On my recent trip to summer camp I was lucky enough to stop by Valleyfair and Mall of America due to a two day layover in Minneapolis on June 25 and 26. On June 25, which was a Friday, I went to Valleyfair. Coming into it I was expecting big lines and lackluster rides and was surprised by the small park feel, yet some thrills worthy of a flagship park.
Approaching the park, the standout attraction really is Wild Thing. Hulking over the other rides in the park, I really hoped it would ride as well as it looked.
The first ride of the day was Steel Venom, an Intamin AG Impulse Coaster. This is one of many of this model, and apart from Possessed at Dorney Park is the only of its type to operate its holding brake.
I decided to ride in the 2nd row for my first ride, and it fulfilled my expectations. The launch is nothing to write home about, and the front spike’s twist is fun, but the holding brake really adds to what would be a somewhat lackluster ride. I am a guy, and it is not nearly as painful as others make it out to be. 2nd row Steel Venom- 6/10
After riding Steel Venom I decided to start making my way to the back of the park, and the first ride that I saw was Power Tower. The crowds had not yet arrived, so it was a walkon. Having never ridden an S&S Space Shot tower before, I opted for the Space Shot tower. As I had arrived at opening, the ride was a walk-on. After riding both a Space Shot and a Turbo Drop, I can safely say that the turbo drop is better. The launch to the top is fun, and the views are great. After reaching the top, the ride becomes lackluster. You bounce down to the bottom but, unlike the Turbo Drop side, there is no floater on the bounces, just a small bump in the ride. Space Shot-6/10
Speaking of boring finales I next rode Wild Thing. By this time the crowds were increasing, so I forked over some cash for a Fast Lane, which ended up being well worth the price. I walked past the 15 min line, and queued for the 2nd row.
The experience was thoroughly underwhelming. There is a miniscule amount of floater air on the first drop and airtime hill, and the rest of the ride is simply meandering around the front of the park. Despite being incredibly photogenic ride, it lacks in most departments. Although it is smooth, I would prefer a rough but good coaster to a smooth but boring one. Wild Thing-- 5/10
Renegade was absolutely amazing. It easily ranks as my #1 wooden coaster, screaming past Apocalypse, Wodan, Racer, and Thunderbolt. The ride is relentless from the moment you hit the S-shaped drop, which gives you a fun twist in the front and incredible ejector in the back. Although it can be rough at times, the pacing is incredible, the interaction with the station, queue, and path is great, and the airtime is plentiful.
Renegade provides very different experiences in the front and back rows. The front is more scenic, and gives you nice pops of floaters in all of the transition. The ride is a tiny bit rough, but it doesn’t take away anything from the experience. Then you come to the back. Everything past the drop is brutally intense, throwing you into your lapbar for some great ejector airtime, absolutely hurtling relentlessly through the track. Although you can get a bit rattled, especially on the last helix, the back is definitely the way to go. Front row--8/10. Back row-- 9/10.
Now at the absolute back of the park, it was time for Excalibur, their Arrow hybrid coaster. Often labeled as rough and the worst coaster at the park, I quite enjoyed its drop in the back rows and a surprise ejector moment in the front. Not the best coaster out there, but far from the worst. I personally don’t get the hate surrounding it.
Heading back towards the front, I skipped their inverting swinging ship, as they have no real interest to me.
Mad Mouse was like any other Arrow Wild Mouse out there—low capacity, short, uninspired ride. Though I will say it is a bad thing that the wild mouse in the park has more airtime than the hypercoaster.
Heading back towards the front of the park, I decided to ride Corkscrew. While in line, I noticedd that this is their only inverting rollercoaster, and even then is an Arrow Corkscrew. Hopefully the park can get a nice new B&M in the future--but thats probably not going to happen. Either way, Corkscrew was the longest line all day at around 20 mins, and was not worth the wait. It was slow, jerky, and had terrible operations. But hey, it looks really good!
After riding Corkscrew I decided High Roller, their old 3-bench PTC wooden coaster, was worth the wait, which was shorter than it looked at 5 min. The ride would be amazing. That is, if they turn off the obnoxious trim brakes. The ride comes up to the airtime hill section with good speed, then gets ground to a near halt, leaving you with no airtime whatsoever.
Walking back around to the front, I decided to do Xtreme Scream and Power Tower once more,which both delivered. I really love the S&S Screamin Swing rides, and i wish more parks would install them, even if their capacity is low. The S&S towers are average, and I only really care for the drop side.
I decided to do another loop of the park and rode Wild Thing a couple more times, this time in the back row of the train. Although it is a far superior ride to the front cars, I still found it to be lackluster and poorly executed. Since the line was a walkon, however, I rode it 3 more times.
While I hit the front of the park I decided to ride Steel Venom in the further back rows. This completely changes the experience, and I would recommend the back rows over the front rows anyday. In the back rows, my earlier 6/10 rises to a 7.5/10.
After a few more rides around the park, the sun had finally set at around 9:00, and I headed to Renegade to get some nightrides in. If I thought this ride was amazing during the day, it got even better at night. Lines were short, despite them running half of each train loaded due to the fact that the trains were running too fast and not tripping the brake run (or something like that). Either way, the ride is amazing. Being whipped around the drop and thrown into your lapbar all in the pitch black is one of the best experiences I've had on a coaster in my life. An easy 9.5/10 nightride, best wooden coaster out there that I have ridden.
*Sorry for crap Iphone photo* As there was less than 15 mins left, and the line for Renegade was down the stairs, I wrapped back around to the front of the park one last time for a nightride on Wild Thing. Although definitely better than a day ride, this back row ride still was not on par with some other rides at the park, but lets me increase its rating to a 6/10.
That last ride on Wild Thing marked the end of the day for me, and I retired back to my Minneapolis airport hotel for the night. It was a good day at what I feel is an underrated theme park with some amazing rides, some underappreciated ones, some overappreciated ones, and some that just blend into the shadows. Overall, I give the park a solid 7/10, and I would definitely come back again if I was in the area. Thank you for reading this trip report, and good riding!