Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Where in the World is Waldameer?

As the snow began to fly, a few members of the Waldameer and Water World Team packed their bags and headed South. Where did they find themselves you may ask?  Representatives from Waldameer spent the past week in Orlando, Florida. You might be thinking to yourself, they must be there to play with Mickey Mouse or to journey through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but this was all for business. Their mission at hand for Waldameer is the annual conquering of the IAAPA Attractions Expo.
Goodbye Snow!
Hello Florida!
So what's an IAAPA? "IAAPA" stands for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. IAAPA is the world's largest trade association for amusement facilities. These facilities include amusement parks, water parks, zoos, aquariums, museums, and family entertainment centers. The goals of IAAPA include promoting safe operations, educating industry professionals, facilitating an environment for networking and consultation, and to bring the attractions industry together through conferences and trade shows.

Back to School for Waldameer
The annual IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando is one of the world's largest trade shows attended by over 30,000 industry professionals. The expo features education sessions, off-site facility tours, and a trade show floor that requires over 9 miles of walking to visit each booth. Before the trade show floor opened on Tuesday, Waldameer representatives went to school attending several education sessions. Topics included safety, guest service, leadership, and marketing among many others. Each session featured speakers representing other amusement parks as well as experts from consulting groups and other related fields who all work to share their knowledge and offer insight on how to make amusement facilities even more successful than they are now.

After a long Monday of education sessions, the real fun was about to begin. With over 500,000 square feet of booths and over 9 miles of walking to see each one of them, there is no time for doddling on the Trade Show Floor (except for the occasional pit stop for free Dippin Dots). Exhibits found on the floor include ride and water slide manufacturers, food and beverage suppliers, midway games suppliers, merchandise producers, and industry consulting groups.  Many of tomorrow's latest and greatest attractions start through meeting companies at IAAPA. You will even find Waldameer's attractions represented at several booths.

The latest and greatest starts with ProSlide who is working closely with Waldameer to create several new Water World attractions for the coming years. 
Gravity Group unveiled the first of it's kind, "Switchback" wooden coaster. And what is that we see at the top?
Ravine Flyer II continues to be a showcased attraction by it's designer, Gravity Group.
Speaking of showcasing, A.R.M. features XScream at their booth.
The Waldameer Team takes a photo at Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters exhibit.
PTC supplies parts for our Comet and Ravine Flyer II coaster trains. 
These are only just a few of the over 1,000 booths representing companies around the globe at the IAAPA Attractions Expo. From education sessions to interacting with vendors, Waldameer and Water World comes home with even more insight, knowledge, and new attraction ideas in order to keep the park growing and successful for generations to come.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Extreme Makeover: Rides Edition

To many, Waldameer and Water World is long asleep for the Fall and Winter.  To the year-round Waldameer and Water World Team Members, the park is as busy as ever.  The Wave Pool hole expands each time we pass by, the new Ticket Booths by the Arcade have broken ground, and some of our rides are undergoing some significant cosmetic and functional improvements.   Let's take a Fall walk in the park to see which of our favorite family and thrill rides are being refreshed for the 2015 Season.

Sea Dragon has been in dry docked for the winter as Captain Tim and his Shipmates are overhauling the venerable viking ship. From the keel to the mast, nothing is going untouched. Once we complete our painting and refurbishment of the ship itself, look out for a new operator booth and enhancements to the exit ramp to increase efficiency and safety. Before you know it, Sea Dragon will be ship shape for another 22 years of swinging through turbulent waves. Watch where you step, there is a lot of wet paint! Smudge the paint, you may have to walk the plank!

We are keeping our fingers crossed that the snow holds off for just a little while longer as it's no quick task to cover all 60 feet in fresh paint.
No worries, this boring gray is just the primer. As we speak Sea Dragon's support structure is carefully being refreshed with a bold dark red color.
A closer look at the dark red paint being applied.
Over in the shop, the ship is stripped down to it's bare bones.  Once inspection and repainting are complete, the refurbished outer shell will be re-installed.
Tilt-A-Whirl is undergoing several changes to significantly improve accessibility and convenience. Most excitingly, a new ADA compliant exit ramp has been installed for the convenience of guests by eliminating those treacherous stairs. To direct traffic more efficiently, a new queue area has been installed to accommodate more guests in a more organized fashion on those busy weekends.

Now that is a much smoother transition from Tilt-A-Whirl back to the midway.
The queue area is looking fresh with a beautiful red paint job.
Speaking of fresh paint and organized queue areas, Spider and Merry-Go-Round are both undergoing or have underwent some functional improvements. For example, we have doubled the queue capacity of Spider to alleviate the congested midway on busy days.
No more confusion or overcrowding on those busy days anymore!
Last, but certainly not least, Merry-Go-Round will have a new queue area and exit ramp installed to make way for a delicious addition to Waldameer's concession selection. What kind of addition you may ask? The answer to that question will have to wait for another time.
Everyone will still board from the main midway, but Merry-Go-Rounds's exit will now conveniently share a wheelchair accessible ramp near Comet's exit.
No doubt about it, Waldameer and Water World is as "busy" as ever as we dive into November. As always, we are committed to improving and enhancing the park to meet the continuously evolving needs of our loyal guests.

PS: Pack your bags and warm weather attire, we are going on a road trip for our next WaldaBlog adventure!

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.