Thursday, July 23, 2015

Parking Toll Plaza Nearing Completion

The construction that has been taking place in Dutch Wonderland's parking lot is starting to take some shape and illustrate what their plans are.
It appears when you enter the property at the existing traffic light on Rt. 30 you will make an immediate right and proceed along this new road that will take you all the way around to an area near the campground enterance.
This road will allow traffic to stack (off the highway) while people dig in their pockets to pay for parking for the first time in 53 years. The new road leads to a toll plaza, similar to what you would find at most major amusement parks.

The individual toll boths carry out the park's castle theme and hopefully when they are finished, there will be plenty of colorful and welcoming signage to build visitor's anticipation for a day at the park. There is a separate lane for busses and campground use. It's not clear if Preferred Parking in front of the castle will continue to use the toll booth already in place near the Fudge Shop.

It looks like there is still more work to be done.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Photo Update and Orangeade Refills - 7/14

A few pics and some fun stuff from around the park Tuesday. We arrived to a near empty park around 1:45pm. Later on, we discovered most of the people were at Duke's Lagoon!
The monorail has been out of service for about three weeks. Online photos showed a section of track missing near the unused station. Rumors were flying that the track was struck by a trash truck. I'm happy to report that the monorail loop is once again complete.  When we were pulling into the parking lot there was a workman on a cherry picker doing some maintenance to the replaced section of track.

Inside the park, the monorail was parked just outside the station above the service garage. There were people working on it. It was kinda cool to see the monorail out on the line with it's doors open.

A park bench serves as a reminder that the ride is closed.

Later in the day I spotted several trains running empty except for the driver. Within in hour, the monorail was back up and running for guests.  The Dutch Wonderland website still lists the monorail as temporarily closed, but it was certainly business as usual for the ride in the later part of the day.

The name of the park has returned to the iconic pretzel, although if we want to nit-pick the fonts used are wrong.

A few weeks ago, Exploration Island added a second Gem Mining location to the park. The island is now home to another activity apparently having to do with cracking open a Geode. (Is a Geode something that I should know what it is?)  This new activity was covered up but later on I did see some employee training happening in the area. The Geode attraction is located between the Artifacts retail space and the Gondola Boat Ride. 

The cast of Decades of Dutch Wonderland, this is a really good show. We noticed several parents in the audience tapping their feet and bobbing their heads. The show features popular music from the 1960's through the 90's.
While some of our group sat and enjoyed their Dole Whip Junction goodies while waiting for the show to start, I ventured up to the Nathan's stand in the front of the park. I had seen the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Frosting Funnel Cake pictured on Dutch Wonderland's Instagram account and have been wanting to try one. A sign at the shuttered Funnel Cake Factory stated that all the Funnel Cake products were now available at Nathan's. I don't know if this was a temporary situation or the beginning of something new for the Factory/Turnpike building. The girl working at the adjacent barn games didn't know the answer either.
Anyhow, the Cream Cheese Funnel Cake was amazing...and huge! They also filled up my souvenir cup with Nathan's World Famous Orangeade for only 99 cents. That's a great deal! I will certainly take them up on that deal again. (Hopefully that wasn't just an employee who didn't know the proper policy.) 

This is the sign of a day well spent at Dutch Wonderland!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Photo Update 6/10/15 - Parking Lot and more

Some pics from around the complex this week starting with the news that some activity is happening towards the reorganization of the parking lot and entrance experience. The parking lot access from the campground entrance has been blocked off with barricades and fencing in anticipation of denying access to the parking lot without paying the new parking fee. It also appears that the shoulder into the park is being widened and perhaps additional lanes of traffic. If there are going to be toll booths for the parking lot they need to anticipate traffic back-ups as people spend time digging through their pockets, asking questions and undoubtedly yelling at the poor 16 year old girl who will have to take the brunt of people's anger having to pay for parking for the first time in 53 years.

Large sections of the parking lot of fenced off as construction moves on. This is the area formally occupied by the Wonderland Cinema and Mini-Golf.

Also around the park...
Guests were told that parents are no longer allowed inside the Choo Choo Charlie kiddie train attraction. In the past, parents of very small kids could push their children's hand powered crank cars around the track with the aid of a big stick. Now, the employees have to push the kids if they can't pedal the cars themselves. Sometime in the last week, there was reportedly an accident/injury that resulted in the new policy.

Noticed this around 8:00pm, all the seating from the Celebration Theater had been removed.

My guess is they moved the benches to erect the tent which is usually over the theater.

Nobody can resist taking pictures of baby ducks, especially when they cut across a walkway following their mommy.

And last, a picture of an empty Monorail station. Something you would NEVER see at Disney World and quite frankly it's not a common site at Dutch Wonderland either.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beyond The Map: Coloring Corner

Beyond The Map takes a look at a few things around Dutch Wonderland that might go unnoticed on a busy visit to the park. These are items that aren't necessarily attractions on their own, but little diversions that are worth pointing out. First up is a neat recent addition to the park, Coloring Corner.

Coloring Corner could easily go undetected. It's a bit off the beaten path, it's tucked away behind a ride and it's not on the park guide map. A few years ago, DW decided to swap the locations of Huck Finn's Leaping Frogs down by the Mill Stream and the Wiggle Racers which was located directly next door to the Storytime Corner theater. I assume the reason for the flip-flop had to do with the often rising waters of the stream which can cause flooding in the back area of the park. Better to move the expensive mechanical frog ride away from the water and up into the park and relocate Wiggle Racers, which is essentially a concrete slab and some kids ride on vehicles.

So while Leapin' Frogs took up residence in the former Wiggle Racers space, the footprint of the new attraction was much smaller than the space allotted for the Racers. The area was split in half and eventually Coloring Corner was born.

While in no ways is Coloring Corner a major attraction of Dutch Wonderland, it is one of the few spots in a park geared towards little kids where kids can run around and blow off some steam. By entering through a small path just in front of the Kingdom Coaster entrance, you can enter the back half of the former Wiggle Racers space and kids can let loose in the maze structure that was once for maneuvering little Wiggle Racers through. There's no dead ends or confusing paths to navigate, it's a pretty simple maze that will have kids screaming and laughing as they race around it.
The back wall of the Coloring Corner space features a huge dinosaur mural in black and white that kids are encouraged to add color to. There are two buckets full of Crayola Washable Markers and plenty of space for little ones to get their artist on!  I had first seen one of these huge coloring murals at nearby Cherry Crest Adventure Farm and thought it was pretty cool, so it's nice to see DW add a similar activity.

Coloring Corner is also perfectly situated in the park to offer an alternative attention grabber while big brother and sister are on the Kingdom Coaster, the wildest ride in the park.

To find Coloring Corner, walk directly behind Leapin' Frogs and look for a small mulch path on your right and under a tree to lead you to the gated spot.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Photo Update - 5/24/15

We got to the park around 3:00 on Sunday afternoon, the weekend of Memorial Day, and the park was packed - not unmanageable, but packed. We even had a hard time finding a parking spot in the Prefered lot, but we did and headed on inside. As always, here's a few photos I snapped...
I'm not sure if any of my findings are new, or they are just things I didn't notice opening weekend but either way...they painted over the name of the park on the giant iconic pretzel! It's been a great photo op because the pretzel told you where the photo was taken! Now it's just a pretzel!? You can see where they just painted right over the Dutch Wonderland lettering, not necessarily in this picture but in person you can. I hope they replace the letters soon.

The Wonderers were out this weekend, making their debut for the 2015 season. They sounded great and noting beats some live music in the park.

This was the insane line for Double Splash Flume around 4:00. The line filled the queue, crossed the bridge and was quite lengthy out into the little plaza behind the Aqua Stadium. Bon Voyage Balloon Chase was also hosting a full queue as well.

Was this Rita's here before? Because I'm sure it wasn't. This is on the side of the Aqua Stadium near it's entrance. There used to be a little arts and crafts stand here which is now over by the Celebration Theater. So excited to have another food option for my kids to bug me for.

I think the themeing in Exploration Island is great. The music they have playing back here really gives the park a "major theme park" feel. The beginning of May was my first time experiencing the new island but since then they've added a permanent structure for the dinosaur gift shop, called Artifacts, and they've added a second Gem Mining location. The gift shop building is cute with a cartoony dig site illustration up and down the sides.  My 2 year old daughter requested the dinosaurs repeatedly and the Dino Dig site (or sandbox as she calls it) is her favorite attraction in the park.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Photo Update - Grand Opening Weekend

We were at Dutch Wonderland just about every week for the 2011 & 2012 season, then we took two years off while we welcomed another addition to our family. Our last visit was Happy Hauntings last year, so I'm not sure how much of what looked new to me is totally new or I just missed it last October but he're some pics I snapped at yesterday's Grand Opening for the 52nd Season:

At 10:00 they made an announcement and shot confetti cannons off! I missed it by 45 seconds while I was stuck buying a guest ticket on my season pass.

Here's the park's new ride, Bon Voyage Balloon Chase:
The announcements over the speaker while waiting in the queue had a girl with a French accent and said bonjour and mercy. I thought that was a nice touch. There are other themed announcements at other rides that I don't recall being there before, like a mission control announcement at the space simulator rides and a wizard at the Dragon's Lair.

They moved Bosie the Cow across the railroad tracks and closer to the barn. A bench and some flowers fills the space where Bosie stood for a long time!

Sad to see the wobbly bridge across the pond in the front of the park has been removed. It was always tradition for us to cross the bride after taking the train around the park. Not only has the bridge and any indication of the bridge been removed...

...foot traffic has been rerouted to the railroad crossing and fencing prevents you from crossing the railroad tracks at any point other than the crossing. The changes do make for some nice seating space in the front by the food stands.

The Nathan's stand in the front of the park where the PA Kosher Mart used to be was not ready for opening weekend. (Neither was the Subway)

In the background you can spot a duck who has decided to make it's nest near this dinosaur neat of eggs.

The Gondola Cruise (nor the Tugboat) were operating on opening day.

I like this little secluded seating area on Exploration Island that has been created near the site of the old Windmill Ferris Wheel.

Busy afternoon on the island. This might be one of my new favorite spots in the park.

We caught a performance of Really Royal at the Storytime Corner. The show had my 2 year old princess completely captivated!

New structure on the path heading over to Duke's Lagoon. Based on it's neighbors, I would assume this will be used for a game.

There was nothing in bloom in the flower bed at the old Turnpike site.

The birthday party room inside the park is now a third Breyer's Ice Cream location. There is seating inside however, there are not names on the ice cream. There were maybe 8 tubs of ice cream in the cooler but none of them identified. Most of the flavors were in the chocolate family, so it wad basically several different shades of brown. My wife had a Cookies and Cream as that was the only identifiable  flavor.

While we are on be subject of odd things, there was also Christmas Music playing from the Sky Ride station and we had some disagreement on my daughter being allowed on the Silo Slide because of her height...or lack of. 

But all in all we had another Dutch Wonderful day and I'll leave you with a shot of DW's very own Backside of Water: