Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Hidden Rides and Themed Attractions of...Idaho

44th in population density, #1 in trout. What else could it be but The Gem State? 50 years ago, the population of Montana and Idaho were virtually dead even. Then technology happened: the state is a domestic center for semiconductor manufacturing, and that now accounts for 25% of the overall economy (and 70% of exports). Population has increased over 100% since then, with Boise's metro area now being home to nearly 700,000 people. Demographically, Boise is, well, not diverse? And there's an ugly aspect to that too. Coeur d'Alene is the center point not only of fun resort stuff, but the recent center of the American white supremacist movement. That aspect is probably better known than much of the good stuff in the state.

Speaking of Coeur d'Alene, it is home to Silverwood Theme Park, the only large theme/amusement facility on the I-90 corridor between Seattle and Wisconsin Dells. There's two big wood coasters here that are fairly well known in enthusiast circles (Tremors and Timber Terror), the original Arrow Corkscrew from Knott's Berry Farm, and a Giant Inverted Boomerang from Six Flags Great America (which may not work any better there than it did in Illinois). One of the more uniqe attractions is their train, which features a long scenic ride and a good 'ol fashioned robbery along the way. But this isn't the most unknown of parks: Amusement Today and Mitch's Polls always had the wood coasters represented.


Idaho also happens to have amusement attractions operated by municipal governments for the general good of their constituents. Zoo Boise and Rexburg, ID's Porter Park both feature carousels to ride at fairly nominal fees in addition to their other attractions. Idaho Falls' Tautphaus Park one-ups them both with a small 5 ride amusement park called Funland. There's an Eli Wheel and a carousel along with an arrangement of kiddie rides. Boise once had a park along these lines known as Fun Spot or Fun Depot: it closed after the 2002 season when the city didn't renew the lease with Royal West Amusements (a now defunct carnival company).


There are precious few Halloween attractions in Idaho. Maybe that's because the Nazis and Black Bears are just frightening enough on an every day basis to make fake scares irrelevant? Dr. Slaughter's House of Terror is possibly the largest in a limited data set and operates out of Idaho Falls to benefit D.A.R.E. programs. Yes, Idaho still bothers with D.A.R.E., I know, that's unfortunate.


The future of zoos, it is foretold, is that most will become home to large endemic species more akin to rescue centers than public gardens where one can go see tropical jaguars in the cold Great Plains states. Yellowstone Bear World is somewhat of a glimpse into that; not really a rescue and release center, but more or less just animals from the surrounding area for you to view from an extremely big truck. There are a few rides here too, including one of Idaho's few free standing roller coasters (a new SBF Spinning Kiddie Coaster).


-Butler Amusements is the most significant carnival provider in the region, and they often bring their Fabbri Spinning Mouse (Pole Position theme?) to the state fairs. Idaho, like Washington not long ago, doesn't have a single state fair, but regional Eastern/Western/Northern State Fairs.

-Meridell Park is now a banquet facility/conference space, but the big building had a prior history as a dancehall for a traditional amusement park.

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