Monday, February 24, 2014

Ravine Flyer II (Part 1 of 2): The Evolution of an Award-Winning Roller Coaster

The year 2008 changed everything for Waldameer and Water World.  The wait was finally over as Waldameer once again had a giant signature roller coaster to attract thrill-seekers.  Ravine Flyer II made a bold statement to everyone that Waldameer was not that same little park anymore.  Attendance rose 20% in 2008, which has been maintained and exceeded ever since.  As we all know how uniquely thrilling Ravine Flyer II is, the evolution and ongoing story of this roller coaster is like no other coaster in the world.

Let's go back to 1993...Waldameer placed it's first deposit to build a signature ride.  Ravine Flyer II would be the long awaited successor of Ravine Flyer; a coaster that operated from 1922-1938 which also crossed Peninsula Drive.
One of the earliest proposed layouts of Ravine Flyer II.
A couple years later, a wooden coaster manufacturer, Custom Coasters International, came up with the proposed layout below.  This design was the first "official" layout to be constructed for Ravine Flyer II's original target opening season, the year 2000.
Looks a little closer to what Ravine Flyer II looks like today.
During the longer than expected planning and approval process to build Ravine Flyer II, Custom Coasters International ceased operations in 2002.  However, the ambitious project never missed a beat as it was taken over by a new roller coaster manufacturer, The Gravity Group, from Cincinnati, Ohio.  In 2006 the final green light was given to Ravine Flyer II, and the current layout of the coaster was revealed. Construction was completed in 2008.
Ravine Flyer II as it stands today.  Advances in wooden coaster engineering allowed for a more intense layout featuring a 90 degree banked turn as well a high-speed s-turn following the bridge.
In September of 2008, Ravine Flyer II shocked the world by beating out a massive 230ft Steel Hypercoaster to win the Golden Ticket Award for "Best New Ride of 2008" in the entire world.  Our Owner, Mr. Nelson, also won the very prestigious Golden Ticket Award for "Person of the Year" in honor of is passion and dedication in not only getting Ravine Flyer II built, but for his decades of successful service to Waldameer Park.  It only took Ravine Flyer II one season to elevate Waldameer and Water World into the global spotlight.
Our Trophy Case.
Fast-forward into present day, and Ravine Flyer II has been ranked as the 6th Best Wooden Roller Coaster in the World by Amusement Today each year since 2009, and most recently ranked #6 in the World by the 2013 Mitch Hawker Wooden Coaster Poll.  Both of these rankings are the most prestigious roller coaster honors in the Attractions Industry.
Ravine Flyer II patiently awaits for the 2014 Season to begin. 
Make sure you grab a safety harness and have a good pair of climbing shoes for Part 2! We will be exploring the results of some interesting activities that occurred with Ravine Flyer II in preparation for a thrilling 2014 season.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Where There Is No Off-Season

Walking through the midways of Waldameer and Water World in the winter might give you impression of a place that is quiet, inactive, or even abandoned.  The Raging River raft slide looks like a vacant bobsled course, Showtime Theater is stuck on the "snow dance," clinking sounds of Ring Toss seem like a distant memory, and no one is welcoming all of us Earthlings into Whacky Shack.  While it might seem that Waldameer is in hibernation until May 10th, there are a few places in Waldameer that never sleep a wink.  Join us as we explore some of the many winter activities of Waldameer!
The Park Office may appear to be snowed in, but inside it's humming away with Season Pass Processing, Group Sales arrangements, Picnic planning, as well as strategy development for 2014 and beyond.
Rainbow Gardens stays hopping on the weekends with dances, craft shows, fundraisers, etc.
Perhaps the most active place of the park during the winter months is tucked away into the Western corner.  Back there you will find a large gray building which on the outside it may seem as quiet as the rest of Waldameer and Water World.  Step inside, and Waldameer comes to life.  Put on your safety goggles and lace up your work boots, as we are about to go on a journey through Waldameer's Maintenance Department!
All 30 Dodgem cars are in the garage for inspection and tune up.
The Pirate hesitantly gave up his treasure to be shined up.  I'm sure he will be counting every gold doubloon when he gets it back!  
After being  inspected, all seven Tilt-A-Whirl cars received a fresh coat of paint!
All twelve Spider cars received new paint inside and out.
Steel Dragon car bodies await reassembly as their undercarriage is disassembled, inspected, and cleaned.
All twenty Thunder River boats are dry-docked and undergoing touch-ups to their fiber glass and art details, as well as upgrades to seat cushions and safety features.
Ravine Flyer II's trains have been completely disassembled.  Wow! That's a lot of parts!
Once the cars for both Ravine Flyer II trains are completely disassembled, each individual part is cleaned, inspected, and repainted to look just like new.  This delicate process is critical in making sure each component is in excellent working order in ensuring rider safety.  Comet, Steel Dragon, and Ravine Flyer 3 all undergo similar inspection processes. 
I wonder what this could be?  Looks really sharp! Stay tuned as we learn more!
These are just some of the countless projects going on in our Maintenance Department.  As the weather begins to get warmer, projects will transition from disassembly and inspection to reassembly and preparation for Opening Day.  However, maintenance doesn't slow down one bit once the rides and attractions are back up and running.  Our maintenance team is always the first to arrive in the odd hours of the morning for safety inspections and routine maintenance, and some of the last to leave late at night.  These "Heroes" of Waldameer cannot be thanked enough for their countless hours of dedication keeping all of our attractions safe while they continue to provide family fun for multiple generations.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Growing Comforts for a Growing Park.

A key theme of this 2013-2014 offseason has been improvements to Waldameer's infrastructure. You can think of infrastructure as the inner workings and logistics of Waldameer.  At Waldameer, infrastructure goes beyond just the rides and slides.  Infrastructure includes several things such as the following: having enough seating for families to share meals together, enough parking for thousands of cars, having enough games available to challenge growing crowds, designing a midway that doesn't get congested, and making sure our ride queue lines are organized and not overflowing.  This week we are proud to share with you an infrastructure addition that will surely provide for a more comfortable visit to Waldameer!
Click to Enlarge.
What's that? Looks like another improvement got checked off!

Perhaps this heated box is the warmest place in the City of Erie!
One critical piece of infrastructure that Waldameer is addressing is having enough restrooms in convenient locations.  As Waldameer's midways branched out, new attractions became further and further from existing restrooms.  In 2014, that will all change. Perhaps our largest ongoing construction project is a new modern restroom facility.  These restrooms can be found right next to Steel Dragon and under "Big Thunder" of Thunder River.  These aren't just your basic run-of-the-mill ladies and men's restrooms, but modern facilities that will also feature the much needed convenience of family restrooms that are easily accessible and accommodating for a variety of needs.

An Inside look gives us an idea of what to expect once construction is completed.  On the far end is the ladies and men's rooms, and closest to us will be two family restrooms.
Another neat feature of these new restrooms is a convenience for your furry friends! Your dog will never have to go thirsty with the new doggie drinking fountain!  As being one of the rare pet-friendly amusement parks, we thought our canine friends could use a comfortable place to rest and rehydrate on those hot summer days! 

New restrooms aren't our only major construction project for 2014, make sure you keep an eye out for a post in the coming weeks about a major change that will significantly benefit our guests as they enter the park! Stay Tuned!

Monday, February 3, 2014

A High-Flying Birthday Present

Backtrack 15 years ago, and you will find a very different Waldameer.  Ravine Flyer II existed only in blueprints, Steel Dragon was an empty lot, The North End was a former maintenance area, Mega Vortex was a collection of picnic tables, and no one was "XScreaming" as they dropped 140ft. So that might make you ask yourself the question...Which thrill ride was Waldameer's King of the Midway in 1999?

I'll give you a hint.  This thrill ride is the new check mark on our 2014 Improvements Map.
Click image to enlarge
That's right! Ali Baba was the King of the Midway in 1999.  Along with Frog Hopper and Big Rigs, Ali Baba opened as a part of a major multi-ride expansion for the 1999 Season.  Today, Ali Baba is no longer the only large thrill ride that dominates Waldameer's skyline, but now a part of an increasingly impressive skyline of many diverse thrill rides.
From 1999 through 2006, Ali Baba was Waldameer's tallest thrill ride, and second tallest ride in the park just behind the 100+ foot Giant Gondola Wheel.
To celebrate a special 15th Birthday, Ali Baba deserves a present that benefits the thousands of guests each year that are thrilled by this magical flying carpet ride.  You might recall how Ali Baba used to feature one large safety restraint for each row of seats that was lowered to secure the entire row of riders at once.  For the 2014 season, these two large safety restraints were replaced by individual restraints for each seat.  No longer will you be surprised by the giant restraint coming down too fast, as you can now lower your individual restraint at the comfortable speed you choose.  Even better, individual restraints mean a better custom fit for each individual rider which makes Ali Baba even more safe and more comfortable.
Ali Baba's Birthday present all wrapped up.
We couldn't help but peek underneath to see what's inside!  See the gaps between the new individual safety restraints?
Along with new restraints, we touched up the flying carpet colors and made some upgrades to the lights. Ali Baba will surely sparkle like new as riders continue to enjoy soaring seven stories into the air.
This is the lighting decoration that will be reattached to the flying carpet once we have Ali Baba put back together.  The original all gold lights now are a colorful combination of blue, purple, pink, red, and gold.

Happy 15th Birthday Ali Baba! Here's to many more!

P.S. We have many other milestone Birthdays at Waldameer this year.  Can you guess which rides are celebrating their 5th, 10th, 20th, 25th, and 50th Birthdays?