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.