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With the exception of Gardaland, Italy is a relative unknown in the rollercoaster world. Despite the country containing two of the best rollercoasters in Europe, its relative distance from the UK and distance between parks always means Italy is a difficult nut to crack. Baring in mind, I last did a theme park road trip there in 2011 and the developments that have occurred in the last five years, there is now, no reason not to visit this fantastic country.
We started in Rome, back when Rainbow Magicland was a brand new theme park. Since then Cincecittá World has opened which you can explore in Ben C's Italy blog from 2015
This odd little park is a definite unknown. Despite the big promises and high expectations from when it initially opened, the park has never really set the continent alight. It has the space and some very intriguing attractions but it's never been able to grow beyond that. About an hour from Rome itself, it's one I would visit again thanks to Shock and Huntik.
Shock for example is a good ride to demonstrate the almost amateur approach of the park. It begins with very odd meandering before launching you off to the sky with some great aerial movements. It's loud, it's fast, its relatively intense, its photogenic and it leaves its best trick till last.
Whilst Shock is the parks signature ride, it's pretty much the only rollercoaster that genuinely impresses. The parks spinner is pretty terrible for example, a ride in a giant shed and suffers from the same problems that Winjas and Spinball suffer from; the turns counteract the spinning momentum meaning the ride never really gets going. Luckily the theming is fantastic so at least when walking past the ride, there is something to admire.
The surprise stand out was without a shadow of a doubt Huntik, a next generation shoot em up with fantastic effects. We really enjoyed.
I'd recommend a visit here to start a trip off with.
I really like Miribilandia. That is off course help by Katun which is undoubtedly my favourite B&M worldwide. The height of the thing, the fantastic intensity and the traditional B&M layout combination really works here and the ride whilst feels controlled (unlike say... enthusiast favourite Nemesis), it rides so well that can be forgiven for anything. I love it.
Next up, comes I-Speed a well loved Intamin launch rollercoaster. It's a good ride, solid, well paced and keeps its speed throughout. The only issue is those damn restraints which tend to cut into you on the fast corners. If it was able to get the new restraints, it would definitely fly up the rankings.
I have yet to ride Divertical but I've heard 'some' good things. The final real quality ride there is Reset, a dark ride themed to.. well I'll let the pictures do the talking. Worth riding and very separate from the rest of the park.
And finally, after driving across Italy, we come to Gardaland, at a time when people did generally seem to like Merlin. With Raptor, Krake and The Swarm all built in quick succession, it's amazing how Merlin haven't quite reached that lofty standard for a while. I really like Raptor, I personally think that despite it not really featuring large drops and big inversions, it has a much more original layout, more well paced then any of the others and I really love its industrial look.
Since my visit Oblivion: Black Hole has opened so another reason to visit Italy for you all. In terms of when I when I went, Raptor was only really the major ride that shone. Other rides like the awful S&S attraction, so awful I've forgotten its name and the Venom twosome aren't great back up coasters frankly.
Other rides really are terrible though, the Atlantis ride is tedious in the extreme. It looks pretty but no, not any good. The park does also suffer from similar Merlin issues to ours such as up-selling and very few support rides.
Just a shout out to Italy as a country. It's a fantastic place and my absolute favourite theme park trip memory is sitting on a balcony in our apartment overlooking the sun setting, with a couple of beers and just enjoying everything about the country. It's lovely and definitely worth a visit over.
Thanks for the reading and for Part 3, I shall be attacking the big egg that is Germany.. wish me luck.
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Phantasialand is one of my favourite theme parks, it may not be the biggest park out there, but they certainly know how to mix a combination of attractions within remarkable footprints.
Just over a year following my first visit, I decided to make a return visit for Winter to see the park beautifully lit up and decorated for Christmas.
Berlin Street, a beautiful park entrance (at least once you get past the street). It borrows some elements from Main Street but also makes it’s own in many ways too, like the Chairswing at the end and Fun House (Hotel Tartúff).
This time I finally got the chance to go through the Tartúff. I can safely say it’s one of the craziest (and longest) Funhouse attractions I have experienced. It must’ve taken at least 15minutes to walk through it. Worth the wait too.
Last time around I was criticised for not mentioning enough love for Chiapas. Here goes, Yes that’s an enhanced entrance too which looks amazing.
Words can it describe just how impressive and magical this attraction is, it’s such a happy upbeat attraction that aren’t common enough in main park’s. There is nothing I can fault about this attraction, from it’s dark segments, backwards drops and pacing throughout. The disco room is by far one of the best inventions in modern attractions. They even play a Christmas variant of the main theme too. Sheer perfection.
Subtle yet Christmassy.
Talocan was running just as impressively and intensely as last time. Certainly a stunning beast and just as much a show as a ride. Not one for after lunch.
Speaking on lunch, we went back to Rutmoore’s (which does these amazing hearty meals). The eatery is certainly holding it’s own with decorations too amongst delicious food.
Savoury Crepes Yum.
Taron is still absolutely amazing (and narrowly misses the top spot to Helix). I just adore the ride’s empowering launches, floaty airtime and interaction with nearby buildings and pathways. It’s just as much a piece of art as much as a coaster and much more than a series of twists and turns for sure.
Taron in the sunset looks even more beautiful for sure.
Whilst Klugheim is still park’s latest addition (Taron’s 120 minute queues are proof), it won’t be too long before the park’s next investment (albeit delayed until 2019) arrives, Rookburgh. Replacing the old Atlantis Simulator (removed before my first visit), the new area looks to boast a steampunk style theme, a surprising move away from the park’s signature rock Styles. Rockwork to Phantasialand is perhaps what shipping containers are to Merlin.
Whilst I am (naturally) highly excited this new area, I am going to be quite controversial now and say I’m slightly disappointed the area’s headline attraction looks to be another coaster (opposed to a dark ride). The park lost a major dark ride (Silvermine) so Taron could be built and I would like to see them gain a modern (animatronic heavy) dark ride. I’m sure Fly though will still be fantastic though and rumours suggest it will have dark ride elements which is a start.
Far on the other side of the park (away from the glamorous Chiapas and Klugheim) lies the sad sorry ageing duo that are Temple and Hollywood. It’s almost difficult to believe they are in the same park. The left side does generally feel noticeably inferior to the right, but then again it’s literally towards the back of resident’s gardens. I wouldn’t complain living there tbh.
Some say these will be the next attractions to be ripped out from the park (to makeway for the next park redevelopment). Whilst I won’t shed a tear when Nighthawk goes (a 10 minute confused journey in pitch black darkness), I will miss the Hollywood ride just a bit. The cave, jaws and Frankenstein scenes are my favourites in this sorry forgotten dark ride.
I’m probably in the minority but I actually really like Geister Riksha. Although it is one of the park’s oldest attractions (it’s 36 years old) the ride still feels like it holds a place even in modern Phantasialand. It certainly fits in more then Temple and Hollywood and feels better looked after too. I would rather the attraction extensively updated than ripped out entirely should China ever become redeveloped.
Spot the mistake.
Black Mamba was still amazing, Colorado crazy in the best way and Mystery Castle somewhat on the shorter setting. I enjoyed Maus Au Chocolate more this time which is great to see so much theming between the screens. Winjas Fear is definitely the better track. Bizarrely we had to enter through a back route to the entrances due to the main area playing home to a private function.
Due to a national holiday, there was no music on the second day in many park areas until 6pm.
Phantasialand at night just looks absolutely spectacular, here’s the China Area. Whilst this area doesn’t House the park’s best rides it’s still one of my favourite areas in the park. That said I like
pretty much all the areas of the park, the Fantasy not so much though.
Absolutely stunning. I don’t think these photos give the park justice.
The park at Winter also plays home to not one, but two night-time shows. The first one of these uses the park’s ice rink where numerous costumes performers actout. The loose plot basically comes down to something ruining Christmas and someone coming along saving it and ending on a firework finale.
The second show features a projection/fire show around the Chiapas ride plaza. Unfortunately no photography was permitted (Phantasialand are quite notoriously for being one of the stricter parks for this), so I wasn’t able to get any pics as I didn’t fancy getting shouted at in German.
I definitely enjoyed both shows for what they were but wouldn’t necessarily say they were out standing. They certainly weren’t terrible either. Perhaps my insufficient German didn’t help.
During my visit I was very fortunate to stay at Hotel Lingbao, which was just stunning. I absolutely fell l in love with the place from it’s oriental styling to it’s quaint surroundings. Many of the items in this hotel are said to have actually come from China itself.
Would strongly recommend staying here if you can as it’s definitely worth it. Otherwise H+ is a suitable place if you are on a budget.
On the second day, we ventured (or should I say attempted) some cultural stuff in Cologne. Unfortunately this wasn’t as successful as hoped due to the Chocolate Museum being closed, but we did what we could out of it.
Cologne Lock bridge.
I also had my first Hard Rock Cafe experience here. I strongly enjoyed this (however Tomb thought it was average). Not sure how others compare.
Old Cologne. Sadly most of Cologne is modern brutal buildings. I’ll let Basil Fawlty do the explaining.
Tradional German Market, we actually visited two but I definitely preferred this one.
Random animatronic goodness. You can pay a euro for the duo to play a tune of your choice whilst drinking beer.
I will end this update with Cologne Cathedral at night.
If the closed season becomes too much, just book a winter trip to Phantasialand (opening hours vary). Merry Christmas!
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If 2015 and 2016 were anything, empty would be the main word. I'd lost my coaster enthusiasm in a big way with only trips to the Disney parks across Florida, California and Paris being real highlights, their blend of capacity, good hours and efficiency being real draws. Any time I'd visited Merlin parks, I'd been frustrated with just how boring and badly run they had become. If I remember 2017 for anything, it would be the year that I got back into theme parks in a big way. It happened relatively late on in the year though, with only a trip to Disneyland Paris in February before the 25th anniversary celebrations begun.
I had been planning a trip with a few others for the beginning of April. This was the real kickstarter frankly. Parc Asterix, Nigloland, Holiday Park, Phantasialand, Movie Park Germany and Efteling on the agenda. This was a sublime trip with big parks and some fantastic rides. I could wax lyrical about Alpina Blitz at Niglo for hours. This to me is why Mack rides are so exciting. Intense, full of air time, perfect restraint systems and operations. It's been a long time since I've gone back again and again for a rollercoaster, let alone ride that same ride 10 times in a day. But Alpina Blitz is something special. This is why the idea of Icon at Blackpool is so exciting because Mack rides are rerideable and damn good fun.
Getting back on Oz'Iris, Black Mamba and Taron filled me with delight too. I always wondered if I had just over-rated Oz'Iris back when I first rode it but now I know that I hadn't. It's a genuinely good, unique inverter and the operations were absolutely perfect. Whilst Tonnere de Zeus was a bit disappointing this time around, I still maintain that Goudurix is just brilliantly awful. The thrill comes from wondering if you will survive.
I was still disappointed with Expedition Ge Force. I know why people like it and even get why this was rated Number one rollercoaster for years But we've moved on now and the stupid loading procedures and strictness of the ride holds it back in so many ways. Don't ride Alpina Blitz the day before is all I can advise. A ride that did surprise was Van Helsing at Movie Park. Wow. It's just a simple Gerstlauer bobsled but it was a big shock at how good it was. Very forceful cornering that compete with our own Rattlesnake at Chessington. The final park was Efteling which I wish we had longer at. It's back on the agenda for 2018 because I just didn't feel like I got the full Efteling experience. I really liked Baron 1898 for what its worth and the fairy dark ride was pure class from start to finish.
(side note, has anyone seen that seven rollercoasters you need to ride in 2018 video thats been going around? Why is Baron even on that list?!)
With that excitement over the next trip was IMO the best park in the world, Europa Park. It's no secret that I love Europa and every time I go it surprises and delights at every turn. It was weirdly quiet, managed to stay on Blue Fire twice in a row for example and we didn't really queue longer then 20 minutes for Arthur. We didn't know it was to be our last rides on EuroSat 1. It was running fantastically well. There's something about these older dark rides that just surprise at every turn. Wodan was also running fantastically. Every successive trip, it just seems to get better and better. Whilst I prefer Blue Fire, Wodan really is a great coaster. Coupled onto this trip was a few days at Paris to do all the 25th anniversary shows and to experience Hyperspace Mountain. Yuck. I don't really like it when a ride like Space Mountain has a theme chucked at it in such a haphazard way. The new trains are fine, but the use of Star Wars doesn't work here. New Illuminations is also not very good. There I said it. Stop trying to sell me your brands in such a blatant way.
July time and it was off to Walygator for Monster. This is a pretty damn good B&M and whilst Walygator is a bit of a dump, Monster almost makes up for it.
One final trip to Paris happened (annual pass fun) and then November and off to Florida for a two week vacation. (lol America)
I'll first talk about Busch Gardens and Seaworld before descending into Disney. Do Busch and Seaworld ever get busy? For example, I've never queued longer then 10 minutes at Busch for anything. Walk on Montu, Cheetah Hunt is lovely but surely it shouldn't be that way in Florida. Suffice to say my feelings for certain rides has changed. I'm not sure what they've done to Kumba for example but it felt like the wheels were squares. It was running quite roughly throughout whilst was slightly disappointing as I'd previously loved it. Montu was fine but it really doesn't compare to Oz'iris, Monster, Nemesis. It's first half is fine, but the second half is just the train wondering around finding its way to the ending. Sheikra is excellent. So much force and air time throughout. I hear that it's hated in theme park circles and I really don't get why.
Cobras Curse was new last year and seemed to be having a lot of problems. We managed two rides and it was an okay enough ride but was a bit haphazard in its execution.
Seaworld has three top quality rollercoasters and thats it. Luckily, these are B&M"s and three very strong ones at that. I'll start with Kraken (or Kraken Unleashed) which has been completely wrecked by VR. I'm not sure how the queue works anymore because the queue is closed off with a gate for the whole day and you have to ask to ride without VR. If you want VR you have to grab a virtual queue ticket. You could easily lie however and just queue normally and get straight on. But if you have a virtual queueing ticket you get priority onto the ride and can still just choose not to use the VR if you so desire. It was weird. The VR is fine but again it take away from the quality B&M experience you could be having instead. I'd never really liked Kraken that much before but I really enjoyed it this time around. It felt a bit rough around the edges and less smoother then before so maybe I like the more visceral experience.
Manta is excellent. The flyer is a bit of an under-rated gem in Europe to be honest and its a shame its never really taken off because from what I've seen and experienced, the flyer is the most intense B&M product available. I know some don't like pretzel loops but I absolutely adore them. MORE PRETZEL LOOPS PLEASE.
And finally... Mako. My experience with B&M Hypers is ashamedly lacking. I've only been on Silver Star and Shambhala so far so I was looking forward to Mako. A few things with this first. Most hypers have nine rows, Mako has seven so it looks really short and oddly shaped compared to the norm. I think this may explain why Mako is so much more airtimey and 'intense' compared to the others I've been on because the air time here was far more in the Intamin category of air time then the norm. The first half of Mako is excellent and surprisingly intense. It felt far more violent that I'm accustomed to from Shambhala for example which takes everything far more calmly. Mako isn't like this at all. What does take away its edge though is two trim breaks. WHY DO THEY DO THIS. Mako has two and the first nearly kills an air time hill, the second makes for a poorer ending then Mako really deserves. What Mako does do is deliver another excellent B&M for Seaworld who IMO have one of the strongest B&M line ups in the world. There, I said it.
So Disney World. This was all really about Animal Kingdom frankly. It delivered. There's a slight bit of animosity towards Pandora: The Land of Avatar and I get where that comes from. But it pales into significance of how incredible the area is. It's immersive, its full of little details and each walk through of the area is full of surprises. It's particularly amazing at night when the pathways come to life, full of colour, the plants shine, the waterfalls glisten.
There are two rides in the area. Flights of Passage is the big one which gets 180 minute queues from the start, all the way to the end of the day. The other is Navi River Journey, a small boat ride that takes you through the land of Pandora. For all my money (and worth), I think Navi River Journey is the better ride. This goes slightly against the grain but to me, I prefer the physicality of River Journey with a particularly impressive animatronic. Flights of Passage only just justifies its long queue time and if I was being cruel, it's just a slightly more impressive Star Tours. There's no doubt that what Disney have done here is tried to put you on a journey, to wake you up to the damage being done to our world, albeit very subtlety. I just find the pre-shows over long and full of faff, impressive faff but faff nonetheless.
What does impress however is Expedition Everest at night. Disney are the masters at lighting and riding Everest in pitch darkness has to rate as one of my favourite rollercoaster experiences. Rivers of Lights, Animal Kingdoms new night-time show is impressive in its small scale. It's not like the castle firework shows where its essentially a Disney clip show. RoL is about how we live with animals and our bond with nature. I really liked it.
Nothing to really report about Hollywood Studios and Epcot was it's usual retirement home of locals and retail. Frozen Ever After is fine if unremarkable but just about enough to justify its queue times. Happily Ever After, the new firework show at Magic Kingdom is fantastic. The Christmas event was fun but no way on earth am I queuing three hours to meet Moana.
And with that another theme park year is over. It's been one where I finally feel back into the theme park groove. Hope this wasn't to long a read and congratulations if you've made it to the end.
So I visited Liseberg back in July, and I just wanted to share a few thoughts on the park... Majority of my photos were like so bad so I'm just stealing photos from the park's website to break things up.
Ultimately, I was left a bit...unfulfilled? by the park. I don't know how to describe it. The quality of some of the attractions at the park is really good, but the park itself just do 'it' for me.
Let's get this out the way. Helix is truly fantastic. It's got everything - a lengthy layout, inversions, speed, airtime, a nice style and good audio...everything. And it all works, which is more important in some ways. I really loved the style of the ride - the slightly futuristic / game feel just works SO WELL. It's a bit of a shame that the queue is a bit worn - it needs a good clean and spruce up really. But aside from that, I have no real flaws. The ride is fantastic wherever you sit. The back is fab. The front gives you the force and speed. And at night is great <3 It's just great!
Balder was a wonderful surprise. So much airtime, a really decent layout, that's nicely concealed, and just really good fun. It's glass smooth which makes it feel weird, but a good weird I s'pose. It's easy to see why it's so highly rated, and it's high up on my list too - my favourite woodie for certain!
This classic Schwarzkopf is perhaps a bit of a hidden gem in the park now. Which sounds weird to say given it's not hidden at all. But in a park with Helix, Balder and soon Valkyria screaming in your face, it's perhaps something which will slide out of view. Lisebergbanan was the only coaster where staff didn't bother stapling me in on every go (the staff on Helix and Balder seemed determined to split me in half...), which resulted in some awesome airtime and being flung about in every direction. We also had a couple of rides in the rain which really added to the experience. Just a shame about that final brake...
Rebalder & Stampbanan
A couple of small creds finishes up the coaster line up. Nothing special, but Rebalder ended up being my 100th cred - woohoo!
I'd always wanted to try a Gerstlauer Sky Roller since I first saw them, so I was excited for this. I rode is 3 times over the course of 2 days - I struggled on my first go to get any spins, but managed a solid 27 on my second go, which made me very queasy... Goodness knows how people cope with 50+ spins...
So this is basically Rush on a hill. It has loads of potential, but it just didn't deliver. The ride cycle was disappointing, and the location just didn't work - instead of making it more intimidating, it makes it less. It meant the ride experience was rather lacking all in all.
A really tall drop tower with Stealth-style restraints. It was alright, gave nice views of Gothenburg, but that's about it. I think after Detonator's forcefulness and brilliance, other drop towers feel lacking for me..
FlumeRide & Kallerado
The park's log flume is a nice scenic tour really. It's also gives a good pop as it starts down the drops. Nothing special, but good fun!
The rapids were great - they start quite slow, but gradually builds up and up and it just works really well!
Oh god. This was blooming awful. It's a ferris wheel, but the loading procedures were bad. It got every pod emptied / filled (which naturally takes ages), and then cycles round 3 times, and then starts the unload/load process again. It's just so boring. It didn't help the views were poor because of rainy weather, but even with clear weather, there's not that much you'd see again a second. third or fourth time round...
Loke & Mechanica
The two newest rides at the park; unfortunately they didn't appeal to me. Loke, an Intamin gyroswing, is a ride that makes me feel awful after riding these days, so I didn't fancy it. And I didn't want to waste time with Mechanica when there was other stuff I could do..
Majority of their other attractions are all standard stuff, and they weren't that great really. A bit of a shame. Their dark ride (which is closing soon / might already be closed?) was truly awful though. However, one final noteworthy attraction...
Gasten Ghost Hotel
An upcharge scare attraction (priced £5/£7 depending on what ticket you have). Themed around a spooky abandoned hotel which is over-run by spiders. I hate spiders, which naturally put me on edge. The maze was very good; a good length, VERY well themed, and some fantastic use of special effects (smell and feel were particular scents that were attacked!). The only downside was that it lacked in actor numbers, which is a bit of a shame. Nonetheless, a good scare attraction which did leave me cowering at some points...
On a more general note, operations at the park were generally very good and quick. I'm not a fan of their shutdown policy (Helix shutdown when we were near the station, and it resulted in a full queue evac. It opened about 10 minutes later and must surely have only been a small problem), but I guess that's a small grumble. I love all of the sideshows and games they have - so many of them were themed which was fantastic, and they just had such a good atmosphere about them (it was also good that staff weren't pressuring people to play).
So yeah, Liseberg was a weird one. I enjoyed their 3 major coasters, and they have a couple of other good attractions. But the park feels lacking in...something to me. But I don't really know what. Despite wanting to go back and ride Helix, Balder and Lisebergbanan, I don't really feel compelled to visit Liseberg as a park any time soon (even their new coaster isn't that tempting). It's disappointing in some ways, as I want to like the park, but I just don't as much. I think it's at least partially down to the fact it's more or less an amusement park, rather than a theme park, and I'm more of a theme park guy.
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So Halloween is over, and sadly its closed season
Though with last month being October, I thought it would obligitary for me to write about some of my Halloween Highlights and re-live
some of the happiness for the following months of depression and vodka which is the closed season..
(I would do photos but then I realise most of my pictures are sh**)
Best Theming/Costume Design
Honourable Mentions: The Final Cut, Skin Snatchers, The Colony.
Winner- The Welcoming
Even though I did have my criticisms about this maze, it for sure had some of the most beautiful theming I have seen in a while
and it was the absolute highlight of the attraction!
The actors inside used the large sets to its advantage and because of this- The Welcoming I think more than deserves this award.
Most Improved Attraction
Honourable Mentions: Coven, Creepy Cottage (the cast in the cottage were insane this year)
Winner- Platform 15
Platform 15 was my least favourite maze of last year, as it just bleeded dull with little to no actors or anything whatsoever going on..
Though this year sees the maze being actually being my favourite at the park as the actors swarmed the maze with scares, and the new village
scene is just fab.
The infamous tunnel section is back though, but some actors with torches this year provided this previously dull section into a tension filled one..
The maze still has a few niggles, but overall I think Platform feels like the most complete maze at Thorpe, and with the cast this year I have to say this is easily
one of the best mazes I have done this year..
Most Original Concept/Theme
Honourable Mentions: The Welcoming, Coven.
Winner- The Legend Of Crank Jack
Crank Jack has a very simple concept, though it just works so well..
So for those who have been hiding under a rock, Crank Jack sees guests crawling through a massive crawling section which is both confusing and jumpy with the
large amount of panels for actors to jump out, and they can come from the ceiling too!
The non crawl sections also are jumpy and confusing with countless dead ends and trigger-happy clowns with perhaps the most annoying horns..
The idea and excution is far from elaborate, but it works, and it works incredibly well too!
Dis-honourable Mentions: The BrotherHOOD, Festino's Festival Of Freaks, VIXI, Saw Alive.
Loser- Dead And Breakfast
Dead And Breakfast felt like a massive shadow of itself this year with the witty improv and some of the brilliant scares completly stripped from the maze..
For example last year this maze had a Bunker scene, where this year you just walk straight past it.. Its the exact same with kitchen scene and even the elevator effect
from last year is now gone..
The main maze itself lacked scares (I got like 1 jump scare throughout) and the nicely themed sets generally felt un-used..
Dead And Breakfast is a maze that could be (or was) brilliant, but this year it just fell incredibly flat IMO, heck even the chainsaw finale at the end felt
Most Intense Maze
Honourable Mentions- Chop Shop, Big Top
Winner- Sub Species: The End Games
What haven't I said about Sub Species?
The maze is seriously something completely different in that actors have so much freedom to do what the hell they like with you.
I was alone for long periods with it, they shoved me and stalked me throughout, and overall I was on edge for the entire experience.
The experience is very varied in that you get darkness, open rooms, claustophobic tunnels, and just pretty much everything
the maze can throw at you.
Sub Species is just insane, even in its third year it still continues to shock me every year!
Winner- Tulleys Farm Shocktoberfest
Now, its really a combination of stuff that comes to making up a event for me- the operations, roamers, the mazes, the atmosphere, ect.
Tulleys Farm I feel like has overall the whole package with its great operations (from my 3 visits) and its amazing atmosphere and roamers.
The roaming actors make Screamland or Fright Night's roamers look poor, and the music and overall atmosphere of the place is just amazing.
The operations are also fairly decent too, with queues being resonable (no crazy 3 hour queues) and roaming actors seemed to show up
in the queues to entertain guests which was nice.
And of course the attractions themselves are a pretty good selling point of Tulleys, and after tonght I have to say I actually think the lineup is incredibly strong.
All mazes felt like they had quite a few actors in them, and in some mazes (Twisted Clowns and Cellar) the actors seemed to swarm some sections which caused back to back scares!
Overall Tulleys is by far the most fun I've had this Halloween, and I can't wait to get back next year!
You have reached the end of this blog, I congratulate you, you poor soul!
Anyway what events and stuff have you done? Anyway happy Halloween (I know I''m 4 fuc**** days late) and happy off-season!
May the next few winter months be depressing.. (Bar Winter Wonderland, which fu** that, I don't want to take a loan out..)
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Like a seasonal special of a magazine, welcome to my bumper edition of all thing Halloween!
So this year, it started late September (we'll be doing it in August soon don't you worry, watch you backs Mickey's not so scary thing)
As per most seasons, it began with the press night at Thorpe
This is a fab way to try out the new rubbish
Before these metal fences get full of people
The two new Walking Dead mazes; Nightmare was lovely to look at, but far too open, far too short and had no ending. Very naff. Sanctum was even worse, like stupidly short.
Saw Alive is the same, Platform was much better with an actual middle section now. And Big Top is now a very well rounded, complete maze. Roamers this year were awful, bring back the good old roaming style of 2011. Theming was alright in places, places you don't expect. Like by Flying Fish
Preview night of Tulleys!
Felt very stale this year. Is it the first time we've not had something fully new? The tag onto Hellements just makes the thing bearable, Chop Shop is still a boredom machine of repetition. Colony and Cellar are still fab though and hayride a good laugh. But I feel they're pushing to have more mazes and losing quality? There'll be NINE next year. Europa has 5. Thorpe have 5. Most events are 5/6. Mad
The following weekend was back at Thorpe for the meet. Here's a nice photo of Swarm, cloud and Stealth.
And the Amity effect
Friday 13th. Would be rude not to go to an event. This started our trip to the midlands for 4 different Halloween events, starting at The Howl!
I have no photos from inside cos I was preoccupied! However, this event is much smaller than its sister, Tulleys. 5 mazes but all very close together and this really worked in my eyes. They had a few roamers but all the actors going to and from break would like run at people on route too. The clown maze was alright, hotel de basquerville had great sets, but the scares were very front heavy so being at the back did nothing for us. House of Hounds had such a build up, not an amazing middle but the best use of a puppet I've seen. It physically pushed you over in the claustrophobia tunnel. Then there was Squealers Yard and Shed. Squealers is one of the most intense mazes with being physical I've done. We went through as a 3, and the actors were crazy. And it just kept going! Shed was kinda like Cellar in that it had inhabitants and was conga, very well themed as well with some good jumps. Overall a fab little event. I think this is only its third year?
The next morning
Hi Mr Scarecrow, do you like all the bunting?
Scarefest, not to be confused with the later to be visited Screamfest 30 minutes down the road
Obligatory Nemesis photo
And bam. Maze building.
So the 3 in here.
Terror of the Towers- It's a solid maze, I said this last year and I stick by it. It works. If this was at Thorpe you wouldn't complain, it's only cos Towers make you pay for it and it's next to much more intense mazes. There's nothing wrong with it.
Altonville- We had an awful run through. No being dragged away, hardly any grabbing, caught up with like 2 other groups. I've heard this a lot about this one though this year. Real shame. It has an ending now though
Sub Species- Pre-show is still fun, the door scene good fun even if it's cut back slightly now. Seems hit or miss, me and Phill had good runs but Jack didn't. In general this year the actors seem less aggressive but Sub is still fun as it's an actual maze, a game. 2 endings as well now so I got a nice shiny new one, yay!
Then there's this one. Eh. It looks nice, if the SW8 queue gets some of these set pieces I'll be happy. But batching in like 25 people at a time yeah. All odd. No ending really. Idk. Eh.
Oh look, a place that knows how to do a scare zone
Simple yet fun!
Have a nice Smiler photo
And off we went to Screamfest!
5 mazes. As per starting with the clown one. Decent enough, really like this entrance feature though
Little DJ in a box with lights. He seemed like a cool guy
Strategic photo to have crap next to it? Maybe. It is pretty naff. Bland walls, nothing happening. Worst new thing
There was a fire 'show'. Roaming people with fire at other events were better but hey ho.
Soul Seekers had a great start, got lost in the middle then no end. Love Hurts is brill. Such a cool concept going into the sewers, completing weird tasks by a crazy scientist to perfect matching up singles
And then the other new maze. Starts with a little tractor ride around a hill, then you arrive at the party to "enjoy" the local corn maize. But, a lunatic has also just escaped jail with his banditos. And it all goes mad. Actor runs through the corn, 4 things that feel finale worthy but it isn't over. So much fun, kept going, glad it was left till last! And that's Screamfest, some good concepts and mazes, then some awful ones.
Back at Towers the next day we decided to go family friendly with a flash mob from the awesome ancestors
And House of Monsters! They really need to advertise this more, it's so much fun and worth every single penny of the £5. Cheesy as a slab of cheddar but a great laugh and interesting little maze ending
A fun photo of Smiler
Another flash mob
And off we went to Twinlakes for Xtreme Scream Park
With roaming actors who know how to pose perfectly. Ta mate
6 mazes, 2 rides and a load of roaming actors. We were all very much looking forward to this one especially after the stuff we'd heard. Stilton Hall Hotel was insane. 2 floors, a full hotel tour, and some crazy even kinky actors
Hoodoo Voodoo. The best hooded maze I've done. Was like a funhouse with changing floors, wall texture, actors etc and had a decent post hood section with huge voodoo dolls, and an odd finale
Just a roamer, but better than the previous nights 'show'
The Village was long. But a good long. 4 different building, one being a creepy school with a cool blackboard effect. Only thing that let it down for us was the finale or kinda lack off. Something we'd noticed a lot this year in general from events
First half of Pie Factory we saw no actors, just loads of actor runs and potential. Then we caught up with a chain of people and actors. Shame as this maze had massive potential but ending up in a huge group ruined the second half
The night ended in jail. There was some really cool effects in here, and again a decent length, plus the façade is just great with the guntower going out onto the lawn of the events like arena. There wasj ust no ending! And that concludes our weekend away!
As storm *MET office being stupid so want to name everything that has a bit of wind or rain or storm storm name here* I headed down to Dreamland for the first time
It's a cute little park with some great vintage rides
The famous "Lets piss off the local flats with a loud coaster" Magic Mouse (no joke, this thing pretty much rests alongside their balconies, even waved at someone who wasn't as impressed)
And a wacky worm. Technically a bee actually. With 4 or 5 laps. Can't remember but it was too many
To kill some time we went to a shell grotto. Yup. It is what it says on the door
Enough of that nonsense, Screamland time! 6 mazes and a photo opportuning shipping container
The maze in the mirror maze is a joke its so short. But has a cool show start. Brotherhood is a new maze, hooded but different and quite a cool hooded concept. Considering the number of hooded mazes I've done this year, we didn't hate it. Carnival of Freaks, great start with Alfonso, weird ending where they trap you in a room that looks like the start. Crank Jack killed our knees, you are crawling for so long! The ending is cool though, we got so lost we ended in an actor spot and got screamed at (in character). Prop store was annoying, had some really nice old Screamland stuff but with a pulsing strobe so you can't properly see it. And then a very expected photo finale. Final cut and Dead n Breakfast is a cool concept going from one maze straight into another. The smells were authentic like popcorn, and a few cool effects but not as good as I'd been told they were in previous years
And then to end the Halloween season like a pro, 2 years running.
Howl'o'ween. Curse of lost tomb is worse, they don't do half the interactive stuff anymore. Roaming actors were a major plus this year, Tomb Blasters queue had like 5 in. Creepy Caves is great. They can't run a timed ticket system at all, we waiting nearly 80 minutes in the queue but the maze was good. Good story, cool concepts and effects. After the first scene I had no idea where we were in relation to the caves.
So overall, a fab spooky season! Hopefully next year will be just as eventful
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It's no secret to those that know me well that I passionately believe Halloween as a whole is just an overblown annual event which leads to disappointment, scare-less attractions, cringy atmosphere and nothing but annoyance with masses of people flooding the events held everywhere across the country. The problem for me is for over 9 years in a row now between 2008 - 2017, I have only ever managed to attend one event during this entire time of year and that's Thorpe Park's Fright Nights and to be brutally honest, I am now getting tired, bored and frankly sick of the event.
The event during the 2008/2009 season was excellent with consistent operations, brilliant audio, tons of park-wide decorations, great use of smoke and lighting effects and most of all, every single maze at the time was home-brewed and original, some with inspirations from other IP's such as Se7en for instance. Asylum, Se7en, Curse and Hellgate were awesome! But now however, hardly any of this is prevalent at the event anymore and hasn't been since 2013 when Lionsgate started taking over everything, and now AMC's The Walking Dead. It's gone to the point now that when someone mentions the words 'Fright Nights' to me, all I can picture is long queues, crappy operations, overselling of Fastrack, needless use of IP's, mediocre scare mazes and up-charges everywhere you go. The whole thing now just feels like a giant cash grab and rip off frankly with very little meaning behind it where every year that passes, it's fun-factor is diminishing like a burning flame. Fireworks/bonfire night however does have a meaning and historical relevance behind it in Britain, which is why it's by far my preferred event at the end of each season and I'll never stop requesting Thorpe to bring it back after it's last appearance in 2011.
Now, you might ask by this point why am I talking about Fright Nights when this blog is titled 'A Newbie's Trip to Tulleys Shocktober Fest'? Well, it's because this review is going to highlight such a stark contrast I experienced between Thorpe's version of a Halloween event and Tulleys, and I feel it's needed to set the premise of this review, because it's important to note at this point after visiting Tulleys on the 21st October 2017, despite Storm Brian interfering with the weather, that night has restored my faith and excitement in these types of events once again. These are words that I honestly thought I would never say!
Similar to my other couple of previous blogs, I warn at the start my reviews are detailed, precise and very long, and this is no exception. So if you're someone who wants to have a quick read, focuses on the main highlights or doesn't want to get bored of reading my analysis by the end of the first paragraph, this isn't for you I'm afraid!
So to begin, I would like to start with my overall first impressions of the event upon walking inside the site and the general atmosphere of the place:
Initial Impressions and Atmosphere:
I've know Tulleys Farm for as long as I can remember ever since I was just 4 years old during the summer when on the other side of the field the wheat maze was open with other smaller activities, as well as picking your own fruit during June for the strawberries and raspberries. But despite this, the way Tulleys have set up this event made the place almost unrecognisable to me. It turns out that instead of the event being held in the small area near the front where the huts, cafe and fields are it is instead directly behind all of this on a massive open grass field on a gentle slope which I have never ventured onto before until now. So whilst in some places it felt familiar, the majority of it felt as though it was an entirely different site to what it's like during summer!
Upon the entrance next to the grass field for parking, the entrance stands amongst the trees with flames on either side and giant pumpkin scarecrows lit up in orange, filled with smoke, creating a very natural, dominating yet familiar atmosphere to how I've know Tulleys before. Once going under the entrance hut into the ticket booth area, the entire roof is covered with white canopy tents which I appreciated very much as it ensured we didn't get wet whilst waiting to have our bags searched and collect our tickets on the muddy green fields. It reminded me a little at first of Fairford's Royal International Air Tattoo event every July with the way it was all handled, which was organised very well by the staff, so kudos for keeping the system easy, quick and simple with the large number of people at the event.
Once outside the tent and you've got your tickets/wristband, you are instantly surrounded by lots of attractions, food/drink stalls, stages, rides and seating which I guessed immediately was the centre of the whole event as all of the eight attractions were scattered across the field within equal distance of each other. A small detail I really liked was consistently across the fields there were small fires being lit with burning wood to keep guests warm at night and blend into the whole 'festival feel' of the place. The smell of burning wood in these fields felt comforting and familiar, especially as someone who once was part of the Scouts and went on these camping trips all the time! The audio used across the park wasn't blaring or obtrusive anywhere either and instead was subtle, evenly balanced and played quite a lot of Midnight Syndicate's music both old and new across each area which was a nice touch. After their audio was banished at Thorpe Park starting in 2013 with Lionsgate (grrrrrrr), it was nice to hear it once again. Also, there was tons of smoke everywhere across the place with lots of roaming actors interacting very well with guests which was quite amusing to watch!
The attractions from this centre are situated down either the south or west sides of the field down slopes. To the left of the square you will find The Colony, The Chop Shop, The Cellar and Twisted Clowns. Directly in front you will see the couple of rides the event has which was a Booster ride similar to the one on Brighton pier, and a bouncer similar to the one which can still be at Hastings years ago, as well as on Brighton pier outside the Haunted House which was nice. And lastly, to the right down the hill, Horrorwood Haunted Hayride, Creepy Cottage, VIXI and Coven of 13, as well as the shop, paintball alley and further food and drink stalls.
It's also worth mentioning that behind you in this centre there is also a stage where a live band is held and plays several chart music hits which was nice, including many which fit in with the Halloween theme. Further down the hill on the right there is another live band too performing for guests. Inside the tents across a few areas, you could buy pumpkins which I presume the farm has grown for guests to purchase at the event, some of which were enormous and very heavy to handle! It's the smaller things with simple decorations like pumpkins that can make a big difference sometimes to the overall feel of an event. It adds to the Halloween theme, unlike Thorpe who still for some reason think little/no decorations = Halloween atmosphere.
With all of these points taken into consideration, this has a very different vibe and feel to it all compared to what Fright Nights is, and really, I loved it! The whole place felt just like being at a festival with all the canopies for the queues, muddy fields, live music, great theming, large variety of food and drink stalls, the many small campfires everywhere and the consistent feel the place had where nothing seemed to stick out like a sore thumb anywhere. Compared to Fright Nights, the only fair comparison to be made here is that Tulleys clearly know how to create a better atmosphere at night for their customers which is more relevant to Halloween and better organised than Fright Nights has ever been.
Food & Drink:
As mentioned above, all of the food and drink available at the farm was available through these temporary food stalls which you typically find at most events similar to this, but the variety and close proximity between them all was quite convenient and was all situated in the centre. Everything from hot drinks, takeaway food, sweet snacks and even a hog roast were available for guests and the variety offered was quite good.
Although, the prices were a little too much for what I expected to pay. I went to the noodles bar and ordered pulled pork curry noodles and a large spring roll which came to £10.25 altogether without a drink and a regular cup of coffee was £3. So whilst the variety was great and you get large portions, the prices here did feel too high compared to what I would comfortably pay for typically and was the only area where I felt ripped off slightly by the whole event. £3 for a regular Americano was too much! Not surprising, just thought it’s worth noting to those who have yet to visit to be prepared with enough cash in their wallets.
As a whole, Tulleys demonstrated to me exactly how you should manage events with lots of people going through the attractions. There was only 50 VIP and only 200 Fastrack ticket holders in the entire field that night, which meant the queues for Fastrack were extremely small or non-existent most of the night. Dispatches were fast and frequent for all the mazes, especially for the Haunted Hayride and every bit of effort was made by the staff to keep the queues to a minimal as long as possible throughout the night. When you consider all mazes at Fright Nights in the evening have Fastrack overflowing for all attractions, some of which can actually be longer than the normal queue, this was a really pleasant surprise for me.
If there were a slight niggle I had with the handling of letting people through the mazes, it’s that some of the groups put through each time were quite large, some as much as 20 people at once. And if you are leading the group, if you’re a fast walker through these types of attractions, it’s not uncommon for you to at some point through the maze bump into the group ahead. Whilst it wasn’t a major issue considering all of the attractions were excellent, it did hinder the scare factor a little when too many people are in the same room with you. I wish the dispatches were a little slower when the queues were shorter at the start and end of the evening, but I suppose you get that with any scare maze really.
As mentioned above in my initial impressions section, there were just two rides available at the farm in the evening, so with the time available between 5pm - 11pm, I only did the Booster catapult ride which is identical to the one which can be found on Brighton Pier. One ride costs £6 and you get throttled several times both backwards and forwards and at night, it was really great fun and very intense! Plus, despite the wind speeds reaching 42mph gusts in the evening, the ride still ran flawlessly without any problems and didn’t stall at any point as a result (unlike Thorpe who now fear Flying Fish and Banana Boat will stall with just 20mph gusts).
So if you are planning on visiting this year or maybe next year if these two rides remain, I do recommend trying Booster at night and you’ll have the peace of mind that even if it’s raining or winds reach 42mph, you’ll still find it open.
Scare Attraction Reviews:
Now onto the best part and that’s with small mini reviews of all eight scare attractions available at the farm. As a whole, I must report the quality, length, amount of fun and scariness in these attractions is far superior to any maze I have done at Thorpe Park’s Fright Nights in the 9 years I have attended the event! All of them were excellent and had their own unique qualities behind them, one of which used a really cool effect which reminded me of a scene from one of my favourite films. Another reason is because every single one of them was original and didn't need an IP to market itself and I'm a big fan of original ideas as it sparks innovation in these types of attraction.
So to begin, I’d like to start with the ‘least excellent’ one which was Twisted Clowns:
Twisted Clowns - 6/10
I should admit at the start clowns as a whole do not scare me one bit and never have done, so before walking through the entrance I wasn’t expecting an enormous scare factor behind it and true enough, it didn’t scare me at all this one sadly.
You are given at the start 3D glasses which act as a filter to bring out the colours inside on the walls and props present inside and quite a lot of the artwork present popped out quite well, especially with the luminous colours. Throughout the whole of the maze, you wear them and walk through several dark rooms with lots of these UV paintings to fit in with the theme, to which I must point out they are all hand-painted which I really appreciated and admired when inside. Think of the rooms similar to Hocus Pocus at Chessington only with a different theme.
In addition, actors inside were jumping and appearing all over the place, including one which jumped on a bungee swing from the ceiling which really took me by surprise the first time with how close they hovered over me! Whilst the actors at no point touched guests, they interacted with them brilliantly with lots of props from swings, car horns, wigs and clothing to name a few. The makeup they wore was also nicely done and had popping luminous colours on their faces similar to all the dozens of paintings throughout the maze.
But as a whole, this just didn’t deliver any real or genuine scares for me sadly, which is a shame because I love 3D mazes like this. However, I will say the quality of the actors jumping all over you with props inside, the amount of work with the paintings which went into this and most of all, the incredibly long length of this maze were the best qualities it offered.
Other smaller details like a themed safety announcement at the start, to Midnight Syndicate’s audio used inside, to the huge number of actors present did make this a lot of fun to go through.
I suppose the bigger problem is Big Top at Thorpe whilst might be a lot shorter than this one is ultimately better in lots of ways. Elements such as better audio, better disorientating rooms and a great finale make it better than Twisted Clowns and therefore, this is the only maze Tulleys could do with some improvements on next year I feel and was a little disappointing.
VIXI - 7/10
When I discovered this involves you placing a bag over your head to obstruct your view the entire time, the first thing that came to my mind was “Oh no, It’s Tulleys version of that damn awful The Passing maze at Thorpe Park back in 2012!” But after going through it, whilst it did feel very similar The Passing for 3/4 of the maze, the quality of the scares delivered and surprise factor was far superior in comparison and I happened to really like it as a result!
From the start you must place these black bags over your heads as though you are about to be sent to the gallows for execution and ultimately death, again, very similar to The Passing at the start. But these bags used are with a much thicker material as it is impossible to see through them in any way possible. But once you start the attraction, you must follow the rope on your left side which will guide you through the maze and over all the hurdles for the first 75% of the maze.
Whilst you can’t see a thing out of these, the interaction and tricks this maze plays on you inside is brilliant. Various sound effects are used everywhere and effects such as smell, wind, water, fire and very uneven surfaces were used. In addition, actors interacted with you from both sides of your ears, so it became quite unsettling at one point with all the effects and actors in play and really got my heart racing being unable to see anything!
But the best section is towards the end of this experience. The last corner you turn with the bag still on your head is into a room which was very hot inside and within seconds it became apparent why that is. There is one giant flame thrower inside the centre of this room which goes off every few seconds and the noise of it is incredibly loud, so much so that the heat, light and shock made myself and several others scream the fist time it went off! It’s a simple but incredibly effective scare used and you are less than 1m away from the flame, so you can really feel the heat from it.
Finally, in the last quarter, you are asked to take the bags off your head and give them to a staff member. Now, like The Passing, you are lead to believe this is the end, but oh no, there’s more! You go down this pitch black corridor, turn the corner and you are inside a very dark warehouse with what appears to be burnt bodies of corpses lying on a table and an actor behind it with a giant knife and blowtorch. He instructed us to go down the stairs quickly, only to encounter behind a metal cage even more fire effects, this time less than a metre away which was another excellent jump scare for guests. After that, you zig-zag down the ramps and find yourself outside once again and the experience is over.
The concept of this maze might sound simple and remind many who did in at the time of The Passing, but the interaction with guests in this one and the effectiveness really pays off and was tons of fun, and was the first maze in probably about 4 years which really got my heart pounding at certain points due to the unknown which awaits ahead due to the fact you can’t see anything. Then to top it all off, the ending finishes the maze perfectly and the use of fire in this maze was executed perfectly and was a great use of the effect. Plus, this was also a very long maze, lasting at around 11 minutes inside according to the timer. Thumbs up overall!
Creepy Cottage - 7.5/10
This was the maze I was most familiar with because it has been at this event for years now and I remember a few times during Autumn when visiting Tulleys years ago seeing preperations being made for it in time for October, so was most intrigued to see what it was like inside. Whilst it did have it’s moments of scariness to it, the selling factor behind this was the attention to detail inside and overall creepiness it delivered, which also explains why it’s available for younger kids too during the day. The best way to describe it is imagine walking through a much smaller, cramped and longer version of the haunted house from the play and film ‘The Woman in Black’.
From the start where you are greeted inside the first room, you are immediately surrounded by lots of theming and details everywhere which hint at it being just like an old historian haunted house, with the furniture, fireplace and props inside with all the cobwebs and candle lights present. As you progress through each room, the corridors and roofing is very small and narrow, so you do feel quite claustrophobic inside and it’s incredibly dark too.
The atmosphere inside doesn’t feel chaotic like Big Top, Living Nightmare and Saw Alive are. Instead, it has an eerie, cold and creepy feel to it all with very subtle uses of sound effects and music used inside and in every room making it feel very abandoned. It also made me quite tense throughout because you expect something to either appear out of nowhere all of a sudden or an effect scaring you, but as said above, this maze relied purely on feeling unsettled inside than being jump scared.
The quality of the props and attention to detail was very noticeable with every corner of every corridor and room looked after, from the wallpapers, to the chandeliers and lighting, to the physical objects laying around everywhere and the surface of the flooring and smells inside. One prop particularly caught me out and that was what appeared to be a child’s doll of Chucky. It too me 2 walk through’s to notice it! Plus, towards the end of the maze, you need to walk through a corridor with loads of corn field plants surrounding you, almost as if you are navigating through the maze Tulleys have during summer which was a nice touch.
The only disappointment was the ending as it just involved a small room with an actor inside surrounded by more props. Nothing seemed to stand out in this room which indicated it as the finale, just another room added at the end simply.
So whilst it might not be the most scary out of all the mazes, it was certainly the most unsettling and eerie feeling maze with all the actors inside each room dressed to fit the theme of an abandoned cottage from the last century, so it’s good for me!
The Colony - 7.5/10
This was quite an interesting concept for a maze as it incorporated elements which were both used outside and inside and the overall vibe from this maze is one set back in time to the medieval ages and honestly, a novel which is going to be implemented into a ride next year at Alton Towers. It certainly delivered on scare quality and the length of this thing was mad! On average, it takes between 15-20 minutes to pass through all of it!
The first corridor you pass through is almost like an abandoned underground mine with the lighting and planks of wood holding the ceiling and walls together and then you instantly go outside onto the field which is guided by very high wooden planks similar to that which you can find in Alton’s new maze ‘The Welcoming’. Whilst I haven’t done it yet, the overall look and feel for the outdoor sections looked similar to this from the pictures looking down at it on the Sky Ride.
Once navigating your way through outside, you go back inside through these huts and buildings with lots of lighting, audio and smoke effects present, as well as actors hiding in the shadows. From here onwards, you are constantly going inside/outside and it’s an equal balance between the two overall. Some outdoor scenes were really interactive and involved you having to crawl under and through narrow gaps, which was a nice touch you don’t often get with other scare mazes as they tend to be wide and open to pass through many people at once.
The actors in this maze were excellent. When each approached you, they all spoke in what I can assume is Latin as I couldn’t understand any of what they were saying, but their body language gave hints to what they were trying to communicate with you. By this point, it isn’t necessarily super scary, but unsettling similar to Creepy Cottage.
When navigating your way up and down the field with indoor and outdoor sections, towards the end, you pass through a corridor which has two pathways and in the centre of these two paths you can take, a chainsaw guy in strobe lights interacts with you, very closely I might add too! After that, you are outside again and the experience is over.
The best quality of this maze was the length and variety delivered by several different scenes and actors, and it provided a consistent and very enjoyable experience from start to end, especially with the finale. Although, the scares weren’t quite up there to get me really nervous with this one.
I mention this gave me an impression of Alton’s new coaster for 2018 and considering we now know it’s going to be themed on Wicker Man, this maze kept making me think of that from start to finish. Heck, there’s even a bleedin’ scene with honey bees’ nests hanging from the ceiling you must pass through! Just a fun thought I had with this maze which kept making me think of it, but overall, I really enjoyed this one as it feels to me what Sanctum should have been.
The Cellar - 8/10
Probably the best way to describe this is imagine Creepy Cottage mixed with The Colony. This was excellent!
Already the start is nicely done with the safety announcement in the greeting room which was funnily themed and spoken as though it was a witch, and you were passing through their home. After that, you hold each others shoulders and it’s worth noting this is the only maze at the event where you are required to do this. All the others are free-flowing.
From the start of your journey, the rooms and corridors are incredibly cramped inside with low ceilings and narrow walls and the number of actors present in this maze is the highest out of any of them, which really made the experience quite intense inside.
Probably the most frightening section for me was at the first walkway which involved the inflatable cushions you must pass through similar to I’m a Celeb near the end just before you climb the hill to go down the slide. Because you are limited by how fast you can move due to it pushing against your legs, it was obvious something was going to jump out of nowhere, and long behold, there was. To the right of this walkway, an enormous and very heavy serpent’s head jumped out of the wall and was big enough to cause me to nearly fall over to the side as a result. It was very heavy and nicely detailed, but my, I personally can’t stand snakes myself and seeing a giant head of it grab my shoulder like that really got to me by that point as it was very unexpected! This is a great element to the maze and took me by complete surprise the first time.
After that, you navigate your way through various further rooms which had some very narrow walkways and overall, this was extremely dark inside with hardly any lighting visible, just tons of actors hiding in the shadows waiting for the perfect moment to scare you. Some of which had some excellent detail to them all and used several effects which made guest jump, including some very powerful air canons.
The ending however was a little weak and didn’t stand out from the rest of the maze, but the number of actors used in this maze coupled with the length of the attraction made up for that. The best moment was the giant serpent’s head near the start as it genuinely terrified me the first time!
Coven of 13 - 8.5/10
Coven of 13 overall was a combination of The Cellar, Creepy Cottage and The Colony as elements from each of these attractions were used throughout, but the best part by far was the start where you need to pass through what I can assume is a deep swamp in the middle of a forest.
This starting scene where you navigate through the marsh was a great use of smoke, lasers and sound effects as when you passed through the walkways with the inflatable pillows again, there was a layer of mist which helped with the theme of treading through a swamp up to waist level. Probably the best way I can describe this effect is similar to that scene in the first Alien film where John Hurt ventures through a cave with all the eggs and describes a layer of mist above a blue laser effect. When watching it back after trying this maze, it looks identical to that effect used!
After navigating your way through the swamp scene with actors jumping out and scaring you, you head through more corridors with plants and trees obscuring your path and they are set up in a way which it hides the ceiling and wall panels very effectively, so much so that it definitely felt more like being in a forest that a plain, ordinary corridor.
You go immediately outside after that and cross into another building which has been themed on a small mini haunted house with some very effective lighting, atmosphere and props used. It did honestly feel just like being inside a mini haunted house as the rooms were a little larger in comparison to Creepy Cottage, bud sadly, the scares in this bit weren’t as effective as a result. However, the attention to detail and quality of the actors made up for this scene, so all is balanced.
After that, you go outside again and this next section felt the weakest section of the maze. All you do is navigate around a central campfire through different areas around the perimeter of what was the shape of a semi-circle. Each section had it’s own actor in to scare guests, but it felt too open and predictable to deliver any proper good scares sadly, especially when you can see what awaits ahead.
Finally, you go through inside one last room and that’s what looks like an actor being burnt to the stake in a giant wooden fire and the use of smoke, lighting, heat and audio added to this scene, but like before, just not enough scares here. Also, it’s reminiscent of Wicker Man again and SW8. Sorry! After that, you go outside again and it’s all over.
Whilst the scares were certainly prevalent throughout the first half of the maze, the 2nd half felt a little tame in comparison unfortunately and fell apart a little. However, the use of effects in that swamp scene at the start were delivered brilliantly and that’s why this is my 3rd favourite attraction as a result.
The Chop Shop - 9/10
Before trying this I knew it was going to be an intense maze as many have told me it’s the best maze at the event and goodness me, it was certainly the scariest one! The whole theme of rotten meat, blood and flesh makes me feel physically sick, which is why the gluttony scene from Se7en years ago at Thorpe really made me want to vomit when passing through it and I wasn’t expecting anything different here. But what I didn’t expect was the intensity behind this maze which is hidden quite well behind those walls, with the exception of the noises from several chainsaws present.
The start of the maze isn’t too bad as it’s an exploration through a garage with lots of machinery, equipment, vehicles and tools on shelves everywhere and the lighting is dim, quite reminiscent of scenes from Saw The Ride and the workshops in the Saw films and the actors did a great job at introducing you to their chopping shop. But after this, it gets worse and scarier as a result.
Once out of the garage, you instantly go through what I can presume is a freezer with lots of frozen meat, including hanging pigs and cows amongst blood everywhere over the floor and walls. Then, an actor breaks through the door in front with a chainsaw and scares the group and this is only just the half-way point!
From here onwards, it gets even worse because it’s an endless array of zig-zag corridors, rooms and flaps to pass through, all under a constant strobe light. Around several corners, actors are hiding, all with their own chainsaws waiting for you to walk past them. Then, to make it even worse, some rooms have the lights turn off temporarily for about 3 seconds, so you are in complete blackness for a short period of time and all you can hear is the sound of a chainsaw either in front or directly behind you, some of which got as close as 6 inches away from my face! It was truly and honestly terrifying and this lasted for 2/3 of the entire maze, so it became extremely intense at certain parts and got my heart racing the fastest out of any other attraction that night as a result!
The only advice I can give is do this maze once it is dark outside because the 2nd half has an open roof and if light leaks inside, it can ruin the effect slightly of those dark moments. So if you want a moderate experience, try it before sunset. If you want an extreme one, do it once the sky is completely black. Best maze by far and also the scariest!
Horrorwood Haunted Hayride - 9.5/10
This was without a doubt the most fun during the entire night and is the best attraction out of everything you will find at this event. It’s very unique, incredibly interactive, long, innovative and ultimately fun. Nothing else out there can be compared to this!
Whilst it might not have been necessarily scary, the whole idea you are transported through the fields on a tractor ride with various scenes themed to different genres in the movie industry was an excellent idea and was reminiscent of Studio 13 slightly in some areas. Every scene has unique visual and audible effects, the entire ride changes it’s audio depending on what scene you are in and probably the best part was the actors in each scene climb onto the tractor with you and interact with guests using their character. Characters such as clowns, cowboys, hotel butlers, witches, pole-dancing nuns and zombies clambered onto the vehicle through each scene and played their characters perfectly in sync with the audio and movement of the truck. It’s a very consistent and funny experience which I greatly appreciated.
In addition, each scene had great props and sets used such as falling billboards on guests, flame effects which were incredibly loud and powerful, deaf-defying loud bangs, great uses of audio SFX and lighting used and best of all, the chainsaw people themed on I believe the story of the three little pigs getting extremely close to the guests and even revved the machines against the benches you are sitting on, creating the impression they are cutting through the wood you are sitting on!
I don’t want to give too much away of what each scene involves for those who have yet to try it, but I very strongly recommend you try this as the must-do attraction of the evening. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed by it one bit!
So there we are, all my reviews for each attraction, the atmosphere and overall impressions of the event.
After going to this and leaving the evening, I didn’t in any way feel angry, tired or disappointed like I usually tend to with Fright Nights in recent years. Instead, I felt lively, thrilled and greatly surprised by the whole night because it’s as if I have finally found after 7 years of searching something better and worth it’s value for money compared to what I was typically used to during Halloween and it feels great! Tulleys Shocktober Fest has surprised me hugely with what they offered as I never imagined they were able to pull off such a quality event like this before, especially knowing it for years as a farm with pick-your-own fields and a maze during summer.
Tulleys has proven if special events are executed very well, it has the ability to change minds of sceptics like me who for years have detested Halloween for all the wrong reasons. In return, I have started to get excited for Halloween once again after this amazing evening I had! The only problem with this however is because Tulleys have set a new bar far higher than any Fright Nights delivered these last 7 years, I am likely going to detest Fright Nights even more now as a result unless there are some radical improvements and changes made to the event which aren’t focused on compromising customer experience for bigger numbers on Merlin’s many dozens of net-profit Excel spreadsheets at their head office.
Tulleys, like my blog on Liseberg back in May has proved to me again there are places out there which value customer experience above profits, and it's these types of places I appreciate the most. I can happily say I'm absolutely going to attend Shocktober Fest again next year, and likely many years to come now. Well done Tulleys for creating a quality Halloween event for guests.
It might have taken me several years to finally try it, but my word, the wait was absolutely worth it!
Tulleys Shocktober Fest - 8.5/10
(Some pictures from the event below I took):
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As most of you would know, I've been on this forum for a good 5 years, starting as a complete weirdo before blending in nicely as time went on. Some might say I've made a lot of contribution to many discussions and therefore have been a decent addition to the community. But most importantly I've met a lot of amazing people on here and therefore made a lot of new friends over the last few years.
However, in explanation to my lack of activity on here recently, I can confirm to those who don't know that I've suffered from depression for the past year. It's caused a lot of problems with some friends, through falling out or just leaving them altogether, it's caused my usual happy mood to take a nosedive and it's also affected my motivation to do a lot of things...including contributing to this forum.
...and that's why with a heavy heart I need to log out and take a break. Maybe for a month, maybe a year...maybe forever.
Not that anyone here has done anything wrong and I don't want to offend or upset anyone, but I feel like I've been on this site for so long that it's just started to get pretty dull for me, not just because my motivation's been in jeopardy but also over time I just think my interest for theme parks on the discussion side of things has faded and not a lot changes on here anyway. I'm also not saying I'm done with forum life because strangely enough I seem to be settling in well over on the Planet Coaster forums where, as players of the game would know, discussion is always on point over there with new content (ie. suggestions) flying in every day.
Right now I just want everyone reading this to know that this was never how I wanted things to turn out. If I were to take one thing from my time on this site it would be very simply that the majority of people on here have been some of the most amazing people I've ever met and I'm more than grateful for you guys. But then there are one or two people I've also met on here who started out great and then turned out to be fuel to the fire that is my mental health, one of those people once turned out incredible to me...and then for the past year we've fallen out repeatedly and now it's getting to the point where it's actually mentally crippling me. And I need a break from here to let this all blow over.
Hope everyone understands. It's been great being on here in the long run but I'll hopefully return when the maelstrom in my head clears.
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Havin a Nice in New York n tha' - Six Flags New England, Lake Compounce & Coney Island
Just come back from spending 2 and a bit weeks in America. Fantastic time to say the least.
Coney Island itself is a bit of a wreck. Picture a depressed, ran down Adventure Island, and then bunch a whole ton of Russian and mob gangsters there, and a touch of history. Voila, you got Coney Island.
The old parachute drop makes a real cool impression from the beach, can be seen all over the island.
Thunderbolt was odd.. I really enjoyed it but have come to learn that's a controversial opinion. The restraints are a bit of a red herring, on the drop you forget the 'ostrs' are just slack seat belts, so I fully thought I was going to fall out as we went over the top.
Cyclone was really good fun. I'd recently shaved my head so I had a few shocked faces when I took my cap off to ride. It's cool seeing a 90 year old coaster run so well, and it had some proper air time to it.
New York is cool. I really like the city, there's so much to see. We went to a place called Do, where they sold cookie dough as if it was ice cream. That was really cool. Also, I recommend going up the rockefeller tower if you're looking to go up a tall tower. We did the freedom tower last time and it's not as good, on the rockefeller you're open to the elements and get the view of the empire state and the rest of the city much more nicely.
Went and crashed at my uncles place for the rest of the time, and he live right near by Lake Compounce, so it'd be rude not to ride boulder dash..
Rode a lot less well then I remembered, disappointingly. Still masses of fun and craziness, but there was absolutely nill air time for me this time. I remember being absolutely thrown out of my seat 3 years ago, but they've changed the trains a fair bit and the rides been retracked I believe, and its left it an a disappointing state compared to previously. That, and I've developed a better stomach for forces now. Maybe I'm immune. That's sad
Those premier off the shelf thingies are fun.
Spent a couple days catching waves on a tube on a nearby lake, and entered on a quest to get diabetes.
Then, to finish off the trip, off to Six Flag New England! I've heard horror stories about these parks, but I really liked it!
Headed straight to Wicked Cyclone. What. a. ride.
Pandemonium was alright I guess, but we quickly skipped over this and thunderbolt and headed to the world renowned Superman!!!...... which...was... an intamin pmbo.
First drop, incredible. Thereafter, utterly disappointing. Done this in a vary of seating arrangements throughout the day (the same with boulder dash) and nothing changed. I was actually really disappointed by this. Very little airtime throughout the hills, especially compared to the intensity of Expedition Geforce, it's little sister!
Fed up we headed over to the Joker. One of those icky S&S 4D things, which was actually a barrel of laughs. Really intense, good fun!
Mind Eraser. Now, this is an SLC with the new vekoma restraints, so I gave it a go. Regretted it instantly. Whilst the vests are extremely comfortable and prevent headbanging, I'm fairly sure the lap bar shook the nerves in my thighs so aggressively I'll suffer from some sort of muscle deterioration later in life.
Did my first floorless - Batman. It was alright, very B&My, with a super intense zero G. Other then that it was a bit meh. Only ride with bad ops throughout the whole trip. These Americans are efficient!
Grabbed some really expensive lunch, and then went and whored out Wicked cyclone for the rest of the day!
If there's one thing I got from SFNE it's an RMC cred that I am so thankful for. Before riding this I thought the stall looked stupidly awkward, and it makes a few noises that are... unsettling, but it's probably the smoothest, best flowing ride I've ever been on, and it was so, so intense. It has a small height restriction too which made me laugh, because 4 hours after our final ride I was still having blood rushes in my legs.
In the back row you truly get thrown over the drop, and dragged relentlessly through every inversion and air time hill. Soooo intense, so fun, and utterly ridiculous and unparalleled by any other cred I have. I absolutely fell in love with the back row. I'm already gagging to go again.
The upside down, side ways, inside out air time is unique, and brilliant. I urge everyone who can to get to an RMC. I am so eager and excited to try one of those big ones. They look cool.
Thanks for reading, here's a dodge ass video you can watch that I made.
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Second attempt at this damn my phone!
Well as the title states, I recently took a trip oooop North with @Roodieto visit the famous pleasure beach. Having never been that far up the country in my life I was a tad anxious as I don't go too far from home generally - however, stepping out of my comfort zone was worth it.
The sunset on the drive up was pretty lush so I took a fairly standard photo
We stayed over at The Big Blue Hotel which was really nice and meant that we didn't have to travel in the morning as the pleasure beach is next door - the staff there are really friendly and helped out with a few questions we had.
As it was half term when we visited and was a tad busy we decided to get the VIP speedy passes - unlike Merlin these things are more affordable at £45 - but because we stayed at their hotel we got them half price - definitely worth it as we were only there for one day.
There are some rides not included in the speedy pass - Steeplechase, Skyforce, Wild Mouse (possibly others) and you only get one go on Grand National with it.
We kicked off the day on Blue Flyer which is a cute little coaster and neither myself nor Roodie had ever ridden a woodie before so it was a gentle introduction - although I thought my knee caps were going to smash as its a bit of a squeeze.
After that we headed to their dinky log flume (I forget the name) "yeah that looks tame" - wow I got drenched - a rather sizeable wave decided to pay me a visit as we splashed down so that was nice - thankfully it was hot so I dried off quick
Over the course of the day my ride count was as follows -Log flume X 1Valhalla X 5Wild mouse X 1Steeplechase X 1Blue flyer X 1Big Dipper X 2Infusion X 1Nick streak X 2Big one X 1Wallace and Gromit X 1Avalanche X 1Sky force X 1Alice's wonderland X 1Derby racer X 1Grand National X 1
This is such an iconic ride at BPB and I was excited about riding it - first go on this thing and my butt was flying off the seat so much which was fun although I randomly began screaming which I have a habit of doing on rides I'm not familiar with - love this ride - the first drop is pretty good and I love the tight turns on it and the whole layout
This one surprised me as I thought it was going to be really tame considering it is in the Nickolodeon land area of the park - apart from a rather noticeable jolt at the top of the lift hill I loved it - the hills, the layout, the fact that embarrassingly I screamed . The seats are so comfy - like mini sofas with a lap bar. Not keen on the colour of the ride but then orange has never been my colour
Well....firstly I was worried about how I would get on the flaming horse (I once got stuck on a horse on a carousel which was awkward). Managed to get my leg over ok then we got strapped in and I'm thinking "hmm what's to stop me falling off" - this was all before the ride even started. And blimey when it started I screamed and continued to do so for pretty much the duration of the ride - every corner we went round the screams got louder- I don't have a great sense of balance and was convinced I was going to come a cropper. The ride itself is pretty cool and I would love to try the other tracks as we only did one ride on it - as we came back into the station I got a few funny looks but was more worried that I'd done my throat damage from my sqwaking.
Prior to visiting, this, along with The Big One were the 2 coasters I was a tad concerned about - The Big One because of the height and Avalanche because - IT HAS NO TRACK! So I'm thinking "well what if this thing rolls over and and my life ends mangled on the floor" - NOT that I overthink things. Stood and watched it for a bit but that annoying laughing man thing (what is that?!!) was beginning to grate so we headed up the exit to ride.
Despite screaming the entire time I actually loved this thing - it's so twisty and actually moves a lot swifter than it looks. My onride photo captured the terror on my face- actually I've never had such a look of fear on a coaster picture before - so I bought it.....
The Big One
Ok so I hate heights - I can't even go on The London Eye because the one and only time I did go on it I had a bad panic attack. I'm only ok with Stealth because I've ridden it so many times but I don't notice the height much on that thing because if you blink you miss it.
I remember when this thing opened and watching a news article on it thinking "noooope" but back then I was a huge wuss.
After taking an anxiety tablet and waiting for it to kick in I decided to just do it - Roodie has a much worse fear if heights than me so I went on my own. Was actually fairly chilled on the lift hill going up though I was in the middle of the train so was focusing on the persons head in front of me - was feeling quite chuffed with myself until it went down the first drop - I screamed and some very fruity language emerged from my mouth. I've watched POVs of this thing but that drop when you are on it is high...and steep. Then I randomly screamed in other places - not because I was scared but because heck that thing is rough! The ride length is decent and the track layout is pretty good but the roughness was a bit much at times. I'm glad I rode it and I would ride it again if I ever go back but after that first drop its a bit anti-climactic. It's crazy to think this thing opened the same year as Nemesis though I shouldn't compare the 2 - I know which one has aged better
This is my ride pic which makes me look like I was chilled...which I wasnt
THIS has to be the worst pain I have ever encountered on a coaster - and I don't mind a bit of roughness (I've ridden Saw 9 times in the space of an hour before).
They should have kept with its original name of Traumatizer because I felt like I had some sort of brain trauma after that experience. We sat at the front and I dread to think how horrific it must be on the back row. From when the ride left the lift hill to when it hit the brake run both myself and Roodie were screaming "owwww" "ouch" with the odd swear word chucked in on particularly horrific moments. I can only describe the experience as akin to having my head repeatedly bashed against a brick wall - in fact, I have had my head smashed against a brick wall and I can honestly say it was more pleasant than this thing.
Ive read about Vekoma SLCs being rough but jeez I didn't think a coaster could be THAT rough. They could really do with having mini air bags at the side of the restraints to cushion people's heads - I might pitch that idea to them.
Its not all bad though - the good points of this coaster are that its a nice shade of blue - I also like the water features surrounding it which, to be fair you don't notice whilst riding because you're too busy having your brain bashed.
Our on ride photo is very deceiving - it almost looks like we are enjoying the experience but when the pic was taken we were both mid-"OWW"
"what sort of cheese was that?"
While queuing for this I was informed that it's mean to be pretty scary - ummm how? It just looks like a very small standard wild mouse - but no - this thing is a wooden wild mouse and the structure wobbles a tad which is fab for putting anxiety at ease! There were kids riding it, couldn't hear much screaming so I wasn't concerned. How wrong was I? As we headed up the lift hill I thought "well this ain't bad" then that quickly changed. I don't think I've ever screamed so much on a ride as that one - I've also never been more terrified on a coaster than wild mouse. Looks are so deceiving with this one - it's a small layout but it's full of very tight turns, drops, air time and (if you're me) seeing your life flash before your eyes. I kept thinking this coaster is old and I genuinely thought the car was going to fly off the tracks.
Where Infusion was the most painful coaster I've ridden, Wild Mouse is certainly the scariest - in terms of not feeling safe (you only have a seatbelt aswell) - of course it's safe but jeez it scared me so much that it is one of only a couple of rides I've done that I don't think I could re-ride. The plus of our ride was the noises coming out of my mouth which got some funny looks and possibly entertained people queuing for all of 2 minutes.
I think IF I ever rode this again I would need a few anxiety tablets as my nerves were shot to bits after. Yeah maybe I'm a wuss!
So upon arriving at Grand National there is a sign that warns that it can be intense. Ok no problem - this is a ride I've wanted to try for a long time. I can handle a bit of roughness.
I wanted to love this ride...but I didn't. Now it may be that we rode it just after the hell that is Infusion so my head hadnt properly recovered and I had one epic headache brewing. We sat at the front and headed up the lift hill - after the first drop that was it - I never thought it possible for my head to rattle quite so much on a ride that just has a lap bar but I felt like a nodding dog in a car doing 120mph.
The layout is good, the fact you are racing the other train is good but it was a bit too much for my head to take.
I would love to ride this again when my head is normal (well normal for me!) because I'm sure my brewing headache didn't help the situation. This is another iconic ride at the pleasure beach and was very popular so I think it needs another chance before I can properly judge it
Thats the coasters covered - The only one we didn't do was Revolution but as it goes backwards that's probably good that we swerved it as I don't do particularly well on things that go the wrong way!
Wallace & Gromit ride I really enjoyed and they sell some interesting items in the gift shop - cheese stick of rock anyone?!
Alice in Wonderland ride was ok for what it is - not something I would personally queue for though.
Derby Racers is adorable and thankfully I didn't get stuck getting off the horse at the end
Skyforce is ok - the indoor queue but was hotter than a sauna though so I wasn't able to pay lots of attention to the instructional video. This thing surprised me because it actually goes higher than it looks - I did managed about 75% of one spin on it but freaked out - also it's hard work trying to manoeuvre so I gave up after a while - it's a nice ride but on really busy days it must be horrific to queue for due to its low throughput.
I saved my fave ride for last - VALHALLA!
I have so much love for Valhalla - we ended up riding it 5 times.
The theming outside the ride is brilliant and I love the fact that you can't see any of the actual ride so you have no idea what to expect (unless you've seen a POV which I hadn't).
Its hard to believe this ride has been at the park since 2000 because it is so impressive and unlike Tidal Wave which opened the same year offers so much more and shows just how good a water ride can be (just to add I've only so far done UK water rides so I'm sure there are better ones elsewhere in the world).
Ive always found water rides fascinating - and back before I conquered my fear of coasters and anything really thrilling, Tidal Wave was my fave ride at Thorpe and I would ride it on my own while my sister went off to go on the coasters.
I know Valhalla and Tidal Wave are very different rides (and I enjoy both) but for me I love Valhalla for the theming, the audio, the length of the ride, the drops - everything. Tidal Wave you go up, you come down and you get drenched which is fab on hot days. Of course Valhalla will get you wet - soaked even (front row left hand side especially) but for the experience it's worth it.
We didn't bother with ponchos as it was a warm day. I was drenched - my feet were soggy but unlike rides like Storm Surge where your feet get crazy wet for what I think is a naff ride (putting it mildly) I didn't mind so much after Valhalla - later on in the evening the waft from my damp trainers was not pretty but that was the only down side.
I love the effects used in the ride - though has anyone noticed that the ice room has a hint of a vinegar aroma about it? ?
This is our ORP from the 4th of 5 rides we did on it - and where I got the most drenched
Summary (well done if you've got this far!)
The park was bigger than I thought it would be even though the coaster seem to be on top of each other (if that makes sense)
The staff are really friendly as are people up North in general - seriously if some of those people came to where I live they'd think every Southerner is a miserable git.
It was great finally being able to ride some wooden coasters (and face my fear going on The Big One)
Being away from home is hard for me at times with my anxiety but I coped fine with it and next big trip is further away
There are some rides we didn't get the time to go on and other rides I would love to do again. Construction for ICON is coming along nicely and it would be fab to go back when it opens.
All in all a great day - we did Alton Towers the following day as it is en route back home so we took the chance to have a quick snooze on the RMT...as you do
Thanks for reading - this is the first blog entry I've done in ages so apologies if it is waffly - I'm on the caffeine and can't sleep!
Next blog will be in Sept/Oct after visiting Efteling and Phantasialand with @Roodie -I'll try to make the next one less waffly ?
So I've abandoned the other blog, because it's embarrassing . "Monthly".
Today we visited LEGOLAND, to check out Ninjago and this post will be mainly about that. Firstly, though, OMG PIRATE FALLS. It was like having a bucket of water tipped over you from every angle. I didn't dry off properly until it was time to go home. I've actually got a cold on it every time I've been on it since last year. Also new smell pods in the Dragon (I think). The kitchen smells heavily like food, unless it was coming from the restaurant but I'd never smelt it before today.
Anyway, Ninjago. There will be spoilers. Be aware.
This ride is amazeballs. So amazeballs it may well be my favourite dark ride out there. Subject to change once I get to Europe.
Lets start with the queue. We used the RAP so I didn't experience the full queue, but the part I did experience was very quick moving (the trains move very quickly through the station), the videos that play are reminiscent of those weird news show cartoons, you know the sort (warning, very strange banner photo is quite NSFW), and it's very hot but it was quite well themed. You're given the 3D glasses (which I wasn't keen on as I don't really like 3D) and once seated the incredibly clunky lap bar which hosts the sensors and some sort of air conditioning which blows onto your arm. I think there are speakers in front of you too. So the ride starts and you are doing this training, the "shooting" system is quite frustrating, but what makes this ride amazing is that didn't affect my enjoyment at all. All of a sudden you're out of training and fighting some bad guys, it's quite confusing, but it may have been explained. Everyone was making alot of noise so I couldn't hear very well. At one point you're flying over lava and the room goes hot, then the room goes icy and you're blasted with air. It gets really immersive, when you fall on the screen it feels like you're actually falling, all of the effects match what's going on on the screen. There's a really nice smoke/mist effect, and some nice strobes too. At one point you go through what appears to be a mine, there's rockwork everywhere and wooden supports holding it up, as well as barrels, dynamite, and strangely fireworks. This was one of my favourite parts of the ride as this is where most of the physical theming is. The ride comes to an end and you see the ninjas celebrating before it's time to exit. You see the onride photo, which I didn't even know was taken, and then exit into the (very cramped) shop. The ride is almost perfect imo. The story could be a bit clearer and there's a bit of exposed warehouse from the front, but as others have said, when you come off you don't care about the score and you'd rather talk about the ride. At first, I wasn't keen. I thought it was too loud and too much going on, too realistic as it were. But once I got used to it, it instantly became my favourite ride at LEGOLAND. If you haven't already, get down there NOW! This >>>>>>>>> Gruffalo. 9.5/10 from me.
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As always, it was good to see everyone again and be back at Towers I can't believe the gorgeous weather we had for the whole weekend - I've never had that oop north before!
This was a very chilled day, owing to the hot hot weather Started off with Smiler and Oblivion, before going on Hex
Was really impressed by the TLC! The audio in the cinema is nice and loud, perhaps *slightly* too loud BUT it's better than being too quiet, especially when you have people talking over it (I always watch it properly every time). I've said this before, but I still always think of that electricBill YouTube video and expect it to say "Fifteenth Earl of S***e"
The Octagon looks sooo good now I loved the dry ice rolling down the steps on the right-hand side! Also it was fun going on someone who's never been on before (Paige)!
We then had a lovely walk around the Towers, going up on the roof too. It never fails to amaze me how nice the Towers are and the beautiful views you get from the top
After lunch we did Nemesis which, of course, was as great as ever and looks gooooood.
We then chilled with some drinks at the Coffee Lounge, caught some sun...then headed to Duel to find it was broken (No staff member out the front but the doors were locked shut). So some of us finished off with Th13teen, where the indoor section was nice and cool! Played some Extraordinary Golf afterwards which was good fun as always, and it's nice to see it's been spruced up.
Another beautiful day!
Some of the fountains aren't quite lined up...snotty-nosed frog alert!
Started off with some ERT on Nemesis (twice in a row, obvs) then got GalacticAir out the way while the area was still quiet Me, Mike, Peaj and Matt happened to get front row, which was just as well as we rode it without VR! I think that's the most I've enjoyed it as "Air"
Next up was Duel I was pleased to see that the lighting changes last year (which made several scenes too bright) have been put back to how they were, or at least improved as it seems nice and dark again
It was good to bump into Stretchy afterwards, who joined us on a refreshing ride on Congo. There was quite a delay whilst queueing due to someone jumping in the water (apparently they weren't on the ride but climbed over a fence) Despite the lack of waterfalls, it's still just as "rapidy" so we still got pretty wet, and Ryan got the brunt of the "KFC Mega Wave" in our boat
After RMT and lunch we went to Intamin Forest, which was all broken Unfortunately Rita reopened so we jumped on that while the queue was short.
Rough as hell but at least it didn't destroy my back this time!
Then we did Hex again, went inside the chapel afterwards...even came across some Sanctuary theming
Spinball was down so we did X Sector...everything looks so nice with sunshine and blue skies!
Then it was time...for Battle Galleons! How could we not in such a heatwave?! In the end, it was just me, Peaj and Matt (Mike chickened out ), with some others at the guns around the ride. Was nice to have a cool down...but then, as we were near the station, the ride came to a stop. Right in front of some water guns Turns out someone in the station had got their hair caught in the handle (ouch!) so first aid had to come and help. I'm not sure how long we were actually stuck there, possibly about 15-20 minutes? Peaj and Matt were in the firing line so got drenched - I was actually disappointed out that nobody aimed at me (twas absolutely boiling being sat in direct sunlight) Or maybe the gun just couldn't turn round far enough Was the most entertaining ride I've had on Battle Galleons though!
And that was the end of the meet! Some of us chilled in the Splash Landings bar while waiting for the inevitable queue of cars to die down. Newly painted theming is looking good!
It was also Marc's birthday on the Saturday, so we surprised him with a card and cake! So I'll end this report with a photo of said surprised Marc:
Thanks for reading!
(Oh and if anyone's wondering if I will ever write that Europa trip report from the meet last year...I'm getting there )
So if you have seen me around the forums, you'll probably know I have a slight obsession with Europa Park.
Today I'll be going over my sexual fetish over this theme park, and just why I love this place.
Get your drugs and your overpriced coffee ready, and enjoy!
Europa Park is pretty **** with its operations.
3 trains on a B&M, 3 on a GCI, 4-5ish on Euromir/Bluefire, and insanely quick dispatches.
Like, 1 train operations is the way to go!
Even worse, I didn't witness a single breakdown in my 3 days there..
Like I didn't even get to go to guest services to complain.
Okay sarcasm aside, Europa Park is quite well known for its insanely good theming.
The park really go above and beyond with theming.
Things like themed toliets, or that satellite thing-y near Euro-Mir really show how much effort goes into theming their rides
Now in terms of standouts, the French, Greek, and Arthur areas all standout for me, but quite honestly, the whole park is beautiful.
The rides.. Yes, its a theme park:
So as well as Europa's flawless theming and operations, their ride collection is also obviously quite strong.
Standouts for me are obviously Blue Fire, Wodan, and Arthur, but their is so many little gems around the park that are worth mentioning.
Even some of the cookie cutter rides you see at every park standout at Europa- like Fjord Rafting, which is nicely themed and a near flawless rapids that left me lovely and wet..
Others worth noting is their Mine Train- which has a super awesome diamond cave section, and The Arena Of Football, which is a super fun twist on the super standard bumper cars.
Shows in Theme Parks are something that are IMO criminally underated.
Shows can really break up a day, and who doesn't like a bit of live entertainment?
The Standout to me had to be their Ice Show, which was incredibly fun and campy.
Also some male eye candy in there.. Not gonna lie.
all in all- Europa Park remains a flawlessly ran park that also looks beautiful.
As well as this, they also have a strong lineup of rides like Arthur, Blue Fire, and Wodan.
The park is easily one of the best parks in the world.
Anyway thanks for reading.. here's a orgasmic picture of Euro-Mir taken by a sexy friend of mine..
(his name is josh)
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As it was my first time at Chessington, I thought I would write a review of my first impressions of the attractions we visited. So here goes…
I was surprised to learn it has exactly the same layout as the Flying Fish at Thorpe. Unlike the Flying Fish, the overall theming was very good. It has a very immersive queue which goes under and over the tracks in the middle of the ride area. The pyro and water effects also worked on cue for every run. To me it shows what can be done with a standard ride layout if they are consistent with the theming and maintenance of the effects.
The first thing I noticed about this ride was how small the cars were. I was struggling to get in so I definitely think the they were smaller than the cars on X for comparison. The ride very much felt like a classic wild mouse and was a lot of fun. The brakes on this though are way too strong, the cars come to a very sudden stop at the end. I say stop but it felt more like a controlled crash.
It instantly reminded me of the much loved and now quietly removed Ripsaw. The state of the ride does not look good, as if it’s on it’s last legs. A lot of the panelling was clearly removed underneath the seats with visible wiring and hydraulic lines. It’s all very dirty (But Merlin don’t seem to clean their flat rides in general) and the sound of grinding metal was not very reassuring. The ride was still very fun however and just like Ripsaw, still draws a crowd to watch as riders are drowned by the fountains.
The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure
I thought that the new theming was very well done. There aren't any signs of reused props from the old ride and it appears to have been almost gutted and redone entirely. The timing for each scene was out as each bit started just before we entered. The boats were getting stuck and bunching together, there must have been a low water level at the time we were on. It was good to see that some of the fountains were kept in the final scene and are still a great part of the ride. The mist projection at the end was a nice addition, similar to what Merlin have used before at Madame Tussaud’s. Overall it’s a great ride which with any new attraction, just needs a few tweaks.
The Adventure Tree
It’s a great centrepiece for Chessington and looks great. The ride is very short however so I wouldn’t recommend queuing a long time for it.
It’s great that Chessington still has a working log flume since the loss of two flumes within the space of a few seasons. The water on this ride was crystal clear and very clean which very much enhanced the ride for me. On the drops, being at the front I did not actually get too wet.
This is the best spinning coaster I’ve ever been on. The car I was on spun a lot! I like how the ride area is not enclosed and travels around the park. It was certainly fast and furious, definitely worth queuing for.
Definitely the best ride at Chessington by far. It felt very unusual seeing the train in-front swaying from side to side. A very unique rollercoaster in the UK. There was a great atmosphere in the station, however it was lacking more theming. This is a must go on if you visit Chessington.
The Temple Restaurant
Later on, we went to the Temple Restaurant for dinner...
The restaurant was nice and modern looking. I think it really sets the benchmark for all of Merlin’s new hotel restaurants. There’s a very impressive show including multiple elements such as lighting, wall mounted screens, the main fountain and black lights. The show does not happen too frequently as to not get too repetitive. It’s a very immersive experience which reminded me of the immersion found in the Rainforest Café. The food was only acceptable and there was not a huge variety of choice at the buffet. There wasn't any specially themed menu despite the great theming of the restaurant itself. Overall, the food could do with improving to reach the same level as most of Merlin’s other hotel restaurants. If it had better food, then it would definitely be on par with the Rollercoaster Restaurant at Alton Towers.
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I'm not one for creating huge blogs so...
Just got back from my second visit to Europa having been five years ago, and think I enjoyed it even more. This is truly a wonderful place and hope to be back sooner than five years.
As you'd expect, all rides working, no breakdowns, high capacity, friendly staff, good food (and too much choice).
Got on many rides and the longest queue was 25 mins for Matterhorn Blitz, everything else around the 10-15 mins mark. Sunday park open till 7:30 and Tuesday on our second day open until 9:00.
Was fantastic to twice see engineers working on animatronics, proving they truly do keep everything going, unlike some places we all know a bit too well
I really recommend visiting the Silver Lake Saloon for dinner if anyone visits the park and stays nearby. Great food and great surroundings. Just a few pics...
I know it’s been a silly amount of time since I started this, let's wrap it up. The wait has been because sadly my old laptop has died, taking my photos with it until I work out how to rescue them, so shiny new laptop is good for me and means I can finally write this, but a text only end to this is less good for you, dear reader...
My only other experience of a Mack spinner is Sierra Sidewinder at Knotts, which is such a pathetic sucky excuse for coaster I wasn't expecting anything from Euro Mir, but it's ace! The lifthill of forever gives some good fun rave times, the first half of the coaster section with the slow spinning I found strangely unnerving because of the height and feeling of hanging over the edge of the track, and the second half so unexpectedly intense it shocked me. I love spinners in general, and this is one of the best. 9/10.
The other big old coaster I was less of a fan of, it's just so uncomfortable in there. Euro Sat I can only assume is themed to replicate the inside of an oven, the slow climb steadily reaching into hotter and hotter air until just when I thought I could take it no more it slams you through its manoeuvres relentlessly until it smashes to an end on brakes, which feel like a lump of concrete has been left on the tracks. I don't know at what temperature steel melts, but I was fully expecting the track to fold away from underneath me like plasticine at any moment. I can appreciate the craziness, but it's just a little too chaotic for me. 7/10
Then we come to the two newest coasters at the back of the park in Blue Fire and Woodan, and they both blew me away. Woodan is rough enough to know it's wood, smooth enough to be enjoyable for everyone. It flies though the course throwing little nuggets of airtime at you over and over, doing nothing too extreme to offend, but never being dull for a moment. It is perfectly executed from the first step into the queueline until it slides back into the station. Except maybe that adverse camber turn into the lifthill - that freaked me the hell out. Blue Fire I'd probably rate as the best in the park. My first Mack launch, and they clearly should be everywhere. The launch smooth and powerful with the train seeming to crackle down the track and the layout fantastic; probably the best series of inversions on any coaster anywhere, especially the last one where the train seems to disappear from beneath you mid inversion. And it's all made so enjoyable by the comfort and freedom of the restraints. Both a solid 10/10.
The place is so huge I could write for pages and pages (I know, I already have!), even on just the outstanding bits, which are many. But I won’t, so just to cover a few bits which stand out in my memory…
- Arthur (or '**** ***** *****, the ride' as we called it owing to the slightly lively lyrics for a children's ride) is an odd one. We really enjoyed it and the theming is well done, but as an advert for the ride from Mack it seems to be a bit of a shocker with loads of downtime, seats out of action all over the place and a locker room of faff which just does not work. The queue was always slow, long, hot and tiresome, which obviously stands out a mile in a park so obsessed with efficiency. It’s decent enough when you’re on it though. They’ve also taken the two best kiddie rides from Holiday Park with the drop towers and bouncy roundabout thing, which is a nice support selection.
- Pirates of Somewhere other than the Caribbean was a blast, really well done, and the second visit to the Wicked Witches clamshells of my youth were vastly superior to the previous encounter on this trip, even if a hanging is a bit strong! Other than that though I think the other dark rides slightly let the park down, with the already mentioned Cassandra, the dinosaur ride being dull and tired, the shooter very forgettable, and the Bench Christmas thing sitting uncomfortably close to embarrassing even if it does just about manage a little hint of charming.
- You can really see and feel the quality in the upkeep and theming of Europa on rides with direct UK comparisons; the teacups glide fast and effortlessly, the pirate ship looks like it was built yesterday, the seastorm boats in a room of effects. It’s all like new.
- The rest of everything is pretty much all fantastic; I'm particularly fond of a bobsled and this ones great, the logflume/coaster diamond mine interaction, unexpected things to stumble upon like the crown jewels thing, the food being so authentic to the areas, food loop, beer everywhere, stunning extravagant shows, happy enthusiastic staff, wonderful hotel facilities open to all. I could go on for ever more.
Everyone said 2 days wouldn't be enough. They were right. I'm not sure two weeks would be enough, I don't think I could ever get enough. Nowhere is without its faults, but Europa has instantly become my favorite theme park in the world. I feel like I've visited at the right time too; the two newest coasters really round off a hell of a collection, and unfortunately I'm not particularly interested in project V. So for now I've had my fix. As we sat with our cocktails under the dancing fountains of Bell Rock on our last night we decided that we most certainly will be back...
TLDR - The message is Go to Europa Park!
As you'll have read in Part 1, my Canadian Caper involved a fairly crazy 2 days visiting 4 Theme Parks across the Canadian-US border in September, thanks to some ludicrously cheap flights from British Airways. And as Day 1 was fully taken up by the huge Canada's Wonderland with its 16 coasters, that left 3 Parks to cover on the 2nd day. With over 200km of driving to cover and a border crossing, the odds of me actually completing the planned itinerary weren't great - but Lady Luck was thankfully on my side.
Read on for Part 2 of my Canadian Caper!
So first to Marineland, a (you guessed it) marine-based Park just one mile away from the Falls at Niagara. The place has had more than it's fair share of controversy, with its 81-year-old owner John Holer appearing in the press for animal-abuse allegations with depressing regularity over the years. If you thought that SeaWorld looked bad after 2013's Blackfish, you ain't seen nothing yet. VICE have recently published an informative guide to the Park entitled: "Marineland is a Hellhole". Only last month, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charged Marineland with five counts of animal cruelty, with further charges pending.
In yet another example, in 2011 SeaWorld won a court battle against Marineland surrounding the return of Ikaika the Killer Whale (Tillikum's son). Ikaika was on loan to Marineland from SeaWorld but SeaWorld sought to bring the animal back under its care, citing concerns about deteriorating conditions at the Park. Marineland lost, appealed, and lost again. If SeaWorld - which (fairly or not) has been very publicly criticised for its animal welfare record - is claiming that standards aren't high enough, you have to worry there's a problem...Quote
“We maintain an abiding interest in the welfare of our animals and do not hesitate to act in their best interest if we feel that a partner institution is not meeting its obligations in veterinary care, husbandry or training" - Fred Jacobs, SeaWorld, 2011
These stories are undoubtedly absolutely shocking, but ultimately weren't enough to prevent my curiosity from getting the better of me, so I nonetheless duly handed over my cash at the entrance gates...
...and once inside, it's clear that Marineland is quite unique.
For starters, it's vast. Built for Disney World crowds, but in reality attracting Gulliver's World crowds... when I arrived at Park opening at 10am, the place was deserted. It has a very "rural" feel about it; essentially being over 1,000 acres of woodland peppered with fish tanks and amusement rides. Getting anywhere takes an age.
And what looks like it should be a service road is in fact the main guest thoroughfare in the Park. Look at it!
Unsurprisingly, the Park's headline attraction, Dragon Mountain, is quite a trek away - over 1.2km walking distance from the Park entrance.
Nestled deep in the woods, initial impressions however are that the hike is worth it, with the ride sporting a fabulous dragon-themed entrance.
And the rockwork and themeing continues throughout the queueline, which due to verging on the pitch black fostered quite an eery atmosphere - especially given there was no-one else around.
My trusty camera (the excellent Sony HX90V) even struggled to get a good shot of the station, below, which had a little more light in it - and, thankfully, another guest.
Dragon Mountain is, by most metrics, an unusual coaster. Conceived by Arrow's Ron Toomer, it was the tallest roller coaster in the world at the time of construction in 1983 (186ft), and at 5,500ft long, it's covers 30 acres of Marineland woodland; 90% of the track is hidden from guests before riding.
Ascending the lift hill for the first time, I really had no idea what lay ahead - which can't often be said for a large outdoor coaster!
The three and a half minute ride is a lot of fun, although not without a few painful moments along the way.
The trains are old-fashioned Arrow and don't allow for a huge amount of movement. The track doesn't handle transitions especially smoothly. But the ride does have a host of surprises up its sleeve, including two consecutive vertical loops, a large downwards helix inside a half-built volcano structure, two dives into tunnel sections (more tunnel than any other coaster in the world), and still the world's only bowtie element, the exit of which is shown below!
Oh, and a lot of completely straight track. So much straight track.
After a few rides on the Mountain, I strolled back over to the left hand side of the Park to take in the only other coaster, Lady Bug Coaster. Set in a charming kids area that also features a Zierer Kontiki (Viking Adventure), Zierer Ferris Wheel (Tivoli Wheel), and Zierer Flying Fish (Ocean Odyssey), Lady Bug is a simple Zierer Tivoli with manual brakes and had a longer queue than I ever saw for Dragon Mountain.
Having gone full circle back to the Park's entrance - and with energy levels already waning - I grabbed a very greasy chicken strips and chips meal from the Park's only restaurant and settled down to watch the King Waldorf Stadium Show.
This is essentially Shamu-lite, and I thought was pretty well done, with a variety of animals featured including beluga whales, dolphins, and a humongous walrus at the end.
The show aimed to put one half of the audience (red team) in competition with the other (blue team) via a variety of marine displays and tricks, but it didn't get the crowd (which had reached a respectable volume - I suspect the entire Park was there) especially excited. The speaker volume was also down very low, although I couldn't tell whether this was out of respect for the animals or whether it was simply a bit broken...
And last but not least, opening only at 12pm (cost saving?), the Park's most recognisable attraction by far is its S&S Combo Tower, Sky Screamer. This thing is huge, and looks even bigger because it is perched on top of a hill right at the centre of the Park (it's a 300m, 10 minute upward struggle to even get to the ride entrance from the base of the hill - painful in the now-midday sun).
The advertising of Sky Screamer as "the world's highest triple tower ride" is somewhat misleading. It is not the world's tallest triple tower ride - the tower itself is tall (100m), but 15m shorter than Madrid's S&S triple tower Venganza del Enigma (115m). What gives Marineland's tower the "highest" claim is the fact it's sat on that 46m hill; it's high by virtue of its location, not because it has the longest drop.
But I digress. It's still bloody big.
And that 450m total height is certainly put to good use, affording quite spectacular views over Niagara Falls itself from the top. Simply breathtaking, and pleasingly the ride itself is a typically thrilling S&S affair to boot (although still pales a little in comparison to the superlative Fabbri Megadrop IMO...).
In fact, I'd go as far to say that Sky Screamer is the best-located drop tower anywhere in the world, although Big Shot on top of the 921-foot Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas might have something to say about that... are there any other contenders?
So, Marineland - never far from controversy, and a pretty strange place to spend a few hours.
Its few rides, marine exhibits, and stadium are spread out over such a huge area that it makes a day there more effort than it should be; it desperately needs some form of Park-wide transportation system, and that walk up to Sky Screamer isn't fun for anyone - an escalator in the same vein as Liseberg's would do wonders. It also in general just needs more, especially for an entry price that's within range of Wonderland's.
But it does have some gems - Dragon Mountain and Sky Screamer make the visit worthwhile, and the Stadium show was well presented. I just hope that the stars of said show are properly looked after behind the scenes...
Martin's Fantasy Island
It was now nearly 1pm, and I'd taken longer at Marineland than originally planned (the 12pm opening of Sky Screamer being much to blame). Part of me considered skipping Martin's Fantasy Island, given that I'd heard of its reputation as just a glorified fairground, and the more-alluring Darien Lake was still over an hour's drive away, including a border crossing into the USA at Niagara.
An even larger part of me considered skipping it following an agonisingly long wait at said border, having been ordered into the Port of Entry building for further checks because my story ("I was last in the USA in June") didn't align with the US Customs and Border Protection computer systems, which had no record of this visit. Sigh.
All of this meant that I didn't reach Martin's until 2:30pm. But I'm very glad I kept it in the itinerary.
The Park is, essentially, a glorified fairground, albeit a well presented one. Everything was clean and tidy, and the setting around a small lake is really quite nice.
Martin's is a classic slice of Americana, with the place clearly targeting local families with a no-frills, great value day out. The place feels very rural and low-key; the closest Park in the UK in my opinion would be Oakwood.
Everything here is pretty standard - there's a Star Flyer, a Disko, a Gravitron, and a Teacups, all presented without a great deal of themeing, and mostly un-shaded tarmac connecting it all together. Excellent.
On the coaster front there's three to enjoy, starting with a standard Zamperla spinning Wild Mouse; Crazy Mouse.
Number two is a standard Wacky Worm from SBF Visa; Max's Doggy Dog Coaster.
And last but certainly not least is the very non-standard CCI Woodie, Silver Comet.
The ride, standing at the back of the Park, is the more unusual hybrid type with grey steel supports. Its stats suggest a perfectly average ride; 82ft height, 55mph top speed, 50° drop, 1:45 ride time.
Silver Comet definitely impressed, and is a brilliant example of how a ride doesn't have to break any records to be a thoroughly worthwhile attraction.
The layout is very peppy, never dull, and the above-average maintenance work over the years means a very smooth ride. Hugely re-rideable, and with good pops of airtime across the layout, a whole lot of fun.
This alone is the reason to come to Martin's Fantasy Island. It might look like an off-the-shelf model from Roller Coaster Tycoon, but its varied, compact layout is an absolute winner. Silver Comet is of the best large family attractions (with just a 1.2m height restriction) I've ridden in a long while. It'd fit into a Chessington or a Drayton wonderfully.
The only fly in the ointment is the operations on the ride. Mirroring much of the rest of the Park, loading and dispatch times on Silver Comet were painful. Having been assigned a row, riders get on the train and are told over the tannoy to do up seat belts only. 2 members of staff then start from the front of the train and check individual seat belts down the platform. Then the lap bars are unlocked, and riders are again loudly told to keep arms up: "do not touch the lap bars, we will put them down for you!" The 2 members of staff then go down the train again, lowering the lap bar. If any rider touches a lap bar, the process starts over.
Very tedious, and only serves to deter guests from marathoning an otherwise excellent coaster!
After 3 rides on the Comet, my watch (3:30pm) told me it was really time to move on.
I grabbed an obligatory (yet reasonably priced) Hot Dog and Pepsi, and made a beeline for the exit.
2016 is the last season that the Park will be operating under the Martin's moniker - local businessman Martin DiPietro, the owner since 1994, sold the Park earlier this year to Apex Parks Group who own small Parks, Waterparks and FECs across the US. This seems a good fit, and if the new owners keep the same solid standards and bring some new investment in the place, this would be no bad thing.
Commenting on the sale, Al Weber Jr, Apex CEO, said: “It’s a nice park, in nice condition, in a great market. We like that it’s family focused.”
I couldn't agree more.
40 miles away from Martin's Fantasy Island is Darien Lake, arguably the premier Park in the state of New York, and a former Six Flags property (1999 - 2006).
The place certainly makes an immediate impression on you with the towering 208ft Ride of Steel lining the entrance to the Park.
Little generates anticipation and excitement for a day out at a Theme Park better than a large red and blue hyper... more on this later.
At this point it had just turned 4:00pm, giving me 6 hours to get everything in before Park close, and the commencement of the daily show Ignite the Night.
The place was busy - it was a glorious Sunday afternoon - meaning that the task ahead was challenging, but not impossible. I grabbed my admissions ticket, stopping briefly to admire the attractive entrance plaza, and headed on in.
First up was Mind Eraser; an apt name for a ride that tries its level best to do your head in.
This was typical Vekoma SLC fare, made worse by having only one train in operation (the other train was in pieces to the side of the brake run).
On the plus side, at least it looks pretty on the lake.
Continuing the theme of ubiquitous Dutch pain-machines was Boomerang, a Vekoma, erm, Boomerang. At the time of writing, there are 34 operating Vekoma Boomerangs in the world; 16 of which are called Boomerang. This one tries to add a touch of originality by adding a suffix: Coast to Coaster. I'm not sure what exactly this means.
Regardless, this was one of the smoother Boomerangs I've ridden, and was well presented in attractive colours akin to our those of our own Colossus.
The Park's only Woodie comes in the form of Predator, a relatively rare Dinn Corporation ride from the same stable as the relatively rough Mean Streak at Cedar Point, relatively rough Timber Wolf at Worlds of Fun and relatively rough Thunder Run at Kentucky Kingdom.
Predator was, predictably, relatively rough. Actually, towards the back of the train where I was sitting, it verged on being extremely rough, which did nothing to add to its unmemorable layout. Zero to headache in 110 seconds.
Rarely do I come off a ride and tell myself I'm never doing it again. Predator was one of those times.
Unfortunately, the Park's 1982 Arrow Looper Viper did little to help ease the headache.
With both track and supports painted completely in black (is this a Merlin property?), and an extensive layout with 5 inversions, the ride certainly looks intense from the ground. Alas getting on board proved to be as slow as the SLC; the ride was similarly running only one train, and the station was a complete free-for-all, with no orderly queuing taking place whatsoever.
And whilst the ride was long and varied, the experience wasn't especially comfortable. On reflection I'd have taken another ride on Marineland's Dragon Mountain over another ride on Viper, Marineland's ride having opened just a year after Darien's.
Yet another long queue greeted me at the Park's newest coaster, Moto Coaster, although at this stage I was very nearly grateful that it would give my head a bit of a rest.
Thanks to the fairly appalling throughput on the 12-person trains, I had ample time to grab a drink and catch my breath - good news. The bad news was that this 2008 ride has literally been plonked down on a slab of concrete, with a queue line completely absent of foliage or shade. Even into the early evening, the sun was strong... and so the headache continued.
I'd been wanting to ride one of these for a while, but with the closest of the 10 operating models being in Särkänniemi, Finland, they'd evaded me thus far. So how was the ride? Not half bad, actually, although the limitations of the compact layout meant that the trains never gained any pace (a max speed of 40mph). The flywheel launch was a bit of a non-event as it lacked acceleration, but the twists and turns of the track were smoothly navigated, and the riding position was comfortable.
One of Zamperla's better creations, but still unfortunately inferior to Vekoma's bigger, faster, more substantial product.
The sun was starting to go down, so I checked out what else the Park had to offer whilst it was still light.
There's a HUSS Top Spin, Twister, although this was closed for maintenance on the day of my visit. The most recent thrill addition (in 2015) is a 22m Larson Loop by the name of Rolling Thunder, although I didn't go on this having enjoyed / endured the Loop at Six Flags St Louis, Fireball, earlier in the year.
Being fond of drop towers, I did have a go on the S&S-built Blast Off, a respectable 185ft effort that was garnering long queues. Pleasingly the lengthy wait was vindicated by some spectacular views over the Park.
There's also a moderately sized (60ft) Arrow Log Flume, Thunder Rapids, and a moderately sized (50ft) Intamin Shoot the Chutes, Shipwreck Falls. An decent length Intamin River Rapids, Grizzly Run, completes the solid water-ride lineup.
I even found time to enjoy American Rock, a jukebox show playing three times daily in the Grand Theatre. The venue couldn't have held more than a few hundred, but the show (with a cast of six) is professionally staged and performed; the audience seemed to lap it up.
The most unusual thing however is a baseball batting cage up-charge attraction that I'd not seen at a Theme Park before, allowing guests to pay for a few minutes of practice in a safely netted-off area. There were four pitches, and the speed at which the balls were being fired out of the machines increased as players went from left to right.
The kid below was hitting from the slowest firing machine... and let's just say it was still pretty fast!
Night was beginning to fall, and the only attraction left on the hit list was Ride of Steel. With an hour or two still to go before Park close, what better way than to spend the time getting as many rides in as possible...?
Unfortunately doing this was - as with the SLC and the Arrow Looper - a largely painful experience, due to slow loading and the disorganised melee in the station. Being a single rider, I did a lot of "making friends" with potential other single riders closer to the air gates to try to fill empty seats and get maximum rides in!
The ride itself is absolutely superb; easily for me on a par with similar Intamin creations such as Expedition GeForce at Holiday Park and Goliath at Walibi. Comfortable lap bar restraints and a long, airtime-filled ride; Ride of Steel benefits from a kick-ass first drop, colossal wide sweeping helices, and ejector-tastic bunny hops just before the brake run. It's a huge amount of fun; more rough and ready than an equivalent B&M, but more intense too.
One of the defining memories of the trip for me is sitting on Ride of Steel for the n-th time, climbing the lift hill in the warm breeze as the sun had just dropped below the horizon, and looking out over the beautiful lit up Park. Magic.
It's a real shame that there aren't more of these in the world; there are only 6 Intamin Hypers and 2 Intamin Gigas. Which is why it's really really good that Energylandia has bought the first new installation for 15 years. Set to open in 2018, the ride looks set to take the "fastest non-launched coaster in Europe" title with a max speed of 87mph, and even features a splashdown.
Having visited earlier this year, Energylandia is a really promising Park, and this on paper looks fantastic... colour me excited.
Following one final ride on Ride of Steel, I walked over to the grassy area by the Park's lake and took my place for the 10pm performance of Ignite the Night.
I have to be honest, I wasn't expecting anything especially impressive from this, a nightly show from a regional Theme Park, albeit the biggest one in the state (Darien's visitor numbers won't be topping much more than 1m; around half of what Alton Towers might achieve).
But it was absolutely fantastic. It blew me away. Darien's marketing is pretty accurate when it claims: "Music, Water, Fire, Video, and Pyrotechnics all come together for this laser light spectacular in the air, on the stage and all around." Lasers images are projected onto a central screen, whilst a myriad other lasers point out towards the crowd. This, plus the water and fire effects, are all synchronised to a booming soundtrack, which covered a wide variety of genres (everything from I'm Too Sexy to Wonderful World).
Clocking in at 25 minutes, audiences are certainly given value for money; there are many highlights, but Pitbull's Fireball, complete with liberal bursts of fire, certainly got the crowd going. You can get a quick flavour for the show from Darien's promo video here.
The show finishes with a genuinely patriotic and rousing rendition of Lee Greenwood's God Bless The USA, which didn't leave many dry eyes in the house. Superb.
Darien Lake seriously punches above its weight with it's nightly show, and it alone makes a visit to the Park worthwhile. Kudos to everyone involved. Why can't our Parks find the budgets to do this...?
And that brings Day 2 of my Canadian Caper to a close!
This is probably the longest trip report I've ever written, which reflects just how much I packed into this one day. Pleasingly, nothing spited me, I got everything I wanted to done, and had some really great new experiences; Marineland's Drop Tower, Martin's Woodie, and Darien's Hyper all spring to mind, alongside of course Ignite the Night.
I left the Darien Lake car park at around 10:45pm, thoroughly exhausted, but very content. There is a huge amount to see and do around Toronto - for the general tourist let alone the Theme Park enthusiast - and a fly-and-drive visit here comes highly recommended.
Thanks for reading! Comments very welcome below.
Liked this? More musings from my travels in recent years:
So after a really nice calm 40 minute drive from the airport we finally made it to a place to be fair I thought I'd never ever visit in my life! Six Flags Discovery kingdom is a surprisingly small and compact park like it is definitely the same size if not slightly smaller then Thorpe park so, finding everything wasn't too much of a hassle.
Medusa is the first thing you see when entering the park with a car park that is just burdenously far away but we arrived and we were really excited to try everything the park had to offer!
The rides opened at 10:30pm which was quite late when we are used to parks opening at 10am sometimes even earlier so it was a little annoying waiting but it was nice seeing the main plaza which for a six flags park is really pretty with a nice big fountain as a focal point.
Now I'm quite sure you know why we came here, we probably wouldn't have even come to San Francisco in the first place if it wasn't for this coaster. And as you know it was... THE JOKER!!
Once the rides opened we rushed so fast only to be greeted with burdenous bag faff as they don't allow bags in the station and they had to be put in lockers which is a pain in the ass, not to mention it was badly lit as well which made it even more annoying! This is the one thing I hated as all the big coasters were like this, so if you ever go to this park bare in mind you will need to spend a bit on lockers. So onto the ride itself!
This was probably my most anticipated coaster on the trip other then Twisted Colossus and X2(which I will get onto in another blog as it spited and I was not happy!), and well what can I say, this coaster blew it out of the water for me, its not that tall but it is incredibly relentless, with intense force in some places, amazing intense ejector airtime, 3 amazing inversions which are fast paced and feel great not to mention what has to be the greatest inversion ever created, the Zero G Stall, there is nothing like it and words cant describe the sensation when you go through it! Its a heavenly inversion of which I want on a lot more rides in the future. This ride is unfortunately incredibly unreliable due to a sensor fault which is six flags fault, which made it get stuck on the lift hill multiple times while we where here, like this ride is really really unreliable, but it is the second best coaster I have ever been on and therefore I give it a 10/10! Here are some more pics of it!
So the first of many spites on this trip was V2: Vertical velocity, which tested literally once in the morning but barely got up the first tower, it had only actually opened about 3 weeks prior due to renovations but it seems like it was absolutely screwed as they were picking the trains apart the whole time we went passed it, I don't know how long it stayed closed afterwards but that too sounds like a really unreliable ride! Shame.
The next coaster we got on which was early in the day and at that point has a really short queue at the time at least was superman. This was my first sky rocket 2 clone and to my recognition the original of these. We managed to ride it twice once with the Q-bot which was a life saver at points for the rides with the bigger queues. I actually quite liked it, the launches had a good enough punch to theme and getting flung up that track felt amazing! The inversion was a bit grim but I quite enjoyed the ride, although I can see why some don't like these models as they are a bit basic and don't actually do much but overall I liked it and I'd give it a good 7.5/10.
After this we headed to the other side of the park to ride Medusa and Kong! First up Medusa. The ride as a whole is good its got nice forces, the inversions are good and its got good pacing. But that's the thing with Medusa, its Good, not amazing, not special, just good, there isn't anything that stands out as something amazing on this ride other then its a big B&M looper, and while some will love that, I thought it was good but it wasn't anything to shout about so I'd give it a good 6.5/10.
This is one thing I'd say about this area is that it doesn't have much shade at all, other then occasional parts in queue lines, it was all open which on a summers day which was pushing 30c, was really bad but yeah they really should put some shade in that area. Onto Kong... Well I had ridden Infusion before and it wasn't too bad I thought, and I kind of thought this would be the same case... GOD I WAS SO WRONG!! What heinous thing did anyone do to deserve this piece of S**t! we were one from front row and it violently rattled and vibrated the whole way round not to mention the god awful tracking of this ride, I wish this was closed rather then V2! The worst thing was is that the day we went would be the last day it was open for a month and a half so they could put VR on it, like why......? Its bad enough without the headset... This ride really needs to be demolished but a +1 is a +1 but this is a 1/10 coaster...
The only photo of this POS!
So after this we had food at a chicken place which was a rip-off but it was really nice, the chicken actually tasted good and the chips were really nice, shame for the toxic waste they call Fanta they have over there though..
I have to say other then the area with Medusa and Kong this park is actually quite pretty with lots of foliage, pretty plants and surprisingly good themeing for what I have heard is the norm of Six Flags Parks.
Heading to the back of the park after lunch greeted us with this.
Now I had never done a Vekoma Boomerang before which is a little embarrassing, but nether the less, we hoped straight on this thing, As there was no queue. and boarded the ride. On first thoughts it wasn't too bad but I can see why they get a bad rep with some nasty forces and jolts in places, namely that cobra roll, but to be fair again this coaster isn't that enjoyable and a little boring so again just a +1. This is a 4.5/10 for me.
Now I already had a headache from the strong sun, as well as Kong and Boomerang so this probably wasn't the best thing to go on...
Anyway after this mistake, the rapids finally opened so we finally got on it as the head was so bad at this point.
Well I can happily say it was actually fab, got us soaked which was really needed at the time and was quite interesting as there was no dull moments at all while riding! Again we skipped the queue with the Q-bot as the queue got stupidly bad as soon as it opened so it was lucky we had it. For a rapids it is a good 8/10
Another +1 this was a little like treetops at Oakwood but without the trees so was quite enjoyable I suppose, but it was made better but the over enthusiastic ride op giving everyone high fives so that was fab haha . 5/10
Then on to this thing... I hated it... again this should be destroyed alongside Kong...
The final big flat we got on was the Sky screamer which I think is the smallest out of the Six Flags Sky Screamers due to SFDK's height limit, and I can say although these rides do scare me a little it was really enjoyable and it gave great views of all the coasters around the park, especially Medusa and Joker . A solid 7/10 for me as the ride cycle was quite short.
The Final New ride we went on was Monsoon Falls, as I couldn't bring myself to get the kids cred with so many families with young children around that area, that and the fact that their top spin was broken as well. And it like Tidal Wave on a warm day hit the sport perfectly getting us soaked! It was small but the massive wave it produced was great for us as well as the spectators, and also the people who wanted to get soaked on the bridge too. A good 8/10.
We managed to rerides on Medusa, Superman and the AMAZING The Joker, before we had to set off again, riding Joker again cemented it at my No.2 spot as it is just bliss and fab and just RMC for the Win!!
For those that don't know this has a small zoo as well although we only went around the bit that had the aquatic animals, which were still quite cool to see.
After this one more ride had to be had on Joker and we got Back row which was insane! Words can't describe how much I love this ride!
Overall this park reminds me a lot of Thorpe Park. This in the fact that it is all quite compact with all the rides quite close together. Unfortunately it has Thorpe Parks reliability issues as well which lots of rides down a lot of the time, although locker situation is just abhorrent and Merlin are just so much better then this park when it comes to bag storage. The throughput's are about the same too, but the rides that are good are just outstanding and I'd definitely recommend the place just to ride the Joker! But I'd say this is a one day park, if you planned 2 days for the park you'd probably get bored but other then that I really enjoyed SFDK and I think its a park that if I'm ever in the area I would happily go to again!
Next Blog will be short as it is about our small detour to Yosemite and Glacier Point!
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Six Flags Great Adventure - October:
This was a park I had on my mind since 2011 (when I became an enthusiast), since then I had always wanted to go to this park because of Kingda Ka (obviously). After my parents then made some ludicrous promise based on my GCSEs, which I then achieved, it was confirmed that I was going to go to this park. Believe it or not, I actually made it to Kingda Ka.
So lets start from the beginning...
When driving to the park, there were trees everywhere blocking my view so I didn't actually see Kingda Ka till I was about 2 miles away. But when I saw it, whoa! It's big, very big, just whoa! We eventually arrived at the park and headed straight to Kingda Ka first.
When we arrived at Kingda Ka, there was a very small number of people. So when the gates opened we went straight into the front row queue and only had to wait behind about 3 pairs. We then got onto the train and exited the station. We waited behind another train which launched (which is pretty cool watching a launch from behind) then it was our turn...
After the announcement "arms down, head back, hold on!" we launched. This launch is so incredibly fast, not as explosive as Stealth's but towards the end of the launch you feel yourself speed up further to a point where all you can hear is wind and nothing else which was great.
You then go over the top hat so fast that the height is not at all on your mind and before you realise, you're dropping through the 270 degree spiral (which is not at all as scary as it sounds). All you can think about after that is what you've just done which does stop you noticing the airtime hill afterwards. The overall experience will leave a mark on you, it's a ride every enthusiast must and will ride in their lifetime.
We then did the ride again as the queue was very short and this time at the back. People say it's rough there, and it is fairly rough but it'll only be noticeable if you're not holding on. It's very easy to support yourself on the ride and you can still enjoy yourself. The back itself feels faster and more intense when taking out the rough factor. In conclusion the back is rough, but not unbearably rough (like Saw or Colossus).
This ride was next up being directly attached to Kingda Ka. Like Kingda Ka there was no queue. One thing you'll notice about this ride is that there is no slight theme whatsoever, it's literally a drop tower plunked onto a coaster, but honestly I didn't really mind. In the station, I was glad to be put on the left car (the one that always drops faster), and the outside seat (next to the track)
The climb to the top is a long way up and it makes you realise how tall Kingda Ka really is. The actual drop of this ride is quite tame, you're just gradually falling; that is until you hit the brakes where the deceleration is huge to a point where my entire upper half bent down into my restraint (life lesson - don't lean forwards on Zumanjaro).
It's a fun drop tower, and the view is great. But it's not the best drop tower I've ridden (you cannot beat Tower of Terror or Falcon's Fury). I will say it's a good addition for the park and the delay on Kingda Ka isn't actually as bad as it sounds as the operations on Kingda Ka are brilliant, plus they had 3 trains.
I was really looking forward to riding my first B&M stand up, as it was a new experience (I had ridden shockwave, but this was so much different with looks and the experience itself). There was no queue so we went in the front row queue.
On the ride, going over the drop was so much fun and the inversions were great. However, the problem I had was being forced into my seat after the inversions which hurt my back. This didn't completely ruin the experience but it was something I could do without. Green lantern is a fun ride, but it's not worth waiting in a really long line for and it's not re-rideable.
I now see why people aren't fans of stand ups, but I don't think that should be the end. If they eliminated that problem (and made them all smooth like Green Lantern) then I think stand ups would be a blast. I'm not sure how they will eliminate it (they probably won't) but it can be done.
This was the biggest bummer of the day, not the ride, but the fact I didn't get to ride it. We had queued about 1hr and when we got to the airgate there was a power outage which took away 2hrs of coaster riding. I was so annoyed as you could imagine (and superman is supposed to be a blast apparently), but I just had to accept that I've ridden Manta which is probably better.
After the 2hr power outage, rides were eventually reopening and we joined the queue for Nitro just before it became probably about 2hrs long. We waited for the front as it was a larger ride at the park which was worth it. I also left quite a large gap between me and the lap bar which was a decision I should make more often.
The ride was a blast, there was airtime and speed which I loved! The setting of this ride was cool as well, going near the lake and in a grassy area where no one can enter. Comparing this to the other B&M hypers I've ridden, it's better than Mako and Silver Star. Better than Shambhala? Not at all, but it still made no.4 on my top 15.
This was a ride to look forward to as it is apparently one of the best wooden coasters out there if not the best. We waited in a line outside the ride queue (the ride wasn't open yet) whilst waiting for the ride to reopen. The ride then opened to our relief, and when we got to the station we decided to wait for back row.
On the ride itself, the cable lift goes so fast you feel like you're being launched up the lift hill. Then we went round to the drop which in the back row, felt like a launch, this was the most insane moment I have ever had on a roller coaster! The airtime on this was mad and the sheer speed was a thing to notice.
With regards to smoothness, the first half was very smooth (you expect your head to shatter in the dips, but it just doesn't!), the second half is fairly bumpy but it is completely bearable. The lap bar I think could be improved as it was slightly painful (not ruiningly painful) but apart from that, the ride was just brilliant and to sum it up: pure insanity.
(You can just about see my face)
This was to be our last ride of the day (due to my family getting rather tired). Again, we waited about 1hr but that was because the operations weren't great (the operator was playing about with the locking system and stacking was present). We decided to go back row as the front row queue was excessively long.
The ride experience was just simply fun, fairly smooth (very little headbanging) and the effects were good. Comparing it to Kraken, it wasn't as good of a ride as Kraken was smoother and went underground (the second vertical loop on Kraken was my favourite element of Kraken). Despite that, the ride is a worthy addition to the park and is a great B&M.
The Top 3:
My top 3 in this park are the following:
1. Kingda Ka
2. El Toro
You may ask why Kingda Ka is above El Toro, it's because exhilaration is what I've been living for this year, and that's exactly what Kingda Ka offers - pure exhileration.
Nitro is at 3, nevertheless, it is this my no.4 coaster so this ride isn't bad in any way, it's just not as good as El toro or Kingda Ka.
Being a coaster enthusiast, this was the perfect park for me. It gave me rides which took my no.2, 3 and 4 spot on my top 15. The problem was the organisation and there clearly is an issue with their power grid (I don't know much about it, but it's still an issue), it would've been better if we were asked to leave Superman the moment the power outage occurred rather than waiting 20mins for us to be told that.
Apart from that, I liked the atmosphere of the park and the rides were of great quality. The fact that the park is close to New York is convenient thus allowing us to have a trip to New York.
Even though we only got on 6 different rides, it still became my favourite theme park and will remain my favourite theme park until I visit somewhere like Cedar Point or Carowinds. But personally, I would recommend this park to anyone, there is lots to do aside the larger rides and it is a park everyone can enjoy.
If the opportunity comes to visit this park, take it with gratitude!
I tried my best to think of an exciting title but I really lack in creativity so it's simply 'Shocktoberfest Review'.
This year, I was lucky enough to visit Tulleys Farm's scare event Shocktoberfest. I had heard nothing but great reviews from the event, and after wanting to go since 2014, Cian and I managed to save enough cash for a ticket. Despite the horrible Friday evening traffic on the M25, we managed to get there in fairly good time, and once we were there, we managed to get all 8 attractions done within very little time, compared to are queuing times at Fright Nights the previous week.
First things first, the atmosphere and vibe of the event is the best I've ever experienced. From the second I walked into the main plaza after collecting our tickets I fell in love with it! I wished then that I lived more locally and the tickets were slightly cheaper so I could head back there again! The roamers that we saw throughout the night were excellent too! After a quick bite to eat and a drink, 6-30 had rolled around. It was time for our first attraction!
SPOILER WARNING - THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS A LOT OF SPOILERS
Hellements - 6/10
We started on Hellements, mainly because the majority of reviews had said that this was the weakest maze at the event. Whilst it was one of the weakest of the night, it wasn't as bad as a lot of people made out. It is a hooded maze, where similarly to Molly Crowe, you have to follow a guide rope for the duration of the maze. However, unlike Molly, the actors couldn't touch you in this, which was my main bug. In the other mazes touching wasn't really needed and therefore it isn't done, but in a maze with your sight gone, I feel that touching is key, and that's why Molly was a lot better than it would've been without touching. It does have it's good moments. Lots of physical effects, weird whispering in tongues, a very unexpected fire burst at the end! I did jump a fair few times throughout. The maze was nice and long to at around 10 minutes. Overall though, despite it's advantages, Hellements was one of the weaker mazes we experienced.
Coven of 13 - 8/10
Coven is one of two new horror mazes that Tulleys have to offer this year, and this one is (only just) the better out of the two. After being told off for talking when I wasn't talking during the health and safety announcement, we set out on a 6 minute journey through a wonderfully themed and very jumpy horror maze. The floating chair illusion at the start of the maze is a very good one, that could be improved with more fog to obscure the support it's on. The mixture of outdoor and indoor sections was perfect, and despite the outdoor parts being rather open they worked nicely. The cottage was the best part of the maze for me, mainly because of the quality theming and the insane scare I had during it. The finale was rather confusing; I didn't really know what was happening. I was initially more critical of this maze however after a lot more thought, I do really like this maze and it is one that I hope returns!
Creepy Cottage - 4/10
Creepy Cottage was never going to be a great maze, so we didn't really expect much from it. Our expectations were met, as it really wasn't much. It is a great introductory maze with some good scares and great theming. Actors seemed to be severely lacking throughout which was unfortunate, and the group in front of us refused to move for a solid 30 or so seconds. It was the shortest maze of the night at 4 minutes long, and we did leave thinking "was that it"? Overall, Creepy Cottage is a good first maze with some nice theming, but it's no more than that.
PanDEMONium's 3D Carnival - 8/10
Pandemonium's 3D Carnival is the second new maze that Tulleys have introduced this year, and despite me giving it the same rating is Coven, this is the weaker of the two. I say weaker, this maze is not weak at all. The curtains section at the start is very nice and at times jumpy. This was the only maze that I felt had ample actors in; It seemed to be teeming with them! The second half was the 3D half. You were given 3D glasses by a very boring host who just gave them to you with no comment, and then you're on your way. The 3D didn't really do much in my opinion, other than one part where an actress looked like a 3D illusion however was actually there hanging above the door. The theming was alright in this half, I didn't really like the black walls with a splash of UV paint. The ending was awful unfortunately. You simply walk out of the maze after a themed scene which had zero actors in, no finale of such. Overall, Pandemonium was great, and if it does return, the 3D should be removed
The Chop Shop - 9/10
I had heard all about the craziness of the Chop Shop, and before going in I was very scared for what I was about to experience. As it currently stands, Chop Shop is the best Halloween attraction I've done this year! Firstly, the facade is stunning! Easily the best I've seen on a maze; It is just perfect! The first half of the maze is beautifully themed to look like an old car garage and the hillbilly actors were spot on during this part. The second half is where the fun really begins! The strobes kick in as you walk into a freezer room with blood stained walls, and then you turn the corner to find the twisted corridors which lead to the way out... and then actors wielding chainsaws come from every direction!!! I was very nearly sprinting in this part, I was bloody terrified! There were a good 6-8 actors with chainsaws coming from out of nowhere! And just when you thought it was over, another actor would pop out swinging a chainsaw everywhere! The only problems I had which don't make it a 10/10 is that a. It is quite short at 4 and a half minutes and b. The chainsaw corridors should have been enclosed and not in the open air. Other than that, The Chop Shop was amazing, and it was the best maze of the night!
The Colony - 7.5/10
Many people had stated that The Colony was the best maze that Tulleys had to offer, so upon entering the queue we were very excited for what was to come. It was good, great even, but not as good as many had said it was. I'll start with the good parts: It was very long! We were in the maze for nearly 15 minutes and seemed to go on forever (in a good way)! The theming was brilliant and it had a great mixture of indoor and outdoor sections. The best scene for me was when we were submerged into total darkness for 1-2 minutes and had to navigate our way out whilst stumbling in pitch blackness. The actors did do a great job in here too with lots of excellent scares. Time for the cons: the finale was ridiculous. It was something that should've been in The Chop Shop; freezer walls and a chainsaw. It didn't fit the tribal theme at all! The actors were also lacking, especially during the first half. The group in front of us walked horribly slowly too, resulting in a huge build up of people which ruined it slightly. Overall, The Colony was good, but no where near as good as people have been saying.
The Cellar - 8.5/10
I was very excited for the Cellar, and I was not disappointed! Esmeralda wasn't in, however that still didn't fault the maze. The theming and scares were fantastic in here; the snake head scared the living daylights out of me. I did feel that actors were again slightly lacking but not as badly as some other mazes. We saw a familiar face working in this maze too which added to it slightly. Very claustrophobic throughout and the dim lighting meant it was fairly difficult to navigate; I did hit my head on a prop at one point! Overall, the Cellar is a very good maze and one I hope is still running in years to come.
Horrorwood Hayride - 9/10
The Horrorwood Hayride is something very different to most of the attractions that Tulleys have to offer, and it was clearly insanely popular due to the hour long queue it got.
The hayride is a fantastic attraction. Whilst not as scary as a horror maze, it still managed to get some scares out of the group. The actors throughout the attraction were top quality, however the part with the pig-people and the chainsaws felt rather out of place and would've been more suited to The Chop Shop. Combined with some great theming and a lot of fire, it led to the Hayride nearly beating Chop Shop as the best attraction of the night!
To conclude, Tulleys is a fantastic event, the best I have ever experienced! Each and every attraction offers something different, the atmosphere is fantastic, and pretty much everything about the place just screams "Amazing"!
That's the end of this blog entry. Hope you enjoyed
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Not sure if anyone has realised but wild wongs noodle bar has now vanished off the face of the earth, not that I ever ate at the bloody place but still I want answers! One of my favourite areas of the park is just slowly becoming and looking abandoned. Like some people say, yes it will probably look a lot more alive at fright nights but for the majority of this season it has looked very dead. People are also saying that now loggers is gone for good and if you are one of those saying this please hit me up or comment on this as I would like to know where you are getting this info from or whether its just a theory due to everyone not being able to see any maintenance being done on it the whole year. I would be sad if it was confirmed to never return as I did enjoy it (back when I was 13..) didn't enjoy it too much towards the end, having a face full of dirty river water was not my idea of a fun day out at Thorpe but still. I'm not sure whether wongs closed mid season this year or whether it hasn't even been open at all this season? I know the little hot dog stand they have there has been open this year and from what I can remember was still open last time I visited (last month). I just think that Thorpe is just slowly closing everything from this area one by one to eventually have it all demolished.. which I don't want! It is a good area and has been there for years. Hope wong returns one day love ya x
I first visited Paultons Park in the mid 80's (ish) although the only thing I really remember is feeling hugely travel sick from the coach journey there. Fast forward to 2010 when I took my next visit to the park - this was the year before Peppa Pig world opened and the park was heavily advertising it (understandably) - we actually queued for about 90 minutes to get a photo taken with Peppa Pig (or her annoying brother - not sure which) - I might add, this was because I was with my then 6 year old niece - I'm personally not a huge fan of Peppa Pig and find the programme highly irritating although it is massively popular with kids. I had a fab day but left feeling light the place could do with a bit more on the side of theming.
I next visited in 2013, Peppa Pig world was open and very popular and the previous year the park had installed Magma, a drop ride (which also spins) - I hate drop rides with a passion (thanks to Detonator) but can cope with ones such as Magma which are fun and give you a floating feeling rather than one where your butt flies out of the seat and you hold on for dear life (if you're anything like me)
The theming on Magma is pretty good - you enter a volcano which has rumbling sounds and smoke/mist that goes off as the ride starts - I really enjoyed it and thought it was a great addition to the park
A couple of weeks ago I took a trip to Paultons Park for the first time in 3 years to check out the new area, Lost Kingdom which opened in May of this year. I wasn't disappointed. Paultons Park is a lovely place and you can see that they have invested a lot back into the park (take note CWOA). The first thing that struck me was how clean the place was - I mean - REALLY clean - no rubbish laying around, no overflowing bins and it was so refreshing.
You can tell that Paultons really do care about their guests - there is no shortage of toilets which is always handy and they have loads of benches (I love that they say Paultons Park on them aswell - so much so, I took a picture of one - yes I'm odd) There are also LOTS of play areas for kids - including a splash area with fountains which I'm sure gets busy during hot days
Unlike Merlin parks where it can sometimes feel that they are trying to squeeze every last penny out of you, you don't get that feeling at this park - yes, they have those games where you throw a ball in a bucket to win a prize but the people manning these stalls aren't very pushy which is nice. Food at drink are fairly reasonably priced as well. Oh and you don't get stung for parking your car either.
Not only do Paultons have a variety of rides, the gardens are lovely and you can tell that the people who work on them take great care and pride in what they do. They also have a variety of animals - including meerkats - and who doesn't love a meerkat?!
Just look at that face
OK - so if you are a hardcore adrenaline junkie who is looking for non stop thrills, this probably isn't the place for you - however I would recommend Paultons to anyone who is up for a chilled day with some decent rides - in my opinion a theme park doesn't have to be packed with inversion after inversion to be good. There are no rides at Paultons which have inversions but it is still worth a visit - they even have a nifty little train (Rio Grande) that takes you on a small journey around part of the park - perfect if you want a sit down and chill
I really enjoyed the Lost Kingdom area of the park - the theming is fantastic and I was really impressed with what they had done. The 2 main coasters, Velociraptor and Flight Of The Pterosaur are really enjoyable - more so than I thought they would be. Oh and there are lots and lots of animatronic dinosaurs -
Prior to riding Velociraptor, I had never ridden a Junior Boomerang coaster before - and embarrasing as this is, I did actually scream - mainly on the backwards part as I don't cope brilliantly with going backwards (I only ever rode x:/nwo once because I came extremely close to chundering my guts up)
Flight Of The Pterosaur was a nice surprise for me - I didn't expect much if I'm honest but I thoroughly enjoyed it - it's full of twists and turns and again, the theming is fab - the thing I absolutely love are the restraints on the trains - because it is just a lap bar that you pull down over you it allows for a lot more freedom - it would be awesome if Vampire got these sort of restraints. We rode on the back row, front row and in the middle - all give a great ride but I probably prefer front as I like to see where I am going
We also rode the dinosaur safari ride which was surprisingly good even if it did start to rain a bit mid-way through. We didn't go on Boulder Dash so I can't comment on that but the whole are is just really nice and fresh.
Because we visited on a really quiet day, everything was walk on and we were able to go on pretty much everything multiple times which was fab. As well as The Lost Kingdom, Critter Creek is another themed area which is really bright and happy (is that the right word?!)
I really do love Paultons Park and although my niece has moved onto scarier rides, she also loved it when she was younger. It is a true family park and I love that it is starting to get the recognition that it deserves. This place has well and truly over taken CWOA in terms of theming and overall presentation/care etc. Yes it would be nice if they were to add a couple of more thrilling rides but the way the park is going I think they are just going to get better and better.
Although I have a MAP, I for one reaaaaally hope that Merlin never buy this place out - would hate to see it run into the ground. To be honest, if I lived nearer I would consider getting a season pass but as I live over and hour away it isn't viable.
Another thing to mention is that the staff who I encountered during my visit were all extremely friendly and enthusiastic - which is nice to see. The only criticism of the place that I would have is that it took us a while to get into the park as not all the turnstiles were in use and the ones that were seemed to take a while to get people through.
My personal favourite rides at Paultons would be - Flight Of The Pterosaur, Velociraptor, Cobra and Magma - I also quite like Wave Runner - it's pretty much Depth Charge (although for some reason I prefer Wave Runner and have no idea why).
Another thing to add is that Paultons Park have 2 similar rides to CWOA - The Edge (a disco-coaster - similar to Kobra) and Kontiki (similar to Griffins Galleon) but for some reason, Paultons have these rides on a much better setting. I haven't actually ventured onto The Edge since my visit back in 2010 where my sister and her partner were taking bets on whether I was going to throw up (thankfully I didn't). I put off going on Kobra at CWOA for a long time, thinking that it would be as intense and was really surprised when I first rode it as it felt a LOT tamer. Kontiki is definitely a lot more intense than Griffins Galleon at Chessie - that also made me feel a bit queasy when I rode it a couple of years back (though I have to add that I have since discovered the wonders of anti-sickness meds)
Critter Creek theming
Cobra car (Gerslauer bob sled)
Great theming in Peppa Pig World
Double Decker Victorian carousel
Chair swing ride
Raging River log flume - there is zero theming on this but for its size it offers a decent splash
And finally - I saved the best for last.....
Mr Fish disembarking the crocodile ride thingy in Peppa Pig World
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Upon arriving at the park, we were both very impressed with the location of the park, all the rides around the lake
looked stunning as we were driving to the car park. Excited to see what this park had to offer, we head for the park
entrance. The park opens and 09:30 and the rides open at 10:30, we turned up around 09:15 and there were already loads
of staff at the ticket booths which was great to see, this meant we could buy our tickets ready to enter the park when
it opened. As it happens we were the first to enter the park! we took the first hour to explore the parks zoo which we
found to be hit and miss really, you could tell which were the new parts and which were the old. Some of the enclosures
were great and some were really dirty and small, but we loved the Tamarin trail!
Anyway, we didn't really come here for the animals (although we do love a good zoo!) the park was starting to fill up so
around 10:15 we joined the queue for Ben 10 as there was already a hefty queue waiting to enter the queue, we gathered
that this ride would probably get the biggest queues due to it's a popularity with the kids. when the queue opened however,
we must of only waited around 10 minutes, we skipped most of it as they were looking for groups of two :P. The queue for
this ride is very well themed and includes lots of good lighting and objects themed to the kids show. The ride itself is
good fun! the restraints are nice making you feel very open and exposed, it's quite fast and intense for a family coaster
and it is glass smooth! I'm not a fan of going backwards on coasters but these family vekoma boomerangs are proving popular
and I can see why! We both came off smiling 8/10.
Next up it was time for the Wild West shootout ride thing, now this ride wasn't very long and it had a very DIY feel about
it but we loved it! I'm not quite sure what is was, I just came off loving it, I think it's just more fun than other
shooters I have done. it was very interactive like when you hit a can it fell over etc and got to love them bonus'! In my
opinion I thought it was a fun little ride and we even did it again later in the day! 6.5/10
Already quite impressed with the park we wondered down to the Buffalo coaster. This coaster could be heard from a distance
as this thing is quite noisy, but the trains looked like the had been refurbished recently? and the layout seemed half
decent! It was just as I expected really, bit rough and jolty but there are a couple of Helix's and you get some good
views of the rest of the park! 6/10
Now we both had quite high expectations of this next ride as it has recently gone through a refurb and some of our friends
really rate it highly: it was time for the Haunting. all I knew of this ride is that it was a madhouse so I didn't really
know what to expect. The lighting was excellent, the ride had some great effects which weren't scary as such but this
attraction is aimed at the whole family so we took that into consideration. the scenes are great in the attraction
especially the big hall, I loved this part of the attraction as there is mist, projections, lights and floor movements -
it all seemed to work really well! The finale is the ride itself which I felt was good but nothing more really, all I all
it is a great attraction but hex is still my favourite madhouse I'm afraid. 8/10
We headed over to the other end of the park to try out the parks rapids 'Splash Canyon', probably my 2nd favourite rapids
in the country, not as good as Congo River Rapids at AT but much better than Thorpe's Rumba Rapids! The Queue line for this
is a horrible cattle-pen which is a shame, I can imagine it being horrible during a very busy day! and also they didn't seem
to have many boats on which didn't help the queue. Apart from that you get some good interaction with Shockwave and there are
some good water effects! 7/10
At this point is was gone Midday so we were getting quite hungry but as Shockwave had no queue we thought we would squeeze it
in before lunch, There was no queue for the front so we went straight on, unfortunately no Go Pros allowed which was a shame.
The restraints on this were not as comfortable as Riddler's Revenge over at SFMM but I understand that this was a Intamin and
B&M combo. The ride was surprisingly smooth at the front and I came off instantly thinking that it was my favourite coasters
in the UK, the loop is intense, the zero-g was a bit uncomfortable but I enjoyed getting thrown out of my seat. Yes the ride
is quite short but it packs a punch. Now on the front row I would put it in my top 5 in the UK but later on in the day I gave
it a ride near the back and boy was it rough! Gave me a headache for the rest of the day, but still I find it a good coaster so
I rate it a solid 7.5/10
Burger Kitchen was our choice of eatery, food was quite pricey as you can imagine but not too bad. Quality off food was okay,
nothing more than standard theme park food.
After lunch, we walked around Thomas Land for a bit, the theming in this area is great and has a lovely atmosphere! This area
had the longest queues of the park so unfortunately we didn't get to do much which was a shame but we could see why the kids
loved it! We took a ride on Toby's tram thing, never seen a flat ride like this before and it was good fun, quite intense for
little kids ride. To let our lunch digest we took a ride on the parks Ferris Wheel which seemed the same as Chessington's
version, we got some good views of Ben 10 from this. Yogi Bear was now about to start so we thought we would go and give it a
try, The film is just small clips of the actual film put together but it was alright I guess, we mainly went in to have a break
from the rides but it was okay, not as good as Angry Birds.
Next up was the other thrill coaster at the park 'G Force' there was only a 5 minute wait which was a bonus. I Wasn't expecting
much from this ride due to the amount of bad reviews it gets but I remained positive, but I was wrong. The restraints have got
to be the most painful restraints I have experienced! the lift hill is just horrible, not a fun experience, you are literally
just hanging upside down with your body being crushed by your restraint. The coaster section was meh, it was jolty, no speed
or flow to the ride and it is very short! Thank god it was a short ride though I don't think my body could endure any more pain! 3/10
Unfortunately Storm Force 10 was closed for the day so we didn't get to ride it oh well more reason to go back next year! As
Maelstrom was nearby we decided to give that a go next. Wow! this ride is really intense and is probably one of my favourite
flats in the UK! It delivers so much airtime, we loved it! 9/10
Pandemonium and The flying Dutchman were also closed but no biggie, I'm not too keen on flats anyway and Pandemonium didn't
interest me. The Flying Dutchman was in pieces and the was a crane on the Pandemonium site so whether they will be removed or
just being refurbished I'm not too sure. Anyway we headed to the barrels! The theming on this ride is great, yet so out of place
haha! Not complaining though as we loved the German theme and the ride was really fun too!
It was time for Apocalypse, now drop towers are the only type of ride where I get nervous due to the height of them and of
course, the anticipation of the drop. To date Atmosfear at Liseberg is the tallest drop tower I've done (around 400ft I think)
and is probably the scariest ride I've done due to the height! the sit down had a longer queue than stand up so I went straight
for the standup, now I would be lying if I told you I wasn't a tad nervous. I had never done a standup drop tower before so
this was new to me. At first it was too bad but then it tilted you, you don't tilt that much but you really notice it when all
of your body weight is pushing against the retraint, let's just say if that restraint failed you would be a gonner! At
the top you are only given a brief moment to appreciate the view and then you drop. The drop is so forceful it's amazing! by
far the best drop tower I have done and one of my favourite rides in the country! 10/10
We did a few other small flat rides then we headed for our last ride of the day - Troublesome Trucks! This had the longest queue
all day but the cred had to be done, I believe we waiting 30 minutes or something. It is a great little coaster though! the
theming is really nice and it has to be one of the best tiny coasters I have done, it's so smooth!
Oh yeah, The Bounty has to be the best Pirate Ship I have been on too!
To summarise then, Drayton Manor exceeded our expectations and is one of my favourite parks in the UK. The have some really
unique rides, including loads of family and kids rides! some of the theming is in need of refurb but the newer rides look great!
What this park really needs now is another thrill coaster, hopefully something will be announced in the next few years! Shame
about the staff though as rarely did we see a smile - very Grumpy! All in all it's a great park and look forward to returning
Woah Woah Woah there friends!
Put down your pitchforks! Extinguish your flaming torches and disband that mob!
That title is what we call in the industry as "clickbait". A very clever way of getting people into a boring article with something shocking at face value,
Now where as most people include an image of female speed bumps to get peoples attention, I thought I would offer a thought provoking question...
How do you solve a problem like enthusiasts?
We are a great burden / privilege to theme parks. We think we know best, If a park does something right, we commend them and cheer them on!
However, this is the real world and quite a lot of the time choices made by other people are wrong! Horribly Horribly Wrong!
Where was I...
This thought of how do we solve this problem became more prominent after the recent news of certain enthusiasts behaving atrociously at the Bubbleworks Goodbye Party.
Enthusiasts shouting at staff to be on the last ride before it closes forever.
Now at first glance this just seems like some people wanting the bragging rights, "Guess who was the last on Bubbleworks!" sort of how we do it for ride openings, (3rd Public train of The Smiler and first public train of Galactica... Just saying )
But unlike ride openings, we don't have to put in effort to be the last to ride something, just turn up last and on you go rather than ride openings where those committed enough will be at the park before the staff, run to the ride as soon as the gates open and be prepared to live with the blood on your hands from those who stood before you!
However, there is a more personal connection to being the last on something, people who have grown up with Bubbleworks will have a very strong bond with the attraction, it still doesn't accuse the behavior but that behavior comes as a side effect of passion... And we are not the only ones!
Take football fans, we constantly hear of fights starting against team fans due to one beating another, and again I don't condone these actions but this again comes out of passion, they obviously want the team they support to win and unfortunately when they don't they behave in unusual ways as some don't really know how to react.
So what is my point? Enthusiasts want to be the last to complete there special bond with the ride, the be the last to share a memory with something so special to them. Now a morbid warning... the closing of a ride is a bit like the passing of a family member or relative. (Where am I going with this...) Some people feel more comforted being there in that persons last moment as that then means that there last moment with them was the last moment they had with that person. As weird as it may sound with rides, some people don't feel as connected if there last ride was a month before it closed, as it would have given a lot more memories out after you. It's pretty petty... but it's human nature.
Conclusion: How do you solve a problem like enthusiasts? You don't as they are what make theme parks great, and terrible and... what was my point again?
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WARNING - This review has very STRONG spoilers
Choo Choo... No this isn't Runaway Mine Train, this is MY Ghost Train (Well actually it's Derren's, but I got to experience it last weekend).
Delayed for two months, a hype built higher than Kingda Ka and being the largest investment in Merlin HISTORY! I, of course, had low expectations.
I'll begin my review on the outside, we were greeted by a 90 minute queue in the baking heat, so I had lots of time to sink in the exterior, unfortunately, most of the poster theming had been destroyed by the guests'.
Apart from the huge red shed that Thorpe has proudly placed at the front of the area, the actual building itself is well themed and the music was loud, maybe a little too loud (is that possible?).
Apart from the AWFUL photo spots, the queue itself wasn’t that bad, the baggage room was well themed and the batching area kept the hype going… now it was time to go through to the pre-show.
The pre-show started, with the worlds lamest ‘jump scare’, Derren waffled on about fear (I did pay attention, honest!) and another lame jump scare, although I did appreciate the special effects, this pre show felt like it was actually him talking to me, not just a video.
We move onto the main room and I was taken aback, the train looked incredible and really looked like it was hanging! I have no idea how it’s done, the way the trains are hidden is actually the most mind bending thing about this attraction.
The VR headsets come on and the story begins, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6... The scares begin and I was already screaming before the video started, the whole first VR section felt so realistic and I was immersed in what they was saying, I had the young man, old lady and old man so I got to experience a difference in the stories, my 3rd ride on DBGT 1st VR experience was the best VR I have ever experience, so crisp and clear.
So after my knees were attacked by Thorpe’s ride host, we moved into the second part of the attraction, after a lot of shouting and confusion, this huge train comes swinging towards us, the effect would work well if they had more smoke and less lights but I still jumped back in time.
Onto the second train and off we went, this time the story got confusing for me… why the explosions? Where’s Derren gone? Is Derren a member of the Green Party? But the demons did scare me, but the extremely long gas section made me loose interest and I could feel myself wanting to remove my headset, next thing I know, we’re falling to my second home, 5,4,3,2… an abrupt ending and back to reality.
We exit into the highly themed shop and I had experienced the ghost train.
- The physically train and underground theming.
- The first VR experience nearly made me fall off my seat
- The ride system works SO WELL.
- The whole ‘sub core’ story comes out of nowhere, it feels like they’re two different plot lines happening throughout the whole attraction, Derren Brown & Sub Core.
- Second VR section comes across very out there, making me confused to what was actually happening.
- Making me change my pants because it scared me THAT much.
The newest major UK theme park attraction, was certainly an experienced I’ve never had before, the plot line and lack of physically theming let it down for me, but it did what it was created for, to scare you.
I’m unsure how this will keep up in a few years’ time, the technology is far too underdeveloped for how much it gets used and was already straining when I visited, I have a strong opinion that VR is NOT the future of theme parks, but that’s a debate for another day.