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Changes in store as Indiana Beach plans 88th season

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Indiana Beach's first major steel roller coaster — the Galaxi — is being retired after 42 years.

Don Hurd operated the ride as a park employee 35 years ago.

"At that time, it was one of the biggest coasters around," he told the Pharos-Tribune of Logansport. "It's one of those nostalgic rides that people really love. It would have been for some the first roller coaster they ever rode."

Gallagher hinted that the absence left by the Galaxi's retirement won't be felt for long at the park about 95 miles north of Indianapolis.

"Fans and thrill-seekers can rest assured that plans are underway for a new thrill [ride] coming in 2015," he said.

Now the vice president of marketing for Indiana Beach, Hurd said while the park is losing a longstanding attraction, he looks forward to the seven new ones being introduced as the park begins its 88th season next month.

The rides are designed for the young to the old in fashions from classic to modern. For instance, the new Grand Carousel is expected to be a draw for all ages seeking an amusement-park tradition that has lasted more than a century, while the Viper and its 2,000 flashing lights will cater to the more adventurous as it whirls over the park's boardwalk. Additionally, the Pumpkin Ferris Wheel will let riders enter a carved-out squash that will rotate them to heights providing views across the park.

There will be four new additions to Kiddyland as well. Pilots will operate their own biplane on the Baby Baron, rising and falling at their own command.

Hurd describes the colorful Dragon Wagon, with its lead car designed in the shape of the mythical creature bearing its name, as an "entry level for children to get their first taste of a coaster."

"Hopefully they'll get the coaster bug and want to come back and back," he continued, "and as they increase their bravery — try some of our other coaster rides we have at the beach too."

The Growler is "kind of a teacup ride on steroids," Hurd said, allowing riders to spin at a 20-degree angle 7 1/2 feet in the air all while engaging in twists and turns.

Then there is the Rockin' Tug, a tugboat-inspired ride providing the sensation of ocean waves as it gently spins, dips and peaks.

Bob Gallagher, president of Indiana Beach, stated in a press release he is looking forward to the addition of the seven new rides this summer.

"We are excited to introduce these new attractions in 2014," he said. "They add something fresh and fun for the families who visit year after year and we hope they will be a draw for others considering a family vacation to Indiana Beach."

Guests staying at the campground will notice three new air-conditioned trolleys resembling old-fashioned San Francisco cable cars to transport them to the park as well.

This year's harsher-than-average winter has pushed the park's opening date back to May 23.

"This winter has really taken a toll on our crews to ready the park for our opening," Gallagher. "Also, with the area schools extending their school year, that impacts the available workforce within the park. It's unfortunate we had to change the opening date, but we want to make sure when we open we are ready to provide our guests with a great experience."

Extra days and operating hours in August and September have been added to the park's schedule because of the delayed opening. A full calendar of the park's operating hours is available at indianabeach.com.

Opening weekend will be celebrated with performances by area high school bands and by admitting military members, law enforcement members, firefighters and EMTs along with a guest into the park for free, Hurd said.

Despite the delayed opening, the park's traditional Mother's Day Lunch will still be held May 11 in the Skyroom Restaurant at the park as well.

Various tribute bands are scheduled to perform at the park throughout the summer to relive what Hurd calls "the glory days" when the park was "a mecca for big-name entertainment." He went on to recall acts like The Beach Boys, Chicago, Sonny and Cher and Janis Joplin.

"If the walls in the ballroom could speak, it would be just amazing," Hurd said.

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