SOUTHINGTON — Lake Compounce is one of the oldest amusement parks in North America, but you may not know everything about what makes the 170-year-old park special.
“I think it’s a great place to bring kids but it’s also a lot of fun for adults too, and I think that makes us unique,” said Amy Thomas, director of marketing for the park.
Thomas walked through some of the things happening at the park over the next year, and key points in its recent and distant past. Things to do
“We have everything from large roller coasters like Phobia — that does an inversion at 150 feet in the air — to balloon rides for the young kids and caterpillar trains,” Thomas said.
The park also has a water park with about seven slides, the Bayou Bay with man-made waves, a lazy river, and public swimming in the lake. There is also a train that runs around the perimeter of the lake.
All summer long, the park also puts on various live performances, including “Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Day” and “Flippin’at the Parkside.” There are also numerous snack and meal stops for guests. Venus Vortex 2020
On Monday, park officials announced a new ride set to open next Memorial Day. Thomas said the Venus Vortex will be the park’s largest investment yet, and stand nearly seven stories tall.
“It’s good for the whole family, but it’s definitely (going to be) our most thrilling ride in the water park,” Thomas said Tuesday.
The multi-million dollar slide is unique to the New England area and slated to go between the wave pool and lake.
The Venus Vortex carries a three-person raft through a dark tunnel before opening into the jaws of a Venus flytrap. The raft is carried through the jaws into a splashdown area.Roller coasters
Lake Compounce’s oldest roller coaster in operation is the Wildcat, which was built in 1927 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. The wooden coaster replaced the Green Dragon, the park's first electric-powered roller coaster, which opened to the public in 1914.
The park's newest roller coaster is Phobia Phear Coaster, built in 2016.
Overall, the park has about four roller coasters, and numerous other thrill rides like Down Time, Wipeout and Thunder Rapids. Fall, winter seasons
The summer season ends on August 25 for daily operations, but the park will still open on weekends through Sept.15.
This year Lake Compounce will host the 20th annual Haunted Graveyard, starting Sept. 27 and going through Nov. 2. It’s also offering a Behind the Screams exclusive look at the graveyard on Oct. 5, which will include unlimited walk-throughs, free food, a free Sky Coaster ride, and access to seminars and demonstrations related to the Haunted Graveyard.
On Friday, Aug. 23, visitors who donate school supplies will get free parking. The school supplies will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Bristol.
The park’s annual Holiday Lights will run weekends starting after Thanksgiving to just before Christmas. John Compound
Lake Compounce was once “owned” by John Compound, a Mattatuck/Tunxis Native American Chieftain. In 1684, he and several tribal members conveyed the “Compound’s Lake” deed to a group of white settlers who had migrated from Massachusetts.
Almost two-hundred years later, in 1846, several circumstances led property owner Gad Norton to set up a “picnic park” with a path around the lake, public swimming and a gazebo for band concerts, according to Lake Compounce’s history page. Over the years, Norton added more activities, like summer barbecues, a hand-powered swing, and the state’s first ten-pin bowling alley. After partnering with Isaac Pierce, more buildings were built on the property and a carousel was started around 1911, a few years before the first roller coaster opened.