We began our morning with a detour past the Clermont Steel Fabricators plant where all B&M coasters are produced. This plant regularly has brightly coloured track segments stacked up in their car park, and today was no exception; from the main road we were able to see orange pieces destined for Holiday World and aquamarine pieces destined for Nagashima Spa Land. We also noticed a large collection of support columns that were apparently on the way to Europe for installation at either Efteling or Gardaland.
Coney Island Cincinnati
31st July 2014
It was approaching noon by the time we arrived at Coney Island, and the parking area was already quite crowded. As with my previous visit the majority of guests were in the water park, but the dry area was reasonably active too, with a short queue for almost all of the flat rides and a somewhat longer one for the roller coaster.
Python seems to be the only DPV Rides Classic Coaster that operates with two-car trains, albeit with the back row of each sealed off using a retrofitted plastic cover. In its early years it was sponsored by PepsiCo, but that branding was removed for the 2010 season. The only really memorable feature of the ride today was a horrid thump at the base of the first drop that was bordering on painful in row three. The rest of the layout was fairly boring, and we decided that the wait time was too long to justify queueing for a second lap.
Megan wanted to ride Wipeout, a scaled down version of the KMG Tango that looked fairly evil. Rather than join her I decided to do a bit of reconnaissance to see if there were any other must-do attractions. Nothing really caught my eye, though it was interesting to see another Grover Watkins Tempest just a few days after my first. This installation appeared to be running quite a bit faster than the one that had given me trouble at Conneaut Lake, perhaps in the hope of living up to the description found on the park web site: "a tornado-like whirling dervish that cannot be found anywhere else in the state of Ohio".
I really enjoyed the Scream Machine, a fifty-foot high drop tower from Moser Rides with five full height drops, each of which gave a good pop of airtime. The Carousel, on the other hand, was a disappointment; the horses were unimaginative fiberglass models that all looked broadly the same, and there was no soundtrack of any kind, not even a set of speakers.
31st July 2014
Camden Park has had more than its share of disasters in the nine years since my last visit. A mechanical failure caused an arm to break off the Spider in 2011, and just one week later a motor failure occurred on the Flying Scooters that a guest caught on video. As if that were not enough, an electrical fire destroyed the Dodgems last year.
Despite these obvious setbacks, the current owners have continued to invest in their park, placing a strong emphasis on making the most of their existing ride hardware. There were several rides sporting elaborate new paint jobs, and both roller coasters showed signs of recent retracking. The only obviously new attraction was a Zamperla-built Frisbee clone named Rattler, which Megan seemed to enjoy. The ride operator tried to talk me into joining her, but backed off quickly after being alerted to the severe risk of pavement pizza.
Wood coasters from the National Amusement Device Company are relatively rare, with just four examples in operation today. Two of these can be found at Camden Park, with one each at Frontier City and La Feria Chapultepec Magico. All but one of the other thirty-four known installations had closed by the end of 1987, some fifteen years before I became a coaster enthusiast.
Big Dipper operates with an original three bench NAD train with working headlights. The back row was missing its upholstery and buzz bar, and a little bit of research has shown that both have been absent since the 2011 season. While it was a shame not to be able to enjoy a back seat ride, we enjoyed a total of four laps in various locations and the ride quality was for the most part good, with only a few slams in the wheel seats. The operator had no problem with people taking photographs on the ride, and indeed the only rule being enforced today seemed to be don't be stupid; we saw three people squeezed into the same bench on more than one occasion. Given the generally relaxed attitude it wasn't much of a surprise to see him step off the station platform for a smoke while the train was out on course.
The Haunted House was basically unchanged over my last visit, with one worthwhile drop followed by a lively momentum powered journey past a few strobe lights, the odd ghost, and occasional dramatic sound effect. I've since learned that this is one of just two gravity-powered Pretzel dark rides that remains in the United States, the other being at Conneaut Lake. Though this ride is listed in RCDB I've taken the decision not to count it as a coaster.
The Skyliner cable car gave us a birds eye view of a much enhanced miniature golf course, an enormous improvement over the one present on my first visit. It was interesting to note a ladder on the ground at the turnaround point, located at the far end of the car park; we found ourselves speculating about whether the park might offer free admission to those who can climb on board without being noticed.
In my previous trip report I wrote about ample room in the Little Dipper, but with hindsight my words were insufficient to convey just how much room there actually is; in broad terms, I could almost stretch my legs straight in front of me. The buzz bar restraint was flexible enough that it might as well not have been there, and the resulting ride was great fun, infinitely better than more modern kiddie coasters. There was no obvious difference in ride experience between the front and back seats.
The steam-powered Miniature Train made a disconcerting squeaking noise as it completed an extremely slow lap around the back of the park. We'd hoped that there might be some interesting photo angles from on board, but the only potential shot was obscured by a tunnel at just the wrong moment. We disembarked and finished up our visit with an extremely bouncy ride on the Whip, followed in short order by the Carousel. The latter was extremely rickety, with the entire platform wobbling a little as people climbed onto it. That being said, it celebrated one hundred years of operation in 2007, so perhaps a little tolerance is called for.