The 16th Annual IX Indoor Amusement Park was definitely one of the more interesting ones I have attended. For the past 15 years, the IXIAP has used Bates Amusements to provide a large midway full of rides and games. This year, Bates' presence was definitely reduced (perhaps to just one of their units) and Mid-America Shows was booked in to provide the rest of the midway. The end result was one of the smaller events that the IXIAP has put on and despite two real showpiece rides, was not one of the better ones I've been to. Thankfully, my good friend Uncle Coaster and I made the best of our day and still managed to have a fun time.
Our first stop was the Pinfari Zyklon coaster, a mainstay at the IXIAP for many years. With the Amusements of America Reverchon Crazy Mouse absent this year, this would be the only major coaster on the midway. Since we arrived early enough, the line wasn't too bad and we managed to get on in under 5 minutes. Later in the day, the line would become quite long. For some reason, this particular Zyklon is actually a pretty fun ride. It's relatively smooth, features some nice drops and forceful helices, and doesn't use the final brake before returning to the station, resulting in a rather out-of-control finale. The ride is in pretty good shape (I believe this is still booked in through Amusements of America) and runs very well for its age. Special thanks to Martin Short for doing a good job at unloading passengers...
Next stop would be one of the new Mid-America Shows pieces, the Zamperla Skater. The latest in Zamperla's line of "Disk-O" style rides, Skater features a 24-passenger "skateboard" vehicle where 12 guests sit on one side facing the group of 12 guests on the other side. After a very unobtrusive lap bar locked us in, the steps that led to the ride vehicle collapse (which is a neat effect) and the ride gets underway. The "skateboard" rocks back and forth along the curved track and begins to spin at a pretty good rate of speed. I was surprised at just how fast this ride was, and I have to say that I can see why this type of ride is so popular. Skater provides a neat sensation without being overly nauseating. Our first ride was in the very end seat and you get the full effect of the spinning. Our second ride a little later in the day would be in the seat closest to the center, and as Uncle Coaster noted, you really don't notice much of a difference. Overall we enjoyed the Skater. I'd love to try a Disk-O out now just to compare how the seating arrangements differ. You can tell Skater was a new piece as it was in tip-top shape.
As we walked the midways, we noticed that the Soriani and Moser Top Spin that Mid-America brought was not operating. Several workers were inspecting the one arm of the ride, which is probably not a good sign, and later in the day, there were 2 mechanics up on the platform reading manuals. Right next door was a ride I had never been on before- a Tivoli Scorpion. Unfortunately, it too was down and didn't look like it would be opening anytime soon.
This being my first encounter with Mid-America Shows, I have to say that their rides aren't in anywhere near as good of shape as Bates' are. The Top Spin looked a little worse for wear, the Scorpion wasn't in the best of shape, and the Chance Thunderbolt they brought along (a ride that hasn't been at the IXIAP since 1996) was rather faded. Another thing that bothered me was the "Make Bozo Splash" game booth they brought. The IXIAP is always billed as a "family-friendly" event, and seeing this obviously impaired "clown" insulting young passers-by was just kind of unsettling. I guess "dunk tanks" are popular staples of carnivals, but this one was kind of creepy.
Bates must have provided the ARM/Larson Super Shot again this year, but it appeared to be a different model than what appeared last year. The star-studded ride operator parade continued here as Ron Jeremy was at the controls. For those unfamiliar, the ARM Super Shot is a portable drop tower ride that provides a heck of a rush for its rather small size. The 12-passenger car oh so slowly climbs the tower and as soon as it reaches the top, without any warning whatsoever, the car free-falls back to the trailer it is mounted on. The airtime is awesome and the guests seemed to love it. The ride makes a very smooth stop at the bottom, resulting in a thrilling and comfortable ride. While other ARM products aren't exactly my favorite rides, their drop tower is certainly a winner.
In my opinion, the true "spectacular" ride at this year's IXIAP was the KMG Freak Out. This smaller version of the popular Fireball was attracting quite a crowd all afternoon as the line was one of the longest at the fair. And with its 16-person capacity, it also had a rather slow-moving line. This relatively new piece had a great lighting package complete with strobes and really dominated the midway. After about a 20-minute wait, we climbed aboard and weren't disappointed. Freak Out was running one program only... but it was definitely a good one. The ride started off with the cars spinning at a pretty good rate while slowly building momentum rocking back and forth. As the arm swung higher, the spin rate slowed down quite a bit, but eventually the ride was nearly hitting the rafters of the IX Center. There are some pretty strong forces exerted on this ride and there is some serious airtime to be had on the apex of each swing. Near the end of the program, the arm started to swing higher again and the spin rate increased to its maximum, resulting in a completely disorienting sensation. Freak Out totally rocked in every way and was definitely the highlight of an otherwise sub-par carnival.
We decided that we needed a chance to catch our breath, so we headed over to the permanent Chance Giant Gondola Wheel that has been a part of the IX Center since 1990. This standard wheel is placed quite high off the ground and lifts riders through a glass atrium in the roof to offer views of the next door Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and if you're lucky, you can catch a glimpse of downtown Cleveland. With the weather outside being cloudy and rainy, our view wasn't anything to write home about! The IX Wheel is a hit with families and is a nice way to relax after riding some of the IXIAP's more "active" rides.
The Dartron Cliff Hanger is another piece that has been a crowd favorite since it debuted in 2000, however, this year's Cliff Hanger was provided by Mid-America Shows and offered a far more intense ride than the Bates model ever did. Spinning at a very fast rate of speed, this lay-down Paratrooper ride offered us a rather long cycle time and really messed my stomach up. Last year the ride-op on the Bates model was doing neat tricks to make the cars stall a bit at the top of the spin and then would speed the ride up to give you a little more of a "gliding" sensation. This one just spun like crazy! And as Uncle Coaster and I have come to find out, the area around the Cliff Hanger is a fun place to people watch as well...
Bates only brought one Chance YoYo this year, so of course we had to take a ride. Bates must have toned their YoYo's down as the top didn't tilt hardly at all. The swings did move up and down a little, but it was a far cry from the severe tilting that this ride usually has. The lack of "yo-ing" didn't seem to bother any of the visitors as the line was quite long all afternoon.
Right across the way from the YoYo was a State Fair Fun Slide supplied by Mid-America Shows. This 5-lane fiberglass slide (which according to their website is “one of the largest traveling slides in the country”) was kind of "self-serve" as there was only one elderly woman that was at the gate. Previous riders had to hand their burlap (or foam) sacks to the next riders in line as they reached the bottom. After hiking to the top of the very narrow staircase, Uncle Coaster noticed that there was a giant hole in the burlap sack he was given, so basically his ride down the slide was "unprotected"! There was no one at the top to tell you when to go... you were just supposed to use the honor system. Surprisingly, there were no accidents, but one kid did go down the slide backwards and did not get yelled at. The piece of foam I got just didn't seem to allow me any speed as I traveled down the slide, so I wasn't overly pleased with the State Fair Fun Slide. I do wish more parks still had their old fiberglass slides though. When kept up well, they were one of the most fun attractions in any park!
I think that was about it for what we rode. We did enjoy watching the Log Flume as it drowned riders in its murky-looking water. The Flume was closed for most of the early afternoon but re-opened around 4. A huge crowd soon followed and the line was enormous. And like the Cliff Hanger, this is a great place to people watch. ;)
We basically just wandered around and rode the Super Shot once more before I had to leave at 5:00 for a medical appointment. Here is a complete-as-I-can-remember list of the rides that were in attendance this year and their corresponding supplier: Bates Amusements brought their Eli Bridge Spider-Mania, Eyerly Rock-O-Plane (which had plenty of vomit dust near its exit), Hrubetz Tip Top, a WhirlWind Round-Up (no Zero Gravity this year), Zamperla Crazy Bus, an Owen Trailer Mardi Gras fun house, a Chance Inverter, Chance YoYo, ARM/Larson Super Shot, ARM Screamer, the Quasar (marking its 16th year the IXIAP), the Twister (a Scrambler-type ride that I do not know the manufacturer of), a Chance Zipper, an ARM "rope climb adventure" (which was a $5 upcharge), and a Larson Ring Of Fire. Mid-America brought several kids rides including a electric-powered cute antique car ride, the Zamperla Skater, KMG Freak Out, the Fredriksen State Fair Fun Slide, Soriani and Moser Top Spin (which as I mentioned was down all afternoon), Tivoli Scorpion (also down), Chance Thunderbolt, 2 Dragon Wagon kiddie "coasters", a "Tinseltown" fun house trailer, two other fun house trailers, a Round-Up, a Sellner Tilt-A-Whirl, an Eli Bridge Scrambler (which was also down), and a Majestic Scooter. The Pinfari Zyklon is booked in through Amusements of America (I think) and I'm still not sure where the Reverchon Flume is booked in from. Conspicuous by their absence were the Dartron Downdraft, the Majestic Musik Express, the ARM Mega Bounce, and any sort of Flying Carpet ride (Bates used to bring their ARM typhoon). There was also the "Carnival Of Horrors" walk-through haunted attraction which was a $5 upcharge.
Overall, it was a fun afternoon and as always it was a blast hanging out with Uncle Coaster. Thankfully in 6 weeks, the real season begins here in Northeast Ohio! Thanks for reading-
If you enjoy carnivals, you'd definitely enjoy the IXIAP. The combination of Bates and Mid-America this year was a bit unusual, but despite the negatives, it was still a good time.
Thanks for reading-
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