Santa's Village Azoosment Park

13th August 2021

My morning began with a valiant but fundamentally unsuccessful attempt to buy an online ticket for Santa’s Village Azoosment Park via the official website. All of my cards were declined, leading me to the obvious conclusion: the system has apparently never been tested with plastic from outside of the United States. I’d half expected to run into the same problem at the gate, but there were no issues – in fact my purchase was completed with military efficiency; I spent no more than twenty seconds with the cashier, including the time taken to sign the receipt.

Santa's Village

On my last visit to Chicago back in 2014 the park had just finished commissioning a relocated Pinfari Z47 acquired from the long-defunct Fun Spot Park in Indiana. Unfortunately the machine in question had “called in sick” for my trip, as indeed it did for the majority of visitors that year; just seven people managed to tick it on Coaster Count during its brief operational life. Four years of rusting in a field had apparently taken its toll on the hardware, as it was removed soon after in favour of a brand new alternative. Super Cyclone (#2920) is an Interpark creation that is to all intents and purposes a drop-in replacement for classic Pinfaris. The restraints in the two-car train look a little cumbersome but in practice they didn't bother me. The individual seats have shark fins and two-point shoulder belts, presumably for the benefit of smaller riders, and each row has a fixed position lap bar. I enjoyed two cycles, and I'd have done a third had the queue not built up.

The park’s second coaster is a Wacky Worm (#2921) relocated from Old Town in Florida. I was denied this more than once in its original home, and was eager for the opportunity to correct that wrong. Today the train was engaging the chain with a terrific thump that couldn’t have been doing the hardware any favours, but aside from that the experience was fairly normal; a two lap cycle that was lively, if not quite as much so as the Puppy Express last night. One curiosity of this installation was the presence of a manual brake lever in the station that moved back and forth on its own as the train passed; presumably the park has automated things while leaving the override behind just in case.

It wasn’t possible for me to do the Antique Cars as a single rider, and the Xtreme Elevation drop tower was closed for maintenance. Instead my next stop became the Fire Dept ride, a charmingly hokey home-spun attraction where young guests are driven under lights and sirens to a burning building which they get to extinguish using high pressure hoses. The size of the conflagration was considerably more impressive today than in my old photographs, having apparently been upgraded over the intervening years. I managed to extinguish the flames after about 30 seconds despite the water falling a little short, but one doubts that the target audience would notice something like that!

My last hit for the morning was the new-for-2021 Jolly Trolley, which is probably best described as a poor man’s dark ride. It features an electric train which is driven very slowly around a rectangular building artificially divided in half by a partition wall. The interior scenes consist of illuminated Christmas trees with lights that flash in time with piped music, and the track is just the right length to come to an end as the train arrives back at its start point.


Sonny Acres Farm

13th August 2021

Sonny Acres Farm is a family-owned pumpkin farm that has been a feature of the Chicago area since the late nineteenth century. In recent years amusement rides have been brought in for an annual fall festival, and these apparently did well enough to justify a more permanent arrangement. In 2020 half a dozen machines were installed, including a family coaster.

The bad news for enthusiasts is that the park does not offer individual ride tickets. To that end, those seeking to enjoy a sluggish two lap cycle on the arthritic Wacky Worm (#2922) will need to fork over $20 for an unlimited ride wristband. As if that were not enough, the park requests that all visitors sign a liability waiver, though for my visit at least this wasn’t being checked thoroughly; I noticed that a Bartholomew J. Simpson had signed in right before I did.

Sonny Acres


Modern Woodmen Park

13th August 2021

It is a measure of the ubiquity of the figure eight spinning coaster that one has popped up at a minor league baseball stadium in Davenport, Iowa. It and a bunch of other small rides operate during home games for the Quad Cities River Bandits, which are generally scheduled for around fifteen days per month between May and September. An enormous paid car park is available at the gate; those who want to save a little money can use a free lot located roughly 200 metres east of stadium.

I arrived as planned roughly an hour before the game, and found that a queue had already formed at the stadium entrance. It moved quickly, however, and as I passed through the gate moments later I was handed a complimentary branded backpack that is now part of my curious amusement park souvenir collection. It's a little too small to be practical for regular use, though it's perfectly adequate for carrying a few cans of beer. (This is a beverage not widely available in America, even though the name is commonly misused to describe a watery alternative known to the rest of the world as "cat piss". There's a relevant joke about making love in a canoe which the reader is invited to find for themselves.)

Unlimited wristbands are available for $15, which makes sense for anyone planning to do three or more of the rides. With only two on my agenda I decided to pay individually; credit card scanners are available at each ride so there's no need to purchase ahead of time. Genesis Kidz Koaster (#2923) seemed to have a slightly faster pace than normal for a SBF spinner, but that could have been my imagination; I was treated to plenty of spinning over the five lap cycle. After disembarking I headed for the Ferris Wheel, where I was able to avoid the no-single-riders rule by pairing up with another group.

I decided to hang around to watch the start of the game to see if I could make any more sense of it than I did when I was dragged to the Seattle Seahawks a few years ago, but after half an hour I decided that I couldn’t, and headed to my hotel for a much-needed early night.

Modern Woodmen