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Sunday, October 1st, 2017

Time Event
Oh, a pirate's life is a wonderful life

So first thing to understand about Playland Castaway Cove, the park we didn't know we would visit, is that it's tiny. You know the size of an amusement pier you're thinking of? Think of something smaller than that. It's maybe the size of our bathroom. Also, that it was packed. I estimate that everybody in South Jersey, Delaware, and Southeastern Pennsylvania had converged on the Castaway Cove for the day. Also they have a rather good number and variety of rides. The result is it felt cramped, and claustrophobic, and honestly a bit tense. There were always swarms of people moving around, wherever you might want to go.

A quick check of the arcade suggested no pinball, which, all right. Didn't expect any. Also there's not much space for arcades there. They did have a modern-style Chance carousel, a swinging ship ride, a drop tower, the Ferris wheel that I'd thought was Gillian's, bumper cars, and a lot of roller coasters for the square footage. What they didn't have, so far as we could tell, was a wristband plan that would make sense for us. It was all tickets. But that was kind of all right; we didn't figure to do more than ride the roller coasters and maybe if something seemed uniquely compelling about the area that. Mostly we hoped to get through the park without being compressed into lumps of person-flavored protein by the crowds.

To give some idea of how cramped the park was: the centerpiece, tallest, biggest-thrill roller coaster is this brilliant blue thing named Gale Force. It was surrounded by the track of what I assumed was a recently-defunct roller coaster, Wild Waves. I was wrong about that: it wasn't a recently-defunct roller coaster. It was a roller coaster still being built, and slated to open later in July. (According to the Roller Coaster Database it actually opened the 7th of September.) That's two major roller coasters they opened in the same season, by the way. Also next to both of these is a compact, spinning, figure-8-shaped coaster named Whirlwind that was a kind I'd never seen before. It's only 14 feet tall, but makes up for not being tall by running many, many circuits each ride. And it wasn't the only roller coaster of this type we'd ride that weekend. I love the aesthetic of rides atop rides; it's one of the things I love about Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and Indiana Beach, and Kennywood; and here, was a place going crazy with it.

I felt a bit indecent looking over the park's attractions and deciding what ones to target. Usually we go to a park to soak in the atmosphere and while we'll have priorities, we want to amble around it. But we were fitting an unexpected park into an already-advancing evening. And the crowd made it difficult to figure where to just wander or take in the atmosphere. We picked out what we wanted and bought the tickets that we'd need for that. Which included separate, special, Willie Wonka-style Golden Ticket sheets for one ride each on Gale Force.

Gale Force is the tallest ride, and it's a launch coaster, one that uses electromagnetic induction to build up speed, instead of a chain that pulls you slowly to the top of a first hill. Instead it gets you up to speed at the base of a U-shaped hill, fast enough that you ... don't ... quite ... get up to the top of the hill. The car falls back down, picks up another boost as it goes backwards through the launch station, and then goes up the return-leg hill again partway. You fall back down again, pick up more acceleration going through the launch station, and then go over the hill to see the rest of the ride. Which is your complicated, twisty path that's all surprisingly close to being in one plane of motion.

From the top of the hill there's a grand view of the Playland Castaway Cove, and you could probably see out to the ocean, if there weren't so thoroughgoing and heavy a mist. As it was, the park looked like a little patch of color and evening lights turning on in the middle of a great grey expanse, one that hid even the water. And this from the Boardwalk. Quite a weird feeling, especially compared to the brilliant sun and warmth of the previous park, two hours earlier.

Trivia: The Latin zodiac sign Capricorn, the Goat, was in Sanskrit `Makarus', and in the Babylonian scheme `Goat-fish'. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.

Currently Reading: The First Space Race: Eisenhower and the Quest for Aerospace Security, Nicholas Michael Sambaluk.

PS: Just some walking around Halloweekends before sunset.


One of Cedar Point's old statues, emerged from hiding and set up with a guitar because near the Corkscrew roller coaster here they put up the Rock and Roll Graveyard every year.


Pumpkin Spice Snakes. Decorations, with lights on the inside, so that at night you just see the slits of their eyes and the enormously many holes over their bodies.


Photo of the Magnum XL 200 photo stand, which we didn't know was going to be renovated out of existence over the off-season, but which was, and aren't you glad to have its Very 1989 styling preserved? The photo's at a weird angle because I wondered what it would look like if the apparent path of the roller coaster train were level instead, and I missed that angle too.

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