Friday, September 7, 2018

The Hidden Rides and Themed Attractions of...Wyoming



10th largest by area, least populated, and last in the alphabet - Wyoming appears on almost no one's radar unless they're thinking about skiing or hate crimes. Contending with Colorado as the nation's squarest state, Wyoming's entire population is eclipsed by that of the city of Milwaukee. Ohio State University has more students enrolled than the largest city in the state (Cheyenne) has residents. We're talking sparse here, people. Sparse. And where people are sparse, so are amusements.

As is often the case in places where there's not a ton of taxable income, citizen organizations often attempted to step in and fill the void by providing entertainment. The Lions in Cheyenne provided the space for a small park that ran until 1990 here called Fun City, home to the state's one known historic roller coaster (some kind of kiddie steel coaster with Allen Herschell cars). The Putt Hutt and Ampitheater still remain in operation, but the mechanical rides are long, long gone.



As the largest city and center of much activity, Cheyenne isn't without rides these days. Cheyenne Steamers operate a miniature train in the city at the Ice and Events Center; dates are limited for public rides, but they exist from time to time. Another location that's limited in terms of availability quite by design: The Party Pony. It's a children's event center with a carousel of indeterminate origin (probably a two row portable Herschell but I haven't seen a good enough picture). The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of the state's premier tourist destinations, and is home to a skyride and a 1925 Herschell carousel.



In 2015, the state once again welcomed a coaster: Cowboy Coaster, constructed at Snow King Mountain Ski Resort. Like so many in the US, it is Wiegland Mountain Coaster and is capable of year round operation. Like many other ski resorts, there's scenic chair lift rides and kids activities (mini golf, a maze).



Big dreams exist in a big land. Old Town Family Fun in Casper is a fairly substantive FEC that's been expanding right along; mini golf, climbing wall, and arcade. They also have impressively themed exteriors to the buildings, which suggests either they might have aspirations beyond this. Aspirations are running wild in Buffalo, WY where they're collecting money to restore a CW Parker carousel they've called the "https://www.facebook.com/CowboyCarouselCenter/Cowboy Carousel". This rare machine features Cowboy and Native American pieces together, but is in need of significant restoration before returning to public utilization as part of an arts center in the town.

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And with that, every state has been covered: but this project hasn't ended quite yet! Canada and the United States both claim a number of territories, ranging from the arctic to the South Pacific. What wonders do they conceal? Find out in our next installment!


Friday, August 24, 2018

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour #153 - Kebab Puns



Part 1: Joe is joined by Alicia Stella of Orlando Park Stop and Theme Park Stop on YouTube. We have a breezy talk about the new Potter coaster, Universal's history, the "good ole days" were not good, Universal announcement pacing, Disney projects, and more!

Part 2: Brian McNichols from Touring Plans gives us his initial impressions and review of Universal's new Aventura Hotel.



Part 3: Joe and Mike talk to Brian about his first trip to HHN, give him some tips, and we share the scare zones and houses we are most excited for this year.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Hidden Rides and Themed Attractions of...Wisconsin



Wisconsin is known for two things on the global stage: beer and cheese. Sometimes these are put together and used to dip pretzels into or used to smother burgers. Under those circumstances, one might expect that its residents would perish from heart disease at some of the highest rates in the US. They actually rank around midpack - just like they rank in most categories such as overall population and size. How? Well, Wisconsin is a well educated state thanks to it's outstanding public institutions, and thus has above average doctors for the other demographics it otherwise shares. Very much a purple state, it is responsible for both Paul Ryan and Scott Walker's notoriety on the American political stage, but historically has a substantive number of democratic candidates which it has pushed forward (including current senator Tammy Baldwin).

It's biggest city isn't where the NFL team is located - it's actually the third largest city where you'd find that. There's also no NHL team here in spite of it being cold and conducive to hockey fandom thanks to the overbearing influence of the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago as a whole really casts a shadow on much of the populated portions of the state. It's the top market from which Wisconsin Dells pulls tourists, and the existence of Six Flags Great America as being positioned halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago's respective downtowns forever dooms the city to never having a substantive park to truly call it's own. There's lots of outdoor space here and plenty of great summer recreation of the "real" kind. And more often than not, that recreation has led to amusements sprouting up near by.



The obvious starting point is the Wisconsin Dells. In the 1920ss, tourists flocked here because of the gorgeous glacially-carved sandstone that reflected off the calm waters of Lake Delton. That Lake Delton is actually a reservoir constructed pretty much entirely for establishing a leisure resort has become secondary in the discussion of the Dells, as Lake Delton itself increasingly becomes perceived as merely a source of water rather than an attraction. Noah's Ark was the first really big attraction in the area: it has historically been much more than a water park, even containing indoor attractions like a a 4-D Theater and a Haunted Swing (think Vekoma Mad House, but smaller) rethemed twice, most recently to Curse of The Crypt. Their premier attraction these days is the 1/4 mile long water coaster Black Anaconda, which was the world's longest when constructed.

It was the development of the first American full scale water park under a roof at The Polynesian that changed everything in the Dells. Soon, large water park resorts sprung up left and right, establishing brands: The Wilderness, Kalahari, and Great Wolf Lodge are its most well known by far. Chula Vista Resort doesn't have a national brand, but it does have both an indoor and outdoor water park with water coaster. And then there's Mount Olympus. Oh, Mount Olympus.



Jim Laskaris is the classic hard working immigrant story - arriving in the US from Greece as a teenager, he acquired a technical education and spent time in the Navy before moving his family to Wisconsin Dells in 1970. There he slowly built a variety of tourist aimed businesses: restaurants, small motel, and go-kart tracks. It was the last of those, the go-karts, for which he would ultimately become famed. Big Chief's expanded throughout the 80s and 90s, building larger and larger multi-level kart tracks, and then soon after, wooden roller coasters. 4 in all would ultimately be acquired, named after the figures of Greek antiquity: Cyclops, Zeus, Hades, and Pegasus. Jim Laskaris died in 2003 - struck down by an out of control motorcyclist as he walked out to get the mail at his winter home in Fort Lauderdale - leaving his son Nick in charge. In the years after, Big Chief's became Mt. Olympus, a Greek-themed theme & water park resort that absorbed neighbors.

In order to not invite ourselves too heavily to libel lawsuits, we should traffic in facts here. This year, Wisconsin Dells was selling tickets to the park for $3. Parking is usually in the $20 range, but there is still POP admission for the general public at $3. Three. US. Dollars. Over the years, the Laskaris family has expanded vastly it's holdings, buying up other attractions in the area as they've closed or never opened. The Indoor Theme Park, which certainly appears to be little more than a prefab steel warehouse, contains Zamperla rides acquired from a nearby restaurant who's efforts to get an amusement park off the ground came up short for some mysterious reason. Motels up and down the strip of WI-12 are now painted white and blue (though many Tripadvisor reviews show the phones in room having never been given new slips for identification of the hotel) having been acquired, with various "all inclusive" style packages being made available. Pizza, breadsticks, park admission, parking, towels, 3 hours of resort exclusive ERT (so exclusive you can pay extra for it at Mount Olympus if there for the day), and more can be yours for prices in the $80/night range.



Wisconsin Dells has a pile of smaller attractions worth noting, just as any other tourist trap would. Top Secret Attraction is also owned by the Laskaris family: shaped like an inverted White House (a la Wonderworks' upside down buildings), it has an array of upside-down house scenes, an appearance by some sort of rock monster, and dinosaurs. The sign outside proclaims "Today Only! $5" which really needs a comma as it has been $5 for many years consecutively. Mr Marvel's Wondertorium is independently owned and operated: there's sideshow acts and museum pieces inside this weird joint. For some light scare action, there's the Dells Zombie Outbreak (laser tag where you shoot zombies) and two more traditional haunted houses (Ghost Outpost and Haunted Mansion). I would be remiss not to reference the Tommy Bartlett empire, including a science center (Tommy Bartlett Exploratory) and water skiing show. Tragically, the largest independent parks in the area (Riverview Park and Timber Falls) have closed their largest rides or are outright defunct, including a really solid wood coaster. The entirety of the Dells seems to be shifting more and more in favor of the indoor water parks.



Green Bay has a gridiron football team (I use this to differentiate for all 4 readers outside North America who might be confused) which is publicly owned; the only such entity in American pro sports. It shouldn't be that big a surprise then that they also have a publicly owned and operated amusement park perhaps: That's what Bay Beach is. There's a really long train ride, some notable flats (Scat2!) and of course the Zippin Pippin. Elvis' favorite coaster, torn down at Libertyland many moons ago, was recreated here in Green Bay, Wisconsin. By most accounts, the ride which exists today is actually far superior to the original. I personally think it's among the 10-15 best wood coasters in the country, and I'm a big time wood coaster fan. The city also has a more traditional FEC called Kastle Park should you just be looking for some go karts. But really, just go to Bay Beach. Rides on the Zippin Pippin are something like $1.25. Really! No lie!



Museum or theme park or neither? Your call when it comes to Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Founded in the home of Ringling Bros/' headquarters, it is part open air museum dedicated to preserving "Ringlingville", a series of buildings that were used by the circus during the summer months. It is also part actual circus, with a permanent 3 ring circus with daily circus shows in the summer time. There's also historical collections related to carnivals and the wild west shows of the early 20th century that one can leaf through if they've got enough time.



On the outskirts of the metro Madison area is Little Amerricka; named for founder Lee Merrick and, well, America, it's the kind of park that I love to highlight in these pieces. Not enough is ever done to look at the work individuals do to create their dream amusement facilities, and this is one of those situations where one man's uncompromising vision has led to a super unique park with really cool stuff. At Little Amerricka, you'll find the prototype Chance Toboggan coaster, one of the last operating Herschell wild mouse coasters, Hillcrest Park from Chicago's PTC Little Dipper wood coaster (with all the custom metal work retained), a monorail (with single cars!), a haunted house built out of what looks to be a single wide trailer, and the Train. Custom built from the ground up with a roundhouse and a bunch of engines, the train looks slightly different than your average park train to start with, but once you realize it's a nearly 30 minute, two mile journey out into the country side and a farm, you really come to appreciate how unique this place is.



Unique. One Man's Vision. These are often quotes attribute to Walt Disney, but they describe any number of legendary figures of the 20th century, including a Wisconsin resident with a uncompromising attitude towards architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright was, and is, rightfully considered a legend. Many believe he is America's first truly great architect. Among the people he influenced was Alex Jordan Jr., a young architect who desired to train at Taliesin in Spring Green. At least, that's the apocryphal story. Whether or not he ever met. Wright is disputable, to say the least. What isn't in dispute is what Jordan Jr. constructed a short distance from the master's school. He constructed what must be considered the single most audacious "residence" in American history. He built "The House On The Rock".



When touring the House On The Rock, guests tour the unorthodox living spaces (there are no bedrooms here, but many, many sofas) and their myriad of themes. They will see the music machines. And then the music machines will get every larger. And larger. And larger. And with that, the other rooms will increase in scope and size. Eventually, you arrive in a room big enough to house a dirigible with a statue of a giant sea monster (sperm whale-ish) that's eating a row boat and it's off to the races. Nothing in your life prepares you for this or any of the spectacle that follows - steam punk, a carousel with hundreds of pieces, thousands of dolls, the list goes on and on. It is a modern spectacle on par with anything in the Americas, if not the world. Anyone seriously interested in themed spaces not only should go, but as a practical measure, must.



How much mini golf is there in Wisconsin? All the mini golf. When it comes to the most interesting, there's The Ruins Adventure Mini Golf in Oconto that has Mayan elements, Red Putter's Door County WI theme, and Nine Below in Milwaukee - a bar with "build it yourself" mini golf.  There's also a smattering of Family Entertainment Centers featuring golf, go-karts, and other stuff - Elmer's Fun Park, Bears' Den, Kartway, Settlers Mill, Egg Harbor Fun Park, and Eagle Falls all operate in Northern Wisconsin where residents often find themselves vacationing in the summer. Further south and closer to the population bases are Prarieville Park and the Chubby Seagull.





Carousels and Trains have some representation too: The Toy Train Barn in Argyle is not merely a place to buy trains, but has a fairly substantial miniature train to ride on too. The Lumberjack Steam Train and Camp 5 Museum is a shared experience: train to the camp museum to visit and see how the logging industry was in the olden days of the late 19th century, and train to leave. The Henry Vilas Zoo has a train ride and carousel (a modern "Conservation" one); same with Fond Du Lac's Lakeside Park (also has a kiddie whip ride). The Menominee Park Zoo has a 50s era Herschell metal carousel, and Waterloo's Fireman's Park just reopened their CW Parker Carousel from 1911 this past July. Sadly, one item can't be visited any more - Ella's Deli in Madison closed its doors early in 2018 as the owners seek to retire. The business is being parted off, including the metal Parker 2-row carousel that sat inside and a second Herschell carousel, not used by them, which had been in storage since acquisition a quarter century ago.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the biggest single attendance grabber in the state: The Wisconsin State Fair. According to Carnival Warehouse, attendance for the 2018 fair broke 1 million yet again. With an independent midway, there's plenty of large equipment that shows up to join the permanent skyride and one of the more impressive rows of permanent food stands you'll ever see (really - they're like full size restaurants and bars located in the shadow of the fairgrounds grandstand).

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Hidden Rides and Themed Attractions of...West Virginia



Not long ago, a study was done to determine which state was the "most mountainous". Not which state had the biggest mountains, but the state where it seemed that people would encounter the most mountains or most perceptibly be around mountains. That state was, to some folk's suprirse, the one that had already received the nickname "The Mountaineer State" over a century prior. West Virginia usually gets short shrift from the coastal elite as a state that is deeply backwards culturally. History says that the state was created when Unionist counties in space not particularly conducive to cotton growing within Virginia broke away as a result of the US Civil War. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, West Virginia was home to much of the violent fighting between mercenaries hired by coal mines along with occasional assistance received from the US Army (including aerial bombardment!) against newly unionized workers seeking higher wages and safer conditions.



Yes, West Virginia has problems. That's what happens when the infrastructure for your area is largely left up to the state to fund and there's no flat land anywhere. If it wasn't for deals worked out by (former Klansman and future Democrat) Senator Robert Byrd via "pork barrel spending", who even knows what the state would resemble in terms of rail lines, freeways, and buildings. West Virginia probably needs a lot more of that long term to become more sustainable, if that is even a possibility.



Those ancient days of labor union fighting coincided with a period of of small trolley companies and their amusement parks. West Virginia had many such parks - I did some light research and came up with the names of 15 long, long gone parks. Some of these had closed a century ago with nary a sign of their existence except a road that had never been renamed. Only one park remains in the state - Camden Park, a 116 year old ex-trolley park built by the Camden Interstate Railway Company along the banks of the Ohio River. The park long appeared on the endangered list - I remember going there for the first time and seeing the long defunct Thunderbolt Express Arrow Shuttle coaster sitting there in an advanced state of decay - but has seemed to turn around with some reasonable investments and clean up. Camden is even making an unexpected appearance in a video game - Fallout '76.



With so few permanent facilities in the state, we should go about mentioning the largest single collection of amusement rides the state sees: the West Virginia State Fair. Reithoffer sources the rides at present, and this year's event will see 3 coasters going up, along with a pile of flat rides.



West Virginia has a few small water parks: Waves of Fun in Huntington and Water Ways in Julian are the main outdoor facilities the state has. ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill has a "water park" in so much as they have a swimming hole with a bunch of big inflatable things in it to climb on or jump off of. More interesting is the "non themed" attractions they have - walking the maintenance paths inside the New River Gorge Bridge, spelunking, zip lines, and white water rafting.



Finally, Wheeling's Oglebay Good Zoo is not only AZA accredited and alone in the state as such, but home to a train ride that's pretty lengthy and leaves the zoo itself to wander into the surrounding 1650 acres of Oglebay Park.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Hidden Rides and Themed Attractions of...Washington

The Evergreen State! Full of lumber, rocky coast line, volcanoes, and rainy summers, Washington is pretty much defined by the Pacific coastline even though there's a lot of space in Eastern Washington consisting of rolling hills and farm land. There's 1000 dams, killer whales, and really expensive real estate (at least in greater Seattle). Also: state cops won't arrest you for possession of weed. How about that?



With no big theme parks in the state, Washington sure seems like an "under served" market, but it's worth keeping in mind that it's a pretty cheap flight from SEA-TAC to Southern California. What Washington does have is a surprising number of community and non-profit related amusement attractions. None of these is bigger than the State Fairgrounds in Puyallup. For two weeks a year, it entertains over a million people with a mix of permanent attractions that's greater than any other in the nation. Most famous: Classic Coaster, a wood coaster from 1935 that has the very last set of Prior and Church trains rolling in existence. It's kept in fantastic shape and is super fun (I've somehow managed to ride it?). Also - A Top Fun Typhoon coaster. Not good, but at least unique in all of North America. There's several interesting flat rides too (Huss Jump and Zierer Hexentanz for instance), a Von Roll 101, S&S Drop Tower, and a PTC Carousel at what is undoubtedly the coolest and best lineup overall of any fair in the hemisphere.



The largest permanent park in the state is Wild Waves Theme Park, operated by Premier Parks (who sold most of their operation contracts to Six Flags, except this one). There aren't any rides which one might consider a "global standout" - Timberhawk: Ride Of Prey, the park's wood coaster, was generally seen as a disappointment when it opened. Other rides and slides in the park are fairly standard production model attractions that are commonplace in the regional park universe with one possible exception. Wild Waves uses topography to its benefit by having installed a all season tubing hill - yes, snowless snowtubing is possible in the 2010s. Isn't technology incredible?



Less technologically advanced are the state's other permanent facilities. The Rides at Long Beach, WA have a set of 1960s/1970s era Fiberglass bodied Lusse bumper cars in addition to several other classic iron rides a short distance from the ocean. Remlinger Farms has a classic car ride of it's own: its Antique Car ride comes from the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. There's also train rides, a kiddie coaster, and several other attractions primarily geared for children to accompany the farm goods.



The City of Seattle is itself home to multiple attractions of note. The Seattle Great Wheel opened at Pier 57 in 2012 as the West Coast's tallest observation wheel. Standing 175 feet tall, it sure looks like a Bussink wheel (or at least from the Wheels of Excellence series he started), complete with air conditioned pods and everything. 300 feet away is Wings Over Washington, a flying theater attraction that had a lot of investment put into the theming and design of its queuing and station. It looks really fantastic for a standalone attraction of its kind.



Greater Seattle/Tacoma has a few family entertainment centers of note too. Tukwila Family Fun Center might sound like just another place with putt-putt and go-karts, but they have a strange selection of more thrilling rides like a S&S Screaming Swing installation and a small drop tower. There's also a "Driving School" attraction similar to what you would find at a Legoland park (small cars in a faux cityscape small children can drive). The Edmonds iteration of the same group's facility lacks some of the cooler and weirder stuff, but does have some 70s/80 era Italian bumper cars.



Washington, like the midwestern states detailed in previous iterations of the series, has a few fairgrounds with their own individual attractions. In the case of Washington, this means often means carousels. The Pioneer Picnic and Rodeo in Bickelton near the Oregon border in central Washington has a super rare Spillman-Herschell Carousel that is powered by a steam engine for just a few days a year during the event. Ferry County's got it's own mixed machine carousel full of rarely seen Dare, Armitage-Herschell, and Herschell-Spillman, and they were smart enough to put limitations on the sale of the carousel to prevent it ever leaving the county. The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival has a carousel brought in exclusively for it by the Dentzel family - it's not for adults, but the Flying Horses style menagerie carousel only runs that week specifically there as an example of their "Village Carousel" concept. While not possessing a carousel, The Evergreen County Fairgrounds does have the Western Heritage Museum offering frontiersman living museum realness.



Outside of the Seattle orbit, there's a number of smaller parks and attractions which are have carved out their own little piece of the entertainment market. Miniature World Blaine, not far from the BC border and Bellingham, has train rides with a very not-off-the-shelf miniature train. During the holiday season, they take advantage of the region's surprisingly warm temperatures to run a Christmas train with lights and displays galore. Hunter's Christmas Tree Farm in Olympia has a carousel, Super Slide, Corn Maze, and stuff like pony rides for young kids. Riverfront Park on the old 1974 Expo grounds in Spokane has a Carousel with rings (plastic, but still; RINGS!), a modern scenic skyride with fully enclosed gondolas, and a smattering of kids rides. There's also a standalone carousel in Kennewick: Gesa Carousel of Dreams: the original Silver Beach Carousel from St. Joseph Michigan.



Washington has some water parks: Great Wolf Lodge has an outpost here in Grand Mound, and there are small water parks throughout the state like Slidewaters in Lake Chelan or Surf N' Slide in Lake Moses. Birch Bay Waterslides has some old school terrain slides and a big speed slide that differentiates itself from the pack. Splashdown serves the Spokane market with modern slide tech like bowls.



Its also worth noting that there are several reasonably sized zoos in the state. Point Defiance and Woodland Park Zoos have carousels in the Seattle/Tacoma area, and the latter has animatronic dinosaurs too. The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park has tram rides and ziplining for visitors who want to get different perspectives on the animal exhibits.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour #151 - Black and Yellow



Alan and Joe talk news as we cover Kennywood's new Steelers Country and The Steel Curtain including sports representation in amusement parks, the prospect of other team ups, Steel Curtain's design, and thematic design in relation to the "sports ball" crowd. Then we dive into Cedar Fair, Cedar Point, and Carowinds news; Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration opens; and we close out with some trip reports to Toronto and Chicago.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Hidden Rides and Themed Attractions of...Virginia

Virginia, the most metropolitan of the ex-Confederate states, has had a prodigious history of outdoor amusements. With long Atlantic coast and great beaches to the east and mountains to the west, proximity to the DC metropolis (cities like Alexandria and Arlington are its most well known suburbs), and its own substantive citites (Richmond, Norfolk), we could spend an entire article discussing the parks that were once here. There's enough going on now that we can move past that.



Modern regional themers like Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion certainly dominate the state's landscape when it comes to rides. Both are 1970s era theme parks with all the hallmarks of that design philosophy. Busch Gardens has retained much more of it's original character thanks to better management in the 90s and 2000s, but it is fair to say both parks are primarily a mix of roller coasters, water rides, and spinners. The only tracked dark ride at either is actually Kings Dominion's Ghost Blasters ride from Sally following the untimely demise of DarKastle. The state also has an exceptionally well known water park: Water Country USA is part of the SeaWorld empire, and could be described best as Aquatica North: many similar attractions like the action river and big modern slides. If that isn't enough, the area is also home to a Great Wolf Lodge, ensuring one can chase down water slides with more water slides. I also need to mention Colonial Williamsburg, a quasi-living history museum that's also a functioning set of businesses. Admission is required to enter many of the buildings, but individuals can walk around the majority of it for absolutely no price whatsoever. Again, this is pretty well known about, and that's not the purpose of the series.



We start with water parks: Massanutten Resort has both indoor and outdoor slides and attractions, allowing it to offer aquatic fun year round, highlighted by an indoor Flowrider setup. The largest water park not connected in some way to one of the big dog themers is Ocean Breeze in Virginia Beach, a fairly large facility with all super modern, first run slides mostly from the folks at ProSlide. Plus, being honest, their gigantic money wearing a Hawaiian shirt mascot that towers over guests at the entrance is pretty fantastic (equally great: named Hugh Mungus).



Virginia Beach's days as being a target for coaster enthusiasts is long gone now - same with dark ride fans following the closure of Capt' Cline's Pirate Ghost Ride. There is a small amusement facility called Atlantic Fun Park here still running with a few classic flat rides, as well as a related go-kart facility named Motor World a bit further from the beach. If you're looking for more excitement than that, you'll have to opt for miniature golf to get your kicks. There's several unique courses that o over the top in terms of theme; Jungles and Pirates may be typical for the genre, but Jungle Golf and Pirates Paradise still go all in to draw in visitors. And then for indoor courses, Top Gun Mini Golf with it's naval theme is certainly a unique spot to play.



Zoos in Virginia, like most of the nation, have expanded to offer amusement rides and attractions. Virginia Zoo in Norfolk and Metro Richmond Zoo both have train rides past animal exhibits, for example. Metro Richmond Zoo also ups the ante with a skyride over animal exhibits - it has chairlift seating rather than enclosed gondolas, but it's still really cool. Fort Chiswell Animal Park is a non AZA accredited facility which spends a lot of time breeding for captivity, and in turn they run "Safari Tours" using converted school buses.



In the family entertainment center side of things, Virginia has two noteworthy spots to reference. Central Park Fun-Land in Fredericksburg recently opened an SBF Visa Spinning coaster in the summer of 2018, replacing an older kiddie coaster. This bolstered their indoor/outdoor lineup of go kart tracks, mini golf, kiddie rides, virtual reality experience, laser tag, et al. Go-Karts Plus in Williamsburg has a Python Pit that shifted around the country from its original home in a Cleveland shopping mall. The FEC also has bumper cars and 3 Go-Kart tracks.



Virginia, as one of the original 13 states, has a lot of history. And what says "history" like carousels? Several small city parks have carousels: Burke Lake, Lee District, Lake Fairfax, Hampton Carousel Park, and Lake Accontink Parks all have rides, whether wood or metal. Bundoran Farm is the least known of the bunch: two kiddie carousels, meticulously restored, but with websites in various states of non-maintenance. The National Carousel Association hasn't updated their listing for the rides since 2002, so I went to the source and got an update. The hand cranked George Marx Carousel is now in downtown Charlottesville and owned by the Discovery Museum, whereas the Mangels portable carousel (which is built on a horse carriage) is still in the possession of Bundoran Farm. It also turns out that the Children's Museum of Richmond has a small carousel, but details about the maker are limited (it may be a modern Italian built one with fiberglass/metal pieces).