We went back to Lake Compounce yesterday on the way home from a little family reunion in Pennsylvania. The visit was shorter than we'd expected, thanks to the two-hour backup caused by a car accident at a terrible choke point on I-84 near Waterbury.
No coaster rides this time. My nerves were already a little jangled by the ride in (though Sam was driving); also, the interesting development is that my daughter Jorie is now just tall enough to ride most adult rides, so it's a lot more fun to do stuff with her. But she's at an awkward point where the coasters at Compounce are still a little too much for her, except for a minute kiddie coaster which is far too babyish. Like many small parks, they're lacking something in the "family coaster" category like a Mine Train.
Also, the water slides and such, which I'd say are at least half of Compounce's attractions, don't open until next weekend (and it was too cool for them to be really attractive anyway).
So the standout ride today was the sky ride, which is pretty unusual for any amusement park, let alone a smallish one: basically a long ski lift that goes 700 feet up the mountain and back down again, giving spectacular views of the lake and environs. There's much more of it than you can actually see from the ground; it's about a half-hour ride. Sam and I hadn't been able to ride this last time, because the only means of evacuation involves a hike down the mountainside, so they can't run it when it's just rained and potentially slippery. This ride was pretty amazing, but was also enough to actually trigger the little bit of acrophobia I have, especially by proxy whenever Jorie started horsing around (I kept remembering that the lapbar is non-locking). She seems to completely lack this fear, incidentally, so she may turn out to be a bigger thrill-seeker than I am.
One of the most unusual things you can see from the sky ride is a colossal forest of satellite dishes, that you also drive past on the way in; I'm used to these being defense or intelligence facilities, but this one turns out to be the nerve center of ESPN.
After that, we discovered that Sam's favorite ride at the park, Thunder Rapids, actually was open, so we rode on that and got wet. It was a walk-on and they just let us ride through three times in a row, so we got really wet. Wet enough that we had to concede the argument we'd had with Jorie on the sky ride about the need to go back to the car and change our clothes afterward, which ate up some more of our precious park time. I've ridden several of these sorts of rides in which you get splashed a lot in a big round raft, and I think Compounce's is actually the best one I've encountered. Kali River Rapids at Disney Animal Kingdom is bigger and fancier, with a small drop at the climax, but Thunder Rapids is splashier and more chaotic, and wins for general soaking.
And then we had our first time contesting with our daughter on the bumper cars.
The experience of going to these parks changes a lot when your kid is no longer in the kiddie-ride category. It's one thing I like about Story Land up around North Conway (now owned by the same company as Compounce): they made the decision to specialize in family rides rather than kiddie rides per se, so that you can share the experience even with rather smaller children. I'd like to get up there again and take Jorie on their new wooden coaster, Roar-O-Saurus; it sounds like it would be exactly her speed.