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  1. I wouldn't say that Californias Great America is a park that anyone has a huge itch to get to. Unlike some others in the Cedar Fair group, its investments are on the lower end of the scale. Flat rides are the name of the game and even its planned hyper that it was rumoured to get was given to another park instead (Orion). Eight years ago, it was either this or Discovery Kingdom and bizarrely I chose DK. I thought that was a great little park, but this time it was CGA's turn. It's relatively easy to get to, sitting in San Jose and it took about two hours of train journey from San Francisco. I'd heard very little about this place before so upon arriving I didn't really know where anything was or what support rides there were. The entrance for example looks very similar to other Cedar Fair parks but also Six Flags Great America. I've since learned that and CGA were once owned by the same group. Our first destination was Flight Deck which has the distinction of being B&M's first custom inverted rollercoaster. Built in 1993 the ride features three inversions and is a very old school B&M. It looks stunning in its bright red attire and the ride looked well maintained. My first reaction was how small the station was. It's very cramped and its the same with Patriot and many of the original gang of B&M's are the same (Batman clones tend to have tiny stations too). Also, for all the criticism I saw that Emperor has no station at Seaward, well.. there isn't a station here either. Geek, be consistent. Once getting on, after waiting one train off we went. Very positive G Force heavy, really nice inversions and a well paced layout. There is an odd bit in the middle of the ride where the train travels in a straight line over the station which felt at odds with everything else. The ending is particularly great with an intense helix over a small lake. There was no second train. Unlike Cedar Point which runs three trains to a fault or Silver Bullet which had its second train in bits scattered all over the break run, Flight Decks second train doesn't seem to exist. This isn't an extra-ordinary inverter and neither is it a dud. It's a good, solid B&M which has clearly served the park well. It just made me so glad we have Nemesis. I know its very easy to compare every inverter to Nemesis but the reality is, Nemesis is outstanding. From a layout perspective, a theming perspective, an efficiency and capacity perspective. Every park could learn a lesson from our grubby white alien. I next wanted to get on Patriot but we went the wrong way and ended up exploring all the park instead. Some of my favourite flat rides passed (KMG Afterburner, Huss Breakdance) before we just ended up getting lost. I checked the app and it said that Railblazer was 0 minutes. Staying cautious we decided to take a chance. Now this has two trains running. Which is good as at 8 people a train it has serious capacity issues. We ended up waiting half an hour which I was pretty happy with. To be honest, as good as it is, it's too fast. It zooms through the layout at break-neck speed and it feels very hard to take it all on board. Air time hills, inversions. it's like a blur. No major park should get the off-shelf model. It's too popular for what it is and it just cannot handle a park with crowds. The legend that is Josh C has been tweeting about Jersey Devil, so when he reviews, I'll be very interested in that one. With that out the way we took a ride on Demon, an arrow looper. I like the old arrow loopers. Whilst rougher then most modern rides there's something about a ride with janky track design that just appeals to me. As they start to arrive at the end of their lives, I'm just glad to have got on some of them. Next was Patriot. This used to be a stand up before it got converted to a floorless (like Rougarou and Firebird). Whilst I do get why parks are running away from stand up, I dunno. The floorless train doesn't add much beyond making the ride rideable? Maybe thats the point. My husband made the observation that if it wasn't for the height restriction, this would be an excellent 'starter' rollercoaster for an aspiring thrill seeker. And it got me thinking about rides like this and Daemonen at Tivoli Gardens. And he's so right in the observation. Very few inversions, mildly intense without being mind-blowing. Considering this is a B&M from 1991, its aged pretty well from what I could tell. Still, no second train to be found. After lunch it was time for the wooden coasters. We started with the CGI Wooden coaster, Gold Striker. This had a second train! wow. This was a fantastic ride. Really fast and intense. And with most of the ride hidden from the walkways, it took me by surprise. It probably sits just under Wodan for intensity. Some of the turns it was doing, for a traditional woody, were fabulous. Heavily recommended and the best ride at CGA by a country mile. And onto our final new rollercoaster Grizzly. Quite easily the worst operations I have ever seen on a ride. It took over seven minutes to unload, load and dispatch a train. Part of this seemed to be staff training, the other part was sheer incompetence. You're running one train around your mildly interesting rollercoaster. This shouldn't be that difficult. But it was. What looked to be a twenty minute wait ended up taking around 70. I was done after this, Didn't even want to attempt the low capacity Arrow wild-mouse which was displaying a 40 minute wait. So instead we went on two flat rides including the breakdance. Every park should have a breakdance. They are the best flat ride by far. And we called it a day around 4pm. This park needs investment. On the surface everything looks fine. But it provides a middling day out in a state that has Disney, Knotts & Magic Mountain. Hard to compete, yes, but CGA isn't really even trying. It has great support rollercoasters in Flight Deck and Gold Striker but it needs that killer, triple A attraction to make the difference. And two trains on its rides.
    5 points
  2. I finally did it: I finally went to America for some creds. Before my trip at the start of June, I'd only done European parks, so it was hugely exciting. Before getting to it, here's a setting the scene sorta dealy. This trip had been a long time in the works. Early plans can be traced back to March 2021, which was going to be a Cedar Point + others trip. But that fell through. Still wanting to go out to the States for some creds, I looked at other possible ideas. I could do Orlando / California or similar, but not being a big Disney fan, their draws were weak, and I didn't really have a clue where to start with booking that sort of trip. Resorting to the easier-for-me-to-plan road trip, I quickly honed in towards flying to Philadelphia, and then hitting up some of the big parks there. The plan was to fly into Philly, have a day to get accustomed to the country, then do Hersheypark, Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Six Flags America, Knoebels and Dorney (in one day) and Six Flags Great Adventure. There were some long journey times between the parks, but heyho, I've done long drives and was fine, so I'm sure this'll be fine. The build up to the trip was...hectic. The day after I landed, I was moving flat (for a new job I started last week). My mum is also in the process of moving flat, so I'd been helping her out too. I had finished my temp job only a couple of days before flying out too, which didn't give me much time to generally sort out everything in life. But anyway, I made my way to Heathrow bright and early...and headed to the wrong terminal. My flight was from Terminal 3...I got off the free shuttle bus at Terminal 2. D'oh! Fortunately, it's only a short walk between the terminals, and soon enough I was checked in and in a long security line. Small spoilers: the security queue was one of the longest of the trip! But soon enough, I was on the plane and ready for the 7-8hr flight. Long haul flying was fine for me. Wasn't quite sure how I'd find it, but my American Airlines flight was comfortable, the food was acceptable, and I was able to pass the time by watching Stranger Things 4. Soon enough, I'd landed in Philadelphia. And oh boy, it was hot. Midday local time and it was 35C (oops, I'm in America now, that's....95F). I'm not someone who particularly enjoys the heat (another reason why I was unsure about doing a trip to Orlando). But hey, I'd manage, America has aircon in most places, and I'd adjust soon enough... I collected my hire car no problems. This was actually the first time I'd ever hired a car, and my first time driving on "the other side" of the road. On top of that, it was my first time driving an automatic, and only the third different car I'd ever driven since passing my test 4 years ago. So just a few firsts. I took my time to get used to it before heading off to a nearby-ish Walmart to get some drinks and snacks. This 20 minute drive to Walmart didn't serve me well though. Driving wasn't difficult, but I made the odd little mistake and just didn't feel wholly comfortable whilst driving. I guess that's understandable and to be expected within context, but still, it played on my mind a bit. I carried on to my first motel of the trip and arrived in one piece. Woo, much success. But I still didn't get that comfortable feeling with driving. My excitement and elation for the trip and parks ahead turned to one of worry. "How on earth will I manage all the driving to come feeling like this?". Of course, I was hot, bothered and tired. And then thoughts came flooding into my head..."If I feel like this now, how will I feel after 8 hours outside at a park, then having to do a 1.5-2hr drive?", "How will I manage that for a week straight?", "I'm not sure if I can do this". I'm, err, not the most confident person, and I think this whole thought process shows that. I tried to cast these thoughts to one side and had a spot of dinner from a lovely little restaurant just opposite the motel I was at. But these thoughts played on my mind still. I tried looking at all the drives I had for the next couple of days to try and ease my concerns, but that did little to help me. The first two parks were to be Hersheypark and Kings Dominion, and they weren't a short distance apart. Knoebels and Dorney, parks much closer to Hersheypark, were shut the day after my Hershey trip, so I couldn't change the order to do shorter drives before doing longer drives. In the end, I got inside my head so much that I changed the trip a bit more dramatically. I hadn't booked park tickets due to my lack of organisation. Most of the motels/hotels I booked were free to cancel until 23:59 the day before arrival. So I wasn't going to lose any money. Gone were Kings Dominion, Busch and SFA, the three parks which were a huge drive away. The one motel I couldn't cancel was one which was between Dorney and SFGAd. So the trip changed into: Hersheypark: 2 days Knoebels Free day Dorney SFGAd It made the trip feel less daunting with the driving. It did take out a big chunk of creds, and I was particularly looking forward to Busch / Pantheon. But ultimately, in the moment, I just didn't feel I could do it. In hindsight, it all feels a bit stupid. I'm sure everything would have been fine. I got more used-to and comfortable with driving quick enough. Maybe I should have planned the trip better to build up to longer drives? Maybe I should tried hiring a car on a smaller like (like my recent Hamburg one, where I changed my mind late on about driving too)? Maybe I should have gotten out of my own head / slept on it? Maybe I should have booked everything earlier to force me to do these things? Whatever I should have done, it's done now. And now onto Day 1, which was my first day at Hersheypark... It was June 1st, and again it was hot. The drive from my motel to Hersheypark was about an hour, so I set off in good time. I passed Dutch Wonderland en route - a park which was closed on that day, but I made a note that I could possibly do it on my free day if I wanted. The drive to Hershey wasn't without stress, with my phone losing internet connection just before I was due to go on Route 283, making me very nervous I was going the wrong way. Fortunately, I rolled up at 10ish - huzzah, I was finally at my first American park! I really enjoyed the entrance plaza area: smart and well-presented, with the lovely view of a B&M hyper to boot. Plus, with the shop open, the hour before open flew by. Whilst waiting for the park to open, I realised I hadn't planned out my day at all. I knew roughly what creds the park had, but didn't know the layout of the park or anything. Candymonium was open for season pass holder ERT and right by the entrance, so that was a no-go. Skyrush is bound to be popular, so maybe not there. After a brain wave, I remembered about a particular ride which gets long queues. So whilst the masses made their way to the park's hypers and whatever else, I made a beeline to... Laff Trakk! Yep, my first American coaster was an indoor spinner. It was...okay. There's an attempt with theming and all that, but it just comes across as a bit tacky sadly. And the layout didn't really do it for me. So very much a one and done for me. Carrying on the theme of low-throughput, bog standard coasters, I ticked off the nearby Wild Mouse. It was bog standard. Jesus, I've flown 3500miles for some tacky rubbish I could have gotten at the British seaside...It's time to throw in something better. So it was time for Wildcat. GCI's first coaster - a fact I'd forgotten at the time - does have a decent layout, and is filled with some neat moments. At the same time, it does give off vibes of 'Our first coaster', but you can see what they wanted to do, and how they've refined their coasters with newer models. A decent family-thrill ride for the park. The park had only been open 15 minutes, and I'd ticked off 3 creds. The temperatures were soaring, so now felt like an appropriate time to ride Celsius. Wait, no, I'm in America. Let me try that again. It felt like an appropriate time to ride Fahrenheit. An Intamin multi inversion coaster with a vertical lift and beyond vertical drop - it's either going to be amazing, or bloody dreadful right? It was at this point I learnt to not trust the Hersheypark app too much. The app does give queue times for all the rides, but it said Fahrenheit was only 5 minutes, despite it clearly being more. I hesitated a guess at around 20 minutes, and an update came from soon enough advertising 15 minutes. Ended up taking a nice, round 40 minutes. Ooft. Thank goodness for the misters in the queue line though - they were a godsend! I'll channel my inner MattN now...how was the ride? Well, it wasn't amazing, but it wasn't bloody dreadful. It fell firmly into the "good" category. The layout is surprisingly fun, and the airtime towards the end of the ride took me by surprise. The cobra roll was extremely "vibrate-y", but not in a rough way, which was...odd. I wasn't a fan of the clunky restraints though. So it was definitely good, but this was also something that really needed a reride at some point to determine just how good. It has a pretty colour scheme too I then double-backed on myself to go to the park's duelling woodies: Lightning Racer. I hadn't done them earlier as they opened late, but now seemed like a good time to pick them up. And I have to say, I really enjoyed these. Quick-paced, nice interaction with each other and great coasters in their own right. I wasn't a fan of how it seemed like the Thunder side would win every single time; seems like a bit of a flaw there. Whilst I didn't want to make immediate comparisons, I make it no secret that I love Joris en de Draak at Efteling, so it was hard not to. And to be honest, Lightning Racer definitely feels like an attraction that walked, so Joris could run. Joris sees what Lightning Racer does, learns from its mistakes, and refines what it does well. Hersheypark is filled with "learning GCIs" it seems. Aside #1: I didn't take photos of Wildcat or LR. Clearly I have something against taking bad photos of GCIs. Aside #2: The Lightning (right) side of Lightning Racer was my 250th. Yay. With the creds in that area ticked off, I went a bit more centrally into the park. With stomach grumbling, I decided to pick up a snack. Oooo, finally time to try out some American park food!! A funnel cake standard was nearby, so naturally I gravitated towards there... It was blooming huge! Is this just American portion sizes? Are they meant to be shared? Did I buy a sharing one? I dunno, but I wasn't going to complain. After eating a bit more than expected, I decided another cred might not be best straight away, instead opting for the nearby shooting darkride, Reece's Cupfusion. I like shooters, and I was intrigued by this. I was taken back a bit by the layout going up and down; thought that was a bit quirky. But the best way to describe this (from a European's standpoint) is like a discount/budget Bazyliszek at Legendia. It has screens as well as 2D props (some move, some don't). But it all feels a little bit on the cheap side, and a little bit lazy. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, and I had fun, but really, for a park of Hershey's size and grandeur, I was expecting something a bit better. With that done, it was time for another cred. And I opted for hopeful quality over 'just a +1', and went to Great Bear, the park's B&M invert... Another 40-ish minute wait for this. And I didn't really enjoy waiting for this. Obviously queueing becomes more boring when you're alone, but with no sort of themed music (just generic pop music, which was fine, but meh all the same), and limited views of anything in a painfully dull cattlepen queue, it does drain you a bit. Wasn't helped further by the fact operations were pretty poor, partially due to slow staff, partially due to people being idiots and faffing. Oh well. Anyways, I was on and sat near the back. What followed was a decent, albeit unremarkable, ride. It very much peters out by the end though. Before this trip, I'd ridden 4 B&M inverts: Oz'Iris, Nemesis, Black Mamba and Nemesis Inferno. These are all fantastic examples of the ride type. Great Bear is an example which shows B&M Inverts are good rides, but can also be incredibly paint-by-numbers. "Let's chuck in a big drop, a vertical loop, a zero-g roll, a corkscrew and something else, boom, there's your B&M Invert". That's possibly a little harsh, but really, that's what it is. It doesn't have the location/terrain of Nemesis and Mamba, It doesn't have the scale and 'extra-ness' of Oz'Iris. The layout isn't as polished as Inferno. It just does every part well. It'd be interesting to know what my reaction would be if this was my first B&M Invert. Maybe I'd rate it higher. But for me right now, whilst I enjoyed it and don't have anything overly negative to say about it (ending aside), it just doesn't do it for me. Following the path along, I stumbled across another cred, the comically named Sooperdooperlooper. Obviously the historical nature of the ride shouldn't be ignored, but it very much feels like a ride which was designed to have the loop and nothing else. Literally after the loop, the ride feels like it was designed by RCT's "auto complete" feature, to get the track back to the start in a weird and funky ride. Next up was the big attraction of Hersheypark, the famous Intamin known by Skyrush. Since it had a surprisingly short queue (probably about 2-3 trains' worth of wait, if that), I opted for a front row ride. This turned out to not be the smartest idea, since after 3 cycles, it shut down for a bit. I decided to stick it out for a bit, and 10 or so minutes later, it came back up. And shortly enough, I was on. And WOW. This thing lives up to the hype and is insane. You get lifted / chucked out of your seat every couple of seconds. It's relentless. And yet it remains glass smooth, and even 10 years after opening, hasn't developed an infamous Intamin roughness. Yes, the extreme airtime does kill the thighs - and that does take away from the experience a little bit for me - but that's the point of the ride. Skyrush is clearly a ride designed to try its absolute best to fling you out your seat so you land into the lake, whilst not compromising and things like speed. And it makes a spectacle out of its elements: there's no mini airtime hills that you'd find on a RMC, say. It's loud and proud with what it does. There's no stand out element either, because so many elements are just incredible in their own right. I also liked the mini lapbar release it does whilst on the brake run - much appreciated. Given the lack of queue, I decided to run round for another ride, and got to do a back row ride. Again, bloody insane - moreso with some of the intense airtime moments too. I just about preferred the front, just for the pure thrill of getting the wind in your face, and it being slightly more comfortable. But damn, it's a bloody good ride. The lift hill is comically quick too Hopefully it's clear here that Skyrush is a ride I rate very highly. It's easily a "Top 10%-er", and even a "Top 10-er". For me, it slots nicely into the Top 5 too, slotting above Helix, but below Taron, Taiga and Untamed. Ultimately, the ride comfort is what stops it going above the others, but the craziness of the ride definitely cements its place. From one hyper to another, it was time to ride Sweetsmonium. Wait, no, I keep forgetting I'm in America. Let me try that again. It was time to ride Candymonium. (I'll stop with these terrible jokes now, promise) I'd been keeping an eye on the ride's queue time during the day - despite not really trusting the app - and it had seesawed between 20 minutes and 180 minutes. I decided to risk it on a supposed 20 minute wait. This was my first experience of a "no bags in the queue line" rule, which they were being strict on. Interestingly Skyrush has the same rule, but wasn't being applied. I'm fine with the rule and like the free lockers, but it felt like there weren't enough screens and lockers, and having to wait for a locker was painful. After about a 30 minute wait in the warm tin shed queue, I was on. Given how slow the operations were, I dread to think what it would be like if bags were allowed in the station. I'm understanding to how hard it is to work on rides in hot conditions, but when you have a coaster running 3 trains and you have the 2 out of the station stacking every single time, something ain't quite right sadly. Anyways, I'd managed to bag a back row ride for my first go on Candymonium. And this was my first B&M hyper too. I was quite excited for this. Andddddddddd....it didn't live up expectations. To be honest, all I really remember from this first ride is fixating on the two trims that are on the ride. They are extremely noticeable, and it disappointed me quite a bit. I'll leave my review of Candymonium there for now, but note I will come back to this later! There was now just over an hour left before the park shut. Despite having agreed with myself I'd be back tomorrow, I wanted to try and get all creds done in one day (just to see if my original plan was possible). So I went over towards Storm Runner - arguably the last major cred in the park. It had been closed all day, but I had noticed a couple of test runs. En route to the Intamin accelerator, I found Trailblazer, the park's Arrow Mine Train, looking very shut, and with fencing blocking off the entrance. Well, there's one spite. There were staff stood outside Storm Runner too, that was also shut, and they said it probably wouldn't open today. I didn't press for a reason, but I wonder if it was down to the heat - I know the likes of Stealth and Rita struggle in 30C+ heat, and at 33-35C, maybe it was just too much? To settle that disappoint, I decided instead to ride... Jolly Rancher Remix Previously known as Sidewinder, the park's Vekoma Boomerang received a makeover for this. Because of my immeasurable disappointment about missing out on 2 creds, I didn't take any photos of it on this day. The retheme is nice and vibrant, and the ride gives me 'Speed of Sound at Walibi Holland' vibes: they've taken a Boomerang, added some flashing lights and loud, thumping music. The presentation for it works. The ride itself is an above average Boomerang, which is still a below average ride. I then ticked off the park's kiddie cred, Cocoa Cruiser, and rode the park's old skool woodie, Comet. Really these were just a quick +2 and nothing more to me, though I guess Comet was pretty neat, and also my first taste of a Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster. With a bit of time leftover, I rounded Day 1 off with a couple more laps on Skyrush. Still a breathtaking ride. I possibly could have gotten a couple more goes in, but it broke down again. Intamin, ey? My hastily arranged motel was only a 15 minute drive from the park, close to shops and restaurants, and was reasonably cheap. Huzzah! So Day 1 Hersheypark thoughts: I enjoyed the park. It was busier than I expected, and the heat was a bit much at times. It immediately gets points for the amazing Skyrush, and even though there were some rides which didn't live up to expectations, others beat expectations, so swings and roundabouts. I was certainly looking forward to a second day, getting some rerides on the good creds, and trying some of the non-cred things I missed, all in a more relaxed setting. I have two bugbears about Hersheypark. One is their queue lines: they are all so boring, and the coaster queues don't give you views of the rides. Two is the lack of themed audio. Their newer areas (Chocolate Town and Jolly Rancher Land...not its official name btw) do a good job at creating a cohesive area with some neat audio bits. But really, the atmospheres in and around the stations for the likes of Skyrush, Great Bear, Fahrenheit would all be infinitely better with some loop of special audio. I know it's kinda an American thing, but still. I returned to Hersheypark the next day. It was another hot one, of course, but it was a bit more overcast. I did a strange thing, and arrived at the park even earlier than yesterday though. Why, you ask? Well, to visit Chocolate World of course! Located outside the park, and I guess extending the exterior of their 'Chocolate Town' area, Hershey's Chocolate World is I guess the American answer to Cadbury World (not that I've ever been there, mind!). There's loads of stuff in there to do: a 4D cinema, create your own chocolate experience, plus tram tours and other things. All of that along with a huge sweet shop and a couple of food outlets. Chocolate World opens at 9am (2 hours before the park). I wasn't bothered by the upcharge stuff, but there is a free attraction: Hershey's Chocolate Tour is basically a dark ride, taking you through the process of how the chocolate is made. After seeing the quality of the park's dark ride, it was nice to see how well-polished this is: lots of neat effects and animatronics, and all-in a fab little experience, definitely showcasing the place off well. The queue line serves as a walk through too, giving the history of the company. And at the end of the ride, you get a piece of Hershey's chocolate for free. Resisting the temptation to go round again for the sake of another freebie, I had a look round the shop to kill some time, picked up a Blueberry Muffin KitKat (which, sadly, wasn't all that nice), and then went back outside to get in line before the masses descended to wait for the park to open. Unlike yesterday, there was entertainment outside the gates. Well, I say entertainment, a single member of staff tried rallying some people up to get them excited, and got some kids to play a game. Or something like that, I don't know: he had a microphone, but it wasn't working. Anyways, at 10.45, he got everyone to do a countdown from 10 to 0, at which point.......nothing happened. A couple of staff behind the gates ran around panicking, wondering what was going on. I don't know what on earth was meant to be happening, seems like no one did. But in any case, this countdown to 0 did nothing, and the park opened bang on 11. Noting that the park felt a bit quieter, and not being in a rush to get creds, I decided to head to Candymonium first - maybe it's a morning ride? I got a front row ride and... Damn, that was impressive! Going in knowing a couple of the airtime hills had trims, I didn't fixate on them, and instead was able to just...sit back and enjoy. And it was just great fun: some nice floater airtime, but also some pops of ejector too. It was a class ride, and just really fun from start to finish. I'd've loved to jump straight back on and see what on earth was up with this hot and cold ride, but everyone was making their way over, so I decided to leave it and make my way to something new... Storm Runner was storm running (best pun I have, sorry), so made sense to tick it off before it got a potential long queue. This was a ride I was quite looking forward to, and it kind of lived up to the expectations. It was a nice, fast-paced ride which does what it sets out to do. It's short, but doesn't need to be any longer, as it packs in some cool elements. But at the same time, it doesn't quite hit the 'Wow' moments it should have for such a short, punchy ride. In part, I think it's because coasters have come along quite a bit since this was made, and so there's more modern, quirky elements out there. I can imagine that an RMC-inspired Intamin could make a much more fun Storm Runner today, for example. Also, the restraints are a bit restrictive, and do take away from the experience a bit. I then returned to another Intamin, Fahrenheit, for my much awaited re-ride. It provided a fun ride again, but was perhaps a bit weaker than my original ride. So it cemented it as a "good, but not great" ride for me, and probably not something I'd bother with again for the day. The "theme" (if you can call it that?) of Fahrenheit confused me. I get the idea of it being a 97 degree drop and using it as a temperature and angle (that's clever), but I thought the idea was it was also a 'blazing hot' ride? So why would the temperature be falling? And why am I overthinking this so much? Moving away from coasters, I went to something new and different: Mix'd Flavoured by Jolly Rancher, to give it its full name (sigh) forms part of the new Jolly Rancher Land, and is a Zamperla NebulaZ - one of these new rides which seem to slowly be becoming all the range. They're pretty neat to look at, and though I don't like spinning, I thought it looked tame enough to give it a go. Ultimately, it wasn't awful, but by the end of the cycle, I did feel queasy. The good thing is, though, is as much of a spectator ride as this is, it's still pretty fun to go on too! Turning my attention back to coasters, I then went for to take my reride on Great Bear. The big thing that stood out to me was that it had a much shorter queue, and I now realised how much quieter the park was compared to yesterday. Maybe not having to wait 40-ish minutes for the ride in blistering heat would make me more fond of the ride? Nope, not really. In fact, it just cemented my thoughts, and meant it was another ride I could tick off as "Don't need to ride again". I decided to get a snacky-American-sized lunch: The bucket of pulled pork chips gets my seal of approval Still adjusting to American-sized portions (or just eating sharing portions and not realising it), I opted away from creds for a bit. I ticked off the park's log flume, which was good fun - I particularly liked the calm looking section which was actually on a gentle slope, creating a fun few seconds, and the nice camel hump at the bottom of the drop. I then returned to Reece's Cupfusion, the park's dark ride I decided to try out a feature with the park's app, HPGO, which you can link up with the ride. Basically, it's a free wristband with a QR code. You can use it to load up photos, Fastpass things and all of that. But you can also scan it just before you board Cupfusion, and it then sends your score and on ride photo to the app for free. As you can see, I get very focused on shooters, even if their quality is patchy. Clearly not that good though, ranking 12th of all signed up players of the day, after only a couple of hours of park-opening. That's enough time without creds, so I went to GCI corner of the park to, well, reride the GCIs (ignoring the bog standard Wild Mouse and tacky spinner). A solid duo/trio of woodies there, and I found myself enjoying the Lightning side of Lightning Racer a bit more than yesterday; a good choice for 250 in the end! I even took a terrible photo of Lightning Racer, see! Something I had only learnt the previous day, and that had only truly dawned on me the previous night, is that Hersheypark has a zoo. And whilst it has its own separate ticket, you also get it included for free in your day ticket. So why not have a quick wander through I thought! It's a nice area, not too big, away from the park but not too far away, and a good way to break up the day. Didn't take any photos, but yeah, was nice. Anyways, it was time for creds again. And I surprised myself with how restrained I was in getting back to the one and only... Skyrush! Remember how I said yesterday they weren't enforcing the no-bags-in-queue rule? Well today they were. Eurgh, fine. Don't see the need really; the stupid station design means bags vs no bags is a mute discussion in my mind. Anyways, I got a couple more rides in, including at the back again, and it lived up to my memory from the day prior. Absolutely fantastic experience, and well and truly cemented itself as my #4. Not wanting to completely wreck my thighs one park in though, I left the yellow beast for now to return back to Candymonium, and see what on earth was up with this hot and cold beast. Fortunately it didn't have much of a queue, only 5-10 minutes, and I decided to mimic my ride from the previous day and go for the back row. And you know what? It was fantastic again! It was a ride that was just a ton of fun, and filled with neat airtime moments. Whatever disappointment I had yesterday had dissipated, and I truly liked this sweet ride. I went back round again and bagged another front row ride, which I guess shows my enjoyment of it. So now for my Candymonium review. It's a really fun ride, with lots of neat airtime moments. It's got good pacing with it too, which is great. And what I realised, most importantly, is that whilst it has trims at two different moments, those trims are needed. You still get some good airtime on them, and if they weren't there, you'd be getting airtime more akin to Skyrush's. That wouldn't be a bad thing for the ride really, but it then means you have two rides offering the exact same experience, which you don't want. The trims help differentiate Candymonium from Skyrush, and give the rides separate identities, whilst not taming down Candymonium. Huzzah! My one concern about Candymonium - I really enjoyed my rides where I didn't have to queue, but didn't get the same sense of fulfilment when I did queue. That could also be put down to first ride expectations. So whilst I rate Candymonium, would I be willing to queue for it? Honestly, I don't know. The Kisses fountain is a bit abstract, but I can see what they tried to do. As the photos show, the clouds had become a bit more ominous-looking after my rides on Candymonium. And sure enough, the dreaded "R" word followed....rain. It wasn't unexpected by me: the forecast did predict a short shower. But checking my weather app, it said this shower would last for a good 1-2 hours now. Bugger. Hersheypark close their big outdoor rides in the rain; certainly anything I wanted to re-ride was down. After a quick snack and think, I decided to do what a good chunk of people had done, and ride one of only two indoor rides on park. Not wanting to bother to trek to the other side of the park, I went for another go on Reece's Cupfusion... I got another delightful, free mugshot More importantly though... I claimed the current high score for the day...BOOM! Guy at the exit said he hadn't seen a score above 300k for a while too - whether he said that as a generic customer servicey comment thing, or if he was genuine, I don't know, but yeah. Take that everyone who visited Hersheypark on June 2nd! (I'm not competitive at all......) I had hoped the long wait and doing the ride would mean the rain would pass, but it didn't. It was still going strong. I really wasn't interested in doing Laff Trakk again, so I decided to wander over towards Skyrush, find somewhere undercover, and see what happens. For reference, at this point, it was about half 4, and park closed at 6. So I sat, and I waited. Rain still coming down. I don't mind the rain, but with little to do, I didn't see the point in wandering around too much aimlessly. In hindsight, now would have been a good time to do the zoo, and I could have used my earlier zoo time for rides, but oh well. The rain stopped a little after 5 - woohoo, the clouds have been kind! I didn't know what the rules would be exactly with rides reopening, but I hung back and waited patiently for Skyrush to come back to life. 15 minutes later, still no sign of life. Hmmmm, that's less good. Asked the staff at the entrance whether it would reopen - turns out it wasn't set to reopen for the day. Well bugger. Did it die before the rain? Was it a post-rain thing? No idea. Ah well, back to Candymonium then.... Or not, that was also closed. And there was no committed answer as to whether it would reopen at this point. Other bigger rides were running around the park. But I didn't have much inclination to go on something like Great Bear or Fahrenheit again. The app listed Storm Runner as shut, though I wasn't wholly convinced. Equally though, whilst it would be nice to get a reride on it, I wasn't that fussed in tracking back and giving it a shot. So I decided to call it a day, with only 20 minutes of park time left. So though my visit to Hersheypark finished on a bit of a damp downer, it was still a fantastic couple of days. Skyrush and Candymonium are a great one-two punch for the park, and they have a wide variety of "good" rides too. There's obviously a solid selection of flats too, which I didn't really go on, and an included water park, which isn't my thing. So it's super well rounded too. I hope they continue going for the more 'themed area' approach, even if only lightly, as Chocolate Town and Jolly Rancher Land are wonderful, cohesive pieces. I'd also love to see them get another indoor ride - there's definitely scope and potential for something really cool. Wait no, I'm in Hersheypark. There's definitely scope and potential for something really sweet. Coming soon: Knoebels, filled with nice food...and not-so-nice spites...
    4 points
  3. What you on about?? This is true Disney killer quality!! I have actually now decided after careful consideration to cancel my october outing to Walt Disney World. I dont see ANY point paying a small fortune and then flying 9 hours across the atlantic to go ride Rise Of The Resistance or Flight Of Passage when we have the super detailed pinnacle of theme park theming in the form of Trawler Trouble at our very own chessington!
    3 points
  4. Hi one and all I have created this petition. It is too save/relocate Rocky Express. This ride is symbolic to Thorpe Park and has been enjoyed by multiple people and generations. As this Ride is one of the most popular Family Rides, on The Island Like No Other I consider it integral that it’s saved. A signature may not seem a lot,normally I would agree. Rocky Express is one of a kind and has recently been refurbished. Please please please sign my Petition. Each signature will be the equivalent of me winning The Lottery. Many Thanks in advance for signing my Petition!! Could all forum members please take 5 minutes to sign my petition? Many Thanks Theme Park Fanatic https://chng.it/BY45dTNyYk
    3 points
  5. MattyMoo

    Thorpe Park 2022

    eAStER egG, a NoD tO tHE biG ToP. One thing that you can't fault Thorpe on is their commitment to making the most out of any set pieces or props they have bought....
    3 points
  6. JoshC.

    Thorpe Park 2022

    I understand your fascinating with the ride, and your want for it to return in some way. But your question has already been answered... Rocky Express will not be returning to the Thorpe Park ride line up. It will not open anywhere else. It is time to accept that you will not be able to ride it again.
    3 points
  7. Many thanks to everyone answering the question! The suggestion to start with Nemesis / Stealth worked really well, as we got in essentially without queueing. In the end we managed 19 rides (we didn't do dodgems, high striker, the 4D cinema, storm surge and depth charge), including all the major rides. A bit sad we didn't manage to get into storm surge, but 30 minutes of queueing seemed a bit unreasonable for what it offered...!
    3 points
  8. Trying to work out if trolling or being serious...😅 Last time I went to chessington I found it quite tired looking and whilst great for kids defo a bit dull for an adult lol (wasn't going for my benefit!), but thats fine as its a family park and we need those too. Disney is more of an all rounder. Timber tug/trawler trouble looks like a bigger, rustier version of something you might get outside a supermarket.
    2 points
  9. Martin Doyle

    Drayton Manor

    Did....did I just read Drayton Manor AND Europa Park in the same sentence??!! I must be high or something!!
    2 points
  10. To be honest, I don't think size has anything to do with quality of a ride. My two favourite B&M inverters for example are Katun and Nemesis. One is absolutely mahoosive and the other is tiny. Quality normally holds out so GCI for example, generally are a excellent manufacturer whether thats Wodan or Wicker Man. B&M Hypers, I think at the end of the day is personal preference. Not much separates any of them, in fact for me the only 300ft one I've done is Leviathan and that was nowhere as interesting as Behemoth in the same park. The highest ride I've done I hated. Much love Dragster, but I hate everything about you.
    2 points
  11. Just spent 2 days at a Flood event. The Environment Agency bods showing some interest in flooding was surprising given they spent most of it tooting the horns of people for reasons that weren't disclosed. #FloodFamily
    2 points
  12. 2 points
  13. I am often surprised by the differences between people. Our likes and dislikes are affected by our physical and emotional states, either temporary or permanent and has brought me to the conclusion that if we all liked the same thing, there'd be one heck of a queue for what we like.
    2 points
  14. Yep, spot on - from the very off with this ride after my first run through all those years ago, I have always sung the praises of the hanging carriage, the tube train & station platform. They are all incredibly, incredibly well done and immersive and I don't really think anything else quite compares - in the UK at least - in a theme park. Swarm Island is definitely up there but DBGT's interior is a step even further up.
    2 points
  15. That's a really nice summary, glad it all worked 'technically' at least, even if the experience is messy as ever. Sadly it's not reflective of a 'standard' run-through 😂 I think the number of comments and confusion about weather or not the footage cuts out, and the surprise/acknowledgement at the number of working headsets available says it all about the attraction. It's a mess. Riders shouldn't be noticing this. It shouldn't be the go-to comment in a review. An attraction like this should be somewhat seamless. Completely agree with the comments on the hanging carriage. It's easy to forget that both the actual ride vehicles and suspended carriage are incredible. I remember first riding this when it opened, and how "wow" the suspended carriage and tube train interior was. It really does feel like you're sat on the tube, and the underground station is genuinely BRILLIANT. I think that "The tube" element - train and station - is by far the most immersive and detailed theming Thorpe (maybe Merlin?) have ever acheived. It's SO well done. It all falls down though because those things simply fade in to the background because the poor technology and chaotic story come to the forefront. We only get a glimpse at those incredible set pieces as we rush past them. There's no opportunity to properly take them in. Most of the DBGT experience is spent in an unthemed, narrow corridor, or with a terrible VR headset in front of our eyes. A waste and a shame.
    2 points
  16. Easily over 25 on stealth in a row on a mega dead day in september 2019, no queue, gate by unload platform open, straight back round.
    2 points
  17. I haven't counted rides for a good few years now but I'd say these are the top 3 I've done in a day. Nemesis: Back when it had single rider and it was right next to the exit. It never had a queue and most of the time you got on the same train you came off if you were quick enough. Used to love lapping this. Inferno: On a very empty annual pass day a good few years ago we stayed on this for an afternoon. No idea on a number but easily 20+ Stealth: Quite a few times last year on offpeak weekdays they just left the gate in the station open so you could re-ride, most of the time getting on the train in front. Unsure on ride counts but easily 20+ a couple of times. I've also rode Slammer for pretty much a whole day before but wouldn't have been a high ridecount due to how long it took to load. Used to do Detonator quite a bit in a day too. They do yes. I find Thorpe are definitely the most lenient with re-rides out of the merlin parks. Alton isn't even worth asking.
    2 points
  18. Cheers for that @JoshC. - re: the hanging carriage, you're completely right, bearing in mind it's a huge huge part of everything about the ride, you barely get time to even "appreciate" it to be honest!
    2 points
  19. So it's taken me a while to get round to writing this. But last Thursday I went on Ghost Train and...you know what, it was decent. One of the best rides I've had in years on it. Maybe since...2017??? Short summary of some of the good things: Timed allocations worked well so only a short wait to get on No shutdowns VR worked well A bit more of a scare in finale than just a person coughing (but no demon) But note, looking at this, basically what I'm saying is "Nothing broke and it was a short wait to get on". Which kind of sounds like I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel for good things to say. The thing is, I do like the premise of Ghost Train, and it has a lot of potential, but it doesn't reach it, and it has a lot of problems. Let me now go into a more detailed breakdown... Pre Show This was the usual and seems to do a good job at setting the scene. Feel like the screen needs a good clean though. Pre Show 2 Sigh. This is...a thing. I'm very conflicted by it. It goes on way too long and is way too...cheesy, I guess? The stupid code thing (more on the later) is stupid. The interactions with the group are very hit and miss. BUT. I can see what they've tried to do. The how spiel feels very "Derren Brown". It's the same sort of thing that you would hear from the man himself in one of his shows (either TV or stage). And what it tries to do is pretty cool. The trouble is, it tries to shove together all the different ideas the attraction had / has to make it work. And it really doesn't. Honestly I don't even know what the plot of the ride is any more, with this pre show conflicting pretty much everything else, despite smushing everything into one. I'd be interested to know if Derren had any input into the script here (I very much doubt it). If he did, it shows he's trying to have an influence. If he didn't, it shows that whoever wrote is trying to add the Derren-feel which the attraction needs more of. But it just doesn't work. Hanging Carriage You know the Victorian train carriage? The one which was a huge part of marketing? The one which you step onto, despite it HANGING IN THE MIDDLE OF A HUGE ROOM BY SOME FLIMSY CHAINS. That thing? Yeah, that's a big part of the ride. You wouldn't know it though. There's a blink and you miss it reference in the script in Pre Show 2. But there's no build, no anticipation and, as a result, no reveal about how there's this huge, and really cool, illusion that plays a part in the ride. What a damn shame, Scene 1 The VR and audio worked fine during this scene for me. Was surprised to see that the train had most headsets available too. There was no "buttkicker" effect (when the train shudders when the infected person smashes onto the train). Can't remember if it worked on my ride last year. Scene 2 Well damn, this is bloody awful. You get off the train with the usual panic. Train staff urge you through the tunnels, with the threat of infected staff. I don't know how many actors were in the scene (I think 4?), but 3 of them were train staff, and one was "infected", but all they really do is wave their arms around. I know it's hard to keep up scare acting levels of intensity, and I'm not expecting that per se. But dear me, there's just nothing interesting or exciting here. Nothing really happens. Then you recite the silly code. And that's a really kicker for me. I just don't like the idea. I appreciated the effort of Pre Show 2 for having the Derren-vibe to it. Derren's shows have these sort of spiels, telling you either what to expect and/or telling you the 'moral of the story', if you will. But these spiels, whilst part of the performance, don't interact with the core of the show. This silly code memory/recital bit is likely an attempt at interacting with riders, and trying to mimic the idea of Derren "planting an idea in your mind at the start". But it's just stupid. And I don't like it. Okay, rant over. Scene 3 Again, no tech issues. I've seen a lot of people talk about the scene being cut short. I think I can clear that up a bit. When this new VR was made, the creative team knew of the issues the ride was experiencing, and the dreaded "green smoke" holding sequence. As such, they decided to design a holding sequence which could continue the story, but also cut out at any moment and not effect the story either. Really clever. Now my memory of how this VR plays out is hazy, but I think the way it goes is something like whilst the train is stationery: -People told not to worry, blah blah -Train roof ripped off -Girl on left side of screen gets leg grabbed, bashes head on window -Demon walks through carriage, screams in your face -Girl on right side of screen stands up, wants to get off, gets kidnapped by demon -Remaining people on screen get picked off one by one -When there's only a couple left, SubCore logo appears I believe that holding sequence (which would only be trigged if the train in front is taking too long to load) starts shortly after the demon screams in your face. In the past, it would regularly go into the holding sequence. These days, the ride only operates with 2 out 3 trains, which means that there rarely is a delay in train taking too long to load, meaning that this VR sequence doesn't reach it's holding sequence. As such, people think the VR has been cut. (Disclaimer: I could be wrong here / might have gotten the flow of the VR wrong. But at the very least, I think the scene plays out exactly as it used to, and cuts at the right point) Anyway, that explanation aside, the rest of the scene goes on. The motion base didn't activate to rock the carriage. I'm guessing they've given up the ghost with that. Scene 4 With no photo op, this whole thing is a bit awkward, but I don't think people pay attention to the screens anyway. The actor in there asks if anyone left some sunglasses on the train. How he got them so quickly, whilst people are still entering the "shop" is anyone's guess. And where are these sunglasses, because he's not holding them? But again, people don't seem to notice those details, so oh well. The shop then goes a bit crazy, and out pops an infected actor on the Ouija board, trying to grab you and being a bit crazy. It's a nice effort, but nowhere near as effective as the demon. Speaking of the demon costume, I hear that - in short - it's buggered. Hence why it hasn't made an appearance. I think it's in some way telling that it's been buggered for so long and they haven't repaired or replaced it. It makes a huge difference to the experience and reviews. So have they not replaced because they're not given the funds? Or because they want to prove a point? Or because the attraction is on its last legs? Who knows. On the topic of the demon, it also makes the very concept of the demon pointless. We have this idea of gas infecting people. Then all of a sudden, there's demons. Are these infected turning into demons? Have the demons just been released from drilling too deep? It's always been an unclear problem with the ride's storytelling. But it didn't matter as much in the past, because the infected people would disappear and not be a part of the story once you reboard the train. But now they reappear at the end, with no sight of the demon. Again, it's just this huge inconsistency, and is again indicative of this whole "chucking loads of ideas together and seeing what happens" approach. So that's that. I came off Ghost Train pretty content with my experience, in the sense that everything worked. There were a couple of good reactions from others on the train (mostly at the jump scare bits in the VR) too, which is nice to see I guess. But the whole experience really is a cocktail of things thrown together, with different ideas from the past 7-8 years chucked about, in the hope of making an attraction. And that's a crying shame. I think what Thorpe tried to do is admirable, and as I say, there's the ingredients of a good experience there. But really, it's beyond saving. It's time for Thorpe/Merlin to hold up their hands, say "We tried, but it didn't work", and replace it. But that's surely an expensive proposition....
    2 points
  20. Timber Tug Boat has now docked into Chessington. It’s going to imminently be renamed Trawler Trouble. The Ship with its new name and livery is expected to sail again within the next month. Trawler Trouble looks extremely immersive and follows Disney Standards. It’s hard to believe only 6 months ago it was a ride that resembled that of a Traveling Funfair. I knew that Timber Tug Boat was in for a full scale refit rather than a rename to Trawler Trouble. Chessington is the best Themed Park in England. I have always said that Chessington reminds me of the Disney Parks. Image from Chessington Buzz
    2 points
  21. Awesome TR mate!
    1 point
  22. Very nice Josh! Hope you had a great time in the US. Such a shame about the last minute re-planning, but I imagine that was a good move? America is a BIIIG place isn’t it. looking forward to reading more!
    1 point
  23. 20th June 2022 (Alton Towers Day 2) We had Day 2 in the park today! We got up fairly early and as we were staying in the Alton Towers Hotel, we had somewhat of a head-start (or I did, anyway; my mum and Nan joined me later); even though Early Ride Time is no longer offered, the park opens its gates early to allow you to get to your first ride and queue for it before opening time, and staying in the hotel will naturally allow you to get here ahead of the regular day guests, which is always a bonus: As such, I decided to take advantage of this and head into the park at about 9:25am and head to an area that often gets long queues later on; Dark Forest. I started on… Rita Rita often gets a long queue later on, so I decided to give it a go early on. I watched the ride test for a bit, and I was one of very few people waiting in the area. As such, when the ride opened at around 10:05am, I discovered that I would be on the very first ride of the day, which is an achievement I’ve never had before! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 5, and the ride was more pleasurable than yesterday’s, with less rattle and some phenomenal airtime, as well as a launch that’s punchy as ever and absolutely supercharged pacing! Perhaps controversially, I do like Rita, and it was a great way to start the day: After Rita, I decided to tackle the other coaster in the area… Thirteen Like Rita, Thirteen was on a walk-on queue, so I decided I may as well give it a go while I was in the area. I wasn’t 100% sure of this, so wouldn’t like to claim that I was, but it looked as though I may have made the first ride of the day on Thirteen as well; the train in front of me was empty, and the station looked deserted when I arrived! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated directly on the back, and it was excellent; I once again experienced multiple moments of cracking airtime during the outdoor section, the twisty sections were great fun, the ride was blissfully smooth, and the indoor section was a good laugh as always! I‘ve got to say, I think Thirteen is definitely a back row coaster, based on my memories of the front: After Thirteen, my mum and Nan entered the park, and we attempted to ride Thirteen together. We got as far as the station, and I was even batched into the front row… but the ride broke down. We stood in the station for about 15 minutes or so, hoping that the issue would be resolved quickly, but they eventually closed the queue line. With that in mind, we left the queue. I initially went off to ride Oblivion, on an advertised 0 minute queue. However, the queue looked much longer than 0 minutes by the time I arrived in X-Sector, so I instead decided to rejoin my mum and Nan so we could all ride… Wicker Man Wicker Man was on an advertised 55 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. Interestingly, the queue only took 35 minutes as opposed to the advertised 55, which is always a bonus! Although this could have been in part due to a rather interesting quirk with the pre-show, where both the doors remained open. As such, no one watched it; we were just filtered straight through the room, and the show just started running to no audience while everyone was piling into the station! My mum and Nan were very happy that we didn’t have to watch it, and I have to admit that as much as I do like Wicker Man's pre-show, not watching it did shave off some time getting on the ride and make the experience less uncomfortable. So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 8, and it was phenomenal; relentlessly fast and full of airtime just as it had been yesterday! We all thoroughly enjoyed it: After Wicker Man, I headed over to X-Sector to ride… The Smiler I hadn’t done The Smiler yet today, so I decided to give it a go. The advertised queue was 70 minutes, and it was spilling well into the pit, but I once again used my secret weapon... the single rider queue! But the question is; how much shorter would my queue be today? Well, today was where single rider really came into its own... that queue was walk on, and I waltzed straight into row 2! I actually felt a bit naughty using the single rider queue today, as it basically felt like I was using Fastrack without paying for it... even though single riding via the SRQ is technically allowed, it felt a bit wrong to walk onto the ride when the main queue was 70 minutes. But how was the ride? Well, I'm afraid it was similarly rough to yesterday's; definitely not the most enjoyable: After Smiler, I couldn't leave X-Sector without having a go on... Oblivion Oblivion was on a 25 minute advertised queue, so I decided to give it a go. I did wonder upon joining whether the queue might be longer than 25 minutes, as it was stretching all the way to the tunnel underneath the station where the Lord of Darkness talks about the psychological effects of Oblivion (the longest queue I've seen for it in a while). However... it only ended up taking 10-15 minutes, and this was due to some of the best operations I have ever seen on the ride; they were throwing shuttles out at a rate of knots, my measured throughput average for Oblivion exceeded 1,000 riders per hour for the first ever time, and on 5 shuttles, we were only stacking at the end for a few seconds at most (for some idea, seasoned visitors to Alton Towers will know that you typically stack for a long time on Oblivion). Phenomenal work! So, how was the ride? Well, I was on the front row, and I actually enjoyed it slightly more than yesterday's ride! The sustained airtime was once again phenomenal, but the sense of speed, while phenomenal everywhere, seemed slightly enhanced on the front, for some reason: After my ride on Oblivion, I met back up with my mum and nan, and me and mum rerode Wicker Man on an advertised 35 minute queue. Interestingly, we watched the pre-show this time; clearly the pre-show skipping on our first ride was just a one-time issue! The queue still only took 25-30 minutes, though, so that wasn't an issue by any stretch. As for the ride, I was seated in row 8 once again, and the ride was phenomenal once again: We then had some lunch before I wandered over to Forbidden Valley to ride... Nemesis Nemesis was on an advertised 25 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. This queue ended up being pretty accurate, possibly slightly understated, taking 20-25 minutes; always a bonus! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 6 on an inner seat, and it was good, although slightly jolty in places. This wasn't a dealbreaker by any means, and I've ridden far rougher coasters, but it did detract ever so slightly from the ride for me: After Nemesis, I took a ride on the other Forbidden Valley B&M... Galactica Galactica was on an advertised 25 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. The queue was overstated, only taking 15 minutes in the end; always a bonus! The operations on Galactica were top notch this afternoon; the ride was running 3 trains and both stations, yet we didn't stack on the brake run at all. My throughput average for Galactica was 1,221pph, which was the highest I measured all trip; terrific work! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in the back row, and as I said yesterday, it's not my favourite coaster; it's OK, but I do find the flying position inherently uncomfortable, and I'm also not a fan of the fly to lie, where it dumps you on your back for a sustained period. With that being said, however, the ride did feel a bit faster on the back, and bits of the layout itself are really quite good fun; it's just that I don't particularly enjoy that flying position at all: After Galactica, it was getting on for 2:30pm, and my mum and nan were wanting to head home. As such, we headed out the hotel entrance and closed out our day there. So in conclusion, we had a brilliant Alton Towers trip! It was great to get back to the park for my first 2022 visit, and I had many great rides! In particular, Wicker Man delivered as well as it ever did, with some of my best ever rides on it being had this trip, Oblivion was awesome, and Thirteen has gone up a fair amount in my estimations; it was unexpectedly brilliant this trip! Thanks for reading; I hope you've enjoyed my reports!
    1 point
  24. Thanks for this sweet review! Hershey is definitely a park on my bucket list and interesting to note the pros & cons here. No bags in the queue seems to be a recurring theme in American parks it seems.
    1 point
  25. I find the Nemesis commentary quite funny actually. I don't know many rollercoasters that have reached nearly their 30th year that don't have a couple of rougher moments. It's almost like Nemesis is held to this god like standard and if there is ever a slight rattle has to be commented on. Wicker Man always surprises me. In my head its a middle of the road woodie but after getting off, I love it every time. GCI woodies are pretty special. Just a small piece of advice on your reviews, I've read quite a few of your trip reports and for each ride you repeat the line 'we decided to give it a go'. Try changing that description because as I'm reading through, its all I've noticed and it becomes repetitive.
    1 point
  26. 19th June 2022 (Alton Towers Day 1) Hi guys. After having started 2022 with some slightly more unusual (compared to what I usually visit, anyway) parks, I today returned to slightly more familiar turf; Alton Towers, my most visited theme park of all time! My mum found a very good deal on an Alton Towers Hotel stay, with 1 night in a standard room with park tickets only costing £107pp, so we thought it would be an absolute no brainer to go and spend 2 days at Alton Towers! Interestingly, my Nan has also joined us for her first Alton Towers trip in 3 years (she came with us in 2019), with a ride on Wicker Man in her sights after it was closed on her 2019 visit (it was one of her most anticipated rides after we’d hyped it up). We left Gloucestershire at around 7:30am, with us getting to the resort at a little after 10am. One key upshot of staying in a resort hotel was that we were able to walk in through the hotel guest entrance, which I have never done before! As such, we were in the park by 10:30am: After entering, we headed to our first ride… Galactica Galactica was on an advertised 25 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. Interestingly, this queue ended up being vastly overstated, as we waltzed straight into the station and only had a one cycle wait; always a bonus! So, how was the ride? Well, I’ve got to say that Galactica isn’t my favourite coaster, as I find the flying position and some of the extended elements on your back that come with it a bit uncomfortable, but it didn’t seem quite as uncomfortable as my last ride was, for some reason, which was good. Also, we got front row, which is always a bonus! Overall, while not my favourite ride, Galactica was all right, and a good way to start the day: After Galactica, I tackled the other Forbidden Valley B&M… Nemesis Nemesis was on an advertised 5 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. The queue times board didn’t lie; it was a station wait! So, how was it? Well, I was seated in a row 3 outer seat, and it was good! Just the right amount of force, no headbanging; great stuff! There was a light rattle, but this was very negligible and had no major impact on enjoyment. Overall, it was a great ride: After that ride, I actually decided to go straight back round again for another ride on Nemesis; with a queue that short, it would have been rude not to! This time, I was seated in row 4 on an outer seat, and unfortunately, there was some headbanging present on 1 or 2 of the inversions, as well as a bit more of a judder than the last ride, which detracted from it a tad compared to last time. Still, this impact wasn’t major, and the ride was still very enjoyable! When all is said and done; as much as I don’t rate Nemesis nearly as highly as I know many do, and inverts aren’t as much my kind of thing as some other types of ride, it is a cracking coaster, and I’m very glad they’re saving it. Many of my niggles with Nemesis at this point are more signs of age than anything inherently wrong with the ride, which I’m hopeful the retrack might go some way towards rectifying. I look forward to seeing how it rides when it’s been retracked! After Nemesis, we met back up, and we headed over to… Duel Duel was nearby and on a walk-on queue, so we decided to give it a go. My mum tried to coax my Nan on Duel, but to no avail; my Nan refused to go in, so it was just me and my mum. Interestingly, the ride actually broke down for around 5 minutes shortly after we sat down in our vehicle. This meant that even when the ride did restart, we crawled through the initial scenes at a staggeringly slow pace, with the themed audio being replaced by a continuous loop of “please remain seated; the ride will restart shortly”, which made for an… interesting experience, to say the least; the themed audio didn’t start until a good couple of scenes in! So, how was the ride? Well, given that there has been a considerable amount of discussion online surrounding the ride’s future and the state that it is currently in, I was expecting it to be pretty awful, with a lot broken… but I didn’t think the ride looked nearly as bad as online comments suggest. Sure, it wasn’t working perfectly (a few targets were broken, and my mum’s blaster cut out halfway through the ride), and it is perhaps showing its age a tad now, but all of the main jumpscares were working, and overall, I thought it was a good, fun ride that still delivered on its intended theme and premise very well; my mum commented on how she thought it was surprisingly scary, so it’s clearly still delivering its punches! The breakdown also benefitted my score in an unexpected way due to the slower speed giving me more time to rack up points in the initial scenes; as such, I got a new personal best of 11,500: After Duel, we met back up with my Nan, and we headed on a little further to ride… Runaway Mine Train Runaway Mine Train was on an advertised 25 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. This ended up being pretty accurate, which is always good! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 10, and it was great fun! The ride kept up good speed throughout for a powered coaster, and that tunnel helix never disappoints! My Nan liked it as well; she commented on how “it’s faster than it looks”! Overall, I think RMT is a great, fun ride, and a definite guilty pleasure of mine; it’s definitely one of my favourite powered coasters, and a ride that definitely punches far above its weight in fun factor given its calibre, in my opinion: After Runaway Mine Train, we decided to head over to Mutiny Bay and warm up in Sharkbait Reef, as it was drizzling and getting surprisingly fresh at this point in the day given it’s the middle of June. It is a nice walkthrough to use as a 10 or 15 minute time killer; it’s well themed and has a surprising amount of animals in it: After Sharkbait Reef, we headed to a hotly anticipated ride… Wicker Man Wicker Man was on a 30 minute advertised queue, so we decided to give it a go. Now this was a hotly anticipated ride for everyone in our party; my mum and me, perhaps controversially, share it as a favourite ride on park, and my Nan was keen to ride after missing out on it on her 2019 visit; it was closed both days, and she’d been slightly bitter about it ever since! I was also very interested to ride Wicker Man again because since my last visit to Alton Towers, I have visited Europa Park and ridden Wodan, a larger GCI that really blew me away, so I was interested, and somewhat nervous, to see whether Wicker Man still held up for me. The queue time ended up being somewhat understated, with us ultimately waiting 45-50 minutes; the ride appeared to be struggling more than usual to maintain a consistent dispatch interval, and I think there may have been some form of reliability issues while we were waiting. Anyway, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 8, and I shouldn’t have been worried, because the ride was absolutely phenomenal; that was easily one of the best Wicker Man rides I’ve ever had! The ride was absolutely relentless, and had absolutely stacks of airtime; there were so many bits where I was hurled out of the seat brilliantly, and I wasn’t even on the back! The ride was brilliantly smooth as well, and really comfortable as woodies go; perhaps surprisingly given that I’ve now ridden Wodan, the ride honestly fared better in my memories than I’d remembered from my previous visit, and I’d genuinely say that there’s less of a gap between Wicker Man and Wodan than I’d previously thought! I’d still give Wodan the edge, as I think it does have slightly stronger airtime and a certain dementedness that Wicker Man can’t quite match, but there’s not tons in it by any means; Wicker Man was phenomenal, and my Nan thoroughly enjoyed it as well: After Wicker Man, we sat down and ate lunch for 20 minutes or so before I headed off to ride… Oblivion Oblivion was on an advertised 20 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. I split off to do this while my mum and Nan were finishing lunch, as my mum hates Oblivion with a passion and my Nan instantly ruled it out on the basis of how thrilling and intense it looked. The queue only took 15 minutes instead of 20, which was a definite bonus! So, how was the ride? Well, it was fantastic; I do absolutely love Oblivion, and today’s back row ride was no different; the sustained air off the drop was absolutely sublime, and the sense of speed in the tunnel was truly unrivalled! Not to mention, the bonus airtime pop into the brake run delivered a surprising amount as well! Overall, Oblivion was running very well indeed, and it truly cemented the ride’s high rating for me; I apologise if this is controversial, but it’s my favourite UK B&M: After Oblivion, I briefly met back up with my mum and Nan before once again splitting off to ride… The Smiler The Smiler was on an advertised 30 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. As I was riding alone, I decided to do something I’ve never done on Smiler before, and use a benefit very seldom seen at Merlin parks these days; I used the single rider queue! As such, I ended up halving the advertised queue time, only waiting 15 minutes as opposed to the advertised 30; great stuff! So, how was the ride? Well, I was situated in an outer seat on the front row, and I’m afraid it wasn’t one of the more pleasurable rides I’ve had on The Smiler. It did seem quite rough for a front row ride, with a fair few head bashing jolts, and when combined with the fact that the ride makes me feel somewhat strange anyway even when it’s riding smooth, it did leave me feeling a bit battered and bruised getting off. This might not have been helped by the fact that the restraint was surprisingly tight on my… sensitive area, and it got a proper walloping during one of the jolts, which did leave me feeling somewhat in pain getting off. Smiler is a ride I really want to like, and I do try to go on it with an open mind every time I ride it, as I do like the idea of the layout for what it is and I think it’s a very inspired piece of design, but I’m sorry to say that I never really warm to it, and that was exacerbated today with the fact it wasn’t overly comfortable either: After Smiler, I met back up with my mum and Nan, and we headed over to ride… Gangsta Granny: The Ride Gangsta Granny was on a 30 minute advertised queue, so we decided to give it a go. Me and my mum thought that Gangsta Granny was a ride that Nan might like, so we were intrigued to see her response. The queue didn’t look very long at all at first glance, but did end up taking the advertised 30 minutes, as it moved rather slowly; I did not time the throughput, but it can’t have been very high. So, how was the ride? Well, I really enjoyed it; I thought it was a very nice dark ride when I rode it in 2021, and I thought the same today; there’s some very nice physical set pieces and some very nice screens as well, and I do quite like the ride system! Nan liked it as well! On a side note, did it always have a bubble machine? I swear it didn’t have a bubble machine in 2021…: After Gangsta Granny, we headed over to Dark Forest to ride… Thirteen Thirteen was on an advertised 20 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. This wait time ended up being pretty accurate, which is always a bonus! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 8, and I have to say that that might have been the best ride I’ve ever had on Thirteen; it was absolutely brilliant! Thirteen, while never devoid of it by any means, was never a ride that I would have described as having overly strong airtime. But today, there were 1 or 2 pops of airtime that properly yanked us out of our seats and properly surprised me! The first drop was excellent, with a brilliant pop of airtime that had me well out of my seat, and there was an airtime hill elsewhere in the outdoor section that really threw me up in the air, as well as the odd fun tickles of floater air that Thirteen has always been good at providing! The ride also had good intensity throughout both the outdoor and indoor sections, as well as impeccable smoothness and comfort! Not to mention, that drop track and backwards section were a great laugh as always! Overall, Thirteen was fantastic; it’s a ride that has grown on me a lot over the years, and today’s ride took it up another notch in my estimations. Yes, it might not be the most intense coaster, but it is brilliant fun; I have grown to like it a lot: After Thirteen, my mum and Nan were growing tired and headed on to the hotel room, leaving me to my own devices for the reminder of the day. As such, I then went and rode… Rita Rita was on an advertised 20 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. The queue ended up being slightly longer than advertised, instead taking nearly 30 minutes, but this wasn’t really an issue; I was hardly pressed for time. So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 5, and it was good fun, although a touch more rattly than many of my recent rides, which detracted slightly. It must be said, though, that the ride remains a damn sight smoother and more enjoyable than I’d remembered it being in years gone by; the rattle that it had today was more a minor niggle than a true dealbreaker like its pre-2016 roughness used to be for me. And putting that aside, I actually think Rita has a surprising amount going for it. Yes, the layout isn’t the most interesting, but the launch is brilliantly punchy, the ride is fast paced, and an often overlooked element of Rita that I think really delivers is its airtime. There are 2 or 3 legitimately strong moments of ejector airtime, and even though the ride has OTSRs, these still deliver! Overall, I had a good, fun ride on Rita; yes, the rattle detracted a tad for me today, but I still really enjoyed it overall, and I think it gets a very unfair amount of criticism, myself: After Rita, I went for a walk-on reride on Oblivion. I was once again seated in the back row, and it was once again awesome, with some biblical sustained air and speed: After my Oblivion reride, I closed out the day with a reride on Wicker Man. Even though I was seated in the middle, the ride was just as phenomenal as it had been earlier; the pacing was relentless, and I was almost standing over some of the airtime pops! It was a truly brilliant ride to close out the day with: After my ride on Wicker Man, I made my way to Towers Street and exited the park to head back to the Alton Towers Hotel for my first stay in 3 years. Interestingly, we were upgraded to a Moon Voyager Room in spite of having only booked a Standard Room, and I’m certainly not complaining; the room is lovely: After a sit down in the hotel for about an hour and a half, we headed back down the golden path for an evening meal at the Rollercoaster Restaurant. I’ve dined at this restaurant 3 times now, and I absolutely love it; it’s such a brilliant novelty, the food is perfectly nice for what it is, and it’s possibly one of Alton Towers’ greatest nostalgia moves, in my opinion; all the old concept art and footage of coasters is absolutely captivating: After our Rollercoaster Restaurant meal, we headed back to the hotel and closed out our day. So in conclusion, we had a brilliant day at Alton Towers! I got a fair amount done (14 attractions in total), and there were some brilliant rides ridden! Wicker Man was phenomenal, and on absolute top form on both rides, Oblivion was fantastic, Thirteen was surprisingly brilliant… I could go on, because there were so many great rides today! Thanks for reading! Join me tomorrow for Day 2 of our trip!
    1 point
  27. Even though I don’t often comment on these types of threads, I overheard a conversation between a ride host and a group of pre-teen boys on Maelstrom at Drayton Manor last week while I was waiting for my restraint to be checked. Boy 1: *points excitedly at Shockwave* “That blue ting looks proper sick, bruv! It looks like a water ride; I bet you get proper wet on it!” Boy 1: *turns to ride host* “Is that one a water ride?” Ride Host: “No. Does it look like a water ride?” Boy 2: “Nah, bruv; that’s the one The Inbetweeners went on, init?” Ride Host: “No, we’re not even at the right park; The Inbetweeners went to Thorpe Park…” I felt a lot of second hand embarrassment for them… the ride host did not look very impressed.
    1 point
  28. @Martin Doyle this is probably the BEST desssion you have made. Why deal with the curfuffle of travel half way round the world,when Chessington is in our Country. Let’s face it Chessington is pretty identical to Disneyland Paris. The main difference being the absence of Disney Theming and the extortionate prices.Even the rides are the same as at Disneyland but themed diffrently. Elmer’s Flying Jumbos is almost the same as the Dumbo Ride,while Zufari is kilimanjaro safari‘s English twin. These are just a couple of examples that come too mind.
    1 point
  29. Thats good then 😉 took the trouble to cancel your Disney booking for you as it was still active 😉
    1 point
  30. Construction site photo from today
    1 point
  31. Hethetheth

    Drayton Manor

    Only if you apologise to me when it's not announced next season.
    1 point
  32. 1 point
  33. A woman sat next to me on Stealth today, and she said to me "are you scared". I said "I don't know you that well" .
    1 point
  34. So - sorry - are we saying that people emailing the council with "come on m8 let em bild The Xodus cos I live local and would be sick and means I dont ave2 go2 Blackpool, kind regards" don't counteract the objections of the Environment Agency? I THOUGHT WE LIVED IN A DEMOCRACY 😡 Simple solution: Scrap Exodus, bring back Old Town as Even Older Town, and bring Slammer back to life.
    1 point
  35. StevenVig

    Thorpe Park 2022

    The first person to even ask/suggest it's coming back, is getting permanently banned.
    1 point
  36. Matt Creek

    Drayton Manor

    It really has been a mixed bag of news at Drayton recently. The new additions in the Adventure and Viking areas. Adding and renovating current attractions and the rumours of new ones. Including a potential coaster. The apocalypse removal is honestly a massive blow for both the park and the UK. But perhaps also not a surprising one given the ride’s reliability issues and potential direction of the park.
    1 point
  37. Well that's not very mysterious is it! Unless... game... I want to play a game.... SAW: The Bigger Ride C O N F I R M E D.
    1 point
  38. planenut

    Drayton Manor

    That would be a great shame to lose Apocalypse. I do like that one, along with it's variation of riding, but they have had maintenance problems with it over the last couple of years, and that also relates to costs of manufacturing bespoke parts. The height provides a somewhat magical view of the surrounding countryside in the early morning; I know I'm weird.
    1 point
  39. ThorpeAddict

    Flamingo Land

    Bizarre name not a fan of that. Must admit though I'm exited to ride this, being a fan of Colossus. Also seems strange that they've spent £18m on this but absolutely no marketing whatsoever? Crazy amount of money to spend on a ride that no one knows about
    1 point
  40. Matt N

    Flamingo Land

    As it turns out, the "sik" from Flamingo Land's last tweet was not a jab at Merlin or a typo... it was actually a hint towards the ride's name, as the ride is being called Sik, in honour of local clothing brand SikSilk: https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/new-flamingo-land-roller-coaster-24104725 It's... original, I guess! I'm not a huge fan, if I'm being honest, but I'm sure it'll grow on me over time. Names tend to sound weird at first and then stick a bit more as time goes on.
    1 point
  41. When it comes to retire DBGT, who thinks maybe the hanging carriage area could be left and converted say to a plush restaurant on site
    1 point
  42. I really, really hope (probably somewhat naievely) that Merlin don't cut their losses with DBGT and actually invest a bit more of a significant amount of money into it. I know it already cost an absolute arm and a leg to get the product we receive today, but surely with the lessons learned after opening the attraction and taking feedback on board of guests riding the attraction, they couldn't make the same mistakes twice... or technically thrice because of Rise of the Demon. Personally, I'd like to see them get rid of the entire VR section as it currently stands and completely re-do it. For longevity, this could even be updated every season but obviously know this is very, very expensive to do and nobody could ever convince Merlin that it's worth it, but would really make people WANT to ride the attraction to see the new story. It's been essentially the same attraction with little to no re-rideability since 2016 and that's so disappointing for an attraction with fantastic potential. The theming, the ride system... it's all fantastic. It's the storyline and lack of consistency that lets it down every. single. time. The cheaper option would be to remove VR entirely, imo. Add screens in where the windows would be in a real tube train, perhaps add co2 cannisters (rather than smoke machines for quick dispersal.. or have industry grade extractor fans to remove all the smoke once guests deboard the train so there's no remnance left for the next train of people), strobes and actors running a frenzy inside the train. Probably a health and safety hazard because of the lack of restraints... so add some restraints too. Having video screens instead of VR would also make switching up the story occasionally a hell of a lot cheaper to do too, as can just be done with one camera and no special 360 degree cameras would need to be used. Oh, and bring back the demon costume. I don't care how much it costs to do, but do it. The coughing person at the end does not, and never will, have the same effect as the demon once had. It either needs to make a return, or all references to 'the demon' need to be removed. It's an absolute shambles. Now I think about it, surely these changes wouldn't even be that expensive to implement. But I guess Thorpe/Merlin's attitude to not even replacing the big finale demon costume probably says a lot more about the future of this attraction with an amazing potential than anything else. I really don't think this attraction has much time left, and it's so so sad to see. I mean, just look at the state of the Ghost Train Shop. It's bloody baron.
    1 point
  43. Probably Helix. Ten times or something.
    1 point
  44. I think I managed more than 8 on Ramases revenge a long time ago. Stealth- 8 times I think is my record fairly recently (although I wasn't being that accurate with counting) and at the end of the day they allowed people to re-ride from the exit, partially because the front row queue was still fairly big. Also, a bit different as its a waterpark, but recently at Siam park in one day I did the Kinnaree 10 times and Singha 8, having to go up the stairs is the main obstacle by the end!
    1 point
  45. If you like rollercoasters Cedar Point. If you like everything else Europa Park. I chose Europa but will happily say both are fantastic places to visit. I just value immersion to loads of rollercoasters.
    1 point
  46. I think I agree with the others. Very different and both great for completely different reasons. If I had to pick though Cedar point slightly wins it. I agree with Doyle's last point!
    1 point
  47. That free food for Lorikeets will last until they're all too fat to fly. Again.
    1 point
  48. Thorpe is a four hour park.
    1 point
  49. Celia Mae

    Anti-Rant

    So last night at my air cadets squadron we had our annual awards evening and I got awarded not only a freakin' sword for my achievements over the year but I got promoted to the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer, which is the highest rank a cadet can hold... I'm still so happy I can't get this grin off my face It means so much and I will admit when I sat down after collecting it I got all emotional and had myself a few tears! So happy the staff at my squadron have this much faith in me and I hope I can show them that I deserve it
    1 point
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