Fun fact, in 2019 I visited all three parks named Adventureland. The last of the three was also the best, the one in Iowa.
Adventureland doesn’t get much attention. And I can sort of see why. How many enthusiasts make it out to Iowa? But those who make the drive through cornfields are rewarded with this charming family park.
From the moment you step through the gate, it’s clear the park was inspired by Disneyland. You have a train right in front of you and you have to pass under a tunnel (either on the left or right). That then leads to Main Street (yes it’s actually called that). The only thing missing was Mickey Mouse.
My first stop was the park’s star attraction, Monster. And it looks massive. It’s a supersized Eurofighter that’s twice as tall as most other installations. Most importantly, it had the incredible lap bar only trains. It’s refreshing to ride these with the added freedom and peace of mind that I won’t bash my head.
Like all Eurofighters, the beyond vertical drop was exceptional. It had some powerful ejector air and the added height sustained it longer than most. That’s followed by this bizarre banked top hat thing where you get a pop of air entering and exiting.
That leads into a dive loop with some great airtime and laterals. It leads into this prolonged vertical loop. Picture the hangtime on YOLOcoaster’s loop held for twice as long. After a decent camelback, there’s a second dive loop. This one is considerably whippier than the first.
You then pass through a trim. Most enthusiasts whine about trim brakes. However, the trim brake on Monster makes the ride. Yes you read that right, a trim actually improved the ride experience. It leads to some downright insane hangtime.
The next element is this funky wave turn/turnaround hybrid (if you haven’t noticed, this ride has a lot of funky elements). You will get this weird sideways hangtime and question if the ride is going to stall. That’s followed by one last corkscrew, which has a copious amount of hangtime thanks to the lack of speed.
I knew I’d enjoy Monster; I just didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy it. The whippy drops combined with the hangtime is a winning combination. This cracked my top 40 steel coasters. 9 out of 10
I then walked onto Tornado. With a name like that, you’d expect a twister layout. But instead it’s an out-and-back, albeit one curves along the perimeter of the park.
I was ecstatic to see buzz bars. There was a tiny bit of air though. The fourth drop had great floater anywhere in the train and the first drop had a good pop in the back. Outside of that, there maybe was one other pop on the return leg.
Thankfully the ride wasn’t too rough; it just had some shuffling in the valleys. But Tornado has one big flaw. Like Monster, Tornado crawls through the elements. Except where you get crazy hangtime on Monster, you get nothing on Tornado. 5 out of 10
Up next was one of the most hated steel coasters in the world, Dragon. I absolutely loved Desert Storm earlier this year, but I immediately spotted one big difference with Dragon, OSTRs.
Most of the hate stems from the pre-lift. It looked innocent enough. Honestly, Dragon was doing the RMC pre-lift before RMC was. The first bunny hill was fine. As was the second. Then came the turn.
Admittedly, it sounded like the train was going to fall apart. But I didn’t find it uncomfortable as the shaking doesn’t cause you to bash your head. And surprisingly, the rest of the ride was quite smooth.
The drop didn’t do anything, but the two vertical loops were very forceful. The same could be said about the subsequent helix, especially since it started off unbanked and dished out some surprise laterals. Then the ride is pretty much over. Yes it’s short, but it’s a decent looper. 7 out of 10
The next coaster was the CCI that tries to be a GCI, Outlaw. And go figure, the designer (Mike Boodley) went on to found GCI the following year.
Most GCI coasters running PTC trains are riddled with jackhammering. Those trains simply cannot handle the twisting layouts. Outlaw doesn’t have that problem. Why? It’s slow.
You still get some laterals and you still get one or two pops of air, but it lacks intensity. Of the two woodies, I probably preferred Outlaw for the layout, but there are far better woodies out there. 6 out of 10
Since it was a bajillion degrees outside, I took a spin on Saw Mill Plunge. I never used to appreciate the uniqueness of these spinning raft slides since SFNE used to have one, but now I try to ride them.
As a spinning ride, it succeeds. From the moment you crest the lift, you spin non-stop. There are tea cup rides that don’t spin this much. But as a water ride it fails. I wanted to be cooled down. However, I wasn’t hit by a single drop of water. 5 out of 10
On the way towards the front, I hit Lighthouse. It’s the grandfather to Downdraft at Knoebels. While it can match Downdraft’s laterals, it can’t match its airtime. Still it’s a rare and solid flat. 6 out of 10
There are several haunted houses out there that are debatable credits. Take Devil’s Den at Conneaut. Adventureland removed any ambiguity and had CCI build them a wood coaster for their dark ride.
It’s definitely a unique system, but unique isn’t always better. There were two drawbacks. One, the train traveled a bit too fast in several scenes. Two, the effects triggered when the front of the train passed them. This meant the back row couldn’t even see some of the effects when they activated.
It was much longer than expected and to the park’s credit, they have a few animatronics, but overall I found it a subpar dark ride due to the ride system and effects. 5 out of 10
Falling Stars have been elusive flats for me. The “no single rider" rule usually makes this type of ride a thorn in my side. And since they’re starting to become extinct, I really wanted to finally ride one.
I was *this* close to riding the one at Indiana Beach, but I got screwed. I queued for the last ride of the night. After the previous cycle ended, they told those riders they could remain on the ride. Well the operator miscounted and there wasn’t enough spots on the ride for everyone in line. Indiana Beach’s solution? They told us to return the next day…
Did I get on Falling Star this time? I had to wait two cycles, but I finally found another single rider. The only problem was that it was a young child who rode by placing his head in my lap. It looked very wrong.
As for the ride, I definitely prefer the Huss versions. The airtime on those models is off-the-charts. Falling Star only had a pinch of air and instead focused on the laterals. Still it was a fun flat and I was excited to finally ride my white whale. 7 out of 10
I waited until later in the day to ride Phoenix, figuring their new for 2019 spinner may have a sizable queue. Turns out it was a walk-on. And I got a longer than expected ride.
When we returned to the station, my restraint wouldn’t unlock. Without asking us or calling maintenance, they decided to send us around again. When we returned to the station, the same thing happened.
After our third ride, the restraints finally released and I hurriedly escaped my Maurer prison. I tend to enjoy these spinners, but Phoenix was heavy on the brakes and light on the spinning. 5 out of 10
2019 has seen S&S towers being retrofit with lap belts or ratcheting OSTRs. Somehow Adventureland was immune to this change. Their Space Shot still boasts the original restraints sans lap belt.
Unfortunately, it was quite weak. I prefer towers that shoot you down, but I can enjoy a shot tower if it has great air. Space Shot does not. And the view of nothingness around the park didn’t help. 3 out of 10
That view is the reason Storm Chaser wasn’t as good as a lot of other star flyers. On the bright side, you could see for miles. But the view was just cornfield after cornfield. The views of Monster were quite nice though, but I preferred the Sky Ride for that. 6 out of 10
Speaking of that Sky Ride, it is an absolute orgy for enthusiasts who love coaster photography. The shots of Monster are incredible. 8 out of 10
And it transported me over to Monster, so naturally I had a mini marathon. By now, the ride was a complete walk-on, so I got 6-7 rides in a row. Monster continued to blow me away.
On the way out, I took a spin on their breakdance, G-Force. The most notable thing about this flat is its placement in the arcade. The cycle was your typical breakdance, which means it’s one of the better and more dizzying flats out there. 7 out of 10
It would also be a crime not to mention the food at Adventureland. The food offerings are incredibly diverse and quite cheap too. But my favorite was undoubtedly the thick bacon on a stick.
One oddity is that the park charges guests 50 cents for cups of water. This was a bit of a nuisance on such a hot day, but they do have a few water bubblers scattered about.
Adventureland is solid. It’s pretty and they have a true standout in Monster. The problem is the rest of the park’s lineup. It has quantity, but it was lacking quality. Monster was the only ride I cared to reride.
If Adventureland adds another standout ride, you can bet I’ll be back. If they don’t add another standout, I know I’ll be back since Monster is that good, but it may be a while because of its location.