As most of you are aware, Stricker's Grove is a private invitation only amusement park. That being said getting an invite to go to Stricker's Grove Amusement Park is not to be sneazed at or turned down.
Well, it was right after work, so I had to come home and change from business wear to coasternut wear, hey this bright orange SRM shirt looks like just the thing for tonight. Then Eric came by right on shcedule, and we headed to the park.
So we arrive at the park around 6:00, right after the rides have started, and as we round the final bend on Rt, 128, we notice something looks different. Yes the roller coasters recieved a LOT of attention this offseason. In a very positive way, now both coasters have gone from being natural wood to being painted Classic Coaster White, and Tornado sports Classic Coaster Trim Red on the walkboards, handrailsm, and track. From the parking lot it did not look like any trim had been applied to the Teddy Bear. To say the leaat Tornado is looking awesome. We park for free, and head up to the front gate. Well more like the park entryway, there is a front gate building but hey this is Strikcers we don't need tickets, turnstiles, wristbands, etc. There is merely a card table set up to the side of the front gate. "$5 per family" you pay and walk right on in. The front gate person adivsed us that our $5 for the group included all the rides, soft drinks and beer we wanted. Well first we stopped and said Hi to some folks in the Picnnc Grove then headed straight down to the end of the midway. Tornado also sports a nice looking lightup sign facing the midway Mounted above the brake run. We get in line (ok we get behind 4 or 5 people) and then get into that back seat. Luckily the changes to the Tornado did not involve the trains, as they still sport traditional style lapbars, no headrests, and a common seatbelt for both riders. Tornado also sports copious amounts of track grease tonight. I mean you get the two moments of slammer air in EVERY seat, the only difference is one of magnitude. (FYI:Tornado is a 57' Double Figure 8 layout, from the blueprints of the Rocky Glen Mighty Lightnin). Its not exactly a thrill coaster, its just one heck of a lot of fun. After a few rerides, it was time to hit the Flyng Skooters.
Ah you know you are at a Classic park when there is no ride op visible anywehere near a ride but as soon as you apporach the ride, a person sitting on a bench puts down their drink and walks over to run the ride. We would get to become familiar with the Flying Skooter op, and he had a twinge of holiday World in him, and personally thanked us every time we left his ride. Kinda like he was genuinely glad we decided to ride his ride. Flying Skooters, we would come back to this ride many times before the night was out. The ride is on a timer but "If you want to reride, just stay seated when it comes to a halt" Then he would restart it. You may have read the Chance Aviator ad in Amusement Today, well a couple times I thought I was divebombing the Teddy Bear coaster, I mean he must have measured cable length to coaster distance here. What wasn't measured was cable length to trees. We helped remove some branches from the trees. :)
Then it was time for the Teddy Bear. The Teddy Bear just wasn't getting much business. We looked at it, saw no operator, and were about to move on when, you guessed it, an op got up and started ging up the exit ramp. We got in the entrance ramp, Eric jumped in the bacseat and I jumped in the front,
"Tell me when you want to get off". He must not have known he was making that offer to coaster enthusiasts. 17 laps later, we got off, but only because "Hey there is a whole park here to enjoy" 17 laps of 'pulse the brakes as you go through the staion, and continue on our way ITOT. Teddy Bear is just starting its trimwork, this time in Blue. This my friends prooved you do not need a big 218' wooden rollercoaster to have a blast. We then decided to hit the flat rides, Scrmabler, Tilt, Ferris Wheel, Crazy Daisey, Train all in very good shape. We saw somethng interesting from the train, way in the back of the proprty is a carnival fun house racked on trailer, and a couple other carney trailers which unfortunately had their carney logos covered over, I wonder if this stuff is going to be new attractions at Strickers pretty soon.
We got back, aqnd started riding both coasters and the Skooters numerous times, then went to the restroom, which took us past the Arcade, which now sports a big animatronic shooting gallery ($1.00 for 15 shots, but you do get a redemption ticket for every target hit)and it's not one of the cheaper looking models either. "What park just lost a shooting gallery?" And what's this the Carousel finally has a proper Carousel Pavilion, looks a lot classier than what was there, and now I can't recall, but this year the Carousel sports a bright red fully functioning band organ, was this there last year?
Both the shooting gallery and band organ look brand new. Also new is that the Kiddie Helicopter ride was moved to the other end of the midway accross from the Flying Skooters (briliant move) and sports a real nice looking enclousre. Maybe they are trying to get rid of the chain link fencing. (to accomodate the larger carousel pavilion I'm sure. ) We also played Skee Ball and I roleld two lousy 150's in a row, got heckled by Eric, which of course rquired playing another game, where I rolled a much better 260. Gone are the days when I was a 300+ skeeball player.
Then a mircale happend - we were back riding rides, and had just finished a Tornado ride aqnd were headed to the Flying Skooters when we see Mom and her best friend on the midway. It's been a long running joke (Dave Althoff might recall) that every year Mom says she will ride the Tornado with me, fails to do so at the park, then says "I wanted to ride the tornado" Yeah sure.
THIS YEAR THE RIDE HAPPENED!
For the first time in 20 years, I was able to ride a rollercoaster with my Mom! Okay, so maybe it was more the peer presure from Mom's friend (who turns out hasn't exactly been riding coasters either) than my urging, But I was estatic walking uip the entrance ramp with mom. Sure we were the first in line, Mom, wanted a middle seat. The sheer imprtance of this event took priorty over my seating preferences. First Mom rode with her friend, and I was in the seat right behind. Mom prooves Dave Althoff's point about these seatbelt buckles. Push forward then pull back on the bar. And we were off. As soon as we hit the brakes I of course was waiting for initial reactions. "Is that what you two call airtime?." "Yes" "Well I liked the ride, but that airtime I can do without" We then exited and after the 4 or so new riders got on, they let us reload from the exit side. This time "Out fo the way June, I'm taking this ride with mom" We got into seat 3, Yes, here I am im the SAME SEAT as Mom, riding a rollercoaster with her. Is this too cool or what! Later on she was spotted in the Tornado train without us. Then she made a true coaster nut remark "The ride is a lot smoother on the left side of the train than the right"
Wow, for these magic moments you can keep all your high tech thrills, I'll be just as happy here at Strickers'
Now I was feeling real giddy, and on one pass of the midway, I was watching the Kiddie Whip. I noticed how fast the kiddie whip looked to be going. For some strange reason a disire to ride the Kiddie Whip came over me. But how. Well I walk around to the side of the ride a beat around the bush. "What's the maximum height to ride this ride?", "Can adults ride?" till finally the nice lady said "Do you want to ride?" "Yes" "As long as you can fit in the car". Well now I am inside the railing, and whats this Eric is getting in line also. I make my way to a car, pull the lap bar open as far as possible and sit down. Yes I can 'fit in the seat' not comfortabyl but still. Now to tackle the lapbar. Wel some crossing of the ankles and some weird leg positioning were needed but I finally got the bar latched. The ride started and wow, these little Whips are great fun. In fact I rank it over Americana's full size whip. I may have Legend Legs from it, but..... Yes, when you can drop all inhibitions and start riding the kiddie rides again, ou know you have reached your inner park going self.
Then it was time to finish up with some quality near night rides on the coasters.
"Who needs PKI with its lines, cost and aggravations, I have Strickers and Lesoursdsville Lake"
On a low note: Stirckers has converted its soft drink stand to Pepsi products, and raised the price of soft drinks. Still nothing at the snack bar cost over $1.00. In fact everything costs $1.00.
I don't know how Ralph does it but he made an incredible amount of general improvements, especially with as great of value as the park is.
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