Trip Report - I-X Indoor Amu***t Park
Brook Park, Ohio - April 25, 2004
"The chain should've been a dead giveaway"
Sunday morning I slept in. The rain poured. And finally, I got up and
drove to Cedar Point, where I had my countenance preserved in plastic.
Cedar Point's 2004 Season Pass design is utterly hideous looking. Oh,
well, I don't have to like its appearance, so long as it gets me through
the gate in a couple of weeks. I did learn that OH-4 is closed at the
OH-2 overpass and is likely to remain closed until the end of May, so
that's a useful thing to know. That also made it easy for me to decide to
leave via the Chaussee, that is, to drive down Cedar Point Road instead of
the Causeway. It's Sandusky's richest neighborhood, and it seems a lot of
the homes...almost all of which were rebuilt and enlarged into unique
mansions in the past decade...are now for sale.
The International eXposition Center (IX Center) is a cavernous rectangular
building on the grounds of the Cleveland airport. I had heard that the
place was scheduled for demolition for an airport runway extension, but a
kiosk inside the building indicates that the building has been spared from
destruction until "at least 2017, probably longer." For fif*** years
now, the I-X Center has played host to Bates Amu***ts which every spring
sets up both units and a slew of booked-in rides for a month. The I-X
Indoor Amu***t Park has traditionally been a good place to ride new
carnival rides, as new rides have frequently been booked into this event
on their way to carnivals across the country. A Soriani & Moser Top Spin
appeared here a month before the Texas Twister (Huss Top Spin) opened at
Geauga Lake. The first Skycoaster I ever saw had no towers as then ropes
were attached to the roof of the I-X Center. Chance booked their first
Chaos in here when it was new, and it was at the I-X Center that I took my
first rides on the Inverter and the Tornado. There isn't enough room for
some of the big European super-spectacular rides, but it's still an
Parking is free this year, so I selected a space, entered the building,
and paid my $18 POP. Just inside is the entrance to the event. The
corner of the building closest to the entrance was laid out as an
extensive kiddieland, featuring several beautiful new kiddie rides built
by the Bates organization. One of these was particularly
interesting...its vehicles resemble Plymouth Prowler automobiles, and
because the vehicles are so long, they are staggered two rows deep. The
way they were attached to the center caused them to run at a kind of a
strange angle. There were also a couple of Hamptons, a kiddie swing, a
kiddie Scrambler, and the centerpiece of it all, an Eli Spider Mania.
Picture a Scrambler mated with a Yo-Yo and you get the general idea.
On down the aisle I finally got to the big rides, starting with a Yo-Yo
that isn't big enough for those of us who fall outside the ASTM guidelines
[Footnote 1]. Behind that was a roller coaster.
I must be out of practice or something. I looked at the decorative
fencing around the ride platform and promptly misidentified the ride as a
Galaxi. Sorry, this one is a Zyklon. And I have ridden it before...in
2000 it was sitting in this very spot. In fact, that time I shot video of
the ride. Not this time around. The operators would have permitted it,
but...well, quite frankly, I already have video of this one! They had a
bunch of cars running and were pushing people through very nicely with
only a short wait. It runs about like any good Zyklon.
Next to the coaster was the log flume, which is insanely popular, but
which didn't seem to me to be a good idea in a dark, air-conditioned
building. I think it was a Reverchon. Walking past it took me to the
back of the hall, past the Ring of Fire, to an odd new ride that was
making a lot of noise. It's called the Mega-Bouncer, and was apparently
built by ARM, like seemingly most of the rides in Bates' collection. The
ride bears a sort of passing resemblance to the Flying Coaster [Footnote
2] though equipped with molded seats and shoulder bars (strike 1...).
Each sweep is mounted on a pneumatic cylinder, and as the center rotates,
the sweeps literally bounce up and down in a rhythmic pattern. I'm a big
fan of the Flying Coaster, so I had to give this thing a try.
I'm afraid I was more than a little disappointed. It's certainly capable
of doing some neat things, but the ride profile is all wrong. When the
sweeps go upo and down, they bounce. Or rather, they half-bounce. The
sweep goes up rapidly, slows, stops, goes down, then suddenly bounces back
up again. That is to say, all the bouncing happens on the downstroke. So
when the tub goes down, the rider gets hit with a sudden strong downward
force as the tub reverses direction, but when the tub goes up, the rider
feels nothing at all. What was th desigher thinking? Is this what flat
rides have come to? Where is the fun in that? The whole point behind the
Flying Coaster is that sudden bounce at the top of the jump ramp, and this
ride doesn't do it at all. The designer took a brilliant classic ride
concept, applied modern technology...and completely screwed it up. Okay,
it isn't as bad of a screw-up as the Chance Aviator. The Mega-Bounce is
eminently salvageable...it wouldn't be practical to just reverse the valve
polarity, but it wouldn't be terribly difficult, either, and could
probably be handled through software. But as it now stands, it tries to
be a Flying Coaster, and it fails at that miserably.
Let me see...there is a Banzai, a Skymaster, and a Ring of Fire, all
variations on a theme. Across the midway is the ARM Quasar, and unlike
most Quasars I have seen, this one is operating [Footnote 3]. Across from
the Quasar is a familiar looking, but somehow strangely different ride.
It's a dodecagonal green expanded-metal cylinder mounted on a trailer.
Iain would absolutely hate it, but I decided I needed to give it a try.
It's a Dartron Zero Gravity, and it is new this season. The operator
brought it to a stop, walked up the stairs, unfolded two railings,
released a safety catch, and lowered one wall of the cylinder to form an
exit stairway. Thereupon, 33 people came trotting out, and 33 of us
walked up the stairs and into the cylinder. Each of us stood in one of
the spaces around the outer wall and waited for the ride to begin. The
cylinder rotated, and once it got up to speed, the boom on the back of the
trailer began to rise. The ride is an updated copy of the Hrubetz
Round-Up, and it gives a nearly identical ride...perhaps the forces are
just a little stronger, and the ride has full-length pads on the outside
of the drum, so it's a little more comfortable than the Round-Up. I think
it also tips up a little higher than the Round-Up, but like the classic
rides, it doesn't go completely vertical. It gives a ride very much like
the original, but it looks like this thing is a lot simpler to set up and
take down, and it's a much simpler ride than a Zendar. Given the success
that Dartron has had with remaking the Paratrooper, they might sell a
bunch of these things.
Speaking of which, there was a remade Paratrooper, specifically a Cliff
Hanger sitting idle across the floor, right next to Amu***ts of
America's Crazy Mouse, which I last rode at the Ohio State Fair. I rode
it here, as well. It was my longest wait of the day at about 20 minutes.
The ride runs efficiently enough, but it feels odd going up the lift hill
sideways. Unfortunately, right after the tub pin released, as we careened
around that first spin-inducing U-turn, I felt something bad happen in my
left shoulder. I like these Crazy Mouse coasters, but after that, I was
ready for my ride to be over. My shoulder hurt like hell, and there
wasn't a thing I could do about it. Ouch! I'm hoping this turns out to
be something related to the construction project I've been doing at home.
I exited the ride and started wandering the floor.
Ah, yes, that will do nicely.
The Cycloid has lost the light panels from the backs of the seats, but it
has lost none of its force, and the sustained rearward force was exactly
what I needed to soothe whatever I had screwed up in my back. The
Cycloid, you may recall, is the oversize, updated, bi-directional,
trailer-mount hydraulic drive Scrambler update that Eli Bridge built in
1997 and apparently never sold again. That ride simply felt good. Much
more than I can say for the Dartron Downdraft that I rode later. It's a
neat ride, but the lateral force on it is just too strong to be pleasant.
The hall was absolutely filled with rides, including a free-fall tower and
all the usual lunch-recyclers. Bates Amu***ts is to be commended for
putting on a nice show and for keeping all of their rides in tip-top
condition. Including their Hrubetz Tip-Top, an increasingly rare and
possibly antique flat ride. It even has its original signs on it. Bates
was showing, as I recall, two bona-fide classic rides, the other one was
an Eyerly Rock-O-Plane. If you didn't know these were classic rides, it
would be hard to tell, as both are in showroom condition. I was going to
test their committment to the "no single riders" sign on the Rock-O, but
ended up not going back for a ride after I screwed up my back.
I did take a ride on the I-X Center's Chance Ferris wheel, the one that is
mounted with its hub at the building's roof line. It's an interesting
idea, although the view you get through the barrel-vault is of the I-X
Center's expansive roof, with the Cleveland Airport tarmac and runways
beyond, which are only slightly more interesting. The most appropriate
word for it would be, "flat." The aerial view of the carnival is somewhat
In all, it was a decent show. There is a nice selection of flat rides,
along with two good-but-not-spectacular ...
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