austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

If you're close to me maybe you'll agree

Canobie Lake Park, obviously, has more rides than just a carousel and four roller coasters. Well, maybe not obviously since it was hard finding time to ride them all. Busy day, as I say. And that's great for them; parks need days that are just packed. But it did mean there were far more things available than we could ride. Which, again, is not a flaw in a park. Just sad to know.

Of what we were able to ride, the most historically significant was the Caterpillar. This is a classic old flat ride that's all but extinct. The cars are arranged in a circle, on a platform with a rise and a fall, much like a Musik Express. The twist that makes it a Caterpillar is that during the ride a canopy loops over the cars and conceals everyone within. Idlewild Park in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, used to have one, but removed it sometime in the years ahead of my and bunny_hugger's first visit; no public information about the ride's status is available. Wikipedia carries the assertion that this Caterpillar used to operate at New Jersey's renowned lost Palisades Amusement Park, but notes there's no citation for that.

It's worth going to. It's a fun ride --- well, the motion is obviously good. And riding it concealed, without being able to see what's ahead, adds to the thrill. There are tales of how, in the ride's heyday of the 30s and 40s, couples would take their moments of being hidden to canoodle. I hate to doubt that our grandparents' generation canoodled; our parents had to come from somewhere. But if the Canobie Lake Park Caterpillar ride is typical, then I can't see how they would even start canoodling without serious injury. Holding, yes, but otherwise ... it's a bit rough.

In the early 30s there was a Dick Tracy sequence where Tracy chases the villain down to the amusement park, and the villain hides on the Caterpillar. Tracy confidently feels his work is done, since he can just wait it out. But the villain sneaks out while the canopy is raised. Again taking this ride as an example, this is a crazy plan. There's not much clearance between the car and the canopy. Getting past that, there's only a few moments the ride is slow enough you could squirm out and not get battered by hitting the ground. But it's a thrilling sequence and it's at least imaginable.

A ride that interested me, but that I think was a kids-only ride and in any case we didn't have time for, was called the Over The Rainbow. It's a balloons-twirling-around ride, and as you might guess is Wizard of Oz themed. What interested me about this is you don't really see many Wizard of Oz-themed amusement park rides, not these days. This seems strange because anything you do mentioning it will draw on the warm feelings everyone has for The Movie, but the actual underlying property is in the public domain. As long as they show silver rather than ruby slippers nobody has to pay anything to anybody. Heck, why aren't there whole Wizard of Oz themed sections of parks? Anyway, the theme, and the gentle-looking nature of the ride, made me think it was some ancient flat ride still in existence somehow. Wikipedia says the ride was installed in the distant days of 2001, though, bought new from Zamperla. This would seem to imply there should be other Over The Rainbow rides out there.

Maybe not, though. The park has only the second Zamperla Kang-A-Bounce ride we've seen. (The first was at Morey's Piers.) This is a great ride, apparently a modern version of the Kangaroo ride that's now just a Kennywood park specialty. The rides moves in circles, with nice big bounces. It's great fun. What threw us was that it wasn't kangaroo-themed. It was instead billed as the Wave Blaster. We didn't know there were alternate themes and, really, why get away from the kangaroo thing on a ride that's about bouncing? Since the ride is nearer to the flume rides and other water-y rides maybe they wanted to keep a theme going there. Or maybe either the park or Zamperla figures big kangaroo-shaped cars are too kiddie a theme for a ride they want adults to get on. No telling, but: parks putting in Kang-A-Bounce rides? Very good thing. Every park should have one.

This Wave Blaster doesn't just rotate forward. It has forward and backward ride cycles. I guess the backward would be harder to reconcile with kangaroo movements but, still. If our day was typical, they give one group of riders a forward cycle, and then the next group of riders gets backwards. So if you can't take backwards rides --- and they are often harder on folks prone to motion sickness --- you have to be aware they're doing this and watch to see what the ride cycle before you does. This seems non-ideal. But then if you're not paying attention at all, you get nicely surprised by your actual ride. And that can be fun.

Trivia: France's Third Republic had no stamps commemorating the nation's history until after World War I, about a quarter century after most European states began using that theme. Source: The Invention Of Tradition, Editors Eric Hobsbawm, Terence Ranger.

Currently Reading: Three Weeks In Quebec City: The Meeting That Made Canada, Christopher Moore.

PS: Reading the Comics, September 22, 2015: Rock Star Edition, getting me nearly up to the present day.

Tags: amusement parks, canobie lake park, new england parks tour

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