I made this trip with my wife and a 3-month old boy (Colin) that never slept more than 2 straight hours the entire trip. Never, ever attempt this feat. Take it from I. You do not want to travel 3-weeks in a car with a 3-month old. I also had a 9 &1/2 year old yellow lab (Clay) that traveled without troubles, as always. We NEVER leave the dog in a kennel, and had nobody to watch him, which lead to the decision to drive this foolish journey. My boy got his first two teeth 3 days into the trip which made for some interesting car rides (for those of you who know about teething)! All kidding aside, my boy did great and we had a blast seeing the country. This may seem like a lot of parks to some, but this is actually a reduced list compared to what would have happened in the days before I became a father. We’ve slowed the pace down and skipped those parks (Six Flags) we had no desire to tolerate along the way. Whatever that “emgee” term means, I’m quite sure I fit it!
Anyhow, do not read any of my posts for detailed ride descriptions or up to date park news. I’m not good at that and find hill-by-hill descriptions boring. Also, I have a poor memory. These words are strictly my opinions and observations of rides and park operations. Some are good and some are offensive. We all know how offensive I can be. The parks I hit on the trip in order are Bell’s, Celebration City, Holiday World, PKI, Indiana Beach, Dells attractions, and Lagoon (I do not think I’m leaving any out)!
Without further ado, lets get onto Bells in Tulsa, OK.
We left Vegas June 29th and made it to Tulsa on the evening of June 30th. The park is only open from 6:00 pm until 10:00 pm on weekdays. There was some mild rain on the turnpike from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, but nothing serious. We decided to skip seeing the Oklahoma City monument so we could get to Bell’s and ride Zingo. Unfortunately, when we arrived to the park at 7:00 pm, it was like Wally World without the moose! Keep in mind; the sky was clear and sunny without a cloud in the sky. The rain had passed a good 90 minutes earlier. Needless to say, they closed the park due to the weather. ALWAYS call Bells before you go is the lesson to take from this report.
We spent the evening and next day in Tulsa with my wife’s grandpa and uncle. Everybody made over the baby and had a great time as I worried all day that the scattered showers would certainly close the park that could not remain open a day earlier.
To my surprise, Bell’s was open at 7:00 pm on 7/1/04 to a slight drizzle!? Your guess is as good as mine about how things changed from the night before. In a sign of my ever-expanding maturity, I never went to guest relations for an explanation. Maybe they had a big picnic this Thursday night and could not afford to shut it down. They charged $8 for us to get in and ride all we wanted. Apparently tickets are only used on Saturdays now. This made me happy as the park was dead and I wanted re-rides. I actually only ended up riding 2 rides, but I certainly got my $8 worth.
The major attraction and only coaster is the wooden out and back Zingo. Apparently they had a steel compact back in the late 1990’s that was taken out after a fatal accident. I do not remember this, but my wife’s uncle warned me of the dangers lurking at Bells. You walk through Zingo to get to the entrance, which gives this fairground park a cool feel. Besides Zingo there is a log ride and a few fair rides. There is also a dark ride that was quite unremarkable, but I rode it solo. In my ultimate ride geekness I have NEVER been able to keep myself from trying any dark ride no matter how cheesy the outside looks. Somehow I just have to know what is on the inside. I’m almost always disappointed and feel quite dorky as a 33-year-old guy waiting in line with the elementary and junior high kids, but I always do it! What can I say?
On to Zingo! This was a pleasant surprise for me. You do not hear much about Zingo except for the 9:00 pm curfew that is still in effect. It is pretty good size for an older woody. They were running what appeared to be a new or very well kept PTC on it. This is the only train. The ride bottoms a little hard on the 2nd hill when riding in back. However, the 3rd drop into the clown’s mouth tunnel tickles the old stomach. It also pulls some decent laterals on the last left curve into the station. This is a simple out and back with 2 left turns. The speed is decent and the air ALMOST delivers. This is definitely not a kiddy coaster. It is just a solid out-and-back that I put slightly below Blue Streak (CP) quality. They keep very good care of this ride besides for the aforementioned bottoming out after the 2nd hill. They had just enough people to fill the train on each run so they kept this baby moving all night. I caught 6-7 rides without anything more than an exit and one cycle wait throughout the 90 minutes we spent there.
The park itself is mildly “shady.” It is no Waldameer’s, but “shady” nonetheless. It is definitely a blue-collar place with minimal landscaping. It is very small---maybe 1/8th the size of Holiday World for comparison. Food stands are of the temporary/moveable fair stand varieties (this includes the beer stand which was the first time I have ever seen beer sold in this setting). The Bells sign and coaster lights are awesome and are definitely the visual draw at night. The rest of the park is like a basic county fair with some families and some riff raff running around. I’m not sure if I’m part of the nice family group or the riff raff, but I’m afraid most of you would probably put me in the riff raff group!
They had decent hot dogs on sticks (the first of many) and beer (I don’t drink but I remember a recent post where the topic was calling for more beer at parks---this person would like Bells)!
Sorry, I did not ride the log ride. I put my son the Baby Bjorn and walked him around the park as evening set in and the lights flickered! He loved the lights and did not seem to mind the mugginess that was killing the wife and I who were longing for our dry heat! I could not break his heart and take him out to hit the log ride. There were a couple tunnels that sadly have the same affect on me as cheesy looking dark rides do. I will forever wonder what sort of theming I missed in those tunnels of the Bells log ride. How sad is that? :-)
I can’t think of too much else to say about Bells. Fire away if you have any questions.
Stay tuned for part II of the trip where I head to Celebration City and have a scary/funny car top luggage accident that involves baby formula and luggage on the turnpike!
Took some searching, but apparently there was a coaster called Wildcat at Bells that did indeed have a fatal accident in 1997. I guess the wife's uncle knew what he was talking about. I wrongly assumed he was sensationalizing!
Edited to add the actual investigative report which is neat for those that are into this stuff! *** Edited 8/4/2004 12:45:35 AM UTC by Jeffrey R Smith***
The log ride has 2 tunnels with no themeing in either. The first I wouldn't really consider a tunnel. It sits at the top of the first lift and is more of a shack looking thing. the mountian looking tunnel is about 50 yards long and allows you to see the inside "shell" of the mountian. I love how the outside of the mountian has a waterfall, even if the inside totally lacks themeing.
Is the Roll-O-Plane still at the park? It sits/sat in the back of the park right against the chain link fence that seperates the park from the fairground parking, also next to the ferris wheel. I love those things.
Phantasmagoria, the dark ride, was pretty sweet back in the day. Lots of first kisses took place on that thing I'm sure. It used to have a midcourse "dip" which was removed in the early 90's or late 80's. There are other dark ride models of the same type which still have the dip. It's pretty easy to find pics of them online.
It sucks to hear the bottom of the second drop is so rough on Zingo!. Riding tip: don't ride over the wheels!
Thanks for the entertaining TR, I really enjoyed reading it. :)
-Scott [Tulsa born and raised, loves dry heat now too]
There was no Rock-o-Plane there. I saw a pirate ship, sky ride, Himalayan and a few more I forget.
It is kind of hidden back there, and not a rock o plane but a roll o plane. If I had a child to be responsible for, I wouldn't notice as much either! :)
It's nice to hear they got a sea dragon again. They had one years ago, but was removed.
Thanks for the reply!
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