Summertime Sadness – A Reflection on the Beginning of the 2014 Season


After our recent visit to Valleyfair, perhaps we weren’t quoting Lana in saying that we have “Summertime Sadness”. However, there’s a larger matter that we care to acknowledge at this point in the park’s history.

We will be writing up a review of Route 76 that does recognize fully our positive (yes, we do have positive remarks about it — we swear!) review of the new area. However, this is our critique of the rest of the park as we saw it last week. We realize that yes, there are empty spots in the park, and yes, they will get filled eventually. In spite of that, we’re aiming to address a larger issue that is of concern regarding the history of Valleyfair, and its evolution over the past few years.

From as far back as we can remember, Valleyfair has been a family amusement park that has maintained a certain “charm”, found in the nooks and crannies of its sprawling acres of land. From the massive willow trees found in Berenstain Bear Country, to Colonel Oompahpah, to the scenic waterfall found flowing underneath the Flume (Say that 3 times fast). Yes, Valleyfair has had its fair share of character and charm; in this we have found no discrepancy between us. However, after our latest visit to the park, there was a unanimous agreement among the Valleyfairzoners — The charm that Valleyfair once had has diminished drastically over the past few years.

Though festive flags abounded, it wasn’t in the cemented-over Midway Stage that took place of the newly relocated Scrambler. In spite of the great new view of the Ferris Wheel, it wasn’t due to the removal of the many trees that used to hang over the Corkscrew queue line. It wasn’t even due to the new Sand Volleyball Courts that are ostensibly similar in size to a new Whitewater West or Proslide kids play area. Neigh, it was the Hydroblaster hill that left us feeling a bit of sadness at the start of this summertime.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that nature in its grandeur has a great effect on the human being. For the longest that we can remember, we have made a sort of “joke” over trees here at Valleyfairzone. In actuality, however, it isn’t a joke. When we see trees, we see hope. We see the opportunity for growth, and we also see shades of that charm we remember from previous years. It was evident that there was careful planning in regard to the natural surroundings in the newly reimagined Antique Autos. However, that seemed to be one of the only “new” areas of the park that featured this natural beauty that we speak of.

Just for reference, let us take you back to 2006, when the Flume dominated the area where Breakers Bay now resides.


It’s found in the overgrown grass that nearly hangs into the Flume itself. It’s found in the jagged rocks that line the fence where guests could possibly get soaked from passing boats. It’s found in the rickety lift hill that could be heard from Excalibur’s queue line. It is an unparalleled charm that we hope somebody is finding somewhere in the park in these most recent of years.

Now before we go accusing the park of cementing over our beloved childhood memories, we have to preface this thesis by acknowledging the business aspect of Valleyfair. The demands that the park keep up with current industry standards, with company policies, and with the ever-growing need to cater to the numerous markets, target-audiences, and fans of the park that want that gosh-darn B&M invert that is “so long overdue”.

In-fact, we don’t take the capital expenditures that Valleyfair has invested in lightly. Planet Snoopy was a much-needed expansion that transformed a mundane kids area into a vibrant, contemporary “planet” where families can enjoy a wide variety of rides, attractions, and entertainment. Breakers Bay brought an incredible potential to Soak City that paved the way (Pun fully intended) for what we’re speculating is an expansion that will finally bring the waterpark into the 21st century. Route 76 did a great job of bringing attention to the front of the park for the first time since 2003, and we know that the front of the park will continue to be remodeled and reimagined as years pass.

In essence, despite the incredible work and effort put into reimagining the park from an infrastructural and contemporary standpoint, the charm and natural beauty that Valleyfair once held has been diminished to its current state, which is quite lackadaisical and seemingly apathetic to say the least. Again, we know that the areas that Tilter, Scrambler, and IMAX previously occupied aren’t areas which management is saying, “Oh well, good enough — we like our sod.” However, we also don’t see the immediate efforts being taken to make these gaps, holes, and fields of grass into areas which guests marvel at the beauty of the landscape, instead of noting “Oh yeah, something used to be here.”

Parenthetically, while we reflect on the number of vacant spaces within the park, we also recognize our inability to have that much of an influence on whether or not massive forests, grandiose waterfalls, or magnificent rock formations are added to the park. We also recognize that we aren’t much help given we haven’t listed our suggestions as to what we think should fill the aforementioned areas. With that said, we do in-fact trust in the current management to bring back some of that charm. It’s simply a matter of imagination, thought, time, and money. Until those factors come in abundance . . . we rest our case.




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3 thoughts on “Summertime Sadness – A Reflection on the Beginning of the 2014 Season

  1. from what I hear hydroblaster will return next year along with a new slide tower most likely similar to what worlds of fun and dorney just got

  2. Yeah, Valleyfair has lost some of it’s charm over the past few years, but in my opinion, it still has a lot more charm than most other corporate parks nowadays.

  3. I think your analysis is spot on. The park has/had some great spaces where the rides, buildings, and landscape work with each other. Places like the Monster snuggled up next to High Roller, or the now gone wonderful dining deck above the old flume splashdown. Recently I thought they actually did some nice place making with Planet Snoopy tucked into the bend of High Roller, but other places in the park could really use more care in design of their atmosphere. The pinch point created by the Mad Mouse and Soak City really wasn’t planned well for atmosphere but it is something they can fix in the assumed growth of Soak City. Hindsight I’m betting they wished they built the Wavepool and moved Soak City out to the parking lot where Route 76 is, allowing them to run it as a separate park.

    Cedarfair is focusing on a lot of these issues at Cedar Point as well. It’s tough to master plan for an amusement park as I doubt people were thinking just how big modern rides would get.

    That being said, I’d really like to see a well landscaped flume ride installed. The original was a classic with it’s tunnel and wood trestle hill. A ride where I don’t need to get absurdly soaked like you do on the wave.

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