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home | Locations | 1 of 12 Types of Iowa Recreational F . . .

1 of 12 Types of Iowa Recreational Facilities--Amusement Parks
Ivan Gillis
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Iowa Amusement Parks


Adventureland is a family-owned amusement park in Altoona, Iowa (just northeast of Des Moines). It is marketed as featuring over 100 rides, shows and attractions.

The park contains many design nods inspired by Disneyland: The entrance has a train station with two tunnels (on the left- and right-hand side) leading into the Main Street area, just like at Disneyland or Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (and also similar to many other parks built since Disneyland opened in 1955); over in Outlaw Gulch, there are several tombstones that have virtually the same wording as tombstones outside of Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion attraction; the rocking pirate ship (Galleon) has played a soundtrack that included splashing water and an excerpt from the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song, "Yo Ho". Adventureland is a theme area of its own at Disneyland. The different themed areas in Adventureland are:

·       Adventure Bay (opened June 22, 2008) is a location behind Outlaw Gulch that is home to the Kokomo Kove water play area.

·       Alpine Village/Bavaria is a German-themed area. Sky Ride is the major attraction in this area of the park, along with the Rathskeller concession stand and Alpine Arcade. In 2015, the new Bier Garten opened featuring TV sets and German beers. In early years, an accordion player was found in this area of the park to add to the German feel.

·       The Boulevard has several major rides; the biggest is Giant Sky Wheel, the largest open-gondola Ferris wheel built in the United States since G.W. Ferris built his wheel in 1893 for the Chicago Exposition.

·       County Fair is a rural-themed area whose principal attraction is Tornado, a large wooden roller coaster, as well as many fair-themed games of skill.

·       Dragon Island, near the rear of the park, was originally known as Riverview. Constructed in 1979, the area contained a number of attractions from the Riverview Park amusement center that had recently closed in nearby Des Moines. In 1990, the area was renamed Dragon Island when the Dragon roller coaster opened.

·       Iowa Farm follows a similar theme. The big pig in the Iowa Farm section of the park is actually a small concession stand.

·       Last Frontier is a western themed section. This section of the park is home to the Golden Nugget shooting gallery and Sheriff Sam's Saloon (named after former Altoona Mayor and Polk County Sheriff, Sam Wise).

·       Main Street, which resembles a stereotypical turn-of-the-20th-century town square, is the first area that visitors encounter upon entering the park. The principal attractions of this area are the A-Train (a small-scale locomotive which winds around one side of the park) and an antique-style carousel in the middle of the Town Square. Main Street also contains several gift shops, restaurants, an arcade, and service-type establishments such as novelty photography. Also on Main Street, there is the Palace Theater, formerly home to large live shows, but today used for corporate events.

·       Outlaw Gulch, constructed in 1993, has an Old West theme, complete with a "ghost town". The attractions in this part of the park are The Outlaw (a large wooden roller coaster), Chuck Wagon (a small western-themed Ferris wheel), Sidewinder (a swinging pendulum ride whose gondola swings riders over 180 degrees while spinning), and Saw Mill Splash, a water ride. The Royal Hanneford Circus is also presented. During the 1993 season, there was a western-themed band that played a banjo and bottles on the mock stage that still remains behind to the kettle corn stand. Also in the first few years of operation, a cowboy-themed comedy show was held in front of the ghost town facade, but it was later removed and the shooting gallery was installed there. The food location also changed from a walk-in drink and snack bar to a front counter serving hamburgers and other fast food. Other food vendors in the section include a kettle corn stand, old fashioned sodas and Dippin' Dots.

·       River City is built around the Raging River ride and was inspired by Mississippi River towns. There is usually jazz or zydeco music in the background. The founder of Adventureland was a fan of New Orleans-style jazz. River City may have been influenced by the fictional River City in the Meredith Willson musical The Music Man. Several food stands are located in this section of the park as well.

·       Space Shot Midway is built around the Space Shot ride. Another attraction is The Underground, a ride that incorporates elements of both a dark ride and a roller coaster. The Frantic Freeway bumper cars and numerous kids' rides are also nearby.

Family Rides[edit]

·       Chuck Wagon, a miniature western-themed Ferris wheel (opened in 1993)[7]

·       Convoy, a semi-truck-themed ride for younger children (opened 1989) originally located in the queue where the Dragon is.

·       Frog Hopper, a mini version of the Space Shot, seats are raised and then bounced up and down (opened April 29, 2006)

·       Infant Ocean, miniature boats spin slowly around a central axis (opened 1974)

·       Kiddie Kars (aka Hampton Cars), various themed cars spin slowly around a central axis (opened 1980) this ride first opened in 1972 at riverview. This ride replaced Adventureland's first carousel which was called the happy horses.

·       Lady Bugs, bug-shaped cars travel on a circular track (opened in 1976)

·       Puff Dragons, dragon-themed cars spin around a central axis (opened in 1991) which was originally located on Dragon Island.

·       Red Baron, small World War I-themed planes spin around a central axis, and riders can control how high off the ground they want to "fly" (opened 1978) which replaced the helicopters.

Roller coasters[edit]

Ride Name


Year Opened



Other Notes


The Dragon at Adventureland, Des Moines.jpg



Dragon Island

Opened May 12, 1990 -- Double-looping steel roller coaster built by Hopkins for $2.1 million. It was built where the Convoy's old location was. In 2005 seat belts were added to lock down the shoulder harnesses. The front part of the train use to have its name labeled on it. The ride train originally ran with seven cars; however, the number of cars per train was reduced to six in 2000.

The Monster



GerstlauerInfinity coaster

Last Frontier

Opened June 4, 2016, replacing the River Rapids log ride. On July 10, 2016, on-ride pictures were added.

The Outlaw

Outlaw, Adventureland.jpg


Custom Coasters International(CCI)

Outlaw Gulch

Opened April 24, 1993


First drop


Designed by William Cobb.

County Fair

Opened July 4, 1978 -- Up until 1997 both red and blue trains would run at the same time. In 2010 seatbelts was added. In 2010 on ride pictures was added.

The Underground



Custom Coasters International(CCI) Dark Ride

Space Shot Midway

An indoor dark ride using a roller coaster ride system. Ride and cars by CCI. Animated figures by Themed Environments and Effects.

Water rides[edit]

·       Raging River (opened in 1983) – A whitewater river raft ride featuring rapids, waterfalls, and geysers, designed by Intamin.

·       Saw Mill Splash (opened in 2002) – Spins visitors down a hill in a large raft and splashes down at the bottom,


A-Train (opened 1985) – Small train that travels around one side of the park, then loops and returns on the same track. Its only stop is the station on Main Street. Replaced the Toonerville Trolleys.

·       Balloon Race (opened 1987) – Zamperla family ride that spins riders in hot air balloon-shaped cars. Replaced the Flying Scooters.

·       Der Flinger (opened 1976) – paratrooper ride.

·       Falling Star (opened 1989) – Chance-Morgan rotating platform ride; replaced The Rainbow.

·       Frantic Freeway (opened August 16, 1974) – Traditional bumper cars ride. In 1991 different designed cars with a lap bar was added to the ride.

·       G-Force (opened 1997) – Huss spinning ride on the order of a Scrambler. Located on the right side of the falling star before the scrambler reopened in its spot in 2011, relocated in the newly built Main Street arcade in 2011.

·       Galleon (opened 1985) – Giant Zamperla swinging ship ride.

·       Giant Sky Wheel (opened in 1991) – Huge Chance-Morgan Ferris wheel. Replaced the Der Flitzer.

·       Himalaya (opened 2000) – Spinning, tilted Himalaya ride. Replaced the riverview carousel.

·       The Inverter (opened 2000) – Chance-Morgan ride takes guests up 50 feet (15 m) in the air and hangs them inverted. Replaced the super screamer.

·       Lady Luck (opened August 16, 1974) – A Chance-Morgan Trabant ride with a roulette wheel theme.

·       The Lighthouse (opened 1974) – Visitors sit in a small gondola which spins around, while being thrust sideways and upwards.

·       Round Up (opened 1974) – Traditional carnival Tilt-A-Whirl ride.

·       Scrambler - (opened 1974) originally located where the Falling Star is, originally known as the Bavarian Scrambler, reopened as the Wrangler in 1993 in Outlaw gultch, reopened in 2011 as the Scrambler in the former location of G-Force. This ride first opened in 1968 at an amusement park called Riverview.

·       Sidewinder (opened 2004) – Spinning pendulum ride that swings riders slightly more than 180 degrees. In 2007 seat belts was added to the ride.

·       Sky Ride (opened 1975) – Traditional chairlift ride originally from the World's Fair in Spokane, Washington. The Clock building that covers the sky ride was added in 1976. This ride was built and first ran in 1974.

·       Space Shot (opened 1999) – Visitors blast off into "space" up a 200-foot (61 m)[8] tower and free fall safely back to the ground. An S & S Power ride.

·       Splash Over (opened 2006) – Thrill ride where riders are propelled and inverted; replaced the Mixer, which opened in 1997.

·       Storm Chaser (opened June 7, 2014) – Swing ride by Mondial, takes passengers up a 260-foot tower and spins them around at 35 mph;[8] replaced the Silly Silo.

·       Tea Cups (opened in 1976) – Traditional spinning tea cup ride.

·       Town Square Carousel (opened in 2000) – Replica of an antique carousel; replaced the old carousel where the Himalaya now stands.


Arnolds ParkArnolds Park

Arnolds Park is in the center of the Iowa Great Lakes resort region. It is home to a historic amusement park, also called Arnolds Park, which features Legend, An ACE Coaster Landmark.[9] Legend, which carried its first riders in 1927, is believed to be the 13th oldest wooden roller coaster in the U.S. In 2012 the amusement park was selected as one of the fifteen best in the Midwest region by Midwest Living magazine.

Other major landmarks of the city include the Central Emporium shopping mall and the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum and the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

Rock'n'Roll has a storied history in the area. The old Roof Garden Ballroom in Arnolds Park, on West Lake Okoboji, for example, once attracted the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, the Guess Who and even country music legend, Johnny Cash, according to The Daily Globe, a Worthington, Minnesota-based newspaper.[11] The Coney Island-style dance hall was housed in a two-story wooden structure (a funhouse was located on the first floor).

Before it was destroyed by fire, one musician who played The Garden said BJ Thomas, during a pre-show rehearsal, tossed sheet music, in Burt Bacharach's own handwriting, to the band so they could rehearse, "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head."  "Musical magic seemed to happen all the time in Arnolds Park", says one article. 

Located in Arnolds Park is the Abbie Gardner Sharp Cabin Museum, a site of the 1857 "Spirit Lake Massacre", a violent conflict between European settlers and Native Americans. Next to the cabin is the small Pillsbury Point State Park.


Lost Island Amusement ParkWaterloo

Other Sites of Interest


San Marcos Memories—disappearing North County San Diego, Ca


Lake San Marcos—Listing of Vendors and Other Items of Interest to LSM residents


Silly Service—38 years of Federal Civil Service Overview (A book in progress)




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