Even though officially there’s still a few weeks worth of Summer remaining at this point, unofficially the season is nearing its inevitable end as the Labor day weekend looms. Although I can’t say that the Summer has been wasted or anything like that, I also can’t necessarily say that I’ve really done a lot of Summer-type activities this year. With the clock running down, I’ve been trying to take the opportunity to cram some of these in before the leaves turn and the inexorable descent into Winter begins. Already the signs are beginning to show up; Halloween stuff has been appearing on the shelves at various stores now, and earlier today I saw the first signs of Christmas stuff beginning to appear on the shelves (apparently they aren’t even bothering to wait until September begins anymore.) Nonetheless, the weather is still nice, and at least there’s still a little bit of time to cram some stuff in.
This afternoon, I decided to follow a few friends along to Wild Waves down in federal Way for an afternoon of amusement in some form or another. For those of you who may not be familiar with it, Wild Waves is pretty much the closest thing we get around here to a real theme park. Originally opened in 1977 as Enchanted Village with half a dozen rides, the Wild Waves water park was added in 1984, and additional expansions to the park were made in 2002 and 2003 as Six Flags assumed ownership between 2000 and 2007. Under the current ownership, the Enchanted Village name has been eliminated leaving the entire park with the Wild Waves name.
As far as amusement parks go, there isn’t anything particularly notable about Wild Waves, aside from the fact that it is the largest one in the Seattle area (not too hard considering the lack of much competition, or once the beleaguered Fun Forest over at Seattle Center slips into its pending oblivion, any competition at all.) The park boasts three roller coasters (four if you count the Kiddie coaster,) with the most notable of these being the wooden Timberhawk located on the eastern side of the park among the trees. Don’t expect too much in the way of thrills though; the Wild Thing (shown above, no relation to the presumably much more thrilling coaster of the same name at Minnesota’s Valleyfair park) seems to have been designed to meet some obscure federal guideline on the minimum definition of a thrill ride. From the lift hill, you go down a modest drop into the loop, then come around into a double corkscrew, and… Well, that’s it actually. On further research, it appears that this model was actually an improvement on an earlier version of essentially the same layout, but missing the loop (in fact, one of these which originally resided at Knott’s Berry Farm and was the first of its kind now makes its home at Silverwood Theme Park near Coeur d’Alene Idaho.) If you start looking around the various smaller amusement parks throughout the country, you soon realize that quite a few have identical copies of standard coaster models. This is understandable, given the sheer time and expense of designing and building a coaster from scratch.
Of course roller coasters, although for some people they may be the big draw, don’t make a park by themselves, and there’s going to be plenty of other thrills (or otherwise) on offer as well. After the jump, a look at a few other things from Seattle’s favorite (by default) theme park.
As seems to be the case with many smaller amusement parks, most of the rides being offered seem to be variations on the theme of nauseating motion, which has brought us such midway classics as the Tilt-a-Hurl, the Chunderbolt, The PukeMaster 6000, The Flying Vomit, the Spewclone, and… Well actually I don’t think anyone uses any of those names officially, but that seems to be the whole idea. Among the newer rides that the park gained under Six Flags ownership was the Disk’O’ (sic) shown here which combines back-and-forth rocking motion with rapid spinning that combine to threaten your lunch in ways you never thought possible. But it’s all nice and safe, right?
Um… Just try not to pay too much attention to the parts flying off, OK?
But of course not everything in the park can be quite that thrilling. In fact, some rides make it a point to inform you of just how thrilled you’re allowed to be.
If you need to take a break from the thrillingness of it all, there’s plenty of places you can go to get Chicken Tenders, Burgers, Fries and… um… Cold Drinks. I’m not quite sure what they were serving back before they started serving cold drinks… Frustratingly tepid drinks, perhaps?
Then again, if you just happened to walk by this feeding frenzy over by the obligatory duck/fish food vending machines, you might have lost your appetite anyway. Hey, it’s either that or the three trips on the Gastro-Blaster. Which you probably could have actually done if you wanted, as the lines during our entire visit were surprisingly short. In fact, the Wild Thing was running passengers for two loops at a time since there were barely any lines at all. Try finding that at Disneyland…
Of course, after a day of amusement (and/or vertigo), you’re going to want some sort of souvenir to take home, and what better place than the Midway? For only slightly ridiculous amounts of money spent on dubious games of chance and/or ridiculous skill, you too can bring home one of these fine pieces of stoned plush fruit. Hopefully you had room in the car. I should note that there isn’t anything on the water side of the park since I unfortunately didn’t actually make it into the water on this trip. Perhaps next time, but the season is coming to an end for this year, so it’s unlikely I’ll be back anytime soon. All in all, Wild Waves is nothing all that spectacular, but if you’re looking for a few no-frills thrills, it’s pretty much the only choice you have around here. Just set expectations accordingly, forget mow much you paid to get in, and you might even be able to enjoy it.
P.S. If anyone is keeping score at home, that makes it 447 posts (plus another 80 or so if you want to count the old Sledgehammer 1.0 site, which personally I’d rather just refuse to acknowledge the existence of at this point) before I finally managed to sneak a Peter Gabriel reference into one of these things. At this time, I have no comment on when readers can expect a David Rasche reference though…