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Helix - The Review


Benin

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Helix, Liseberg and Mack’s 2014 project has been at the forefront of many an enthusiast’s mind during the past year or so. With Blue Fire being reasonably rated by the community, hopes were high for Helix when it was announced. Two launches, multiple inversions, a terrain based layout and the odd airtime hill meant that this ride was ticking all the right boxes for enthusiasts around the world.

The real proof though, was in the pudding of actually riding it. And this is a more detailed review on the attraction, so spoilers beware.

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Helix lives at the top of Liseberg’s hill, sharing a building with Atmosfear, the Intamin Gyro Drop, and a few other bits and pieces. Indeed, it feels more that Helix is budging in on the pre-existing attractions in the building, as the Helix ‘side’ as it were is rather small and under-stated. Perhaps it was designed this way, but it is a slight shame that for all the rest of the ride’s majesty the entrance is literally a door in a wall.

However, from entering the queue, such understatement is forgotten. The queue-line itself is reminiscent of Westminster’s Jubilee Line area, with Escher references and the odd Goon-Window for goons to pry into the mechanical workings of the ride. It’s also a great example of how to do a concrete themed queueline, with lighting and rockwork complementing the style of the ride, as opposed to a theme.

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There is also a Helix game app available on Apple and Android devices, which is actually a live competition amongst those in the queue. It’s a random set of mini-games with a loose theme to the ride itself, but great fun to play and watch others. Certainly an ingenious way to pass the time in the constantly moving queue.

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Like Blue Fire and Alpina Blitz, the seats are incredibly comfortable; however the stapling from the ride ops is unfortunate to say the least. A considered warning for those planning to go in the future.

The understated dispatch of changing lights as the ride drops down with some considerable airtime in the back before the slow corkscrew to ease us into the ride before we turn a corner and into the first launch. Whilst not the most powerful or fastest launch ever, it fulfils the need of the ride’s mass market ability, and is still an incredibly fun launch anyway, as it whips you into the first zero-g of the ride.

A quick turn and airtime hill lead us back down to the base of the hill, and into the Snorwegian Loop, which was blatantly better than Speed Monster’s, mainly due to the speed at which it was taken here. Diving under Lisbergbanen’s lift-hill, we rise back up into a fantastic airtime hill. I’d adored Alpina Blitz’s ones, and Helix certainly topped them off for the level of quality, they’re even better when instantly followed by a zero-g. The final part of the first half of the ride involves a sharp overbanked turn into a diving helix, which ended up being my favourite part of the ride it must be said, because it again combines a sharp bit of airtime and transitioning in a way that Intamin can only dream about (unless lap-bars are involved).

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The second launch which provides an extra boost of speed if nothing else into the inverted top hat, which featured some hangtime towards the front of the train. The best airtime hill of the ride follows, as the drop out of it seems to go on forever, before we turn out into the most terrain bit of the ride, the rising s-bends. Which are again fun for an element of a pure design to just enforce the train to lose speed. The typical Mack finish of the inline is just as good as Blue Fire’s, even without the near miss theming.

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And that’s it. Although my first ride was in the middle, I still found that Helix fulfilled the hype for me. It does lots of things, and whilst it may not do any of these things in an overtly ridiculous fashion (say like, how Intamin do great first drops but everything else is poor comparatively), everything is done well. The pacing is pretty seemless, even with the second launch as the train still has a fair amount of speed going into it. And the use of interaction with the terrain (as little as there might be in the final form) and other rides (Upswingett and Lisebergbanen) allow it to gain extra brownie points.

Some people think it needs on-ride music, but I disagree, as I find on-ride music on anything but indoor coasters tend to get lost with the wind and general being outside times, however awesome the ride’s music is. The only true negative of the ride is that the merch is crap. I loved it from my first ride, and a front and back row ride afterwards pretty much confirmed it was top 10 for me.

At night, it’s a different beast as well. The lighting package with head and sidelights produces a different experience both on and off-ride. It makes the ride look even more beautiful.

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Mack and Liseberg have truly struck gold with Helix. And I hope that more parks start to pick up this attraction (Towers can replace Rita with one going into the valley).

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5 Comments


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Great review, Benin! :)

 

But I think that Liseberg have said once that with the work IMAscore did for them with the soundtrack, it's as if the ride doesn't NEED heavy theming, as the soundtrack provides a distinctive atmosphere to the queue and station.

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It does look amazing, and goes onto the ever growing 'one day' list.

 

It must be time for the UK to address its lack of Mack, anyone know how they compare cost wise to the omnipresent B&M/Inamin/Gurst trio that seem to have had a monopoly here between them in recent years? There must be a reason no one has gone for a big Mack here.

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It does look amazing, and goes onto the ever growing 'one day' list.

 

It must be time for the UK to address its lack of Mack, anyone know how they compare cost wise to the omnipresent B&M/Inamin/Gurst trio that seem to have had a monopoly here between them in recent years? There must be a reason no one has gone for a big Mack here.

 

Helix cost just over £21m, but I guess the difficult landscape could add to the cost.  According to Wikipedia, Blue Fire cost between £5.5m-£6.5m without "decorations", which I guess means theming.  Alpina Blitz at Nigloland only cost £5.5m as well.

 

So they certainly seem quite affordable, and at say £6m, it's not unreasonable to say that one of the smaller parks here could splash out and get a smaller one.  I do wonder if the lack of Mack is because the parks are waiting for more to be made, to see how good the quality is - I don't think Mack have done many major coasters for example.

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Mack have always been the old reliable company but I think with blue fire and now with Helix they really have turned a corner. Helix isn't just a big bold ride, it's a well paced, relentless thriller and any park in Europe could do something original and bold with the ride type. Parks like Oakwood, Drayton and Flamingoland could really excel if they asked Mack for one.

They truly are fantastic rides.

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