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Photo TR - Midwest Coaster Tour

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@Rai Fox, this has to be the funniest thing I've read in a TR all year.


It also has nothing to do with the new show; it's an uncanny valley CG thing that features a mostly nonsensical attempt from  Yogi Bear to build and very briefly fly a makeshift plane, but it's in a normal movie third person viewpoint, making the chairs' motion feel completely disconnected, and  more like just watching a terrible movie in the back of a car while someone drives off a cliff. 

Great report.  Keep it coming!

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Alright, Indiana Beach!

So, I'm looking past the flying bobs out over the water, at the jetskis darting around the bigger boats.  To one side, there's the bang of an old dark ride car coming through the crash doors, next to the skull that leers down at the midway, just beneath the multicolored chairlift...

Wait, I'm supposed to be doing a TR on Indiana Beach, not going on about childhood memories of Rocky Point.

I don't know how many people, if anyone, around this place remember Rocky Point Park, and given that they're both small parks, there probably isn't a big cross section of people who've been to both it and Indiana Beach, but Rocky Point was a small park in Warwick RI, the second oldest running amusement park in the US, until it closed in 1996 after the board of directors embezzled all of its money away.  Rocky Point was one of the best parts of my childhood, it's almost solely responsible for my being such a fan of amusement parks, and I have so many memories of it.  Indiana Beach ended up being something unexpectedly special for me because of how much it brought those memories back, more than any park I've been to since Rocky Point closed down.  It looks so much the same, right on the water even if it's a lake instead of the ocean, they use the same simple old style park decor, even the same colors, it shares so many of the same rides, they run the rides the same way...Indiana Beach was like going back in a time a quarter of a century for me.

But you're here for the photos and all.

So, the day didn't start off looking like it was going to be particularly good that morning.  In fact, the day didn't start out looking like I was going to even make it to an amusement park at all.  I was seriously doubting my GPS right up until I saw the entrance to the park.  If you've been to Indiana Beach, you probably know what I mean; if not, well...


Thiiiiiis is what it looks like 30 miles from the park.  Oh look, corn.



...And 20 miles from the park...



...and ten miles from the park...



...Five miles from the park, and we still have corn...



And this is less than a mile from the park.  I don't know about you but I was growing a bit concerned at this point.  Just beyond those trees in the distance though, it turns out Indiana is hiding a lovely lakeside resort area.  Huh.



Unfortunately a fair number of rides weren't running that day, including the park's biggest coaster, and their flyers.  A bit disappointing.



The entrance to the park is picturesque, though, nearly cinematic with how it appears from nowhere, in the middle of these fields...




...and over a big, swinging and bouncing suspension bridge.  The park isn't quite on an island, connected to the rest of the shore at the far end, but you could be forgiven for missing that from here, and this is quite a way to head to the main gate.



I'd gotten an early start and got through the gate while most of the park was still waking up; the skyride wasn't running yet.  It might have been nice to get the layout of the park from the air before anything else, but there would be time for this later.  Like so much else at this park, the multicolored, open air chairlift style ride across the midway immediately brought back memories for me.



As did the Flying Bobs down near the water.  I always love these rides but this was on the "not running" list for the day.  Too bad.



The ferris wheel did run, but not quite yet.  I forgot to get back to it later, and wish I had; it probably would have been a nice view down by the water.



Not even down the entrance ramp into the park itself and they're already trying to make me hungry.  Apparently these "pronto pups" aren't actually corn dogs but a sort of pancake battered dog that predates normal corn dogs?  Meant to try them but didn't.



Only a few people in the park so far, and the first rides just starting up along the midway.  I've never seen a view quite like this at a park before; it's not quite like any boardwalk I've been to; halfway between the craziness of most of them and the more laid back classic feel of, dare I go as far as say Knoebels? 



I noticed a few little projects like this, with new bricks and materials going in, scattered around the park.  From what I've heard the park's previous owners didn't take particularly good care of it, but the current one seems to be putting some work into getting things back in shape.  Some parts of it still look a little dingy now, though not terribly so, but I'm curious to see how it'll look in a year or two now.



No Wave Swinger at this park, but a classic Chance Yo-Yo instead.  I don't know if I can really say I like the Yo-Yo better, but it's comparatively rare enough to be much more exciting to see one.  Also one of the first "adult" rides I ever got on at Rocky Point...  This one hadn't opened yet but would soon.



Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain was running, and I could barely stop myself from sprinting to it.  It had been ages since I'd seen the first pictures and video of that bizarre coaster, and it felt sort of surreal that I was actually going to get on it, especially after hearing about IB's "closing forever."



Pretty much everyone already in the park was in line here, and with the coaster's rather pitiful capacity it was a good 45 minute wait.  I didn't really mind, given that it was the last 45 minutes of a decade plus long wait.



The skyride started up while I was waiting here.  I was going to have to get that view of the park at some point!



Almost there!

So, Lost Coaster of Superstition mountain is...it's really difficult to think of a word other than "unique."    The hydraulic vertical lift is definitely not  something I've seen before.  Neither are the cars, which are a bit cramped but reasonably comfortable, even riding backwards like I ended up.  The ride is deceptive though; it's not big and it doesn't hit any real high speeds but it feels a lot faster riding it.  The twisty, bumpy course throws you around quite a lot as it winds around and inside the mountain, especially when you can't see the elements coming, but it's not harsh and no overly restrictive restraints to bounce off of, so the constant bounces and twists manage to be more fun than they look from off ride, without being rough on riders.  The theming inside the mountain isn't exactly Thunder Mountain, but it's enough to be fun, and give the ride at least a bit of an (admittedly mostly incomprehensible) story.  It's not something I could call a must ride, but it's definitely a step above your average small coaster or wild mouse, and there's really nothing else like it that I'm aware of.  Different enough that I wasn't disappointed after waiting so long to get on it, at least!



Most of the rides down the midway still hadn't started up yet.



But the antique cars had, and there wasn't much of a wait, so why not?  These have an interesting layout with quite a lot of track packed into a very small area, twisting over itself something like three times.  I can't imagine fitting more track into one little plot than they did.



Unfortunately it only had something like three cars on the track, with most of the rest half-disassembled to server as "scenery."  Not too much of a problem today but hopefully in a better year they can have more running.



The "road" sneaks in under Lost Coaster, then runs alongside Cornball Express.



Taco Time?  It was still barely past breakfast time, but...that doesn't mean it can't be taco time...made a note to stop for one as soon as I got off the cars.



Up close to Cornball Express here.

I did stop by the taco stand but decided on just grabbing a travelling taco for a quick stack and to compare to Knoebels version (basically the same thing).



Quite a few of the flats are built on platforms out over the water.  I wanted to see if that made them feel any different, but they were mostly scheduled to open at 2.



Cornball Express was supposed to be running, but wasn't yet...wait, no...



First train of the day.  I was going to have to head over that way soon.



But since I was right here and the Scrambler had just started running, it wasn't going to hurt to make time for it.  This one didn't run as fast as the Scarecrow Scrambler at Holiday World, but the breeze off the lake made for a wonderfully relaxing ride, and it seemed to run forever.  Despite not being one of the faster ones I've been on, I think this has to be one of my favorites just for location.  Being over the water does make a different, it turns out.



The shooting gallery built into the bottom of Dr Frankenstein's Haunted Castle shares its theme but looks a tiny bit out of place on the colorful midway.



There's also an arcade underneath the castle with...Bump N Jump and Mr. Do?



Okay, as if I hadn't already been getting "back in time" vibes from this park...



For some reason my camera managed to make it look like this one wasn't working, but it was; everything in the arcade appeared to be despite its age.



I'll take this stuff over a Six Flags redemption arcade any day!



Dr Frankenstein looking down on the midway.



Rats!  I assumed this meant I could expect my ankles to be tickled somewhere in the castle...

The Haunted Castle itself is really something spectacular though.  It's a slight upcharge, a few dollars to get in, but it's absolutely worth it, and I can't encourage anyone who gets to Indiana Beach enough to make sure they do this.  It's an old style walk through dark attraction but it's kept up very well with all the props and scenes in good shape as far as I could tell, and it goes on absolutely forever, using up every bit of three stories of an expansive building.  I didn't take pictures inside since I wasn't sure it was allowed, and I wouldn't want to ruin some of the surprises anyway, but there are some great ones, including a room of doors that I got lost in for an embarrassingly long time.  In my defense, there's more to getting out of it than just checking all the doors...the actual exit is even better hidden.  Eventually there's sunlight ahead...



But you come out up here, a couple stories above the midway and looking down on Sea Dragon, with nowhere to go but back into the maze, where it winds on for quite a while longer somehow.



Okay, I did take one picture; this area inside the tower was bright enough to get a shot without needing to use a flash, and silly enough that I had to get a picture of it.



It really is a surprisingly big attraction, absolutely worth the extra cost.



Out back here, Air Crow.  Probably not as good as the Knoebels flyers but I imagine if you catch a good breeze off the lake you can get a good ride on this one if they run at any decent speed.  Not going to find out today though.



Everything is packed in wherever they can fit it at Indiana Beach.  Kiddieland is stuck in underneath the coasters here.



And Tig'rr is on top of a restaurant.



I'd never been on a classic Jet Star before; it looked like a slightly bigger version of the Flitzer that had been at Morey's Piers until recently, but it's a far more intense ride, and there were no brakes at all on this one.  It doesn't look like much but that first banked turn feels more like Intimidator 305 than a family coaster!  Definitely a deceptive ride, and one I hope stays at the park for a long time, old or not.  ...Also, unlike Flitzer,  you don't need three separate harnesses to mummify you into the cars; there's practically nothing for restraints at all, which for this kind of ride is far more comfortable.



I would not have wanted to have to evac from this one though.  That is one very sketchy walkway.  Maybe at least fix the completely missing boards, IB?



Turning around from Tig'rr, you take the stairs right up into the mess of structure of the two coasters above to get to Cornball Express' station.  Which I apparently failed to take any pictures of.  Cornball Express is a pretty middling coaster though.  It seems a little unsure of what it wants to do with itself; there's a bit of airtime, a few laterals, some modest speed, but it doesn't really do anything well enough to really stand out, and it's definitely on the rougher side ; probably the roughest coaster of my week that wasn't at Six Flags St Louis.  Not unrideable, but not great either. 



Hoosier Hurricane at least looked like it might be better, but wasn't running.



This tiny kiddie ferris wheel stuck right under the coaster where it barely fit in got a laugh out of me.  Anywhere they can fit things at this park.



Fascination wasn't open, but I don't think I would have wanted to spend much time there alone anyway.  Besides, I was going to Knoebels not long after this, with friends, so...



Pretty standard flume, out and back with a bit of twisting on the way and a middling drop.  An average log flume is still a good ride in my book though!  Could have done without the chewed-gum covered tunnel though.



There's a food stand offering all sorts of take-a-year-off-your-life treats nearby, but the prices are a bit much.  I had to go for one anyway, of course.  I hoped for $7 this would be at least a king size snickers; it wasn't, just an ordinary size candy bar.  Definitely tasty but not worth that much.



Further back, a Music Express.  As someone else pointed out in a recent report here, this is far from the best looking music express out there in that rather half-assed building.  Don't let that keep you from riding though!  This may have been the fastest one I've ever been on...at least since I was a kid at Rocky Point (again, I know, but really)...and it runs a very long cycle...and then backwards at full speed too.  Who cares what the building looks like from outside when it runs like this!?



Behind that, Steel Hawg, the El Loco, which was a new experience for me.  Was not a fan of : The shoulder-crushing restraints, which reminded me far too much of the long gone and not missed Viper at SFGAdv.  Was a fan of: Everything else about this thing.  I don't know whose idea this coaster was but it's a great way to fit all sorts of new experiences into a very small areas.  The far-beyond-vertical drop, outside banked corners, extended hang time upside down...this thing just keeps throwing crazy things at you until you're back in the station.  I can't think of much else you could fit into a plot like this bigger than a wild mouse and I'll take this over one of those any day.



Out behind it, Triple Loop being set up.  Not in time for this summer though, pretty obviously.



I'm always a little bit uncomfortable with chairlift style skyrides, I admit, and this one was a bit sketchier than most, but I wasn't going to miss out on the views.







At the far end of the skyride, back near the main entrance ramp, is a...maybe surprisingly classy sort of gift shop.  Cute anyway.



Bumper boats!  Fun but they had a pretty good line; I wasn't interested enough to wait long for them.



Picture came out awful in the sun, but the Yo-yo running, apart from the waterfall effect around the platform that I believe is usually there...which makes no different on the ride itself.  Unlike some I've been on in the last few years, this one still has its tilt mechanism working and all.  These do feel a little more "exciting" than Wave Swingers for some reason, maybe just the way they often feel like the seats are going to crash into each other.  A nice change from the usual wave swingers anyway!



After that I figured I'd get on the paddle wheeler and get some views of the lake.  The boat could use a little TLC and paint but still made for a nice relaxing ride.







And some great views of the park and surrounding areas.



I don't remember if the (small) Double Shot drop tower was running or not but it was missing its topper, which with its sort height just sort of made it look like it was cut off halfway, like some sadistic RCT player was planning to launch riders into the sky off of it.  Not that I ever did anything like that...





Another view of Triple Loop being rebuilt.



These cottages can be rented by the week.  You can also rent boats etc on the lake here.  That may be in my future for some summer soon, I think...





It must be nice to be wealthy enough for a lake house. 



This area is kinda hilarious though.  It's such a nice little lakeside resort area, but those trees there...that's the end of it.  Beyond that double row of trees...yeah.  It's corn.  Corn for miles.

Ended up being a nice ride, and longer than I thought.  Unfortunately on the way back to the dock some asshole on a jetski decided to try to cut in front of the boat.  Paddlewheelers, it turns out, aren't particularly maneuverable, and having to make emergency maneuvers in them doesn't end well.  We ended up hitting the corner of the dock and doing some pretty visible damage to it and the side of the boat.  If you're on a jetski, you can turn a hell of a lot more easily than a big old paddlewheeler.  Don't be a dick =/



Apparently the boat has been around quite a while

By time I was back on shore (especially since it took a while to circle back into the lake and line up for a second try at docking) I was getting pretty hungry...and heading down the midway to see what I could find, I smelled pizza.  Apparently Earl's Pizza is a new addition to the park this year, so I stuck my head in, expecting typical amusement park pizza.  Instead, they were making pizzas, personal or full size, from scratch in an open kitchen, and it smelled fantastic.



All, Cesari's is no longer the best amusement park pizza.  This wasn't just the best pizza I've had at a park, this was up there was the best I've had anywhere.  Definitely give this a shot if you're visiting Indiana beach.  Awesome, amazingly thick crust, great sauce, tons of cheese...the only thing I'd like to see is more available toppings.  SO good though!  ...I'm eating a salad at my desk while I write this and now I'm just sort of sad.  And hungry.



Next up was Den of Lost Thieves.  This is an old, classic dark ride, updated with guns, since every park seems to want a shooting dark ride these days.  In this case, they pulled it off pretty well; the addition of the shooting gallery doesn't really take much away from the classic feel of the ride.




The guns don't even look terribly out of place on the cars.

This was a pretty top tier dark ride; everything was in good shape and working well from the props and sets to the guns and targets.  Nice job melding old and new with this one!



Nearby on the midway, the carp feeding station.  I thought this was going to be some sort of midway game.  Nope...it's...a carp feeding station.  The carp are clearly a fan of this one.  If only carp were better eating...



Across from there, a classic Polyp ride.  I'd wondered since I saw this on the Indiana Beach website why this one had that ugly fish face theme.  Now, looking back at the carp feeding station right there, it made sense!  Cute.

I'd always thought these rides looked like an inferior knock-off to a proper Spider or Octopus, without spinning cars or anything, but that was because I never saw one in motion.  The difference here is the vertical motion; it's not a slow up and down like an Octopus, but a sharp jerk into the air.  This one is more like someone bred one of those rides with Downdraft at Knoebels; far more fun than I ever thought it would be.  Definitely changed my opinion of these quickly.



I like the little detail with the ride's history here.  Gene Staples has commented on liking older rides better than new ones, something I can frequently agree with, and seeing details like this with them is pretty nice.



The paratrooper was running by now.  Like with the Scrambler, the breeze from the lake was nice, but it was running pretty lazily otherwise.



Plummeting towards the lake might have been somewhat different than the usual here too, if it was running.  Since it wasn't, I didn't have to make excuses not to find out!



I wonder if this runs as fast as the Music Express.  I wish I could have found out.



I'm not one to pass up a train ride...even if I'm the only one on it.  It's a short track, by necessity at such a tiny park, but scenic.



...at least, a scenic view of the undersides of some of the coasters.  Could use a little touch up here.



Tig'rr, again.  From here you can see how it's built onto a roof.  Whatever fits!



The train also goes through Frankenstein's castle, with the inside of the tunnel featuring on animatronic diorama to try to lure people into the walk-through.  Tried to get a picture of that but you're past it too quickly for my phone to want to adjust from sunlight to the darkness in the short tunnel, and it didn't come out at all.

I made a few rounds for repeat rides on some flats here, before heading out a bit early.

Indiana Beach has a few warts here and there, some no doubt just from 2021 being what it is, and others like some of the neglected paint and such probably remnants of the last owners.  From the maintenance projects visible here and there, that's hopefully something that will be improved on soon.  I hope Cornball Express gets a bit of work too.  As is right now the classic flats and the location are the stars of this park (and the pizza!) but that and the nostalgia were more than enough to make me love the place.  The oddball unique layout with everything packed in on top of each other is sort of fun too, and for the most part the staff was better than most of the parks I saw this week; not quite WoF or SDC but definitely beating the rest.  I definitely want to get back here in a less difficult year, and I'd love to take other people with me, especially other people who have the same memories of Rocky Point that I do for this place to bring back.   Not my absolute all time favorite park, but one that definitely had something special to offer me, and I'm already looking forward to next time.  It's all the more special after seeing it "close", so all I can say is a huge thank you to Gene Staples for this one.  I'm hoping for a very bright future for this park now.

On the way to my hotel for the night, I was thinking the day probably couldn't get a lot better, but...



...oh.  OH.  YESSSSSS.  If you haven't had Albanese Gummy Bears, they absolutely earn their "world's best" label.  A factory outlet?  I had no idea this existed but I was not missing that.







So much amazing candy!  I want it all!  Yes, I'm six years old, why do you ask?



If you see these anywhere, grab them.  They are the ultimate gummy bears.


Unlike a lot of these kind of things they really do all taste like what they're supposed to.  Blood orange, mango, and black currant ones are just....mmph.  Yeah, this salad isn't cutting it right now, but these are one of the reasons why I have to eat salads for the next few weeks after my trips >.>



These? Pass.  Ugh.  I love anything hot.  I'll happily just nibble habaneros.  These are just not good though.  The jalapeno is decent, but the sriracha just tastes like ass, the cayenne and habanero have no flavor, just heat, and the reaper...well, that was too much even for me.  So much pain.  Maybe good to try to get other people to try if you're evil though.



Party trays of Albanese gummy candy.  Okay with me.

Yeah, I bought so much here that I had to pay overweight baggage fees on the way home...  In my defense it was mostly gifts....mostly...




Stayed at the Country Inn and Suites in Merrillville, IN...like everywhere else I'd stayed at so far (is that so far hanging heavily enough for you?  There's only one more hotel after this, right...?) it was comfy, and the staff was exceptionally friendly.  No problems recommending this one either



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My family and I had stayed in one of the cottages when I was 8. I had so much fun that week so much has changed since then. Superstition Mountain didn't have the lift, it went into the mountain then came out the top and around that turn, there was a wooden toboggan ramp that came down off the buildings and into the lake right at the end of the beach you skipped quite a few times, the only roller coaster was the Jet one. The skiing show was awesome, they had a small dock with AstroTurf on it you could sit on and the skiers would jump up on it and slide across it no more than a foot away from you. I loved Frankenstein's Castle, went through it with my Dad, scared the crap out of me.

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Admittedly, a lot of things have happened in the several years since I've been there, but I absolutely adored Indiana Beach. Interestingly, your trip report looks a lot like my trip report from, like, a dozen years ago.

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