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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Alice in Wonderland at The Great Escape

We covered the rest of The Great Escape in the last post, but here's a look at their classic 1967 Alice in Wonderland themed walkthrough. It's amazing that an attraction like this still exists at a Six Flags park, which have all but completely removed their unique darkrides and walkthroughs. 
Of course, you have to descend through the rabbit hole to begin your walk. Adults will have to crouch to fit through the opening.
The "homemade" feel of something like this is lacking at many Six Flags parks.
At the bottom of the rabbit hole, you emerge into the oversized room.
I don't have much to say about these displays, but I really like them!
Note the Storytown Train behind the Cheshire Cat. The creek that cuts through the park is home to a swan boat ride, also one of the original Storytown attractions.
As an aside, the other amusement park in Lake George, Magic Forest, was entirely based around a storybook walkthrough like this before rebranding itself in 2019.
Though this "walkthrough" doesn't amount to much more than a big loop down and back up a wooded hillside, it's a nice diversion that takes you away from the crowds and long lines for a few minutes. 
The Walrus appears to be pretty content sitting down.
Although these figures don't take much to maintain, it's nice that at least one trademark part of the park's Storytown USA era has been kept.
Maybe you can make out the March Hare and Mad Hatter behind this window...
Luckily, the Queen of Hearts is at a safe distance from the path so as to remain peaceful.
Back at the start of the walk, you can see how the rabbit hole leads down to the oversized room.
That's all from an attraction that is an outlier among the Six Flags chain of parks.

 A quick heads-up: after two years of posting every other week, I'm going to reduce my posts to once a month. I still have tons of material from my trips this year, but I want to be sure that I have time to focus on my schoolwork. I hope to post on the second Sunday of every month, so you can look forward to my next post on September 12th!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Great Escape

The Great Escape in Lake George, New York is a small park with a rich history. Debuting as Storytown USA in 1954, it claims to be one of the first theme parks ever opened in the United States. The brainchild of a prominent local man named Charles Wood, the park was renamed "The Great Escape" in 1983 to reflect its expanding offerings, which by that time included a Ghost Town and Jungleland area as well as major rides. Below is the historic heart of the park.

The Great Escape's most notable attraction was added in 1994. The Comet has a long history and was seen at the time of its opening as a victory in preservation, as it began its life at Crystal Beach Park in Ontario, Canada in 1948. However, its origins stretch back even further than that. 
The Comet used much of the structural steel from the former Cyclone at Crystal Beach, which was known as one of the most intense coasters of all time, so much so that a nurse was often stationed at its exit. From its opening in 1927, the brutal Cyclone grew increasingly less popular and more difficult to maintain. The redesigned Comet was an economical way to add a new ride and became a local favorite.
Crystal Beach closed in 1989, and everyone hoped that the Comet would find a new home. When Charlie Wood purchased it at auction, many breathed a sigh of relief. It would take several years, but the Comet finally opened at its new home in 1994.
In 1996, the park was absorbed into the rapidly expanding Premier Parks, which purchased the massive chain of Six Flags parks two years later. Today, the Great Escape is one of three parks owned by Six Flags that does not use the Six Flags name.
One of Premier's first additions to the park was the Alpine Bobsled, which has operated at two other Six Flags parks. It was one of two Intamin-designed bobsled coasters purchased by Six Flags in 1984.
Of course, Bobsled coasters are always fun because the train is "free-wheeling" through a trough - I found this one to be a little bumpy, though. 
Ghost Town was added in 1957. You originally had to walk through a cave behind a waterfall to enter, though you can see that that was blocked off the day I visited due to construction near the other end. When it first opened, Ghost Town contained many small buildings and exhibits, but the area's charm has fallen victim to Six Flags, who replaced the classic Tornado darkride with the Canyon Blaster mine train coaster in 2003. 
Also replaced by Canyon Blaster was the Ghost Town Railroad, which was reused as "theming." The park still has their other, original train ride, however.
The Desperado Plunge flume uses the old boats from the Busch Gardens park in Van Nuys, CA, while the Steamin' Demon coaster was relocated from a park in Louisiana.
Although Six Flags erased some of the park's charm, Great Escape still has a much more pleasant, "country" atmosphere compared to other Six Flags parks, as it retains lots of trees.
You can still find remnants of the park's Storytown beginnings in its center. The pumpkin coach around the castle used to be a unique attraction where children could ride with Cinderella, but now it's only used as a display piece.
To the park's credit, they moved Moby Dick - one of the original Storytown displays - to a different area (though it was in storage for a time) after it was replaced by a Looney Tunes land in the early 2000s.
The Old Woman's Shoe House sits all by itself on a quiet hilltop. The Sky Ride in the background is a slow, round-trip.
Arto Monaco was a famous local artist who built child-sized play buildings for Storytown USA and other parks in the Adirondacks, including his own, the Land of Make-Believe.
Charles Wood was known not only for his work in making Lake George a well-known tourist destination but also as a friend to the community with his prolific charitable work. A colorful character, Wood was inducted into the International Association of Amusement Parks' Hall of Fame in 1992. 

I hope you enjoyed your tour of the Great Escape. Next post, we'll take a tour of the park's outdoor Alice in Wonderland walkthrough.