Amusement Parks
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Indiana Beach


Indiana Beach has a fine collection of classic rides which it maintains meticulously. They run smoother than most and give longer ride cycles.

Its Giant Wheel is a Chase masterpiece, the second biggest Ferris Wheel ever built in the U.S. It sits at the far end of the peninsula, with the Hurricane turning below it, and water on three sides. The gondolas are the best we’ve seen this side of London Eye. Magnificent photo ops. Great place to watch the water show. Ferris wheel lovers come here from everywhere just for a dozen spins.

Antique Cars. Bizarre. These are great cars, much more comfortable and heavily padded than their brethren elsewhere. They steer and accelerate very smoothly. But the course is surreal. You’re on wooden ramps over the water. Rather than the flower beds, covered bridges, trips down through the forest, and other scenic wanderings found elsewhere, this track meanders through an industrial forest of steel girders and concrete tunnels. LoCoSuMo, Hurricane and the Train curl over, under and around you as you negotiate hills and turns. Photogenic in a high tech sort of way. The Gotham City vs. Pastoral settings are like apples and oranges, but this could be the best Antique Car Turnpike in the country.

Shafer Queen. No artificial river here. Indiana Beach takes advantage of its lakeside location to offer hour long cruises on a classic paddlewheel steamboat. Great photo ops. Very relaxing break from the noise and intensity of the midway. This is a must.

Tilt a Whirl. Indiana Beach engineers have angled the pitch on the underlying girders about 10 degrees, which of course causes the cars to spin more easily, faster and in longer duration. Then they give you a longer ride cycle. We are lifelong TiltaWhirl enthusiasts, having ridden them at every carnival, amusement park and county fair for half a century. Trust us : this is the best version out there.

Sky Ride. Classic chairlift, running from one end of the park to the other. All parks should have these for convenience and photo ops. This offers your best coaster photos and takes you straight down the midway over every flat in the park. Ride ops allow you to stay on and continue through the stations so you can enjoy several laps.

Swings. Great. Unlike other models, these are all in a single line. They are built on a pedestal on the lake, and swing out over the water. These are faster than the others and lift out to a higher angle. Unfortunately, the seats are, as on all these models, too small. So anyone taller than 6-0 or of ample butt will find themselves very uncomfortable and in danger of tipping backward. Parks really need to install seats with higher backs and broader seats. However, skinny 5-11 folk, no matter what age, can have a ball. You can rock these chairs back and forth until you’re actually alongside of the guy ahead of you, or swing your chair from left to right until you’re sidewise. And looking down on water lends a different sensation.
Paratrooper. Hanging out over the water as it does, this ride is smoother and faster than most incarnations, giving it a stomach fluttering upswing. The seats crest the top at an 80 degree angle. We like Paratroopers, and this is the most intense we’ve ridden. Just a great experience.
Flying Scooters (Eagles). The hot new addition for 04. Always a great ride, given a whole new perspective out over the water.

Falling Star. Abby Leigh is our Flying Carpet / Falling Star expert. She rides them all over the country. She says the Indiana Beach version is more comfortable, smoother, faster, and has a longer ride cycle. She stayed on for 10 laps (and then staggered off and lay down for a while).

Bumper Cars. Mixed review. We love these cars. They are the fastest and quickest we’ve seen. But the seat backs are too low, causing real pain with the frequent impacts. And the floor is too small. Yes, space is limited, but this ride needs ample room. Move it out by the Double Shot.

Train. Disappointing. Inexpensive, small, a toy. Not in the same class as CP, PKI, BGW or Disney. Industrial scenery. Back lots, storage piles, discard dumps, maintenance areas. The “tunnel” is really a lumber storage shed. This is a ride IB should significantly upgrade as soon as possible. Given the park’s whole dockside, waterfront motif, one of those little saddleback dockside steam engines used to sort cargo would be ideal. Or put in a trolley. But get rid of this.

Den of Lost Thieves. Interactive Dark Ride. Two stories. Cool.

Frankenstein’s Castle (photo top left). Certainly the best dark ride in the Midwest, and second only to Disney’s Haunted Mansion in the whole country. A three floor walk through extravaganza. The shake, rattle and roll band playing upstairs is classic.

Log Flume. Another gritty post industrial experience. A very short loop to the lift hill, one drop and back to the station. The loop includes two concrete tunnels under the girders of Hurricane. No long cruises through the trees or multiple lifts here. However, the one drop is a classic, equal to Kennywood’s final one.
Gunboat. This is the only one of these we’ve seen. Two people get in small boats with gun turrets, steer out on the water, and fire at the other boats while trying to stay dry. People are also firing from shore at anyone on the water.
Double Shot. Medium size drop tower. A Frog Hopper is next door.
Bumper Boats. C’mon. This is a waterfront park, for Heaven’s Sake. Put the boats out on the water. Holiday World down in the cornfields has a bigger bumper boat pond than here. These need to be back in the side arm along the coasters where they can play on a couple of acres of water.


And the Rest. Indiana Beach offers fairly standard versions of Chaos, Musik Express (shown right), Pirate Ship, Flying Bobs, and Scrambler. As mentioned, they are smoother than most, beautifully maintained and give longer cycles.
Paddlecraft. Standard paddleboats and watercycles can be rented by the half hour for trips out on a sizeable side arm of the lake. Better than the undersized ponds most parks offer.
Waterpark. Nothing innovative here, but the usual assortment of open and closed slides twisting down. The Lazy River is shorter than most.
Beach. Surrounded by rides, with restaurant patrons looking down and coasters echoing in the background. A rather unique swimming experience. We don’t think it’s worth it.
Miniature Golf. Two courses in the park, one by the beach, the other under the Giant Wheel, are both weak. If you’re into putt-putt, wait until evening and walk up to the much better campground course.

Kiddieland. One of the country’s better Kiddielands, if you can tolerate all 12 rides being down under the steel girders of the three coasters and the log flume. No greenery, but at least you’re in the shade on hot summer days.

Arcade. Especially if you’re into classic old time pinball games. This is one of the top three amusement park arcades in the country.

The Water Show. Remember the one you once saw at Cypress Gardens in Florida or Geauga Lake in Ohio? This is it. Don’t miss it. One of the greatest performances at any amusement park in the country. Not even Disney World tops this one. Watch the clock, take a break from the rides, pick up a snack, and get one of the waterfront bench seats.

Fish. Fish? Right. Down by the Galaxi entrance. You buy your fish food and feed the fish at pier’s edge. This is a very special resident fish population. They are well fed and there are hundreds of them. If you have your own kids or a school group, this is an essential part of your visit.

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