There was something missing from Waldameer. In the arcade, when we last visited, we'd found a rolling-ball redemption game that was not Fascination, but that was spiritually close. At least in the game mechanics: rolling balls along an alley so that they would drop into holes to collect cards, the objective being to score 21. Not as good as the competitive bingo-type Fascination, but good playing anyway. And the machines weren't there. The arcade had been rearranged enough we couldn't even be sure where the machines had been, and spent some time wandering back and forth trying to figure if we were just overlooking something, somehow. They also didn't have pinball, which, too bad.
We did get to see the park from a new perspective, not by taking the sky-chair ride. They have a miniature railroad that runs around the edge of the park, and we got a circuit on that. The most interesting bits of backstage were around the north end of the park, and Ravine Flyer II, but it did also chug slowly around some of the water park that we had never visited. And go through a tunnel beside the service garage that we're not really sure why is there Maybe just for decoration. I remember there being a sign there, but one too small to read from the moving train, and thus demanding the question of who the sign is for.
The railroad station, and the bumper cars (a marvellously early-80s building) are close to a picnic pavilion that almost screams aloud how it used to be a carousel housing. Waldameer had an antique carousel, which they sold for cash in the 80s. Unlike pretty much every park ever this didn't just forestall their doom a year or two; they used the money to expand, particularly the water park, and now look as healthy as could be. Their replacement, a Chance fiberglass carousel, is housed in a not-quite-prominent-enough building next to Comet and near the major entrance. Seemed odd.
It's odder still: according to the Photographs of America picture-book history that I ultimately bought, the Chance fiberglass carousel is where the antique had been. Except for a couple years in the 1930s, when the park tried to relocate the carousel to that handsome building. It was somehow too far away from the main midway to get enough patronage, so the park moved it back. Waldameer isn't that big a park; I'm baffled that the hike was too much for patrons of the 30s. On the other hand, if there weren't a string of attractions along the way then it would be at least a weird salient.
While in the gift shop, where I'd leaf through that book, we found a wall of hats. Most of them just the normal round of silly amusement park hats. But there was one dragon hat that caught my eye, and kept catching bunny_hugger's. It was a full dragon's head, and a good-sized mouth, and even eyes that could be slightly posed. It was almost a puppet. Great but, you know, what would the use of it be?
And yet ...
At some point we got to talking with a father-and-son also attracted by the hat. And the kid mentioned how he could see the hat being the start of a good dragon costume. I think he even mentioned how he had a couple other dragon hand puppets and could use this to make a three-headed hydra, which is just fantastic. The more I think of this the less sure my recollection is, but it was along those lines: the kid's vision of using this as more than merely a silly park amusement fired in bunny_hugger her creative urges. When she saw how she might roll this into a dragon costume for Halloween, she was sold, and so was the hat.
She would turn it into part of a dragon costume, quite successfully. But the rest of the day she walked around the park with the hat and everybody loved it. It was the chicken purse of hats. She kept attracting positive attention, and she told folks where to find the hat, and I'm certain she did much for the sale of dragon hats that evening. Even if she had only worn the hat that day it would've been worth it, but it was not just for the day.
We did more, of course. There were hours left in the day. There was the beautiful sunset glow, and there was the glory of night in the amusement park. There was catching rides on all the roller coasters but illuminated. There was catching bits of an oddly emoji-themed stage show. There was getting to the Whacky Shack again with a line not all that bad, in fact. But as narrative goes, as story goes, the hat was the big conclusion, apart from the worry we might have forgot the hat on Steel Dragon.
We stayed at the park until closing, I think taking the final ride of the night on Comet. And after this ride the fireworks started, several minutes from I think somewhere over the lake, or at least the beach. My photographs are all of flashes of light and puffs of cloud half-hidden behind the roller coaster station and the sky chair ride that hadn't finished for the night yet.
We stayed on the park grounds as long as we could, until they started turning lights out on the crowd. I was trying to get a picture of the bumper cars attendant lining up all the cars neatly for the evening, despite working in the dim light. We were sent along back to our home base in the hotel near Conneaut Lake Park.
Trivia: There is no known evidence that Amerigo Vespucci would have seen or know of Martin Waldseem¨ller's map, or Introduction of Cosmography, which named the continents of the new world after him. Vespucci died in Seville in 1512; the name ``America'' first appears in print in the Iberian Peninsula in 1520. Source: The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name, Toby Lester.
Currently Reading: Descartes' Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason, Russell Shorto.
Stopping to admire the train just dispatched from Judge Roy Scream.
Train ascending the lift hill and the station for Judge Roy Scream.
Some setting. The railroad ride and what I assume are normal mid-March foliage for Dallas.