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TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012

ray_p ray_p Profile

Posted:
5/13/12 at
4:04:43 PM

Place: Waldameer Park and Water World (Erie, PA)
Date: Saturday May 12, 2012
Weather: Sunny and 70 degrees
Crowds: moderate
Posted Closed Rides: Tilt-A-Whirl
Time Spent At Park: 12:30-4:00 PM

After several years of visiting Waldameer Park on Opening Day and dealing with crowds that numbered in the low hundreds, today's visit came as a big surprise as the park was rather busy. With the amazing weather, I can see why the people of Erie were ready for some amusement park fun. I took my parents to the park and despite the unusually large crowd, we managed to have a great time in the few hours we spent at the park.

One of the first things I noticed was the line(s) for Season Pass Processing. Waldameer installed a new Guest Services booth in front of the Carousel Pavilion (a shooting gallery once stood here along with a golf game) and the line stretched well past the railroad gates.

The other processing spot was the Park Office and the line there was back to the Paratrooper. Yikes! The other new thing you'll notice are the large number of "Goodbye Cash, Hello Wally Points" signs throughout the park. Yes, aside from the Main Gate, arcade and Wally Point kiosks, Waldameer no longer accepts cash. It's either Wally Points or Credit/Debit Cards. I can already tell this is going to be an unpopular decision as MANY guests seemed quite miffed that they had to get a stupid Wally Card to buy cookies or a funnel cake. I didn't really care as I bought a Ride All Day wristband for $21.50 and a Wally Card with $15 on it for my folks who don't ride many rides.

First stop was the Whacky Shack with its "new and improved" loading platform, which was not being utilized. Waldameer added what appears to be a second loading stall which will allow the operator to load 2 cars at once. How that is going to increase capacity on a capacity nightmare ride is beyond me. After a 15 minute wait, I got to enjoy a trip through the wonderful, psychedelic world of Bill Tracey's Whacky Shack. All stunts were operating, all looked good and the same musty smell that is always inside was present and accounted for. Good stuff as always. From the line, I was able to witness rehearsals for the park's live entertainment. Can't wait to go back and see the shows in their finished state. As everyone knows, it doesn't get much better than Waldameer's Live Entertainment. ;)

Headed back to the Steel Dragon and noticed only 2 carts were on the track. After a 15 minute wait, the ride broke down. Maintenance was called and within a few minutes it was back up and running. A third cart was added while maintenance was in the area. Steel Dragon (Maurer-Sohne Spinning Coaster) was running beautifully. Fast, smooth, and I got a ride with a LOT of spinning. I've said this before, but there really should be more of these. It's a great ride with a fun, compact layout and the spinning isn't overly intense.

My dad and I took a spin on the Giant Wheel (since as we all know, single riders are evil and cannot be trusted to ride alone) and enjoyed a good 12 revolutions or so aboard one of the best placed Ferris Wheels in the amusement industry. The views out over Lake Erie with Presque Isle State Park in the distance are truly awesome and the view of Waldameer itself isn't too shabby either! While my ride on the Giant Wheel was a good one, it was here where I started to encounter an issue with my Ride All Day wristband. Every time I scanned it, it said "Low Funds", despite the fact that it was a ride all day pass. The ride op (who was an older fella and very polite) said he had never seen that before, so he had me squeeze through the turnstile to ride. I saw Mr. Nelson wandering the park with a large stick in his hand just a few minutes earlier, so I started to fear that I would be on the receiving end of a Nelson beatdown for messing up his beloved scanner system!

No trip to Waldameer is complete without a ride on the greatest wooden coaster on the planet, Ravine Flyer II. Now in it's fifth season of operation, RFII is still running beautifully and smoothly (from what I can tell... I only rode in the front). The speed on this ride is absolutely amazing, the airtime was intense and the views from the ride are stunning. RFII really is the total package. The wait was about 20 minutes though, and with only one cart running, I only got the one ride in. It's okay, I know for a fact I'll be back, especially for night rides! I also had the "Low Funds" problem here. The host here (who was also very polite) said he had never seen an all-day wristband say "Low Funds". He let me on anyway.

We spent some time playing "Deal Or No Deal" and other redemption games in the arcade for a bit and won some cheap stuffed animals. The employees in here were also very friendly.

Our final ride of the day was the L. Ruth Express, which had its brand spankin' new blue engine and train operating. The new train looked immaculate and it was nice to make the 7 minute trip around the park in style. Again, my wristband gave the "Low Funds" signal, which got maintenance involved this time. They said they had never seen that before and that I would need to go to the Park Office to ask why that was happening. The one catch was that the Park Office was processing Season passes and the line was still not moving, so after our train ride, we bought some fudge with our Wally Points and headed out for the day.

Even with the wristband issues, we had a really good time at one of our favorite parks. The park looked great, the rides looked great, and the employees that I encountered were all friendly. Saw Mr. Nelson twice and both times he didn't look happy. For someone who owns an amusement park, you'd think he'd be a happy old guy. Instead, he wanders around the park with a giant stick and scowls at everyone who walks by. As long as he keeps making improvements, I don't care if he ever smiles. Waldameer is a GREAT park that anyone who enjoys amusement parks needs to check out sometime. Free Parking, low admission prices, a decent ride line up and the greatest wooden coaster on the planet are all good enough reasons to go check the place out.

Here's my 2012 video, which looks an awful lot like my 2011 videos. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 5/13/12 4:57:55 PM
Thanks for the report and the video, Ray. Excellent work as always. I've been to Waldameer only once, in '09. While I liked the park, and RF II is my #2 coaster..I realized while watching your video that many things did not really stick with me. The log flume looks like a good (i.e, wet) one, but I don't think I went on. The Wacky Shack wasn't very memorable, but maybe some effects were not working? The Giant Wheel, I would have ridden if I had known of the great views. I may make my second visit next month, and I may have company, so maybe I'll get to ride the Wheel.

Mike

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by frontrow frontrow Profile at 5/13/12 6:17:18 PM
Great TR. That video looks like it was professionally done. It really captures the beauty of Waldameer. Anyone who has yet to visit Waldameer will want to after seeing your video. We have made Waldameer an annual stop. I like that park more and more every year. It seems that they keep making improvements every year. Glad you guys had a good time. Too bad you only got one ride of RFII. Maybe next time you visit, it will be a walk on, so you can get multiple rides.
Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by drachen drachen Profile at 5/13/12 9:21:33 PM
Great job, as always Ray P! Your TR's are always detailed and very well-written. I loved every bit of Waldameer last year when I made the trek out. Your TR and video brought back a lot of good memories.

The video is really neat, and I hope you don't mind, but I posted it to my Faceboook page. If you want me to remove it, just say so. No problem! I just wanted to share it with others. It is really well-done.

Thanks for taking the camera on the Ferris Wheel - as I was unable to ride by myself. I would have loved that view in person. The view is also great - but very fleeting - on RFII and the free-fall.

Thanks for taking it on Whacky Shack too. I loved that ride, and now it's preserved for me on video.

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
Find me on Facebook... Search Park Connoisseur
Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by MABrider MABrider Profile at 5/13/12 9:56:41 PM
I concur with the accolades.
Great stuff, Ray, as usual!
Mike B.
Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by ray_p ray_p Profile at 5/14/12 10:13:07 AM
Thanks to everyone for the compliments. Those made my day. :) And drachen, feel free to share my video anytime. I have no problems getting the word out about a great park like Waldameer! Glad everyone has enjoyed it.
Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by KevinReid KevinReid Profile at 5/14/12 12:34:50 PM
Wow! Fast turn around on the video(TAT). You use Adobe Premiere Pro right? I just bought Final Cut Pro X w/ Motion 5 and Compressor fro my iMac last week.

Regards,
Kevin Reid

Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by LoneStar LoneStar Profile at 5/14/12 1:55:00 PM
Thanks for a great TR, Ray!

- Pat-O

Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by ray_p ray_p Profile at 5/14/12 2:10:47 PM
KevinReid said:

Wow! Fast turn around on the video(TAT). You use Adobe Premiere Pro right? I just bought Final Cut Pro X w/ Motion 5 and Compressor fro my iMac last week.

Thanks Kevin. I pretty much went home from the park Saturday, dumped the clips on my PC and started editing!

I have been using Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and I pretty much can do only the basics. I like the way Premiere is laid out for editing. I find it to be very easy to add, split and extend clips, add titles and mess with levels and such, but I wish I knew more about some of the other features. I also would like to find a copy of After Effects to make snazzier title screens (unless I can do that with PremierePro, which I am pretty sure I can't).

The videos that Adam put together that you have posted were very nicely done also. Have fun with Final Cut. I have heard good things about it.

And Pat, thank you for the kind words as well!

Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by mugen828 mugen828 Profile at 5/14/12 2:36:27 PM
Very cool! I really, really don't like the no cash thing, that's just dumb...

The park looks cool, maybe I'd go there by myself or with one friend since it's not packed with a bunch of coasters.

I like what you labeled at the top of your TR, I think I'm gonna do that from now on as well! :p

Glad you had a good time and the video was cool to see!

- mugen828
157 Coasters -- Favorite Coaster -- Nitro (SFGAdv)
117 Steel -- 40 Wood -- Home Park: SFGADv
Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by sarki7 sarki7 Profile at 5/18/12 1:13:02 PM
I'm making my first visit in a couple weeks, so this was a great preview - thanks!

Any tips or must-sees (besides RFII and the coasters of course)? I know essentially zero about the park, and I know (and love how) small parks like this have a ton of character and often unique attractions that you might not otherwise know to hit. I wouldn't want to miss something special.

I'm hitting it on my way from Sandusky to Toronto, so I won't have a ton of time - but the free parking and the free admission, pay-per-ride will make a quick visit more than doable. I'm thinking two, maybe three hours tops. It'll be a weekday at least, close to opening.

Coaster Count: 331 (268/63)
Favorite Steel, Wood: Montu, Thunderhead
www.gregscoasterphotos.com ← Go there! It's good!
Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by mugen828 mugen828 Profile at 5/18/12 1:38:01 PM
sarki7 said:

I'm making my first visit in a couple weeks, so this was a great preview - thanks!


Any tips or must-sees (besides RFII and the coasters of course)? I know essentially zero about the park, and I know (and love how) small parks like this have a ton of character and often unique attractions that you might not otherwise know to hit. I wouldn't want to miss something special.

I'm hitting it on my way from Sandusky to Toronto, so I won't have a ton of time - but the free parking and the free admission, pay-per-ride will make a quick visit more than doable. I'm thinking two, maybe three hours tops. It'll be a weekday at least, close to opening.

I'm planning on doing the same thing. It looks like a great park! Can't wait to give R II all my moneyyyyy haha

- mugen828
157 Coasters -- Favorite Coaster -- Nitro (SFGAdv)
117 Steel -- 40 Wood -- Home Park: SFGADv
Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by ray_p ray_p Profile at 5/18/12 2:06:40 PM
sarki7 said:

Any tips or must-sees (besides RFII and the coasters of course)? I know essentially zero about the park, and I know (and love how) small parks like this have a ton of character and often unique attractions that you might not otherwise know to hit. I wouldn't want to miss something special.

My suggestions for must-sees outside of the coasters include the Giant Wheel for the spectacular view, the X-Scream drop tower (for the same reason if you sit facing the lake), both of the park's dark attractions- the Whacky Shack dark ride and the Pirate's Cove walk through, and if you like relaxing rides, both the train and Sky Ride offer a nice long scenic ride to see the park from different vantage points. I should point out that like 99% of the Chance Giant Wheels out there, single riders are not allowed.

As long as you don't go on a Monday (the park is closed except for Memorial and Labor Days), you should be able to hit everything you want to do in under 3 hours. That's why the park is a favorite of mine. You can go and do whatever you want without having to kill the entire day.

Hope you enjoy your visit (and the same goes to mugen as well!)

Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by drachen drachen Profile at 5/18/12 5:33:41 PM
sarki7 said:

I'm making my first visit in a couple weeks, so this was a great preview - thanks!

Any tips or must-sees (besides RFII and the coasters of course)?

I would suggest a trip to Sarah's down the hill from the park. Great 50's style burger, dog, fry, and shake joint.

If you want to read more on the park you can read my TR from last year - my first visit, complete with photos.

http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/forums/roller-coasters-theme-parks/217620

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
Find me on Facebook... Search Park Connoisseur
Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 5/18/12 7:41:23 PM
^^I may be going next month. Is this Sarah's an easy walk for someone with breathing problems? Or would I need to drive? As I'm typing this, I'm actually thinking I might have stopped there to ask for directions on my previous visit in '09. Or at least I may have seen it...

One of the two best burgers I've ever had at a park was at Waldameer...

Mike

* This post was modified at 5/18/12 7:42:22 PM *

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: TR: Waldameer Park Opening Day 2012 by ray_p ray_p Profile at 5/18/12 9:00:45 PM
^Mike, Sara's might be too tough of a walk. While you can see the diner from Waldameer's train and from the top of Ravine Flyer 2's lift, it is a pretty good hike. Add in the fact that coming back to the park involves an uphill climb and I would definitely recommend driving there.

I have never eaten at Sara's but have heard good things. I may have to change that sometime this season!