Indiana Beach, Monticello, Indiana, USA
Indiana Beach T/R Tuesday, June 2, 15
An Adventure in 3-D
I work on those dumb reality shows that everyone hates. I'm the first guy to shovel the idiotic footage into digital bins. I cut out all the parts where crew is walking in the background, I log all the footage, and then I chop up the interviews. Sound glamorous? It’s hell on earth. You think watching the shows is bad, try creating them. Worse, I’m the lowest guy on the post production totem pole. Get this. I get a call today from work saying the Kardashian’s new reality show is going to be late. I’m off for the afternoon. Late footage is a blessed event, if you know anything about the Kardashians.
I drive like hell from Chicago, where I’m visiting, to Indiana Beach. First time at IB, I’ve never been there in real life, only on screen. I pray to the Waze gods that all the cops locations are accurate. When the cop icon shows up, I drive like a six-time felon who just found Jesus. And when the cop icon disappears, as soon as it passes, I drive like I’m willing to serve another six-month sentence come hell or high water.
I left around 3PM Indiana time and arrive at 5:50PM. I turn off the car without even letting it rest. I run toward Guest Services. I need to get a wristband, and a season pass and to ride Hoosier Hurricane. “Is this really happening?” I think to myself. Probably not. I’ll never get Guest Services at this podunk park to crank out a season pass fast enough.
I rip open the door of guest services. I’m in a heightened reality. Guest pass, wrist band, directions to Hoosier Hurricane entrance-- four freaking minutes. Can it be? My karma rating is off the charts after being prisoner to shows like Paris Hilton Season 2 and Swamp People for so many years. It’s payback time—the gods are with me. Show me the freaking entrance!
Wait time: 0 minutes
I’m on a tear from the law. I’ve only got time for one ride. Everything turns to slow motion. My heart is racing. Everything is silent. The arm hair on my wrist is caught in the wrist band. I yank the band and I wince—the first emotion I’ve felt in months. The entrance is just where they said it was. I’m running to the entrance, up the ramp. I climb the stairs. The park is starting to shut down. Guests are leaving with deflated rag doll children flopped over their shoulders. Mothers are taking off their flip flops and walking on bare gravel toward their cars. Not me, I’m taking the stairs two at a time, the harder I race, the slower everything seems. The park below is empty. It’s cooled off because it’s early in the season. Unsold popcorn in huge garbage bags is being plopped outside the closed shops below. I’ll never make it. I go through the turnstyle and there’s an empty train. First car. Is this even possible? “Last ride of the day, sir.”
This isn’t TV reality, this is real. I’ve escaped. PTC trains. Seat belts tucked around the front car lap bars. Ride op unclasps the seat belts. It’s all mine. Empty train. I get in, right front seat. Seat belt. Lap bar. Everything is in 3-d. Something about “Hands and arms” and “no gum chewing” and how can these ride ops look so fresh and perky this late in the day is-, and pssshhhhh, the hydraulic release. Sound is starting to come in from all sides, not just from two speakers on the side of my computer screen. It’s really happening. I’ve paid my dues slogging through hours of producers begging Top Chef contestants to say a pre-written line. Hours of trying to decipher dialogue of Bad Girls screaming obscenities at each other. This is my prison break.
Lift hill. It’s high and taking forever. The park below is quiet now. No boats on the lake. The air can be wicked sticky in the early summer, but it’s cool here. Maybe it’s cool because I’m so high up. Flags fluttering on the side of the track. The higher I go, the more impossibly tangled these tracks look below. There is no way this could have been done without computer engineering. My god this is high. How can I be facing the lake unless we’re going to plunge right toward it? Hold on tight-- the curving descent, the train whips around the corner and I'm gasping breath-- the train plunges forever toward the freshwater lake. The lap bar is the only thing touching me. I’m free. My spine aligns mid-air. My hunched S-shape back from bending toward my monitor, trying to hear Alton Brown, is fixed. Now I’m perfectly aligned. I’m floating.
Lurching toward the second hill top, impossible airtime. I’m floating above the lake. I am now the sea salt being flung from raised hands on Iron Chef. I’m the confetti floating at the end of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Another plunge toward the pastel blue lake at end of day. And another, and another! I rise again and dive again toward a real lake, shimmering and mysterious, a new deep blue never before seen on VGA color space, as the water cools in the early evening air.
Headchoppers and air time, a whip-smart turnaround taunts the rippled water below. I’m riding on air waves now. One airtime hill after another, drop drop drop. I need a life vest. This is MTV’s Challenge season six. No, this is better. This is real life, in 3-D. Air time, killer drop. Break run. My lungs fill with air like a newborn.
Floating into the station. Carmel corn ovens are turned off now. Ride ops begin to exit their rides on the midway, below. I catch my breath and walk down the steps.
I made it.
I’ll be coming back to this quirky park. The rides seem to float on quick-sand. The employees here are strange corn-fed kids who help you escape into the portal of three dimension. It’s real here. Twisted track, not from some Adobe After effect, but real. Real steel, and killer bunny hops, sweaty palms and fresh-ironed creased-Khaki customer service coeds who smell like a newly opened bottle of acne statin. They'll hand you a warm season pass with your picture on it. They tell you if you hurry, you’ll make it on the last run of the Hurricane.
I’m back home. My season pass picture is flat and grainy. My footage just came in. I press play. “Can you just help us out and look into the camera say this prewritten wild-line?” The reality hits me. I’m back in 2-D now.
Ok, now, that's hilarious. You should be writing those wild-lines and not chopping them.
I like you, Bill. Next time you call me and we'll meet at IB.
And reports are the park is a mere shadow of its former self, and I was afraid your story would end with Hoosier Hurricane being down for the day. That can happen there.
But it is a great place and well, unique would be a good word. I personally like Cornball Express, then there's Superstition Mountain, Tigger, and....
Oh, hell, enough about that, here's what I need to know. What is Nene Leakes REALLY like?
Excellent. You have a gift. You're averaging 6.8 posts a year here. You should break away from reality TV hell more often and increase that.
That was a very entertaining trip report. You said so much about just one ride. Kudos!
You had me at:
"I get a call today from work saying the Kardashian’s new reality show is going to be late."
Producing "Reality" Shows must be a fate worse than death, but if it pays your bills I guess that's what you have to do (Otherwise it wouldn't be called "work"). As most everybody knows I'm counting down the days before my trip to Indiana occurs. next month. When planning my trip I forgot about Cincinatti's Coney Island, but have determined I've got just enough time to visit this park on the last day and bagging their lone steel coaster before returning to Indianapolis that evening to catch my Flight back to Florida. I guess I could call it a "last hurrah".
PS I wish I could travel back in time to 1964 and ride the wood coasters that were running at Coney Island then, the Wildcat and the Shooting Star along with a boatload of other now-defunct rides at other now-defunct parks. :(
It's the man's right to dog his own job, especially in his entertaining way, but you probably shouldn't. My guess is he's good at what he does.
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