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7.16.2017

Waldameer: Erie's Classic Amusement Park

Waldameer is one of our happy places. We love going to this charming amusement park, with its great rides, atmosphere, and the world-class Ravine Flyer II wooden roller coaster, unaminously rated in the top tier of all wooden roller coasters on the planet by roller coaster enthusiasts. One ride on Ravine Flyer II and you understand why. It is a beautiful park, located in a beautifully forested bluff over Lake Erie and Presque Isle Peninsula. In German, Waldameer translates into "woods by the sea," and that moniker holds true to this day. 
Ravine Flyer II, as seen from the Tom Ridge Environmental Center observation tower, with the blue waters of Lake Erie in the background. 
They were able to pack a full sized roller coaster on two small plots of land on the bluffs surrounding Peninsula Drive. As soon as you get to the top and see the fantastic views of Lake Erie and the Presque Isle Peninsula, and then get whipped down that wicked first drop, you understand why this coaster is so highly regarded. As soon as you get to the bottom of the first hill, the train crosses a bridge over the four-lane Peninsula Drive in what serves as one giant airtime hill. Once you get to the other side, the train goes through a heavily twisted set of curves and drops and then it crosses back over the bridge.

Then the train traverses a series of strong airtime hills and into a 90 degree curve and through a series of more out-of-control curves and more airtime hills. There is not one dull moment in the 2900 feet of track that make up Ravine Flyer. Since the coaster opened up in 2008, it seems that the coaster has gotten even better with age. 
Being into roller coasters and having visited many amusement parks, to the point that we have even written a book about Pennsylvania Amusement Parks, we can attest to how incredible Ravine Flyer II is.
Waldameer is worth a visit for Ravine Flyer II alone, but the park also has two other great family coasters, the spinning Steel Dragon roller coaster, and the classic Comet. 
Comet is one of the last coasters designed by the famed Herbert Schmeck of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, the man responsible for many classic roller coasters throughout the country. This was built to be a family coaster, so it does not have the intensity of many of his other designs, but it still is a very fun little ride. 
For families, the park has a good number of pint sized rides that will be sure to please the little ones, including many little rides like this, plus Ravine Flyer III, a little coaster that is a hit with the little ones. Additionally, they have an excellent train ride that goes through the park.

The park also has a number of nice thrill rides that cater to people of all ages. The entrance midway has seen the most updating recently, with the new installation of a Music Express and Scrambler, and the addition of a large wavepool and new slide complexes in their waterpark, in addition to the park's lazy river, lounging areas, and other waterslides. The waterpark has nearly doubled in size over the last few years.
 The park has many classic rides, such as this paratrooper.
And this large ferris wheel, placed at one of the highest points in the park, providing tremendous views all around.
The view of Presque Isle Peninsula, the bay, and Lake Erie from the top of the Ferris Wheel.
Even with all of the new additions, the park still retains its classic and relaxed feel, with vintage rides, delicious park food and treats, shaded groves, and lots of midway games. While Waldameer is not a huge park, the park is pretty much perfect as it is. The staff meticulously maintains and updates the grounds, and somehow finds a way to make their park better each year. This has always been a family park and it is an absolute gem.
Now for a ride on the sky ride. It gives a nice leisurely ride over the heart of the Waldameer midway and gives nice views of everything, plus Lake Erie.

The Steel Dragon spinning roller coaster is slightly in view in this shot.
Heading over the carousel pavilion and the entrance area to the park.

Now headed back around to amazing views of Ravine Flyer II.


Some games on the midway
The Battle of Lake Erie water play area is under construction, and will be the latest addition to the waterpark lineup.
Two of the most prized possessions of the park are their two haunted attractions Whacky Shack and Pirate's Cove. This genre of rides is referred to as "Dark Rides," and both were designed by an absolute legend in that field, artist and designer Bill Tracy. Not much of his work remains, so these two attractions are priceless. Whacky Shack is a haunted ride that was built in 1970, and Pirate's Cove was built in 1972. Bill Tracy passed away in 1974, so these were some of the last attractions that he created. Bill started off making Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade floats in New Jersey, and then he eventually got started making legendary dark rides on the Wildwood Boardwalk. From there he went around the country and built famous attractions at places like Coney Island, Asbury Park, and both Ocean City, MD and Ocean City, NJ. Laff in the Dark has a terrific write up on the life of Bill Tracy if you would like to know more about this designer. Waldameer has not just one, but two intact Tracy attractions, and the only remaining Whacky Shack ride. 
Waldameer is an absolutely excellent amusement park that offers something for everyone. It is a great park and worth going out of your way to visit. When coupled with Presque Isle State Park, and everything that Erie has to offer, you have more than enough to do to fill a weekend trip or extended vacation. 

For more information on visiting, check out their website at www.waldameer.com

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