by Danny Miller
On my way home from my annual trip to Martha’s Vineyard on Sunday, we had the time to stop by Six Flags New England, Lake Compounce, and Quassy Amusement Park. Normally on a trip like this, I would write about each park in the order we visited like I did with the California trip. In this case however, I feel the need to talk about Quassy due to me wanting to express my enthusiasm about the Wooden Warrior coaster that opened there last season.
The park closed at 8PM, and we arrived just before 7PM, giving us only a little bit of time to get in our rides. We did not spend much time at the park, but it seems to be doing okay. It reminds me very much of smaller parks like Lakemont in Altoona, PA and even a smaller Knoebel’s style park. The rides are pay-as-you-go and it has a classic carnival feel rather than a corporate permanent park.
Before I talk about the Wooden Warrior coaster, I’ll quickly mention the Herschell Little Dipper that sits next to the lake. It is a very old coaster that dates back to the mid 1950’s according to sources, and is still a neat ride with its gently undulating hills and turns. The operator was nice enough to treat my sister and me to two circuits for the price of one.
Now onto what you all want to hear. You might be wondering if Wooden Warrior is as good as its early reviews have said it is. Let me tell you that it is that good and better yet. This ride is the ultimate proving point that you don’t need big size or blazing speed to create an exceptional ride. Watching the ride for a cycle or two before we rode, I knew there was going to be airtime, but this ride delivers it in great abundance comparing to coasters three and four times its size.
No matter where you sit in the train, you are in for a special treat. The entire train is treated to a good dose as you plunge down the first drop. The back seat you obviously seem to go a bit faster down the drop, but the short six row trains give the entire train nearly the same experience. The speed bump at the bottom of the first drop delivers exceptional airtime, especially if you are able to have a little bit of room between you and the restraint. The Timberliner train performs exceptionally well and navigates the entire course quite smoothly as well.
After a left hand turn, you go flying over another hill and drop before a crossover hill leading to the tunneled turnaround at the halfway point. More scrumptious airtime is to be had before you get some great lateral forces as you barrel around the covered turn. Out of the dark you come over another airtime-laden hill before dropping again to the ground.
Next comes the exquisite triple-up that serves of loads of repeated airtime back-to-back-to-back. Very few coasters on Earth have an element like this. Another left hand turn by the station at the top of the triple-up leads to two more great airtime hills before a left turn with minimal banking that features a great lateral thrill to bring the ride to an end. The Gravity Group deserves two thumbs up for an exceptional ride that is a perfect fit for a park like Quassy and an absolute pleasure to ride and ride again.
At 1,200 feet long and only 35 feet tall with a 45 foot drop, the Wooden Warrior certainly does not set any size or speed records, but this ride deserves every bit of its praise and more yet. In Mitch Hawker’s Roller Coaster Poll for the 2011 season, Wooden Warrior came in at 18th out of 164 wooden coasters that qualified for ranking. For those of you who may not know of the poll or do not take part, it basically takes votes from anyone who submits a ballot rather than a select few on a committee like the Golden Ticket Awards, yielding what many feel is a much more “accurate” poll that shows what coasters are the best, rather than what rides are ridden the most like in other polls.
To put it in a different perspective, that 18th place finish places Wooden Warrior higher than Lightning Racer, Thunderbolt at Kennywood, Knoebel’s Twister, and the famous Coney Island Cyclone. I personally put the ride 6th on my personal list, behind Phoenix, Boulder Dash, El Toro, The Beast, and Ravine Flyer II (I have not been on the Voyage for those of you wondering). So all in all, Quassy has gone from a little park that many did not knew existed, to a park the enthusiasts will flock to, making a dual trip along with Lake Compounce in order to get some rides on this hidden gem in the Connecticut wilderness. Don’t miss out folks, this one, is a MUST ride.