Billy Cormier has seen a lot of ups and downs during his career.

Cormier, 70, has worked full time for nearly 50 years at his family’s Saco amusement park, Funtown Splashtown USA. As head of maintenance and senior vice president, he helps to make sure rides keep safely speeding along with screaming passengers. He also knows what it takes to keep the place clean and ready for fun-seeking families everyday.

As the season gets going, we asked him for a look behind the scenes of the popular summer attraction.

What is your favorite ride?

I think one of my favorite rides is probably the Astrosphere, simply because that was an in-house project. It’s a scrambler ride, where people hear ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) music and see all types of different effects, a multimedia show with lasers.

It originally came online in 1976 in an air-supported dome. It opened the door to us being a little bit different than other parks, having a unique ride like that. But I got sick of doing the work of dismantling it and putting it up every year, so we finally built a permanent structure for it in 2018/19. It’s climate-controlled now.


What is the ride that seems to scare people the most? 

I would have to say that would be the Wild Mouse. If you look at it from ground level, it doesn’t look like much of anything. But it’s very scary, and the turns are very sharp. You think you’re coming off the tracks. Some of the language you hear. It’s all good, because at the end of it, people come off and usually two are laughing and the third one was just freaking out.

The runner-up to that one is probably Dragon’s Descent. You look up at it, and it doesn’t look that high, but when you get up there, it’s 220 feet. And you come down pretty fast.

The Wild Mouse roller coaster might look tame, but Cormier said it might be the ride that scares folks the most. Photo by Stephen Davis Phillips

What is the most popular food at the park?

A chicken wing building opened up last year, and that’s really popular. Other than that, the Mainely Fries booth, with some signature burgers and fresh-cut potatoes from Maine.

What do you do in the winter, when the park is closed? 

There’s lots to do here. We take the rides and equipment apart and have a third party come in to do inspections. The Wild Mouse cars, for instance, we take them all completely apart. Then (the testing company) will check all the different components of the ride through various means, including using magnets to test for bad welds. Safety is really the biggest thing at the park. Our reputation is very important, so we spend a lot of time and money making sure everything is right. We don’t cut corners.

What is your favorite thing about working at the park? 

It’s watching families come here and enjoy their time together. You don’t know what difficulties different families are going through, so it’s great to see them come here and forget their troubles and have fun. That’s the most rewarding part of what we do.

Dragon’s Descent is 220-feet tall. Photo by Stephen Davis Phillips

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: