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Place Category: Attraction
Waldameer Park and Water World is an amusement / water park in Erie, Pennsylvania located at the base of Presque Isle. Waldameer is the fourth oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania, and the tenth oldest in the United States. The park is admission-free, with a midway, and covered picnic facilities. The roller coasters and other major rides require either the display of a paid wristband scanned upon riding, or the use of “Wally Points” on their “Wally Card” system. A gift shop is located in the park selling Waldameer souvenirs. The water park operates an assortment of water slides and raft rides and is admission by fee only. The name “Waldameer” can be translated literally as “Woods by the Sea” in German. Waldameer’s operating season runs from May through September.
The park began as a picnic area called Hoffman’s Grove. The Erie Electric Motor Company leased the park in 1896 and renamed it “Waldameer.” The trolley car company extended service to its new park, making Hoffman’s Grove picnic area a terminus on the line in the hopes of increasing passenger traffic.
The park operates two classic dark attractions: the Whacky Shack (Built in 1970), a two-story ride, and the Pirates Cove (Built in 1972), a walk-through funhouse. Both were designed and built by the dark ride master Bill Tracy and his company, Amusement Display Associates of Cape May, New Jersey.
Waldameer sold its classic carousel at auction in 1988 for more than $1 million. A new carousel with sixty operating horses was obtained from Chance Manufacturing. The park owner intended to construct a new restaurant called The Carousel next to the Rainbow Gardens banquet hall, though this idea never came to fruition. A 10-foot giraffe and a jumping horse from the classic carousel were reserved from the auction to be used in the new restaurant. Part of the auction proceeds was used to erect four additional water slides—a speed slide, free fall slide, one-man and two-man raft sides—all built by Molded Fiberglass Company of Union City.
For the 2007 season, Waldameer opened X-Scream, a 140-foot-tall drop tower ride. In 2008, the highly anticipated Ravine Flyer II wooden coaster opened leading to 20% increase in attendance, and the busiest season in park history. The coaster won the Golden Ticket Award for the best new ride for 2008. The 2009 season saw the extension of the midway south to coincide with the addition of a new Disk-O ride, Mega Vortex. A modern, “cashless” pay system called a Wally Card was introduced for 2010. A new family oriented area, The North End, located within the train turnaround, opened in 2011. The rides located in the area are the Flying Swings, S.S. Wally, and Wendy’s Tea Party. New additions for the 2012 season included the Zamperla-manufactured Happy Swing (located in the Kiddieland area), a second train for the L. Ruth Express, a redesigned loading area for the Whacky Shack, and the requirement that all in-park transactions must be made with a Wally Card. Prior to the 2014 season, Waldameer will paint the slides in Water World, as well as add new decorative items throughout the park. Plans beyond 2014 include a water park expansion with a wavepool and a new children’s area, as well as an amusement park expansion on the park’s lakefront property.