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Valleyfair Review

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Post January 1st, 2015, 7:45 pm
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Brief Intro and History
Valleyfair is located in the city of Shakopee, Minnesota, which is located 25 minutes southwest of downtown Minneapolis. The park originally opened as a turn-of-the-century themed park in 1976 on 26 acres of land, and it has remained the Twin Cities' primary amusement park ever since. In 1978, Valleyfair was acquired by Cedar Point to form what is now the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, with the "Cedar" coming from Cedar Point, and the "Fair" coming from Valleyfair. Today, Valleyfair now occupies over 90 acres, and has more than 75 rides and attractions including 8 roller coasters. The current general manager of the park is Dave Frazier. Valleyfair's operating season generally runs from mid-May to Late October/Early November each year, with a Halloween Haunt event called ValleySCARE running on weekends from late September through the end of the season. Even though it is a relatively small park in the world of Cedar Fair, it is still very fun for what it is with several thrilling roller coasters and thrill rides. Valleyfair does have its flaws though. Most of their coasters have at least a few trim brakes, the waterpark is one of the worst at any corporate park, and they almost always have one-train operations on the coasters unless the park is packed (except Wild Thing, which almost always runs two trains). Valleyfair does have the typical Cedar Fair concrete and trash cans, but it also has a certain charm that's hard to find in most corporate parks nowadays which really helps with the overall park experience.

Roller Coasters
High Roller
High Roller is a white, out-and-back, old-school wooden roller coaster. It opened in 1976 along with the park. It was designed by the short-lived International Amusement Devices, and has four-car, six-person trains with buzz bars and individual seatbelts. High Roller has a fairly simple layout: right turn into 70-foot-tall lift hill, drop, big second hill, turnaround, three bunny hills, left turn, one more bunny hill, turnaround, brake-run. Unfortunately, High Roller has trim brakes at the end of the first turnaround and before the left-turn that slow the train in a pretty harsh manner. There is still some airtime on the remaining bunny hills, but it is very light and barely noticeable. I believe the trimming is done for maintenance reasons, but still, this could be one of the best rides in the park without those brakes. Overall, High Roller is a decent old-school woodie that's relatively smooth and has a lot of potential, but doesn't quite live up to that potential. I would recommend giving it a ride if at Valleyfair, but do it early in the morning before it produces a line that makes it not worth waiting for. Grade: C+

Corkscrew is an old Arrow Dynamics custom looper. It was built in 1980, and was Valleyfair's first steel coaster. Today, it is still the only coaster in the park with any inversions. It is similar to Cedar Point's Corkscrew, but with a few differences. The loop comes before the small hill, and that hill unfortunately does not produce any airtime. It also has a bonus helix at the end that CP's version does not. This coaster really isn't anything special. However, it is actually very smooth for an 35-year-old Arrow looper. In fact, I would consider it the second smoothest ride in the park behind Wild Thing. There is a little headbanging in the corkscrews, but it is fortunately very light. So, yeah, Corkscrew is a fun ride for what it is. It's short, and it's not mind-blowing or anything, but still fun. I would give it a spin while at Valleyfair, but like High Roller, hit it early in the day while it still has a short line. Grade: C+

Excalibur is a very strange coaster. It opened in 1989, and is one of the few Arrow hybrid coasters in existence. It has a train and track structure similar to that of Gemini at Cedar Point, but the two rides are quite different. All Excalibur really does is go out and do a figure-eight and then a few more turns right back to the station. It has four trim brakes on the first drop, but in my opinion these are trims to be thankful for. The figure-eight does produce some good positive-Gs, and it has one nice ejector air moment, but it has some jerky Arrow transitions, including the top of the first turnaround and in some parts of the figure-eight, which is why I'm glad it has the trims. If Excalibur was less jerky and/or had a slightly longer layout, I might like it a bit more, but in it's current state, it's just an okay ride. Not bad, but not great either. I would give Excalibur a ride if at Valleyfair, but just once so you can say you've ridden it. Fortunately, since it is literally the farthest thing from the entrance, Excalibur never has more than a station wait, even on busy days. Sit in the front car (preferably the front row) to get the least painful experience. Grade: C

Wild Thing
Wild Thing opened in 1996 as D.H. Morgan's first hypercoaster, and was the fifth tallest coaster in the world at the time it opened. It is definitely Valleyfair's signature coaster. The ride is 207 feet tall and reaches a top speed of 74 mph. After the first drop, the train goes into a large floater airtime hill that has one of the longest sustained airtime moments in the world. Then it rises up into a flat hill before going in a very large figure-eight turnaround that has a few slightly rough transitions, but the good positive-Gs make up for it. Then there is a mid-course brake run that is always on, but it seems to behave differently every time I visit the park. Sometimes only half of the brakes are on and give great airtime on the final four airtime hills, and sometimes it slows the train down so much that those four hills are a snoozefest. As with High Roller, the trimming is probably for maintenance purposes. The third and part of the fourth hill take place inside of a tunnel, which tends to get a good reception from the general public. Overall, I think that Wild Thing is a really underrated coaster. I've heard a lot of enthusiasts call it "the world's largest family coaster" and "Mild Thing" (which was actually the name of a kiddie coaster they had until 2010), but it is not that boring. Even if you do get a snoozefest return run, the first half has a nice first drop, good positive-Gs in spots, and a long floater airtime moment. Will it threaten your Top 10? Probably not, but it's still a very fun ride that you should definitely ride if at the park. Sit in the front car for the best experience. Grade: B

Mad Mouse
Mad Mouse is a Arrow Dynamics Wild Mouse coaster that opened in 1999. It replaced the Scwarzkopf Wildcat coaster Rails that had been at Valleyfair since 1998. It follow the typical Wild Mouse layout of a few switchbacks, then a few drops, hills, and turns, and then it's over. There are ten or so brakes on this coaster (typical for a Wild Mouse), but I've fortunately never seen them use more than three at a time. I'm not a big fan of these because I've never found this ride very thrilling, and there are better versions elsewhere. It has a few good turns and drops, but this ride focuses more on the younger audience as evidenced by the large amount of families that wait in line for this ride. If you're a fan of Wild Mice, I guess you could take a spin on it, but ride it early in the day before it forms a long line. Otherwise, just skip it. Grade: C-

Steel Venom
Steel Venom is an Intamin Impulse coaster that came to the park in 2003. It was the park's first inverted coaster (not full circuit) and it's first launched coaster. Steel Venom is the standard Impulse clone that can also be found at Six Flags Great America and Dorney Park. Despite being a clone, Steel Venom is a lot of fun. The launch is a bit weak, but going forward through the station and up the front spike is great. If you sit in or near the front, you might experience mild headbanging coming down the twisting spike, but this can be alleviated by moving your head up a bit. The back spike still has the holding brake, which I like because of how sudden it is and it tends to freak out the general public. Like on all the Impulse coasters, you go up the front spike three times and up the back spike twice before stopping back in the station. Plus, despite being a shuttle coaster, the line moves faster than you think it would. All in all, Steel Venom is a great ride and the second best coaster at the park in my opinion, so check it out if you're at Valleyfair. Grade: B+

Renegade is Valleyfair's GCI wooden coaster that opened in 2007, and is definitely the best ride in the park. Renegade has a lot of things going in it's favor including a neat layout, being intense and out-of-control all the way through, having several nice airtime moments, and the comfortable Millennium Flyer trains. The layout consists of an s-shaped first drop, small airtime hill, turnaround, another small airtime hill, banked right turn and banked left turn with great laterals, small hill and left turn, small drop, 270-degree right turn with some elevation changes and more great laterals, left turn into airtime hill, right turn, 180-degree left turn, station flyby airtime hill, slight right turn into another airtime hill, left turn that rises up, and then left turn into the brake run. Yes, it's a lot, but it goes by fast, and that's what makes it a great ride. The only problems I have with it are the slow-moving lines and that it hits the brake run with a lot of speed, but those don't bug me that much. So, that's Renegade, Valleyfair's best coaster. I'd obviously ride this while at the park, and ride it more than once if you can. Ride it at least once in the back for the best experience, and once in the front for the good view.
Grade: A-

Thrill Rides
The best flat ride at Valleyfair is Xtreme Swing, an S&S Screamin' Swing. I love Screamin' Swings because of their great combination of positive-Gs and airtime. Xtreme Swing is the one flat ride I always have to ride when visiting the park. Power Tower is the park's 275-foot-tall S&S drop tower. It includes two Turbo Drop towers and one Space Shot tower. I prefer the Space Shot tower because it's more intense than Turbo Drop ones, plus it has a nice floater air moment at the top. RipTide is a HUSS Top Spin, which is unfortunately not very friendly to males. Valleyfair has an Enterprise near the front of the park that's fun and runs great. They also have an Intamin Looping Starship, which I have still yet to ride because I've always heard about how uncomfortable it is. A 180-foot-tall Skycoaster called RipCord is an upcharge attraction located in the Route 76 area.

Route 76
New for 2014 was the Route 76 area near Steel Venom, which really made that part of the park look nice after being pretty bland in the past. The star attraction of Route 76 is Northern Lights, a Zamperla Disk'O coaster which is actually quite fun for what it is. Antique Autos was brought back to the park in Route 76 after being removed in 2012 to make way for a Dinosaurs Alive that currently occupies it's former space. Scrambler and Tilter (Tilt-a-Whirl) were also relocated to Route 76 and refurbished which makes them look great now.

Planet Snoopy
This kiddie area has undergone several changes in the past, and in 2011 it became it's current version: Planet Snoopy. Even though you can find a Planet Snoopy at most Cedar Fair parks, it fits in very well here because Charles Schultz (the creator of Peanuts) is from Minneapolis/St. Paul, so a lot of local people can connect with this area. This area includes 15 various kiddie rides, including Cosmic Coaster, a Zamperla powered kiddie coaster that is the relocated Dragon Coaster from Dorney Park.

Soak City
Valleyfair's waterpark opened in 1983 originally called Liquid Lightning. The name was changed to Whitewater Country Waterpark in 1992, and then to Soak City during the 2008 season. The waterpark currently includes Breakers Bay (a wave pool), Hurricane Falls (a four-person raft ride), Panic Falls Body Slides, Panic Falls Speed Slides, Raging Rapids (a tubing river rapids ride), Ripple Rapids (a lazy river), and Splash Station (a small children's splash pad). Unfortunately, Soak City is generally considered to be the worst waterpark in the Cedar Fair chain because of it's limited and mostly aging selection of things to do, but it will be getting a boost with the 2015 expansion. A new slide tower is being built that will contain six slides including two speed slides (Breakers Plunge), and four floor-dropping slides (Breakers Pipeline). A new splash pad similar to those going into Worlds of Fun and Canada's Wonderland will also be added to the waterpark (Barefoot Beach).

Other Attractions
Other rides withing the park include Bumper Cars, a PTC Carousel from the 1920's, Dinosaurs Alive, a Ferris Wheel, a train called Minnesota River Valley Railroad, a Monster, a SuperCat, a trabant called Wheel of Fortune, a Shoot-the-Chutes water ride called The Wave, and river rapids ride called Thunder Canyon. Live Entertainment venues include the Galaxy Theater, the Gazebo Stage, Peanuts Showplace, and an Amphitheater (which is currently not being used).

Despite it's flaws, Valleyfair is overall a good park. It has some fun coasters, fun thrill rides, and a nice charming environment. It certainly isn't the best park in the chain, and I don't think it's worth going out of your way to visit, but if you ever happen to be in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, or the nearby vicinity during the operating season, I would recommend checking out the park that put the "Fair" in Cedar Fair. You'll have a good time. ;)
2016 Valleyfair Ride Operator - Wild Thing
2017 Valleyfair Ride Operator - Wild Thing/Xtreme Swing
2018 Valleyfair Ride Operator - Steel Venom/Scrambler
2019 Cedar Point Ride Operator - Gemini

Coaster Count: 113 (25 wood, 88 steel)

Post January 1st, 2015, 7:50 pm

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