October 14th, 2015

krazy koati

I never made it here before

In the Kiddieland section Lake Compounce has a couple rides that look familiar. One's a kiddie carousel that's to small for us, naturally, although it has got a lovely rabbit mount. It's also got a Kiddie Coaster, which looks to me like the same model as the Li'l Thunder which used to be at Great Adventure. That was the kiddie-coaster counterpart to Rolling Thunder, which a a kid I was way too intimidated to ride. It also seems to be the same model as Li'l Phantom, which is at Kennywood and is the kiddie-coaster counterpart to the Phantom's Revenge. Kiddie Coaster here doesn't seem to be paired to anything, but I had that happy nostalgic haze from recognizing the track layout. We're too big to ride it, alas, but I could visit it anyway.

One roller coaster we could ride, and the natural end of the park in that direction, was the Zoomerang. This is a shuttle coaster, that is, it goes back and forth rather than completing a whole circuit. It's the twin to the Sea Serpent, at Morey's Piers, and is not really bunny_hugger's favorite kind of ride. It's fine going forward, as you get pulled up a hill and dropped down, and then go looping up, twisting over, looping back and then rolling up a hill again. It's the second part, where you do the same stuff in the reverse order, and backwards, that's nauseating. The model appears to me to be identical to that at Morey's Piers, although I couldn't say if there are mild differences in the tracks. It's a decent enough ride, and I got some fantastic pictures because we were there when the sky was its bluest and the sun its highest.

We had hoped that since we were going on a Monday the crowds might be a bit lighter. Perhaps they were; we didn't see what they were like on the weekends. But there was a long line for this, and there'd be long lines for everything. Lines are a natural part of the amusement park experience, yes, and I'm opposed to line-cutting processes, whether legitimate --- people buying fast-passes --- or the illegitimate --- people just cutting lines. But when you are going to be at a park for only nine hours until goodness knows when, it does hurt to see the hours tick away with little to do but notice there's an antique-car ride just off to the side that you probably won't have time to do. (We didn't.) And it hurts to see people dashing ahead of you on the excuse that they're just joining their friends up ahead.

From this we walked around the far side of the park, where we passed a little container-cargo-style booth. The booth held a teaser for next year's roller coaster, Phobia. The interesting thing about this is that it's going to be nearly an in-line roller coaster. That is, most of its motion is nearly in a vertical plane, as opposed to the horizontal plane that most roller coasters move in. It's not a unique roller coaster, although the alignment is rare in the United States and it looks like a fraud when you first see it in Roller Coaster Tycoon. It seems like a neat concept. (Apparently its full name is to be ``Phobia Phear Coaster''. This seems over-thought.)

This brought us around to the Boulder Dash. This is their massively popular wooden roller coaster. It's the one that had shortly before been struck by lightning, and had been out of service for a week-plus while, we believe, the braking system was repaired. They'd gotten it running while we were on the New England Parks Tour, somewhere around Santa's Village, I believe it was.

The line was long, as of course it'd be. This is one of the marquee rides, and it had been closed for a week or so recently, and the day was warm and beautiful. The ride is built into the side of the mountainous hills that mark the edge of the park, and the ride queue is largely on a wooden bridge over one of the valleys. It was crowded and slow-moving, even before counting the people streaming out ahead to get back from the bathroom or whatever they said they were doing. The ride is back into the woods, basically, and the bridge queue brings you back ever-farther into trees. There's some good views of the park from back there; there's also a lot of woods views. It's very pretty, mind you, and remote.

As for Boulder Dash ... well, it is a fantastic ride. It runs largely out-and-back, in the style of classic old roller coasters and, for that matter, Shivering Timbers at Michigan's Adventure. It's quite long. It's not quite a mile long, but it's near to that, and the ride is about two and a half minutes long, and it runs about sixty miles per hour. This makes it quite comparable to Shivering Timbers, really, in speed and length and style.

But its biggest difference is the landscaping. The ride more or less tracks along the hill, so that even when it has steep drops it's never far above the ground. That's good in a subtle way; it means there's less stress on the wood supports, making for a smoother ride. And since it is relatively close to the ground, and to the trees, the impression of speed is much greater, and the illusion of danger --- that you might hit something --- is incredibly greater. In this way it's reminiscent of the Rollo Coaster, at Idlewild. Rollo Coaster is a junior coaster, not very fast or tall, but it is close to the ground and feels more adventurous for that.

So that's the Boulder Dash impression: the height and speed and length of a major modern roller coaster like Shivering Timbers, combined with the track and ground effects and closeness of Rollo Coaster. It's all the best features of both, with a result that's explosive. I understand why this ride has spent fifteen years floating around the top of the roller coaster surveys. Wow.

Trivia: The word ``hunch'' first appears in English around 1581, with a meaning ``to push, thrust, shove''. By 1630 it had the figurative meaning of ``a hint, tip, or suggestion'', and since 1904 has been ``an intuitive feeling, a premonition''. Source: Semantic Antics: How and Why Words Change Meaning, Sol Steinmetz.

Currently Reading: Symmetry In Mechanics: A Gentle, Modern Introduction Stephanie Frank Singer.

PS: Reading the Comics, October 10, 2015: Wordplay Edition, some more comic strips for you.