Sunday, August 25, 2019

Lakemont Park is Back!

The return of Lakemont Park is something that we have eagerly anticipated. After they closed with no warning after the 2016 season, it was not exactly clear that the park would be coming back. Prior to closing, we often ended up making the short drive from Pittsburgh to Altoona to go ride Skyliner over and over, and ride the park's many great rides. After the park said they were "closing for a season for renovations" and then did not reopen for multiple years, we certainly were skeptical that the park would ever open again. In the way the park went out with no warning, to say that we were skeptical and upset is an understatement. This skepticism was alleviated when we saw the two new mini golf courses after walking through the gate. 
The basketball courts with Leap the Dips in the background. Leap the Dips is still a work in progress.

Additionally, much of the field that sat between the mini golf and former flat rides is now a large basketball court that plays host to the local youth basketball league. 
There is also a new volleyball court and batting cages. These additions could have largely been possible within the old configuration of the park, but in a backwards kind of way, the space that was occupied by the flats is now largely vacant, meaning that someday it could be possible to add new rides back in those spots.

This latest incarnation of Lakemont Park is certainly great for a fun summer afternoon and it better integrates the local community with the park. While it is difficult losing rides like their old Chance Skydiver, Eyerly Spider, Eli Bridge Ferris wheel, and more, there are plenty of rides interspersed with fun (and truly active) activities to keep you occupied and get your blood flowing. There was a lot of foot traffic within the park than there was prior to the closure. With the addition of another flat ride or two, such as a carousel or a Ferris Wheel, and possibly some midway games, the park will be just about perfect. 
The Rabbit Hole Mini Golf Course occupies the site of the old mini golf course. The Keystone Falls Mini Golf Course occupies a space adjoining the the old mini golf course and runs over to where the Ferris Wheel was located. Both of these mini golf courses are brand new and fun. 
A view of the Keystone Falls Mini Golf Course
Looking over towards the 4x4s kiddie ride, the classic Arrow Dynamics Tin Lizzy Antique Cars, Go-Kart Course, and my favorite ride in the park, Skyliner, the park's outstanding Philadelphia Toboggan Company and John Allen classic. I really missed this classic coaster and it is running great right now, which is surprising considering that the only visible new lumber is in the valley after the first drop and the adjacent track in the after the turnaround. It is running as great as I remember it ever running. The entrance into the first turnaround in the front car has the strongest pop of airtime on the ride and frankly, one of the strongest pops of airtime on any coaster. The backseat offers more overall airtime moments than the front, with a really good pop of airtime on the first drop. You are basically out of your seat from the entrance into the first drop, all the way down the drop. 
The park's classic Arrow Dynamics built, Tin Lizzy Antique Cars Ride, is still intact and a ton of fun. The cars seem to have new motors in them and are running extremely fast. They were fast enough that they were actually exciting and thrilling as opposed to just relaxing like car rides usually are. Surprisingly, it was almost reminiscent to Kennywood's Auto Race prior to it getting slowed down, an experience that I have never felt on this type of ride.
The authentic road signs have always been a nice touch to the ride.
The park's classic Herschell Little Leaper was moved over closer to Skyliner. 
Everyone getting ready to put away their loose articles prior to dispatch. I love the new paint job that they gave to the train.
Is this the only coaster that is adjacent to a ballpark? 
You can even see the airtime that the rear of the train is getting in this view. You can also see the little bit of new lumber that the coaster has received. It is a shock to me just how smoothly the coaster was running.
The front seat was not occupied at the moment in this specific ride, but note the airtime that the riders in the front car are getting as they are entering the turnaround.
I am the one raising my hands in the back!
We probably rode it about twenty times throughout the day. It was seriously hauling.
Leap the Dips is still a work in progress. We can't wait until the world's oldest coaster is up and running again.
It is kind of depressing going down the midway area where the flat rides were. The main upside is knowing that it is possible for them to add more flats and other rides back. Most of the new additions are in areas that were fields prior to the closure, which makes me hopeful that we may see some rides come back at some point.
Back to Mini Golf!
And the park is a surprisingly good birding spot.
Brit playing some mini golf
And hitting in the batting cage....
And back for some more rides on Skyliner!

The park is still a work in progress in its reopening. The train ride, Leap the Dips, and water slides are still in the midst of restoration, but I have to say that we really enjoyed our afternoon at the park. Additionally, the pricing structure is really good. They have a ticket system for individual rides and attractions, but the park's all day pass is a really good value. The only attraction not included in the pass is the batting cages. The all day pass includes Skyliner, the go-karts, antique cars, paddle boats, and unlimited mini-golf. That is a value that is tough to match when it comes to just about anything. For coaster lovers, Skyliner is an underrated gem and well worth going out of your way to visit. Overall, we highly recommend checking out Lakemont Park.