Big fun at Little Amerricka for sure! You have Great America on the Illinois side and Little Amerricka on the Wisconsin side. I believe the name is a play on the owner's last name - Merrick. Someone chime in if you know more, please. I've been going to the park for a few years now and always have a great time!
A simple entrance with a monorail that circles the entire park. It's not exactly flashy, but everything at Little Amerricka is highly functional and taken well care of. No flashy-ness needed.
These 2 are having fun! Mad Mouse is always a blast. This is one of only 2 operating Herschell Mad Mouses in operation that I know of, the other is at Arnold's Park in Iowa.
There were many of these models in operation across the states, mostly built in the late 50's/early 60's. It's steel wheels on a steel track with steel supports... it's born to clunk! but when in good operating health with greasy wheels, they run wild! This thing runs like a champ! The clunkiness is built-in and adds to the charm.
Your chariot has arrived! Just get in and go, the way it was meant to be. No waiting or stacking here. I love climbing down in there and taking off. The 90s really took a toll on classic coaster riding with all the restraints, seat dividers, etc., that were rolled out. Most of it is still unnecessary. I savor the few true classic rides we have! They will let 2 adults ride if you can fit (get ready for an extra fast ride in that case!)
Unfortunately Test Pilot was closed. Bummed as I loved these and a little shocked as I've never seen a ride closed at Little Amerricka. These are a tuff ride, in that you kind of have to brace yourself while riding - especially with 2 people. For that reason, some folks don't like them. But I love em! (shoutout to Satellite at Knoebels!)
Notice there is a missing handrail on the wooden Meteor coaster next to this ride. As I like to say to my fellow park/coaster friends "There is always enough room! People really think Cedar Point (another awesome and well run park) is running out of space. HUGE bonus Charm Factor for unique integration of rides.
The monorail runs these single 4 (or more?) people cars. As I've ridden most world-record-breaking coasters (and can still confirm the world records definitely do not make them more fun), I've gained a deeper appreciation for other rides, especially anything unique or classic. Skyrides, trains and monorails especially! I love getting a different perspective on the park, also a good opportunity to take a break (shoutout to People Mover!)
The people working at Little Amerricka are awesome. They know what they are doing, they do it fast and helpful and they know how to connect with people. That's another thing I appreciate more these days, the ability of the employees to connect with people; it makes the whole experience better for me. For the parks that don't have that... I never blame the employees themselves; they are imitating what they have seen and how they are trained. It all trickle down; it's just not part of the culture at those places. Shame too, as many of those larger coaster parks could and should be world-class.
Note classic but evil Chance Toboggan in background.
A classic Eli Ferris Wheel, looking and running like brand new of course. I love these but there is that nimbly quality to them that freaks me out - which makes the experience that much more valuable to me.
Meteor from the Ferris Wheel.
I have a thing for curved coaster stations. Major classic/charm points there. It's tough to make out in this picture, but there are large HC letters built into the red handrails going up to the station; this represents Hillcrest Park, the original location of Meteor in Illinois. They kept that part of the ride legacy alive, classy for sure!
The ride operator gives proper riding instructions...
And then he watches the riders through the entire layout and reminds them of the proper way to ride. The attention and respect given by the ride operators to the guests and rides is very awesome at Little Amerricka!
Another happy trainload rolls into the station, but it ain't over yet! Every ride on the Meteor is really 3 as you get 3 laps! To load the train, give 3 laps and unlock the bars took 3 minutes and 18 seconds. Kiddie coasters at some parks take longer than that to just get loaded.
He's holding both the station entrance and exit brakes in the 'down' position so the train can "shoot the station" as we used to say. The 3rd brake behind him is the brake that controls the brake run before the station (or "drag brake" as we used to call it at Cedar Point when the Blue Streak had that awesome classic station).
I love how this little guy in the next seat just can't wait to get that bar down so he can ride! Don't worry buddy, you will be on your way in about 1 second! Notice how clean and well-kept everything is.
Nerd shot. Ahhhh... a nice greasy coaster track! You could really smell it going up the lift, a sign of a well-loved and maintained ride. Classic PTC Jr. train with flanged wheels that looks like new.
This girl is following the ride operator's riding instructions; hands up!
I love this view from the monorail station. Note camera mom in seat 1.
Camera mom again! And again! Remember, you get 3 go-rounds on Meteor!
Everyone loves a Hershchell Little Dipper! Well... I gotta say I love them and especially love seeing Little Amerricka keep this thing running and looking new.. but these rides aren't easy on people over 6 feet tall! Those transitions will getcha! Steel wheels on steel track and a steel frame. All that AND the seat is steel too! But really, it's ok. The kids love it and don't feel the jerkyness a 6-1 adult feels. Basically, it's perfectly designed for the little ones!
I still always take it for a single ride; I know what I'm getting into. But my single ride on the aforementioned Wild and Wooly Toboggan (a Chance Toboggan) wasn't happening today. Maybe next time!
What are THESE!!? We ran into a gentleman named Darrell who told us these cars were in the back out by the parking lot. I didn't get his official title (because we started talking coasters), but he definitely seems like someone in charge of a lot at the park. I asked about the Lincoln Park Comet (North Dartmouth, Mass., 1946-1987) as the park had plans to rebuild that ride at some point. Those plans have been cancelled as they realized it's better to have rides that appeal to the age range that visit Little Amerricka.
So they have the Lincoln Park Comet train (5 cars of 2 benches each, NAD) in storage and now they have this!
What is said to be the original Waldameer Comet train! They're hope is to eventually restore/rebuild this and use it if they build a coaster in the future. A coaster similar to Meteor, that the kids and family could ride. Maybe a few feet bigger like the Waldameer Comet (37 feet) perhaps? Who knows. But whatever they do, it will be quality and fun!
As an avid fan of classic stuff who thinks they know a lot... I was happily surprised to see these lap bars! I don't even remember hearing about something like this. They are a hybrid between PTC stationary bars and the standard Jr. PTC lap bar; they have the angle on one side, but move up and down to lock. Very interesting! I'd imagine they would go with a new set of standard PTC Jr. bars if this train is restored.
My buddy was wondering why they would even save this seemingly trashed train? I explained that the bottom of the cars (the chassis) is the most important part. That and these springs would probably be fine after a good sand blasting (or chemical stripping) and priming/painting. For everything above the chassis, it would all have to be freshly built. And Little Amerricka has the people to do it!
Special thanks to Little Amerricka to another great day! It's just another reminder to me that as much as I love big coasters and big parks, sometimes the little parks (or big parks that are run well) are simply more fun.
Great report! I love all the retro rides at this park and want to make it here someday.
I just rode the Wild Mouse at Arnolds Park a few weeks ago. Granted I rode alone, but it definitely wasn't running very fast outside of the first 2-3 hairpin turns. I think the ending was also reprofiled to remove one or two of the bunny hops. Also does this one run without restraints?
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I've never been on a Chance Toboggan before, and I kind of have a fascination with them after gazing at the one in Conneaut Lake's parking lot for years. It's a long shot of me getting here, so the best chance I have of riding one would probably at a fair somewhere.
I love the missing handrail on Meteor! I wonder if a coaster train has ever had a "near-miss" with a Roll-O-Plane cage.
Thanks for the report; it gave a good overall feel of the place.
Of course we get a TPR visitor the one weekend I'm on vacation. Darrell is actually the owner of the park, lead maintenance guy, fabricator, part time operator, etc. He traded the trains with a gentleman in the Chicago area for some odds and ends. We didn't even see the trains prior to picking them up - they were just described to us as 'rough'. I'd certainly agree with that. We're hoping we can salvage most of the running gear. The seats and frames were most likely going to be replaced no matter what.
Glad to hear you enjoyed your visit to the park. It's not a big corporate park with tons of thrills rides, but they do a great job of taking care of everything and preserving some older, less-common rides. A nice easy stop if you're in the area. Hopefully you come back out and visit us once we get this new roller coaster up and running. Eventually.
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