June 13th–Day 2 at SFGam/HH and then Indiana Beach

Associated parks:
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006 1:46 AM
On our way back to Gam for day two, I find a different backway in, that takes us right through American Eagle. Again, I’ve put in all caps bolded headers so you can read what you want to. At the entrance in front of the carousel, there’s a Mariachi band playing. Very nice, but it’s not a Mexican-themed section, so I’m confused.

HURRICANE HARBOR
It was definitely wamer than the day before, but there were few people down there at 11am in the morning. Both Gwg and I were a little bit dismayed to see another bank of Smartecarte lockers. We get our locker assignment, but we don’t get a receipt like the day before, and it’s a four-digit number. I enter the number into my cellphone’s notepad just to etch it into my brain. Gwg finds out there are no receipts in HH, which I guess makes sense if you’re swimming and don’t have a waterproof pocket, but otherwise I think it’s stupid. These Smartecartes are slightly different from the themepark as they’re brown (some hadn’t even been unwrapped yet), and the locking mechanism is much more solid. Instead of a soft buzz sound, you get a very solid sound similar to a automatic car lock.

We head towards the bowl slides first, and they are the tube kind with a slide in the middle and not the body kind where you drop through the middle. It’s a long walk to the top and we’re in a hurry. Hey, it’s my cardio for the day. Both of the bowl slides are pretty cool, but it definitely takes a little collective ‘paddling’ to get the tube to go down the slide inside of the bowl after you slow down. We do a couple of other slides in the complex and move on towards the AE side of HH, only we’re having navigation problems getting there. There are several dead ends.

We want to ride the Wahoo Racer racing slides that have a twisted tube before each chute, but for now they are closed, so we ride the other slides near them at Hurricane Mountain. I first surmise that it must be because they are doing lifeguard training at the base of HM. After we knock out all four colored slides, we wait and wait as two lifeguards ride each of the racing slides. We sit in the beachchairs and try to observe what’s going on. The two guys keep going up the complex and then report what they feel. I heard a manager say “So, what do you think?” If only someone would’ve shut off RB, Viper, and AE I might have been able to figure out more. We finally throw in the towel after waiting about twenty minutes or more and we figure something serious must have happened the day before if they’re not letting anyone on.

So we go to change and these unsupervised little kids are going through the bathhouse running back and forth hitting every single shower button on the wall which is getting everyone wet, even though we have the curtains drawn which don’t go all the way to floor. I come out of my booth and see the troublemakers and I yell at them. Sometimes it’s good to be an adult as they stopped.

A FEW MORE RIDES
Back to the main park again, we quickly talk about rerides. RB is not an option due to time, so we head to the red track on AE, which we missed the day before. They’re only running one train on the red side, but it is worth the wait as it does have a different feel from the blue track. Revolution still looks like it’s not going to be open anytime soon. But, I do need an extreme flatride fix, and Fiddler’s Fling fits the bill. It’s kind of like a really fast scrambler on a sloped platform with a canopy for each car. All I can say is that it’s maniacal and the program could’ve been shorter, and that usually doesn’t come out of my mouth much. I’m holding on so hard not to keep slamming into gwg. Our last ride at Gam is V2 and it kills our timeplan, especially since we still need to retrieve our items from the lockers back down in HH. Still, no regrets because V2 kicks butt, but, we’ve got to get to Indiana Beach today. I really didn’t want to leave.

TRAVEL TO INDIANA BEACH
We’re now back into Chicago and we’re on 94 at 3pm. This one of our first Amazing Race-like moments. My trusty navigator says to keep on 94 because 294 would be a longer route, and I’m trying to convince him that at 3pm is when rush hour is starting these days, and he’s not agreeing with me. Sure enough, after moving at a swift pace–we hit it–the backup. It turns out that they’re working on the 94 expressway, which is in the center lanes. It doesn’t look like it’ll be finished for years. That’s one of the things that neither one of us thought to check was consturction zones in the various states we’d visit. The signs that tell you approximately how long it will take to get to the next exits are nice though.

So then we go to get off the Skyway, and they have a few EZpass lanes, and about two cash lanes which I could see (I believe there was a sign too). As we are approaching the cash lane, several people come up beside me and attempt to get over because they can’t read. I’m trying to be nice, and I let three over, including a jerk in a pickup truck. It’s the fourth person though that I would not let over. He’s got no turn signal on, isn’t trying to make any kind of “Hey let me over please” gesture towards me, and keeps inching further and further over. I’ve had it, and I’m not letting one more person over. Finally the jerk in the Kia finds an opening towards the other cash lane and flips me off. I’m like “Whatever.”

So after driving through a small town where I find out thanks to a bank clock that we’ve regressed to Eastern time again, we finally get on the road leading to Indiana Beach. So, if you think Knoebels is in the middle of nowhere, you ain’t seen nothing yet! I’ve heard the midwest can be flat, but this is ridiculous. All we see are farms for miles and basically nothingness. I fully exected the next direction sign to say “Turn left at the next silo.” We park in the Southern lot at the end of the suspended bridge, which is cool.

INDIANA BEACH RIDES
Walking across, it’s unreal how much stuff is crammed together. After paying a $2.50 general fee, we get our $20 rideband. We had to make LoCoSoMu our first ride. The cars are incredibly tight and we were glad they were. Going up the elevator lift the skeleton says “I don’t know if I’d trust that elevator if I were you” or something like that, and I’m thiking “Yeah, I don’t trust it either!”:) Lost Coaster could be one of those few coasters that to me was actually scarier during the day because you can see where you’re going. Some of the clearances are ridicously tight. It’s a little bit bumpy and rough, but not too bad. Definite re-ride.

We did the Den of Lost thieves shoot-em-up ride and once again, got my butt kicked by Gwg. Next we rode Hoosier Hurricane which is really good and fast, and the taller of the two “normal” woodies. I think the first drop towards the water is pretty interesting, because it just doesn’t feel safe somehow, which is a great illusion. Some point along the way I dub IB “Knoebels on the lake,” because it has that do it yourself vibe and just like Knoebels, there are a whole lot of signs posted in random places with older looking fonts.

Our next selection would be Cornball Express, and I’ve got to say, I think I found one of my favorite woodies of all time. It’s got great airtime, an interesting layout, and it’s short and sweet. We ride the Schwarzkopf Tigger right next to it, and while not mindblowing, it’s pretty fun. Sections of it remind me of a Jumbo Jet. Gwg rides the flyers while I wait and take pictures. On our way to get something to eat, we pass a haunted walk-though that costs $3.50. I’m just not in a Halloween scare-me mood, but Gwg’s game later on. We both wind up getting the chicken basket and it was good.

It was back to HH for a backseat ride which was awesome. Next up was the Galaxi–the only coaster on the opposite side of the boardwalk, and Gwg has never ridden one. It’s clear by the track that this is a portable model and there are no restraints. It brought me back to the King’s Dominion of old when they had a Galaxi. Looking down from the lift I see the oddest lazy river ever. There is no themeing at all. It actually looks portable. I asked Gwg what he thought of the Galaxi and he said he liked it, but he was a little bit concerned by the tightness of clearances.

We wanted to see the park from up high, so we took the Skyway roundtrip. The restraints are strange, as on most chairlifts, the bar lowers down from the top. On this one, there’s a short bar that pulls down from either side and can be opened at anytime during the ride. It didn’t seem quite safe enough. I’ve ridden my share of chairlifts without a bar (because there wasn’t one available), but I’m an experienced skier and some young kids who have no chairlift experience might make a bad decision. Again, it’s the whole independent park thing going on.

I finally got on my first S&S Double Shot, and I found it really amusing that they put the Frog Hopper right next to it. The DS was supringly very strong with a few pops of air. It was reride time and we hit CE again and changed seats and rode again. This time we did get some spray off of the log flume which is right below one of the drops of CE. So then we split off; Gwg does the haunted walk-though, while I go and reride LoCoSoMu at night. This time I ride with two girls who are riding backwards. I see the older girl's technique for holding on backwards (with her hands on the top of the car) and I’m like “No thank you.” We’ve got a long ways to go, and I can’t be getting injured. I’ve just recovered from the pulled hamstring, and I don’t need anymore bumps or bruises.

I had to return some calls and take photos. The ride op at LoCoSoMu told me some great places to get nightime shots of the boardwalk which I thought was really cool of him. Gwg met me at LoCo and rode two more times going backwards, which he said was frightening. More power to him. IB does not mess around at closing time. When it’s 10pm, everything shuts down and all lights are soon shutoff. In fact, I actually heard a ride op say she was going to get into trouble for allowing one more ride on the Falling Star past 10pm. I could see it being a problem with two riders, but she actually had several enthusiatic riders. Gwg goes back to a shop to try to get two IB Lakes Guide, which includes the map. It takes a little while, so we’re walking back across the suspension bridge and we have no light, and the parking lot is also dark. Where I come from, that’s called “An easy way to mug and kill someone.”

So what were my overall impressions of IB? To be honest, I really missed all of the colors at Great America. I could not stop looking at DV, RB, and V2. IB just felt really bland in comparison because so much of it is white. The multi-layered way of cramming rides in is interesting, but it also gives the place a tacky look to me. The ride ops seemed really uninterested, except for the guy operating LoCoSoMu who was really cool, but maybe that’s because he was in his forties. The place wasn’t exactly hopping, so maybe that’s why the young ops were bored. At least some of them were reading books, so they were doing something constructive:)

While not exactly like Knoebels, (which has no fine dining or on site motels) there was that aesthetic there. It also suprised me that neither of the two new attractions were anywhere near close to being finished. Splash Bash (a water play area for kids) at least had workers at it, but the same cannot be said for Splash Battle, which only had the running rail installed. According to the guide, more stuff will be installed in 2007. If they don’t hurry up, this will be the stuff for 07’:)

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