Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Transformation Tuesday: Construction Through the Decades

We are on the brink of March, and getting ready to resume construction on our new Kidz Slide and Spray Zone. But before our crews arrive to bring this colorful new addition to life, let's take a look back into the construction of two favorite attractions that are celebrating their 30th and 20th Anniversaries in 2016, Water World and Thunder River.

A new trend in the 1980s was water parks. Waldameer's owner, Paul Nelson, saw this trend as the opportunity for Waldameer to re-establish and grow its competitive position in a very crowded amusement park market in the tri-state area. By the mid-1980s, the moment was right for major expansion, and construction of Water World began in the Fall of 1985. The construction of Water World was a very exciting time for Waldameer, and these are only a few of many pictures that document the transformation of a wooded area into Water World. Many of these photos have never been published until now.

Water World used to be occupied by a wooded area with houses that many former full-time employees lived in. On the left is the former Presque Isle Drive-In which is now the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.

The Giant Slides were constructed in the first phase of Water World. What seems modest by today's standards, was an attraction ahead of its time that many people had never seen before.

The Tad Pool area and Endless River also were also part of the first phase of Water World. 2015 was the final season for the Tad Pool area due to the much larger Kidz Slide and Spray Zone opening in 2016 near the Giant Wave Pool. What will Tad Pool become? Let's just say that Water World will be turning up the thrill level in the future.

The brand new and "state-of-the-art" Giant Slides ready to excite guests.

Water World celebrated its Grand Opening on Thursday, June 18th 1986. Complete with a Millcreek Supervisor Bathing "Beauty(?!)" Contest, it seems it was a blast! Does anyone know who won?

With the addition of Water World, Waldameer became one of the very first amusement parks to offer a full water park on the same property. Water World rapidly grew to one of the largest water parks in the region, and continues to offer one of the largest selections of water attractions in the tri-state area. The huge success of Water World fueled the many expansions that soon followed throughout the 1990s to present day. One of those attractions made possible through the success of Water World, Thunder River, helped headline Waldameer's 100th Season Celebration.

To make way for Thunder River, Waldameer said goodbye to the aging Old Mill Run.

As seen by his demolition celebration pose, change is something Mr. Nelson has never been afraid of

With Old Mill Run removed, Thunder River took shape. Construction started with the two large hills.

Little Thunder taking shape.

Thunder River is deeply entrenched into the ground to accommodate the water storage reservoir and pump systems. 

The winding concrete trough soon followed the splashdown hills.

Adding the finishing touches.

We hope you enjoyed these never-before-seen photos of two of Waldameer's most proud accomplishments, Water World and Thunder River. We look forward to making a huge splash into our 120th Season with our new Kidz Slide and Spray Zone. Be on the lookout for some current construction updates in the weeks to come!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

We Were Starting to Think Winter Would Never Come

Flashback to December, and the Waldameer and Water World Team was still outside painting and blowing leaves in 50 and even 60 degree weather. A group of visiting Roller Coaster Enthusiasts even asked us to open some rides! Less than a month later, our mild December turned into a chilly, snowy January. To celebrate the late arrival of Winter, the Third Annual Waldameer Winter Photo Tour is in order.

2016 will be Thunder River's 20th Anniversary. An iconic Thunder River picture from 1996 has been merged with present day, January 2016. Can you guess which ride is missing on the right side?

Beautiful landscaping around Big Rigs only enhanced by the snow.

Ravine Flyer 3's fresh paint really pops in under the white snow cover.

Speaking of fresh paint. Check out those colors.

Even more fresh paint for the Pirate! Notice a trend?

Promise, last one, but once the snow melts, freshly painted cars make their way back to Tilt-A-Whirl.

Mega Vortex takes the shape of a taco for Winter.

Music Express sans music and a canvas.

One might remember how June of 2015 felt like winter in Water World.

Lake Erie Dip and Presque Isle Plunge doing their best frozen-over impression of the bodies of water nearby.

Just like our fireworks, we want our Winter Photo Tour to end with an amazing Grand Finale. It's almost a tradition to explore Ravine Flyer II in the snow. Hope you aren't afraid of heights!

Looking backwards from the bunny hop over the lift.

Tight descending turn heading under the lift hill.

Looking up the largest wooden coaster drop in Pennsylvania.

Last but not least, looking down the largest wooden coaster drop in Pennsylvania.

We hope you enjoyed the Third Annual Winter Photo Tour, and while the snow is beautiful, we can't wait to get started on our 120th Season at Waldameer and Water World.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

One Train, Two Train, Green Train, Blue Train

Once Waldameer's season ends, many of the rides perform somewhat of a disappearing act. Some of them like Tilt-A-Whirl barely resemble their Summer look once all of the cars, lights, and canvas are all disassembled and stored inside for protection in the Winter. While many of our roller coasters have spacious stations and storage tracks to keep them protected while not in operation, their trains also seem to disappear.
No Steel Dragon cars to be found here...

One might think with two trains of 6 cars on Ravine Flyer II, two trains of 4 cars on Comet, one train of 6 cars on Ravine Flyer 3, and 8 cars on Steel Dragon that there must be a big place to store all 34 coaster cars. When not humming with games, the Arcade serves as the Winter hiding place for many of our rides including our four roller coasters. 
Comet's orange and green trains with Ravine Flyer II's red train on the left.

But the Arcade is only one stop on the Winter tour for our coasters. Over in the Maintenance Shop, we have cars from all four coasters deep into their annual off-season rehabilitation program. Let's take a glimpse into what it takes for each roller coaster to be ready for 2016.

 Once into the shop every car of every coaster train gets taken down to every last nut and bolt. 
Ravine Flyer II's blue train down to the last bolt.
Once disassembled, it's time for a bath. The choices for this bath are a high-power pressure washer or a shower in kerosene. It's not uncommon to see a Maintenance Team Member outside in single digit temperatures pressure washing some of the larger coaster parts.

After going though the parts washer, these Ravine Flyer II wheels look like new.

Once clean, many of the parts require sandblasting to remove paint in preparation for NDT. NDT stands for Non-Destructive Testing. This process is used to inspect and verify the integrity of parts under high stress or those that have welded components. 
A Steel Dragon car chassis fresh out of the sandblaster and completed NDT.

After all the parts are cleaned and inspected, the coaster cars are rebuilt, touched up on paint, and almost ready for another season.

Might not look like it, but here is a Comet car in the early stages of reassembly.

This Steel Dragon car is taking shape quickly.

Finishing touches are being made on a Ravine Flyer 3 car.

Every so often, coaster trains receive a special gift. With eight seasons and now well over 1.5 million riders, we thought it's time to freshen Ravine Flyer II's trains up with a shiny new coat of paint.

Look at that shine!

While the Maintenance Shop might be full of roller coaster cars for now, these are just a few of the many projects going on in the Shop this Winter. For example, L. Ruth Express and Tilt-A-Whirl are both receiving mechanical and cosmetic updates as well. For most of us it might be the "slow season" for Waldameer, but don't tell that to our dedicated Maintenance Team.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Water World Expansion Phase II: Splashing into 2016

As Waldameer and Water World's team of full time workers is making headway for 2016 though painting, inspecting, and refurbishing our existing attractions, crews are hard at work building the foundation to Phase II of our multi-year Water World expansion project. With recent refurbishments and new paint to our existing slides in 2014 along with a new Giant Wave Pool added in 2015, it's time we added a new attraction for our youngest guests. New for 2016 is the Kidz Slide 'n Spray Zone featuring a colorful array of mini-slides and water features.

The mild Fall and early Winter weather has kept progress on our new Kidz Zone moving along nicely. Each day more concrete is being poured  and more blocks are stacked. Let's take a look and see.

To make room for the expansion, the former Eastern I picnic shelter was removed. A beautiful brick wall with ivy and other landscaping will be built between the existing midway and Water World.

An up-close view of the foundation being set for eight different children's slides. The slides will all run into a large wading pool with zero-depth entry. This is fancy talk for a beach-like entrance to the pool like our Giant Wave Pool. No more tricky steps into the water like the original children's area.

This empty and, pardon our mess, dirty field will transform into a Spray Area in front of the children's slides. There are hours of fun to be had exploring 30 different child-sized water features.

Providing the water flow and filtration needed for our Kidz Zone is a new pump house.

Once complete, the slides will look similar to these.

On the other side of the Wave Pool, preparations were made for another new amenity to Water World. Beginning in 2016, cabanas will be available for rent providing a shaded relaxing place for the entire family. More information about cabana rental will be available in the near future.


Once completed, the cabanas will look like the picture above.

2016 will be here before we know it, but our mild December is keeping us on track as we continue to make excellent progress on our new Kidz Slide 'n Spray Zone. If you need a last minute gift for the Holiday Season, don't forget to check out our Online Store for gifts ideas such as Season Passes, Gift Cards, Waldameer's History Book, or even a stuffed Wally Bear!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Getting a Head Start on 2016

To our loyal followers,

We apologize for the long gap between WaldaBlog posts. Between finishing the most successful season in Waldameer's history, and the blogger needing to finish school, WaldaBlog sadly had to be placed on the back burner, but now we are moving ahead and WaldaBlog is back to keep you updated on all of the happenings at Waldameer and Water World.

Labor Day may have been the last day Waldameer was open to guests in 2015, but unlike what some may think, Waldameer does not sit idle until May. Our small group consisting of maintenance team members, full-time managers, and a few seasonal team members are hard at work preparing Waldameer for 2016. The end of summer and beginning of fall is the perfect time to refresh many rides and attractions with a new coat of paint. These weeks of mild weather make the end of summer and early fall the optimal time to paint and perform upkeep, as in the Spring we must dedicate our resources to setting up attractions for operation.

Starting over in Kiddieland, Ravine Flyer 3 is getting a much-needed fresh coat of pink.

What a difference a fresh coat of paint makes!

Sometimes we like to change things up. Wipeout will have a groovy new color scheme featuring purple and pink. Once complete, combined with the recent backdrop refurbishment, Wipeout will be almost unrecognizable from just a few years back!
From 1995 through 2014, the sweeps and rim were all white.

From October of 2015 and into the future, Wipeout will feature pink sweeps and a purple rim.

As you may remember from many blog entries back, we refreshed Paratrooper in time for the 2014 Season. Unfortunately the sun was a little too strong making the ride look almost pink, but this fall we are repainting Paratrooper with a new type of paint that we hope will look sharp for many seasons to come.
Penny and the "Ride Squad" have been busy. Keep up the great work!

Our maintenance team with the help of our friends from Rog's carefully brought the Pirate down from Pirate's Cove. We are looking forward for him to receiving a fresh coat of paint in time for 2016.

A team of carpenters from Texas spent a month making adjustments and replacing several sections of track on Ravine Flyer II. We are determined to move back to the 6th Spot, or better, for the Best Wooden Roller Coasters (We finished in 7th for 2015). 
All new track at the bottom of the first drop.

While we might be running out of time for painting and carpentry work, another project is just getting underway. Wally Bear says he has a splashing surprise in store for 2016! Stay Tuned!