2015 Roller Coaster Calendar and Book Prices

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Former Willow Park, Butztown/Bethlehem Township, PA

On a quiet street in Bethlehem Township, PA/Butztown, a park once stood. Willow Park was a small park that served as a community hangout. The most popular attraction at the park was a swimming pool movies were also shown at the park, and clambakes were held. This seems to have really been an open community gathering place as opposed to the typical gated theme parks of today, and especially in that region. This place seemed to have more of a community gathering element that you do not see in today's amusement parks. Here is a great article about a reunion for people who worked at and enjoyed the park. Documented are some great memories, including the swing and doo wop dance eras.

The following images are from Joel Styer's Defunct Parks website.
A carousel, some kids rides, an arcade, and a Schiff Wild Mouse once stood at this park. This park seemed like it was very similar to the standing but not operating Bushkill Park, only a few miles northeast of the park. Uncharacteristic of many parks, it actually opened in 1931, at the height of the Great Depression. It was purchased in 1959 and more rides were added. The park only lived on until 1970 when it was purchased by a local construction company. 

A series of small ruins remain, including footers, what looks to be a gate, and some more various ruins. It is hard to tell anything was at this place since it is so overgrown and wooded. 
As usual, with the closing of this park, the community lost a great gathering place. Fortunately Bethlehem Township, a burgeoning suburb in the Lehigh Valley region, has created a great community park area and community center for similar gatherings.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bushkill Park, Easton, PA, April 2015

I did not want to hang around the perimeter of the park for too long, but here are some pictures of the closed and dying Bushkill Park outside of Easton in Palmer Township, PA. This little park operated from 1902 to 2004 when a devastating flood hit the park from Hurricane Ivan. The region suffered immensely after the extreme downpours during this storm. Much of downtown Easton was inundated with flood waters, making this one of the worst storms of all time to hit the region. Valiant efforts to reopen the park took place, and it was finally able to reopen in 2006. Another devastating flood hit and ended that season and seemingly ended the life of this century old park. 

 This park was home to multiple rides, including a carousel, a fun house, whip, and bumper cars. It is my understanding that all of these things have been destroyed or taken from the park. Fourteen of the park's seventeen rides have been sold off. 
 There are rumblings that the owners of the park are working to open the park for the 2016 season. We'll see.

 There does appear to be some care taken with the property. There is some fresh paint around.
 Additionally, the building that once housed the carousel collapsed and they removed the rubble, which is a good sign that the carousel is cared for. 
The park's biggest problem is something that did not exist for the majority of the lifespan of the park,  which is the extreme suburban sprawl around the park. What was once woods and farmland has become a center of suburban sprawl. Due to no considerations in rainwater management, the park, which lies in a flood plain, now floods much more frequently than before. The park was in business for over a hundred years without problems, and now the park is constantly flooded out. When the lands were woods and farm land, the rainwater would seep into the ground water. Now with storm drains and non-porous surfaces like pavement and roofing areas, the rainwater flows through the storm drains and into the creek, causing the low lying area of Bushkill Park to flood. The community needs to work together to implement responsible rainwater management methods. 
 I wish the best to those trying to revive the park. They have a monumental task on their hands.
Here are some looks at some better times at the park:

Here is a zippy old coaster, the Comet, that lasted from 1923 to 1967. This opened the same year as Dorney's Thunderhawk and you can really see the similarities in profile and maneuvers between these two coasters. At some point after this, a Schiff Wild Mouse was purchased from Dorney Park.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Former Forest Park/Zoo Altoona/Gallitzin, PA

Welcome to Forest Park or Forest Zoo? Two paint jobs showing through on this sign. This creepy place was built back in 1962 and closed back in 1995. It was primarily a petting zoo, but it also had one of the popular roadside attractions of that era, a Fantasy Forest, similar to that of which Idlewild Park still has intact. This was an upstart attraction, starting off at a similar time to other roadside attractions of that time period such as Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster and some of the numerous Fairyland Forest attractions throughout the country. 
A family video of the park in action in 1989
From 1973 Pittsburgh Post: It is said to have had a safari, fantasy forest, and Petting Zoo.
This is one of the creepiest abandoned attractions that I have ever seen. Collapsed or partially collapsed buildings with creepy reminders of what this place once was. This would make for an excellent haunted attraction if there were any way to stabilize these buildings. Frankly these buildings need to be torn down because they are dangerous. One building has already completely collapsed. 
Fully collapsed.
 Security on a collapsed building?
Odd is probably the most accurate way of describing this place. It is creepy and looks like it has not been touched in decades. At this point it would probably be best if they tore this property down and left it as an abandoned lot. Buildings sitting in this condition are unsafe.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

ACE Coaster Bash 2015: Morey's Piers, Waldameer, Conneaut Lake Park, Kennywood, Idlewild, and PTC Updates

Coaster Bash 2015! This year's edition of Coaster Bash had representatives from a number of parks, including Sam Shurgott from Morey's Piers and IRM Rides, Jeff Croushore from Idlewild, Marie Ruby and Nick Paradise from Kennywood, Steve Gorman from Waldameer, Mark Turner of the current park management company for Conneaut Lake Park, Lenny Adams of Conneaut Lake Park, Tom Rebbie of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, and even a video presentation from Jeff Filicko, former PR manager for Kennywood and current PR manager for Six Flags Fiesta Texas. It was a fun filled day with updates on many different parks.

We started off with a word from the ACE Western PA regional rep, and master of ceremonies, Bill Linkenheimer III.
 Jeff Filicko gave us a look at the new Batman the Ride S&S Free Fly Coaster, with a brand new POV video of the ride. The more I look at it, the ride almost seems like a tracked version of a Huss Top Spin. This should be a very fun ride and hopefully can help to fill the void by those rides getting frequently removed from parks, including Dorney Park's Hang Time, the most recent loss of a top spin.
First up was Sam Shurgott of Morey's Piers and IRM Rides. He gave us an informative look at Kong: the ride, the newest addition to Morey's Pier's. Kong was at Morey's a while back and they are trying to recapture the glory of that old ride with a set of Larson Flying Scooters.
 These flying scooters will have a decorative King Kong climbing up a lighthouse on the center pole of the ride. A lighthouse was chosen as the result of a fan competition.
 There will be two different designs on the flyer tubs. There will be blue tubs:
 And red tubs...These look like they will be really sharp.
Most parks have to worry about square footage when it comes to making additions. Morey's Piers, because of how compact it is being set upon ocean piers, has to focus upon getting the most room it possibly can out of additions. Kong will be built on top of a building that will house different retail operations.
Next up was Steve Gorman. He focused upon the current major waterpark addition at the park. This park is really on the upswing, making many additions, improvements, and upgrades.
 This map outlines what the park's recent land additions have provided to the park. The red areas are the land that the the park owned prior to the acquisition. The areas highlighted in yellow are the recent additions that will be used for paved parking lot expansion. The area in blue is the area where the new waterpark expansion is being built over a part of the old parking lot, including the wave pool for this year, a new food, restroom, and locker facility, and eventual waterslide additions.
 Here is the rundown of the 3 acre addition to the waterpark!
 This is a picture of the relative plans for a kids play area. The photo was taken at Holiday World. The wave pool is an exact replica of Holiday World's, along with this new waterslide complex that will be added for the 2016 season.
Here are the accelerometer readings for Ravine Flyer II. Gravity Group's maintenance standards are so precise that they have the park set up an accelerometer, have the readings directly emailed to them, and then they suggest what exact bents and track sections need work. The park then addresses those sections. Through that, the park has been able to keep Ravine Flyer II running as possibly the best maintained wooden roller coaster that I have ever ridden.
Here is a photo of the new wave pool. It will be split so on slower days one half of it can be closed to cut down on electricity and labor costs.
 That building is a new facility that will handle infrastructure needs such as a restroom, break room, and storage. 
 Next up was Mark Turner with the Economic Progress Association of Crawford County. This organization is now in charge of the operations at Conneaut Lake Park.
 This company has helped turn around different properties that have faced tough times within the county, with the goal of improving community life.
 Here are the plans for the park by the committee, and some of the challenges faced within this process.
 Everything sounded good from Mark. Things are even further on the upswing, continuing the upward trend of improvement at the park.
 They have a ten year plan, with quite a bit of it banking upon sale of unused park property that can help to sustain the park.
 The areas in blue on the map represent areas of additions and improvements. The peach colored areas show what is headed to market to help sustain the plan for the park.
 The plan faces major hurdles with the Chapter 11 process.
 The immediate goal is clean up and improvement, goals that are already being demonstrated. You can see how much improvement there is in the park just by visiting it. Just from the beginning of the season to the end last year, things greatly improved. 
 Next up was Marie Ruby and Nick Paradise of Kennywood Park. There was some great news that Noah's Ark will see some improvements with new and updated scenes over the next few years.
 Here is one of the horses on the Kiddieland Carousel getting restored.
 The building with the games near Phantom is gutted for SOMETHING NEW! Their lips are sealed on what this addition will be.
 The Golden Kenny for spirit in the ACE organization was given to Adam and Tina Napotnik. Adam was the kicker for the PIAA Football 4A, runner up team, the Pine Richland Rams. 
 Dave Hahner and Jim Futrell presented on their upcoming new book, Geauga Lake: The Funtime Years 1969 to 1995. This should be a great book. Their other books are fantastic.
Lenny Adams of Conneaut Lake Park presented about his new role working for EPACC, as opposed to the Adams Amusement leaser of the amusement park section of Conneaut. Now he works as a salaried employee. He talked about how much more time he has with a set schedule and getting the chance to spend time with his family. He also talked about how great it was to just be able to focus upon the maintenance and operations of the rides.
Jeff Croushore of Idlewild was the next presenter and he gave us a look at everything coming to Idlewild this season.
 For more reliable operations of the Wild Mouse, the park is getting all new chassis from Vekoma.
The Storybook Forest section of the park is getting new vinyl facades on the story sections to last longer than typical paint.
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, the replacement for the Mr. Roger's Neighborhood attraction, will be opening this spring.
The animatronics for it are being done by Life Formations and the set designs are being done by the Weber Group.
 The trolleys have been completely refurbished.
 All of the wood has been completely restored/replaced
 The last speaker for the night was Tom Rebbie from the venerable Philadelphia Toboggan Company.
 The company made brand new trains for the White Cyclone Intamin wood coaster at Nagashima Spa  Land near Tokyo, Japan. This is the park that has the Morgan giant giga coaster, Steel Dragon 2000.
 Alabama Adventure's Rampage trains came in for full refurbishment to factory spec and it opened to rave reviews last fall at the ACE preview event.
What color did the Koch's want the train? RAVEN RED!
 Six Flags America sent the Roar and Wild One trains back for refurbishment again. This has become an annual thing for them. They take great care of their wooden coasters.
 Holiday World sent the Raven trains and a Legend train back for full refurbishment. Legend will be back to two train operations this season.
 The city of Green Bay, Wisconsin sent back the train for Bay Beach's Zippin Pippin back for full renovation.
 Cedar Point has also made sending back the trains for their wooden coasters an annual thing. They say it is quicker to just send them back to PTC and have the trains professionally refurbished.
 Kemah Boardwalk continued their yearly cycle of sending a train back for refurbishment.
 Clementon also sent back the Hellcat's train
It was a very informative night at Coaster Bash. I also thank everyone for their support with our book and in keeping the industry alive and well.