Waldameer Park sits in Erie, Pa. It is two hours from Cedar Point, two hours from Kennywood, and four hours from Hersheypark. The park sits along the water of Lake Erie, where the lake comes visible as you crest the hill of their main attraction. The park is absolutely gorgeous, with amazing landscaping throughout, and statues and decorations adorning every corner.
By Justin S. Landers
Waldameer opened in 1896, and is one of the oldest theme parks in the country. It has five roller coasters and a lot of flat rides. During a normal year, admission is free – though, thanks to limited entry rules at this time, everyone is required to buy an all-day ride wristband. Normally, anyone can come in and the guests are able to pay by the ride—one of my favorite theme park offerings—similar to Lakemont Park or Adventure Park USA.
The coaster collection is fairly decent for a small park. There’s an SBF Visa called Whirlwind; and Ravine Flyer 3, a kiddie coaster with one of the best settings I have ever seen, as it goes over a small pond that used to host bumper boats. For older guests, there is a Maurer spinning ride called Steel Dragon, which spun a lot more than many of the other clones like this I have been on, and Comet is an American Coaster Enthusiasts’ landmark wooden coaster.
Then there’s Ravine Flyer 2, which is a Gravity Group coaster. Ravine Flyer was removed in 1938 after a tragic accident, and in 2008 Ravine Flyer 2 was built in its place. It’s a unique coaster with a 120-foot drop, and also crosses the highway – which is extremely unique for a coaster. In fact, I can’t think of any other coaster in the world that does that! In 2008, Ravine Flyer 2 won Best New Ride in the Golden Ticket Awards, and was voted 11th Best Overall Wooden Coaster in the same year. This is a one-of-a-kind that provides a unique ride with some wonderful airtime!
The collection of flat rides includes everything from a tilt-a-whirl to flying swings. There’s also a full water park, though I didn’t visit it. Each year, Waldameer tries to add a new attraction to both the theme and the water parks. Unfortunately, the new additions for next year will be delayed a year due to low attendance. The kiddie ride collection includes everything from a mini-drop tower to kiddie wet boats and a kiddie swing. As you walk through the park, it is clear the owners and staff carry a very large amount of pride for this beautiful area in an otherwise sleepy town.
Waldameer Park is also taking precautions beyond limiting entry by requiring everyone to purchase a full day pass. There are cleanings after every few ride cycles, and everyone is required to wear a face mask. Compliance with these precautions was taken seriously throughout the park, and I saw very few guests trying to sidestep the rules. Even if you don’t make it this year, Waldameer is absolutely a park worth visiting. It’s not too far out of the way, and likely on the way to a larger park you may be visiting.
29-year-old Justin Landers owns Just Shoot Light Multimedia Productions. He has been involved in the amusement and theme park industry since 2013 as a freelance photographer and videographer. You can follow him on Instagram @Inverted_Therapy and Just Shoot Light on YouTube.