| Darien Lake
l colspan="2" style="text-align:center;" l [[File.Darien Lake Resort logo.png|300px]]
Darien Center, New York, USA
Western New York: not a place a thrill-seeker would go too often in the 1960's. A family campground by the name of Darien Lake would silently begin changing that as it became the second small park for the region, with the other being Rochester's Seabreeze. In 1954, the campground of Darien Lake added a pair of water slides over the waters of Darien Lake known as Hydro-Force. This planted the seed for another thrill spot in the growing Northeast area of the United States.
Paul Snyder founded the theme park and named it Snyder's Darien Lake. For the first era in the park, it was mostly country themed with ride names such as Silver Bullet, the Huss Troika Thrillbilly, and the Haymaker, and soon got the nickname Fun Country. Throughout the years, more Huss rides were installed as a deal to make Darien Lake a U.S. showcase for Huss' line of thrill rides. But the park lacked something just about every successful park had: a roller coaster. That, however, would change when Darien Lake received a new record-breaking coaster.
© Darien Lake The year was 1982 and as a part of the Huss deal, Darien Lake received its first coaster. For a short time, the late Arrow Dynamics company was merged with Huss and designed their only coaster together. What was the ride? None other than Viper, a coaster boasting the record for most inversions at the time with five. The coaster, of course, became a huge success and made the park a hot spot for enthusiasts, especially in competition with the traditional Seabreeze park and newly-opened park nearby, Canada's Wonderland. Along with Viper, Ranger was built as one of the first Huss Rangers in the U.S.
© Darien lake in 1983, Funtime Parks, the chain behind Geauga Lake and Wyandot Lake in Ohio, bought the park from Snyder. The Fun Country theme was dropped and the Snyder's name-dropped as well, so it was simply known now as Darien Lake. Though the ride names never changed, 1983 still brought another icon that would make it onto the park's logo, the Giant Wheel. The ride stood in the showcase of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee and was manufactured by Vekoma. Standing as the park's tallest attraction at 165 feet, it provided a good view of the midway and lake, and also showed off a light display at night. At the time, this Ferris wheel was the largest in the world.
Throughout the 1980's, Darien Lake saw more improvements, as the park barely had shade from the former Fun Country theme. But the late 1980's would bring a major expansion. In 1987, Darien Lake built Adventureland, a kids' area with many pint-size attractions, a big top circus, and a petting zoo. Then, 1989 brought the park one of its signature family attractions, an Intamin River Rapids model which, like all of them, guaranteed to soak. This one proved no different as Grizzly Run Rapids opened to the public in Cinema 2000's spot and provided another wet attraction aside from the Thunder Rapids log flume (now known as Poland Springs Plunge), its Rainbow Mountain water slides, and the slide that planted the seed for the park, Hydro-Force.
© Darien LakeDarien Lake focused on getting guests wet again by adding a new water park called Barracuda Bay in 1990 with six brand new slides including speed slides and family tube slides. Along with that, modifications to the existing water slide area were made with new concession stands, lockers, bathrooms, and shops. But that year would also bring Darien Lake another hit coaster designed by a certain famous wooden coaster mastermind when the woods of Darien Lake spawned a creature in the midst of a stormy night. The Dinn Corporation, famous for coasters such as the Beast at Paramount's Kings Island and rebuilding the Wild One at Six Flags America, built one of their last coasters with Predator, New York state's biggest overall wooden coaster. Boasting a twisted triple out and back layout alongside the shores of Darien Lake, Predator took the spot of Thrillbilly and began attracting more enthusiasts to the New York park. With a height of 100 feet and speeds of fifty miles per hour, riders were treated to a twisted course on a wild wooden coaster.
The 1990's brought more beautification and improvements to the premier family park in New York as Adventureland got more improvements. Darien Lake also became a premier entertainment venue for tours and concerts in upstate New York after building a 20,000-person Performing Arts center by Viper. But to keep families in the park at night, another improvement included a Laserlight Reality show called Laser Blast by Predator that mixed laser designs to hit music of yesterday and today.
© Darien LakeThe year 1994 came and another improvement to the Barracuda Bay water park brought revolutionary, first-of-a-kind slides to the east coast. The Cuda Falls complex was built and featured four family tubed water slides located next to Rainbow Falls. The next year brought a revolutionary ride, a popular Sky Coaster model over one of Darien Lake's many lakes, Fun Lake. 1995 Also brought another era into Darien Lake's history as later that year, Premier Parks bought out Funtime Parks and more improvements and changes came to the New York park. Next season saw those major changes transitioning from the Funtime Parks era to the Premier Parks era.
© Darien LakeThroughout the next offseason, the changes became significant. The first brought an end to Adventureland, as all of the attractions were torn down or moved to the new Popeye's Seaport section, themed after the popular cartoon sailor. Popeye's Seaport took the place of Treasure Island Golf, then the park's mini-golf course moved to a grassy area under Viper and under the new name Mountain Golf. Another big change came when the old Adventureland site became a part of an expansion of the rapidly-growing Barracuda Bay water park as Hook's Lagoon, a standard family water attraction featured at many Six Flags parks, was installed. But the biggest event of 1996 for thrill-seekers had to be the arrival and re-theme of Starchaser from Kentucky Kingdom, a Schwarzkopf Jet Star that was enclosed again and became Nightmare at Phantom Cave. The 1996 season came and all of these changes became a huge success so that the next season did not slow down for Darien Lake.
© Darien LakeIn the 1990's, inverted coasters became a craze after Batman: the Ride at Six Flags Great America was installed and shocked the coaster world and amusement park industry. Premier decided to clone the popular Adventure World (now Six Flags America) coaster, Mind Eraser for the 1997 season at Darien Lake with the same name. The Mind Eraser is a standard Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster model that boasts a height of 110 feet, a speed of fifty miles per hour, and five inversions. It debuted on May 17, 1997, and then a kiddie coaster, the Brain Teaser, was built nearby to thrill the younger set that couldn't ride the twisted Vekoma creation. Also for the 1997 season, the Barracuda Bay waterpark expanded even more with a million-gallon wave pool called Crocodile Isle for the families.
© Darien LakeThe next year, 1998, was another big year for Darien Lake, as another major coaster was built. Though not revolutionary, a clone of Vekoma's popular Boomerang model was built. The coaster opened as Boomerang: Coast to Coaster, but this ride had a unique charm as it was built lakeside. Boomerang flips three times until rolling back on the reversing spike through the inversions again, for a total of six times upside down. Aside from Boomerang, the park also got a new luxury family hotel called Lodge on the Lake and a new lakeside restaurant named the Beaver Brothers. However, 1998 also brought an end to Nightmare at Phantom Cave as it moved on to the Great Escape as Nightmare at Crack Axle Canyon. But that offseason brought big news as another chapter began at Darien Lake.
© Darien LakeDarien Lake announced in late October 1998 that it had become a member of the Six Flags family. Premier Parks ended up buying out Six Flags from Time Warner that year and kept the Six Flags name. Premier decided to flag most of their parks, and Darien Lake was one of them. Not only was this big news for next season, but it brought Six Flags Darien Lake its new hit signature coaster. Superman: Ride of Steel opened to the public in 1999 as the first Intamin Mega Coaster and one of the northeast's tallest
rides. The Man of Steel has a height of 195 feet and a drop of 205 feet towards the Oak Lake with mist effects in riders' faces at a speed of seventy-two miles per hour, with some of the most airtime to be found on a coaster. In addition, Six Flags Darien Lake brought thirty-million-dollar improvements throughout the park. First was a retheme of Popeye's Seaport to Looney Toons Seaport and second was the transition of Nightmare at Phantom Cave's empty building into one of Six Flags Darien Lake's biggest shows: the Batman Thrill Spectacular.
In 2000, a new Huss Top Spin called Twister was built. Twister boasts water effects and puts on a display of water effects for both riders and spectators. But the next few years would not bring Six Flags Darien Lake many more big additions. Next season brought an end to a portion of Barracuda Bay, as the Rainbow Falls slides were removed for two new additions in 2001 and 2002. The year 2001 brought the S&S Power Slingshot at almost the height of Superman: Ride of Steel, up for testing throughout the season. The next year brought another S&S ride, Turbobungy, as another pay-per-ride attraction. Along with that, Six Flags clones another popular ride, the shoot-the-chutes ride known as Shipwreck Falls. And alongside Shipwreck Falls was a new snack stand by the name of Peg Leg Pete's which sells legs, turkey legs to be exact.
© Darien LakeAfter several quiet years, 2005 is bringing another Six Flags clone to Six Flags Darien Lake's Barracuda Bay waterpark. Six Flags invested in Proslide's popular Tornado slide for families with Tornado, a giant funnel slide. Tornado will certainly bring another wet family hit that will blow visitors away.
In April 2007, Six Flags sold Darien Lake, along with 5 of its other parks, PARC Management (PARC), who then entered a 50-year contract with CNL Income Properties (CNL), in which CNL purchased and then leased the parks back to PARC to operate. With the deal occurring so close to the operating season, the only new attraction added was a new show, Le Grande Cirque, which replaced the long-running Batman Thrill Spectacular. They also only had a short time to remove all the Six Flags themeing, mostly consisting of Warner Bros and DC Comics, including dropping “Superman” from the Ride of Steel name and turning the kid's area into Adventure Isle.
In 2008, Darien Lake would receive its first new coaster under PARC Management, and its first new coaster since 1999’s Superman: Ride of Steel. Dubbed Orange County Choppers MotoCoaster (now simply Moto Coaster), the ride features motorcycle-style seating, a 38 mph launch, and a number of twists, turns, hills, and spirals along 1200 feet of track, and stood as Zamperla’s entry into the “Motocoaster” scene to counter Vekoma’s Boosterbike models.
The next big change came in 2010, when Darien Lake gave their waterpark an overhaul into Splashtown, expanding it into the existing parking lot and adding three new attractions. As part of the overhaul, the ’Cuda Falls was turned into Barracuda Bay. new attractions included a lazy river called Flotation Station, the Swirl City slide complex of four slides, and a new kiddie wave pool called Lazy Days Lagoon. Viper also received a new coat of paint, now featuring black track, Predator received a set of new trains, and Raft Adventures was replaced by [Critter Chase[/i].
After defaulting on their lease obligations at the end of the year, CNL terminated PARC’s lease on Darien Lake and many other properties, at which point, Herschend Family Entertainer, owners of Dollywood and Silver Dollar City, would take over for the 2011 season. Herschend also took over the operation of Elitch Gardens in Denver, CO as part of the deal.
For the 2012 season, the park made a number of changes to both the park and the rest of the resort. Darien Lake itself opened up a new family area called “Rowdy’s Ridge” with three new attractions: Moose on the Loose, a backwoods adventure ride on a “runaway moose,” the Heave Ho! tower ride in which riders pull themselves up 3 stories and gently descend back down, and Hornet’s Nest, a tall swing ride that allows riders to control the height and angle of their flight. The park also introduced seven new live shows, including live comedy acts, performing dogs, a magic show, hypnotists, and a rhythm and stomp group, amongst others.
Darien Lake Theme Park and Resort is located in Darien Lake Center, NY, near Corfu, NY.
Present Roller Coasters (8)
|Boomerang: Coast to Coaster||Vekoma||Shuttle||1998||Operating|
|Hoot N Holler||Zierer||Kiddie||1981||Operating|
|Ride of Steel||Intamin AG||Hyper||1999||Operating|
|Batman The Escape||Intamin AG||Stand-Up||N/A||In storage|
Past Roller Coaster
|Nightmare At Phantom Cave||Schwarzkopf||Enclosed||1996||1998||Great Escape|