Friday, May 31, 2019

Conneaut Lake Park's New Ferris Wheel! - A Newsy Note

Photo - Conneaut Lake Park
I've been visiting Conneaut Lake Park for over five years, and in that time they have not added any new rides. In fact, I'd hazard a guess that the last new ride was closer to 15 years ago! So, it garnered some publicity around the fan community when the park announced they would be adding a new Ferris Wheel for 2019. Sure, it's a used ride that has seen better days, but it nonetheless is a welcome addition to Conneaut. The ride is placed on the lakefront near the old sight of the Super-Round-Up, so the view from the top is sure to be scenic. As a bonus, the park also announced that they will be adding a kiddie Ferris Wheel to Kiddieland, as well. I look forward to trying it out at the park this year!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Islands of Adventure's Seuss Landing

Yesterday, we covered Toon Lagoon at Universal's Islands of Adventure; today we're taking a look at the other cartoon-related "island" - Seuss Landing, which is based on the characters of famous children's book author Dr. Seuss.

 Entering the whimsical word... everything here is topsy-turvy.
The house of the Once-ler here is very cool, and you can't see in this picture, but it's actually surrounded by truffula trees.
They even brought in curved trees - bended by Hurricane Andrew - to decorate the land! You can see where they've been growing straight up since 1999.
The "Zax By-Pass." Read the book if you don't understand it; it's in The Sneetches and Other Stories.
 Here's the wacky entrance for the Cat In the Hat darkride. The ride is really cool - a lot better than I thought it would be.
Green Eggs and Ham, one of the most well-known Seuss tales. This is an eatery that actually used to serve...what eggs and ham, but it appears to be no longer in use.
I hope you've enjoyed you're piece mental jaunt through Seuss Landing. Not seen in this post is a peoplemover-esque ride, a highly fanciful carousel with Seuss-like characters, and a One Fish, Two Fish spinner ride. Thanks for reading, and who knows, we might cover other lands in Islands of Adventure in the future on here!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Islands of Adventure's Toon Lagoon

I figured I'd share a few miscellaneous pictures of two of the "Islands" at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure theme park from last summer over these next two days. These two areas are two of the park's original untouched sections from 1999. Let's jump in!
Toon Lagoon is the world of comics. Probably less connecting with the park's audience now than it was just 20 years ago, but still nonetheless interesting to me, as I've enjoyed reading the comics in the past, even if we don't get a paper anymore...
Hey, it's Hagrid "the Horrible!" Who else can you spot?
Here's one of the area's two water rides, Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls, a log flume that had a surprising length for a ride of its type.
Impressively, Toon Lagoon is home to a mini-land of sorts themed to Popeye the Sailor.
This is the resort's rapid ride, Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges.
There's all kind of wacky facades and "thought bubbles" you can pose under throughout the area.
Wait... that area across the lagoon looks toon-like, too! We might have to check it out sometime. ;)

That's it for Toon Lagoon. Some people consistently claim that it's on the park's chopping block for future expansion, but I would be kind of sad to see it go. I can see the reasoning behind that, though.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Incredible American Celebration on Parade at Shenandoah Caverns, VA

I really like amusement parks, but I also love to happen upon an awesome roadside attraction once in awhile. While visiting Northern Virginia last summer, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a perfect example of the genre. Shenandoah Caverns is primarily home to a cave tour, but there are also several other additional attractions that truly boggle the mind! And best of all, they're free! In this post, we'll be covering American Celebration on Parade,
Some construction work greeted us that June day, but it subtracted little from the impressive Statue of Liberty replica in the parking lot. I had little knowledge of this attraction before visiting, so it truly blew me away. And if that building looks nondescript to you, take a look at this:
Wow! So American Celebration on Parade is sort of exactly what it sounds like - number upon number of retired parade floats from everything from the Rose Parade to who knows what else!
It was sort of weird, but my dad and I were the only ones in the entire building the whole time we were there. Kind of ominous, but it added to the experience, to say the least!
Backing up a bit, this Mardi Gras-esque character greets you upon entry. The main collection is hidden behind a wall... quite a dramatic effect.
Earl C. Hargrove, Jr. was the man behind the magic here. Although recently deceased, Mr. Hargrove's incredible legacy lives on in this and the rest of Shenandoah Caverns. (Seriously, the complex has some really diverse themes. He must have been a busy man.)
Here's one of the most impressive displays, an American flag that's made of 5,000 square yards of crushed silk, according to Roadside America.
Yes, those buttons do activate things. What are those things, you ask? You'll have to visit this awesome place and find out for yourself.
Another thing that's really interesting about American Celebration is found in the remoteness of Shenandoah Caverns. You're winding on what feels like a country back road, and then, boom! There's a Statue of Liberty!
There was some information posted about the floats, but not enough as there could have been. To be honest, if anything, this probably added to their mystique!
With that, I think we'll take our leave from this amazing roadside attraction. I didn't show everything, so get out here and see it for yourself! It truly is a sight to behold.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Western Pennsylvania Amusement Park Carousel Buildings

Happy Memorial Day! I feel deep appreciation to all deceased veterans today. What's more quintessential to an amusement park than a carousel? Pennsylvania is blessed with many historical carousels, and those have been covered top-to-bottom all over the internet. However, one thing that sees considerably less coverage is the buildings those carousels are in. I was thinking about this, so I figured for today I'd share some fun facts about the various historical carousel buildings in amusement parks around Western Pennsylvania. Just so you know, the facts in this post are purely things that I've heard from other people, so some of these are probably wrong. That's just how things go, but I hope you'll enjoy story nonetheless! And don't worry - I hope to cover each of these park's beautiful rides (except maybe Waldameer's) in-depth in future posts.
Starting off at the amusement park closest to me, Kennywood, we have this nicely-styled building. Being remodeled into Johnny Rockets in 2014, it looks different now, but what most park guests probably don't realize is that this building was the park's original home for its carousel, and dates back to 1899, the year of Kennywood's opening. It served as the home for Kennywood's first two carousels until the late 1920s, the year that the current ride arrived at the park. It needed a larger building, so a new structure was constructed.

Even being my home park, this is the best picture I have of the building of Kennywood's current carousel. See the old building in the back?
Something I do have a better picture of is this building in Kennywood's Lost Kennywood section. It never housed a carousel but is based off of West View Park's old carousel building. (Keep WVP in mind. It'll be important later.)

I figured we would hop a bit north to see the carousel building at Conneaut Lake Park. Built around 1910, it was constructed by the T.M. Harton Company, who built carousels, roller coasters, and other amusements for parks all around the east coast. Inside Conneaut's Harton building is the last Harton carousel in existence, although some figures were replaced in the 1980s. As an aside, the T.M. Harton Co. was also completely responsible for the construction and design of Pittsburgh's other major amusement park, West View! (Yes, I realize that the majority of that line is copied verbatim from Kennywood Memories.)
 Moving on back to the southwestern part of the state, we have this fine example at Idlewild. Look familiar? It should, because with close inspection many similarities to Connneaut's building are revealed. In fact, it was also built by the T.M. Harton Company! However, this building has a different PTC carousel inside.
In this picture of Conneaut, one can easily see the striking similarities of the line of windows and the cupola that are shared with Idlewild's structure.
Wrapping the tour up, we arrive at Waldameer. Built circa 1908, this is the park's original and current carousel building, but, like Kennywood, another building resides elsewhere in the park.

 This structure (sorry; best picture I have again!) served as the home for the park's carousel in, don't quote me on this, the 1920s for just a handful of years, as it was so out-of-the-way on the midway it did not receive much foot traffic. As a result, the ride was put back into its original building. In 1988, Waldameer auctioned off its original carousel to build Water World, and some of those funds were used in refurbishing the first building.
That pretty much wraps up our anecdotal tour of amusement park carousel buildings around Western PA. I hope you enjoyed, and who knows, maybe one day we'll even take a look at the machines inside these things! Thanks for reading, and let me know if you'd enjoy more stuff like this in the future.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Log Jammer's Last Day at Kennywood

I was fortunate enough to visit Kennywood's Log Jammer on its last day in 2017. For those who don't know, Log Jammer opened in 1975 as Kennywood's first million-dollar ride.  Luckily, my dad and I had season passes back then, so we were able to spontaneously go when Kennywood announced the ride's closure with two days left in the season. Following are some pictures we took on that last day.

All these people were willing to wait in line an hour/ride that last day.
Before we go for a ride, let's take a look around the area. The ride truly was beautiful, winding through the tree canopy above some picnic groves. Sadly, this is something that will be completely lost in the new Steelers Country area.

That day, the area directly under the trough was closed, but I must have known something, because I took these pictures earlier that same month.
See? It's really what made Log Jammer so peaceful and relaxing.
For whatever reason, some of that year's old Fall Fantasy floats were being stored in the area.
Even though it was a classic ride's last day, I recall there being an air of happiness, as these people likely felt grateful that they were being given the opportunity to take a last ride.
Also, the ride had been opened, closed, and opened again just that day, something I didn't realize until after the fact, as I got there later in the afternoon.
If anything, this probably showed to riders that the attraction was showing its age and was in need of either a complete refurbishment or replacement.
It is a shame that Kennywood did not refurbish the Jammer instead of removing it, but it would've likely been an un-cost-effective measure in the long run.
I remember being really excited to see the dual load station in action that day. Many log flumes were built with this feature, but not enough of them still use it today.
Here comes a log! This ride was a major nail in the coffin to Kennywood's falling rival in the late 1970's, West View Park, which would close two years later, in 1977.
Even Kenny Kangaroo was saying goodbye.
Look how happy all those people are seeing Kenny!
The water wasn't this green. I promise.
Our chariot awaits. See you after!
We were lucky enough to get two rides that day. It was bittersweet, as at that time we weren't sure what would replace Log Jammer. With a little guessing, though, we could've probably guessed what was announced less than a year later - a huge, multi-looping roller coaster. I feel very fortunate to have been able to experience Log Jammer as many times as I did. It will be missed.

Sorry there was no pictures of the spillway drop; that was a last-of-its-kind feature that made the ride truly special.