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!
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:
…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:
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:
Is this happening at other parks?
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?
Answer (or guesses) in the comments…
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.
In a previous article, I asked if anyone knew where you could still find a reference to the Royal Hanneford Circus inside the park:
This was from a sign you pass on Dragon Island going to Outlaw Gulch:
Since the first article was posted, the reference has since been removed:
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.
On Saturday, July 1, 2017, the Tornado was closed:
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:
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 😉
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:
Get well soon, rides!
In the Facebook group, Joey Hayes reports that work is being done on the G-Force ride today. He submitted this photo:
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:
Adventureland has announced that this year’s July 4th fireworks will begin at approximately 9:40 p.m. on July 4, 2017 (weather permitting).
I’ve seen the fireworks a number of times over the years, and it’s always a nice show – usually larger than what the various local communities can offer. In past years, when Adventureland held it’s fireworks on the same night that nearby Prairie Meadows did their’s, they seemed to coordinate. Adventureland’s show would go, then as soon as it was over, the casino would begin it’s show — allowing guests in the park a two-for-one show just by facing a different direction 🙂
Here is the nearly 25-minute show from 2016, which included speakers set up all along the River City/Boulevard area to play patriotic music:
The fireworks are launched from near the Raging River loading area. During the day, you can see it from the line:
The best viewing area is in River City, though you should be able to see theme from any area not obstructed by buildings or trees. The music, however, can only be heard from the Boulevard/River City area.
In 2016, the park also added new colorful LED lights to the Monster roller coaster and Space Shot. The crew at KCL Engineering that did the installs also created special July 4th light shows:
To give you an idea at how much more the park does these days, here is the show from 2009:
And here it is from 2008:
I wasn’t able to visit the park from 2010-2015, so I have no recordings of those years. I don’t know when the park added music to the show. I may have some earlier fireworks recordings on tape somewhere (I took my first digital camcorder to the park in 1999), but I have never posted them. Maybe I’ll have some even older fireworks videos to share next year…
Adventureland is owned and operated by the Krantz family. You can regularly find the Krantz siblings, Mike (CEO), Matt, Molly (Director of Advertising) and John (President), roaming the park.
Resort president John Krantz can also be found behind a piano at various locations around Des Moines. He performs jazz music. We recently had the pleasure to listen to him perform with Bryan Schumacker and special guest Brooke Peters at Louie’s Wine Dive.
If you have an interest in live jazz, check out his website and make an effort to go hear him perform: http://www.johnkrantzmusic.com/