Trip Report: AJ's Epic Theme Park Summer-Part 6 (Indiana Beach)

October 30, 2014, 6:35 PM

Previously on AJ's Epic Theme Park Summer: Holiday World.

Well, this one might get lost in all the giveaways, but in the interest of keeping on schedule...

Part 6: Indiana Beach-July 28th, 2014

Originally, our departure time for Indiana Beach was 8:00 A.M. However, due to arriving an hour late the previous night, the bus voted to cut our 90 minutes of ERT in half in exchange for extra sleep. Ordinarily, I would have voted for ERT, but after a very late night on top of an early morning/late night with little sleep, I was glad for the extra time. It ended up not making too much of a difference, as Indiana Beach was mostly dead and we still had more than enough time for the park.

Indiana Beach:

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On every trip, there is always one park that I prejudge as a throwaway park. For this particular trip, Indiana Beach ended up being that park. The park does have some notable rides, but hasn't had the greatest luck in recent history with constant threats of closing, and with their inability to get all new for 2014 rides open on time I didn't have high hopes for the park. On the way there, the park gave Robb a call and informed him that Hoosier Hurricane had been closed for state mandated maintenance and would not be available for ERT (from the looks of it, it looked like it might be down for the season). Not a good sign.

Upon arrival, however, we were greeted by the park owner, who took us inside to get wristbands. We were also given a card with $5 of cool cash, a nice bonus. Finally, the park made up for the closure of Hoosier Hurricane by opening up Tig'rr Coaster during ERT, in addition to all three of the park's other coasters (Cornball Express, Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain, and Steel Hawg). Although we only had about 45 minutes for ERT and the coasters are all low capacity, I still managed to ride all three and get several rides on Cornball Express before ERT ended. After ERT, I joined up with Caroline, Judd, and Nathan (as usual) and spent some time exploring the park. Due to a lack of crowds (partially caused by cold weather), we managed to explore a majority of the park in only an hour.

At 12:30 P.M. we had a group lunch in the Skyroom. For once, lunch was something different that the standard for this trip, and it was quite good. Indiana Beach gave everyone a souvenir cup and pin as well, and I.B. Crow was on hand for photo opportunities. Following lunch, it was time for TPR takeover of Fascination. I've never played this game before, and I'm not one for carnival games, but Fascination is a lot of fun. It's somewhat of a combination of a roll the ball racing game, a redemption game, and bingo. At only $0.50 per play, it's also very affordable. I spent around $10 on the game and ended up with two wins, which I used to get some candy.

After I finished with Fascination, I spent my remaining hour and a bit exploring the park more and riding some of the standard flats positioned over water. At 3:30 everyone gathered at the south entrance for the official Mini New Hotness group photo (including I.B. Crow), then it was time to get back on the bus for our drive to Chicago.

Coaster Reviews:

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While not an outstanding collection, Indiana Beach's coaster collection is solid and contains some very unique rides. While I wouldn't consider anything at the park travel-worthy, nothing at the park is a bad ride and every one of their coasters is memorable in some way. While it is always disappointing to miss a major credit, I will say that Hoosier Hurricane is probably the park's least noteworthy coaster, so if you have to miss one it's an acceptable one to miss.

Steel Hawg: Having ridden my first El Loco at the Adventuredome one month prior, I was excited to try the original version of the ride. My feelings on the coaster are pretty similar to that of the Adventuredome's: good, but not great. I do prefer the layout of Steel Hawg slightly as it is less repetitive, but the cars on El Loco are a vast improvement. If pressed for an answer, I'd probably pick Steel Hawg as my favorite, but both are practically tied in my rankings. It's just a shame Indiana Beach only uses two cars on this ride, as I would have liked to ride more than once. C+

Cornball Express: Now here's an excellent wood coaster. It doesn't look like much, but the ride has tons of airtime, decent forces, buzz bars, and isn't too rough...and that's all just the first few trains of the day. I imagine this ride could be insane on a warm afternoon. Unfortunately, I only rode during morning ERT and based on those rides it just missed my top ten woodies, but Cornball Express is still easily the best ride at Indiana Beach and, in my opinion, better than the more well known Legend and Raven at Holiday World. It's a shame the ride is short, but given the small area the park has to work with it is completely understandable. B+

Tig'rr Coaster:

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Everyone raves about Schwarzkopf coasters, but I'll be honest...I just don't see what all the hype is about. I'm guessing the Jet Star and Wildcat models are more geared toward families, so they're not the best judge of Schwarzkopf's talent. As for this ride, I found it to be an okay family coaster with a good first drop and turn, but after that the ride just sort of meanders around so the coaster doesn't feel as short as it is. I give Indiana Beach credit for keeping this historic ride, but I will say it was my least favorite coaster at the park. C-

Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain:

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Okay, I challenge anyone to find a more WTF coaster than this thing without leaving the country. Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain is just such a bizarre ride, as it's a hybrid between a dark ride and wooden roller coaster with an elevator lift. The ride uses two car trains with rows of seats facing each other and netting covering the riders. Also, this ride has a habit of stalling out, so the park requires all eight seats to be filled and the front car to be heavier than the back to guarantee the train will complete the circuit. From what I understand, there used to be effects on the coaster, but they are no longer working. In any case, I was surprised how much I liked the ride, and if it wasn't for the park only having one working train (which resulted in a 60+ minute wait all day) I would have definitely done a second ride. Even though the ride is very short and the train never gets going above 20 MPH, this is my second favorite coaster at the park. B-

Non-Coaster Summary:

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Indiana Beach's flat ride collection is decent, certainly better than Holiday World's. Most of the park's flat rides are just standard models, but as many are located on platforms out over the water the thrill factor is increased slightly. Unfortunately, a number of rides at the park were not operating on the day of my visit, so I was unable to try them out.

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Despite this, I rode more flats at Indiana Beach than at any other park on the trip, including Air Crow (decent flyers), Double Shot (one of the most extreme S&S towers I've been on), the Giant Gondola Wheel (which was having mechanical issues and kept rolling back), the Scrambler (still one of my favorite standard flats), and the water swings (putting the swings out over the water makes a big difference).

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I also rode the park's log flume, Rocky's Rapids, which was very dull and only had three logs operating.

Indiana Beach's star non-coaster rides, however, are not flats.

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The park does have a reasonably good dark ride, Den of Lost Thieves, which appeared to be an old two-story dark ride with interactive elements recently added.

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There is also Adventure Point, a ropes course/climbing wall/zip line that I wasn't aware was included with the wristband and therefore skipped.

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However, Indiana Beach's best non-coaster is Frankenstein's Castle, an old walkthrough attraction. Although it doesn't use live actors, the castle has every other trick in the book: animatronics, dark corridors, slanted rooms, moving floors...you name it, and it's in here. Unlike most walkthroughs, there are false paths inside this one and it is quite long, fully utilizing all three stories of the building and making you constantly wonder what comes next. It is an upcharge, but I think it was only around $3 so it is definitely worth doing.

Overall Thoughts:

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I went to Indiana Beach expecting it to be the tour's throwaway park, and ended up enjoying the park more than any other non-major park on the trip. The park may not have the latest and greatest thrill rides, but it does have enough for 1/2 to 3/4 of a day of fun. Add in good food, great employees, a nice setting, and just the right amount of quirkiness and you've got a park I would definitely return to if I were passing by (plus I'm still missing a significant credit here). It is sad to see the park in the shape it's in, however, but hopefully Indiana Beach will bounce back and be around for future generations to enjoy.

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The Indiana Beach day was somewhat of the rest day of the tour, as it wasn't a late night for once. Instead, when we got to Gurnee around 5:30 P.M. we had a nice dinner at Pizzeria Uno, a decent place for deep dish pizza. Officially the day ended with our arrival at the hotel at 8:30 P.M., but I took a look at Six Flags Great America just 3/4 of a mile away, checked to verify their hours (open until 10 P.M.), grabbed a sweatshirt and headed over with my roommate. As we would not be receiving any ERT at the park the next day (more on that in the next update), I thought it might be a good idea to get a bonus ride on Goliath, and about a dozen others (I'm guessing all those with Six Flags passes) had similar thoughts. Even near closing time the wait was still posted at 1 hour, 45 minutes, but we discovered it to be just slightly over an hour thanks to a good crew. How was the ride? You'll have to wait until the next update to find out.

The real story of the night comes on the way back to the hotel. As we were leaving the park, we encountered someone in the parking lot who had won a giant stuffed bear but couldn't fit it into their vehicle. One of the members of our group bought it off the guy and we carried it the whole way back to the hotel as if it was a fresh kill from a hunting expedition. Some of the reactions we got were just priceless.

Ride Totals:

Cornball Express: 3
Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain: 1
Steel Hawg: 1
Tig'rr Coaster: 1
Air Crow: 1
Den of Lost Thieves: 1
Double Shot: 1
Frankenstein's Castle: 1
Giant Gondola Wheel: 1
Paratrooper: 1
Rocky's Rapids: 1
Scrambler: 1
Water Swings: 1

Total: 15 rides in 5 hours (3 rides per hour)

Next Time: The Mini New Hotness tour concludes with a not so great day at Six Flags Great America.

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