"I rode Iron Eagle. I don't have to ride the Mighty Axe."
I drove across town to the Mall of America, which is a surprisingly nondescript, though huge, structure surrounded by parking lots and garages. I parked the car in one of the garages for $0.00 only a few steps from the door. Once inside the mall, I stepped a short distance to a balcony and looked down into a terrarium. Standing almost directly below me was Jerry Dorf. I came down the escalator and joined Jerry. We opted for a quick lunch in the second-floor food court, then bought our ride wristbands down in the park. Jerry looked wistfully at the Mighty Axe (Zamperla Roto-Shake), but instead we opted to ride the Treetop Tumbler.
The Treetop Tumbler is an ineresting ride for several reasons. My interest goes back to a discussion I had with my Dad at the Ohio State Fair a couple of years ago. We were looking at a kiddie ride where kids sat in these brightly-colored rabbits which were mounted on eccentric shafts around the outside of a large rim. I suggested that by increasing the crank length and the rotation speed, it could be adapted into a pretty good adult ride. Then I learned about the Tumbler...a Zierer Fireball. It's a terribly complicated ride with a center that rises about 10', and crank arms at the ends of the sweeps. Each crank arm has two tubs on it, and as the center rotates, the crank arms rotate to bounce the tubs up and down. It turns out that it IS a pretty good ride. The odd thing about it is that the crank arm rotation is done with electric motors and varies throughout the ride, sometimes matching the main rotation, sometimes opposing it, sometimes matching the ajacent sweep, sometimes opposing it. And there didn't seem to be a defined pattern to the arm rotation. Odd, that.
Of course the main attraction is the Ripsaw, a Zierer Tivoli coaster that winds through all three levels of the mall's center atrium. It's a little odd that the ride has individual lap bars for an undivided seat, but I carefully set both bars on my seat to the same level. As with all of the rides at Camp Snoopy except the Ferris wheel, the entrance is on the mall's lower level, but the ride platform is up at the second level. The first lift carries the long train into the treetops...yes, treetops; this is a lushly landscaped park. It winds around a bit, lacking in significant drops. Not too exciting, now, okay? The second lift shares a tunnel with the log flume, a tunnel which hides the coaster's maintenance shed and storage track for the second train. A bit more of a swooping course brings the train back to the platform. It's no major thrill machine, but rather a coaster for all ages and a very nice scenic tour of the park.
Tucked away in a corner of the park is a simulator running something like a standard Iwerks motion base. It was a motion version of an old Omni Films/Cinema 180 show, and I warned Jerry it would end with a crash, since that's part of the Omni Films formula. Of course, it did. We also rode a couple of trips through the Sally haunted mansion dark ride. I think my technique with the gun leaves a bit to be desired; perhaps I wasn't fully releasing the trigger or something. In any case Jerry handily beat my scores every time.
At one end of the park, the anchor ride is the Mighty Axe, a Zamperla Roto Shake. If you are unfamiliar with the Roto Shake, picture this: Begin with a Rainbow/Falling Star type platform ride, with the riders facing the front of the ride. But instead of mounting the platform to the end of the arm by means of its roll axis, so that it can remain upright as the arm goes around, the platform is mounted by means of its pitch axis, like a gigantic Zipper tub. So as the main arm rotates, the platform pitches through 360 degree rotations, forward or reverse. There are rides that one needs not ride repeatedly, and in my opinion, this ride...like the Zipper...is such a ride. I rode the Iron Eagle last time I was at Adventure World (now Six Flags America), and therefore decided I really didn't have to ride the Mighty Axe to know that I probably wouldn't enjoy it. So I didn't ride.
Jerry and I finished up our tour of Camp Snoopy with rides on their Falling Star and on the Ferris wheel, where I duly noted that the doors had been modified to prevent the ones opposite the loading bridges from opening. Afterward, Jerry went on his way and I toured the mall, stopping at both the American Eagle stores to see if I could obtain new sandals to replace the worn-out ones I was wearing. Apparently once summer actually starts, summer clothing is no longer available, yet another of those mysteries of the retail business. I took another ride on the Tumbler before I left, just as it was starting to get dark and the lights in Camp Snoopy were coming on.
Camp Snoopy is a nice little park. The particularly interesting thing about
it is that while it is operated by Cedar Fair, it has a completely different
feel to it from the other Cedar Fair parks I have visited. Perhaps just a little
more relaxed, for one thing. Certainly more attractive in many ways, as the
place is completely covered with live foliage. It's neat that one company can
operate two parks that are this close together and easily maintain for them
completely different identities. Like Valleyfair!, Camp Snoopy really isn't
a destination park, but it is a good place to spend an afternoon.
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