Destination Connecticut: Wooden Coaster Paradise

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?