Trip Report: Screech Fest @ LeSourdsville Lake
August 10, 2002
"It just gets better and better"
Today was the return of coaster club events to LeSourdsville Lake. The park last hosted a coaster event, the WNYCC in 1997 (if memory serves).
As such I arrived at the park with Eric Huelsman around 12:15, and we entered the parking lot. Just before Park River had taken over Americana, free parking was discountinued and a two lane parking toll plaza was errected as well as a winding entrance road to accomodate the traffic backup caused by the toll plaza. Later on a single parking toll booth was errected a bit further down the parking entrance road, but the toll plaza was never removed. This caused an interesting effect as first time visitors to the park briefly stop at the first toll plaza before realzing that no one is there and then turn the corner and pull up to the toll booth. Interesting enough, during the Sneak Preview days, the new LeSourdsville Lake moved the parking fee collection back to the big toll plaza, but have now moved it back to the toll booth. This suggests that something was wrong with the toll plaza forcing its abandonment, and the park should really make a choice as to weather or not they!
want parking fees collected at the plaza or the booth and tear the other one down. It is not like the park is lacking for parking lot staff, quite the contrary as the park has more parking attendants directing you to a parking space than my last trip to Disneyland. As a form of measurement, my last trip to LeSourdsville was July 4th and we arrived at12:30 and were able to park in the paved lot, it't not a large paved section but its a unit of measure as today they were already well into the grass lot at 12:15.
After exiting our vehicle we proceeded to head to the ticket plaza where lo and behold a jumbo new marquee logo sign has been added to the ticket plaza "Welcome to LeSourdsville Lake: The Great American Amusement Park", with the word American in red to stand out from the blue text used in the rest of the parks tagline. It is clear that the park continues to improve every week. The marquee sign really ties the parking area together, with the row of American flags flanking OH St. Rt. 4, then the main maruee sign doen up in red white and blue, then the cluster of American flags around the passenger pick-up/drop off area inlcuding the main American Flag in the center of the traffic circle, then the new red white and blue park logo sign on the ticketbooths. It also appears that steps have been taken to try to speed up the ticketing process. We noticed the last two ticket booth had signs "Purchase A.C.E. Tickets Here" Yes, the park made signs just for the one day. We already!
pre-registered so we skipped the ticket plaza,and proceeded to the gate where we were turned around back to the A.C.E. windows. Check-in was a breeze, and soon we had a nice agenda handout, a green Tyvek wristband that bore the "Pugh/Crown Shows" logo, and a free raffle ticket. We were also told that the wristband would get us through the front gate, no sperate general admission ticket was necessary.
We entered the park and first scouted out our picnic shelter, ok got it, shelter 4, we can head to the rides now. Our first thought was to try to catch a quick ride on the Serpent before the crowds arrived, too late the Serpent queue area was full. We walked through the new Italian restaurant. While there is reserved indoor seeting for the Italian Restaurant, the food is served cafeteria style, with pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, breadsticks, etc on the menu. Of note the soft drink machines are in the dining area, suggesting free refills while dining. We noted also that they are working on another food stand to go where the small gift shop was in the old food court buidling. The signage advertises a bakery coming soon.
After self-touring the new food area, and noting that the new Stardust Ballroom is still under refurbishment we walked over to the Flying Skooters. This turned out to be a wise choice as there was a group of ACE Flyers gathered around the flying scooters. And I heard cable snapping! The Flying Skooter line was lengthy and it took a couple cycles to board. Unfortuately for me, while I can get some real good dive bombing swinging action, I just can't get that snap. We exited the Flying Skooters and took a look, but did not ride, the new Pirat. Its a real nice looking pirate ship, with 4 or 5 jolly roger flags (you know skull and crossbones on a black background) adorning the boarding playform and ride marquee, and another one flying proudly atop the main mast of the ship. I mean the ride looks like a brand new ride and it seemed to be going up as high as it could without inverting the passengers. However there are rides calling our names even louder.
Namely the Zipper. The Zipper actually had a line for a while, but that died down, due in no small part to the fact they were only loading the RED cars. On a ride that should hold 24 people per cycle, they were only loading 8 people per cycle. I rode twice once with Eric and once with Jerry, and each time we recieved three flips, almost as if the ride was programmed. It should be noted, keeping in the patriotic theme that the Zipper has 4 RED cars, 4 BLUE cars, and 4 cars that are a real faint yellow/gold color that could easily be repainted WHITE, the frame of the zipper is white, and I beleived that red, white and blue also figure into the boom lights but not the scenery panel.
We soon headed to a ride with a bit higher ride capacity, namely the wood coaster. The line for the Screeching Ealge was wrapped around the outisde of the queue area, but none of the switchbacks were in use. The wait wasn't bad, 1 or 2 trains, and soon we were in the back car. Teh Screeching Eagle lives up to its name flying proudly and giving really nice quantites of airtime, and Screechin around the turnaround quite ludly.
After the Screechin Eagle, we took a walk down the main midway, the Speedway had two cars on and a long line so we moved further and saw the Tip Top was down as it would be for the entire day. I have a feeling that Tip Top is not going to have a long life. We looked at the Skippers Wharf were an American Flag has been added to the top of the mast there. Of much more note, two new food stands have been opened! The Potato Works stand has reopened, and a stand featuring fried dough products (Funnel Cakes, French Waffles, Elephant Ears) has opened. The Midway Ice Cream stand was still closed however. The airbrush stand was being commandeered for in-park painting projects and they looked to be working on painting the top decorative panels for a carousel ride. Blocking aceess to the airbrush stand were huge signs advertising the park WILL BE OPEN IN OCTOBER for a Halloween event.
Further along we came to the Infernal Combustion Fun House, and I took my mandatory "what stunts are working today" tour. The answer more than last time. All mechanical effects on the lower level were operational including the air jet just before the back/forth moving walkway. Upstairs the spinning discs and turntable still aren't operating. The rolling barrel finale was operational and we got to see Jerry Dorf almost wipeout trying to navigate the rolling barrel. As we waled down the exit stairs after the barrel I got hit with an airjet halfway down the stairs that I never knew existed.
Further along the way we failed to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl but I was pleased with what I saw when I took a close look at the ride. We walked to the Electric Rainbow which was not operating at the time. I also noted that it looks like there is room to place another flat ride between the Electric Rainbow and the Harobr Golf course and there a fenced off concrete pad just sitting there waiting.
The train was arriving so we caught the train ride back to Logger's Run. The odd looking golf game has been removed and a new flat ride is under construction between the Skatter Cats game and the Saloon. A Wave Jammer according to its nameplate, it looks like an Enterprise frame slightly tilted, with cars that look like they belong on a Bayern Kurve style ride, except that they are suspended from above. Hmmm, I don't think I've seen one of these.
The Logger's Run town is still missing a saloon and barrier has been erected to prevent access to the saloon, and work crews were working on the diner in the area, and the Outlaw' Den was still closed. Basically the only buildings open were the Antique Photo place and the Cofelt's Candy Shop, oh and the restroom building.
We headed to Raging Thunder due to the relatively short line and soon our happy trio was cramming itself into a log. I took the front, then Eric then Jerry in the rear. The rear passengers stated that it felt like the back of the log was being drug through the course. Of course thanks to the rapids section we were thrououghly wet before the tunnel. The water curtain still isn't functioning, but in the formerly tranquil section one more small rapids has been added. When the lof stopped just short of the lift hill we commented as to wheather we should exit the ride onto the evacutation platform located there. Nope, we headed up the lift, anothe pause, over the lift, down the drop, and WHAMO more water than should be allowed on a log ride came gushing over our boat. Soctt Short who was riding the train ride triggered a loud applause and cheering from the train at the enormous wave we caused. Maybe putting 750 or more pounds in one log wasn't such a good idea. As we exited Raging Thunder we noted an On-Ride Photo booth has been erected at the exit to Raging Thunder and was operational. An on-ride photo is $8.50, we declined but I noted the photo booth was serving double duty as also dealing in ride ticket sales.
After the drenching ride on the wettest log flume north of the Mason-Dixon line, we decided to spin dry. As Eric said "I feel sory for the people who gets these Scrambler seats after us" LeSourdsville Lake really does have a very nice scrabmler, smooth, fast, quiet. A top notch operation. After the Scrambler we moved to the Rock-O-Plane. Wonderfully demented fun ensued, flipping, going through the loading area upside down, etc. The Rock-O-Plane ride lasted until just arond 2:55 which was great timing as our picnicn lunch was at 3:00.
Since we were heading from Logger's Run to the picniic grove we decided to walk and soon wound up at picninc shelter 4 to find nobody. We later learned that our group had been moved to another shelter, but I did notice 3 or 4 other church and company picnics going on. The event organizers really had a neat idea, instead of the charity auction for the preservation fund where a few people donate a lot of cash, they instead decided to sell extra door prize tickets for a quarter each, to benefit the preservation fund. By my guestimation there were about 500 tickets out there, of which the first 100 were the free door tickets, so they made about $100 on the raffle, and on average each person gave $1. Items on the show table included Millineum Force exit passes, a Z-Force patch from its Great America days, several different Americana shirts, coffee mugs and other souvineers. Also available were the free unlimited soft drinks available during the picnic hour. A round of introductions were made, the raffle prizes announced that some prizes werent on the show table. The final ride of ERT would be awarded to raffle ticket winners. I thought that was a wonderful way to raise money for the preservation fund and solve the problems associated with the usual last-ride-of-the-night hold outs. Time was given to purchase additional tickets, slurp some more soft drinks, and finally the dinner buffet was served: Hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers (with mustard, pickles, onion, ketchup and tomato available), potato salad, baked beans, fresh cut watermelon, brownies and potato chip. After dinner the raffle ticket winners were announced and Jerry, Eric, and I walked away from the raffle enpty handed.
After the raffle we made our way to the Serpent which had a relatively short line. We watited through the serpent line, and first Eric filled an empty seat on the train ahead of us, then Jerry and I got in and realized that there was no way the seatbelt was going to fasten. In short each of us got to ride in a different train. My other rides on Serpent this year had been in the front seat, and this ride would be in the back seat. Back seat riders get treated to a real nasty jolt as the train engages the lift chain, after that the ride is a wonderful Galaxi which is currently running brakeless. We reutrned to the station and realized that the back seat lines up perfectly with the exit ramp. One more observation, althrough I the queue line stanchions are all painted yellow now, I note that they bare a family resemblance to those I have seen used on the Space Combat ride they used to have. Recycling? Speaking of yellow, if someing isn't red/white/blue in that park it seems to be green/yellow/teal. Yes there are some exceptions, but those are the two predominant color schemes.
After the Serpent, Jerry and I took a spin on the Zipper while Eric had to run an errand. About halfway through the Zipper ride we were commenting that we would have to comment to the Zipper operator about how pathetic his ride was. Either the operator heard us, or the ride got insulted or something because just after we commented about how little action we were getting the car went and flipped THIRTEEN TIMES IN A ROW.
After the Zipper we headed to the Musik Express. There have been a lot of complaints on various amusement park forums about the music that Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom plays on their Himalayah. Stuff with lyrics peppered with "Mother F____er" quite liberally, unfortunately this type of 'music' is also being played on the Musik Express at LeSourdsville Lake. Not exactly family fun park fare, but then I noticed that almost all the seats were full everytime I looked at it, so maybe I'm just out of touch with the current musical culture. Their Musik Express runs at an all-out 15RPM in a forwards direction for a long ride cycle. In other words, its a very nicely running ride, can we just change the soundtrack?
Look at the time, its about time for the group photo. The group photo was taken in front of the ACE sign at the Screechin Eagle station, and involved photos taken with more cameras than should be allowed, all while assuming a rather uncomfortable position. Also at this time, a group that shall remain nameless was bragging about breaking 4 tubs on the Flying Skooters due to excessive snapping!
After the group photo, we figured everybody would head to the Screechin Eagle so we headed the other way, first stopping off at the Speedway. The Speedway is a race car ride with a center guide rail. What makes LeSourdsville's neat is that the cars are running pretty fast and the ride goes underneath the Screechin Eagle twice. We also noted the line was the shortest we had seen it all day, so we got in line. It should be noted that not all cars are created equal, as the gold car travels very fast, and Jerry had a blue car that traveled at a more typical speed for these type rides. Today they had 4 or 5 cars on, which was perfect for a single opertor operation as the car was hitting unload just as the car being loaded was dispatched. Beautiful, efficient operation.
We noted the Tip Top was still closed. I fear this ride will not have a long happy life at LeSourdsville as my 'informants' have mentioned that it has been experiencing quite a lot of downtime. We meandered further down the midway where we noted the model train layout visible through the window in the as of yet unused AK Steel Building. Further along we came to the Electric Rainbow which was operating. Electric Rainbow got a fabulous new paint job that conforms with the Roy G. Biv regulations for items themed as rainbows. Not only did they properly theme the canvas on the top side of the ride, they also treated the underside of the ride. Now if we could just have large back pads that extend up to where your head is. For an example of this look at the Super Round Up at Coney Island, OH. We soon experienced a longfast Round-Up ride.
Coming back from the Electric Rainbow we stopped in the Fascination parlor for a few games. Jerry merely stood back and observed us loose. There were some expert Fascination players in the room and the games were quite quick. The price of Fascination has also been increased. 50 cents a game, or one can purchase a pack of 12 tokens for $5. The tokens look quite like pogs, metal disks with stickers on them of pop culture icons.
After Fascination we headed back to the Screechin Eagle for a couple more rides. Still the same airtime feast as always. After the Eagle we headed over to the Whip. The Whip recieved the green/yellow building paint shceme but the cars haen't been touched. Some have reported getting fastrides on this, but it still seems to be running in slow-motion. Kinda like the Calypso which recieved a FANTASTIC paint job and background scenery panel, but for some reason just fails to deliver an interesting ride experience.
After the Whip we decided to head back to the Rock-o-Plane, via a tour of Kid's World. We stopped at the carnival trailer next to the carousel and purchased some Pepsi products, then toured Kids' World. Intersting kiddie wave swinger with Scooby Doo and the Music Machine theming. It was also the first time i had ever walked back far enough to take a look at LeSouredsville Lagoon Swimming Pool. The pool was predictably packed.
I noted the Little Dipper got a big banner sign, and we agreed that the kiddie ride area looks really nice. We then started back the picninc grove path, and after hearing the noise from the Go-Kart tracks next door, I don't think they will haveany problems with 'noisy ride complaints'. We headed directly to the Rock-O-Plane just as I was finishing up my soft drink. Add to that the 5 or 6 soft drinks I had during the picnic. I was soon loaded into a Rock-O-Plane tub, and for a long while had a dementedly fun Rock-O ride, then the ride kept going, then I got the worst case of "Bathroom Pains", the ride kept on going, I just put the tub into conventional ferris wheel mode. The ride just kept on going. The ensuing bathroom pain was getting excruciating, the ride kept on going, I looked down to the operator who must have found a love interest and was too busy looking after that love interest than the ride, the ride kept going. According to who you ask that Rock-O-Plane ride lasted between 10-20 minutes. As soon as I was let out of the cage, I blazed a trail down the midway to take care of pressing needs. Upon returning back to the group we comapred notes and then waled over to the Scrambler for a spin. It was also noted that the Kiddie Bumper boats are totally gone, and the kids Tubs=O-Fun is still sitting in the back of Logger's Run unused.
We then spotted an approaching train and snagged a train ride back to the main midway. We also heard a rider in line behind us get stopped for not having a ride ticket. Yes the train and boat are 1 ticket rides. This varies from past practice as back when the park was Americana whenever they ran pay-per-ride opeations, the train and boat ride were always free as they served as transportation rides.
Upon returning to the main midway we took a look where the old Antique Car ride station was and some of the trackwork can still be seen. We also stopped in the Lakeside Arcade and noted that more games have been delivered, especially nice was to see that they installed a pinball machine, a Roadshow. A jukebox has also been installed in the arcade.
From the Arcade we noticed the Tilt-A-Whirl was down, as was the Tip-Top and we headed to look in the parks gift shop. The gift shop is still selling off a lot of old Americana gear, and other stuff that the new owners must have inherited, about the only Lesourdsville Lake item available is one design of shirt available in a t-shirt or tank top.
While touring the gift shop, we ran into Todd and Billy Long and their group. We exited the gift shop and went in search of ice cream. While the Midway Ice Cream Parlor is still closed, a line of ice cream products can be found at the Americana Grill. Shakes, Cups, Cones, Sundaes, Waffle Cones, etc. Todd had some Ice Cream and we had a Gatorade wannabe sports drink while waiting for the Belle of LeSourdsville.
In addition to the pedalboats which can be obtained at Skipper's Wharf, the park has a boat that is themed to an old American sternwheel paddleboat, while it is doubtful the paddle actually powers the boat, it does float on its own without the use of an underwater track. I was surprised to see the boat open as I hadn't seen it operating since opening night. In fact I remember the boat had a spotty operational record during the Park River West years.
In fact the first time I saw the boat dock today I noticed the "Showboat" sign was gone, and I figured the worst. I suppose a new sign is in the works for the "Belle of LeSourdsville" as the paddlewheeler proudly displays on her sides. The riverboat is done up in red,white and blue with patriotic accents. We boarded the boat using the gangplank located at the very front of boat. An interesting detail is that the gangplank is raised and lowered with a crank located at the rear of the boat by the 'captain's station. We soon found seats and while waiting for the boat to fill with passengers I looked up to note that the boat is properly stocked with life vests, in this case held to the ceiling above your seat by bungee cord 'racks'. I mention it because I don't recall many amusement park boat rides that are stocked with life vests (at least not visibly). The boat doesn't take the direct path, that is down the cneter of the lake, instead preffering to stay close to the side!
s which helps to both make this a long liesurely ride as well as to provide interesting visuals on the midwway as the watercraft floats by. Its interesting that loaded the side walls of the boat can't be more than an inch above water level. But it's always been that way. Soon we arrived at the boats other dock located by the Logger's Run area. I may be delusional but I think a whole new railing was installed at the Logger's Run boat dock. We exited the boat, and entered logger's run. The boat also beat an informal race between the boat and the train.
Jerry, and Billy led the group straight back to the Rock-O-Plane, and I shuddered and had bad recent memories flashing through my head, so Eric, Todd,the rest of his group less Billy and myself took two rides on the Scrambler instead. Jerry reports another 10- minute Rock-O experience.
After Jerry's long Rock-O ride wesaw the train in the Logger's Run station and madea mad dash for it and were able to board. We recalled signs saying that "Logger's Run will close at 8:45" It was now 8:45 and I noted that the pumps on Raging Thunder were off AND the trough had drained out already. Boy they mean business. It allowed me however to see that the rapids effect is really a quite simple trick, merely little concrete ramps that life the nose of the log up out of the water slightly, then the log falls back into the water causing a bucking rapids filled sensation. Simple but very effective.
We noted the Scrambler come to a stop, and the lights in the restroom area shut off. We also noted a strong secruity presence clearing the guests to either the walkway, the boat, or the train. We proceeded back to the main park thinking the main midway was still open.
Electric Rainbow, closed, Tilt-A-Whirl, closed. We continued down the midway commenting that we throught the park was closing at 10pm. We noted the arcade was dark inside, and upon making a comment we were told about the power outage.
Curiously enough it was a partial power outage. It seems that whoever wired the park though ahead enough to keep certain circuits, mainly those that power the midway lights on another power feed. Thus while nowhere near 100% lit, the park did have ample lighting,and the public address system was operational. While the games and rides did not have power, the restroom building by Eagle did, as did the concession stands and vending machines. It was an ingneious forethought.
For those curious the Screechin Eagle returned to the brake run where it stopped on the brakes and would not advance forward until power was resotred. Luckily for the park there is an unloading deck and exit ramp from the brake run. Unfortunately the riders on the Sky Ride were not so lucky, but the park brought out a gneerator to the Sky Ride and after anextended amount of downttime,the generator kicked in and started slowly cycling the Sky Ride. Todd Long's crew provided a cheering section for the Sky Ride Survivors.
The power outage lasted about an hour and at 9:45 the power was restored to cheers from the crowd. Some of the rides did not awake from their power company enduced coma well, but the Musik Express was the first thing to resume service. We went and rode the Musik Express and were quite surprised that the operators were running the ride both forwards and backwards. A Musik Express at Mach Speed in Reverse is a ride experience to behold. Can we work on that soundtrack?
We exited the Musik Express and got in the Screechin Eagle line just before they cut the queue to the general public. Of course by this time most of the people in line were in the ACE group anyway. There were a couple moments during ERT that despite the parks 'first-come first served no waiting for next train' policy some thick skulled people refused to board the train when only middle car seats were left. This is despite the ride operators (who were management types, not line employees) insisting they take the available seats and "this train is not leaving until the seats have been filled in" These same thick skulled people are among the first to yell "line jumpers' when people further back in the queue push past them to take the seats they didn't want. (To keep the line moving for everybody else) ("Return of the "Ace RULES" creep)
Nice behavior, guys!
As such I took my last GP ride in seat 5 and while seat 5 doeshave some gentle air its not a memorable seat. There was then d eelay as the queue was cleared of riders, then ERT started. It was soon announced that we would also have use of the Musik Express and the Flying Skooters during ERT, which would last for an hour.
My first ERT ride was another mid-train ride, followed by a ride in the front seat. Mike Medford mentioned that seat 1.3 had been declared the best seat of the ride. Seat 1.1 was a great seat, but on my next ride 1.3 was a FANTASTIC kick-butt seat. Airtime on the out leg, and insane airtime on the return leg. We even managed a second ride in the Insane Seat.
We then went down to take a flight on the Flying Skooters and I still can't snap these things, I get pretty good action on them (diveboming and such but no snapping). We returned to the Eagle but the ERT line had already been cut and was being cleared. We then watched the last ride raffle winners take their last rides which turned out to be a double ride or a triple ride. You see during the day they had to rope off a seat so they had to split the 'final ride' group into two groups.
We then exited the park and found our car way out in the grass field and made our way home.
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