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Cheap family fun

Saturday, April 16, 2005

WITH MORE THAN 75 RIDES, SLIDES and attractions, Waldameer Park and Water World offer some of the most summer fun on the eastern shores of Lake Erie.
Occupying 45-acres at the neck of Presque Isle State Park peninsula, located in Erie, Pa., the eleventh oldest park in the nation has something for everyone, beginning with the admission.
"Our parking is free, and you can walk right into the amusement park for free," said Waldameer Park and Water World Owner Paul Nelson. "We're one of the very few parks where there is no admission charge."
Naturally, there is a cost to partake in the many attractions, but the lack of an admission charge for Waldameer Park is designed to attract the parents of budget-minded families who are more interested in letting their children do the thrill seeking as they do the relaxing. While the park offers unlimited ride wristbands, individual ride tickets can be purchased, allowing mom or dad a chance to have some fun as needed. The Water Park does require an admission cost, however.
Considering its scenic location, about an hour's drive from Youngstown, Waldameer Park and Water World are also a topnotch outdoor destination for families and groups, offering 19 private picnic groves. Unlike the picnic areas of other parks that can be rented for only a few hours at a time, Nelson said his groves are booked for the entire day.
As far as something new for the 2005 season, Waldameer Park and Water World recently constructed a midway gift house where visitors can purchase trinkets and hats or, if they are feeling a bit daring, perhaps get an airbrushed tattoo for the day.
Plans for rides
Still excited about last year's unveiling of the $3.5 million Steel Dragon, a spinning roller coaster of exciting fun, Waldameer Park and Water World officials are already looking forward to the park's next addition, the Ravine Flyer II. Construction on the coaster, due to open in 2007, is expected to begin this year. The expansive project includes many steep drops, as well as a 65-foot bridge that will cross over the Peninsula Road. Talk about great publicity to Presque Isle State Park visitors.
When summer is in full swing, and staying cool is a priority, Nelson said the park has plenty of options. This includes karaoke on the midway stage and three new Showtime Theater Entertainment Shows: "Hot Summer Fun: An Upbeat Song & amp; Dance Show," "Wallybear's Fun-A-Rama: A Kids Interactive Show," and "Sing Our Song, America: A Salute to the US of A." And then there is always the wet-and-wild Water World as the perfect beat-the-heat solution.
"Waldameer Park was one of the very first parks in the country to put a water park combined with an amusement park," Nelson said. "What we did was we waited until they started making the slides out of fiberglass. The first slides were made out of concrete sprayed on. It was really rough."
The owner said that following the opening of Ravine Flyer II, he expects the park to completely revamp Water World into a new millennium water adventure.
Nelson said the reason people come back to his amusement adventure land is simple.
"We're a family-owned park, we have three generations working here and we don't try to soak you," Nelson said. "We try to have you come back time after time. We have beautiful gardens, our prices are reasonable and it's a heck of a lot of fun."