to the side, suggesting rather strongly that we were riding in a car with a worn out shock absorber. Once was enough, though we agreed to ride a second time so that two other guests in our car could have a second go.
It is worth mentioning that major upgrades have taken place in the park over the last few years, and this was particularly evident from the top of the Gondola Wheel. Several of the flat rides seen on my previous visit are now gone, including the Chaos, the Daredevil, the Patriot, and the Sea-ray. In their place have come new replacements, including Flight, Full Tilt, Devil's Hole, Mind Warp, and Over The Falls. The latter is a brand new KMG Speed, added to the park just a few weeks ago, and it is a great ride, if one that is somewhat less intense than the Fabbri original. This model operates with a simple OTSR without seat belt, a brave manoeuvre in the land of the litigious, and the creaking noise from the mechanism, though entirely normal, made the experience quite thrilling.