Cannonball coaster attracts international visitors

Cannonball coaster attracts international visitors

July 16th, 2009 by Adam Crisp in News

Staff Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson John Vasquez, Corona Ca., enjoys the final hills of Cannonball at Lake Winnepesaukah Park on Wednesday morning.

Staff Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson John Vasquez, Corona Ca.,...

Stacked up next to Dollywood and Six Flags, Rossville's Lake Winnepesaukah might not get rave reviews, but a group of international roller coaster enthusiasts have given the park and its centerpiece ride a thumbs-up.

Lake Winnie's wooden coaster, Cannonball, "is the ride that helped me fall in love with theme parks and roller coasters," said Kevin Lusk, a local enthusiast who helped organize Wednesday's visit by about 50 self-proclaimed coaster junkies from around the world. "Nowadays they can build rides that go sky-high with all the bells and whistles, but this is a classic. It's a shame that a lot of local people take it for granted when such a treasure is right in their back yards."

Colin Tyson came all the way from Sydney, Australia, to experience not only Cannonball, but coasters at six parks in three states.

"This is quite different than anything we've got back home," he said. "I've done some in Europe, and I've been to the U.S. twice. Basically back home we've only got four theme parks in the whole country."

The eight-day coaster tour was organized by the online magazine Theme Park Review and attracted thrillseekers from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Australia, said Robb Alvey, owner and editor of the Los Angeles-based magazine.

"We visit all the parks. It doesn't matter if they are the biggest park in the world or the smallest park, we just want to hit them all," he said.

Mr. Alvey has ridden more than 300 roller coasters and said wooden rides such as Cannonball are treats.

"The Cannonball is a classic," he said. "It's been around for years. It's one of the best traditional out-in-back woodies that exists."

Cannonball is a staple of Lake Winnie's entertainment lineup, park spokeswoman Talley Green said. She said visitors from all over the world come to Rossville to ride it.

"We've had the British Coaster Club here and the International Coaster Club," Ms. Green said. "We love to get coaster enthusiasts from all over the world."

In addition to Cannonball, Lake Winnepesaukah has two other roller coasters, four water rides, an antique carousel and the world's only functioning Eyerly Fly-O-Plane, which reportedly was used to train World War II pilots.