I have been craving some amusement park action for a long time and we're still probably a month away from hitting up a full-fledged theme park, but this nifty little family entertainment center (which was about an hour and ten minute drive for us) really hit the spot. Now, every town has a place or two that offers miniature golf and perhaps a few other recreational activities. Adventure Park USA takes the concept of family amusement center and kicks it up a notch or two. They do offer some of the standards: two 18 hole mini-golf courses, go-carts, a big ol' climbing structure for the little guys and laser tag. They also have a rock climbing wall, an arcade and even bumper boats...which you usually only find at the beach. But this little park has a few more things going for it that separate it from the Putt-Putt down the street.
Adventure Park USA has rides! They have real rides too, not just coin operated kiddie rides and motion simulators. The park offers three kiddie rides: teacups and helicopters. There is also a nice little merry-go-round that the whole family can enjoy together. These three rides are all situated together giving Adventure Park USA the beginnings of a kiddie land section, or as they call it Funtier Land. (Cute, eh!?) Tickets for the small rides can be purchased for two dollars a ride or there are several combo deals available that can get your kids unlimited rides on all the attractions. Perhaps most appealing in Adventure Park's line-up of rides is the Wildcat Roller Coaster. The roller coaster is the only thing visible from the highway and the clickity-clack of the chain lift and the screams of riders are the most dominate sound in the park. This particular roller coaster was originally built in 1976 and opened at Busch Gardens Willamsburg. When Busch removed the ride to make way for a larger attraction, the coaster ended up at Playland in Rye, New York. It operated there from 1984 until 1991. From 1994 to 1998 it ran at Steel Pier in New Jersey's Atlantic City. It then briefly appeared at Williams Grove Amusement Park outside of Harrisburg, PA before opening at Adventure Park USA in early 2007. It's not as big and fancy as any of today's roller coasters...but it's still alot of fun.
In addition to the rides, Adventure Park also stands out from other similar ventures with it's theme. Adventure Park takes it's Wild West theme seriously. The main building of the park resembles an old Wild West Main Street on the outside. On the inside, the theme continues with a rustic feel and enough old West memorabilia to fill Roy Rogers' ranch! Inside the park there are nice little touches like faux rock work and old mining equipment that continue the park's cowboy theme.
The grounds are also impressively kept. We're not talking award winning flower beds and breath-taking scenery, but the walkways are paved, the rides are permanently installed and there is nice landscaping everywhere you look. Alot of small amusement centers like this tend to just throw stuff where ever they can and don't take too much pride in showmanship or attention to detail but I was really impressed with Adventure Park's efforts to present itself like a theme park and not just a mini-golf course with some carnival rides.
A day at Adventure Park could get expensive, but I found their pricing to be very reasonable. If you plan on going, hop on their website and plan ahead what you and the kids would like to do. You can buy enough credits to do just what you want to do or they offer some combo deals if you really want to tear it all up. We had a blast, spent the whole afternoon there and spent less than $40.00!
Oh, and here's me on the Wildcat:
Side story: In 2000, I went to Williams Grove Amsuement Park and was eager to ride their collection of old rides, including this roller coaster which I remember enjoying similar versions when I was younger. The steel coaster was featured on Williams Grove's website. When we got to the very small park we couldn't find the coaster so we asked several park employees where the coaster was. Not a single one of them had any idea what we were talking about. They only knew of the one wooden roller coaster in the park and had never heard of this other coaster. Obviously, we found it odd that employees of a park had never heard of a roller coaster that they supposedly had. Needless to say, I never did ride that coaster that day, but 10 years later I ended up tracking it down and taking it for a ride! Good times!