In 2011, Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Connecticut added Wooden Warrior: a small, family-friendly coaster made by The Gravity Group. This addition was perfect for Quassy. The park already had a real “local park” kinda charm to it, and now it has a fantastic little wooden coaster to capture the attention of enthusiasts. Wooden Warrior is not only worth attention — it exceeds expectations and delivers a surprisingly awesome ride. It’s just a plain old fun time.
The Set Up
The diminutive woodie’s lift hill and turnaround are the first things you see as you turn into the parking lot. There’s a sign abreast the support structure, ala The Raven from Holiday World, which is a nice touch. Although on paper the ride isn’t big, it feels large within this park due to the comparatively small sizes of its neighboring rides.
One thing to know about Quassy is the entry price: none! Instead of paying one price just to get into the park, you pay for individual ride tickets — essentially paying per ride. Think Knoebels’ price system, if you’ve been there.
As of the 2017 operating season, one ride on Wooden Warrior takes two tickets — which will run you $5. This means if you really want to, you can just drop in, ride Wooden Warrior, and leave… But I highly recommend staying and enjoying the park’s lakeside locale and quaint atmosphere.
There’s really no theming on Wooden Warrior, but the ride’s placement adds a lot to the experience and particularly the queue. As you’re waiting in line, the train bounds over the last few hills before a turn into the brakes — all a few feet or less from where you’re standing. It’s quickly evident that this is one tightly packed-in ride!
Soon you’re in the station and boarding the lone, ultra-comfortable Timberliner train that Wooden Warrior runs. It only has 6 rows, but that’s really all it can have thanks to the coaster’s tight maneuvers. Although having only one shorter-than-usual train doesn’t help capacity, it is offset by the relatively small attendance Quassy gets (compared to large parks, who also have full-sized trains). My wait was about 10 minutes on an August weekday.
The Ride Experience
A little dip out of the station and you’re climbing the 32 foot high lift hill. Yes, you read that right — 32 feet! That’s about one-fifteenth the size of the tallest coaster in the world, Kingda Ka. Its first drop, which is slightly longer at 36 feet, is only a third of the nearby Boulder Dash’s first drop length.
Wooden Warrior is a thrilling paradox: tiny but surprisingly fun
You’d think that a coaster under 40 feet tall couldn’t provide thrills like the big boys, but man does Wooden Warrior prove otherwise. Once the chain lets you go, you fall into a snappy turnaround with surprising momentum. The turnaround isn’t a flat one — it actually dips a bit and rises up right before the main drop. This gives you a neat little pop of air before you plunge down the logic-defying 36 foot drop. It’s really fun — gives a solid sinking stomach feeling and tricks your mind into thinking it’s steeper than it is — just too brief.
You flatten out and hop a small but forceful bunny hill into a turn away from the station. This coaster focuses on short, poppy moments of airtime — and it’s wonderful. The turn rises into a nice hill and then into a banked turnaround enclosed by a tunnel. The track dips a bit in the tunnel, but with the darkness surrounding you it feels like a lot more.
You rise again before dropping out of the tunnel and being thrown into a flurry of short hills, which technically form a triple up but are so brief that you don’t really notice. A quick turn follows, and then two more little airtime hills before a final turn into the brakes.
Wooden Warrior is a thrilling paradox: tiny but surprisingly fun. It’s quite possibly the best thrills-per-foot coaster out there — a real bang for your buck. It’s filled with airtime moments and is just pure fun. Unfortunately, it is still only 36 feet tall. This means it can only offer a very short ride time and a relatively slow speed of 35 miles per hour. The height is a limiting factor, but Gravity Group and Quassy have managed to squeeze every last ounce of fun out of this ride.
This woodie gives hope to all small amusement parks out there, that they can have a great coaster for an affordable price fitted into a tight amount of space. Wooden Warrior also is a great family coaster — no one will be intimidated by its height, and it is smooth despite the tight transitions.
Wooden Warrior is hard to rate, simply because it cannot statistically compare to many other major coasters. In the end, I’d stop short of calling it world-class. But Quassy deserves big-time props for making such a fun ride in such a small footprint.
Final Rating – 8.0
It’s definitely worth checking out, especially given its location — a half-hour’s drive from Lake Compounce and on the way towards Six Flags New England. And Quassy’s pay-per-ride system can be a good deal for single-minded enthusiasts. For more on Quassy and the other New England parks, check out Bobbie’s recent trip report.
Have you stopped by Quassy and gotten to experience Wooden Warrior? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this little joy of a coaster.