We did a half-tour of the Cedar Fair Parks; I blogged about the visits, and about the parks in comparison. Now I feel a need to blog about home, about Worlds of Fun. After touring all those parks, seeing all those extreme and expansive roller coasters, does it make Worlds of Fun dim by comparison? Might we wish to live closer to another park instead?
The answer is no. I asked the family about what makes Worlds of Fun our park of choice. After we got past “living four miles away”, we decided that there are some definite things about the park that we think is better than any of the other parks we visited. True, there are many things at the other parks that are individually better, but overall, we will take Worlds of Fun — while at the same time recommending what we think would make it better.
My first thoughts about what I like about Worlds of Fun, since I am by heart a water child, reflect around the Oceans of Fun portion. All of agreed that of the wave pools we experienced, none of them were better than the Surf City wave pool at Oceans of Fun. Nor were any of the lazy rivers better than the Caribbean Cooler. Sure, we’d like a lazy river with some of the fun stuff and obstacle course type items, but having a river you don’t need a tube to ride in, and one deep enough to swim in, is a luxury we didn’t find anywhere else.
I came up with a word for it: space. When Worlds of Fun was built in 1973, and when Oceans of Fun was built in 1982, they were built on a scale of space not reflected in the other parks we saw. It can be seen in the amount of space between the rides, and the size of the Wave Pool at Oceans of Fun. In the intervening years the layout and replacement of rides has filled in some of that space, but the overlying feeling and principle still remains. It is one of the major stamps of the Midwestern mentality that is subtly reflected in the park.
The other major stamp is that of theme. All the other parks we saw had themed sections. None of them had an overriding park theme. Worlds of Fun is based on the Jules Verne classic Around the World in 80 Days; each section of the park represents a region of the world that you pass through. True, there was no passing through Scandinavia in the book, but the theme of world regions is a unifying theme to the whole park that the other parks don’t have anything like. In fact, if they wanted to, the park could think about more subtle ways to integrate the book plot into the park plot. Some year they could have sightings of Phileas Fogg or Passepartout. But even without the literary allusions of that idea, paying attention to the region theme is a key element of the parks subtle appeal.
So, back to the Worlds of Fun part more specifically. With the use of the theme, the park is arranged in a loop pattern, unlike the other parks, actually a loop and a loop within the loop, to go from region to region. Geographically it seems to us that Worlds of Fun is built on a hillier terrain than any of the other parks, and the loops take full advantage of this geographical presence. You also see it in the various streams, waterways and ponds that flow through the park campus. I have blogged about the “turtle pond” at the park, an unintended natural wonder at the park. Paying attention to these geographical landmarks could even improve the park.
When I think of specific rides, Worlds of Fun has some things that other parks don’t have. The Prowler is an excellent example. Sure, other parks have wooden roller coasters, other parks have more extreme roller coasters, but not have a coaster constructed with the unique principle of the Prowler. Other roller coasters may have more extreme functions, but only the Prowler connects each feature into the next one without down time between them, to keep the intensity continually on the prowl throughout the ride.
Then there is the Spinning Dragons. None of the rides had a similar single car spinning ride like the dragons. The closest we found were the “mouse trap” type coasters that we found and enjoyed at many of the other parks. (Our recommendation is that Worlds of Fun should get one of those — the best placement would be somewhere near, but not in, Planet Snoopy.)
The Uniqueness of the Patriot is harder to describe. It is more similar to other coasters at other parks than the first two I described. But has a length and intensity that fits well with the rest of the rides at WOF, and is a coaster that Betsy is still willing to go on, when other coasters become to extreme for her.
We also like our train, even if it is only a one-stop train. The use of a real train engine Eli (converted to natural gas), gives it a distinction we didn’t feel at the other parks. Once again, they have potential to ramp this up as well. The Great Train robbery scenario of 2016 was fun, they need to think more about wrapping it into various themes.
We have also enjoyed the street entertainments. This year and last they had the Brass Brigade doing roving performances. In 2016 they also had a town cast that went around and did things, mostly connected to Americana. These are elements they need to think about and weave in more completely to the experience.
I could go on, but as G.K. Chesterton said, it is hard to describe something you know well and love for many reasons. Something new you experience you can describe in an item or two, but the things you really like have too many layers to easily describe. Let me just close by saying we like our home park of Worlds of Fun, for many reasons, and also why we would like to see so many things that could make it even better.
I am curious to see how Winterfest works out this year. It sounds exciting, and I hope they keep the park’s flavor and theme in mind as they tailor the elements for it.