Lost Island is found in Iowa
New theme park opens this weekend
Boasting three roller coasters, a compelling theme, and a Disney-esque attraction housed inside a volcano, Lost Island Theme Park is ready for Midwest landlubbers to discover it. The new park, located in Waterloo, Iowa, is scheduled to open this Saturday, June 18.
Owned and operated by the Bertch family, it will be a sister gate to Lost Island Water Park and will capitalize on that park’s tropical theme. Beyond the novelty of palm trees in Iowa, however, the theme park will incorporate an elaborate backstory about a mythical lost island and will include five realms along with some homegrown characters.
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For example, the Udara land, which in the park’s fabricated language means “air,” will celebrate flight and the power of the wind. Its highlight, the Nopko Air Coaster, will hit 50 mph and include five inversions that will repeatedly toss passengers upside down. Known as a suspended looping coaster, or an SLC, the trains will hang beneath the track like a ski lift gone haywire. The refurbished ride comes from a park in South Africa.
Coaster fans aren’t generally fond of SLC coasters manufactured by Vekoma, which are known to give rough rides and cause some head banging. Nopko, however, will feature new trains that incorporate more comfortable fabric vests instead of bulky over-the-shoulder restraints and should deliver a smoother ride experience according to Eric Bertch, the family’s spokesperson.
Other attractions in Udara will include two spinning rides and the Skyborne Drop Tower. The latter attraction will incorporate a themed queue and a pre-show in which a mad scientist will recruit test subjects for his airtime-filled contraption. That is indicative of the themeing that will distinguish Lost Island from more generic amusement parks.
The park’s second major thrill machine, the Matugani Launch Coaster, will be located in the Yuta (earth) realm. It too is a transplant, relocated from a Swedish park. It will feature a hydraulic launch that will accelerate its trains from 0 to 46 mph in two seconds. The park has been having trouble getting the refurbished ride up and running and hopes to open it later this summer. A fire in March took the land’s other major ride, the Yuta Falls log flume, out of commission. That is scheduled to open next year.
In addition to more spinning rides, the Awa, or water, realm will include the Akua Maze. The water jets-filled experience will require teamwork to activate interactive elements. The spirit-themed land, Tamariki, will feature pint-sized rides, including a small roller coaster, for younger children.
The highlight of Lost Island will be Volkanu: Quest for the Golden Idol, a 4D interactive shooter experience. Located in the Mura, or fire realm, it will enlist passengers to trap and vanquish the park’s villain, Volkanu. Manufactured by Sally Dark Rides, the sophisticated attraction will incorporate trackless, 6-degrees-of-freedom vehicles. It will also include a bespoke animatronic character and an original score. The imposing volcano structure will come to life each evening with lighting.
“It’s an impressive, incredible ride for a park our size,” Bertch says. “It’s also specially themed around our parks and is completely unique.”
He adds that the mythical island is not tied to any specific location or actual people. “We’re a white family in Iowa. We became concerned about cultural appropriation,” says Bertch. “It is an imaginary place that borrows from many cultures.”
Opening with 23 rides and attractions, the park has a budget pegged at $100 million. But, Bertch points out, that figure was announced in 2019, and “things have changed significantly since then,” indicating the actual amount is likely higher. When visitors encounter the theming and, especially, experience the Volkanu attraction, they’ll “feel like they are in a multi-billion dollar park instead of a small, new theme park in Iowa,” he adds.
Are you planning to visit Lost Island Theme Park? How do you think Lost Island might compare to your home park? Should more regional parks offer E-ticket-ish rides like Volkanu? Share your thoughts.
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