austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Watchin' girls in the air

DelGrosso's Amusement Park is in Tipton, a suburb of Altoona. It's not a very large park --- it's almost what we could figure on Kokomo's family amusement center growing into --- but the Roller Coaster Database does credit it with two coasters, one of which I think is really stretching the term to include. But it's got that serious weirdness that marks a real Pennsylvania park. For example, you may have the name DelGrosso's nagging somewhere at your mind. This is because DelGrosso Foods makes spaghetti sauce, noodles, pizza sauce, and that sort of thing. It's the same family running this, and yes, the amusement park is just across the highway from the spaghetti sauce plant. Arguably it's just down the road, as the park has a water park across the highway, beside its parking lot, so like Kennywood, you have to cross the highway to actually get into the park. Here they use a pedestrian footbridge instead of an underpass.

The park was called Bland's Park until 2000, which sounds like the normal sort of name change after new owners come in. The DelGrossos bought the amusement park in 1946. Our best guess about why they waited to change the name --- and then finally did --- was that part of the sale was a desire not to change the park's name until the last of the old owners had died, and to suppose that took longer than anyone would have expected. The theory's fine enough but the old owners were not the Blands, but rather the Rinard brothers. The Blands owned the farm on which the Rinards built the park starting in 1907. So we don't know what to make of it.

Another distinctly Pennsylvania Parks thing about DelGrosso's: in 2006 the park bought ``Revolution'', a loop-and-corkscrew roller coaster that really seems too much for this park, from Libertyland in Memphis; they kept it for five years without installing it, and then sold it to Gloria's Fantasyland in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines, where it apparently hasn't opened quite yet.

We had missed the park's Spaghetti Night for the week. Also, the park has a Spaghetti Night each week. Well, obviously, if they're owned by spaghetti makers they'll sell that sort of thing, right? We'd learn spaghetti runs deeper in Pennsylvania amusement parks than we could have guessed. Something they did have and that we got, but not enough of, was potato salad. This is a Delgrosso's Amusement Park specialty, something every trip report advises getting, and yes, they're correct. We weren't sure whether to get the small or the one-pound tub of potato salad and got the small, on the theory that how could we eat a pound of potato salad between the two of us? The answer is that it's the best potato salad you could imagine ever eating, and we might have been able to finish ten pounds and bring back a trunk full if there were any reasonable way to keep it cooled for the rest of the trip. We promised each other we'd get some more before the park closed, but we failed to, and the park closed in a very Pennsylvania Parks way.

For all these distinctly Pennsylvania Parks things about it, much of DelGrosso's is pretty normal. There's a fine kiddieland section --- most of the park is, really, which is why we allotted only the afternoon and evening to it --- including some fine castle scenery and a kids' merry-go-round with wonderful boards depicting fairy tale and folk tale scenes. But they've also got an excellent antique carousel, seated inside a dome-like shelter that looks like a derby. The park, more than Lakemont or the other small parks we visited, looked like it could be a small section of a regional park like Cedar Point or Great Adventure.

The Wacky Worm is listed as one of their roller coasters; it's a kids ride, really, and could be a travelling carnival's ride given its modest footprint and pretty short ride cycle. In fact, they gave us, I think, three go-rounds on the whole loop since it is so short otherwise. The seats are tiny, because again, kids' coaster, and I was getting pretty banged up by it. bunny_hugger and I mock the bit in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 where guests will think they wish this ride weren't so long, since who does that, although enough time with knees hitting lap bars and yeah, we kind of would be fine with a little less Wacky Worm.

The main roller coaster and the one I don't feel a bit silly crediting as a roller coaster is the Crazy Mouse, a wild mouse ride with spinning cars. This had the longest lines of the night --- wild mouse coasters usually do because everybody goes on them and they only take a couple people at a time --- and it had the same four-seater cars that Kennywood's Exterminator has, but this is a ride open to the air. It's also by the highway, so you get a good view of the cars, and of the spaghetti plant. This is a fun one, and the spinning of the cars isn't preprogrammed so the ride does come in a bit different every time; by the end of the night we had figured how to sit so as, I think, to optimize our spinning.

The ride does have an exit path, though, towards the back of the wild mouse ride, which means it feel a little like you're being stranded in nowhere at the end. When we first ride we thought we had the instructions where to go wrong; it looked like we were wandering into staff-only areas. Even when we went around again it still felt like we were being directed to the wrong place. Some parks are just odd that way.

There's more to the park, of course: bumper cars, and another Round Up of the kind that so delighted me. That one had one entry area nice and wide open, with the other closed because you just exit back the same way. There's also a trabant, a pretty neat ride where you sit on a circular base, and it spins around and around, on an axis that itself rotates, and then elevates on its side for a pretty complicated motion. This one is called Casino, and is themed as a roulette wheel, which is a really good fit for the ride's shape and movement even if there's no other casino-themed rides in the park.

After the Voice of Kennywood horrified us by closing the park out from under us we got a bit jumpy whenever any park made any kind of announcements, but the Voice of DelGrossos was very kind to us, telling us that while the water rides would be closing soon the rest of the park would stay open indefinitely. The women working the gift shop --- who were interested in our parks tour, or at least in talking to someone who wasn't a screaming kid --- brought us the rumor that the park was going to stay open to 9:30, about a half hour past its nominal closing time. Yes, this is another park that may have a notion of a closing time in mind but isn't going to be stuck firmly to it.

And that's just what happened: the park ran a half-hour past the nominal closing hour before they started to close things down. We were able to ride everything we were interested in, and some things of marginal interest like the model train that went far back into the woods and even gave us a glimpse of the creek outside, by night, before returning for last rides on the Crazy Mouse and on the antique carousel. As the park closed, the public address system started playing ``Goodnight Sweetheart'' --- just as at Kennywood, they had closing music. Was every Pennsylvania park like this? We would hear the song again.

After the park closed we had a couple hours of driving to do, most of it eastwards, and after dark so there wasn't much scenery to discuss. One high odd point of this was where the turn from a northeast-going highway to the east-going highway was, according to the satellite navigator, a ``left''. This was true; it's a spot where the highway just has to cross over itself rather than use, like, a proper turning lane. And eastward, now on I-80, took me past some spots that I recognized from when I moved out to Michigan, particularly as we went past the town of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. We were looking for Elysburg, and got to our hotel late enough we pretty near just flopped into bed.

Friday was to be our day at Knoebels.

Trivia: The most popular author in Armed Service Edition books during World War II was Ernest Haycox, represented by eight Western titles. Next most popular were Max Brand, Thorne Smith, and C S Forester. Source: Don't You Know There's A War On?, Richard Lingeman.

Currently Reading: War With The Newts, Karel Čapek. Translated by Ewald Osers.

PS: My August 2013 Statistics, for the mathematics blog.

Tags: pennsylvania parks trip
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