Today we have a great update from Scott who headed out to Lake Compounce to check out their always amazing Haunted Graveyard event.
Unlike other park events that have random mazes throughout the park, Haunted Graveyard is essentially one long 45 minute maze, and is something that shouldn't be missed.
If you are in the area and would like to attend, be sure to use our Discount Code.
Written by Scott Mayfield
While not a huge park, Lake Compounce has been one of my all-time favourite parks since my first visit in 2003. Having never experienced the attraction during its fall festivities, I was more than up for the trip, and enjoyed one of the greatest nights I have ever enjoyed at any theme park since I started going to them in the mid-1970s. Seriously.
For those who haven't been to the park, you have to enter a tunnel to get to the main area, which was themed outrageously. The 'nightmare tunnel' is just a foretaste of the park's theming and feel, though. I don't think I have EVER seen that much dry ice and liquid smoke in my life. The hazy indistinctness created by layer upon layer of mist and smoke gave the park a wonderful ghoulish feel, highlighted by theming and specially-tricked out visual enhancements throughout the park.
Haunted Graveyard, in its 26th year, is simply one of the best haunted walkthroughs I have ever been to. Forty-five minutes long (and probably over a mile in length), the attraction has serpentine and doubled-back mazes, simulated gore, amazing lighting and sound effects, a full-on optical disorientation section that nearly gave me vintage rave flashbacks, a genuinely claustrophobic hallway in complete darkness, a well-designed graveyard and haunted mansion, and so much more. In short, it blows away nearly every haunted attraction I have ever been to. The actors ranged from very competent to outright scary, and judging from the deafening shrieks of the two 10-year-old girls behind me (and their terrified mother), at least one person would go to bed that night, scared out of their mind. Total win!
I also had the rare opportunity to talk with HG's creator, Ernie Romegialli, who first began tricking out Halloween-style when his daughter was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes more than 25 years ago. Since then, and the inception of the Graveyard, the attraction has raised millions of dollars in the cause of diabetes research. I got to speak with him very briefly and you can tell that the attraction is truly one very close to his heart, as well as all else involved with it.
From there, it was off to Phobia Phear Coaster, the park's newest addition. Having never ridden a Premier Sky Rocket (nor any LIM, really), the ride intimidated the hell out of me, especially in the dark. It's definitely one of the stranger rides I have been on, but glass-smooth and the ride's non-inverting loop is awesome but REALLY weird. Side note: the ride now occupies the space where the park's Huss Enterprise sat. I get why it's in its place..I guess. Enterprises are a disappearing breed, and my all-time fave flat ride, so...okay, enough whining.
LC's Boomerang (imaginatively named "Zoomerang") is one of the smoother Boomerangs I have ridden, and having the back lifts in darkness really added a fear element the ride has never had.
Wildcat, as in years' past, was not operating during the Halloween festivites for a reason I could not track down. I can guess as to why but that's pure speculation, and largely irrelevant. Still, the aged coaster looked great in the mist and murk. It was about this time that actual fog rolled in, making the park truly scary in parts.
Boulder Dash during the day is nothing short of amazing, but if you haven't ridden it at night, you have no idea just how mindboggling this classic woodie is. I had never done the Dash at night, and out of the seven times I rode it that night, not one disappointed and all but one scared the crap out of me. Its age is starting to show in all the right places, and while the hills just after the double-up are jarring, the rest of the course is classic out-of-control-down-the-mountain brilliant. All of this was heightened by no lights at all. Easily my all-time fave woodie out there.
I can't say enough about this park or Haunted Graveyard. Lake Compounce is one of America's best family-oriented parks, hands down. The food is awesome, well-priced (Six Flags, take notice....PLEASE!!) and the drinks are FREE. In this day and age, that in itself is worth notice. I simply cannot wait until next year!
Today we have a special treat for you, RD and his amazing fiancé Randy made their way to Dollywood and Pigeon Forge over the weekend, so we have a unique look at Dollywood and review of Lightning Rod from somebody who, well, it's safe to say, isn't a huge fan of RMC's. But that means there is a VERY funny story here.
Written by RD Sussman-Dewberry
Part I: The breast entertainment 25.00 can buy
After a nearly 18 month wait, it was time for me & my partner to take our first real vacation together - in this case, a road trip up to Pigeon Forge/Knoxville. We were able to luck out on so many fronts, and I will admit, my travel fairy was sitting on my shoulder the entire time... in part at least.
Leaving Atlanta in the evening of the 1st, we made our way up into the northern part of the state, passing such interesting places as Cartersville, GA (Home of Anheuser Busch's brewery...) and past Rossville... which would be a destination on the return trip. As we made our way into Tennessee, we saw the vestiges of civilization slowly disappear and morph into a world of wonderful, twisted & somewhat freaky examples of tourist trap hell... in more ways than one. We reached our destination, and had a reunion 20 years in the making.
Friday, 2 September 2016: The DOLLYEST place on earth.
We woke in the morning to see this view out of my friend's guest room. And this would be the hallmark of the entire stay - expect the unexpected, and there was something more special around each corner. And it was.
We headed the short drive down to Dollywood, to start our day with a tram ride to the front gate area. And my Travel Fairy spread her wings & dust... and the first surprise of the trip: A 25.00 ticket for a day at Dollywood! The weather was slightly cloudy and a little cool-ish (at least to a desert rat such as me) but still a beautiful way to spend a day at the park. As we entered, there was a decided lack of crowds to make their way through. Correction: You could roll a bowling ball from one side of the park to the other and not hit another guest. Walk on... EVERYTHING! But first, a stop at the A.D.A. booth inside the park gates to get an elevator pass for the rides.
A side note: Six Flags, Cedar Fair, SeaWorld Parks, etc. : Please take note of this system. Learn it. Love it. USE IT. Dollywood (And Herschend Parks for that matter) has been at the forefront of guest services and adapting the A.D.A. compliance to a gold-standard unbeaten in any sense. Why? They spent a bit of money to update a park's system to a laminated sheet with everything easily found and dictated out. They they actually trained their operators to use it. And guess what: It works BRILLIANTLY. If I could give a Golden Ticket to Dollywood for A.D.A. compliance & ease of use, I would.
I love my fiancé. Really. No, I love him more than life itself. And I'm willing to do anything for him, now and forever. Now I know you're wondering why I'd say this... but as you all know my beloved readers, I'm not a fan of high-intensity rides. Even less so about RMC's ideas in ride design & development. But I love him... dearly. Knowing the issues and temperament that Lighting Rod at Dollywood has had over the past months made it the first stop of the day... but in order to secure the ride just in case of a ride-shutdown/closure situation, we had to ride it right away. As I don't do stairs, waiting in line with him would have been painful and decidedly difficult, so with my A.D.A. pass in tow, we ascended the hidden lift to the special entrance to said monster coaster... (I really love my fiancé...)
At first glance, you can only see a few bits of LR from the park, primarily the quad-down into the overbanked brake turn, and the launch. And both are quite interesting to view. The trains blister up the lift at a pace that is insane to begin with, and fly through the quad down in a way that makes you wonder about the strength of the upstop wheels. The aptly designed train (complete with flames & other such decorations) rolls down the steep brake hill into the station, where the riders exit; we're next to board. A row change from the absolute last seat to the front of the train is done... and it is time to board.
(I really -REALLY- love my fiancé...)
As is typical with any RMC coaster, a seatbelt and the lap-bar of DOOOOOM is in place to securely rivet you to the seat. As in: You're not going anywhere anytime soon...
Or so you think...
Once all restraints are checked, a quick visual scan, and the sound of revving engines means 'dispatch' of the train. The trains turn around towards the waiting lift... and then OFF YOU GO.
(I really -REALLY- REAAAALY LOVE MY FIANCE.)
I've been on every type of launch coaster built - LIM, LSM, Cable, Flywheel, Compressed Air, Weight Drop... all of them. I can say that LR reminds you there IS a G-D, and he can punish you. And will. The launch is glass-smooth (save for the slight shudder of the trains) as they shoot you up the lift hill at astoundingly fast speed. Cresting the top (known as the Cathedral hills) you get your first dose of solid, almost perfect airtime, before dipping down & repeating a second time into the first long drop to the terrain. I will tell you this: It isn't bad - at all - and I thought if the rest of the ride was paced better, this would be a great ride... but as we all know, that's not RMC's style.
(I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, UNQUESTIONABLY LOVE MY FIANCE. AND THE RING HAD BETTER BE SIX CARATS & "A" CLARITY...)
From here, the ride becomes a blur - a non-stop, unrelenting, paceless, twisting, throw you into the hands of G-D experience. I was NOT happy. The train flew around each turn & reverse turn hard; picture being a rag doll in the mouth of a pissed off pit bull with emotional disorders. And it does not stop. Not an inch of pacing here - just more and more of the same body being torn apart feeling.
And then there's the Quad-Down.
(I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, MUST LOVE MY FIANCE. AND WE'RE ALSO LOOKING AT A NICE BMW AND THE RING OF UNQUESTIONABLE SIZE AND QUALITY.)
Imagine, if you will, what it would be like to be shot into your lap restraint with tremendous force in a painful, BDSM sort of way. Now multiply that by a factor of four, and you have the Quad Down. Ejector air is one thing; Ejection from a high-speed jet plane air is another. I've never been so happy to see the final turn before in my life on ANY ride, anywhere. Of course... there is a camera at the base of the last bump before said turn...
So as we exit, and I begin to pick the BMW & ring I want, we stop at the photo booth to see the picture. As many of you know, I'm not exactly pale; I have my ethnic backgrounds and colors as part of my natural skin pigment...
But I was <WHITE WHITE WHITE> in the picture. As in: Casper the ghost. As in: Wonder Bread. As in: Snowfall. I rarely change colors on a ride... this was the exception.
Needless to say, the picture did NOT come home with us.
After LR, we made our way up through the park, to Fire in the Glory Hole (Blazing Fury) and around up to the rest of German Row & the majority of the E-ticket coasters. Every single ride for the most part was walk-on, even with a single train. Wild Eagle? Choose your seat... anywhere. Same with FireChaser Express. And Thunderhead. All of them - all of them - wide open.
We made our way through the park, exploring just about everything - and anything - in the deserted Dollywood - and including the much-required for any visit to the park Chicken Blessings from Miss Lilian. This tradition is something everybody should experience at some point or another; her in-dining show is priceless, funny & truly beautiful - something you will not find at any other park in the world. It is something that differentiates Dollywood from the best of the best, and elevates it to a higher level. It is why Dollywood is possibly the USA's best theme park - and untouchable by any means.
As the sun began to slowly descend behind the clouds and mountains, my beloved wished to go on that thing again. Being the wonderful, understanding & loving fiancé I hope to be... we headed back down to the ride. Swallowing more acid & bile from the thought of being turned into a human projectile, we headed into the front entrance building in the former Cas Walker's gas station. A lovely attendant heard my pleas for no more brutal and cruel punishment, and gave me a reprieve. My beloved could ride using the ADA access point without me. And he did. And he loved it. And I got to enjoy a wonderful, clean, cool park bench as my reward. Life is good.
Of course, no trip to Dollywood is complete without the tasty treat known as crystal methampetacocaicinnamonheroin bread. This beloved treat, going under the guise of "Cinnamon Bread" is possibly the most addictive substance known on this planet - and in many ways far more dangerous. One does not simply buy a loaf of cinnamon bread. They enjoy it, slowly, satisfyingly with icing and a feeling of hard euphoria, followed by the rush as it enters the body. Once your mind enters the state of altered consciousness, you ascend to the next level of fervent pleasure, unlike anything produced by man. After that last bite... the withdrawal symptoms kick in. You find yourself slowly craving it again... you need it... you want it... you begin to look for Cinnamon Bread from your corner dealer, that tweaky kid at the mall, you want it. YOU NEED IT. YOU MUST HAVE IT.
And so the day draws to a close. 8.5 hours at Dollywood. Memories were made beyond anything that I could ever wish to have happen, and it was truly a special day that I will cherish my entire life.
Along with the BMW & the diamond ring.
Today we've got a great update from the Pacific Northwest and Wild Waves and Enchanted Village where they are making some great changes this season with a couple of new rides and general improvements.
Be sure to check out the great update from Gary below.
Written by Gary Taylor
Looking at the new gate that was built for direct entry into Enchanted Village (the ride side), as part of their change for this season where you can either pay for just the amusement park side, or you can get the Water Park/Amusement Park combo.
Inside of the park looking out towards the new gate. You can also see some of the pieces for the enterprise and S&S tower they're adding this year.
From the location of the new gate looking into the park (as a sort of "this is what you'll see when you enter")
The Scrambler has been moved up the hill towards Timberhawk. The all new Enterprise is being built in the old spot for the Scrambler.
Part of the S&S tower that has not yet been installed. They have not yet named it, but had a contest to do so, and they have narrowed it down to three choice for a vote. The names are Brain Drain (leader the last time I had checked the voting page), Summit Plummet, and Shooting Star.
The S&S Tower is going up and should give a great view.
The enterprise awaiting assembly. The supports are near the scrambler, and the other parts are in the parking lot near the new gate.
Over at Timberhawk they demolished the old picture booth that has not been in used for some time, and replaced it with a wood hawk carving.
The wave pool has waves once again after not having them for a few years (which was one of the major complaints on the parks Facebook page)
Thanks to Gary for a great update from this out of the way park. Looks like they are making some great changes and additions.
If you are are going to be up in the Seattle area be sure to check out "Emerald City History Walks" where you can hang out with Gary and learn some great history of the area.