Sunday, June 30, 2019

Flat Ride Feature: (Super) Round-Up

Originally manufactured by Hurtbetz, the Round-Up is a very common ride that can be found across the country in nearly 100 locations. The ride often appears with "Super" added to the front of its name. Since debuting in 1954, it has gradually grown in size, with the example above being perhaps the largest version built.
These pictures show Idlewild's ride, which has been missing in action since 2018 because of it being in the floodplain of the Loyalhanna Creek. The park says they are going to bring it back this year, but I'll believe it when I see it! Here's the site's current state:
Ride Experience
Riders step onto an inclined platform and secure themselves in an individual compartment along the ride's perimeter in a standing position. The Round-Up has a simple chain-link restraint due to the strong centripetal force that is put on riders. The ride lifts up a bit beyond a 45-degree angle, and the entire circle spins, pinning riders against the wall. This crests a highly disorienting effect, and many riders have been known to get sick while on a Round-Up. After a time whirling and twirling in the air, the ride comes back to its level position.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Flat Ride Feature: Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel

The Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel is a very common ride at fairs and carnivals, yet it is often absent from major amusement parks due to their inefficient operation, which results in low capacity. However, when installed, they provide atmosphere that is crucial to the charm of any park. Here in Western PA, we are lucky enough to have two nice wheels at Conneaut Lake Park and Idlewild. Although Idlewild's ride is much bigger, they both provide a fun experience (though I haven't ridden Conneaut Lake's yet).
Eli Bridge has manufactured many different versions of the ride in many different sizes over the years. The first Eli Wheel was installed in 1900, and the company still makes them to this day! 

This picture shows the cable-drive system on Idlewild's wheel. This format has been replaced with motorized tires on many newer rides.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Flat Ride Feature: Paratrooper and Cliff Hanger

Conneaut Lake Park
Despite how many people call them the "Umbrellas," the Paratrooper is an extremely popular flat ride that has thrilled riders for decades. It can be found in tons of parks across the country; just in Western Pennsylvania alone, for example, you can find Paratroopers at Conneaut Lake, Kennywood, Waldameer, Idlewild, and Delgrosso's!

 Ride Variations
The Paratrooper has always been manufactured exclusively by Frank Hrubetz and Co., but the ride has come in different formats over the years. Earlier models have a Ferris Wheel-like "rim-driven" system, in which all the cars are permanently on an angle, and the whole wheel rotates to individually unload riders. However, this is obviously inefficient, so a hydraulic-driven ride, in which all cars can be loaded at once, is found more often today.
Ride Experience
Riders sit in one of 10 umbrella-like cars, and after securing a simple lap bar, the ride reaches its full height with the method based its model. The cars travel in an inclined circle of sorts, going up and down repeatedly.  On the descent, riders may feel the sensation of diving to the ground. The cars also swing outwards due to centripetal force as they go. This sometimes makes the riders feel as if they can "kick" nearby items, such as trees!
Cliff Hanger
A Cliff Hanger is a hang glider-themed ride that is very similar in format to Paratroopers. Most notably, riders are loaded lying down, which creates a very interesting experience. Manufactured by Darton, Cliff Hangers also have an actual glider "sail" that allows the car to catch some wind and "glide" through the air as they descend to the ground.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Flat Ride Feature: Scrambler

This is the first Flat Ride Feature that will be part of a series where I put a new ride's "spotlight" out every day for a week. Enjoy!
Like the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Scrambler is another extremely well-known amusement park flat ride that can be found in hundreds of locations across the globe. Sometimes going under the name "Sizzler" or "Merry Mixer," the ride is a ever-popular favorite.
Ride History
The Scrambler was invented in 1938 by Richard Harris in Georgia. Shortly thereafter, the patent for the ride was acquired by the Eli Bridge Company (a very famous manufacturer of Ferris Wheels) who has owned it ever since. New models are still manufactured today! There's even a kiddie version.
Image result for kiddie scrambler
Tell me this isn't cute! Credit - Intermark Ride Group

Ride Experience
Riders board a small tub-like ride vehicle. They then spin in one direction, in groups of four tubs, while the entire ride rotates, as well. This creates a very disorienting, but fun and memorable effect. This makes the sensation that the car is going to hit the perimeter fence; it will usually "stall" for a second at the outer edge many times during a ride.

Knoebels' Merry Mixer

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

A Newsy Note: Kennywood Tests Steel Curtain

Good news for park fans this week, as Kennywood Park's new-for-2019 addition, a massive S&S roller coaster called Steel Curtain, recently completed its first test runs. Themed to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the ride will reach speeds of up to 75 mph along its 4,000 feet of track. It will be the highest coaster at Kennywood at 220 feet. And most notably, Steel Curtain will hold the record of most inversions in North America with an amazing 9 moments of being upside down!
But enough talking, check out the video for yourself!

This looks to be a fun ride, and I really can't wait for it to open!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Knoebels 2016

Sharing some pictures from my one and only visit to Knoebels in 2016 today. I hope to visit again this year, but until then, this will have to suffice.
Welcome to the park! Celebrating 90 years... in 2016!
The Knoebels carousel is definitely one of the park's best rides. It has an operating ring machine (fun!) and is simply gorgeous overall.

If you didn't get enough carousel on the ride itself, walk on over to the park's Carousel Museum, which covers the history of carousels through a wide variety of antique figures.
The Knoebels History Museum features this nice mural.
Here's the main band organ on the Grand Carousel. Knoebels actually has multiple organs throughout the park! They provide great atmosphere.
 More Knoebels will come soon!

Monday, June 24, 2019

A Whacky Trip! Pt. 4

Waldameer's Whacky Shack is awesome! It's totally the whackiest shack that I know of!
Coming off the balcony, we enter a tunnel of red squares. The car bangs through each of them. Believe me, it isn't this hazy in real life.
Right before banging through some doors at the end of this tunnel, we see this skeletal fellow up high. His heart beat reverberates through the room.
After this, we go through a striped room with a bright strobe light.
This stunt, the Tracy classic "Wine Cellar," is set in a tilted room. Water in this stunt runs uphill, but it's not something that is very clear as you whip past.
After another stunt (that I also don't have a picture of) we have the coolest and most dramatic room in the Whacky Shack. Green water pours out of the skull and a waterfall cascades into a "shark (and hippo) -infested" moat.
The Giant Rat lunges, giving us a fright. OH NO, he's holding the head of one of his victims.
And the finale is a super-cool surprise that I'm not going to tell you about!

I hope you've enjoyed this journey!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A Whacky Trip! Pt. 3

The wackiness continues today at Waldameer's Whacky Shack. Shacko Whacko. Whacko Shacko.
After the the barrel, in the ceiling are these two displays. Both were made in house, not by Bill Tracy. The door came from a old residence that once stood in the park, and the ghoul has a fan to blow him around.
Our car once again starts to go uphill, this time through the "rat attic."
Joe Ghoul pops up at left! It is not known if this is a Tracy stunt. Compressed air that lifts this figure is blown upon the riders from a tube in the ceiling.
Immediately following the Ghoul, we have a trio of green-legged spiders that rock back and forth, with skulls for heads!. This is a classic Tracy creation!
We round a little corner and see this friendly(?) fellow.
After a startling horn, the car makes a dip onto a second-level balcony. This dip was once much bigger, but it had to be toned down due to stress on the cars.
We'll cover the second half of the ride tomorrow!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

A Whacky Trip! Pt. 2

I hear that Waldameer has some great value in its stocks... but wait! What's that thing back there?

It's the Whacky Shack, of course! Let's go for a ride!
These "hush puppy" cars are awesome on old rides like this; they're comfortable and stylish.
Our chariot awaits!
The (purple!) entry bang doors have a variety of whacky knick-knacks set above them.
Our first confrontation is with this tilted hallway that appears to get increasingly smaller as distance increases. Something that can be seen very well in this picture, at bottom right is the ramp that tilts the car to the side to complete the effect.
Last one for today, we have the infamous spinning barrel, which is common on so many darkrides.. The disc at the end rotates in the opposite direction of the surrounding barrel, and the ramp rocks the car, creating a fun illusion.
Are you having fun yet?

Friday, June 21, 2019

A Whacky Trip! Pt. 1

This is Part 1 of a multiple part series in which we're going to take a photo trip through one of Waldameer Park's most popular rides: the Whacky Shack. Added in 1970 and designed by well-known darkride creator Bill Tracy, the Whacky Shack is a true product of its time that has been loved by generations for nearly 50 years. Today we're taking a detailed look at the ride's whimsical facade.
Whacky Shack might have the strongest ballyhoo of any darkride anywhere. The towering A-Frame front is instantly both recognizable and memorable and is chock full of colorful details. Let's take a closer look at it, shall we?
The face-like sketch: spinning eyes, the sign as a mouth, and "sideburns" is a trademark of the ride.
A dog bursts out of the building, like any good pet.
Whacky technology is found: smoke can be turned into tea!
The crest of the "shack" should be a goal for house design nation-wide.

 Finishing out the details, we have an ominous vulture a a pair of a lady's legs. A true 'whacky shack,' indeed! 
Here's the facade from the side.
The front under the covering has several of these "windows" that are motorized to provide some atmosphere. They create some nice illusions when operable, but this one had something wrong with it.

 Tomorrow we go inside the shack!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Flat Ride Feature: Tilt-A-Whirl

This is Flat Ride Feature #3! The Tilt-A-Whirl is perhaps the most famous amusement park flat ride, today and throughout history. Most amusement parks have or have had one at some point in time.
Waldameer's Tilt-A-Whirl
First debuted in 1926, the Tilt-A-Whirl was invented by Herbert Sellner. Immensely popular upon its debut, there is estimated to be 600 models across the globe.
Ride Experience
The traditional "bonnet" seat
After stepping onto an undulating metal platform, riders take a seat in one of seven cars. These cars hang off to one side of a circular turntable from a central pivot. On most rides, the seats resemble a bonnet, but on some more modern rides the seats have open backs. Once started, the cars move up and down over small hills as they circle the platform. This results in the seats spinning back and forth around their individual turntables. Depending on the car's weight distribution, the car may spin very few or very many times at varying rates of speed during a ride. Sometimes a complete revolution is made, while other times the seat just rocks back and forth.
Examples in Pennsylvania

Idlewild formally had Kennywood's old Tilt-A-Whirl, but it was recently replaced with this model that sits on the old Caterpillar site. 
Waldameer's ride sports a very nice red, white, and blue color scheme.
Conneaut's Tilt is a older model that was recently refurbished.