Memorial Day Weekend 2018

The weather in Iowa has been very hot lately, with Memorial Day Weekend featuring temperatures in the upper 90s. Adventureland begins daily operation now, and Adventure Bay has also opened for the season.

On Memorial Day Monday, crowds seemed pretty tame early on. Around noon, parking was still mostly using the main up-front lot (Lot 4, I believe). There was, however, a major line at the ticket booths, filling the full queue and extended out past the planters:

The ticket line extended out from the permanent zig-zag queue and out to the right in this photo.

Inside the park, most of the rides had very shot lines, with many basically being a walk-on. I expect most visiting that day were down at the water park.

Main Street

On Main Street, work continues at the fire station. When Adventureland opened in the 1970s, this location was meant to replicate a town fire station, complete with some form of fire truck/wagon on display. In later years, it was used for stroller rentals before finally becoming a small merchandise shop. It looks like the garage door may have been removed, possibly indicating this location will become an extension of retail space for the shops in that area.

Fire Station construction.

Down the way, work continues on the new Doc and Leone’s Diner project. The front sidewalk is roped off, and the windows are uncovered. Inside you can see the new 1950s-style tables and chairs, and even catch a glimpse of a jukebox. It looks like the walls have all been redone too, in fancy 50’s diner style. The park has said this location will open in early June.

Doc and Leone’s Diner is showing major progress.

The locations formerly used by Airbrush Avenue are still closed, and it did not look like anything had been going on inside yet.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

A number of new signs have appeared in the park, such as new restroom signs…

Several of these new blue restroom signs have appeared throughout the park.

As well as nice new signage on the Rathskeller.

Rathskeller has several new signs around it.

As mentioned in the Facebook group, the Tea Cups also got new signage this year;

An upgraded Tea Cups sign.

Flag Day

In addition to new signs, it was also pointed out that new flags have appeared around the park. Some are tied to the location – such as Iowa flags flying over at Iowa Beer & Wine

Iowa State Flag at the Iowa Beer & Wine Shop.

…and country flags flying over in River City:

Italy flags over the pizza place, and Mexico flags over Corona Cantina. I did not realize how similar these country flags were.

…as well as Germany flags at Rathskeller:

Germany flags at Rathskeller

Some flags are a bit different, such as a Navy flag flying over Infant Ocean:

Navy flag at Infant Ocean.

And, of course, pirate flags at the Galleon.

Pirate flag at the Galleon.

There are various other flags lining buildings and such, but I’d have to check past year’s photos to see if these are new for this year. Adventureland has always had plenty of building-top flags in the park.

The Circus is in Town!

Memorial Day Weekend also marks the return of the Adventureland Circus, presented by Billy Martin. New signs for the circus have appeared in several places in the park:

New circus signs!

Even with a very small audience at the 1 o’clock show, and temperatures in the upper 90’s, the circus gave the same high energy performance as they would to a  full audience on a much milder day. The circus has added some new lighting effects inside, as well.

New projections inside the circus tent.

And this thing was amazing:

The circus is a must-see for this act alone.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

On the way to the circus through Outlaw Gulch, it looks like the Sawmill Splash has a new wooden fence:

New fencing along Sawmill Splash.

And over at Sheriff Sam’s Saloon, it looks like the building has been repainted.

Sheriff Sam’s Saloon appears to have been repainted. And flags!

Stepping inside, it appears the flooring has been updated, and a new wall constructed.

New flooring (?) and wall inside Sheriff Sam’s Saloon.

This seems to block the light better for Ben Ulin’s Glow Show. They were keeping one of the doors open, instead of them closing during that show.

And, did you notice the four new hitching posts that have been added? These would be where the cowboys would have tied up their horse when visiting the saloon.

Hitching posts!

Bernie’s Barnyard

The new children’s play area has gone vertical, and is visible from within the park.

Bernie’s Barnyard play area.

And landscapers are hard at work on this hot day, too.

(I think she’s camera shy. I was trying to show all all the work she was doing placing the new flowers and such.)

And, when you exit, you can even get a sneak peek at the new Bernie statue:

Bernie statue.

…and appreciate all the work that is going on inside:

Bernie’s Construction Land.

More to come…

The day was hot, so my visit was short. I am sure there are many more things to be discovered this season. Like, how did I miss the relocation of the bowling ball game? Dee/Anna mentioned it was near the Skee-Ball area now, so it looks like some Skee-Ball machines have been retired:

This stupid and impossible and frustrating bowling ball game is, unfortunately, still here, taunting me.

Nothing has yet taken over it’s former spot, but, the jumbo crane game seems to be ready:

Giant crane game, ready to play?

Oh, they moved the smoking BBQ pit, too.

Until next update…


May 2018 Adventureland Updates.

As promised, here is a rundown of some of the new things at Adventureland this season…

New Website

The first thing to note is that, sometime last year, the park got a new website:

It is worth noting that this is a new domain name (though it is a domain name they have had for awhile). Previously, you would see used.

Bernie’s Barnyard

Last year, the park announced that a new children’s area would be coming in 2018. Bernie’s Barnyard will be located where the corporate picnic area was, between the Tornado and behind the Storm Chaser.

During last year’s Oktoberfest, they had a banner announcing it:

This banner was seen at the 2018 Oktoberfest.

It is already on the in-park maps, too.

Bernie’s Barnyard on the new in-park maps.

The area is supposed to open in June. Currently, it looks like they have just begun working on the ground:

Bernie’s Barnyard construction on 5/5/2018.

Doc and Leone’s Diner

It was recently announced that the Iowa Cafe was being replaced with a new facility called Doc and Leone’s Diner.

Doc and Leone’s Diner on the map.
Doc and Leone’s Diner sign.

The new sign, shown above, may seem a bit out of place in the “early 1900s” of Main Street, but if you visit many older main streets in Iowa, you will see a mixture of classic architecture and modern upgrades (like finding a Subway or Starbucks there).

The remodel looks huge. According to my “park source,” the location will still be a counter service location, but the whole area is being remodeled.

Doc and Leone’s Diner construction

And the new menu is very intriguing:

Doc and Leone’s Diner menu.

Collard greens? Count me in! Those were easy to find back in my home state of Texas, but not so common here in Iowa. I look forward to eating through this menu.

During the remodel, the famous adventureland fried chicken is available at the newly repainted Fun Foods next door.

Oh, and if you already miss the inside bench seating that Iowa Cafe had, take a stroll over to Dragon Island and you might find something familiar…

Former Iowa Cafe benches, installed on Dragon Island.

Goodbye, Inverter

Several folks posted in my Adventureland Iowa Fans (Unofficial) Facebook group that the Inverter was no longer listed on the website. There were also posts showing a photo of it on a “for sale” site for amusement park rides. We now know it has been removed from the in-park maps as well:

The Inverter is missing from from the map….

And everything is gone from the site, as well:

The Inverter … was formerly here.

Although they reused the queue building from Super Screamer when The Inverter was first installed, you can see that it has been completely removed.

Food, Glorious Food

There are some major food updates this year. New colorful menu boards have been added, and they clearly mark items that are “New for 2018“:

Taco Villa’s new menu.

And just like we got “fancier’ items like baklava last year, the trend continues. There are some interesting (and delicious) new items, including Fiesta Street Corn.

Burito Bowl and Fiesta Street Corn (and a real margarita).

Over at Coca-Cola Cafe, be sure to check out this Monster Burger:

The $18 Monster Burger (cheaper than buying all the items separately).

There area also Loaded Nachos, a BBQ Sundae, Sriracha Chicken Waffle Cone, gluten free Mac and CheeseChicken and Waffle Sliders, a new Outlaw Burger, Speciality Pizzas (like a Gyro Pizza) and Cereal Shakes, among many other new items. There’s even Little Smokies in a cone at Petunia Pig! I’ll try to split out these food offerings in future posts, but for now, suffice it to say that the new chefs brought on last year seem to have had a quite busy off season coming up with these items.

And someone please try this Funnel Cake Bacon Cheeseburger and let me know what you think:

Funnel Cake Bacon Cheeseburger, anyone?

The food locations also show operational improvements. The serving counter at Rathskeller has glass doors covering up the food now, for instance.

Games, Games, Games

My favorite Lucky Puck game has moved a bit, to make way for an upcoming huge crane game:

A big crane game must mean big prizes…

Side note… If you want bottled water, just play Lucky Puck. It costs $5 to buy two bottles of water, and if you play the game, you get two plays, and each one is guaranteed to win at least a small prize, which is currently a bottle of water. You might win $5 in arcade credits, or $5 in game play… or even an Adventureland ticket.

The bowling game is missing in action, but Dee/Anna in the Facebook group reports they saw it installed near the Skee Ball.

The Bowling Game has reportedly moved.

Meet me on Main Street

Back on Main Street, Airbrush Avenue has departed…

No more Airbrush Avenue.

The clearance store, which used to be next door, is now in the “post office” building:

The Clearance Store has a new home.

And the corner store now contains items that used to be at the post office:

The new glowing Corner Store.

The fire house, which used to rent strollers and sell some items, is closed…

The Fire Station is currently closed.

The Adventureland Store in the school room is also gone, and the stroller rentals have been moved there:

Strollers are now in the school house.

I need to find out where the Adventureland Store has moved. That was the place I spent the most money, outside of food and drink…

Speaking of Drinks

And speaking of drinks… the Bier Garten has new beer offerings this year, and Iowa Beer and Wine has added more beer taps, and is now a full bar!

Iowa Beer and Wine is now a full bar.

Many types of alcohol, including Iowa brandys and whiskeys, are available. You can even get a “flight” of the good stuff.

The good stuff!

They even have something I had never seen before. Many restaurants, and most bars, have a single dispensing hose that has buttons on it that let them select Coke, Sprite, etc. Adventureland has racks of liquor bottles that are all hooked up to a similar hose that lets them quickly dispense the “good stuff” without having to deal with individual bottles. This will no doubt greatly speed up drink service on the busy days!

There is also a new selection of cocktails, and a new frozen drink: The Blue Lagoon. While the original frozen green Monster drink will always hold a special spot in my heart (and belly), I think I like the Blue Lagoon even better.

Adventureland has always been an “all ages” park, but with so many of the rides focusing on younger kids, it’s really nice to see the adults getting more and more things to keep them occupied.

General Upkeep

There are so many other things going on, including many buildings getting fresh paint. Notice the newly repainted black windows near Icee Mix-It-Up:

New paint everywhere!

And it is just me, or did they repaint (or replace) the remote controlled boat “island”?

New paint? New props?

Those might have been updated last year, but with so much getting “refreshed” it now starts making the whole park look better.

Lady Luck

Lady Luck has a new computer-controller multi-color LED light show:

Lady Luck’s new color-changing RGB LED lights.

I can’t wait for the park to be open past sunset to see what it looks like at night.

And much more!

There are so many more items I’d like to mention, but I’ll save those for a future update. With all the new food, tasty adult beverages, game and attraction improvements this year, “reporting” on them should keep me really busy this season.

I won’t be able to get to the park until Memorial Day Weekend (at the earliest), so please comment on this post and let me know what I have missed.

Until next time …

2018 season has begun!

Adventureland began its 2018 season on April 28. I’ll have an extensive update soon detailing some of the changes in food, rides, games, and “tasty adult beverages” … and there are many!

Construction of the new “Bernie’s Barnyard” children’s area is well underway (5/5/2018).

August 2017 update

As expected, things got very busy at the park in July, with full parking lots and healthy lines inside. Once school started back up, the park returned to weekends-only operations, but the crowds will still be heavy for a bit longer.

On August 26, they were parking people along the roadways, with the parking lots nearly full before noon.

Busy parking lot on 8/26/2017.

The park was still open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., but the water park side was running reduced hours from noon to 5 p.m. Many of their lifeguards and workers return to school so the have to scale back operations a bit.

Only three rides were down for maintenance.

Entrance sign on 8/26/2017.

The Inverter ran for a few weeks early this season, then has been down ever since.

The Inverter is still down, as of 8/26/2017.

Lady Luck has been disassembled since last Tuesday. If you’ve ever wondered how it worked, now you can see.

Lady Luck: Some (re)assembly required.

Storm Chaser was being worked on, and it seems a safety system kicked in and halted the ride with people on it earlier in the day. Proving that it must have been a slow news day, WHO-TVreported on it … at least on their website:

Adventureland Ride Gets Stuck With People On Board

…as did Channel 5:

“The fire department was not called out. A maintenance worker climbed to the top to fix it. The ride was stuck for about 25 minutes. Everyone got off safely.”

Never a dull moment for the full time maintenance staff that keeps these things running day in, and day out for our entertainment!

Over at Iowa Cafe, new digital menu signs have been installed:

New digital menu signs at Iowa Cafe.

With more menu space, they now list the formerly “secret” 1 piece meal for $5.75. Since Iowa Cafe honors the season pass discount, this low cost meal is a great way to get a real good bite to eat for less than some fast food burgers!

The park was also busy with various corporate outing groups occupying the Palace Theatre and picnic areas. Since the Theatre was being used, it’s restrooms were unavailable to the public.

I wonder if the restrooms inside are open?

These large groups help explain the large crowds. Earlier and later in the season, you can go to the park and have almost no wait at most of the rides, but if you prefer waiting in lines, peak season is for you!

There was a healthy line for the A-Train (practically down the steps) and also for the Sky Ride.

Sky Ride line on 8/26/2017.

And, there was also a line at the Iowa Beer and Wine Shop.

Iowa beer is worth the wait.

Pro-tip: If you are just wanting a canned domestic drink, and there is a long line, you can get those at many other places (including food locations like the Chicken Shack).

Meanwhile, over at the Bier Garten, there was no line at all 🙂 The new Iowa Beer and Wine location seems to be doing really well with the new tent and live entertainment this year. There has been live entertainment later in the day at the Bier Garten as well, so perhaps the lines shift over there later in the day.

As others reported earlier in the Facebook group, the Fried Fish game has moved from Dragon Island to near the Tornado entrance. It is in the spot where the Octopus game with the mermaid used to be.

Fried Frogs in its new location in County Fair.

They had to remove the “handles” from the “frying” pan to make it fit in the location, but it seems most folks didn’t even realize it was supposed to be a giant pan anyway.

In the location where Fried Fish used to be is now a brand new game: Lucky Puck. This pachinko-style game is so large you have to climb stairs to play it!

Lucky Puck on Dragon Island. A big game with big prizes!

It costs $5 to play, and you get two pucks to drop down the pins, hoping they land in SmallMedium or Large Prize spots. Every game is a winner, and the prizes here are possibly the best in the park. A small win gets you a bottle of water ($2.50 in the park), so even if both your pucks go in to small, you get two bottles of water for $5 (the same as if you bought them).

Pro-tip: If you ever want two bottles of water, play this game. You will at least get that, and possibly more!

Speaking of more, the Medium Prize was either a free tube rental at Adventure Bay water park, or an Arcade Card. I did not ask how much credit the card would have loaded on it, but I am guessing it’s probably around $5 (I think that’s the cost of a tube rental).

The Large Prize was the real winner: an Adventureland ticket!

It’s quite random, and there is only one large slot, but it can be done. During the ten or so minutes I was there watching people play the game, someone won!

What a Lucky Puck! They just won an Adventureland ticket!

There has also been some great new T-shirts added to the Clothing Shop on Main Street this year! It seems the park has settled on a new park skyline design to update from the original one that has been used since The Tornado opened in the late 1970s. I really, really like this one:

A great new skyline logo.

Even though I’ve been visiting the park since 1995, I had never bought a T-shirt until last year for The Monster opening. This year, I’ve added several more to my collection.

Pro-tip: Be sure to check the Clearance Store on the corner of Main Street near the Giant Sky Wheel. You can find older Adventureland shirts there for as little as $4!

That’s all I have for this update… Did I miss anything? Be sure to let me know in the comments.

New restrictions at Adventureland

Facebook group member Dee/Anna recently noticed that the sign over the entrance has been altered. It now adds fireworks to the list of prohibited items to bring in to the park (along with drones and selfie sticks). This popped up just before July 4th, and with this being the first year that fireworks were legal in Iowa, perhaps they were expecting to have issues with people bringing smoke bombs and bottle rockets in to the park 😉

Today, she posted about a new restriction at the park in regards to the thrill rides: If you have a prosthetic or amputated limb, you may not be able to ride certain rides in the park or water park:

Prosthetic limb restriction.

Is this happening at other parks?

A little bit of Texas in the park…

Howdy, ya’ll. Some of you may know that I am from Houston, Texas. My appreciation for amusement/theme parks started when my parents took me to Astroworld as a child in the early 1970s. We also made trips to the original Six Flags Over Texas near Dallas, as well as big family vacations to Disneyland and Walt Disney World (back when all Walt Disney World had was the original Magic Kingdom park!).

Side Note: You probably have heard of Six Flags. They own a ton of regional amusement parks. But did you know most didn’t start out as Six Flags? My original park home park, Astroworld, was originally an independent park and became “Six Flags Astroworld” later. Many of the Six Flags parks started out as something else when they first opened.

But do you know why they are called Six Flags? That comes from the original Six Flags Over Texas which was named after six countries that at one time owned the Texas land area and flew their flag over it: Spain, France, Mexico, The Republic of Texas, Confederate States, and United States. The different areas of the park were all themed to one of these flags. Six Flags had a Mexico section with Mexican-themed rides (the Mexican Hat Dance was like Adventureland’s Lady Luck, except it looked like a giant Mexican hat).

Hmmm, I just looked at a map of Six Flags Over Texas and noticed that The Confederacy section of the park (from it’s opening in 1961) is today referred to as Old South.

But I digress…

Anyway, I thought today I would ask this simple question:

Where can you find this bit of Texas inside Adventureland?

A bit of Texas inside Adventureland.

Answer (or guesses) in the comments…

Adventureland’s early morning rope drop.

Adventureland opens at 10 a.m. If you’ve never shown up early, you may not realize they open the parking lot and ticket booths a bit earlier. This allows folks to purchase tickets so they are ready to enter when the park opens.

The park then begins letting folks in to wait in the area in front of the train station. The two train tunnels in to the park have garage doors that remain closed until the park opens. At 10 a.m., the tunnel doors open and guests make a mad dash down Main Street to the rides.

If you have never seen this, here is what it looked like the day The Monster opened in 2016:

Some Disney parks do something similar, but they go a bit further and allow guests to hang out on their Main Street before the rest of the park opens At Disneyland in California,  for example, they often open an hour early so guests can shop and/or get breakfast on Main Street. Disney’s Main Street is one long path with the only access to the rest of the park at the end where the “hub” is in front of the castle. (This would basically be where the bridge is at the end of Adventureland’s Main Street.)

Disney will have a rope across the end of Main Street and hold guests there until official opening. A few minutes before that time, an announcement and music plays, welcoming guests to the park. The rope is dropped* and the dash to attractions begins.

Thus, the term rope drop.

*Actually, pulled to the side, but maybe it was just dropped in early years before lawyers and careless visitors took over the world. I guess “rope being pulled to one side” doesn’t have the same ring to it…

Sometime this season, Adventureland started opening their Main Street early on certain weekend mornings. A few shops would be open as well as the arcade, giving visitors a much nicer place to wait than in front of garage doors.

While the Iowa Cafe does not open until 11 a.m., a food cart is brought out with with snacks and drinks (including some breakfasty items you normally won’t find in the park).

Here is how it looked on Saturday, July 1, 2017.

Upon arrival around 9:30, they were parking folks in the back corner Lot 2:

Adventureland Parking Lots.

On busy days, they seem to load the far away lots first so don’t expect to always get a closer spot if you show up early 😉

Parking in the far back lot at 9:30 a.m.

The ticket booth line can normally be quite packed on a busy day, but this morning there were no lines there at all.

Look, ma! No lines!

Once inside the park, they had a yellow plastic chain blocking off access to the left walkway near the Giant Sky Wheel.

Chain blocking access to Alphine Village.

In the middle of Main Street there was a food cart set up. It offered bottled drinks drinks (including milk, chocolate milk, and Sunny D) and some food items (such as breakfast cereal). It also had various sundries for sale such as sun screen.

Breakfast-ish food item cart.

At the end of Main Street was another chain.

The end of Main Street chained off.

The Main Street Arcade was open to give folks something to do while they waited. Normally, the G-Force ride would also be operating, but it was down for repairs this morning.

Since the arcade also has access to the Bavaria/Alpine Village side, they had the garage doors closed. This was the first time I’d ever seen these closed, since they are always open during normal park hours.

Alpine Village garage doors inside the Arcade.

To entertain crowds, world record holder (and juggler) Brad Weston made an early appearance on his stilts. Normally he appears between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., but on these early entry days, he sometimes comes out sooner.

Brad Weston!

As it got closer to 10 a.m., the crowd levels increased. I didn’t go back to check on the Giant Sky Wheel side, but the end of Main Street crowds filled up a good portion of the end of the street.

Early morning crowds on July 1, 2017.

At 10 a.m., the chains were removed and folks rushed to the rides.

This is a great thing for the park. It was a much more pleasant experience waiting Main Street with the carousel music playing and some treats available. It is unfortunate that there is no real breakfast, but perhaps in the future the park can cultivate an “early opening” crowd and offer something. It certainly seems like a great way to make guests happy, and make an extra buck from a captive audience.

In the meantime, you can always get coffee and donuts over in River City

Coffee and Donuts in River City.

As far as I know, the park has not made any announcement about these early openings on their website or Facebook page, but somehow folks seem to know about it. Be sure to check it out if you get a chance.

The ghost of Royal Hanneford Circus, revisited.

In a previous article, I asked if anyone knew where you could still find a reference to the Royal Hanneford Circus inside the park:

Royal Hanneford reference somewhere in the park in 2017. (Photo taken on 6/20/2017.)

This was from a sign you pass on Dragon Island going to Outlaw Gulch:

On Dragon Island, you could find this sign referencing Royal Hanneford Circus

Since the first article was posted, the reference has since been removed:

Farewell, Royal Hanneford! (Taken 7/1/2017)

So today’s question is … where else can you find remnants of Royal Hanneford Circus? There are still a few out there . . . but maybe not where/what you think 😉

Answer (or guesses) in the comments.

Tornado and G-Force updates…

On Saturday, July 1, 2017, the Tornado was closed:

Tornado closed on 7/1/2017.

At first, I thought this was because it was too windy. I have been told they close the ride on windy days because too much wind can keep the coaster from making it one of the hills. Later I found out that the coaster had been down for awhile.

Also during the day, G-Force was still being worked on:

G-Force repairs on 7/1/2017.

Later in the day, folks posted in the Facebook Group that both of these rides have returned to operation. Huzzah!

The Underground also was down for awhile during the day, but I was told this was because Bad Bob had finally blown up the mine shaft. The ride would be resuming as soon as they got the rubble out of the way 😉

The Underground, closed.

If you are planning a visit to the park for a specific ride, be sure to contact them first before driving out.  Otherwise, you can check on the sign at the front entrance – it clearly lists any ride not operating that day:

Front entrance sign.

Get well soon, rides!

G-Force update.

In the Facebook group, Joey Hayes reports that work is being done on the G-Force ride today. He submitted this photo:

G-Force being worked on, 6/30/2017. (Photo by Joey Hayes.)

According to a member of park management, it sounds like this is just routine maintenance that needs to be done every eight years or so.

G-Force was added to the park in 1997. It was originally located outside where the Scrambler currently sits. After the side of Main Street burnt down in 2010, the park rebuilt it and moved the G-Force indoors. You can read more about it on the Adventurelandians Wiki: