Article by Michael Burkes, Photos by Michael Burkes and Bob Kilner

Traveling east on Interstate 64 or south on State Route 52, you come to Huntington, West Virginia.  The city of nearly 50,000 people has a hilly terrain, curvaceous roads and beautiful scenery. In other words, paradise for a photographer like me.

Within the realms of this region lies the state’s only amusement park.  Like Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Connecticut, this park is/was a trolley park.  However, instead of being at the end of the line, this park was unusual in that it was built where riders traveling between Huntington and nearby cities would stop to change lines.  It has been around for over 115 years and you will know when you have arrived when you see a huge clown entrance sign point the way to the parking lot. With rides, picnics and fun for all, you have arrived at Camden Park.

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Camden Park was established as a picnic spot by the Camden Interstate Railway Company and is named after former West Virginia Senator Johnson N. Camden.  The park’s first mechanical ride was a carousel that was built around 1903. In 1912, the first roller coaster was added. After a couple of owners came and went, Camden came into the hands of J. P. Boylin, whose family continues to operate the park and its attractions to this day.  The facility boasts more than 30 rides and attractions and features a variety of events throughout its season, including “Hot Summer Nights” concert series, “Children’s Fest” and Coca Cola days, just to name a few.

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The main reason that many visit Camden Park are for the coasters.  There are only three and while not that large, two of them are of significant importance.  These three coasters are the Big Dipper, the Lil’ Dipper and Slingshot. Two wood and one steel.  

The Big Dipper, Camden’s prize possession came on the scene in 1958. It replaced the first coaster at the park after it was torn down a year prior.  It is one of only three National Amusement Devices coasters still in existence. Like Thunderbolt at Kennywood, it features Century Flyer cars with working headlights and the coaster follows a classic figure-eight design.  The single train is three coaches long which can hold a maximum of six riders each, for a maximum of eighteen riders per dispatch. The ride’s name refers to the large initial dip after the first turnaround that measures the full height of the coaster.  There is a second shallower dip that leads to a long, enclosed tunnel from which the train emerges shortly before returning to the loading station.

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The Lil’ Dipper was also manufactured by National Amusement Devices.  It has one train with five coaches that can each hold two riders, for a maximum of ten riders per dispatch.  The structure itself is made of steel but the track is wood. If any of the old heads in this club remember, the defunct Geauga Lake had a similar model in their Kiddieland many years ago.  

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The last coaster is Slingshot.  Manufactured by the SBF Visa Group, this model is a figure-eight spinning coaster.  Similar models can be found at parks like Beech Bend and Silverwood.

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A fun fact about Camden Park that might be of interests to many Ohio coaster enthusiasts – Kings Island’s famous shuttle loop coaster known as “Screamin’ Demon” and later just “Demon” was relocated to Camden Park after being taken out of Kings Island in 1987. It was one of the first shuttle loop coasters that went forward and backward through a 360-degree loop.  It opened for the 1988 season next to the Skyliner Sky Ride and lasted for 11 seasons before it had to close permanently due to a circuit board malfunction.

In addition to coasters, Camden Park offers a decent selection of flat rides and children’s rides, many of which are of a vintage nature. Those rides include a Whip, Tilt-a-Whirl, Paratrooper, Dodgems, Scrambler and Flying Scooters.  The ride lineup also includes a miniature train, log flume, carousel, and haunted house, which is one of two gravity-fed pretzel rides remaining in the United States.

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So, if you happen to be traveling to or passing through West Virginia on an amusement park excursion, stop on in to Camden Park.  Don’t worry, it won’t bite you. It will be nice to venture out of your comfort zone and realize not every amusement park has to be so huge and overwhelming in order to have a good time.  Remember big things do come in small packages.

Written by Michael Burkes, GOCC Member and Contributor to The Streak

Hersheypark, the grande dame of eastern Pennsylvania and what has become the “Sweetest Place on Earth”.  A bastion of good times and great memories for everyone who steps upon its grounds, the park will be forever enchanted with its charm and grace.  From 1906 to 1970, this facility was like many other amusement parks throughout the country. A traditional green space that evolved into a major entertainment center, with rides and picnic grounds for patrons from near and far to visit, relax, and have the time of their lives.

In the early 1970’s, Hersheypark decided to begin their transition into a full-fledged theme park and from that point until 2019, the five distinct areas that originally made up the park became two and then two became one.  Starting in 2020, something brand new will take over exactly what brought this park a unique quality that in my mind, will be missed dearly. This post will concentrate on the areas that will be greatly affected by this change, including the picturesque scenery that will be severely altered in the years to come to keep up with the so-called times.

The theme areas that are being affected by this change were once known as Tudor Square, Rhineland, Carrousel Circle, Der Deitsch Platz (The Pennsylvania Dutch Place)/Animal Garden and finally, Music Box Way.  As the years progressed, these themed areas were changed to Founders Way and Founder’s Circle, then finally changed again to just Founder’s Way, celebrating Milton S. Hershey.

Tudor Square was the first land guests would enter as they came to Hersheypark. It was technically located outside the main gate.  Marked by a drawbridge and a tall guard tower, this land showcased classic English Architecture with steep pitch roofs and half-timbered framing.  These buildings were not facades with decorative fronts and non-descript backs. The buildings themselves were decorated with little motifs to give that extra European English flavor. The narrow walkways that sloped downward were lined with full-sized trees.  There was also a full-size restaurant where kids could eat with the park mascots, as well as a candy store, a retail souvenir store, guest relations building and restrooms. All of these structures lead to the grand castle, or in layman’s terms, the front gate.  

After entering the park, you were in Rhineland, a recreation of an 18th century German Village.  Like outside of the front gate, these buildings were also full-sized with half-timbered designs and steep roofs.  However, each of these buildings housed only souvenir shops or refreshment stands. The most striking building in this area of the park was a steeple-style tower that had a painted façade of a knight about to slay a dragon with the year 1432 written on it.  This area was laid on an upslope with narrow winding walkways, strategically-placed trees and stairs and at times can be very steep to maneuver.

At the top of the hill was an area called Carrousel Circle.  When you entered this land, it was the first place in the park where you would encounter amusement rides.  It was also home to the park’s Grand Carrousel, which was surrounded by several other kiddie and family rides. It was also in this section that patrons would see two, three and possibly four major roller coasters: Comet and Skyrush would definitely be in view along with the small bits of the tops of Great Bear and SooperDooperLooper.

What was notable about Rhineland and Carrousel Circle were three rides and attractions that were located here but were removed long before the new renovation was even thought of.  In the Rhineland section at the top of the hill and a little off to the left was one end of a Von Roll SkyRide station (similar to Cedar Point’s model) that took passengers over to a theme land called Kissing Tower Hill.  In front of the Grand Carrousel stood an attraction called Star Light Plaza. A lighted decorative circular structure placed on a concrete slab where famous persons had their names, footprints and handprints encased within the concrete.  Within Carrousel Circle to the left of the carousel stood the Intamin Giant Wheel, a double-arm wheel where twelve gondolas holding four to eight passengers were carried skyward for views of the park and surrounding areas. The placement of both the Giant Wheel and Skyride made it seem as if the cars were going to crash into other nearby rides and trees but there was ample clearance.

The last two lands were Der Deitsch Platz/Animal Garden and Music Box Way.  Der Deitsch Platz was a barn where the Craftbarn restaurant, Get the Picture Souvenir Photo Stand, a Subway franchise and a small petting zoo were located.  As the years came and went, this barn was more aligned with Carrousel Circle than a lone entity. Music Box Way is/was home to a musical venue as well as a loading station for the monorail and a couple of flat rides.

All these lands were separate destinations at Hersheypark until 2014, when they all merged into Founder’s Way.  The quaintness was still there, but the individual names were gone. So, when 2020 arrives, a brand-new look will come across this wonderful land of chocolate.  The new section of the park will be called appropriately enough, Chocolatetown. This section of the park will feature the largest themed restaurant, bar and patio in Hershey, a 10,000-square-foot flagship boutique store, an ice cream parlor, a 2,200 square foot Starbucks store, a kettle corn location that will be the largest at Hersheypark and the grand finale, a Bollinger and Mabillard hypercoaster.

For coaster and amusement park fans, we will all have to wait for 2020.  How will all these changes take hold and how will the park look? Only time will tell.  We all look forward to the new Bollinger and Mabillard coaster coming and fortunately the sweet smell of chocolate will not be eliminated from our senses.  Let’s all hope with ever growing enticement that Hersheypark will keep its charm but also expand its grandiose nature! Good fortune to you Hersheypark.

Written by Bob K., GOCC Editor
4/28/19

Yukon Striker Media Day

 

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On 4/24, Mary Jo, Billy and I had the privilege of being invited by Grace Peacock, director of communications at Canada’s Wonderland to Media Day for their new record-breaking dive coaster, Yukon Striker.  I’ve met a lot of park executives over the past years and Grace was among the nicest and most-welcoming of the bunch. Park gates opened around 10:30am, and despite not traveling together, both my mom and I and Mary Jo and Billy arrived at about 10:40am, parked and received our media credentials.  Unlike many media events, we weren’t lead back to the ride by any park workers and basically just walked back there on our own.

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Yukon Striker is located in the new Frontier Canada section of the park.  The new section is extremely well-done and is basically themed to an old-time mining town. Some parts of the area were still under construction – notably the Yukon Striker shop/photo area was still being built and workers were seen planting lots of plants down by the water underneath Yukon Striker’s first drop. The station is also one of the coolest looking in the entire Cedar Fair chain.

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After mingling with other guests for a few minutes and after taking pictures with various characters, Grace and her team held a brief ceremony where we were introduced to 13-year old Jack Conway, who told an inspirational story of his survival from some life-threatening illnesses and also fired the crowd up prior to the first rides.  The team announced that over $34,000 had been raised in the charity first rider fundraiser.  After a few other brief speakers, the first riders were organized into their trains and dispatched.  The screams and smiles spoke for themselves. Canada’s Wonderland has a real winner with Yukon Striker.

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After the first rider trains were sent, those riders were allowed to re-ride along with their family members for a bit before those with media badges were allowed on.  Our media rides were supposed to last from 1-5pm, but they let us on earlier, which was very cool of them.  I took my first ride in row 2, as I was riding with the team from Amusement Insiders and the Koaster Kids Canadian reporter Tyler.  They were recording their reverse POV on the GoPro, which was mounted in row 2.  Now typically on dive coasters, row 2 is the row that seems to have the least forces, the worst views, etc.  Not on Yukon Striker.  Throughout the day, I switched rows several times and all three rows were forceful and extremely fun.

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We were also given a food and beverage tasting card with some of the new food options available. We were allowed to get our card checked off at each booth and sample each of the offerings.  Available items included: burger sliders, mini gourmet sausages, chicken tenders and fries, poutine with Niagara cheese curds, crispy lemon chicken, fried tofu bowl, Gold Rush peach cider and Yukon Striker pilsner. I didn’t try the beverages or the fried tofu bowl, but all of the other offerings were fantastic. I am not usually a poutine fan, but the combination of the gravy, cheese curds and fries was absolutely delicious.

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One of the interesting things that was seen, but not yet active was the new bin system. It was active as of Passholder Preview Night two days later. Basically, you put your loose articles, bags, etc. into a bin as soon as you enter the station and a mechanism lifts the entire bin up over the top of the track and near the stairs on the exit platform. It is timed up with the trains and is ready for you when you depart the ride. If the system is mechanically sound, this is a great idea. I can’t see it being retrofit to many current rides, as the stations aren’t set up for it, but I could see it being used for future coasters in the chain for sure.

After lunch, it was pretty much walk-on for rides the rest of the day, with the exception of the GoPro row, which was only on one train. I got a couple more rides before we left at about 3pm to avoid the Toronto-area traffic (we still hit it a little bit, but not as bad as it could have been).

Thank you to Grace and Canada’s Wonderland for having us out for the day.  It was amazing being among the first people to ride Yukon Striker and I recommend that both new and repeat visitors head back to Canada’s Wonderland this year.

 

Kentucky Flyer Media Day

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The next day on 4/25, several members of our board and a few guests traveled down to Kentucky Kingdom for media day for their new family Gravity Group coaster, Kentucky Flyer.  That group included Mary Jo and Billy Aichele, Richie Anderson, Rob Cox, Dave Andrijowych, John Haag, Sean Cress and I.

We were led into the park right around 4pm, checked in and taken back to the picnic pavilions near the Ferris Wheel where the park had a nice layout of food for us including a mac-and-cheese bar, various desserts, bottled drinks, fruits and vegetables and some other items.

While we were eating, Jessi O’Daniel welcomed all of us to the event, gave us some information about the ride and introduced park owner and CEO Ed Hart who told us “you aren’t allowed to say the ‘R’ word today” [rain].  Ed talked briefly about various things, including thanking everyone for their support during the trouble with getting the approval for Kentucky Flyer. Jessi then introduced Gary Slade, founder and editor-in-chief of Amusement Today magazine. Gary reminded us that “good solid thrills don’t have to be in huge rides” and that having already ridden the ride, we would all love it.

A few minutes later, Jessi and her crew led us over to the ride. Like all rides in the park, you can bring loose items into the station with you and put them across the platform in small bins or in an area dedicated to larger items near the stairs.  Jeff and Logan from Koaster Kids were asked to be in the front car on the first train for their support of the park.  I’ll probably cover Koaster Kids in a future blog post, but let me say that Kentucky Kingdom lays out the red carpet for Koaster Kids day there, more so than any other park they’ve held an event at.

After waiting a couple trains, my friend Thomas from CoasterJunkee and I put on our goggles and got into the back seat.  Now, we were kind of laughed at for wearing the goggles when nobody else was yet, but as soon as we rolled out of the station, it started downpouring, so it worked out perfectly.

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I haven’t yet had the opportunity to ride any of the other Gravity Group family coasters like Wooden Warrior or Oscar’s Wacky Taxi.  Having heard great things however, I was expecting a great ride. The ride exceeded my expectations. The quickness of the smaller Timberliner trains, the constant cuts back and forth and the small pops of airtime you get were all amazing.  The ride has a short track length, but doesn’t seem that short when you’re on the ride itself.

While not riding, I ventured up the steps on both sets of waterslides for better angles of the ride in action. It was really entertaining to see the various faces riders of all ages made on each part of the ride. A big thanks to Kentucky Kingdom for not restricting us to just the ride area, which is not at all conducive to taking pictures of moving trains or riders.

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Congratulations to my friend Brian Lamm of @brianlammmedia (IG), who rode Kentucky Flyer as his 100th coaster.

I took three rides myself. I could have had a lot more but I wanted to get some shots and since we started rides at about 4:30, there wasn’t much time between 4:30-6 to take pictures AND ride again and again.

Around 6pm, there was a “last call” for people to ride and shortly thereafter, it started downpouring again.  The last couple of rides took place in a steady rain. We finished off the event with a group picture of GOCC members before everyone departed. 

As an aside, I started my 5 hour drive home by driving through 45 minutes of the hardest rain I’ve ever driven in. I’m just glad it started at the end of the event and not before or during it.

Thanks to Jessi and Kentucky Kingdom for inviting all of us out for a great event.  Another great addition to a park that continues to grow and thrill guests of all ages.

Written by Bob Kilner, GOCC Editor

Published April 15, 2019

Welcome to the new GOCC blog.

This blog serves two purposes. The first (and major) purpose is to publish some articles that don’t fit in with the timeline of the next issue of The Streak. For instance, Yukon Striker and Kentucky Flyer media day events are at the end of April, but the May edition has already been sent to the printer. The next edition doesn’t come out until August, at which point publishing articles about April media days wouldn’t really make sense.

The secondary purpose is to allow for the publication of various articles, like this one, that don’t really fit into the scope of what typically appears in The Streak.

We hope you enjoy this new feature of our website and we welcome any feedback by email.

Since I took over the position of editor (unofficially near the end of last year, but officially in January), I’ve found it fascinating to read through the old archived editions of The Streak.  While the content is amazing and is almost like time traveling, the thing that catches my eye is the structure and layout. It is amazing to see just how far we’ve come in producing what I’d like to believe is a top-notch publication.

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I first have to thank our former editor Shelley Magyar, who provided me with loads of help in how to approach the position, how to actually use Adobe InDesign (which is a difficult, but incredible program, I might add) and for giving me other tips along the way.  It also helps me greatly that Michael Burkes is such a prolific (and excellent) writer that it saves me a lot of time from having to write a bunch of filler articles in addition to editing, layout work, designing graphics, etc. I’m also blessed to be able to call on some of the other board members like Patti Murray and Mary Jo Aichele, former board members like Ken Srail and non-board members like Brandon Perkins and Nick Tabar to help with covering events, writing articles, proofreading and general editing. I’m always willing to consider member contributions for our quarterly publications.  Never hesitate to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have an idea of something you would like to write about. Remember, our editions are slated to come out on February 1, May 1, August 1 and November 1. That means, I need the articles at least a month before those dates.

The first thing that comes to mind when I start putting together each edition of The Streak is if there are any major events either at parks OR within the club itself (like elections, etc.) that need to have dedicated space.  This past issue, Michael Burkes provided me with an article on roller coasters that were celebrating “birthdays” or “anniversaries” this year.  I realized that the issue could be dedicated to just that.  Not only his article about the anniversaries, but also some individual articles about coasters near and dear to the hearts of GOCC members.  The hardest part about setting up that article was finding some pictures of coasters that were at parks that I have either never been to or pre-date my interest in photographing coasters.  Luckily, some of the parks were able to help out directly and some other GOCC members and friends were able to provide the rest.

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Once I have a general theme hashed out, I usually think about what I want to appear on the covers. Do I want two great pictures in general or is there some kind of reason that I’m putting a certain picture on each cover? Maybe one of them won the photo contest at the holiday party or maybe one is celebrating an anniversary.  Maybe, I just like a picture I took and want to feature it.  Either way, once I have an idea of what I want on the covers, I either search my archives of pictures (which is currently at about 40,000 shots from the last 4 years) or I reach out to one of my contacts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to ask to use one or two of their pictures that I like.  Typically, you can find out who the pictures belong to by looking at the middle of page 3 in each issue. I’ve made it a personal goal to try to feature some pictures or articles by various GOCC members in some capacity within each issue.

For instance:  For the February issue, I somehow got it in my head that I wanted a cover with green in it to match the header and footer that I had previously made.  I knew that a friend of mine had a great Twisted Colossus picture with a lot of green with it, so I got his permission to use that picture for the front cover. He also provided me with a Steel Vengeance picture for the back cover.

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Both of the above pictures were provided by GOCC member Jon G.  for the covers of the February 2019 Streak.
For more great coaster pics, visit his Instagram account at www.instagram.com/coaster_bean

At this point, I start playing around with the formatting a little bit.  Shelley left me with all of the former issues she did, which was a great jumping-off point for me.  Learning InDesign was a big learning curve with a lot of playing around to see what I could and couldn’t do, but now that I’ve gotten the hang of it (Google has been my friend!), it allows me to do a lot of things that other softwares like Publisher can’t do.  I’ll sometimes look at other magazines for ideas of layouts and text/picture structure. ACE’s magazine Rollercoaster is just one of many that inspire some of the layouts I use. I’m not sure what software he uses for the magazine, but Tim Baldwin does a fantastic job over there.

*Side note: I sat next to Tim on the Coastermania! boat cruise in 2017 and recognized him from having seen him in the Legacy of Arrow documentary (I wasn’t yet an ACE member). Had I known I would be the future editor of The Streak at that time and had I known he was the editor of Rollercoaster, I would have at least tried to pick his brain a bit. If you’ve never seen an issue of Rollercoaster, check out one of the more recent editions. It’s a fantastic publication.

While I’m going through this process, I’m also writing down on a pad of paper exactly how I think the layout should go in terms of content.  Which articles should logically get placed first, and whatnot. Luckily if I want to change something after the fact, it is pretty easy within InDesign to move pages around.

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Now, I definitely don’t rebuild an entirely new Streak every issue.  I usually will go back to the issue before, delete the headers, text and images and just have a blank layout to work with.  I never feel the need to “reinvent the wheel” and by keeping some text boxes and blank image boxes, I save myself a few minutes here and there, which can add up to a big chunk of time saved in the long run.

Once I’ve figured out what articles I’m using, what order I’m going in and approximately how many pages they’ll take up, I start figuring out how I want to lay out each page.  Where will the text go? How will it be formatted? How big are the margins? How many columns will I use? Where do I place the pictures? This is another guess-and-check type situation, where I try various layouts until they seem to flow well and are visually-pleasing.  This is actually an ongoing process that changes throughout the development of the issue.  I also create the headers or banners either from scratch or with the aid of free clipart or other things I can find that fit with whatever the article is about.

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Once the layout is set, I put the text in place and add in pictures. Most of the time I’m able to use pictures I’ve taken myself or those that I’m sent by the writer or even some of my friends.  Sometimes however, especially when it comes to logos, I contact the park directly for a high definition picture or version of their logo as well as to get their permission to use it.  Originally, I struggled with resizing pictures to make them fit, while still looking normal, but then I realized there’s a bunch of really easy commands and button clicks that do it for you.  If you look at some pictures from the November 2018 issue, you can find a few pictures that look like they were stretched really oddly.  That’s why.

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The final portions of the construction of each issue involve making sure I have a number of pages that is a multiple of 4 (typically 20 or 24 pages) and either adding content or condensing content to get to that value.  I try not to cut anything once I have it in place, but if I need to condense, it isn’t hard to play with the margins, shrink pictures a bit to fit more text, etc.  It is pretty easy to eyeball that kind of thing as the issue develops.  

I then export the file as a .pdf file and send it off to the board of directors to look over.  Once I get their feedback, fix typos and layout errors, I finalize the issue, “package” the files through InDesign itself and then send it off to A1 printing in Galion to be printed for members that receive a printed copy.  Turnaround time on printing is usually about 7-10 days. Once they send me the notification that they’ve mailed the issue, we post the newest issue to the website and send an email blast to members letting them know it is available.

I usually take about a week or two off before I start putting the layout together for the next issue.  I already have some ideas for articles in my head (and already some articles in my email from Michael and others), so it is pretty easy to get going on the next issue up.

And there you have it.  I hope you enjoyed a look inside the process of putting together The Streak. And more importantly, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the magazine itself.

If you’re interested in reading more content about parks, roller coasters, GOCC and other events, etc., you should join the Great Ohio Coaster Club! You’ll receive quarterly copies of The Streak and have the opportunity to attend all of our events, plus CoasterMania! at Cedar Point, Coasterstock at Kings Island and Holiwood Nights at Holiday World.  CLICK ON THE JOIN LINK ABOVE!