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Canadian Caper: Canada's Wonderland

Canadian Caper   Sometimes in life, an opportunity presents itself that you just can't pass up, despite the fact it might be a bit mad... and in my case, this year it was an email from British Airways offering me a return flight to Toronto, Friday - Wednesday in September, for just £356. I had a few days holiday left, hadn't set foot in Canada before, and knew there were some tasty coasters operating in this part of the world... so why not?   It didn't take too long to come up with a plan: flight out of LHR on the Friday night after work, landing into YYZ (Toronto International) on the Friday night (8 hour flight but Toronto is 5 hours behind!). Pick up hire car, drive to hotel near the airport on arrival. A whole day at Canada's Wonderland on the Saturday, with the evening back in the airport hotel. Sunday was to be the big one: a three hour drive across the border to Darien Lake (USA), taking in both Marineland (Canada) and Martin's Fantasy Island (USA) on the way. Sunday night spent in Buffalo, which would set me up nicely for a whole day on the Monday exploring Niagara Falls. Return the hire car on the Monday evening, and take the subway into downtown Toronto, leaving Tuesday and Wednesday free to explore all the city has to offer. Phew.   With temperatures in the high-teens and the late-summer sun set against deep blue cloudless skies, September is a fantastic time of year to visit Toronto. I found the city to be a smaller, more friendly New York, made all the better by its location on the waterfront of Lake Ontario and the omnipresence of Tim Hortons. But what of the Theme Parks?   Read on for my Canadian Caper!     CN Tower: EdgeWalk   Before we dive in, a quick nod firstly to a Toronto attraction that isn't a Theme Park, but gave me a bigger thrill than any Park in this report.   The CN Tower is quite the landmark for Toronto, built in 1979 as the world's tallest tower and to this day remaining the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. At 1,815ft high (553m), it's nearly twice the height of London's Shard, although the viewing platform (shown below by the red arrow) stands only at 1,168ft (356m).   No big deal, right?   ...it is when you're harnessed up and walking around on a small platform on the top of it!   This is the EdgeWalk, opened in 2011 as the world's highest full-circle, hands-free building walk. It punishes your bank balance at $195 (c.£115), although this is somewhat justified given that it has a capacity of only 6 people every half an hour, and it's really, really cool.     Understandably security is very tight for an attraction like this - guests all have to wear a bright red "walk suit", and aren't allowed any loose objects on them, including watches, hair clips, and wedding rings. Personal cameras are a definite no-no. However, walk leaders are equipped with cameras and all guests receive a complimentary HD video and printed photo of their experience, with the (predictable) opportunity to buy even more photos at the exit.   I went up first thing on a beautiful cloud-free morning, and can honestly say it was the most exciting, terrifying, and liberating thing I've done all year.   Just check out that view!     Guests are harnessed up to the overhead rail via two ropes, and the walk leader takes the group around one complete circuit during the 30 minute session, encouraging each person to try out a few "tricks" along the way, such as balancing your feet on the edge and leaning back (above), and leaning out over the edge into the city like the famous "I'm Flying!" scene in Titanic (below).   Everyone attempted all the tricks (I was joined by a thirty-something IT technician from Jordan, and a fifty-something management consultant from the US), although not without a few wobbly legs and involuntary shrieks along the way.   If you completely trust your harness - and you have no reason not to - you're absolutely fine, but nonetheless the raw adrenaline from being that high up and that exposed is quite something, especially if conditions get a little windy. It's breathtaking and beautiful, and worth every penny.   EdgeWalk: bringing a whole new meaning to "don't look down"...!     Canada's Wonderland     Onto the Parks.   Canada's Wonderland, located 25 miles north of Downtown Toronto, is by any standards a serious player in the Theme Park industry, being ranked 3rd in the world by number of roller coasters (16), after Six Flags Magic Mountain (19) and Cedar Point (17), and being the 2nd most-visited Park in the Cedar Fair chain (soundly beating Cedar Point, and sitting just behind Knotts Berry Farm).   I'm a fan of Cedar Fair properties - in my experience they tend to index slightly more towards "well funded" than "managed by corporate spreadsheet" vs. either of the Six Flags or Merlin chains. That said, they are far from immune to criticism, and Wonderland's $20 parking fee payable as soon as you drive onto the property hardly gets your day off to a flying start.   What immediately lifts the mood however is a quite wonderful view of the Park's headline attraction, Leviathan.     More on that later.   For now, it was a quick photo of the uninspiring but admittedly well-maintained entrance, a mandatory scan through the metal detectors, and in through the turnstiles...     ...and straight after the pretty average entrance comes an unexpected visual treat.   Seeing Main Street and the Cinderella Castle upon entering the Magic Kingdom creates an excitement and anticipation of the day ahead that is rarely matched, although plenty of Parks aspire to have the same effect. Wonderland's huge flower display, flanked by patriotic flags, in front of a giant water display, in front of a large artificial mountain, has quite some impact.   Definitely above average!     And so to the first ride of the day, which was actually housed inside the mountain: Wonder Mountain's Guardian. Debuting in 2014 (although the idea was first mooted 10 years prior), the 3D dark-ride-come-roller-coaster represents a unique collaboration between Germany's Art Engineering (no, me neither), who manufactured the track, and Canada's own TrioTech, who designed the ride's interactive 3D animations.   Riders sit in one of the 2 car, 8 seat trains, wearing 3D glasses and holding a mounted "blaster" gun. Alas, on my visit every train had at least 1 or 2 blasters not operational, meaning the hourly capacity wasn't hitting much more than 500... snails have travelled faster than this queueline.   The first half of the ride resembles a fairly tame wild-mouse style coaster, although the enjoyment of it is somewhat impaired by the 3D glasses making everything a bit of a blur . Riders then enter the mountain, as the second half of the ride sees the trains shuttle between giant video screens, in much the same style as Toy Story Mania and Maus Au Chocolat. The story goes that old King Adelsten once tried to fight a dragon inside the mountain, but during the battle, the King lost his crown. Stansein, one of the king's servants, now guides riders through the mountain to find and retrieve the crown - with riders helping fight off all the monsters along the way using the mounted blasters. You would be forgiven for wondering what on earth was going on; the 3D animations weren't great. So far, so humdrum.   But THEN, out of nowhere, comes the best drop track section on a roller coaster I have ever experienced. Wonder Mountain's Guardian features a surprise drop of 30ft (9m), roughly twice the height of Thirteen's and Darkmare's, and many times more powerful. It's the final scene, and the mountain dragon has emerged again, breathing fire at riders - and without any warning, the train just plummets at a rate that would rival most drop towers.   Indeed, it's so impressive that it turns a fairly mediocre ride into one worth joining the back of the queue again for... if it weren't for the fact that the throughput was so horrific.     Sat right behind the Mountain, and even snaking around the top of it, is Vortex, an Arrow suspended coaster. I've always liked these swinging rides (alas Vampire at Chessington was never the same after the new trains...), and this particular model looked fantastic sporting a fresh new coat of red paint.   The ride experience held up very well too given its age, with the cars' extreme swinging being made all the more fun by the track's proximity to the lake and a top speed of 55mph - the fastest Arrow suspended coaster ever built.     Vortex: 25 years old, and still one of the best rides in the Park. Both unique and intense; there are now only 5 rides of this type left operating in the world - ride whilst you can!     Speaking of "best rides in the Park", at this point I couldn't resist giving the headline attraction a spin, Leviathan. Leviathan is a 306ft giga coaster and one of only two B&M creations to break the 300ft mark to date; the other being the superlative Fury 325 at sister Cedar Fair Park, Carowinds.   Decked out in bold blue and cyan hues, the ride looks spectacular and although far from fully themed, attention has certainly been given to the ride's styling, which includes a classy three-dimensional logo sat atop a 360° waterfall at the entrance. Why can't major rides in the UK be as bright and colourful as this?   As for the ride itself - as you'd expect from a B&M airtime machine, it's a huge amount of fun; silky smooth tracking even at top speeds of 92mph, coupled with the comfortable, open train design, makes for a supremely enjoyable and highly re-rideable experience. What really stands out though is the first drop: diving into a tunnel, it's one of the best, bum-off-seat freefall experiences I have had in a very long time. So. Much. Fun. One of B&M's best, both in the back row (for the airtime) and the front row (for the sheer raw speed).     What lets Leviathan down a little though is actually its length, which might seem a strange thing to say for a coaster that's got the same amount of track as Blackpool's Big One. But Leviathan is over 40% taller than Big One, and goes 20mph faster, so you hit that final brake run so much quicker than you'd like. Indeed, the brake run itself is actually taller than most coasters, standing at over 100ft - one can't help but wonder whether there's a missed opportunity there with all that kinetic energy going to waste. It could simply do more.   Leviathan is undoubtedly a brilliant ride and I could sit on it all day, but it is bettered by Carowinds' very similar installation 3 years later, due to Fury being well over 1,000ft longer, containing all the same juicy floater airtime, and still having an absolutely killer first drop. Fury should be a top 10 coaster (top 5?) in anyone's book, whereas I suspect riders of Leviathan will be slightly less generous in their rankings.   You can't deny though that it looks very pretty indeed...     3 down, many more to go, but it's from here that you start to realise that although on the coaster front Wonderland has a lot of quantity, it doesn't fare so well on quality.   For starters, there's the ubiquitous Vekoma Boomerang, The Bat, which rode much the same as any other (although it's continually surprising how forceful these can be; I even greyed out on one in Thailand...).    I was actually lucky(?) to even get a ride, given that it seemed to be giving the engineering department headaches for most of the day.     In a similar vein, the Park hosts one of the original Vekoma Suspended Family Coasters, Silver Streak. Built in 2001, the coaster still rides well, but the tracking is rougher and the seating inferior to the manufacturer's more recent SFC effort at our own Paulton's Park.     And completing the Vekoma hat trick is Flight Deck, an SLC that looked shiny and fun, but predictably rode like a complete turd. It was a standard stick-your-neck-out-to-avoid-your-ears-getting-boxed affair, with generous helpings of being kicked in the back by your seat. Tick.   At the macro level, it's a real shame that these rides are so commonplace around the world - there are well over 40 still operating today, and Vekoma are still making money from it; a Park in Vietnam appears to have bought a brand new one for 2017 .   Very few ride types in the world are nigh-on guaranteed to put the rider through such an endurance test...     ...except for maybe this one, the Zamperla Volare.   Thankfully less commonplace than the SLC (there are only 7), the Volare is without doubt one of the most poorly designed and fabricated coaster types around. Canada's Wonderland has the dubious honour of buying one of the first ones, with Tomb Raider: The Ride debuting in 2004.   These days it's called Time Warp, although much of the Tomb Raider themeing still exists. Getting into the ride involves a fairly frantic process of jumping onto the moving train, climbing a small ladder, and poking your head through the front bars. Staff members at the end of the station manually lower the back bars to lock you into place, and the ride then turns the train horizontal.     The riding position isn't exactly uncomfortable, but unlike, say the B&M flyer trains, you never feel particularly cushioned; there's a lot of industrial-looking metal around you.   The slowly rotating lift hill (in a similar style to Eurosat at Europa) winches you to the top, and then the pain begins.   To say Time Warp was inelegant would be an understatement; the sharp turns and awkward inversions ensure your body is slammed with some force into all sides of the ride car. I spent the ride braced for impact.   There is a reason as to why "Favourite Volare" came last in the Mitch Hawker Poll, below even Goudurix. It's a rather unique experience, but not, unfortunately, an enjoyable one.     Time for a quick look at the Park's flat rides - starting with Shockwave, a Mondial Top Scan.   Top Scans are amongst my favourite flat ride types, but despite sporting a supremely colourful paint job, this one was about a thrilling as a limp handshake. It lifted us up, lethargically windmilled a few times, and lowered us down again.   If you think Thorpe's Samurai is a good example of a terribly-run Top Scan model, you ain't seen nothing yet. It's a shame, but these rides are really only at their best when on the fair circuit, where they're not being continually flogged for 8 hours+ a day.     Wonderland also features a WindSeeker, another Mondial creation and a staple of Cedar Fair parks (having bought 6 of them over a 2 year period!).   You may be forgiven for thinking that these ride in much the same way as a Funtime Star Flyer, but they're actually quite different experiences. Star Flyers give riders the illusion of jeopardy, helped in large part by the fact that the seats are pretty minimalist, attached via a few chains to a central rotating structure that looks like it's been made out of Meccano. Wind Seekers are altogether more substantial; the seats are heavily cladded, attached via large metal arms to the sizable central rotating structure. Wind Seekers are also larger machines, with a capacity of up to 64 per ride and in this case, a height exceeding 300ft.   This provides the average rider with less to be nervous about as they're dangling around at altitude, and the result is an altogether more enjoyable ride. Views from the top of Wonderland's Windseeker were spectacular; you could even see the skyscrapers of Downtown Toronto.     New for 2016 was Skyhawk, a 131ft Gerstlauer Sky Roller. As with the Mondial Top Scan, I'm a huge fan of these flat rides - the ability to give yourself a seriously intense spinning ride through simple physics is fantastic fun.   I'd really enjoyed Holiday Park's Gerstlauer Sky Fly earlier in the year, and having given Wonderland's Skyhawk a spin, it's very clear as to which is the superior model.   The Sky Roller works by rotating the ride vehicles 360 degrees around the central tower in one plane (do excuse the pun). The Sky Fly however employs a boom arm that is far more three dimensional in its swinging around of the ride vehicles - meaning that riders have far greater opportunity to complete a full spin in their vehicle.   I managed to get a couple of complete spins in my aeroplane on Skyhawk, but it was much trickier than on either of the Holiday Park or Nigloland Sky Fly models. Cedar Fair likely chose the Sky Roller for capacity reasons (16 per ride vs. 12 per ride), but that's about the only advantage I can see over the Fly.     And it would be remiss of me to move on without touching on Sledge Hammer, the world's first and only HUSS JUMP². Designed especially for Canada's Wonderland, this giant flat ride (as with so many prototypes) has suffered more than its fair share of technical problems and downtime since it opened in 2003; kudos should be given to the Park for persevering with it.   It certainly looks the part, but how does it ride? Pretty well, actually, apart from one flaw. The ride involves the eight claws rotating around the central structure, with the 8-seater cars at the end of each claw also rotating around their own axes. Every so often, the eight claws suddenly shoot up into the air (as shown below), causing a sharp "losing your stomach" feeling. More rotating happens with the claws all raised, and again without warning they suddenly all drop down to ground level again. This repeats for around 2 minutes of ride time.   It's certainly a unique experience, and one that I'm glad to have had, but the flaw becomes apparent during a "jump", thanks to the sudden change in direction upwards or downwards; momentum from the rotation causes both your body to slam into the side of the seat, and your face to slam into the side of the restraint. The restraints are very cushioned (more so than usual...), but you couldn't exactly call it a refined ride.  Ow.     Back to the coasters. Dragon Fire is one of the four original coasters at Canada's Wonderland, having opened in 1981 along with the Park.   Geek fact: since the removal of Drachen Fire from Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Dragon Fire is also the only Arrow coaster in existence to have counterclockwise-turning corkscrews.   I can't say I particularly noticed the difference.     Ghoster Coaster is another of the original 1981 lineup, and is tucked away in the Peanuts-themed kids' area at the back of the Park.   Coasters like this - solid, medium-sized, family rides - are generally undervalued by enthusiasts, but are arguably just as important as the big blockbuster attractions to the average punter; Ghoster was pulling queues nearly as long as Leviathan's.   Alas leg room for me was worse than even the very worst European short haul airline (I'm looking at you, Wizz Air), but the kids were having a great time.     The Park also features a "large Park" version of Mack's standard Wild Mouse: The Fly. Always good fun.   Geek fact #2: The Fly has an identical layout to all of the Project X / Test Track rides operating in the Legolands of the world. Thankfully The Fly's ride vehicles did not have comedy hoods installed over them, unlike poor Legoland Windsor's old Jungle Coaster...     Canada's Wonderland also plays host to one of the 3 Premier-built Backlot Stunt Coasters; these were previously known as the Italian Job Stunt Track from when the rides opened in 2005 to when the old Paramount Parks (of which Canada's Wonderland was one) were sold to Cedar Fair in 2008.   All of them clones, the layout sees guests launched at 40mph out of the station, before winding around a succession of tight upward helices themed as a parking lot. From here the trains dive into a series of s-bends trying to "avoid" parked police cars, before plateauing out in front of a tunnel. When the ride first opened under Paramount, here the trains were stopped for a short show to take place, involving a helicopter rising up along with simulated gunfire; this gunfire sprayed "petrol" all around riders, which resulted in a gas tank "explosion". Alas on my ride none of these special effects were in operation, and the block brakes weren't even slowing the trains, so we just cruised on past all of the themeing. A shame - not least because on the Kings Island version I rode earlier this year, they had kept a stripped down version of the show complete with pyros.   Trains are then launched for a second time into a tunnel, twisting and dropping before coming out of the "broken billboard", diving down in an aqueduct and turning back into the ride's station (below).   In all, despite having a mediocre capacity (only 12 guests per train...), these are great little rides; the tight transition from the initial launch into the "parking lot" helices is surprisingly intense, even causing me to momentarily grey out. It's just a little frustrating to see this particular one so pared back compared to its launch just over 10 years ago. No special effects, no Italian Job theme, and no MINI Cooper trains (sadly, Cedar Fair lost the licence for these too in 2010).     And finally to Behemoth, the original B&M airtime machine at Canada's Wonderland, which - incredulously - now has to put up with being Leviathan's little brother. Opening only 4 years prior to Leviathan, Behemoth is an unquestionably fun coaster, and has much in common with it's bigger, blue-r counterpart. Comfortable, smooth ride? Yep. Nonrestrictive clam shell lap bar? Indeed. Soaring airtime hills? Oh yes. Named after a huge Biblical creature in the book of Job? You got it.   But there are also differences; Behemoth is nearly 80ft shorter in height, its 4-across trains have staggered seating, and it's placed to great effect on a large lake, making the dives towards the ground even more exciting. Alas, its first drop doesn't have as much "wow" as Leviathan's - it's good, but not that good - but it redeems itself through its length; having just as much track as Leviathan makes for a longer ride.     Both deliver lots of floater and ejector airtime. Both are lots of fun. If I had to call it, I'd say front row / back row on Leviathan beats any row on Behemoth, but it's marginal.   Visitors to Canada's Wonderland should count themselves lucky they can enjoy not one, but two examples of fine Swiss engineering.     So, Canada's Wonderland: a large, well-presented park with a tonne of rides to enjoy; some impressive, some less so. My overall impressions of place were very favourable - there is no doubt that it is, as claimed, "Canada's Premier Amusement Park".   This is clearly borne out in the visitor numbers - I went on a Saturday in September and the queues were thronging. Great to see, but on days like these it's impossible to do the Park in a day without a Fast Pass - I duly coughed up for the Fast Lane Plus, which allowed me to get on a total of 24 rides in exchange for my additional $75 (c.£43); without it I'd have been lucky to do more than 12.   And a place like Wonderland is all about the rides; it's definitely a case of quantity over quality, but there are moments of brilliance to be found in Leviathan's front row, Vortex's back row, and Guardian's breathtaking drop - these alone make the trip over the pond worthwhile.   ~   Thanks for reading! Comments very welcome below.   Next up: Day 2 of the Canadian Caper, including Marineland, Martin's Fantasy Island, and Darien Lake.

BenC

BenC

 

Closed Season Cravings-Disney At Christmas

Several weeks into the UK theme park closed season and the urge to visit somewhere has kicked in. Rather than pay over the odds for a zoo with a Poundland grotto or illuminated bricks, I decided to return somewhere special to my heart. Lurking in the distance lies, a magicical place.    Disneyland Paris, is that magical place. A place of dreams and wonders  It's certainly clear that 2016 isn't the most ideal time to be visiting with the yearly closures of Big Thunder and Star Tours amongst the hefty other attraction and area refurbishments.    As excessive the pictured refurbishments may look, they didn't have a massive impact on our enjoyment of the trip. If anything it's actually very exciting to see the park being given the TLC it deserves. The grand entrance to Disneyland Park is one of these and the staggered refurbishment has certainly polished it to an even greater level of amazement. The coloured fountains are wonder to the eyes especially at night.  It's A Small World is looking very refreshed out front with  the inside  noticeably fresher featuring improved audio. The bland warehouse ceiling remains sadly. And Space Mountain continues to be amazing, on the inside and outside.   Add Phantom Manor, Pirates, Tower, Ratatouille and Crush and you have an impressive list of attractions (amongst others).  As great as these attractions may be, even with the absence of Star Tours and Big Thunder, none of them are the fundamental reason why I visit Disney (even Tower).    I visit Disney, because it is Disney. A magical wonderland in it's own bubble, hidden away from the real world. Very few theme parks seem to offer this level of escapism like Disney do. Main Street USA is easily one of the best and grandeur entrance into a park. But at Christmas it's even better, with its facades and entraceways decorated in festive decoration with a massive tree at the bottom.   Studios's entrance is also acceptably festive. Disney is Top when it comes to parades and Christmas is no exception with the park's special festive parade. Mickey and Minnie Toy Story Seasons Greetings  The parade would not be complete without the man himself, my Grandpa. Amongst an extra special parade, festive Disney also exchanges normal Dreams for Christmas Dreams for this magic time of year. As good the show may be, I still prefer normal Dreams by a pretty big margin.   The flow didn't feel as consistent and didn't pull on the heartstrings either. I did like the finale and Let It Go segments though, they were exceptional. Main Street is even pretty at night too.   If you want a magical trip away from the real world, Disneyland Paris is the place for you. It may be undergoing a long refurbishment and be without its flaws but remains a highly magical place to visit. Little is grotty or depressing about the place.    It it is very easy to get to as well, with regular flights from Luton and Gatwick to Paris Charles De Gualle 45 minutes each way and TGV or RER from there. I'd choose the former personally as it takes less than 10 minutes each way and at €17.50 each way isn't too much.    Euro Star and Euro Tunnel (+ 2.5 hour drive) are alternatives so getting there isn't a massive challenge.    STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND BOOK YOUR TRIP!  Because you are missing out  on this very acceptable tea cup ride that makes one  the best ride sounds ever.   BOOM!  

Cedar Creek

Cedar Creek

 

2016- Josh's Season Recap

So, hey frens and fellow geeks.
2016 has been a pretty good year for me in terms of Theme Parks, so I thought I'd like to do a sarcastic recap of some of my major trips this season!
Bulgaria: So even though you'd think this third world(ish) country would have nothing in terms of roller coasters.. In my cheap and tacky summer travels, I came across the best coaster I'd ever ridden, the best coaster in the world, a true beauty.. Why have that when you can have this.. Isn't it brilliant? Maybe Thorpe should install one next to their Aqua Trax?    Blackpool Pleasure Beach: So obviously I needed something more ugly, something more tacky, so that's when I found BPB. Anyways, it was worth the trip up north. Skyforce was better than expected, the classic woodies where as fun as ever, and Wild Mouse was as brutally fun as ever! Infusion though.. Was much more rough then I remembered, so much, its taken my place for my least favourite coaster of all time! And.. Valhalla    PortAventura: My main trip this year was to the poorly operated PortAventura! Was it worth it yes? Why? SHAMBHALA!!! SHAMBHALA! Sorry, anyway Shambhala was brill as always, Furius Baco was fun but brutal, and Dragons Khan was intense and fun like usual. The only new thing for me at the park was the revamp of their 3D theatre in the Polynesia area. The complete unnecessary revamp of the theatre has left the attraction looking out of place, and the show itself is extremely poor. The show is just regurgitated scenes taken from a seven year old movie.. Alton's version completely blows it out of the water, good job Merlin..   Other than that there is some neat shows.. The Stunt Show in Far West, The Can Can Show, and Templo Del Fuego are all as brilliant as always.   Horror In Texas- Review: Throughout the park they where advertising a scare attraction for a small up-charge fee of 5 euro. So being the Scare Enthusiast that I am, I willingly payed as soon as I saw it advertised. Horror In Texas is a Scare Attraction built in a marquee under Tomahawk/Stampidas mess of wood, and oh god was it worth them five euros! The attraction had me on edge for nearly the entirety of it, and actors came out of nowhere, thick and fast! The attraction was a bit generic and goofy with its theming attempts, but it worked in a weird way! Even though being right next to two loud woodies, I didn't notice any noise bleed! The attraction also felt quite long.. And the attraction had a constant tense atmosphere which startled everyone in our group!   Anyway that's all for today folks, good job to anyone who got to the end! Have a good holiday season guys, and have a happy new year! I'll leave you on this note.. SHAMBHALA!  

JoshuaA

JoshuaA

 

15 Years of Fear - Act 2

Hope you all grabbed some popcorn or something during this brief intermission.  Anyways, here's the second half...   #7 - Cabin in the Woods (2013-2016) Years experienced:  2013-2016 To be honest, Cabin has gotten progressively worse each season for me.  I'm sure that's partly down to getting used to it all, as newbies in the maze really are blown away by the idea.  However, the original version in 2013 was by far the best.  The idea of the maze was that you would enter a room, close the door, and something would happen.  Every room had an actor and seemed to have a special effect to go with it.  Maybe I just got a good run, but it felt a lot more interactive and the aim was actually achieved.  It wasn't scary, but it was certainly a lot of fun!   #6 - Saw Alive (2010-2016) Years experienced:  2010-2016 I'm including this as a Fright Nights attraction, even if it didn't start off as one.  I've experienced Saw loads of times, due to it being open all season in 2010 and 2011, so I guess it show how much I like it given how high up it is.  It's got a good use of effects, which is something a fair few of the other mazes lack.  And it later years, it's become a bit more theatrical, which gives it a different feel to the others.  I've definitely got a soft spot for Saw Alive, and I might be over-rating it a tad, but I really have enjoyed it the past couple of years, which I guess helps! (Concept art from Thorpe Park) #5 - Containment (2015-2016) Years experienced:  2015, 2016 2015 Containment was average at best to be honest.  But Containment for 2016 was fabulous; from the nice pre-show, to the fun tasks to the fantastic actors.  Everything just worked, and left me with a huge smile on my face.  The fears included were of a nice range, from the common to the not-so-common:  numerophobia (numbers), chronophobia (time), trypanophobia (needles) and haemophobia (blood).  It might be because this is the only escape room that I've done that I enjoy it so much, but it's at least set the bar high, and got me itching to try and another horror escape room! Image from Scruffy Dog #4 - Experiment 10 (2011-2012) Years experienced:  2011, 2012 Experiment 10 was one of the most difficult ones to place on the list.  The beginning was pure genius, and the first time I experienced it, it did shock and surprise me.  But from there, it went downhill, with little to write home about.  And let's not talk about the 2012 version and ending shall we.  Nevertheless, the reception scene, decontamination sequence and isolation rooms were absolutely fantastic, and a brilliant way to start off a scare attraction.  If the same atmosphere and intensity from actors could have been matched during the rest of the maze, it certainly would have been higher up! Image from scare-zone.com #3 - The Big Top (2015-2016) Years experienced:  2015, 2016 Obviously for this, I'm referring to the 2016 version.  Don't get me wrong, 2015 Big Top had a lot of potential and was fun on some runs, but it just wasn't up to scratch when all was said and done.  2016 Big Top had a nice mix of everything though.  The Madame Mephisto scene was nice, the playground area was fantastic, and showed me how a mesh-strobe-scene can work.  Then the rest of the maze had plenty of theming and nice, open, sets which all worked really well - especially the clown wash room!  Yeah, chainsaw ending doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the maze, and it's a bti cliché, but it still works at least!  It is just so much fun and is designed so that it's really easy to scare people. #2 - Se7en (2006-2011) Years experienced:  2009-2011 I honestly think that Se7en was quite under-rated during it's time at Fright Nights.  It got a lot of hate for being in a white tent, and I think its first couple of years weren't that well received generally, but the times I experienced it, it was a solid, dependable maze, featuring fab theming, great smells and effects and a variety of different scare tactics. 2011 was a stand-out season for Se7en though - actors seemed to have been given more leverage on what they could do, and were very full on throughout.  Sure, some of the rooms had lost their appeal after going through it multiple times (in particular the Envy room), but things like the Gluttony room remain in my mind - and nostrils! - to this very day.  I know tents aren't the ideal situation for a horror maze, but based on how this and Big Top have gone down, I'd be happy to see more of them back in the future for greater in-maze experiences. Image from Theme Park Tourist #1 - Studio 13 (2014) Years experienced:  2014 I adored this maze.  It's the only scare attraction where I've truly felt part of the story.  The beginning felt like a backstage tour of a film studio where something wasn't quite right.  The middle felt like being part of a horror film.  The end was executed brilliantly, with the horror film spilling out into real life, and definitely gave me a shock (moreso because of my expectations than anything else, but still...) The theming was largely very good as well, and the actors all seemed to work well with the maze in my runs.  It all just gelled really well to create quite possibly my favourite scare maze to date! Image from lukedysonphotography.org       And that's a wrap!  Here's to more gorious years of Fright Nights...I look forward to what next season brings...

JoshC.

JoshC.

 

Closed Season Part 1

The dreaded closed season. A time when the ride games return, the silly season occurs with people making the same jokes about Colossus being repainted or Rumba being rethemed. Just be glad the Intamin aquatrax joke hasn't reared its ugly head. I like to think of closed season as a time of opportunity, a start of planning trips for 2017 and I thought I'd just put together a few blogs to maybe, inspire.   Denmark. A road trip around Denmark is surprisingly easy. Start your trip in Copenhagen which features Tivoli Gardens and easy access to the rest of Denmark follows. Along the way you can discover the fantastic Djurs Sommerland, the original Legoland and Farup Sommerland. If you so desire, visit Bakken which is easily my least favourite park in the whole of Europe.   Djors Summerland    A park with two of my absolute favourite Intamin rollercoasters, this relatively small park in Denmark is a must visit. Along the way discover a topple-tower, a Gerstlauer bobsled and with a new rollercoaster in 2017, it's sure worth a visit.   Piraten This fantastic Intamin mega-lite is a wonderful example of how you don't need to top 250 feet to be a decent rollercoaster. This air-time machine is genuinely one of Europes best rollercoasters. It warms up too an irresistible level the more it runs and must be ridden.   Juvelen I have a lot of love for Juvelen. It was an absolute surprise on my visit From its twisty layout and head-choppers to the unexpected force of its second launch, it's a wonderful example of how a family rollercoaster can deliver so much more then just another thrill ride.   Tivoli Gardens   The thing with the Gardens is emphasis on wide open spaces and the beautiful scenery. Admittedly I visited in torrential rain but this doesn't dampen spirits.   Dæmonen This tiny B&M is shoe-horned into the gardens and yet still packs a punch. Featuring three inversions, it is also one of B&M's shortest. It looks beautiful at night and with it's two train operation, queues are kept to a minimum. A sure-fire favourite.   Farop Sommerland Towards the end of our trip, the final park was Farup which features a Gerstlauer launch coaster which despite some jerky moments, was a hit. The wooden rollercoaster Falken was also a hit, despite its slight oddness.   Lynet   Falken   I heartily recommend a trip to Denmark. Not only do you get some fantastic rollercoasters, you visit a culturally rich country with beautiful scenery (and beautiful men and women) as well as a country that truly caters for everyone. Whilst a trip here can be expensive, planning ahead and accordingly can really save you money.    Thanks for taking a look, next time, the very exciting Italy.

Mark9

Mark9

 

15 Years of Fear

Fright Nights might be over, and it might be closed season, but I'm doing a belated 15 Years of Fear Celebration!  I've been fortunate enough to visit every Fright Nights, and do all but one Fright Nights maze-style attraction, so I'm going to do a quick worst-to-best ranking (16 to 1) of all those mazes.  Naturally, mazes change year-on-year, and even one run through can be dramatically different to another on the same night, so I'm being nice and judging these off my best runthroughs.  And, of course, I was quite a bit younger 15 years ago, and scared very easily, so there might be some rose-tinted spectacles of some sort for the older mazes.  But oh well.  Also, there may be some spoilers of current attractions (and retired ones).  Enjoy...   Freakshow 3D (2002-2004) Alas, I never got a chance to experience the Freakshow in all it's bizarre glory.  Biggest Thorpe regret right there. Image from Coaster Kingdom #16 - Dead End (2010) Years experienced:  2010 I won't lie, I liked Dead End.  I had good runthroughs with actors interacting with me personally, which makes a change.  And I liked the idea of reusing loads of Thorpe stuff to create a graveyard idea.  But it should never really have been marketed as a "terror zone", or ran like an attraction.  Dead End would have made a fun 'scare zone' in the literal sense, but in the sense Thorpe tried, it just didn't work.      Image from TTP #15 - Asylum (2005-2013) Years experienced:  2009-2011, 2013 Probably the most controversial one here, but as a few no doubt know, I really disliked Asylum.  The constant strobes for such a long period of time just made me feel headachey, which meant I was more focused on that rather than the maze itself.  And it could feel really repetitive if you didn't have a good run / the actors weren't on form.  The chainsaw ending wasn't as good as all the other mazes I've done with that sort of ending either. So yeah, I never really rated Asylum.  I think part of it is down to the fact I like a bit of a story with scare attractions, and Asylum was only ever 'There's scary people in there that will scare you!' to me.  I might be under-rating it a bit, but I honestly think that I enjoyed / was scared by all the other attractions more.       #14 - My Bloody Valentine (2013-2015) Years experienced:  2013-2015 MBV was a weird one.  The maze was very in-your-face, in terms of actors and the fact most of it involved very tight spaces.  But this does very little for me, and so I never got anything out of it.  It also meant there was little scope for the actors, resulting in jump scares from loud noises, or just generally trying to invade your personal space.  But it just never did it for me.  At least the theming was very good throughout, which is something. #13 - The Curse (2008-2012) Years experienced:  2009-2011 I hear that 2012 was The Curse's best season, so it's a shame I never did it then.  However, in all the times I did do it, it never really got me.  It had nice theming and a nice atmosphere I suppose, but it wasn't scary really.  Maybe it's because it was the first scare attraction I tried in 4 years and I was expecting so much worse, but I just never got 'it'. Image from TTP #12 - Platform 15 (2016) Years experienced:  2016 I'm really disappointed that this is so low down.  It has so much potential, with the theme, location and story all being spot on for a really good scare attraction.  But ultimately, it falls short in a major way:  it's trying to be something it's not.  Platform 15 would make an excellent, creepy attraction, that utilises atmosphere and tension more than impact scares.  Instead, it just goes for impact and jump scares continuously, which doesn't work when there's too much space for not enough actors.  If you're going to have a large open space, make sure there's actors to fill it!  In its current direction, Platform would need at least double the number of actors to have the payoff it promises.  The promising thing is that we have seen Thorpe learn their lessons in the past; notably with Big Top and Blair Witch.  Hopefully history repeats itself and we see big improvements to this next year, assuming it does return! #11 - Hellgate (2005-2010) Years experienced:  2005, 2010 Looking back, Hellgate really shines through as a trial scare attraction for the park.  I know they had experience with Freezer and Freakshow 3D, and they did Asylum at the same time and many felt they got that right.  But Hellgate felt like it was a paint-by-numbers attractions - an easy to make, creepy-ish theme, vague story, couple of little effects, creepy audio with very standard, easily repeatable, scares.  Like someone Googled "What makes a good scare attraction?" and went from there.  All of these boxes were ticked, but none of them were brilliant.  It was a reliable, yet unremarkable, maze. Image from TTP #10 - The Passing (2012) Years experienced:  2012 Going against a majority I think, but I enjoyed The Passing.  It was clearly a cheap attraction to make, and had a lot of ideas floating around it, but none of them really made the final cut.  I really enjoyed the tunnel section of the maze (certainly one of the few genuinely terrifying moments I've had in a scare attraction was when I bashed head-first into a wall, thinking I was at a dead end).  But the rest of it was very meh, and the false ending didn't really work; I was more confused than scared.  #9 - Blair Witch Project (2013-2016) Years experienced:  2013-2016 I'll freely admit that in 2013 this was poor.  And 2016 hasn't been the best.  However, it improved a lot in 2014, and 2015 was a brilliant season for it!  2015 worked so well thanks to a narrow path that got tighter and tighter, whilst starting off with few actors before loads appearing from nowhere!  Loud noises, a subtle soundtrack and audio effects and a general, hard-to-describe, atmosphere made it a fun attraction, and exactly what it was marketing itself as! Image from Thorpe Park #8 - The Freezer (2002-2004) Years experienced:  2003 This has been a difficult one to place, since I remember very little about it...mostly due to having my head buried in the back of the person in front of me.  With this being my first scare attraction, and with me only being 9, that reaction is perhaps understandable, and hence makes it unfair for me to judge too much on my experience.  However, the things I do remember are a really good atmosphere surrounding the maze, and entering it after the Freezer door opening and smoke flowing out from it.  It was probably the most 'theatrical' maze Thorpe have done.  Like I say, a difficult one for me to judge.  In some ways, it's probably not fair for me to judge it.  And the 2002 version was a lot better as well from what I gather.  But I think sitting in the middle of the rankings is probably fair! The Freezer cannot be talked about without mentioning this video, which still leaves me lost for words...       The rest of the top half is coming soon...

JoshC.

JoshC.

 

Phantasialand - the best THEME park in the world?

Hi one and all, I am just a lurker here really so you probably haven't seen me around before.  I've recently returned from a trip I took to Phantasialand and have alot to share.   It doesn't take much to make an impression to me, and I feel like the impression Phantasialand makes is incomparable.     I hope, that it pretty quickly displays why it's my favourite park in the world.   I'm not one for just concrete and thrills. The immersion this place delivers is un matched by anything I've experienced or seen.   Everything feels so genuine and real.   I'm gonna stop blabbing on and let the pictures do the talking for a bit.          
  The park is breath taking. Unlike my home nations parks which seem to be descending steeply into decline, phantasia is maintained and propelled fantastically, with the recent addition of taron.   The ride itself is very mediocre. The ride has some insane ejector, but that's it.   It is one of the most unique steel's I've ridden, only comparable to woodies for me.   I love Phantasialand because they openly admit they embody their rides into areas. They design the ride with the area in mind, not the other way round.    There's no way the park would work if they worked the same way everyone else does. Their back to front attitude leads to some seriously immersive and breath taking theming.   The reason why I love this park so much is because each area takes you 1000's of miles across the planet within the space of metres, and it does it convincingly too.   This is my favourite theme park in the world, simply because it removes you from just that. It makes you a time & space traveller, like no where else can.   ]
thanks for reading (PS, my photo's don't do it justice. YOU HAVE TO VISIT!)

pognoi

pognoi

 

Spooky 2016

Welcome, to the Haunted Reviews, Mwoarhaha    2016 has provided me with a vast number of park trips and adventures. A trend which has continued happily for the Halloween season.    Due to excessive number of events done and trying not to bore you with maze review after maze review, I thought I would try and compact my trips into just one report. Where I intend to focus mainly on the best bits (and sometimes the worst).    Xtreme Scream Park/ Beginning with a bang. This was my first event and it certainly did not fail to disappoint. Despite its fairly remote location and its budget not being massive I was highly impressed with this event, from the interaction and portrayal of roaming actors to the scattering of spooky theming.  Pie Factory was by far my favourite maze, down from the consistency of actors and  scenes throughout and the fact some scenes  worked fine without any actors as they helped build up the suspense and fear factor. Apart from The Dungeon which I wasn't a fan of, was strongly impressed by all mazes there (a total of six). Stilton House Hotel and Hunted are honourable mentions.     Scarefest It may surprise some of you that prior to October this year I had never been to a Scarefest event before (although I tried and failed last year). And finally losing my Scarefest virginity finally happened With no regrets  attending. All three maze offerings were of acceptable quality, Terror Of The Towers being surprisingly good despite being a largely established maze. Sub Species was my preferred maze, which I liked the split elements and the preshow which was of good quality. Altonville Mine (or Skin Snatchers) seemed the weaker one and looked like it had potential, but I feel we may have just experienced a poor run through which was a shame.  Aside from the decent park lighting, the amusing flash mob and acceptable theming, the addition that   Pleased me the most was House Of Monsters. A family based attraction which was more funny than frightening, the use of scenery and acting proved and was certainly an entertaining attraction that was worth  the £5.   Particularly liked the Skeleton and vampire actors and was certainly 15 minutes well spent and reminded me of Shrwk's Adventure in a few ways but maybe better.    Night rides are cool too    Fright Nights  No Halloween would really be complete without at least a visit or two to Fright Nights, especially being one of my local parks.  The event celebrated it's 15th anniversary by bringing back some of the park's popular roaming actors from deceased mazes including the Freezer and Experiment 10. This is always one of the things I like about Fright Nights and would like them to add a scare zone one day.  Big Top was much better this year. The flow was better, the acting was consistent and it generally felt more of a maze than a few disjointed scare zones. Face It Alone was as enjoyable as always but cannot help feel last year's was better.    Whilst I've tried to remain positive, this is where it sort of dwindles. The park was rammed on literally each attendance. Whilst some may see this as a positive thing, the crowd handling certainly has room for improvement.  Three and a half hours for Platform 15 just can't be justified, as the queue was barely moving and not even completely full.    The maze itself however was better than expected and offered something different and unique from the rest with its location and plot line. The long tunnel was one of the stronger elements which I thought built up suspense rather well.    Cabin is still cabin, acceptable but rather stale now. I can't comment for the rest as I never got to try them .    Howl O Ween Despite possibly saying I probably wouldn't go I visited anyway (call that unacceptable if you must).    The only reason I visited was because it was on the way for other scare attractions and night rides never go a miss.    A round on tomb blaster, Carousel later and a final night ride on Fury ended the season.    Didn't manage any mazes as they're the same as last time and Vampire was dead. The theming however was quite good though.    Acceptable theming!   Tulley's Shocktoberfest Tulleys is somewhere I've been wanting to go for a while now and was finally able to do so this year.  Though lacking the exterior theming and roaming actors, this event certainly impressed me which provided a sufficient of mazes, eight to be precise.    The Horrorwood Tractor ride was certainly my favourite with it's interactive scenery and theming elements and vast range of different actors appearing throughout from scary cowboys to mad scientists.  Certainly more of a ride than a maze and clearly better than Zufari.  Other mazes that impressed me included the Colony and its large length and variations, The Cellar with its haunted theme and Pandemonium with its use of 3D elements.    Hellements was the only maze I wasn't taken with as it seemed weaker than rest, though Creepy Cottage was rather on the short side though.    Only other negative was the location as a whole looks very temporary and the use of temporary loos but that can't be helped given the location.     Legoland Brick Or Treat  Perhaps not a Halloween event in the traditional sense but still appropriate.  At the end of each year Legoland holds themed fireworks to end the season with a bang, alongside a selection of kids Halloween activities in their enchanted forest area.  This year's fireworks were themed to Nexo Knights (one of their current product lines) which featured audio dialogue synchronised to the fireworks.  The display as a whole was good, although not amazing. Helped by it's audio plot line and glasses that turn the fireworks into Lego bricks (worth the £1.50).  I particularly liked how the harbour area (one of the main viewing areas) was sort of turned into a pre-show before the main event as a result of the connected fountains and light being synchronised to the music.    Apart from the lack of good nighttime lighting and the number rides closing at dusk, was a very good event.   And this marks the end of another good Halloween season which has certainly been a good one (most of. The time). Didn't do Screamfest Burton and Screamland, but hopefully they can be done for another year.   so, in brief: Best maze- Pie Factory Xtreme Scream Best non maze attraction- Haunted Hayride- Tulleys best fun scare attraction- House Of Monsters- Alton Towers Best scare event- Xtreme Scream Park Most improved maze- Big Top Thorpe Park Most awkwardly hilarious moment- Walking out of a fire exit on the Twisted maze at Xtreme Scream Best lit park- Alton Towers StormmSurge- Hellements- Tulleys   Until next time, Farewell.    

Cedar Creek

Cedar Creek

 

Josh's Halloween 2016 Awards

So to start the blog off, here's a joke The Conservative Party Anyway its sadly nearly Halloween, meaning the parks close for off season!  So I guess its back to rocking back and forward in my room til march.. So I've reviewed a few events over Halloween, so I'm going to do some awards to recap my Halloween Season!
http://forum.maniahub.com/blogs/entry/812-alton-towers-scarefest-2016-review/
http://forum.maniahub.com/blogs/entry/808-screamland-margate-2016-review/
http://forum.maniahub.com/blogs/entry/804-thorpe-park-fright-nights-2016-review/
http://forum.maniahub.com/blogs/entry/803-tulleys-farm-shocktoberfest-2016-review/ Anyway.. BRING ON THE AWARDS  
Best Theming/Costume Design Honourable Mentions- Dead And Breakfast, The Cellar, Altonville Mine Tours Winner- The Final Cut What haven't I said about The Final Cut? The theming is fab throughout, and the Sci-Fi costumes felt very well done. Especially if you're a film buff like me, its fun seeing all the references to classic Sci-Fi Movies.   Most Improved Maze Honourable Mentions- The Colony Winner- The Big Top The Big Top last year was admittedly a plane crash. At first even I didn't want to admit it. The maze just did not work, the open spaces made scares a tad awkward, and it felt half-finished as well. This year the maze seems like a whole different attraction, with some changes the maze now sits as one of the best in Thorpe's offering. The maze itself feels much more frenetic, with the intense strobe section, to the well themed rooms towards the end.   Worst Maze Dishonourable Mentions- Bloody Mirror, The Cabin In The Woods, Hellements, Donald Trump's House Of Horrors Winner/Loser- Platform 15 After doing some run throughs of it recently, I've came to the conclusion this is the worst of the year.. Whats the point of having a long attraction if nothing happens for 90% of it? It just drags on, and unlike The Colony for example there's not much to see for most of it.. The ending tunnel takes the cake for being the worst scene, its long, and you'll probably not see a actor! The theming is OK, but a lot of the attraction is just nothing.. Nothing..   Most Original Concept/Theme Honourable Mentions- Coven Of 13, The Final Cut Winner- The Paradise Foundation I love originality in scare attractions, it really sets a attraction apart from the rest, which is what The Paradise Foundation did! The Paradise Foundation is a gore infested theatrical journey through a controversial surgical clinic. Basically the idea is that the rich pay for the 'bliss' treatment, which involves the poor being surgically operated on to give there happiness for the rich. The maze throughout has a lot of gore, including disgustingly disfigured costumes that actors wear. The maze overall is something quite different to anything else I've done this Halloween.     Most Intense Maze Honourable Mentions- The Paradise Foundation, Altonville Mine Tours, Chop Shop Winner- Sub Species: The End Games  Sub Species breaks the boundaries of what actors can do in a maze. I was split up throughout, faced sections of the maze on my own, and was constantly manhandled and pushed by actors. The maze has a intense crawling scene, periods of complete darkness, and had me on edge throughout.   Best Roaming Actors And Atmosphere Winner- Tulleys Farm Shocktoberfest The Atmosphere at Tulleys is unmatchable, with a range of brilliant roamers and two music stages, its really brilliant!   Best Scare/Halloween Event
Winner- Screamland Margate This award was very tough to decide. But I've decided Screamland was my favourite event of the season. The great atmosphere, the four brilliant mazes, and the heavy load of creativity in the mazes is something special.   Anyway thanks for reading me ramble in this blog! Have a spoopy halloween frens and fellow geeks What events have you been to this Halloween?

JoshuaA

JoshuaA

 

Six Flags Great Adventure - October

Six Flags Great Adventure - October: This was a park I had on my mind since 2011 (when I became an enthusiast), since then I had always wanted to go to this park because of Kingda Ka (obviously). After my parents then made some ludicrous promise based on my GCSEs, which I then achieved, it was confirmed that I was going to go to this park. Believe it or not, I actually made it to Kingda Ka.   So lets start from the beginning...   When driving to the park, there were trees everywhere blocking my view so I didn't actually see Kingda Ka till I was about 2 miles away. But when I saw it, whoa! It's big, very big, just whoa! We eventually arrived at the park and headed straight to Kingda Ka first.   Kingda Ka: When we arrived at Kingda Ka, there was a very small number of people. So when the gates opened we went straight into the front row queue and only had to wait behind about 3 pairs. We then got onto the train and exited the station. We waited behind another train which launched (which is pretty cool watching a launch from behind) then it was our turn...    After the announcement "arms down, head back, hold on!" we launched. This launch is so incredibly fast, not as explosive as Stealth's but towards the end of the launch you feel yourself speed up further to a point where all you can hear is wind and nothing else which was great.    You then go over the top hat so fast that the height is not at all on your mind and before you realise, you're dropping through the 270 degree spiral (which is not at all as scary as it sounds). All you can think about after that is what you've just done which does stop you noticing the airtime hill afterwards. The overall experience will leave a mark on you, it's a ride every enthusiast must and will ride in their lifetime.   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).   Zumanjaro: This ride was next up being directly attached to Kingda Ka. Like Kingda Ka there was no queue. One thing you'll notice about this ride is that there is no slight theme whatsoever, it's literally a drop tower plunked onto a coaster, but honestly I didn't really mind. In the station, I was glad to be put on the left car (the one that always drops faster), and the outside seat (next to the track)   The climb to the top is a long way up and it makes you realise how tall Kingda Ka really is. The actual drop of this ride is quite tame, you're just gradually falling; that is until you hit the brakes where the deceleration is huge to a point where my entire upper half bent down into my restraint (life lesson - don't lean forwards on Zumanjaro).   It's a fun drop tower, and the view is great. But it's not the best drop tower I've ridden (you cannot beat Tower of Terror or Falcon's Fury). I will say it's a good addition for the park and the delay on Kingda Ka isn't actually as bad as it sounds as the operations on Kingda Ka are brilliant, plus they had 3 trains.   Green Lantern: I was really looking forward to riding my first B&M stand up, as it was a new experience (I had ridden shockwave, but this was so much different with looks and the experience itself). There was no queue so we went in the front row queue.   On the ride, going over the drop was so much fun and the inversions were great. However, the problem I had was being forced into my seat after the inversions which hurt my back. This didn't completely ruin the experience but it was something I could do without. Green lantern is a fun ride, but it's not worth waiting in a really long line for and it's not re-rideable.    I now see why people aren't fans of stand ups, but I don't think that should be the end. If they eliminated that problem (and made them all smooth like Green Lantern) then I think stand ups would be a blast. I'm not sure how they will eliminate it (they probably won't) but it can be done.   Superman: This was the biggest bummer of the day, not the ride, but the fact I didn't get to ride it. We had queued about 1hr and when we got to the airgate there was a power outage which took away 2hrs of coaster riding. I was so annoyed as you could imagine (and superman is supposed to be a blast apparently), but I just had to accept that I've ridden Manta which is probably better.   Nitro: After the 2hr power outage, rides were eventually reopening and we joined the queue for Nitro just before it became probably about 2hrs long. We waited for the front as it was a larger ride at the park which was worth it. I also left quite a large gap between me and the lap bar which was a decision I should make more often.   The ride was a blast, there was airtime and speed which I loved! The setting of this ride was cool as well, going near the lake and in a grassy area where no one can enter. Comparing this to the other B&M hypers I've ridden, it's better than Mako and Silver Star. Better than Shambhala? Not at all, but it still made no.4 on my top 15.   El Toro: This was a ride to look forward to as it is apparently one of the best wooden coasters out there if not the best. We waited in a line outside the ride queue (the ride wasn't open yet) whilst waiting for the ride to reopen. The ride then opened to our relief, and when we got to the station we decided to wait for back row.   On the ride itself, the cable lift goes so fast you feel like you're being launched up the lift hill. Then we went round to the drop which in the back row, felt like a launch, this was the most insane moment I have ever had on a roller coaster! The airtime on this was mad and the sheer speed was a thing to notice.    With regards to smoothness, the first half was very smooth (you expect your head to shatter in the dips, but it just doesn't!), the second half is fairly bumpy but it is completely bearable. The lap bar I think could be improved as it was slightly painful (not ruiningly painful) but apart from that, the ride was just brilliant and to sum it up: pure insanity. (You can just about see my face)   Bizarro: This was to be our last ride of the day (due to my family getting rather tired). Again, we waited about 1hr but that was because the operations weren't great (the operator was playing about with the locking system and stacking was present). We decided to go back row as the front row queue was excessively long.   The ride experience was just simply fun, fairly smooth (very little headbanging) and the effects were good. Comparing it to Kraken, it wasn't as good of a ride as Kraken was smoother and went underground (the second vertical loop on Kraken was my favourite element of Kraken). Despite that, the ride is a worthy addition to the park and is a great B&M.   The Top 3: My top 3 in this park are the following: 1. Kingda Ka 2. El Toro 3. Nitro   You may ask why Kingda Ka is above El Toro, it's because exhilaration is what I've been living for this year, and that's exactly what Kingda Ka offers - pure exhileration.   Nitro is at 3, nevertheless, it is this my no.4 coaster so this ride isn't bad in any way, it's just not as good as El toro or Kingda Ka.   Summary Review: Being a coaster enthusiast, this was the perfect park for me. It gave me rides which took my no.2, 3 and 4 spot on my top 15. The problem was the organisation and there clearly is an issue with their power grid (I don't know much about it, but it's still an issue), it would've been better if we were asked to leave Superman the moment the power outage occurred rather than waiting 20mins for us to be told that.    Apart from that, I liked the atmosphere of the park and the rides were of great quality. The fact that the park is close to New York is convenient thus allowing us to have a trip to New York.    Even though we only got on 6 different rides, it still became my favourite theme park and will remain my favourite theme park until I visit somewhere like Cedar Point or Carowinds. But personally, I would recommend this park to anyone, there is lots to do aside the larger rides and it is a park everyone can enjoy.   If the opportunity comes to visit this park, take it with gratitude!

Terry Terry

Terry Terry

 

Tulleys Shocktoberfest 2016 Review!

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  

MilesK

MilesK

 

Alton Towers Scarefest 2016 Review!

This Blog Will Contain Spoilers And Sarcasm you've been warned! So back in 2015 Scarefest really got a kick up the arse! Scarefest has created some of the best scare attractions in the industry, but back in 2013/2014 the quality of the mazes where really plummeting.. Thankfully last year was one of the best years in Scarefests history, so I was itching to get back! So after a grueling 4 hour drive, a fun M1 Traffifc jam, and a posh meal at Mcdonalds, I was there! FYI I can't review House Of Monsters as I'm not a f*cking billionaire, hence why I purchased a meal from scrubby Mcdonalds..   Terror of the Towers: What Lies Within TOTT returns, and it feels a lot toned down from last year. Last year TOTT was actually quite brilliant, actors where crawling from everywhere.. This year seems to have some scenes cut as well, making the maze not as long as it used to be.. No don't get me wrong even with scenes cut its still pretty long, its well themed, and actors got a lot of scares. But overall TOTT is starting to get stale, I think a new story/replacement is in dire need, TOTT has long outstayed its welcome TBH-4.5/10
Altonville Mine Tours Altonville Mine Tours is new for this year, and I gotta say, I was highly impressed. The beginning involved some talking scenes with some great actors, they really got up in your face, and set the scene for the main maze. First off the theming was brilliant, the smell pods also seemed to be a little too strong as well! The attraction also made use of the Haunted Lantern technology, which they handed at the start of the attraction. The Helmets themselves where a nice novelty, the attraction didn't rely on them, but they where a nice touch. The scares inside where pretty strong, the masks looked pretty freaky, and the actors where not afraid to manhandle you! The touching was not as strong as Sub Species, but it was still pretty intense! My only criticism is that the finale wasn't as strong as it couldn't of been, mainly as the first half is so chaotic! All in all- Altonville Mine Tours is a strong addition to the lineup-9/10   Sub Species: The End Games Sub Species returns relatively similar to last year, but in Sub Species case, its a GOOD thing! Sub Species really pushes the boundaries on what actors can do, I was pushed, I was grabbed, I even faced the second half of the maze alone! The maze section in particular was a highlight, it wasn't ME who was choosing which way to go, it was a actor pushing me that way! The maze seemed to be actors a-plenty, and at points they even worked together to corner people or separate groups! The touching was insane, it wasn't a little grab, it was full on push from room to room! The chainsaw ending is cliché, but it was effective and left our group running! Sub Species is IMO the best maze in a Merlin park for a while, and the scariest maze I've done this Halloween! My run through was utter insanity, this is by far one of the best scare attractions I've done this year -10/10   Scarezones Even though the new scarezones are constantly compared to the old ones, I do really like how Alton are trying to do proper scarezones like they do in the US. Yes the old ones where better, but there where akin to mini mazes, not proper scarezones TBH. Freakshow was a vast improvement from last years Nox Infernus, the zone was pretty tight, meaning the actors where pretty interactive. I liked the circus-y type props around the zone, though the zone felt more fun than scary. The freaks where more making us laugh more than scaring us, but the zone was still really good fun! I sadly didn't get to experience Dark Apocalypse, but it looked pretty good!   As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't bothered to cough up a fiver for House Of Monsters, but it looked pretty good, and most reviews of it are positive.   Conclusion: Scarefest was a pretty good event this year, most of the mazes where really strong, and the scarezones and family entertainment really do shape up a well rounded event.   Anyway, here's some crappy pictures taken by yours truly.. Nemmy  Selfie in Freakshow  More Freakshow   I'll leave you on this note.. Smile. Always..  

JoshuaA

JoshuaA

 

Europa Halloween

This year it was decided we'd upgrade our trips in October and visit a foreign scare event. Europa was chosen having won the Scar award for the best international event the past 2 years.   Tth But it wasn't just for their scare event, it was also for the entire park! There are pumpkins everywhere, it feels like a different park Pumpkin cake Halloween special parade Special musical for the season based on Ghost Castle. Rides had overlays from the Pumpkin Coaster (Eurosat), coffee cups completely done up, Pirates in Batavia had a Halloween overlay with the audio and speech, 2 daytime walkthroughs; Jack the Ripper and another one that uses part of the night maze Temple of the Undead. And with all the theming on park, music and everything it was just amazing. A proper Halloween do up. The park also looked stunning at night! A few more nice photos   Horror Nights! 28 euros for 3 scare zones, 5 mazes, loads of roamers, 3 rides, a VR experience, special ice show, a travelling ghost train and a brilliant atmosphere!.   You enter through a scare zone, Dead End street. This was the best of the 3 with plenty of actors, fire, mist, theming and an interesting way to enter the park.   Once in you have 4 of the 5 mazes laid out in a square shape with a stage in the middle. The mazes were literally big white tents. But inside they were themed amazingly! Big Shoe was a clown based maze with a casino scene, outside alley, crazy spinning tunnel. You had no idea you were in a tent. There were a few good scares but from the event it was clear they don't go for the jumpy scares but more interactive side. As we don't speak German, we had no idea what was being said but even with that they were still great.   The other mazes: 10 was new for the 10th anniversary of Horror Nights, apparently based on previous mazes you went through portals into each new section. One was a Chinese restaurant, apparently from a maze they had called Takeaway!   The Cave: Unleashed was stunning in how you really felt in a tunnel. However, this one felt really really short but had some great costumes and a brilliant puppet, like the snake one in Cellar at Tulleys.   Nightmare: This was our least favourite, felt short again but had no flow or any idea what was going on, and from the queue you saw the finale of the maze so clearly when people were exiting. Again great costumes and theming though.   Temple of the Undead: Good length and tricks for actors to jump out, one really dark corridor with string which gets some people, good use of strobes and quite disorientating.   So overall the mazes aren't very scary, but they are a spectacle for what look like white tents on the outside!   This Ghost Train was also open and included in the ticket. 3 levels, really old school in feel with a few staff as actors and a female Jigsaw doll. Great fun and just added to the excellent value of the event! An unadvertised live show on the centre stage. The standard dancing from the Europa ents team, but also a music set from Leon Fuller, who works on the music for the event and the Horror Nights 10 song. Brilliant atmosphere. Horror on Ice VII, a raunchy ice show with fire, foam, everything you could want from 30 minutes! There was so much to do that we only just did it all in 2 nights. Projection mapping on Poseidon's station made it look like it was dripping in blood Night ridesss And the satellite was having a rave too!   Coastiality: Adventure Atlantis had a VR Halloween overlay where you thought demons and zombies. It worked really well, you'd tap on the headset to shoot and spin your vehicle like normal to move around the VR world. It was really popular too! This is my eyes is more what VR should be used for!   So with all of this, and an already 15 hour day we decided to hit the Vampire Club. Only 5 euros and you get to witness the Poseidon station overlaid as a club with the EP ents team dancing on podiums, Leon Fuller doing live sets and a decent drinks menu at decent price. It was so weird to be dancing on a board that is over some Mack track. Not the best photo, but it was really good! Crazy to think.   Overall the whole park looked great in the day and the night event was a brilliant scare event for the vast mix of things you could do, all the roamers, theming, costume quality. Brilliant value and by far my favourite event I've been to so far. Only niggle is 7:30-11:30 is not enough, they could easily stay open till 1am and you need it with all the stuff. If you go, you need 2 nights!   As usual, Europa did great      

Mitchada04

Mitchada04

 

A Very Frightening Night

On Sunday the 9th of October 2016, me and a few other forum members (and a few other non-forum members) set out on a venture to Thorpe Park Resort. However, this was not just any ordinary day at Thorpe Park; Fright Nights had kicked just two days prior to this visit, and we were all extremely excited to get into the six attractions that the park had to offer. Before the mazes opened to the public for the evening, we had the pleasure of experiencing a behind the scenes tour of Saw Alive and Cabin in the Woods (special mention to Shannon, our fantastic guide for the tour). It was very intriguing to see all of the detail and effort that goes into the making of the attractions, especially in Saw Alive, and I will definitely be purchasing another tour for a different two mazes next year! But now, onto the reviews!    SPOILER WARNING -  THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!   Cabin in the Woods - 7.5/10 Cabin in the Woods was the first maze of the night, and was definitely one of the better attractions the park this year. Returning for it's fourth year, I was worried that the maze would feel stale and boring after such a long period of it being here. I was very wrong indeed! We managed to loop around the maze twice, and got to go into every room that the maze has at the start of the maze. The theming in each room (excluding the blackout rooms with virtually no theming) was great and the actors throughout were trying their best to squeeze every scare out of our relatively small group of just four people. The second half was much weaker unfortunately. The elevator scene wasn't working with no actor behind the glass, the rotating tunnel will never work again which is a real shame, the actors were lacking, especially the finale where there was only one or two. Overall however, this maze is still going strong, despite a weaker second half. I do feel though, as much as I like it, it is time for a change.   Containment - 6/10 Containment was poor last year, very poor in fact, and I was quite reluctant to hand over £8 for an attraction which I did not enjoy at all previously. But due to the great reviews it had been getting, I felt obliged to try it out and see whether it had improved or not. To cut to the chase, it was good! Massively improved on last year, with some returning rooms, some new rooms, and completely new puzzles to get our brains ticking. The narration at the start of each room was a great addition; it explained the fear in each room and was a rather nice touch. The actors in each room were spot on, especially the clock room with two actors who were both funny and scary at the same time. Whilst we're speaking of scary, the attraction as a whole wasn't all that scary. It's a good bit of fun and provides something different instead of another standard horror maze, but if you're expecting a terrifying escape experience then I recommend you look elsewhere. Overall, Containment is a good and unique addition to the lineup, however take it as a puzzle-solving escape room, not a terrifying horror escape room, in order not to be disappointed.   Platform 15 - 3/10 I knew when Thorpe released the video of Zombieboy being the "curator" of Platform 15 for publicity, I knew it was going to be bad. Little did I know, it would be utterly dreadful. It does have some moments of light though! The Scottish (but not really Scottish) tour guide at the beginning was definitely the best part of the attraction; he was an excellent actor! The walk up to the train with the fire and the flashing lights was also quite cool. After that, it goes very quickly down hill. The graveyard scene is very sub-par and the tunnel and finale has got to be one of the worst I've seen in a horror maze. It's basically a crap Molly Crowe ending, without any movement or any chase. For a new attraction, Thorpe should be ashamed with the end product; it is disgraceful. The worst part is the actors are all clearly trying their hardest, but even with their endeavors, it is very close to being the worst maze of the night, and the year!   The Big Top - 9/10 The Big Top last year was diabolical, and when I heard it was returning I was not ecstatic. I went in with low expectations, despite the general consensus I was getting from people who had done it saying it was a lot better. So, we went in, experienced it, came out, and I can safely say after four runs in the maze, it is very very good! Everything has been so greatly improved: the fortune teller, all the other scenes, the ending, everything! The strobe maze is by far the most intense strobe maze I have ever done! The slow pattern they've been put on means it is extremely difficult to see anything in the tent at all, and with actors bursting out from every direction with your impaired sight, it leads to a terrifying outcome! The chainsaw chase ending, despite it's unoriginality, is very effective when working properly and has left me running for the exit each time. I only have a few bugs with the maze. Firstly, each time I've been in I feel it's lacked actors, especially in the strobe maze. Secondly, some scenes are too open (in particular the clown wash and the cage), and finally, the only major one, when it is light outside, light streams into the tent, completely ruining the strobe section of the maze and ruining the atmosphere. Overall though, I thoroughly love this maze; the best I have experienced at Thorpe in my 3 years of visiting Fright Nights.   Saw Alive - 5/10 Saw Alive is never a strong maze, yet usually I do enjoy a good run through of it. This year though, the highlight of the entire maze was seeing Amy's seashell in the corner of the bathroom scene! The theming is top quality in this maze, the best on park. However, the actors need to at least try in order to make this a half-decent maze. The actors on our run, did not. The minimal 5-6 that were in the entire maze clearly wanted to go home after a long evening of scaring people, and none of them seemed to really care that we were in the maze at all. A lot of them just stood there and snarled as we walked on. It's definitely time this maze moved on, with either a complete re-them, or the complete removal of it.   Blair Witch - 2/10 Blair Witch, new scenes for 2016, can't be much worse than it's predecessor? Well, clearly it can! With the addition of a few nice looking red lights, nothing seemed to have changed with Blair Witch. There were no more than 6 or so actors in the entire thing, all of which made the same pig snort noise whenever we past them. There was no audio playing in the maze and we also had numerous queue jumpers before we could even get inside. To put it bluntly, Blair Witch is s#!t. I would avoid this maze at all costs if I were you!   Before I conclude this blog entry, I have a few more small details to add. The Experiment 10 roamers that we saw a fair few times were excellent! One of them knew my name, which was rather confusing to me at the time but I did realise that somebody who I sort of know and have on Facebook is working as a roamer this year. Theming around the park did exist but was quite minimal; I do like the headless monk on the bridge!  Overall, Fright Nights is a good event this year, however there is still a big gap for improvement in the attractions and around the park as a whole! That's the end of this blog! Thank you all for reading  

MilesK

MilesK

 

Screamland Margate 2016 Review

This Blog Contains Minor Spoilers*   Screamland is a upcoming giant in the scare industry, and last year received rave reviews from scare veterans and the GP alike. I personally have never been to Margate, so my whole night was a complete 'new experience' to me..Yup  Especially the completely rundown city of Margate, and some "interesting" graffiti on some of the walls.. Anyway the event was a grueling Hour and a half drive, so was it worth it? In short, yes.. Screamland was one of the best halloween events I've ever experienced, I'm not easily scared, but the event caught me off guard with some of the most creative scares I've ever seen in a maze.   Bloody Mirror Bloody Mirror was the parks mirror maze with a few actors.. Overall it was the shortest/weakest at the event, but it was fun for what audience it was aiming for. I was a tad disappointed TBH, but the attraction is more of a good start to the event than anything else -3/10 or 100/10 if you have a big ego    The Paradise Foundation   TBH this mazes concept and theme disturbed me before even entering the attraction! Overall The Paradise Foundation is a well themed, theatrical, and terrifying experience! First positive would have to be the actors hiding spaces, they really came from everywhere. The maze itself is very disturbing, with a lot of the actors looking disfigured and the sets full of gore. I'm not easily grossed out but some of the actors costumes where quite disgusting, in a good way! My only negative comment I'd say about the attraction is the ending, its a cool concept but not effective as it could of been! All in all- The Paradise Foundation was a brilliant maze which had our group on edge throughout the experience-9/10   The Final Cut Presents..They Came From Outer Space The Final Cut was what I'd call perfection.. The concept was so brilliant, and so brilliantly executed. The first half is reminiscent of a theatre, with popcorn being thrown everywhere! The use of a inflatables was genius with the transition into the movies, and once into the film The Final Cut goes crazy from that point on! The maze has plenty of scenes involving Sci-Fi classics which where both funny and scary in equal measures! If that wasn't enough awesomeness for you.. I present the ending! The ending involved a scary alien and a girl with a gun! The ending was loud, unique, and left our group desperate for the exit-10/10   Dead And Breakfast- Murder Hotel Dead And Breakfast starts right after the awesomeness of The Final Cut, And oh god was the first half brilliant. Fag Ash Lil had our group in stitches with her fast-witted insults, She even called me a slag! Once inside your chased by Lil's new man, who has a taste for flesh! The maze had some beautiful sets, as well as some good theatrical scares making use of the brilliant theming that immerses you in. Lil's new man seemed to be everywhere, and caused a threat throughout the attraction. The attraction's finale was also pretty good, and was a good ending to a great maze-9/10   Festino's Forgotten Funhouse I've experienced some great Clown/Circus themed mazes this Halloween, but Festino has to be the best clown maze I've ever experienced. The creativity on this one was insane. The hiding spaces for actors where very creative, and at points you see a prop, next minute that prop would start moving to realise its a actor! The attraction's first half is very trippy and full of unique scares, and the second half was surprisingly theatrical! To meeting a knife thrower to a Bearded lady was pretty fun! The ending slightly disappointed me, mainly due to the absence of Pearlywhite! But three actors with chainsaws held our group hostage in a cage for a few minutes, which made up for it! The maze itself though was more fun than scary, but the maze's creative scares and scenes make up for that-8/10   Atmosphere/Roamer Actors Overall the roamers where pretty great. They weren't no Tulleys level, but I had some fun interaction with them. Though the atmosphere was buzzing-8/10   Conclusion:   Screamland is a event which I recommend to anyone who likes scare attractions. The event is nothing short of brilliant, and even though Scenic was unfortunately closed, I still had a blast!  

JoshuaA

JoshuaA

 

2016 Containment Review

SPOILER WARNING   So after trying Containment again this year, it feels appropriate in some ways to do a review to mirror my review from last year, and see whether the improvements I wanted to see happened or not.   For a quick run down, here's some of the things I said could be improved, and some comments...   1) The preshow.  Last year, I felt the preshow either needed to be moved inside or just be given totally be an actor.  This year, it's given totally by an actor, who sets the scene perfectly - creepy, yet funny, whilst setting the scene and explaining the rules.   2) The scare rating.  Last year, Containment received a 5* scare rating - something which was completely unjustified, and that the attraction could never live up to.  This year, it's been given a much more appropriate 2* rating, matching the attraction's more "panic" feel, than scary intense feel.  The attraction isn't scary, but has it's place in Fright Nights, especially with this much fairer rating.   3) The cost.  I'm all for making this an upcharge attraction, but I was concerned £8-10 was too much, especially after seeing time slots not sell out during the second weekend of Fright Nights.  The cost hasn't changed, and there's been less marketing, but it's certainly seemed to be attracting a lot of attention too, and has sold out on a few nights already which is good to see.  They might need to allow a bit more time between groups (having up to a 30 minute wait after the designated time slot hasn't been uncommon this year!), but it's at least good to see it's selling out.   4) The ending.  The ending still needs more for me.  I'd absolutely love another room where it shows you how many rooms you solved, how quick you were and have an actor give you the corresponding wristband, along with a final scare.  Obviously space is the main issue for that, and presumably it would add another technical layer to the attraction, making things more difficult to control in some sense.  But it would still be awesome.  However, it's nice to see that there's something a bit more after completing or failing the final room, giving an actual scare to get you out the attraction.     Other Improvements? One thing I really liked was how at the start of each room, an explanation to the fear your were facing was given.  Last year, I had no clue what each fear was meant to be - the four rooms were meant to be fear of touch, small spaces, dentists/needles and darkness in that order.  I thought it was fear of small spaces, foreign things, needles and darkness...  This year, a nice voiceover explained it all, before the actors then begun to do their things.   The rooms this year felt a bit more logical too, and actually had things to solve rather than blindly tackle and hope for the best.  Definitely an improvement on last year!   Room for Improvement? I noticed a couple of noise bleeds from rooms at times, which is a bit of a pain, but difficult to solve.  And there needs to be a solid way to stop groups from catching up with one another (especially if you solve the first room quickly, since there's no actor to occupy you!).  And obviously the ending.  However, these are all difficult things to solve, especially with the small space the attraction uses.   All in all, Containment is very good this year - easily my second favourite attraction this season behind The Big Top.  The new challenges and new spin on the story is refreshing and has really turned this from a 'nice thing to try' to a 'don't miss' attraction in my opinion!  And with a very good cast, it's really done wonders.  I look forward to a return of it next year (hopefully), again with new scenes, fears and challenges!  

JoshC.

JoshC.

 

Thorpe Park Fright Nights 2016 Review

(THIS BLOG WILL CONTAIN MILD SPOILERS) So Fright Nights returns for its fifteenth year!
Overall this year the event was somewhat of a mixed bag.
One thing to note is some of the park-wide theming!
Fright Nights in previous years have not bothered with theming, but this year
they seemed to make some effort which is nice.   The Big Top The Big Top has been completely changed this year, and was way better than last year! The maze is everything it should have been last year, its fast, its frenetic, and its pretty fun! The strobe maze in particular was very confusing,  leaving our group doing circles for a while. Though the maze was a little light on actors at points, and in some sections a bit of light from outside the tent was let in. The Big Top like other clown mazes may not be the scariest, but they sure are fun and confusing at the same time-7/10   Platform 15 Being new for this year, Platform had a lot to live up to. After going through, the maze was IMO a mixed bag if I'd seen one. Now the first half was brilliant, the scripted beginning to actors giving some pretty good scares in the open spaces. Some sections where a little to wide, but actors towards the first half where giving some pretty great scares. Now the tunnel finale was a different story..  Most of the tunnel was spent doing nothing, making a decent portion of the maze boring.. The finale at the end of the tunnel was a good idea, but it was not effective in the slightest, making  Platform the most anti climatic maze I've seen in a long time. The attraction's second half needs a massive overhaul IMO, but the first half is still pretty fun-3/10   Saw Alive   Saw Alive seemed to be crawling with actors on my run through! The attraction seemed to pack more than enough actors, and the scares where pretty great. Though the maze is starting to get very stale, and the maze has a crap ton of problems.. Mainly the scares for one, why would a chained up actor be moving freely? Though the maze still has some great scares-5/10   Blair Witch Project     Blair Witch remains the same state that its been in since 2014. The attraction packs a lively cast of actors which seemed to be hiding pretty much anywhere! The finale always packs a punch, and the actors where doing a good job. Though like Saw Alive its starting to get a little stale as nothings really changed at all-5/10   The Cabin In The Woods Cabin is really a attraction that has seemed to declined since 2015.. Cabin back in 2014 was amazing, it was crawling with actors, some actors jumping out from the ceiling! On my run through the attraction was not bad, but it weren't great either.. Overall I think the maze has like Saw/Blair became a little stale. Also the group flow seemed to be a little manic on my run through.. Cabin has always had these problems, but you'd think after three years of operation they would of ironed out these issues-4/10   Roamers Actors Only saw roamers one time sadly. Overall the EX10 actors where wrecking havoc when we did see them! Though the amount of roamers was very poor TBH, especially like a event as large as fright nights! Maybe I've been spoilt with Tulleys's amazing roamers, but I think Thorpe needs some better roaming actors overall-5/10   Conclusion: The event like I said earlier was a massive mixed bag. Big Top was fun, Cabin/Saw/Blair where all very fun too but a little stale. Platform being poor due its long drawn out boring ending. Overall Fright Nights are better than last year IMO, but I still think there is MASSIVE room for improvement..

JoshuaA

JoshuaA

 

Tulleys Farm Shocktoberfest 2016 review

Beware this review may contain mild spoilers!   So Tulleys Shocktoberfest is back! Overall being located at my local farm Tulleys is a must each year, this year sees two new attractions and a bunch of classics return!   Creepy Cottage Even though being the smallest attraction at the event, Creepy Cottage is still a strong attraction. The theming and the eerieness of the attraction is really what makes it, plus a few actors make this attraction a little gem. Overall a fun start to the event- 6.5/10   PANDEMONIUM'S 3D CARNIVAL Overall very similar to other incarnations of Tulleys yearly clown maze, Pandemonium's was pretty fun. The maze like Nightshade Circus from last year shared a lot of scenes, but the 3D element towards the end made the maze even more confusing! Overall the maze was pretty good, but more funny than scary like usual-7/10   Haunted Hayride So the infamous hayride returns! The Hayride seemed to have a lot of work done to it this year, with a ton of new scenes! Overall the Hayride is fairly similar in tone to previous years, the attraction can sway between laughter and utter terror! The Hayride is just as impressive as usual, though we missed the twerking nuns -7/10     Hellements Hellements has always been decently dull for me, but this year it was actually pretty good! The scares where pretty effective, and the group where pretty desperate to get out! The effects are fun as always, the fire was as hot as ever, and the wind tunnel was so strong our hoods nearly fell off! Overall a improvement from last year-6.5/10   Coven Of 13 So Coven was quite a disappointment.. Some of the special effects where good and well executed, but the scares not so much.. The scares where piss-poor, and the maze lacked actors in places.. The maze had some pretty good theming in some places, so I'll give some credit.. I think Coven could be great once actors settle in, But Coven was somewhat poor from Tulleys- 3/10     The Colony The Colony was a mixed attraction for me last year, but the actors where surely rocking on preview night! The Colony last year lacked actors and was quite spread out, but this year the maze seemed to have a lot more actors than previous! The Maze still has a long length and great theming, but the scares throughout the attraction seemed to come thick and fast! One scare in particular was a very loud car horn which had me jumping outside my own skin!   Overall the attraction is now a highlight of the event, and is well rounded maze which seems to go on forever-9/10   The Chop Shop The Chop Shop returns! The Maze still has a beautiful facade, and chainsaws galore! The Pacing is really the thing thats makes the Chop Shop, you'll go from hillbillies teasing you to being attacked with chainsaws at all angles! Overall actors seem to constantly re-appear, and the amount of hiding places and shortcuts for actors also make scares for actors pretty easy! A very impressive attraction-8.5/10   The Cellar The Cellar is the crown jewel of Tulleys. It is yearly great, and seems to never get old. The Cellar is a long, well themed, and very great with scares. The Maze itself at points seems to flood with actors, some scares being back-to-back! Overall a classic which always seems to be a highlight of the event every year-8.5/10   Roaming Actors: Tulleys is famous for its great roamers! This year is no different, the roamers are really something special at Tulleys! Had a few conversations with some of the roamers, and there really are brilliant-10/10   Conclusion: Tulleys has had a mixed year, some mazes being as good as ever, some being improved, some new additions completely failing. Overall I think the good outweighs the bad, if you live near the area it is definitely a must visit! Also to note its only preview night, so there is still time for stuff to change!              

JoshuaA

JoshuaA

 

Halloween Scare Attractions Reviews Preview!

So its that time of the year again... NO NOT CHRISTMAS.   Anyway its getting nearer and nearer to the Halloween season.. So this means I'm gonna get a crap ton of travelling to do! Anyway I'm going to review quite a lot of events this year!   1 Of October, Tulleys Farm Shocktoberfest: Tulleys always finds a way into my calendar. With it being located at my local farm its quite a no brainer, new for this year  includes a 3D revamp of there clown maze, and a entirely new maze based on witches! Not forgetting the returns of classic like Haunted Hayride and The Cellar, and the return of the incredibly dull Hellements.. Meh.   8 Of October, Thorpe Park Fright Nights: After the train crash of last years event.. The event returns! This year inlcudes a new maze loosely tied into DBGT, and a revamp of The Big Flop! Overall the event seems to look better than last year! Well.. We Hope!   15 Of October, Screamland Margate: After the sheer rave reviews from people I had to get myself over to Screamland! This year sees return of last year's great mazes, as well as two new mazes! Overall Screamland last year seemed to be one of the best events in the UK, and I suspect this year will be no different!   22 Of October, Alton Towers Scarefest: After the massive success of last years event, I had to get myself back to Scarefest! Sub Species is a good enough reason alone to go back, so with the addition of a new maze and the return of TOTT, it was a must.   So there you go, the Halloween season is very near! I wish everyone a happy Halloween, and good month of getting sh!t scared!

JoshuaA

JoshuaA

 

Abandoned Wild Wongs Chopstick

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

saffy

saffy

 

Paultons Spark

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   FOTP trains   FOTP station   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)     Wave Runner   Critter Creek theming   Cobra car (Gerslauer bob sled)   Cobra     Great theming in Peppa Pig World   Double Decker Victorian carousel     Chair swing ride     The Edge     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                        

Han30

Han30

 

Phantastically Acceptable

2016 has certainly been one of my best years for visiting new amazing parks, being lucky enough to visit Europa Park, Liseberg, Paultons Park and Drayton Manor (I suppose).    This September though, things would become even more fantastic as I was to experience my first time. The first time I would be visiting Phantasialand. This is a park I've been wanting to visit now for a longtime, hearing how flawless the theming and attention to detail was here and the quality of the rides; at least most of them anyway.  Berlin street is certainly a magical entrance into the park (at least once you escape the main road directly outside). Especially once you walk past the grand carousel and intricate street with themed food outlets whilst listening to upbeat dramatic  orchestral music. It's almost like being in Disney. 2016 brings to the park a major new investment, Klugheim. A brand new themed area featuring two new roller coasters and two  new food outlets.  The headliner attraction of the new area is Taron. A multilaunch coaster from Intamin.  Taron is certainly an amazing looking attraction and rides as good as she looks. From the momentum of the first launch to the twists and turns amongst moments of ejector airtime through the articulated rock work straight into that second launch.   Taron may not quite be a Helix beater, but she is definitely a worthwhile addition to the park amongst it's tangled track, superb soundtrack right down to the brand new restraints which are significantly better to the Rita/Stealth ones.    My only major criticism of the ride probably has to be the massive cattlepen, which resides at the back of the area and remains remarkably hidden.  Raik is also a great junior boomerang and probably my favourite so far, putting Veloceraptor into a close second.   The main eatery Rutmoore's Tavern is a great place to go for lunch too and serves some decent hearty meals. I had a pork knuckle meal served with salad and potatoes which was of very good quality. Certainly of the best park eateries I've visited and maybe only second to Polle's and Food Loop. Klugheim aside, there are plenty of other top quality attractions at Phantasialand. Including Chiapas, an amazing modern log flume with a steep drop, dark ride sections and superb theming. Nailed it! An amazing floor less topspin known as Talocan, which is almost like watching a show off-ride.   Black Mamba, a superbly themed B&M invert which beats Inferno but Nemesis (on layout st least). Can't believe I didn't take any (poor) pictures of it. Colorado Adventure, a Vekoma mine train that features three lifts that never get boring. The forces from that twists and turns especially entering those tunnels is exhilarating to say the least. Safe to say my photography is not always acceptable. Winjas was a surprisingly good duel Maurer spinning coaster which features two tracks called Force and Fear. Fear was the favourite due to feeling longer as a whole. Maus Au Chocolate, an interactive dark ride where you shoot guns throughout different scenes trying to stop mice from infesting a chocolate factory. The smells were nice too and guns far better than those blocky things on Tomb Blaster. And no trip to Phantasialand would be complete without a ride on the classic River Quest. Honestly, these Rapids are crazy in the best way possible and make Rumba Rapids look like a slow carousel in comparison. Mystery Castle has to be one of the most mysterious rides in the park. This castle structure hides a number of massive drop towers which shoot up and down completely enclosed in the tower. David and I got the longer cycle (we believe) whilst Lou watched as she doesn't like drop towers. Better than Chessington. One of the park's older rides is Geister Riksha, a Chinese themed ghost train attraction. It is pretty dated in parts, but definitely upheld much charm throughout the ride. Amongst  the great theming and rides alongside it, the park's shows should not be ignored. We decided to watch the Ice Show which featured a college style theme. The costumes and mixture of music made for a great watch.  Especially when one of the dancers seems to resemble TPM's very own Liam-T. Whilst this place has so many good rides, it does have quite a share of not so good rides however, like this (supposed) splash battle, Wakobato. This ride is so close to houses, you may as well be in their back garden. Honestly, what's the point in this ride? You don't get wet, there's no scoring system, the theming is repetive. There is literally no point in this ride existing. The Hollywood tour certainly hasn't aged well as is very dated in places. The Wizard of OZ and Kong sections really look worn and creepy in some ways too.  Feng Ju Palace (theming aside) may be the worst madhouse I've been on so far. What's the point of that pre-show? It was honestly just like watching a boring stretched out version of Street Fighter.  And Nighthawk, was just strange in one of the dullest ways possible. Three lift hills going around in complete darkness. Only real positives were the station looked nice and the lift hill lights were acceptable.   Final Thoughts Phantasialand is a truly magical and immersive park, adding plenty of intricate between the different areas, whether that be the African or Mystery areas. Klugheim is well and truly an amazing area and certainly one of the best themed areas in Europa (let alone 2016). Taron is an amazing attraction and certainly the new signature ride the park deserves.   Of course like every park, there are down sides. For example some of the park's older rides are looking particularly worn and dated compared to it's recent stuff. Take Hollywood and Nighthawk for example, it almost feels a different park when you compare them to something like Chiapas or Maus Au Chocolate. However I've heard they are on the chopping block anyway. A nice modern dark ride or two and a modern dark ride coaster would fit this park perfectly.   The final question-does it beat Europa Park? Phantasialand really did blow me away and is one of the most parks I have ever visited. Unfortunately though, it doesn't quite beat Europa Park (though it is close).   Europa for me is such a vast sized park that there's literally tonnes of things to do yet feels very relaxed regardless of busyness. The complimenting themed areas and its updates to rides new and old may also help it greatly here. Europa are also pretty relaxed when it comes to safety, to the degree they don't check every ride and allow filming (if equipment is secure).   At Phantasia, they are very strict on this, to the level where even Go Pros are banned on all rides including the likes of Maus Au Chocolate. As a result I was told off on the Hollywood ride, let alone a coaster. Rant aside, it's a minor set back, but at the end of the day I go to parks to get immersed and enjoy rides. Not make POVS or YouTube hits (even if it seems like it).    To wrap this up, Phantasialand is a park everyone needs to visit. It has some greats rides and theming and is pretty easy to get too as well from Cologne Bonn Airport. Two days should be enough for most, but it could be stretched to three quite easily.  Favourite ride of the trip. Taron of course.    

Cedar Creek

Cedar Creek

 

Drayton Manor 1st Visit (September 2016)

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 
next year!

coastercallum

coastercallum

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