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Photo TR: Andy's Visit to Camden Park

PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:48 pm
by The Great Zo
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I started off my 2019 theme park season with a bang last week (June 26), making my first-ever visit to Camden Park in Huntington, West Virginia. This isn't a park that gets a ton of traveling enthusiasts, as it's a long ways away from anywhere in particular. Hopefully those of you who have yet to visit will enjoy this trip report. I'll be as fair as I can, but keep in mind that I'm reviewing a park that was featured in a post-apocalyptic video game.

My visit to Camden Park was short -- just over an hour and a half. It was part of a long one-day road trip along the Ohio River that I did with a friend, spanning various sites from Cincinnati to Huntington. With that said, I had enough time to ride everything important, and get enough pictures for a fairly comprehensive TR.

My first impression of the park was the big fat clown sign on the way in. If that doesn't set the tone for the afternoon, how about the ticket booth attendant who may have actually been asleep standing up when I approached to purchase admission? He claimed he was reading a book on his phone, but that's an unlikely excuse around those parts. Doing the math on my 15% discount coupon took a bit of time as well, but soon enough, we were on our way into the park -- on a hot summer afternoon with light attendance.

We decided to clear out the back half of the park first, starting with the one ride I figured might actually have a line -- the Log Flume. They were running 3 or 4 boats and the dispatches weren't too slow, so I figured we'd be on in a few minutes with only about 10 people ahead of us. My prediction was not to be, as Boat #5 had taken on a good bit of water and needed to be drained. We got to witness this process play out in real time, as the boat was brought most of the way up the lift hill, and then manually bailed out with a small bucket. Low-tech is the way they do things at Camden Park. That was fun to watch. As for the ride, it's alright -- not bad for a small park. It's short, but it has two drops, and is custom-built -- not one of those semi-portable models. The first drop is small, but perfectly designed to send a wall of water over the lip of the front of the boat, soaking your shoes to the core. The second drop is larger, but generates only a pleasant mist. On a hot day in June, that didn't feel too bad.

Our second ride was Lil' Dipper, the park's kiddie woodie. It runs NAD trains with seats that are a little too small to comfortably fit two adults, but a little too big to fit just one. That provides quite a bit of room to move on the coaster's rather shaky turns, though the small bunny hills are kind of fun. This ride was running half-empty trains, so we could have gotten on again, but we wanted to keep moving.

Skyliner is the park's chair lift, and I'll never pass up an aerial observation ride of any kind -- especially for photography's sake! You can get some pretty good views over the back half of the park from this ride, including the log flume and the kiddie woodie, as well as the park's train. You'll also get a great view of the mini golf course, which appeared to be in a general state of disrepair. The chair lift operates as a full loop, and the turnaround is at the far edge of the park's property.

I did some photography of the rides in the back, but we opted to skip the other flats (due to lack of interest), the train (in the interest of time), and the mini golf course (in the interest of it looking like it's seen better days).

Next, we headed to the front of the park to get a ride on the one coaster I was really looking forward to -- Big Dipper. This ride dates back to 1958 and probably hasn't changed much at all since then. It's still running with a NAD train, manual hand brakes, and fixed restraint bars. The coaster was actually running really well -- smoother than the kiddie woodie, even. It gave a pretty enjoyable ride, which helped distract from the peeling paint all over the ride's wooden structure, and the fact that the seat in the last row of the train has apparently been missing for years. This is definitely a back seat ride, because the big drop contains one of those WTF airtime moments you sometimes hear about on older, sketchy wooden coasters -- like Cyclops at Mount Olympus. It's a crazy, sudden jolt, and it's the single best thing about Camden Park.

The park's next coaster, if you want to count it as such, is Haunted House -- or is that Hawnted House? Honestly, I couldn't tell you for sure -- the way it's written on the sign is somewhat ambiguous. The neat thing about this ride is that it's a gravity-driven coaster / dark ride, so I guess it counts as a credit. The not-so-neat thing is that it's perhaps the least thrilling / exciting haunted dark ride I've ever been on -- and I've been on Ghost Hole at Coney Island. Heck, Boo Blasters at Kings Island is more frightening, though that's probably because the guns on that ride barely work half of the time. But I digress.

Yes, we also rode Slingshot, the requisite every small park is buying one SBF Visa spinner. Nothing wrong with these rides. I think they're a good fit for parks like this.

With more time, we might have gone on a few more rides, but there wasn't anything else too unique that I couldn't find at other parks. I finished up my pictures and we headed out of the park to start the drive back to Cincinnati.

So, how can I sum up this review? Any dedicated coaster fan should experience Big Dipper in the back row. Well, second-to-back row, since the back row doesn't actually exist. But is anyone going to make the trip to Huntington, West Virginia, just for that?

Yes, you are, because you're on Theme Park Review and you're probably a coaster nut.

Adjust your expectations for the rest of the park, and have a great time!

Re: Photo TR: Andy's Visit to Camden Park

PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:52 pm
by The Great Zo
Pictures, continued!

Re: Photo TR: Andy's Visit to Camden Park

PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:55 pm
by The Great Zo
Camden Park / Huntington Trip Report Addendum

OK, as I like to do, here's a quick look at a few other things you might want to see in the area. After all, if you're making the road trip to Huntington, you might as well explore the area a bit.

I found downtown Huntington very nice -- and that's not sarcasm at all. I've visited a lot of mid-size rust belt Ohio Valley cities, most of which are decades beyond their best days. I've seen some that are almost beyond repair. Huntington isn't one of them. They've revitalized the downtown, there's some good local restaurants, and some nice parks as well.

So, a quick look at Huntington, as detailed in the captions below.

Re: Photo TR: Andy's Visit to Camden Park

PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:28 pm
by bert425
Fantastic pics (as usual) Andy, so happy to see a new trip report from you!

slowly getting thru, but just FYI - that artwork on the side of the Whip?

is Marvel Comics character Thundra (she most often appeared in the Incredible Hulk in the 70's). .tho they have her mis-colored.

Image

I'm sure they TOTALLY paid Marvel a licensing fee to use the image tho, right? :p



EDIT to add: I'm a little confused by the Carousel (no, not the green horse, tho that's a headscratcher when the rest of the horses are so natural - well, other than the Pink one, LOL). . but looking at the upper tier, there is no detail. No detail on the inside center sections either.

it kind of looks like it's painted over - like maybe they started to re-furb it, and then decided just screw it, and painted over the detailing and never bothered going back to paint in all the detail?

that's so freaking weird.

Re: Photo TR: Andy's Visit to Camden Park

PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:59 pm
by Canobie Coaster
Awesome report! It's great to relive the haphazard glory of Camden Park.

The airtime on Big Dipper is real. It's remarkable how smooth that ride is considering the appearance. I still won't forget the time I was evacuated after the op dispatched our train with the lap bars up and yelled at us when they physically wouldn't lower.

Also I don't think reading a book on your phone is acceptable on the job. :lol:

Re: Photo TR: Andy's Visit to Camden Park

PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:53 pm
by Arthur_Seaton
Great write up! Thanks! These little parks are such a curiosity — especially in terms of how they stay afloat.

Re: Photo TR: Andy's Visit to Camden Park

PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:41 pm
by larrygator
The Whip is their best ride

Re: Photo TR: Andy's Visit to Camden Park

PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:11 am
by djcoastermark
Cool TR. The only time I was there was back in 2002 when the Thunderbolt Express was supposed to reopen. I was excited as I remembered riding it at Kings Island back in the 1970's. It was not to be. It was a rusting old hulk, SBNO. So since then, from your trip report, the only changes to the park are, 1 they remover the old demon, and 2 the addition of the SBF Spinner and the Rattler. Otherwise, all looks exactly the same, right down to the missing seat on the back of the Big Dipper. Wow. At least they are consistent. Still, it is worth a detour to stop at Camden. Edit * Dang that is really a cheap admission price !

Re: Photo TR: Andy's Visit to Camden Park

PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 5:26 pm
by The Great Zo
bert425 wrote:Fantastic pics (as usual) Andy, so happy to see a new trip report from you!


Thanks! This is just a short one-off report, still hoping to finish my stuff from California last year, but 2019 might get in the way soon.

Canobie Coaster wrote:Awesome report! It's great to relive the haphazard glory of Camden Park.

The airtime on Big Dipper is real. It's remarkable how smooth that ride is considering the appearance. I still won't forget the time I was evacuated after the op dispatched our train with the lap bars up and yelled at us when they physically wouldn't lower.


I read your report from last year and there were definitely some similarities in our experiences. I didn't even mention the restrooms in my report, but yours was still accurate a year later.

They did have two ops on Big Dipper, though, and they were checking restraints the whole time. It's insane that I even need to mention that. :lmao:

djcoastermark wrote:So since then, from your trip report, the only changes to the park are, 1 they remover the old demon, and 2 the addition of the SBF Spinner and the Rattler. Otherwise, all looks exactly the same, right down to the missing seat on the back of the Big Dipper. Wow. At least they are consistent. Still, it is worth a detour to stop at Camden. Edit * Dang that is really a cheap admission price !


Aside from those two new rides, this place really is a bit of a time warp. The price is right, though -- it's hard to argue against the place when admission is under $20.

Re: Photo TR: Andy's Visit to Camden Park

PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:46 am
by jynx242
Always love to see a report from you Andy! This is one of those parks that you think, if they had a few hundred thousand dollars for infrastructure and restoration that it could really make the park look better.

David