TR: Conneaut Lake Park (08/10/2013)
Place: Conneaut Lake Park (Conneaut Lake, PA)
After hearing that Conneaut Lake Park received a slight “makeover” last week thanks to the filming of a potential show for the Travel Channel, I decided to head back out to the park and see how the place was doing. To my surprise and despite some still depressing areas (Beach Club, Ultimate Trip building, etc), a few coats of paint and a few new signs really have helped to spruce the place up. And while there is still a VERY long way to go, it was nice to actually see a little progress being made.
I arrived at the park around 5:45 pm and noticed that the picnic pavilions near the Blue Streak were all full. I was floored as I don’t think I have seen those used in decades. Apparently, ACE and the Western New York Coaster Club were having a day at the park, so that could explain the fact that there was a slightly larger crowd there than usual. In any case, no matter who it was, it was good to see some activity on the midways.
The first improvement I noticed was the front gate area received a nice coat of paint. The facility is still not used at all, but it looks MUCH better than it did back in May.
Once inside the park, the Flying Scooters and Paratrooper were both running and there were actually a few people on board each. It may not be full loads here, but again, it was an improvement over by visit Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately for Tilt-A-Whirl fans, that ride is still undergoing restoration.
And speaking of down rides, the Bessemer Railroad was also down. The engine was separated from the passenger cars and didn’t appear to be in any hurry to get back to operating again.
The Tumble Bug however was operating, marking the first time in several years that I got to ride this classic. The Bug could use a little paint, but the ride itself was running very fast and offered a rather long cycle time. For a park as financially troubled as Conneaut, I give a Stephen Colbert “Tip of The Hat” to the park for not just giving up on this piece of amusement park history.
In more renovation news, the ice cream stand near the Bug received a nice new sign and coat of paint.
And speaking of makeovers, the Blue Streak received a nice one in the form of a new sign and a freshly painted station. There was also a line of people at the Blue Streak, something I haven’t seen in years (granted, they were probably coaster geeks, but it was a line nonetheless!). The Blue Streak received newly upholstered seats as part of the makeover, and the first two drops got some track work since my last visit, resulting in my best ride on the Streak in a long time. Seriously, riding in a non-axle seat (1.2), I was floored at the smoothness compared to my last ride and the airtime on the 3rd hill was pretty substantial. I also noticed that the train seems to be moving faster on the return hills than it used to. Very surprising stuff here, and another “Tip Of The Hat” to the park for continuing to improve this ride. Now if only we could straighten out that scary looking lift hill…
Continuing our makeover tour down the midway and towards the lake, all of the light stands between the Log Cabin Gift Shop and the former Ultimate Trip building were painted and had been repaired, the planter was painted, painted benches were placed down the middle, and the buildings all had a cleaner look to them thanks to some paint.
The new Hostile Hostel attraction seemed to be having a slow day as the “actors” (which consisted of two children and two older guys with some grey makeup on) were all hanging out at the entrance.
Unfortunately, seeing the Beach Club’s charred remains at the end of the midway was very sad. A sign was up stating that the Beach Club will return, so let’s hope for the best.
Perhaps the highlight of the visit for me though would be the Devil’s Den. The outside of the ride got a nice makeover (including new beams holding up the roof. Yay!) and they even made a few changes to the inside. All of the stunts seemed to be timed much better than in the past, there were two gags near the end which actually had a door fly open to reveal them that I don’t remember happening before, and two new scenes were also added- a spider (which was very hard to see) and a brief Bill Tracey-inspired strobe lit hallway. I’ve always thought the Den was well-maintained, but this is the best it has ever been in my opinion. Yet another big “Tip Of The Hat” to CLP for the work done on this.
Other things that got some paint were the Ride Ticket Booth and the Midway Grill.
I rode the Flying Scooters on my way out and got a long cycle time and a free ride from the rides manager as I had to wait for a ride op to come. There was one guy pulling double duty between the Paratrooper and the Scooters, so when I handed my tickets to the rides manager, she told me “don’t worry about it”. Well that was nice.
Overall, I had a much better time at the park this visit than I did last time. The paint did wonders for certain areas and there have been other improvements made also. IF (and that’s a big if) the park can continue to make improvements like this and maintain what is there now, perhaps this could be a turning point for the place. Rebuilding the Beach Club will be a big help also.
Video attached below with footage of the Devil’s Den and Tumble Bug. Pictures link is below.
As always, thanks for reading!
Thanks for sharing!
Funny how they have a jar of gumballs at the ticket booth encouraging folks to "stick it to the devil". For all the hard work they did to make the ride look like it does on the exterior I sort of wish they didn't do the gum wall but I guess it's tradition.
With all the new paint the park feels much different than it used to even though it has a LONG way to go.
I highly agree about the Blue Streak lift - it does freak me out how not straight it is plus you feel the trains shimmy a little as you go up. A bit unnverving but the ride is still great after all these years. I also hope they can fix the tunnel as I felt drops of water fall on me on my four rides.
It's been quite a long while since I've talked to you and hope you are doing well.
* This post was modified at 8/13/13 1:53:20 PM *
I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that I'm thrilled to just see Conneaut surviving given all of the adversity that they've been through in the past decade and a half.
It's a great traditional park and a real throwback to an earlier period of time. I hope they can continue to repair things and keep the positive momentum that they've had in recent years!
* This post was modified at 8/13/13 4:23:51 PM *
And I loved the video of the Devil's Den,especially the sign that said "stick it to the devil"!!!
I enjoyed Witch's Stew. It was the only time in my amusement-park-going life that I was ever asked (by a seemingly very disinterested ride op) if I even wanted to "bother with the seat belt." I did not, and I almost slid forward off my seat at one point. It was great!
Nice to watch the video and see the Flyers in motion..I didn't get that privilege on Thursday.
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
You want to experience Devils Den ride it in complete darkness no lights or stunts, nothing. I dont think I ever recovered from those rides several years ago. They were running it dark for an event and the car seemed like it was going 50 MPH through the course, I still get weak thinking about it.
Nice! I hope that was at night so the open-front hill didn't ruin the effect. I'd love to ride like that...as I would love to go through Blue Streak's tunnel in "real" darkness..at night, with no light leaking through.
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...