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Lake Compounce may be one of the best amusement parks you’ve never heard of. I sure hadn’t heard of it, and we only ended up here by accident. Nestled in between the worldwide headquarters for ESPN and a ridiculously tall building with the Otis Elevator logo on it (their HQ is nearby as well), Lake Compounce has apparently been around for 175 years, making it the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States.
To be clear, Lake Compounce isn’t Disney World. It’s not even quite at the level of a Hersheypark. But, for what it is, it’s pretty incredible. Due to an early summer special, we paid $30 per ticket. Our family of four spent a day at Lake Compounce for about what it would cost one of us to visit Disney World for the day. Regular price seems to be around $50, which is still probably an okay value. There are 30 or so rides and a pretty decent water park.
The ride of the day was the first and last attraction we rode. I had seen some advertisements on the Lake Compounce website talking about how great Boulder Dash, one of their roller coasters was. The amusement park snob that I am scoffed at that and the announcement that Boulder Dash had won a bunch of awards. But, I love a good wooden roller coaster, so I was 100% ready to ride.
Walking up to Boulder Dash it started to make sense to me. This was absolutely an original roller coaster. As it turns out, Boulder Dash is a “Mountain Coaster”. Not in the way you might think from a ski mountain, but an actual roller coaster, on a mountain. The ride starts out as you climb up the mountain, then you shoot down the back side and around to the front at speeds I don’t ever really recall on a wooden roller coaster.
From there the coaster dips up and down with the topology of the mountain before turning around. Normally I might think that was the end of the ride, but Boulder Dash still had more surprises for us. Not only was I lifting out of the cart a bit on the way back, I could feel the cart lifting up a bit as we hurtled down the track. Again, these were speeds I never recalled on a wooden roller coaster. Lightning Racer at Hersheypark is probably one of the fastest wooden roller coasters I can recall. Boulder Dash easily surpassed it.
Before we were even finished with the ride it was clear why Lake Compounce advertised the awards Boulder Dash has won. If you’re a roller coaster fan, your journey isn’t complete until you’ve ridden Boulder Dash. I’d recommend going twice.
There were a few other thrill coasters and an assortment of bumper cars, carousels, etc. We really enjoyed the old-fashioned trolley ride. It was an easy, fun way to get down to the river rapids ride. Lines were nonexistent at the rapids and they let us ride multiple times without having to get up and board again. The staff were all incredibly friendly throughout the park.
The Final Two Pennies
This is our last night in Connecticut before heading out to New Hampshire in the morning. Lake Compounce was a delightful surprise addition to our schedule. When you put it in the right perspective, you can have a great time at Lake Compounce. With a few dozen attractions and a water park all included in the price of your ticket, it’s an affordable day for a family of four when compared with the big theme parks. And, if you’re a roller coaster nut, Boulder Dash is one of the most original coasters I’ve ever been on. Simple and exciting all at once!
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