Interview with Waldameer’s President Steve Gorman

Me with Steve Gorman, President of WaldameerMy Interview with Waldameer’s President
Last month while I was visiting Waldameer with my family I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the park’s┬áPresident Steve Gorman. I’d visited the Erie, PA park last year to ride Ravine Flyer 2, but this year I was able to stay for a longer visit with a larger group and enjoy more of the park.

How’s Waldameer Different from other Amusement Parks?
To start off, I asked Gorman about what was different or distinctive about Waldameer. He shared that Waldameer has been a family owned park for three generations. It’s also family-oriented and can be enjoyed by all even on a low budget. With free admission it allows, say grandparents, the ability to take their grandkids without having to pay admission. Guests buy wristbands or individual ride tickets if they want to enjoy one of the park’s many rides, roller coasters, or cool off in the Water World water park.

Comet: Waldameer’s Classic Wooden Coaster
On the same day as my trip, news had just broke that Busch Gardens Williamsburg was going to remove Big Bad Wolf. I asked Gorman if there was any chance that Waldameer would remove one of it’s older attractions; the 1951 ACE Coaster Classic Comet. Gorman said that not only did they never think about removing the Comet, they had just refurbished the ride’s cars by Philadelphia Toboggan last winter. After the interview, Gorman and I took a spin on the old school woodie that’s operated via a large wooden lever. With a maximum drop of 25′, Comet’s a great introductory roller coaster for kids a new coaster riders. It was my kid sister’s first ever real roller coaster later that day.

Ravine Flyer II’s Success: Lift in Attendance & Revenue
Waldameer's Ravine Flyer III was curious to know how a park like Waldameer measured the success of their breakout star Ravine Flyer 2. The wooden terrain roller coaster won a “Best New Ride for 2008” Golden Ticket Award when it opened last year. Gorman shared that while they do not count heads, he had met visitors from as far away as Denmark and England. I guess I was correct in calling it ‘world-class’. In addition, 2008 was Waldameer’s best year ever as park revenues were up 30%. Another contributing factor (and one I didn’t think of) was that 2008 was the first year that Geauga Lake’s amusement park portion was closed. More North Eastern Ohioans were trekking up to Erie to visit Waldameer than usual.

Hybrid Steel-Wood Wooden Coasters Better in the Long Run
I then asked if there were any plans for adjustments or modifications to Ravine Flyer II. Gorman said that he was impressed by the ride’s low maintenance which he credited to the wooden coaster’s steel support structure. When I walked the grounds of Ravine Flyer 2 last year with park owner Paul Nelson he explained the cost-benefit issue of a hybrid steel-wood wooden coaster. The steel structure makes the coaster more expensive, but over time it will last longer and require less maintenance.

New for 2009: The Mega VortexWaldameer's Mega Vortex
I wanted to know more about the Waldameer’s newest ride, a Zamperla Mega Disko called Mega Vortex. I asked Gorman how the park came to pick this new ride. He said that he visited a number of other amusement parks last year to figure out what they would add for 2009. While at Kennywood, they asked them what their most popular ride was and they pointed to their Mega Disko. Gorman rode it, liked it, and made the decision to buy one last September. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to ride it but it looked like fun.

Waldameer’s Plans for 2010
Steve Gorman shared an exclusive during our interview. When asked about plans for 2010, he confirmed rumors that the park was looking to add a flat ride. He cautioned that it depended on the park’s performance this year; which of course can be affected by the weather. The flat ride they plan on adding will be a chair swing known as a Yo-Yo.

Ravine Flyer II: The Best Seat & Time of Day
I completed the interview asking Gorman about his favorite seat and favorite time to ride Ravine Flyer II. He said that the front seat is his favorite because of the view and that his favorite time to ride is at night. He shared that night rides seem so much faster. Read my complete Ravine Flyer II review.

Thanks again to Steve Gorman for taking the time to sit down with me for this interview.

What’s Your Take?
What do you think of Waldameer, Ravine Flyer 2, and my interview with Steve Gorman? Leave a comment below. Image 2 courtesy of CoaserImage.