Zipper-Dee-Doo-Dah in Cleveland

As I’m currently in Ohio for business, I took the chance to visit the I-X Indoor Amusement Park in Cleveland this Saturday.  Since 30 years, the fair takes place in the International Exposition Center (short I-X Center). The name Amusement Park fits in very well thanks to the one-time admission fee and the additional show program. Nonetheless, the I-X Indoor Amusement Park is a typical American funfair. The highlight of the event is the weather independence of the fair and the interaction of many rides with the hall’s ceiling.

Most rides come from the Baker Bros. Amusement Company. Rockwell Amusements, Swika’s Amusements and Reithoffer Shows each provide a roller coaster. In total, the funfair hosts six roller coasters, three of them for children. However, they were not my reason of visiting. I wanted to finally ride a Zipper.

Like the Tilt-a-Whirl and Sizzler, the classic from Chance Rides is indispensable in any US funfair – the oval with the pulleys at both ends has been sold a good 200 times since 1968. And even in Europe you could find a Zipper in the past; on the downside they are very rare.

The ride itself resembles the one on a top spin: it rocks, swings and sometimes wildly rolls over. Only a nacelle brake does not exist; you leave everything to chance. The speeds during the journey are usually constant: The main arm rotates at seven revolutions per minute, while the steel cables make at least four revolutions. At the turning points, a short acceleration kick follows every time, which – with a bit of luck – puts the gondolas into a proper rotation. Since you are only secured by a comfortable lap bar, holding onto the handrails is definitely a good thing.

The ride in the narrow cages is definitely not for tall people. With shoe size 11 you also have problems placing your feet properly. People with a weak stomach will quickly reach their limits through the whole swinging thing – especially towards the end of the journey. The zipper itself, however, is a masterpiece of engineering of the late 1960s. Even before the great looping fever of the 70s, Chance Rides turned the fairground world overhead. Unluckily, our ride on the Zipper was somehow tame. In the end, we rocked more than we did anything else.

Luckily, there are plenty of other options at the Indoor Amusement Park, but due to the crowd, we concentrated on the Fabbri Kamikaze. This Italian ride offers some longer head-over stays at the top of the ride – in spite of the over the shoulder restraints – and wonderful hang time during the fast looping sequences. You basically lift off from your seat, whilst the stations drive throughs you will be pressed neatly into your seat. What a machine!

In addition to the small Zamperla Spinning Coaster and the little Pinfari next door, the roller coaster G-Force turn out to be one hell of an adrenaline machine. This small Wing-Coaster-Butterfly from A.R.M. Rides is a lot of fun in a rather small package. After having taken a seat in the 16-passenger train, it raises leisurely up a way too steep straight. Arrived at the top, the train then latches out quickly. In the next second, you fall very fast to the ground. The transition between the much too steep lift and the ascending straight after is the only highlight, as the name of the rollercoaster proves itself. After experiencing the G-Force on your own body, the train swings back and forth and fastly comes to a stop again. If ever Sunkid Heege would produce such a ride 😀 . 

The I-X Indoor Amusement Park in Cleveland is a pretty cool funfair. The choice of rides is quite balanced and offers something for every taste. On our visiting day, the indoor amusement park was pretty crowded, but the weather outside was also a mess all day. If it is a bit emptier you can definitely have a lot of fun here, I really liked the fair itself. The mood was great and the gimmick with the hall’s ceiling basically upgrades every ride to a maximum.