Nov 26, 2013
02:19 PM
Arts & Entertainment

Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce in Bristol: Dazzling Seasonal Festivities

Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce in Bristol: Dazzling Seasonal Festivities

Call it the ESPN effect—the phenomenon that has transformed and given a certain cachet to the city of Bristol, historically a solidly blue collar community with a heritage of manufacturing clocks and ball bearings.

These days, the turbo-powered engine that drives the local economy is the sports media giant, whose campus along the southern gateway to Bristol on Route 229 is ever-expanding.

Right across the street, where hotels are renovating and new ones arise on the landscape, there’s a new restaurant, The Willows, that ranks among the state’s finest—and another fixture in that end of town, near Southington and I-84, is Lake Compounce.

It’s the oldest continually operating amusement park in the U.S.—since the summer of 1846—and its history is fascinating.

But this isn’t your father’s or grandfather’s Lake Compounce. Young visitors may still tell or hear tall tales of snakes from the lake or rattlers from the mountain coming out of the heads of horses on the carousel, or they may be too dazzled by the exponentially-expanded array of rides since those days gone by—an array that includes The Boulder Dash, named not long ago as the 'Best Wooden Roller Coaster in the World' for 2013, and the Wildcat, which has been offering thrills since 1927 and is one of the oldest functioning roller coasters in the world.

Take a virtual ride on The Boulder Dash

Roller coasters may be out of season now, and the Haunted Graveyard has also come and gone—but in the spirit of the bright lights and global sports action of its neighbor ESPN, Lake Compounce these days is an attraction for all seasons.

That means the arrival of the second annual Lake Compounce Holiday Lights, an event for families taking place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings beginning this Friday, Nov. 29, and continuing through the weekend before Christmas. Tickets are available now online.

Featuring hundreds of thousands of lights throughout the park, according to a release, Holiday Lights will “include festive activities such as a spectacular light show every half hour at the main gate, which will feature tens of thousands of dancing lights set to holiday music.”

As part of this winter season event, Kiddieland rides and family-themed rides will be in operation, and the amusement park’s train will be transformed into the North Pole Railway, “operated by a very special, uniformed train conductor with a magical holiday story to tell.”

There also will be indoor activities such as cookie decorating and gingerbread house making, the release says. Children can create letters for Santa, and those who participate will receive a personalized letter sent directly to them, from Santa.

“On the Kiddieland stage children can enjoy Story Time with Mrs. Claus,” the release says. “There will be carolers strolling throughout the park, an ice carver creating unique, frozen sculptures, and lots more festive entertainment including clowns making balloon animals and lots of holiday characters greeting guests. The childhood favorite, photos with Santa, is not to be missed in the Winterwonderland Starlight Theatre. The park’s gift shops will also be loaded with holiday-themed merchandise for sale, so guests can get their holiday shopping done, too.”

“We have hundreds of thousands of lights, and exciting holiday entertainment and activities throughout. We hope this will become a family tradition for years to come,” says Jerry Brick, the park’s general manager.

For Holiday Lights, the park gates will open at 5 p.m. on Fridays, and at 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The event goes until 9 p.m. each of those days, and will run Nov. 2930, and Dec. 1, 6-8, 13-15, and 20-22.

Admission is $14.99, plus tax, per adult, $10.99, plus tax, for children 4 through 10, and free for children 3 and younger. Season pass holders may enter for free with their 2013 or 2014 pass. Tickets may be purchased online, or at the park gate once the event begins. Nominal fees will be charged for select activities, the release says.

Anyone who visits can also get a sense of the park’s appeal in warmer weather, notably centered on those roller coasters. In September, Amusement Today named the Boulder Dash the ‘Best Wooden Roller Coaster in the World’ for 2013.

A release on that honor explained that Amusement Today relies on a panel of voters from all over the world consisting of experienced park enthusiasts. The U.S. ballots are divided into four geographical regions, with approximately the same number of voters in each region, the release said.

In addition to the American voters, Amusement Today invites a number of international voters to participate, the release said. Voters are asked to submit a list of their top ten coasters—wood and steel—in order from one to ten, taking into consideration the overall experience including capacity, operations, reliability and re-ride ability.

"The folks at Lake Compounce deserve to celebrate," said Gary Slade, publisher and editor-in-chief of Amusement Today. "Boulder Dash took the Golden Ticket in 2004 and continued to be a top five contender in the years following. The park is dedicated to maintaining it well and the coaster's unique one-of-a-kind setting constantly brings in new fans. A night ride on this amazing coaster is particularly fantastic. It’s my favorite time to ride Boulder Dash!"

Lake Compounce is part of the Palace Entertainment family of parks. Palace owns and operates 40 theme parks, water parks and family entertainment centers nationwide, including Kennywood, Idlewild and Story Land on the East Coast.

Lake Compounce is also home to Crocodile Cove, the largest water park in Connecticut.

Read the fascinating history of Lake Compounce


Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce in Bristol: Dazzling Seasonal Festivities

Reader Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed