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Little Amerricka Trip Report 7/17/15

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I decided to cut my second day at SFGAm short so that I could visit Little Amerricka. I wanted so badly to love this park. But unfortunately, a few things happened that wouldn't allow me to do that. All will be explained, don't worry.


So, when I got to the park, I went straight to the first coaster I saw, the Toboggan. I had never ridden a Chance Toboggan before. I probably never will again. The experience was, to put it kindly, awkward for a 6'1" adult. To put it less kindly, but more accurately, it was unpleasant. You are basically pinned into a small, cramped car with a cage around it. Then, you're awkwardly hoisted up a vertical lift and you go back down a long helix, followed by some rather painful bunny hills. While the ride was awful, I can't hold that against the park. The ride op on this ride was great. I wish I'd gotten his name. He was enforcing anti-line jumping policies well and doing his best to keep capacity up. No complaints with the way Toboggan was operated.


Unfortunately, it started to go downhill after this. Next I went to Mad Mouse, It's an old Allan Herschel wild mouse coaster. All the brakes are manual, which is fine, but it runs multiple cars. This leads to grievance number one. There was some kind of spill in one of the cars (don't think it was a protein spill, but it isn't relevant to the story anyway) and one of the ride attendants moved to clean it. This left nobody on the brakes... I kind of saw where the cars were on the cycle, and I anticipated it before it happened, but sure enough, lo and behold, I witnessed a coaster collision for the first, and hopefully last time. It wasn't serious, as the cars were moving slowly... But if you must leave your post at the brakes to clean up a spill, it really should only be done when all cars have been brought to a safe stop. On a coaster with manual brakes, the brakes should always be manned if there is a train in motion. Period. Part of me wanted to leave right then, right there. But I stuck around. I even rode the Mad Mouse after seeing this (admittedly, not one of my better ideas... I know better than to ride after seeing things that are that concerning. But I did it. And I'm still here, so it didn't end badly). It was alright. I appreciate historic coasters, but what I had seen really soured me to the ride. Its complete lack of any restraints at all was also disconcerting, and the ride felt very... unstable... in the final bunny hills.


After this, I rode the train. This is the best part of the park. Their train is stellar. It has a very, very long cycle time (right around 15 minutes!) and you go out into the woods and you get to see some livestock before returning to the station. There's even a llama back there. Apparently they even swap out the engines from time to time to keep the experience changing, and I've heard that they have a variety of different types of engines, too (some steam, some diesel, etc.). The train at this park is highly recommended.


After getting off their train, I noticed the Kiddie coaster, The Little Dipper. The attendant allowed me to ride it, so I did. It's just an old Herschel kiddie coaster. Not much to say about it. If you're into getting "coaster credits" I guess it's worth it, but honestly, it's less exciting than the Great Pumpkin Coaster. Points for being "historic" but not much else.


I also rode their monorail, which runs on two rails and is therefore NOT a monorail, but that's what they call it, so that's what I'll call it. It's a fun little ride. The ride vehicle looks like the front car of an Arrow Looper, which made me chuckle. I enjoyed it for what it is. Not much to say about it though. It slowly moves around the park, giving you a nice little aerial tour of the place.


Next up was Meteor. Meteor is a classic Schmeck/PTC Junior coaster that Little Amerricka relocated to their park in 2007. It is similar in concept to Woodstock Express, just a standard figure-8 junior coaster layout. Riders get to go around the cycle three times, which makes for a pretty lengthy ride cycle. The ride itself is great (though unpainted and unstained, which worries me for its longevity) but again, operations were appalling. The attendant on this one would load the train as normal. Then, he asked everyone on board if they were ready to ride. Then without locking the restraints, he would release the train to go just a little bit (maybe a foot or so) and then stop it again, saying he felt like he'd forgotten something and asked the kids on board if they knew what it was. Of course, they all pointed to the bars. At this point, he locked and checked the bars and then actually dispatched the train. But here's the thing... Maybe I'm just on my enthusiast high horse, but you absolutely should not ever ever EVER under any circumstances even PRETEND that you're going to dispatch a train without locking restraints. I was shocked and appalled when I saw this. Safety is such an enormously important thing on roller coasters. It really isn't something to be take lightly, and these antics reflect incredibly poorly on the park. Following this, I promptly left the park and decided to drive to Milwaukee to see the Brewers game, which they won.


I will add to this the general observation that excluding the Toboggan, line jumping was running rampant (most of the offenders were small children, so I didn't say anything, however, the park employees or the parents of the children should have). This annoyed me, but is far from my biggest grievance, as you can see from the above. I wanted so badly to love this park. I really enjoyed Camden Park. I LOVE Stricker's Grove. I can be endlessly entertained at small parks. But there's a difference between a small park and a sketchy park, and I fear that this one crossed that line. How unfortunate.


Overall, I would recommend this park to a fan of trains. Their train is spectacular, and is enough on its own to justify a visit to the park if (and only if) you happen to already be in the area. I wish so badly I could recommend it outright. I love small parks. Walking in, the atmosphere was certainly there. But alas, there were just too many problems for my satisfaction. And frankly, between this park and the incidents the last two years at Mt. Olympus, it does not lead me to believe that the state of Wisconsin regulates amusement rides very well...

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