The term is 'enhanced'.
Getting there is supposed to be half the fun, but in this case it turned into an adventure. Normally, to get to Americana, I take IR-71 South to OH-63. A consultation with a map and a computer suggested that it might be closer to take IR-70 West to Dayton, then head down OH-4 to the park. So I tried it.
TRAFFIC PEEVE: Why is it that state and US routes are so poorly marked?
Please, Mr. Traffic Engineer, when the designated route turns a corner, put
up a sign to let us poor drivers know. And while you are at it, why not indicate
direction on the signs. While following signs showing "OH-4",
I drove all over Dayton until I came to a familiar-looking spot and a sign that
said, "OH-4-North". I thought I was heading south!
Anyway, I abandoned OH-4 and headed off in the general direction I wanted to go, and eventually met up with Route 4. That took me into Middletown, where OH-4 was the Memorial Day parade route! By this time I was already running late, but I zigged and zagged through the back streets of Middletown until I got past the parade route and back onto OH-4, knowing I was almost to Americana.
Americana is coming along nicely. It isn't quite as improved as it was last year, but then last year was so remarkable, that isn't suprising. I headed for the Screechin' Eagle, where I met Dave Bowers, Joe Schwartz, Dana Schwartz, and yes, even the elusive Dooley. At their urging, I gate-crashed a tour of the back side of the coaster, including the Americana boneyard. Jeff Siebert of Americana narrated the tour, and explained the subtle changes made to the coaster during the current round of rehabilitation. Almost the entire return leg of the Screechin' Eagle has been re-tracked, involving the replacement of all nine layers of track lumber and much of the supporting structure. In fact, large chunks of Eagle track are sitting behind the ride. Also, the bottom of the third drop has been raised a few inches (less than a foot) to enable a more substantial structure to be placed under the track there, resulting in a smoother ride.
Screechin' Eagle (1922, John Miller):
Screechin' Eagle is a lot different than it used to be. The first time I rode it, repeat rides were very difficult. Now, the extensive rework has made this coaster much more re-rideable, though it has some new problems. Screechin' Eagle now has a new train...sort of. The track still sees the old NAD chassis, but the riders see a 3-car PTC train! The new train body is flush-loading, with divided seats, traditional (albeit apparently "enhanced") double-bars, and a strange-looking headrest on the back of only the last seat of the last car. So we win some and we lose some. Because most of the track is in good shape, the train tracks well, and with the tight trackwork, the jackhammer bouncing often associated with 3-seat NAD trains is absent. The ride seemed a little slow, but that is the nature of this ride. The "out" side of the ride consists of four high (=slow) hills connected with very sudden, very steep drops...a John Miller signature. The result is violent airtime on every drop, particularly in the rear-axle seats. This is where a little caution can go a very long way, because if you are not careful, you can easily land on top of the seat divider, particularly if you are sitting on the left-hand side.
In addition to the chameleon-like annual metamorphosis of the train, Screechin' Eagle also has a height requirement that appears to be set with a pogo stick. This year it is back up to 52". Also, the Screechin' Eagle suffers from another problem...in most seats the seat belts are too short. But if you are tall enough and thin enough to ride, Screechin' Eagle can be a lot of fun. For the first time in years, it is truly 'fun' with barely a hint of pain.
We wandered the park, resplendent in its freshly-painted glory. Several rides are not quite yet ready for prime-time, as Coney Island Group is in the process of completely refurbishing them...the Scrambler was the most obvious, partially dismantled and freshly painted. Dave and I took in the Rock-O-Plane. Americana needs to learn the proper operation of the Eyerly bar/belt assembly, as they were trying to wrap the belts around the riders...of course, like all of the other seat belts at Americana, they are too short for that. Anyway, from our vantage point at the top of the Rock-O-Plane we spotted at least four roller-coaster cars with diamond-plate covered running boards, covered with tarps behind a fence. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Screechin' Eagle in the next few years. Americana wants to operate the ride with a second train, but all of the cars they have now appear to have PTC chassis, which might not run on the ride properly (why else would they be using the hybrid train instead of simply using one of the Wild Cat trains directly).
We also took a ride on the Serpent. This portable coaster is the subject of some disagreement...I am unsure now whether it is a Zyklon or a Galaxie. I had thought that it was a Zyklon, but now I see that it has an unusual lift chain with pins extending outward from each link; an arrangement I think I last saw on the Galaxie at Indiana Beach. Well, whatever it is, Serpent is running better than ever, actually running smoothly on those plastic flanged wheels. In fact, the ride provided fairly extreme lateral forces, easily absorbed by the nicely-refurbished well-padded cars (with, of course, too-short seat belts).
(editorial note: It is indeed an SDC Galaxi.)
The new Americana park is well worth a visit. Yes, new. The changes since two years ago are nothing short of phenomenal. There are a lot of little things that need dealt with still this season, but for the next few years, this park is going to be one to watch for big changes.
Next trip: Cedar Point
1997 Trip Report index
Back to Dave's page
--Dave Althoff, Jr.