August 1, 2009
I’d lived in West Virginia all of my life, but in 28 years I’d only visited the state’s one and only amusement park once, sometime between 1985-1986. I really don’t remember much about our evening spent there, but I do remember eating pizza, riding the Haunted House, and getting sick on the Scrambler after riding the Spider. Huntington is about 3 hours away, and because I rarely ever head over to that part of the state I’d put off going to Camden Park for a very long time.
It isn’t that I didn’t want to go to the park, I just wasn’t sure if it would be worth the drive and the cash that I’d have to spend. Granted, most of that thinking was based on what my yearly salary was before the job I had at this point. I could never justify the trip for such a small park that might not even seem worth my time. My original plans for the weekend changed and I had the free time and budgeted cash, I decided to go to Camden. As an added bonus, they recently opened a new Sheetz close to Huntington and since it was on my way I took the opportunity to go and get a much beloved Buffalo Chicken sub.
After sleeping in on Saturday morning (a rare treat), I woke up and got ready, leaving around 1:30 PM. I didn’t want to arrive at the park before 5 PM because after that time it was half price admission, and I really didn’t think I’d need more than a few hours for the small roadside park. I stopped in Beckley at Walmart to get a shirt and some batteries. After getting on the WV Turnpike I stopped at Starbucks for a Frappuccino.
Once thru Charleston and Huntington I exited the interstate and headed to the park following the route my GPS mapped out. I got off an exit late, though, so I had to do some maneuvering around a few streets to get on the right road towards Camden Park. After about 10 minutes, though, I was pulling in to the parking lot, which cost $3. Not bad, even for a tiny park.
There was a line at the ticket booth to get in. I figured that couldn’t be a bad sign, since I had heard horror stories about the park in recent years. And having seen pictures from recent history, I wasn’t sure if the park would be nice and clean, or a run down dump. Granted, it wasn’t a thing of beauty for the most part but the front area was clean and neat.
After paying and going through the front ‘gate’, and I use that term loosely, I headed towards the Big Dipper midway taking pictures, then headed back towards the log flume. The park was clean and they had landscaped quite a lot of it. The layout was odd, and quite a few of the rides were just plopped down with makeshift platforms and steps up to the rides. After wondering around for a few minutes I headed to Big Dipper to get my credit. Only one person was working the ride, with only 1 train, and the queue is set up so that you can’t easily wait for the seat you want. But that didn’t matter. It ran an old National Amusement Device train, and as far as I know, this is the only one of that type I’d ever ridden in.
Big Dipper–It was rather comfy! The family behind me had a very small child that couldn’t have been more than 3 years old, and was well under the posted height limit, but the ride op allowed him on. Not that the coaster would in any way have been dangerous, mind you, but that was surprising. The first drop off of the lift was quaint, but the first big drop was actually pretty good. I was surprised with the fact that the coaster didn’t hit potholes at the bottom of the drop. The double pops of air you get as you go up/down/up the next hill was nice as well, and the crazy long tunnel was fun, emptying out just as you hit another small hop. The coaster is small, but quaint, and was really a lot of fun.
After getting off I headed over to Little Dipper to check the line out, but it was too long for now. I walked over by the Swan Lake and back to the back of the park, but didn’t feel like riding the Tilt A Whirl or Kite Flyer, so I headed back up towards the front. I walked around, at one point heading behind Big Dipper for some pictures. Sadly Hot Cat, a ride I’d wanted to ride, wasn’t running. I did end up riding the Whip, though, and it was pretty out of control. The track on it was shorter than most whips, so you get whipped around pretty good. It was mildly violent, but a lot of fun. I walked over and got in line for the Hawnted House next, another ride I was looking forward to because I didn’t remember much about it.
Hawnted House– It has a lift hill, a drop, and then a very wild mouse style layout inside the attraction. It was nothing special, but it was fun and you get going pretty fast. You go by the scenes too fast to really pay much attention to them, and it was very dark inside, with little to no sound effects, both of which could be changed to add more to the ride, but overall it was a quaint little ride.
Getting of I walked around the park some more and checked out the line for Little Dipper again, which was still longer than I wanted to wait at that point. I did hop on the Sky Lift, though. This one actually just goes out along the front edge of the park, turns around, and takes you back. It’s more of a ride than a type of transportation around the park. I got some nice pictures, though.
I’d gotten into riding trains in the last few years at amusement parks. I don’t know why, I grew up around trains, so they’re not some foreign thing to me. If anything, they used to get on my nerves when I was on the phone or trying to watch TV and one came barreling by the house. But I do enjoy riding them, so I rode Camden’s train. It was quaint and went around the back half of the park.
I walked back up to Big Dipper and took another ride before hopping back on the Hawnted House. While not scary, it’s a lot of fun and runs like a really crazy Wild Mouse. I toyed with riding the Paratroopers, but didn’t. Finally I got in line for the Little Dipper.
Little Dipper–The ride op was trying his best to hype the kids up. Little Dipper goes up a lift and had a similar layout to Big Dipper with a dip/turn/drop combo off the lift. It was a fun ride with some nicely popable hills. I was surprised that it wasn’t rough after looking at the track. I may have ridden this as a kid, I don’t remember, but at least now I can officially count it in my track record.
I walked around a bit more and briefly listened to a band playing in the park. I rode the Ferris Wheel to take some pictures of the park and scared my self as I leaned forward slightly to take a picture, with the cart I was in going a little too forward. I hadn’t ridden that type of wheel in a long time, and the seat moved forward more than I’d have liked.
After riding the Ferris Wheel I decided I’d leave. I had at least a 3 hour ride home and wanted to make some stops on the way. My first stop was at Sheetz for another sub and some coffee. I ran into someone I went to school with, she works there as was finishing her last year at Marshall University. We spoke briefly and then I headed home.