"Ride the Ferris Wheel!"
On Thursday morning, my desire to be a gracious houseguest kind of messed up my plans. I had big plans to make a circuit of the Pacific Northwest parks, about a five- or six-day journey from Portland. But I didn't think it would be fair to simply run out on my hosts; I figured I'd wait until they got up. Little did I know that on this particular morning, they would all sleep in. It was nearly 11:00am local time before I could even think about going anywhere. So I decided to shuffle the schedule a bit, and spend the afternoon at Oaks Park.
|Now, roller coaster enthusiasts may remember Oaks Park as the home of Harry Traver's Zip coaster, pictured in both The Incredible Scream Machine and in Harry G. Traver: Legends of Terror. If you have seen the photos in that book, then you know that Oaks Park is located on the banks of the Willamette River. Well, the Zip is long gone, and other changes have taken place at Oaks Park. For instance, the ride piers are gone, replaced with land-fill to form a more conventional type of park. Also, Oaks Park is now operated by a non-profit foundation charged with preserving Oaks Park for future generations.|
Unfortunately, the park has a rather unusual P-O-P scheme. Individual ride tickets are $1.25 each, or 7 for $8. The P-O-P wristband is $11, and is good for five hours. The unfortunate part is that it also is good for only one ride on the looping coaster.
|The looping coaster in question is a Pinfari ZL-45 Looping Star, same as the ones being carried around the country by Ray Cammack Shows and Amusements of America. Biggest difference is that the ballast tank of the one at Oaks Park is full of sand and gravel instead of water as on the portable machines. Personally, I kind of like the ride. The three-car train is hoisted up, run through a turnaround, then dropped through the center of the ride. At the other end, the train goes through another turnaround, then a quick drop into an impossibly small vertical loop. Coming out of this loop is a helix and figure-8 finish. Would you believe this tiny little coaster is designed to run three 12-passenger trains? Oaks Park was only using two, which I suppose is understandable considering that POP passes were only good for one ride on the coaster. I did learn later that a single $1.25 ride ticket is also good for a ride on the coaster.|
|Oaks Park's Matterhorn ride is themed 'Volcano'.|
|Among the classic rides at Oaks Park is the Roll-O-Plane from Eyerly. Notice the fully-functional head-tipping mechanism visible in the detail (right).|
Oaks Park is home to a whole slew of ancient flat rides, and a brand new junior coaster. In fact, here is the obligatory ride list--
|Ride name||Manufacturer||Common Name|
|Round Up||Hrubetz||Round Up |
|Ferris Wheel||Eli Bridge||Eagle rim drive Wheel |
|Haunted Mine||?||Dark Ride |
|Skooter||Lusse?||Bumper Cars |
|Sea Dragon||Chance||Sea Dragon |
|Great Kids Express||Chance||CP Huntington |
|Scrambler||Eli Bridge||Scrambler |
|Looping Thunder||Pinfari||Looping Star |
|Big Pink slide||Dartron?||Slide |
|Combo||Aeroaffiliates?||Combo car ride |
|Zoooooom||Miler||Junior Coaster w/helix |
|Tubs of Fun||Hampton||Tubs of Fun |
|Skyfighters||Allan Herschell||Sky Fighters |
Note the neon sign on the Spider, at left.
|A couple of the rides, the Spider and the Scooters, have neat neon signs on them. The Scooters are unlike any others I have ever ridden. They are singularly unremarkable looking cars, most identifiable by the bar across the front just above the steering wheel, which makes the car look almost like it has a windshield. Like the old Lusse cars, these have a hard fender all the way around, and the arena has spring-loaded walls. Quite frankly, they don't look like much. But these cars are FAST, they are HEAVY, and they crash HARD. The floor is so highly polished (and probably graphited) that the cars steer a little like motorboats; you have to anticipate the turns a little early so that the car can slide around and get properly reoriented. These may well be the very best bumper cas around, Knoebel's not excluded. If you are ever in Portland it's worth a trip to Oaks Park for the bumper cars alone!|
|Of course, while at that end of the park there are two other important rides to check out. First is the new junior coaster, called Zoooooom. This is a Miler junior coaster with a fairly high (I'm guessing around 15-20') lift and an extended layout...an oval with an up-and-down helix in the middle. It is larger than the Paramount Taxi Jam coasters, and I am guessing it is similar to the Python Pit coasters found at some Jeepers! locations Footnote 1. I took a ride and found it to be quite a decent coaster, with a nice headchopper in the middle of the helix, and enough lateral force to be interesting. Not as interesting as the air time on Knoebels' High Speed Thrill Coaster, but interesting nonetheless.|
|The other particularly notable ride at Oaks Park is their Sea Dragon. This one runs fast, smooth, and high, sending the support struts well above the 90-degree mark. What is particularly neat about this one is if you sit on the left-hand side (as you look at the front of the ride) you can see that this ride swings *into* the surrounding trees, which are trimmed so that the ride just clears. Again, a fun ride clearly well maintained.|
|Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Oaks Park skating rink. I am not a skater myself, so I didn't get very far past the entrance. But the rink floor is absolutely huge, golden in color, and has a perfect surface. A large organ, positioned in a gallery above the rink, provides music for the skaters. Also, it was in the skating rink where I finally managed to buy an Oaks Park sweatshirt. The selection was quite limited, but it was better than what the midway gift shop had Footnote 2.|
I returned to Oaks Park when I had completed my loop through Seattle, Vancouver, and Athol, and the park was hosting the Multnomah County Fair. Not much of a fair, really, and the midway was not augmented. But I got a few more rides, anyway.
Oh, and one more thing. There's a tent next to the slide. Inside that tent is a video arcade. I wandered inside and heard a familiar voice cry out, "Hey YOU!" I looked around. "You Sir! You Madam! Hurry, hurry, step right up!"
|There it was, in all its glory: A Cyclone pinball machine. And unlike the TWO Cyclone machines at Camden Park, this one was WORKING! It got my quarter. And those $%&! elephants kept getting my ball. But the machine is set up for single-coin play, with a replay awarded at 800,000 points (Cyclone pre-dates the billion-point skill shot). Better still, the replay score does not increase as more replays are awarded! I must have played a dozen games on about $2 in quarters. Why can't there be one of these machines closer to me! 8-)|
sigh As if there aren't enough reasons to like Oaks Park already.
Next: Enchanted Village, Federal Way, Washington
Or back to the Northwest Coaster Tour index
Trip Reports 1999
Back to Dave's page
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Footnote 1: Unfortunately NOT including the one that just opened not far from me......
Footnote 2: Meaning, of course, nothing at all.
Footnote 3: The Cyclone picture is adapted from a Williams advertising flyer which can be seen at Gamearchive. Cyclone is a trademark of Williams Electronic Games, Inc., © 1988, Williams Electronics Games, Inc.