Story Land

22nd July 2014

We arrived at Story Land a few minutes before park opening and immediately discovered a lengthy queue at the entrance. It was a bit of surprise to see such demand at the crack of dawn on a Tuesday morning, but in hindsight it probably shouldn't have been; we'd come up dry when looking for discount offers despite a high ticket price, suggesting a park that doesn't need to give away the gate. The queue quickly dispersed once the turnstiles opened, with those who had bought online moving through a dedicated entrance and the rest of us directed to cash registers. As usual we found ourselves in the slowest moving line, thanks to someone who found it necessary to explain their life story while purchasing tickets, but in due course we were inside.

Story Land

We elected not to go directly to the new coaster, but instead began our day with two laps on Polar Coaster. In my previous trip report I described this as a decently long ride that dropped no more than five feet at a time, but I forgot to mention the highlight, a helix right before the brake run that generates some reasonable laterals. The two trains are a bit cramped for taller riders, but there was still enough room for me to sit comfortably with my knees wedged in front of me. Megan immediately noticed the figureheads, and as the train picked up speed began to repeat the words "Walrus Noises. Whee." in a low monotone.

Our next stop was at Roar-O-Saurus (#2078), the new wood coaster that has been receiving rave reviews from the media and enthusiasts alike. There is no question that the ride looks the part, with a spectacular dinosaur figurehead on the train and a twisted structure that gleams in the sun. However, as of this visit, the track had a definite shudder to it that made it feel about twenty years old, and the operators' insistence on pushing down on the lap bars meant that what should have been airtime hills instead became a physical endurance test. We heard several variants of "that hurt my stomach so bad!" from other passengers, and one poor girl who had ridden in the front seat disembarked in tears.

The ride layout held a lot of promise and I'd love to be able to give it a positive review, but three rides in front, middle, and back were enough to convince me that this simply wasn't an option; to put it bluntly, Roar-O-Saurus hurt. There were also a few other issues:

  • Roar-O-Saurus only has a single twelve seat train, meaning that the throughput is, at best, half that of the much older Polar Coaster. One might have hoped that a new signature attraction would have a higher throughput than one present in the park for almost thirty years.
  • The queue line is unshaded. The wait time peaked at about twenty minutes today so this wasn't a massive issue, but it would have been a big problem on a busier day.
  • The procedure to park the train at the end of the ride involved six abrupt hard stops rather than one gentle one. Today each one of those stops delivered a hard punch to the stomach.
  • The operators were insisting that the station exit ramp be completely clear before they could dispatch the next train, and before anyone suggests this was for safety reasons, the ramp is located several feet away from the lift hill structure and in any case has both a gate and a railing. Many other rides in many other parks operate without a silly restriction like this.

The Bamboo Shoots log flume featured cute panda-themed boats that moved through the trough section at quite a speed. The splashdown at the end delivered a gentle spray rather than a drenching, and most of it had evaporated by the time we disembarked. Megan, of course, continued on her theme for the day by muttering "Stereotypical Chinese Sounds" and similar while we rode.

Polar Coaster

The park has a wonderful Antique German Carousel that dates from the late 1800s. The original steam drive was replaced by an electric motor when the ride was installed at Story Land in 1967, but it is otherwise untouched, and is noteworthy for its spring-loaded horses rather than the more typical pole mounts. It was possible to rock at a fairly serious speed by leaning backwards and forwards, which amused me for about thirty seconds before I started feeling dizzy!

Megan wanted to try the Slipshod Safari Tour. It took us a while to find the entrance, but in due course we did, hidden behind Pharaoh's Reign, a splash battle ride added to the park three years ago. Our guide sounded somewhat bored today as he drove us around the five minute journey in the brightly painted Safari Trail Rover. This was particularly apparent as we drove across a "collapsing bridge", where a "well, I'm across, you're all on your own" was delivered with no emotion whatsoever. One can sympathise somewhat with the ride operator having to repeat the same lines ad nauseum, but one might have hoped for at least a modicum of enthusiasm.

We finished up our morning with a journey on the Huff Puff and Whistle Railroad.

 

Fort Jefferson Fun Park

22nd July 2014

The park once known as Six Gun City is clearly suffering from the effects of better funded competition in the local area, not least Santa's Village just five miles away. In an attempt to stem the decline, the owners have taken the drastic step of eliminating the admission fee entirely, switching to a pay-per-ride model in the hope of bringing guests in the door. If today was anything to go by, this hasn't worked; we saw no more than twenty other people in the half hour we spent in the park, and most of those were in the water park area. Enthusiasts who want the credit here should probably aim to get it sooner rather than later; it seems unlikely that the park will survive much longer.

Gold Rush Express was running fairly well today, delivering a typical Miler experience for two laps. The ride was hardly memorable, but it did at least deliver some passable laterals in the first helix.

 

Hoffman's Playland

22nd July 2014

Hoffman's Playland was a late addition to our trip made after media reports of its imminent closure. Shoehorning a visit into our day required the abandonment of three other stops, but five minutes in the park was enough to convince us that we'd made the correct decision. We discovered a rare gem that is only closing because the owners are retiring and no buyer has stepped up to the plate. The staff members we encountered were without exception friendly and outgoing, and they helped to create a magical atmosphere that was as much fun for a couple on a date as it was for grandparents with young children.

The Roller Coaster (#2079) was the only attraction in the place that really didn't do that much for me, thanks to an aggressive snap on the first drop that caught me by surprise on my first lap. We were sent around for two more, allowing me to experiment with two entirely ineffective methods of bracing for impact. Megan in her infinite wisdom went back for another three laps, and I took the opportunity to capture photographic evidence of her facial expressions for posterity.

Hoffman's Playland

The park is not aimed at adults, but is nevertheless home to a number of full size flat rides, all of which were being operated today at speeds far in excess of the norm. The Big Ferris Wheel, a classic twelve car model from Eli Bridge with side-facing seats, was completing one revolution every eight seconds, turning it into a thrill ride rather than an observation platform. There was considerable airtime to be found on the Paratrooper, as well as some powerful swinging that was strong enough to cause blurred vision. Even the lowly Scrambler turned out to be extreme; Megan noted that it "started out calm before accelerating to Mach 5".

We also enjoyed the Merry-Go-Round, the Iron Horse Train, and the Balloon Flight, the latter being an antique version of the more modern Balloon Race rides found in parks around the world. Despite its age this ride picked up speed rapidly, and as the baskets started to swing, a clearly visible mechanical gearing system tilted one side of the machine up to an angle, allowing the baskets to rise and fall. It is rarely possible to see the inner workings of more modern rides, and I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to do so here.

2014


Story Land

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Fort Jefferson Fun Park

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Hoffman's Playland

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