"I want to talk to the manager."
Well, that was my original plan, anyway: To randomly pick on an employee and very solemnly say, "I want to talk to the manager." Of course, once said manager arrived it would become abundantly clear that there was in fact nothing wrong, but such stunts are frequently amusing. Okay, so I'm easily amused and I have a mean streak Footnote 1.
That isn't quite what happened, though. You see, Enchanted Forest requests that people patronizing Thrill-Ville move their cars next door, and I was perfectly willing to comply. But Thrill-Ville's parking is between the road and the Ripper, which sits in the front of the park. And when I arrived, email@example.com was operating the Ripper. Because we had met before, he spotted me first.
We exchanged greetings, and right on cue, a regular employee returned to the coaster, so Ed and I took a ride. The Ripper is a Schwarzkopf Jet Star II...a large version with three concentric low, high-banked track sections at the front of the ride. Paul Drabek is the expert on the one at Indiana Beach now...Paul, is the Tig'rr a Jet Star (two loops of track at the bottom) or a Jet Star II (with three)? Anyway, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that Thrill-Ville is taking care of this coaster and it really runs well. The cars are a custom glass job, but I suspect that the custom work extends only to the car shell. The floor pan seems like standard-issue Schwarzkopf, as do the wheel carriers, but the bodies are fully glassed, not the chrome-tube-and-padding stuff of the Schwarzkopf cars. These look a bit like log flume cars, actually. It seems a pattern is emerging for PNW coasters...
I set off on a tour of the park, taking a bunch of pictures. The park looks a bit like something out of RCT, with rides in a treeless flat space connected by asphalt paths. Well, it isn't totally treeless, but the trees aren't exactly shading the midway, either. Further complicating the park's design is the access road which runs through the middle of the park and leads to the RV park located well behind the amusement park. Far enough back, in fact, that the only part of it you can see from within Thrill-Ville is the gatehouse. They have an interesting collection of flat rides, a huge waterslide (which I didn't try) a Go-Kart track, a minigolf course, and of course, The Ripper. The complete ride list is as follows--
|Ride Name||Manufacturer||Common name|
|Tilt||Sellner||Tilt-A-Whirl, cable drive|
|The Ripper||Schwarzkopf||Jet Star II|
|Ferris Wheel||Eli Bridge||HY-5 cable drive wheel|
|Paratrooper||Hrubetz||Spitfire w/Paratrooper tubs|
|Thrill-Ville USA Railroad||Miniature Train Co||Train|
|Bumper Boats||?||Lightning Bug bumper boats|
|Bulgy the Whale||Eyerly||Bulgy the Whale|
|Little Ripper||Schiff||Roller Coaster|
|Kiddie car ride||?||Car Ride|
Of particular note are the bumper boats. Be careful spectating around these...each boat has a squirt gun attached and capable of fairly long range.
Missing from the park are game joints and souvenir shops. I wonder if any of the PNW parks sell merchandise. That, and shade. Apart from that, all of the employees I met were competent, friendly, and attentive. It's not the biggest or best known park in the area, but it is a good place to have some fun for an afternoon. The old Santa Cruz Jet Star II has found a good home for its new life as The Ripper, and it doesn't hurt that it has the attention of a park manager who is himself a roller coaster enthusiast.
Speaking of which, I have to put in a good word or two for Ed Roberts, the park manager. Ed, quit blushing. From my perspective, Ed is an exemplary manager, as evidenced by his dealings with his small but mighty staff. He knows how things ought to be done, so that while Thrill-Ville is a small park, in important details operations are handled just as competently as at much larger parks. He's also one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.
As the park closed for the evening, I jumped into the rented car, backed out of my parking space, turned on the windshield wipers (oops! That's not the gear lever!), turned them back off, shifted into gear, and drove back to Portland.
There are more Thrill-Ville USA pictures here.
Next: Oaks Park, Portland, Oregon
Northwest Coaster Tour '99 index
Trip Reports 1999
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--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Footnote 1: Yeah, it's 106 miles from home and barely worth riding...