Unfinished business really eats away at the soul and our only logical course of action at this point was to ditch both a well needed lie-in and a visit to Little Amerricka to go and solve a problem. The ‘striking distance’ I had alluded to in my calculations on that fateful bench in Adventureland was a mere 5 and a half hour drive that morning, all because, as proclaimed, we wanted to ride the monster.
Day 11 – Adventureland (the Iowa one, again)
Mercifully there were no wind related mishaps, we rushed straight to said #1 Monster and sure enough it was open, with a brimming queueline that only took about 20 minutes. It was a bit of a novelty to be able to wear glasses on a Gerstlauer, they usually seem to have extra strict things in the rulebook about that, I wonder what caused it.
On the scale of Infinities, it wasn’t wholly remarkable. It’s a joy to watch, feels super long and is packed with tons of interesting elements, which is great, though none of them are especially hard hitting. Unlike something like Mystic or Junker, they don’t ride as crazy as they look.
Hangtime (the sensation, not the ride) is the predominant force and it works well in the super free seating, but it would have been nice for the attempted airtime moments to punctuate the flow a little more. The trim near the end that forces the last two elements to be extra ‘hangy’ also amused me. +1 though.
A surprise bonus +1 came in the fact that #2 Dragon Slayer had been fixed and was back in operation too. I won’t dignify it with another photo because it was by far the worst ride of the trip. They label the two different sides as having varying intensities and, perhaps foolishly, we opted for the gentler side just to get the ordeal over with.
Somewhere on the first turnaround I received the most vicious punch to the head I’ve ever had on a rollercoaster (taking the crown from Battle of Jungle King), courtesy of some horrible lurchy half-spinning and the rock hard seating. I immediately went into super-defensive survival mode but the worst part was I couldn’t even find a way to prevent this from happening again, short of using my own hand as a cushion between the two. Thankfully it didn’t, but it was such an endurance and I proceeded to feel nauseous for the remainder of the day so, mild head trauma, that’s nice.
The standard “welcome back guys, how was your ride?” was met with the word horrible, but as it’s scripted of course no one actually cares enough to press for details. It feels most appropriate to recount a comment heard in the Monster queue a few minutes prior – ‘they got rid of the Dragon for that ****?!’ As it’s now my second worst coaster of all time, I’m inclined to agree.
Success comes at a price I guess. It was time to leave and never look back, as we had a date with Sally, several more hours away.
Lost Island Theme Park
The primary reason we had bothered to stick around and backtrack to Iowa at all was for the ‘grand’ opening of this place, generally most famous around the theme park corner of the internet for being where Kanonen ended up. I don’t need Kanonen of course and to go out of your way for an SLC and Wacky Worm in the midst of an epic US road trip seems more than a little insulting, even at this stage of my adventuring. What did very much interest me was their dark ride, Volkanu, which had some great early teasers at the exhibition stage and then fell off the radar pretty quickly.
I’d been keeping an eye on the park website for some time and attempting to factor it into this trip somehow. Based on their original schedule we would have been able to hit it late night on a weekend shortly just a few days into operation. Things got complicated, they suffered further teething troubles and silently offered refunds to those who had pre-booked, removing certain dates from the calendar, shortening opening hours and preventing any further online ticket sales. Not the best of signs.
The DRdb team decided to reach out to Sally Dark Rides to see if they had any inside info on when their latest project was billed to open and it wasn’t until we were already on the trip that the final answer came back. As luck would have it, the one day I could actually visit was now the official inauguration. The park themselves appeared to do very little in the end to advertise, perhaps as they were still short a couple of major attractions and also as they seemed to thrive under the opportunity for more of a ‘technical rehearsal/soft-opening’ approach to kick things off.
As such it was more than a little quiet for opening day. We had been scheduled to meet up with the Lead Designer of the project who had wanted to be on park to see initial guest reactions first hand. Sadly he couldn’t make it due to travel issues of his own, but we were still booked to have a chat with Sally’s Project Manager, which was equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking as I’ve never really done anything like that before.
But first things first, to settle the nerves, creds. Even #3 Lokolo, the brand new Wacky Worm, was suffering from some technical issues and I believe, from a bit of Coaster Count stalking, had spited some guests who had visited first thing in the morning and then sacked it off early. As such we were particularly smug when they managed to get it open for our afternoon lap. Good face that.
#4 Nopuko Air Coaster, the not brand new SLC, was looking rather fetching in mud and that colour scheme, with those fancy vest trains and all. Had Dragon Slayer not just happened, this would have earned the title of worst ride of the trip because oh yes, it was bad. No, the layout isn’t good if you’re not having your ears bashed. Yes, they can still ride awfully.
With business out of the way it was time for the fun. The whole outside area for the dark ride looks really nice and has some bonus interactive elements built into the theming. We took our first lap on Volkanu: Quest for the Golden Idol and came off thoroughly impressed, before meeting up with Chris from Sally. He was super easy-going and fun to chat to both on and off the mic and, unsurprisingly, has a great taste in dark rides. I sent all the necessaries (on park wifi, which was extremely hot – as good a reason as any to visit) back to the rest of the team and they turned it into this write-up while we were still out on holiday – click here to check it out.
Oh and a shameless plug of the POV we took as well, also a first.
We took a few more laps for both business and pleasure and personal opinion is it’s really good, particularly for a park of this size. I was pleasantly surprised by all the more old-school physical set pieces going on in there and though it’s also a screen-based shooter it shares a little of the brilliance of Challenge of Tutankhamon (best shooter ever) with these impressive monsters and some other clever tricks along the way.
As for the park, good luck to them. It seems bizarrely located out in the cornfields away from civilisation, though I don’t really know what type of numbers the adjacent water park pulls in. It’s family run, which is always nice to see but I hope they push the marketing a bit more once they’re settled in and everything (Kanonen) is up and running properly. I’m no expert but they certainly didn’t turn a profit that day.