Adventure Bay at Adventureland in Des Moines
Location: Adventureland Park, 305 34th Ave NW, Altoona, IA 50009; 515-266-2121
Cost: 10 years and up $39.00; 4 - 9 years or online purchase for 4 years and up $33.00; Children under 4 are free; Season passes are available for $110 per person. We purchased our tickets for $27.00 per person from a local credit union as part of the Iowa Credit Union League's discount ticket purchase. The price for parking is $7 per car, an increase of $2 over last year.
Hours: 10:00 am -- park closing which varies from 6:00-10:00 pm. Check the web-site for specific hours.
Description: Adventure Bay opened summer of 2010 and is located on the far south end of Adventureland. You must enter Adventureland and traverse the park to get to Adventure Bay. As the park employee said just before the entrance to Adventure Bay, "There's only one way in and one way out." Adventure Bay has a kiddie spash zone, a multi-story water interactive area with slides and a dump bucket, a set of 4 tube slides, a lazy river, the Typhoon-a two person raft ride, two high speed slides, Reef Racers slides, Breaker Beach wave pool, and Shores Pool. Other than the wave pool--Breaker Beach and catch pools at the bottom of the slides, there is no water deeper than 4 feet. Just a note as water less than 5 feet gives water parks permission to use lifeguards with less certification.
Rules to Know: Basics--walk, no demin on any of the water equipment--swimsuits only, use a life jacket if you think you or someone you're with needs it. There are height restrictions on the various slides. There are tubes to rent for the lazy river and Breaker Beach, the wave pool, but you can go in both without a tube. Guests under 48 inches need a life jacket in Breaker Beach wave pool.
Food: Pizza, sandwiches, chicken strips, snacks, drinks, including adult beverages, etc.
Cleanliness: Very Clean--very new, especially compared to the aging Adventureland right next door. The lazy river had quite a bit of debris when we were there on May 26, 2012.
Friendliness: Friendly. Everyone we talked to was friendly--just not always knowledgeable.
Pros: As I said, this a relatively new water park. There was minimal crowd--at least during the morning-- the day we were there which was great. Due to the size, I'm sure the water park could handle a crowd well, except for waits to ride slides. So, if you do go on a high crowd day and want to ride the water slides, do that first. The lazy river is advertised as Iowa's longest lazy river, and it is! The lazy river goes on and on! The Pirate's Port Pool is cool with Dinah Shore benches on all walls and sides and cozies up to the swim up bar. There is an area with sand and chairs if you want the beach feel. Cabanas with chairs, towels, and TV's are available for rent--info on the web-site. Breaker Beach offers two types of waves and the lily pad climbing area in Shores Pool is a welcome addition.
Breaker Beach is toted as "Iowa's largest wave pool" and with two sides of waves, it very well may be. The waves rotate through tall body surfing type waves and shorter rolling waves. I'm told that there can be different waves on each side, but we didn't see that when we were there.
In addition to Breaker Beach, Shores Pool offers kids and kids at heart a pirate ship to play on and a pool to swim including floating objects and a lily pad/net climbing area. Shores pool also offers a swim up bar on one side and dry seating on the other.
The tall fake palm trees and piped in music take you away from Iowa and transport you to the tropics. In fact, the boy walked into the area, saw the palm trees and heard the calypso music and said, "I'm in paradise."
NOTE: We returned to Adventure Bay on Memorial Day--May 30, 2011. This was opening week-end for Adventure Bay and after two cool, rainy days, the sun brought crowds to the water park. The water park could handle the crowds, except for the lines at the food stand. The lifeguards seemed to be on their game and there were many members of "management" circulating throughout the water park.
We returned again on Saturday, May 26, 2012 opening day for Adventure Bay with the addition of Breaker Beach and Shores Pool. Again, "management" was circulating throughout the water park. The lifeguards were attentive especially in the morning. By 1:00 pm, the crowd became daunting and lifeguards lost control of entry into the wave pool.
Three lifeguards are stationed at the zero-depth entry area for Breaker Beach. The poles they are holding are 48" tall and are used for measuring children entering the pool. If the child is shorter than the pole, a life jacket is needed to be in the pool.
What happened was that the guards are spaced far away from the corner of the wave pool that most people entering the area use to go into the water. By 1:00 pm, guests were coming in droves and were jumping into the pool with clothes on, which is posted as not acceptable throughout the park. Even a park employee is stationed at the entrance to Adventure Bay by ensure that guests have swimsuits, etc.
Even a stroller made its way onto the edge of the water while the infant, along with siblings, were "released" into the water wearing shorts, shirts, and regular diapers. If this continues, a sanitary issue will ensue.
Speaking of sanitary issues, no were does it say on the posted "rules" that beverages are not allowed in the pool. So what happens on a hot day during a holiday week-end? Guests are in the wave pool on tubes or just standing with their adult beverages in hand. We saw empty beer cans being deposited along the edges of the wave pool--beyond the reach of the park employees toting brooms and retractable dust pans. How many drinks are going to be spilled into the water before bringing drinks into the water will be prohibited?
Cons: The cost! In addition to admission, tubes are $5 and lockers are $10. When you bring your tube back, you get $2 back. If you are a Season Pass holder, you get the whole $5 back. You get $5 back from the locker rental. Tubes and lockers are CASH ONLY! We had our debit card with us for safety, but managed to get $5 for the tube rental. You are given a bracelet that you put on yourself--employees are not allowed to attach the bracelet to you-- with your tube and the bracelet is cut off when you return the tube. The Typhoon water slide is billed as a "four person raft slide" which is not correct. (There were 4 person rafts available when we returned on May 30, 2011.) We were told at the slide that the rafts only holds 2 people. Saw a guard texting while on the lazy river and another guard sleeping at Heron Harbor, the kiddie splash zone.
Fun Factor: This was our third time visiting Adventure Bay. We were there during the first summer in 2010, again in May of 2011, and our most recent visit on May 26, 2012. The boy was ready to leave the water park by 12:30 pm--we went there first when the park opened at 10:00 am. He went on the slides and we had traversed the lazy river. So the husband and son went off to ride some rides and I stayed at the water park. We met up again at 3:30 and left the park by 4:00 pm.
Hints and Tips: Since Adventure Bay is located in the back of Adventureland and you have to traverse Adventureland Park to get to Adventure Bay, take that into consideration and planning. We headed to Adventure Bay shortly after entering the park. We wore swimsuits, carried in a bag of towels, and put the sunscreen in the purse. We took our least desirable towels with the plan to leave them at Adventure Bay so that we didn't have to carry them the rest of the day. Worked like a charm! I'm still not convinced that Adventure Bay doesn't need its own entrance and parking lot. I think that the dress and sanitary conditions of the rest of the park suffer due to everyone being in their swimsuits. A seperate entrance and parking lot would help with this issue. I'm guessing that Adventureland authorities are sensing that park attendance would dwindle. They are right.
On busy days, get the water park early. The chairs fill up quickly. I went there right away on May 30, 2011, while the fellas rode some rides. Glad I did!
Notes from our May 30, 2011 visit to Adventure Bay: I walked the 10 minute trek to get to Adventure Bay upon park opening. The husband and boy went part of the way, then began to take in some rides. They met me at Adventure Bay about an hour later.
We returned to Adventure Bay on May 26, 2012--opening day for the season. I asked at the front gate about tubes in the wave pool. Brandon said, "I don't know. They don't tell us anything." I had a feeling that this was going to be the response I was going to get repeatedly. I was right.
Upon entering Adventure Bay, we made our way to the tube rental shack. I asked, "Can you use tubes in the wave pool?" Response: You don't need a tube. That was an answer to a different question. Another employee entered the tube rental shack with a white shirt rather than the light blue--one step up on the supervisory ladder? So, I asked again. Response: No tubes in the wave pool. Interesting. The Adventureland/Adventure Bay web-site had an almost 4 minute video on their web-site including guests on tubes in a wave pool. Hmmm. . . We paid the $5 to rent the tube, I put the bracelet on the strap of my swimsuit, and we made our way to the new area. This time, I approached an employee wearing a black shirt--definitely management and asked if tubes were allowed in the wave pool. Response: Yes. I then suggested that he might want to let his people know in the tube rental shack as they are telling guests that tubes aren't allowed in the wave pool.
There is only one way to get to the Breaker Beach/Shores Pool area--through the walk-way shown above. This area includes a Cabana Rental office, an air conditioned store, and lockers. There is NO tube rental on this side of the water park. So, if you find yourself at Breaker Beach and want a tube, you must go back across the water park to the one tube rental shack and rent a tube, then carry it with you to the other side of the park.
There are concessions and restrooms in the Breaker Beach area. The concession stand offers sandwiches, chicken strips, chips, fries, onion rings, and beverages. Adult beverages can be purchased at the Shores Pool swim up bar or at the bar on the other side of the water park.
We enjoy Adventure Bay and will maybe return next year. I was disappointed that the coupons for gas and milk were not included in the park maps this year.
Here's my plea: Please either have a separate entrance for water park use, or include some sort of tram system that will take guests from the entrance to the water park! There also needs to be a way to use debit cards or credit cards for tube and locker rental. I was told by "management" that this is coming. I also suggested that a gift card of sorts might be beneficial for guests wanting to make purchases at swim up bars, as cash would get wet. Especially when the newest swim up bar is in the middle of the kiddie pool and features cartoons on the television screens. Kids typically don't have credit cards. I was again told by management that they are working with the company that supplies the cards for the arcade play to design something that could be used for purchases, including tube and locker rental, in the water park area.