More Boat! The Stanley Falls Flume Ride

img_4190Stanley Falls Flume opened in 1973 as the park’s first “thrill” ride and was built by the famous roller coaster company Arrow Dynamics.  Arrow was the creator of our modern incarnation of this ride type and built a ton of them in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Stanley Falls is fit nicely into some hills and contours in the Stanleyville area, so you never feel all that high in the air, but the last drop at 43 feet is no joke.  There’s also a camera on the drop, so it’s a great chance to catch some fun family pictures.

I’ve been a fan of flume rides since I used to ride The Loggers Run and The Yankee Clipper as a kid during our yearly treks from Wisconsin down to  Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL. Many of these classic flume rides have unfortunately been demolished and replaced with newer thrill rides the last few years, so I was thrilled that Busch Gardens still had one of these classics. I was even more thrilled that my 2 toddler son could ride it!

img_1364This was our toddler son Thomas’s first “real” ride. We were shocked he could ride something with such a big drop since he was too short (under 36″) to ride the “Hippos of the Nile” kiddie boats in the Sesame Street area with its ~3 foot drop.  Online Stanley Falls has a 46″ minimum, but many of the rides at Busch Gardens have different minimums for unaccompanied and accompanied kids.  Before the trip I had researched to find the rides we could all go on and this wasn’t on the list until we saw the sign by the ride that said “2 years or older” with no minimum height.  Thomas may have actually been closer to 23 months on his first ride, but the staff essentially told us “if they can walk they’re good to go”, so we were good to go!

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Thomas seemed pretty excited about riding a boat, so we just went for it not quite knowing how he’d react. From the moment the boat left the station he he giggled and smiled, he was having the time of his life. We went up and down the first little hill and still all smiles. Then came the big hill, the drop and the splash and the smiles didn’t stop. We got to the station and out of the boat and he started yelling, More Boat! More Boat!” So we got back in line and went on it again and he had the same joyous reaction and wanted to go again. I think in these moments our love affair with Busch Gardens began. Thus also began one of our first family things, we love riding the log flume together!

img_1517On our most recent trip in January 2019 the temp only averaged 55-60 degrees, but guess what we did. Yep, we rode boats. Over two days there were easily a half dozen rides and no lines… go figure. The first day we had no ponchos or any type protection, but a shivering Thomas still wanted “More Boats!” He would recount his adventures, “Up the hill, down the hill, Splash!” The second day it was on the colder side, but we were a bit wiser and wore some ponchos. It was cold, but I guess loving your kid makes you do silly things. No one was in line, we could just stay in our boat and keep going around as many times as we wanted. In talking to the staff we were surprised to hear they kept operating all the way down to about 40 degrees… Yikes! Exiting the ride for the final time Thomas was in tears. As we were drying off a woman asked if Thomas was crying because he was scared or cold. Neither, he was crying because he didn’t want to get off. Crazy kid 🙂

We can’t wait for our next trip in June for “More Boat!” when the weather will be a bit warmer and the line probably a bit longer. This ride is approaching 50 years old and here’s three votes that it sticks around for a long time to come.

Here’s a first person video from YouTube to give you a chance to experience Stanley Falls while staying warm and dry!

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