Janice Lifke now has a challenger!
The day started early, as I was participating in the NAPHA
special event, a celebration of Americana's 75th year of operation. We were
greeted by Jeff Siebert, who happens to be one of the most enthusiastic park
representatives I have ever met. He escorted us back to our ERT session on the
It was this ERT session that really points up how the Screechin' Eagle has changed. I took my first ride on the 'Eagle during the ACE Preservation Con in 1992. At that time, most of us would get on board, ride once, then get off and chat for a while before riding again. When I rode three consecutive cycles during a photo run, it was almost too much. THAT event left bruises that lasted for days. This time was much different, due to both extensive track repair, and to the heavily cushioned PTC car bodies. Double rides? Triple rides? No problem. The classic John Miller profile sent us flying over airtime-laden hills, as the cushy seats absorbed the vibration and impact. Americana has turned the Screechin' Eagle from a classic coaster with rideability problems into a solid performer. Large chunks of the ride have been totally re-tracked, virtually eliminating the lateral hunt and shuffle that plagued the ride. The current train is a hybrid of the NAD rolling stock chassis and the PTC seats and body panels from the old Elitch Gardens Wildcat. It is fairly comfortable, though it has a few problems, most notably a few seat belts that are far too short, and early-model seat dividers which provide a dangerous spot to land on. As they re-fit the trains, Americana needs to decide if seat dividers are necessary, then either remove them entirely, or replace them with the higher ones that actually do keep riders in their own seats.
Another remark about the train before I move on...In The Incredible Scream Machine, Andy Vettel notes that PTC's cars have a shorter wheelbase than NAD cars. This may be true, but it also appears that either Americana put the seats farther apart than PTC did, or the PTC cars have a greater overall length, as the front panels hang slightly over the front end of the NAD chassis.
After ERT, I proceeded to wander the park. There is a lot of fresh paint, and Coney Island has taken the interesting step of spreading kiddie rides throughout the park instead of relegating them all to a Kiddieland 'ghetto'. It is an interesting idea.
Recall that about a month ago, someone was talking about how, if the parks were giving out gold bars at the ride exits, some people would still complain about it? Well, perhaps someone at Americana was listening, or maybe it is a meaningless coincidence. But according to a sign at the park, Americana is randomly giving away silver dollars from 1922 each day this season. On Labor Day, the silver dollar winners have an opportunity to win again at random...a gold bar! Interesting promotion for the park's 75th season.
Americana just rebuilt their Eli Scrambler, and it shows. Theirs is the quietest, smoothest-running Scrambler I have ridden in a very long time; Wyandot Lake should send a representative to see how those rides are supposed to run. I just wish I could say the same for Americana's Calypso, which is rough and slow and in really bad shape. Most of the other rides, though, seem to be running pretty well; in fact, here is a list...
|Ride Name||Manufacturer||Common Name|
|Electric Rainbow||Hrubetz||P/M Super Round-Up|
|Space Age (kid)||Hampton||Umbrella Ride|
|Tumblin' Turtles||Chambers?||Turtle (kid)|
|Liberty Train||National Amusement Device||Train|
|Calypso||Mack GmbH||T/M Calypso|
|Speedway||Arrow Development||Sport Cars|
|Skipper's Wharf||Paddle Wheeler?||Pedal Boats|
|Screechin' Eagle||Dayton Fun House||Wood coaster|
|Sky Ride||Skyfair?||Sky Ride|
|Flying Scooter||Bish-Rocco||Flying Scooter|
|Front Gate Nuisance||CSX||Freight Train*|
|The Brass Ring||Chance||3r. Carousel|
|Jumping Jumbos (kid)||Herschell/Zamperla||Helicopter|
|Mini Carousel (kid)||???||Merry-Go-Round|
|Mini Zephyr (kid)||Sartori||swing ride|
|Honey Bears (kid)||Wisdom?||Granny Bug?|
|Mini Speedway (kid)||Hampton||Umbrella Ride|
|Ferris Wheel (kid)|
|Little Dipper||Herschell||Little Dipper coaster|
|Raging Thunder||Sam Kepling?||Flume|
|(Baby Bumper Boats)|
|Scrambler||Eli Bridge Co.||Scrambler|
|Melon Madness||???||Tubs of Fun?|
We were treated to a generous lunch, and conducted additional NAPHA festivities. Jeff then proceeded to take us on a tour of the park, pointing out the history and the historic structures, and giving us a back-yard tour behind the Screechin' Eagle, where the park's discarded ride-junk could be found, including sections of Eagle track, mechanical parts, and derelict equipment. From here, we could also see the drastic reprofiling of the Screechin' Eagle's third drop...the bottom of the drop, which previously featured track lying directly on the concrete footers, has been raised approximately six inches.
Finally, it was off for more riding. A few brave souls even participated in the log-flume ERT in the dark; I felt it was far too cold for that. A good fireworks display capped off the evening for the "normal people" present, then our group proceeded to the Screechin' Eagle for another ride session. Again, the Eagle flew through the course in a real treat.
Coney Island Group has done a remarkable job of bringing Americana back. Between Americana and Kentucky Kingdom, Kings Island really needs to get its act together, or in a few years, that place will be suffering.
Footnote 1: That one is to see if you are paying attention... 8-) There is an active CSX line running across a right-of-way between Americana's ticket booths and main entrance. [Back to text]
Next trip: Kennywood
1997 Trip Report index
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--Dave Althoff, Jr.