Waldameer opens tomorrow! – Something good happened in Erie, 5/23/2019

Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good story of the week:


Here we go again! Waldameer opens on Friday, and I’m not even sure the Erie area would exist without it. Go ahead; think about an Idiotville without a mysteriously sticky Pirates Cove floor or six gallons of piss in the Water World hot tub. You can’t! Those things are as much a part of Erie as Smith’s hot dogs or a Presque Isle sunset.

After another long winter and a Seattle spring, I’m ready for a few long days of watching my kids ride the Frog Hopper and Big Rigs while I glance over at some adolescent goth kid smiling – involuntarily, of course – into his cotton candy. Rule #1 of being a goth kid is to never engage in outward displays of happiness, but rule #1 of cotton candy is that its pure, obnoxious frivolity makes it impossible not to smile.

Have you ever spent four hours here, 45 seconds at a time? No? Just me?

Waldameer throws those two things into conflict more than anywhere else in our town, and I love seeing the cotton candy win. In fact, that situation speaks to a larger truth: if the kid with an all black t-shirt except for a big, white, block-letter f-word is having a great time, everyone else probably is, too.

What I love most about it, though, is the pure excitement evident in every little kid’s face walking through the park. For my kids, a trip to Waldameer is second only to Christmas morning. If I mistakenly tell them we’re going there “tomorrow,” I know I’m in for a long night of being woken up and asked a bunch of philosophical questions about what constitutes the beginning of a new day.

Speaking of my kids, just last night they were in the tub when my five year-old stood up and peed right back into the water. I explained the difference between peeing in the water and peeing into the water, but in my mind I thought, “He’s ready for that hot tub this season.” Did I mention this year will showcase a new and improved hot tub? It will be three times the size of the previous bubbler, which if my math is right will equate to approximately eighteen gallons of hot urine.

That’s not the only new scenery, either: a ride called Chaos will swing, spin, bring riders up 60 feet in the air, even turn them upside down. Let’s go with a light lunch, then.

Manufacturer’s photo of Chaos, set to begin operation at Waldameer this Friday. | Photo contributed by Zamperla.

As for my own personal favorite part of Waldameer? It’s the silence. Of the ride home. With three sleeping children in car seats across the back while Taylor Swift sings me something at low volume and my wife flips through all the pictures she’s taken of the day gone by. After a full day of the kids yelling and laughing and running frantically to ride after ride ends with them falling asleep in the car while sweating, you know something good just happened in Erie.

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