Located along the banks of Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie is one of only thirteen trolley parks left in the United States. Meaning “woods by the sea” in German, Waldameer Park is the fourth oldest park in Pennsylvania and the tenth oldest park in the nation.
When you head to any amusement park, one of the first things you should do is find out what are the “must ride” rides. My family and I visited Waldameer Park and Water World recently and here are some of the rides that I think that you wouldn’t want to miss.
The Comet was Waldameer’s first coaster to be built after the 1938 Ravine Flyer accident. Built in 1951, the Comet is a junior roller coaster, standing at just 45 feet high and with 1,400 feet of track length. It was designed by Herbert Schmeck and features an oval/figure-eight design. It features a series of drops broken up by a series of bunny hops. It is an excellent coaster for beginners due to its tame nature and the fact that it only reaches a top speed of 25 MPH. Remember, its important to start them young!
Dark rides were once amusement park staples that are now slowly disappearing. Waldameer is lucky enough to have not one but two classic dark rides designed by the dark ride master himself, Bill Tracy. The Whacky Shack is a ride where you will be transported into Tracy’s world filled with stunts, gags, illusions, and lots of fluorescent paint!
Although not a historic ride (Thunder River was built in 1996) anyone from Pittsburgh can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia when riding Thunder River. It is a similar ride to the Log Jammer which was once at Kennywood Park. This log flume ride will take you through 1,300 feel of trough, a storm tunnel, and a small drop, before reaching the final splashdown.
I’ll admit that Ferris wheels are a personal preference. Me? I hate heights so much I’ll never set foot on one, but for my non-height-hating friends, Waldameer’s Ferris wheel is a must. At 100 feet tall, the Ferris wheel stands nearly 180 feel above the lake, providing a spectacular view of the surrounding area.
Added to Waldameer Park in 1972, Pirates Cove was the successor to the popular Whacky Shack. Also designed by Bill Tracy, Pirates Cove was one of his last projects before his death in 1974. Unlike Whacky Shack, Pirates Cove is a walk-through attraction. It features a variety of different illusions such as tilted floors, mirrors, darkness, uneven floors, and a variety of sights and sounds.
Ravine Flyer II
The Ravine Flyer was one of Waldameer’s early rollercoasters. This coaster utilized the park’s topography to create a ride with drops of over 80 feet. In 1938, a tragic accident occurred when the coaster got caught between dips. When a young man stood up to try and calm his sister, he ended up falling 30 feet to his death. After the accident the ride was dismantled.
Seventy years after the Ravine Flyer’s last ride, it came roaring back to life — sort of. In 2008, the Ravine Flyer II opened which was designed to emulate the original Ravine Flyer coaster, following a similar track pattern, even crossing Peninsula Drive like the original. The Ravine Flyer II is a high speed coaster and features a 120 foot drop over the hillside and reaches a top speed of 60 MPH.
It’s a pretty fitting welcome back for a roller coaster legend, I’d say.
While I loved our visit to Waldameer Park, I do want to note that I wish the park had embraced more of its historic roots. Being such a historic park, and one of only a few trolley parks left, I wish they had retained more of the history rides and feel in the park. Overall, it is still a great place to take the family and enjoy a day at the park.
Be sure to check out the Waldameer and Water World website to purchase tickets, view their operating schedule, and to get more information.