by Paul Ruben
Recently I visited Quassy Amusement Park, Middlebury, Connecticut, to compile a report on their new wooden family coaster, Wooden Warrior.
Founded in 1908, Quassy was once called Lake Quassapaug Amusement Park. “Quassy” has more of a ring to it don’t you agree? The park sits on the south shore of Lake Quassapaug, native American for rocky pond. It features 22 rides on more than 20 acres. The euphoria generated by Wooden Warrior was evident on the beaming faces of returning riders during my visit. They were excited.
Because it was limited in height by the town’s zoning regulations, this 35ft-tall (10.5m), 1,250-ft-long (380m) woodie was targeted as a family ride. If your family is looking for wild, out-of-control thrills, this is for you.
Now I’ve been on coasters this size before, lots of them. They have their moments through the first hill or two, then peter out. Wooden Warrior was white-knuckle fun from beginning to end. Nine moments of air in the front seat, 10 in the back of the six-row train. Non-stop action from beginning to end. Credit the new lightweight Timberliner train from The Gravity Group, that carried its energy throughout the entire ride. I’m sure many of you inspected this train, displayed at the IAAPA Expo last November. I did, but had no idea the impact it would have on a ride.
Together with Twister at Gröna Lund in Stockholm, Wooden Warrior’s appearance is a watershed moment. The two rides, both by The Gravity Group, should put to bed the myth that a coaster must be big to be good. In reality, it must be fast and well-paced to be good. Big just means it may be rough. Wooden Warrior is small, but with superb pacing and a smooth ride it delivers big league thrills. Twister, meanwhile, offers unrivalled interaction with other coasters, keeping Gröna Lund guests on the edge of their seat throughout – or at least it would if it weren’t for that snug lapbar.
More importantly, me thinks a coaster this size is within your budget. You can afford it. Coasters are, to a degree, priced by their length and this is half the length of a full-sized coaster but with all the thrills of a big ride. If you operate a small to mid-sized park, get yourself to Quassy, and take a ride. I’m guessing you will want to add something similar to your park.
While in the area you may also wish to visit the Timexpo museum in Waterbury, Connecticut, about five miles from Quassy. Inside you will learn of the historical development of clocks and watches and the Timex brand.
I was fascinated to learn that Alexander the Great invented a primitive form of wristwatch. In order to synchronise his forces during battles, he ordered a special chemical to be developed that changed colour with the passage of time. A small piece of cloth was dipped in the solution, and worn around the wrist. In this way, all his troops could know what time it was, enabling them to carry out sophisticated military campaigns and thus conquer the world. Historians refer to this invention as “Alexander’s rag time-band.”