Sledgehammer turns 15 tomorrow… What a ride it’s been!

If someone were to ask you when you really became a coaster enthusiast, would you have an answer prepared? I certainly do.

For me, I can tell you that it all started on Wonderland’s opening day 2003. It was the first year my extended family stopped renewing their season passes so I was left to go with just my parents, a friend or two, and then eventually by myself. With visits to the park becoming less of a social thing, I was interested in learning more about the rides and the park by researching and joining online enthusiast communities.

Sledgehammer: Great Ride. Great Timing.

2003 happened to be the year when Wonderland added Sledgehammer. If you follow me on social media, you’d know it’s my favourite ride. Being the new shiny thing at a time when I was deepening my interest with the park made it one of those things I focused a lot on. I think I’d still become obsessed with it if it were a new attraction today, though.

The “Data Sheet” provided by the park in 2002-2003:

SLEDGE HAMMER DATA SHEET

Description

Sledge Hammer is a menacing, mechanical giant, cutting the skyline at an awesome 80-feet in the air. Its massive power will hurl riders through accelerated jumps and freefalls. Sledge Hammer – A monstrous thrill that will leave white-knuckled riders screaming for more!

Technology

Pound for pound, Sledge Hammer is one of the most powerful rides in the world. It is equipped with four 250-horse power hydraulic engines equivalent to 10 top of the line sports cars. Sledge Hammer’s rotation and potent elevation sensations are motorized by sophisticated dual sets of pressure accumulators that expand rapidly to provide smooth, yet surprising jumps.

Sledge Hammer is also equipped with the most sophisticated computer system in the entire Park. This system is responsible for choreographing the complex hydraulic and electrical systems that produce the calculated sensations of this unique thrill experience.

Capacity

Sledge Hammer has a capacity of approximately 1,000 riders per hour.

Ridership

48 (8 riders per 6 gondolas)

Manufacturer

HUSS, Germany

Industry Name

Jump 2

Opening

May 2003.

One of my earliest memories of Sledgehammer was queuing up for the first time. The park had posted a few construction photos on its website (when it still had a hyphen in the URL) but I didn’t quite gauge the scale of the project quite right. I remember looking up at it in awe, trying to take it all in. It’s such an fun ride experience with the added bonus of having all of these technical aspects of it that are so interesting to watch and listen to.

Problems? What problems?

Sledgehammer has a bad reputation among the public for being that ride that’s “always broken”. I, obviously, don’t like it.

There have been seasons where it’s seen some extended downtime but it has improved a lot over the years. With all of the experience the park has had running this ride, they’ve gotten efficient with resetting after a cycle goes bad. Of the 40+ visits I had last season, there was only one where I wasn’t able to ride due to downtime. There are other rides that had their bouts of downtime so I don’t think this ride deserves to be singled out as much.

This year, the ride wasn’t ready for opening day and I think it has to do with both the recent ice storm delaying things as well as some extra work that’s being done that isn’t typically performed every year. That’s just speculation but it’s rare to see the ride in the state that it’s in with the park open, with the slew ring sitting on the platform (pictured below) and wires dangling from the gondolas.

The ride did end off last season on a low note (a cycle went bad mid-day and it never reopened for the day or the Haunt nights following) so that may have encouraged some extra looks at the ride this off-season.

… So this downtime already in the season isn’t really helping my case for the ride… But at the same time, what happens to it when it’s down is fascinating to watch.

I love Sledgehammer because of its unpredictability and being able to see some of the ways they go about servicing the ride. It comes up with some new sound seemingly every year that sometimes become the norm. Then there’s the odd ride stop or e-stop that I enjoy seeing while simultaneously getting frightened by because of the unexpected loud noises. There’s also been times when I’ve been around to see them running unique test sequences.

This sequence is actually not uncommon to see throughout the season. I don’t really know what it does for the ride but I still like watching it.

My point is, the next time you want to bash Sledgehammer for being broken, at least take a moment to consider what a grand piece of engineering it is. It’s got a lot going on.

The Obsession is Real.

Social media has made it easy to let the world know how much I love this ride but I didn’t have social media back when I was a kid. (THANKFULLY.) Instead, I just let everyone around me know.

I drew this piece of… “art” back in elementary school sometime in the off-season before Sledgehammer actually opened. I was hooked before I’d even ridden it.

A couple years ago, I did something again. This model was made completely out of dollar store foam-core board, some wooden dowels, and paint. I originally wanted to be able to move it up and down by hand to pose it in different ways but that didn’t work out. Still, even with its flaws, I’m proud of it. I haven’t been able to make other rides that I thought would have been easier. I spend an unhealthy amount of time staring at this ride, I guess.

Happy Birthday Sledgehammer!

Sledgehammer opened to the public on May 4, 2003, which makes it 15 years old tomorrow.

It’s encouraging to see the park continually putting so much effort into keeping this ride alive, and I couldn’t thank them enough! Here’s to another 15 years!

April 29, 2018 Trip Report – Opening Day!

Trip Notes

A new season has finally arrived and there’s so much to see at the park!

The very first change you’ll notice is brand new paint all over the entrance building. I’m still getting used to the bright teal colour they used but I like the red and green color accents.

I got to the park just before 9am because it was ERT in the Lumberjack and Kidzville areas.

My first ride of the season was Vortex because Lumberjack wasn’t quite ready yet. I love the new paint job on the trains!

After riding Vortex, I saw Lumberjack had opened so I got in line and we boarded. After sitting in our seats for a few minutes, the ride went down. There’s still some fine-tuning being done as a man presumably from Zamperla was with the operators checking out the ride.

Since I couldn’t get a ride on Lumberjack, I decided to take a short walk and check out another new ride for the season, Flying Canoes. There was lots of activity at the ride as they work to get it open. I saw it rotate a few times throughout the day.

The tiny Canyon Trader stall was replaced by this fantastic olde tyme style store. It’s beautifully decorated inside with a rustic feeling.

There’s some nice apparel and sweet candy waiting inside.

After a short time browsing, I noticed Lumberjack was running again so I made my way back and was able to get on.

I have a few thoughts about this ride but basically… it’s a winner. It’s beautifully themed and the ride itself is really fun!

  • The ride experience is thrilling because of the hangtime, not so much the positive g-forces I was expecting. It doesn’t feel as strong as something like Psyclone. You can sort of feel and hear the ride controlling how fast the down swing goes.
  • I had three rides on Lumberjack. Two of the rides were on the far ends and one in one of the middle rows. The experience on the ends is really cool as you zip past the other gondola and because you’re free to kick your legs out in the air and not into the legs of someone sitting in front of you. I loved how a lot of people were having fun yelling hi and waving at the people in the other gondola as we past each other upside down.
  • The only one minor issue I had was people from the opposite pre-load area filling seats on our side. I’m glad they don’t assign seats (because it irritates me more when people don’t go where they’re supposed to) but I would have liked to see some kind of way to divide the two groups loading on the platform.

It was time to check out what else is new at the park… There are so many pictures of this out there now so I might as well throw mine into the mix.

It was interesting to hear what people had to say as they walked by the construction and tunnels. There were some that had the lingo going while others were just excited about a new roller coaster and the construction in general.

Vortex is going to be so fun when the new coaster is built up. The fly by so close to the opening just seems unreal.

Other new things around the park include a refreshed snacks stall in Kidzville called School House Snacks.

There’s also the expanded Roadside Chicken and combination of Muskoka Craft Burger & Beer and the Craft Chippery. It was a little confusing at first because the round Muskoka sign is where the unlabeled Roadside Chicken pickup window is.

This incredible new billboard sits on the roof. I think it used to be a vintage-style Coca-Cola ad.

On the topic of food, there were a few new things to note around the park. There’s this new express line at Ristorante/International Street Pizza Pizza for people with any type of prepaid dining.

Expo Snacks, which was a combination of Pizza Pizza, Hot Dog, and Hot Potato is now just Pizza Pizza.

The Hot Potato in International Festival was made into one of the new Poutinerie locations.

I spotted these new drink fountains at Thrill Burger in Medieval Faire.

Merchandise has really stepped up their game with things I’d actually wear.

They have a full line-up of different coloured tees for rides like Behemoth, Lumberjack, Soaring Timbers, and The Bat.

All the Rage was hosting another “Last Ride” sale which is basically a clearance sale. I got this Vortex magnet and a Behemoth magnet for $1 in total. You can’t go wrong with that!

Unfortunately, the $7.99 opening day tee was sold out by the time I went to get one at Thrills are Wonderland. Oh well.

Some rides have these new large Funpix logos so people can spot them in the park.

The “modern” fountains were doing some things all day. I couldn’t tell if it was playing parts of one of the shows but it was really pleasant to watch even with no music to go along with it.

Psyclone was down for the day.

Sledgehammer was down as well.

It appears as though the ride is getting some exceptional service with this sitting on the platform and wires dangling from the gondolas. I take it they’re giving it a thorough look through so it’ll be happily jumping this season.

And that’s it! This opening day felt a lot like a preview for the season as I mostly focused on the new things and some of my favourite rides were closed. I’m excited to get back to the park as things straighten out for the summer.

Lunch & Dinner

For lunch, I had the “award-winning” burger from Muskoka Craft Burger.

Before I go any further, I just want to put it out there that I understand that it’s opening day and that they fell behind preparing for the season due to an ice storm a few weeks ago. A lot of the staff around the park were still being trained and were very new to their jobs so I let things go.

The menu is surprisingly vague with only pictures and the names on it. It’s hard to distinguish the difference between the two burgers that have really generic names (“Award Winning” and “Hand Crafted”). The old Muskoka Craft Burger menu listed every major ingredient in the burgers.

This meal took a very long time to be prepared, like more than half an hour long. Once they gave it to me, I took a peek inside to discover… they didn’t put the burger patty in it. After returning and being apologized to profusely, I was on my way with this meal.

I’ve had a lot of good burgers at the park. If we’re being honest, this one was not one to remember, though the service may have something to do with it. I love that these Muskoka Craft meals come with the Chippery chips though so I’ll return at some point in the season to try the other burgers and hopefully have a better experience.

For my second meal, I had the crispy chicken burger from Thrill Burger in Medieval Faire. You actually get a big portion of fries in a basket now rather than in one of those small cups. It’s a nice improvement!

The chicken burger had a different sauce than what was used last season. It’s more of a mild buffalo sauce. I enjoyed it.

Trip Video

A Pre-2018 Season Deep Breath

Let’s get going!

The weather this week has been brightening moods, just in time for a new Wonderland season! Season Passholder Preview Night, which I’ll miss again for another year, is tomorrow. Opening day, where I’ll be bright and early, is on Sunday. I can’t wait!

What’s the plan for opening day?

Playing with my camera, trying out the new rides, and catching up with my old favourites… Nothing new to what I normally do.

I’ve been experimenting with my camera over the off-season like when a new subway extension opened or just some strolls down in Toronto. I think I’ve been able to get better video quality out of the camera so I’m excited to see what I’ll be able to do with it at the park. I also picked up a small cheap action camera, mostly because I like the wide angle it can get. I’m not sure what I plan to do with it exactly but it’s still nice to have another new toy to play with at the park.

I’m excited to see what’s new around the park with Lumberjack and Flying Canoes, as well as the not-so-secret construction in Vortex lake. There’s also so many other things to see like Vortex’s new paint for the trains, and even merch things like the $7.99 opening day t-shirt and the clearance sale at All the Rage. I couldn’t be more excited… or overwhelmed. 😛

I’ll be posting from the park on Twitter and Instagram Stories. See below for more on that.

Where I’ll be!

I’ve always enjoyed seeing pictures by coasters enthusiasts around the world on social media so I look at my posts as a way to throw in my own contributions. I love sharing the park with many people who probably don’t have this Canadian park in their plans.

Here’s where I’ll be:

  • YOUTUBE: Making videos of Wonderland is one of my favourite things to do at the park so you’ll find me on YouTube.
  • TWITTER: Live-tweeting at the park is also fun so you’ll find me on Twitter again this year.
  • INSTAGRAM (Stories): I’ve given up on posting on Instagram but I really want to try using Instagram Stories this year.
  • BLOG: I’ll be here on the blog to share regular photo trip-reports throughout the season.
  • PHOTO GALLERY: The photo gallery will be making a comeback. Details soon.

I hope you’ll enjoy my pictures and videos, as I hide in plain view. Happy coasting!