Trip Report: Enchanted Village
Federal Way, Washington - 07/16/1999
"Does anybody want to get off?"
I began my Northwest loop by pointing the rented Suburban Assault Vehicle north on IR-5. I was headed for Enchanted Parks (Enchanted Village and Wild Waves) in Federal Way, Washington, but a side-trip for a photo safari was in order first. Just East of Federal Way, you see, is Puyallup, Washington. In Puyallup, is, of course, the Western Washington Fair grounds, and one of the hardest-to-ride roller coasters in the country: the Roller Coaster. Unfortunately, as that description implies, I didn't get to ride it.
"I've got to ride those coasters!"
I could see it from the expressway. I exited and drove around the fairgrounds. The coaster runs alongside a roadway, opposite unmanned parking lots. I parked the car, grabbed the camera, and started gawking. What I saw was some of the most amazing coaster trackage I have never ridden. A double-down right off of the lift hill, for instance, and a mid-course double-up. Yow, this looks like a good ride! Even the Prior & Church-style trains were clearly visible, sitting on the well-oiled track. The ride looked like it was almost ready to go.
|One of the trains on this coaster is an original Prior & Church train. Another is a replica built by the late Walker LeRoy.|
Things got even worse. Right next to the Coaster is a Schwarzkopf Wildcat, an older model with the double kicker wheel, though it looked like the kicker wheels had been removed, presumably for the off-season. Behind both coasters is some mousey-looking structure. Three coasters, JUST SITTING THERE. I snapped lots of photos, then headed on towards Federal Way.
Update: In June, 2002 I received an email message from Robert Bollinger, who was a founder of FunTastic Amusements in the mid-1960's when the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup asked him to take over the games on the midway. Today, FunTastic is a major carnival operator in the Pacific Northwest, but their biggest date is the Western Washington Fair, when they actually operate these three coasters. Mr. Bollinger noted that he and his father built the Coaster in Puyallup using plans that had been drawn up by John Miller in 1935.
=== end side-trip ===
Enchanted Village has nothing in common with Enchanted Forest except for its first name. In fact, it looks as though the name "Enchanted Village" is being minimized, as most people seem to refer to the place as "Wild Waves," which is the name of the waterpark. I didn't actually visit the waterpark; there is an upcharge for that, and the weather was decidedly chilly.
Upon entering the park, one encounters a Herschell junior-size carousel, and a few kiddie rides. On down the hill, the park's treasures begin coming into view, starting with their Hrubetz Tip-Top. The park layout is a bit odd, as the park is built around the rim of a valley, with the coaster and waterpark at the bottom. I think the main reason it seems odd is the kiddie bumper boats and the Tornado (Zamperla Dragon) powered coaster are adjacent to each other, but the entrances are opposite...where one would expect to find the entrance for one is actually the entrance for the other. But the park is well suited to exploring, which is particularly fruitful when you go up the hill behind the larger carousel. That path leads to what may be the real treasures of this park. Here you find a Hrubetz Paratrooper, an Eyerly Octopus, and a Herschell Looper. That's right, a Looper.
|Some of the signs at Enchanted Village remind me of Knoebel's...|
They call it the Squirrel Cage and now that I've ridden it once, I can offer an important tip: Balance the tub, or at the very least unbalance it so that the heavy side is on the leading edge so that when the tub rolls during loading, it rolls in the direction of driven rotation. When I rode, I sat on the wrong side of the tub so that the ride action had to overcome my mass to get the tub started rolling, and it was very difficult to keep enough force on the clutch pedal to keep the tub rolling. I don't know if this is because the clutch was worn or out of adjustment, or because I am so darned heavy. I do know that the loading brake was not holding on that particular tub...
For those of you who don't know, a Looper is a Norman Bartlett invention. The ride has, um, I think there are ten sweeps coming out from the center to the platform around the perimeter of the ride. At the end of each sweep is a large wheel, about 5' in diameter, which rolls on the ride platform as the center goes around. Coaxially mounted with the wheel is a passenger tub, which looks rather like a large dryer drum with two seats, facing each other. Riders sit on these seats and are secured with extremely wide (on the order of 6") seat belts which are clamped down to the side of the seat with a no-nonsense cam mechanism. At the center of the tub, where it attaches to the end of the sweep, is a brake mechanism which, when engaged, ties the tub to the wheel, causing the tub to spin about its mounting axis. The brake is operated by a foot pedal in the center of the car, conveniently enough, adjacent to the riders' feet. Moving the pedal in almost any direction...forward, backward, or up...will apply the brake. A loading lever located on the outboard side of the tub, up near the axle and just below the handlebar, is supposed to latch the brake in the "applied" position to serve as a loading brake, but on my tub that didn't work. Chance later developed a modified version of the Looper, called the Rok-N-Roll...not to be confused with the Chance Rock and Roll, which is a variation of the Chance Thunder Bolt, which is itself a variation on the Chance Flying Bobs, which is a copy of the Mack Matterhorn. (Whew!)
Across from the Looper is another unusual ride, an Eyerly Octopus. I could tell it was an Octopus because of the straight lattice-boom sweeps. What makes it unusual, though, is that this particular Octopus only has six sweeps! It took me a while to notice that, though, because I was busy staring at the tubs. The normal Octopus tub, of course, has a fold-down nose which becomes a couple of steps for getting in and out. On the Monster and Spider (and some Octopi) there is a lap bar which swings out of the way as the tub opens; on most Octopus tubs there is a pair of sliding handles which move outward to facilitate entry and exit. This Octopus has tubs which have a fixed nose, and a pivoting step on each side, attached to two crossbars. The rear crossbar serves as a lap bar when the tub is closed; the front crossbar serves as the operator's handle, and rests on the ground when the tub is open. I was busy examining this; it wasn't until I was on board the ride that I realized that the extension bar was perpendicular (instead of at an angle) to the sweep. Since the tubs weren't bumping into each other, that had to mean these are extra-long sweeps...or...one, two, three, four, five, six, ... uh...There are two sweeps missing! But they are straight lattice-boom sweeps, so it must be an Octopus. Maybe a half-breed? Perhaps this is really a Spid-O-Pus or something...Footnote 1
Things continued to get interesting. The park has a Pirat, which was suffering some control problems initially, but the local maintenance man got it working again. It is the only park where I have ever seen a Larson Ring of Fire. Then further along is the Wild Thing.
Wild Thing is a relocated Arrow loop-and-corkscrew coaster, a shorter version than the one at Cedar Point, but longer than the basic Corkscrew layout. It is a decent ride and seemed to be running fairly well, but I only took one ride. You see, Enchanted Village was assigning rows, and stuck me in a back seat again. I managed to fold myself up enough to squeeze into the seat, but it was by no means pleasant. One ride was two cycles around the track, and that was enough. I simply couldn't bring myself back to the ride again. I have only ridden in a back seat of an Arrow multi-element car once, and that was on The Bat at Canada's Wonderland. I said then that it was an experience I didn't want to repeat. So there is an operational problem at Enchanted Village. Why not just let us all file into the station and pick our own seats, for crying out loud? I took the ride, but decided there were more pleasant ways to spend my time in that park. And it is unfortunate, as Wild Thing is a decent Corkscrew in decent condition. Oh, and it has the new safety bracket on the last axle.
That said, they do run the thing for two full circuits for every ride. And in spite of the assigned seats, I probably would have ridden again, except that conditions in the park became quite unpleasant rather quickly. A few drops of rain fell from the sky, and I figured I might get as far as the antique carousel, a 50' Parker model situated on a hill overlooking the coaster.
Storms come up quickly in the Northwest. I didn't quite make it. I ended up in the shelter of an overhang behind a disused grab-joint. Wet, cold, and hungry, I discovered that food options were rather limited, so I passed on the park food. When the rain quit, I took a couple of spins on flat rides, then headed for Seattle.
Enchanted Village is a nice park, but to make a day of it the sensible option is to visit both Enchanted Village and Wild Waves, their waterpark which appears to be quite extensive. Apart from the seating policy on the Wild Thing, the park is friendly and accommodating; apart from the rain, the park is rather inviting. While there is nothing particularly remarkable about the coaster, it is a decent ride, and the park is worth a stop.
The full ride complement is as follows:
|Ride Name||Manufacturer||Common Name|
|Carousel||Allan Herschell||Junior Carousel |
|Tip Top||Hrubetz||Tip Top |
|Ferris Wheel||Eli Bridge Co.||HY-5 cable drive wheel |
|Dangler||?||Swing Ride |
|Tornado||Zamperla||Powered Coaster |
|Antique Carousel||Parker||50' Carousel |
|Ring of Fire||Larson||Ring of Fire |
|Falling Star||Chance||Falling Star |
|Squirrel Cage||Herschell||Looper |
|Enchanted Railway||?||like dark ride cars |
|Wild Thing||Arrow||Loop+Corkscrew |
|Scrambler||Eli Bridge Co.||Scrambler |
|Kiddie Whip||Mangels||Kiddie Whip |
|Tubs of Fun||Hampton||Tubs of Fun |
|Combo||Hampton||Combo umbrella ride |
|Boat Ride||Allan Herschell||Wet boat, center drive |
|Space Racer||Zamperla||Mini-E |
|Bumper Boats||?||Kiddie Bumper Boats |
|Enchanted Raceway||?||tracked electric kid cars|
Next: Fun Forest and the Seattle Center
Northwest Coaster Tour '99 index
Trip Reports 1999
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--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Footnote 1: Or maybe it ran into Kirk Douglas...