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    Stuttgart Sojourn The 2016 Theme Park season is upon us, and what better way to kick off than a weekend hop over to visit our deutsche Freunde in Baden Württemberg. The reason for the trip was to explore two of the more regional, and less-well-travelled parks, in Germany: Tripsdrill and Holiday Park. Planning was a cinch, involving a Eurowings flight out to Stuttgart (£50) and overnight stay at the Wyndham hotel on airport (£30) on the Friday evening, 2-day car hire from Avis (£30) picked up on the Saturday morning, entry to Tripsdrill on the Saturday (£17), overnight stay in the Tripsdrill Schäferwagen on the Saturday evening (£40), entry to Holiday Park on the Sunday (£24), petrol for the weekend (£8.50), and BA flights home on Avios (£17.50); all prices per person, based on 2 travelling. At £217 each, it's great value - and I'd encourage anyone thinking about planning a similar European trip to jump straight in - there's a huge variety of Theme Parks on the continent, not all that far from us, at relatively accessible prices. As you can see, both Tripsdrill and Holiday Park are easily driven to from Stuttgart airport, although flying into Frankfurt could also work. And for a three day trip, Europa Park is also just under 100 miles away... First up, on the Saturday, was Tripsdrill; a Park marketed as "featuring over 100 original attractions depicting Swabian life in the late 1800s... remarkable attention to detail, dedication to authenticity and respect for nature truly set Tripsdrill apart". And I'm happy to report that there's no marketing hooey here: the above sums up Tripsdrill really rather well. Tripsdrill This here is a Swabian man - let's call him Günther - from the late 1800s. Goodness knows what he is doing, or what he has on his back, but Tripsdrill is stuffed full of animatronics such as Günther - the Park really is a mecca for rural German history, if that's the sort of thing you're into. There are whole areas of the Park filled with both static tableaux and moving scenes, and you can easily spend an hour wandering around the place exploring all the exhibits. This, along with its gorgeous rural location (in a valley, surrounded by vast rolling fields), gives Tripsdrill a very "homely" feel: it would come as no surprise to anybody that it remains family owned (the Fischers have run Tripsdrill since 1929; it's easily Germany's oldest Theme Park). It's clearly important to the owners that the Park integrates as much with nature as possible; wood is used for most buildings, and there are trees and flowers everywhere. And being family owned, there is a more "relaxed" approach to H&S (although I never once felt unsafe), operations were excellent, and there wasn't a queue-jumping scheme to be seen. First up for us was the 2013 Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster, Karacho (no literal translation, other than "a lot of power"). The Park's newest and most intense ride, Karacho still manages to nestle in very comfortably with its countryside surroundings. The ride features Infinity trains with similar assemblies to Alton's The Smiler, but with only 2 rows rather than 4, and lap bars instead of OTSRs. Themeing on the ride, as with all of Tripsdrill, is excellent, with scenes around the queueline telling a story about a madcap inventor designing his perfect roller coaster, surrounded by plans, prototypes and the like. Karacho is the result of his work, but as riders disembark, they are treated to one final animatronic of the inventor throwing up (water) into an oil drum. Not so perfect for him, then. The ride itself involves a 180 degree turn out of the station into darkness, a "surprise" indoors heartline roll in the same vein as The Smiler, a peppy 55mph LSM launch out into the light, and an outside layout that involves a 98ft top hat, 2 dive loops and a corkscrew. Operations were excellent, with fast, regular dispatching of trains - the operator would give each lap bar one push down and one pull up, and that was it; away we went. Top marks. I was expecting Karacho to be a solid Gerstlauer installation, in the same vein as Lynet at Fårup, or Anubis at Plopsa. Solid launch, decent layout, OK trains. So I was really surprised to find that Karacho was actually bloody fantastic. The trains are a large reason as to why - the Gerstlauer clamshell lap bar is a triumph; allowing maximum freedom whilst not exerting too much pressure on any one part of your thighs (I'm looking at you, solid Intamin bar of doom; see my Italy TR for more musings on this). For me, Karacho's are the closest coaster seats in terms of comfort to those found on Mack's megacoaster product - high praise indeed. This elevates an enjoyable experience to a brilliant one, as the rider has complete freedom to be thrown about the remarkably well-tracked layout - which, in contrast to certain other rides, features absolutely no jolting or shuddering whatsoever. It's super smooth, and super fun. By far the highlight of the ride is the 2nd dive loop, shown below. Not only does the ride tunnel underground, but the transition from the banked curve (seen at the back) and the dive loop (at the front) is very tight, meaning that riders get sharply "pulled around" into the dive (in a similar way to blue fire's final inline twist). It's an example of where OTSRs would have caused all sorts of painful head bashing, but with clamshell restraints, the ride remains intense but comfortable. A final nod to the ride's lighting package. The well-themed trains look even better when they connect to the power supply in the station, as the two rear "engines" start to glow a vibrant red. It's a simple LED effect but really showcases Tripsdrill's attention to detail, fostering a nice anticipatory atmosphere in the dimly-lit station. Overall, Karacho came very close for me to being the perfect mid-sized coaster. Although it probably wouldn't trouble my top 10, it would get fairly close - and it's by far the best Gerstlauer I've ever ridden. It actually prompted me to consider a trip to Finland to ride its brightly-coloured brother at PowerLand, and seems to me to be the perfect investment for parks with mid-sized budgets; I can imagine Blackpool and Drayton would be good candidates in the UK for this sort of ride. And finally - why, oh why, could Merlin not have opted for lap bars on Smiler's Infinity trains...?! Next up was 2008's Mammut ("Mammoth"), a pre-fab wooden coaster from Holzbau Cordes (similar to Intamin's pre-fab efforts with Balder and Colossos), themed around German saw mills. Cue more tableaux in the queue line of workers, saws, wood, etc... you get the idea. Strangely, no mammoths to be seen. And again, Gerstlauer were involved - this time producing the trains. It's an imposing ride for a smaller park like Tripsdrill (98-foot tall, 2,822ft long), and I had to set my camera to "panorama mode" to fit it all in... We were lucky enough to get 4 back-to-back rides in the morning (it turns out the Park doesn't get so busy during dreary Saturdays in April...!), and I'm happy to report Mammut is a good 'un. An entertaining pre-show before the lift hill (with a "saw mill goes wrong" theme), a killer first drop (especially in the back row), and a varied layout including a tunnel, all add up to a solid ride. Operations were good, albeit one train only. It isn't hugely intense - although I suspect that's not the market Tripsdrill's after - and there is a little bit of roughness during some parts of the ride - although there's a good argument that this is part and parcel of a wooden coaster - but these are minor quibbles of an otherwise decent coaster. You also get the advantage of some superb views of the rolling green countryside as you ascend the lift hill. It's no Wodan or Troy, but just look at the curve on that drop. Phwoar. Moving on, and this is G'sengte Sau - the Park's first "big" coaster, from - you guessed it - Gerstlauer. Indeed, Tripsdrill's involvement with Gerstlauer goes back a long way, as G'sengte Sau was Gerst's first ever coaster, back in 1998. And what is remarkable is how smooth and accomplished the ride is, given that it was Gerstlauer's very first effort. The ride is built around a schwäbisch castle, featuring the wild-mouse bends and tight helices typical of these bobsled coasters, with some good near misses around the building structure. More than most rides at Tripsdrill, this one felt truly integrated with its environment; the bunny hops towards the end of the layout felt more like they were following the terrain than having been artificially created. It most reminded me of Thor's Hammer at Djurs, which was no bad thing - and no surprise either given that Thor was Gerst's 2nd ever bobsled ride in 2002. A little rough in places, but capable of pulling some great forces around its tight layout. Note how close the ride track is to the public pathway; no netting obscuring the view, no fencing or bars erected in the name of H&S. It makes a big difference to the organic feel to the ride, and was great to see - the Germans are clearly more trusted than we are to not do anything stupid... The other side to the castle hosts the wonderful Badewannen-Fahrt zum Jungbrunnen (translation: "Bathtub Journey to the Fountain of Youth"). This is an above-average Mack flume ride, where riders sit in comedy bathtubs meandering around various animatronic bath time scenes - some featuring a fair bit more nudity than you'd see in other countries! I have photos, but we must remember that TPM is a family website... There were three drops, including a backwards one, and some nice interaction with the aforementioned G'sengte Sau. The drop was visually impressive, but didn't get you all that wet - which is the perfect combination for a cloudy April afternoon in my eyes. By far the best bit of Badewannen-Fahrt zum Jungbrunnen however is the figure - let's call her Maike - that greets you when you disembark your bathtub. She surely has to be one of the most gross characters to be found at a Theme Park, ever. Some things cannot be unseen... Onto some of the Park's supporting attractions, and we come first to Doppelter Donnerbalken (literally, "Double Thunder Beam"). This is a quirky set of two 50ft drop towers from Premier, facing each other, both themed to large trees. "Forest Brother" Huzelin lives in these trees, apparently, and the only way to visit him is to ride the tower. You know it makes sense. What was quirky about the ride, apart from the fab Tripsdrill themeing, was what happened for the finale. For most of the ride the towers acted like oversized frog-hoppers, bouncing around whilst catching the expressions of those on the tower opposite (made all the more thrilling by only having a small lap bar to hold you in). The finale though involved both towers being raised to the highest point, and then a pretty fast, aggressive lurch forwards towards the riders on the opposite side. This maneuver was genuinely surprising, and only a touch away from being "too rough" - with only a thin lap bar to hold you in, the experience could be compared to having a minor car crash. A nice idea, but I have no doubt that the same effect could be achieved in a more refined way. It's telling that I didn't rush around to ride it again, and I'm a big fan of drop towers (for the record, Thorpe's Detonator still stands as #1 drop tower for me, even up against other towers three times its height...). The Park also has a decent kiddie coaster in Rasender Tausendfüßler (translation: "Raging Centipede" ), a Zierer Tivoli with a high-capacity train that snakes around a lake with a fountain. Some decent landscaping - and two laps around the track rather than one - elevate this coaster above the majority of similar kiddie rides. Tripsdrill also has an excellent rapids ride in Waschzuber-Rafting ("Washtub Rafting"), a Hafema installation themed around an old washhouse from 1808. The queueline was, as ever, excellently themed, although old mangles and first-gen Miele washing machines aren't the most exciting of things to view whilst queueing... I've always been a fan of Hafema rapids (their best creation surely being Phantasialand's River Quest) due to their innovative 3-piece boats that allow water to slosh around everywhere. This rapids was great fun as expected, with some seriously choppy bits, a thundering waterfall section, and a mock whirlpool, seemingly a Hafema hallmark. Note again how close the Park's public areas are to the trough of the rapids. There's only a small wire fence between the pathway and the ride, meaning that an idiotic guest could easily jump right on in... ...and the same applies for Mühlbach-Fahrt ("Mill Stream Ride"), the Park's kiddie flume with a teensy 11ft drop - the cobbled area shown on the bottom right of this photo is a public area, but with absolutely nothing to stop a guest falling / jumping in to the water. I wonder how many kids in the summer have attempted to jump in! In today's age of hyper-sensitivity to H&S and litigation, Tripsdrill's approach is unusual, but refreshing - let's just hope their more trusting attitude doesn't spell trouble for the Park down the line. And finally a quick look at some oddities that make Tripsdrill, well, Tripsdrill. This ride, Weinkübelfahrt ("Wine Barrel Ride"), looks like your typical cars-on-a-track affair (R.I.P. Miss Hippo), but when various sensors are tripped around the course, the barrels spin like a lively teacup. Fun! Fittingly, just behind the Weinkübelfahrt is the Vinarium, a free museum dedicated to German viticulture that offers all those who enter a free Tripsdrill glass ( ) and a walk around (yet more) exhibits of Swabian culture. More of note was the cellar of this Vinarium, which turned out to be a fully operational bar. Manned by a local guy with absolutely no understanding of English whatsoever (A Level German suddenly became very useful to me), locally-produced wines from the region were the order of the day. I went for a glass of red (€1.50), which proved very palatable. Tripsdrill are onto a winner here: if only more Theme Parks would give out free merch and sell cheap local wine in pleasant surroundings.... Laughs were had on the Park's Wackelräder ("Shaky Wheels") bikes, which had asymmetrical spokes on the front wheels, making them pretty hard to cycle around. I crashed into a wall once, and very nearly crashed into another guest barely a minute later. Good fun, with up-charging conspicuous by its absence. In all, Tripsdrill is a really lovely place, filled with good quality, well themed mid-sized attractions. Karacho is a stand-out ride. The fact the Park is family owned and run is evident throughout, and although it was pretty when I went, it must look really gorgeous in the summer. The flowerbed : guest ratio, even in peak season, must be approaching something like 3 : 1 . It's also a place filled with German heritage oddness, which can range from educational and interesting to just plain strange. To finish, I'll leave you with the latter; yet another Tripsdrill character - let's call this one Stefanie - who was found towards the end of the Tripsdriller Eheinstitut (translation: "Tripsdrill Institution of Marriage"; itself an odd attraction). You saucepot, Stefanie. N.B. We stayed overnight in one of Tripsdrill's Schäferwagen ("Shepherd's Carts"); essentially a classier, all wooden Thorpe Shark Hotel, set in gorgeous woodland surroundings. Theoretically you can fit 5 in these 13 sq.m.carts, although it would be a squeeze even with 4: two bunk beds hang over a central double bed, with a couch doubling up as a potential fifth bed. Toilets and showers are situated in a (well maintained) central block, but for those with a bit more cash to spare, full blown 6-person 35 sq.m. treehouses (with integrated bathrooms) are also up for grabs. It was more than comfortable, and didn't just provide €7 pizzas delivered to our door and a great night's sleep, but a hearty free breakfast the next morning. At €100 (£80) a night all-in, including free entry to the Tripsdrill Wildparadies Nature Park next door and discounted Tripsdrill Theme Park entry, it comes recommended to those looking for an overnight option. Thanks for reading; comments welcome as always. Next up: Holiday Park!
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    It's more than that, there's a fair few issues to be solved first. Best thing on twitter:
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    It's not often that I tend to have the persuasion and determination to visit theme parks outside of Britain, primarily due to the costs, travel and venturing into the unknown when visiting another country. But Liseberg is different. Liseberg drew my attention more than any other European theme park for 2017 because further research into what the place offered and the ease of travelling there entirely on public transport and not hiring a car got me seriously interested. Of course, Helix was the draw factor for me more than anything because I have found it almost impossible to find a single negative review about the ride since it's debut back in 2014. For too long Nemesis and Shambhala have both always been my top coasters and nothing since has ever managed to come close to them... until now! This review will consist of my experience of the park over 2 days earlier last week, flying out on Friday 12th May until Monday 15th May and I will be detailing every little detail I noted, so please understand this is going to be a very long and precise review of travelling there, the park itself and it's attractions it has to offer. If you like to read quick and to-the-point reviews, this is not for you! The aim of this review is to familiarise readers who are considering visiting the park for the first time everything they should know and expect, especially considering a new dive coaster will be opening here in 2018 which is guaranteed to draw quite a few Brits to visit. So let's start at the beginning and that's transport and travel to the park, including costs: 1) TRANSPORT TO & FROM THE PARK From what I understand, there are three airports in or around London which fly directly to Gothenburg Landvetter airport which are Ryanair from Stanstead, British Airways from Heathrow and Norwegian Air from Gatwick. I flew with Norwegian Air since Gatwick was the closest airport from my address (Pompey) and even though I admit the flights are cheaper with Ryanair from Stanstead, I was not willing to travel half way across the south to get on a plane, so Norwegian Air was my choice. My outgoing flight from Gatwick was at 19:35 which cost me about £30 single each way (8 weeks in advance booking, no reserved seat). Once arriving at Gothenburg, follow the signs to the airport bus service called Flygbussarna which runs every 20 minutes right outside the entrance to the terminal and takes you directly to the city itself which is about a 25 minute drive. Price-wise, at the time of writing this review, tickets are 185 SEK, which equals to about £14 return approximately. There are 4 stops along the way, each getting closer and closer to the centre where the terminus train station is located. Since I was staying in a hotel just 10 minutes away from the park, I only needed to get the second stop, the first one being directly outside the park's entrance and the Gothic Towers. So as you can see, it is perfectly manageable to get into the city through the use of public transport without the need to hire a car. A recommendation I make is try and get a flight to the airport which is not scheduled to land after 23:00, because the last bus service is at 00:50am and if there is any delay in your flight, you could risk missing the last one and having to spend about £34 at least with a taxi to get to the city instead, so bear that in mind. Now that's out the way, now onto the park itself: 2) PARK ATMOSPHERE AND THEMING If you were to ask me to compare the park to any other I know, I would find it very difficult because it's unlike any other theme park I have been to. The first and most obvious difference is that it's located right in the centre of a city with motorways, skyscraper buildings, housing and museums surrounding it everywhere. In some ways, similar to Alton Towers, it has a unique feel to it all because seeing a theme park in the middle of a large city/open countryside is the last thing you would expect! Once inside, if you go through the main (north) entrance, you are greeted immediately by a long walkway surrounded by small buildings with gift shops, restaurants, ticket booths and in my case, market stalls (it was their green weekend where the whole of the plaza area and theatre was dominated by fresh plants and flowers). To the right you can see the dominating tower of AtmosFear and the Ferris wheel overshadowing you as walk along the pathway getting ever closer to the centre of the park. Through these alleyways, music played which mostly consisted of chart music, both modern and retro, giving the place a good and clam atmosphere for guests. Presentation wise, this is something I will keep mentioning in the review further down, but the park have done a great job at keeping all the buildings, pathways, lighting and signage looking clean and well-maintained at all times which has really put a lot of our parks here in the UK to shame. Instead of having rotting roofs, mouldy walls and broken lights, it was great to see all the smaller details looked after such as all the lightbulbs for the street lighting working with none that have blown or the roofs and walls of the buildings looking like they have just been cleaned overnight and don't have mould or overgrown weeds everywhere and there was no trace of litter anywhere. Being used to the state of our parks today, this was a pleasant surprise for me, regardless of how small it might be. So overall, it might not be the Swedish version of Main Street or Towers Street, but initial impressions of the atmosphere and theming are good so far with everything being maintained and cleaned on a regular basis (from my perspective anyway). 3) FOOD & DRINK & PRICES Now being a tourist attraction in the middle of Sweden's biggest city, I was expecting much like every other theme park on the planet for the prices of food and drink to be high and it absolutely was. Being used to getting the 20% discount on all food and drink at Merlin's parks for many years, I had forgotten how expensive theme park food can be and some of the prices did seem too high for me. For instance, if you get their Max burger meal deal at one of the many stalls in the park, that will set you back about 89 SEK which is about £8 roughly. A cup of coffee (cappuccino) was about 45 SEK (£4) and a bottle of water about 19 SEK (£1.75), so in comparison to the food prices here in the UK, you are looking at about an average price increase of about 10-15%. Despite however the prices for their food and drink being quite high, I will say that you definitely get a filling meal for what you pay for. On the second day for lunch, I went to the sandwich shop and had just a full salami and brie baguette which was about 65 SEK (£6.10) and it was pretty large and filled properly and was enough to keep me full until late that evening. So bear in mind even though you might be paying more for an average meal at Liseberg, you are getting bigger average portions as a result in comparison to other theme parks, so that might make up the extra cost for you. Another great thing about the food and drink at Liseberg is the variety they provide. Here in the UK it's your typical burger stalls, pizza, pasta, donuts and hot dogs. Whilst Liseberg did offer all this, they also offer as mentioned above some alternative choices, such as the baguette shop, seafood, stir fry, Italian, Mediterranean and Austrian food just to name a few. So regardless of your preference, they are sure to have something to suite your taste and the variety offered was great. 4) OPERATIONS & RELIABILITY The first thing that jumped out to me was how efficient the park was at running all of their rides. The staff were loading and dispatching guests as fast as they can on all coasters, one simple check of the restraint was all that done and the guests I noticed don't tend to carry a lot of bags with them when riding, so essentially, this massively sped up the process and reduced the amount of faff some guests can create to a minimum. Lisebergbanan for instance is a great example because not only were they running all trains on the track despite a 10 minute queue all day (take note, Thorpe Park), but the dispatch procedure was quick and simple - gates opening whilst guests were leaving the train, baggage taken onto the trains down by your legs so it doesn't fall out, one quick check of the handle bars with two staff on each side of the train, a simple thumbs up and they're good to go. All of this can take as little as 20 seconds and the queues as a result were moving especially fast, giving you the opportunity to manage more later in the day. If only our parks could run all their rides this efficiently, there wouldn't be the need for Fastrack most days anymore! As for reliability, I don't know if I was extremely lucky, but I did not encounter a single break down or stoppage across the entire park on both days I visited. Not one. Every single ride was open, at full capacity and ready for guests, regardless of whether there was a queue or not. Perhaps our rides keep breaking down a lot because of the paranoia surrounding what happened with The Smiler where any little thing out of place involves calling an engineer over the rectify it now, but Liseberg could be a lot more relaxed over it or simply because their rides are purely more reliable machines. Part of me reckons it could be to do with the great amount of maintenance and work done to the rides every year which might have something to do with it, which will be mentioned in a moment. 5) PRESENTATION This was perhaps one of the most surprising things for me about all of the rides at Liseberg - everything looked as though it was brand new. Things such as mould and rust on the coaster tracks was gone, or the queue lines being clean with almost no wear marks, or the trains on Helix looking spotlessly shiny and polished with no marks anywhere, or all of the lights working fine on Mechanica at night. Simply put, everything had a great presentation and didn't look like it was neglected and left to rot. This is what the standard should be at all theme parks - to keep your rides looking spotless and new as long as possible. You know something is wrong when Lisebergbanan, a 30-year old coaster looks better than The Smiler at just 4 years old...... pretty embarrassing if you ask me! Other smaller details visible across the park and its rides such as the queue line fencing everywhere being freshly painted, to all the queue TV screens working, to all the signage looking untouched & clean and the vegetation trimmed back so it's not overgrown on the rides are what I appreciate a lot with theme parks and it's great to see details as small and noticeable as this being looked after on a frequent basis. We need an attitude like this across all our UK parks where presentation is key because from a customer's perspective, it is. 6) THE RIDES And now onto the best part - my opinion of their 7 signature rides, including Loke being their new one (spoilers - it's awesome!). Here I'll rank them in the order I found to be best in ascending order and I'll being with AeroSpin: • AeroSpin (6.5 / 10) I wouldn't say this is a bad ride or anything as it definitely wasn't, but I just found it to be a little short and uncomfortable for what it offered. The seats are exactly the same ones you have on Saw and Smiler with the addition of a seatbelt (believe me, it was comforting to have that there for me!), so it wasn't the most comfortable seat for me since I find the restraint to crush my shoulders too much when inverting, and boy, it certainly did it to me on this. When you spin in the air, the two mini wings you control are moderately easy to control and are smooth to tilt with your arms, although you might need to put a bit of effort into them as it can strain your arms a bit if you flip too much or too fast during your flight. Depending on the speed of the wind which you are flying in, getting yourself to spin upside down and tilt can really be hit or miss. My first ride I managed 46 flips and then the second only 16. If the wind speed is minimal, you are really going to have to put some effort into getting your plane to spin upside down and the best way to do this is to flip the wings quickly and in perfect sync with the tilt of your seat. If you can manage nice and smooth tilts, this will be easy enough for you to manage. But if you take quick and small tilts with the wings, you barely make it over the top unfortunately. When flipping upside down, the first time actually scared me because once I got my wings into position to enable me to flip 46 times, it really goes fast and can make you feel quite dizzy very quickly. Plus, considering you are about 100ft above the ground or 200ft if you include the mountain it's on, flipping that fast feeling as though you are not in control did scare me, especially when the spins got faster and faster and you are sitting in isolation next to nobody else. The problem I had most with it was the restraints used and as a result, I had bruise marks on my shoulders after riding it the second time (my own fault) since all the pressure can rest directly onto them if you are held upside down for too long. Also, the ride seemed very short too at only around 1 minute in the air and that's it. Wished it lasted a bit longer, especially considering it would cost the rider 3 tokens if they didn't have the wristband. So whilst it's great fun for the views, the soundtrack by IMAscore and multiple flips you can manage, I just found it too uncomfortable and short for my liking unfortunately. • AtmosFear (7 / 10) If there is any type of ride at a theme park I am still scared of to this day, it's a drop tower, and AtmosFear really was a struggle for me to get on the first time. Being the tallest in Europe, I almost chickened out on this as a result. But the way I saw it before riding is it cannot be any worse than Detonator which has the most horrible free-fall experience I know on any ride out there and considering I managed Hurakan Condor back in 2013 (yeah, the first ride didn't end well), this surely cannot be any worse. Thankfully, I was right. The restraints are almost identical to the seats used on Stealth and Rita with the exception of the shoulder bars being a firm nylon material instead of the padded metal bars used on the coasters. As a result, I could close the restraint using the adjustable fastener to a perfect fit against my chest making sure I was securely strapped into me seat with no give anywhere. When you begin to rise, there's a mist at the top of the building you pass through before you are outside slowly rising to the top. It takes a while to get up there which was a great opportunity to get some amazing views up there. The best viewing point is northwards in the direction of the Liseberg wheel when the river down the the harbour goes. Once at the top, there is no countdown or hint at when you are going to drop, so the first time you ride this, it could come as a shock to you. When released, the initial release does have the proper free-fall feeling for a split second, but unfortunately, despite picking up more and more speed as you fall down, it doesn't get worse and instead, it feels as though the drop has been tamed to quickly due to the brakes reaching up the first 50% of the tower. I would say the first third of the tower you fall down is forceful, but after that, it doesn't feel as bad in all honesty, so the worst bit is the initial release but once you fall, it doesn't feel too bad. I still rate this higher than AeroSpin for the fact it offers better views at the top, travels much faster and doesn't have uncomfortable seats. It might be the most forceless drop tower I've been on yet, but it's still great fun to go on, especially any sunset. In addition, due to the height, this is the first drop tower that has made my ears pop once you've fallen from the top to the bottom in just 3 seconds. That should give you an idea how fast and tall this really is! • Mechanica (7.5 / 10) Initial impressions of this ride from looking at videos of it online were Samurai meets Slammer, and after riding it, that opinion is pretty accurate! The overall theme and look to this ride I loved. The queue line with all the carpentry tools and equipment and molten metal in the barrels, to the great soundtrack (also by IMAscore) and the overall look of the ride's support and pods really looked visually attractive. I'd go as far to say at night, this is one of the best looking themed flat rides I know with all the orange lights and flames lighting up the structure and seats in the dark. Now as for the ride experience itself, the seats and restraints are far more comfortable compared to the ones used on Samurai (different manufacturers I know, but it reminded me too much of Samurai) and didn't crush your thighs or chest once closed. Plus, there's a good amount of gap between each of the 5 seats on the pods, making moving your arms a lot easier this time. The restraints when closed do not mould against your body unlike Samurai, they instead fix into place on the closest notch they can lock onto. So in my case, there was a bit of give between my stomach and the restraint, which made it easier for me to breathe and adjust thankfully. Now onto the ride experience itself, the shocking thing for me was how differently the pods tilt in comparison to Samurai. These pods on Mechanica tilt a lot easier and in effect, you are tilting and flipping much faster and more violently as a result. Some may see this as a disadvantage as it makes the ride quite violent, but I didn't mind and thought it made the experience better. The gondola spins quite slowly when it rotates both directions, but this was enough to not make you feel dizzy or to pin you against the side of the restraint either. Instead, it was slow enough to offer you some really good airtime when the arm flips you all the way over, especially if you get the right pod at the right time where you can be plummeting straight to the ground looking straight down whilst feeling weightless. Really good moments and a long ride too! The only downside I can say about this is even though the pods flip you a lot more than Samurai's, the structure in my experience seemed to shake a little too much from side to side, probably due to the counterweight at the top being too light and as a result, my head lightly bashed from side to side a bit a couple of times. It's not like Colossus which violently tries to shake your brain out of your skull level, but instead, it's more Dragon Khan levels of head bashing instead. So if you are trying this, I recommend you rest your head against the right side of the restraint or to get a seat closer to the inside to reduce the amount of force on your head. Apart from that, great flat ride and looks very pretty! • Lisebergbanan (8 / 10) This was the first ride I went on in the park on my first day as I wanted to leave Helix until later and experience it properly for the first time with a queue instead of walking straight on. I must say, despite it being 30 years old, it kicked one hell of a punch for a family coaster, to the point where I begin to wonder how on earth can they get away with a height restriction this low for it?! The train seats and restraints are very similar to Olympia Looping and Thunder Looper with just a lap bar in place and no divider in between the two seats, leaving you're entire upper body vulnerable to moving from side to side. It was comfortable enough and the seats were quite low down, so there wasn't any thought of losing your bags placed in-between you legs on the floor. Once dispatched and getting to the top of the lift hill, the first helix down the hill and over the garden area is a lot, lot faster than any video online YouTube will show you. I had the very back of the train the first time on this and immediately after going down the first drop, I was shocked by how fast this thing goes when the train is full! It really is quite intense for a family coaster and you even get some great airtime at the back too! Once the first bit is over and you go down and under Uppswinget three times, this is where it really gets fun as you are going what feels like almost 60mph under the tunnels several times over and over again and due to the design of the trains, you're upper body can shake side to side a fair bit when going down the drops and again, this is a family coaster? It seems very fast and intense to be one for me! After that, there's one last small helix around the tree and an airtime hill added before you enter the brakes and I must warn any new riders, if you ever rode the Black Hole when it was at Alton Towers, if you remember the brakes at the end of that, you'll know exactly what these ones are like! They are really very violent and sudden brakes which can lurch you forward in the break run and when you re-enter the station, so my suggestion is when you see the yellow sign saying "Broms" on it, hold the handle bar in front of you and brace you arms ready for impact to stop yourself lurching forwards. Overall, for a family coaster, this was incredibly surprising for me as it goes a lot faster than it looks, it's long, the restraints are minimal and it has a classic feel to it which reminds me of Nemesis, so it get's a big thumbs up from me. • Balder (8.5 / 10) Their wooden coaster Balder was another great coaster which reminded me a lot of Megafobia at Oakwood. The trains were comfortable with both a seatbelt and a lap bar restraint holding you in and thankfully unlike Gwazi and Stampida, this was lovely and smooth and didn't feel horribly jerky or rough anywhere on the train. The lift hill is surprisingly steep for a wooden coaster and for seats like these ones with no back rests, it felt almost as if I was going to fall out backwards if it wasn't for the restraint. When you consider the small space this is located in, it makes sense to have it this steep. Now onto the ride itself, the back of the train is by far the best place to sit. The number of times you are whipped over all the dozens of airtime hills on this thing is huge and from beginning to end, there is not a single moment to relax or take a breather since the hills get sharper and tighter making up for the loss in height and speed towards the end of the ride. The addition of the tunnels also made the experience great as one of them was small enough to create a head chopper effect! It's easy to see why many people regard this as the best wooden coaster they know and it certainly is. The face it's so smooth with airtime after airtime after airtime made this incredibly fun to ride, coupled with the length of the ride makes this a great wooden coaster. For me, it's not quite as good as Megafobia, but it comes close! • Loke (New for 2017) - (9 / 10) I've always found flat rides which swing like Vortex and Rush to be fun to a certain point until they become repetitive and boring, so I wasn't building any huge expectations for this ride despite the advertising and delayed opening it received. But when seeing it in-person, oh my word, this thing is bloody massive! Never ever ridden Maelstrom at Drayton Manor before so this was my first Intamin Gyroswing and what made this ride very special for me besides from the size, speed and theming was the design of the restraints and seats. They are very comfy to sit in and they are very similar to the ones you get on The Swarm. Just imagine Swarm's restraints but without the foam vest holding your chest. That's Loke's seats in a nutshell. The thin metal bars which are there to lower the restraint across your waist were widely spaced and positioned quite far back, so when you fasten the restraint using a seatbelt similar to Stealth/Rita, there is nothing in the field of view from where you are sitting. This in effect made you feel extremely vulnerable and reminded me a lot like Rush with just a lap bar holding you in, only this time, the seats are much comfier and aren't deep this time. Heck, they're similar seats to Nemesis to give you an idea, so imagine Nemesis' seats with just a lap bar. That's the best way I can describe them. Once the floor lowers and the thumping bass from the soundtrack filling the ride starts up, it begins to swing higher and higher very quickly and the speed of the spinning gondola is not too fast to make you feel dizzy, it's just about right and it also gives you the chance to get multiple angles whilst in the air at maximum height too. Once it picks up speed and reaches it's full height, it doesn't matter which direction or angle you are at, this ride is epic! The sheer speed you are travelling when it swings downwards is faster than Rush and the weightlessness feeling you get when falling back down again is forceful and offers some brilliant views when you're looking straight down. Plus, the close proximity between you and Balder makes this even better. When looking down, you are either staring directly over Balder's structure and the people below, or the nearby river directly over the water. In total, you get about 8-9 full swings before it begins to slow down and lower again. It's quite a claim to make, but I consider this to be the best flat ride ever built that I have ridden. The size and speed of this monster is what sells it and the comfort and lack thereof of restraints holding you in makes you feel incredibly vulnerable and doesn't distract you when swinging. In addition, the paint work and theming of this ride looks very nice during the day and night and the soundtrack played with the thumping bass from the speakers really build up a huge anticipation when waiting. Thorpe Park or Alton Towers seriously need one of these rides at their parks with the same restraints, capacity, height and speed, because this beats the living hell out of Vortex and Rush combined in my opinion. It truly is a superb flat ride and is my favourite one out there right now as a result! • Helix (9.5 / 10) And yes, as expected, Helix is my number one ride at the park and indeed as mentioned at the beginning of the review, my new personal favourite coaster. Never before have I been left speechless by a coaster after trying it the first time and Helix was the first to deliver. What a magnificent coaster Liseberg have here. 26 rides later in 2 days and it's still brilliant every time. From the beginning of the experience to entering the queue line, you are instantly transported from the dull innards of the dome to a futuristic, modern and cool looking maze of stairs, platforms and metal walls and mechanics lying around everywhere in the queue line, all lit up in bright neon green lights on the walls, flooring, rock work and ceiling. This coupled with the soundtrack which was blasting though about 30 Bose speakers in all of the queue line in perfect synchronisation gave me goosebumps the first time entering this area. It sounds and looks visually impressive in the queue and the maze of stairs and platforms getting you ever closer to the station builds up some huge anticipation and excitement. Whilst queueing, you can see various windows looking through the walls of the station and underneath, you are able to see a sneak of the brakes, wheels and trains passing over the track entering the station ready for the next batch of people to board the train. In addition, once directly underneath the platform, you can see how the platform gates work with the mechanics underneath the flooring where every minute or so, the bars move in perfect synchronisation which in effect opens and closes the gates. Nice thing to see whilst waiting (not that there was much of a queue!) as I've always wondered how they work. When the queue got bigger during the day, I eventually stopped to watch the TV screens and noticed you can download an app on your smartphone which is a game for the ride where you in synchronisation with other guests can play these mini games to gain points and whichever player every 15 minutes get the highest score, they get a free Fastpass for Helix presumably. I tried multiple times to win but only managed to get as high as number 4 on the leaderboard, mostly due to the fact the app was all in Swedish with no English option making me guess how you play each game by improvising. Once you go up the stairs into the station, you are free to choose any row of seats you want and you are not allocated them by a member of staff. I was so glad this was the case as I wanted front row on my first ride, which I did. The trains themselves look stunning, especially when it gets dark. The fact all the seats underneath are lit up in green and the front of all three trains and along both sides have these very bright white lights made it looks visually stunning at night as it whizzed round the track. Plus, they looked nice and fresh with a shiny gloss finish added, making them look as though they are still brand new. The seats themselves are extremely comfortable to sit in. The lap bar that lowers down is nice and tight and moulds perfectly to your body. There are also grooves on either side if the bar allowing you to rest you arms on when grabbing the handles and the design of the back rest made it comfortable to rest my shoulders into. Plus, despite it being a floored train, the seats are high enough for your legs to dangle allowing you to move them freely as you wish. The difference these restraints make to this ride in comparison to a traditional shoulder restraint are huge and make everything so much more fun. Now onto the ride experience itself, the experience offered is unparalleled to anything else I know. The experience is so smooth from beginning to end, the two launches are lovely and smooth too with no extreme forces exerted on you body and each and every element assembles beautifully together. This is a ride where it gets more and more extreme as you go round as each inversion become tighter, the speed of the trains get faster, the drops become larger and the twists and turns become more and more forceful. The airtime on this thing can be shocking if you get the two very back seats and it's obvious to me now why there's a minimum height restriction of 1.5m for these seats. The airtime over the hill straight after the second launch and top hat at the back of the train is so strong and forceful that it pins your thighs to the restraint almost painfully for a brief second. It's that good! The interaction the track has with it's surroundings is mastered perfectly and you can tell the designers of this ride have really thought this through and been clever at making the most of the surroundings they have. The fact it snugs so closely to the ground at various points makes the experience really quite intense, especially the helix just before the second launch which throws you straight into your seat thanks to the extreme forces. One of the concerns I had been hearing from a few people was this ride was not fast enough and didn't have forces that were extreme enough. In my experience, the speed of this ride is perfectly fine and is fast enough for me to enjoy going on again and again and surprisingly, despite this having 7 inversions, I didn't feel sick or dizzy at all when riding it several times in a row unlike Colossus, Smiler and even Nemesis. Helix even reminded me a lot of Nemesis as it constantly has speed and force from beginning to end and never seems to slow down, and this certainly matched Nemesis in terms of the pacing. If I were to find any criticism of Helix, that would be the lack of on-board speakers used in the trains because the grills have been installed but no audio is played through them. If they can add music similar to Blue Fire from what I've seen, this could make the experience even more exciting for guests. And another criticism I have is when you leave the station into the first inversion, I find the train vibrates a bit too much where you can feel and even hear it. That is literally all I can think of! I would usually supply lots of images of it in action, but I thought making a video would be better, so here it is: So to finalise my review of Liseberg and, if you are visiting for the first time and considering it, do it. The park has great opening times during summer between 11am -10/11pm at the weekends, all the other rides like Kallerado (better river rapids ride than Alton's one), FlumeRide, Hanghai are lots of fun and the atmosphere is very friendly and relaxed. For me, Helix alone is worth the journey and it will be a firm favourite if you ever get the chance to ride it, so make sure when you visit, you ride it. I myself have have an awesome time visiting both Gothenburg city & Liseberg, and this park is certainly one to keep your eyes on for the future since every year they are currently relentlessly installing more and more exciting and great rides, which reminds me a lot of Thorpe's days in the mid-2000's. In particular, Valkyria looks to be an excellent dive coaster when planned to be opened in April 2018, which is a great reason to visit again. It's very likely I will be visiting this park on a frequent/yearly basis now as they have some truly kick-ass rides for a park that is not on the scale of other European theme parks, so my next visit will likely be April/May 2018. Here's a full record of all the 230+ photos and videos I took whilst I was there if you're interested in having a look: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B3MFeYFbViDuREFNOV9rRDdUNVE Liseberg - (8 / 10)
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    Deuteronomy 13: 6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. 9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again. 12 If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in 13 that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, 15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock. 16 You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt. Good old Christian values right there. Extremism does not relate to all those who practice it, we mock the Westboro Baptist Church for it's ridiculous notions of how the Bible should be viewed, to tar all under one brush is exactly why ISIS and it's people are causing these attacks... To divide people, to cause hate, to cause more people to run to them... Saying something like that is playing into the hands of terrorists...
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    Sunday 11th June 2017 The day started with a slow wait for the monorail, however when we arrived at the park entrance it became obvious how quiet the park was. The day started off with a ride on Octonauts (cred), then a few rides on The Smiler & Oblivion before trying out the refurbished Hex (more about this later on). We managed most rides multiple times however unfortunately missed out on Congo River Rapids and RMT - due to Galactica's awfully managed queue taking much longer than expected. A few thoughts from the day; Towers Street looks great with the repainted buildings and frog fountain working, much better than it has done in the past few years. The park was dead with no queues above 20 minutes (apart from Galactica), the pathways were very quiet throughout the park as well. Really like the new park audio, it helps to create a fantastic atmosphere as you walk around the park and compliments the setting well. Capacity was fairly good throughout the day, with most coasters on two trains despite the park being quiet. Duel is looking better than it did last year but is still in need of some professional attention. It has all the makings of a great dark ride but is so poorly executed; take the screaming room for example, who's idea was it to light up the workings and walls rather than the faces?! The Smiler wasn't rough however it was making some very concerning noises, not great for a ride that only opened in 2013 and has been SBNO for a lot of its time. Hex It was great to get back on Hex, still one of my favourite dark rides however I do feel it has lost some of its atmosphere as a result of the refurbishment. The new audio system sounds "tinny" IMO and you can already hear the speakers struggling with the bass - they don't do the soundtrack justice like the old ones did. Also, the ambient track is too loud to be... ambient. The new emergency tape is horrible, it's literally plastered all over the scenes and completely ruins the effect of the towers. The first narrated voice (before the projected video) was skipped on both run-throughs, have they done away with this? Finally, the octagon room didn't seem as effective as before, I think due to the fact the ambient lighting stayed on when the strobes were on. Nice to see Hex back open - but not sure why these changes took a year and two closed seasons! Galactica Galactica's queue management was awful, up there with the worst I've ever seen. We joined the queue which was advertised as 20 minutes; visibly it was just one corner into the station, which I have known to take 10 minutes in the past. As we queued an announcement was playing - "Both stations are open with equal queue lengths. Please use both." Upon reaching the merge point the nearest station was closed with a backlog of people entering the queue for the other one. We joined this and it became very noticeable that the queue was hardly moving. When we finally reached the station, I noticed there were several rows being left empty (), presumably due to broken headsets? The Fastrack queue was also huge. It ended up taking well over an hour, which is frankly a disgrace given that it was advertised as 20 minutes, and we have queued 10 from the same point before. What a farce this ride has become. Ride Count The Smiler x7 Nemesis x4 Thirteen x4 Oblivion x3 Spinball Whizzer x3 Duel x3 Hex x2 Rita x2 Air x1 Octonauts x1 TOTAL: 30 Highlights - Nemesis! - Getting back on Hex - Low queue times throughout the day - Capacity - Park audio Lowlights - Galactica taking up far too much of the day - Only four rides on Nemesis - Lack of park entertainment - Still feels like "diet" Alton Towers - Staff making us walk all the way round on Thirteen despite the fact it was walk-on Thanks for reading
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    Why is everyone double guessing what the theme might be when the themed structure is so obviously a bloody cow. I mean for god's sake, it's not rocket science. The udder is right there. You guys were laughing when you called the almighty M£rlin a cash cow, but with Cash Cow: The Ride 3D VR, who's laughing now?
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    Finally got up to Blackpool yesterday and I will do a blog thingy when I've recovered from getting my brain rattled around on Infusion but I have to say.....Valhalla - bloody brilliant. Ok I've not been to a massive amount of parks and only one abroad (DLP) so I don't know what other big water rides are like but I was massively impressed - so much so that I went on it 5 times. I'm not a fan of walking around with squishy wet feet but it is so worth it (thankfully it was lovely weather)
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    Warning - Spoilers!! Okay - I want to do do a full right up of my (our) day at Chessington at some point but in the meantime, heres what I thought of the Gruffalo:- Considering I'm an old boy and remember the original Professor burbs Bubbleworks from within a season or 2 of it's opening, I am filled with sentimentality and a natural criticism of Modern Merlin and IP attractions. However:- I really did enjoy the Gruffalo for what it was, I appreciated its newness and freshness and found this preferable to viewing a decaying classic - which previously just made me sad! This is now a stand-out piece of theme park immersion for the UK, The visuals and multi-sensory effects really excited me and drew me in, In particular the use of 'scent cannons' throughout the ride and a good balance between animatronics and projection effects! in particular I was impressed by the 'waterfall' effect which made use of projection onto textured scenery! I experienced instant comparisons with Europa park's Arthur attraction, which can only be a good thing! A downside Is the obvious Dead-spots and blank walls, with no effort in some areas to hide Vents, Pipes, wires, electric plugs and staff hatches! In other parks these would have been hidden with strategically placed screens, drapes, foliage etc - particularly when you look up and can see the warehouse corners! I think with the newer slower pace of the boats means you have longer to notice all of this - as well as it depending which way your facing - a case in point being the first scene with the giant book - if you face the other way (viewing the rest of that room) - you see a badly painted blue wall! Some of the animatronics could have done with being a bit more complex too - I know the characters are cartoony - but a moving jaw here and there would have added to the whole and added a further dimension to the 'fibre-glassy' look of the figures! The thing that concerns me with the Gruffalo like with many other merlin attractions is - 'Is an attraction only as good as its first season' - once the effects start to stop working - the ride will quickly loose its magic - It only works so well due to the sum of all its effects working! Another thought was the last room - the 'finale' - this could do with a lot more 'magic' - something climatic - it just feels a bit 'meh' - all the best effects seem to have been used earlier in the ride! - saying that I loved the fog projection before re-entering the station! (how long will that work for). THE other problem is the rest of Chessington now needs to catch up with the Gruffalos level of Immersion!
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    He moves quite badly to how he was designed and sticking the station theme outside on cheap speakers, with a tinny downloaded transfer of the music, sounds so tack and un-atmospheric, robbing it of any interest. You get far better sound design / setup at your average temporary scare maze, let alone a permanent queue at a high-priced theme park. The music doesn't even loop anymore, it has a gap every minute like 2006 Bubbleworks all over again (which would be so easy to fix). By the time you reach the station, you've heard it over and over. Remove the theme music from the queueline speakers Chessington. If you understand anything about themed audio, why was it not instinctive to create a basic ambient track for use outside? A quality ambient track could be knocked up using a professional royalty free sound library in 15 minutes, if you have some understanding, ability and imagination. Terrible standards at this park.
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    If you're willing to blame the true people of Islam for this, then I'm sure you wouldn't mind blaming all Christians for the KKK. Or all Germans for the Holocaust. Or all Irish people for the IRA. There is a fine line between the teachings of Islam and the teachings of ISIS. I advise you check it out.
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    Ugh, why do they have to go and slap the station music on everything? That piece is meant for a big sound hall, not tinny queue line speakers. Audio creativity has slipped quite a bit at Chessington recently...
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    thank you to everyone who came this weekend, even though it was horrifically warm!! I think that a special thanks is in order to ryan. all I did for this meet was write up the initial post and start the thread, since then I have taken a bit of a step back from organising to focus on my exams so ryan completely stepped up and totally organised the legoland meet and also went about sorting rooms, transport and the cash involved for everyone who needed it in this meet. if it wasn't for him we wouldn't have had a bed to sleep in and I for one appreciate all that he's managed to do for the past couple of months! our next meet is in just over a month for minster of sound. if you're over 18 and attend the MoS even itself, don't forget to book your ticket as soon as possible and let myself or ryan know if you would like help with booking a room. just please make sure you bring some factor 50 and a lot of water... my umbrella can only provide shade for so many people at a time (ha ha haha) I hope everyone manages to stay cool as the coming week is supposed to be even more scorching, see you in july!
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    This is total rubbish right here. Not a single one of these effects are new. Projection mapping has been around for years now and is usually done much better by much smaller firms than Merlin. Aroma machines (or "scent pods" as they seem to have been rebranded) have been done for decades, earliest I know is the mid 70s. And lighting should be done to a high standard on all dark rides, like they used to be. Haze and smoke effects need to be done with consideration for the rest the building like fire alarms and ventilation, etc. Other than that, what's so "complicated"? Good smoke control gear for rides has been around for years now. Merlin want to flog their commercial projects as being the most cutting edge thing ever in the UK - they simply aren't and Gruffalo in fact has far less effects (animated figures, animated lighting, aroma, water FX, misters, etc) than the original ride did in 1990. It's a decent family ride but I wish they would let people see for themselves and stop exaggerating their own work with misleading PR.
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    Thirteen was designed to be a simple, spooky family coaster with a novelty element, but was branded SW purely for hype reasons. It worked a treat for them getting 10x the attention (and 10x the disappointment) than if they had marketed it correctly as a runaway train -tier ride. This is the reason they name everything "SW8". Also worth mentioning that "SW7" was announced under the SW name in 2010 before The Smiler as we know it was even in planning. At the time it was going to be a totally different ride in a different area. Really, SW means nothing. The exact process at Merlin is that every ride MUST have a promotable gimmick (or a recognised IP) to be commissioned. The amount of fantastic ideas that have been proposed over the years but were never given the go-ahead (including 3 actually amazing wooden coasters, not the 1-minute token woodie SW8 is) because of the counter-productive "compelling proposition" formula Merlin insist on, is frightening. It even gets as ridiculous as "world's first I'm A Celebrity maze", "world's first fully dedicated to VR", etc because the designers have to satisfy this totally arbitrary criteria for every single non-IP development. Even John Wardley has spoken in the past at how frustrating and arbitrary this process is, and how it has ruined so many great proposals with shoe-horned in "worlds first" gimmicks for the sake of it. Nemesis was not built this way. It made use of the inverted coaster concept because John Wardley knew it would make a great ride, and then designed a layout that pushed it to its best. Had the "compelling proposition" approval process been in place back in the 90s, Nemesis would certainly never have been built. More than likely the awful Arrow pipeline coaster would have instead, so they could say they had the "world's first pipeline coaster". For Merlin, this is literally all that matters, because they can't do just a really good solid ride, they have to rely on gimmicks and slogan-eering. Unfortunately it is not as optimistic as you imagine with designers coming up with genuinely innovative ideas, and deciding that "this one is worthy of being a secret weapon". I can tell you they do not have any option to care about what enthusiasts think. It's more like designers having to come up with dumb convoluted concepts to satisfy the gimmick formula. It is 100% all a game of PR and marketing. Also the SW tag is very well known now - they put it on signs in front of every development and is plastered all over the internet, it very much has a presence outside the hardcore enthusiasts now for those who care to follow Alton Towers' developments. Gone are the days of trying to really innovate & perfect something to achieve the goal in mind.
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    Thorpe Park is reported to have had a 0% increase attendance in 2016 by the TEA. When you spend over £30million on a ride that still requires staff to tap knees to provoke reactions, and ham-fistedly explain a 'backstory' to you through a loudhailer, you know you've lost the plot. I can't help but see DBGT as a huge Heath Robinson contraption, so much complex stuff going on, so much money thrown at it, motion simulation, virtual reality, special effects, IP - all to produce the same basic '20-somethings screaming mindlessly in the dark*' reactions as something like Saw Alive could do on a sinking boat. The new ending should have been there all along, considering it had no kind of satisfying ending before. Like Sub Terra, why are essential parts of an attraction only being added later after bad response? The attraction is much better than last year, but there are still so many fundamental disappointments with it on the whole I feel. Yet we are being told all the time to believe otherwise. A waste of some brilliant ideas and a great format, that was not planned imaginatively and then poorly managed. No doubt Merlin will refuse to admit they could have done anything differently, carry on blaming their subcontractors and blame 'dark rides' for being unpopular, and continue to build corporate bland fodder. This is a critical post obviously, so I ought to say, if you enjoy DBGT, like really genuinely enjoy it, then that is great and carry on enjoying. Personally, I think there are far better possibilities with a more wholesome format and that it was a bland, self-indulgent ride, but that's my opinion. However for those others, Merlin and many enthusiasts (btw I'm not meaning on Mania Hub, more like everywhere over this past year!), who constantly tell people how impressed they should be and how it is "something we are really lucky to have in the UK", to "appreciate" the supposed work of art that it is, you ought to take a step back and let people think for themselves and see through the hype. The wider public can be a fickle bunch and I agree something more commercial and innovative was needed to break the ground, but putting it in the middle of Thorpe was never going to work really, and the messy final outcome has rightly proved a mixed response. I am glad that it hasn't proven a commercial success because, to be honest, Merlin need a kick up the bum to bring them back in touch with reality. *I am also a 20-something screaming mindlessly in the dark but you get my point! ;p
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    Hi everyone, Just to let you know if you havnt seen already, I recently updated 3 of the Dark Rides documentaries with more rare footage of the attractions being built and completed, with improvements throughout. A completely re-edited Haunted House episode is on its way for later this year too. If you've seen them last year, I recommend watching them again now they're updated, as they are much improved with new content too. Part 1 - The 5th Dimension Part 2 - Prof Burp's BubbleWorks Part 4 - Terror Tomb We also post a lot of bonus content and rare on ride videos on the YouTube channel here.
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    Who remembers when they did the 'anyone over the age of 12 must be accompanying someone under the age of 12' rule a few years back?
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    Hey Thorpe! Maybe if you figured out an actual redevelopment and had a deadline/reopen date to share, people would stop asking what's happening with the ride! Just a suggestion!
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    This Summer Get Ready to take a bounce on Lumber Jump, the first ever Mini Drop Tower to incorporate VR.
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    My very first visit ever to Thorpe Park (on 25th and 26th of May 2017 ): Bull's eye, thanks to ... - the weather: I didn't know the theme park was situated on a tropical island! - not that long queues on Thursday (an official holiday on the continent: Ascension Day) - We scored the Big Five already around 1 PM on the first day of visit - AN EXTRA EVENING OPEN BECAUSE OF A VIP EVENT (and open for us, the regular hotel guests from 7 pm - 9 pm). - DBGT during that VIP evening - Nice Shark Hotel with very good but noisy airco. Luckyly we were only two persons in this container room. - One hour ERT on Friday - Celebrety Maze was a try-out version on Friday, but I liked it (it even reminds me a bit of Dungeons in Hamburg and Berlin) - Friendly staff - Reliable public busses on time! Also some small disapointments: - Ugly park entrance and Dome Hall - A lot of attractions temporary out of order (e.g. Depth C. early in the morning, Stealth several times and DBGT whole of te regular Thursday, Storm Surge didn't open before 2 PM and had a failure just when it would be our turn) - Permanent water level (ap. 10 cm) in SS's rafts - Not that much shelter (from the sun, but in other occasions: from the rain) in in the queue lines. - Colossus is .... (censored), but a pain in many ways (queueing: do they have only one train?, dispatching: to get in and out is a kind of contortionisme, the ride itself: I'm sitill aching in neck, back 'n bones) - Flat rides (among others Quantum) are rather small - Trash as decoration around Tidal Wave (we had it too around Dizz at Bobbejaanland and still have it around Lost Gravity at Walibi Holland): not my cup of tea. Please find my trip report (written in Dutch) here: http://board.pretparken.be/showthread.php?237-TR-Thorpe-Park-25-26-05-2017 I guess Google translate also works in the other direction [TR] Thorpe Park 25-26_05_2017.pdf
  23. 3 likes
    I like the stance Alton are taking with this, hopefully it'll get the media off their case when people realise ride stoppages aren't news-worthy.
  24. 3 likes
    Anyone know where the washing machine element is going? Or have I spoken out of turn?!
  25. 3 likes
    Terrorists bombed innocent people at a concert in our country, and our response is to hold an even bigger concert in the same city. This is the best country in the world. Also, say what you want about Ariana Grande's music but I have huge respect for her, and I'm not sure you'll come across someone who doesn't after all this.
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    Today at Alton Towers a guy points at Rita and says "shall we go on the runaway mine train" also on Th13teen the bloke in front of me, after we dropped and whilst going backwards he screamed "I WASN'T EXPECTING THAAAAAAAAT"
  27. 3 likes
    Generally I distrust Organised religion full stop - or ones with very fixed ideals and rules and rituals - life's too short for that! I'm quite a spiritual person - but the blinkered belief of some of the those that follow organised religion - just makes my blood run cold! Remember our history - and that we once burned one another at the stake for being Protestant vs Catholic and visa versa - if that's not organised terrorism then what is? That might be 500 years ago, and certain religions such as Christianity have become more civilised in time - just remember they were JUST as barbaric! SOME muslims are very 'behind' by our modern western standards! And we need to live by those standards and promote our modern values, and keep promoting them! Can also just say say I'm sat in a cafe writing this.... and at the next table are a western white Scottish woman chatting and laughing opposite a muslim woman in her headscarf - obviously friends, ex-colleges or something - just two woman catching up!...... its such a simple scene.... but very symbolic! So don't go round saying all islam is evil! Some people have VERY backwards views yes...But Islam is an ancient religion - and there are billions of Muslims in the world - so We'd all be screwed/dead by now if they all truly did hate us and want us dead! I often see plenty of muslim families at theme parks I visit - they are like us, they love a day out.... the smiles on there faces are the same... remember that!
  28. 3 likes
    Oh boy, and the Muslim taxi drivers who got people to safety out of the goodness of their hearts, the Muslim nurses and doctors who turned up to work through the night even though they weren't on shift in the first place and the countless Muslim people who opened their homes, drove people in their transport and donated their blood, they're all out to 'kill non believers'. These scumbags don't stand for Islam, they're sick, twisted individuals who would claim it was in the name of any religion or political view they believed in, because they are nasty murderers. Sent from my SM-N910F using Tapatalk
  29. 3 likes
    I heard they hired a real demon. His salary is the affection felt for SBNO rides, such as Slammer.
  30. 3 likes
    Don't like to be negative but last I looked most their UK attractions looked like this. They don't budget for any maintenance other than H&S critical. This is the result - closed attractions and terrible presentation.
  31. 3 likes
    Hopefully Kay Burley just moves to DLP News to cover the story extensively.
  32. 2 likes
    In other shocking news, it's been hot today and the sky is blue.
  33. 2 likes
    Thorpe felt you didn't have much new to moan about so decided to close it for the lulz...
  34. 2 likes
    The United Arab Emirates has been getting a lot of attention recently, with four major new theme parks having opened in Dubai over the last few months. I went out there back in March with 130 others on a trip with the European Coaster Club to discover what all the fuss was about. Over the course of five days we visited Legoland Dubai, IMG Worlds of Aventure, Ferrari World, Motiongate, Bollywood Parks Dubai, Sega Republic and some smaller Family Entertainment Centres housed in the giant malls out there. Sadly, Sega Republic has since closed down - it had a fantastic Gerstlauer spinner. The parks are all very high quality, and as you'd expect have the latest and greatest in ride technology. Given the climate, many of the rides are indoors inside huge air conditioned buildings, although there are a few rollercoasters outside. Unfortunately that's not always a good thing - the Blue Fire clone at IMG Worlds of Adventure is already feeling rough, only having been sat outside in the desert conditions for a few months. Luckily, Formula Rossa at Ferrari World (famous for being the world's fastest rollercoaster) provides a brilliant ride. It's acceleration is intense, and knocks our own Stealth out of the water. My favourite coaster of the trip was Flying Aces at Ferrari World. It's Intamin's version of a wing coaster, and is amazing from start to finish - they haven't gone silly with inversions, and it is largely made up of graceful sweeping curves, a huge non-inverting vertical loop, and a finale barrel roll. It's smooth, and very awesome. My favourite park was a bit of a surprise, which I'd not have guessed before visiting: I loved Bollywood Parks Dubai for it's theming and range of great simulator rides. For a park which lacks a single coaster, it punches above its weight. It just proves that, even if you have no idea who any of the characters are or what the story behind any of the IPs is, with some good ride design, hardware and storytelling, you can create a brilliant guest experience. If you get the chance to visit, I'd highly recommend a trip to the UAE. Although everything out there is a bit less familiar, Dubai and the parks are quite Western and the people are very friendly. You may have heard the rumours, but I found that if you obey the rules and show a little courtesy toward the local customs, you'll have no problems at all. I've written up my experiences in a lot more detail, together with photos and videos, on my website. If you're interested in reading more, you can find it at: https://www.themeparkjames.co.uk/trips/2017/ecc-arabian-adventure-uae/
  35. 2 likes
    Haven't made much in the way of proper progress recently, I've been pretty stuck on the steampunk area and yesterday I decided to completely rework the area. I redid the facade of the Spinning Coasters building, I think it looks far more cohesive that it did before, I much prefer it. I also made a Baron 1898 inspired theming element that doubles as support for the lift hill, I built it using the Intamin Giga Coaster track and a variety of different scenery objects, I'm really pleased with how its turned out. I also redid the Spinning Coaster's layout and removed the restaurant, I really didn't like the exterior of the restaurant, it was far too big and bulky. As for the Spinning Coaster my main point of contention was the space of track after the Immelman turn and before the dark section, nothing really happened in it and it just seemed like a poor use of space, I feel it's much better now. As part of redoing the Spinning Coaster's station I tried my hand at using the in game pieces to create something they're not intended for, once again I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, however the station still needs a lot of work. I've also started work on the entrance area for the park, it's inspired by Chessington's North entrance so don't expect it to be filled up like Towers Street when it's finished. I'm not too good at designing entrance area's so I'm keeping it as barebones as possible, the large building at the end is going to be a manor house when it's finished, the park's major gift shop and staff offices will be inside this manor (I may attempt to make an interior for the gift shop, but no promises) The building outline in the corner of the entrance plaza will be a pub/restaurant when it's finished (Think Greedy Goblin at Chessington). I'm at the point at the moment with this park where I'm happy enough with it to leave it alone for a little while, which is great because I have university re submissions that I should be working on instead of playing this game, so yeah, no updates for a little while. As always feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated, thanks.
  36. 2 likes
    Thorpe have released EIGHT new pin badges this weekend... I don't think the photo does justice to some of them (the Stealth one in particular looks a lot nicer in person! Also, the X one is lenticular, which is pretty awesome. They're priced at £3 per pin (as standard with all pins), or a 'Starter Pack' featuring the TP logo, Swarm, Tidal and Stealth pins plus the lanyard in the photo for £12. As ever, Merlin showing that they know how the make merch..
  37. 2 likes
    Merlin constantly compare themselves to Disney in their weird Power point propaganda for staff. Every staff member for any role gets inducted with a "catch the mouse" presentation where Disney are made out to be the enemy and Merlin the brilliant competitor. Last I heard it had been updated to "crush the mouse". Uhh. And nothing really to do with visitor numbers, that's just the numerical way Merlin back up the claim. They want to open a new Legoland every other year until they reach the top spot for visitor numbers, for the only company benefit of being able to say they are "first in the world". They are more like the most incapable theme park attraction company in the world, desperate for expansion without knowing how to properly run a theme park, and winning by buying out so many commercial brands.
  38. 2 likes
    It's interesting you mention IT. The next IP Merlin go for will be their 27th external IP For those unfamiliar with IT, it's about a clown who appears everyone 27 years. Given THORPE love to do fancy things with their numbers (experiment 10 for 10 years, studio 13 for 13, platform 15 for 15), I could see them making Merlin's 27th IP about a current franchise where the number 27 is so important
  39. 2 likes
  40. 2 likes
    Think the main issue with the attraction was / is the over use of VR. If I recall in the very early promo days it was supposed to only have a small segment of VR. Sadly I still hate this ride even with the update. What could have of become with a budget of that level. One thing I really hope Merlin would learn from this is to actual deliver something fantastic if they are going to over hype it. So did this bring in less for the park than The Swarm ?
  41. 2 likes
    If the budget for this ride was less than £10M altogether and isn't costly to run, maybe this can be signed as a one-off for Merlin and wouldn't have too much of an effect on their record. But whether it's £30M, £40M or whatever amount it's being labelled this week, that accompanying an over-reliance of actors to get the thing working resulting in higher costs in the long-term was a huge gamble they took, and if these figures are to be accurate, that's really poor performance for a ride that is branded as the 'future for theme parks across the world'. Now I really do like and enjoy it in the current state, but that's irrelevant. Whether it's loved, hated, forgotten or popular, it's clear the expectation, interest and hopes Merlin & Thorpe had for this thing didn't deliver the way they wanted and lessons hopefully will be learnt from this. This, my friends, is a white elephant.
  42. 2 likes
    People do notice when things are good. They might not come out of the attraction and think "xyz was expertly timed", but their overall satisfaction with the attraction will be greater if it's looked after. The park just have the complete wrong attitude- if no one complains it's alright. Which is exactly why we have disasters like Vampire's station (and crypt, cave and queue for that matter).
  43. 2 likes
    ^ Amazing that Merlin refer to their parks as "magical" and "spellbinding" when in reality this is what they look like.
  44. 2 likes
    In regards to Dragons Falls - I wouldn't expect to see this going any time soon
  45. 2 likes
    They should do a Dragon Falls themed room in there. Completely bare exposed walls with trailing cables etc. Those vinyls are going to get really grubby rather quickly.
  46. 2 likes
    IPs are favoured and theyre now using them more than any original concepts. Theyre not interested in original concepts because theyre so business rather than design led now, theyre very proud of each big IP they 'win' from other companies. But its already happened, most recent projects for the last 5 years have all been IPs (and just as flash in the pan as a result) Sadly, its what entertainment companies are like when they are driven by expansion and shareholders, rather than an actual will to be successful by being the best
  47. 2 likes
    It has become impossible to get on even half the rides you want to in a day, we managed six rides all day on Sunday! Dragon's Fury, Tomb Blaster and Zufari were running in such a way that they probably weren't even getting a third of their maximum throughput, and from watching Rattlesnake I'd guess the same for that - I've never known queues move so slow, it made Flamingo Land's operations look positively fast in comparision! Vampire and Gruffalo were the only saving graces, the queues were moving fairly quickly on these which was good. I think Chessington need to consider the quality of day they're offering, there's no point opening a new/refurbished ride if the operations across the park are as slack as they were on Sunday. It's just no fun standing in queues that move slower than watching paint dry, especially when all you have to look at is peeling paint and tired surroundings; and we missed out on several rides purely due to the terrible capacity on those we went on. Weighing up the cost of admission compared with number of rides ridden, and the standard (all except for Gruffalo were in poor condition), it represents awful value for money.
  48. 2 likes
    I can't believe I've only just noticed the Space Mountain Mission 2 retheme now! The fact that they're getting new trains is brilliant, I never found the original ride too bad so this will only make things better and more comfortable. But here's my issue... I don't care if people will hate me for the following but I may as well say it. I DO NOT LIKE STAR WARS! With SMM2, I loved the soundtrack. The soundtrack is an absolute masterpiece and it made the ride that much better. I know I say that theming is greater than force but this ride was the perfect combination of those factors, plus the music is an entirely different story. The retheme is bound to throw away the soundtrack which is just heartbreaking, sad to say I listen to that soundtrack at least once a week I love it that much. Continuing my earlier statement, I like the space theme but I don't like Star Wars. I won't like the theme and I'm not a huge fan of their music either. The original SMM2 was a ride I feel in love with because it was an adventure into the unknown, it wasn't something I was expecting whereas with Star Wars I probably won't be surprised (Oh great! I can see the Death Star! Wow!). I was hoping to relive the original experience when I go to DLP in October. Clearly not The only good thing out of this for me is the trains, apart from that, this retheme feels like the Guardian's of the Galaxy disaster all over again (I prefer SMM2 to TOT so I'm a bit more devastated). Overall I do not approve.
  49. 2 likes
    I like the bit where it flies off the top and the parachute opens!
  50. 2 likes
    Oh come on, it's a carousel. It's not like they're painting The Swarm orange or adding awful trains and a ridiculous braking system to Nemesis Inferno now is it. If you cared enough, you'd have ridden it over your year(s) of visiting. I agree that it could easily be shifted to another location.