I hadn’t intended to visit Darien Lake this year, but decided it was worth driving three hundred miles off my planned route in order to avoid the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which were projected to cause serious impact in the vicinity of New York City. There were no more convenient options given the way the weather was tracking, and I figured that it'd be nice to tick off my twenty-first Gerstlauer Eurofighter.
Doing a six hour drive for one coaster was always going to be a bit of a gamble and on this occasion I lost; Tantrum was one of an incredible twenty attractions that were closed for the entire day. The dry park was down a flat dozen: Grand Prix, Heave Ho, Hoot N’Holler, Hornet’s Nest, Mind Eraser, Moose on the Loose, Racoon Rally, Shipwreck Falls, Sleighride, Slingshot, Tantrum, and Wally’s Weather Balloons. The water park was missing Big Kahuna, Brain Drain, Cannon Ball Run, Flotation Station Lazy River, Mister Twister, RipCurl Racer, Swirl City Complex, and Tornado. As if this list wasn’t long enough already, a further three attractions were listed as opening late: Corn Popper, Predator, and Rolling Thunder.
It’s fair to say that American parks have had significant staffing issues this year, and in deference to that I made a point of checking ride status in the official Six Flags app before driving north. Unfortunately the powers that be had decided against keeping this up-to-date, instead relying on a temporary page buried within their website. While it’s good that some effort was being made to warn guests of status ahead of time, I think it very unfortunate that there was nothing visible to those the official Six Flags platform on mobile devices. I'd likely have sat out the day in a hotel room if I'd known.
As it was I spent my first half hour wandering around with my camera. I quickly discovered a set of wooden fences blocking off the entire south-eastern corner of the park, indicating that the operational status of everything on the far side had been set in stone for some time. I also discovered that the park’s Giant Wheel was officially dead; though it remains standing as of this writing, a sign at the entrance indicates that it has been retired after 38 great years.
There was really only one way to tackle my irritation, and that was to ride a coaster. Ride of Steel was the best of the three available options, so I decided to start there. The park’s signature coaster is an Intamin creation, if a somewhat boring one, having served as the model for the ride I ridiculed in my trip report on Monday. Only one train was visible; my guess is that the second has become a parts donor to keep the first operational. (As a fun aside, I was line jumped by a number of guests using Flash Pass during my wait; despite fully a third of the park being closed there were apparently enough staff available to operate Flash Pass entrances.)
My next stop was at Sky Screamer, a 242 foot Funtime StarFlyer that holds the record for the tallest amusement ride in New York State. My weather app reported a wind speed nudging up against force six, and perhaps unsurprisingly it was pretty exciting (in a good way) at the heights. I'm honestly surprised that the ride was open, given that similar attractions elsewhere in the United States seem to shut down in the mildest conditions. Research has revealed that the hardware is certified up to force eight, though a footnote states that the manufacturer does not recommend this, presumably due to the elevated risk of pavement pizza.
The only other ride on my agenda today was a front seat on the Zamperla-built Moto Coaster. Darien Lake got the first of what has since become a respectable production model design. The ride doesn’t do an enormous amount, but it’s designed to feel like a motorbike, and it does that well. The noise it makes during launch is also pretty cool. I’d go so far as to say that this is one of Zamperla’s best original coaster creations; it’s certainly several hundred notches ahead of the Volare!