Trip Report: A Day at Lake Winnie
My first and most recent trip to Lake Winnepesaukah (Lake Winnie for short) was last year during the park’s Halloween event, so I only saw the park after the sun had set. I was impressed by what the quaint park had to offer, so I was excited to return to see the park during the daytime.
I arrived at the park roughly an hour after its 10 a.m. opening. The weather was gorgeous — temperatures in the 70s with a gentle breeze.
The crowds were light, so I was able to ride most of the park’s more popular attractions in less than an hour.
Of course first up on the list was my favorite ride at Lake Winnie: Cannonball.
Nestled in the back of the park, the beaming white wooden coaster isn’t necessarily imposing. But it packs a punch few other similarly sized wooden coasters can offer.
Its simple out-and-back layout provides a surprisingly smooth and airtime-packed ride. I recommend sitting closer to the back (my favorite seat is the left seat of the back row).
Designed by the legendary John C. Allen, the coaster has been in operation since 1967.
Each of Cannonball’s two Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters (PTC) trains seat 18 riders each. I’m not sure if the park ever runs both trains at the same time, but there was no need on this day with the lighter crowds. I only waited 10-15 minutes at most in the afternoon.
The coaster’s pacing is incredible for its 70-foot height. It maintains its momentum right up until the brake run.
The most unfortunate thing about the coaster is its location. Much of its layout is hidden from the midway, so getting photos of the ride’s airtime-packed camelback hills is challenging. Perhaps one day the park will expand the midway to run alongside the coaster’s layout.
The visit to the park is worth it for this ride alone.
The park’s unique Fly-O-Plane attraction allows guests to control their own plane’s aerial maneuvers. Think of it as a precursor to Canada’s new-for-2016 Skyhawk ride.
It’s a shame that it’s tucked away in the back of the park behind Cannonball, because it’s a fascinating ride to watch and really deserves to be front-and-center.
The Wacky Factory dark ride earns its name — it’s one of the most bizarre dark rides I’ve ever ridden. Don’t expect much of a story, though. You’re mostly just maneuvering through a variety of rooms decked out with lighting effects and a quirky soundtrack.
Think of it as a funhouse on steroids (or acid). There are also a couple of surprises at the end that I won’t spoil.
Wild Lightnin’ is nothing to get excited about. On the contrary, my knees were in pain after riding from being jostled around while speeding through the hairpin turns. But I suppose the same thing can be said for most wild-mouse coasters.
I wouldn’t be devastated if it left the park, and I don’t think many other guests would be either.
One of the (many) hidden gems of Lake Winnie is the Oh-Zone drop tower. Its 140-foot height may not be as intimidating as the 200 foot and taller drop towers, it packs a forceful drop. But don’t expect much time to admire the view — you drop as soon as you reach the top.
The park has just about every traditional amusement park or carnival ride you could think of, including the classic Tilt-A-Whirl.
And it may not be the Disney version you know and love, but you can’t go wrong with “Jumbo Elephants.”
The Wave Swinger gives riders a beautiful view of the lake and midway.
The park’s old-timey ferris wheel also provides gorgeous views of the lake.
If you have the time, I highly recommend taking the 10-minute ride on the park’s train which circles the lake.
Besides the beautiful view, you’re also treated to a recorded spiel detailing the park’s very interesting history.
It wouldn’t be a classic amusement park without a scenic “antique cars” ride.
The Boat Chute attraction, opened in 1927, is one of the oldest and most unique rides at the park. It was closed during the Halloween event so I was very excited to ride it this visit.
Think of it as a cross between a log flume and a chute-the-chutes ride.
After floating through a very long tunnel, the boat climbs a 30-40 foot wooden chute.
And then the boat makes a surprisingly smooth splash into the lake.
You won’t get drenched, but careening into the lake is just as (if not more) fun.
Twister, the park’s new-for-2016 top spin on steroids is a sight to behold.
The Moser Rides “Maverick” top spin model features two asymmetrical arms, which allow the 21-seat gondola to turn in nearly every which way imaginable.
Watch the ride in action below:
I didn’t ride it due to an aversion to flipping head over heels over head over heels… (you get the point). But I had a great time watching it.
The park also offers free in-park wifi. While the reception was spotty in some areas, it was a wonderful amenity to have (you hear that, other parks?).
Behind the carousel is the Wacky Worm, a Fajume “Wacky Worm” model, which opened in 1991. It’s a great starter coaster for the young folk.
The Conestoga ride is one of my favorite amusement park flat rides. I wish more parks were building them — it seems like more of these are being removed.
While the SoakYa water park (opened in 2013) was not yet open for the season, it looked like a very nice addition to the park.
Lake Winnie reminds me of a Roller Coaster Tycoon-style amusement park. It features whimsical theming, a beautiful lake setting and plenty of classic amusement park rides.
I really hope the park continues to see success. It seemed to draw a respectable crowd, and I’m sure attendance will swell once the water park opens.
There’s a dichotomy at the park between the old and the new. Many of the park’s more recent additions (aside from the water park) have been carnival-style flat rides plopped down on open asphalt throughout the park.
Whereas the old Lake Winnie was more ornate, planned and crafted, the new Lake Winnie (again, aside from the SoakYa water park) is very much a portable, temporary carnival-like assortment of flashy flat rides.
Thankfully, the balance between the two makes for a very enjoyable park experience, but I hope that the park eventually returns to that classic Americana-style amusement park when building for the future.
I’d also like to see the park build another roller coaster, but I can’t decide which I would want them to build (feel free to add your ideas in the comments section below). Something family friendly (steel or wooden) would fit well within their demographic.
I’ll end by saying that I was extremely impressed by the park staff. Nearly every employee I interacted with was polite and seemed to be enjoying their work. For me, that more than makes up for any of the park’s shortcomings.
Watch a video with a compilation of shots from the park below:
See more photos from our day at Lake Winnie here.
Have you visited Lake Winnie? Share your thoughts about the amusement park in the comments section below.
This may be a long shot but maybe a Maurer spinner to replace the Wild Lightning? At some point I could very much see a Gerstlauer Eurofighter. Maybe in the 2020’s or 2030’s.
Great idea, Elias! I would pick the spinning coaster as the Euro Fighter might be too similar to Dare Devil Dive at Six Flags over Georgia (which is less than two hours away). But either would be terrific additions to the park’s lineup.