When I was perhaps eight or nine years old, I was on a motorized train at a corporate event when the young train driver took a turn too fast. I was thrown from the train, the train buckled and collapsed, ultimately pinning me underneath the train for an extended amount of time. Fortunately nothing was broken, however for several years I was very fearful of going on any type of ride.
However, growing up in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, we have this amazing amusement park in Shakopee, called Valleyfair. I first remember attending in the late 1970’s and I was amazed at all the rides: The Enterprise, The Scrambler, The Log Chute and The Corkscrew. Yet, for several years I would only go on rides such as the Ferris Wheel or the Bumper Cars solely for the emotional scars I was still suffering from my “train wreck” years earlier.
After a fair amount of coaxing, I finally went on The Corkscrew roller coaster, which was the hottest new ride at Valleyfair as it was one of the first “loop” roller coasters where you would go upside down, with an amazing 1,950 feet of track. After a few moments of hyper-ventilating, the ride was over and you know what else was over? My fear of rides. I remember coming off the ride, smiling wide and even though I may have in my mouth slightly thrown-up, I felt like a grown-up.
From that point forward, there hasn’t really been many rides that I won’t go on anymore. In fact, for perhaps five or six years I held a season pass at Valleyfair and myself and my cousin Mike met so many interesting people along the way, from musicians, to cute girls, to kids that were trying to conquer the same fear of rides that I had since conquered. I’d still like to track down the waitress at The Red Garter Saloon to apologize for leaving our tip in pennies. Well, her name was Penny. We thought it was funny. She didn’t.
I had two traditions that my cousin and myself always did every time we went to Valleyfair. First, we always devised a plan to make sure that we could get by all the Valleyfair photographers that were trying to snap a picture as we entered the park. Usually we would “attach” ourselves to a family and when the family would stop, we’d peel off. That’s a good trick. The second tradition is that we would always, no matter what, go on The Enterprise. The Enterprise ride is a space-ship like ride (think of the Star Trek Enterprise) when you would get in your spaceship and then The Enterprise would slowly start spinning horizontally and then start raising up into the air. Eventually you would be entirely vertical spinning around. There was a fair amount of force placed on your body as you spun in air for what seemed like eternity.
For nearly the past 40 years, rides have come and gone as the park has expanded to include an IMAX Theater, the Waterpark and many new roller coasters along the way. I also started my new tradition with my youngest lad where the two of us will have a day at Valleyfair. Last year was our first year when he was ten and today we are heading out to Valleyfair for a fun 12 hours of food, rides and memories. As I was reflecting on my own memories and traditions, I thought I would share with you 7 Fun Facts About Valleyfair.
- Valleyfair opened to great fanfare in 1976 with 20 rides and attractions on 26 acres, the initial park investment was $7.5 million and the High Roller was the main attraction and only roller coaster.
- Since 1976, over $96.0 million has been invested into Valleyfair
- In 1987, Thunder Canyon was added, which is a white water raft ride where everyone gets wet. This is great addition to the waterpark area and perfect on a hot, summer day.
- In 2008, ValleySCARE debuted with a Halloween-themed Haunt. This is always a great way to end the riding season and is a fun night for the entire family.
- Today, there are over 75 rides and attractions on 90 acres of land, including Xtreme Swing and many rollercoasters and rides for all age groups.
- There are over 1,600 seasonal employees hired each year, many of which are from around the world learning about the hospitality industry.
- Lastly, did you know that Valleyfair is the largest amusement park in the upper Midwest? Now you do. Now come visit like me too.
No doubt I will be posting several pictures throughout my day, along with a Periscope or two, so hopefully you can ride along with me virtually.