Let’s Dillydally at Valleyfair!

Alexander: Who puts the fair in Cedar Fair?

Who has flair that’s beyond compare?

Who has some areas that are… a little bit bare?

(and be that as it may, I don’t really care)

It’s Valleyfair in Shakopee Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis / St. Paul!

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Once again work has brought me to the doorstep of some great roller coasters; this time its moderate mid-western regional park, Valleyfair!

This is my first visit to the park in 18 years (my longest gap so far between two visits to any one amusement park) and I’m excited to see what changes have been made!

Something immediately different: the crowd-pleasing Steel Venom greets guests as they enter Valleyfair!

New for 2017 is this giant red, white, and blue NOPE.

By regional chain park standards, Valleyfair is a relaxed, quaint sort of place.

But they still have a major coaster or two!

Steel Venom is an Intamin Twisted Impulse coaster; one of only 6 currently operating in the world.

I would have thought there were more of these coasters, but yeah, I just looked. There’s only six; four share identical specifications (185ft tall; a twisted forward spike and a straight rear spike), including Valleyfair’s.

Perhaps the highlight of the entire experience is the “hold brake” on the rear spike, which (as the name suggests) holds the train briefly as it reaches the precipice. All Impulse installations were designed to do this (with the exception of Cedar Point’s Wicked Twister and its unique double-twist design), but only the Valleyfai!r and Dorney Park installations maintain the brake to this day. Perhaps even greater than the brake element itself is other peoples’ reactions to the brake.

Seeking shelter from the sunlight (the Steel Venom area is a little too much concrete and not enough tall trees), we continued onto some of the more established regions of the park.

Valleyfair! opened in 1976, which is a little later than most parks born out of the U.S. regional park boom.

However, the park has some nicely established areas that look and feel like an older park.

The water park is not one of these areas.

Still, if you know where to go, you can protect yourself from direct sunlight during a majority of your Valleyfair! visit.

Valleyfair! is the kind of park that appears perpetually quiet (in terms of crowds).

A lot of the ride queues aren’t covered, but that’s not an issue since most of the rides are just a station wait.

BIG SURPRISE OF THE VISIT! Renegade, an 11-year-old wooden coaster from Great Coasters International was giving excellent rides on our visit. Based on its performance, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of the best GCIs in the country right now.

You may think your regional park is quaint, but is it highschool-marching-band-performing-a-private-jam-session-for-two-nice-ladies-quaint?

The band is jamming out here for a bit because Excalibur is where the park ends. Valleyfair! is a circle with two very long tendrils; one that ends at the picnic pavilions just beyond Steel Venom (the area is about a 2/10 on the tree-scale), and the other one that leads behind Planet Snoopy, past the water park, past Renegade, and through an underground tunnel. It’s home to the park’s river rapids ride and Excalibur (and is at least a 9.5/10 on the tree scale, making it the nicest area of the park).

Excalibur is a wonderfully bizarre ride. For all intents and purposes, it’s an Arrow Mine Train, but like Cedar Point’s Gemini, it’s classified under “Special Coaster Systems” along with Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds and the Steeplechase coasters at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

I’m not sure why they don’t call it a mine train since it’s literally the same track system, superstructure system, and trains as other mine trains.  It’s a fun ride (with at least one really good airtime hill), but if you blink you’ll miss the whole ride — Excalibur lasts less than 35 seconds from lift hill-crest to brake run.

Parallel to Excalibur’s brake run and queue is an enormous  planter of petunias. I’m pretty sure literally every petunia in the state of Minnesota is here in this planter.

Valleyfair’s most scenic ride is actually Thunder Canyon, their rapids ride.

Ironically, this is the ride at Valleyfair where direct sunlight would be most appreciated, and yet it’s by far the most covered of the park’s rides.

Some very happy-looking plants hang from beneath one of Valleyfair’s older water slides. Are the plants happy because of all of the leaking water from the slide? How does the chlorine not kill them? Do they like the chlorine? I need answers, Valleyfair.

Another sort of odd coaster at Valleyfair! is Arrow Dynamics Wild Mouse (one of only 4 built). I like the way Arrow did their mice, the lower turns between the drops are banked for your comfort!

Now it’s time for Valleyfair’s original coaster, High Roller!

This rare International Amusement Devices coaster (one of only 5 left in the world) has seen modifications in recent years to make it more of a family ride (apparently due to its location within the expanded Planet Snoopy).

Despite new trains from Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters (which replaced the original IAD trains) and a few trim brakes, High Roller gives a surprisingly airtime-filled ride! The trims on High Roller’s turnarounds remind me of what La Feria Chapultepec Magico has done with their IAD Montaña Rusa in recent years to make the ride more palatable. Both are still excellent rides.

Every roller coaster at Valleyfair! either runs better than expected, or better than I remember.

Rounding out the coaster collection is Corkscrew, an exceptionally smooth Arrow looper, which was modeled after the ride of the same name at Cedar Point.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an Arrow looper as smooth and re-rideable as this one. I love all Arrow coasters, but I admit some are more kind than others; I would definitely consider Corkscrew near the top of the comfort spectrum.

Valleyfair! has only built two roller coasters since my visit in 1999 (Steel Venom in 2003 and Renegade in 2007). Rather than fill the park with coasters, Cedar Fair has opted for a large variety of flat rides, including this extremely-wet Huss Suspended Top Spin. Fans of Knott’s Berry Farm will recognize Riptide; the California counterpart didn’t fare well, but the Valleyfair! installation is still kickin’.

Classic flat rides that have been with the park since it opened include a Tilt-A-Whirl, a Scrambler, Bumper Cars, an Eyerly Aircraft Monster ride, a Chance Trabant & Yo-Yo, and this rare Ramagosa SuperCat ride.

Like Cedar Point, a Giant S&S Screamin’ Swing and a multi-tower Power Tower attraction call Valleyfair! home.

Wild Thing is still the park’s signature ride. The locals have not forgotten that, when Wild Thing opened, it was one of the world’s tallest coasters!

The sun is setting on a great day at Valleyfair! :}

Corkscrew was only running one train on our visit (that’s all it really needs), so whenever a train dispatched I made sure to take advantage of it.

This picture and the one above are of the same train. My goal was to take a portrait and a landscape from this view, and with time running out I tried to do both with one train. The train placements aren’t perfect, but it’s good enough for me. :}

The lagoon in the middle of Valleyfair! is quite lovely!

Daisys  <3

We saved nightfall for some dark rides on Wild ThingRenegade, and High Roller.

I love the little Mad Mouse sign. I didn’t notice it in the daylight.

Both Valleyfair! woodies after dark give amazing rides!

Goodnight Valleyfair! I had a wonderful visit. I will definitely want to visit again on my next Minneapolis layover!

Buckle up, people! Starting this week, Cabin Crew Coaster Kings and California Coaster Kings are embarking on a major coaster tour through the parks of east Pennsylvania, northern New York, and Ontario Canada!

We have SO MANY FUN coasters to ride and we can’t wait to share our park experiences with you!

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