Memphis Incredible Pizza is located directly next door to a health club, an amusing dichotomy akin to placing a brothel beside a convent. It felt more than a little American to be walking in the entrance door minutes after the posted opening time of 11:00am, just three hours after enjoying a substantial hotel breakfast, but there was a credit there and that was that. We learned on arrival that it was actually possible to enter the building without buying food, unlike most facilities of its type, but the game card alternative was more expensive than eating so we decided to enjoy an early lunch. The selection on offer was fairly reasonable, with a variety of choices even for those who dislike pizza, and while the quality wouldn't win Michelin stars it wasn't bad for the price.
Incredible Spinning Roller Coaster (#2261) was one of a handful of rides in the game room at the back. The layout was the same basic figure eight that we'd ridden several times already on our trip, but there was something different with the hardware: the colourful four car train on this unit negotiated the track with absolutely no clatter at all while delivering some moderately enthusiastic spinning. The difference between this machine and the various others was night and day, and while the ride was still indisputably for children it was decent enough to be ridden more than once. Larger readers might want to bear in mind that Incredible Spinning Roller Coaster has a weight limit of 240lbs per seat.
11th July 2016
Hydro Adventures is a combination water and amusement park located in Poplar Bluff, a small country town located roughly half way between the cities of Memphis and St Louis. The park first opened its gates in 2003, but it only appeared on the enthusiast radar a few years ago when it was purchased by United Parks, a management company led by former Cedar Fair executive Jack Falfas. The park offers discounted admission tickets after 3:00pm, and we slowed our drive very slightly so that we'd be able to take advantage of the deal.
On arrival the lady at the ticket desk asked for our zip code, and was visibly surprised when Megan quoted the one from her home town just outside Philadelphia. She seemed genuinely interested when we explained that we were in the middle of a two week tour visiting parks all over the country, and one of her colleagues listening from behind a nearby desk threw in a "that's awesome" too. This first interaction with park staff set the tone for the day; everyone we spoke to was without exception enthusiastic and friendly, resulting in a very pleasant atmosphere.
The main entrance building leads out into an open lawn with the brightly coloured Twisted Six slide in the distance. The various water attractions can be found on the right hand side, including a wave pool, a play structure, tube slides, and a lazy river. Everything else is on the left, including the Tailpipe Alley karts, batting cages, mini golf, and seven amusement rides: a convoy ride, a small freefall, a scrambler, a tilt-a-whirl, tea cups, and two roller coasters, both purchased on the second hand market.
Tiger Coaster (#2262) began life at Route 66 Carousel Park, a small park that closed in 2014 a few years after a tornado swept through the area. The ride was fully refurbished during the move: the track was repainted into a deep shade of blue, and the figurehead on the train was changed to light purple, suggesting a species of panthera tigris previously unknown to science. The two of us were well inside the 340lb weight limit for each car, and we took the front seat together for a single lap. The lift hill was typical Wisdom, with the train bouncing over each tyre mechanism, though the rest of the course seemed somewhat smoother than the norm.
The park's other coaster, Galaxy 500 (#2263), has a colourful history spanning four decades. It premiered at Adventureland Iowa under the name Super Screamer. After a twenty-four year run there it was moved to Splash Kingdom Waterpark in California, and then subsequently to Miracle Strip Pier Park in Florida. There was only a single two car train on the track today, but to be fair that's probably all that a park of this size realistically needs. My guess is that the others this ride once had were scavenged for parts in years past.
Operations today were best described as cautious. The three team members were insistent that all eight seats should be filled on each dispatch, presumably to remove the risk of single riders sliding within the cars. The sole restraint was a seat belt, quite a refreshing novelty for an American park, and this was pulled tight and double-checked. We were instructed not to put arms in the air and to hold onto the safety bar at all times, and this was clarified to mean that I should not throw Megan out of the car. My response of "don't tempt me" earned an uproarious laugh from a good natured face that was still smirking as we were manually pushed out of the station.
The ride itself was pretty much standard fare for a Galaxi; though the layout was largely without strong forces it was respectably smooth and enjoyable. We did a total of three laps, all of them in the back car. It was interesting to see that the brake at the end of the course wasn't engaging fully today, causing the train to overshoot the station, but the operators were evidently well prepared for this as each time they were ready to push it back into the proper position for us to disembark.
We decided to try the Tailpipe Alley karts on a whim, and I'm very glad we did, as they turned out to be quite a bit faster than expected, reminiscent of those at my local track (where a waiver is required to drive!). The operators here had a radio device to slow everyone down in the event of an incident, and we saw it used to great effect when a teenager right in front of me spun into the barrier.