TR: Indiana Beach, July 22/23, 2021
We rented one of Indiana Beach's vacation accommodations for 2 nights along with my brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews. First up was the drive from Dayton, where we used a combination of Waze and Google Maps to skirt around the long backups on I-70 north of Knightstown, IN. It only added about half an hour to our trip, but my relatives hit it later and ended up with more trucks and traffic, so it was longer for them.
We got to the resort just after 4:00pm on Thursday. We don't remember seeing the guard shack in past years, so not sure if it's new this year. We never go to the main parking lot and entrance, since we are always staying on property. We go on to the campground/hotel entrance. This puts you in the area at the north end of the park. The new coaster is right across from the guard shack, just beyond Steel Hawg. There is no way on this earth it's going to be ready this year, but more on that later. New this year is also
a large fence blocking off all the ways you can get in to the park. In past years you could just walk in from various points, and walk around, but not anymore. My plans to go walking around the park at 7 or 8am went poof.
We went to the office and found out which place was ours and then waited for Steve and Ann to arrive. While we were waiting, we left Ben in the van and walked up to the pieces and parts of the new coaster. A number of them are lying on the ground in an open area (that was probably a resort property but is now empty space) across from the coaster and the guard shack. I just walked around the outside taking pictures (and I reached over and touched the track), but Matt walked through the middle of it, and got yelled at by the guard. But the guard was cool and we talked to her for a couple of minutes. More pictures of the construction on the other side. The bottom half of a loop is constructed but not much more. You can tell that it's been repainted multiple times. We saw no activity on the site the entire time we were there. If they keep up that pace, it will be next year before it's ready.
Then Steve and Ann pulled in and got checked in at the office. Our place to stay was Hoosier Pointe 26. It's in the closest HP building to the park. These are the grey townhouses at the end of the peninsula (for simplicity, we just called it the cabin.) If you walk out to the little balloon ride next to Double Shot, you are only about 20 feet from the building. We had our own private docks (useful if we had had a boat) and use of the hotel pool. The place was nice but pretty expensive - but we were paying for the convenience of being
that close, which we took really good advantage of while we were there. It has 3 bedrooms, each with a queen bed. They advertise it will sleep 8, so that must also include 2 couches, one downstairs in the living room and one upstairs in the open area. Nephew 1 chose to sleep on the upstairs couch (with a sleeping bag) and N2 took a little cubby in the area (also with sleeping bag). We grabbed one upstairs bedroom, Ben got the other, and Steve and Ann did the downstairs bedroom. We brought food for dinner and breakfasts, and found out pretty quick that there may have been enough dishware, but only 3 glasses and only 4 forks. Ann was prepared and had brought takeout plasticware, and we were pretty much all drinking out of bottled stuff. While we were waiting for food to cook, we went out and fed geese and ducks, and looked at the boat winch that is also back of the HP buildings. It hasn't been used for a long time and it could haul up a pretty sizable boat. Matt speculated that maybe that was where they used to dry dock the Shafer Queen.
After dinner we headed back over to the check-in desk and got wristbands for everyone (except Ann, who chose to stay back at the cabin.) $27.50 per person is the rate for people staying on-site. We walked in through the arcade, past the Skyroom entrance, and through the new turnstile that is right next to the ramp for the Sky Ride. Which wasn't running that evening. We headed down, looking over everything and seeing what was still there under the new owners. First ride we hit was the bumper cars. Everyone else rode while I just watched. They were running pretty well. You still have to go clock-wise but you can still duck around and between the center bumpers. It was marked as running from 12pm to 9pm. A lot of rides have those signs now, stating what hours they will be run.
Next up was the Den of Lost Thieves. As Coasterville Dave noted in an earlier TR, there is now a 350lb weight limit, plus a 54" height limit. You can't have 2 people over 54" in a car. Because the nephews are all now taller, we all ended up in separate cars. The set pieces were all working. I didn't shoot, because I'm terrible, and just rode and watched. Everyone else had pretty good scores and reported that all targets were working. And they still have red lights on all the other equipment in the ride, like electrical equipment, so you can end up shooting stuff that isn't targets.
Scrambler wasn't running, but the Paratrooper was, so I rode with N1 and Ben rode with N2. Steve and Matt watched. N1 spent the entire trip always talking about scared he was of every ride, but then he chose to go and didn't have to be dragged on, so I think it was just one of his ways to garner attention. N2 pretty much wanted to stick with Ben, so N1 rode things with me, with Matt, and with his dad Steve. Paratrooper was good, no issues with it, although they've run it faster in the past.
Next we did the Antique Cars, because the sign said it closed at 8pm, and it was 10 minutes from closing. Ben drove while we smooched in the back. He made sure that he jerked as much as possible. Then we spent some time imitating his driving instructors from 5 years ago: "55 means 55! That is NOT a suggestion!" "You WILL stop completely at every stop sign!" "You're going too fast... You're going too slow... Speed up!... Slow down!" Lots of fun! We later saw it running again, so closing times seem to be fluid. Also, our favorite security guard had been rotated in from the guard shack, and she recognized us, so we got to chat with her while
Next, dare we hope that LoCoSuMo is running? Yes, yes it is, and with not too bad of a line. I think we ended up having to wait about 30 minutes for it, maybe a bit longer. This time I got to ride it forward and see what was actually coming up. It's running very well and there were no issues that we saw with it. I still wish they could figure out how to run this with 2 trains.
Matt and I rode forward and put Ben and N2 facing backward, to increase the weight in the front. Steve and N1 rode backward with 2 other people in the second car.
The boys and Steve wanted to do the bumper boats but the line was long, so they all did the swings. Matt and I stayed out and watched. They were swinging really well out. The lights on this ride need to be repaired. There were about 4 or 5 sets that were completely out. Matt and I talked about what was missing - the obstacle course is gone. They aren't running the zip line anymore either. The new owners took out all the "dangerous" rides/attractions. It was kind of a bummer, because Ben always loved the
obstacle course. In its place is the Bobs from Coney Island. But we skipped the Bobs for now. We were amused that they took out the
"dangerous stuff" but left in the Sky Ride. Yeah, let's get rid of an attraction that has tons of safety features built in but we'll keep the ride that is 30 feet high and the only safety feature is a small bar that a rider can easily lift up themselves.
After the swings we did the Gondola Ferris Wheel, which was a nice slow ride. N1 was hyper most of the time, so it was good to get him calmed down a bit. The ride op was really great, we got to talk to him for a bit while he was waiting for the ride to slow down for loading. He likes the new owners, and he was the one who told us why the zip line is down and why they removed the obstacle course. He said that on the zip line, people were not braking (on purpose) and getting hurt.
After that, Matt and I headed to the Shafer Queen boat ride so we could do the last ride at 9:15. Boys and Steve all went to do the bumper boats. The 9:15 (or 10:15 when the park closes at 11) is the ride to take. The sun was starting to set as we went out, and soon there was a not-quite-give-it-one-more-day-to-full moon. Which was orange-ish from the wild fire smoke. We've never done the boat before, and didn't know that we would end up going right past our HP townhouse. You also get great views of the park as the lights are now showing up. Years ago I wrote in my trip report that this is a park that cries out for a good lighting scheme. They're making improvements. The Ferris Wheel now has a fantastic LED light package, similar to those on rides like Windseeker. And the lights are on both sides, although a chunk of the side facing away from the lake is not working. The lights on the swings are good, and they have some light on various poles along the boardwalk. They just need to keep adding, like
running lights on the coaster handrails.
After the boat was over, we walked back to the cabin and all the boys were in the pool. Technically it was closed but no one had kicked anyone
out yet. Until Matt changed, ran over, took off his shirt - and the security guard came and told them it was closed. And thus ended day 1.
Day 2 I was up early because I'm always up early. I headed out for a walk. I walked up to the new fence and started taking pictures. There is a new entry gate halfway along the fence along the parking lot, on the way to Steel Hawg. I kept going around the fence and then stopped at the guard shack, and our favorite guard was there. She's worked for the park under all the owners, from the Spackman family up through the new owners. She said Morgan was bad but Apex was horrible. I also walked down the part of the road with some resorts on it, and got to see into the maintenance shed. One of the old RR train engines is in there, right by the open front door, so I got a pic. Then I went back and just hung out with Ann until everyone else got up, dressed, and fed. We also had lots of ducks and geese come out of the water looking to be fed. We gave them leftover edamame, which the ducks turned up their noses at but the geese gobbled up. We also ended up giving them some potato chips. Yeah, not the most healthy but they are going to beg all the people for food so we tried to give them something other than bread. One goose had a lame leg, which was sad to watch him try to walk with. I think he'll be OK - a lot of people are going to take pity on him and give him food.
Shortly before 11 we all went over to get wristbands and head in to the park. We had heard them testing the Double Shot, but after we got in and walked over it wasn't running. It only ran the previous evening, and we didn't take advantage of that. So then we headed back to the kiddie land and coasters area.
First up was the Hoosier Hurricane (but we also rode the carousel because it was right there.) Ann stayed down below while we all climbed the stairs and got on. They are only running 1 train, and not being all that efficient with loading/onloading. They will wait until everyone is through the exit before they open the gates to load. HH was running very well, although the drop and especially the hill before the turnaround is really, really rough. We thought we saw a bit of new wood on parts of it but I doubt anything has been done with that hill.
While we were waiting for HH they started running Cornball Express. So up another set of stairs, except without Steve, who had headed to the restroom before we realized CE was open. CE actually seemed a little rougher to me than in the past but no one else thought it was rough. Later at dinner, we were all talking about our favorite wood coasters, and CE came up more than once on people's top 5 lists. One thing that most people liked was how it curved and snaked through the other rides, especially HH.
And then while we were getting on CE, they started running Rocky's Rapids, so again we all started climbing stairs, this time with Steve in our group. I rode with Matt, Ben with N2, and Steve with N1. No one got wet, just misted in the face and on our arms. I still love going on it, it's a fun little log flume. And continuing with our theme, while we were riding RR, they started up the Steel Hawg. So we (except Ann and Ben) headed over and there was almost no line at that point. Matt and I rode in front with
N2 in back. Steve rode the next car with N1, who again professed how scared he was, but ended up loving it. It's still a pretty smooth and intense ride. Of course, I ended up sitting on the right, which put me on the side that gets flung out the most. This was my first time to ride it in daylight, so I actually got to see a bunch of stuff I haven't seen before in terms of what's happening with the track. In the dark, it's harder to tell what's coming up.
After Steel Hawg (and Steve getting his CE ride with N2) we wanted to ride the train but we weren't sure where the station was. I thought it was over by the IB Beach Club restaurant, but Steve thought it was on the other side of the loop after you leave the station. He and Ann went over to the rest room again, since she had to go, and the rest of us waited. Then the train appeared and they weren't back. We all got on and waved to them as we passed them where they were standing. If the train goes 2 MPH, I'd be surprised, so it was a long ride. Very jerky on the brakes, and we love the smell of propane in the tunnels (balloonists say: Propane - it's what for breakfast). After the train ride, Tig'rr was now opening, so we headed up there.
The only problem with Tig'rr was that the queue area is not only ompletely out in the sun, everything, even the concrete, is painted white. N1 couldn't take the brightness, so he bailed and went back to wait with Ann. We ended up then having me and Matt ride in one train, and then Steve and N2 in the front and Ben in the back of the next train. Two train operation, with the third one sitting on the transfer track. They were waiting until the previous train was braked at the end before starting the next one up the hill, so kind of slow but not too bad. It seemed actually smoother than the last time I rode it. I could ride it all day, while I can't do that with the other IB coasters.
Unfortunately, Air Crow (flying scooters) weren't running and they never did all day (that we saw). It's a manpower shortage. They try to run it but they can only do it for a short period each day (according to the woman running the carousel.) We did lunch at the IB Beach Club, because they had sandwiches and other stuff like that. They were also severely understaffed. Only 1 cook, and two very young workers taking orders and running food. We also arrived just as a bunch of other people were there too, so we kind of swamped them. I had a pork tenderloin sandwich, which was very good. Matt did pulled pork fries, which were also good. Steve did boneless wings, which he said were OK, and Ann also did the sandwich. Boys did various combos of fries and hot dogs and chicken
tenderloins and they all said they were good.
After lunch, Steve and Ann went to ride the train and the rest of us went back to the cabin to get changed for the water park. Then they got back and also changed and we headed in, put stuff down in the chairs by the splash pad, and headed for the not-so-lazy river. Everyone did multiple loops, each in varying degrees of laziness. Steve and I were the most lazy, the boys did not understand the concept of being lazy. I did 3 loops, then hung out in the splash pad, then headed back to change. Everyone else either hung out in the river or did slides. N2 reported that the pink slide was challenging because you completely lose momentum at the end
and he actually had to crawl down the last part of it. After hanging out with Ann for a bit, I went back to the park and did the Sky Ride, which was now running. I went down to the far end, walked out on the bridge, then went in a bunch of the shops. Didn't find anything I especially wanted to buy but the merchandise is nice in the shops. When I was walking back, Steve was in the hotel pool chilling out but the rest were still in the water park.
Dinner was in the Skyroom. According to the ferris wheel ride op, it's a new concessionaire running it. The first half of the menu is burgers. Then you flip it over and they list chicken sandwiches and wraps. Then they list full dinners. Steve, Ann, and I all got the hand-breaded fried chicken, which came with soup, and salad, a veggie (green beans), potatoes, and half a chicken. It was really good, although the breading was a little salty. Matt and Ben split the most expensive option, prime rib (think it was 12oz) and fried shrimp (they got 5). It came with soup (veggies and pasta) that Matt ate, and a salad that Ben ate, and green beans. Ben gladly gave all the
green beans to Matt. So did I. The prime rib and shrimp wasn't worth the $42.99 price - the waitress didn't give them an option of how to cook it, and it came well done. The other dinners were much better priced.
As we were waiting to pay, Ben and N2 did the Sky Ride, so I have pictures of them getting on and riding, from within the restaurant. Then I ran the leftovers back to the cabin (again, expensive accommodation that is totally worth getting), then Matt and I rode the Sky Ride, Steve and N1 rode together, and Ann walked. We got to the end and they all wanted to do bumper boats again, except Ben. So Matt, N1, and N2 battled, Ben went off to ride the Bobs (running both forward and backward in 1 ride cycle), Steve walked back to meet up with Ann, and I sat and watched. Then N1 and N2 got through the bumper boat battle and ran to the swings. Then Matt went off to find Steve & Ann. Then Ben got off the Bobs. Then N1 got off the swings, but N2 wanted to ride again. Eventually, we all gathered in one group again.
Ann and Steve wanted to do the 9:15 boat ride, and it was now about 8pm, so they were just going to chill out together and wait for the ride. We took the boys and got ice cream and root beer floats. And we found a big pink inflatable bat someone left behind in a booth, that says "Princess" on it in cute writing. I grabbed it and got to bonk all of them on the heads with it. It then became a well used head bonking bat. It got banished to the very back of Steve and Ann's van for the drive home.
After ice cream we just all headed back to the cabin. Pool was "open" but no one wanted to go in. We turned on the Olympics Opening Ceremony and chilled. Then at about 9:30, Matt, N2, and I went out to the docks to wave at the boat. Then after watching the ceremony for awhile, they started up a second Settlers of Catan game (first one was the first night). I went to bed. This morning was waking up, getting N1 to pack his stuff correctly, cleaning up, packing the vans, and heading home.
My overall impression of the park is "Thank GOD there are new owners". It's cleaner, better lighted, and they are trying to run all of the rides. They are just faced with the same worker shortage that everyone is facing right now. And they are trying to add new rides in that will increase the park's appeal. We'll have to come back again next year. I also hope that they are trying to take over all the ratty "resorts" that line Indiana Beach Rd. There are some that are already closed, and they had to have taken over and ripped out one or two to make that empty space where the Dreier Looping parts are being stored. I'm hoping that they will be able to create enough space that they can expand the park and the lodging and that will increase the interest in the park.
Photos from the trip, including lots of the new coaster construction, are at https://link.shutterfly.com/2w0ubhe09hb