Behind the Thrills | The oldest operating amusement park in the country Amusement Parks, Guides, News

If I asked you what was the oldest amusement park in the world, what would you say?

You can answer with Disneyland or Disney World. Maybe you would say Cedar Point if you’ve been reading Behind the Thrills for a while and realize they’re 150 years old? Perhaps you would choose a small local park for your estimate? Well, unless you say Lake Compounce is located in Connecticut, you’re wrong. This park has been running for a long time… in fact, let’s put it into perspective:

-Lake Compounce celebrates its 175th anniversary, they opened in 1846.

-Disneyland is 65 years old, 110 years younger.

-This park has now seen 2 world wars and 2 pandemics and is still standing.

It’s a feat in itself. What is even more impressive is the history of the parks and their current situation. I stopped by to visit them during their 175th anniversary celebration and had the opportunity to speak to Lynsey about 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 this link; However, I will summarize their ride history and some notable facts: In 1911, they had their first ride: a carousel for which they paid $10,000. It is 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 operate today. The park continued to thrive in the 1940s, 50s and 60s and even began hosting musicians, magicians and entertainers such as Frank Sinatra, Harry Houdini and Aretha Franklin.

As you approach the park today you will be flanked by giant 175th banners. As you walk through the tunnel at the entrance, you will find a freshly cleaned and painted main entrance with a new carousel horse as the centerpiece – signifying their history with the carousel. 175th anniversary flags adorn the park and merchandise can be found in gift shops. The park is immaculately clean and beautiful.

Their collection of rides is incredibly great for a small park tucked away in a neighborhood. They have a Boomerang – my all-time favorite color; titled Zoomerang with a fluorescent paint job. Although I will never appreciate these coasters, I loved the aesthetics of them. Passing the boomerang, the collection improves considerably. Wildcat, which we’ve talked about before, is still a wonderful ride even though it’s showing its age. They have a SkyRocket 2 model from Premier called the Phobiafearcoaster – and unlike the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens model, this one doesn’t have a harness. There’s a kiddie coaster for the little ones, then there’s Boulder Dash.

The Boulder Dashboard is a unique, remarkable and amazing wooden coaster. Built in 2000 and winning the Golden Ticket Award for the world’s number 1 wooden roller coaster in 2004, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, this wooden roller coaster makes perfect use of its mountain terrain. It’s a long drive over 4,672 feet of trail that takes you up the mountain and along the lake. The ride begins by climbing the mountain, then descends 115 feet in the back before wrapping around the front to see the guests. The coaster reaches speeds of 60MPH as it weaves its way through the thick forest. The roller coaster ends in a series of airtime hills along the lake providing riders with great views and thrilling ejector and float air.

The park also features a collection of flat rides: a pirate ship, dark shooter, swings, drop tower, water rides, and a full water park. The water park is included with admission, and new for 2021, they just got their biggest slide yet: the Venus Vortex, which looks like a Venus fly trap! It is enormous !

All in all, Lake Compounce is an amazing park and a wonderful experience. It sits perfectly between the Nickelodeon Universe visit to American Dream Mall and Six Flags New England, making it a common-sense stopover. A few hours in this park is easily worth every dollar – after all, it’s actually a piece of American history.

Justin Landers is 30 years old and owns Just Shoot Light Multimedia Productions, an independent 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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Harold B. McConnell