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. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Mad Dash to the Finish

Some of you may have stopped by the park these past couple weeks for Season Pass processing, job applications, or employee orientation and thought to yourself, "Is Waldameer really going to be ready by May 10th?"  But never fear, the last couple weeks before opening are what we call "controlled chaos."  You may be also asking yourself, why didn't we get started on some of this stuff earlier?  Well those questions should be referred to Mother Nature, but please ask nicely since we are all wishing for a warm and dry Summer.  I sure hope you have a pair of old shoes and some clothing that you wont mind getting a little dirty, because we are about to sort through some of this controlled chaos.
The North half of the park looks ready for guests!
Whacky Shack has opened its doors for a sneak preview of some spooky updates.  All inspired by the unique mind of the Legendary Dark Ride Designer, Bill Tracy.
Rumor has it the classic Bar Scene is getting some creepy new company.
Ravine Flyer II's first riders are ready for dispatch!  Keep your eyes and ears out early this week for RF2 to roar back to life.
Paratrooper is complete! Freshly painted, but maintaining its traditional colors.
The walls have come down, and our new West Ballroom Restrooms are 99% ready.  Hello Assistant Rides Manager Ryan!
It appears that most of Waldameer seems ready to open tomorrow! But not so fast, the South End of the park needs to do a little catching up.  No worries, like we said, it is all "controlled chaos."  In preparation for new ticket booths, future Water World expansion, and eventual paving of our Peninsula Drive Parking Lot, the South End has become an all-out construction zone.
Foundation work continues on the future location of new ticket booths.
What a trench!  New drainage pipes are being laid down to help alleviate the amount of water on the midways in the event of a passing rainstorm.  Also, we needed to lay some groundwork for Water World's 2015 expansion.
Good thing our crews are working fast.  By Saturday afternoon, the trench was practically gone.  The magic of controlled chaos.
It's a mad dash to the finish, but we have no doubt in our minds that Waldameer will be ready for its 118th Season come this Saturday.  It has been a long eight months, but all of these upgrades were very much worth the wait. See you this weekend!

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Refresh of Family Classics

Traditional Family Fun has been the name of the game here at Waldameer and Water World for 118 years.  Many of our rides, slides, and attractions have been enjoyed by multiple generations.  As much as we all enjoy that flashy new ride or slide, we take pride in our traditional family rides.  Going into 2014, Waldameer has been hard at work since Labor Day of 2013 to keep our family classics thrilling riders for generations to come.  This week, we are putting the finishing touches on two refresh projects for two of our popular classic rides.  Between these two rides, there are 60 years of Family Fun. Let's see what's new for these venerable family classics.  It's a 2 for 1 Special on our Park Improvement Map!
Click Image to Enlarge.  Only one more surprise for 2014 to go!
Paratrooper is undergoing a beautiful repainting project that could fool anyone as a brand new ride.
A nice sunny day to dry all of the wet paint.  
Once we are done painting the blue and yellow decorations, we can reattach them and add the "parachute" chairs back on.
In addition, Paratrooper received an upgraded centerpiece for a much more visually appealing night ride experience as we won't have to fuss around with old lights going on and off anymore.
Can't wait to see Paratrooper spinning at night with the new centerpiece!
Furthermore, Waldameeer has made a policy revision on Paratrooper that is much more convenient for our guests.  After a careful safety analysis, beginning in 2014 footwear without backs is now permitted on Paratrooper, and guests will have the option of removing and holding onto loose footwear if they desire to. No longer will anyone find themselves disappointed that they could not ride Paratrooper due to their flip flops or shoes without backs. 
2014 will be Paratrooper's 41st Season.  Check out this rare photo from a 1973 newspaper article!
Now onto Wipeout! Squishing riders since 1995...
Wipeout in its early days.  Strange not seeing Ravine Flyer II towering over.
Closing in on almost 20 years at Waldameer, Wipeout was due for a makeover.  Our backdrop was getting a little faded, and some lights needed repaired.  For the 2014 season, a colorful new backdrop was designed using your photos from our Photo Contest in 2013!  Maybe yours will be featured? Secondly, once the sun sets in the evening, you will find that the dazzling light show will sparkle like new again.
Work on the new backdrop is underway.  Can't wait to see how it turns out!
Be sure to check out the progress of these family classic refresh projects when you stop by to process your Season Passes for 2014!  Our Office will be open Monday-Friday from 9:00am-4:30pm and Satuday from 10:00am-3:00pm.  We are less than two weeks away from Season 118!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Grand Entrance to Family Fun

Sometimes Waldameer and Water World needs to make a difficult decision in the best interest of our guest experience.  While developing a solution to address the needs of our growing attendance, we needed some extra space. That extra space was occupied by a ride that has been a part of Waldameer's Kiddie selection since 1983, Mini Enterprise.
Mini Enterprise 1983-2013.
Due to declining ridership and a need for a 2014 expansion space, Mini Enterprise will no longer be operating at Waldameer.  However, Mini Enterprise is not headed for the scrapyard. Our friends from another family-owned park, Alabama's Splash Adventure Park, are pleased to offer a home to Mini Enterprise as a part of their children's area expansion.
Mini Enterprise may not be that huge, but they needed some heavy equipment.
We have lift-off!
The Helicopters and UFOs have a long flight ahead all the way to Alabama.
All packed up.  The last view we will ever have of Mini Enterprise at Waldameer. Sniff. Sniff.
What might be replacing Mini Enterprise?  Our 2014 Park Improvement Map will guide the way.
Click to Enlarge
Yes, we are doubling our Ticket Booth capacity!  Not only will you find shorter lines when getting your wristbands, but by popular demand there will be express lines exclusively for Season Pass Holders! Due to the extensive design process and busy list of other off-season improvements, we will complete this project over the course of the Summer.  But you may be wondering, why is one entrance to the park getting new ticket booths, but not the other?  Well, let's just say what's coming in 2015 will be so huge that we need to completely re-route how you enter the park from the Peninsula Drive Parking Lot.  Once we have the new parking lot and entrance configuration complete, we can build yet another section of brand new ticket booths in time for 2015.
Mini Enterprise's former location won't be empty for long!
But we aren't finished yet!  2014 will be the last season for our original ticket booths next to Merry-Go-Round.  This change will probably be the best example of addition by subtraction at Waldameer you might ever see.  No more congested midways!  Just think about how nice it will be to not have to squeeze your way around others, or how easy it will be for strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs to pass through that part of the park!  It will truly be a breath of fresh air.
2014 will be our last season with our existing Ticket Booths.  Just imagine how nice that wide open Midway will feel.