Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Waldameer Trip Report: Ravine Flyer II First Turnaround Retracking

Got our first visit of the season in at Waldameer last weekend, along with some beach time at adjacent and beautiful Presque Isle State Park. Erie is our favorite day trip in the summer, especially with our pups. Sitting out on the beaches, dipping into the water. Dogs are allowed on the unguarded beaches, of which there are plenty, along the seven miles of beach that the peninsula into Lake Erie has to offer. We usually wrap up the day with a few rides on Ravine Flyer II. This is also one of the few parks that allows you to bring dogs in, although the dogs are unable to ride anything like they are at Knoebels, which allows dogs to ride on the trains, carousels, and antique car ride. Waldameer does not allow this, though you can bring the dogs in, which is still pretty awesome. 
This is a relatively quiet year in regards to additions to the park this year, at least compared to other years. Each year they have done really ambitious things for more than a decade, such as pretty much tripling the size of the waterpark into a facility with an excellent collection of waterslides, including a water coaster that was added last year. This park has added to its collection pretty much yearly with the addition of new rides, revamped areas of the park, and so much more. This year looked like more of a maintenance year, adding a few more cabanas, and rebuilding the track first turnaround section of Ravine Flyer II.
There is something pleasant about waiting for the train to pass by on the midway.
CeCe chilling on the midway
Waldameer's main midway has so much of the charm I love about these old time amusement parks. Games, a sky ride running over the midway, concessions, and happy and relaxed people. Waldameer is now the sole survivor in this entire corner of the state, and one of only two remaining traditional amusement parks in all of western PA, with Conneaut Lake Park gone, Lakemont Park in limbo, and all of the parks of Northeast Ohio, aside from Memphis Kiddie Park, being gone. Not only has Waldameer survived, but it has flourished, with innovative attractions being constantly added to the park. 
Ravine Flyer is running great! They rebuilt the first turnaround section this past year, so it is super smooth, while still giving you those terrific lateral forces. This coaster has aged so gracefully, and really feels like it tops it self out in quality each year. 

Last year the back half was rebuilt. Now it really hauls through the end, no momentum loss going into that last airtime hill. Endless pops of out of your seat ejector air, to the point of being brought to standing position. All of this in addition to having some of the most scenic views of any coaster, with a view from above of Lake Erie and Presque Isle State Park before you get launched to the moon on the first drop. After all of these years, it remains the best coaster on Lake Erie. 
There is nothing like a well maintained coaster running PTC trains. Nothing comes close to it. The early era Gravity Group coasters and the CCI coasters with PTCs are the pinnacle of wooden coaster construction in my opinion. Between this and CCI's Silver Comet up at Niagara Amusement Park, you have two terrific coasters from this era that are only two hours apart. 
Be sure to check out Waldameer and Ravine Flyer II every chance you get. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Niagara Amusement Park: Silver Comet is a CCI That Cannot Be Missed

Niagara Amusement Park has a seriously great coaster that cannot be missed. I rode Silver Comet last Labor Day weekend and adored it, yet I forgot to make a trip report, so here goes. Silver Comet is a fantastic CCI masterpiece. A zippy layout with terrific laterals and airtime, the kind of experience you should expect to get on a CCI, especially one with PTC trains. It is a perfect ride and there is no reason you should not stop at this park if you are in northern NY. There is a solid chance that you could ride this coaster for a long time, non-stop, if you really wanted to. This coaster would definitely be worth residing for hours. It is a really great coaster. 

The layout is purely airtime, lightly banked turns with terrific laterals, and a really nice and compact layout with a ton of action. It is a great counterpart to Ravine Flyer II, about two hours southeast down the Lake Erie coast. 
The park itself is in flux. It has a nice layout with a small lake, woods, and a rebounding collection of rides. This is a big task for the park, since Apex parks took out most of the rides when the old Martin's Fantasy Island was closed in 2020. Gene Staples, the same guy that purchased and saved Indiana Beach and Clementon Park, purchased the park, got the coaster back up and running, and has brought in some other rides to fill in. An SDC Galaxi is in the midst of construction, a small family coaster is also under construction. 

An old Schwarzkopf shuttle loop, which was Kennywood's Laser Loop, is sitting in pieces in the parking lot. I would be surprised if they are able to get that rebuilt, but it would be great if they could.

The park has a main midway that is western themed, and they have regular western shows, which is strange, but cool at the same time. It was better than expected, though I did not hang around for it since I did not have the time. I have never seen a small park like this have an immersive themed experience like this, and I was pretty impressed. 
Silver Comet was designed by Larry Bill and opened in 1999. It sat from 2020-2022 and was brought back to life. It is a terrifically underrated ride. A real gem. 
It surprises me that Silver Comet is often overlooked. A strong argument could be made that this is the best coaster or at least amongst the best coasters in New York State. The only major park I am missing in the state is Great Escape. This ride is at the same level of quality as the other standouts in the state, including the Coney Island Cyclone, Rye Playland's Dragon Coaster, Seabreeze's Bobs, and Darien Lake's Viper and Ride of Steel. It is great doing this park in conjunction with stunning Niagara Falls, which is only 15 minutes from here.