Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Fun Day" at Adventureland

On Sept 11th I went to the local amusement park, Adventureland.  I wasn't about to let the terrorists win by not having fun on this day.  It was a beautiful weekend and I figured with all the 9/11 stuff going on that the park might not be too busy.  Neither Jesse Eisenberg, nor Kristen Stewart were working that day.

I had been years since I had been to Adventureland...the closest that I could figure out was perhaps I was there around 2001.  I am not sure why it had been so long.  Adventureland is a pretty decent amusement park...sure it is not as big or as exciting as World's of Fun, Six Flags, or Disney...but it 10 minutes away.  I  think part of my long absence had to do with the fact that Adventureland didn't really change that much for a long time.  The last time I was there The Underground was still being touted as the new, exciting ride and it was several years old at this point (and sucked).  I guess, being older is also part of it - either no one wants to go or everyone has kids (and I've had plenty of the Infant Ocean).

Adventureland had changed a lot since I had been there.  I knew there were lots of new rides like the Space Shot and Splash Over, as well as, the entire new water park area Adventure Bay.  Then there was the fire a couple years back.  The heart of Adventureland remains - the circuit where you head left, jump on the Galleon, walk back grab a funnel cake, twirl on the Lady Luck, head to the Tornado, take a spin on the Silly Silo, and then jump aboard the Sky Lift to start back at the beginning.

The Tornado - a classic
I brought my swimsuit to check out Adventure Bay, but it was closed...which makes sense, I am sure it would take more effort than it is worth to keep the water clean all week only to be open on the weekends.  I was a little sad, I didn't get a chance to test it out though.  There was still plenty to do.  I enjoyed all the rides that I went on (a couple like Splash Over and the Inverter happened to be closed this day).  Space Shot was just what I expected and fun.  Short lines meant next to no waiting, so you could easily ride several times in a row.  All three roller coasters were still pretty good.  The Outlaw was rougher than I remembered, but the Dragon still knocked my head around leaving me with a minor headache...just like I remembered.  The Tornado is still a highlight for me.  It doesn't really have any gimmicks like many of today's coasters, it doesn't go upside down, it doesn't corkscrew, or have an incredible vertical drop...The Tornado is just a classic wooden roller coaster and is still pretty thrilling and fun 35ish years later.  The first (and maybe the second or even third) time I went to Adventureland as a child, I was too short for the Tornado.  I was super envious of my older brother who could ride (although secretly a little relieved too).  I wonder if the still sell the "I survived The Tornado" t-shirts like they used to in the 80's.  I didn't think to look.  The Tornado really doesn't seem that scary of a coaster now, but I remember it being the height cool to have one of these tees back in the day.

My favorite ride of the day...well, probably the Silly Silo.  That has always been one of my favorites ever since I first came to Adventureland.  How can you not like spinning until you are stuck to the wall?  It is awesome.  I didn't ride it fifteen times in a row like when I was a kid (even though I was tempted), but a couple times was good and brought back good memories.  Luckily, I have never been on it when someone has vomitted, but it did happen while I was sitting on the bench waiting for friends to get back from the Log Ride...employees rushed up with buckets, mops, and bleach, and the Silo was closed for about 30 minutes.

My favorite "new" ride...new to me...was The Sidewinder.  This ride did not exist the last time I was here.  It is a giant swinging arm, where riders sit in saddle shaped seats on rotating disc at the bottom of the pendulum.  I thought the best way to ride was to just be totally relaxing and let your body flop around like a rag doll.  It was good time - short bursts of free fall when the pendulum hit its peak and then nice centripetal force as it swings down and back up the other way.  Since the bottom of the pendulum slowly rotated, you were never sure if you would be facing up or down when you hit the top of the arc.  Both where fun, but I found I had to grab hold of my sunglasses when I ended up facing down...next time, they will be in my pocket (lesson learned).  Every one of the the "new" rides were lots of fun, and I must applaud Adventureland for adding a good variety of entertaining rides over the past decade.

Der Flitzer/Himalaya  (photo courtesy of
Lakesidecyclone @ Coaster Fanatics)
Even though all those are all still good, I still really miss the Der Flitzer roller coaster (my family called it the Himalaya coaster...in fact, I didn't even know it was called anything else until writing this piece and trying to find a picture).  It was the small snow capped mountain themed coaster, that was to the left as you walked in the park in the Alpine area...where the Giant Skywheel is now.  The coaster was the epitome of Adventureland for me for several reasons.  First, it was the coaster that I could always ride (when I was too short for the Tornado) and I always rode it several times whenever my family went to Adventureland.  Der Flitzer was also always the first ride we went on...probably because it was the first ride that you would come to when entering the park, but that is besides the point.  Once you rode this, you really felt like you were at Adventureland and were ready for a day of rides, games, and cotton candy.

Take a chance and win some crap!
I was disappointed in the Alpine Games area...including the new arcade.  Although I have heard that this area didn't bring in as much money as the other two games areas.  This was always the games area for me...it had the huge bank of full size skee ball machines, it had ring toss, frog launch, and the various basketball and milk can games.  It had a little bit of everything.  I remember playing skee ball there with my older brother and working on winning a couple small stuffed moose, that we then combined and traded for a large stuffed moose...which we would then fight over who actually owned the moose for the next several years.  Sure, we probably spend $25 for a $1.50 moose, but that moose was pure gold in our hearts.  The Alpine Games area was on the way out...this is where you would spend the last of your money.  You didn't want to be that guy that wins the huge stuffed animal and then look stupid carrying around all day (I'm looking at your shaved headed, Harley vest guy carrying the giant stuffed neon green raccoon).  Wait till you are about to leave, then play the games.  This was my philosophy.  Most of that area is gone now.  There are still a few of the stand alone games, but the ones connected to main street are all gone in the re-built main street.  Supposedly, this elimination of these games gave more room for the Penny Arcade.  I always loved this arcade...I loved the fact that at least half of the arcade was dedicated to classic games - Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Ikari Warriors, Spy Hunter, Jungle Lord pinball...you could go in this arcade and just play tons of great games from the Golden Age of video games.  It was something special, something that you just didn't see very often any more.  I guess they all burned in the fire because the new arcade might have been bigger but it had far fewer games (I would call it a handful) and they were all the new ticket redemption games like Deal or No Deal or Big Bass Wheel.  It just didn't seem like an arcade...you can play just as many (and the same games) in Wal-mart.  So what was taking up all the room in the "new and bigger" arcade?  Adventureland decided to move the G-Force ride in there (that was like the Scrambler but for little kids).  It was very disappointing.  I knew it would be difficult replacing some of the classic games, but I had hoped they would at least have a few...and if not, may be some newer arcade games that you don't see every place else.  I don't even think they tried.  It is sad.

It was a "Fun Day"
My favorite thing of the entire day though was a sign right outside of the souvenir shop as you first walked in the gates.  This sign brought me all kinds of joy (sorry for the not so great picture).  Why would this be written in some sort of title case?  But even more pressing what do you mean by "Fun Day"?  Usually when something is in quotes like that, it doesn't actually mean what the words actually say...or is said in a sarcastic tone.  I know there a entire blogs dedicated to inappropriate use of quotation marks, so it is nothing really new, but I still found it highly amusing.  After reading this sign, I wasn't entirely sure how much fun I was actually going to have...maybe they were trying to tell me something!  But it did start off the day with a smile and snicker at other people's idiocy.

Adventureland stands up better than I thought it would 10 years ago.  I had a good time...although I wish it was a little less expensive.  If you haven't been to Adventureland in a while, I would suggest that you check it out.  For me it was a good mix of new experiences and old memories.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree. I loved that little alpine roller coaster. And I miss the SuperScreamer. Those were my two favorite rides as a kid.


Michael said...

I wasn't as big of a fan of the SuperScreamer. It was a good coaster, but it didn't have "OMG, we are at Adventureland" feeling that the alpine coaster always gave me.

Imagine my confusion when there was actually a ride called the Himalaya on the map, but it was a spinny thing.

Cameron Ted said...

Sorry with Dani on this one, when the superscreamer took you under the track and you thought you were going to hit it, that is the ride I remember most.....