Wild World is located just outside Washington, DC, in Largo, Maryland.
We arrived at Wild World on Sunday of their 'Sneak Preview' weekend, the weekend before Memorial Day. To our surprise, parking was free for the weekend, and because some of the attractions were not yet working, admission was discounted from $18.99 to $10, and they threw in a free pass for later in the season. Not too bad a start for the day.
As it turned out though, most rides were not working. The kiddie park seemed well-stocked, and the water park area seemed to be working (we didn't sample either of these areas), but most of the adult rides were down. Wild World is not a large amusement park, so it doesn't have that many thrill rides. What we noticed were:
The park is also home to three roller coasters. One is a kiddie coaster, located in the children's section. The second is an Arrow shuttle loop named the Python, which was formerly one of the twin 'Lightnin Loops' at Six Flags Great Adventure. I don't know if this was the 'loop of death' at that park or not. It has gotten a nice new yellow and black paint job, but installation was not yet complete. Also, it doesn't look like they painted the train yet (faded red). Looks like the large center pipe between the track rails (real term?) is the only thing left to install.
All that said and done, the real reason to go to Wild World is to ride the Wild One. The Wild One is an 'out of control out-and-backer', to quote a fellow ACE'r, and many people's #1 woodie. After riding this coaster for most of the day, I can see why.
Here is a brief history of the Wild One, provided by Bill Buckley:
When the GIANT COASTER loomed over the skyline at Paragon Park, Nantasket Beach (Hull, MA), it delivered a ride so wild that it firmly cemented itself as my #1 Wooden Coaster for many years! Killer first drop, great maintained speed, zippy change of directions, and lots of negative g's!
The coaster was bought in 1985 when Paragon Park went belly up in favor of condo development (Boo, hiss). Wild World bought the 1917 John Miller/PTC coaster for a mere $17,000.00!! A definite steal! It appeared in 1987 at Wild World, Largo, Maryland as the WILD ONE. The coaster was dismantled, moved, and re-built by Charlie Dinn, who had also done Knoebels PHOENIX. The coaster ran ok in it's first few years of operation, but soon became unbearably rough and unrideable. Wild World went bankrupt in 1990, and left the WILD ONE closed to the public in 1991, in much need of work. Tierco Corp came to the rescue in late 1991 when they purchased Wild World, and brought coaster designer John F. Pierce in to work on the coaster to get it up and running for the 1992 operating season. The result? Non-stop speed, amazing lateral g's, and KILLER negative g's. The WILD ONE is a most aptly named coaster!
Reports from the park say Tierco/John Pierce plan to further work on the coaster next year, including the far turn around and the helix. I just hope they don't ruin a good thing ... .it's almost a perfect coaster! The only bad part is after crossing through the lift hill. There are a few hundred feet of dead track before the helix. If they put a few more drops in there (or speed bumps), this would be the #1 coaster of all time.
To start with, the Wild One is a beautiful coaster to look at - gleaming white paint, massive size and classic shape all come together. The station is quite large, with a small zig-zag queue in the back, and small individual row queues by the tracks, with a large dead space in the middle. Each row queue has a chain at the end of it that YOU THE RIDER unhook and rehook when boarding the train. YOU ARE IN CONTROL. Well, not quite, but I was surprised they let you do anything by yourself anymore.
When we were there, they were running the Wild One with one train, a four-car, three-rows-per-car PTC, painted black with red stripes and sporting seat dividers and seat belts (train #1). The second train, if there is one, was nowhere to be seen, although there is a storage track for a second train. After a long station announcement, we were off.
A quick left out of the station, past the exposed lift-hill drive belt, and you're on the large chain lift. Quite a nice view of the park off to your left and of woods off your right. Don't get too complacent, though. First drop is excellent, turning slightly to the right at the top of the hill and plunging fast down to the ground, giving some air to the back of the train. The next couple of hills leading to the turnaround are great, with lots of air in the front of the train. The far turn is amazing - I loved it! High in the air, with a strong downward slope, this generates a lot of lateral G's and picks up a lot of speed.
A side note here - I noticed on this turn that the walkway rails are quite low, almost non-existant, which makes the turn seem more terrifying than it is. Why is it that the presence of a railing alleviates that fear to some extent? Do we really think a single piece of 2x4 railing is going to noticeably affect a 10,000 pound train travelling at 30+ mph if it decides to leave the track? Does anyone else feel safer when there's a railing on the side of a turn?
Some more great hills heading back to the lift hill, including one (#4?) that tosses you to the side quite nicely. The last two hills before passing through the lift hill (#6 and #7?) have brakes on their tops, and the first one noticeably slows the train down. However, there is still ample speed reaching the top of the next one, which IMHO is the best hill on the ride, giving MAJOR front seat airtime when passing under the supports for the lift hill. After this pass-through, as Buck points out above, is a long dead space in the track. There is a slight elevation change or two, but nothing that gives any force. After the dead zone, you enter the downward-spiraling right-handed helix, and then into the brake run. I am not sure what the deal is with the two brakes I mentioned. The first one, while slowing the train down, does not kill the effect of the next hill. And the two of them combined only bleed off speed before the helix, which is plenty fast and rough as it is. I don't know if I would like the helix as much if the train were going much faster.
All in all, a great ride. The front seat (or two) gives the best ride, IMHO. Lots of air time, and a smoother ride. The back seat is quite rough, second in my limited experience only to the Coney Island Cyclone, which was so rough I wouldn't ride it twice in a row. It's a shame there's the dead zone before the helix, but otherise no real complaints. The ride is very fast, has lots of lateral g's, lots of negative g's, pretty smooth (at least in the front), has PTC trains, and no crowds. Not much more I could ask from a coaster.
The Wild One is now my #2 woodie, second only to the Georgia Cyclone, which is a lot smoother, and gives a lot more airtime. Flames welcome.
As always, I'm anxious for feedback on these posts, so feel free to mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org Memorial Day Weekend is almost upon us!