If I asked you what the oldest amusement park in the world was what would you say?
You may respond with Disneyland, or Disney World. Maybe you’d say Cedar Point if you’ve been reading Behind the Thrills for a while and realized they were 150 years old? Maybe you’d pick a small local park for your guess? Well unless you said Lake Compounce located in Connecticut – you’d be wrong. This park has been in operation for a long time…in fact, let’s put it into perspective:
-Lake Compounce is celebrating its 175th year, they opened in 1846.
-Disneyland is 65 years old, an entire 110 years younger.
-This park has now seen 2 world wars, and 2 pandemics and is still standing.
That’s a feat in itself. What’s even more impressive is the parks history, and their current state of affairs. I stopped in to visit them during their 175th year celebration and got a chance to speak to Lynsey from their PR department.
(Full park history can be found here: https://www.lakecompounce.com/park-info/about-lake-compounce)
If you want to read the full history of the park follow that link; however I’m going to summarize their ride history and some notable facts: In 1911 they got their first ride: a Carousel they paid 10,000$ for. It’s still in operation today and is their oldest ride. In 1914 they got their first Roller Coaster – the Green Dragon, which was replaced in 1927 by Wildcat built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Wildcat continues to remain in operation today. The park continued to prosper on through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and even began hosting musicians, magicians and artists such as Frank Sinatra, Harry Houdini, and Aretha Franklin.
As you approach the park today you will be flanked by giant 175th banners. Going through the tunnel at the entrance you will find a freshly cleaned and painted front entrance with a new Carousel horse as the center piece – signifying their history with the ride. 175th year anniversary flags adorn the park, and merchandise can be found in the gift shops. The park is spotless clean and beautiful.
Their ride collection is stunningly great for a small park tucked into a neighborhood. They have a Boomerang – my favorite color one ever; titled Zoomerang with a fluorescent paint job. While I’ll never enjoy these coasters, I did love the aesthetic of it. Moving past the boomerang the collection improves vastly. Wildcat, which we already discussed, is still a wonderful ride even as it shows it’s age. They have a SkyRocket 2 model from Premier called Phobiafearcoaster – and unlike the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens model’s this one has no harnesses. There’s a kiddie coaster for the younger ones, then there’s Boulder Dash.
Boulder dash is a unique, stand out, amazing wooden coaster. Built in 2000, and winning the Golden Ticket Award for #1 wooden coaster in the world in 2004, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, this wooden coaster uses its mountain terrain perfectly. This is a long ride at 4,672 feet of track that take you out into the mountain and back along the lake. The ride starts by climbing the mountain, then drops 115 feet down the back before wrapping around the front to guests view. The coaster reaches a speed of 60MPH as it makes its way through the thick forest. The coaster ends with a streak of airtime hills along the lake giving riders a great view and thrilling ejector and floater air.
The park also features a collection of flat rides: a pirate ship, a dark ride shooting game, swings, a drop tower, some water rides, and a full water park. The water park is included in admission, and new for 2021 they just got their biggest slide yet: the Venus Vortex, which looks just like a Venus fly trap! It’s massive!
Overall Lake Compounce is an AMAZING park and a wonderful experience. It sits perfectly between visiting Nickelodeon Universe at American Dream Mall and Six Flags New England, making it a common sense stop. A few hours in this park is easily worth every dollar – after all, it is actually a piece of American History.
Justin Landers is 30 year’s old and owns Just Shoot Light Multimedia Productions, a freelance photo and video company involved in the theme park industry since 2013. You can find him on Instagram at @Inverted_Therapy and @Just_Shoot_Light and on YouTube or Facebook.
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