Back again with more definitive decisions on whatever I've visited over this year. And it's been a VERY busy year, with trips far and wide (as far as the Netherlands at least), as once again Europe called to me on a much more regular basis than anywhere in the UK. Indeed, I only visited Towers once, and only because I would've been upset with that red dot on my Coaster-Count profile. Perhaps next year I'll look to complete the leftovers of the UK.
How does one define 60 odd park visits into one list of things? With a bit of difficulty, but here we go:
Best Park – Efteling
Yep, not really a difficult one, the quality shines through Efteling completely. Effects fixed over the course of a few days trip, things added for no real reason, and just generally a nice place to be. No matter the season, since there's seemingly ALWAYS something going on.
Best New for 2015 Ride – Baron 1898 - Efteling
I was going to give this to Cu Chulainn, honest. But, yeah. Baron does everything I want from a ride. Theatrical, theming, classy music, fun ride, projection mapping. Ticking all the boxes for a good ride, but what makes it great is the details involved, there are plenty that are easily missed. They've also changed the outdoor batch and made it slightly better, still a weird system though, but it seems to work a lot better now. Baron sums up Efteling very well in everything with it, and I wish there were more like it.
Best “New for Benin” Ride – Troy (TROY!) - Toverland
In hindsight I'm not sure how many stand out rides there were for me this year. Too much mediocrity clearly. However Troy (and Toverland in general) was a rather bright spot this year. Troy is excellent quality and showed why GCI coasters are in general, great additions to a developing park.
Best Water Ride – (H)el Rio - Bobbejaanland
A surprisingly fab Rapids ride, the Halloween décor they had added to it improved it a fair amount, even if the ridiculous Ferris Wheel lift seems to be lifeless these days (would’ve been interesting to experience that), it made up with it with the whirlpool of death as also featured at Bagatelle’s rapids. But the Halloween music, theming and smoke made it so much better than I’m sure it would normally have been.
Best Flat Ride – De Waarbeek’s classic selection
Cheating I know for this one, but quite frankly the couple of classic flat rides available at De Waarbeek were great fun. From the self-propelled Whip to the unrestrained Caterpillar with added cover, a really nice surprise to discover.
Best Dark Ride – U-571
This is how you do a simulator attraction, a real standout from Movieland and sums up the place nicely. Effort and insanity go hand in hand from the naval base theming, the great staff members, to the fact that you have to run down metal steps as water bombs go off. The simulator feels real too, and the lack of restraints adds to the fear. I was fortunate/unfortunate to not experience the WET version too, which apparently ups the ante further. Which sounds insane.
Best Show - Romanes vs Gaules, The Match
New for this year, and Asterix really pulled this out of the bag. This is an amazing show, with a great setup, spoof adverts on the screens, great references to pop culture. Just the effort put into it makes it one of the best shows in a theme park today. Also gains points for having a real dog involved.
Worst Park – Duinrell
A bad atmosphere and even worse rides, there was just something about this park that didn’t end up sitting right with my positive side. Pretty much started downhill with the stupidly long queue to enter the place, followed by a massive walk around a caravan site. At least most of the other parks I visited this year had some positive elements.
Worst Seaside Park – Hemsby Fun Park
Decided it would be unfair to put Seaside parks in with normal ones this year, Hemsby was a clear winner for this though. The place is an absolute dump.
Worst Coaster – Sequoia Adventure
I had the misfortune of riding this again this year. It cemented its place as the worst coaster I’ve ever been on. No wonder they can’t sell it.
Worst Water Ride – DiVertical
It was closed and spiteful. Tbh, there were no real water rides I went on worthy of this award, so the chance to jump on some Intamin rubbish cant be knocked.
Biggest Surprise – U-571, Movieland Studios
Best dark ride, and biggest surprise in general. The unexpectedness of the attraction is what makes it so unique.
Biggest Disappointment – The Forbidden Caves
I loved Lost Temple in Germany. I really did. So I thought Bobbiejobbie's effort would be as good, but it was lacking a fair bit if I'm honest. The pre shows just felt faffy, as did the long walk to the ride. The story also didn't really work to the ride type. Shame.
The “I forgot actually how good this ride was” Award – Oz’Iris – Parc Asterix
A new award, purely for Oz'Iris if I'm honest. Its so good! Better than Katun in my book now, and shows that just because B&M don't go ridiculously intense anymore doesn't stop them creating real gems.
The “WTF was that?” Award – Revolution, Bobbejaanland
Just... I don't even know tbh... From the 30 car train in the curved station, the weird seating arrangement, the underground train sounds, the massive round lift hill room with the screen to the tiny descending drops in the outside. Revolution was certainly an enigma.
Why is this under-rated? Ride - Goliath - Walibi World
This is better than Expedition GeForce. There I said it. Where GeForce I found lacklustre last year, Goliath this year was seemingly a breath of fresh air for me. Perhaps the layout, perhaps the lax ride ops meaning no stapling, but it's just something about Goliath that made it a better overall ride than it's highly rated German counterpart.
Strangest Park – Movieland Studios
I've already mentioned U-571, but the rest of the park deserves credit too. Magma 2.0 is a fantastic experience, whereas things like Terminator (interactive shooting gallery) and Kitt Superjet (waterjet attraction) seemingly add to the insanity. The Rambo stunt show was also fab, and involved ACTUAL volunteers. It really is just a random and entertaining place.
Best Park related Experience – The Plopsaland Backstage Tour
A whole morning finding out about Plopsa and a full on tour of the backstage. It was informative though really, and worth it was the cred anxiety that took place. I wish Plopsa would open something in the UK.
Worst Park related Experience – Gardaland’s Express Pass Problem
Oh Merlin, even when barely going in the UK you still curse me. Providing AP holders with unlimited Fastrack for €80 for the year was never going to end well, and it pretty much ruined the day at Garda as a result. If they ever bring it over to the UK, their fan won't be able to move.
Best Ride Experience – Sky Drop Tower – Tivoli Friheden
Kinda pushing the definition of ride, but I'm glad I did this. Summed up you go up a tower, winched up and then free fall into a net. The tower is tall. The experience of literally free falling attached to nothing is something no other ride can fulfill. Well worth the money (£5).
Milestones – 450th (Hembsy Caterpillar), 500th (Formule X)