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First trip to Adventureland, Iowa!


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This is my first trip report on these forums and I hope you enjoy it! I had a day off from work on Friday, June 24th so I planned on a trip to Adventureland, Iowa from Minnesota with my girlfriend mainly to check out a new theme park I’ve never been to and to ride the new coaster, the Monster. We arrived in Iowa on Thursday night. We checked in at the Comfort Inn near Adventureland since their rates were super low at $105 per night. The hotel was very nice, the rooms were a bit smaller than most hotels but since we were only there to sleep in, it wasn’t an issue; the rooms were clean and had nice interior design. It wasn’t a “budget hotel” feel at all which was what I was expecting so it was a good price for me.

 

ImmelMatt from this forum suggested Zombie Burgers for dinner, after an online look up of the restaurant; I knew I had to check it out, so after checking in the hotel, we drove to downtown Des Moines to Zombie Burgers for dinner. I had the Planet Terror (BBQ sauce, bacon, Cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, caramelized onion) with the Zombie Unicorn (vanilla ice cream, marshmallow cream, Fruity Pebbles) shake. The burgers were good, not the best I had but they were better than decent, I think the shakes won it more for me. After dinner, I and my girlfriend took a short walk around Des Moines thinking we could shop a bit for some souvenirs, but within ten minutes in our walk, we realized every shop in Des Moines closes at 5-6pm, we even saw one shop post a close time of 4pm, before the end of a normal work day! So needless to say, we just walked around for a bit taking in the scenery since the town was dead after the normal work day. We stopped at the local Hy-Vee store to get some craft beer to drink in our hotel on the way back and that’s what we did for the rest of the night.

 

 

 

Look closely at the movie posters.

 

 

Our meal!

 

Brains!!!

 

Delicious Shakes!

 

Local craft beer which we drank at the hotel!

 

 

Adventureland!

 

 

 

The next day, we woke up around 9am (park opens at 10am) and got ready for the day. We arrived at 10:15am and got in line for the tickets which wasn’t too bad, only was a 15 minutes wait, they move the line fast. Also apparently one of the 4H clubs there was having an event day at the park on Friday, but I didn’t notice the park being crowded anyways. As we entered the park, we made a beeline to the Monster since that was the star attraction we came here for. The line stretched out to the midway by the time we arrived. They were running two trains all day on the Monster, but despise the two train operation; it only took us 30 minutes of waiting in line to ride. All day they had operations set up so that a train would be leaving the station as the other train was on the brake run, in some rare cases; they had a train on the lift hill as one was on the brake run. Speaking of the train design, I personally love the train design, I know others here don't like it but I think it's very retro and 80's. It reminds me of the movie, Gremlins, and for that, I love it! I think it's an fantastic design and is memorable. You would recognize what coaster it's from if shown a picture of the train alone, and that's a good thing. While waiting in line, I observed that the Monster restraint was a bit sensitive to people who were on the heavy side, being in Iowa, this occurred quite a bit early in the day than later at night. In one instance, I saw a couple take the “walk of shame” only to have the next two people in line take the walk of shame again, then the following two people were able to get the restraint locked. My only gripe about the queue line is that they separate queues for the two cars inside the station. The majority of guests were waiting for the front and people behind in the queue had no idea that the back row was occasionally empty which could’ve saved time waiting in the queue. Later at night, the ride ops were not allowing the train to dispatch unless they had people waiting for the back row (once waiting for 5 minutes for people to get in the back row queue before forcing people to go to the back row queue), but people had no idea this was occurring since the station area queue was so cramped and small as well as hidden out of sight of the main queue line.

 

Entry of the station queue, hard to see the split queue for front and back rows from the outside.

 

 

After a while, I made it on the Monster, and I must say it was a fantastic ride, for me to compare something with; it was like Spongebob Rock Bottom Plunge coaster at Mall of America, only much longer and bigger. The Monster first drop was extremely smooth and amazing, the first hill turn-around jerk element was the best if you rode on the outer right seat, and it just jerks you out of your seat. I’ve tried riding on the left side of the train but the jerk element was a lot less noticeable on the left than the right. The sideways oval loop quickly became my favorite element after many re-rides. The hang-time you have on the loop is intense. Imagine a normal coaster loop, you’re upside down for less than a second, but on the Monster, the loop element makes you stay upside down for a solid 2 seconds before returning you downwards. It feels much longer than two seconds that you’re upside down and that’s why I love it so much! Going through the block brakes before the sideways hang time element really does kill a lot of momentum that the train has, Mako style, at first, I hated it, but then after multiple re-rides, I’ve slowly accepted it as a good thing. The sideways hang time element is best in the right seat as you can lean in more to the right and become inverted. Next up was the slow corkscrew roll, again, just like the oval loop, you have a solid 2 seconds of hang time than the normal less than 1 second hang time on regular corkscrew rolls. It does give a nice ending to the coaster and if there were no block brakes slowing the train down, the experience would be much different and going through these two elements at the end was better slow than at if it was going at a normal coaster speed. Overall I was impressed with the Monster and is a solid great addition for a park like this. The sideways oval loop is probably my favorite roller coaster element now, the hang time was insane and there was no other feeling like it.

 

 

 

 

 

The slow sideway hang time element. The right seat was the best for this element!

 

More sideway hang time!

 

 

More hang time to be had at the slow corkscrew!

 

Love the hangtime as can be seen here!

 

Weeeeee!

 

 

 

 

Next up we went to Storm Chaser, my girlfriend’s favorite flat ride when we went to Cedar Point. Storm Chaser had some nice view of the entire park property and I thought the ride cycle was quite generous; we were up there for a good 30-45 seconds at the top.

 

 

Next we tried to go on Tornado, but the line for the ride was all the way to the bottom of the ramp, so we opted to come back later in the day. Next up was the alpine bobsled ride. The ride cycle of this thing was so long I was ready to get off halfway through the ride! Seriously, we were on that thing for what must felt like a good 5 minutes just going round and round.

 

 

After the bobsled ride, we decided to go on the Dragon. I was surprised by the lack of air gates that I was so used to after years of going to other corporate amusement parks such as Valleyfair, Cedar Point, and Mall of America. I guess it comes with the small private amusement park company mindset that people should take care of their selves and behave. Riding the Dragon felt like the train was going to fall apart, I could feel the wheels grind against the tracks and it did not feel right or safe at all. Neverless, we all made it through the ride and I did like the second half of the ride was better after the loops. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was better than standard Arrow corkscrew models, but it was barely re-ridable for me.

 

One of the best entry-way I've ever seen at a amusement park! Kidding!

 

Station wait or two line length all day.

 

They offer free gum at the Tornado while waiting in line, don't think anyone took up the offer though!

 

 

 

Afterwards we walked to Sidewider and got into line. I was expecting something such as Max-Air at Cedar Point, so I was very surprised when the restraint came down and clamped me in against my shoulder blades. I’m a tall guy at 6’3” but I never had a issue on Max-Air and had plenty of room to move in, but not on Sidewider, I could not even move at all and made the ride uncomfortable for me the whole time, I could not even move my arms since it was that tight with the restraints.

 

 

Better hope nobody throws up over the queue! There's no cover over the queue!

 

Next, I wanted to try the only water ride they had, Sawmill splash, but the line during the entire day stretched to the start of the queue, so needless to say I skipped it since I didn’t think it was worth a 30 minutes wait.

 

 

So we headed to The Outlaw. I must say, if there were no padding on the seats, I don’t know if I could’ve survived that ride without padding on the seats. The padding helped keep the bumps and jostling to a minimum, but there definitely was a fair amount of bumps and jostling on that ride. I enjoyed the tight curves and turns, I wouldn’t say the rides felt out of control but it had some solid speed throughout the ride and didn’t slow down once until the brakes. For a small park like Adventureland The Outlaw is a good ride to have, but if it was placed at other parks, it would be mediocre at best. Knowing it was a small park however, I did enjoy the ride, it isn’t the best wooden coaster I’ve been on by far but it’s a good fit for the park.

 

 

 

 

By the time we got off, it was 1pm, and my girlfriend wanted to go to the water park, so we took a long loop in the park on the way to the parking lot to retrieve our swimsuits. On the way we hit up some random flat rides since during our visits there was only a station wait. During our way on the back I noticed the oddest thing, there was a couple of rides that weren’t running but there would be staffs sitting in the queue line, and when I asked if it was running they would tell us no but come back in a hour or so and it’ll be running by then. The ferris wheel was another example, there were two people manned at the ferris wheel all day just to turn back people saying it was closed. Why not simply put up a sign saying the ride was closed instead of wasting two staffs sitting and doing nothing giving off the impression that they could run the ride but didn’t want to.

 

 

Before going to the water park we decided to eat some lunch we stopped at the Iowa Café for lunch. I must say, wow what a deal for foods here, you get a lot of food for a very reasonable price. I was waiting to be gorged for food inside the park and planning for $14 meals such as Cedar Fair parks does, so imagine my surprise when lunch was a reasonable $8 for more food than you’ll ever get at a corporate park! That’s one thing Adventureland got right here, reasonable prices for food, everywhere in the park I went to, all the prices for food were cheap and reasonable.

 

 

 

I don’t have any pictures of the water park, but it was packed with people. We didn’t go on any tube slides simply because the lines were overflowing that all tubes slides had lines at the bottom of the slides of people waiting to retrieve a tube. One thing I didn’t like was that you had to “rent” a tube for the lazy river, I’ve never experienced this before, I guess I’m too used to the Wisconsin Dells where they give away tubes for free to use. I believe Valleyfair, my local park, does as well so it was something that I disliked and we didn’t do at Adventureland.

 

After the water park, we returned to the park to ride the Monster once more, it still does impress, the first time we rode it was in the back row, and the second time was in the front. I must say there isn’t a much difference between the back and front. There is a more difference on which side you sit at and in my opinion the right side (you get on the train last) was far better than the left. After that, we saw the line for the Tornado was non-existent, so we headed for it. Big mistake! I’ve never wanted to get off a ride after the first drop so bad ever in my life and I absolutely love roller coasters! We rode in the very last car in the back seat, and at the bottom of the valley of the first drop, the car banged so bad on the track that I felt my back compress a bit and got hurt from all the bumpiness and jerkiness it had. Every valley on that coaster was pain filled and it even had padded seats! It was the roughest coaster I’ve ever ridden in my life by far and my girlfriend agreed with me and we both swore never to ride it again.

 

 

 

We rode the Monster again after that experience, then headed over to the Underground. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this ride from mixed reviews online. After riding it, I must say, if you consider this ride as a “dark ride” instead of a coaster, I enjoyed it and it did feel like I was going underground in the caves. Purely from a coaster standpoint, it barely could be counted as a coaster so I can understand where some people are coming from on this ride, but if you think of it as a dark ride, I think it helps make the ride experience be better in my opinion and I enjoyed it.

 

 

No lines at all

 

 

The flat ride collection that Adventureland had was decent, I did enjoy the tea-cups ride, never saw that type of ride before and I was mildly disappointed that it wasn’t one of those control your spin type of ride since I absolutely love to spin extremely fast on the manual ones. The Paratrooper was super fun as well, my only gripe with this ride was that it took almost 15 revolutions to stop when it was fully retracted to the ground and be able to get off, I kid you not! This part kind of killed the fun of the ride since at the end, all you want to do is to get off and you can’t, you have to stay seated for 15 more revolutions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, we played bingo, but no we didn't win, it was all in good fun while escaping the heat!

 

Overall I did enjoy my experience at Adventureland and see what a non-corporate park was like. I did enjoy the work-camp folks who operated the rides since they were so friendly and pleasant. On the Outlaw, the worker E-Stopped the train 3 times as it rolled out the station to ask the riders if they truly were ready to go! I thought it added to the ride experience and made it more personable, an corporate park would never allow this to happen. I did also enjoy the collection of carnival rides including the Inverter, a ride I remember riding nearly 10+ years ago at our state fair! The ride did look at it’s age as well, most of the flat rides didn’t have any touch-up paint and looked beaten up, but it also contributed to the atmosphere of the park. The lack of air gates was also surprising to me since I’ve never seen this at a park before and really did also add to the experience that this was a non-corporate park. Adventureland ran one train operations on all of their rides except the Monster all day, I shudder to think about the lines on a normal crowded weekend, but it makes sense with their work-camp staffings. Ironically enough I could see where the park puts their local hires, in the water park, literally every staff in the water park was at least 14-early 20’s (I think I even saw a 12 year old lifeguarding! (Yes I know that's too young but he looked that young!)) while in the main park every staff were 50-80’s and I did not see one young worker besides the arcade alley and the ride ops at the Monster. Would I come back here in the future? Probably not, the Monster alone isn’t worth the draw for repeat visits, but it was worth checking out the park and getting that non-corporate feel that fewer and fewer theme parks have nowadays. The Monster is truly a game changer for Adventureland and I cannot wait to see if they keep up with the renovations to the park by adding newer rides.

 

Dippin' Dots guy says there will be a B&M Flyer coming next year! Stay tuned for the announcement from Adventureland!

 

 

Thanks for reading my long trip report!

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I think I just missed you, I was at the park on Monday! Was there for my 2nd trip visiting from LA.

 

I agree with much of your report. Though I found Outlaw much rougher than Tornado. I was seated in the middle for Tornado, and I found the ride relatively smooth. So maybe it just depends where you sit. I'd suggest you try it again if you go, just sit closer to the front.

 

And as i mentioned in my small post in the regular Adventureland thread, I may have been there the day The Monster closed. When I went, it didn't open until noon (for apparently more barbed wire installation), and then it seemed to close again at about 2pm. I was only able to get one ride in.

 

I do find their collection of flat rides. It's tough to find Falling Stars anymore. Did you catch G Force (a break dance) in the arcade? I nearly missed it my first visit there! And definitely think of The Underground as a dark ride. I feel it's like building your own Calico Mine ride in your parent's backyard.

 

I also took up the Zombie Burger tip, and enjoyed it as well. Did the "They're Coming to Get You Barbara" burger which has grilled cheese sandwiches as buns. If you are of age, right next door to Adventureland is Prairie Meadows racetrack and casino, with a buffet. It's not a great buffet, but it's also cheap and another option. Do check it's hours, it does close between lunch and dinner (around 2-4pm).

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Great trip report! I appreciate seeing the atmosphere and flat rides in trip reports.

 

In regards to Tornado... NEVER sit in the third row of any car on a wooden coaster with the three row PTC trains. I have been on many and on every single one, the middle row is fine (and usually the front row of any given car is fine too) but the back row of each car is just terrible. I wish that wasn't the case because that means one third of riders get a bad ride when in fact it is a solid coaster.

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Nice report and pics. I live 90 minutes away and haven't been to ride The monster yet. I haven't been to Adventureland in several years as I prefer the bigger coasters elsewhere but it is a nice park. I've heard that Tornado and Outlaw are really getting rough and your report confirms that. I won't go near Dragon. I'd rather ride Mean Streak at Cedar Point, it's smoother than dragon.

 

Good call on Zombie Burger. Some burgers are indeed better than others. They're adding one here in Iowa City where I live too.

 

As far as Downtown Des Moines goes, most of the action is in the Court Avenue district but when there aren't events at Wells Fargo Arena, vets Auditorium, or the Civic Center Auditoriumnthere isn't a lot going on. All of the shopping is in the malls in West Des Moines.

 

Glad you enjoyed your visit!

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Ah, it's been a while since I was last at that park. One thing I noticed that this park had that was different from the other parks were the park attendants - almost all of them were senior citizens! Every park I've been to before had college-aged kids running the rides, but this was the first park I've been to that had many of its park attendants senior citizen's age.

 

The Monster coaster reminds me of the Impulse coaster at Knoebles. It's probably the same design and model. Speaking of Knoebles, they both share the same tea cup ride.

 

Underground - is it a coaster or is it a dark ride or is it such a great ride you don't care what it is? I prefer the latter.

 

Thanks for the photos; it helps bring back the memories.

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I had just taken a trip a few days before your visit and Dragon was down all day. Around noon there were two maintenance workers literally hammering away at the track with mallets on the turnaround where one of the supporting wires should have been. Needless to say I was OK not getting that credit!

 

Tornado and Outlaw were definitely rough, and I don't mind a rough wooden coaster. Outlaw was manageable but could still only manage a few rides on it. Did you do the Skyride? Going through the Monster's loops during operation was awesome! Definitely something you'd never get at a corporate park.

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Thanks for the comments everyone, I appreciate it and I'm glad everyone enjoyed my trip report! My first of many here on TPR.

 

 

Great report! I hope to make it out there soon, so I appreciate the in park and out of park tips.

 

Thanks, The Monster was a blast and well worth a trip to check it out!

 

 

I think I just missed you, I was at the park on Monday! Was there for my 2nd trip visiting from LA.

 

I agree with much of your report. Though I found Outlaw much rougher than Tornado. I was seated in the middle for Tornado, and I found the ride relatively smooth. So maybe it just depends where you sit. I'd suggest you try it again if you go, just sit closer to the front.

 

And as i mentioned in my small post in the regular Adventureland thread, I may have been there the day The Monster closed. When I went, it didn't open until noon (for apparently more barbed wire installation), and then it seemed to close again at about 2pm. I was only able to get one ride in.

 

I do find their collection of flat rides. It's tough to find Falling Stars anymore. Did you catch G Force (a break dance) in the arcade? I nearly missed it my first visit there! And definitely think of The Underground as a dark ride. I feel it's like building your own Calico Mine ride in your parent's backyard.

 

I also took up the Zombie Burger tip, and enjoyed it as well. Did the "They're Coming to Get You Barbara" burger which has grilled cheese sandwiches as buns. If you are of age, right next door to Adventureland is Prairie Meadows racetrack and casino, with a buffet. It's not a great buffet, but it's also cheap and another option. Do check it's hours, it does close between lunch and dinner (around 2-4pm).

 

I did sit in the middle of Outlaw and the back of the Tornado, so perhaps you're right. All I know is that the Tornado gave me pains at each of the valleys and I'm a healthy person who works out 3x a week. Never had a coaster give me that kind of pain before even on Arrow corkscrews roller coasters.

 

Bummer that you were only able to get one ride in, there's always next time!

 

I've rode the Falling Star at Mall of America for years before it was removed this year, but when I went to Adventureland, it was inoperable with no staffing nearby to open it up all day (Even though they post staffs at the ferris wheel all day and never opened it once). I also did ride the breakdance in the arcade, it spun more than what I expected out of it, again if you were able to control the spin of the ride, I think it would've been a lot more fun.

 

 

Great trip report! I appreciate seeing the atmosphere and flat rides in trip reports.

 

In regards to Tornado... NEVER sit in the third row of any car on a wooden coaster with the three row PTC trains. I have been on many and on every single one, the middle row is fine (and usually the front row of any given car is fine too) but the back row of each car is just terrible. I wish that wasn't the case because that means one third of riders get a bad ride when in fact it is a solid coaster.

 

Yeah, after one ride, I was done with it, wasn't willing to give it another chance since it was that bad. It had a nice out and back layout, the only thing I'll compliment it on.

 

 

Nice report and pics. I live 90 minutes away and haven't been to ride The monster yet. I haven't been to Adventureland in several years as I prefer the bigger coasters elsewhere but it is a nice park. I've heard that Tornado and Outlaw are really getting rough and your report confirms that. I won't go near Dragon. I'd rather ride Mean Streak at Cedar Point, it's smoother than dragon.

 

Good call on Zombie Burger. Some burgers are indeed better than others. They're adding one here in Iowa City where I live too.

 

As far as Downtown Des Moines goes, most of the action is in the Court Avenue district but when there aren't events at Wells Fargo Arena, vets Auditorium, or the Civic Center Auditoriumnthere isn't a lot going on. All of the shopping is in the malls in West Des Moines.

 

Glad you enjoyed your visit!

 

Thanks! Honestly, I didn't think the Dragon was that bad, I was more nervous about something breaking on the ride than the headbanging.

 

It's a shame that downtown Des Moines isn't more active after hours beside the bars since I saw a tons of new luxury condos/apartment near Zombie Burger and looks like the area is going through a period of gentrification, but it needs more life to it! It's just dead, doesn't motivate anybody, especially the residents in the new apartments/condos, to walk around and enjoy the downtown area.

 

 

Ah, it's been a while since I was last at that park. One thing I noticed that this park had that was different from the other parks were the park attendants - almost all of them were senior citizens! Every park I've been to before had college-aged kids running the rides, but this was the first park I've been to that had many of its park attendants senior citizen's age.

 

The Monster coaster reminds me of the Impulse coaster at Knoebles. It's probably the same design and model. Speaking of Knoebles, they both share the same tea cup ride.

 

Underground - is it a coaster or is it a dark ride or is it such a great ride you don't care what it is? I prefer the latter.

 

Thanks for the photos; it helps bring back the memories.

 

You're welcome! And yes I did notice this and commented on that in my TR. As I read in the main Adventureland thread, the older workers are Work-Camp residents, meaning they get to camp at Adventureland for a discount if they also work at Adventureland for the summer period. The only "young crew" that I saw was the crew operating the Monster. I suppose it saves on labor costs and allows Adventureland to staff the waterpark using locals since I can't imagine the work-camp residents would want to work at the waterpark or are physically capable of it.

 

Pretty cool that a park like Knoebels has the same tea cup ride as Adventureland and it's in the middle of Iowa. You definitely don't see these type of rides anymore and when you see them, you just have to ride them because who knows how much longer they'll last.

 

As for the Underground, I agree, I didn't care if it was a coaster or not, I rode it for the experience and I did enjoy it, I thought the theming was great for a "dark ride". There were some animatronics and theming element that needed touching up, but netherless, it was a good fun!

 

 

Did you miss the Rapids ride?

 

I did, we (Me and my GF) didn't want to get wet so we opted out of it.

 

 

I had just taken a trip a few days before your visit and Dragon was down all day. Around noon there were two maintenance workers literally hammering away at the track with mallets on the turnaround where one of the supporting wires should have been. Needless to say I was OK not getting that credit!

 

Tornado and Outlaw were definitely rough, and I don't mind a rough wooden coaster. Outlaw was manageable but could still only manage a few rides on it. Did you do the Skyride? Going through the Monster's loops during operation was awesome! Definitely something you'd never get at a corporate park.

 

I believe it, the Dragon didn't feel like it was riding right when I rode it, definitely made me a lot more nervous about it!

 

Both wooden coaster was rough for sure, but the padding helped a lot more on Outlaw than Tornado in my experience. I'm sure if both coaster didn't have the padding and opted for the traditional seating, a lot more people would be complaining and not riding both coasters for sure!

 

We didn't have a chance to do the skyride, it was closed all day unfortunately!

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Nice trip report, I visited the park and Zombie Burger Bar the day after you did. But I had the Undead Guy BBQ Burger with Cheddar cheese, pulled BBQ bacon, strip bacon, Rogue Dead Guy Ale BBQ sauce, mayo. Luckily for me Monster was up and running when I visited. A really fun ride.

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Fun review! I wish you had stayed 'til dark to see The Monster nighttime lights. THey are truly fun to watch.

 

I grew up in Texas, so my first parks were Astroworld and the original Six Flags, but family vacations to Disneyland, Disney World, and many others. When I moved to Iowa in 1995, Adventureland was $18 to get in! Prices have really increased since then, and parking was just $3 not too many years ago ($10 today). It's always fun to hear an outside perspective when us jaded locals think the prices have really gone sky high in a lot of areas ($6.50 for a can of beer?).

 

I agree about Iowa Cafe -- even with prices double what they used to be, the season pass discount still let's me get a 1-piece chicken and two sides for about $4.80 (it's not listed on the menu, but is more than enough food for me when I go). Other great values are the Subland sandwiches - freakin' HUGE for $5.75 (way bigger than a Subway six inch), the soft tacos are a real good value, and you can easily split a huge Tenderloin (cheaper to get it at Iowa Cafe than in Outlaw Gulch - not sure if it's the same or not).

 

There are refill cups and mugs for sodas, beer and even popcorn. With the popcorn bucket, you get popcorn for $1. The 24 ounce Oktoberfest beer mug gets you the $8.50 24 ounce beer for $5. There are 24 ounce tall Icee cups that can get cheap Icee refills or discounted adult frozen beverages (you get the 24 ounce amount for the price of the 16 ounce, basically - and you can even use them at the full bar in Adventure Bay). So many nice little discounts!

 

I am glad you caught the Free Gum thing I took the same picture.

 

The Tornado uses square wheels, which you found out. They haven't ran both trains on it for many years, but they used to. I rode in the middle last week and it was VERY pleasant. I've spent so many years only doing first and last cars, I forgot that the middle had some appeal. It's the only way I will ride The Tornado now that I know it offsets those square wheels.

 

Thanks for visiting our "dinky" home park I'm stunned at how many nice things people have to say about it.

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