Adventureland is a
family-owned amusement park in Altoona, Iowa (just northeast of Des Moines).
It features over 100 rides, shows and
Construction of Adventureland Park began in the spring of 1973. The
newly created park was to open in July of 1973 but damage from the
tail end of a tornado delayed the opening until late August. The
first full season for Adventureland began in 1975. Attractions such
as the "Skyride" from the World's Fair in Spokane Washington along
with several others were added to ride roster that year.
In 1977 construction began on Adventurelands largest wooden roller
coaster, the Tornado, which opened on July 4th, 1978. The Tornado
was soon listed among the top ten wooden roller coasters in the
Two years later the "County Fair" area, with its games of skill,
was added. Also in 1979, Adventureland purchased the aging
Riverview Amusement Park in Des Moines, and moved some of the
attractions to their own themed area just south of the park. In
1990, the "Riverview" theme area was transformed into the "Dragon
Island," home of Adventureland's double-looping upside-down steel
coaster, which opened on May 12, 1990.
1993 brought the largest park expansion since Adventureland was
built. "Outlaw Gulch", a western themed area, was built on 12 acres
at a cost of approximately 5 million dollars. "Outlaw Gulch"
consisted of three spectacular rides: The Wrangler, The Chuckwagon,
and The Outlaw roller coaster. Reaching new heights in 1999
Adventureland announced the addition of the Space Shot. The Space
Shot is a 235-foot structure that towers over Adventureland
launching riders up at 4.5 G's and ending with a free fall of
negative 1 G.
2002 marked Adventureland's most ambitious expansion yet. An 8
million dollar project nearly doubled the size of the hotel, added
a second courtyard, new pools with interactive water features and
new poolside rooms and suites. It also added a new "first of its
kind" water ride in the park, a spinning white water adventure,
called Saw Mill Splash. The ride is themed around an old saw mill,
and fits perfectly into the western motif of Adventureland's Outlaw
In 2006, Adventureland added two more rides. The “Splash Over” is a
new dimension in rides combining the high flying thrills of a
traditional park ride with the fun and excitement of a water ride.
The “Frog Hopper” quickly “hops” young riders up 20 feet in the
air, then bounces them gently back down. Adults and children can
both enjoy this attraction, making it a great family ride.
In 2008 Adventureland has embarked on its most extensive addition
yet – a new water area named Adventure Island. The first water
attraction in this area is Kokomo Kove, a virtual splash factory of
fun for all ages, with hundreds of ways to get wet!
Adventureland is located off exit 142A of I-80
along U.S. Highway 6
, near Altoona, just East of Des
Themed areas and attractions
Disneyland, Adventureland is divided into several different
South side view of the A-train station
- Adventure Island (opened June 22, 2008) is a
new location behind Outlaw Gulch that is be home to the Kokomo Kove
water play area which opened in June 2008.
- Bavaria is a German-themed area. "Sky Ride" is
the major attraction in this area of the park, along with the
Rathskellar concession stand and Alpine arcade area. 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, but the biggest is "Giant Skywheel", the largest
open-gondola Ferris wheel built in the
States since the 1800s.
- 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,
originally was built as Riverview in 1979 and contained a
number of attractions from the Riverview Park amusement center that
had recently closed in nearby Des Moines. In 1991, the area was
renamed Dragon Island when the Dragon roller coaster was opened.
- Iowa Farm follows a similar theme. Look for
the big pig in the "Iowa Farm" section of the park; it's actually a
small concession stand.
- 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 other
- 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), "Chuckwagon" (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 next 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 the
like. Other food in the section includes a kettle corn stand and an
ice cream cart.
- River City is built around the "Raging River"
ride and was inspired by New Orleans. That's why 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 sit in this section of the park as well.
- Space Shot Midway is built around the "Space
Shot" ride. Another attraction is the "The Underground", a ride
that incorporates elements of both a dark
ride and a roller coaster. The "Dodge-Em Cars" and numerous
kids' rides are also nearby.
Rides for Younger Children
- Chuckwagon, a miniature western-themed Ferris wheel (opened in
- Convoy, a semi-truck-themed ride for younger children (opened
1970s, long-time sponsor is Sinclair gas stations)
- Frog Hopper, a mini version of the space shot, seats are raised
and then bounced up and down (opened April
- Infant Ocean, miniature boats spin slowly around a central axis
- Kiddie Kars, various themed cars spin slowly around a central
axis (opened 1974)
- Lady Bugs, bug-shaped cars travel on a circular track (opened
- Puff the Dragon, dragon-themed cars spin around a central axis
(opened in 1991)
- Red Baron, small WWI-themed planes spin around a central axis,
and riders can control how high off the ground they want to "fly"
- 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. It replaced
Wrangler, a carnival Scrambler ride.
- Splash Over (opened April 29 2006) - A thrill/water ride where riders are propelled
and inverted through a curtain of water that randomly ranges from a
light mist to a complete soaking. It replaced the Mixer, which
opened in 1997.
- River Rapids Log Flume (opened in 1974) - a log flume ride with
two drops. In 2005, an on-ride photo system was installed that
takes a picture during the second drop. Pictures can be viewed and
purchased near the exit.
A-train engine and car
Town Square Carrousel
- A-Train - A small train that travels around one side of the
park, then loops and returns back on the same track. Its only stop
is the station on Main Street. For the 2009 season, the train
station loading area was reconfigured so guests exit through the
candy shop, rather than enter through it. The direction of the
train was also reversed so it starts out going through the storage
tunnel first, rather than before returning to the station and the
end of the ride.
- Balloon Race (opened 1980s) - a Zamperla family ride that spins riders in
- Dodge 'Em Cars (opened 1970s) - Traditional bumper cars
- Falling Star (opened 1980s, replaced The Rainbow) - Chance-Morgan rotating platform ride.
- Der Flinger (opened 1976) - A paratrooper-themed ride that is similar to a
Ferris wheel but starts flat on the
ground and raises up.
- The G-Force (opened in 1993) - A Huss
Rodeo spinning ride on the order of a Scrambler. Each car is
decorated with a different nation's flag; the United States, United
Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, and Greece are a few examples.
- Galleon (opened early 1980s) - A giant Zamperla swinging ship ride.
- Giant Skywheel (opened in 1991) - A huge Chance-Morgan Ferris
wheel. In 2007, it lost its "Fuji Film" branding and the center
sign was replaced with an Adventureland logo.
- Himalaya (opened in 2000) - Spinning, tilted
- The Inverter (opened in 2000) - (by Chance-Morgan) Takes guests up in the air and
hangs them inverted.
- Lady Luck (opened in 1975) - A Chance Trabant ride themed as a roulette
- The Lighthouse (opened 1970s) - Visitors sit in a small gondola
which spins around, while being thrust sideways and upwards.
- Round Up (opened in 1975) - A traditional carnival Tilt-A-Whirl
- Sidewinder (opened in 2004) - A spinning pendulum ride that
swings riders slightly more than 180 degrees.
- Silly Silo (opened in 1974) - A Chance-Morgan Rotor: Spins guests around in a
large cylinder as they become stuck to the walls while the floor
Ride (opened in 1975) - Traditional chairlift ride originally from
the World's Fair in Spokane,
- Space Shot (opened in 1999) - Visitors blast off into "space"
up a tower and free fall safely back to the ground. An S & S Power ride.
- Tea Cups (opened in 1976) - A traditional spinning tea cup
- Town Square Carrousel (opened in 2000) - A replica of an
antique carousel. It replaced the old
carousel where the Himalaya now stands.
"Kokomo Kove" is an all-new water play structure for 2008 located
in a new area known as Adventure Island. It opened on June 22, 2008
and is included in the standard admission price. The "Kokomo Kove"
structure is approximately tall at its highest point and covers
approximately . The feature includes 7 waterslides of varying
lengths and heights; 123 different water jet features, including
water guns, tipping cones, hose jets, and umbrella jets; and 91
different play features, including net bridges and climbs, crawl
tunnels, and pull ropes.
- Ben Ulin magic show, 2009 will be his 22nd year.
- Soda and Sounds music shows. 2008 shows include: "I Hear
America Singing" featuring: High
School Musical, American Idol,
Hairspray, and more; and "The
Country Club" featuring new and old country favorites; more to
come. In 2007, the park mascot, Bernie (a dog), began performing
there with a children's show. The 2008 show is themed around
Bernie's Birthday, and involves Bernie, a Wizard, and performers
dressed a kids.
- The Chapel music shows (music groups, and some that use the
same cast as Soda and Sounds).
- Adventureland Band. Small marching band that appears mostly on
- Royal Hanneford Circus - perform several shows daily from
Memorial Day to Labor Day. 2007 was going to be the last year for
the circus at Adventureland, but in 2008 an announcement was made
that it would be returning. The circus tent was originally located
behind The Outlaw, but in 2008 construction of the new water
feature caused the circus to be relocated just behind Saw Mill
Splash in Outlaw Gulch with a new access walkway between that ride
and the exit of the Outlaw.
- Boys Rocks. Male members of the Soda and Sounds show perform
boy band hits to a soundtrack coming from a
portable sound system.
Former Attractions and Shows
- 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
- 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
- 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
- High Diving Act - after the Dolphin Show, and before the
- 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
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.
The games department consists of three games areas:
- Alpine Games - Alpine is located near the front of the park
close to the Giant Skywheel. In addition to several carnival-style
games, it also features Water Wars, a water balloon battle, and a
Hy-Striker game added in 2009 near the Sky Ride. 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. County Fair is a rather
large games area and features many popular games, including
Speedball, Derby Downs, Center Ring, and Skee Ball. County Fair is
unique in that the area is very long, whereas the other two areas
are more circular. 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.
4, Adventureland presents fireworks at 9:45 p.m. before a 10 p.m.
park closing.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.
There are five park areas are available for company picnics,
reunions, or other large gatherings.
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.
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 a theme area of its own at
- According to park operators, the Disney company 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 adventureland-usa.com because adventurelandpark.com
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 adventurelandpark.com domain.
- The first year that season passes were offered, they did not
- 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 12-13,000 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 largest all plush
store in Iowa. It boasts well over 200 types of stuffed
- 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
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
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
At the ticket window of the main street theater, an animatronic
character named P.T. Barnaby spiels about park happenings each
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, new for 2009,
may be purchased online:
- Season Pass: $95.00 (includes parking)
- Parking per vehicle: $5.00
|3 and younger
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.
is defined as being pregnant or
wearing a cast.
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 2002 which added additional
rooms and a new pool area.
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
- 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 night
Tent 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.
- Adventureland History
- Address on About page
- Kiddie rides
- Games areas
- Des Moines Families: June 2007
- Adventureland Craft Show
- Adventureland Off-Season Events
- Adventureland Company Outings
- Store information
- Adventureland Park About Us
- 2009 Ticket Prices
- Second day ticket purchase
- Adventureland Inn
- Adventureland Campground