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Worlds Of Fun - A Trip Report

Kansas City local gives his report on the 2008 version of Worlds of Fun.

From James Rao
Posted May 18, 2008 at 9:36 PM
There are two common types of amusement parks: theme parks and iron ride parks. Iron ride parks generally have state-of-the-art roller coasters that draw the crowds in, followed by a proliferation of standard midway or carnival rides to keep customers busy when not riding coasters. Generally focused on g-forces and upset stomachs, iron ride parks have headliner rides for young adults and teens, and a separate section of the park set aside for the very young. Worlds of Fun (WOF) is an iron ride park just off of I-435 in Kansas City, Missouri. It is owned by Cedar Fair.

I live in the KC area and have been going to WOF for years. When I was younger I used to get a season pass, have my parents drop me (and my brothers) off at the park, then run around all day having a ball. However, now that I am an old man with a family, I can clearly see WOF for what it is: a county fair propped up by a few better than average roller coasters. Once you ride the four main roller coasters, the only rides left are the kind found at every midway park and county fair across the nation. No 4D shows, no immersive theming, no fireworks, parades, or gate opening ceremonies. Still, WOF is my local park, and I try to support it as best I can, despite its shortcomings.

On Friday, May 16, 2008, the company I work for held its annual WOF picnic, which means free parking, free food, and free entry for associates and their families. So, I packed up the wife and my two boys who are at least 48” tall (the requisite minimum height for having fun at an iron ride park), dropped the five year old of at the in-laws and headed to WOF in beautiful 70 degree weather.

There is no denying that the MAMBA, WOF’s signature hyper-coaster, is an impressive monument as one drives up to the park. One can also see the Timber Wolf (and old school wooden coaster) and the Patriot (a modern B&M inverted coaster) as you pull into the parking area, so the first thought is “Wow, this park is going to be awesome.” However, upon closer inspection, the sequence of rides just seen denotes the best attractions the park has to offer on a limited slate of rides (43 total, including the baby rides in Camp Snoopy).

Anyway, free parking, free admission, and free food. I am good with that! So we arrived at the park at 5:15 PM hungry and ready for fun. Since the rides don’t open to the public until 6 PM for this event, we headed straight to the food tent for hot dogs, brisket, and delicious chocolate chip cookies. I am not kidding; the chocolate chip cookies at this event are excellent. I grabbed a stack for dinner, and stuffed a stack in some cargo shorts to nibble on later as we progressed through the park!

Having received our fill of dinner, we gathered the troops (we hooked up with several of my friends from work) and began the touring plan.

The first thing I want to note about the park is that there appears to have been a lot of subtle work done to the landscaping. Yes, the park still has way too much nasty black pavement instead of cool, white cement, but the trees, bushes, and other foliage were very well manicured and maintained. And on the whole, the park looked really nice, with fresh paint and a thorough scrub down given across the board. Cedar Fair did not invest in any new rides at WOF for the 2008 season, however it honestly looks like they spent the whole budget on park maintenance, which is not a bad thing to do from time to time.

Another thing I will note is that most of the park staff we encountered during our visit (and they were out in droves for this event) were very nice, courteous, and helpful. Furthermore, we saw a lot of employees roaming around actually cleaning, sweeping, and tending to the park much like you would expect at some of the major theme parks across the nation. Normally a park run by teenagers for teenagers, WOF may be making a bit of a change, perhaps spending more money to pull in some mature employees and stressing high customer service standards and park cleanliness. I honestly was impressed by both the friendliness and attentiveness of the employees (and the general cleanliness of the park); something I hope is not a fluke but a fundamental change for WOF.

Back to the trip report...

Again, with no new rides added in 2008 our touring plan was very straightforward. We headed around the park in a somewhat counter clockwise fashion hitting all the headliner attractions before the crowds got done feeding their faces.

Our first stop was the Orient section of the park and Spinning Dragons, a Gerstlauer spinning coaster. For some reason there was already a bit of a line, so we skipped the attraction for now and headed into the Americana section to ride the Patriot, an inverted B&M coaster and great ride, an excellent way to begin the tour. Unfortunately, both my sons are too short to ride the Patriot. Were they a few inches taller we probably would have done this ride twice as the line was short at the time.

The Patriot is not the best B&M coaster in the world, but it is a very good ride and probably the best attraction in the park. Smooth and exciting, with lots of twists, turns, inversions, and some nice airtime, it is a real winner. Added in 2006 at a 14 million dollar expense, the Patriot should not be missed when going to WOF.

From the Patriot we passed the part of WOF I hate: the pay-extra section. Here we find the Ripcord (a skycoaster), the Grand Prix Raceway (go carts), and The Rock (a rock climb wall). These attractions take up valuable space, are notoriously slow-loaders, and cheapen the overall appearance of the park, making it seem more like a carnival than a bona fide theme park. I would love to see them go away forever.

Noses in the air, we sped past this section and headed straight for the Timber Wolf, a classic wooden coaster built by the Dinn Corporation. Opened in 1989, Timber Wolf is a fairly rough coaster, but it has received some significant refurb love over the last few years, and imho is a top-notch attraction. My wife says she thinks it is too painful, but I love the rattling of a good wooden coaster, and the Timber Wolf rattles like no one’s business. Unfortunately the ride was down for repairs, so we had to skip it and planned to try again later in the tour.

So it was off to the Mamba, a Chance Morgan hyper-coaster in the Africa section of the park. Still one of the best out-and-back steel coasters in the nation, the Mamba contends with the Patriot for best ride in the park honors. With a 205 ft first drop followed another 184 ft drop and 70 mph speeds, the Mamba is a coaster-lover’s coaster. The double helix is as intense as they come, and the five camelbacks you hit on the “back” portion of the ride provide some great airtime moments. For tonight, the brakes that often kill the camelbacks were not applied as fiercely, so the ride was truly an undiluted pleasure. Powerful, fast, thrilling, and impressive, the Mamba is still a beast to be reckoned with by coaster enthusiasts everywhere. We rode this one twice in a row, and even purchased a $9 on ride photo since this was my youngest boy’s first Mamba ride!

We continued on and came to the park’s final coaster, a Vekoma Boomerang. For those of you who are familiar with my comments on this website, you know how much I loathe this ride. The Boomerang is the most overused coaster in the world today. Almost 50 of these rides are in use at various parks. It needs to go away forever and the design documents should be burned. The Boomerang is a very slow loading attraction, and the 30-second ride is definitely not worth any sort of wait. However, my kids wanted to ride, and the line was very short, so we hit it. Once. The best part of the ride is that you get a decent view of the nearby construction area where a rumored GCI coaster is going to be added for the 2009 season. I am very excited about that rumored addition!!

At this point we had ridden three rides and the crowds were starting to grow. We did not want to get wet, so as we started to back track we crossed the Fury of the Nile off the touring plan with a promise to the kids that we would visit later, right before we were to leave the park.

I want to interrupt the trip report to note a few more things about the park for those who have never visited. If you are familiar with WOF you may want to skip the next few paragraphs to get back to the trip report.

First off, if you have very young children, and by young I mean kids who cannot really talk in sentences yet, WOF has the requisite Camp Snoopy area filled with baby rides. These attractions cater solely to the very young and are largely the same rides found in carnivals, malls, and grocery store parking lots. Imho, this area should be completely overhauled with every attraction removed and replaced with whole-family attractions. I did not bring my under 48” five year old to the park on this visit, because there is honestly nothing for her to do. Camp Snoopy is too tame for kids her age/height, and at 40” she is still too short for any of the headliner attractions. So, a word of warning, if you have kids who are old enough to talk but too short for big time coasters, WOF will have limited appeal for your family. You are better off going to one of the many area water parks (including Oceans of Fun).

Secondly, WOF does have a section of the park that is supposed to be devoted to 40” tall kids not yet ready for big coasters, but too old for the baby rides in Camp Snoopy. This section is in the middle of the park and is called Europa. Populated by a half dozen midway rides that have for the most part been in place since the mid 70’s, Europa provides some very mediocre thrills for families with young kids: Bounce-A-Roos (a Red Baron type spinning ride with kangaroos instead of biplanes -- are there kangaroos in Europe?), the Flying Dutchman (an Intamin spinner), Le Carrousel (a traditional carousel), Le Taxitour (an Arrow Dynamics track car ride), and the Autobahn (bumper cars). I honestly did not even visit this section of the park last night so I cannot comment on whether it has seen any refurb love this season, but as of my 2007 visit, the attractions here were in a fairly bad state of repair and not worth the long waits inherent to slow-loaders.

Third, there are about a half dozen other “family-oriented” attractions scattered throughout the park (those the whole family can enjoy together), however they are not worth your time unless you have never ridden a scrambler type spinner or Ferris wheel before. I would love for the family-oriented rides in the park to receive some major upgrades and overhauls, and for the 1970’s attractions to be replaced with newer, updated rides.

Again, I only bring up these concerns for those folks who have kids too old for Camp Snoopy and too young/short for roller coasters. I want to make sure your expectations are properly set.

Back to the trip report...

Skipping Fury of the Nile for now, we headed back to see if the Timber Wolf was running. It was. This wooden coaster is among the best I have ever ridden, and is still top notch in my book. Even better, the water that sprays on the rider from time to time during the ride was either off for the night (good) or removed from the ride (even better). It is an unnecessary and distracting effect, one that needs to go away.

Back and neck still sore from the rough but fun ride, we headed off Timber Wolf, bypassed the Thunderhawk (a Huss Top Spin ride), turned our noses up at a series of carnival games (what a waste of valuable park space), and headed to Cyclone Sam’s.

Cyclone Sam’s is a valiant attempt at a themed dark ride, however it fails on so many levels that it is hard to like the attraction. The pre-show waiting area has a couple of TV monitors to set up the attraction, but the volume is so low, no one can hear it – not even if you strain. And the attraction itself, once you SLOWLY make it in, is nothing more than a standard wipeout ride on a dodge ball black top, surrounded by special effect props about as good as those found at the local city theater. Oh yeah, it also has a strobe light. Yippee! Having said all that, Cyclone Sam’s is a better attraction than it should be, just because it is in the dark and has a slight theme. It would be nice to see the special effects, queuing area, and ride itself upgraded with a strong attention to the details of the theme. But in this park, there are bigger fish to fry.

After CS, we headed back toward the entrance to ride Spinning Dragons. The line was going to be long, so we stopped off at Sheridan’s Frozen Custard and got a couple smoothies: strawberry and strawberry/banana. Delicious. And even at $6 a pop, they were a pretty good deal considering the size and quality. We took our smoothies to Spinning Dragons (fighting a wave of gnats gathering around the nighttime park lights along the way) and waited.

It was getting dark by now, and the bats were out. Seriously. You can always see bats flying above the Spinning Dragons at night. At least, I think they are bats. Don’t know too many birds that fly at night, but either way, it is an interesting sight, and something to keep the kids entertained while waiting in line. And since it was getting darker, WOF was really becoming a much better place. For some reason iron ride parks really shine at night. Everything looks cleaner, runs faster, and seems better. Probably why Disney has so many dark rides...

We got on SD being sure to put the two (heavier) adults on the same side and the kids opposite. It was a great ride, we really got spinning good, and since it was pretty dark when we rode, the ride just seemed a lot faster. I have to admit, this attraction would be an excellent candidate for an indoor coaster. It benefits mightily from the sense of speed and misdirection that darkness brings.

After Spinning Dragons everyone wanted to hit Patriot in the dark. However the line was pretty long, and as I said before, the boys couldn’t ride, so we headed all the way back to Mamba again, waited about 30 minutes, and rode it in the dark. Awesome. What a great ride. From here we did go back to The Patriot and realized the reason the line seemed so long is because there were two lines: one was just for the front row. We headed for the other line, and quickly advanced to the ride. The Patriot at night. Wow. Excellent.

Most of the group splintered off, so it was just me, my wife, and my two boys left. We hit the Bamboozoler (a Hrubetz Round Up that has been at the park as long as I can remember), and then had to decide what to do next. We figured there was only time for one more ride, so we asked the kids which water ride they wanted to do more: Viking Voyager or Fury of the Nile.

The Viking Voyager is an Arrow Dynamics log flume, sparsely themed and only mildly thrilling. It really could use a 21st Century update. There is nothing to see or do as the ride makes its way to the short drop, and the odds of getting wet are very slim. I argued for this ride cause it was close and it was getting cold. Staying dry was a good idea, I said.

Much to my chagrin, the kids wanted to ride Fury. So we took a clockwise tour of the park and headed to the Fury of the Nile. Along the way we passed (and ridiculed) a series of lame, outdated midway rides: Fjord Fjarlane (a Huss Swing Around), Finnish Fling (Chance Morgan rotor), Octopus, and the Sea Dragon (Chance Morgan pendulum boat). We also passed the revamped shooting gallery (new to WOF this year and a big waste of space imho), which looked nice if you like that sort of attraction. We also passed the Zulu (Huss Enterprise) one of my favorite midway rides, but with a 54” height restriction we skipped it. As we passed the Boomerang, we noticed the line was non-existent, so the kids talked me into another ride. We hopped on and I cursed the Coaster Gods for the whole 30-second duration of the ride. Finally we made it to the Fury of the Nile.

The Fury of the Nile is a nicely themed white water attraction. Not quite on the level of a Kali River Rapids, mind you, but a good ride nonetheless. It is especially fun in the dark, as the limited lighting makes for an eerier trip. I do wish, however, that the cheap water thrills (the buckets of water that are dumped on you in the final tunnel) were removed, and stronger rapids added. Riders should get wet (or not wet) due to the action of the raft in the rapids, not because someone turns on the shower at the end. It would also be nice to extend this attraction and add a drop. But that is probably asking too much! =)

Anyway, we had a blast and all got pretty wet. There were two other kids in our raft, and they were a hoot, having ridden the ride like five times in a row and already being thoroughly soaked. They added a real touch of humor to the attraction and kept us all entertained. Maybe WOF should add them to the payroll? =)

Well, it was close to midnight and everyone was ready to go. However, we still had time for one more Mamba run, and with no line to speak of, we hit it for our final ride of the night. A great choice as it was seemingly the fastest run yet. Awesome!

Anyway, after the Mamba it was nearing midnight and everyone was pretty much done for. We headed toward the exit and home. Both my sons were as worn out as my wife and I, and the youngest asked for a piggyback to the car. Once I got him on my back he told me what a great Dad I was. He said, “You are the best of all Dads.”

Worlds of Fun is what it is: a coaster park with too few coasters. An iron ride park with out of date iron rides. Looking closely at my trip report you can easily see that we circled the park several times basically riding the same half dozen rides over and over. WOF is not the kind of park you plan a vacation around, or even a few days of travel. It is a one-day stop for a tourist, and a four-hour tour for a local.

It is what it is.

But for one night it was truly Worlds of Fun.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Tim Strickland
Posted May 19, 2008 at 12:51 AM
I'm glad you all had a good time, thats what it is all about. Great Report.

From James Rao
Posted May 19, 2008 at 2:12 AM
Thanks, Tim, It was indeed a pretty fun evening. I am glad things worked out too...been pretty bored with Worlds of Fun over the past few years, but I think the thing that really helped was the Mamba's brakes were toned down a bit and it was running with old-school speed. There's nothing like riding a hyper-coaster when it is allowed to be hyper!

Jeez, seeing the report posted...I did not realize the thing was so long when I wrote it!! Yikes! Sorry about that! =)

From Donna Tolliver-Walker
Posted May 19, 2008 at 9:36 AM
Nice report. WOF from your reports sounds worth a visit!

And I still love all the flat rides that have been around forever, so I wouldn't have to bypass nearly as much as you did!

From Derek Potter
Posted May 19, 2008 at 4:44 PM
I've alway's seen Worlds of Fun as a sort of secondhand Cedar Fair park. They don't seem to get a whole lot of love from the mothership. I'm a little unsure as to why they haven't laid down some money to improve the park a little (perhaps because their main competition is Six Flags?). WOF to me is one of the parks that has room to grow attendance and revenue wise. I'm surprised that they at least didn't get a Geauga Lake ride or two.

Still glad to know that they take care of the place though...

From James Rao
Posted May 19, 2008 at 8:59 PM
Branson is a little closer than Six Flags Saint Louis, and Silver Dollar City/Celebration City are much nicer parks than WOF.

***
Not exciting rumor: Worlds of Fun may receive Geauga Lake’s Carousel and possibly the Americana Ferris Wheel. Yippee...more trash for the county fair.

Very exciting rumor: a new GCI wooden coaster might be coming in 2009. You can already view the construction site, but no word yet on what will go there. A new coaster would help.
***

For the longest time Cedar Fair was content to tear down great rides at WOF, like the Orient Express & the Zambezi Zinger, but when the Patriot and Spinning Dragons were added it appeared the building up had started again. One can only hope that this coaster park is finally going to get even more coaster love. Four good coasters + a Boomerang + a Kiddie Coaster, do not an iron ride park make!!!

The mothership can always send a few of its own coasters...heck at 17 coasters CP already has more than it can handle!! =)

Tell the mothership to send the Woodstock Express to replace the pathetic Wacky Worm (so the kids have something to ride), and we can also take Raptor and Corkscrew (we need more loops) off your hands. Think of all the room that would make for newer, better coasters at CP! Kansas City would be doing Sandusky a favor!

Just don't send Disaster Transport or Jr. Gemini, please!

From Derek Potter
Posted May 20, 2008 at 6:59 PM
You can't have Raptor. I'll deliver you Disaster Transport, Corkscrew, Mantis, and the Mine Ride on a truck personally.

I've been screaming for a GCI on the Cedar Point beach for a while now. IMHO, the mothership needs more wood. Actually I suspect that may be in the works. It's too bad that Cedar Fair has a phobia of moving the Geauga Lake wooden coasters. Any one of them would be a great addition in their own way.

SAVE THE DIPPER!!

From James Rao
Posted May 20, 2008 at 7:37 PM
Derek...I think I would take them. As long as you promised to fix the leaky roof on DT. In return you can have a new GCI coaster and our Vekoma Boomerang. Deal?

See, Cedar Fair doesn't need execs with seven figure salaries...they just need us!

From Derek Potter
Posted May 21, 2008 at 5:29 PM
Sounds good. I'll even theme the GCI in a 1920's Coney Islandish style or an art deco style. The money I get from scrapping the Vekoma would help buy the crew lunch, that is unless I can sell it to some suckers.

From James Rao
Posted May 21, 2008 at 8:53 PM
LOL...great plan, Derek.

I will copy your plan, and instead of fixing the leaky roof on DT, I'll sell the ride for scrap and use the proceeds to fly to the Parque Nacional Del Café of Colombia, South America, and ride the Zambezi Zinger one last time!

From Justin Spisto
Posted May 22, 2008 at 10:59 AM
A new GCI should fit that park very nicely, along with the Ferris Wheel should be top-notch.

From Jessica Adams
Posted October 1, 2008 at 5:46 PM
I work for Cedar Fair at the World's of Fun Village Resort.

You visited us at the very beginning of the season, things get better midway though.

Yes, those were bats. Spinning Dragons is right next to the Lore of the Vampire house for Halloween Haunt, and for some reason or another, bats like to hang around there. I also work at the Halloween Haunt in the Dominion of Doom section.

We ARE getting a new attraction. It is a new wooden roller coaster called Prowler and should be completed for the 2009 season. It will cost approx. 8 Mil. dollars to build it. It will be partially be secluded from the rest of the park for that it runs through the woods. I can't wait for it. I plan on coming back for the 2009 season to apply for it's operation.

Worlds of Fun is one of the most fun places to work I know of and we take great pride in our cornerstones of Service, Courtesy, Cleanliness, Sagety, and Integrity.

From James Rao
Posted October 1, 2008 at 6:53 PM
Thanks for the confirmation about the bats, Jessica.

Also, I look forward to visiting the Prowler next year during our company picnic in May. A new coaster that takes advantage of the scenery is definitely a step in the right direction for Worlds of Fun.

I hope Cedar Fair continues to invest time and money in keeping WOF clean, maintained, and relevant. I would love to see another couple coasters added over the next few years to keep the park on pace with our Six Flags rivals in Saint Louis (although SF STL really is a sub par park, if you ask me). Also, I would like to see a lot of those ancient midway rides removed and replaced with modern attractions that help keep the park fresh, fun, and family friendly.

Again, thanks for the feedback, and keep up the good work out there!

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