Event: State Fair Meadowlands
Where: Meadowlands Sports Complex; East Rutherford, NJ
The ‘big’ fair comes around every year for all amusement ride loving people. Whether it be a state fair, a county fair, or just a better than average town fair. While I’ve stumbled upon some big fairs over the years and can say that there about three ‘big’ fairs that occur in my ‘zone of traveling’ each year; the one that sits on top is the State Fair Meadowlands or simply “Meadowlands Fair.”
The Meadowlands Fair is the fair to end all fairs. In terms of rides and attractions it blows away even the New Jersey State Fair, which does indeed tout some respectable amusement devices. The Orange County Fair in Middletown, New York is the closest rival to this out of all the fairs I’ve been to (unfortunately I missed that one this year.)
The Meadowlands Fair takes place in parking lots 15 and 16 in front of Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Parking lot 15, directly in front of the stadium, contains mostly vendors, food stalls, and various shows; lot 16, next to the still rising Xanadu complex, are where all of the rides are located. All together, including kiddie rides and extra charge rides, there must have been about 50-60 pieces of amusement equipment. The line up is as follows…
- Space Roller
- Fireball (KMG)
- Crazy Mouse
- Hang Ten
- Heartbreaker (not operating)
- Bonzai (not operating)
- Ring of Fire
- Flying Bobs
- Cliff Hanger
- Sea Ray
- Big Wheel
- Sky Ride
- Chair Jet
- Bumper Boats
- Several fun houses
- A couple of dark rides
- A myriad of kiddies rides
- An assortment of greasy treats
- Countless skill games
- More than a handful of stage and freak shows
- A petting zoo, animal rides, and tiger show.
I went to the fair with one of my friends; we arrived at around 6:30pm. This particular night was “carload night” where one could pile people into their car and pay one price, $69.99, to give them all admission and pay-one-price ride hand stamps. It was just my friend and I so we paid the standard $3 parking fee. We headed over to the ticket window to get our admission ticket, which was $7 each. A group of people were complaining about not getting their carload voucher or something in the next line and giving the teenage girl behind the glass a hard time.
After wading through photographers trying to get our photo, tempting food smells, and throngs of people, we finally made it to the ride ticket window. A POP hand stamp was $17.99; a great deal considering that a single ride ticket was $1 with each bigger ride taking five tickets. After a quick stroll around the midway, we got in line for our first ride of the night: the Orbiter.
As far as Orbiters go, it was tough to top this one in terms of presentation; it displayed a multi-colored light and paint scheme, had loud music, and even had a strobe light for good measure. Even better was that the ride operator didn’t use the cheesy ‘canned’ mic man that they used last year. You can hear it in the Orbiter video I took at last years Meadowlands Fair. The ride was fairly short, but that’s just fine considering that a long Orbiter journey is pretty nauseating.
My friend motioned to the Gravitron, but I balked at it, convinced that I might not feel too well afterwards, despite taking a motion sickness pill beforehand. To be fair, it didn’t fully absorb yet, so I may very well have been nauseous afterwards. Instead of riding the good ol’ Gravitron, I walked over to the Fireball instead…which many would argue is worse!
It’s kind of funny, I can’t take a swinging ship ride anymore, yet I can handle the Fireball which is basically a spinning swinging ship with high Gs that nearly sends riders upsidedown. Again, and much like previous years, this was a short ride; yet again, much like the Orbiter, that’s just fine! Especially with a POP hand stamp, why should I care if it’s short? The high swings that we got were really nice with some brutal Gs at the bottom of the swing. We took a little walk and watched the Space Roller while we recuperated from the stomach churning goodness of the Fireball.
Up next was the Hang Ten, owned by Robbie Megerle. Hang Ten is basically the SDC counterpart of the Reverchon Explorer ride; aside from slightly different cars and ornaments, the rides are practically the same. Last year this ride sat non-operating in the corner along with the Spin Out, I’m not exactly sure why however. This year on the other hand, the Hang Ten was running in full force.
My friend and I are no newcomers to the Hang Ten; the grade school that we both went to held a fair every year and many times this exact ride anchored the midway. I’m not even talking like a different Hang Ten either; it was this same exact Hang Ten. While I’ve gotten much longer rides on this in the past, the ride operators on this one took a little freedom over the controls. Every so often the ride op would ‘bounce’ the small hydraulic arm that holds the wheel; this resulted in kicking the cars out a bit more than usual. They really got those things rocking! Even while the wheel was spinning down, the cars were still swaying pretty well. Even my friend, who isn’t nearly as into rides as myself, commented that the ride ops really knew how to run it.
After our surfing excursion, we strolled over to the Crazy Mouse to find the line insanely long. Instead we walked over to Ghoul World, an intimidating looking dark ride. While waiting in line, a car with a couple of kids came back into the loading area; the kids were absolutely terrified…but it was in faux terror. The next car that came out was a guy who had zero expression on his face. Oh boy…it’s gonna be one of these rides…
The ride began with a spiral lift, which actually scared me since I was convinced that the car could easily fall right off the track. At the top we were met with…nothing. We turned a corner and some non-moving prop stood there. Next we went through an opening onto the roof portion; nothing of note here. The next room contained another stupid non-moving prop followed by a small drop that seemed to be suspended in the air. The car gained no speed down this drop…which is probably good since a downward turning hairpin turn followed it. At this point another car behind us caught up and basically edged into our car. The car behind us contained two girls who actually looked scared; then again, I’d be scared as well if my car was going to crash into the one in front.
The last section of the ride contained a straightaway with some more dismal props. At the end of this section was another opening and a turn. I was kind of hoping that the car nudged up behind us would push us right off the track so we could exit the ride early, but no dice there. The final stretch contained a jury rigged covered section that kind of reminded me of the rigging that they put over sidewalks in New York City when they do construction. The ride was abysmal…absolutely abysmal. Worse yet, it was four tickets…that’s a crime and a half.
Next up was the “MTV Funhouse,” which was playing Metallica from its speakers. This funhouse had a lot of non-functioning stunts. There isn’t really much to say about it really. A lot of the stunts didn’t work and it was…yeah.
After that fun house was yet another fun house, the Cuckoo Haus to be exact. I beleive this was one of the few fun houses that actually had a working spinning barrel stunt. Actually, a lot of the stunts worked on this one; maybe they all didn’t work well, but they worked. The facade had some nice art/elements as well such as an angry looking Bavarian band on one side panel and a crazy looking clock atop the structure that was obviously going coo coo for Cukoo Haus.
Our next stop was Space Roller, a very eye catching Mondial manufactured Top Scan ride. We waited about 10 minutes before hopping on; I made sure to put away every single loose item on me…because it’ll be gone if not put away. The cycle this year was pretty long compared to other years, lasting probably around two and a half minutes. It’s tough to describe a ride on Space Roller to someone who hasn’t been on it but you basically feel every directional sensation possible. If you still can’t imagine what this rides movement…then watch my Space Roller video !
After Space Roller we headed over to the front section of the fair to grab some food. My friend got an onion bloom, while I settled for a slice of pizza and a soda. While waiting for the onion, we noticed that the guy making it accidentally crushed it and decided to discard it and make a new one. While throwing away the onion, the guy said and I quote: “that sucks…that was a great onion.” Ha! After the food we strolled over to the hypnotist show nearby and watched that while I questioned my friend, who majored in psychology, about how it works. After that we stopped by the tiger show and watched as the tigers did tricks, did their own thing despite being called on, and in one instance mounted each other.
We took the sky ride back to the ride area and rode the Rock-n-Roll a couple of times. This was probably one of the more energetic Flying Bobs types of rides I’ve been on. They were playing Metallica yet again, I seem to remember a siren during the high speed parts, and all of lights flashed like crazy in near seizure enduing fashion. The ride op also did the whole “if you wanna go faster…” bit. Other rides ridden on our second time around the midway were Orbiter, Gravitron, and Hang Ten. The motion sickness pills must have been in full effect by this point because none of the rides made me even the slightest bit nauseous.
We left at around 11:30pm after seeing that all of the lines were incredibly long for the rides we could have used another spin on…namely Space Roller. Highway traffic on the way home was practically nothing; a rare and welcome occurrence in eastern New Jersey.