After leaving Bowcraft, I planned to hit Land of Make Believe. When I pulled up to the park, I was greeted with a sign saying they were closed for the season. Upon double checking the website, I realized I completely missed the line stating their final operating day of the 2016 season. My bad. Thankfully, there was a mountain coaster not too far down the road at the Camelback Mountain Resort waiting for me.
The Appalachian Express Mountain Coaster is another Aquatic Development creation. The park was completely empty and I was able to board right away. The ride was an above average mountain coaster. The ride was pretty long. The car built up its top speed fairly quickly and there were some bumps on the way down that gave quick pops of air.
The park had an alpine slide under construction and there was an adjacent outdoor water park that was closed during my summer visit. The indoor water park looked amazing with the drop pod slides, master blaster slide, and a few others, but the price wasn't great for non-resort guests.
Same old same old. Great setting, difficult to photograph.
At least I could get the amazing segment from the brake run to the loading platform.
Party Zone USA is the ultimate credit whore stop and I took the bait. The park is located less than a minute or so off the highway in Middletown, NY and is attached to a Golden Corral. I had eyed this park for a while, but my travels hadn't brought me down the section of I-84 in New York until my return trip from Camelback Resort.
Party Zone basically felt like an upscale Chuck E Cheese's. There were several arcade games, some inflatables, and lots of kids screaming and blindly running around. Most importantly, they also had some amusement rides highlighted by the Python Roller Coaster. The Python coaster brings you mere feet from the roof of the building (and mere feet off the ground) but as far as a kiddie coasters, it's a pretty smooth ride and gave 3 laps if I remember correctly.
They also had a mechanical bull. I had never tried one before, but I quickly learned that they are quite hard to ride and can throw you pretty far despite looking slow and unassuming before boarding. It also may have been that it was running much tamer for the kids going before me than they'd set it for an adult...
I did feel quite awkward there without a kid, but it was totally worth it for the credit.
It's a credit whore party in there.
Python comes mere feet from the roof of the building or rises mere feet off the ground. Take your pick if you're a glass half full or half empty kind of guy.
As far as kiddie coasters go, this one was pretty smooth and gave 3 laps.
Check out that theming.
The park also had the cutest little drop tower ever.
And a small little himalaya.
There were plenty of inflatables.
And the mechanical bull that totally kicked my butt. Wow.
The Big E (officially the Eastern States Exposition) is a massive county fair held in late September/early October in Springfield, MA. The Big E is New England's biggest fair and has everything you could wish for in a county fair- insane flat rides, a full-size roller coaster, kiddie coaster credits, artery clogging fried food, animals, artsy exhibits, and shops.
The Midway is the most impressive I've been to outside of the Alameda County Fair out in California. North American Amusements has multiple pendulum rides, a full-sized coaster, kiddie coasters, and cheesy dark rides. I would highly recommend visiting on a weekday since they have a wristband. Otherwise, each ride could set you back something in the ballpark of $3-6. Some highlights on the ride side:
Blitzer- Blitzer is lone major coaster and it's better than it looks. A galaxi-style coaster, the Blitzer has two very steep drops that give good air at the beginning. The helices are nothing to write home about, but for a carnival coaster it's a winner.
Speed- A KMG Speed ride, this was the most visually stunning and thrilling ride at the fair. Unfortunately, everyone else thought that too and it had an hour wait since it seated so few people. Speed was outstanding and felt like a zipper cage fastened to an oversized pendulum. The ride was extremely disorienting and forceful. I just wish I could have gotten more rides.
Pendulum Rides- The fair had a KMG Freak Out which swung the highest and gave the longest sustained air of any ride at the fair. The Feuerball appeared to be a KMG Fireball, which was different from Freak Out since it spun faster and provided briefer, more powerful pops of air. The Sky Master was a Fabbri Kamikaze with a very long cycle. Then there was the 1001 Nachts flying carpet which gave some solid floater air going over the top.
Mouse Trap- This is an undeniably cheesy, gravity-powered dark ride that some would count as a credit. The drop is actually quite zippy thanks to the weight of the cars and the inside portion is laughably bad theming wise and with how small the clearance envelopes are. It really needs to be experienced and I guarantee you'd leave the ride with a smile if you like bad dark rides.
Kiddie Coasters- Credit whores rejoice. The fair had a Go Gator (kids only), Orient Express (adults allowed, I passed), and Wacky Worm (I couldn't resist this one though).
For food, the fair had some interesting items. I loved the clam cakes (deep fried clam chowder) from the Rhode Island Pavilion. I also tried the Deep Fried Shepherd's Pie which was interesting. The freshly made donuts throughout the fair are another highlight of mine. If you ever leave the fair without raising your cholesterol, you're doing it wrong. Onto the photos, which sadly are lacking any food.
The Big E has the most impressive midway of the New England carnivals.
They have a few kiddie coasters- Go Gator, Orient Express, and Wacky Worm.
And they have one larger coaster in the Blitzer. The first two drops give some really nice air.
And then there's this awesomely ghetto, gravity powered drop ride. It's so cheesy that it's funny.
There are also awesome flats like Power Surge.
Or Speed which was included with the wristband. It was outstanding but unfortunately it had almost an hour wait due to its capacity.
Vertigo was child's play considering SFNE's 400 footer is just down the road.
The best ride after you eat those foot long corn dogs and deep fried shepherd pies.
Outside of fried food and rides, the fair also has several animal exhibits.
Concerts too! This year's headliner was Elle King, aka Miss Exes and Ohs.
This sign is true.
Words to live by. Yes I love weenie dogs. Deal with it.
I live about 15 minutes from Middletown but have never visited that park because for some reason I still have a shred of dignity. I won't judge though.
As for Camelback, I enjoyed that mountain coaster immensely even though it was -2 degrees (F) for our ride and we were being pelted with snow drifts all the way up the lift (it was so windy that day that the upper ski lifts (Sullivan and Stevenson Express Quads) were on a wind hold.
It's definitely worth going, especially since it's located next to Golden Corral. What could be better than an all-you-can-eat buffet and a kiddie coaster?
I haven't gotten a chance to ride one of the mountain coasters in cold weather yet. The "worst" weather I've had was 50 F with some rain drops and that was at Berkshire. I can't imagine how cold that lift would be because of how long it is, but at least the ride down probably took your mind off of it.
It would be a great idea if every Golden Corral guest were "corraled" through a Party Zone where they are forced to go up and down the inflatable slides ten times and then walk through a lengthy haunted maze before leaving the premises - in order to work off some of the insane amount of crappy food that they just ate.
After an early September trip to La Ronde, I decided it was time to return to Canada in early October. This time I visited Ontario's top park, Canada's Wonderland. I had been to the park once before back in 2010 and really enjoyed it. Behemoth was outstanding and became my favorite coaster at the time. Since then, I've added more than 200 other coasters under my belt and Behemoth has fallen down my ranks, as a certain B&M giga at Carowinds has the top spot. As much as I loved Behemoth, the real reason for my visit was to ride B&M's giga coaster that preceded Fury in Leviathan.
Canada's Wonderland operates their haunt differently than any other park I've seen. The park is open during the day 10-5. At 5, they clear out the park and then reopen at 7 for the haunt. I decided to visit during the day since I figured the park would be less crowded. I ended up visiting on an overcast/rainy day, so the park was mostly empty. Almost everything was a walk-on, including the two shiny B&Ms.
Let's start with Leviathan. I really liked the coaster. Leviathan looks amazing and absolutely dominates the skyline. The first drop is tied with Fury for my favorite drop on any coaster, as it seemingly lasts forever and sustains major floater air the entire way down. While Fury 325's subsequent hills were significantly more intense than any other B&M hyper that I've been on (the air was ejector instead of floater), Leviathan's subsequent hills felt more like their hyper coaster's hills with good floater air. Having said that, I still do love floater air. The ride felt like it ended a little prematurely, but Leviathan was definitely one of the best steel coasters I've been on (ended up at 6 just outside my top 5). It's glass smooth, fast, and has that epic first drop.
I remember when Leviathan was built, it seemed puzzling since the park already had Behemoth. However, Behemoth feels like an entirely different ride. Behemoth is still the airtime machine I remember. The airtime felt stronger than the average B&M hyper, especially in the back on the first drop when you can really feel the yank from the long train. The ride did have some rattle to it, but Behemoth is still one of the best B&Ms (falls behind the 2 gigas and SFOG's Goliath).
Two other rides were new for me and highly anticipated- Skyhawk and Wonder Mountain's Guardian. I got two rides on Skyhawk. The first ride was balls to the wall insane. Once I got the first flip going, my car probably made about 20 flips in 20 seconds and it goes down as one of the most disorienting and intense experiences I've ever had on a ride. Unfortunately, I couldn't even get one flip on my second ride. I came close, but the cycle wasn't long enough for me to go all the way around. Guardian was excellent. I thought the dark ride scenes had plenty of targets on the screen and the guns were easy to control. And I'm glad I didn't spoil the ride for myself since the final scene was totally unexpected and well done.
Outside of that, I rerode several coasters from my last visit. Vortex is still my favorite Arrow suspended since it maintains its speed from start to finish. Wild Beast and Mighty Canadian Minebuster are two solid and underrated woodies that are relatively smooth with good air. Backlot Stunt Coaster is an enjoyable launch coaster. I skipped the Vekomas that were terrible on my last visit, but did reride the Volare. While rougher than I remember, I still did enjoy Time Warp. The same can't be said for my girlfriend, so I think I just have a magical way to ride these things.
Leviathan was the primary reason for my visit and it did not disappoint.
Not quite as good as Fury, but better than all of B&M's hyper coasters. The first drop is tied with Fury for my favorite on any coaster and the ride maintains is speed well.
The hills after the first drop felt like the average B&M hyper. That's not a bad thing, but the airtime felt like the usual floater instead of the ejector air on Fury.
The beast absolutely dominates the park's skyline.
Leviathan's baby brother is still one of the top B&M hypers.
The first drop packs a serious punch thanks to the long train.
It's an airtime buffet.
It's a headbanging buffet. Thank god I already had the credit.
Still the best Arrow suspended. The way Vortex maintains its speed is impressive and results in major swinging.
Ride 1- Insane, Ride 2- Boring, It's all about the technique (which I think I got lucky with on ride 1).
The giant frisbee that looks more impressive than it really is. This one didn't give me any air unfortunately.
Drop Tower delivered though. Intamin towers are so much better than S&S ones.
I have never been more cold on a ride than I was on Windseeker. I was wearing shorts and it was cold, windy, and rainy. Not my smartest moment.
Canada's Wonderland seems like a nice home park to have when I move there once Trump is inaugurated.
While the highlight of the trip for me was Canada's Wonderland, I also spent time around Niagara Falls with my girlfriend (Canadian side only. I don't go to the dark place known as the American side). I had previously been there in the middle of summer back in 2010 and it was hot and packed. In early October, the weather was comfortable and crowds were extremely light, which made it easy to see the falls without having families pushing and shoving you out of the way.
Niagara Falls is beautiful. Both Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls remind me how beautiful nature can be as I look out my window now writing this TR seeing a mountain of snow. During the day, the falls are awe-inspiring and at night, they come even more alive thanks for the multicolored lights shining on them. I also took the opportunity to try the Journey Behind Niagara Falls walkthrough to get up close and personal. Walking through the caverns was pretty disappointing (think of dark, constricted, concrete walkways that smell like a garage with almost no windows) but the photo area at the base of the falls was outstanding. I think the only other way to get those shots would be to board one of the boats.
Along with nature's beauty, there's also an endless array of tourist trap items. I made sure to experience a few of them, so I'll give my highlights below:
Louis Tussaud's Wax Museum- This is an amazing wax museum with a wide range of figures covering sports, movies, politics, Harry Potter, and so much more. 95% of the figures are extremely accurate representations, 4% are so bad that they're funny, and 1% just look terrible.
Movieland Wax Museum- This is not an amazing wax museum. 95% of the figures just look terrible, 4% look amazing and lifelike (the ones in the front window displays), and 1% is the Taylor Swift out front that pumps her music on the street 24/7. Skip this one in favor of Tussaud's. Don't be lured in by the front window display or T Swizzle's music.
Great Canadian Midway- Amazing arcade. They have a nice mix of app-based games like Dave & Buster's, lots of sports games (really impressed with the baseball one), a huge test-of-strength game, racing games, shooting games, and a back room with all of the old games my local arcade used to have until it went out of business (the basketball skeeball game, Arctic Thunder, air cannons, etc). The prizes aren't all that great, but I was there to just have fun. They also had a 4D theater and a Sally shooter dark ride. I did both of these on my 2010 trip, but skipped them this time. The Sally shooter was pretty good in 2010, but not sure if the targets have been maintained well or not over the years.
Adventure City- Lackluster arcade. This is the Movieland of arcades. I knew I was in trouble when the first four doors I tried to get in were locked at 8 pm when their hours said they were open. Eventually I got in through a partially hidden side door. Inside I saw a large collection of games, but a good chunk of them were out of order. They also had some amusement rides that were of course all closed. The highlight was the Pink Panther Balloon Ride on top of the building, closed of course, since you pay $8 to be blocked by buildings on 3 of 4 sides.
Skylon Tower- This is the best option to see Niagara Falls from up above. Relatively cheap elevator ride and you can stay at the top as long as you like. Just make sure it's a clear day when you go up.
Greg Frewin Magic Show- Excellent show. I couldn't believe some of the tricks and anyone in the area should see his show.
Smoke's Poutinerie- This is the best Poutine I've ever had (only other time was at La Ronde, so I know that doesn't sound like much) but my girlfriend who is a food connoisseur agreed with me as well. They had an extensive menu and had some interesting flavors. We went with the Thanksgiving poutine and loved every bite. Smoke's is about a 10 minute walk from the main stretch but well worth it.
Marineland- Don't go there unless you want to spend $50 to get 30,000 steps on your Fitbit, climb a 150 foot hill, see employees race by you on golf carts, find about a quarter of the rides closed, and see non-marine animals like bears. Marineland was absolutely terrible during my 2010 visit so I made sure to avoid it like the plague. They would have to add something truly special (I'm talking a RMC, B&M, or Intamin) for me to consider returning.
Onto the photos!
Let me in! Trump is about to be elected.
Time to see nature's beauty.
There she is.
There are touristy things everywhere! PS- Louis Tussaud's is so much better than Movieland (that's where Catwoman is from).
Tourist trap overload on the great Canadian side.
And of course there's Niagara Falls. And that dark shadowy place beyond the American Falls known as the American side.
You can see Marineland's drop tower in the distance. No I did not go there again. That place is hell.
The falls are lit up very nicely at night.
I tried Journey Behind the Falls to get close to the water.
And that I did.
You could also look down dank hallways like this.
Is that a black squirrel? Yes it is.
Even squirrels are friendlier in Canada.
Elvis putting on a concert for no one.
Didn't do either of these. Looked too mainstream touristy.
A haunted house, guns, and paint ball? Now that's more like it.
Adventure City was an arcade/family entertainment center but it seemed pretty run down and odd.
Along with the arcade, they have a balloon ride that provides no views thanks to the building next to it.
I forgot to take photos of the good arcade (Great Canadian Midway), but I have a photo of the Sally dark ride inside it. Didn't ride it this time, but it was good back in 2010.
Fun fun fun. Ruby Tuesday's that is.
I had to go to Canadian Wendy's solely because of that leaf.
But really I sampled the local cuisine. This poutinerie was off the main road and was outstanding!
Upside down house or upside down photo? You decide.
I would like to buy a vowel and a shirt.
Oh yeah they also have a pretty cool Ferris Wheel.
And a great observation tower. This is my recommendation for aerial views.
Last but not least is the awesome magic show, Greg Frewin. Go see it and I guarantee you'll be amazed.
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