Here are a few updates from a recent June 2, 2018 visit to the park…
Adventureland Cash Cards
If you are using Adventure Cards or are loading money on your Season Pass, you have to do that at the front ticket counter. There is one booth at the far right where they do this. If the ticket line is huge (as it was when I visited), you can go over to the Season Pass Processing area and use the booth at the far right there. If there is a long line there, and you see no one at that end booth, they let you walk right up to it, bypassing the line.
NOTE: There is a $5 bonus for each $50 you load on your pass up until you reach $300, but this offer ends on June 10th. Also, the “cash back” that the card earned last year is no longer being offered. My advice is to load up $300 to get the extra cash back, spend that, then go back to using whatever normal payment method you would use.
Since the Annual Pass article is the most-read article on this site, I’ll be doing a 2018 update for it in the near future.
Puff the Broken Dragon
On this visit, Puff the Dragon was down for repair.
Later in the week, a few other things went into maintenance mode, including the Scrambler. The Scrambler must not break often, as they were using a hand-written sign for it on the day it was down.
The former Airbrush Avenue location is still closed, but someone from the park posted that it was going to be taken over by the Hollywood Caricature folks.
Across the way, the former Fire Station location has had it’s garage door removed and replaced with a wall. It will becoming the Mainstream Marketplace.
A few days after this photo was taken, the new Marketplace sign appeared, replacing the Fire Station sign. This was one of the original locations when the park opened in 1974.
Side note: At The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, they turned their fire station into a gift shop sometime in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. They also turned their Main Street Cinema into a shop, and did the same with a few other themed locations (including getting ride of a whole side street area). I guess this is what parks need to do when they don’t have enough retail space. (Meanwhile, Disneyland in California has continued to keep it’s cinema and fire station. So far.)
Keep On The Grass?
In the Facebook Group, Dee/Anna pointed out that the short fence around the Carousel was removed this year. I hadn’t noticed that, and sure enough, it’s all open to the grass now, right up the carousel’s own fence.
The left side of Main Street is full of building facades that represent stables, hotels, etc. On the hotel, all the “windows” have just been black … until last week. Many now have writings on them. Disneyland in California (and the other Magic Kingdom parks around the world) have used their windows as tributes to Disney legends or Imagineers who worked on the parks. So the question is… do these names have connections with the park?
Let the research begin!
Let’s take a look.
Jack’s Place could be a reference to park founder Jack Krantz.
It’s a nice touch, though since this building is a hotel, those windows would seemingly be hotel rooms and not businesses upstairs. We’ll just says it’s a one-story hotel, with two stories of offices and businesses above it.
Inside, the place looks very nice. It’s a modern “50’s themed” restaurant, rather than a recreation of a 1950s eatery. The ceiling, for instances, has a color changing strips. Very cool.
The left side is the restaurant. It has all-new 50’s style tables and chairs, and a few booths, as well as a long bar you can eat at.
The right side is the all-new Doc and Leone’s Bar, with some additional seating and bar seating.
The bar side is operated by a different department, so you can’t order food there, nor can you order an adult beverage with your meal on the other side. Speaking of adult beverages, let’s take a look at the new menu…
There is a small selection of draft beer, and a large selection of bottles/cans. They also have liquor and can make a number of special cocktails. The centerpiece are the ice cream drinks, which gives you six different delicious alcohol desserts to try. They also have machines that squeeze fresh lemon or orange juice. You can buy a glass of the freshest juice around for $5, and then for $3 more, you can make it a cocktail and have a shot of liquor added. Ever have a freshly squeezed vodka lemonade? Now you can.
The food side maintains the famous fried chicken, but adds several new dishes, such as meatloaf and collard greens.
I won’t review the food here, because meatloaf can be made so many different ways. This meatloaf is more of the “ketchup tasting” type as opposed to the “very salty ground beef” type I’ve had at other places. The collard greens are also not the type of southern style greens you get at places like Famous Daves, Cracker Barrel or Fat Tuesday. The park’s publicity says the menu is based on recipes from the grandparents, so I assume these are some classic Iowa-style items as opposed to the Southern style I grew up with in Texas.
As you explore the restaurant, you will notice many family photos on the wall. Look for this one, that explains a bit about who Doc and Leone were:
Let’s take a closer look:
You will also find some other surprises, like a framed Coca-Cola uniform from the era. (Coke is a sponsor of the park, so I assume it was something they provided the park. Else, the park spend some bucks to get this.)
There’s also this…
The jukebox is modern (it plays songs from CDs), but the jacket above is unique. It’s a leather jacket autographed by Henry Winkler. He was The Fonz on a 70s/80s TV show called Happy Days. Kids, ask your parents.
There are lots of surprises in here, including a “payphone” and a set of clocks…all set to 5 o’clock! (“It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!”)
And, a day or two after my visit, two more items appeared on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant: an old time gas pump and a parking meter. (Thanks to Dee/Ann for posting these photos.)
Photo by Dee/Anna.
There are so many nice details here. And, with this being the only air conditioned bar at the park, it’s sure to be huge hit with mom and dad on the hot summer days!
We’ll look at Doc and Leone’s more in a future article… And yes, there is a tribute to the former Iowa Cafe in the new location (and the tribute to the former-former Poppy’s Place remains next door at Fun Foods).
You Are Here
If you feel lost, the in-park maps now have stickers marking where you are.
Baby, You Can Light My Fire!
Also, new special-effect flame bulbs are in use. I noticed them around the Saloon.
It’s hard to tell from this photo, but these look like actual flames. I discovered these bulbs last year and ordered a few to play with. From a distance (at night), they can be quite convincing. The first time I saw them “in the wild” was at Knott’s Berry Farms a month ago. It looks like the theme park industry is embracing this new tech. (And, if you want one, you can find them for as low as $7 a bulb, or pay over $30 each. I’ve been testing different brands for some future Halloween projects I am working on.)
Each visit to the park (I’ve only been there two short times this year) I notice even more flags… There is a NASA flag at the Space Shot, navy flags at Infant Ocean, and an air force flag at the Red Baron. (The “tower” at the Baron has also been repainted red this year.)
It looks like we need to create an Adventureland Flag Scavenger Hunt list.
Although not part of this visit, some changes have come to Sheriff Sam’s Saloon. Long-time park performer Ben Ulin has been doing a hypnosis show the past two years as part of Oktoberfest. He will begin doing a version of this show during the normal season, on weekends… And, 18 and older only!
When Ben first posted this to Facebook, some of us wondered if the saloon was going to become more saloon-like (with alcohol) for an 18+ show. During the second Oktoberfest, it was “Sherif Sam’s Whiskey Bar.” And, it seems something is happening. Just today, Jeremy B posted a photo in the Facebook group with the saloon sign replaced with a new one that reads Sam Adams Saloon. I guess I have to make another trip out to see what that’s all about.
This post is already too long, so we’ll end with another photo of the construction of Bernie’s Barnyard.
In our Facebook group, Dee/Anna broke the news that the new Doc and Leone’s Diner restaurant on Main Street opened yesterday, 5/30/2018, late afternoon. The location offers food, as well as a large selection of adult beverages (many beers, alcoholic ice cream drinks, and more).
Also, the park’s handout guide already lists what the Fire Station is becoming: The Main Street Marketplace. In the guide it is listed as offering “food allergy friendly offerings, grab and go drinks and salads.”
Dee/Anna has also shared a photo of the ride vehicle for the new children’s ride Shakin’ Bacon, coming soon to Bernie’s Barnyard.
I have been making updates to the Adventureland Wiki with these and other notes, so be sure to check it out.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Stepping inside, it appears the flooring has been updated, and a new wall constructed.
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.
The new children’s play area has gone vertical, and is visible from within the park.
And landscapers are hard at work on this hot day, too.
And, when you exit, you can even get a sneak peek at the new Bernie statue:
…and appreciate all the work that is going on inside:
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:
Nothing has yet taken over it’s former spot, but, the jumbo crane game seems to be ready:
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 AdventurelandPark.com used.
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:
It is already on the in-park maps, too.
The area is supposed to open in June. Currently, it looks like they have just begun working on the ground:
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.
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.
And the new menu is very intriguing:
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…
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:
And everything is gone from the site, as well:
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“:
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.
Over at Coca-Cola Cafe, be sure to check out this Monster Burger:
There area also Loaded Nachos, a BBQ Sundae, Sriracha Chicken Waffle Cone, gluten free Mac and Cheese, Chicken 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:
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:
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.
Meet me on Main Street
Back on Main Street, Airbrush Avenue has departed…
The clearance store, which used to be next door, is now in the “post office” building:
And the corner store now contains items that used to be at the post office:
The fire house, which used to rent strollers and sell some items, is closed…
The Adventureland Store in the school room is also gone, and the stroller rentals have been moved there:
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!
Many types of alcohol, including Iowa brandys and whiskeys, are available. You can even get a “flight” of 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.
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:
And it is just me, or did they repaint (or replace) the remote controlled boat “island”?
Those might have been updated last year, but with so much getting “refreshed” it now starts making the whole park look better.
Lady Luck has a new computer-controller multi-color LED light show:
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.
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.
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.
The Inverter ran for a few weeks early this season, then has been down ever since.
Lady Luck has been disassembled since last Tuesday. If you’ve ever wondered how it worked, now you can see.
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:
“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:
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.
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.
And, there was also a line at the Iowa Beer and Wine Shop.
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.
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!
It costs $5 to play, and you get two pucks to drop down the pins, hoping they land in Small, Medium 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!
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:
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.
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:
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?
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:
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 😉
The ticket booth line can normally be quite packed on a busy day, but this morning there were no lines there at all.
Once inside the park, they had a yellow plastic chain blocking off access to the left walkway near the Giant Sky Wheel.
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.
At the end of Main Street was another chain.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.