Trip Report: LeSourdsville Lake
July 4th, 2002
"The Eagle Flies Proud!"
Waking up July 4th, Rideman and I decided via an early morning exchange of emails to celebrate the 4th of July at LeSourdsville Lake: The Great American Amusement Park. I decided on my coaster shirt with the wooden coaster done up in a patriotic inspired pattern, and was ready to greet Rideman right around noon. With luck on our side, we experienced minimal traffic and arrived at LeSourdsville Lake around 12:30.
This was my first visit to LeSourdsville since my visit on opening night. You may recall the Eagle decided to sleep in on opening night. We pulled into the parking lot and drove to the second toll booth, just like in the Park River days, and paid the $4 parking fee, also like the Park River Days, then a small army of parking attendants (unlike Park River days) directed us to a space that was not the closest available to the main gate, but it was in the paved section of the lot. We emptied out of the car, decided what we would rather not take into the park, and headed for the front gate.
Upon reaching the gate area we saw a healthy crowd of park goers waiting for tickets. On this holiday it was not for lack of having ticket lanes open, 7 of the 10 ticket lanes were open. The ticket line would proove to be the longest wait of the day, but it really is a great equalizer in a park with no season passes, very few presale tickets, and the need to get wristbands, everybody waits out the ticket lines. We were delighted to see a couple large looking picnic groups meeting up at the front gate, and admired the American Flag display. You see the park has lined their fronting on State Route 4 with American Flags, and continues with another set of flags in the ticketing plaza, which includes Flagpole One. (Not its real name but it seems to be the 'main' flag of the group). I notice that the era of a Do-It-Yourself picninc at LeSourdsville are over, as coolers, picnic baskets, etc cannot be brought into the park. Anyway about 20 minutes later we are buying general admission tickets and All Ride Fun Passes. ($3.00 General Admission + $15.75 All Ride Fun Pass, including the taxes). The ticket lines do actually look a lot longer than they really are because the ticket seller places the wristband on the customer, which means every rider has to be in the line at the ticket window. Since this is a novel concept to people in this area, it causes a delay while other family memebers have to be called over to get their wristbands. Luckily most folks do figure this out BEFORE they get to the window. Personally, I like the way Kennywood does it, the ticket seller gives a RAD customer a specially marked admission ticket, and then the ticket taker stamps the persons hand if they have RAD, and the person moves on to yet another person who applies the wristband. A neat quick moving assembly line.
Anyway, this is LeSourdsville and we get our Tyvek jewlery and proceed accross the railroad tracks to the front gate. As partof the 1990 era rebuilding, the park installed a new front gate with tall collumns that would be perfect to mount a nice big fancy LeSourdsville Lake sign to, but thats getting picky. We hand our general admission tickets in to the ticket taker and enter the park.
Unlike the sneak peak, I notice that the picnic grove is open. We proceesd straight ahead, and I note the Coffelt's Candy Corner is open, the Guest Relations center was open (it was not on sneak preview night), and while the front gate gift shops are still closed, the "Keyhole" pictures window was open, and the associated photography unit was assembled in the front gate plaza taking pictures. An ATM machine has also been placed in this area. We proceed to the main intersection and turn left. I notice that some carnival games have been setup in this area, and Rideman noted they were not there two weeks ago, signifying that the park is constantly adding stuff. The door to the Food Court was open but it was not really open. The facility is being converted from a Food Court to an Italian Restaurant, but its not quite done yet. We continued to walk, putting on blinders we walked straight to the Screechin Eagle.
At first I was concerned when there was nobody in line for the Screechin Eagle, and a garbage can looked a bit to close to blocing off the queue entrance for comfort. The can wasn't totally blocking the entrance so we headed up the ramp and as we were walking through the queue we saw a train full of happy coaster riders return to the station. The incoming riders depart and we are admitted with a full choice of seats. We opt for the backseat for my first ride. We sit down, fasten the seatbelt, lowered the PTC traditional double lapbar. (Remember to PUSH forward, then PULL back, lots of folks have forgotten the PUSH forward step). The only headrest is on the backseat, now if only we can get rid of these seat dividers. It doesn't take too long for them to find coaster riders for the other 16 seats. The train is dispatched, we make the turnaround to the lift, then start up the newly rebuilt lifthill, where I notice the odd little wooden antirollbacks have been replaced by a different system. We crest the lift, and I can officially re-welcome the Screechin Eagle back to service. The outbound leg was kinder and gentler with the reprofiling of the pullout on the first drop (don't scream, it was raised only about 31 inches), and the upside of hill two was also retracked to accomodate this. What this means is that from 1996-present the entire coaster has been retracked. There was some mild floater air, then we went around the turnaround, and then WHAMO! The Eagle Is BACK with a VENGANCE. The Eagle Is Flying PROUD and causing no less than 3 major spots of Slam Me Up Slam me Down airtime. A real G-Force extravaganza. This is the Eagle I know and Love! I know John Miller must be proud to see one of his creations lovingly restored and returned to service.
We exited the coaster to the front of the train, and up the steps, as opposed to the sign that says "Exit To The Rear" It's a new sign the Pughs installed, the sign has an arrow pointing to the exit bridge which is at the front of the station, but the wording is confusing, particularly since there is a dis-used ride exit ramp at the rear of the station, a leftover from the NAD train days which only had openings on one side. We crossed the exit bridge then headed right back around to the entrance. Again we just happened to be stopped at the gate, which meant first choice of seats again, which means a front seat ride.
If I thought the backseat was good, the front seat was great. YES, the surprise air on the fakeout drop on the outleg is still there, and the ride seems to be a lot better up front. We returned to the station, then got back in line AGAIN, this time we had to settle for another choice of seats, but I chose the Schmeck Seat. (1.3) 1.3 did not dissapoint, its just as good, if not better than 1.1. WOW! I love this coaster, and words cannot describe how happy I am to be able to ride it again!
However, as happy as I am to be able to ride the coaster again, there is more to a park than its coaster. I start to walk the midway and see more game joints are open, more stuff has been repainted, the SKippers Wharf pedalboats were open, and apparently are still included in the wristbads.
I notice more American Flags literally lining the main midway. I heard the park purchased at least 50 American Flags. I keep hearing a rumour that the Screechin Eagle is to be repainted red, white and blue, and the top of every hill is to be capped with a flagpole and flag. It is the Eagle afterall.
Anyway, at the end of the first segment of the games midway is the Speedway ride. The Speedway ride was operating and there were only about 5 people in line, which meant it was the perfect time to ride. We waited out the short wait and were shown to seperate cars. The cars feature leather seatbelts. I sat down in the car and awaited the direction to "Go". I pressed down on the pedal, and I thought the 95 MPH sign was a joke. Man these cars HAUL, these are easily the fastest U-Drive-Em cars I have ever experienced. So fast that I was all the way through the course and back at unload before Rideman could get out of the loading area. There are a couple notable moments along the Speedway though. For starters it goes underneath the Screechin Eagle twice, then it has a tunnel that currently has a small bush sitting there for you to dodge. Lastly, it has all sorts of traffic signs around for themeing, one of them is a "No Left Turns" sign, immediately before a left turn.
We exited the Speedway, bypassed the Giant Slide, and I decided to take a quick inspection of the status of Infernal Combustion (Owens Funhouse)'s stunts. Unfortuantely the Funhouse had one fewer stunts working than on opening night, even worse the stunts that were inoperable on opening night have not been fixed. For those who haven't done this particualr walk through, you start be passing between the barels hanging on either side of the wall and head up a short flight of Sideways Sliding Stairs, each step sliding in the opposite direction than the one before, turn left, you then glide accross a short rollerwalk, turn left, you then step on an airjet floor panel with a too weak to be noticed airjet, turn right, then you have another moving floor, this time thepath is divided into two halves, one half goes forwards while the other goes backwards in alternating patterns, a u-turn to the right, then the (non-operable) "wave" bridge. Its a bridge that as you cross it it moves slowly forwards and back while also moving up and down, sort of like an ocean wave (when it works), you then make anouther turnaround to the left, up a flight of stairs, then there is a trick section of floor that moves depending on how you step on it, when you step woth your left foot, it tilts to the left, then step on the right foot, and it tilts to the right, a turnaround to the left, then a fake trapdoor, it only drops a few inches when you step on it, then the buckling bridge, then a still non-operable turntable at the turnorund to the right, then a longer rollerwalk, then three (non-operable_ spinning discs before heading down the stairs, halfway down the stairs a turn to the right, then a turnaround to the left to face the front then through the WORKING ROLLING BARREL FINALE!
We exited the Funhouse and headed over to the Tip Top. Tip Top is a vintage Hurbetz Tip Top. Its a teacup ride where the platfrom rises up and can 'bounce'. We climbed into a cup and startied happily spinnning away, then the ride started, and as can happen with Tip Tops, the ride starts putting so much resistance to your spinning efforts that you are really at the rides mercy. It wasn't a very exciting Tip Top Ride, but these things are so fun.
We exited the Tip Top and noticed that the Americana Diner was offering GREAT 4th of July Food Sepecials. We looked at the Calypso and noted that while it looks extreemly impressive the ride action hasn't improved. We decided to skip it. A quick inspection of the Lakeside Arcade revealed that no more arcade games had been added.
We took a look at the Tilt which had recieved a few more changes and was really looking nice. I quickly diverted my attention to the newly restored miniature golf course. A few of the holes have been reconfigured very slightly, and new carpet was laid, and the course reapinted. In other words it looks very nice, and judging by the number of people playing it, I would venture to say it is included in the POP wristband.
A quick restroom stop, which is only noteworthy to mention that the restroom buildings have really been cleaned up since opening night. Continuing our jaunt around, I noticed that the food service stands now have posted menus but they should consider either placing a white background behind the menu or doing something to improve legibility. Our next stop was the beautifully repainted Electric Rainbow (Super Round Up). We decided to ride this one, and were soon boarding the platform where I noticed the individual chains have been replaced by one long piece of steel rope that runs accross half of the berths. The Steel rope has enough slack that two or three people can get in/out at a time. (It's a common practice on carnival round ups) I noted the theming on the center canvas and verified that it passed the ROY G. BIV Inspection. A wondefull, if a bit long, Round Up ride followed, and then we were directed to exit the Rainbow via the back exit. Rather unusual in that most round ups have the back exit blocked off.
After the Round Up, I was starting to feel a bit dehydrated, and just in time a Pepsi machine pops up in front of the LeSourdsville Theater. Its a brand new modern Pepsi machine of a style I hadn't seen before. This particular machine was selling only Aquafina Water. That is it WOULD sell Aquafina water if it would actually accept my $1 bills. ($2 from this machine). It turns out that the price of water varies depending on where you get it. We boarded the Liberty Train (Iron Horse) to the back of the park. The train ride provides neat views of the river and lake, and its good because although a gravel walkway exists, it is forbidden to use it to get to the back of the park.
We soon arrived in Logger's Run (nee Tombstone Territory) and I never seem to know if these stores are open or closed. They always look closed, and today most of them actually were. The Antique Photo store was open, and they were working on the Cafe'/Ice Cream Parlour. In the meantime they have plopped a carnival style food trailer which was selling burgers, chicken, soft drinks and ice cream. The Saloon was closed but all the tables are stacked up on the patio out front suggesting that they are working on it. Lastly the Outlaws Den appears to be storing parts to a kids play structure.
We were headed back to ride the Scrambler when we saw that not only were the cars on the Rock-O-Plane, the Rock-O-Plane was turning. Demented laughter ensued and we headed back to the Rock-O-Plane.
The Rock is very colorful now with Yellow, Red, Purple, and Orange cars. After a short wait we were onboard, and flipping and rocking away to our most demented content. It was about this time that I noticed the used Elitch Gardens coaster trains had been removed from the 'used coaster car lot'. At least the brake levers on the Rock-O appeared to be in good shape. (To the uninitiated - each tub has a huge metal ring on a corssbar that is connected to a lever that is connected to a tub braking device. Judicious use of this lever can cause your car to go upside down, or flip like crazy or other weird odd and strange things.
After our Rock-O-Plane ride I was still feeling kina thristy and Rideman was having a discussion I popped over to a Pepsi machine setup in the Birthday Pavilion. (a picnic shelter in the clear back of the park for birthday parties). Said vending machine was turned off, and inspection of the machine, espeically the area where the pop bottles come out suggest that this machine hasn't been touched since 1999.
Our next stop was the Scrambler, where they ahve reversed the exit and entrance gates. This is more confusing because they have not moved the ride safety signage, which is now sitting next to the exit gate. Be that as it may, this Scrambler received an extensive overhaul in 1997 and it is still one of the quietest, smoothest, fastest best run Scramblers I have seen in a while. A ride was in order to verify that it was still a good scrambler. To be fair, this was a really hot day, with some electronic thermomtetrs we saw on buildings along our way to the park maxed out at 99F, but as you may recall the Scrambler has a silver metal seat frame and a black seat cushion. Gives a new meaning tot he term 'hot seat'.
Mind you its still a very fine Scrambler. We exited the Scrambler and spotted a water fountain next to the restrooms. Its not a very cold water fountain, but it was working and it does have good water pressure. In fact its possible to get an unsuspecting victim standing next to it.....
We proceeded back towards the train stop and noted the train had just left so we took a walk down to see the new games trailer. Its not a Lucky Striker but it could take the title of "Second Most Annoying Game In the World". Skater Cats is the game, and its a cross between a Skeeball machine and a Cat Rack game. What makes it so annoying is that if the game is not being played, every so often it goes into an attract mode playing, what else, "Alley Cat". Imagine having a bacnk of these machines, each playing Alley Cat at a different time, enough machines where ita almost perpetual, oh and the cats taunt the players if they miss. Coming back from looking at the Skatter Cats and some golf game based on either the speed or strength or projected distance of your drive, we took a look at the carnival food trailer (actually a drinks trailer with a grill set up behind it) Across from the trailer is a washtub on wheels, this washtub is filled with ice and bottled drinks. Here I was able to obtain a bottled water for $1. Remember the machine on the other end of the park wanted $2.
You may be thinking that we haven't mentioned the Log Flume yet, well we decided to come back and ride that one later in the day when Rideman wasn't carrying camera gear. We also noted a kiddie Tubs Of Fun in the area that did not appear to be open. So We arrived back at the train stop in perfect timing to catch a train back to the main midway, we choose the very back car so that we could be the first off at the other end.
We re-entered the main midway and took a liesurely walk down the way. We looked at the Tilt-A-Whirl some more, its really nice looking now, in fact it almost looks brand new with a new green and purple color scheme. Further down the way we stopped at the Americana Diner for lunch. Actually Rideman had lunch, as I had eaten prior to going to the park, but as a sympathetic eater, I grabbed a hot dog and a soft drink. Rideman had a Hot Dog, Nachos with Cheese, AND a soft drink all for $3. As I said earlier 4th of July specials. We grabbed a table and a discussion ensued about the proper condiments for a hot dog. We happened to have a table next to the Showboat dock. The Showboat is a faux paddleboat that shuttles riders from the main midway to Logger's Run. Unfortunately, the Showboat was closed today. I'd heard that on some transpotation devices your seat cushion could be used as a floatation device but the Showboat has taken that to extremes as the 'captain's chair''s back cushion literally is a life vest.
After we finsihed eating we proceeded to the parks main gift shop, that is the one next to the Screechin Eagle Station. The gift shop has some wonderful Americana logo merchandise (Golf shirts, sweatshirts, t-shirts) etc for sale, unfortuantely all the "Coaster Enthusiast Sizes" have already been snatched up. However there is are also LeSourdsville Lake shirts which are already in their second generation. The newer ones also advertise Couch's Campers. We took awhile to browse the giftshop, and Rideman waited patinetly as he had made his purchases earlier. I finally settled on a LeSourdsville Lake t-shirt, and an Americana logo golf shirt. I really wanted some of the other stuff, but sorry size "L" just would not look prettty. A word of warning, the gift shop does not have a credit card machine, and with the one of a kind items they have/had it may be wise to take a sufficient stock of cash in wih you.
We left the gift shop and headed next door to the Screechin Eagle and took a couple more laps on the wooden wonder. Still the same great air. We next went over to look at the Whip, which was just ending a cycle, whcih meant it was a grea time to ride the Whip. the Whip was running a little better than opening weekend, but it could still use a speed increase.
Next up was the Musik Express. The Musik Express was quite crowded, and for good reason. Although it was running forwards only today, it was still running at an insane spped, and the park has finsihed the canopy and added a sound system to the ride so it is running AWESOME.
After the Musik Express we took a ride on the _KY RIDE. The sky ride was running constant today without the start/stop action found on opening night. It seems the workers figured out that the riders are supposed to load and unload while the ride never stops moving. It was a nice relaxing ride, and the jungle animal themed plot of land underneath it is interesting.
After the _KY RIDE I noticed that the intiquing little Tropical Drinks Stand is now being converted into an Airbrush T-Shirt stand. Next to that stand is the Zipper. Next to the Zipper is a pieceof construction equipment which bore a strange resemblance to the Zipper. Unfortunately no single riders are allowed on the Zipper, and Rideman did not want to ride.
Next to the Zipper sits the Serpent, which had too long of a line at this time, so we decided to pass it and try again later. Across from the Serpent is the Flying Skooters.
Being self respecting enthusiasts, we headed to take a round on the Flyers. We arrived at about just the right time and soon were boarding the strange heaver fiberglass flyers they have here. I still can't get a loud KERCHUNK making snap. I mean I can get my flyer to go through the motions, I can FEEL the snap, but I can't get it to make the noise. It's not my favorite Flyers but its nice to have them open. We exited through the Flyers exit which puts you really close to the worksite for the Huss Pirat they are buidling, speaking of work sites they had properly secured the Food Court building and we decided to head out to the car to dump Rideman's camera equipment.
Well we got as far as the handstamp lane when the train came, no not the cute little train that takes you around the park, we're talking the big ugly freight train that traverses the tracks between the park and its parking lot. It's been a problem for the park for years, and I'm surprised they haven't devised a workaround, I mean they have added a railroad crossing gate over the years, but thats about it. So we ducked into the Cofelt's Candy Corner and snacked on stick candy while enjoying the air conditioning. A bit later the train finished its role as Front Gate Nuisance and we were able to get fresh handstamps and head out to the car to stow the camera and have some soft drinks.
We reentered the park, and this time we headed to do a quick peak of Kid's World. It looks like all the various kiddie rides are up and running, and the park has really done a fine job on them. We confirmed that adults cannot ride the Little Dipper, not that they could with the seat dividers. We also noted that the pool complex has been named the Lesourdsville Lagoon and is free with wristband or $3.00 with general admission. The pool looked to be quite popular.
We cut accross the sand teatherball courts to the picnic grove where we noted some group outings were going on, and that R2D2 is helping to serve the drinks. We took the rahter long walk back to Logger's Run. Its a long walk this way but not as long as walking all the way around to the train station and waiting for the train. However there is little to do along this walk and I know I had nearly melted by the time we made it to Logger's Run.
We entered the queue area for Raging Thunder and found a fairly healthy line. It wasn't a bad wait, it was essentially 1 switchback, and the park was adding logs as we waiting. As we approached the head of the line, we noted something strange. Up to this point we commented that maybe the ride ticket system could be phasesd out as everyone seemed to have a ride pass, however as people were boarding the flume, we noted the majority of the flume riders were using ride tickets. We climbed into a log and Rideman sat in back, and me in front. We were dispatched and took the first dip out of the station into the trough without getting too many drops, then you make a turn to the right, another turn to the right, then you get hit by a rapids drop or two. You will get a bit wet, you make a left turn you go into a severe rapids section where you get even wtter, then you make a left into the tunnel, Inside the tunnel you first curve to the left, and then the right. There watercurtain in the tunnel was not operating. Then the ride goes out and circles a pool of water and you experience a nice calm tranquil normal log flume experience as you make a right, go a long ways, then another right, then a third right, and then you head up the lifthill. A brief pause at the top of the lifthill is your respite before the big drop. At the bottom of the drop every square inch of clothing and skin on your body gets SOAKED. You ten take a nice trnaquil ride back to the station. You then exit your boat and proceed to wring all the excess water out. A Rapids Ride Disguised as a Log FLume, or a Log Flume that thinks its a rapids ride. Still one of the wettest flume rides anywhere, I'm glad to see they kept it.
From the Log FLume, we ducked in the Coffelts Candy Store back in Logger's Run but didn't stay long. We decided to not ride the Rock-O-Plane again but instead to take a spin dry ride on the Scrambler. The ground at the entrance to the Scrambler is very carefully planned and desinged so that the gate CANNOT open far enough to be in the ride path. Its a subtle feature that you almost can't see with your eye. Another smoooth Scrambler ride, and then we headed to the train. But the train doesn't seem to be coming. We decide to press our luck and do Raging Thunder again since it had almost no line. Therefore me theory is that you want to get in line just BEFORE the train arrives, because after the train arrives people will head towards the flume in a drove. We even reversed log positions and I was surprised at the water that flies in from the back of the boat on the rapids. We are now really truly soaked.
We head back tothe train station. Still no sign of a train, we hit the restrooms, no sign of a train, we ask a security type person who didn't have any information for us. Speaking of Security this park exhibits a very strong security presence along the main midway. I'm not sure if they were called in due to the paranoia surrounding the July 4th holiday, or if the park always takes security this seriously. Eventually we decided to walk it back to the mian midway, which meant another trip through the picnic grove.
We took a look at the new kiddie bumper cars, and the carousel that is now under a new carousel pavilion donated by the former Dodgems ride. Next to the snack trailer in the front of the park is a little stand that sells those Lemon Shake Ups - you know take a lemon squeeze it out into a glass, shake with another glass containig Ice and what is presumed to be water. They sounded enticing with a 20oz serving being $2. They made my Lemon Shake up and she started to hand me a cup that was only 2/3 full. They ask "More Ice?", I responded "More Lemonade?" we settled on another shot of what we presume to be water. I don't mind giving the recovering park money, but I do want to feel like I am getting value for money.
I decide to consume me sorta Lemon Shake Up while waiting in line for the Serpent. I do think the Serpent line moves a bit quicker than it did during the Coney Island days, and a second train sits waiting but unused. The Serpent is running real well for a coaster of its type, with all the trim brakes turned off, including the last one that is ALWAYS on on a Galaxi. The downside to that is the train consistently overshoots the unloading area. Its not a bad ride at all.
After riding the Serpent we looked over at the games and noticed that this park did not sell out and by a Zamperla "Most Annoying Game In The World", no they put in honest-to-goodness real Hi-Strikers where you attempt to ring the bell by sending a metal slug up to the top of a high tower using only a lever and a big sledge hammer.
By this time it was getting late, so we headed over to the Screechin Ealge for a few laps before leaving the park. The Ealge again did not disapoint and this time I got to get re-introduced with the short seat divider. Ahh, its good to be back home!
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