Last year, the Greeley Tribune began a new tradition for Greeley Stampede coverage: rating the rides.
Go+Do reporter Tamara Markard and education reporter Anne Delaney rode one and a half rides last year, relying on young patrons to complete the story.
This year, Markard passed the assignment onto two newbies. University of Northern Colorado sports beat writer Jadyn Watson-Fisher and I, crime and public safety reporter Morgan McKenzie, were tasked with giving our thoughts on the rides this time.
Neither of us would choose carnival rides as our Stampede activity of choice, but we were determined to not get beat by women almost twice our age.
We decided to go shortly after the carnival rides opened to prevent waiting in long lines, and we worked our way up. Markard and Delaney’s grave mistake last year was going on a spin ride as their second one of the day.
Here are our thoughts as mid-20-somethings with weak digestive systems, an aversion to spinning, quick drops or “sketchy” equipment. And don’t even get us started on the rides that go upside down.
Ferris Wheel, 2-of-5 stars
The Ferris wheel is a classic, carnival staple that provides entertainment and excitement for every family member, young and old. Not to mention, it is a stereotypical, yet matchless, romantic ride for a first date or 50th date.
Jadyn and I jumped on right away. It was our first ride in an evening of trying as many Greeley Stampede rides as possible.
We assumed the Ferris wheel experience was a safe bet, while avoiding the more intense rides. Jadyn’s dizziness, however, hit during what I believe was a quicker than usual spinning of the wheel. In her defense, we were the only people on the ride, so the operators didn’t find it necessary to do any stops and we continuously twirled in countless circles at a speed that was most likely the fastest speed for a generally tame Ferris wheel.
Overall, the best part of the infamous Ferris wheel was the top of the attraction, and I’m sure it is even more spectacular when the sun goes down and the carnival lights turn on. In my opinion, the rating would peak if I saw the beaming and flashing of the carnival lights, if the ride was slowed down a bit, and if a few stops were thrown into the mix.
Swings, 3.5-of-5 stars
The swings have always been a fan-favorite of mine since I was a child. There is something so exhilarating about being dangled and spun around hundreds of feet in the air by chains while sitting in a seat that resembles a child’s car seat.
But for us, the thrill wasn’t the only aspect that was calling our names. There was no hesitation to jump into the swing seat on a day when the over 90-degree heat and bright sun were beating down on us. The smooth breeze that comes with the ride deserves a high rating.
As we spun in circles, slightly tilted to the left, my black cowboy boots swaying in the wind, I occasionally closed my eyes to avoid the blurs circling around me. With my eyes closed, the breeze hitting my face and the faster-paced swinging in rotation, I became as close as possible to a feeling of flying.
Jadyn encourages those with sensitive tummies to not turn their heads while on the ride. The spinning can exacerbate any dizziness. She was caught saying, “Tell my mom I love her,” while feeling like she might fly into Weld County sky.
Jumping Jumbos, 4-of-5 stars
I know what everyone is thinking, “Really? You gave that high of a rating for a children’s ride?” The answer is, “Yes, and I would do it again.”
I was easily entertained by such a simple ride because it made me feel like a child again. Do you remember being young, filled with joy and eagerness while waiting in line for the smallest rides that felt big? I miss that feeling, but a quick lap on Jumping Jumbos has those feelings flooding back in.
Even before jumping into a jumbo, Jadyn and I found ourselves giddy because we could pick out the elephants we wanted to ride in all based on the colors we wanted. She chose blue, because it contrasted with her pink outfit.
During the ride, I looked back to Jadyn, who sat directly behind me, with a huge grin on my face as our elephants switched back and forth between being on the ground and slightly raised in the air. Occasionally, we laughed at each other for enjoying the rides as much as we did.
My fellow reporter made multiple jokes that the children’s ride was more up her alley than anything else at the Greeley Stampede. It was hard not to agree with her statement as someone who battled a short spell of nostalgia and a child-like feeling that no other attraction at the carnival had.
Slide, 5-of-5 stars
Arguably, one of the quickest rides at the Greeley Stampede. Not to mention, more than half of the ride is climbing up a steep and tight staircase to the top. Despite it all, the bright yellow slide gets my highest rating on our scale.
To me, the long walk up the stairs was the ultimate anticipation for going down memory lane since the slide was another treasured ride from my past. Jadyn said she probably should’ve worked out before the stairs, though. They made you work for that slide.
But, even a quick thrill such as the slide filled me with glee. She said so, too, even if her scream mid-slide might indicate otherwise.
First, riders grab a mat that makes the slide not only safer but a slicker journey down to the bottom — creating the perfect speed the whole way down.
Perfect speed? Check. But it gets better … the slide also has several bumps in the road that make riders in an up and down motion as they are traveling down the long, tall attraction. And many would expect the slide to be too bumpy, but it was quite the opposite for me.
Overall, the slide is an ideal ride for a friendly competition of racing friends or family members. Kids of all ages will get a kick out of the attraction — and maybe even the adults will find their inner child.
Teacups, 1-of-5 stars
Imagine two full-grown adults jamming into one teacup designed for children. Not a pretty sight for the carnival-goers watching their children having fun in the teacups. But, I promise it was even worse for the people squished into the tiny seating of the ride.
As children were laughing and trying to spin as fast as they can, Jadyn and I were unbelievably uncomfortable – if you’re taller than 5-foot, you need your own teacup – and agreed not to make the tiny teacups spin even in the slightest.
In all honesty, just rotating over and over again on the ride was too much for us, especially since the ride felt like it lasted longer than it should have. It was excruciating to sit there for as long as we did, but it was nice to see the little kids surrounding us have as much fun as they did.
In line for the ride, one older gentleman questioned why we were riding this obviously-made-for-kids ride. After, we questioned why we did, too.
Carousel, 4-of-5 stars
You know what they say, “You can’t go wrong with a carousel ride,” and I wholeheartedly agree. A carnival wouldn’t be a carnival without a couple of laps on a carousel.
For starters, the adrenaline rush of running around to pick out which animal a person gets to sit on is almost as amusing as the ride.
While I stuck to a simple horse, Jadyn grabbed onto a chicken, because she said she “is a chicken.” This checks out, especially when someone sees which rides we rated and which ones we actively avoided.
There were moments when I felt seat padding could have come in handy while the animals jolted in an up and down motion. Other than that, I genuinely enjoyed riding the carousel. It was a more calm, relaxing thrill in between the more chaotic rides.
Cobra Coaster, 0-of-5 stars
A kid-friendly ride, designed for the much younger adventure-seekers just happened to be the only ride on this list that brought me a great deal of pain. Surprisingly, a very short-lapped coaster that goes in a circle with a few tiny drops and a quick-paced turn, turned into my least favorite attraction of the night.
I tried to remain in one place on the ride by clenching onto the bar, which was also digging tightly into my gut and making every movement extremely jarring and horrible. The ride itself was aggressive with the drops and sharp turns. From the get-go, I told Jadyn, “I want off,” while also trying to avoid making faces that showcased my pain to the young children waiting in line to ride. She shared similar thoughts about our experience.
The Cobra Coaster needs nothing more than padding inside each coaster cart, I said to myself as I walked off joking that the kiddie ride broke my ribs and bruised my back. A break was much needed after this ride’s jolt of pain.
Ghost Town, 2-of-5 stars
Ghost Town is a ride that starts from the outside of the attraction. Those sitting in the cart don’t know what is going to happen behind closed doors. Will the ride be fast or slow? Are there jump scares? Will it be loud?
As reporters, it’s hard not to have a million questions about the unknown but have no fear, this ride was much milder than expected. Jadyn noted that it was nice to just sit without anything poking her in the stomach, like the Cobra Coaster.
The carts move at a slow pace on a track through an extremely dark and stuffy building. Only the occasionally visual “jump scare” pops up, but even those were underwhelming, predictable and repetitive.
The ride is also short, with no big scare factor at all. The majority of the trek through the building feels as if a rider is actually in a ghost town because it is mostly pitch black with nothing inside but a few props.
Maybe this spook is best suited for those afraid of the dark?
Cliff Hanger, 4.5-of-5
The Cliff Hanger was one of the more advanced rides I took on. But sadly, I was a solo rider because Jadyn had to tap out from the excitement (though, in reality, she wanted to avoid throwing up on an unsuspecting child).
It is not the most comfortable position to be in for a ride, but it was quite nice to be laying flat while flying in the air since it is not a super common component other rides have. The attraction brings an experience unlike any other by giving people an opportunity to feel as if they are hang-gliding over the carnival of the Greeley Stampede.
In my opinion, my favorite part of the ride was going downwards. Solely, because the repeated motions of lowering face first before being flung back to a heightened place created such a rush that none of the other rides gave me – not even the Jumping Jumbos.
The breeze grazing my face was a plus, but the threat of my glasses flying off my face was outright nerve-wracking.
Other input and pro tips
Do riding the rides right. I highly suggest entering the carnival right at opening if possible. While the night experience may be much cooler weather and filled with colorful lights, skipping the long lines and wait times is definitely worth it.
Once the carnival starts getting busier, take time for a break. Cool off in the shade and grab some food and drinks. There are also plenty of fun events, or you can win a loved one a prize by testing your skills and luck with carnival games. You can get your money’s worth and stick around to see the Greeley Stampede light. A night at the stampede is the perfect time to snap a few cute carnival pictures or return to your favorite rides that deserve a second or third spin.
Also, consider your budget and investment in the rides when deciding between buying tickets or a ride pass. One ticket is worth $1, but most rides take four or five tickets each. The ticket option is ideal for people who choose to go on a select few rides. If someone wants the full ride experience and plans to tackle every ride from mild to severe, they should opt for a $35 ride pass.
The Greeley Stampede runs through July 4 with events everyday. The carnival rides open at different times depending on the day, so check out GreeleyStampede.org for each day’s hours.
https://www.greeleytribune.com/2022/06/29/tribune-sports-crime-reporters-rate-greeley-stampede-rides/ Greeley Tribune reporters rate rides at 100th Greeley Stampede