7/12 & 7/13 Six Flags Great America
7/14 Michigan’s Adventure
7/15 Six Flags St. Louis
7/16 Silver Dollar City & Celebration City
7/17 Magic Springs
7/18 Worlds of Fun
That was the plan, anyway. Things have a tendency to change.
I flew into Kansas City, MO. It was a rainy landing. I remember some of my baggage was wet as it came off the conveyor belt. My clothes were dry, though. Oh well. I picked up my rental car from Budget. I got a red Dodge Neon. This looked like a new model Neon. I remember renting one years ago and it looked “puffy.” The “puffiness” seemed to have been designed out of the latest models. I just needed something that was economical fuel-wise and an unlimited mileage policy with no strings attached. Microsoft Streets and Trips estimated that I would travel about 2,000 miles!
The rain had stopped by the time I left the airport. I headed from Kansas City and headed to my first stop: Adventureland in Des Moines, IA. I left the airport around noon and after a lunch stop, I arrived at the park at around 3:15 pm. The park is right off the Interstate. When I exited the Interstate, I saw a sign for “Adventureland Resort.” When I saw the resort, it made me laugh. It was only a park, campground, and motel! When I image a resort, I imagine places like Universal Orlando Resort or even the Walt Disney World resort. Resorts seem to have a bunch of hotels, some parks, and a few onsite nightspots. I guess this could be the economical resort!
I entered the park and I had no idea how much parking would be. Adventureland’s website had no indication of the parking cost. I guessed $4.00 and it was $4.00! I was all the way out in the boonie parking sections, but it wasn’t more than a 5-minute walk to the entrance.
I had bought the ticket off their website for $22 (a $4 discount). There was a picture-taking guy out front who didn’t really bother me. Good thing I don’t have to do evasive actions or closely follow a bunch of strangers like I do at Disney or Universal so the camera people don’t bother me. The entrance to the park goes right under a bridge. As I was entering, a bunch of school groups were exiting. Good thing, because that meant less crowds for me!
The main entrance of Adventureland reminded me of Disney World’s Main Street, USA. It had a strange odor. The park itself was pretty nice. There were a lot of trees and shady areas. The guests didn’t seem very rude and there were a few families wandering around. I didn’t even smell nicotine odor! This was going to be a good park.
I was there to mainly do the roller coasters. I don’t think the roller coasters had more than a 5-minute wait on them. As the day went on, the coasters became a walk-on. I wanted to do the Underground first, but the line looked long.
I hit the Tornado first. It was running with one train with a 5-minute wait. I rode in the front. This is a nice out and back coaster. I couldn’t help noticing the “head chopper branches of doom” near the end. The coaster would have been much nicer if it were smoother. The woman who sat next to me thought it was pretty rough. I did too. A few guests in the queue line were complaining that the ride “got their butts off the seat too much.” These folks don’t know the pleasure of airtime!
Next was the Dragon. I try to not ride any dragon-themed coasters except for Dueling Dragons at Islands of Adventure. When I see dragon in any coaster name, I think of my nemesis of a park King Richard’s Park. I had to ride the Dragon for the credit, though. As I waited in line, I heard the ride op read the queue spiel (enter the coaster safely, keep your arms and legs inside the coaster, etc.). He was reading it from a little card on his area. Everytime he read it, he stumbled over something or messed up a line! He’s got to have read it a million times a day! Why screw it up every time?
I waited about 5 minutes for the Dragon, which had only one train. I rode near the front. The Dragon wasn’t a terrible coaster. There were three small hills before the lift hill to give a tiny bit of thrill. It also banged my head around! The two loops at the beginning were good, but it was head banging near the end. Even with my anti-head banging technique, I was still roughed up a bit on the Dragon. The end of the Dragon ride had an exit that looked like it came from the NYC subway and an unobstructed one. I chose the unobstructed one. The exit had a few funhouse mirrors so people can see what the Dragon did to them. I didn’t need to know what head banging did to me!
I headed deeper into the park to the Outlaw. The ride was pretty much a walk-on, even with a one-train operation. I rode near the front. The Outlaw also had the three small hills before the lift hill like the Dragon. The park must like these things! The Outlaw had a great first drop. It banks down and then turns before it twists throughout its structure. It also beat me up! I’m not too fond of twister wooden coasters since they tend to beat me up. Add this one to the list.
The circus was near the Outlaw and was about to start, so I saw that show. Outside the show, there was a concession stand. A small table had a big jug of free cold water and free cups. I would see more of these free water jugs around the park. I was beginning to like this park a lot more!
The circus show was about 45 minutes long. I thought it was 30 minutes too long. First came out the elephants. They didn’t do much. Their big trick was putting their front legs on a small stool and walking around the stool. Boring! I thought it would be more interesting if the elephants went on a rampage and tore people in half. Now that would be so cool!
Then came the trapeze artist. This was not the trapeze artist who swung from trapeze to trapeze. All she did was pretty much swing back and forth on the trapeze to “Love is in the Air.” Sometimes she would do it upside down, but it looked like she was swinging back and forth like she was on a swing set in a playground. It would have been better if she fell down! OK, so I’m bloodthirsty, but this show was starting to bore me. I wanted to leave!
The man who walked upside down was next. This man walked upside down on some U-shaped ropes that hung from the ceiling. It took him about 5 minutes to do it. The ringmaster said that he appeared on “30 Seconds to Fame.” 30 seconds would have been a good time for this trick to last. After the upside-down walker was done, the hula-hoop woman came out. She hula-hooped to the theme from “Fame.” It was appropriate for her because she dressed like she came out of “Fame!” She had a leotard, headband, and even a hairstyle that looked like she walked out of the 80’s! This was pretty boring too!
I was about to leave, but then horses came out. I decided to stay and if this was as bad as the rest of the circus, I’d leave. The horse show was the most exciting part of the entire circus! The highlight of this section was a man with a whistle who jumped on the horses, fell off them, and did all sorts of tricks. Now if the circus were called “Horse Show,” Adventureland would have a winner!
After the circus, it was time to ride the more exciting roller coasters. I went back to the Tornado. The coaster was a walk-on and I decided to ride in the back. Something amazing happened. Not only was the ride smoother, but it was also faster! I got some good airtime and I was loving this coaster! I even had to put my hands down for the “head chopper branches of doom.”
I wondered if riding in the back would work for the Dragon too. I decided to test it out. The Dragon was a walk-on now. The same ride op was still reading the same queue spiel and he was still messing it up! I rode in the back and what a difference it made! The coaster was fast. It was flying! I didn’t experience much head banging, but I was absorbing the pleasure of the increased speed of the coaster in the back seat.
I wondered if this would hold true with the Outlaw. The Outlaw was also a walk-on now. I rode in the back of this coaster and like the Dragon and the Tornado, it was a much better ride. It was much smoother and faster! I couldn’t keep my hands up on the Outlaw. The best way to avoid roughness was to hang on tight! I rode the Outlaw two more times. I got back in the queue for my third ride and rode in the second to last row, but I didn’t have to exit the coaster for my fourth. The ride op said that if no one was waiting for my row, I could stay. I never pass up an opportunity like this! The ride was very good in the last row.
I decided then to check out the Underground. There was no line. I had to wait outside until the ride op let me in. The sign said so. It would have been nice to keep the door open or to have the guests knock. The ride op had to continually open and close the door to check for guests outside. I didn’t know what to expect with the Underground. I knew it was an indoor coaster, but would it be like Flight of Fear or Space Mountain? The queue area gave no indication. The ride had a small pre-show with an old miner. He must have worked in the mines too long since he had really jerky movements. I’m not sure how he spoke either since his mouth moved after every fifth word or so. This is not Pirates of the Caribbean audio-animatronics, folks.
After the short pre-show, the doors opened and I entered the coaster. The only restraints were T-bars. What sort of coaster is this? Then the train entered the ride area. This coaster seemed like a coaster/dark ride hybrid. The coaster train chugged along at about 5 mph past some cheap effects. I was waiting for the big lift hill or big drop, but it never came. There was a small hill in the middle, but it lacked thrills. I wasn’t about to ride the Underground in the back to see if it was a better ride! I didn’t even know if it counted as a coaster. Well, the Roller Coaster Database listed it as one and it seemed to move partially on gravity, so I’m counting it.
I did the Tornado one more time and chose the fourth to the last row. This row was like sitting on a vibrating cushion. Once when I got some airtime, I thought that I was going to land on the seat divider! Good thing I didn’t! I wanted to have kids someday.
I walked around the park a little bit and they had some nice flat rides. There was a skyride, a Mixer ride, a mini S&S space shot, and a train ride. I checked out the gift shop. The souvenirs didn’t seem very expensive. T-shirts were about $10.50. Postcards were about 10 to 15 cents. I didn’t try the food, though.
It was around 6:30 and I had done all that I wanted, so I left. The park seemed very deserted when I departed. Throughout the day, I noticed that a lot of the park staff were older gentlemen. I thought that was unusual in the summer. Usually I see a lot of younger people working the parks. I don’t know what the population is in Iowa, but I suppose older people need to have something to do during the day. In Florida, I see a lot of retirees working at the grocery store or Wal-Mart. They also seem to be the nicest and friendliest people working in the store. Adventureland’s employees seemed very friendly too.
There are some parks that seem lifeless and have no heart. Other parks you can smell the stench of corporations. Adventureland seemed to be a small park with a lot of heart. They have fun rides, lots of shade, and free water! I don’t recall very many parks in Iowa, but even if there were a dozen, Adventureland would still be a top 5 park. The park offers a two-day ticket. I’m not sure if you could spend two days here, but a family could do the park in a day, even at a leisurely pace. Ride in the back seats of the coasters and watch the last 15 minutes of the circus show. That would be a perfect day at Adventureland!
I headed out of Adventureland and headed to Chicago for my next stop: Six Flags Great America. I headed down I-80 and I’ve never seen so many cornfields in my life! I stopped about half way between in Moline, IL at a La Quinta Inn by the airport. It took me about 3 ½ hours to get there. It was $36 off Hotwire. The hotel was pretty nice and clean. It had a free continental breakfast in the lobby, which I filled up on before heading to Chicago.
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