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The Trickle – a blast at Darien Lake

June 13, 2011 - Brian Ferry
My wife and I had been talking for more than a year about wanting to go to an amusement park - without the kids. We're roller coaster fans and it'd been a long time. So, when Darien Lake outside of Buffalo was advertising Media Day, we dropped any thoughts of other parks and signed up. I had never been to Darien Lake. I didn't know anything about it, including how easy it is to get there. I had never been to a Media Day before either. It turns out both are good things. Being treated as a VIP was great. We got a bunch of freebies – a nice welcome breakfast, lunch, dessert by the “pool”, a photo op with Rose and Fred, and several others – but the highlight of the day was the park. We had put some planning into this trip, so the ominous weather forecast – showers with possible storms all day - did not frighten us away. We left bright and early, a little after 6 a.m. We were expected for “orientation” at 10 and wanted a little wiggle room for the travel. The drive was an easy one, with the great majority of our miles on I-90. We took exit 48A and A few miles later, past several familiar-looking “firewood for sale” signs, we were at our destination. It was 9:02. We turned around and headed for a convenience store. We went back to the hotel entrance at 9:30. We were inside and checked in at the Lodge on the Lake Hotel at 9:45. From the parking lot, we could see a large coaster rising not so far away. We stopped in for breakfast, got a list of some events we might want to check out, and got a look inside the cabins. They were compact, not a lot of wasted space, but had all the amenities – bed, futon, fireplace, kitchen, full bathroom, a “fort” with bunk beds and TV with game system, and a loft that looks like it could sleep at least four little ones. Out the front door was a grill and a view of the lake. Beyond that, the park. When we made arrangements, we didn't know about the cabins, but we were more than happy with the hotel. It was so close we went back twice to rest our feet (I changed my shirt during the first stop, riding coasters is sweaty work). The weather report turned out to work strongly in our favor. Apparently, many folks with more flexibility in their scheduling decided not to go on Saturday. We had the park all to ourselves, it seemed at times. I haven't been to many amusement parks, but I don't remember waiting less than 45 minutes for the biggest coasters. I also seem to recall some two-hour wait times. With those thoughts in mind, we wanted to make sure we hit as many rides as we could. That enormous coaster we saw from the parking lot was the closest one to us as we went in the gate. We turned that way hoping we might get on fairly quickly because the park had just opened. There were people walking in front of us, but we didn't even have to slow down as we walked straight up to the platform and got on the second car. If we had been the types to only want to ride in the very front or very back, we could have waited for one or two more cars. We just wanted to ride, so we took a spot in the middle. Within 10 minutes of walking into the park, we were hurtling down the first hill on the Ride of Steel at 70+ miles per hour. A very good start. We thought we must be really lucky to get on so quickly. Wanting to take advantage of that luck, we did a U-turn from the exit line to the entrance and went again. Same thing – we had to wait for one car before we got on board. Wooden coasters aren't our favorites, so we bypassed the Predator and made our way toward Boomerang. It wasn't running, so we continued on to Viper. The line was shorter, but the path to get to the platform didn't include the cattle chute, so it took some walking to get to the platform. We walked up, went through the turnstile and boarded the car that we watched roll in. We were upside-down five times in the next few moments. We decided to double up on Viper, too. With so little waiting, my equilibrium didn't have time to readjust and I felt the first signs of queasiness after Viper II. I asked that we not quickly reboard. We walked to Mind Eraser. I enjoy the coasters that leave my legs dangling, this one no less. However, with knee surgery in my wife's not so distant past, we decided not to go on it a second time. It didn't hurt so much as it made her nervous. There were many places to grab a bite or a drink along the way, and numerous smaller rides, but we were pressing on, making sure we rode the thrill rides first. We needn't have worried. We went back to Predator and Ride of Steel (again). What a great day. Seven rides on major coasters. I don't know what Darien Lake is like on a busy day, but I've never ridden seven big rides in a day before. Time for lunch. That's right, it was about 12:30. The park opened at 10:30. Amazing. We continued our quest for the thrill rides. I don't even remember the final count. We slowed considerably after lunch (though having food in me settled my stomach quite a bit). We were so satisfied with the number of rides we'd hit that we didn't mind taking time out for some of the media events. We wandered over to SplashTown, though we had no intention of visiting the many water rides. The Tornado and some of the others would have looked awfully inviting on a warmer day, but those coasters kept calling us back. We had a good view of the SlingShot from our cabana at SplashTown. We watched it fling people into the air a couple times and decided to get a closer look. To my surprise, we tried it. It was a hoot. Come to find out, it launched us about 300 feet in the air. My stomach was good, but I decided to ask how often the workers have to deal with vomiting customers. The young man I talked to said he'd never seen that. We went to the sea lion (don't call them seals) show. It was fun and informative and afterwards we got hugs (no kisses) from Rose and Fred. Good memories. We were on our way to the hotel and I wanted something to take back for the kids, so I participated in a game of someone else's chance. I won, thank you very much. Two stuffed critters for the kids. We took them back to the hotel and took another break. The absence of lines kept us moving all day. Time for clean socks. I think it was about 6 p.m. when we went back out. Boomerang was running, though I'd been avoiding it. Half of its journey is done in reverse. I expected that to cause me some trouble. I was right, but I could walk after. When we rode, I did the reverse portion eyes closed. I don't know if that helped or hurt. Seemed like a good idea at the time. After a snack, we finished up with two more coasters, including Ride of Steel one last time. I think we rode Ride of Steel a total of six times (once in a light rain – I was the subject of some laughter as I held my hand in front of my eyes to avoid the pelting of the drops), Viper at least four times, Mind Eraser, Predator, Boomerang and MotoCoaster once each, and SlingShot once. We left the park for the last time at sunset – we sat on one of the many benches along the lake and enjoyed the sun reflecting on the water. By the time the evening's Laser Show entertainment began, one of us was asleep and the other well on the way. It was so much fun, next time we might have to not take the kids again.


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