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Silverwood Theme Park: a family affair

4/4/2014

By Linda McNatt

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It's not exactly sun-worshipping time yet, even on May 3, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. The city in northern Idaho is where Silverwood Theme Park has been located since it opened in 1988.

The average temperature that time of year in this beautiful city located on the northern shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene is in the upper 60s, and it's not likely to get a lot warmer even later in the summer.

Temperatures in the area range from 29.8 degrees in December to 69 in July and August. There are only an average 20 days a year that exceed 90 degrees.

Silverwood Theme ParkBoulder Beach Water Park, the water fun element of the complex, officially opens for this 2014 season on May 31.  The experienced staff is ready to go, with lots of fun and special prices.

The park is located 311 miles from Seattle, Washington and 30 miles east of Spokane, Washington. Silverwood was built and opened by entrepreneur Gary Norton, who still operates the park today. With help from his entire family - his son, Paul Norton, is general manager, son, David, is the manager of Lindy's Restaurant in the park, son, Mike, is the manager of the picnic pavilion, daughter, Michelle Sheets, is in charge of park donations and son, Nick, is the theme park's resident magician - Norton keeps the popular park going. He's even written a book about his success.

From bagging groceries to creating a successful computer company out of his garage, to performing air shows in P51 fighters, to building and captaining mega yachts in exotic foreign places, Norton tells it all in "American Theme Park, the Creation of Silverwood." The book is available for purchase on the park's website - silverwoodthemepark.com - for $24.95, said Mark Robitaille, communications and media manager at the park.

The weather is good reason for the somewhat delayed opening of the park, said Robitaille, since temperatures vary so much in May. The average first freeze in the area is October 12 and the last is May 3, park opening day.

The park features over 70 rides, slides, shows and attractions. There are four roller coasters, a steam engine train that rides visitors around the park, live entertainment and restaurants.

Silverwood is the largest theme park in the northwest.

Silverwood has a complete food menu, with burgers, ice cream, hot dogs, elephant ears, pretzels, cotton candy, french fries and more. Lindy's is a legendary full-service restaurant featuring American classics like ribs, chicken, pasta and "house-made", 100 percent beef burgers in the dining room or on the outdoor patio.

The High Moon Saloon has a sarsaparilla special, a fresh focaccia bread sandwich, fried pickle chips and beer-battered fish and chips. House-made, fresh baked pizza is the specialty at the Theatre of Illusions, and the Granite Grill specializes in 100 percent beef hamburgers and 100 percent beef hot dogs. There is also the Ice Creamery, the Sugar Shack, Silverwood Sliders and the Victorian Coffee House.

For shopping, park visitors can take in the Silverwood Coffee Roasting and Trading Company, General Stuff Mercantile, Boulder Beach Trading Company, Tremors Gift Shop, Huck's
General Store, the toy store and the Mine Shack, where you can mine you own gems and collectible toys.

Silverwood Theme ParkThe fun part of the park starts with the rides. The Spincycle is advertised as "the first of its kind in the world." The ride is 104 feet tall. It's a thrill ride with a cylindrical-shaped vehicle or cabin that seats 24 people, facing outward, with legs dangling and wearing only a harness. The Spincycle rotates 360 degrees at 13 revolutions per minute while at the same time it swings like a giant pendulum all the way upside down.  The ride was built by SBF/Visa of Italy and sold by Len Soled's Rides 4-U.

The Aftershock is described as a "metal monster" that dominates the skies over Silverwood at 191 feet.

"It's two thrills in one because not only does it take you forward through a cobra roll and inverted loop but backwards as well," according to the theme park's website.

Tremors opened in 1999 and is one of the top rated wooden roller coasters in the country. Its longest drop is 103 feet and top speed is 63 miles per hour.  The first drop takes riders directly through the Tremors Gift Shop. The ride's 3,000 feet of track goes through four underground tunnels.

The Timber Terror is an air coaster with a top speed of 55 miles per hour.

The Nick Norton magic show is also there to entertain. And a steam engine train takes visitors around the park. The train comes with a warning - "An occasional train robber is likely to show up."

There are also antique cars, bumper boats, a carousel, climbing trees, a Ferris wheel, Krazy Kars, tilt-a-whirl and trabant. The first ride you see as you enter the park is the carousel, a favorite for all ages.

The staff at Silverwood has big plans for this spring, with specials revolving around the park's inauguration in 1988 and special days like Mother's Day, Father's Day and the Fourth of July.

On the first weekend the park is open, the special admission price will be $19.88, coordinating with the anniversary.

Mom is free on May 10 and May 11.

May 17 and 18 is "half price weekend," when the admission cost is $22.95 per person. That's a savings of $23 for all ages.

There will also be lots of contests, a scavenger hunt, and special promotions for students.

Boulder Beach Water Park opens for the summer on May 31 .

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