Thursday, October 9, 2014

On the Right Track

Since Ravine Flyer II debuted in 2008, the wooden roller coaster renaissance has continued on stronger than ever.  Not only have wooden coasters made a comeback into amusement parks, but they now featuring layout elements unheard of only a few years ago. Ravine Flyer II was considered very innovative to feature a 90 degree banked turn in 2008, but now new technology allows several wooden coasters go completely upside down! One might think that Ravine Flyer II would be outmatched in a tight race to be honored as a Top Ten Wooden Coaster in the World for 2014.  Well, the results were tabulated, and Amusement Today's 2014 Golden Ticket Awards have been finalized....

Drum Roll Please...

For the seventh consecutive year, Ravine Flyer II has been ranked as the 6th Best Wooden Coaster in the World!  It is a honor and a privilege have our very own Ravine Flyer II stand proudly in the rankings alongside massive mega-wooden coasters such as The Voyage and El Toro, and longtime legends such as Phoenix and The Beast.

Now how to celebrate this once again proud achievement? The answer is simple, continue to maintain the ongoing success of Ravine Flyer II through annual smoothing and re-tracking. While the Wave Pool continues to take shape, professional wooden coaster carpenters are hard at work re-tracking and adjusting portions of Ravine Flyer II to ensure a fast, smooth, Top Ten wooden roller coaster.  Our last re-tracking WaldaBlog entry showed the finished results, but this time we are going to take you through the journey of the project.
First, steel track and several layers of the wooden track bed are removed.
Next, the new wood track bed is nailed down, and then we need cut down the planks to size before the rails can be re-installed.
Once all of the wood is replaced, the steel running rails are re-installed.

Lots of new track on top of the second giant drop.

A smoother transition into the bridge after dropping 120 feet.

All the re-tracking is complete. Now the fun part, cleaning up the mess.
Add some grease to the tracks...then...
The real fun part. Test Ride!
Sit Upright! Hold On Tight! Enjoy Your Flight On Ravine Flyer II!
(Video recorded professionally under controlled conditions. Courtesy of Scott Shaffer)

Once again, you can count on a fast, smooth, and out-of-control flight on Ravine Flyer II for 2015. Thank You to everyone who voted in the 2014 Golden Ticket Awards, and more importantly Thank You to our thrill-seeking guests who continue to experience the legendary Ravine Flyer II every year.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Putting Waldameer to Sleep

It has only been two short weeks since rides were humming, slides were splashing, Showtime Theater was rocking, and games were buzzing, but all of that seems like a distant memory based on how fast Waldameer is preparing for Winter.  With Halloween only a month and a half away, and the temperatures cooling, Waldameer surely has taken on an eerie Fall feeling.  However, that doesn't mean we weren't treated with some interesting previews of things to be excited for the 2015 season. Grab a jacket, it's a little on the cool side.

Scrambler cars are being prepped for removal and storage for Winter.
Music Express has been muted, for now.
Tilt-A-Whirl is almost unrecognizable.
Many of the ride vehicles gather inside an enclosed Dodgem building for hibernation.
While it may be sad to see our favorite rides being put away for the Fall and Winter, Waldameer and Water World is also hard at work in preparation for not only the Giant Wave Pool, but improvements to several rides and attractions that will be surely welcomed.
The old Ticket Booths were the first thing to a go after 2014. Now you can see all the way back to the Gift House. So much more elbow room!
On the left, there is no sign left of the former Pretzel Cart.  Lots of space now for many more convenient Ticket Booths.
Sea Dragon is delicately being disassembled down to each and every nut and bolt.  Where could it be going?
No time is being wasted as we double Water World entrance turnstile capacity.
Wait, the season is over, but the furnaces are roaring to heat up Ravine Flyer II?  Could it be preparing for some test runs?  Why could this be? 
In two short weeks since our last operating day a lot has changed, but there is a lot to be excited for in the future.  With all the hype and excitement for the Giant Wave Pool also comes even more work to prepare the rest of the amusement park and water park for what might be the most successful season in 118 years of Waldameer. Keep your hard hats handy, as our journey to 2015 is only in its infancy.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Some Mid-Season Upgrades

The off-season is not the only time for change and improvements at Waldameer and Water World. Throughout the summer, several mini-projects take place to continually improve and enhance the guest experience. We thought we would share a couple of the most noticeable changes.

Where has the Blue Train gone on L. Ruth Express?

You may remember the Red Engine as part of the 2011 expansion which included the North End area.
You may have noticed that our Red Train, formally named L. Ruth Express I, has been the primary train in service since late July. The Blue Train, L. Ruth Express II, has not left Waldameer, but is simply taking a short break and operating as the second train on busy weekends.  With only one full season of full-time operation, 2011, Red Train has some catching up to do.

Why is this you might ask? The Red Train recently underwent an upgrade which included a retrofitted wheelchair accessible coach. Now guests using wheelchairs can easily access both the Red and Blue L. Ruth Express trains. In addition, a new PA system and new LED coach lights have been added giving the original L. Ruth Express coaches a new lease on life. Due to being regulated to only weekend use in 2012, 2013, and most of 2014, the Red Engine has less mileage than the Blue Engine, so we will exclusively use the Red Train until both trains have equal usage. In the future, the Red and Blue trains will equally exchange operating days. Enjoy a much needed rest Blue Train!
The newly retrofitted wheelchair accessible coach.
A More Spooky Bar Scene.
As you come jostling out of the Tilted Room in Whacky Shack, you may have noticed more activity in the Bill Tracy's original Bar Scene. With the assistance of the Shack's new primary caretaker, Mark, Matilda is back to her original spinning ways on her bar stool greeting riders with her wretched appearance.  Would anyone dare to join her?

While these changes may seem subtle, the piles of blueprints are quickly engulfing desk space in the Park Office certainly are not.  Prepare to be amazed in the coming months as the largest investment in Waldameer and Water World's 118 Year History begins to take shape.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rising with the Sun on Ravine Flyer II

At the first glimpse of sunlight each summer morning, Waldameer Maintenance Team Members Patrick and Jacob are tightening their safety harnesses as they prepare for their first inspection task of the morning. By 6:00am sharp, they are beginning their daily 3061 foot walk. While a walk of just over a half mile doesn't sound too daunting at first thought, you would be surprised how challenging this walk becomes when you factor in drops of 120 feet, 105 feet, and 60 feet in addition to three tunnels, ten crossovers, and a 90 degree banked turn. Sounds familiar right? That's right, a significant portion of Ravine Flyer II's pre-opening inspection involves a grueling task of walking the entire coaster layout. Not one nut, bolt, track piece, or layer of wood goes untouched all in the name of rider safety and comfort.
Every layer of wood, nut and bolt, as well as each section of steel rails is inspected.
To make this task just slightly less treacherous, Ravine Flyer II's layout is inspected beginning from the final brake run and finishing by walking down the main lift hill. Not only is this walk important for safety, but it also gives many rare perspectives of the 6th Best Wooden Coaster in the World. While Patrick and Jacob inspect, WaldaBlog thought we could enjoy the views and the workout.
Let's begin from the final break run.
First big hill we encounter.  There is no turning back now!
Looking  up from the bottom of the 60 foot drop that follows the 90 degree bank.
Back down into the ravine.
A long straightaway over a few bunny hops.
Did you know from Ravine Flyer II's highest point to it's lowest point,  there is a 132 foot elevation change?
Tunnels feel much longer when you aren't flying 60 mph.
Looking up the 105 foot second drop.
Okay, now this walk (more like a climb)  is getting scary.  A lot steeper than it looks.
Getting twisted as we make our way back to the bridge.
Coming over the bridge.  The protective blue mesh and tunnel hide our next challenge.
120 feet to go. Challenge Accepted!
Getting steeper!

Yikes! We are almost 120 feet up with only a terrifyingly narrow catwalk to climb on!
Hold on tight as we take on this 60 degree climb!
We made it!  What an amazing view from the top!  Now for an easy walk down 85 feet.
Phew! Our track walk is complete, and it's only just after 7:00am. Talk about an early-morning workout! Once the inspection and testing of all the lap bars, seat belts, wheels, axles, bearings, couplings, and car bodies of two 12,000 pound coaster trains is complete, Ravine Flyer II is ready to thrill riders for another Walda-rific day.

Monday, June 30, 2014

These People Know Their Coasters

On Saturday June 28th, Waldameer and Water World was host to a lively group of roller coaster enthusiasts from the Great Ohio Coaster Club (GOCC).  As a part of their Spring Fling weekend adventure, members of GOCC were treated to exclusive behind the scenes tours, delicious catered meals, and of course a huge dosage of exclusive ride time on two Waldameer favorites, Comet and Ravine Flyer II.
A group photo at the base of Comet's lift hill.
After some coffee and donuts, the GOCC visitors were fueled and ready for a day of exploration and coaster riding. They started with a walk-back of Comet where they got the chance to explore and take rare pictures of the classic coaster. One of Waldameer's maintenance team members, Steve Roward, even set up a demonstration showing off the power of Comet's recently installed, one-of-a-kind magnetic braking system.
From infield, to lift house, to brake run, not an inch of Comet went unexplored.
GOCC members attempt to pry wrenches free from the incredible grip of Comet's magnetic brakes.
Once the exploring of every inch of Comet was complete, it was time for some exclusive ride time (ERT) on this longtime Waldameer favorite. While Comet is by no means the biggest or the most intense roller coaster out there, there is no doubt that a ride on this classic can sure put a huge smile on anyone's face. But Comet  ERT in the morning was only the warm-up for what was in store for the evening. Goodnight Sweetheart might have signaled the end of another busy Waldameer Saturday for most guests, but for GOCC the song was the kickoff of some epic nighttime ERT on Ravine Flyer II and Comet.
Ravine Flyer II's red train prepares for yet another run during nighttime ERT.
How much fun was nighttime ERT? Pictures speak louder than words...
Blue Train roars back into the station after an intense, "extra dark" night flight.
Thank You Great Ohio Coaster Club for including Waldameer and Water World in your Spring Fling event. We certainly enjoyed your excitement and passion for all of our rides and attractions. We can't wait for your next visit!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Surprise Salute to Decades of Dedication and Passion

Perry showing off is plaque in front of an interesting collection of photographs.
Construction Manager and Mechanic, Perry Duncan, thought we was being called upon to fix gas valve in Rainbow Gardens last Thursday. Grabbing his handy tools, Perry got right onto the call for assistance. Little did he know, there was a burst, but not one from a faulty gas valve.  Instead, a burst of joy and laughter as the Waldameer Family put on a surprise party for Perry. Family, friends, and coworkers were all gathered to celebrate Perry's decades of dedication and passion for Waldameer and Water World. Food, cake, an inspiring speech from Mr. Nelson, and a plaque to honor his service were all in order for a fun-filled, celebratory afternoon.
Perry and his Wife (right) and Granddaughter (left).  The Duncan family is deeply rooted into Waldameer's history with Perry's Mother and Father living on park property and working within the park for several years.  Today, Perry and his granddaughter keep the family tradition alive with their ongoing service to Waldameer.
Perry has been well-known for his years of diligent care of Waldameer's award-winning darkrides, Whacky Shack and Pirate's Cove. In addition, Perry has serviced and maintained a variety of other Waldameer attractions such as the reliable L. Ruth Express, the dizzying Tilt-A-Whirl, and the kiddie Wet Boats among many others.

Perry takes pride in his ever-growing collection of toys and figurines that welcome riders into Whacky Shack.
Perry and his Father unwrapping the iconic Pirate on top of Pirate's Cove in preparation for another season in 1973.
Not only has Perry kept many Waldameer rides in excellent working order for countless years,  he manages the planning and installation of many of our buildings, rides, and attractions. Perry has worked side by side with Bill Tracy to construct Whacky Shack and Pirate's Cove back in 1970 and 1972. Going even further back to 1962, Perry led the way in construction of our Midway Games building. Over the decades, Perry has been the man with the plan for a variety of Waldameer's construction projects from the blueprints to the finishing touches.  Perry's careful planning and impeccable attention to detail have played an integral role into the 118 years of success of Waldameer Park.

Being always the first to arrive at 5:45am and often one of the last to leave after "Goodnight Sweetheart" signals the end of a grueling Waldameer Day, Perry Duncan's years of dedication cannot be appreciated enough. Thank You Perry!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Spooky Surprise for 2014

A Waldameer "Rite of Passage" is having the courage to take on the dark and spooky Whacky Shack.  For many of our first rides we clinched onto our parent or sibling next to us, or we covered our eyes until it was over.  Eventually we mustered up the courage to open our eyes and see the creepy creatures, corridors, and optical illusions firsthand, and finally we were even brave enough to take the spooky trip alone.
Here is a Throwback Thursday gem for everyone.  Whacky Shack in the early 1970s.
For over 40 years Whacky Shack has prided itself on maintaining a very traditional dark ride experience. However, to keep you on your toes we have added some extra surprises over the years to stand alongside the classic "stunts" developed by the legendary Bill Tracy who designed and helped construct Whacky Shack in 1970.  For the 2014 Season, we have made some creepy updates to one of Whacky Shack's haunted scenes.
Whacky Shack completes our 2014 Park Improvement Map!
Right out of the spinning barrel you find yourself into what seems to be a dark, secluded corridor.  Around the corner you find a mysterious door guarded by an ghostly skeleton figure.  Apparently this Apparition thought that some of us were too curious about what could be behind his door that he summoned Whacky Shack Historian and Artistic Expert, Randy Skalos, to make is guarding presence more intimidating.  Let's see what became of this haunted makeover.
Early stages of the corridor's makeover.
Working with wildfire paint sometimes requires work to be done under only black lights.
The mysterious old door took on a more eerie glow.
The Apparition guarding the old door now glows with a new gory green.
Why is this door so important to be guarded by an Apparition?  This door is a integral piece of Waldameer's storied 118 year history.  This door was located on an old cottage where our current maintenance building is today. The cottage was home to members of the Moeller Family who owned Waldameer for several decades before the Nelson Family took over.  In efforts to preserve the heritage of the family's cottage once it deteriorated, it was decided that the iconic door would find a new home in the recently constructed Whacky Shack, and be forever guarded by an Apparition.  While not a Bill Tracy original scene, no one can deny that no ride on Whacky Shack is complete without encountering the Apparition guarding this historic Waldameer Treasure.