Darien Lake & Fantasy Island – CCK & CCCK Take the Northeast – Pt. 7 & Pt. 8

Alexander: It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the parks of Buffalo, NY.

(Just kidding. No it doesn’t)

With oddball regional parks, you roll the dice. Sometimes you win (Seabreeze), sometimes you lose (Dorney Park), and sometimes the dice spontaneously catch fire and explode (Buffalo Parks).

Shall we dive right in?

– Over the years, many of our images have popped up on other sites and forums, awesome that our coverage spreads, not so awesome that not everyone mentioned where they got the images from. We are totally fine with our audience using our images, BUT ONLY IF credit is given to californiacoasterkings.com. Thank you! –

This park has a very handsome entrance. And that’s about it.

Oh, actually, another good thing; 35th anniversary “celebration” for the primary reason we’re here (Viper). They had banners and merchandise and even a little icon on the park map.

(that’s two nice things in a row about this park. That’s all you’re getting)

We got to the park at open to participate in the running of the bulls. Happy to get an early start; it ended up being a get-in-get-out kind of day.

Relics of Premier-Parks-era Six Flags tyranny pepper the landscape; one of the single-biggest losses the chain took in terms of major-investment-chucking is Darien’s (Superman) Ride of Steel.

As much as it must’ve hurt for corporate to wave goodbye to a custom Intamin hyper coaster (which, along with Six Flags Great America’s Raging Bull, made for the chain’s first foray into the phenomenon), it probably didn’t hurt as much as getting kicked off the ride for being too tall. I happened to be short enough, but Sean was not as fortunate (I say “fortunate” with a grain of salt; the years (and the new-for-2016 train) have not been good to the ride; the Man of Steel has never been more sluggish).

Despite the major power move that was Ride of Steel, Darien abruptly hit the brakes on major coaster investments during a window of time (2000-2002) where every other park in the chain received anywhere from 1-4 major roller coasters. Preceding Premier Parks repeat offender investments Boomerang: Coast to Coaster (1998) and Mind Eraser (1999) were substantial lead-ins to Superman, but will all the gambling Six Flags did at the time, Darien Lake remains one of the chain’s most major miscalculations.

The alleged flagship of the back-from-the-dead Premier Parks LLC, Darien Lake is famished in terms of creature comforts and polish.

Still, we found enjoyment where we could.

When Darien Lake was new, the park held a lot of promise. Its opening day signature Viper is still the park’s strongest performer.

Sean and I are suckers for Arrow loopers. This held the record for most inversions for 6 years, taking the status from the 4-looping Carolina Cyclone at Carowinds and passing it to the 6-looping Kings Island Vortex.

The year prior to Viper was the induction of the now-ubiquidous boomerang element (on World’s of Fun’s Orient Express in 1980). Like Orient before it, Viper comes in hot before navigating the curious pretzel knot. It’s considerably more violent than, say, Magic Mountain’s Viper boomerang, but that’s just what happens when there’s no mid course brake run to kill the vibe.

The queue does a great job of advertising the ride’s elements. As the centerpiece for what was once the Arrow-Huss “showcase park” (a rocky and short-lived partnership), this was no-doubt by design.

These days, dilapidation is very much also on display.

A shred of charm and cultural relevancy lives on in the form of a moose-themed mini monorail.

Feeling sunk? Soggy? A little water on the brain?

Me too log flume. Me too.

Any excitement we had for this flume was resolutely infected by whatever funk lurks in the flume’s murk. Good thing we have our immunizations.

Sometimes in life we must focus on the good things; no matter how badly the bad may overwhelm the good.

There really is potential here. Somebody, somewhere, at some point (in fact, multiple people at different points in a misguided timeline) cared about this place.

Did I mention this is a camp ground? White trash from all over the northeast come here to graze among the reeds in their fuel-inefficient Winnebagos.

This would be a great picture if there wasn’t for that… what… are those… batting cages? What is this? Six Flags Over Boomers?

Yes, we seemed to have crossed into the family entertainment center department of Darien Lake.

The back of the park is where the RV park and campground integrates with the amusement park. Central to this end of the operation is the park’s sole coaster addition so far this century: a Zamperla Moto Coaster experience feels eerily akin to what I experienced on the Moto-clone incubating in the slums of Shanghai (the indignant passengers and desolate far-reach of concrete is nothing short of déjà-vu-enducing).

A day at Darien would be incomplete without a breakdown. The temperamental Boomerang held us hostage at Darien for over half an hour, lest we take the loss and abandon ship with a credit still on the table.

We watched maintenance replace a wheel on the ride’s 2nd gen Vekoma rolling stock before being treated to a ride – closer inspection revealed more than one variety of after-market coaster wheel replacements.

Oh, yes, Predator is here too. We rode that earlier, but I didn’t take a picture until now. It’s an uncomfortable, ugly pass of a woodie, but a pass nonetheless. A second ride would have been in order if we weren’t so excited to leave.

This is what happens when the state repossesses half of your S&S dual tower.

(not really, but I do enjoy imagining it that way).

Look at this lake. The lake is nice. What went wrong here? What happened to this park?

You know what? I don’t know if I care. Save Viper, burn the rest. give the land back to nature.

Cracks will break these endless concrete pads and saplings will split the fissures until life is reclaimed in full. Or something like that.

Darien Lake has long since joined the ranks of regional parks with water parks that teem with a lot more life than their dry sides would suggest (*cough*DorneyPark*cough*)

New for 2016 is this really rather lovely Gay Pride Proslide Kraken Racer. Perhaps there is hope?

As we left the park we forgot to visit the boneyard and pay respects to the resident fallen soldier, but it’s still worth a mention; across the street from Ride of Steel lies what’s left of Six Flags Astroworld’s Intamin stand-up Batman: The Escape.

Once the signaure thrill ride of Astroworld (and Great Adventure. And Magic Mountain), the ride’s pieces lay bleached and fractured from more than a decade of decay, its useful mechanics long since harvested for use on LaRonde’s coaster of the same design (which, as of this year, has also swanned out. Now only Drayton Manor’s Shockwave carries on the Intamin stand-up pedigree).

Visit page 2 below for the next Buffalo area park: Fantasy Island.

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