Cliff's Amusement Park is the largest facility of its kind in New Mexico by a fair margin. It is still pretty small, but it is well formed, clean, and full of brightly coloured rides. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the Sidewinder attraction that swings back and forth near the entrance; those watching it would be well advised to wear sunglasses. The park is enthusiast friendly, insofar as it offers the choice of a pay one price deal or individual ride tickets. We elected to go for the latter in order to save money, allowing us a ride on both coasters for just $10.50.
Ticking off the Galaxi (#1157) quickly brought us to the real draw for the morning, the New Mexico Rattler (#1158). This was the last wooden coaster to be designed by Custom Coasters International before their collapse in 2002, and the layout is arguably one of their finest. The quality of the track work was a little suspect in places, but nothing unmanageable. Patrons should be aware however that this ride only operates one train, and the loading procedure is unbearably slow. Ten trains an hour seemed to be about the limit of what the staff could manage, which is hardly ideal for a star attraction. Trip planners should allow plenty of time!
24th May 2008
Hard as it may be for my regular readers to believe, we did not plan to visit iT'Z Albuquerque on this trip. We were certainly aware of its existence, but we hadn't bothered to figure out exactly where it was, as the prospect of riding one tiny kiddie coaster simply did not appeal. However, when we drove past it we decided to stop and take up the opportunity of riding our first ever Miner Mike (#1159). The experience was truly life changing.
Wonderland Amusement Park
24th May 2008
Wonderland Amusement Park is another park with a choice between buying individual ride tickets or an all day pass, albeit with a twist; the all day pass does not include several of the biggest attractions, including two of those we'd planned to try. Needless to say this made it all but useless to us, so we decided to go for the pay per ride route. This would have been the correct decision anyway as things panned out, as only one of the three operating coasters here could be described as rerideable.
Cyclone (#1160) was my third encounter with a Carl Miler mouse coaster. I'd somehow forgotten about the nasty lurch this design has at the top of the lift hill. This only served as a prelude for the bruising which was to follow as the car accelerated. There is no doubt that the intensity of this layout makes it one of the most thrilling wild mouse coasters out there, but the sharp turns are sufficiently uncomfortable that the experience falls firmly into the once-a-day category.
The Texas Tornado (#1161) also finds its way onto that sorry list, thanks to a nasty whiplash inducing jolt at the base to the first loop that caught me out in style. The only other Hopkins-built looping coaster I've tried did the same thing, which probably explains why not all that many of them have been sold. As it was, the only coaster in Wonderland that I'd have ridden more than once was the Big Coaster (#1162), which in itself is telling.
The afternoon was rescued by an unexpectedly good dark ride. Fantastic Journey is a home-spun attraction in the mold of the average fairground dark ride, but it is among the best of that category I've ever seen. Some of the effects within were standard enough, but there were some unique ones that I'd never seen before. I cannot in good conscience recommend Wonderland as a destination for coaster enthusiasts, but dark ride enthusiasts should not miss the place.