Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Conn., has been providing family fun in one form or another since 1908, but established itself as an actual amusement park after World War II. The venerable park once offered swimming, dancing, and a carousel; by 1937, Waterbury businessmen added paddleboats, restored the carousel, and offered roller skating in the massive open air dance hall. In 1952, Quassy purchased a complete set of Kiddyland rides from the Allan Herschell Company then located in North Tonawanda, N.Y.
That was the beginning. From the late ‘70s on, new rides were added just about annually; and in a nod to the past, the park even designed its own clambake facilities.
Along with 20 rides rides and food, the park offers swimming, picnicking, a redemption arcade, and the addition of the Splash Away Bay waterpark.
This year, according to Ron Gustafson, director of marketing and public relations, the park celebrated its 110th anniversary, and published a commemorative magazine about the park, which continues to add rides and attractions.
Gustafson notes “Wooden Warrior is Quassy’s marquee attraction. Wooden Warrior is rated among the top 50 wood coasters in the world and draws an international audience.”
The Wooden Warrior is a dynamo, featuring a tunneled turn around and a lot of air time for riders. While the coaster has a relatively small footprint, it was rated among the top 25 wooden coasters globally in a 2012 poll. Quassy opened the ride in 2011, and was among the first amusement parks in the U.S. to use the Timberliner coaster train created by Gravitykraft. The coaster itself was custom-designed for the park, and also offers a thrilling view of the park itself.
The park’s newest family thrill ride also offers a first-in-the-U.S. experience. Reverse Time takes riders on a spinning, dipping, and diving experience. Opened in 2016, the ride’s top and bottom LED lighting ignites the park at night.
But it’s not just the thrill rides that make the park a family destination. The kiddie rides are a strong draw, and include classics like the 1952-debuted Allan Herschell ride Sky Fighters, which lets little ones fly in a circle in two-seat jet fighters that move up and down. Both parents and kids are attracted to the Play Port, which was added to the park in 1988, and features seating for parents while kids scramble through a tunnel and slide maze that’s designed just for tots.
Fun for the whole family is the Grand Carousel, another popular ride, an ornate attraction added to the park in 1990, but placed in the oldest building in the park, a 1927-built roundhouse. The carousel has a full 50 feet of lights and animals of all kinds including horses that move up and down.
It pairs well with the small, family-oriented roller coaster in the park, the Little Dipper. That ride is a classic attraction from the park’s original 1952 Allan Herschell ride collection, and brings repeat visitors who may have ridden the coaster as a child and are now bringing their own kids or grandchildren to take a ride, Gustafson says.
This year, the park’s waterpark, Splash Way added a whopping three new large-scale water raft rides totaling a combined 1,000-feet. the number of slides in the lakeside complex.
Designed by ProSlide Technology of Ottawa, Canada, which created the park’s already-existing 12 slides, the new slides depart from a single platform, and conclude near the park’s already-existing Saturation Station. Slides include Tornado, designed for two-person rafts. The ride has a funnel shape that brings riders up the walls, creating a suspended weightlessness sensation that is a unique aspect of ProSlide funnel rides. It creates a thrilling illusion that riders are going over the edge of the ride. Two giant and twisty PIPEline slides are also being built, also designed for single two-rider rafts.
The new slides are just one part of the changes washing over the waterpark side of Quassy. A Splash Away Bay Café & Deck overlooking Lake Quassapaug is also in the works, allowing visitors to get a lake view from rooftop seating.
The waterpark expansion is the single-largest investment in the park’s history, park president Eric Anderson noted. The changes fit in with a plan that Quassy announced in 2015, indicated the addition of new attractions that include last year’s addition of the five-slide Slide City children’s complex in the water park, and the addition of Reverse Time in the amusement park area.
Last year, the park added interactive children’s rides such as Skipper’s Clipper pirate ships and the Up, Up & Away Balloons; and the park opened Bella & Bessie’s Sweet Shop and Pizzeria, a major expansion over the popcorn stand the eatery replaced. The shop includes items like cotton candy, candy apples, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and freshly made pizza.
Speaking of concessions, Quassy is no slouch on that front, either. The lakeside Quassy restaurant offers traditional park treats such as burgers, hot dogs, fries, and drinks, but also includes salads, BBQ chicken and ribs, fried calamari and shrimp, and kid’s meals such as mac & cheese. Next door, a fried dough stand offers sugar coated and tomato sauce varieties. The Dog House serves up loaded baked potatoes as well as park classics like hot dogs, ice cream, milk shakes, and nachos. An ice cream shop overlooking the carousel is another centrally located spot for a sweet. In the waterpark, the new Splash Away Bay Café offers snacks, sandwiches, salads, and beer, wine, and soda, as well as frozen drinks.
The park also features a gift and apparel shop with logo merchandise and collectibles. Gustafson calls the park’s most popular item one that commemorates the park’s three most popular thrill rides: the iconic Wooden Warrior, Frantic, and Reverse Time.
Admission prices are kept family friendly, with adults at $29.99, and kids under 45”, seniors, and military at $25.99. Starting this year on September 14th, admission to the amusement park only – the waterpark closes in mid-September – is $21.00. Individual ride tickets are also available for $2.50 each, with books of 12 tickets at $25.00.