Detailed WCUSA History from 1984 to 2013

Login or Register to Hide This Ad

Mushroom

Same user, new username
Feb 12, 2011
5,591
15,564
113
To back up what @Zachary said, it looks like WCUSA was purchased by a British company named Rank Organisation in 1990, and Busch Entertainment bought the park in 1992. According to the book Amusement Parks of Virginia, Maryland, & Delaware by Jim Futrell:
Busch Entertainment Corporation saw that Water Country USA would make the perfect complement to its theme park and in 1992 reached an agreement to acquire it from the Rank Organisation. This large British conglomerate had purchased the park in 1990 from another British company, Mecca Leisure, which in turn purchased it in 1988 from its original owners.
(Side note: if you're interested in super detailed history of the region's theme parks, Futrell's book is as good as they come.)
 
Sep 11, 2012
6
26
13
I can confirm that "The Amazon" was re-named "Wild Thang". I wish I had a source to back that up but I grew up 15 minutes from the park and went dozens of times every summer as a kid in the late '80s through early '90s. My friend was a lifeguard there and ended up in the promo commercials for "Big Daddy Falls"!

Also, all four slides on the "Jet Stream" were beige, they got painted different colors when AB bought it. You used to also go down without a tube, and slide #2 was EXTREMELY fast. They added the water jets coming down the sides of the tunnels and other parts of the slide to slow you down at some point, which took a lot of thrill out of the ride. Then they required rafts to ride it and it became a shell of what it was.

"Runaway Rapids" underwent a few rules changes in my time, when I was really little (~8-10), you would all just pile in at will, and each pool was literally a whirpool, so getting to that next ramp to the next one was hard for tiny me, strangers used to push and pull each other so they could get to the ramps as a team effort. Then they added a lifeguard who at the entrance who would only let a few people on at a time to stop the "pile-ups", I would get slammed so many times by being at the bottom of the ramp in the pool below when someone came sliding down into me -- that fixed that.

Then they took out one of the smaller pools and made an extra long slide into the second-to-last pool, which emptied into the same pool as "The Amazon" (which came AFTER runaway rapids was built). Finally, they added lifeguards standing in every pool who grabbed every raft as they entered and sent them to the next ramp. Just a conveyer belt of lifeguards pulling people along. It got unrideable when that happened.

I keep thinking of things to add -- "Peppermint Twist" was originally this weird grey color and you could see through it, and was called "The Sonic Whip" with three slides, one steep straight drop in the middle, and the two twists on the left & right that we know about today. It was considered an act of bravery to go down the steep on in the middle, there was never a line for it and every one would watch the person go down with awe. There were smaller versions that were painted yellow and rebranded as "Lemon Drop".
 
Last edited:
Sep 11, 2012
6
26
13
What else... They used to have a diving stunt show adjacent to the wave pool (if you are burning your feet walking towards the wavepool, it was to your left). There was an arcade on the right walking towards the wavepool, just past "Jet Stream". The arcade had one of those '90s X-men side-scrolling games where you and seven of your friends could play together. The trick was to get to the park right when it opened, ride the rides, when it got crowded at around 11:00, go to the arcade and pump quarters into every machine.

Then at lunch all the families would go to the ONLY RESTAURANT (actually restaurant is too nice, it was a fast food line) in the park, which was next to the arcade. Since it was the only restaurant, it took HOURS for everyone to eat, so then you go hit the rides again! Rinse and repeat for dinner. The kiddie play area had this awful netting and tube-structure jungle (think the netting in the Land of the Dragons at BGW, but with water from sprinklers falling down on you as you crawl through a maze with other wet children to get to a tiny slide. Oh and the SMELL from the mildew...

Fun times.
 
Sep 11, 2012
6
26
13
What else... They used to have a diving stunt show adjacent to the wave pool (if you are burning your feet walking towards the wavepool, it was to your left). There was an arcade on the right walking towards the wavepool, just past "Jet Stream". The arcade had one of those '90s X-men side-scrolling games where you and seven of your friends could play together. The trick was to get to the park right when it opened, ride the rides, when it got crowded at around 11:00, go to the arcade and pump quarters into every machine.

Then at lunch all the families would go to the ONLY RESTAURANT (actually restaurant is too nice, it was a fast food line) in the park, which was next to the arcade. Since it was the only restaurant, it took HOURS for everyone to eat, so then you go hit the rides again! Rinse and repeat for dinner. The kiddie play area had this awful netting and tube-structure jungle (think the netting in the Land of the Dragons at BGW, but with water from sprinklers falling down on you as you crawl through a maze with other wet children to get to a tiny slide. Oh and the SMELL from the mildew...

Fun times.
Saw these images earlier in the thread. And whoever posted those post cards? I KNOW I have them somewhere in my basement.

The image is the "mini sonic whip" I mentioned that got rebranded to the "Lemon Drop", they remove the near veritcal one during the rebrand... Now imagine going down one the height of the "Sonic Whip AKA Peppermint Twist", you can see why it was an act of bravery. They removed it at the same time they removed the smaller one -- way too steep. Also the "Rambling River" make a circuit around the border of Adventure Isle, that's what all those people in inner-tubes are on. After a while, they made a rule of no sitting on the edge of the rafts like these people are, you had to have a single rider to a tube, and be either sitting in the center or danling your legs through while holding on to the handles.

The other image is the "Runaway Rapids" as I remember it -- imagine being a tiny 8 year old boy stuck in that.
 

Attachments

Sep 11, 2012
6
26
13
An old pic of Peppermint Twist/Sonic Whip that I don’t think I’ve seen posted!
View attachment 21583
That's IT!!!

And I guess my memory serves me wrong, the "drop" slide was off to the side and not in the middle. And it's not as steep as tiny me remembers!! :) Those spots where the pieces of the tubes on sonic whip connected? They HURT. You'd feel every one on your back and come out looking like someone hit you with a switch about 10 times.

Also, you had to CARRY your toboggan UP THE WHOLE FLIGHT OF STAIRS for "Double Rampage" before they put the conveyor belt that carried them to the top of the slides YEARS after it opened.

They were HEAVY.
 
Last edited:
Login or Register to Hide This Ad