Adventureland (Iowa)

Adventureland (Iowa)

Infobox Amusement park
name = Adventureland
slogan = Iowa's Largest and Most Complete Family Resort Complex

area=180 acres
location = Altoona
location2 = Iowa
location3 = United States flagicon|USA
season = Daily Memorial Day through Labor Day, weekends late April, May, and September
opening_date = 1974
rides = 100+ Rides, shows, and attractions
coasters = 4
water_rides = 4
homepage = []

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


Adventureland opened in late August 1974 despite opening delays caused by numerous tornado watches in the area, with its first full season in 1975. Jack Krantz, founder of Adventureland, died in January 2006 at age 76. Many people came to mourn his death on a special day that January. [ [ History on Adventureland website] ]


Adventureland is located off exit 142A of I-80, along U.S. Highway 6, near Altoona, just East of Des Moines. [ [ Adventureland Road Map] ]

Themed areas and attractions

* Acrobat Act - in the Palace Theater.
* Arcade - a small arcade was around the corner from River City, where the mini donut stand now is.
* Aquatheatre dolphin show. The Underground built in its place. You can still see the Aquatheatre if you look through the cracks in the wood while waiting in line.
* Carousel - (-1999) a previous carousel located on Dragon Island, replaced by the Himalaya in 2000.
* Daniel and the Dixieland Diggers (-1999). Animatronic music show in the center of Main Street, replaced by the Carousel.
* Der Flitzer (1975-1990) - A small German mountain-themed coaster. The Giant Skywheel now occupies its space. Prior to its stay at Adventureland, it operated in the German fair circuit. After its stay, it operated at a park in the Netherlands and then a park in Germany. It is now operating at yet another park in Germany.
* Game Show (actual name unknown) (). Contestants are selected from the audience to participate in stunts and games ala Beat The Clock. The Underground is now in this space.
* Haunted House attraction (1979-1990) - Part of the Riverview area (now Dragon Island), and one of the attractions moved from Riverview Park in Des Moines. Dragon's station now occupies its space.
* High Diving Act - after the Dolphin Show, and before the Underground.
* Ice Skating Show - in the Palace Theater.
* Mirror Maze (1979-1990) - Part of the Riverview area (now Dragon Island), and one of the attractions moved from Riverview Park in Des Moines. Dragon's station now occupies its space, but a few "fun" mirrors still exist in the exit queue.
* The Mixer (1997-2005, replaced by Splash Over) - Spins and inverts visitors on several axis.
* Petting Zoo - in the Iowa Farm section of the park where the red barn sits.
* Queen Riverboat - In the early few years of the park, there was a riverboat-style craft called the Queen. It docked by where today sits the funnel cake stand at River City, which explains why that area looks so much like a dock.
* The Rainbow - replaced by Falling Star.
* Super Screamer (1976-1999, replaced by The Inverter) - A smaller roller coaster (an S.D.C. Galaxi) which operated until 1999. It then operated as Screaming Mummy in Pharaoh's Lost Kingdom in Redlands, California, closing in 2006.
* The Wrangler - Scrambler ride replaced by Sawmill Splash.
* In 1995, a western-themed stage show was held in Sheriff Sam's Saloon, while Ben Ulin presented a large scale magic show in the Main Street Palace.

Games Areas

The games department consists of three games areas:
*Alpine Games - Alpine is located near the front of the park close to the Giant Skywheel. Alpine features the Penny Arcade, Adventureland's largest arcade with an orange funnel system. It also features Water Wars, a water balloon battle, and Water Gun Fun, a water race game that is in the center of the area next to the glass-sheltered cave prism. Despite being one of the two larger games areas, Alpine fails to bring in as many guests as the other two games areas.
*County Fair - According to park operators, this is Adventureland's most popular games area, consisting of a Las Vegas-themed octopus attraction of Senator Corkly's creation. The entrance and exit of Tornado are located in County Fair, which is what brings many guests into the area. County Fair is a rather large games area and features many popular games, including Speedball, Derby Downs, Center Ring, Skeeball, Bubble Gum Fun, and Hoopshot. County Fair is unique in that the area is very long, whereas the other two areas are more circular, square, and long like County Fair. The north part of the area, sometimes called "The Iowa Farm Section," is where the entrance to Tornado is located. The Iowa Farm Section features Speedball, County Fair's most popular game.
*Dragon Island - Dragon Island, commonly referred to as simply "The Island," is named for the Dragon roller coaster. The Himalaya is also located there. Dragon Island is actually a peninsula, with the non-water side leading to Outlaw Gulch. Despite not being as big as County Fair or Alpine, Dragon Island ranks 2nd in popularity. Dragon Island has a much different atmosphere than County Fair or Alpine. While County Fair and Alpine have a more fun atmosphere, playing upbeat, popular music that most guests will be able to recognize, Dragon Island has a more mellow atmosphere, playing slow music without vocals.

pecial Events

On July 4, Adventureland presents fireworks at 9:45 p.m. before a 10 p.m. park closing. [ [ Des Moines Families: June 2007] ] In many years,the nearby Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino follows with their own fireworks show at 10 p.m., allowing park visitors a chance to view two shows back to back.

Adventureland also hosts various art and craft shows during the off-season when the park is closed. Visitors enter through an open gate at the front entrance and are allowed only in the Main Street Palace Theater. A back walkway connects it to the Iowa Cafe on Main Street for food and snacks. [ [ Adventureland Craft Show] ]

There are five park areas are available for company picnics, reunions, or other large gatherings. [ [ Adventureland Company Outings] ]

During the first few weekends of operation, various school bands are invited to play in the park.

Each year, "substance-free" days are held in conjunction with D.A.R.E. There are no beer sales during these days.

Over Memorial Day weekend there is a military promotion.


* 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 in to 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 even played a soundtrack that included splashing water and an excerpt from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme song, "Yo Ho." "Adventureland" is actually a theme area of its own at Disneyland.

* According to park operators, the Disney company actually assisted with some early park planning. Years later, Adventureland gave advice to the operator of the Wild West World park in Wichita, KS, and even allowed them to use photos taken at Adventureland in early promotional materials while that park was under construction. These photos could still be seen on the park flyers and website just before opening.

*There are many other similarities to Disneyland, though they are most likely just things that have become standard and common for amusement centers over the year (such as the similarity between Sheriff Sam's Saloon at Adventureland and the Golden Horseshoe Saloon at Disney). There is also a gift shop on the corner of Main Street called the Emporium.

*The Shooting Gallery in Outlaw Gulch is a replacement of a former shooting gallery located near Sheriff Sam's Saloon. The gallery operates on light-sensitive photo sensors, which means a camera flash will set off every element. Gallery workers also note that, during rainy days, lightning will also have the same effect.

*The "dress up" old time photo shop on Main Street has been in the park since the 1970s.

*Several merchants on Main Street, such as the sign maker and airbrush shop, are not Adventureland employees. They lease the location and operate their business during the season. (This is similar to many of the crafter shops at Knott's Berry Farm in California.)

*Beer and wine coolers are sold in the park and the liquor license allows them to be carried around. The one exception to this is opening weekend, which is a "Say No To Drugs" weekend when the park does not sell alcohol.

*On Main Street, there is a theater (currently used for corporate events) with a ticket taker window. Inside that window is an animatronic figure that is reprogrammed each year to repeat spiels about new attractions in the park.

*During its brief few years of operation, The Mixer was sponsored by a bread company.

*Dragon Island was formerly known as Riverview. This area was added to the park in 1979, after Adventureland bought out the old Riverview Park amusement park in nearby Des Moines. The original attractions in this area, including games of skill, a Haunted House attraction, and a Hall of Mirrors, were moved in from Riverview. When "Dragon" was added in 1991, the area was renamed Dragon Island. The loading station area for Dragon occupies the space (and part of the actual building) where the Haunted House and Hall of Mirrors was (and a few mirrors can still be seen in the ride exit area).

* Adventureland Park did not have a website until just a few years ago because, according to a marketing director, the owner didn't want one. According to his son, Jack Krantz not only didn't want a website, he never had a computer in his office. He instead used an assortment of post-it notes, legal pads, and paper napkins. Most of the design elements of the park began their journey into creation on paper napkins. Eventually a website was launched under the domain name because had already been registered by someone who was supposed to be working on a site for them. Eventually Adventureland was able to obtain and use the now-promoted domain.

* The first year that season passes were offered, they did not include parking.

* A few weeks after opening in 2006, a tree trunk near the Underground was carved into a giraffe. At the base was the name "Jack." Jack the Giraffe was a mother's day present from the Krantz family to their mother, currently the CEO of the company. She loves giraffes, but only the ones with cute "knobs" on their heads.

*It used to be that guests that arrive early in the morning or between 2 and 3 p.m. (after the PM shift change) and pay for their parking used to receive dollar coins as part of their change instead of $1 bills. This is because the starting banks for the parking lot sellers did not include one dollar bills, but only dollar coins. Today they use dollar bills.

*The water on Splash Over is often deliberately turned off or kept on a low setting if the wind is blowing from east to west; this is done so that guests walking past on the Boulevard are not soaked along with the riders.

*Park workers state that corporate days (like those sponsored by companies such as Pella Windows) can bring as many as 10,000 to the park. Some companies will request that alcohol not be served during their large corporate outings.

*Adventureland has seen single-day attendance around 15,000, usually as the result of large companies having to reschedule from planned days (due to rain or other factors) and having to use another date with an event already scheduled. Typical peak park days are less crowded, with Mother's Day Sunday being one of the traditional slow days of the season.

*There was a woman who ran the age and weight guessing games at Adventureland for many years. She previously ran those games and a high striker game at Riverview Park.

*Adventureland is family owned. There are nine family members who are regularly on the property.

*For 2007, the front gate was completely rebuilt and new paving was installed, including an ornamental Adventureland "A" in front of the ticket booths.

*The Adventureland toy store is one of the single largest in Iowa. It boasts well over 500 different pieces at any time.

*Over founder Jack Krantz's desk hung a very long sign that said "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm," a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. That is the motto Jack chose to work by, and one that the family still strives for every day.

Mascots and characters

The park's official mascot is "Bernie Benard," a dog. A cartoon drawing of Bernie appears on park guides and maps, and a walk-around character poses for photos in the park. Another character, "Toby" the tiger, also walks around the park. According to Adventureland's PR department, "Toby the tiger has been around about as long as Bernie, but is not in our ads, so he might not be as recognizable." A third dog character, Heather, is also seen in the park, as well as a fourth dog character, Henry, who has also been found in take-home stuffed animal size.

For a special promotion in 2001, Garfield the cat appeared in the park with a special photo opportunity on Main Street.

An actor who plays an old west miner type character appeared for many years in TV commercials, and his voice is heard in The Underground narration (and as the voice of the old miner animatronic in the pre-show). A cartoon caricature of him appears as the "must be this tall to ride" sign outside of The Outlaw.

In 2005, a "girl in a cage being carried by a gorilla" effect character was also seen to roam the park. The gorilla is named Gilda. Offer her a banana and she'll release the girl in the cage.

At the ticket window of the main street theater, an animatronic character named P.T. Barnaby spiels about park happenings each year.

There are many other costumed characters that have appeared in the park over the years as well.


Admissions into Adventureland are based on age and updated for 2008: [ [ 2008 Ticket Prices] ]
*Season Pass: $85.00 (includes parking) if purchased before 5/31/2008 (A $10 increase over 2007 prices).
*Parking per vehicle: $5.00 (A $1 price increase over 2007 price.)

A second day may be purchased for $15.50 at the front gate. During weekends-only operations, the ticket must be purchased for Saturday to be used on the following Sunday.

Special Needs is defined as being pregnant or wearing a cast.

Adventureland Inn

Adventureland Inn contains two tropical courtyards, three large pools, a swim-up bar, and two spas. The hotel has 187 rooms and suites, including pool-side rooms. The hotel also has conference and meeting rooms. A lobby area gift shop features many Adventureland park items.

There are two restaurants, including the Parkview Restaurant for family dining. Hotel guests have access to free rides to the park on Molly the Trolly (a cable-car themed bus).

The hotel saw a major expansion in the late 1990s which added additional rooms and a new pool area.

Adventureland Campground

The campground at Adventureland is open year round and provides full service hookups, modern showers and restrooms, RV facilities, tent camping, and recreational areas. The campground also provides a free shuttle to the park. Rates per day for a full hookup are as follows.
*Season (10/1-4/24): $25 per night
*Park Season (4/25-9/30): $35 per night
*Peak Times (Memorial Weekend, 4th of July Weekend, Labor Day Weekend, August 7-17th): $45 per nightTent camping is $20 per night off season and park season, and $25 per night during peak times. All rates are tax included. For reservations call (515) 265-7384 or (800) 532-1286.


External links

* [ Official Website]
* [ Aerial Map of Adventureland 3/25/2000]
* [ photo of Adventureland, pre-1978] , a photo taken while The Tornado was under construction.
* [ Theme Parks Online's Adventureland Website]
* [ Theme Parks Review's Adventureland Website]
* [ Photo Archive (1996-2008)]
* [ Riverview Park] , a historic nearby amusement park which was purchased by, closed, and partially incorporated into Adventureland in 1979.
* [ Video of The Underground] , via
* [ Video of The Tornado] , via

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