Tim's Turn: Lake Compounce, A-Z
During one of my summer road trips, I dropped by to see my longtime friend Jerry Brick, general manager of Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut. When I walked into the park on a very hot Sunday afternoon, it was my first visit in 15 years. Wow, it looked great! I thought it would be fun to take Funworld readers along on an alphabetical tour of the country’s oldest continuously operated amusement park.
A – Adult Beverages. Beer and wine are available at the Pig House BBQ. Gotta love beer with BBQ.
B – Band Organ. The original Wurlitzer 153B still plays along with the circa 1911 carousel.
C – Private Cabanas can be rented for the day, adding a nice touch (and convenience) to the lakeside water park.
D – Dining Pass for season-ticket holders. Two meals and a snack every day!
E – Elvis Presley edition of a Wurlitzer jukebox at the Parkside Diner.
F – Fun and Frightful ride on the “Ghost Hunt” interactive dark ride. My score was 11,499. Not sure if that was good or bad.
G – Games. Mentioned here because of one major exclusion: “Skee-Ball.” Bring it back! And while you are at it, “Fascination” would be a great addition to the lineup, as well! Perfect duo for the oldest park in the country.
H – Harry Houdini performed at the park.
I – Ice Cream, of course. Four locations. Mint chocolate chip rocks and tasted quite good on this hot afternoon.
J – Jerry Brick, my host for the day. Twenty-one years here, 13 as general manager.
K – Kiddie Rides. A dozen colorful rides and activities for the young’uns in Circus World, a beautifully shaded, themed area off the main midway.
L – “Lights Out” lighthouse slide in the Crocodile Cove water park. Best themed waterslide in New England.
M – Mango Italian Ice. Quite a nice tropical taste on a hot day. But, watch out for the brain freeze. (Spoken from experience.)
N – Nighttime ride on “Boulder Dash.” Fast and dark on the terrain-hugging woodie.
O – Oldest continuously operated amusement park in the United States. Now in its 171st season.
P – Pig House BBQ. Very tasty pulled pork on a chewy pretzel bun.
Q – Quaintness and nostalgia everywhere you look! Owners have preserved much of the character.
R – RIP, the magnificent “Sky Ride.” Closed in July. You will be missed, oh great ride to the top of the mountain!
S – Starlight Theatre built in 1895 is the oldest building in the park. Big bands, roller skating, variety shows, and top talent of all genres have entertained guests in this beautiful ballroom for more than a century, including the aforementioned Houdini.
T – The Lake! It all started around the 20-acre Lake Compounce—the centerpiece of amusement here since 1846.
U – “Under the Boardwalk,” by The Drifters, was playing as I walked into the Parkside Diner, a great little themed eatery with my kind of music. Perfect respite on a hot day. Too bad one cannot climb under the park’s boardwalk. I was in the mood.
V – (Milli) Vanilli was busted for lip-syncing here on July 21, 1989.
W – “The Wildcat,” a Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters Inc. woodie, celebrating its 90th year with new Great Coasters International Inc. trains and major track work by Martin & Vleminckx Rides.
X – XOXO, countless romances sparked over the years, and today, I could feel it in the air.
Y – Young families with lots of delighted kids enjoying their day at the park. I love sitting and watching family dynamics in action. Future memories were being made throughout the park.
Z – Zavian. Popular lifeguard in the water park and wrestler for the local high school.
It was a fun day for me. I only wish I had remembered my swimsuit.
Tim O'Brien is a veteran outdoor entertainment journalist and is a longtime Funworld contributor. He has authored many books chronicling the industry's attractions and personalities and is the only journalist in the IAAPA Hall of Fame.