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With the exception of Gardaland, Italy is a relative unknown in the rollercoaster world. Despite the country containing two of the best rollercoasters in Europe, its relative distance from the UK and distance between parks always means Italy is a difficult nut to crack. Baring in mind, I last did a theme park road trip there in 2011 and the developments that have occurred in the last five years, there is now, no reason not to visit this fantastic country.
We started in Rome, back when Rainbow Magicland was a brand new theme park. Since then Cincecittá World has opened which you can explore in Ben C's Italy blog from 2015
This odd little park is a definite unknown. Despite the big promises and high expectations from when it initially opened, the park has never really set the continent alight. It has the space and some very intriguing attractions but it's never been able to grow beyond that. About an hour from Rome itself, it's one I would visit again thanks to Shock and Huntik.
Shock for example is a good ride to demonstrate the almost amateur approach of the park. It begins with very odd meandering before launching you off to the sky with some great aerial movements. It's loud, it's fast, its relatively intense, its photogenic and it leaves its best trick till last.
Whilst Shock is the parks signature ride, it's pretty much the only rollercoaster that genuinely impresses. The parks spinner is pretty terrible for example, a ride in a giant shed and suffers from the same problems that Winjas and Spinball suffer from; the turns counteract the spinning momentum meaning the ride never really gets going. Luckily the theming is fantastic so at least when walking past the ride, there is something to admire.
The surprise stand out was without a shadow of a doubt Huntik, a next generation shoot em up with fantastic effects. We really enjoyed.
I'd recommend a visit here to start a trip off with.
I really like Miribilandia. That is off course help by Katun which is undoubtedly my favourite B&M worldwide. The height of the thing, the fantastic intensity and the traditional B&M layout combination really works here and the ride whilst feels controlled (unlike say... enthusiast favourite Nemesis), it rides so well that can be forgiven for anything. I love it.
Next up, comes I-Speed a well loved Intamin launch rollercoaster. It's a good ride, solid, well paced and keeps its speed throughout. The only issue is those damn restraints which tend to cut into you on the fast corners. If it was able to get the new restraints, it would definitely fly up the rankings.
I have yet to ride Divertical but I've heard 'some' good things. The final real quality ride there is Reset, a dark ride themed to.. well I'll let the pictures do the talking. Worth riding and very separate from the rest of the park.
And finally, after driving across Italy, we come to Gardaland, at a time when people did generally seem to like Merlin. With Raptor, Krake and The Swarm all built in quick succession, it's amazing how Merlin haven't quite reached that lofty standard for a while. I really like Raptor, I personally think that despite it not really featuring large drops and big inversions, it has a much more original layout, more well paced then any of the others and I really love its industrial look.
Since my visit Oblivion: Black Hole has opened so another reason to visit Italy for you all. In terms of when I when I went, Raptor was only really the major ride that shone. Other rides like the awful S&S attraction, so awful I've forgotten its name and the Venom twosome aren't great back up coasters frankly.
Other rides really are terrible though, the Atlantis ride is tedious in the extreme. It looks pretty but no, not any good. The park does also suffer from similar Merlin issues to ours such as up-selling and very few support rides.
Just a shout out to Italy as a country. It's a fantastic place and my absolute favourite theme park trip memory is sitting on a balcony in our apartment overlooking the sun setting, with a couple of beers and just enjoying everything about the country. It's lovely and definitely worth a visit over.
Thanks for the reading and for Part 3, I shall be attacking the big egg that is Germany.. wish me luck.
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So Fright Nights is a event that I think pretty much everyone on the forum will know well.. well duh.
So with a massive new IP behind the park, what would 2017 bring to Fright Nights?
This will contain spoilers
Big Top returns akin to last year, and the maze continues to be the chaotic fun that it was last year.
The acting was strong- the strobe section proved to be even more intense than ever, and the second half sees some new scenes including a mini-mirror maze, and even a homage to Cabin
which I think for the most part worked really nicely.
The maze overall is more fun than scary, though I did spend the second half of the maze on my own, and when the chainsaw finale hit, I ran fast
The Walking Dead: Sanctum
Sanctum is like Zombie Scare Zone if the Zombies were creepy twisted cannibals, and the zone itself housed some extremely lively and vocal actors.
The actors inside made us laugh and simultaneously creeped us out while running around the nicely themed sets.
My only problem is that Sanctum feels like more like 1/4 of a maze/scarezone than a actual complete attraction..
There was a lot of possibility with the containers or just in the layout in general that could lend the attraction a few more sections as Sanctum currently can be easily done in 2 minutes..
Platform was a maze that I bashed to death last year..
Actually, I even called it my least favourite scare attraction of last year..
Thorpe have luckily (for the most part) have poured some life into this maze, and now it is actually one of the highlights of the event for me..
The new village section in particular impressed me with some pretty intense scares, heck I even had two actors cornering me and they nearly separated me from my group..
The finale also successfully built up tension and some of the actors in the tunnel got some great scares from me.
My only problem with this maze is that a lot of tension is built up and you just kinda walk out the maze causally..
Platform though has seriously impressed me this year, so for that, cheers to Thorpe for making a terrible maze into a very decent one..
So Saw Alive felt incredibly stale on my run-through.
I think Saw Alive has probably run its course by this point, and the fact the maze has remained untouched since opening doesn't help matters..
The Walking Dead: Living Nightmare
So, replacing the fan-favourite Cabin, Living Nightmare had a lot of pressure under its belt..
Though on my run through I have to say, I think Living Nightmare is by far a worthy successor to Cabin.
Cabin for me in 2015/2016 was a scareless mess that had very sparse theming, though Living Nightmare is near opposite in that it has very decent theming and the
sets in some places look beautiful.
The scares were very strong in the first half, and I gotta say it was pretty terrifying to be separated from my group with not 1, but 4 actors attacking me at once, this shook me as one of the most intense scares (if the not the best scare) I have had in a maze this year.
Yes the scares towards the finale were pretty underwhelming from the chaos that the first half had, though the finale for me was generally fairly decent, and it left a lot of us running!
My only other niggle towards Living Nightmare is that it is a tad short, but besides that this maze impressed me, nice!
I have to say as much as I liked the mazes this year, the operations at some points were depressingly awful..
Within a hour of me queuing for Big Top, I saw not 1, but 3 E STOPS! And there was kids running round the whole place queue jumping and even running into the maze past the puzzled people trying to organize the damn queue..
I also think Living Nightmare was also pretty dis-organized, though luckily Platform and Saw were actually organized..
Overall I think this is a strong year for Fright Nights..
I think most of the mazes were of a decent quality, though the operations did let down the event at some points.
I do have to say that I wish they were better roamers though, as I only saw like 1 one of them..
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I have intention of writing a bumper Halloween blog post with all the scare events I'm visiting. But to do this I should really catch up. So from a good 3 months ago, here is Efteling and their 13 hour day celebrating summer nights or something.
We were staying in the very nice Loonscheland Hotel. Our room was suitable for up to 5 people, not sure how comfy that would have been but for the 3 of us it was fine. Very nice bathroom, comfy beds. All good. We had a view of the service yard. Fresh breakfast each morning was great though with breads etc.
Climbing frames and goats made it even more fun!
1st July. First day of the festival and Symbolica opening. We used our ERT to wait for it to open
Pardoes (?) happy to get a ride about him
And the hoards arrive! We made the first batch of guests (should I brag about this?) and it's a very nice attraction. Fun for everyone.
Enough of this. Let's start the party! Commencing at 6pm, there was a parade
Which was basically of all the entertainment that'd be on offer that night
So each land had an offering and a timetable of different events. There was so much going on it was fab
And a marching band. Think there was one near the front too
So Ravelijn land had sword fighting
And other stuff. Was like a mini Warwick castle
We then went and got some food from this pop up stand area, was nice. And then these guys got involved, with an amazing repertoire of music they were much entertainment. As can be seen, Josh has a video
Carnival had a random sing-a-long session.
The area by the rapids had these dancers and Flamenco
The Swiss (?) area by Bob had this guy, Steinbok. He was very popular, a comedic singing act. Had like a cult following it seemed.
Was a very nice atmosphere though
The best in my eyes were the street performers in Arabian Nights land.
This guy not giving ice cream (it was free if you could grab it from him)
Some magic act. And I think I might have been roped into buying an authentic rug?
Flying Dutchman had one of those not moving people who then does move.
And then it started to get dark!
Steinbok still holding a crowd!
And then the beautiful fountains. They had 3 shows on that night, Aquanara as normal, symphony 1 and symphony 2 which were different music configurations from the attractions around the park! We ended up seeing both symphony's and had an amazing night. Possibly one of the best theme park events I've attended. All included in your ticket price
It must have now been 11:20 but the park were in no rush to kick us out. So much so they had all the acts from throughout the park at the exit area saying bye to everyone, taking photos etc
The entrance is annoyingly large and doesn't fit in my photo.
Next time, Liseberg and the city of Gothenburg!
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Following the recent-ish announcement of The Walking Dead coming to Thorpe, I thought I'd share a review of TWD: Breakout, Movie Park Germany's 5 Euro upcharge scare attraction. And also share some expectations I have for Living Nightmare and Sanctum as a result..
I have to say, I was really looking forward to this. Movie Park are well known for this Halloween event, and they continually bring in big name IPs as well as original concepts (this year, they've got an 18+ maze themed to the Hostel series which looks to be at least partially an alone experience for example), so that sets a certain bar. The maze itself was really pushed hard, on the website, on leaflets, on the park map and on park too - it was almost like it was a crowning success for the park; their gem along with their big new ride. They advertised "the latest technologies" which helped achieve special effects, along with the standard 'intense, scary' jargon that most mazes get. And even though I haven't watched the TV show (and still haven't yet), I knew how much scope the franchise has.
Warning - spoilers
After doing some queueing in some shipping containers, you reach the entrance of the maze, which is themed around the Harrison Memorial Hospital (apparently from the first series). You could hear lots of banging to the right of the wall, which I thought was a bit of a spoiler, since an actor was bound to appear.
You get batched in in groups of about 8, and encouraged to stay together, but it's not a conga line maze. The first scene just ends up being a standard safety scene (delivered on TVs in multiple languages), and then an actor appears from a hidden route to your left (despite the loud noises you hear outside coming from what should be your right). It was a clever bit of misdirection, and though not scary, showed some promise. The actor then chases away to go down the corridor on your right, banging the walls to encourage you to leave..
Unfortunately from here, things go downhill. You walk past the famous 'Don't Open, Dead Inside' doors, with no sort of effects or actor or special lighting or anything; a particularly disappointing thing since that was so widely pushed in advertised. An actor appeared, shouting 'Boo', and doing some general arm waving to try and invade our personal space. No context to the scenes, and I realised that it was actually the same actor as from the first scene, which begun to ring alarm bells as to the number of actors.
You continue through more scenes, which are very well themed, but had little sound effects and no special effects. Occasionally an actor appeared, but they all did the same thing - shout 'boo' and walk like a zombie who'd an accident in their underwear... Though the theming was nice, you weren't given any chance to really interact with it - you were always well away from anything of note, and given tonnes of space with nothing filling it. It was the worst thing a scare maze can be - boring.
The ending was cliche to say the least... Large open space, couple of barrels and a door at the end of the room. Oh, except a big burly man with a chainsaw appears out of nowhere by the door. Been there, done that. However, a tiny ray in the ending was the fact that the actor kicked down a barrel onto the floor, creating a huge, echoing thud - easily the biggest scare in the maze, and shows that there was at least a glimmer of thought put into 'how can we actually scare people' when designing the maze.
So yeah, TWD: Breakout was a very poor maze. Few actors, little-to-no use of standard scare tactics introduced and nothing exciting or interesting to go with it. Maybe having done a few good mazes over the years has hardened me up a bit too much, but there was just nothing of note.
Something which still sticks in my mind about Breakout is how well themed the maze was, and how well designed the sets were. Looking at photos of the maze and looking at images from the show, they are very similar down to the small details. So I expect that AMC / Fox have quite high expectations and demands about the theming of the maze that have to be met. Given the Paragon Creative have been spotted on park (the company who also did a great job when making Saw Alive!), I expect that those expectations will be met, especially with Living Nightmare.
From the brief description that Thorpe have released, it sounds like Living Nightmare will be in a similar vain to Breakout in that there are a variety of scenes from the show in the maze that you go through, except that they are including Season 7 in there. Also, as we're told that we can "choose your path and decide your fate", there might be the possibility of multiple routes akin to Cabin - a nice touch which works nicely with the 'assorted scene' vibe.
I must admit I'm concerned about what sort of scares we're in for. Thorpe have gotten a reputation that their style of scare is 'growl in people's face, brush against their arm and slam against a wall' and move on. Though I don't strictly agree with this (and we've seen them move away from that with the likes of Big Top, Blair Witch and Platform 15 in my opinion), I certainly see where people are coming from. And it feels almost inevitable that we could be in for that treatment here. I'd really love to see some effects that play on the senses more here - smells are something which are particularly under-used by Thorpe. And I feel like having a hospital scene, for example, which is literally 'cold' would work well. Couple in some other effects here and there, and it would work really well. But I'm just not sure we're in for that.
As for Sanctum, given it's said to be an outdoor maze, and from the little we've seen of it, I get a feeling like it will be a bigger, better, more-coherently themed version of Dead End. The general story seems to be 'death and destruction wasteland, you enter a safe bit, but oh wait, it's not safe' - something that Thorpe can do well. The containers could act as means to create a long route to walk around, and be used for impact scares. Chuck in a couple of set pieces and bits and bobs and it'll be a fun little maze. I'm not expecting anything groundbreaking, but it has the potential to be a perfect filler maze, as well as helping spread the crowds around.
tl;dr - Germany's Walking Dead maze is on the whole, naff, but the theming is good. I expect good theming at Thorpe and hope they can produce something different in terms of scares.
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Havin a Nice in New York n tha' - Six Flags New England, Lake Compounce & Coney Island
Just come back from spending 2 and a bit weeks in America. Fantastic time to say the least.
Coney Island itself is a bit of a wreck. Picture a depressed, ran down Adventure Island, and then bunch a whole ton of Russian and mob gangsters there, and a touch of history. Voila, you got Coney Island.
The old parachute drop makes a real cool impression from the beach, can be seen all over the island.
Thunderbolt was odd.. I really enjoyed it but have come to learn that's a controversial opinion. The restraints are a bit of a red herring, on the drop you forget the 'ostrs' are just slack seat belts, so I fully thought I was going to fall out as we went over the top.
Cyclone was really good fun. I'd recently shaved my head so I had a few shocked faces when I took my cap off to ride. It's cool seeing a 90 year old coaster run so well, and it had some proper air time to it.
New York is cool. I really like the city, there's so much to see. We went to a place called Do, where they sold cookie dough as if it was ice cream. That was really cool. Also, I recommend going up the rockefeller tower if you're looking to go up a tall tower. We did the freedom tower last time and it's not as good, on the rockefeller you're open to the elements and get the view of the empire state and the rest of the city much more nicely.
Went and crashed at my uncles place for the rest of the time, and he live right near by Lake Compounce, so it'd be rude not to ride boulder dash..
Rode a lot less well then I remembered, disappointingly. Still masses of fun and craziness, but there was absolutely nill air time for me this time. I remember being absolutely thrown out of my seat 3 years ago, but they've changed the trains a fair bit and the rides been retracked I believe, and its left it an a disappointing state compared to previously. That, and I've developed a better stomach for forces now. Maybe I'm immune. That's sad
Those premier off the shelf thingies are fun.
Spent a couple days catching waves on a tube on a nearby lake, and entered on a quest to get diabetes.
Then, to finish off the trip, off to Six Flag New England! I've heard horror stories about these parks, but I really liked it!
Headed straight to Wicked Cyclone. What. a. ride.
Pandemonium was alright I guess, but we quickly skipped over this and thunderbolt and headed to the world renowned Superman!!!...... which...was... an intamin pmbo.
First drop, incredible. Thereafter, utterly disappointing. Done this in a vary of seating arrangements throughout the day (the same with boulder dash) and nothing changed. I was actually really disappointed by this. Very little airtime throughout the hills, especially compared to the intensity of Expedition Geforce, it's little sister!
Fed up we headed over to the Joker. One of those icky S&S 4D things, which was actually a barrel of laughs. Really intense, good fun!
Mind Eraser. Now, this is an SLC with the new vekoma restraints, so I gave it a go. Regretted it instantly. Whilst the vests are extremely comfortable and prevent headbanging, I'm fairly sure the lap bar shook the nerves in my thighs so aggressively I'll suffer from some sort of muscle deterioration later in life.
Did my first floorless - Batman. It was alright, very B&My, with a super intense zero G. Other then that it was a bit meh. Only ride with bad ops throughout the whole trip. These Americans are efficient!
Grabbed some really expensive lunch, and then went and whored out Wicked cyclone for the rest of the day!
If there's one thing I got from SFNE it's an RMC cred that I am so thankful for. Before riding this I thought the stall looked stupidly awkward, and it makes a few noises that are... unsettling, but it's probably the smoothest, best flowing ride I've ever been on, and it was so, so intense. It has a small height restriction too which made me laugh, because 4 hours after our final ride I was still having blood rushes in my legs.
In the back row you truly get thrown over the drop, and dragged relentlessly through every inversion and air time hill. Soooo intense, so fun, and utterly ridiculous and unparalleled by any other cred I have. I absolutely fell in love with the back row. I'm already gagging to go again.
The upside down, side ways, inside out air time is unique, and brilliant. I urge everyone who can to get to an RMC. I am so eager and excited to try one of those big ones. They look cool.
Thanks for reading, here's a dodge ass video you can watch that I made.
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Second attempt at this damn my phone!
Well as the title states, I recently took a trip oooop North with @Roodieto visit the famous pleasure beach. Having never been that far up the country in my life I was a tad anxious as I don't go too far from home generally - however, stepping out of my comfort zone was worth it.
The sunset on the drive up was pretty lush so I took a fairly standard photo
We stayed over at The Big Blue Hotel which was really nice and meant that we didn't have to travel in the morning as the pleasure beach is next door - the staff there are really friendly and helped out with a few questions we had.
As it was half term when we visited and was a tad busy we decided to get the VIP speedy passes - unlike Merlin these things are more affordable at £45 - but because we stayed at their hotel we got them half price - definitely worth it as we were only there for one day.
There are some rides not included in the speedy pass - Steeplechase, Skyforce, Wild Mouse (possibly others) and you only get one go on Grand National with it.
We kicked off the day on Blue Flyer which is a cute little coaster and neither myself nor Roodie had ever ridden a woodie before so it was a gentle introduction - although I thought my knee caps were going to smash as its a bit of a squeeze.
After that we headed to their dinky log flume (I forget the name) "yeah that looks tame" - wow I got drenched - a rather sizeable wave decided to pay me a visit as we splashed down so that was nice - thankfully it was hot so I dried off quick
Over the course of the day my ride count was as follows -Log flume X 1Valhalla X 5Wild mouse X 1Steeplechase X 1Blue flyer X 1Big Dipper X 2Infusion X 1Nick streak X 2Big one X 1Wallace and Gromit X 1Avalanche X 1Sky force X 1Alice's wonderland X 1Derby racer X 1Grand National X 1
This is such an iconic ride at BPB and I was excited about riding it - first go on this thing and my butt was flying off the seat so much which was fun although I randomly began screaming which I have a habit of doing on rides I'm not familiar with - love this ride - the first drop is pretty good and I love the tight turns on it and the whole layout
This one surprised me as I thought it was going to be really tame considering it is in the Nickolodeon land area of the park - apart from a rather noticeable jolt at the top of the lift hill I loved it - the hills, the layout, the fact that embarrassingly I screamed . The seats are so comfy - like mini sofas with a lap bar. Not keen on the colour of the ride but then orange has never been my colour
Well....firstly I was worried about how I would get on the flaming horse (I once got stuck on a horse on a carousel which was awkward). Managed to get my leg over ok then we got strapped in and I'm thinking "hmm what's to stop me falling off" - this was all before the ride even started. And blimey when it started I screamed and continued to do so for pretty much the duration of the ride - every corner we went round the screams got louder- I don't have a great sense of balance and was convinced I was going to come a cropper. The ride itself is pretty cool and I would love to try the other tracks as we only did one ride on it - as we came back into the station I got a few funny looks but was more worried that I'd done my throat damage from my sqwaking.
Prior to visiting, this, along with The Big One were the 2 coasters I was a tad concerned about - The Big One because of the height and Avalanche because - IT HAS NO TRACK! So I'm thinking "well what if this thing rolls over and and my life ends mangled on the floor" - NOT that I overthink things. Stood and watched it for a bit but that annoying laughing man thing (what is that?!!) was beginning to grate so we headed up the exit to ride.
Despite screaming the entire time I actually loved this thing - it's so twisty and actually moves a lot swifter than it looks. My onride photo captured the terror on my face- actually I've never had such a look of fear on a coaster picture before - so I bought it.....
The Big One
Ok so I hate heights - I can't even go on The London Eye because the one and only time I did go on it I had a bad panic attack. I'm only ok with Stealth because I've ridden it so many times but I don't notice the height much on that thing because if you blink you miss it.
I remember when this thing opened and watching a news article on it thinking "noooope" but back then I was a huge wuss.
After taking an anxiety tablet and waiting for it to kick in I decided to just do it - Roodie has a much worse fear if heights than me so I went on my own. Was actually fairly chilled on the lift hill going up though I was in the middle of the train so was focusing on the persons head in front of me - was feeling quite chuffed with myself until it went down the first drop - I screamed and some very fruity language emerged from my mouth. I've watched POVs of this thing but that drop when you are on it is high...and steep. Then I randomly screamed in other places - not because I was scared but because heck that thing is rough! The ride length is decent and the track layout is pretty good but the roughness was a bit much at times. I'm glad I rode it and I would ride it again if I ever go back but after that first drop its a bit anti-climactic. It's crazy to think this thing opened the same year as Nemesis though I shouldn't compare the 2 - I know which one has aged better
This is my ride pic which makes me look like I was chilled...which I wasnt
THIS has to be the worst pain I have ever encountered on a coaster - and I don't mind a bit of roughness (I've ridden Saw 9 times in the space of an hour before).
They should have kept with its original name of Traumatizer because I felt like I had some sort of brain trauma after that experience. We sat at the front and I dread to think how horrific it must be on the back row. From when the ride left the lift hill to when it hit the brake run both myself and Roodie were screaming "owwww" "ouch" with the odd swear word chucked in on particularly horrific moments. I can only describe the experience as akin to having my head repeatedly bashed against a brick wall - in fact, I have had my head smashed against a brick wall and I can honestly say it was more pleasant than this thing.
Ive read about Vekoma SLCs being rough but jeez I didn't think a coaster could be THAT rough. They could really do with having mini air bags at the side of the restraints to cushion people's heads - I might pitch that idea to them.
Its not all bad though - the good points of this coaster are that its a nice shade of blue - I also like the water features surrounding it which, to be fair you don't notice whilst riding because you're too busy having your brain bashed.
Our on ride photo is very deceiving - it almost looks like we are enjoying the experience but when the pic was taken we were both mid-"OWW"
"what sort of cheese was that?"
While queuing for this I was informed that it's mean to be pretty scary - ummm how? It just looks like a very small standard wild mouse - but no - this thing is a wooden wild mouse and the structure wobbles a tad which is fab for putting anxiety at ease! There were kids riding it, couldn't hear much screaming so I wasn't concerned. How wrong was I? As we headed up the lift hill I thought "well this ain't bad" then that quickly changed. I don't think I've ever screamed so much on a ride as that one - I've also never been more terrified on a coaster than wild mouse. Looks are so deceiving with this one - it's a small layout but it's full of very tight turns, drops, air time and (if you're me) seeing your life flash before your eyes. I kept thinking this coaster is old and I genuinely thought the car was going to fly off the tracks.
Where Infusion was the most painful coaster I've ridden, Wild Mouse is certainly the scariest - in terms of not feeling safe (you only have a seatbelt aswell) - of course it's safe but jeez it scared me so much that it is one of only a couple of rides I've done that I don't think I could re-ride. The plus of our ride was the noises coming out of my mouth which got some funny looks and possibly entertained people queuing for all of 2 minutes.
I think IF I ever rode this again I would need a few anxiety tablets as my nerves were shot to bits after. Yeah maybe I'm a wuss!
So upon arriving at Grand National there is a sign that warns that it can be intense. Ok no problem - this is a ride I've wanted to try for a long time. I can handle a bit of roughness.
I wanted to love this ride...but I didn't. Now it may be that we rode it just after the hell that is Infusion so my head hadnt properly recovered and I had one epic headache brewing. We sat at the front and headed up the lift hill - after the first drop that was it - I never thought it possible for my head to rattle quite so much on a ride that just has a lap bar but I felt like a nodding dog in a car doing 120mph.
The layout is good, the fact you are racing the other train is good but it was a bit too much for my head to take.
I would love to ride this again when my head is normal (well normal for me!) because I'm sure my brewing headache didn't help the situation. This is another iconic ride at the pleasure beach and was very popular so I think it needs another chance before I can properly judge it
Thats the coasters covered - The only one we didn't do was Revolution but as it goes backwards that's probably good that we swerved it as I don't do particularly well on things that go the wrong way!
Wallace & Gromit ride I really enjoyed and they sell some interesting items in the gift shop - cheese stick of rock anyone?!
Alice in Wonderland ride was ok for what it is - not something I would personally queue for though.
Derby Racers is adorable and thankfully I didn't get stuck getting off the horse at the end
Skyforce is ok - the indoor queue but was hotter than a sauna though so I wasn't able to pay lots of attention to the instructional video. This thing surprised me because it actually goes higher than it looks - I did managed about 75% of one spin on it but freaked out - also it's hard work trying to manoeuvre so I gave up after a while - it's a nice ride but on really busy days it must be horrific to queue for due to its low throughput.
I saved my fave ride for last - VALHALLA!
I have so much love for Valhalla - we ended up riding it 5 times.
The theming outside the ride is brilliant and I love the fact that you can't see any of the actual ride so you have no idea what to expect (unless you've seen a POV which I hadn't).
Its hard to believe this ride has been at the park since 2000 because it is so impressive and unlike Tidal Wave which opened the same year offers so much more and shows just how good a water ride can be (just to add I've only so far done UK water rides so I'm sure there are better ones elsewhere in the world).
Ive always found water rides fascinating - and back before I conquered my fear of coasters and anything really thrilling, Tidal Wave was my fave ride at Thorpe and I would ride it on my own while my sister went off to go on the coasters.
I know Valhalla and Tidal Wave are very different rides (and I enjoy both) but for me I love Valhalla for the theming, the audio, the length of the ride, the drops - everything. Tidal Wave you go up, you come down and you get drenched which is fab on hot days. Of course Valhalla will get you wet - soaked even (front row left hand side especially) but for the experience it's worth it.
We didn't bother with ponchos as it was a warm day. I was drenched - my feet were soggy but unlike rides like Storm Surge where your feet get crazy wet for what I think is a naff ride (putting it mildly) I didn't mind so much after Valhalla - later on in the evening the waft from my damp trainers was not pretty but that was the only down side.
I love the effects used in the ride - though has anyone noticed that the ice room has a hint of a vinegar aroma about it? ?
This is our ORP from the 4th of 5 rides we did on it - and where I got the most drenched
Summary (well done if you've got this far!)
The park was bigger than I thought it would be even though the coaster seem to be on top of each other (if that makes sense)
The staff are really friendly as are people up North in general - seriously if some of those people came to where I live they'd think every Southerner is a miserable git.
It was great finally being able to ride some wooden coasters (and face my fear going on The Big One)
Being away from home is hard for me at times with my anxiety but I coped fine with it and next big trip is further away
There are some rides we didn't get the time to go on and other rides I would love to do again. Construction for ICON is coming along nicely and it would be fab to go back when it opens.
All in all a great day - we did Alton Towers the following day as it is en route back home so we took the chance to have a quick snooze on the RMT...as you do
Thanks for reading - this is the first blog entry I've done in ages so apologies if it is waffly - I'm on the caffeine and can't sleep!
Next blog will be in Sept/Oct after visiting Efteling and Phantasialand with @Roodie -I'll try to make the next one less waffly ?
Hello again, long time no see. It's been a quick six month break since I've been on here, since my 'emotional' breakdown a few months back. In that time, my love for rollercoasters has been reinvigorated without the related cynicism that forums can sometimes create. I thought I'd do a blog of somewhat of what I've been up to.
April 2017 - France/Germany road trip
Three months ago, (where has the time gone), myself along with Peaj, Dan and Fred went on a six park trip across Western Europe parks. The aim was for everyone to grab the odd new B&M, Intamin and new parks galore. For all of us, the only new park was Movie Park Germany. I have to admit our trip was oddly planned, we somehow missed all the new rides that were due to open in May, however I think in spite of this, we had a wonderful time. So to start off we went to Parc Asterix. I think of this is a very under-rated place. The rides are fun, enjoyable, interestingly themed and very re-rideable. The obvious highlight is Oz'Iris which, five years after my first ride is still an incredible ride. We managed a back row and front row ride and each was enjoyable. It managed to toe the line between modern and old school B&M and the custom layout works really well with the nearby theming.
Tonnerre de Zeus has had some queue line work too but seemed rougher then I remember, presumably its starting to age and might need a little bit of work done. I was impressed with the parks newer additions such as the disk which features fire effects and the way the ride is designed into the lake. I love Goudurix. This may be controversial but it's an intense, raw experience which many newer rides could learn lessons from. Sure its still rated one of the worst rollercoasters in the world but I don't think it deserves the hatred it received.
Park 2 was Nigloland, a park celebrating its 30th anniversary. This park has a lot of Mack rides, in fact it almost comes across as a mini Europa Park. This was my biggest surprise of the trip frankly, it's a fantastic park that retains its family history and the obvious pride in the place is something you just don't get with company parks. The obvious star of Nigloland is Alpina-Blitz, an absolutely sublime rollercoaster and by a country mile my favourite ride of the trip. One of my favourite aspects of it is the little Mack touches, the way the ride has such forceful air time in the Blue Fire type trains, the little walkway that extends over the track in the station to allow disabled access, the way it borrows the best bits from Piraten (Djurs Sommerland) and improving on them massively. As I've got older, I don't re-ride rides more then 2/3 times but Alpina Blitz, we got ten rides out of. It is worth the trip to here alone.
Other rides in Nigloland aren't 'quite' up the standard of Blitz, but they don't need to be. Euro-Sat has a little brother here for example and whilst not quite as good or as long, is a nice surprise. The log flume, I found very strange. It runs about nine boats in total and contains only one drop in a very short layout. Strange. I loved the powered coaster, I forced the others to ride a further two times. A few rides there were a bit dodgy such as the Jungle Cruise rip off or the Jurassic Park walkthrough which were a waste of time really, but in the context of the park are good fillers. The new drop tower which sticks out like a saw thumb was pretty terrifying if only for the sheer size of the tower. The drop had nothing on our Detonator, however its height was intimidating.
Park 3 - Holiday Park
The original intention was to visit Walygator for Monster and Anaconda. However when that decided to open three weeks later, we quickly diverted to Holiday Park in Germany. It's been eleven years since I last visited and I originally didn't really like Expedition Ge Force finding it over-rated and disappointing. My opinion on this has morphed slightly, however I think EGF is now severely outclassed by Shambhala, Alpina Blitz and Piraten. The ride was running one train and because of intamin related problems, it took ages to load. The restraints bite hard into taller people meaning the air time hills become more and more painful as it goes on. I'm 6 foot and was on the edge of pain. It was more enjoyable then I remembered but there's just no way that the ride is number one.
The new star of Holiday Park is Sky Scream. I liked it a lot. I'd been on Superman at Discovery Kingdom and it is pretty much exactly the same albeit, the theme is very different. Horror theme just doesn't work on this kind of rollercoaster, especially in glorious sunshine. Holiday Park suffers from a lack of family rollercoasters. It has two thrill machines and then everything else is slightly below par. An average omni-mover, a pretty good rapids and a stupidly wet log flume don't really make up for the lack of family support rides. The drop tower being themed to a teenager tv show was odd.
Everyone knows this park is awesome, that goes without saying. I love the Baron hour extra ride time for guests at the end of the day, I love the hotel, I adore how cheap the ride photos and food are at at the park. I hate Winjas. The news of a launched flyer is welcome news. Kind of glad it isn't B&M as well.
Fantastic views of Mamba from the hotel room
This place is weird. You can tell that it's had a change in direction with one half of the park being movie themed and the rest rides just chucked at pathways. The highlight by far was Van Helsing which isn't just a good ride, is a stand out Gerstlauer wild mouse. Some really forceful hair pins and great dips in a ride that really showcases the best of the company. It's theme was pretty decent too, although admittedly the head peeking out of the ceiling on the exit platform was more comedic then scary. The rest of the park is pretty poor though. Star Trek was desperately needed but not ready to open on our visit. The Vekoma SLC was Dan's first of this type, well deserving of a front row seat. Wasn't that bad but after Oz'Iris and Black Mamba, it doesn't come across well. The only photo I have of the day is Oswald at Disneyland Paris so that will have to do.
And finally Efteling
When I was younger and in my theme park teenage years, there were three parks that I always wanted to visit because they sounded more magical then theme parky. They were Liseberg, Tivoli Gardens and Efteling. And I was finally ticking this off my list. The park was busy and queues for the big rides topped an hour. My obvious interest was Baron 1898 which I'll talk about later. Firstly, Flying Dutchman. What a great concept let down solely by the middling rollercoaster bit. The theming of Efteling is second to none and the atmosphere of the indoor bit is fantastic. I was slightly thrown off by the lift hill where I thought an obvious backwards bit was going to happen but didn't. Next, Volga Rock a rather extravagant Vekoma rollercoaster which I really enjoyed. My memory is hazy because of the sheer oddness of the trip. The fairy dark ride is fabulous. I was taken back by the sheer scale of the ride, the attention to detail of the sets is incredible. The Venom Madhouse requires you to know Dutch and well, we don't. Music was great though. Joris en de Draak, the parks racing woodies were both running one trains and to be honest, I didn't think it had anything on Wodan. I don't get the appeal of racing coasters to be honest, the rides motions get completely ignored by wanting to see where the other train has gone. And I hate losing.
And finally, Baron. I thought this was a wonderful take on the dive machine concept. I like my rides to involve the people passing by so the little bell emanating from the lift hill when a train is about to descend is the kind of detail I love to see. The show rooms on this don't rely on a knowledge on the Dutch language enabling anyone to understand the story. The drop is rather nifty and whilst shorter then Oblivion has a similar impact. The zero g is good.The air time hill is terrible. There isn't a single bit of sensation as the train rises and falls over the track and fills like its there to increase ride length only. The ride also has a problem with capacity. It only has three trains and even with that there is massive stacking. Oblivion with its seven trains (in its heyday anyway) runs rings around Baron. In spite of this, 1898 is thematically far more interesting and engaging then Oblivion. The power of dive machines to grab attention is second to none.
And with that the trip was over. Some of the top parks in Europe are only a couple of hours away from the UK so there really is no excuse not to go.
Next up was Thorpe Park which was absolutely dead. Where was everyone? This was my first time on Derren Brown and I have to say it was relatively enjoyable. It suffers from the Merlin problem that acting = shouting at guests and ordering them around. I loved the train concept and even fell for the bit where a tube train is thundering down the tunnel. We were lucky that there was no queue and we got batched in straight away. It's not worth a long queue but it is interesting that the ride length of Derren Brown is probably longer then every other ride at Thorpe put together.
This is Samurai which I haven't ridden for about three years.
Next up was Disneyland Paris where we were by chance around for the reopening of Space Mountain as the shameless cash in, Hyperspace Mountain. I didn't like this one bit and the main problem is the clashing of themes. Star Wars on the Californian version is fine, that has a rather charmless theme as it is. The Jules Verne mixed with X-Wings and Death Stars doesn't work at all. Sadly this ride will be a lot more popular with visitors, equalling longer queues, meaning the original version from 1995, may now never return. On the plus side, the new trains are excellent albeit, slightly more restrictive then the old ones.
Other new features for the 25th include a new parade (which was a massive upgrade from the old one), a new firework show (which is a massive downgrade from Dreams) and new day time shows celebrating the magic of DLP.
I forgot to mention Europa Park, but lets face it that place is just insanely incredible. It was the quietest I've ever seen it with being able to stay on Blue Fire three times in a row or walk on front row Wodan. New area Ireland is fine, the rather odd choice of theming a rockin' tug around a Titanic life boat is an interesting choice for a ride..
Blue Fire remains as incredible as always, surely one of the best rides ever built. It's on its 9th season but you couldn't tell it as it has not aged one iota. The drops with that level of smoothness make it one of the most consistent rides out there.
I apologise for this blogs length and well done if you even got half way. It's been a breezy six months and I'm so glad that my passion for theme parks have been reinvigorated. Nothing is like our hobby, the sheer escapism and joy from theme parks is unrivalled. And to end this length trip report, here's Scenic Railway at Margate which gave me chills.
So I've abandoned the other blog, because it's embarrassing . "Monthly".
Today we visited LEGOLAND, to check out Ninjago and this post will be mainly about that. Firstly, though, OMG PIRATE FALLS. It was like having a bucket of water tipped over you from every angle. I didn't dry off properly until it was time to go home. I've actually got a cold on it every time I've been on it since last year. Also new smell pods in the Dragon (I think). The kitchen smells heavily like food, unless it was coming from the restaurant but I'd never smelt it before today.
Anyway, Ninjago. There will be spoilers. Be aware.
This ride is amazeballs. So amazeballs it may well be my favourite dark ride out there. Subject to change once I get to Europe.
Lets start with the queue. We used the RAP so I didn't experience the full queue, but the part I did experience was very quick moving (the trains move very quickly through the station), the videos that play are reminiscent of those weird news show cartoons, you know the sort (warning, very strange banner photo is quite NSFW), and it's very hot but it was quite well themed. You're given the 3D glasses (which I wasn't keen on as I don't really like 3D) and once seated the incredibly clunky lap bar which hosts the sensors and some sort of air conditioning which blows onto your arm. I think there are speakers in front of you too. So the ride starts and you are doing this training, the "shooting" system is quite frustrating, but what makes this ride amazing is that didn't affect my enjoyment at all. All of a sudden you're out of training and fighting some bad guys, it's quite confusing, but it may have been explained. Everyone was making alot of noise so I couldn't hear very well. At one point you're flying over lava and the room goes hot, then the room goes icy and you're blasted with air. It gets really immersive, when you fall on the screen it feels like you're actually falling, all of the effects match what's going on on the screen. There's a really nice smoke/mist effect, and some nice strobes too. At one point you go through what appears to be a mine, there's rockwork everywhere and wooden supports holding it up, as well as barrels, dynamite, and strangely fireworks. This was one of my favourite parts of the ride as this is where most of the physical theming is. The ride comes to an end and you see the ninjas celebrating before it's time to exit. You see the onride photo, which I didn't even know was taken, and then exit into the (very cramped) shop. The ride is almost perfect imo. The story could be a bit clearer and there's a bit of exposed warehouse from the front, but as others have said, when you come off you don't care about the score and you'd rather talk about the ride. At first, I wasn't keen. I thought it was too loud and too much going on, too realistic as it were. But once I got used to it, it instantly became my favourite ride at LEGOLAND. If you haven't already, get down there NOW! This >>>>>>>>> Gruffalo. 9.5/10 from me.
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As always, it was good to see everyone again and be back at Towers I can't believe the gorgeous weather we had for the whole weekend - I've never had that oop north before!
This was a very chilled day, owing to the hot hot weather Started off with Smiler and Oblivion, before going on Hex
Was really impressed by the TLC! The audio in the cinema is nice and loud, perhaps *slightly* too loud BUT it's better than being too quiet, especially when you have people talking over it (I always watch it properly every time). I've said this before, but I still always think of that electricBill YouTube video and expect it to say "Fifteenth Earl of S***e"
The Octagon looks sooo good now I loved the dry ice rolling down the steps on the right-hand side! Also it was fun going on someone who's never been on before (Paige)!
We then had a lovely walk around the Towers, going up on the roof too. It never fails to amaze me how nice the Towers are and the beautiful views you get from the top
After lunch we did Nemesis which, of course, was as great as ever and looks gooooood.
We then chilled with some drinks at the Coffee Lounge, caught some sun...then headed to Duel to find it was broken (No staff member out the front but the doors were locked shut). So some of us finished off with Th13teen, where the indoor section was nice and cool! Played some Extraordinary Golf afterwards which was good fun as always, and it's nice to see it's been spruced up.
Another beautiful day!
Some of the fountains aren't quite lined up...snotty-nosed frog alert!
Started off with some ERT on Nemesis (twice in a row, obvs) then got GalacticAir out the way while the area was still quiet Me, Mike, Peaj and Matt happened to get front row, which was just as well as we rode it without VR! I think that's the most I've enjoyed it as "Air"
Next up was Duel I was pleased to see that the lighting changes last year (which made several scenes too bright) have been put back to how they were, or at least improved as it seems nice and dark again
It was good to bump into Stretchy afterwards, who joined us on a refreshing ride on Congo. There was quite a delay whilst queueing due to someone jumping in the water (apparently they weren't on the ride but climbed over a fence) Despite the lack of waterfalls, it's still just as "rapidy" so we still got pretty wet, and Ryan got the brunt of the "KFC Mega Wave" in our boat
After RMT and lunch we went to Intamin Forest, which was all broken Unfortunately Rita reopened so we jumped on that while the queue was short.
Rough as hell but at least it didn't destroy my back this time!
Then we did Hex again, went inside the chapel afterwards...even came across some Sanctuary theming
Spinball was down so we did X Sector...everything looks so nice with sunshine and blue skies!
Then it was time...for Battle Galleons! How could we not in such a heatwave?! In the end, it was just me, Peaj and Matt (Mike chickened out ), with some others at the guns around the ride. Was nice to have a cool down...but then, as we were near the station, the ride came to a stop. Right in front of some water guns Turns out someone in the station had got their hair caught in the handle (ouch!) so first aid had to come and help. I'm not sure how long we were actually stuck there, possibly about 15-20 minutes? Peaj and Matt were in the firing line so got drenched - I was actually disappointed out that nobody aimed at me (twas absolutely boiling being sat in direct sunlight) Or maybe the gun just couldn't turn round far enough Was the most entertaining ride I've had on Battle Galleons though!
And that was the end of the meet! Some of us chilled in the Splash Landings bar while waiting for the inevitable queue of cars to die down. Newly painted theming is looking good!
It was also Marc's birthday on the Saturday, so we surprised him with a card and cake! So I'll end this report with a photo of said surprised Marc:
Thanks for reading!
(Oh and if anyone's wondering if I will ever write that Europa trip report from the meet last year...I'm getting there )
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It's not often that I tend to have the persuasion and determination to visit theme parks outside of Britain, primarily due to the costs, travel and venturing into the unknown when visiting another country. But Liseberg is different. Liseberg drew my attention more than any other European theme park for 2017 because further research into what the place offered and the ease of travelling there entirely on public transport and not hiring a car got me seriously interested. Of course, Helix was the draw factor for me more than anything because I have found it almost impossible to find a single negative review about the ride since it's debut back in 2014. For too long Nemesis and Shambhala have both always been my top coasters and nothing since has ever managed to come close to them... until now!
This review will consist of my experience of the park over 2 days earlier last week, flying out on Friday 12th May until Monday 15th May and I will be detailing every little detail I noted, so please understand this is going to be a very long and precise review of travelling there, the park itself and it's attractions it has to offer. If you like to read quick and to-the-point reviews, this is not for you! The aim of this review is to familiarise readers who are considering visiting the park for the first time everything they should know and expect, especially considering a new dive coaster will be opening here in 2018 which is guaranteed to draw quite a few Brits to visit.
So let's start at the beginning and that's transport and travel to the park, including costs:
1) TRANSPORT TO & FROM THE PARK
From what I understand, there are three airports in or around London which fly directly to Gothenburg Landvetter airport which are Ryanair from Stanstead, British Airways from Heathrow and Norwegian Air from Gatwick. I flew with Norwegian Air since Gatwick was the closest airport from my address (Pompey) and even though I admit the flights are cheaper with Ryanair from Stanstead, I was not willing to travel half way across the south to get on a plane, so Norwegian Air was my choice. My outgoing flight from Gatwick was at 19:35 which cost me about £30 single each way (8 weeks in advance booking, no reserved seat).
Once arriving at Gothenburg, follow the signs to the airport bus service called Flygbussarna which runs every 20 minutes right outside the entrance to the terminal and takes you directly to the city itself which is about a 25 minute drive. Price-wise, at the time of writing this review, tickets are 185 SEK, which equals to about £14 return approximately. There are 4 stops along the way, each getting closer and closer to the centre where the terminus train station is located. Since I was staying in a hotel just 10 minutes away from the park, I only needed to get the second stop, the first one being directly outside the park's entrance and the Gothic Towers.
So as you can see, it is perfectly manageable to get into the city through the use of public transport without the need to hire a car. A recommendation I make is try and get a flight to the airport which is not scheduled to land after 23:00, because the last bus service is at 00:50am and if there is any delay in your flight, you could risk missing the last one and having to spend about £34 at least with a taxi to get to the city instead, so bear that in mind.
Now that's out the way, now onto the park itself:
2) PARK ATMOSPHERE AND THEMING
If you were to ask me to compare the park to any other I know, I would find it very difficult because it's unlike any other theme park I have been to. The first and most obvious difference is that it's located right in the centre of a city with motorways, skyscraper buildings, housing and museums surrounding it everywhere. In some ways, similar to Alton Towers, it has a unique feel to it all because seeing a theme park in the middle of a large city/open countryside is the last thing you would expect!
Once inside, if you go through the main (north) entrance, you are greeted immediately by a long walkway surrounded by small buildings with gift shops, restaurants, ticket booths and in my case, market stalls (it was their green weekend where the whole of the plaza area and theatre was dominated by fresh plants and flowers). To the right you can see the dominating tower of AtmosFear and the Ferris wheel overshadowing you as walk along the pathway getting ever closer to the centre of the park. Through these alleyways, music played which mostly consisted of chart music, both modern and retro, giving the place a good and clam atmosphere for guests.
Presentation wise, this is something I will keep mentioning in the review further down, but the park have done a great job at keeping all the buildings, pathways, lighting and signage looking clean and well-maintained at all times which has really put a lot of our parks here in the UK to shame. Instead of having rotting roofs, mouldy walls and broken lights, it was great to see all the smaller details looked after such as all the lightbulbs for the street lighting working with none that have blown or the roofs and walls of the buildings looking like they have just been cleaned overnight and don't have mould or overgrown weeds everywhere and there was no trace of litter anywhere. Being used to the state of our parks today, this was a pleasant surprise for me, regardless of how small it might be.
So overall, it might not be the Swedish version of Main Street or Towers Street, but initial impressions of the atmosphere and theming are good so far with everything being maintained and cleaned on a regular basis (from my perspective anyway).
3) FOOD & DRINK & PRICES
Now being a tourist attraction in the middle of Sweden's biggest city, I was expecting much like every other theme park on the planet for the prices of food and drink to be high and it absolutely was. Being used to getting the 20% discount on all food and drink at Merlin's parks for many years, I had forgotten how expensive theme park food can be and some of the prices did seem too high for me. For instance, if you get their Max burger meal deal at one of the many stalls in the park, that will set you back about 89 SEK which is about £8 roughly. A cup of coffee (cappuccino) was about 45 SEK (£4) and a bottle of water about 19 SEK (£1.75), so in comparison to the food prices here in the UK, you are looking at about an average price increase of about 10-15%.
Despite however the prices for their food and drink being quite high, I will say that you definitely get a filling meal for what you pay for. On the second day for lunch, I went to the sandwich shop and had just a full salami and brie baguette which was about 65 SEK (£6.10) and it was pretty large and filled properly and was enough to keep me full until late that evening. So bear in mind even though you might be paying more for an average meal at Liseberg, you are getting bigger average portions as a result in comparison to other theme parks, so that might make up the extra cost for you.
Another great thing about the food and drink at Liseberg is the variety they provide. Here in the UK it's your typical burger stalls, pizza, pasta, donuts and hot dogs. Whilst Liseberg did offer all this, they also offer as mentioned above some alternative choices, such as the baguette shop, seafood, stir fry, Italian, Mediterranean and Austrian food just to name a few. So regardless of your preference, they are sure to have something to suite your taste and the variety offered was great.
4) OPERATIONS & RELIABILITY
The first thing that jumped out to me was how efficient the park was at running all of their rides. The staff were loading and dispatching guests as fast as they can on all coasters, one simple check of the restraint was all that done and the guests I noticed don't tend to carry a lot of bags with them when riding, so essentially, this massively sped up the process and reduced the amount of faff some guests can create to a minimum. Lisebergbanan for instance is a great example because not only were they running all trains on the track despite a 10 minute queue all day (take note, Thorpe Park), but the dispatch procedure was quick and simple - gates opening whilst guests were leaving the train, baggage taken onto the trains down by your legs so it doesn't fall out, one quick check of the handle bars with two staff on each side of the train, a simple thumbs up and they're good to go. All of this can take as little as 20 seconds and the queues as a result were moving especially fast, giving you the opportunity to manage more later in the day. If only our parks could run all their rides this efficiently, there wouldn't be the need for Fastrack most days anymore!
As for reliability, I don't know if I was extremely lucky, but I did not encounter a single break down or stoppage across the entire park on both days I visited. Not one. Every single ride was open, at full capacity and ready for guests, regardless of whether there was a queue or not. Perhaps our rides keep breaking down a lot because of the paranoia surrounding what happened with The Smiler where any little thing out of place involves calling an engineer over the rectify it now, but Liseberg could be a lot more relaxed over it or simply because their rides are purely more reliable machines. Part of me reckons it could be to do with the great amount of maintenance and work done to the rides every year which might have something to do with it, which will be mentioned in a moment.
This was perhaps one of the most surprising things for me about all of the rides at Liseberg - everything looked as though it was brand new. Things such as mould and rust on the coaster tracks was gone, or the queue lines being clean with almost no wear marks, or the trains on Helix looking spotlessly shiny and polished with no marks anywhere, or all of the lights working fine on Mechanica at night. Simply put, everything had a great presentation and didn't look like it was neglected and left to rot. This is what the standard should be at all theme parks - to keep your rides looking spotless and new as long as possible. You know something is wrong when Lisebergbanan, a 30-year old coaster looks better than The Smiler at just 4 years old...... pretty embarrassing if you ask me!
Other smaller details visible across the park and its rides such as the queue line fencing everywhere being freshly painted, to all the queue TV screens working, to all the signage looking untouched & clean and the vegetation trimmed back so it's not overgrown on the rides are what I appreciate a lot with theme parks and it's great to see details as small and noticeable as this being looked after on a frequent basis. We need an attitude like this across all our UK parks where presentation is key because from a customer's perspective, it is.
6) THE RIDES
And now onto the best part - my opinion of their 7 signature rides, including Loke being their new one (spoilers - it's awesome!). Here I'll rank them in the order I found to be best in ascending order and I'll being with AeroSpin:
• AeroSpin (6.5 / 10)
I wouldn't say this is a bad ride or anything as it definitely wasn't, but I just found it to be a little short and uncomfortable for what it offered. The seats are exactly the same ones you have on Saw and Smiler with the addition of a seatbelt (believe me, it was comforting to have that there for me!), so it wasn't the most comfortable seat for me since I find the restraint to crush my shoulders too much when inverting, and boy, it certainly did it to me on this.
When you spin in the air, the two mini wings you control are moderately easy to control and are smooth to tilt with your arms, although you might need to put a bit of effort into them as it can strain your arms a bit if you flip too much or too fast during your flight. Depending on the speed of the wind which you are flying in, getting yourself to spin upside down and tilt can really be hit or miss. My first ride I managed 46 flips and then the second only 16. If the wind speed is minimal, you are really going to have to put some effort into getting your plane to spin upside down and the best way to do this is to flip the wings quickly and in perfect sync with the tilt of your seat. If you can manage nice and smooth tilts, this will be easy enough for you to manage. But if you take quick and small tilts with the wings, you barely make it over the top unfortunately.
When flipping upside down, the first time actually scared me because once I got my wings into position to enable me to flip 46 times, it really goes fast and can make you feel quite dizzy very quickly. Plus, considering you are about 100ft above the ground or 200ft if you include the mountain it's on, flipping that fast feeling as though you are not in control did scare me, especially when the spins got faster and faster and you are sitting in isolation next to nobody else.
The problem I had most with it was the restraints used and as a result, I had bruise marks on my shoulders after riding it the second time (my own fault) since all the pressure can rest directly onto them if you are held upside down for too long. Also, the ride seemed very short too at only around 1 minute in the air and that's it. Wished it lasted a bit longer, especially considering it would cost the rider 3 tokens if they didn't have the wristband.
So whilst it's great fun for the views, the soundtrack by IMAscore and multiple flips you can manage, I just found it too uncomfortable and short for my liking unfortunately.
• AtmosFear (7 / 10)
If there is any type of ride at a theme park I am still scared of to this day, it's a drop tower, and AtmosFear really was a struggle for me to get on the first time. Being the tallest in Europe, I almost chickened out on this as a result. But the way I saw it before riding is it cannot be any worse than Detonator which has the most horrible free-fall experience I know on any ride out there and considering I managed Hurakan Condor back in 2013 (yeah, the first ride didn't end well), this surely cannot be any worse. Thankfully, I was right.
The restraints are almost identical to the seats used on Stealth and Rita with the exception of the shoulder bars being a firm nylon material instead of the padded metal bars used on the coasters. As a result, I could close the restraint using the adjustable fastener to a perfect fit against my chest making sure I was securely strapped into me seat with no give anywhere. When you begin to rise, there's a mist at the top of the building you pass through before you are outside slowly rising to the top.
It takes a while to get up there which was a great opportunity to get some amazing views up there. The best viewing point is northwards in the direction of the Liseberg wheel when the river down the the harbour goes. Once at the top, there is no countdown or hint at when you are going to drop, so the first time you ride this, it could come as a shock to you.
When released, the initial release does have the proper free-fall feeling for a split second, but unfortunately, despite picking up more and more speed as you fall down, it doesn't get worse and instead, it feels as though the drop has been tamed to quickly due to the brakes reaching up the first 50% of the tower. I would say the first third of the tower you fall down is forceful, but after that, it doesn't feel as bad in all honesty, so the worst bit is the initial release but once you fall, it doesn't feel too bad.
I still rate this higher than AeroSpin for the fact it offers better views at the top, travels much faster and doesn't have uncomfortable seats. It might be the most forceless drop tower I've been on yet, but it's still great fun to go on, especially any sunset. In addition, due to the height, this is the first drop tower that has made my ears pop once you've fallen from the top to the bottom in just 3 seconds. That should give you an idea how fast and tall this really is!
Initial impressions of this ride from looking at videos of it online were Samurai meets Slammer, and after riding it, that opinion is pretty accurate!
The overall theme and look to this ride I loved. The queue line with all the carpentry tools and equipment and molten metal in the barrels, to the great soundtrack (also by IMAscore) and the overall look of the ride's support and pods really looked visually attractive. I'd go as far to say at night, this is one of the best looking themed flat rides I know with all the orange lights and flames lighting up the structure and seats in the dark.
Now as for the ride experience itself, the seats and restraints are far more comfortable compared to the ones used on Samurai (different manufacturers I know, but it reminded me too much of Samurai) and didn't crush your thighs or chest once closed. Plus, there's a good amount of gap between each of the 5 seats on the pods, making moving your arms a lot easier this time. The restraints when closed do not mould against your body unlike Samurai, they instead fix into place on the closest notch they can lock onto. So in my case, there was a bit of give between my stomach and the restraint, which made it easier for me to breathe and adjust thankfully.
Now onto the ride experience itself, the shocking thing for me was how differently the pods tilt in comparison to Samurai. These pods on Mechanica tilt a lot easier and in effect, you are tilting and flipping much faster and more violently as a result. Some may see this as a disadvantage as it makes the ride quite violent, but I didn't mind and thought it made the experience better.
The gondola spins quite slowly when it rotates both directions, but this was enough to not make you feel dizzy or to pin you against the side of the restraint either. Instead, it was slow enough to offer you some really good airtime when the arm flips you all the way over, especially if you get the right pod at the right time where you can be plummeting straight to the ground looking straight down whilst feeling weightless. Really good moments and a long ride too!
The only downside I can say about this is even though the pods flip you a lot more than Samurai's, the structure in my experience seemed to shake a little too much from side to side, probably due to the counterweight at the top being too light and as a result, my head lightly bashed from side to side a bit a couple of times. It's not like Colossus which violently tries to shake your brain out of your skull level, but instead, it's more Dragon Khan levels of head bashing instead. So if you are trying this, I recommend you rest your head against the right side of the restraint or to get a seat closer to the inside to reduce the amount of force on your head. Apart from that, great flat ride and looks very pretty!
• Lisebergbanan (8 / 10)
This was the first ride I went on in the park on my first day as I wanted to leave Helix until later and experience it properly for the first time with a queue instead of walking straight on. I must say, despite it being 30 years old, it kicked one hell of a punch for a family coaster, to the point where I begin to wonder how on earth can they get away with a height restriction this low for it?!
The train seats and restraints are very similar to Olympia Looping and Thunder Looper with just a lap bar in place and no divider in between the two seats, leaving you're entire upper body vulnerable to moving from side to side. It was comfortable enough and the seats were quite low down, so there wasn't any thought of losing your bags placed in-between you legs on the floor.
Once dispatched and getting to the top of the lift hill, the first helix down the hill and over the garden area is a lot, lot faster than any video online YouTube will show you. I had the very back of the train the first time on this and immediately after going down the first drop, I was shocked by how fast this thing goes when the train is full! It really is quite intense for a family coaster and you even get some great airtime at the back too!
Once the first bit is over and you go down and under Uppswinget three times, this is where it really gets fun as you are going what feels like almost 60mph under the tunnels several times over and over again and due to the design of the trains, you're upper body can shake side to side a fair bit when going down the drops and again, this is a family coaster? It seems very fast and intense to be one for me!
After that, there's one last small helix around the tree and an airtime hill added before you enter the brakes and I must warn any new riders, if you ever rode the Black Hole when it was at Alton Towers, if you remember the brakes at the end of that, you'll know exactly what these ones are like! They are really very violent and sudden brakes which can lurch you forward in the break run and when you re-enter the station, so my suggestion is when you see the yellow sign saying "Broms" on it, hold the handle bar in front of you and brace you arms ready for impact to stop yourself lurching forwards.
Overall, for a family coaster, this was incredibly surprising for me as it goes a lot faster than it looks, it's long, the restraints are minimal and it has a classic feel to it which reminds me of Nemesis, so it get's a big thumbs up from me.
• Balder (8.5 / 10)
Their wooden coaster Balder was another great coaster which reminded me a lot of Megafobia at Oakwood. The trains were comfortable with both a seatbelt and a lap bar restraint holding you in and thankfully unlike Gwazi and Stampida, this was lovely and smooth and didn't feel horribly jerky or rough anywhere on the train.
The lift hill is surprisingly steep for a wooden coaster and for seats like these ones with no back rests, it felt almost as if I was going to fall out backwards if it wasn't for the restraint. When you consider the small space this is located in, it makes sense to have it this steep.
Now onto the ride itself, the back of the train is by far the best place to sit. The number of times you are whipped over all the dozens of airtime hills on this thing is huge and from beginning to end, there is not a single moment to relax or take a breather since the hills get sharper and tighter making up for the loss in height and speed towards the end of the ride.
The addition of the tunnels also made the experience great as one of them was small enough to create a head chopper effect!
It's easy to see why many people regard this as the best wooden coaster they know and it certainly is. The face it's so smooth with airtime after airtime after airtime made this incredibly fun to ride, coupled with the length of the ride makes this a great wooden coaster. For me, it's not quite as good as Megafobia, but it comes close!
• Loke (New for 2017) - (9 / 10)
I've always found flat rides which swing like Vortex and Rush to be fun to a certain point until they become repetitive and boring, so I wasn't building any huge expectations for this ride despite the advertising and delayed opening it received. But when seeing it in-person, oh my word, this thing is bloody massive!
Never ever ridden Maelstrom at Drayton Manor before so this was my first Intamin Gyroswing and what made this ride very special for me besides from the size, speed and theming was the design of the restraints and seats. They are very comfy to sit in and they are very similar to the ones you get on The Swarm. Just imagine Swarm's restraints but without the foam vest holding your chest. That's Loke's seats in a nutshell. The thin metal bars which are there to lower the restraint across your waist were widely spaced and positioned quite far back, so when you fasten the restraint using a seatbelt similar to Stealth/Rita, there is nothing in the field of view from where you are sitting. This in effect made you feel extremely vulnerable and reminded me a lot like Rush with just a lap bar holding you in, only this time, the seats are much comfier and aren't deep this time. Heck, they're similar seats to Nemesis to give you an idea, so imagine Nemesis' seats with just a lap bar. That's the best way I can describe them.
Once the floor lowers and the thumping bass from the soundtrack filling the ride starts up, it begins to swing higher and higher very quickly and the speed of the spinning gondola is not too fast to make you feel dizzy, it's just about right and it also gives you the chance to get multiple angles whilst in the air at maximum height too.
Once it picks up speed and reaches it's full height, it doesn't matter which direction or angle you are at, this ride is epic! The sheer speed you are travelling when it swings downwards is faster than Rush and the weightlessness feeling you get when falling back down again is forceful and offers some brilliant views when you're looking straight down. Plus, the close proximity between you and Balder makes this even better. When looking down, you are either staring directly over Balder's structure and the people below, or the nearby river directly over the water. In total, you get about 8-9 full swings before it begins to slow down and lower again.
It's quite a claim to make, but I consider this to be the best flat ride ever built that I have ridden. The size and speed of this monster is what sells it and the comfort and lack thereof of restraints holding you in makes you feel incredibly vulnerable and doesn't distract you when swinging. In addition, the paint work and theming of this ride looks very nice during the day and night and the soundtrack played with the thumping bass from the speakers really build up a huge anticipation when waiting.
Thorpe Park or Alton Towers seriously need one of these rides at their parks with the same restraints, capacity, height and speed, because this beats the living hell out of Vortex and Rush combined in my opinion. It truly is a superb flat ride and is my favourite one out there right now as a result!
• Helix (9.5 / 10)
And yes, as expected, Helix is my number one ride at the park and indeed as mentioned at the beginning of the review, my new personal favourite coaster. Never before have I been left speechless by a coaster after trying it the first time and Helix was the first to deliver. What a magnificent coaster Liseberg have here. 26 rides later in 2 days and it's still brilliant every time.
From the beginning of the experience to entering the queue line, you are instantly transported from the dull innards of the dome to a futuristic, modern and cool looking maze of stairs, platforms and metal walls and mechanics lying around everywhere in the queue line, all lit up in bright neon green lights on the walls, flooring, rock work and ceiling. This coupled with the soundtrack which was blasting though about 30 Bose speakers in all of the queue line in perfect synchronisation gave me goosebumps the first time entering this area. It sounds and looks visually impressive in the queue and the maze of stairs and platforms getting you ever closer to the station builds up some huge anticipation and excitement.
Whilst queueing, you can see various windows looking through the walls of the station and underneath, you are able to see a sneak of the brakes, wheels and trains passing over the track entering the station ready for the next batch of people to board the train. In addition, once directly underneath the platform, you can see how the platform gates work with the mechanics underneath the flooring where every minute or so, the bars move in perfect synchronisation which in effect opens and closes the gates. Nice thing to see whilst waiting (not that there was much of a queue!) as I've always wondered how they work.
When the queue got bigger during the day, I eventually stopped to watch the TV screens and noticed you can download an app on your smartphone which is a game for the ride where you in synchronisation with other guests can play these mini games to gain points and whichever player every 15 minutes get the highest score, they get a free Fastpass for Helix presumably. I tried multiple times to win but only managed to get as high as number 4 on the leaderboard, mostly due to the fact the app was all in Swedish with no English option making me guess how you play each game by improvising.
Once you go up the stairs into the station, you are free to choose any row of seats you want and you are not allocated them by a member of staff. I was so glad this was the case as I wanted front row on my first ride, which I did. The trains themselves look stunning, especially when it gets dark. The fact all the seats underneath are lit up in green and the front of all three trains and along both sides have these very bright white lights made it looks visually stunning at night as it whizzed round the track. Plus, they looked nice and fresh with a shiny gloss finish added, making them look as though they are still brand new.
The seats themselves are extremely comfortable to sit in. The lap bar that lowers down is nice and tight and moulds perfectly to your body. There are also grooves on either side if the bar allowing you to rest you arms on when grabbing the handles and the design of the back rest made it comfortable to rest my shoulders into. Plus, despite it being a floored train, the seats are high enough for your legs to dangle allowing you to move them freely as you wish. The difference these restraints make to this ride in comparison to a traditional shoulder restraint are huge and make everything so much more fun.
Now onto the ride experience itself, the experience offered is unparalleled to anything else I know. The experience is so smooth from beginning to end, the two launches are lovely and smooth too with no extreme forces exerted on you body and each and every element assembles beautifully together. This is a ride where it gets more and more extreme as you go round as each inversion become tighter, the speed of the trains get faster, the drops become larger and the twists and turns become more and more forceful.
The airtime on this thing can be shocking if you get the two very back seats and it's obvious to me now why there's a minimum height restriction of 1.5m for these seats. The airtime over the hill straight after the second launch and top hat at the back of the train is so strong and forceful that it pins your thighs to the restraint almost painfully for a brief second. It's that good!
The interaction the track has with it's surroundings is mastered perfectly and you can tell the designers of this ride have really thought this through and been clever at making the most of the surroundings they have. The fact it snugs so closely to the ground at various points makes the experience really quite intense, especially the helix just before the second launch which throws you straight into your seat thanks to the extreme forces.
One of the concerns I had been hearing from a few people was this ride was not fast enough and didn't have forces that were extreme enough. In my experience, the speed of this ride is perfectly fine and is fast enough for me to enjoy going on again and again and surprisingly, despite this having 7 inversions, I didn't feel sick or dizzy at all when riding it several times in a row unlike Colossus, Smiler and even Nemesis. Helix even reminded me a lot of Nemesis as it constantly has speed and force from beginning to end and never seems to slow down, and this certainly matched Nemesis in terms of the pacing.
If I were to find any criticism of Helix, that would be the lack of on-board speakers used in the trains because the grills have been installed but no audio is played through them. If they can add music similar to Blue Fire from what I've seen, this could make the experience even more exciting for guests. And another criticism I have is when you leave the station into the first inversion, I find the train vibrates a bit too much where you can feel and even hear it. That is literally all I can think of!
So to finalise my review of Liseberg and, if you are visiting for the first time and considering it, do it. The park has great opening times during summer between 11am -10/11pm at the weekends, all the other rides like Kallerado (better river rapids ride than Alton's one), FlumeRide, Hanghai are lots of fun and the atmosphere is very friendly and relaxed. For me, Helix alone is worth the journey and it will be a firm favourite if you ever get the chance to ride it, so make sure when you visit, you ride it.
I myself have have an awesome time visiting both Gothenburg city & Liseberg, and this park is certainly one to keep your eyes on for the future since every year they are currently relentlessly installing more and more exciting and great rides, which reminds me a lot of Thorpe's days in the mid-2000's. In particular, Valkyria looks to be an excellent dive coaster when planned to be opened in April 2018, which is a great reason to visit again. It's very likely I will be visiting this park on a frequent/yearly basis now as they have some truly kick-ass rides for a park that is not on the scale of other European theme parks, so my next visit will likely be April/May 2018.
Here's a full record of all the 230+ photos and videos I took whilst I was there if you're interested in having a look:
Liseberg - (8 / 10)
So if you have seen me around the forums, you'll probably know I have a slight obsession with Europa Park.
Today I'll be going over my sexual fetish over this theme park, and just why I love this place.
Get your drugs and your overpriced coffee ready, and enjoy!
Europa Park is pretty **** with its operations.
3 trains on a B&M, 3 on a GCI, 4-5ish on Euromir/Bluefire, and insanely quick dispatches.
Like, 1 train operations is the way to go!
Even worse, I didn't witness a single breakdown in my 3 days there..
Like I didn't even get to go to guest services to complain.
Okay sarcasm aside, Europa Park is quite well known for its insanely good theming.
The park really go above and beyond with theming.
Things like themed toliets, or that satellite thing-y near Euro-Mir really show how much effort goes into theming their rides
Now in terms of standouts, the French, Greek, and Arthur areas all standout for me, but quite honestly, the whole park is beautiful.
The rides.. Yes, its a theme park:
So as well as Europa's flawless theming and operations, their ride collection is also obviously quite strong.
Standouts for me are obviously Blue Fire, Wodan, and Arthur, but their is so many little gems around the park that are worth mentioning.
Even some of the cookie cutter rides you see at every park standout at Europa- like Fjord Rafting, which is nicely themed and a near flawless rapids that left me lovely and wet..
Others worth noting is their Mine Train- which has a super awesome diamond cave section, and The Arena Of Football, which is a super fun twist on the super standard bumper cars.
Shows in Theme Parks are something that are IMO criminally underated.
Shows can really break up a day, and who doesn't like a bit of live entertainment?
The Standout to me had to be their Ice Show, which was incredibly fun and campy.
Also some male eye candy in there.. Not gonna lie.
all in all- Europa Park remains a flawlessly ran park that also looks beautiful.
As well as this, they also have a strong lineup of rides like Arthur, Blue Fire, and Wodan.
The park is easily one of the best parks in the world.
Anyway thanks for reading.. here's a orgasmic picture of Euro-Mir taken by a sexy friend of mine..
(his name is josh)
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As it was my first time at Chessington, I thought I would write a review of my first impressions of the attractions we visited. So here goes…
I was surprised to learn it has exactly the same layout as the Flying Fish at Thorpe. Unlike the Flying Fish, the overall theming was very good. It has a very immersive queue which goes under and over the tracks in the middle of the ride area. The pyro and water effects also worked on cue for every run. To me it shows what can be done with a standard ride layout if they are consistent with the theming and maintenance of the effects.
The first thing I noticed about this ride was how small the cars were. I was struggling to get in so I definitely think the they were smaller than the cars on X for comparison. The ride very much felt like a classic wild mouse and was a lot of fun. The brakes on this though are way too strong, the cars come to a very sudden stop at the end. I say stop but it felt more like a controlled crash.
It instantly reminded me of the much loved and now quietly removed Ripsaw. The state of the ride does not look good, as if it’s on it’s last legs. A lot of the panelling was clearly removed underneath the seats with visible wiring and hydraulic lines. It’s all very dirty (But Merlin don’t seem to clean their flat rides in general) and the sound of grinding metal was not very reassuring. The ride was still very fun however and just like Ripsaw, still draws a crowd to watch as riders are drowned by the fountains.
The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure
I thought that the new theming was very well done. There aren't any signs of reused props from the old ride and it appears to have been almost gutted and redone entirely. The timing for each scene was out as each bit started just before we entered. The boats were getting stuck and bunching together, there must have been a low water level at the time we were on. It was good to see that some of the fountains were kept in the final scene and are still a great part of the ride. The mist projection at the end was a nice addition, similar to what Merlin have used before at Madame Tussaud’s. Overall it’s a great ride which with any new attraction, just needs a few tweaks.
The Adventure Tree
It’s a great centrepiece for Chessington and looks great. The ride is very short however so I wouldn’t recommend queuing a long time for it.
It’s great that Chessington still has a working log flume since the loss of two flumes within the space of a few seasons. The water on this ride was crystal clear and very clean which very much enhanced the ride for me. On the drops, being at the front I did not actually get too wet.
This is the best spinning coaster I’ve ever been on. The car I was on spun a lot! I like how the ride area is not enclosed and travels around the park. It was certainly fast and furious, definitely worth queuing for.
Definitely the best ride at Chessington by far. It felt very unusual seeing the train in-front swaying from side to side. A very unique rollercoaster in the UK. There was a great atmosphere in the station, however it was lacking more theming. This is a must go on if you visit Chessington.
The Temple Restaurant
Later on, we went to the Temple Restaurant for dinner...
The restaurant was nice and modern looking. I think it really sets the benchmark for all of Merlin’s new hotel restaurants. There’s a very impressive show including multiple elements such as lighting, wall mounted screens, the main fountain and black lights. The show does not happen too frequently as to not get too repetitive. It’s a very immersive experience which reminded me of the immersion found in the Rainforest Café. The food was only acceptable and there was not a huge variety of choice at the buffet. There wasn't any specially themed menu despite the great theming of the restaurant itself. Overall, the food could do with improving to reach the same level as most of Merlin’s other hotel restaurants. If it had better food, then it would definitely be on par with the Rollercoaster Restaurant at Alton Towers.
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I'm not one for creating huge blogs so...
Just got back from my second visit to Europa having been five years ago, and think I enjoyed it even more. This is truly a wonderful place and hope to be back sooner than five years.
As you'd expect, all rides working, no breakdowns, high capacity, friendly staff, good food (and too much choice).
Got on many rides and the longest queue was 25 mins for Matterhorn Blitz, everything else around the 10-15 mins mark. Sunday park open till 7:30 and Tuesday on our second day open until 9:00.
Was fantastic to twice see engineers working on animatronics, proving they truly do keep everything going, unlike some places we all know a bit too well
I really recommend visiting the Silver Lake Saloon for dinner if anyone visits the park and stays nearby. Great food and great surroundings. Just a few pics...
I know it’s been a silly amount of time since I started this, let's wrap it up. The wait has been because sadly my old laptop has died, taking my photos with it until I work out how to rescue them, so shiny new laptop is good for me and means I can finally write this, but a text only end to this is less good for you, dear reader...
My only other experience of a Mack spinner is Sierra Sidewinder at Knotts, which is such a pathetic sucky excuse for coaster I wasn't expecting anything from Euro Mir, but it's ace! The lifthill of forever gives some good fun rave times, the first half of the coaster section with the slow spinning I found strangely unnerving because of the height and feeling of hanging over the edge of the track, and the second half so unexpectedly intense it shocked me. I love spinners in general, and this is one of the best. 9/10.
The other big old coaster I was less of a fan of, it's just so uncomfortable in there. Euro Sat I can only assume is themed to replicate the inside of an oven, the slow climb steadily reaching into hotter and hotter air until just when I thought I could take it no more it slams you through its manoeuvres relentlessly until it smashes to an end on brakes, which feel like a lump of concrete has been left on the tracks. I don't know at what temperature steel melts, but I was fully expecting the track to fold away from underneath me like plasticine at any moment. I can appreciate the craziness, but it's just a little too chaotic for me. 7/10
Then we come to the two newest coasters at the back of the park in Blue Fire and Woodan, and they both blew me away. Woodan is rough enough to know it's wood, smooth enough to be enjoyable for everyone. It flies though the course throwing little nuggets of airtime at you over and over, doing nothing too extreme to offend, but never being dull for a moment. It is perfectly executed from the first step into the queueline until it slides back into the station. Except maybe that adverse camber turn into the lifthill - that freaked me the hell out. Blue Fire I'd probably rate as the best in the park. My first Mack launch, and they clearly should be everywhere. The launch smooth and powerful with the train seeming to crackle down the track and the layout fantastic; probably the best series of inversions on any coaster anywhere, especially the last one where the train seems to disappear from beneath you mid inversion. And it's all made so enjoyable by the comfort and freedom of the restraints. Both a solid 10/10.
The place is so huge I could write for pages and pages (I know, I already have!), even on just the outstanding bits, which are many. But I won’t, so just to cover a few bits which stand out in my memory…
- Arthur (or '**** ***** *****, the ride' as we called it owing to the slightly lively lyrics for a children's ride) is an odd one. We really enjoyed it and the theming is well done, but as an advert for the ride from Mack it seems to be a bit of a shocker with loads of downtime, seats out of action all over the place and a locker room of faff which just does not work. The queue was always slow, long, hot and tiresome, which obviously stands out a mile in a park so obsessed with efficiency. It’s decent enough when you’re on it though. They’ve also taken the two best kiddie rides from Holiday Park with the drop towers and bouncy roundabout thing, which is a nice support selection.
- Pirates of Somewhere other than the Caribbean was a blast, really well done, and the second visit to the Wicked Witches clamshells of my youth were vastly superior to the previous encounter on this trip, even if a hanging is a bit strong! Other than that though I think the other dark rides slightly let the park down, with the already mentioned Cassandra, the dinosaur ride being dull and tired, the shooter very forgettable, and the Bench Christmas thing sitting uncomfortably close to embarrassing even if it does just about manage a little hint of charming.
- You can really see and feel the quality in the upkeep and theming of Europa on rides with direct UK comparisons; the teacups glide fast and effortlessly, the pirate ship looks like it was built yesterday, the seastorm boats in a room of effects. It’s all like new.
- The rest of everything is pretty much all fantastic; I'm particularly fond of a bobsled and this ones great, the logflume/coaster diamond mine interaction, unexpected things to stumble upon like the crown jewels thing, the food being so authentic to the areas, food loop, beer everywhere, stunning extravagant shows, happy enthusiastic staff, wonderful hotel facilities open to all. I could go on for ever more.
Everyone said 2 days wouldn't be enough. They were right. I'm not sure two weeks would be enough, I don't think I could ever get enough. Nowhere is without its faults, but Europa has instantly become my favorite theme park in the world. I feel like I've visited at the right time too; the two newest coasters really round off a hell of a collection, and unfortunately I'm not particularly interested in project V. So for now I've had my fix. As we sat with our cocktails under the dancing fountains of Bell Rock on our last night we decided that we most certainly will be back...
TLDR - The message is Go to Europa Park!
As you'll have read in Part 1, my Canadian Caper involved a fairly crazy 2 days visiting 4 Theme Parks across the Canadian-US border in September, thanks to some ludicrously cheap flights from British Airways. And as Day 1 was fully taken up by the huge Canada's Wonderland with its 16 coasters, that left 3 Parks to cover on the 2nd day. With over 200km of driving to cover and a border crossing, the odds of me actually completing the planned itinerary weren't great - but Lady Luck was thankfully on my side.
Read on for Part 2 of my Canadian Caper!
So first to Marineland, a (you guessed it) marine-based Park just one mile away from the Falls at Niagara. The place has had more than it's fair share of controversy, with its 81-year-old owner John Holer appearing in the press for animal-abuse allegations with depressing regularity over the years. If you thought that SeaWorld looked bad after 2013's Blackfish, you ain't seen nothing yet. VICE have recently published an informative guide to the Park entitled: "Marineland is a Hellhole". Only last month, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charged Marineland with five counts of animal cruelty, with further charges pending.
In yet another example, in 2011 SeaWorld won a court battle against Marineland surrounding the return of Ikaika the Killer Whale (Tillikum's son). Ikaika was on loan to Marineland from SeaWorld but SeaWorld sought to bring the animal back under its care, citing concerns about deteriorating conditions at the Park. Marineland lost, appealed, and lost again. If SeaWorld - which (fairly or not) has been very publicly criticised for its animal welfare record - is claiming that standards aren't high enough, you have to worry there's a problem...Quote
“We maintain an abiding interest in the welfare of our animals and do not hesitate to act in their best interest if we feel that a partner institution is not meeting its obligations in veterinary care, husbandry or training" - Fred Jacobs, SeaWorld, 2011
These stories are undoubtedly absolutely shocking, but ultimately weren't enough to prevent my curiosity from getting the better of me, so I nonetheless duly handed over my cash at the entrance gates...
...and once inside, it's clear that Marineland is quite unique.
For starters, it's vast. Built for Disney World crowds, but in reality attracting Gulliver's World crowds... when I arrived at Park opening at 10am, the place was deserted. It has a very "rural" feel about it; essentially being over 1,000 acres of woodland peppered with fish tanks and amusement rides. Getting anywhere takes an age.
And what looks like it should be a service road is in fact the main guest thoroughfare in the Park. Look at it!
Unsurprisingly, the Park's headline attraction, Dragon Mountain, is quite a trek away - over 1.2km walking distance from the Park entrance.
Nestled deep in the woods, initial impressions however are that the hike is worth it, with the ride sporting a fabulous dragon-themed entrance.
And the rockwork and themeing continues throughout the queueline, which due to verging on the pitch black fostered quite an eery atmosphere - especially given there was no-one else around.
My trusty camera (the excellent Sony HX90V) even struggled to get a good shot of the station, below, which had a little more light in it - and, thankfully, another guest.
Dragon Mountain is, by most metrics, an unusual coaster. Conceived by Arrow's Ron Toomer, it was the tallest roller coaster in the world at the time of construction in 1983 (186ft), and at 5,500ft long, it's covers 30 acres of Marineland woodland; 90% of the track is hidden from guests before riding.
Ascending the lift hill for the first time, I really had no idea what lay ahead - which can't often be said for a large outdoor coaster!
The three and a half minute ride is a lot of fun, although not without a few painful moments along the way.
The trains are old-fashioned Arrow and don't allow for a huge amount of movement. The track doesn't handle transitions especially smoothly. But the ride does have a host of surprises up its sleeve, including two consecutive vertical loops, a large downwards helix inside a half-built volcano structure, two dives into tunnel sections (more tunnel than any other coaster in the world), and still the world's only bowtie element, the exit of which is shown below!
Oh, and a lot of completely straight track. So much straight track.
After a few rides on the Mountain, I strolled back over to the left hand side of the Park to take in the only other coaster, Lady Bug Coaster. Set in a charming kids area that also features a Zierer Kontiki (Viking Adventure), Zierer Ferris Wheel (Tivoli Wheel), and Zierer Flying Fish (Ocean Odyssey), Lady Bug is a simple Zierer Tivoli with manual brakes and had a longer queue than I ever saw for Dragon Mountain.
Having gone full circle back to the Park's entrance - and with energy levels already waning - I grabbed a very greasy chicken strips and chips meal from the Park's only restaurant and settled down to watch the King Waldorf Stadium Show.
This is essentially Shamu-lite, and I thought was pretty well done, with a variety of animals featured including beluga whales, dolphins, and a humongous walrus at the end.
The show aimed to put one half of the audience (red team) in competition with the other (blue team) via a variety of marine displays and tricks, but it didn't get the crowd (which had reached a respectable volume - I suspect the entire Park was there) especially excited. The speaker volume was also down very low, although I couldn't tell whether this was out of respect for the animals or whether it was simply a bit broken...
And last but not least, opening only at 12pm (cost saving?), the Park's most recognisable attraction by far is its S&S Combo Tower, Sky Screamer. This thing is huge, and looks even bigger because it is perched on top of a hill right at the centre of the Park (it's a 300m, 10 minute upward struggle to even get to the ride entrance from the base of the hill - painful in the now-midday sun).
The advertising of Sky Screamer as "the world's highest triple tower ride" is somewhat misleading. It is not the world's tallest triple tower ride - the tower itself is tall (100m), but 15m shorter than Madrid's S&S triple tower Venganza del Enigma (115m). What gives Marineland's tower the "highest" claim is the fact it's sat on that 46m hill; it's high by virtue of its location, not because it has the longest drop.
But I digress. It's still bloody big.
And that 450m total height is certainly put to good use, affording quite spectacular views over Niagara Falls itself from the top. Simply breathtaking, and pleasingly the ride itself is a typically thrilling S&S affair to boot (although still pales a little in comparison to the superlative Fabbri Megadrop IMO...).
In fact, I'd go as far to say that Sky Screamer is the best-located drop tower anywhere in the world, although Big Shot on top of the 921-foot Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas might have something to say about that... are there any other contenders?
So, Marineland - never far from controversy, and a pretty strange place to spend a few hours.
Its few rides, marine exhibits, and stadium are spread out over such a huge area that it makes a day there more effort than it should be; it desperately needs some form of Park-wide transportation system, and that walk up to Sky Screamer isn't fun for anyone - an escalator in the same vein as Liseberg's would do wonders. It also in general just needs more, especially for an entry price that's within range of Wonderland's.
But it does have some gems - Dragon Mountain and Sky Screamer make the visit worthwhile, and the Stadium show was well presented. I just hope that the stars of said show are properly looked after behind the scenes...
Martin's Fantasy Island
It was now nearly 1pm, and I'd taken longer at Marineland than originally planned (the 12pm opening of Sky Screamer being much to blame). Part of me considered skipping Martin's Fantasy Island, given that I'd heard of its reputation as just a glorified fairground, and the more-alluring Darien Lake was still over an hour's drive away, including a border crossing into the USA at Niagara.
An even larger part of me considered skipping it following an agonisingly long wait at said border, having been ordered into the Port of Entry building for further checks because my story ("I was last in the USA in June") didn't align with the US Customs and Border Protection computer systems, which had no record of this visit. Sigh.
All of this meant that I didn't reach Martin's until 2:30pm. But I'm very glad I kept it in the itinerary.
The Park is, essentially, a glorified fairground, albeit a well presented one. Everything was clean and tidy, and the setting around a small lake is really quite nice.
Martin's is a classic slice of Americana, with the place clearly targeting local families with a no-frills, great value day out. The place feels very rural and low-key; the closest Park in the UK in my opinion would be Oakwood.
Everything here is pretty standard - there's a Star Flyer, a Disko, a Gravitron, and a Teacups, all presented without a great deal of themeing, and mostly un-shaded tarmac connecting it all together. Excellent.
On the coaster front there's three to enjoy, starting with a standard Zamperla spinning Wild Mouse; Crazy Mouse.
Number two is a standard Wacky Worm from SBF Visa; Max's Doggy Dog Coaster.
And last but certainly not least is the very non-standard CCI Woodie, Silver Comet.
The ride, standing at the back of the Park, is the more unusual hybrid type with grey steel supports. Its stats suggest a perfectly average ride; 82ft height, 55mph top speed, 50° drop, 1:45 ride time.
Silver Comet definitely impressed, and is a brilliant example of how a ride doesn't have to break any records to be a thoroughly worthwhile attraction.
The layout is very peppy, never dull, and the above-average maintenance work over the years means a very smooth ride. Hugely re-rideable, and with good pops of airtime across the layout, a whole lot of fun.
This alone is the reason to come to Martin's Fantasy Island. It might look like an off-the-shelf model from Roller Coaster Tycoon, but its varied, compact layout is an absolute winner. Silver Comet is of the best large family attractions (with just a 1.2m height restriction) I've ridden in a long while. It'd fit into a Chessington or a Drayton wonderfully.
The only fly in the ointment is the operations on the ride. Mirroring much of the rest of the Park, loading and dispatch times on Silver Comet were painful. Having been assigned a row, riders get on the train and are told over the tannoy to do up seat belts only. 2 members of staff then start from the front of the train and check individual seat belts down the platform. Then the lap bars are unlocked, and riders are again loudly told to keep arms up: "do not touch the lap bars, we will put them down for you!" The 2 members of staff then go down the train again, lowering the lap bar. If any rider touches a lap bar, the process starts over.
Very tedious, and only serves to deter guests from marathoning an otherwise excellent coaster!
After 3 rides on the Comet, my watch (3:30pm) told me it was really time to move on.
I grabbed an obligatory (yet reasonably priced) Hot Dog and Pepsi, and made a beeline for the exit.
2016 is the last season that the Park will be operating under the Martin's moniker - local businessman Martin DiPietro, the owner since 1994, sold the Park earlier this year to Apex Parks Group who own small Parks, Waterparks and FECs across the US. This seems a good fit, and if the new owners keep the same solid standards and bring some new investment in the place, this would be no bad thing.
Commenting on the sale, Al Weber Jr, Apex CEO, said: “It’s a nice park, in nice condition, in a great market. We like that it’s family focused.”
I couldn't agree more.
40 miles away from Martin's Fantasy Island is Darien Lake, arguably the premier Park in the state of New York, and a former Six Flags property (1999 - 2006).
The place certainly makes an immediate impression on you with the towering 208ft Ride of Steel lining the entrance to the Park.
Little generates anticipation and excitement for a day out at a Theme Park better than a large red and blue hyper... more on this later.
At this point it had just turned 4:00pm, giving me 6 hours to get everything in before Park close, and the commencement of the daily show Ignite the Night.
The place was busy - it was a glorious Sunday afternoon - meaning that the task ahead was challenging, but not impossible. I grabbed my admissions ticket, stopping briefly to admire the attractive entrance plaza, and headed on in.
First up was Mind Eraser; an apt name for a ride that tries its level best to do your head in.
This was typical Vekoma SLC fare, made worse by having only one train in operation (the other train was in pieces to the side of the brake run).
On the plus side, at least it looks pretty on the lake.
Continuing the theme of ubiquitous Dutch pain-machines was Boomerang, a Vekoma, erm, Boomerang. At the time of writing, there are 34 operating Vekoma Boomerangs in the world; 16 of which are called Boomerang. This one tries to add a touch of originality by adding a suffix: Coast to Coaster. I'm not sure what exactly this means.
Regardless, this was one of the smoother Boomerangs I've ridden, and was well presented in attractive colours akin to our those of our own Colossus.
The Park's only Woodie comes in the form of Predator, a relatively rare Dinn Corporation ride from the same stable as the relatively rough Mean Streak at Cedar Point, relatively rough Timber Wolf at Worlds of Fun and relatively rough Thunder Run at Kentucky Kingdom.
Predator was, predictably, relatively rough. Actually, towards the back of the train where I was sitting, it verged on being extremely rough, which did nothing to add to its unmemorable layout. Zero to headache in 110 seconds.
Rarely do I come off a ride and tell myself I'm never doing it again. Predator was one of those times.
Unfortunately, the Park's 1982 Arrow Looper Viper did little to help ease the headache.
With both track and supports painted completely in black (is this a Merlin property?), and an extensive layout with 5 inversions, the ride certainly looks intense from the ground. Alas getting on board proved to be as slow as the SLC; the ride was similarly running only one train, and the station was a complete free-for-all, with no orderly queuing taking place whatsoever.
And whilst the ride was long and varied, the experience wasn't especially comfortable. On reflection I'd have taken another ride on Marineland's Dragon Mountain over another ride on Viper, Marineland's ride having opened just a year after Darien's.
Yet another long queue greeted me at the Park's newest coaster, Moto Coaster, although at this stage I was very nearly grateful that it would give my head a bit of a rest.
Thanks to the fairly appalling throughput on the 12-person trains, I had ample time to grab a drink and catch my breath - good news. The bad news was that this 2008 ride has literally been plonked down on a slab of concrete, with a queue line completely absent of foliage or shade. Even into the early evening, the sun was strong... and so the headache continued.
I'd been wanting to ride one of these for a while, but with the closest of the 10 operating models being in Särkänniemi, Finland, they'd evaded me thus far. So how was the ride? Not half bad, actually, although the limitations of the compact layout meant that the trains never gained any pace (a max speed of 40mph). The flywheel launch was a bit of a non-event as it lacked acceleration, but the twists and turns of the track were smoothly navigated, and the riding position was comfortable.
One of Zamperla's better creations, but still unfortunately inferior to Vekoma's bigger, faster, more substantial product.
The sun was starting to go down, so I checked out what else the Park had to offer whilst it was still light.
There's a HUSS Top Spin, Twister, although this was closed for maintenance on the day of my visit. The most recent thrill addition (in 2015) is a 22m Larson Loop by the name of Rolling Thunder, although I didn't go on this having enjoyed / endured the Loop at Six Flags St Louis, Fireball, earlier in the year.
Being fond of drop towers, I did have a go on the S&S-built Blast Off, a respectable 185ft effort that was garnering long queues. Pleasingly the lengthy wait was vindicated by some spectacular views over the Park.
There's also a moderately sized (60ft) Arrow Log Flume, Thunder Rapids, and a moderately sized (50ft) Intamin Shoot the Chutes, Shipwreck Falls. An decent length Intamin River Rapids, Grizzly Run, completes the solid water-ride lineup.
I even found time to enjoy American Rock, a jukebox show playing three times daily in the Grand Theatre. The venue couldn't have held more than a few hundred, but the show (with a cast of six) is professionally staged and performed; the audience seemed to lap it up.
The most unusual thing however is a baseball batting cage up-charge attraction that I'd not seen at a Theme Park before, allowing guests to pay for a few minutes of practice in a safely netted-off area. There were four pitches, and the speed at which the balls were being fired out of the machines increased as players went from left to right.
The kid below was hitting from the slowest firing machine... and let's just say it was still pretty fast!
Night was beginning to fall, and the only attraction left on the hit list was Ride of Steel. With an hour or two still to go before Park close, what better way than to spend the time getting as many rides in as possible...?
Unfortunately doing this was - as with the SLC and the Arrow Looper - a largely painful experience, due to slow loading and the disorganised melee in the station. Being a single rider, I did a lot of "making friends" with potential other single riders closer to the air gates to try to fill empty seats and get maximum rides in!
The ride itself is absolutely superb; easily for me on a par with similar Intamin creations such as Expedition GeForce at Holiday Park and Goliath at Walibi. Comfortable lap bar restraints and a long, airtime-filled ride; Ride of Steel benefits from a kick-ass first drop, colossal wide sweeping helices, and ejector-tastic bunny hops just before the brake run. It's a huge amount of fun; more rough and ready than an equivalent B&M, but more intense too.
One of the defining memories of the trip for me is sitting on Ride of Steel for the n-th time, climbing the lift hill in the warm breeze as the sun had just dropped below the horizon, and looking out over the beautiful lit up Park. Magic.
It's a real shame that there aren't more of these in the world; there are only 6 Intamin Hypers and 2 Intamin Gigas. Which is why it's really really good that Energylandia has bought the first new installation for 15 years. Set to open in 2018, the ride looks set to take the "fastest non-launched coaster in Europe" title with a max speed of 87mph, and even features a splashdown.
Having visited earlier this year, Energylandia is a really promising Park, and this on paper looks fantastic... colour me excited.
Following one final ride on Ride of Steel, I walked over to the grassy area by the Park's lake and took my place for the 10pm performance of Ignite the Night.
I have to be honest, I wasn't expecting anything especially impressive from this, a nightly show from a regional Theme Park, albeit the biggest one in the state (Darien's visitor numbers won't be topping much more than 1m; around half of what Alton Towers might achieve).
But it was absolutely fantastic. It blew me away. Darien's marketing is pretty accurate when it claims: "Music, Water, Fire, Video, and Pyrotechnics all come together for this laser light spectacular in the air, on the stage and all around." Lasers images are projected onto a central screen, whilst a myriad other lasers point out towards the crowd. This, plus the water and fire effects, are all synchronised to a booming soundtrack, which covered a wide variety of genres (everything from I'm Too Sexy to Wonderful World).
Clocking in at 25 minutes, audiences are certainly given value for money; there are many highlights, but Pitbull's Fireball, complete with liberal bursts of fire, certainly got the crowd going. You can get a quick flavour for the show from Darien's promo video here.
The show finishes with a genuinely patriotic and rousing rendition of Lee Greenwood's God Bless The USA, which didn't leave many dry eyes in the house. Superb.
Darien Lake seriously punches above its weight with it's nightly show, and it alone makes a visit to the Park worthwhile. Kudos to everyone involved. Why can't our Parks find the budgets to do this...?
And that brings Day 2 of my Canadian Caper to a close!
This is probably the longest trip report I've ever written, which reflects just how much I packed into this one day. Pleasingly, nothing spited me, I got everything I wanted to done, and had some really great new experiences; Marineland's Drop Tower, Martin's Woodie, and Darien's Hyper all spring to mind, alongside of course Ignite the Night.
I left the Darien Lake car park at around 10:45pm, thoroughly exhausted, but very content. There is a huge amount to see and do around Toronto - for the general tourist let alone the Theme Park enthusiast - and a fly-and-drive visit here comes highly recommended.
Thanks for reading! Comments very welcome below.
Liked this? More musings from my travels in recent years:
So after a really nice calm 40 minute drive from the airport we finally made it to a place to be fair I thought I'd never ever visit in my life! Six Flags Discovery kingdom is a surprisingly small and compact park like it is definitely the same size if not slightly smaller then Thorpe park so, finding everything wasn't too much of a hassle.
Medusa is the first thing you see when entering the park with a car park that is just burdenously far away but we arrived and we were really excited to try everything the park had to offer!
The rides opened at 10:30pm which was quite late when we are used to parks opening at 10am sometimes even earlier so it was a little annoying waiting but it was nice seeing the main plaza which for a six flags park is really pretty with a nice big fountain as a focal point.
Now I'm quite sure you know why we came here, we probably wouldn't have even come to San Francisco in the first place if it wasn't for this coaster. And as you know it was... THE JOKER!!
Once the rides opened we rushed so fast only to be greeted with burdenous bag faff as they don't allow bags in the station and they had to be put in lockers which is a pain in the ass, not to mention it was badly lit as well which made it even more annoying! This is the one thing I hated as all the big coasters were like this, so if you ever go to this park bare in mind you will need to spend a bit on lockers. So onto the ride itself!
This was probably my most anticipated coaster on the trip other then Twisted Colossus and X2(which I will get onto in another blog as it spited and I was not happy!), and well what can I say, this coaster blew it out of the water for me, its not that tall but it is incredibly relentless, with intense force in some places, amazing intense ejector airtime, 3 amazing inversions which are fast paced and feel great not to mention what has to be the greatest inversion ever created, the Zero G Stall, there is nothing like it and words cant describe the sensation when you go through it! Its a heavenly inversion of which I want on a lot more rides in the future. This ride is unfortunately incredibly unreliable due to a sensor fault which is six flags fault, which made it get stuck on the lift hill multiple times while we where here, like this ride is really really unreliable, but it is the second best coaster I have ever been on and therefore I give it a 10/10! Here are some more pics of it!
So the first of many spites on this trip was V2: Vertical velocity, which tested literally once in the morning but barely got up the first tower, it had only actually opened about 3 weeks prior due to renovations but it seems like it was absolutely screwed as they were picking the trains apart the whole time we went passed it, I don't know how long it stayed closed afterwards but that too sounds like a really unreliable ride! Shame.
The next coaster we got on which was early in the day and at that point has a really short queue at the time at least was superman. This was my first sky rocket 2 clone and to my recognition the original of these. We managed to ride it twice once with the Q-bot which was a life saver at points for the rides with the bigger queues. I actually quite liked it, the launches had a good enough punch to theme and getting flung up that track felt amazing! The inversion was a bit grim but I quite enjoyed the ride, although I can see why some don't like these models as they are a bit basic and don't actually do much but overall I liked it and I'd give it a good 7.5/10.
After this we headed to the other side of the park to ride Medusa and Kong! First up Medusa. The ride as a whole is good its got nice forces, the inversions are good and its got good pacing. But that's the thing with Medusa, its Good, not amazing, not special, just good, there isn't anything that stands out as something amazing on this ride other then its a big B&M looper, and while some will love that, I thought it was good but it wasn't anything to shout about so I'd give it a good 6.5/10.
This is one thing I'd say about this area is that it doesn't have much shade at all, other then occasional parts in queue lines, it was all open which on a summers day which was pushing 30c, was really bad but yeah they really should put some shade in that area. Onto Kong... Well I had ridden Infusion before and it wasn't too bad I thought, and I kind of thought this would be the same case... GOD I WAS SO WRONG!! What heinous thing did anyone do to deserve this piece of S**t! we were one from front row and it violently rattled and vibrated the whole way round not to mention the god awful tracking of this ride, I wish this was closed rather then V2! The worst thing was is that the day we went would be the last day it was open for a month and a half so they could put VR on it, like why......? Its bad enough without the headset... This ride really needs to be demolished but a +1 is a +1 but this is a 1/10 coaster...
The only photo of this POS!
So after this we had food at a chicken place which was a rip-off but it was really nice, the chicken actually tasted good and the chips were really nice, shame for the toxic waste they call Fanta they have over there though..
I have to say other then the area with Medusa and Kong this park is actually quite pretty with lots of foliage, pretty plants and surprisingly good themeing for what I have heard is the norm of Six Flags Parks.
Heading to the back of the park after lunch greeted us with this.
Now I had never done a Vekoma Boomerang before which is a little embarrassing, but nether the less, we hoped straight on this thing, As there was no queue. and boarded the ride. On first thoughts it wasn't too bad but I can see why they get a bad rep with some nasty forces and jolts in places, namely that cobra roll, but to be fair again this coaster isn't that enjoyable and a little boring so again just a +1. This is a 4.5/10 for me.
Now I already had a headache from the strong sun, as well as Kong and Boomerang so this probably wasn't the best thing to go on...
Anyway after this mistake, the rapids finally opened so we finally got on it as the head was so bad at this point.
Well I can happily say it was actually fab, got us soaked which was really needed at the time and was quite interesting as there was no dull moments at all while riding! Again we skipped the queue with the Q-bot as the queue got stupidly bad as soon as it opened so it was lucky we had it. For a rapids it is a good 8/10
Another +1 this was a little like treetops at Oakwood but without the trees so was quite enjoyable I suppose, but it was made better but the over enthusiastic ride op giving everyone high fives so that was fab haha . 5/10
Then on to this thing... I hated it... again this should be destroyed alongside Kong...
The final big flat we got on was the Sky screamer which I think is the smallest out of the Six Flags Sky Screamers due to SFDK's height limit, and I can say although these rides do scare me a little it was really enjoyable and it gave great views of all the coasters around the park, especially Medusa and Joker . A solid 7/10 for me as the ride cycle was quite short.
The Final New ride we went on was Monsoon Falls, as I couldn't bring myself to get the kids cred with so many families with young children around that area, that and the fact that their top spin was broken as well. And it like Tidal Wave on a warm day hit the sport perfectly getting us soaked! It was small but the massive wave it produced was great for us as well as the spectators, and also the people who wanted to get soaked on the bridge too. A good 8/10.
We managed to rerides on Medusa, Superman and the AMAZING The Joker, before we had to set off again, riding Joker again cemented it at my No.2 spot as it is just bliss and fab and just RMC for the Win!!
For those that don't know this has a small zoo as well although we only went around the bit that had the aquatic animals, which were still quite cool to see.
After this one more ride had to be had on Joker and we got Back row which was insane! Words can't describe how much I love this ride!
Overall this park reminds me a lot of Thorpe Park. This in the fact that it is all quite compact with all the rides quite close together. Unfortunately it has Thorpe Parks reliability issues as well which lots of rides down a lot of the time, although locker situation is just abhorrent and Merlin are just so much better then this park when it comes to bag storage. The throughput's are about the same too, but the rides that are good are just outstanding and I'd definitely recommend the place just to ride the Joker! But I'd say this is a one day park, if you planned 2 days for the park you'd probably get bored but other then that I really enjoyed SFDK and I think its a park that if I'm ever in the area I would happily go to again!
Next Blog will be short as it is about our small detour to Yosemite and Glacier Point!
Recent EntriesThank you for reading part 1 of my trip report. Here's part 2 of my annual review if you have not died of boredom where we will look into the wonders of the international parks.Europa ParkVisiting what is arguably the best European park (or even the world) is one thing, but doing it in a medium sized group that is TPM made things that extra bit more exciting.Situated within a small and charming German town makes for one beautiful location making it one of the most picturesque parks in Europe.Europa Park is not somewhere to visit just for the rides, but because it is Europa Park. A place despite its massive size is full to the brim of hidden attractions and details. It isn't uncommon to walk around the park and find something new all the time, whether that be an archway leading to a hidden dark ride or finding a random show or walk through.The park features countless themed areas to different European countries including Spain, England and Scandanavia. Not only do these areas feel strongly coherent, but also complement one another. Even the aspect of crossing the English area to the (then still not open) Ireland feels like something the park have though about.With Thirteen coasters (12 when I visited), it ranks as having the highest number of coasters in Europe (at least for now) featuring a great variety from the sleek and smooth Blue Fire to the classic Bobsled.Wodan was my favourite coaster for sure, not only down to its crazy amazing layout but it's themed queue. An added bonus making a fast moving queue even more pleasant to wait in. Though some coasters were better than others, none of them come across as weak with each one helping to complement the package.Europa though is more than coaster. As it boasts many shows, dark rides and smaller attractions. The shows come by the pair ranging from an Ice Show, jousting and even a Europa take on a Disney style parade. Whilst some are better than others, there are so many to see you could easily spend one park day watching all of them.Controversially, none of the dark rides are top 10 material (with the possible exception of Arthur), but before you get the pitchforks, there's a perfect explanation. None of them are trying to be. Each dark ride not only complements specific areas but shows off what different attractions Mack has to offer making Europa just as much a working a ride museum amongst a theme park resort.Despite the majority coming across as Disney style knock-offs, many of these attractions are highly enjoyable not only because of their charm but retaining a classic feel. The animatronic, setting and scenery styles are all highly reminiscent of the days when attractions like Bubbleworks, Phantom Phantasia and Terror Tomb existed.What's even more appeasing to see is how well looked after these attractions and seeing them looking refreshed and not stale and falling apart. Piccolo Mondo is an example of this. Although the attractions has existed since the early eighties, it received a major remodelling in 2011 that not only modernised the ride from looking dated but has retained fundamental features of the original.There's more than just the park though, with the resort's five hotels which are look amazing and retain superb quality about everywhere you look there. There's even a beautiful courtyard with fountains!Accommodation at Europa isn't difficult as you have a wide variety of places to stay. If you can't afford Europa hotels, stay in Rust. There is plenty of places to stay, the majority very friendly and reasonable priced and usually no more than 15 minutes walk too. There's even log cabins and camping facilities if you prefer and plenty of restaurants and a super market if you don't want to eat in the park.Europa as theme parks go is practically perfect except for one thing, getting there. Although far from impossible transportation from the airport to the park is more challenging compared to places like Disney and Liseberg. My group were rather lucky that we had enough drivers to warrant hire cars which is probably the easiest option.If you are driverless, you are limited to either expensive but convenience park shuttles or a long fiddly train commute.LisebergTwo weeks after Europa, I was blessed to be visiting another major European park with another amazing Mack. Yet it was a park that couldn't be anymore different.Unlike Europa Park, Liseberg is more of a traditional amusement park, although many of it's new additions have been themed rather well. A more sophisticated, hilly and picturesque Blackpool may be the best comparison here,although both parks are good in their own ways.The park boasts three stunning coasters (more on the fourth later). Helix is an absolutely phenomenal ride, from it's impressive launches, sudden corkscrew out of the station and combination of inversions, airtime and ground hugging elements. Helix is my new number 1 coaster and worth visiting for the park alone.Balder though is also a top quality Wooden coaster for the park. The drops and airtime are amazing although the styling feels comparatively dry to the rest of the park. Hopefully the area re-theme will resolve this. Lisebergbanen minus the brakes is another wonderful ride and it's Terran based layout and interaction almost make it a family thrill Helix without loops.Whilst I adored the others, Kanonen left me feeling disappointed as I found it rather rattly and the restraints uncomfortable. That said given it's tiny footprint, the layout is quite impressive to say the least. Whilst I won't miss the ride given it's now being removed, this coaster would do wonders for a smaller park. I'd certainly visit Drayton more if they brought this.Liseberg also boasts what may be the best selection of flats I've seen at a park. From the craziness of Steampunk themed star shape Mechanica to Uppswing, a swing ride that goes over a cliff. Rush eat your heart out! Atmosphere was even an acceptable drop tower (even just on height) and the Jukebox ride was great fun!Not only is there a decent Rapids and interesting 'working' log flume but Hotel Gasten, a scare maze with some richly themed rooms, scares and over 10 minutes in length. Worth the extra charge too.Amongst it's great attractions, stunning location and classic feel, the only thing this place lacks is a decent dark ride. Fairy Tale Castle is the only dark ride at the park, in the form of a dated schwartzkopf suspended track ride passing random fairy tale scenes to the Dream Flight theme. The ride is practically hilarious because it's so poor and dated.For those who struggle getting to and affording European parks Liseberg is a good starting point as it's very easy to get to. Norwegian British Airways and Ryanair all fly to Gothenburg from Gatwick, Heathrow and Stanstead with prices being under £30 each way if you choose the right time to visit.There's also a bus shuttle that runs from Gothenburg Landvetter to literally just outside the park entrance. Just remember pre-book your tickets or register your cards as they don't do cash payments!PhantasialandPhantasialand is a park I've been wanting to visit for many years and for 2016 I finally got to visit.The place is amazing and despite its smaller size (though definitely not tiny) it is packed with richly themed details everywhere, from the sophisticated Berlin street entrance to the creative details in Mexico. Imagine a fully decorated Chessington? Nope me neither.The rides themselves are immaculately themed (the newer ones at least). Chiapas is a stunning ride with rich theming, dark ride sections and a large drop which proof flumes still have a place at parks today (Towers take note). Black Mamba bar it's stunning theming is a beautiful coaster that surpasses Inferno but not Nemesis.Maus Au Chocolate, River Quest, Winjas and Colorado Adventure are also great rides that are worth a mention too.Klugheim is an exceptional area, from its vast rock work, medieval/Norsk theming and landscaping. Taron is sublime coaster that really works with the area and is just amazing all round and certainly a favourite for me amongst arguably being the park's main coaster now.Raik is also a loverly little ride that inkeeps with Klugheim and gives Phantasialand a much needed kids coaster. Everything in Klugheim is fab, even the eateries. Rutmoore's Tavern is a loverly place to visit for a hearty lunch and up there as one of my favourite theme park eateries.With some fantastic new attractions and areas having opened in recent years, the park is not holding back on progressing further even at the expense of older attractions. Race For Atlantis, the former simulator was ripped out earlier this year and construction for the next big thing has already begun.After that, Nighthawk, Hollywood and the Chinese Ghost Train will likely be cleared for expansions afterwards. The first two won't be too drastic given how dated and out of place they seem, but I will miss the ghost train as I think there's some charm in there and something I like about it too. I'm hoping more for a major update than replacement in all honesty.It may be without its flaws but Phantasialand may be my second favourite park now. That place has done wonders to me and certainly changed me for sure.Phantasialand is easy to get to if you know what you're doing. Fly to Cologne Bonn, then get the train from the airport to Koln HBF and then change the train to Brühl there. The hotel situation is slightly more complicated. If you can't stay onsite Ramada Koln is a good choice although you will need to drive or taxi to/from the park.Disneyland Paris2016 wasn't the year for DLRPAs a result of years of neglect (for Disney standards), the resort has undergoing a rigorous rehabilitation resulting in rides, theming, facades, walkways and buildings being extensively refurbished. In it's peak, Big Thunder, Thunder Mesa, Star Tours, Peter Pan's Flight, Adventure Isle and more were all closed alongside the main fountain being closed off.Despite this, I still returned to witness the magical Christmas season with my loverly girlfriend. though having no BIg Thunder, Star Tours and others, this did not dampen the magic in any way.This was also the first park Christmas visit for both of us and the resort-wide festive was amazing. From the decorated main Street with Christmas tree to the Christmas parades. Christmas Dreams was good but lacks the warmth and heartstring pull the normal Dreams delivers.Disney is still so magical, even in the middle of a major rehabilitation. It's also easy to get to regardless of your preferred choice. Walking might take a while though.Happy Christmas and happy new year everyone. Who knows whether I'll do this in 2017 but I hope you enjoyed.
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Six Flags Great Adventure - October:
This was a park I had on my mind since 2011 (when I became an enthusiast), since then I had always wanted to go to this park because of Kingda Ka (obviously). After my parents then made some ludicrous promise based on my GCSEs, which I then achieved, it was confirmed that I was going to go to this park. Believe it or not, I actually made it to Kingda Ka.
So lets start from the beginning...
When driving to the park, there were trees everywhere blocking my view so I didn't actually see Kingda Ka till I was about 2 miles away. But when I saw it, whoa! It's big, very big, just whoa! We eventually arrived at the park and headed straight to Kingda Ka first.
When we arrived at Kingda Ka, there was a very small number of people. So when the gates opened we went straight into the front row queue and only had to wait behind about 3 pairs. We then got onto the train and exited the station. We waited behind another train which launched (which is pretty cool watching a launch from behind) then it was our turn...
After the announcement "arms down, head back, hold on!" we launched. This launch is so incredibly fast, not as explosive as Stealth's but towards the end of the launch you feel yourself speed up further to a point where all you can hear is wind and nothing else which was great.
You then go over the top hat so fast that the height is not at all on your mind and before you realise, you're dropping through the 270 degree spiral (which is not at all as scary as it sounds). All you can think about after that is what you've just done which does stop you noticing the airtime hill afterwards. The overall experience will leave a mark on you, it's a ride every enthusiast must and will ride in their lifetime.
We then did the ride again as the queue was very short and this time at the back. People say it's rough there, and it is fairly rough but it'll only be noticeable if you're not holding on. It's very easy to support yourself on the ride and you can still enjoy yourself. The back itself feels faster and more intense when taking out the rough factor. In conclusion the back is rough, but not unbearably rough (like Saw or Colossus).
This ride was next up being directly attached to Kingda Ka. Like Kingda Ka there was no queue. One thing you'll notice about this ride is that there is no slight theme whatsoever, it's literally a drop tower plunked onto a coaster, but honestly I didn't really mind. In the station, I was glad to be put on the left car (the one that always drops faster), and the outside seat (next to the track)
The climb to the top is a long way up and it makes you realise how tall Kingda Ka really is. The actual drop of this ride is quite tame, you're just gradually falling; that is until you hit the brakes where the deceleration is huge to a point where my entire upper half bent down into my restraint (life lesson - don't lean forwards on Zumanjaro).
It's a fun drop tower, and the view is great. But it's not the best drop tower I've ridden (you cannot beat Tower of Terror or Falcon's Fury). I will say it's a good addition for the park and the delay on Kingda Ka isn't actually as bad as it sounds as the operations on Kingda Ka are brilliant, plus they had 3 trains.
I was really looking forward to riding my first B&M stand up, as it was a new experience (I had ridden shockwave, but this was so much different with looks and the experience itself). There was no queue so we went in the front row queue.
On the ride, going over the drop was so much fun and the inversions were great. However, the problem I had was being forced into my seat after the inversions which hurt my back. This didn't completely ruin the experience but it was something I could do without. Green lantern is a fun ride, but it's not worth waiting in a really long line for and it's not re-rideable.
I now see why people aren't fans of stand ups, but I don't think that should be the end. If they eliminated that problem (and made them all smooth like Green Lantern) then I think stand ups would be a blast. I'm not sure how they will eliminate it (they probably won't) but it can be done.
This was the biggest bummer of the day, not the ride, but the fact I didn't get to ride it. We had queued about 1hr and when we got to the airgate there was a power outage which took away 2hrs of coaster riding. I was so annoyed as you could imagine (and superman is supposed to be a blast apparently), but I just had to accept that I've ridden Manta which is probably better.
After the 2hr power outage, rides were eventually reopening and we joined the queue for Nitro just before it became probably about 2hrs long. We waited for the front as it was a larger ride at the park which was worth it. I also left quite a large gap between me and the lap bar which was a decision I should make more often.
The ride was a blast, there was airtime and speed which I loved! The setting of this ride was cool as well, going near the lake and in a grassy area where no one can enter. Comparing this to the other B&M hypers I've ridden, it's better than Mako and Silver Star. Better than Shambhala? Not at all, but it still made no.4 on my top 15.
This was a ride to look forward to as it is apparently one of the best wooden coasters out there if not the best. We waited in a line outside the ride queue (the ride wasn't open yet) whilst waiting for the ride to reopen. The ride then opened to our relief, and when we got to the station we decided to wait for back row.
On the ride itself, the cable lift goes so fast you feel like you're being launched up the lift hill. Then we went round to the drop which in the back row, felt like a launch, this was the most insane moment I have ever had on a roller coaster! The airtime on this was mad and the sheer speed was a thing to notice.
With regards to smoothness, the first half was very smooth (you expect your head to shatter in the dips, but it just doesn't!), the second half is fairly bumpy but it is completely bearable. The lap bar I think could be improved as it was slightly painful (not ruiningly painful) but apart from that, the ride was just brilliant and to sum it up: pure insanity.
(You can just about see my face)
This was to be our last ride of the day (due to my family getting rather tired). Again, we waited about 1hr but that was because the operations weren't great (the operator was playing about with the locking system and stacking was present). We decided to go back row as the front row queue was excessively long.
The ride experience was just simply fun, fairly smooth (very little headbanging) and the effects were good. Comparing it to Kraken, it wasn't as good of a ride as Kraken was smoother and went underground (the second vertical loop on Kraken was my favourite element of Kraken). Despite that, the ride is a worthy addition to the park and is a great B&M.
The Top 3:
My top 3 in this park are the following:
1. Kingda Ka
2. El Toro
You may ask why Kingda Ka is above El Toro, it's because exhilaration is what I've been living for this year, and that's exactly what Kingda Ka offers - pure exhileration.
Nitro is at 3, nevertheless, it is this my no.4 coaster so this ride isn't bad in any way, it's just not as good as El toro or Kingda Ka.
Being a coaster enthusiast, this was the perfect park for me. It gave me rides which took my no.2, 3 and 4 spot on my top 15. The problem was the organisation and there clearly is an issue with their power grid (I don't know much about it, but it's still an issue), it would've been better if we were asked to leave Superman the moment the power outage occurred rather than waiting 20mins for us to be told that.
Apart from that, I liked the atmosphere of the park and the rides were of great quality. The fact that the park is close to New York is convenient thus allowing us to have a trip to New York.
Even though we only got on 6 different rides, it still became my favourite theme park and will remain my favourite theme park until I visit somewhere like Cedar Point or Carowinds. But personally, I would recommend this park to anyone, there is lots to do aside the larger rides and it is a park everyone can enjoy.
If the opportunity comes to visit this park, take it with gratitude!
I tried my best to think of an exciting title but I really lack in creativity so it's simply 'Shocktoberfest Review'.
This year, I was lucky enough to visit Tulleys Farm's scare event Shocktoberfest. I had heard nothing but great reviews from the event, and after wanting to go since 2014, Cian and I managed to save enough cash for a ticket. Despite the horrible Friday evening traffic on the M25, we managed to get there in fairly good time, and once we were there, we managed to get all 8 attractions done within very little time, compared to are queuing times at Fright Nights the previous week.
First things first, the atmosphere and vibe of the event is the best I've ever experienced. From the second I walked into the main plaza after collecting our tickets I fell in love with it! I wished then that I lived more locally and the tickets were slightly cheaper so I could head back there again! The roamers that we saw throughout the night were excellent too! After a quick bite to eat and a drink, 6-30 had rolled around. It was time for our first attraction!
SPOILER WARNING - THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS A LOT OF SPOILERS
Hellements - 6/10
We started on Hellements, mainly because the majority of reviews had said that this was the weakest maze at the event. Whilst it was one of the weakest of the night, it wasn't as bad as a lot of people made out. It is a hooded maze, where similarly to Molly Crowe, you have to follow a guide rope for the duration of the maze. However, unlike Molly, the actors couldn't touch you in this, which was my main bug. In the other mazes touching wasn't really needed and therefore it isn't done, but in a maze with your sight gone, I feel that touching is key, and that's why Molly was a lot better than it would've been without touching. It does have it's good moments. Lots of physical effects, weird whispering in tongues, a very unexpected fire burst at the end! I did jump a fair few times throughout. The maze was nice and long to at around 10 minutes. Overall though, despite it's advantages, Hellements was one of the weaker mazes we experienced.
Coven of 13 - 8/10
Coven is one of two new horror mazes that Tulleys have to offer this year, and this one is (only just) the better out of the two. After being told off for talking when I wasn't talking during the health and safety announcement, we set out on a 6 minute journey through a wonderfully themed and very jumpy horror maze. The floating chair illusion at the start of the maze is a very good one, that could be improved with more fog to obscure the support it's on. The mixture of outdoor and indoor sections was perfect, and despite the outdoor parts being rather open they worked nicely. The cottage was the best part of the maze for me, mainly because of the quality theming and the insane scare I had during it. The finale was rather confusing; I didn't really know what was happening. I was initially more critical of this maze however after a lot more thought, I do really like this maze and it is one that I hope returns!
Creepy Cottage - 4/10
Creepy Cottage was never going to be a great maze, so we didn't really expect much from it. Our expectations were met, as it really wasn't much. It is a great introductory maze with some good scares and great theming. Actors seemed to be severely lacking throughout which was unfortunate, and the group in front of us refused to move for a solid 30 or so seconds. It was the shortest maze of the night at 4 minutes long, and we did leave thinking "was that it"? Overall, Creepy Cottage is a good first maze with some nice theming, but it's no more than that.
PanDEMONium's 3D Carnival - 8/10
Pandemonium's 3D Carnival is the second new maze that Tulleys have introduced this year, and despite me giving it the same rating is Coven, this is the weaker of the two. I say weaker, this maze is not weak at all. The curtains section at the start is very nice and at times jumpy. This was the only maze that I felt had ample actors in; It seemed to be teeming with them! The second half was the 3D half. You were given 3D glasses by a very boring host who just gave them to you with no comment, and then you're on your way. The 3D didn't really do much in my opinion, other than one part where an actress looked like a 3D illusion however was actually there hanging above the door. The theming was alright in this half, I didn't really like the black walls with a splash of UV paint. The ending was awful unfortunately. You simply walk out of the maze after a themed scene which had zero actors in, no finale of such. Overall, Pandemonium was great, and if it does return, the 3D should be removed
The Chop Shop - 9/10
I had heard all about the craziness of the Chop Shop, and before going in I was very scared for what I was about to experience. As it currently stands, Chop Shop is the best Halloween attraction I've done this year! Firstly, the facade is stunning! Easily the best I've seen on a maze; It is just perfect! The first half of the maze is beautifully themed to look like an old car garage and the hillbilly actors were spot on during this part. The second half is where the fun really begins! The strobes kick in as you walk into a freezer room with blood stained walls, and then you turn the corner to find the twisted corridors which lead to the way out... and then actors wielding chainsaws come from every direction!!! I was very nearly sprinting in this part, I was bloody terrified! There were a good 6-8 actors with chainsaws coming from out of nowhere! And just when you thought it was over, another actor would pop out swinging a chainsaw everywhere! The only problems I had which don't make it a 10/10 is that a. It is quite short at 4 and a half minutes and b. The chainsaw corridors should have been enclosed and not in the open air. Other than that, The Chop Shop was amazing, and it was the best maze of the night!
The Colony - 7.5/10
Many people had stated that The Colony was the best maze that Tulleys had to offer, so upon entering the queue we were very excited for what was to come. It was good, great even, but not as good as many had said it was. I'll start with the good parts: It was very long! We were in the maze for nearly 15 minutes and seemed to go on forever (in a good way)! The theming was brilliant and it had a great mixture of indoor and outdoor sections. The best scene for me was when we were submerged into total darkness for 1-2 minutes and had to navigate our way out whilst stumbling in pitch blackness. The actors did do a great job in here too with lots of excellent scares. Time for the cons: the finale was ridiculous. It was something that should've been in The Chop Shop; freezer walls and a chainsaw. It didn't fit the tribal theme at all! The actors were also lacking, especially during the first half. The group in front of us walked horribly slowly too, resulting in a huge build up of people which ruined it slightly. Overall, The Colony was good, but no where near as good as people have been saying.
The Cellar - 8.5/10
I was very excited for the Cellar, and I was not disappointed! Esmeralda wasn't in, however that still didn't fault the maze. The theming and scares were fantastic in here; the snake head scared the living daylights out of me. I did feel that actors were again slightly lacking but not as badly as some other mazes. We saw a familiar face working in this maze too which added to it slightly. Very claustrophobic throughout and the dim lighting meant it was fairly difficult to navigate; I did hit my head on a prop at one point! Overall, the Cellar is a very good maze and one I hope is still running in years to come.
Horrorwood Hayride - 9/10
The Horrorwood Hayride is something very different to most of the attractions that Tulleys have to offer, and it was clearly insanely popular due to the hour long queue it got.
The hayride is a fantastic attraction. Whilst not as scary as a horror maze, it still managed to get some scares out of the group. The actors throughout the attraction were top quality, however the part with the pig-people and the chainsaws felt rather out of place and would've been more suited to The Chop Shop. Combined with some great theming and a lot of fire, it led to the Hayride nearly beating Chop Shop as the best attraction of the night!
To conclude, Tulleys is a fantastic event, the best I have ever experienced! Each and every attraction offers something different, the atmosphere is fantastic, and pretty much everything about the place just screams "Amazing"!
That's the end of this blog entry. Hope you enjoyed
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Not sure if anyone has realised but wild wongs noodle bar has now vanished off the face of the earth, not that I ever ate at the bloody place but still I want answers! One of my favourite areas of the park is just slowly becoming and looking abandoned. Like some people say, yes it will probably look a lot more alive at fright nights but for the majority of this season it has looked very dead. People are also saying that now loggers is gone for good and if you are one of those saying this please hit me up or comment on this as I would like to know where you are getting this info from or whether its just a theory due to everyone not being able to see any maintenance being done on it the whole year. I would be sad if it was confirmed to never return as I did enjoy it (back when I was 13..) didn't enjoy it too much towards the end, having a face full of dirty river water was not my idea of a fun day out at Thorpe but still. I'm not sure whether wongs closed mid season this year or whether it hasn't even been open at all this season? I know the little hot dog stand they have there has been open this year and from what I can remember was still open last time I visited (last month). I just think that Thorpe is just slowly closing everything from this area one by one to eventually have it all demolished.. which I don't want! It is a good area and has been there for years. Hope wong returns one day love ya x
I first visited Paultons Park in the mid 80's (ish) although the only thing I really remember is feeling hugely travel sick from the coach journey there. Fast forward to 2010 when I took my next visit to the park - this was the year before Peppa Pig world opened and the park was heavily advertising it (understandably) - we actually queued for about 90 minutes to get a photo taken with Peppa Pig (or her annoying brother - not sure which) - I might add, this was because I was with my then 6 year old niece - I'm personally not a huge fan of Peppa Pig and find the programme highly irritating although it is massively popular with kids. I had a fab day but left feeling light the place could do with a bit more on the side of theming.
I next visited in 2013, Peppa Pig world was open and very popular and the previous year the park had installed Magma, a drop ride (which also spins) - I hate drop rides with a passion (thanks to Detonator) but can cope with ones such as Magma which are fun and give you a floating feeling rather than one where your butt flies out of the seat and you hold on for dear life (if you're anything like me)
The theming on Magma is pretty good - you enter a volcano which has rumbling sounds and smoke/mist that goes off as the ride starts - I really enjoyed it and thought it was a great addition to the park
A couple of weeks ago I took a trip to Paultons Park for the first time in 3 years to check out the new area, Lost Kingdom which opened in May of this year. I wasn't disappointed. Paultons Park is a lovely place and you can see that they have invested a lot back into the park (take note CWOA). The first thing that struck me was how clean the place was - I mean - REALLY clean - no rubbish laying around, no overflowing bins and it was so refreshing.
You can tell that Paultons really do care about their guests - there is no shortage of toilets which is always handy and they have loads of benches (I love that they say Paultons Park on them aswell - so much so, I took a picture of one - yes I'm odd) There are also LOTS of play areas for kids - including a splash area with fountains which I'm sure gets busy during hot days
Unlike Merlin parks where it can sometimes feel that they are trying to squeeze every last penny out of you, you don't get that feeling at this park - yes, they have those games where you throw a ball in a bucket to win a prize but the people manning these stalls aren't very pushy which is nice. Food at drink are fairly reasonably priced as well. Oh and you don't get stung for parking your car either.
Not only do Paultons have a variety of rides, the gardens are lovely and you can tell that the people who work on them take great care and pride in what they do. They also have a variety of animals - including meerkats - and who doesn't love a meerkat?!
Just look at that face
OK - so if you are a hardcore adrenaline junkie who is looking for non stop thrills, this probably isn't the place for you - however I would recommend Paultons to anyone who is up for a chilled day with some decent rides - in my opinion a theme park doesn't have to be packed with inversion after inversion to be good. There are no rides at Paultons which have inversions but it is still worth a visit - they even have a nifty little train (Rio Grande) that takes you on a small journey around part of the park - perfect if you want a sit down and chill
I really enjoyed the Lost Kingdom area of the park - the theming is fantastic and I was really impressed with what they had done. The 2 main coasters, Velociraptor and Flight Of The Pterosaur are really enjoyable - more so than I thought they would be. Oh and there are lots and lots of animatronic dinosaurs -
Prior to riding Velociraptor, I had never ridden a Junior Boomerang coaster before - and embarrasing as this is, I did actually scream - mainly on the backwards part as I don't cope brilliantly with going backwards (I only ever rode x:/nwo once because I came extremely close to chundering my guts up)
Flight Of The Pterosaur was a nice surprise for me - I didn't expect much if I'm honest but I thoroughly enjoyed it - it's full of twists and turns and again, the theming is fab - the thing I absolutely love are the restraints on the trains - because it is just a lap bar that you pull down over you it allows for a lot more freedom - it would be awesome if Vampire got these sort of restraints. We rode on the back row, front row and in the middle - all give a great ride but I probably prefer front as I like to see where I am going
We also rode the dinosaur safari ride which was surprisingly good even if it did start to rain a bit mid-way through. We didn't go on Boulder Dash so I can't comment on that but the whole are is just really nice and fresh.
Because we visited on a really quiet day, everything was walk on and we were able to go on pretty much everything multiple times which was fab. As well as The Lost Kingdom, Critter Creek is another themed area which is really bright and happy (is that the right word?!)
I really do love Paultons Park and although my niece has moved onto scarier rides, she also loved it when she was younger. It is a true family park and I love that it is starting to get the recognition that it deserves. This place has well and truly over taken CWOA in terms of theming and overall presentation/care etc. Yes it would be nice if they were to add a couple of more thrilling rides but the way the park is going I think they are just going to get better and better.
Although I have a MAP, I for one reaaaaally hope that Merlin never buy this place out - would hate to see it run into the ground. To be honest, if I lived nearer I would consider getting a season pass but as I live over and hour away it isn't viable.
Another thing to mention is that the staff who I encountered during my visit were all extremely friendly and enthusiastic - which is nice to see. The only criticism of the place that I would have is that it took us a while to get into the park as not all the turnstiles were in use and the ones that were seemed to take a while to get people through.
My personal favourite rides at Paultons would be - Flight Of The Pterosaur, Velociraptor, Cobra and Magma - I also quite like Wave Runner - it's pretty much Depth Charge (although for some reason I prefer Wave Runner and have no idea why).
Another thing to add is that Paultons Park have 2 similar rides to CWOA - The Edge (a disco-coaster - similar to Kobra) and Kontiki (similar to Griffins Galleon) but for some reason, Paultons have these rides on a much better setting. I haven't actually ventured onto The Edge since my visit back in 2010 where my sister and her partner were taking bets on whether I was going to throw up (thankfully I didn't). I put off going on Kobra at CWOA for a long time, thinking that it would be as intense and was really surprised when I first rode it as it felt a LOT tamer. Kontiki is definitely a lot more intense than Griffins Galleon at Chessie - that also made me feel a bit queasy when I rode it a couple of years back (though I have to add that I have since discovered the wonders of anti-sickness meds)
Critter Creek theming
Cobra car (Gerslauer bob sled)
Great theming in Peppa Pig World
Double Decker Victorian carousel
Chair swing ride
Raging River log flume - there is zero theming on this but for its size it offers a decent splash
And finally - I saved the best for last.....
Mr Fish disembarking the crocodile ride thingy in Peppa Pig World
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Upon arriving at the park, we were both very impressed with the location of the park, all the rides around the lake
looked stunning as we were driving to the car park. Excited to see what this park had to offer, we head for the park
entrance. The park opens and 09:30 and the rides open at 10:30, we turned up around 09:15 and there were already loads
of staff at the ticket booths which was great to see, this meant we could buy our tickets ready to enter the park when
it opened. As it happens we were the first to enter the park! we took the first hour to explore the parks zoo which we
found to be hit and miss really, you could tell which were the new parts and which were the old. Some of the enclosures
were great and some were really dirty and small, but we loved the Tamarin trail!
Anyway, we didn't really come here for the animals (although we do love a good zoo!) the park was starting to fill up so
around 10:15 we joined the queue for Ben 10 as there was already a hefty queue waiting to enter the queue, we gathered
that this ride would probably get the biggest queues due to it's a popularity with the kids. when the queue opened however,
we must of only waited around 10 minutes, we skipped most of it as they were looking for groups of two :P. The queue for
this ride is very well themed and includes lots of good lighting and objects themed to the kids show. The ride itself is
good fun! the restraints are nice making you feel very open and exposed, it's quite fast and intense for a family coaster
and it is glass smooth! I'm not a fan of going backwards on coasters but these family vekoma boomerangs are proving popular
and I can see why! We both came off smiling 8/10.
Next up it was time for the Wild West shootout ride thing, now this ride wasn't very long and it had a very DIY feel about
it but we loved it! I'm not quite sure what is was, I just came off loving it, I think it's just more fun than other
shooters I have done. it was very interactive like when you hit a can it fell over etc and got to love them bonus'! In my
opinion I thought it was a fun little ride and we even did it again later in the day! 6.5/10
Already quite impressed with the park we wondered down to the Buffalo coaster. This coaster could be heard from a distance
as this thing is quite noisy, but the trains looked like the had been refurbished recently? and the layout seemed half
decent! It was just as I expected really, bit rough and jolty but there are a couple of Helix's and you get some good
views of the rest of the park! 6/10
Now we both had quite high expectations of this next ride as it has recently gone through a refurb and some of our friends
really rate it highly: it was time for the Haunting. all I knew of this ride is that it was a madhouse so I didn't really
know what to expect. The lighting was excellent, the ride had some great effects which weren't scary as such but this
attraction is aimed at the whole family so we took that into consideration. the scenes are great in the attraction
especially the big hall, I loved this part of the attraction as there is mist, projections, lights and floor movements -
it all seemed to work really well! The finale is the ride itself which I felt was good but nothing more really, all I all
it is a great attraction but hex is still my favourite madhouse I'm afraid. 8/10
We headed over to the other end of the park to try out the parks rapids 'Splash Canyon', probably my 2nd favourite rapids
in the country, not as good as Congo River Rapids at AT but much better than Thorpe's Rumba Rapids! The Queue line for this
is a horrible cattle-pen which is a shame, I can imagine it being horrible during a very busy day! and also they didn't seem
to have many boats on which didn't help the queue. Apart from that you get some good interaction with Shockwave and there are
some good water effects! 7/10
At this point is was gone Midday so we were getting quite hungry but as Shockwave had no queue we thought we would squeeze it
in before lunch, There was no queue for the front so we went straight on, unfortunately no Go Pros allowed which was a shame.
The restraints on this were not as comfortable as Riddler's Revenge over at SFMM but I understand that this was a Intamin and
B&M combo. The ride was surprisingly smooth at the front and I came off instantly thinking that it was my favourite coasters
in the UK, the loop is intense, the zero-g was a bit uncomfortable but I enjoyed getting thrown out of my seat. Yes the ride
is quite short but it packs a punch. Now on the front row I would put it in my top 5 in the UK but later on in the day I gave
it a ride near the back and boy was it rough! Gave me a headache for the rest of the day, but still I find it a good coaster so
I rate it a solid 7.5/10
Burger Kitchen was our choice of eatery, food was quite pricey as you can imagine but not too bad. Quality off food was okay,
nothing more than standard theme park food.
After lunch, we walked around Thomas Land for a bit, the theming in this area is great and has a lovely atmosphere! This area
had the longest queues of the park so unfortunately we didn't get to do much which was a shame but we could see why the kids
loved it! We took a ride on Toby's tram thing, never seen a flat ride like this before and it was good fun, quite intense for
little kids ride. To let our lunch digest we took a ride on the parks Ferris Wheel which seemed the same as Chessington's
version, we got some good views of Ben 10 from this. Yogi Bear was now about to start so we thought we would go and give it a
try, The film is just small clips of the actual film put together but it was alright I guess, we mainly went in to have a break
from the rides but it was okay, not as good as Angry Birds.
Next up was the other thrill coaster at the park 'G Force' there was only a 5 minute wait which was a bonus. I Wasn't expecting
much from this ride due to the amount of bad reviews it gets but I remained positive, but I was wrong. The restraints have got
to be the most painful restraints I have experienced! the lift hill is just horrible, not a fun experience, you are literally
just hanging upside down with your body being crushed by your restraint. The coaster section was meh, it was jolty, no speed
or flow to the ride and it is very short! Thank god it was a short ride though I don't think my body could endure any more pain! 3/10
Unfortunately Storm Force 10 was closed for the day so we didn't get to ride it oh well more reason to go back next year! As
Maelstrom was nearby we decided to give that a go next. Wow! this ride is really intense and is probably one of my favourite
flats in the UK! It delivers so much airtime, we loved it! 9/10
Pandemonium and The flying Dutchman were also closed but no biggie, I'm not too keen on flats anyway and Pandemonium didn't
interest me. The Flying Dutchman was in pieces and the was a crane on the Pandemonium site so whether they will be removed or
just being refurbished I'm not too sure. Anyway we headed to the barrels! The theming on this ride is great, yet so out of place
haha! Not complaining though as we loved the German theme and the ride was really fun too!
It was time for Apocalypse, now drop towers are the only type of ride where I get nervous due to the height of them and of
course, the anticipation of the drop. To date Atmosfear at Liseberg is the tallest drop tower I've done (around 400ft I think)
and is probably the scariest ride I've done due to the height! the sit down had a longer queue than stand up so I went straight
for the standup, now I would be lying if I told you I wasn't a tad nervous. I had never done a standup drop tower before so
this was new to me. At first it was too bad but then it tilted you, you don't tilt that much but you really notice it when all
of your body weight is pushing against the retraint, let's just say if that restraint failed you would be a gonner! At
the top you are only given a brief moment to appreciate the view and then you drop. The drop is so forceful it's amazing! by
far the best drop tower I have done and one of my favourite rides in the country! 10/10
We did a few other small flat rides then we headed for our last ride of the day - Troublesome Trucks! This had the longest queue
all day but the cred had to be done, I believe we waiting 30 minutes or something. It is a great little coaster though! the
theming is really nice and it has to be one of the best tiny coasters I have done, it's so smooth!
Oh yeah, The Bounty has to be the best Pirate Ship I have been on too!
To summarise then, Drayton Manor exceeded our expectations and is one of my favourite parks in the UK. The have some really
unique rides, including loads of family and kids rides! some of the theming is in need of refurb but the newer rides look great!
What this park really needs now is another thrill coaster, hopefully something will be announced in the next few years! Shame
about the staff though as rarely did we see a smile - very Grumpy! All in all it's a great park and look forward to returning
Woah Woah Woah there friends!
Put down your pitchforks! Extinguish your flaming torches and disband that mob!
That title is what we call in the industry as "clickbait". A very clever way of getting people into a boring article with something shocking at face value,
Now where as most people include an image of female speed bumps to get peoples attention, I thought I would offer a thought provoking question...
How do you solve a problem like enthusiasts?
We are a great burden / privilege to theme parks. We think we know best, If a park does something right, we commend them and cheer them on!
However, this is the real world and quite a lot of the time choices made by other people are wrong! Horribly Horribly Wrong!
Where was I...
This thought of how do we solve this problem became more prominent after the recent news of certain enthusiasts behaving atrociously at the Bubbleworks Goodbye Party.
Enthusiasts shouting at staff to be on the last ride before it closes forever.
Now at first glance this just seems like some people wanting the bragging rights, "Guess who was the last on Bubbleworks!" sort of how we do it for ride openings, (3rd Public train of The Smiler and first public train of Galactica... Just saying )
But unlike ride openings, we don't have to put in effort to be the last to ride something, just turn up last and on you go rather than ride openings where those committed enough will be at the park before the staff, run to the ride as soon as the gates open and be prepared to live with the blood on your hands from those who stood before you!
However, there is a more personal connection to being the last on something, people who have grown up with Bubbleworks will have a very strong bond with the attraction, it still doesn't accuse the behavior but that behavior comes as a side effect of passion... And we are not the only ones!
Take football fans, we constantly hear of fights starting against team fans due to one beating another, and again I don't condone these actions but this again comes out of passion, they obviously want the team they support to win and unfortunately when they don't they behave in unusual ways as some don't really know how to react.
So what is my point? Enthusiasts want to be the last to complete there special bond with the ride, the be the last to share a memory with something so special to them. Now a morbid warning... the closing of a ride is a bit like the passing of a family member or relative. (Where am I going with this...) Some people feel more comforted being there in that persons last moment as that then means that there last moment with them was the last moment they had with that person. As weird as it may sound with rides, some people don't feel as connected if there last ride was a month before it closed, as it would have given a lot more memories out after you. It's pretty petty... but it's human nature.
Conclusion: How do you solve a problem like enthusiasts? You don't as they are what make theme parks great, and terrible and... what was my point again?
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WARNING - This review has very STRONG spoilers
Choo Choo... No this isn't Runaway Mine Train, this is MY Ghost Train (Well actually it's Derren's, but I got to experience it last weekend).
Delayed for two months, a hype built higher than Kingda Ka and being the largest investment in Merlin HISTORY! I, of course, had low expectations.
I'll begin my review on the outside, we were greeted by a 90 minute queue in the baking heat, so I had lots of time to sink in the exterior, unfortunately, most of the poster theming had been destroyed by the guests'.
Apart from the huge red shed that Thorpe has proudly placed at the front of the area, the actual building itself is well themed and the music was loud, maybe a little too loud (is that possible?).
Apart from the AWFUL photo spots, the queue itself wasn’t that bad, the baggage room was well themed and the batching area kept the hype going… now it was time to go through to the pre-show.
The pre-show started, with the worlds lamest ‘jump scare’, Derren waffled on about fear (I did pay attention, honest!) and another lame jump scare, although I did appreciate the special effects, this pre show felt like it was actually him talking to me, not just a video.
We move onto the main room and I was taken aback, the train looked incredible and really looked like it was hanging! I have no idea how it’s done, the way the trains are hidden is actually the most mind bending thing about this attraction.
The VR headsets come on and the story begins, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6... The scares begin and I was already screaming before the video started, the whole first VR section felt so realistic and I was immersed in what they was saying, I had the young man, old lady and old man so I got to experience a difference in the stories, my 3rd ride on DBGT 1st VR experience was the best VR I have ever experience, so crisp and clear.
So after my knees were attacked by Thorpe’s ride host, we moved into the second part of the attraction, after a lot of shouting and confusion, this huge train comes swinging towards us, the effect would work well if they had more smoke and less lights but I still jumped back in time.
Onto the second train and off we went, this time the story got confusing for me… why the explosions? Where’s Derren gone? Is Derren a member of the Green Party? But the demons did scare me, but the extremely long gas section made me loose interest and I could feel myself wanting to remove my headset, next thing I know, we’re falling to my second home, 5,4,3,2… an abrupt ending and back to reality.
We exit into the highly themed shop and I had experienced the ghost train.
- The physically train and underground theming.
- The first VR experience nearly made me fall off my seat
- The ride system works SO WELL.
- The whole ‘sub core’ story comes out of nowhere, it feels like they’re two different plot lines happening throughout the whole attraction, Derren Brown & Sub Core.
- Second VR section comes across very out there, making me confused to what was actually happening.
- Making me change my pants because it scared me THAT much.
The newest major UK theme park attraction, was certainly an experienced I’ve never had before, the plot line and lack of physically theming let it down for me, but it did what it was created for, to scare you.
I’m unsure how this will keep up in a few years’ time, the technology is far too underdeveloped for how much it gets used and was already straining when I visited, I have a strong opinion that VR is NOT the future of theme parks, but that’s a debate for another day.
I don't think I need to tell you how much I love Chessington.
We must be in double figures for visits this year by now and no plans of stopping yet.
Today was a fantastic day at my beloved, with no closed rides, only one breakdown (and a delay on Dragon's Fury while we were on that wasn't a breakdown), two fantastic rides on the bigger coasters, however the sad news that Bubbleworks would be closing in September.
First things first I went on Dragons Fury via Single Rider queue, the weight in the car was unbalanced and span loads, it was brilliant. So brilliant that it turned Dragon's Fury into my favourite ride for about an hour. I actually came off shaking with adrenaline for the first time since my first ride on it.
Next we got the ride access pass and headed to Trail of the Kings and Hocus Pocus Hall. I personally didn't go in (my mum said I wouldn't have liked it in there anyway) instead sitting outside checking the forums and listening to "Hocusssss Pocussssssss!" Over and over again coming from the exit, which was annoying. Then we headed for lunch at Pizza Pasta, where I didnt eat much for once. Over lunch we made the plan for Tomb Blaster, Dragon Falls, Bubbleworks and Vampire.
Now, Tomb Blaster was... interesting. A few effects I didn't know about were working including some jumpscares (I don't think they were intentional... but scared the living daylight out of me) and all the audio was a bit louder. By the end of my ride me and my sister where nearly fearing for our lives. Fair to say Bubbleworks was interesting too (get on to that in a minute). Can't remember the exact scores but my sister came first (embarrassing, especially as I got a heavy lead at the start) I came second and mum came miles behind. So yeah, my heart was... faster than usual.
Then we went on Dragon Falls which was normal. Thankfully no phones lost this time. We took a (not so short) detour because my sister wanted to ride Toadies, which I haven't been on for a year or two and it just worsens each year. The (possibly new) on board soundtrack was quite nice if a little annoying. Now, Bubbleworks. It's almost as if it's throwing a tantrum because it doesn't want to go. Broke down loads over the last few days being one of the only rides to do so today. It also really creaked at the start, and unless they have added a new sound effect creaked at the lift hill too, which scared me after the Tomb Blaster experience (I was a bit jumpy).
Now, onto Vampire. If you've read any one of my posts this season you'll know how much I adore this wonderful piece of machinery. After riding it on the fourth row, however, I began to lean towards Dragons Fury and after my first ride today Fury had well overtaken Vampy. This ride was set to undo that. Back left, seemed alot faster, alot more airtime on the second drop (my favourite part of Vampire), and apart from the usual jolts near the second lift hill and going into/inside the tunnel it was actually really smooth. I didn't hit my head once even if I hurt my shoulders somehow (think it was the way I pressed them up against the restraints, it went away as soon as I came off). Perfect and was enough to put it back on top again. After this we headed to Scorpion Express, YooHoo to pass the time before we could go on Rattlesnake via RAP, then Rattlesnake which my sister is somehow still not tall enough to ride! Loading was weird as they wouldn't put anyone on the back row unless they were in a group of 3 or 4. Overall it was normal. After this we headed to Dragon's Fury again, this time with mum, where the weight was unbalanced again meaning a great ride (we span loads on the bunny hop). We got stuck in the station for about 5 minutes, believe somebody wet themself...
After this came Griffins Galleon which has been reverted to its old soundtrack, then Black Bucaneer, my first ride on. Mum wouldn't come on with me so I queued. It was nearly walk on (got on the next ride) despite the board saying it was 45 minutes. I needed to join someone elses row so a nice family let me sit with them, they spoke to me (as did the woman on Dragons Fury the first time) asking if Id been on before and if I was scared. I was scared but loved it by the end and I'm dragging my dad on with me next time.
Overall a brilliant day.
MY RIDE COUNT
Dragon's Fury x2
Toadie's Crazy Cars
+Hocus Pocus Hall (just without me)
Dragon's Fury Keyring (for me)
New Yellow Map Pen (for me)
Millions Tube (does that even count?) (for sister)
Next blog post will be tommorow at Cadbury World, then on Sunday at Gulliver's, then Alton Towers Monday, again Friday, the July round up thing on the 30th and probably LL Discovery Centre/Trafford Centre inbetween.
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