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Kokomo Cove


Jack Krantz. September 1, 1929 - January 7, 2006


The Side Winder by Moser (ex-Wld West World)


Undaunted, Jack rebounded in 1975 with Adventureland's first full season, and it was a success. Two years later a wooden out-and-back coaster by William Cobb Associates, which Jack bravely named the “Tornado,” ramped up and solidified the park's attendance. Adventureland had made it, and eventually Jack was its sole owner, as he bought out the remaining investors in 1983 and proceeded as one of America's few surviving family-owned parks. And, following the golden rule of the amusement industry, “Jack put all of the money back into the park,” Jan states. “He purchased wisely and frugally.” As far as big rides were concerned, Jack avoided what were the two big (and expensive) coaster builders at the time, Arrow and Intamin, and instead bought a double-loop steel coaster from the small OD Hopkins Company in 1990. Three years later he went to another young, upstart company, Custom Coasters International (CCI), from whom he bought CCI's second wood coaster, and the first to feature designer Mike Boodley's signature drop-turn.


By this time, what had formerly been the small Iowa farming town of Altoona, Iowa, had grown significantly, as fast-food stops, restaurants, shopping and movie theatres now surrounded Adventureland. Jack was among the first to grab his own park guests when he opened the 187-room Adventureland Inn and the Adventureland Campground. Eventually the entire Adventureland Resort would also offer a waterpark and three swimming pools for its hotel and campground guests.


Jack's Vision With Jack's bold, fast, and continual moves, I asked Jan Krantz if she ever doubted or worried about Jack's aggression with Adventureland.


“Never! He was always totally clear on his vision, both creatively and financially. He had amazing vision for Adventureland, and he could describe it in the finest detail, so that you understood what the goal was. By the 1990s our focus was clear: we weren't trying to be a Disneyland or a Six Flags park, but a family regional theme park, here in the Midwest. And we're not teen-driven. We're not looking to be the 'biggest and baddest,' or to add a 30 million dollar coaster, so we don't have that pressure to add a major ride every year. We try to get a new flat ride every other year, with a major ride less often.” With Adventureland's success, I wondered if Jack ever considered selling Adventureland for a tidy profit.


“Dad certainly had his share of offers,” his daughter Molly Vincent, Adventureland's advertising director, told me. “But he never gave a thought to selling. My brothers and sisters and I started working at the park as soon as we were able to. We all found our niche, our particular talent, and Dad would groom us in our respective departments. He always said that selling the park would have been like selling one of his own children, and we all share that attitude as well. Adventureland was his dream, and we all wanted to be a part of living that dream and carrying it on.”


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Consequently, Jack's passing in 2006 didn't stop Adventureland's momentum; rather, it solidified the Krantz family with his legacy of creative vision and solid business decisions. Today, Jan is the general manager, aided by four of her seven children, one cousin, and some grandchildren as well. As a talented and energetic family, Jack's strong presence remains. “When we have our brainstorming sessions, we can feel his inspiration,” Jan says. “Still, we have to wing it, trying out new ideas. And whenever we make a mistake, we find a way to make it work.” One idea was pure genius. There have always been senior citizens and retirees who escape the oppressive summer heat of the American south by migrating north to the midwest. As many of them would park their recreational vehicles at the Adventureland Campground for the summer, the Krantz family created Adventureland's Work & Camp Program (Workamper). It provides discounted camping in addition to regular wages for those who work throughout the park season. Consequently, Adventureland's seasonal personnel is secured by a core of workers who, unlike college students, won't be arriving later in the season (which starts in April) or leaving early (the season ends in late September). The Workampers, in turn, love the camping, the wages, and the moderate temperatures. When the season ends, they pack up and return to their homes in the south. So what's new for Adventureland? “Our new waterpark, Adventure


Bay, has become the most popular new area the park has ever added,” Molly Vincent reports happily. “We placed it right in Adventureland Park, and it's included in the admission price. So now our current marketing for Adventureland is 'Two Parks, One Price!' It made 2010 our best season ever!” Strong, inspirational, and solid as a Normal Rockwell painting, the Krantz family has met the 21st Century with the park that Jack Built 36 years ago. “We know what we need to do,” Jan Krantz concludes. “The family, and Adventureland, are moving ahead.”


Gary Kyriazi is the author of The Great American Amusement Parks, A Pictorial History, and the writer/producer of America Screams, starring Vincent Price, the first book and television documentary on amusement parks. He lives in Arizona and has been a writer, researcher and consultant for the amusement industry for over 35 years


New Adventures


After the introduction of Adventure Bay in 2010, Adventureland will be taking things a little easier in 2011. “We generally add a new attraction every other year,” confirms Molly Vincent, “so for 2011 we'll concentrate on infrastructure and guest facilities. But we're already planning an expansion to Adventure Bay for 2012.”


NOVEMBER 2010


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