My morning began with a valiant but fundamentally unsuccessful attempt to buy an online ticket for Santa’s Village Azoosment Park via the official website. All of my cards were declined, leading me to the obvious conclusion: the system has apparently never been tested with plastic from outside of the United States. I’d half expected to run into the same problem at the gate, but there were no issues – in fact my purchase was completed with military efficiency; I spent no more than twenty seconds with the cashier, including the time taken to sign the receipt.
On my last visit to Chicago back in 2014 the park had just finished commissioning a relocated Pinfari Z47 acquired from the long-defunct Fun Spot Park in Indiana. Unfortunately the machine in question had “called in sick” for my trip, as indeed it did for the majority of visitors that year; just seven people managed to tick it on Coaster Count during its brief operational life. Four years of rusting in a field had apparently taken its toll on the hardware, as it was removed soon after in favour of a brand new alternative. Super Cyclone (#2920) is an Interpark creation that is to all intents and purposes a drop-in replacement for classic Pinfaris. The restraints in the two-car train look a little cumbersome but in practice they didn't bother me. The individual seats have shark fins and two-point shoulder belts, presumably for the benefit of smaller riders, and each row has a fixed position lap bar. I enjoyed two cycles, and I'd have done a third had the queue not built up.
The park’s second coaster is a Wacky Worm (#2921) relocated from Old Town in Florida. I was denied this more than once in its original home, and was eager for the opportunity to correct that wrong. Today the train was engaging the chain with a terrific thump that couldn’t have been doing the hardware any favours, but aside from that the experience was fairly normal; a two lap cycle that was lively, if not quite as much so as the Puppy Express last night. One curiosity of this installation was the presence of a manual brake lever in the station that moved back and forth on its own as the train passed; presumably the park has automated things while leaving the override behind just in case.
It wasn’t possible for me to do the Antique Cars as a single rider, and the Xtreme Elevation drop tower was closed for maintenance. Instead my next stop became the Fire Dept ride, a charmingly hokey home-spun attraction where young guests are driven under lights and sirens to a burning building which they get to extinguish using high pressure hoses. The size of the conflagration was considerably more impressive today than in my old photographs, having apparently been upgraded over the intervening years. I managed to extinguish the flames after about 30 seconds despite the water falling a little short, but one doubts that the target audience would notice something like that!
My last hit for the morning was the new-for-2021 Jolly Trolley, which is probably best described as a poor man’s dark ride. It features an electric train which is driven very slowly around a rectangular building artificially divided in half by a partition wall. The interior scenes consist of illuminated Christmas trees with lights that flash in time with piped music, and the track is just the right length to come to an end as the train arrives back at its start point.