I’ll admit, Adventureland is one of those parks that always intrigued me, but never enough to urge me to drive to Long Island. After all, the main attraction is currently an SDC Hurricane, a model of steel coaster that usually manages to make me spew forth an unhealthy number of four-letter words (I had ridden both Old Town’s and Playland’s Hurricane models- both of which were awful). But when a meeting with a client took me to within a mile of the park, I felt I owed it to myself to pay the park a visit. I mean, how boring could the place be?
I’ve found that during the course of a season, there is bound to be the occasional surprise- a park, a coaster or something entirely different that ends up being so much more than expected. Adventureland is shaping up to be the biggest surprise of a season that’s already riddled with some pretty amazing surprises. My time was definitely limited but in little less than an hour, I found an overabundance of things to love about the place.
Talk about a park being landlocked! There is absolutely no place for this business to grow, being bordered by a highway on one side, a shopping center on another and an industrial park on the remaining two. The layout consists of little more than a narrow midway placed perpendicular to the highway, narrow at one end and slightly wider at the other. The park is ripe for a small wooden coaster but I honestly don’t see any place they could fit one unless they remove a row or two of parking spaces, and considering how small the lots were, I can’t see that being an option. What I can see is the place getting positively mobbed with people on summer weekends.
Admission to the park is free. Ride tickets can be purchased for $.80/each, with each ride costing three, four or five tickets. Since I only had a short while before having to head back to the office, I looked for a book of tickets but the park didn’t seem to offer one- you either purchase individual tickets or a wristband. I assume that the park wants you to go with the POP wristband, which was what the majority of people- mostly kids- were doing. It didn’t make sense for me but I’m happy to know the option exists next time I happen by the park.
I entered through the main gate at the back, passing a cool-looking log flume and a swinging ship ride off to the left. The stroll to the front took no more than three or four minutes but offered a good look at pretty much everything the park had to offer. Nicely themed antique cars, a train, the Tivoli-style Ladybug Coaster, the larger Hurricane, the Haunted House, a Surf Dance, a Musik Express, a Top Scan.… the list goes on and on. One ride in particular stood out- the Crocodile Run Jet Ski. I have never seen a ride like this! It’s a flat ride placed in the middle of a pool- riders sit on one of six crocodiles perched on logs extending from the center that “float” on water skis. When the ride starts spinning, riders can control how far their ski rotates from the center of the ride- the object of the ride is to either aim for or avoid the water falling into the path of the skis from an overhead structure, depending on whether or not you want to get wet. The ride looked like a lot of fun and seemed very popular- it looked fairly new so I wouldn’t be surprised to see move versions of this ride appear at other parks in the future. Anyone know who makes it? I can’t ever remember seeing the ride listed on any ride manufacturer’s websites.
The very back of the park, located alongside the highway, has a Ferris wheel with balloon-shaped cars (I believe this is a Zamperla ride) and a Wave Swing that looks to be brand new. There are a few kiddie rides down that way and a large building that serves as an arcade and what seems to be the park’s only large eatery. I was considering lunch but there was a pretty sizable crowd inside the building and decided to purchase some tickets for the coasters and the darkride.
The Hurricane was running one of two trains. The two ride ops were extremely friendly- almost too the point where they spent a little too much time joking around with the riders and not enough time making sure the train was dispatched in a regular basis. But the warmth of the employees seemed to go over very well with the crowd and I suppose that meant more to them than the extra minute or two they spent in line. As for the ride itself, it was the best Hurricane I had ever ridden. Yeah, that’s not saying all that much- the design of the ride features turns that are a little too sharp and transitions that are a little too sudden but the jerkiness was kept to a minimum, probably because the park seems to be very interested in proper ride maintenance. Hurricanes will never rank as high on my list as Jet Stars and Wildcats but I will admit that Adventureland’s ride really wasn’t all that bad.
The Haunted House had a very short line, which gave everyone very little time to appreciate the “puking guy” in front of the building. I’ve seen this stunt used before but never like this. Adventureland’s poor sap had some incredibly realistic movements and sound effects and would have been completely convincing had the puke been colored instead of regular water. But with all the kids in the park, maybe that was the point? As for the ride itself, it looks fairly new. The cars look like they could be from Sally but I’m not sure- I still have a lot to learn about darkrides! The building was definitely dark but there didn’t seem to be a lot going on inside of it. The only two things that stand out in my mind are two variations of the “electrocution” stunt that every darkride seems to have nowadays. Not at all scary but again, I look to what seems to be the park’s target demographic (kids) and wonder if that was the intention? Not the worst darkride in the world but far from the best.
I had time for one spin on the Ladybug Coaster, which appears to be a smaller version of the rides that Six Flags seemed to install in about half their parks in 1999 and 2000. The train wasn’t as ridiculously long as those on the Six Flags coasters but it was still somewhat out of proportion to the size of the ride. As for the ride itself, it had the usual assortment of smooth banked curves and helixes and a very short tunnel midway through the layout. One ride consists of two laps, which made sense since the ride is very short. I was the only adult on the coaster but I didn’t care- it was a fun little ride.
I wished for more time- I would have loved to have tried the majority of the park’s flats but between riding and picture-taking, I ran out of time. Too bad, because I could have easily spent the afternoon at the park, riding and enjoying the atmosphere. While small, the entire place was very impressive, particularly the relentless attention to detail. Every inch of midway was made not of asphalt or concrete but brick pavers. The rides all looked new- even those that were obviously installed many years ago. Flowers filled all of the flower beds. Buildings all appeared freshly painted. There wasn’t a single piece of trash to be found anywhere on the midway. Every employee was smiling as they went about their business.
Too bad no one seems to get to this park. Maybe we should plan a group outing with some Six Flags execs one day this summer- they could learn a lot about park operations by visiting this tiny Long Island gem.
*** Edited 7/6/2005 7:28:36 PM UTC by Rob Ascough***
It's hard to theme Adventureland, as the Walmat on the side of it takes away from the "Get-away-from-it-all" feeling that most parks have.
This park is Packed on weekday nights in June, as they use the Top Scan ride as a stage, and have elementary and middle school chorus groups performing on it several times a week. The kids get a discounted wristband price - including a pre-selected dinner & the park pack them in on what would otherwise be a slow night. (Food is not good at all though).
The Flume ride is funny. There are portions of it where there is no water under the boat and the debris of what used to be a miniature golf course is visible from the ride.
Good bumper cars though.
Expect big crowds and campgroups during the summer.
They also to cross-promotions with Splish Splash.
A fun way to pass a few hours on Long Island. *** Edited 7/6/2005 7:43:28 PM UTC by Richie Reflux***
I didn't ride the flume, otherwise I would have noticed the remains of the miniature golf course beneath it!
<---home park is Adventureland in Iowa
Three if you count that "thing."
Are we talking about the Underground????
if you ever make it to Iowa let me know. I know Tina and the gang are coming next month.
I think There's a picture of it somewhere on thier website or in the flyer that they mail out to schools.
Since this topic has involved the "real" Adventureland (the one I'm used to anyway, since I'm from Iowa)... let me know when when any of you might make a trip to Altoona, I haven't made by yearly visit to ADVL. I haven't really been in a mood to go, as I'm going to the Dells Monday, and their coasters appear to be a level above Adventureland's offerings, unfortunately. It's still fun to go there, but I am not as excited to go to Des Moines and spend a day in the park, like I usually am.
I hear that their Hurricane coaster may be up for sale here soon.
John: Didn't the park just replace the trains on the coaster with new ones? I guess the park will go with a new coaster since they seem keen on the idea of replacing one small steel coaster with another one? Maybe they'll get a Crazy Mouse since they seem to have a good working relationship with Zamperla (although that might be a little too big for the Hurricane's spot unless some rides are juggled).
Good TR anyways though. LOL
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