Destination Connecticut: Wooden Coaster Paradise

Trip Reports

Two Parks in Five and a Half Hours

If ever there was a whirlwind trip to amusement/theme parks, my visit to Quassy and Lake Compounce last weekend constitutes a prime example.  After a scenic 5-hour train ride from Philly to Hartford, I had 5 and a half hours, allowing for travelling time between the two parks, to accomplish my mission.  This was a challenge, especially when relying on Uber to reach my destinations, but one that I was only too happy to take on.

Quassy Overview

Quassy Amusement Park is a small park in Middlebury, Connecticut, very much off the beaten path, small enough to explore in little over an hour, which was about all the time I had.   The first thing that struck me about this park is how picturesque it is.  It sits on Lake Quassapaug, a scenic setting, and features over two dozen rides and attractions, including Splash Away Bay water park, along with a picnic grove.  Quassy offers the option of purchasing an all-day ticket for $28.99 or paying by the ride.  Given my time constraints I opted for paying by the ride.  Ride tickets cost $2.50 and the number of tickets required to ride any given attraction is variable.  A ride on Wooden Warrior, my primary reason for visiting the park, requires two tickets so I purchased just enough tickets to get several rides.

Quassy Amusement Park Trip Report 2017

Quassy Amusement Park Trip Report 2017

Wooden Warrior

A ride on this coaster from The Gravity Group (The Voyage, Ravine Flyer II) was something to which I had been looking forward after hearing reports of how good it is.  Opened in 2011, Wooden Warrior is the first coaster to feature Timberliner trains.  While extremely modest in proportions and speed – with a height of 32 feet, drop of 36 feet and maximum speed of 35 mph – it is nevertheless a coaster well worth riding.  The airtime is phenomenal and the tunnel leading into the turnaround is a nice touch.  This is a shining example of why bigger is not necessarily better.  I found this coaster to be thoroughly delightful and am only sorry that the ride is so short. Worth noting is that the restraint is markedly different from any other I’d previously encountered.  It’s a pivoting lap bar that extends outside the train and swings inward over the rider before locking in place.

 

Wooden Warrior Review - Quassy Amusement Park

Wooden Warrior Review - Quassy Amusement Park

Lake Compounce Overview

Located in Bristol/Southington, Connecticut, Lake Compounce is the oldest continuously operating amusement park in North America. It opened in 1846.  It’s also one of the most affordable parks, with regular admission priced at $43.99 and senior admission priced at $19.99.  Because I qualify for the senior rate (60 years and up) it was a cheap excursion.

A lovely park with multiple attractions including a water park, Lake Compounce is also the home of Boulder Dash, an amazing wooden coaster that has been consistently ranked among the top 10 in roller coaster polls.  The centerpiece that one sees upon entering the park is Wildcat, the 14th oldest operating wooden coaster in the country.  Unfortunately, Wildcat, recently retracked, was not operating on my visit.  Someone with whom I met up later told me that park staff and some people from ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) had ridden it within the past several weeks to test it but this has not been verified.

Lake Compounce Trip Report 2017

Lake Compounce Trip Report 2017

Special Perks

Lake Compounce is one of only two parks I’ve visited that actually has refreshment stations offering free sodas and other beverages.  As one accustomed to being gouged up to $5.00 for a soda at most parks, I find it refreshing that this park provides the drinks at no charge.

New Coaster Since Last Visit

The newest coaster to be added to Lake Compounce’s lineup, last year, is Phobia Phear, a Premier Rides Skyrocket II model.   Although this triple launch coaster is essentially the same ride as Tempesto at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, I made it my first stop at the park because 1) I like the ride; and 2) it meant a coaster credit.  In fact I liked Phobia more than I liked Tempesto because the restraint consists of only a lap bar as opposed to the OTS (over the shoulder) restraint on Tempesto. (The park’s second oldest coaster, Zoomerang, a Vekoma boomerang, is one which I have yet to ride.)

Phobia Fear Review - Lake Compounce

Boulder Dash

Boulder Dash from Custom Coasters International (The Raven, Shivering Timbers) in itself is more than sufficient reason to visit Lake Compounce.  When it comes to wooden coasters, it doesn’t get much better than this.  Another example of why bigger isn’t always better.  Built into the side of a mountain and surrounded by boulders, Boulder Dash takes the riders on a wild ride through the woods.  From the initial 115-foot drop at a wicked right angle to the station flyby to the quadruple down during the latter part of the ride, this coaster is forceful and relentless.  The airtime is absolutely sublime! I can honestly say without qualification that a night ride on Boulder Dash ranks among the most thrilling and exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had on a coaster. I managed a total of six rides – five of them in the dark – and for me this was coaster nirvana.

Boulder Dash Review - Lake Compounce

Boulder Dash Review - Lake Compounce

Boulder Dash On-Ride Photo - Lake Compounce

Final Thoughts

Connecticut is a choice destination for wooden coaster enthusiasts.  What’s your take?  Have you ridden Wooden Warrior and/or Boulder Dash and if so, what did you think?

 

Hi! I took up roller coasters late in life, 7 years ago at the age of 59 and am trying to make up for lost time. Most of my favorite coasters were made by Intamin and lately, Rocky Mountain Construction. I love Hersheypark not only because it's the sweetest place on earth but because the three major coasters are Intamins. In real life I work in the legal profession.

9 Comments

  1. I visited Lake Compounce a few years ago, collecting all of the then-available coaster credits with the exception of the kiddie coaster (no available kids to borrow!) We spent time cooling off in the lake mid-afternoon, which was unexpectedly refreshing and gave me the second wind I needed for 20+ rides on BoulderDash, most of which were in or near the back seat. With natural darkness similar to that of The Beast, it is well-worth hanging around until nightfall to experience tearing through the dark wooded hillside on this baby! Watch out for the turnaround, though. The inside rider tends to get forcefully thrown into the outside rider. My partner for that trip later found out he had sustained a cracked rib, but we just kept on riding, giggling like crazy people, until the park closed!

    Reply
    • Judy, you are spot on about the inside rider on Boulder Dash. I chose not to mention this in my report but am recovering from badly bruised ribs as a result of being the inside rider on my final ride. Had found a riding buddy and ridden on the outside until the last round, when there were a number of empty rows so we simply jumped into the 1st available seats. However, the incident happened not on the turnaround but coming off the initial drop, when I got slammed against the side of the car. That being said, it in no way alters my high opinion of Boulder Dash. I think that in future what I will do is either ride exclusively on the outside or hold on during the initial part of the ride.

      Reply
  2. I squeezed in Six Flags New England and Lake Compounce in the same day once, but I need to make it back up there for re-rides and for a trip to Quassy. I’m intrigued by Wooden Warrior for a number of reasons.

    And I couldn’t agree more about Boulder Dash. Definitely one of my favorite wooden coasters. As both you and Judy pointed out, night rides are a must. The closest I got was late afternoon because I needed to get back to NYC to complete my crazy planes, trains, and automobiles journey home, but I wanted to stay for night rides.

    Great trip report Bobbie!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Joel. Back in 2013 I did Six Flags New England one day and Lake Compounce the next but this was the 1st time I felt ambitious enough to squeeze in 2 in 1 day. BTW, I somehow completely neglected to mention that Boulder Dash was partially retracked last year although there are still some rough spots.

      Reply
  3. I rode Wooden Warrior back in August 2015 as part of my “retirement trip.” Riding coasters instead of starting another year of teaching/working … I highly recommend it! When they say that Wooden Warrior is a “thrilling family roller coaster,” they mean it, at least the “thrilling” part. This, my #350, is one INTENSE roller coaster. It is not for the faint of heart, nor should it be considered a good first coaster, even though it looks like a junior coaster. Surprising to me is that the air time is in the back of the train, not the front. The coaster gives a pretty good whipping sensation as it goes over each hill. The trains are short and the ride’s seats are unique. They are quite comfortable and well-padded, with a padded lap bar large enough to give a feeling of security.

    “Little Dipper” is a nasty little thing. The train cars are solid metal, meaning it hurts every time you go over the hill or around a bend. Add to that, clothing slides across the metal seats, so you get slammed into the sides of the car. Charming little coaster!”

    This is a park that is probably best for elementary and middle school-aged kids. They have a limited but nice assortment of rides. I did not like how dark it was inside of the carousel building, but they did have some interesting animals, like giraffes and dragons. The train was the fastest moving amusement park train I have ever been on. It is so fast that they have to give you two laps! I rode it hoping to get a better look at the layout of Wooden Warrior. There is also a small water park along with boating on the lake at Quassy. It was well worth visiting for a few hours, but a full day was not necessary.

    Reply
  4. Thank you for including Quassy in your recent visit to New England. As the only family-owned park in the area, we take to heart comments about the property and Wooden Warrior in particular. It was an ideal fit for who and what Quassy is: a property where families can spend quality time together. This marks Quassy’s 109th season and the 80th year the facility has been owned and operated by the same family, who oversee daily operations.

    Reply
  5. Awesome report Bobbie! I can’t wait to get out that way and it’s good to know you can pack in a lot of fun in a short amount of time. I’ve always like watching POV videos of Boulder Dash and the scenery just looks so fantastic. Cheers!

    Reply
  6. Great review as usual Bobbie! These 2 parks may not be the largest, but they are high on charm and nostalgia. Boulder Dash at Lake Compounce is just amazing and with the re-tracking they did on the rough areas, it will only make this coaster better! Night rides on Boulder Dash are indescribable. #crazyfun

    Reply
  7. The sad thing about Lake Compounce is that they shut down their amazing skyride that used to go 700 feet up the side of the mountain. That was the other ride that really made Compounce unique. Boulder Dash is a world-class experience, though.

    I haven’t been there since Phobia opened. Their Boomerang is really not bad–though it’s a more forceful ride than I expected. I passed up the chance to ride Wildcat when I was there, been meaning to someday.

    Reply

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