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Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Day Trip to Indiana Beach

I haven't been to Indiana Beach since I was a pre-driving teenager. I remembered very little about the park itself. I just remember the cute boy I met, the window seat we sat at when we shared a soda in the Skyroom, and the Boardwalk Funway Video Game Arcade where said cute boy liked to hang out with the cool kids.

I purchased our tickets from GetMyPerks when the deal o' the day was "Ride & Swim All Day at Indiana Beach for Only $16". Smiley, from WZPL had advertised $10 off your GetMyPerks purchase with a secret code so 2 tickets were just $22. At $11 a person I could not pass up the deal. I had my husband purchase 2 tickets as well, and our oldest son purchased 2 tickets. A family of 6 rarely get into anything for $66. Hey, we can't even eat out for that!

I posted about the excitement of going to Indiana Beach on a social networking site. Immediately the bad reviews started pouring in. Friends were asking "Have you been there? How long ago did you last visit the park? etc..."

I started wishing I had asked people about it first but at $11 per person how could I NOT take a chance?

I believe that every experience is what you make of it. I knew that if nothing else, at $11 the kids would surely enjoy swimming and water slides. I was determined to prove to my friends that Indiana Beach was, in fact, a good time.

When we arrived at the park at noon, an hour after opening, I was pleasantly surprised at how few cars were in the free parking lot. I assumed that the others must have been in the VIP lot. Closer parking is nice, but free is good and we got a front spot. Score!

As we entered the line was very short to check in with our tickets. We had no problem using the vouchers. I always worry about the discount tickets purchased online being rejected at the gate. I asked for a park map and was disappointed that they were apparently out of maps. We had no idea what the park was like, where facilities were located, etc. but we forged ahead. We had all day to figure it out.

When we entered the park the first thing we saw was Adventure point. This area includes The Flying Crow Zip-Line, High Ropes Course, Rock Climbing Wall, and the Adventure Point Outfitters Shop. Since these attractions were an additional $10 to our tickets we did not try them out. I figured if we ran out of things to do we could always come back later and try them out. We were able to see patrons using the new zip line. That looked like a lot of fun. It goes across the lake so I was not willing to ride it but it looked like the riders were enjoying the ride!

The next ride we came to, the Splash Battle, was apparently out of service. Our youngest was disappointed but we assured him that there were surely lots of other fun rides to enjoy down the boardwalk. Next he spotted the Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain. Sadly it was not operational today either. I told him that we could move on and maybe it would be up and running when we came back through. As I thought to myself "This has got to be just coincidence..." we decided that maybe we should walk to the end of the boardwalk and start with the water park attractions. I knew that the kids would not be disappointed there!

 Along the boardwalk we found a hut selling "Fish food" for $ .50. There is a swarm of Carp right next to the boardwalk. These gigantic fish were another thing that I remembered seeing here from my childhood!

 Our 1st stop was at the Splash Bash. It is what it is, a splash park. We have similar splash parks for free around our hometown. It's nothing fancy but the younger kids enjoyed it. This area offers updated lounge chairs so we could enjoy watching the boys play from a comfortable, clean, and dry seat!

 The 6 and 10 year old boys gave their seal of approval on splash grounds!  

We hopped over to Sandy Beach. This is a lake. Several of my friends had spoken to how nasty this area was. Given that my family are campers, and boaters I had an open mind about it. I suspect they thought the beach would be cleaner water, like one might see near the ocean. I have to say that it was, in fact, pretty decent for a beach in Indiana. I've seen far far worse. Again, this is an amenity that we enjoy for free at several state parks on many weekends. It's not really the feature that I would pay for but the kids enjoyed it and that's what is most important. 

The lounge chairs at the beach were pretty nice. They seemed to be a recent update to the area. They were sturdy and comfortable. I don't like swimming a lot so these things are important to mom while the kids are swimming! Sister seemed to enjoy the chairs as well.

 My little guy thought this gator was fun!

The kids tried out a few of the six water slides that Indiana Beach has to offer. They all enjoyed them. I take their word on those reviews over testing them out myself, thank you very much. 

The kids enjoyed Action river. This lazy river was nice. It had ample room, and was a long ride around the water park area. They seemed to have plenty of tubes for the amount of visitors as the kids only waited a few minutes each to get in. 
They thought it was fun without a tube too!

After the kids were done with the water rides we went to the shower house to get dressed. This left a lot to be desired. The entrance to the locker room is unisex and I watched patron after patron enter with a confused look, as if "Is this it?" or "Are men supposed to be in here?" I just rushed the kids into stalls to get changed and we got out of there. I mean seriously...I've seen nicer bathhouses at campgrounds. There is a lot left to be desired about the shower house at Indiana Beach. 

I knew that we would be eating soon and there was an ATM along the boardwalk. Too bad it was not working. I know that this is not Indiana Beaches fault but after all the shut down rides we had encountered during our walk of the park...seriously? 

We walked up to the Skyroom for dinner. I figured that surely they took debit cards and air conditioning sounded like a great idea at this point! Sadly they were not open yet, and it was hotter in there than it was outside. Luckily we stumbled upon The Burger Shake. Again-it really would have been nice to have a map of this place! The layout is very confusing.

The prices at the Burger Shake were reasonable ($6-ish for combo meals) and the food was good. We tried the BBQ sandwich, the Grilled Cheese, the Cheeseburger, and the Tenderloin. All combos came with fries and a soda. Since a soda was $2.75 the price for a combo seemed like the way to go. Surprisingly, the fries were hot, fresh, and tasty and the sodas were not crammed full of ice. I was quite pleased with the dining experience at the Burger Shake. Good food, reasonably priced in a clean, air conditioned space. Win!

After we ate we decided to walk the boardwalk and see what rides we could try out. I was hopeful that we would find no more closed rides but knew that the kids had a good time in the water should the rest of the day be a bust.

In the Kiddy Land area Aiden enjoyed the Convoy race.  
 ...and the Frog Hopper
We also rode the Den of lost thieves. It was beyond stinky, and overall pretty lame. Half of the targets that you were supposed to shoot at didn't seem to work and the smell was just horrific. 

 My husband attempted to take our youngest on his first Flying Bobs ride. Our daughter had been a fan of this ride for years. Sadly after I took this photo the ride was shut down. They turned it on and you could hear a grinding sound coming from the motor and they emptied the ride. What a bum deal. This boy cried so many times during this visit over rides that were not operational. That's hard for a six year old to comprehend.
Luckily the Galaxi coaster was running so daddy took him on the big kid coaster. He loved that!
 We rode the Tilt-a-Whirl which nearly made feel so sick. Dear old mom just couldn't stomach the whirl! The kids enjoyed that. 
 They also liked the Scrambler and the Paratrooper. 

The kids rode the Music Express while this guy took a time out to rest. This area of the park seems to be a recent addition. I hope they plan to add some real seating. These rocks did not feel as comfortable to my seat as they were for this guy! 

We rode the train back to Adventure Point. The views during the train ride left A LOT to be desired. It was like a tour of all of the behind the scenes action. I really felt like this stuff should have been in a building or at least hidden more from the rides. I do not recall ever seeing piles of things like this at  Holiday World.  

So, all in all here's my take on Indiana Beach. It's no Holiday World. It is basically like a County Fair with a lake, and some water slides. I would never pay $35 to get into the Indiana State Fair. Heck, I'm not even willing to pay the $10 they are charging for the fair this year! So...was it worth $11 a person? Absolutely!

Had I paid full ticket price I would have been very very VERY disappointed.

The Pro's at Indiana Beach are free parking, shorter lines, and reasonable food options.

The Con's are many. The park is pretty run down. I hear that it is under a newer ownership so to be fair...they may be working on it. Everything needed repainted. EVERYTHING! The wood decking on every ride could stand to be power washed. The landscaping was pitiful and looked like it hadn't been mulched in years. The shower house is in dire need of improvement. The broken down rides, if they were broken down, should be fixed. It wasn't clear if they were broken down. Some patrons just thought that they didn't have enough staff members to run them. The Blue Bunny Ice cream stand appeared to be abandoned. No sign of it being open for business on this day. In fact, many of the retail store fronts along the boardwalk were vacant or not open. Perhaps this is another sign that the business is failing.

The impression I got from the park is this. Indiana Beach doesn't care about their visitors. They care about making money. Why do I feel this way? The lack of operational water fountains to keep people, who cannot afford six Dasani waters at $ 2.50/bottle, properly hydrated. Not allowing guests to bring in their own water bottles. Not providing sunscreen, and not selling sunscreen. (I would honestly not expect them to provide sunscreen, although Holiday World does provide it in unlimited quantity, but at least sell it for parents who forget it) and lastly because the park looks like it is lacking so severely in basic maintenance I am sure there are some not-so-safe areas within this park.

Would I go again? If they offered tickets as cheap as the one's that we purchased, perhaps. Would I go again with full price or slightly discounted tickets? Not a chance.

We had a good day as a family, and we did have fun at Indiana Beach but when I rate the value on the quality of fun we had we could have had more fun at Holiday World for a comparable full priced ticket or we could have had about as much fun for much less back home without the four hour drive time.

I'm glad that we went so the kids can say they did something new in Indiana this summer. I'm sad that such an iconic park has gone so downhill, and also that I wasn't able to prove my friends wrong about how poor the facility was, overall. 

1 comment:

  1. Rock on for your stellar and detailed review! I haven't been since I was a teenager, and I thought it was outdated then...so, good to know these things!