When I planned a quick weekend trip to see a Minor League baseball game and visit Iowa’s premier amusement park in early June, this ride was at the very top of my radar. It’s 1 of 2 steel roller coasters at Adventureland, located just outside of Des Moines, Iowa.
Monster debuted in 2016 and replaced the park’s venerable log flume. Although some may miss the water ride, it’s hard to argue that what they built is a thousand times more thrilling. This “Infinity” Coaster comes from the brilliant minds over at Gerstlauer, the same company responsible for Knotts Berry Farm’s Hangtime and Alton Towers’ Smiler.
I was lucky to have visited on a sunny day when crowds were light enough to allow me multiple rides during the afternoon – and evening – when the REAL fun began. Here’s my thoughts on one of the most unique steel looping roller coasters I’ve ever ridden:
(all photos by Eric S unless otherwise noted)
Monster is situated in the center of Adventureland but lacks any discernible theming, aside from a station platform that sort of resembles a castle and cars that have a fiendish goblin on the front.
I did appreciate the music that played in the queue, which was a version of Rihanna/Eminem’s hit song “Monster” without the lyrics. The park’s ski lift passes through several inversions, oddly close to the track. It does allow for some fantastic photo opportunities, though.
*THE BIG GIMMICK(S)*
A typical roller coaster has, on average, one major selling point that makes it noteworthy. Monster has quite a few, the most prominent feature being the 133ft vertical chain lift hill and 101° beyond-vertical first drop, pictured below.
Once the 8-person car gets up to 65mph (really fast for a single unit), there’s a top hat element that lets you linger for a brief moment before the 1st of 5 inversions: a dive loop. A very unusual “Finnish loop” follows, which I can best describe as a vertical loop that’s been stretched out lengthwise.
As of this writing, the only other coaster in the world that has a Finnish Loop in its layout is the similar Gerstlauer Infinity coaster, Junker (at Powerland in Finland, where the element originated). It gives riders an intense 1-2 seconds of ‘hangtime’ where you feel like you’ll fall out of the restraints.
*THE REST OF THE COASTER*
Inversion #3 is another dive loop – though I found it to be more of a ‘cutback’ – and an airtime hump leading into a gloriously twisted Immelman. After this is an overbanked curve taken extremely slowly for another bout of horizontal hangtime, and lastly a corkscrew before the final brake run.
One ride lasts roughly 2 minutes and takes you through a 2,500ft course. I would highly recommend waiting additional time for the front row on either of the far seats, as they dangle on either side of the track for an extra scary sensation.
Although Monster is a heck of a good time during the day, this beast really comes alive at night. In addition to 46 ground lights, 137 LED fixtures are mounted to the track and synchronized to each ride vehicle. The layout is dark without any trains on it, but as the individual cars make their way around, each segment lights up accordingly. It’s wild to see in person!
This was only my 2nd experience with a vertical chain lift and beyond-vertical drop – the other coaster being Dare Devil Dive @ Six Flags Over Georgia – but it certainly rattled my nerves! I wouldn’t expect a park like the modest Adventureland to have such a wicked thrill machine on their hands, yet it surpassed my expectations…..and then some!
I’d give MONSTER a 9/10 for uniqueness, solid 8/10 for thrill factor, and major props for the beautiful LED light show after the sun sets. This magnificent ride currently sits at #6 on my list of top steel looping coasters.
Final Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
Have you visited Adventureland and ridden this incredible custom looper? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!