I do not post too often around here(much less trip reports) but I decided to discuss my recent trip to IB since there has been a lot of speculation about the future of the park and how it is being operated ever since the RV company has taken the helm. I tried to be fairly thorough and touch on everything that I saw or experienced.
I pulled into the south lot about 1 pm, there were only a small amount of cars in the lot, and not a soul waiting at the small cottage looking admission booths(it is odd seeing all the adjacent houses so close.) My sister and I bought the rides only POP wristbands for $25 which really is a decent rate. The suspension bridge entering the park sure is picturesque. Making it down to the midway, its almost unsettling how dead the park seemed to be. Granted, this was a Tuesday and obviously the park is a bit of a locals place(I think Lake Shafer is probably just as big of a draw) but I cant help but wonder if the park has always been this way during the week going into July..? I wasn't complaining about lack of lines overall but it does make me wonder how profitable the place really is when the crowds seem that thin.
First ride of the day is LoCoSuMo. And incidentally it will be the longest wait of the day(it was only running one train.) The wait was maybe between 20-30 mins, the line sorta crawled but did not seem terrible since it was at the beginning of the day although it was already fairly warm outside. I had been concerned about it going down(as seems to be a common occurrence) so I was glad we got to it first. While waiting I noticed a fair amount of garbage strewn underneath the ride. I'm not a big complainer about such things and I can imagine it is probably difficult to get under there to clean on a daily basis, but I overheard some locals behind us discussing how they tell out of towners how this is "the filthiest theme park in America". Ouch. While I think you can label that an exaggeration coming from someone who is probably not well traveled amusement park wise, it doesn't really leave a good impression on how the local people see the business as being cared for. Looking back however I do not recall the park being dirty much at all. Probably not Holiday World "spotless" but I think I have seen worse.
As for the coaster itself, it was pretty fun, definitely unique/interesting. The cars are a bit cramped but the coaster did not seem to rattle too much. As we were facing forward I noticed though that pretty much none of the special effects in the mountain were operating(save for a bear roar.) I don't think this detracted from the ride since they aren't really the heart of it, but I think it does show that the new owners maybe are not too concerned about the little things. I wouldn't expect any other animatronics or other effects being added to future attractions under this ownership.
Cornball Express was next. It only had a one train wait, and thankfully so because the ride operators here(and at many other rides) did not seem to be in much of a hurry. On a busy day I think there would have been a few cranky people around. I was hoping for a front seat ride since it seems to be the most lauded nowadays but it was roped off, so we settled for the 4th seat. Cornball seemed to be running ok, there was slight jackhammering in a couple spots but nothing extreme, the laterals were fantastic and I remember one nice pop of air(cannot remember where though.) Perhaps a different seat would have left me more awed. But I cant say I was disappointed either. I tend to be a wuss when it comes to wooden coasters, but I found HW's trio to be running incredibly earlier this year, so I had a fresh enough comparison to put IB's trio up against.
After Cornball I noticed that the Tig'rr Coaster across the way had nobody at it, so we went there next. Having heard about people waiting quite a while for some of the low capacity coasters here, it was a bit eerie(as my sister noted) having a number of rides to ourselves. The ride operators were just standing around waiting for customers. Tig'rr was fun, the tandem seating is nice and the first drop gives you the butterflies, along with some g's at the bottom curves. I did notice that, along with Galaxi, that those 2 coasters seemed really aged and I have a feeling that they are living on borrowed time. They were running fine but anytime you have a portable style steel coaster that is 30 or 40 years old, its hard to see how it lasts forever(without great expense anyway.)
Speaking of Galaxi(again, no waiting here) would it be blasphemous to say that the ejector air in the back seat(on both large drops) was the best moment of the day for me on any of the coasters? Sure, there isn't much unique about the coaster itself but it took me off guard and I would have liked to have given it a second spin(along with many other things) but I never did. I thought it superior to Anton's Tig'rr without question(but again who knows if it will be there next time I get back to IB.)
Another bonus about Galaxi is the famous neighboring carp show. I had read that a couple years ago Morgan had ended this(how?) but apparently public outcry brought it back. I think its the little things like this that make a park stand out.
Hoosier Hurricane had a one train wait(actually it would have been no wait but we opted for the front.) I did not expect airtime in the back from reports so I did not worry about missing anything, and I thought the front might alleviate any roughness(my sister does not care for rough woodies either). I enjoyed our ride, I think it pretty much sums it up when people say the coaster is more "fun" than extreme/airtime filled. Its very scenic, although the bottoms of a couple of the drops on the out run were a tad rough for me. Not terribly so though. There was a trace of floater air in some spots. I will admit appreciating the buzz bars being there(as opposed to individual restrains.)
Last coaster is Steel Hawg, which is at the north entrance. Its pretty much set up on the old parking lot(does IB get flack like Six Flags??) The ride had a…….one train wait. This coaster is a hodgepodge of random moments thrown together but I guess thats what makes it work. There was no headbanging from the harnesses which was great, some moments didn't do much for me, but others like the diving in line twist(or whatever the proper name is) were very fun. It kinda neat that its the only ride of its kind in the U.S., or at least it used to be. I heard that SFGAM is potentially getting an El Loco in the space of IW's old station?? I hope thats bunk, capacity would be terrible there and it would redundant that the country's only 2 coasters of that kind would be so close in proximity. I think Steel Hawg would get more riders if it wasn't in a rather inconvenient location, perhaps if they retire Galaxi or Tig'rr it could fit in one of those spaces, it would be much more scenic and wouldn't seem like the park's last new large investment was going to waste. Btw the photo stand for Steel Hawg looks like a barbecue stand. Just sayin.
We tried their Double Shot(I had heard it was cranked up several notches higher than other ones) and while it did not leave the extreme bruises I have seen mentioned, I do think it had a little more juice than Liberty Launch earlier this year. It had a nice view of the lake but again I think it could benefit from a more centered location in the park. It is pretty much in their water park area and I think that whole area could be utilized for something much better. Their Big Flush water slides had next to no riders(and it was about 90 degrees out), their splash bash area was not being used much at all, and while I am all for preserving history, maybe it is time to do something else with their "sandy beach" swimming area, which is pretty much an unappealing concrete pond and very small strip of sand. It looks like lake water but the park says it is actually well water. Still, I could see maybe keeping the water slides and action river surrounding the Galaxi area for something to do on hot days(other than jumping in that rather large body of water nearby)but the rest seems to be underutilized and for such a warm day it seemed like prime real estate for something better.
We did ride their log flume Rocky's Rapids which was fun but not especially noteworthy(other than the gum tunnel). It was about a 90 second wait to get on, and I was happy that we did not get more than a minuscule splashing.
The only 2 other flat rides we rode were the Paratrooper and Air Crow. Air Crow had nobody else on it and while I'm admittedly a flyer novice I managed to get it sailing in the wind a little bit, enough that I found it worthwhile(unlike Eagle's Flighzzzzzzz). There is a "no snapping" sign on the ride, and while I don't think the disinterested teen ride operator cared too much I think he may have slowed the ride down every time I started to get the tub twisting any significant amount. As for Paratrooper, great location over the water(they need more rides like this) but it was a bit frightening once it got up to speed, I could have swore the way the gondolas moved that something wasn't quite right and that the hood of it was going to come down and slam into us. Although maybe all paratroopers are that way. I don't know.
Of course, I could not leave without experiencing their 2 dark attractions, Den of Lost Thieves and the upcharge Dr. Frankenstein's Haunted Castle. DOLT was the second longest wait of the day after LoCoSuMo, due to its low capacity. It also didn't help that the ride operator had stopped the ride for a few mins because of what I believe to be 2 kids getting out of the ride at some point. You wonder why parks have largely ditched these old fashioned sort of dark rides, which is a shame. The skeleton in the ride area was immobile, I was under the impression it was supposed to move as it talked, but it was not important. The ride itself however was great fun and actually better than I expected. It was pretty old school but I enjoyed it and the 2 of us kept pace with each other's score(I won though :) ) I thought it was much better than the more modern incarnations of the shoot em up rides(at least the ones outside Orlando).
As for the Haunted Castle, that too was different and I would say worth the 3.50 a head rate, although I could see how a frequent visitor would not want to pay to go see it every time. I wont spoil any of the gags for those who may not have ever experienced it but it seemed to still be fairly well maintained, and as we were once again the only two in there, it was a bit creepy(although in this case a positive) even though it always felt like there was somebody creeping behind us. It is rather lengthy and had some moments I did not expect, although with something like this I feel like we maybe slightly rushed it(as per my sister's preference) and that something might have been missed, but considering I knew about most of it beforehand I don't know what it would have been. I don't care for the haunted houses where there are live people really, so it helped knowing what to expect beforehand. I could see someone thinking it was a gore house(there might have been signage stating the contrary however.)
The last ride that I have not mentioned was the Shafer Queen paddleboat, which was by far one of the highlights. We opted for the shorter 30 min cruise around Lake Shafer, which apparently is now included on the POP wristbands(the website states its a 2.50 fee) but they were not taking tickets and I think the sign at the dock has the new information posted. There is some interesting information they give and you get a nice view of the park and the surrounding lakefront. Next time I am there I will probably try the longer cruise on both the upper and lower parts of the lake because it would be well worth the extra cost.
The only 2 rides that were MIA were the Splash Battle and Falling Star. The splash battle seems to have not opened at all this season and I think it is waiting for something else to take its place at this point. As for the Falling Star, I knew it would not be open beforehand(although I would have hopped on for a spin had it been). I noticed on Facebook someone had mentioned calling the park and being told that the Falling Star would not be reopening. It is currently sitting half assembled in the back of the north entrance old lot, and it sure doesn't look like they are in any rush to get it open. Although I understand you cant believe everything you see or hear(especially on Facebook), seeing as there are not a ton of Falling Stars around though, I think it would not be surprising if Morgan sold or junked it.
I think the part of the park around Steel Hawg needs to be rethought. They plopped down the Yo-Yo(which needs to return to its empty pad on the lake ASAP as they promised) and the Music Express without much thought, its pretty bare. Obviously you can only landscape an area like that so much but if something more substantial sat there, perhaps it wouldn't be as much of an eyesore. I think it was kinda silly to move those 3 flats there in the first place, all for the Adventure Point ropes course, which had a scant few customers later in the afternoon, but considering it has been Morgan's only new addition to the park lineup since taking over(not to mention it being an upcharge) I'm not real confident(just my opinion) that they have a vibrant and thoughtful plan for the years ahead. They tore up the old mini golf area(which is still sitting there in pieces) for the zip line addition to Adventure Point. I had only seen 2 people putting gear on to do the zip line.
Among other observations, the kiddie rides were largely sitting dormant, I think there might have been one ride operator for that whole area, which seems to once again take up space they could use for better attractions, family ones would be welcomed I'm sure. We saw bits of the ski show on the lake which was pretty neat that they still do that. We tried the famous "world's best tacos" and I enjoyed them but would not give them the title of "the best", perhaps some of the better ones I've had, sure. Word of advice, the Taco Shoppe refused to give me a cup of water with my food and instead said I had to buy a bottle of water or fountain soda, which seemed ridiculous but I was not going to make a fuss about it. When its so warm though I don't understand why this has to be an issue.
I bought a "lemon shake up" for 6.00 which was pretty much just Great Value lemonade from a jug, definitely not worth that price(but you do get a souvenir cup that you can get refills in for a buck something). We did not make time for the famous Skyroom restaurant. I noticed the Fascination parlor was always empty. Thats kind of a sad thing even though we did not care to play ourselves. Employees overall were pretty friendly so I do not have anything to really complain about with customer service. Many people say the park does not look good anymore but I guess since I had never seen it with my own eyes it did not seem like anything to gripe too much about. When the bathrooms seem relatively clean, you know they must be trying.
Overall it was a nice day, I had felt I had got my moneys worth in the 4 hours we were there and I had did everything I was wanting to do. It was worth the drive(even though its a bit of a pain to get to Monticello) and I wish the park the best and I hope it is successful enough to sustain what it has as well as being able to invest in new attractions down the road, regardless of who owns the place.
What a shame to hear what this park has become. I have never been there, but I have heard it used to be really nice, and the park is just falling apart. I don't even know that I would visit there for the credits if that is how it is. Great trip report though! Perhaps you should do more!
Well thanks! I think under the right ownership that was willing to maintain the place a bit better and invest in noteworthy new attractions, I can see how this place really is a standout. If Morgan is planning to do so, they are really dragging their feet.
I have talked to a couple friends who have been to the park before and after the Morgan take-over, and they say there really isn't that much of a difference between then and now. The only complaint they had was that the swings were no longer over the water, and that it costs almost twice what it did a few years ago. But I guess they aren't big fans of flat rides to begin with. I have not been to the park since the changes, but would like to comment on a few things you mentioned in your report.
I somewhat share your views on Tiger and Galaxi. I do think that both coasters are very old, and unless the new owners want to spend money to maintain them, they probably should be removed. I found Tiger on my last trip to be pretty rough, and, they seem to have trouble braking it. I also noticed them pushing the trains from the unloading platform to the loading area. That doesn't seem very safe. Almost run down carnival style.
I love both Hoosier Hurricane and Cornball. I think the ride time on those is even better than marathon rides at Michigan's Adventure. I think I have only been there once when the line for Hurricane was over 30 minutes. But, the park was also packed that day. Usually no wait to ride at all.
My other favorite attraction is the Castle. I think it's one of the most interesting attractions of any park I have been to. My first time inside it was quite an experience. I've had a few scares in there after going through it time and again. It's more than worth the extra admission. I told a friend about it and she took her kids to Indiana Beach just to do the Castle. And, they all loved the park. But, that was a few years ago.
Of the times that I went there, I never noticed the park being dirty. Some of it did seem kind of like a run down carnival. But, if you look at some of the boardwalk parks on the east coast, they aren't any better. Some are worse.
The sad thing I do notice, is that the new owners don't seem to care to keep IB as a boardwalk park. Moving the boardwalk rides into the park was a mistake. If they had an area to move them to, why didn't they just build their stupid climbing course there instead? Or over by the drop tower, there is obviously room over there.
Kind of sad about what I have heard about the park so far. If it wasn't for Steel Hawg, I doubt I would be interested in going back.
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