The Adventureland Park opened in August of 1976 and would have opened earlier if a tornado had not delayed the new park. On July 4th, 1978, Adventureland released its first wooden roller coaster, the “Tornado”. Within the first few months of its opening, it had been listed as one of the top ten wooden roller coasters in the world.
In 1979, the Adventureland park had purchased the Riverview Amusement park in Des Moines and moved some of the attractions to their own park in the far back. Within the next decade, the Riverview part of the park would be changed to “Dragon Island.” This change would soon make way for the brand new steel roller coaster “The Dragon.”
The next big attraction Adventureland would add would be in 1997. The 100-foot skywheel with over 6,000 bright lights that are recognizable to many Iowans today is still standing and is one of the largest open gondola wheels today.
In 2002, 8 million dollars were spent on the Park’s quick renovations. The Adventureland Hotel was expanded by twice its size, added new pools, and a new first of its kind water ride called “The SawMill Splash”. The ride is now featured in the “Outlaw Gulch” portion of the park and was one of the first rides to guarantee to beat the summer heat.
2004 welcomed a brand-new ride towards the beginning of “Outlaw Gulch”. The ride is much like that of a giant pendulum that pivots back and forth at 240 degrees. Riders sit in a circle, all facing outward and are strapped in tight while they swing 360 degrees around at 6 stories high. This park ride was designed specially for Adventureland by an amusement park in Italy.
Starting in 2008, Adventureland started in on its most expensive expansion yet. In the far back of the park now stands Adventureland Bay, a large waterpark that includes 20 waterslides, Iowa’s longest lazy river, a swimming pool with a swim up bar, a 250,000 square foot wave pool, and much more! With it opening in 2010, Adventureland saw a flow of visitors come specifically for the water attractions.
This year Iowans will welcome yet another new steel coaster, this time replacing the old Log Ride, which was one of the originals from the park’s opening. “The Monster” is now in construction. This ride will feature a 133 foot vertical lift hill, 5 inversions, a 101 degree first drop (which is steeper than any other in Iowa or our surrounding states), along with 10 “airtime” moments (moments where the passenger feels as if they’re lifting from their seat). The most exciting for the park, however, would be the first negative-G stall loop in the western hemisphere.
All of this will be on only 2,500 feet of steel track and will pass the Sky Ride 8 times.
With the past additions and new attractions this season, Adventureland definitely is living in its hayday.