Canobie Coaster wrote:Great report!
I really need to give myself a full day in Wildwood next year. This looks like a great way to start the day. I've never done one of those dine at the top experiences that are in most major cities, but I think I'd prefer the view atop this seaside Ferris Wheel so much more.
Thanks! Do it!
Philrad71 wrote:Looks amazing!
I'd also need to rent an escort...or Bert can save the money on flying over a middle aged guy from Japan and I'll just go with him! LOL
Jersey Boys weekend! Get planning.
RAWKIN_coaster38 wrote:That's really cool! I didn't know they did that. The food looks good, too! Website says they're sold out for 2018, guess you really do have to book far in advance?
It's only during July and August so its done for the year, but I believe it did sell out before the final weekend. It has in years past. When you book it gives you a calendar and you can see how many reservations are available for each day and what times. Some days had plenty of availability, some (like weekend before July 4th) were almost completely booked.
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After packing up, goodbye to the folks and missus, Brit and I jumped in Bills car to cruise off the island headed northbound via the Garden State Parkway on a brief, 30 minute jaunt up the coast to Ocean City, NJ, just south of Atlantic City, and widely considered one of the "nicer" South Jersey shore towns thanks to its quiet beach and boardwalk, family atmosphere, and strict liquor laws. And by strict meaning NO liquor. Totally dry town. You can bring it in, but you can't buy it here. Its actually quite comical, when you get off the parkway you pass like 17 beer/liquor stores on the way onto the island.
I've been to Ocean City a few times before. Always a Wildwood kid, it wasn't a place we stayed or even really visited at all while growing up, but my mothers sister lived here for a few years back in the late aughts, and on occasion, to escape my roommate at the time, I'd head down via the Atlantic City train and spend relaxing weekends in her quiet bay-side bungalow before heading back up to work on Mondays. This was usually in the winter, and while we'd sometimes walk the deserted boardwalk, I had little interest in the rides there at the time. Not that they were even open to ride at that time of the year.
Fast forward to 2015 and I noticed a particularly interesting post on Facebook about a brand new bonkers looking prototype S&S launch coaster opening in this sleepy little shore town, at a modest little seaside amusement park known as Playlands Castaway Cove
, and immediately popped over to this very forum to inform the world about it.
As some of you might remember, I was extremely excited about this ride, and followed the construction of Gale Force
very closely, posting updates here almost daily. At some point we found out there wouldn't be just one, but three
new coasters coming in 2016 - in addition to the S&S, they'd also be installing an EF Miler family coaster immediately around it, as well as an SBF spinning coaster.
After slowly watching the construction of all three coasters via their webcam, the summer season was upon us, but the rides were not ready to open. And so we waited, and waited... Finally test runs. Very squeaky test runs. I think we all knew something seemed off, but we continued to hope for an impending opening date. But we waited.. and waited... and before long it was well past Labor Day. Opening dates came and went, and the coaster never opened. Some might remember the hilarity of the park teasing they might open it in November of that year, but that didn't even happen.
Enter 2017: the park is now posting that the ride will be ready for opening day in the spring. Then we found out that pieces of track needed to be replaced. That happened, then spring rolled around, and the park was running countless test runs and waiting for state inspection. And waiting, and waiting...
The ride finally opened to the public a full 21 months after its announcement, and generally to rave reviews, in May of 2017. Once I got word of steady operations I began to make a plan to piggyback a trip to Ocean City onto one of my many trips to Wildwood. However, I just didn't make it to Ocean City last year. No reason why, sometimes that's just life for ya. Cue the 2017-18 off season, and just when you thought this ride couldn't have any more issues, we find out the entire rides track is being re-manufactured and replaced by S&S. Such are the hurdles of prototype rides, I guess? Now here we are in 2018 and I have still yet to make it a priority to get a ride or five in on Gale Force
. Leading up to this weekend, Bill mentioned about stopping in Ocean City on the way home, and of course I was in.
Bill had his GPS direct us straight to PCC, only problem with that is it was 1pm on a beautiful Sunday in the center of town. With everyone heading to the beach/boardwalk, parking was non-existent. So we spent a little bit of time looking for a spot, and eventually found one 4 blocks back. At some point, some time later, we were on the boards and approaching the front of the park. Unlike Moreys
, and many other boardwalk piers, Playlands Castaway Cove
sits on the side of Ocean City's boardwalk that is opposite the ocean, and the entrance is through an arcade.
The entrance. Sorry its blurry. I'm a terrible person.
The first thing I noticed about Gale Force
is how large and imposing it feels compared to the surrounding area of the boardwalk. Not to mention it just looks funky. None of the classic grace of an old school woodie or something like a swooping B&M hyper. Nah, Gale Force
looks like some sh*t a kid on his first acid trip came up with, which the sun then melted it into a twisted, horrifying mess. I couldn't wait to ride it.
We had a look around the small park for some bathrooms, checked out the full ride line-up (mostly flats you can find at any boardwalk park - a Sea Dragon, an S&S double shot, a frisbee/claw thing, an Air Race, etc) and then found a ticket booth.
Sooooo... Gale Force
is pretty expensive. Its 14 tickets or you can buy a $10 "Gale Force pass" good for one ride. But we wanted to ride other stuff too and once we did the math we just bought a bunch of tickets, I think we got like 90 tickets for $60? That would get us all on GF, the other two coasters, and maybe a flat or two.
We made our way over to the ride to find it a complete walk-on, and were greeted by an older gentleman who must have been an owner/manager since we wasn't wearing the same uniform all of the employees were - I'm pretty sure he just had jeans, a t-shirt and a nice healthy mullet on. He directed us to completely empty our pockets into the station-side bins, and then he broke out a wand and things got all TSA for a second. Cleared for take-off, the three of us hopped into the front row and waited while we watched a few other riders follow the same hands-up-turn-your-head-and-cough routine, and jumped in behind us.
The operator working the control booth asked if we were ready, the safety gates opened, and we started off slow and steady down the launch track, picking up a burst of speed halfway down, firing us halfway up the top-hat. We rolled back over the LSMs and were forcefully catapulted backwards, experiencing a nice sustained moment of floater air, before we barreled back into the station, the magnets launching us full speed down the straightaway and straight up the tophat.
Twisting up and over the top-hat provides an incredible moment of totally funky ejector air that sustains as you plummet down the beyond-vertical drop. Before you can blink you're barreling back up, twisting to your right and back the way you came, back downhill. It all happens very fast, but it provided some of the strangest, unique airtime I've ever experienced, and maybe my favorite moment of the ride. The following element is a bit like a non-inverting half loop, but at the moment you're right way up, you're rewarded with even more air. One final valley with some trick track into one final twisting pop of air before darting back through the station, down the launch track, and halfway up the top-hat before the brakes catch and slowly roll you back into the station.
In a word: fantastic. It's like the Premier SkyRocket IIs
, but on crack and 5 hour energy shots. I've heard mixed reviews since Gale Force
opened and had my doubts that it would live up to all the hype I've built up in my head as I've followed this project along. But it far exceeded them. The airtime, the launches, the funky transitions and forces, a really, really great first drop - it ticks all of my boxes. And I'm super jealous that Moreys didn't built this first. The only downside is its price. Confidential to Playland: if you were to offer something like... say... a $60 "Gale Force All Day Pass" wristband I would happily purchase it.
As mentioned, the park also built a family coaster by Miler called Wild Waves
, directly around Gale Force
. If there is any reason for the full cavity search while boarding Gale Force
, its the placement of this other coaster - they are extremely close to one another. How the State of NJ allows these two to operate simultaneously after the whole Kingda Ka
fiasco is beyond me. But we'll save that for another thread.
Credits whores we are, we made our way over to the entrance next door and made our way up to another walk-on. Bill and I hopped in the front with Brit in the rear. One of the operators noticed my Moreys t-shirt and asked about it and told us to try the back if we rode again. The trains, while small and relatively ugly, were very comfortable with a small little lapbar. This one starts with a small lift out of the station, followed by a left hand turn to another larger lift. At the apex, it levels out, hits a trim and then proceeds to barrel down the modest first drop, before rising into a turnaround with a pop of remarkable ejector air at the top of the hill.
The turnaround is followed by a drop into two airtime hills, both launching you out of your seat. By this point we were cackling with surprise at this awesome little thing. After a short funky bit over the station that turns you around again, down into a larger hill that rockets you up into two more airtime pops, followed by a downward turn that leads into three final bunnyhops, each torpedo-ing you out of your seat. We hit the brakes and looked at each other in disbelief. What the f*ck is this? Why aren't there more of these? Wild Waves is the real deal, guys.
To round out the three coasters, we decided to hit Whirlwind
, the parks SBF spinner. I almost didn't ride due to my hellish experience on Moreys' Wild Whizzer
a few weeks before, but decided to join Bill and Brit at the last second. We sat on opposites side of the lead car in an otherwise empty train, we did not experience the level of spinning I did on Wildwoods' newest coaster. Cha-ching!
Earlier I had pointed out to Bill the unassuming (while not running) flat Tropical Storm
, located directly next to the Gale Force
entrance. I mentioned how I read on this very board about how its not only a very unique ride being the only version of its kind in North America, but an also completely batsh*t crazy spinning experience. And since I didn't want to puke up all that delicious food we tasted on Moreys wheel that morning, Bill had to ride. You know, for science.
Brit followed my lead and told Bill to have a good time on his own. I'm partially convinced he just doesn't want to wimp out when I dare him to ride these kinds of flats, but apparently he actually enjoys riding them. I'll keep daring him, because I want to find out where his limit is. I wasn't convinced Maelstrom
did it the previous evening, but maybe this would. He queued up to ride and the operator waited a few minutes to see if anyone else would join him, but before long he checked his restraint and fired this sucker up, Bill riding all by his lonesome. It starts off mild and then suddenly cranks into overdrive.
Good god, Bill. What have we gotten you into?
His maniacal, mid-ride shrieks attracted a small crowd.
Having not really watched the ride run before we threw him on it was the funniest part about this. The cycle was fairly long and I surely thought we had a chance of hurl. I don't understand how everyone doesn't hurl from this ride. I'm sure he'll chime in and I'll let him describe his riding experience, but he didn't seem all that affected. In fact, at this point we all started to talk about food again. We still had a few tickets left. We counted and we had 15 - not enough for a second lap on Gale Force
... what awesome ride here is only 5 tickets a piece?
As suggested earlier, we headed back around to try the back rows of Wild Waves
since it was the perfect amount of tickets, and again had a surprisingly stellar ride. This awesome little roller coaster provides a bounty of airtime, but is mild enough to ride repeatedly all day. I want one in my back yard.
So... back to food. Earlier in the day while looking for Playlands Castaway Cove
we passed Manco & Mancos
, which I know to be a favorite pizza spot in town, so we decided then it would be good to have a taste of what the locals rave about.
I stole this photo from google, because I was too famished to stop and take one when we were there. We also didn't take any photos of the slices. They were fine. Very hot. Nothing exceptional, just good plain pizza.
While Playlands Castaway Cove
and Gale Force
we the main purposes of our trip, we knew there was another pier on the boardwalk, Gillians Wonderland
, that I had heard had more of an old school feel but had a coaster or two. Bill heard they had a flume. And we both heard they just put in a new Larson tower.
We made our way down the noticeably quiet boardwalk, passing by folks selling fine art and homemade crafts, a pretty different vibe than Wildwood, before we came upon the (kinda janky looking) Wonderland.
Again we were faced with another ticket only situation, but no matter since we didn't have all that much we wanted to hit here. The park is split into a few different areas, with an indoor and a multi level outdoor section. The indoor section is in the front and where you'll find a number of very small kiddie rides, as well as ticket vendors, some food stands and a strange elevated tram that's themed to Thomas the Train.
The front/indoor area also looks out across the boardwalk to the beach/ocean. We milled about before wandering outside and up to a small elevated level that contained a few flats like their Waveswinger
and a few rides for very small children.
It also provided a nice panoramic view of the entire park, specifically the Canyon Falls Log Flume
and the fairly large (Larson) Drop Tower
they recently installed. We saw the coaster was running but of course Bill was fixated on the flume and the fact that maintenance workers were f*cking with the lift motors. We didn't want to bite the bullet on tickets since we didn't know how many we would need. If the flume was out that just left us the coaster & the drop tower, but not much else that we were interested in here.
We made our way downstairs and found ourselves a very eager ride op at the flume who was very enthused by Bills flume obsession and assured us it would reopen, and shortly. We did some math at the ticket booth and figured out how we would need, getting just enough for the three rides we wanted to check.
Whores that we are, we got the coaster out of the way first, and I'm happy to be alive to tell you about it. On this scorcher of a day we expressed disdain at the trains black plastic seats and a lack of a roof over the station. Ouch! We sat in the back hoping for some kind of air, but as we were just about to go down the turned drop Brit, horrified, pointed out how rusted all of the wheels were, prompting me to say a little prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the Sky as we careened through the ride. Its kinda like an outdoor Skull Mountain
. Long A$$ train, not much going on but a succession of swooping turns throughout its course. There's really nothing noteworthy about this ride other than the fact that we didn't die. Soooo.... go watch a POV or something.
After we kissed the ground, we noted the flume was still being worked on (I'm positive Bill had been eyeing it throughout the ride on the death train) do we decided to try the drop tower, but Brit peaced out and randomly decided to hit up the dark ride by herself (she said it was lame). The drop tower was awesome as expected. We were directed to certain seats so our view was of the street side, not the beach, but luckily this allowed Bill to see what the hell was happening at the flume. These towers don't pause at the top, and the fall feels like the ride vehicle weighs a million pounds, the last-second braking convincing you for a half-second of certain death. Amazing.
We met back up with Brit and hung around the flume for another 5 minutes when it looked like maintenance was finishing up, and the fervent ride op waved us over. Against our better judgement the three of us climbed into one log, with Bill up front of course. The flume is a bit unique as while there is only one drop, there is a small, somewhat themed indoor section before heading outdoors and up the lift. After a turnaround is the drop, which I found fairly large and steep. At the bottom of the drop you torpedo into the covered/indoor area and slam into a wall of water, giving us all a good soaking. It was hot enough that none of us cared.
It was getting later in the afternoon, and Bill was going to drop me off in Trenton on his way up to New York, so we had to get moving. We stopped for some more Khor Bros custard as we headed off the boardwalk and back to the car. It was hot and it melted fast, or else I'd have taken a photo.
I would have loved to have gone back over to Playlands
for some more Gale Force
action, that ride is totally badass and you should all try to get there to check it out. So stoked to have finally ridden it, and for it to exceed my expectations the way it did. I have full intentions of grabbing a bunch of their half-price tickets they always sell around the holidays so I can go blow them all on Gale Force
one day next summer.
Breakfast In The Sky
Wild Waves x2
Canyon Falls Log Flume
What a fun day... stay tuned for more.