It’s hot… I grew up in Florida spent almost 30 years there and in all my life I have never experienced hell on earth like I have experienced here. I officially hate Iowa. That is all.
Leslie and I work 6 days a week at an amusement park operating rides. We took this weekend off to drive down to Kanas City to run in a Glow Run 5K. Of course most of you already know that we are a bit crazy so you will not be surprised that we decided to spend part of the day after a 5K wondering around an amusement park. Today we visited Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri.
Worlds of Fun was built by two Kansas City sports team owners and opened in 1973 (same year as Adventureland). In 1995 Worlds of Fun was acquired by Cedar Fair the company that owns the Cedar Point and Kings Island parks we visited last year. You might wonder why we would pay to visit another amusement park when we can ride the rides in Adventureland on our days off. I guess there are a few reasons – although Adventureland claims they have four roller coasters, we would only go on one a them a second time, and we see enough of the inside of the park on the six days a week we work there.
It was interesting visiting an amusement park after working in one – we noticed things we never really paid attention to before, like how much shade the ride workers had and if they had a place to sit. Although we did not see any older ride operators at Worlds of Fun, we would say their working conditions were much better than what we experience at Adventureland. Other observations include: excellent theming, great upkeep and maintenance, a good degree of guest comfort as demonstrated by a number of mister areas (it was over 100 yesterday).
We started our exploration of Worlds of Fun with a ride on the Mamba, a steel coaster that was built in 1998. According to the T-shirt sold at the park the ride reaches a top speed of 75 MPH while traversing the 5600 feet of track in just under 3 minutes. The first hill on the coaster is 205 feet high. The Mamba is the ninth longest steel coaster in the world.
After our ride on the Mamba we took a quick trip down the Nile on the Furry of the Nile the parks rafting river ride. In our raft of 6, Leslie go the wettest.
We then rode the Boomerang, which is a shuttle coaster (one that does not make a complete loop, reversing at some point and traveling the same track in reverse). The Boomerang is not a unique ride in that the company sold about 47 of them to various parks around the world. In this ride the train of cars is toed up a 116 foot 45 degree incline and let go. The train fires back thru the station and then into a cobra roll in which we are upside down twice. The train then goes up another include that is next to the first and then is dropped backwards thru the cobra roll to return the station. A ton of fun.
Worlds of Fun has a ride called the Thunderhawk which is very similar or identical to the SplashOver at Adventureland which has not been running this year due to mechanical issues. After the ride on the Boomerang, Leslie was not up to the experience, but I had to do it. The ride is known as a Top Spin in which a passenger platform is suspended between two counterweighted arms. The arms are turned by motors and the platform has brakes that are engaged and disengaged at various points in the ride cycle causing the platform to spin over itself resulting in the upside down riders. The Thunderhawk has water jets that could spray water up at the ride – but they were not being used. I have been told that Adventureland stopped using the water jets because they would sometimes get the riders way too wet. The following is a short movie (about 29 MB) that Leslie took while I was on theThunderhawk.
Given the heat we needed to cool down – what better way that with a large Icee and a ride on the Worlds of Fun Railroad. The Worlds of Fun Railroad is a slightly scaled down reproduction of an original steam engine. This is not as cool as the old steam engines in the Disney parks – but a lot cooler than the miniature train of Adventureland.
Next up was the Timber Wolf which was Worlds of Fun first wooden coaster opening in 1989. The track for the Timber Wolf is about 4260 feet and includes an unusual 560 degree upward spiraling helix. The Timber Wolf was ranked as the world’s top coaster in 1991. (Side note – as the day progressed and got hotter – my picture taking got worse. No pictures for the Timber Wolf and limited pictures for the last two coasters).
From there we headed to the Patriot, an inverted (where the car runs under the track) steel coaster. The Patriot was added to the park in 2006. As the coaster travels 3081 foot track it does four inversions and reaches a top speed of 60 MPH. The Patriot is the 10th longest inverted coaster in the world and the 3rd fastest full circuit inverted coaster in North America. We both really enjoyed our ride on the Patriot.
The last coaster we did at the park was the Prowler. It is a wooden coaster which was added to the park in 2009, making it the newest coaster in the park. The track is just over 3000 feet length and winds over the terrain and thru the woods like The Beast at Kings Island. In 2009 the Prowler was voted the best new ride of the year and last year the Prowler was ranked as the 10th best wooden roller coaster in the world.
We are glad we visited Worlds of Fun – we needed to ride some good roller coasters. Overall our recommendation for this area of the country would be to skip Adventureland and go to Worlds of Fun.
Working at a Theme Park gives you a different kind of perspective on things. I love to people watch and boy do I have plenty of people watching. Something I have noticed is adults in theme parks are all there for different reasons. Take the mom and her kids. Sometimes the mom is there to have just as much fun as the kids but there are some who would rather be anywhere else in the world then at Adventureland. This is a concept I just can’t understand. First off who doesn’t like a theme park? There are fun rides, tasty food. Just the excitement level of the people around you should make the average person happy.
Then there are the adults that don’t have kids. They come to theme parks for a variety of reasons as well. You have the thrill seekers that want to ride the rollercoasters. You have the meanderers that just enjoy the environment. You have the people watchers that just like being around people.
Having grown up in Florida my life perspective is a bit different then many. I grew up in vacation mode. When you go to the grocery store there are entire sections of post cards and t-shirts, all the things a tourist would want. Honestly you walk into any type of store and you can pretty much find a shirt to buy with a sunset or a mouse on it.
When I was 13 my parents moved me to Massachusetts. When I got there we went to the grocery store and there was no tourist section. What is this? Where can I get a postcard? Turns out most areas the only places you could get a postcard were in actual tourist attraction areas and never in a grocery store. Things have evolved quite a bit in the last 25 years and Walgreens has taken over. Walgreens nearly always has touristy items for whatever area you are in.
So for me being in a tourist environment is much like being at home. My first trip to Las Vegas I thought I would hate it because I am not much of a gambler. When I arrived it was like going home. The bright lights, laughing people, relaxed atmosphere. More people in Vegas are on vacation then not. It was just like being in Florida. I loved it.
Now working at a theme park is not always peaches and cream. The last week we had over 100 degree heat indices and working in that truly was not fun but I love the people (for the most part). The people are there to have fun. It is there goal to enjoy every moment. They smile more, laugh more, enjoy more. Now granted they still aren’t as happy as people at Disney but that is simply because Disney takes theme parks to a different level. While kids may be excited to see Bernie the Bernard there is not the excitement level of kids seeing Mickey for the first time.
Overall working at a theme park has been a fun experience. Working at a theme park in Iowa… has been a challenge. Maybe some day I will work for the Mouse. Only time will tell. At least working here has given me a taste of what it would be like.