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 Review of Boulder Dash @ Lake Compounce
5 Rating Posted by: fergusonat on 7/7/2007 12:11:00 AM
Boulder Dash is undoubtedly a legendary experience, but I must urge all who read this review that one must ride the Dash repeatedly to get the full effect of this masterpiece of wooden coaster construction.

Our first ride on Boulder Dash just as the park opened was subpar to put it lightly. My friend and I were pretty disappointed, although we did not really admit it at the time. We had such high expectations for Boulder Dash, and it seemed to fall severely short. I would have ranked it as maybe a 7.5 after this initial ride. Nonetheless (and thankfully), our disheartening first spin did not deter us from hopping right back in line.

Now, I had read some reviews warning of the bizarre yet glorious phenomenon that Boulder Dash undergoes each day as the ride begins to heat up, but nothing truly prepared us for our second ride on this beauty. The wooden coaster gods must have flipped some switch, because our second ride on Boulder Dash was a completely different experience altogether than the first. The airtime seemed so much more forceful, the laterals were brutally enjoyable, and the ride was overall much more intense.

Something truly magical happens as Boulder Dash warms up. What begins as a slightly-above-average-woodie-in-a-spiffy-setting at park opening rapidly transforms into an epic experience worthy of world-wide recognition. Indeed, Boulder Dash progressively got better with each of our rides, culminating in our 7th and final ride which essentially altered our very perception of what a world class roller coaster consists of.

There isnt much use in describing Boulder Dashs layout in detail, because its nearly impossible to translate the Dash-experience into a coherent paragraph. Suffice to say, Boulder Dash is a turbulent skid down Compounce Mountain, rich with airtime, solid lateral gs, and thrilling close calls with intimidating boulders, topped off with a frantic series of bunny hills before slamming into the final brakes.

I would venture to say that Boulder Dash is the most complete coaster I have ridden to date:

1. It has an unmatched setting, lurking ominously in the shadows of Compounce Mountains dense foliage

2. Top notch airtime, and lots of it

3. A sustained level of intensity

4. Character, and soul

While I still find rides like El Toro, Maverick, and Phoenix "better" than Boulder Dash, I still hold firmly that Boulder Dash is a more complete experience when viewed from all possible angles.

I thoroughly enjoyed Boulder Dash, and I would credit it as the reason I am now decidedly a wood-advocate when it comes to coasters!

Review Comments

mrceagle on 7/7/2007 4:55:53 PM said:
Very good trip report. allot of info. Glad you got in 7 rides. But I must say that 26 ina row can get a little Disorientating.
hrrytraver on 7/9/2007 2:37:28 PM said:
fergu, if i may be so bold as to make a suggestion --- i think that if you start grabbing some more credits on great wood such as the CI cyclone, kentucky rumbler, voyage, legend and raven that youll start looking at the steelies in a different light. out of your ride tracker, i could say that the recent credits of BD and phoenix are two rides that imo can sneeze on any steel coaster and not have to say excuse me. i personally find wood more poetic and magical than steel, perhaps because it has the tone of handmade, earnest craft rather than computerized industrial forging. the slight inexactitudes make for a more thrilling ride, imo. of course i love the absurd forces of el toro and expecially respect its "woodenness", but REAL wood coasters are a thing of beauty, although prefab has appeal. you may yet join the old fart club of wood worship...
Got_it on 7/9/2007 8:04:04 PM said:
Im glad you enjoyed your ride, it is truly a thing of beauty, but had you ridden it last year, it probably would have had you running back to the smoothness of a steel coaster.
ginzo on 7/9/2007 9:09:44 PM said:
hrrytraver: Why does it always have to be wood over steel? I appreciate both coaster types equally. Modern woodies use computer aided design every bit as much as steel coasters do. None of GCIs crazy twisted designs would be possible without computers. Steel has proven to be a very flexible medium whose potential is still waiting to be fully unlocked. Recent masterpieces like Maverick illustrate this. Also, a lot of the best woodies like Voyage, Hades, Avalanche, etc. use steel structures. Although I like both materials, I think its obvious that steel is winning the war. Most parks are too cheap ass to maintain woodies nowadays. Were left with dozens of pointlessly bad woodies that should just be torn down. Look at Mean Streak, GhostRider, Rebel Yell, Racer, Gwazi, Colossus (SFMM), American Eagle, et al.
hrrytraver on 7/9/2007 11:41:11 PM said:
^gizmo, hey now, i love steel coasters. were i to draw up my top 20, youd see a whole bunch of em. but as i said, wood coasters have a magical quality to them that im magnetically drawn to. what can i say? i like the smell, i like the way they sound. i like that they will ALWAYS track sketchier than a steel coaster. theyre scarier. im sorry, man, i just think they rule. i seriously cant shake the belief that wood is the true connoisseurs ride, but yknow, i accept that its all taste at the end of the day. your point is well taken regarding the troublesome upkeep of wood coasters. i think the new ones arent made nearly as well as the older ones and, while the oldies will fall apart too, the newies barely go two seasons without splintering into shards. it was a tough lesson for parks who thought would save money by building a woody. btw, my recent trip to holiday world was a revelation, because the wood there is so good. theyre all a little rough, but super fun, popular and intense coasters. imo, those three woodies rival the thrills of anything at CP or great adventure.
Timberman on 7/10/2007 12:41:53 AM said:
I think what hrrytraver really meant to say is that steel coasters seemed like a pretty good idea during the heyday of the inversion craze, but now they just give chickens and old guys with bad backs something to feel good about. Hrry Im sure would agree, however, that steel is still a viable coaster material, provided that its used to support wooden track.
ginzo on 7/10/2007 1:03:26 PM said:
I dunno about the hybrid wood-steel designs. I think they might encourage designs that are too extreme for wood. The Voyage required 1100 feet of re-tracking after just one season. Who other than Holiday World is up to the challenge presented by that? Some of the best hybrids are the smaller ones like Avalanche and Cornball. The bigger ones like Villain tend to go to hell. Could it be that the steel structures dont give as much as wood structures do, thus placing more stress on the wood track? I have no idea. Im not an engineer.

Timberman you should get out to "the Point" and check out their new ride. Its a bit more challenging to the rider than their recent installations. Some people have even complained about head banging on it. I think its absolutely brilliant. After two rides I still have no idea what went on during that INSANE first half. If only Intamin hadnt botched the heartline roll, it might be my favorite ride right now. And yes it has some of those inversions that you seem to like.
coasterf42 on 7/11/2007 5:35:04 AM said:
I like wood over steel anyday.

And the best wooden I have ridden is WILD ONE!! I should have more wood credits by the end of the year, and my top 10 should reflect my favor of woods by then. I say it is really up to the enthusiast what he or she prefers and there is no doubt that they will probably prefer one or the other. Although, I know a few "old guys with backs" and a few "young guys who are wusses" from around the net that do love steel coasters a lot more.

Especially for me, being 6-3 wooden coasters just give a much more "free" ride.
hrrytraver on 7/11/2007 10:51:12 AM said:
ja, i doubt the steel structure makes a ton of difference. the coney cyclone is mostly steel, which was forged by a bridge building company for harry baker. there may in fact be a subtle bit of give and take that is noticably different depending on the understructure, for instance when i swtched from a steel bike to an aluminum bike i noticed a difference, with the aluminum being a slightly stiffer ride. but you kind of have to be a buff to notice things like that. regarding roughness, i blame negligence and lack of construction saavy for the modern woodies going to pot. i bet the oldies, with their shallow banking and awkward tracking, put a lot more stress on their track than fancy computerized newies, even the real speedy ones. lastly, as soon as i first saw mavericks layout and concept i immediately knew i would love it. i propbably wont go back to CP though until its convenient, i.e. passing through the area.
ginzo on 7/11/2007 3:43:27 PM said:
I dunno. 1100 feet of re-tracking on Voyage after just a few months of operations tells me that all that kinetic energy attained from those massive drops chews up the track something fierce. Didnt John Allen claim that going over 100 feet was a bad idea?

And yeah, you should get out and check out Maverick. Its so un-CP and awesome. I dont think theres any question which Swiss firm wears the pants in the coaster world these days.
fergusonat on 7/11/2007 9:14:44 PM said:
Maverick is indeed worthy of recognition...it takes the steel medium to pretty much an unparalleled level. And I am truly beginning to "see the light" with regards to wooden coasters. Im looking forward to Waldameers Ravine Flyer II next year, and Im hoping to hit Dollywood for Thunderhead. As for Voyage, Kentucky Rumbler, and others in the midwest...they may still be beyond my reach for a few more seasons

I would have to agree with the "old fart enthusiasts" on this one, ginzo...wooden coasters just carry a magical aura about them that steel coasters just dont seem to capture as easily
ginzo on 7/11/2007 9:38:35 PM said:
"Im looking forward to Waldameers Ravine Flyer II next year,"

!@#!@ yes! I visited Waldameer this year. Its such an awesome little park. Im very excited that theyre getting this really nice looking woodie. I think this could easily wind up being another top 10 woodie.

About the so-called magical nature of woodies. I think there are steelies that capture their own special mystique, like Mind Bender and Maverick. Although I have yet to ride it, I imagine Expedition GeForce has its own special vibe as well. I might agree that woodies have this more on average, but I cant agree that its inherent in wood. There are a lot of dead, pointless woodies out there.
Timberman on 7/11/2007 10:46:30 PM said:
At least wooden coasters can be retracked. What do you do with something like Hai Karate -- or whatever they call that big, green, steel thing in New Jersey -- when it starts to get the shakes? Many claim that its ride has deteriorated noticeably after only two years (or the equivalent of one season, when you add up all the downtime). A little rattle and vibration can be a good thing at 40 to 65 mph, but most people start to get a nervous when it happens at 126 mph. Same with the Arrow looping coasters. They were the shiznit back in the day, but many now consider them unrideable. Or how about X? That was the coaster that was supposed to change everything, but how many others like it have we seen since it was built, and how often do people complain that its become too rough after less than five years? Excessive trim-braking is not strictly a wooden coaster phenomenon either, as Raging Bull at SFGA and Goliath at SFMM both demonstrate.
ginzo on 7/11/2007 11:22:29 PM said:
Steel coasters can, of course, have rehab work done to them as well Though its not usually as drastic as a total re-tracking on a woodie. Again it boils down to maintenance budgets and parks being too cheap to keep up their assets properly. I think many parks just have too friggen many coasters these days. Busch Gardens parks dont have many coasters, but they are usually well cared for. Except for Gwazi, but thats another story entirely. The mouse at BGT ran exceptionally well when I rode it last October, easily the best Ive ever seen a mouse run.
fergusonat on 7/16/2007 6:12:32 PM said:
^I would scarcely say retracking a wooden coaster is "drastic" ... especially since Kings Dominion, the mother of all cheapos did it to Grizzly for the 05 season. You cant exactly rip off a steel coasters rails and replace them, now can you?
ginzo on 7/17/2007 8:24:52 AM said:
A total re-track would be drastic IMO. This business about retracking only the high stress sections after theyve been splintered for 5 years obviously isnt drastic.

Paramount should be horsewhipped for how much they neglected Rebel Yell and Racer. They both look and run about as well as that abandoned coaster at Chippewa Lake. I love how they thought it was OK to just retrack the bottoms of hills and nothing else. So, you get massive shuffling just in the turn around out of the station into the lift hill. Nothing gets me charged up for a coaster ride more than a coaster that cant even track properly at 5 MPH in a pre-lift section. Not to mention the fact that these coasters look like they havent been painted since John Allen was alive, and they install new wood and dont paint that, which creates a massively ugly coaster.
fergusonat on 7/17/2007 12:51:26 PM said:
^My question to you is how on earth rehab to a steel coaster would be any less drastic? Retracking wooden coasters is absurdly common compared to steel coaster rehab, so it must be less drastic...
ginzo on 7/17/2007 2:01:04 PM said:
Id call it less drastic because youll never see them up and replace all the track on a steelie. They just work on sections. Replacing all of the track is more severe than replacing or working on part of it. Of course, steel doesnt typically grind into splinters like wood often does, so it doesnt usually need anything as drastic as replacing all the track, which has probably never been done on a steelie since you might as well buy a new coaster at that point.
detroit_jc on 12/20/2007 5:20:37 PM said:
Ginzo ive seen pictures of that abandon coaster at Chippewa
Lake, the Big Dipper right? i just looked that up the other day on RCDB. VERY VERY SAD i must say, very nice comparison there. well said
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