austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Let's all sing like the birdies sing, tweet tweet tweet, my that bird sings sweetly

We wanted to eat, which shouldn't be such a surprise. The question was to eat before or after Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain, which had spent most, possibly all, of 2015 nonfunctional. There was a big line for it. We were hungry. We ate. We passed up their taco place; we couldn't find evidence that they had vegetarian choices. We walked along the ``boardwalk'' picking out spots and finally settled on their indoor restaurant. It's up a flight of stairs, enclosed and air-conditioned, with a view of one of the sky chair stations. It's got a small but apparently functional dance floor. In a visit years in the past bunny_hugger's starter husband had tried to register snarky disapproval of the steak he'd gotten by asking the server if she thought it would offend the chef if he got steak sauce. She didn't think the chef would mind, which is about the only way to handle really passive-aggressive snarking.

It was a good restaurant for sitting a while in relative calm and dark and cool, and for pondering the workings of chair lift rides, particularly how the arm holding the chair on the cable avoids getting stuck when it goes over the driving wheels. (Nothing special, just, the whole armature doesn't get caught on a wheel at once.) It's not so good a restaurant for eating vegetarian or trying to; their best offerings are a serving of Boring Pasta, good enough but unremarkable, and an Adult Grilled Cheese sandwich which it turns out is made adult by adding bacon to it. (We ate it. We might not want animals killed for something as frivolous as an amusement-park lunch, but worse is if they're killed and go to complete waste.)

Also in the restaurant were a couple small signs giving highlights of the park's history. It opened ninety years ago as Ideal Beach, a shorefront attraction. They still have Ideal Beach, as their water park/beach area. We had a pleasant view of it from our table. In 1944 they added a Water Merry-Go-Round, an intriguing thing they don't explain further. In 1947 they started adding permanent rides. In the 1950s they changed the name to Indiana Beach and build the boardwalk and all that, so the ``4-28 1955'' makes sense here. It also mentioned how in 2005 the park had its 80th Anniversary, the most recent event listed on the signs. Here in 2006 they're advertising the park's 90th Anniversary. To live is to live with fencepost errors.

We walked back towards Lost Coaster. Along the way we stopped at the Den of Lost Souls, one of their dark rides. It's got a nice-looking entrance and we could see the spot on the second floor where cars temporarily careen out of the dark and people wave at whoever happens to be below. But the dark ride wasn't working. We would see what looked like people working around the ride, but it never opened to the best of our knowledge during the day. Something to go back for.

Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain has that name as reflection of a complicated history. For decades it was another dark ride, Superstition Mountain. In 2002 it got renovated by Custom Coasters Inc, the group that built every roller coaster in the 90s. The result is another wooden coaster, one that goes in and out among the former dark-ride house. If you think of haunted-house type rides you might think there's not a lot of space there; how can you fit a wooden roller coaster in? How can you even fit the lift hill that gives the ride the gravitational potential energy it needs to run?

The hill is the easy part. They use an elevator to bring a two-car train --- seats facing forward and back --- up about three storeys. The other part, how you fit a ride into the confines of a former dark ride? You do it by making a lot of really sharp turns and sudden drops and charging back up hills and twisting around again and plummeting and turning around again and it is intense. It might be the most intense roller coaster I've been on, which is amazing considering the Roller Coaster Database gives its height as 35 feet and top speed of 20 miles per hour. And there's still props in it, still pieces left over from the dark ride days like skeletons guarding treasure chests and the like. The clearances are tight. The cars are enclosed with a mesh, not because it's quite shaky enough to make the seat belts inadequate protection, but because even a normal-sized person would be at risk of smashing a hand against props given a moment to be careless.

We would go on to it several times, hoping to get both a front- and a back-facing ride. The time we did get a back-facing ride, which is even wilder a ride than front-facing, we were with a pair who wanted to tell us stories of how bad the park had gotten. And how LoCoSuMo hadn't opened at all in 2015, or only a few furtive days, maybe for test runs. How lucky we were to have got here after it was running again. I can easily accept this is a difficult ride to test out --- even inspecting the tracks must be time-consuming in a way that they can't be for Tig'rr Coaster --- and the elevator is probably maintenance-demanding in a way that a chain on a hill isn't. There was something about the way the guy talked of how bad things had gotten in 2015 that we weren't quite buying, but I've forgotten it by now. No matter. It's part of the legends of the park now and grand for that.

Trivia: The French team boycotted the opening ceremonies of the 1928 Amsterdam Games in retaliation for a stadium gatekeeper's refusing to allow the track-and-field athletes into the main stadium for practice the day before, and the team threatened to withdraw from the games entirely. The Dutch tendered an official apology, with a bottle of champagne included as peace offering, and the French team remained in the games. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: The Stone of Heaven: Unearthing the Secret History of Imperial Green Jade, Adrian Levy, Cathy Scott-Clark.

Tags: amusement parks, anniversary, indiana beach
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