I had been wanting to get to Adventureland since they debuted "the Monster" back in 2016. On 15 September, I FINALLY made it there! It becomes my 8th amusement park visited after Six Flags St. Louis, Six Flags Great America, King's Island, Mt. Olympus Theme Park, Cedar Point, Lakeside Amusement Park & Michigan's Adventure.
To make a long story short, my die-hard roller coaster friends have disbanded and moved on after 2017 which made 2018 my first "off-year" in 3 years, as far as visiting amusement parks goes. But I was able to talk another traveling friend, who isn't overly fond of amusement parks, into visiting Michigan's Adventure during our trip around Lake Michigan. Though small, I was a beautiful park and It gave me my coaster fix of 2018. Shivering Timbers really delivered!
There was talk of my friends returning for this year, but I was skeptical. And come the first of September, nothing had changed. And I was getting increasingly frustrated that I could not find anybody else to go anywhere with. I had saved up a lot of money for summer trips and it looked like nothing was gong to happen.
But I was finally able to find one person who cared and was willing. We both worked in the pool hall of a bowling alley. But since the alley had to close in August, and since he was in debt, I had to pay his way. He's also not the best driver, so I choose Adventureland since it would be the easiest park to get to. From Galesburg, it is on our side of Des Moines. We'd have to go through or around Chicago & St. Louis to get to the other parks, thus more traffic. Adventureland though small, was the perfect way to save this off-year.
So we get there and I was instantly blown away by how perfect the landscaping looked. All the grass was cut and all the bushes were trimmed. It was absolutely beautiful! I'm sure a lot of that is due to the fact that many of the employees are older and are therefore more likely to care about it's appearance. Raging Riverr was a prime example of the landscape beauty. It was 88 degrees that day and that was the only ride that had had a line (30 minute wait).
Since regular rides make me dizzy, I came exclusively for the 6 roller coasters. The Raging River was a bonus.
The dragon turned out a little better than I had thought. All the reviews talked about how torturous it was. But I know how to hold myself in those restraints and I didn't have any pain whatsoever. It is a short ride, but fairly decent for what it is.
The Monster, as expected, was the big winner here. The short trains allow it to zip up and down those hills in ways that larger trains can't, creating some serious g-force. Since I'm loosing upper body strength, the g-forces that pulled me to the right were almost uncomfortable at times, but very smooth and well worth it!
Unfortunately, my friend chickened out on the roller coasters and only decided to ride the Phoenix, and that was while I was riding the Dragon. He said it scared him to death, so when I rode it alone, and I felt a little underwhelmed due to his review. It was smooth and decent, and a great addition to the park, but I had no idea why he would have freaked out so much.
I thought the underground would be lame, but it was actually much funner than the POVs makes it out to be. There are also surprises that the POVs don't show, such as getting misted by water. It was the only coster we rode together and we both liked it, especially the air conditioning. LOL
Behind the Phoenix, the Outlaw was the only other coaster that didn't meet my expectations. I was expecting pops of airtime, but I due to limited time, I sat in the middle of the train. I will defiantly ride it in the back if I make it over there again. So my review of the Outlaw doesn't really count.
Tornado, on the other hand, actually exceeded my expectations! I read all the reviews about it being mediocre. And there is a feeling of compactness, but it was actually pretty fun. I rode it in the back and I was actually not expecting that much airtime on the first drop. Maybe it's just me, but it seemed very strong and sustained for being under 100'. Also, they let us ride it multiple times without having to get off. You almost never see that at a Six Flags or Cedar Fair park. I made myself get off after the second time though because I din't want my friend to wonder what had happened to me.
We went to an Ice Cream store where I got a dipped waffle cone with 2 scoops of ice cream and my friend got an ice cream cone. Though still expensive, our total was still under $10! The price would have been double at Six Flags or Cedar Fair.
The only incident was with my friend (who has a handicapped sticker on his windshield). When we went back into the parking lot for lunch, somebody had taken a tray (presumably had chicken nuggets), wrote a nasty note on it stuck it on his windshield, allowing barbecue sauce to run onto his car. This instantly set him off! On the note, it talked about him being handicapped and needing to learn how to park. However, he wasn't even using a handicapped space and we were parked perfectly! It was just bigots, and that was uncalled for, but so was the way my friend would soon handle the situation.
He took the tray and stuck it on the car next to him, assuming it was put there by them. And on our way in, he said he was going to demand a refund on his ticket. He immediately talked to the lady who said she would refund him if he didn't ride any more rides and left soon. But since he threw the evidence on the car next to us, I already knew he would not be getting a refund.
So I insisted that I wanted to at least finish my 6 roller coasters, which is what I had went there for. Unlike Michigan's Adventure, which slow dispatch operations that kept is there the entire day, Adventureland's operations were pretty fast. Perhaps it was due to the time of year we visited? 90 degrees so late in the year may have pushed some people away? Anyway, I wrapped up 2 hours after the incident! I had a blast! And we were ready to leave by 5PM so that he get home before dark.
And sure enough, that's when they denied him his refund. Even though he didn't ride another ride since talking to the lady, we still stuck around another 2 hours. And that was all moot because they checked the area for evidence and didn't find the mess on his car. He got into a heated argument with her which made me turn deep red with embarrassment. I sat there with my face down as people walked by. I was afraid to approach him for fear of making things worse, and wondering if my ride was going to end up in jail. So I let him blow off steam for a while in hopes he'd come to his senses. They even offered to clean his car for him, but that wasn't good enough for him. Eventually, I stared speaking up, urging him to let it go, and he eventually did. I went back and apologized to the lady as he was walking toward his car.
The ride home was certainly an Adventure of its own. He got frustrated because he didn't know how to get out of there, so he impulsively sped over a boundary that found ourselves in the resort parking lot. I was slumped way down in my seat with embarrassment and fear that we'd end up in trouble. But we soon made it out. He had no turn signal and sped up to 95 mph at times. Drowsy for his first hour, he nearly fell asleep a couple of times. He eventually stretched, got coffee, and was good the rest of the way, though continuing to be a bit reckless.
I knew full-well that no amusement park, in their right mind, would give somebody a refund due to what some idiot in the parking lot did to them, especially if they investigate and find nothing there. I found it amazing service that they were even willing to do it earlier in the day. Other places would have laughed at him.
At the bowling alley, we had customers demand refunds over stupid and crazy things all the time. And sometimes, we'd still grant some of those ridiculous requests in order to try and please them. Its all a part of the reason why we eventually ran out of money and had to close.
I don't mean to totally through my friend under the buss. He's younger and not overly educated. He also has a limited understanding of how things work, but he has turned out well considering the family he came from. And he does have some disabilities, and a temper, which doesn't help his issues either. Despite behind a bull-headed, he has a very good heart and means well. We love him to death. He wasn't particularly interested in going to Adventureland, but he wanted me to be able to get there. And in his mind, he was trying to save me money especially since he only rode a total of 3 rides, but I know that's not how it works. You pay for admission and I had no qualms about paying them. Their tickets are quite affordable and they deliver quite a wonderful park for having a smaller metro to draw visitors from.
And I do find it a trifle frustrating that everybody around me has to have issues. Where have all the normal people gone?And as much as I'd love to re-visit Adventureland, I won't be going to any amusement park with him again. The Amana Colonies, various apple orchards, etc. are more his cup of tea. I have no problem going to those places with him.
But to summarize, Adventureland is a charming park that I'd recommend to anyone! The Monster alone is worth visiting the park and it delivers a world-class coaster experience! The staff are very friendly and accommodating. The food is affordable and the landscaping is top-notch! Most Six Flags, and even most Cedar Fair parks don't match the atmosphere and cleanliness. It is definably a gem in the middle of Iowa. It was also the first park where I could see cornfields from the view of a coaster. And they bend the rules in ways the bigger chain parks won't. Running multiple roller coaster rides without making the people run back through the line, is one prime example.
He wanted to do Sawmill Splash at the beginning, but after getting wetter than he had expected on raging river, we ended up skipping it. In hindsight, I wish we wold have rode it too.
I'm sorry to have written such a long story, but my ordeal was certainly an event with a lot going on.
I was wondering if anyone was thinking about the future of the dragon? Both times I went to Adventureland this summer (June 7 and July 17), it was closed. It was probably a coincidence because I haven't seen anyone else mention it or any official statements, but I still think it was interesting. Additionally, the dragon doesn't seem to be in the best shape. Maybe they're working to fix it, but from some Adventure Bay rides, you can see the obviously brown/rusting parts of the track. And there's the general roughness and age of a 20 year old ride. I'm gonna be honest, I wouldn't be upset to see it go if we got something good in its place.
And here's where my idea comes in. After the 2015 closure of the log ride, the park is down one water ride. It got a smooth and enormously popular coaster in its place. The dragon is currently over the park's big lagoon. What if there was a decision to replace the dragon with some kind of water ride. The log ride's main reason for closure was how difficult it was to maintain, and the majority wood construction didn't help. With better technology and some thought put into it, the park could put a water ride partially over the lagoon, utilizing the environment to better theme and enhance the ride. I don't know much about water rides, but I'm sure there are some good options.
Here's the best part: I know the daughters of the second in command in Adventureland's management. They both know the park's plans for years in the future. I asked them about the dragon, knowing they wouldn't be able to say much, but then they started whispering to each other. Nothing concrete, just suspicious.
You know, I've been wondering about the Dragon for quite a while. It's pretty old, and we all know how rough it is. Both times I went to Adventureland this past summer (June 7 and July 17), it was closed. It was probably a coincidence because I haven't heard anything about a temporary closure, but both times I noticed from the high platforms at the Bay that the top of the loops were brown (rust?). I'm not sure if they were trying to fix it or what. Either way, we know it's not in the condition it once was. It also isn't as impressive in the park itself next to the much smoother, longer, and more impressive Monster.
My point is, I'm wondering if we'll see a closure of the Dragon in the near future. It has a unique location over the lake, making it a perfect spot for a new water-based ride. After the absence of the log ride for 5 seasons, I sure am feeling the withdrawl of the ride. The main drawback of the log ride was the upkeep of the wooden structure, and now Adventureland has more resources to build a better structure for a new water ride.
Additionally, I have reason to believe there are future plans of some kind for the Dragon. I know the daughters of one of the higher ups at Adventureland. When I asked them if there were any plans for the Dragon, they got all whisper-y and secretive with each other. Obviously not proof of anything (confidentiality and whatnot), and it could be a simple update to the ride, but I'm just really curious about the Dragon.
All the ride ops I talked to last year all mentioned that the park is bare minimum considering removing Dragon in the next 2 to 3 years. Normally I'd be suspicious if it was only the one crew talking about it, but with the way A-Land rotates ride ops there were at least 20 different ops that talked about it without even being asked.
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