Our latest adventure began with an early morning flight from Dublin to Kennedy Airport in New York, one of an incredible twenty-six daily transatlantic flights (in each direction) operated from our home city. One of the most recent additions to the schedule is a daily Boeing 757 service operated by ASL on behalf of Aer Lingus that departs some three hours before the regular A330 rotations, and we decided to take it despite the early start in the interests of maximising our day. The flight landed on time, and an efficient car rental process meant that we were driving out of the airport at 11:00am en route to our first park of the day.
We'd originally scheduled a brief stop at Keansburg Amusement Park towards the end of our day, but decided on the fly that a relaxed lunch took precedence over a relocated Pinfari that will no doubt still be there on our next visit to the area. This was definitely the right decision, as we were very tired by the time we checked into our hotel.
Boomers Long Island
3rd July 2016
Our GPS was blissfully unaware of a side entrance to the Long Island branch of Boomers, located through a small gate on the slip road from the nearby interstate. We spotted it at the last minute, and ended up going round a corner at something like thirty miles an hour, much to the chagrin of the driver behind us who made his displeasure felt with a shrill blast from his horn. Hortense, speaking today in an Indian English accent, remained oblivious to our manoeuvre until a few seconds after we'd parked the car, when she politely advised us to proceed to the highlighted route.
The park wasn't a new one for me, having been a target of one of my early credit whoring expeditions in the mid-noughties, but the place had largely slipped my mind in the intervening years. I'd somehow allowed myself to forget the fact that the small family coaster is just one of eight mechanical rides that stand next to a pleasantly landscaped miniature golf course, a full size go-kart track, and an indoor arcade with a branch of Nathan's Hot Dogs for those seeking an upgrade over typical FEC slop.
There was a short queue of people waiting to board Roller Coaster, and we fully expected to have to wait a cycle given that only one row was still open when we reached the front. However, the operator was more than happy to allow two adults in the same car, and indeed seemed to take quite a bit of pleasure at watching us shoehorning ourselves into place, a task eventually accomplished by a combination of crossed legs and breathing in. The lack of padding was a little disconcerting given what one typically experiences from coasters of this design, but we need not have worried; the only knock was a relatively minor one on the final turn back to the station. We were given three laps.
We spent about ten minutes looking around the other attractions and taking photographs for posterity. It was particularly entertaining to listen to the long recorded safety announcement being played at the Go Kart track, which seemed to go on for an absolute eternity. The various terms reflected the fact that America is the land of no personal responsibility, and I found myself grateful for my residence in Europe where the equivalent would probably boil down to two words, namely no bumping (or possibly a longer alternative, don't be stupid).
Adventureland New York
3rd July 2016
It took us a little under an hour to drive to Adventureland New York where we found a completely full car park, a reminder (as if one were needed) that we were visiting on a gloriously sunny weekend afternoon. As is inevitable in such situations the lot was peppered with vehicles driving around at low speeds, and we decided to join the multitudes rather than pay the twenty dollar cost of valet parking. Our frugality was rewarded in less than a minute when an oversized family wagon reversed out directly in front of us, leaving more than enough room for our diminutive Nissan.
The enormous number of guests on site made us consider the pay-per-ride option rather than a wristband, but after some discussion we decided to splurge on the grounds that we were confident of hitting the break-even point in the two hours we'd allocated for our stay. This didn't actually happen as things turned out, but only because the Ghost House was in an advanced state of non-functionality. We did see it testing at one stage, but half an hour later it was still closed while a worried-looking engineer did something to the underside of a car with a screwdriver.
Our first stop was always going to be Turbulence (#2247), a custom spinning coaster from Mack Rides that represented the largest investment in park history when it was added last year. Installations of this type remain surprisingly rare despite the first version opening almost two decades ago; the only other version in North America as of this writing is located several thousand miles away. The bright green track of the new ride looks somewhat more imposing than that of the one it replaced, but it remains small enough to blend in well while also not being overly intimidating for younger guests.
The queue is hidden on the opposite side of the structure from the midway, parallel to the brake run. This location should have allowed for some fun interactions between riders and those next in line, but this potential was largely excluded by thick black fencing whose gaps were no larger than a fingernail. This eyesore completely obscured the view of a number of posters describing the construction process, suggesting rather strongly that it may have been a retrofit required by a nameless paper pusher in an insurance company somewhere. It would surely have made more sense to use some form of transparent material instead, even at the risk of higher cleaning costs?
The air gate for the front row was blocked off with a trash can for reasons unclear, given that two trains were in use and a restraint problem (if one were present) would be unlikely to impact both at the same time. I found myself speculating about possible causes for the closure, and in particular whether it might be weight related, given that quite a few of those boarding today had to have been over three hundred pounds. That said, I'd have thought that a ride engineered for the American market would be designed around local norms, so the root cause could well have been something completely different.
Our first lap ended up being in the back row. There was music playing on the lift hill, albeit at too low a volume to be clearly audible, though we did make out the word turbulence from the lyrics as we crested. The high speed portion of the layout started out with a good drop and a slow turn which gave what for ease of description I'm going to call hangtime, though with a rotating car the sensations were quite different. The remainder has blurred together in my mind as I write this, but it was negotiated fairly well with only some minor vibration towards the end. The experience was somewhat gentler than the magnificent Dwervelwind, but that was probably a deliberate design choice reflecting the demographic of those visiting the park, and certainly not something I'd fault.
We completed a second lap at the other end of the train before relocating for a token ride on Ladybug Coaster, an ageing Zierer Tivoli. We were queuing directly behind a mother with three young children, and were ideally placed to help when the operator told her that they were too small to ride on their own. I found myself sitting with an eight year old who had apparently ridden once before some years earlier. He was quite chatty until the first drop, when he abruptly switched to pure terror, asking me to hold on to him and almost crying out when the train began a second lap. Megan's riding partner was similarly unhappy with her experience, suggesting two children who will not be future coaster enthusiasts.
Our next stop was at the Antique Cars, a ride type I've taken to doing in recent years mainly because of the potential photo opportunities they offer. The set here was limited in that regard, but it was still a way to pass a few minutes. The Train Ride was similarly bereft of good picture angles, but the route did go past a variety of historical photo boards showing off some of the attractions that have been at the park during its fifty-four year history, as well as a few pieces from past rides. I'd have enjoyed the experience more without the Disney remixes blasting out at top volume, but on the plus side at least they were a step up from the Operacion Triunfo versions.
3rd July 2016
iPlay America is a relatively new Family Entertainment Center in New Jersey that is noteworthy mainly for its elaborate interior that has been designed to resemble a seaside town at dusk. The exterior of the building looks like an undistinguished Walmart clone, but walking through the door leads into a street scene lit by old-fashioned lamps with the vague glow of coloured lights in the distance. At the end of it stands a wooden boardwalk that features a variety of family rides, food stands, and sideshows, as well as a mid-sized arcade.
Our visit began as with any other; we bought a ride card with ten dollars worth of value on it, and walked across to the coaster. Unfortunately the operator told us that only wristband users could ride at the moment because the ticketing system wasn't working correctly and wouldn't be for "between ten and fifteen minutes". We showed our receipt showing a purchase made not four minutes before, but he stood his ground, and moments later we were standing by the exit fuming as a young child got to experience an otherwise empty train on her own. Though we had been excruciatingly polite it was immediately apparent that our visible displeasure had found its way back to someone more senior. After a few minutes wandering around taking photographs we returned to find that the operator now had instructions to allow people to ride with or without tickets until the system was fixed. This is what should have happened in the first place, though we were grateful that sanity had prevailed before we needed to make a more formal complaint.
We were thus able to obtain our first really pathetic credit of the trip in the guise of Freedom Rider (#2248), a spinning coaster on a figure eight track. I'd been quite eager to try one of these rides, given that at least twenty have popped up around the world in the last two years, but disembarked somewhat nonplussed; our car didn't actually spin all that much, and there was an unpleasant slam to the side every time we passed through the station. The experience fell quite a way short of what I'd anticipated from the videos of the demonstration model at IAAPA some years ago, making me wonder if the prototype design was superior to the production model.
As our card hadn't been swiped we decided we might as well use our value to watch the 4D Show. However, when we tried to do that it became apparent that our credits hadn't been loaded correctly. The staff member at the theatre was quite helpful and told us where to go to resolve things, but this seemed like far too much effort. We decided instead to call it a night, and relocated a few miles up the road to our hotel.