Castles n' Coasters
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Located at the edge of Phoenix, Arizona, in the middle of the desert, there lies a small oasis for amusement park enthusiasts known as Castles n’ Coasters. Though tiny by most amusement park standards, being one of the few amusement facilities and the only true theme park in the state of Arizona makes it huge.
Built in 1980, the park has always carried a somewhat strange, but fitting Middle-Easter theme/motif, with hints of Wild West themeing thrown into the mix. The little park sits on the outskirts of a large shopping mall called the Metro Center, and features a grand total now of nearly 14 attractions, including two coasters and two water rides, on a 10-acre plot of land. The park’s main features however, are its four 18-hole miniature golf courses (72 holes).
It wasn’t until 1992 that the park got its first coaster, when it suddenly received two, Patriot and Desert Storm! Until then, the park relied on its mini-golf, video arcade, and go-kart track to keep it afloat in the desert sands. Patriot is a small O.D. Hopkins family coaster, adorned in stars & stripes and red, white, & blue. Far more noteworthy is Desert Storm, O.D. Hopkins fourth and final looping coaster, and the last coaster he would build in the USA--the only other coaster being a small wild mouse in Osaka, Japan. Again, small by most amusement park standards, it’s huge when compared to the kiddie and portable coasters thinly spread in the coaster-dry Midwest US, and its two awkward loops are more than welcome.
Other attractions currently operating at the park are a go-kart track, bumper cars, bumper boats, a Magic Carpet, Sea Dragon, Free Fall and Sky Diver drop rides, a Carousel, a handful of kids rides, and the parks long-standing log flume, Splashdown. Splashdown is set in a logging town…yes, in the Middle East, with a tunnel, waterfalls, fountains, a squirting elephant statue, native huts, and two soaking wet drops.
Next time you are in the Phoenix area, make sure you visit one of the few parks in the Southwest with a roller coaster. You will not be disappointed in what you find!
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