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  1. Mark9
    Latest Entry

    By Mark9,

    Italy

     

    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

    http://forum.maniahub.com/blogs/entry/714-roman-roaming-highlights-from-italy-part-1/

     

    Rainbow Magicland

     

    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.

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    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.

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    The surprise stand out was without a shadow of a doubt Huntik, a next generation shoot em up with fantastic effects. We really enjoyed.

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    I'd recommend a visit here to start a trip off with. 

     

    Miribilandia

     

    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.

     

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    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.

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    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.

     

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    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.

     

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    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.

     

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    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.

     

    Finally...

     

    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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  2. Okay I know its only April but fu** you I'm writing this review.

     

    So the London Bridge and Tombs is an attraction that has always been on my radar- whether it be the rave reviews from Scaretour or walking past it when the Dungeons was down the road.

    So after a trek down to London I thought I might as well experience it for myself- does it compare to The Dungeons?

    (apologies for these straight outta snapchat photos :lol:)

     

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    **Mild Spoilers**

     

     

    The London Bridge Experience

    So after a somewhat overly long intro video- you are ushered into the London Bridge Experience.

    Overall I found this experience to overall be well themed, well acted, well scripted, and educational- but sadly I feel like a lot of scenes and rooms lacked the crescendo or 'oomph' that the Dungeons has.

     

    For example there is a scene in a pub here which the landlord discusses a bunch of murders which references Jack The Ripper. You then hear a scream to which you are ushered out of the pub by the landlord to find a corpse. But then after you see the bloody mannequin- you abruptly move on to the next scene.

    This scene in particular had a lot of tension and it constantly felt like something big or Dungeons esque would happen- but it doesn't.

    I felt like they really could of added some more dramatic reveal to seeing the bloody mannequin too- we really just walked past it.

     

    This was a issue for many scenes- in particular 'the fight verses the Romans' scene had a great script and seemed to be building up to something jumpy- but then it just kinda fizzled out and next minute we were on the next scene..

     

    I do have to give credit for some scenes within the experience though- there is a huge scare involving a large moving animatronic that made me jump out of my skin towards the beginning of the experience.

    I also really enjoyed the incredibly disorientating spinning tunnel towards the end- it was even worse than the one at Tulleys!

     

    I think London Bridge with some more special effects could easily match the Dungeons- but for now I think it really lacks the 'oompth' and the finales of The Dungeon's scenes.

    Despite that though- the theming is brilliant and perhaps even greater than The Dungeons. The acting was also top class and the groups were much more intimate than the 30+ groups that The Dungeons has.

     

    The Tombs

    After nearly throwing up from the spinning tunnel you are warned about the intense scare attraction that awaits you- after a photo opportunity and a intro video, you enter the lifts..

    This lift scene built up tension perfectly and the lift had some nice special effects to make it feel like you were actually going down!

     

    Once out of the lifts, you form a conga line and you enter the main maze.

    The main maze itself was nicely themed and had a huge variety of scenes.

     

    A hospital, a Chop Shop style room, a prison style room, and even a clown section- you name it, its in The Tombs.

    The maze overall has tonnes of variety within its long layout- I never quite knew what the next room would bring.

     

    The acting was brilliant throughout, with actors using various hiding spaces to come out of nowhere or harass us.

    My only problem was there was quite a few rooms that were sparse on actors- but the theming and animatronics kinda made up for it.

     

    Overall The Tombs was a long and varied scare attraction that I think really made the trip worth it.

     

    Conclusion

    Overall I think The London Bridge Experience and Tombs are both well themed and acted experiences- though if you want a educational and witty trip back in time I think The Dungeon's is a much more polished and superior experience- though if you want to get sh** scared then The Tombs makes the trip down to Tooley Street more than worth it.

    The groups in both The Bridge and The Tombs are also much more intimate so you don't have to deal with the overcrowding that The Dungeons has.

     

    Anyway sorry for the six month early post :lol:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  3. So, I figured I may as well give a bit more insight about my views on The Walking Dead - The Ride.

     

    I know plenty of people have pretty much written it off already, and it's almost trendy to hate the idea, but I do think it's worth going into this with an open mind.  The overall experience is good, well themed, and does justice to what the ride and building was designed to achieve.  

     

    The entrance portal is nice.  It is standard run down Thorpe style, but it is still good.  The queue is, again, standard Thorpe in that it's "how much queue can we fit in one space", with just little nuggets of theming - in the way of themed signage and Easter Eggs to the show - to go with it.  There's no extensions or anything, so on quiet days, you will have to walk through the whole thing, which is a pain..  Audio in the area is nice and creepy, and the watchtower looks alright to be fair.

     

    Bag room is now outside the building, and is clearly unfinished at the moment.  Hopefully it can be themed up, especially to the standard of the inside of the ride.  After that, groups of 20 (so 2 trains worth) get batched into pre-show.  The pre-show is extremely basic - a minute long video featuring a character talking to you, encouraging you to make your way through the building because we're under attack.  It's well done, and I don't think it will get tedious during re-riding, but I feel like they could have done more here.  Some big special effect, to give you the personal reason to get moving, rather than some guy on a screen telling you...

     

    The walkway to the station is exceptionally well themed.  You go through different areas of 'the safe zone', and as you go through them, audio is triggered saying how those zones are under attack, encouraging you to keep moving.  The tone is perfect here, and really sets up the experience well. 

     

    The ride itself is themed to a 'transit system' in the safe zone, and is being used to transport you to safety.  It's clever, and gives you a reason to be on the ride.  From there, it is just X, with special effects, and I don't think that can be stressed enough.  I really hope that people have ended up being ignorant the OTT "it's the scariest thing ever" marketing approach, or are able to just look past it, else it sets the ride up to fail.  In saying that, the special effects that are there are good, and really do enhance the ride experience.  There aren't any animatronics, just zombie mannequins (which aren't the greatest, but to a casual rider will more than do the job).  There's also screens, smoke, audio and lighting effects, all of which are used very well.  The one stop during the ride is a real highlight actually, fitting in with the story perfectly, and just being a lot of fun!

     

    The ride ends with us still being under attack; everywhere in the safe zone is overrun with zombies.  The post-ride experience happens, in the form of a loud noise, and is...just a bit naff?  There's terrible noise bleed from there to the waiting bit before the station, so if you've been unfortunate with timings, it does spoil it somewhat.  There is more to it, but I believe that tweaks were still being made, so I don't know what to say / expect from that for now.  There is a lot of potential there, but it needs a bit more direction.

     

    So yeah, to round it all up...

    +Fantastically themed experience

    +A fun ride experience, with good special effects

    +An experience that stays true to what the original X:\No Way Out aimed to do

    +A cohesive story which is easy to understand

    -Pre-show could do with a bit more oompf

    -Post-show needs a bit of clarity / more direction

     

     

    But before I go - One final thought.  

     

    I like this, I won't deny that.  I also liked X.  I haven't decided whether I like this more than X or not, but that's neither here nor there for now.  Personally, I think X is the better thing for Thorpe now; it had potential to be a fun ride which was accessible to all.  

     

    I can't help but wonder what Thorpe could have done with X if they had the budget this had.  Or even half the budget.  They really could have created an attraction where you rode "on a wave of light (and sound)", went through tunnels of light, etc.  I imagine that having the trains 'chase' lit up track, with lasers and smoke effects around, along with an extended original soundtrack would have been more than possible, along with some fun lighting effects in the entrance and exit walkways.  I reckon I'd have loved that, as would a large majority of people.

  4. Mark9
    Latest Entry

    The Worst GCI in modern history. Wicker Man will be **** we all know it. Doesn't look very interesting, not very fast at all.

     

    Just three ways Wicker Man has been described over the closed season on this forum. There's a wealth of material, of people lining up to give the first modern woodie in the UK in 22 years a good kicking. The point where coaster enthusiasts have already ruled themselves judge, jury and executioner on a ride way before anyone had even had the chance to ride. Here we are a good two weeks later from the preview event and I think there's proverbial egg on peoples faces. I remained quietly optimistic, keeping expectations in check. What I expected was a well paced, fun, mildly thrilling family wooden ride and that's exactly what I got. I knew this wasn't going to be Wodan, it wouldn't be the airtime machine that Megafobia or Tonnerre De Zeus are. But what I did get was the best rollercoaster Merlin have ever built..

     

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    Now before you decry my last sentence as hyperbolic nonsense, understand something. I love a thrilling rollercoaster but what I really love is an inventive, interactive, original layout. I love getting on a ride, hearing the people around me screaming, loving every moment, hitting the break run and then shouts of amazement, the joy that emanates from the riders. Hit the break run on Nemesis, Inferno, Swarm, Oblivion and you hear nothing, just complete silence. It's just another steel rollercoaster going through the motions. But for the first time in a long while I heard something from a UK ride. People love the Wicker Man. They can't believe that such an old looking ride (bare with me) can deliver thrills, excitement on such a scale. Europeans and Americans are used to the thrill of a wooden rollercoaster but the UK has forgotten that wooden rollercoasters are more then a match to their steel counterparts. For me, this is the first time that Merlin have hit the nail on the head and got it right. 

     

    So why is it so good?

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    To start off with, I like how little of it you can see from around the resort. There was a lot of discussion around Alton's limitations and how they get around them and Wicker Man is another example of that. The way the ride seems to work on several different levels to gather pace and momentum is right out of the Nemesis/Smiler handbook, the way the ride descends to the bottom of the Flume lake, or the oddity of the lift hill, the way the ride dips through the Wicker Man structure three times, each time getting more and more intense or the way the compact layout eeks out the ride length perfectly. The queue line which features very few switchbacks and naturally uses the terrain to get you close to the structure or the balcony which overlooks the majority of the ride giving great photo opportunities.  The mercifully brief pre-show which I thought was perfect for the ride, telling us the story without getting bogged down in details. At its core, this is a very simple story on a pretty basic woodie but the ride is more then the sum of its parts. The soundtrack which I really like slowly builds up in drama the further into the queue you go. This feels like the kind of ride that you couldn't get anywhere else, tapping into legend in the same way that Hex does. This is right out of the Towers rule book and is all the more stronger for it.

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    At the moment the rides biggest issues are operational. The park hasn't really got to grips with how to run it yet with very slow dispatches and numerous breakdowns. It only ran for two hours on my visit (didn't help that Nemesis was down all day, curse you Towers) and when Wicker Man was running trains didn't seem to go out very quickly. I don't think the way rows are labelled is very clear in the station either, the darkness and moodiness of the station means people can't see the numbers hanging above their heads and numerous times people were just wondering back and forth lost. If you've ever ridden a GCI woodie you know what to expect here from the Millennium flyer trains. They are comfortable enough to ride in whilst durable enough to take it when you go slamming from side to side on the rides cornering. I won't cover the ride in too much detail as frankly it differs massively from front to back but what I will say is that when this thing beds in, those back row seats are going to be absolutely fantastic. Our first ride was row 5 and then onto row 8 and the difference was staggering. 

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    I have two main worries. The first is the effects. Lets face it, Merlin are hit and miss with this and as you can see from the Smiler most of it no longer works. No sprayers, no screens, no car wash. The effects on Wicker Man tell a story far more then the Smiler and the danger of the Wicker Man structure having no fire or smoke must be pretty high; I'd be surprised if they still work by June. That's ignoring all the smoke effects before the lift hill, on the first drop tunnel, in the break run. If Towers want this ride to continue to have the positive reaction it currently has, it is essential they stay on top of this. That being said, I think the strong layout helps but on an effects driven ride, that can only do so much. My second concern is the rides longevity. Wooden coasters aren't steel coasters, they need consistent maintenance to keep them from getting too rough, too shaky, too unbearable. I question whether Merlin can give this ride the love it needs five years, ten years down the line. Based on their track record with Colossos for example, they let that go SBNO for two years. I don't want to see that happen with Wicker Man, in my view it's the closest to perfection Merlin can ever get.

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    So its safe to say, I'm a big fan of the Wicker Man and I call it a triumph for the UK industry. When people were lining up to rip it to shreds, I stayed positive and optimistic and whilst I don't want to say I told you so, I told you so. My biggest hope that comes out of this wooden ride though is that parks like Paultons, Drayton, Flamingoland, hell even Thorpe and Chessington look at what can be done with a ride like this and build their own. The wooden ride genre is big in America, China, all across Europe and yet here, they are seen as dangerous and unsafe. Telling people I work with that I was going to Towers to ride a wooden rollercoaster, they thought it was a disaster waiting to happen. I can only hope that the Wicker Mans success leads to more and more and who knows what that could lead to.

     

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    Thans for reading and as for a score, Wicker Man is a solid 8/10. I can't wait to get back up there. 

     

    Next time I'll be Enthusiastic Icon. :yahoo:

  5. When it comes to reviewing something, I try to be as honest, straight-talking and truthful as I can to the reader because above anything else, integrity to me is the most appreciated value I admire in someone when I am seeking for advice with their opinions. That way, if I decide to pluck down my own money, time and effort on something, I can be assured there is nothing being kept hidden when trying the product myself and therefore, trust can be built.

     

    I believe this first paragraph needs to be put at the very start of this review because after trying Wicker Man for the first time, I want to be as honest as I possibly can in what you are about to read. There are presently a lot of exaggerated claims, promises and expectations being thrown around about this coaster at the moment by various people and I refuse to fall into this category, so everything below is exactly what it is with no filter in place, for good and bad.
     

    Now onto the ride itself. I’ve been moderately quiet during the construction of Wicker Man these last several months despite the constant updates, advertising, drone footage and leaked name ages before, primarily because time and time again, I have stupidly built false promises and expectations with a lot of Merlin’s recent investments these last several years. Promises which inside I knew they couldn’t deliver but still believed in nonetheless and as a result, I have been scarred by it all and have a real grudge against the majority of Merlin attractions that have been built across the parks from 2014 onwards. To be blunt, I approached Wicker Man with a pessimistic view from the day it was announced until the day I finally rode it.
     

    Wooden coasters for me are something special; special in a way that cannot be described easily. Because despite not having fancy elements, being the fastest or tallest or the most amazing coasters out there, they tend to be underestimated a lot of the time and can really surprise you with how great they are. I’ll never forget that first ride on Megafobia at Oakwood, Wales back in 2010 where it left be stunned. Also quite recently sitting on the back row of Balder at Liseberg, Sweden in 2017 and being shocked and amazed by the extreme forces you go through, especially down the first drop after the lift hill. It certainly is an amazing feeling!
     

    So whilst I was pessimistic given Merlin’s track record for the last 4 years, coupled with their management of special effects, I was secretly all this time really excited to try Wicker Man and didn’t want to jump to any conclusions too quickly and then regret what I said all the time before trying it (e.g. - Derren Brown’s Ghost Train). I simply didn’t fall for any of it this time and approached the coaster with an open mind for a change.
     

    But my word, I’m really glad I did that now, as this coaster has been quite a surprise!
     

    To begin this thorough and in-depth review, I’d like to begin with the setting and scenery of the attraction which will be the first thing every person sees upon experiencing this ride:
     

    APPEARANCE AND SETTING:
     

    When I was at the park’s fireworks display last year and finally saw the majority of the track constructed, I can’t lie, but it did look quite impressively large and dominant through those window fences. However, when seeing it fully constructed and running, the thing looks wonderful!
     

    Everything about this ride looks brilliant. The track is moulded against the landscape very well, the rumbling sound of the trains really dominates the area similar to Nemesis, the audio sounds superb and there was a huge amount of buzz and excitement flowing through the entire area on it’s opening ceremony day. Another nice touch was seeing a wooden coaster fresh, because I’m so used to seeing wooden coasters where the wood has faded into a dull, grey colour that it was nice seeing it all looking and even smelling fresh and yellow for once! As silly as this sounds, it made a nice change for once.
     

    The entrance plaza and queue line is nicely routed, landscaped and constructed too. Seeing loads of fire beacons filling the plaza with real fire used, coupled with the nicely themed entrance and bizarre-looking vegetation to match the rest of the ride’s theme made the whole area feel more permanent, complete and designed well, unlike the ugly-as-heck-yellow-box-of-an-entrance The Smiler uses. A small touch I liked in the queue were the little bits of theming present used for lighting and signs as you progress nearer and nearer to the station. Unlike the typical laminated, dull-as-anything printed signs we see so often across other rides across Merlin, these were all shaped and sculpted to match the theme, which was a nice detail I appreciate the team for doing. Also, having a queue line for the most part which is linear and doesn’t have endless cattle pens like Smiler and Rita was another touch I appreciated, plus, the queue oddly seemed wider too compared to most other rides.
     

    For the landscaping, this is a mixed bag. Whilst some areas surrounding the coaster have clearly been worked on with new plants and turf mats installed, others have not and look as though they are still in the middle of being constructed with dirt and soil everywhere. Also, something I wished the team did before opening this ride was to clean the concrete supports holding the track in place because they were filthy all over and looked quite off-putting, especially in contrast to the freshly installed wood for the track. If the park can clean these concrete supports using a jet washer as well as laying down turf or giving the remaining sections of the area some green grass, I believe it will neaten the overall profile and presentation of the ride, since it was a bit mixed in several places and could have looked better. Just a smaller detail compared to everything else, but an important one regardless.

     

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    THE WICKER MAN EFFIGY
     

    Always knew from the moment the name was announced back in January 2018 this figure of the Wicker Man himself would be the centre of all attention and man, I can see why after finally seeing it in-person as it looks really lovely! The scale of this effigy is huge and very nicely themed and detailed, so much so that I would put it up there with something we would expect to see at Phantasialand. OK, I know that might be an over-exageration here, but that’s what I gathered after witnessing it for the first time.
     

    The wood looks genuine even though it isn’t, especially around the shoulders, the shape and design of the two-faced head looks impressive and the attention-to-detail used even for the small holes the train passes through three times was looked after which was a nice surprise. Plus the amount of mist (yes, water mist, not smoke) used really filled the inside of the figure and the holes through him, which was especially great when passing through on the train! Also, I loved how there were audio effects used every time a train passes through which sync with the real fire effects.
     

    Probably the best thing about this effigy is when you are passing through the second time after making the banked u-turn, because the position of the track which passes straight through his chest is perfect! The brief view you get when passing straight through the centre of his chest is ideal, especially coupled with the mist and fire effects used on the shoulders. It captures your attention and is a really effective head-chopper effect, especially with the small bump present in the track just before passing through. Very effective and convincing effect used!
     

    However, I have to admit, whilst it looks pretty when you see it in real-life, it will not be as impressive up-close as opposed to a distance of at least 20m I theorise. The reason for this is because those fire effects used inside the figure are actually just TV screens playing a loop of some generic flame behind a black background used when filming, plus, the resolution of these displays are not that great because up-close, you can see the pixels used and cameras can pick up some artificial flickering from them, similar to when filming Thorpe Park’s entrance screen on any smartphone or camera.
     

    Another detail that aggravated me was the size and position of the fire used on the shoulders, because when standing on the ground, you barely even see the fire used when they are lit normally, but it’s only when they are enlarged in size whenever a train passes through you can see them properly for only a few brief seconds. Not a major issues, but be aware the flame effects might not be as impressive in real life compared to what they look through promotional videos and pictures.
     

    But besides from that, the effigy is a really nicely and detailed piece of theming which I welcome being there for the coaster and can really enhance the experience, even though it has some flaws when seeing it up-close.
     

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    AUDIO
     

    When it comes to hearing audio on an attraction, to me, this is absolutely crucial to get right as it’s a very effective piece of theming to any ride regardless of how small or big it might be, plus, it gives it an atmosphere and defines it’s character. Rides like Chiapas, Taron, Helix and The Smiler I simply wouldn’t love as much if it weren’t for their audio in all honesty, so the audio on Wicker Man had to be loud, dominant and catchy for me to appreciate as a whole much more and thankfully, this is the case!
     

    This is probably the biggest secret weapon of the coaster, because I noticed across all areas of the ride from the plaza/entrance, start of the queue line, end of the queue line, baggage/pre-show room, station and track sections there were various different pieces of audio playing from the lovely guys at IMAscore.
     

    Upon seeing the effigy around the entrance and plaza, the first track you hear sounds very happy and charming similar to Klugheim village at Phantasialand, which gives the impression to riders the whole ride itself has a welcoming theme to it all, but as you progress through the queue, you begin to notice the tune, pitch and instruments used changes and the closer you get to the station the darker it begins to sound as you get ever-closer to the baggage room. After walking through the entire queue, I am certain it’s done in a similar way to Big Top’s audio where there are at least 3 variations of the same 30 minute track, only each one has a darker and more unsettling theme to it.
     

    It’s once you are inside the building itself the more vocal sections of the audio are used similar to the snippets found online. Drums are used, the tune changes and a more honestly scary-sounding track plays inside the buildings amongst the darkened rooms. In the station especially where whilst the audio is lower in volume compared to outside, that coupled with the burning wood effect creates a really unsettling theme inside as though something bad is about to happen.
     

    A really excellent thing the park have taken advantage of is in the badge waiting room for the pre-show and station, the doors and train dispatch have themed audio playing alongside the use of lighting, which creates a really exciting atmosphere for riders and builds up a lot of anticipation! When the train dispatches, a loud roar of drums starts and the lighting in the station begins to change and flicker, similarly to how the dispatch looks on Nemesis Inferno and Black Mamba, only this time, much more effectively I would say! Same for when a train arrives back into the station too which has is timed to when the train stops on the brake run and people disembark.
     

    Just in case that wasn’t enough, even the darkened waiting tunnels once the ride finishes have themed audio matched with smoke and light effects inside, which means even the wait caused by the stacking of the trains is looked after which I thought was great! Also, the lift hill has timed audio with the train too, making the excitement and anticipation even greater for the rider!

     

    But in summary, Alton Towers and IMAscore have done a fabulous job with the audio management for this ride and should be commended for their efforts. Excellent job!
     

    PRE-SHOW
     

    I’ll keep this brief without giving away any spoilers for the viewer, but this was quite a nice addition made. The inside is shaped like a dome tent with pieces of theming all over the walls and flooring with a big projector screen right above you in front. All this scene does is give a little insight as to what the Wicker Man is, how it works and preparing you for what awaits ahead such as “The time has come for the wicker man to rise!”. The audio was nice and loud, the picture was sharp and the video was 60fps which was lovely to see.
     

    However, I have to be honest here, this scene felt unneeded and superfluous and didn’t really add much to the experience at all, mostly because of how short it was to watch. Heck, it’s only just over a minute long. To me, this seemed more like another batching room to help reduce the number of people in the station, nothing much more.

     

    A nice touch, but a needless one.

     

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    STATION
     

    If you were to ask me “What is your favourite station for any coaster?”, I would have to give it to Wicker Man here. The station is great!
     

    Unlike a lot I’ve been through, this one did not feel crammed or overcrowded inside as the platforms on each side of the track were nicely spaced out with plenty of room to move around whilst waiting/disembarking the carriage for a start. The next part being the lighting used inside as it wasn’t too bright or dull, but instead, nicely orange/red filtered, themed and lit perfectly inside to match the rest of the ride.
     

    Also, I always look for details on the ceiling and walls for a station so that the entire room is consistently themed, unlike Thirteen with black cloth everywhere and Galactica with industrial machinery everywhere. In Wicker Man’s case, both of these areas have been attended to and look really nice with the wooden beams, themed drapes and flickering lighting on the walls for a fire effect. Glad finally to see a station where all areas have been looked after for once, yay!
     

    But to summarise, the station for Wicker Man is really well done and everything about it is perfect from the lighting, to the audio, to the theming and the consistency. Excellent work here!

     

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    RIDE EXPERIENCE
     

    Now onto the best part finally and goodness me, this was surprising! My first ride was incredibly lucky because I was allocated the very back two seats of the train on my first go and couldn’t be happier as it’s always the best. xD
     

    The trains themselves look great, neat and fully detailed all over and they are quite comfy to sit in too. Haven never ridden a GCI woodie before, I was expecting something really uncomfortable such as Tomahawk, Stampida and even Balder to some degree, but the seating was wide, spacious and relaxing. I could easily move my feet and legs around a bit when on the train and didn’t in anyway feel cramped or pinned down in the restraint, meaning it was a really comfortable ride from start to finish. Quite pleasantly surprised by the comfort of those seats.

     

    Once dispatched and the train immediately turns right under the building, you go through a massive jet of smoke (smoke, not mist this time) filled with lots of red lighting and sound effects of wood burning. It must be said, the amount of smoke which fills this room as you turn to exit the lift hill was huge and obscured your vision for the briefest of moments. Quite liked this actually and hope it stays!
     

    Once ascending the lift hill, the audio as mentioned earlier plays through the speakers and whilst you get a lovely view to the right of what awaits, I did find the lift hill incredibly slow which killed the great pace the ride had at the start exiting the station at a surprising speed. That coupled with the absolutely stupid bend on that lift hill made it worse. I’m probably the only person who has a problem with that bend on the lift hill as whilst it was needed due to the design of the layout, to me, that should have been designed better as it frankly looks dumb, especially when you climb it.
     

    But once you reach the top where the tunnel lies, everything begins finally. What I didn’t expect on the back row was that left turn before the drop was declined slightly and as a result, was whipped round that corner incredibly fast which took me by great surprise! And even though the first drop is quite small, the airtime you get at the back going down it is quite big and was a great start to the ride!
     

    Next was the bunny hop into the second tunnel and the S-bend which follows after and this was by far the best section. Because not only are you whipped again over the second hill, but because the S-bend goes downhill the whole way, you pick up some seriously high speeds down this section and the banking of the track can whip you around a fair bit on the back row! Not uncomfortably so, but enough to make the sudden changes in orientation a lot of fun with even more airtime moments! Without doubt the best section of the layout here.
     

    Once passing through the effigy and performing the u-turn back through again, the speed does slow down a moderate amount here noticeably, but not enough to kill the pace thankfully. The bend is nicely shaped and isn’t too extreme for the riders until you reach the small hump as you race through the effigy again everything becomes faster once more. The small drop as you exit the 2nd pass-through of the figure has a bit of a noticeable jolt similar to Smiler’s 12th inversion, though nothing unpleasant, it just gives another small dose of airtime to the rider!

     

    From here onwards when the ride continues to make turns, smaller drops and twists, the train does slow down, but it still keeps a strong pace from start to end with more airtime hills and strong forces exerted on riders. Probably the weakest section of the layout is the flat and slow 180 degree turn you make just before dropping back down and passing through the figure again. To me, if this was banked or had a small dip in the middle similar to the way both of Smiler’s turns work for both lift hills, this could have made it a little more interesting.
     

    Soon later, you reach the final brake run and the main section of the ride is over.
     

    Something I need to mention is regardless of where you sit on the train, be prepared to get a little wet from the mist effects used in the effigy, especially when you pass through the holes. Apart from the mist, water is dripping from the jets used and will drip on you as a result, especially when you go through the 3rd hole. Nothing too major, but enough to notice!

     

    You enter the darkened tunnels again with themed audio and more smoke effects before getting back to the station and disembarking to leave for the exit. The ride is now over.
     

    If I’m to summarise the experience in one word, it would be “WOW!” Sure, it’s not a Megafobia or Balder killer, but compared to how it looks and what it’s actually like riding, this coaster has some serious surprises to it, the least being the several moments of airtime you get sitting at the back over various parts of the course! This coupled with the comfort of the trains made this a really fun and exciting coaster to try, even though the layout isn’t amazing. The pace is constant after the lift hill, it feels faster than what the statistics say, the interactions with the scenery and effigy are great and it’s just intense enough to allow those as little as 1.2m onto the ride without it being too much for them. Plus, even though the coaster has a few jerky moments that throw you around a bit, it wasn’t rough at all anywhere and didn’t try breaking the rider’s back like Stampida does.
     

    SHOP
     

    Again, the theming continues here too and the shop looks really nice too! Loads of detailed theming everywhere similar to DBGT’s one with theming across all the flooring, walls and ceiling and some of the merchandise was pretty nice. There was a hand-made figure of the Wicker Man available in the shop too, but for £3,000? Nuuuuuuuu thanks.

     

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    OTHER POINTS

     

    Here are some other points worth mentioning when you try it:

     

    • There is a baggage hold for this ride staffed by workers, but I thought Alton were eliminating all of them……? Very confused…

     

    • If all three queues are full, the ratio will be 1:1:1 for main, fastback and disabled, so the waits can get incredibly and frustratingly slow at times.

     

    • Be aware the lift hill is incredibly noisy when you stand underneath it.

     

    • The shop is routed, so it may be difficult or cumbersome to reach one side of the shop to the other.

     

    • When this ride breaks down, be prepared to wait a fairly long time. Over an hour was spent sending the trains round when it broke down with full and empty trains going round constantly. I believe the ride was experiencing weight issues, hence why 3/4 rows were running round empty all afternoon.

     

    • The on-ride photo camera is at the bottom of the first tunnel drop straight after the lift hill.

     

    • Be aware there is a major design flaw with placing the camera here. Honestly shocked nobody has picked this up yet, but the smoke in the 2nd tunnel if blown in front of the camera can make your on-ride photo look very strange with a weird ghost effect. Below is this issue me and Martin ran into, so you have a 50:50 chance of this appearing. Didn’t appreciate this after waiting 2+ hours and making it our only ride on it that day:

     

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    CONCLUSION

     

    If you have read all of what I’ve put above, you probably most likely realise by now despite going in with low expectations, pessimism and serious doubts given Merlin’s recent track record, this ride has honestly surprised me on a level I haven’t witnessed before. It’s surprised my because during all the construction stages, apparent rumours the first drop was re-profiled by John Wardey, negative stabs from enthusiasts and the constant, vacuous marketing WORLD FIRST claims I was seeing for this thing, Wicker Man has delivered on being what I can only describe as a superb family coaster. It really is!

     

    Whilst I still have some doubts and questions of the theme behind this ride for a family coaster, especially if one has seen the films or does research behind the whole sacrificial belief behind it, the park have done a superb job with theming the ride as a whole and must be given credit for it. The smallest of details have been looked at, especially in the station, the audio matches it perfectly and everything feels complete and not half-finished like Smiler still does today.

     

    But my biggest concern is regarding the special effects used. Whilst for now they might all be working great with no flaws whatsoever, I seriously and honestly cannot see this lasting too long. It won’t be long before the sprayed mist on the effigy starts to degrade similar to The Marmaliser’s The Giggler leg, or 1+ of the screens displaying a flame inside breaking, or even one of the fires on the shoulders breaking. I might be sounding paranoid here, but for a coaster that for the most part lives on the promise of the effects working on this figure, that is incredibly risky of Merlin/Alton. Hopefully I’m proven wrong over time, but I still think eventually they will begin to break one bit at a time.

     

    But besides that, if the park can get the coaster to run perfectly with no hiccups regarding the operations and technical faults it has, maintain all the effects to a working standard every day beyond 2018, they could be onto a real winner here. 

     

    Already I say this is their best family coaster without a doubt at the park, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying this is the best coaster in the country like some YouTubers and vloggers have said. It’s still loads of fun regardless and is a solid addition, but all I’ll say is don’t expect anything amazing here. Instead, expect to be surprised by it and really enjoy it for what it offers because it executes at being a fun, enjoyable woodie really well!

    Just to add a little more to this review, besides from the masses of pictures above, below is a short video showing many off-ride views, including a naughty sneak of the pre-show. Don't worry, that section is only 5 seconds long!
     

     

    So in summary, Wicker Man to me is a solid addition to Alton Towers, deserves credit for all the teams who put it together and should go down really well with it’s target audience. Heck, if it gets a 3 hour queue just from one day, I can only begin to imagine how big they’re going to get this summer!

     

    Wicker Man - 8 / 10 

    :)

  6. Something Stupid: Thorpe Half Marathon 2018

     

    How far would you go, as an enthusiast, to build your collection of Theme Park tat?

     

    ...

     

    Take out a Wonga loan to cover the cost?

    Break up with your long term partner so you can free up some space?

    How about run a half marathon to earn it...?

     

    Well, last Sunday saw me do Something Stupid as I found myself running the 21 kilometres of the 2018 Thorpe Half Marathon, all in an attempt to nab the jazzy coaster-themed medal bestowed upon those who manage to get over the finish line.

     

    And here for you, dear reader, is how I got on...

     

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    Thorpe Half Marathon 2018

     

    The Thorpe Half is now in its second year, having enjoyed a successful - if wet - debut in 2017. Unfortunately as it's held in February, the park is closed, so the only real connection to Thorpe Park is that it starts and ends in the car park; there's no sprinting past Stealth and dashing around Depth Charge. What it does have to offer however is a pleasant run through the Surrey countryside, along a relatively flat-profile road-closed course - perfect for those chasing a personal best.

     

    I was, it must be said, not chasing a personal best. I was just in it for the medal.

     

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    So, first things first. Sunday 25th February 2018 was cold. Bloody cold. The event organisers recommended that participants arrived at the car park by 07:45am, to allow good time before the race started at 09:00am. At 07:45am on Sunday 25th February in the Thorpe Park car park, the mercury was touching -1 degrees C.

     

    But this hadn't deterred anyone! Indeed, the car park was busier than the average in-season Saturday when I arrived, and the place was buzzing with excited, committed runners. Many of whom seemed happy to be out in nothing more than vests, lycra, and shorts. In -1 degrees.

     

    At this point I must admit that I took a large gulp and wondered what on earth I was doing here - and this wouldn't be the last time this particular thought crossed my mind.

     

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    It's also worth saying that I wasn't prepared for doing this. At all.

     

    The fault is squarely mine, but I had done such minimal training beforehand that it doesn't even really merit the name "training". Since I booked a place at the event back in November, I had managed a grand total of two 3 mile runs on the roads around my house. Two. And on one of those I very nearly threw up at the end of it.

     

    I am not a runner. I don't especially enjoy it, so, at best this was going to be a struggle. But there was only one way to get that medal...!

     

    At this point I decided I'd take my mind off the impending challenge by having a nose around the site.

     

    First up was a mosey on over to the park entrance - which looked very bare without an actual sign there! Does this happen every season, or might we be about to get a new sign design? And whilst they're at it, the paintwork could do with a good looking over too...

     

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    Alas I was allowed to go no further, because this sign had both red writing and underlining - doubly authoritative.

     

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    Thanks to my trusty zoom lens though, I could peek in a little closer...

     

    ...but there wasn't really much to see.

     

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    The Annual Pass building seemed to be getting a good dose of TLC though. Looked like it was having a new roof fitted, given the scaffolding.

     

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    Given the red underlined signs everywhere, it was pretty clear that the toilets by the entrance were out of bounds and out of action.

     

    So bring on the portaloos!

     

    Unfortunately, you can never have enough portaloos, and in this case, there weren't enough portaloos. Queueing is par for the course at any Theme Park, but queueing in sub zero temperatures is even less fun.

     

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    A quick look over the back of the bogs revealed very little of interest - although Zodiac standing stationary in a half-upright position looked quite strange! There was no visible work being done to X / WDTR.

     

    However, it is photos such as this one that make me think how lucky we are to have a park as pretty as Thorpe in our country.

     

    Thorpe Park is rarely praised for looking good. But with bright blue skies and deep blue lakes top-and-tailing it, it can't be denied that this is a sweet view. Reminded me strangely of a (very) mini Cedar Point...

     

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    OK - back to the action. The event organisers had done a great job with the central runners' village area, which contained a Cookie Bar, Coffee Stall, Massage Beds, Medal Engraving, a bunch of running-related retailers...

     

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    ...and a stage!

     

    Pictured here are the Epsom Rock Choir, who were singing with gusto despite the bitter cold. Did I mention that it was cold?

     

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    08:45am. Nearly game time. I got changed into my kit, which naturally featured a vintage Thorpe t shirt, and made my way over to the start area.

     

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    There were nearly 2,000 runners taking part in today's race, including many that had been bussed in by their local running group for the event.

     

    The "why am I here?" thought flickered across my mind once more.

     

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    And we were off!

     

    The route took us past the annual pass building, down towards the car park entrance, and off to the left.

     

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    Geek Photo #1 - the Protecting The Magic sign.

     

    Do you know the Six Spells for Safety?

     

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    The route continued to track along the Staines Road, through the backstage areas of the park. Lots of industrial-looking buildings and infrastructure.

     

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    And then, behold! Geek Photo #2 - I spy nostalgia!

     

    These look to me as if they've been saved from Chief Ranger's Carousel (RIP), which is great. But what will the park do with them?! Hopefully not leave them to rot...

     

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    OK, back to the race. The course had kicked us out of the Thorpe Park grounds at around 1 mile, on to Norlands Lane, then Coldharbour Lane, past Thorpe Farm (RIP), and up to the Thorpe Bypass.

     

    At this point, my lack of fitness was really kicking in. The Sunday morning jolly at the Theme Park had suddenly turned very real, and I was wheezing after just 2 miles.

     

    What didn't help was this section of the course, which involved running half a mile up one half of the road, only to turn around and run straight back down the other half. Sigh.

     

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    On the plus side, some great views of the M25. Oof.

     

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    But to be fair, much of the route was through very pleasant countryside, and if I'd been more fit it might have even been enjoyable.

     

    As it was, it was a real mental effort to keep my head down, and keep moving. Just keep going. One step in front of the other. The coldness issue dropped away after 4 miles, because my body was generating so much heat.

     

    I was overtaken plenty of times, and I had to just walk up anything resembling an incline. Spotify was a massive help.

     

    The breakthrough for me came at about mile 10, where I realised that I'd made it around 75% of the course and that finishing was achievable!

     

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    At mile 12, I could start to see the tops of some of the rides peek over the skyline - wow. Never have I been more motivated by seeing the crest of Tidal Wave's lift hill!

     

    My legs were properly turning to jelly, and the last pushes were really stop / start. But with a view like this, and the end in sight, I forced myself to go for a sprint finish for the last few hundred yards.

     

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    I threw myself over the finish line and doubled over, my chest burning and my legs on fire.

     

    I'd done it!

     

    2 hours, 1 minute, and 17 seconds of running later, and I'd completed the Thorpe Half.

     

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    And what was all this endeavour for?

     

    Another addition to my collection of Theme Park tat! But what an addition it is.

     

    Genuine blood, sweat and tears went into getting it, so I suspect it will remain amongst the more treasured of all the tat in my possession. It's a good looking, weighty medal and I'm proud to have earned it!

     

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    So, will I be running the Thorpe Half again next year to add another medal to my collection?

     

    Absolutely not!

     

    Immediately after the race my legs seized up to such an extent that I almost couldn't drive home. In the days following the event, my muscles were so sore that walking - anywhere - was a very real problem. And I later found I'd sprained my left foot along the course, and one of the toenails on my right foot had filled with blood and fallen off. Yuck. And did I mention the nipple chafing?

     

    These injuries are, of course, preventable. As I said at the top of the piece, my running the Thorpe Half was Stupid. I certainly don't recommend following my lead and just running a Half Marathon in freezing temperatures with no prior training whatsoever in order to obtain a coaster-themed medal.

     

    However, for those in better shape (or with a greater commitment to training) than I... it was a very well organised event. Why not give next year's a go?

     

    ~

     

    Thanks for reading! Comments very welcome below.

  7. 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.

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    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).

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    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.

     

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    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.

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    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.

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    Subtle yet Christmassy.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Savoury Crepes Yum.

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    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.

     

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    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.

     

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    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.

     

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    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.

     

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    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.

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    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.

     

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    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.

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    Absolutely stunning. I don’t think these photos give the park justice.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

     

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    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.

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    Cologne Lock bridge.

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    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.

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    Old Cologne. Sadly most of Cologne is modern brutal buildings. I’ll let Basil Fawlty do the explaining.

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    Tradional German Market, we actually visited two but I definitely preferred this one.

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    Random animatronic goodness. You can pay a euro for the duo to play a tune of your choice whilst drinking beer. 

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    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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  8. 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)

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    As per most seasons, it began with the press night at Thorpe

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    This is a fab way to try out the new rubbish

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    Before these metal fences get full of people

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    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

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    Preview night of Tulleys!

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    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

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    The following weekend was back at Thorpe for the meet. Here's a nice photo of Swarm, cloud and Stealth.

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    And the Amity effect

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    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!

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    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?

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    The next morning

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    Hi Mr Scarecrow, do you like all the bunting?

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    Scarefest, not to be confused with the later to be visited Screamfest 30 minutes down the road

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    Obligatory Nemesis photo

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    Expensive lunch

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    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!

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    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.

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    Oh look, a place that knows how to do a scare zone

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    Simple yet fun!

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    Have a nice Smiler photo

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    And off we went to Screamfest!

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    5 mazes. As per starting with the clown one. Decent enough, really like this entrance feature though

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    Little DJ in a box with lights. He seemed like a cool guy

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    Strategic photo to have crap next to it? Maybe. It is pretty naff. Bland walls, nothing happening. Worst new thing

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    There was a fire 'show'. Roaming people with fire at other events were better but hey ho.

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    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

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    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.

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    Back at Towers the next day we decided to go family friendly with a flash mob from the awesome ancestors

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    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

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    A fun photo of Smiler

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    Another flash mob

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    And off we went to Twinlakes for Xtreme Scream Park

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    With roaming actors who know how to pose perfectly. Ta mate

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    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

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    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

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    Just a roamer, but better than the previous nights 'show'

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    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

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    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

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    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!

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    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

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    It's a cute little park with some great vintage rides

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    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)

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    And a wacky worm. Technically a bee actually. With 4 or 5 laps. Can't remember but it was too many

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    To kill some time we went to a shell grotto. Yup. It is what it says on the door

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    Enough of that nonsense, Screamland time! 6 mazes and a photo opportuning shipping container

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    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.

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    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

     

     

     

  9. Kerfuffle
    Latest Entry

    Afternoon all.

     

    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.

     

    Kerfuffle

  10. 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.

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    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.

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    The old parachute drop makes a real cool impression from the beach, can be seen all over the island.

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    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. 

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    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.

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    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.

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    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..

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    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 :(

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    Those premier off the shelf thingies are fun.

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    Spent a couple days catching waves on a tube on a nearby lake, and entered on a quest to get diabetes.

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    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!

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    Headed straight to Wicked Cyclone. What. a. ride.

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    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!

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    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!

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    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.

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    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!

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    Grabbed some really expensive lunch, and then went and whored out Wicked cyclone for the rest of the day!

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    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.

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    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.

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    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 :ph34r: 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.

     

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    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 1
    Valhalla X 5
    Wild mouse X 1
    Steeplechase X 1
    Blue flyer X 1
    Big Dipper X 2
    Infusion X 1
    Nick streak X 2
    Big one X 1
    Wallace and Gromit X 1
    Avalanche X 1
    Sky force X 1
    Alice's wonderland X 1
    Derby racer X 1
    Grand National X 1

     

    Big Dipper

    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 image.thumb.jpeg.a36f72ab915420ef6c6e1672d4dac28c.jpeg

     

    Nickolodeon Streak

    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 :ph34r:.  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 

     

    Steeplechase

    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.

     

    Avalanche

    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.....

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    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 

     

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    Infusion

    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"

     

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    "what sort of cheese was that?"

     

    Wild Mouse

    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!

     

    Grand National

    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.

     

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    I saved my fave ride for last - VALHALLA!

     

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    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

     

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    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 

     

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    Choo choo

     

    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 ?

  11. So I've abandoned the other blog, because it's embarrassing :D. "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.

  12. 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!

     

    Saturday

     

    This was a very chilled day, owing to the hot hot weather B) Started off with Smiler and Oblivion, before going on Hex :wub: 

     

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    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" :lol: 

    The Octagon looks sooo good now :D 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 ^_^ 

     

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    After lunch we did Nemesis which, of course, was as great as ever and looks gooooood.

     

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    We then chilled with some drinks at the Coffee Lounge, caught some sun...then headed to Duel to find it was broken :o (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. 

     

     

    Sunday

     

    Another beautiful day!

     

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    Some of the fountains aren't quite lined up...snotty-nosed frog alert! 

     

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    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" :lol: 

    Next up was Duel :wub: 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 :D

    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) :rolleyes: 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 :P 

    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.

     

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    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 :o 

     

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    :wub::wub: 

     

    Spinball was down so we did X Sector...everything looks so nice with sunshine and blue skies!

     

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    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 :o 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) :lol: Or maybe the gun just couldn't turn round far enough :P 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!

     

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    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:

     

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    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 :lol:)

  13. 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!

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    Operations:
    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.

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    Theming:
    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.

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    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.

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    Shows:
    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.

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    Overall:

    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…

     

    Ride Reviews

    Scorpion Express

    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.

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    Rattlesnake

    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.

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    Rameses Revenge

    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. 

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    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.

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    Dragon Falls

    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.

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    Dragon’s Fury

    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.

     

    The Vampire

    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.

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    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...

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  14. pluk
    Latest Entry

    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...

     

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    TLDR - The message is Go to Europa Park!

     

     

     

  15. 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.

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    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.

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    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!!

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    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!

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    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!

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    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. :(

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    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.

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    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.

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    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...

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    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..

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    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.

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    Heading to the back of the park after lunch greeted us with this.

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    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. 

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    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...

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    Anyway after this mistake, the rapids finally opened so we finally got on it as the head was so bad at this point.

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    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 :D

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    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

     

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    Then on to this thing... I hated it... again this should be destroyed alongside Kong...

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    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 :wub::wub:. 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.

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    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!!

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    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.

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    Sting Rays.

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    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!

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    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.

     

    Kingda Ka:

    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.

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    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).

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    Zumanjaro:

    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.

     

    Green Lantern:

    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.

     

    Superman:

    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.

     

    Nitro:

    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.

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    El Toro:

    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.

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    (You can just about see my face)

     

    Bizarro:

    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

    3. Nitro

     

    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.

     

    Summary Review:

    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!

  16. 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 :)

     

  17. 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

  18. Han30
    Latest Entry

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    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.

     

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    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)

     

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    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

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    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

     

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    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?!

     

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    Just look at that face :wub:

     

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    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

     

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    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 -

     

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    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)

     

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    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 :crazy:

     

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    FOTP trains

     

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    FOTP station

     

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    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?!)

     

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    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)

     

     

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    Wave Runner

     

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    Critter Creek theming

     

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    Cobra car (Gerslauer bob sled)

     

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    Cobra

     

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    Great theming in Peppa Pig World

     

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    Double Decker Victorian carousel

     

     

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    Chair swing ride

     

     

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    The Edge

     

     

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    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.....

     

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    Mr Fish disembarking the crocodile ride thingy in Peppa Pig World :lol:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  19. 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.

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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.

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    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! 3/10GetAttachmentThumbnail?id=AQMkADAwATM3ZmYAZS1iNjYAYy1lZDhiLTAwAi0wMAoARgAAA%2F6FbOQWeyhMmp9eaBZ%2FcsMHANmhdp%2FE8Y1Lk%2B4jbwGYc04AAAIBDAAAANmhdp%2FE8Y1Lk%2B4jbwGYc04AAADQ2ZW9AAAAARIAEAB4V42rZSLUSbc5%2BTP%2BfIVu&thumbnailType=2&X-OWA-CANARY=zFMPDr-0VU-E9uLNeTy4xTBnaSsj4tMYt_MG4FHGBDZ19KJN7lTXHgoG1rQMaa-IPImN8HdSRYQ.&token=73e4c9f5-d8ee-498f-8039-381f6b4ffb15&owa=outlook.live.com&isc=1

     

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    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

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    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!

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    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

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    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!

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    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 
    next year!

  20. 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!

     

    *Cough Cough*

     

    Where was I...

    Ah yes...

     

    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.

     

    CHBWR7DSZ1BK_medium_525x350.jpg

     

    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?

  21. :excl:WARNING - This review has very STRONG spoilers:excl:

     

     

    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.


    EXTERIOR


    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?:ph34r:). 


    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.


    INTERIOR 


    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.:wacko:


    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. :o


    We exit into the highly themed shop and I had experienced the ghost train.

     

    Pros –
    -    The physically train and underground theming.
    -    The first VR experience nearly made me fall off my seat
    -    The ride system works SO WELL.


    Cons –
    -    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. :unsure:

     

    Overall Review:
    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.

    tumblr_ob1phcOvp71rx8d6to1_1280.jpg
    Trolley Dolly


    7/10

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