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JoshC.

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About JoshC.

  • Birthday 04/06/1994

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  • Favourite ride
    Chiapas
  • Favourite Theme Park
    Phantasialand

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  1. Thorpe have put a job advert up for performers for Fright Nights this year: Unsurprisingly hints towards a return of the Amity High show from last year. Whilst the advert does mention scare actors, there is not mention of 'mazes', or indeed any type of possible attraction we could see.
  2. Mine are largely very boring... -Got stuck on Thunder River at Thorpe in the late 90s / early 00s after the power went off. They turned the ride back on and I completed my ride as normal. -Got stuck on Slammer after a cycle for about 10 minutes because restraints wouldn't release. -Got Stuck on Chiapas just before going onto the mini lift that takes you to the first turntable. Staff member came along and shoved our boat onto the conveyor. No compensation for any of these incidents. My one slightly interesting one is being stuck on X's lift hill and subsequently evacuated. But it was all part of a training drill during my days of working at Thorpe; was completely aware it was going to happen. However, no one else on the train was aware, which made it a bit more enjoyable.
  3. Who wants a WORLDWIDE EXCLUSIVE?! Construction went vertical today. Super excitement.
  4. Chessington was reasonably well run today in honesty. -Getting into the park is smooth. -They've added some high barriers in some of their queue lines (though not others, like Dragon's Fury). -One way systems around the zoo areas weren't followed; hard to say if they are just leftover from zoo days or should still be followed as no one was enforcing them -Rainforest area looks okay for what it is. My biggest bug bear with the park is how much they're overestimating their queue times. My 75 minute queue for Tomb Blaster was 25 minutes. My 45 minute Gruffalo queue was 15 minutes with a cleaning break. 80 minutes for Vampire was closer to 40, again with a cleaning break. I could go on. I get these things are hard to judge under the best of circumstance, and social distancing measures make it even harder, and they want to account for cleaning time too. But when queue times are 2-3 times over their advertised estimates, I think they need to look at themselves a bit. Also wasn't a fan of the operator of Adventure Tree refusing to dispatch the ride until everyone was stood on a social distancing marker (which are twice the distance they should be because they accounted for the middle row of the cattlepen, but don't use the middle row), but not caring about there being a crowd of people outside the queue not distancing. Could have been handled better. In my opinion, parks should have these social distancing markers and recommend people use them, but enforce masks in queue lines. It's harder to do, but if they commit to it, it's achievable.
  5. Jesus Christ this updated version of Tomb Blaster is terrible. Where to start... 1. Shoehorning in a story by having a weird voice say things in scenes adds nothing. I didn't get what the story was as half the time I was focusing on shooting. 2. Turning targets off and not removing them is poor. Having a shooting / interactive dark ride have scenes take place in darkness with a voiceover is even poorer. 3. Where's the audio?! Portions of the ride are in silence or literally just have the voice over. Dark rides should have some sort of background audio at the very least imo 4. The lighting is...okay? Quite a few scenes are lit up too brightly I'd say. 5. The "ending" is bloody dreadful, and again just shoehorned in. 6. Still don't like the new guns (I'm not a fan of those types of guns in general though). The only positive I can say about Tomb Blaster is the fact that you are batched into the building now, which adds a sense of wonder and excitement to entering it (as opposed to just queueing normally through it). But I fully expect that that's just a Covid measure. When the best thing about an updated ride is it's Covid measures, you know you've done something wrong.
  6. Got to see the updated station today, and I was pretty impressed. Organ man (does he actually have a name?) looks great. I had no problem with what they've done with the music and lighting. In general big thumbs up from me.
  7. And Day 5 brings an end to the trip, where we spend a few hours at Dennlys Parc, which is about an hour from Calais... Covid MeasuresFace coverings on rides if you're over the age of 11. Some queues had social distancing markers I think, and people kept at a sensible enough distance. The visit was the day after face coverings has become compulsory in shops again across the whole of France, so I expect that the idea of social distancing might have been on people's minds a bit if it was pushed a lot by the media. A long meandering drive meant we arrived to the park about quarter past 10, and their first (smaller) car park was approaching full-ness, and a couple of coaches of young school kids were entering the park. A little bit of a worrying start, but it turned out not to matter as the park was pretty quiet all day, with basically no queues.First stop of the day was Nitro, a Mobius loop coaster where you do both sides in one ride. It's an okay ride, the concept of course being quite novel, especially with a hint of duelling (though I wish it was timed so that cars went over the air time hill at the same time). However, there's a really nasty turn half way through the 'left side' of circuit, which gave a really uncomfortable lateral jerk. Was not a fan. Plus there was little leg room in the front row of the car, making it a bit uncomfortable.We rode it later in the day too, so it's not horrendous, but that was more out of 'needing to drag a bit more out of the park' than really wanting to reride. We did some of their family rides, including their new-for-2020 ride which was a pedal sky car ride called Xotic. It wasn't a very exotic experience tbh. Next stop was a ride on their figure 8 spinner for the +1 (made by a company called Gesotto, who I'd never heard of before - another one for the manufacturer count I guess!). All that led upto a ride on Furio, their Soquet coaster which was by 200th cred. Boom, achievement unlocked right - I'm slightly less basic now...I remember being a younger, very basic goon sitting on 20 creds thinking how cool it would be one day to have 200 creds; a 'bucket list' sort of thing. So it was nice to hit it, feels a bit more substantial than any other milestone I'll probably hit (unless I magic myself to 1000 one day).. I even made a terrible sign and felt like a pillock getting my photo taken. Never again.Furio itself was a bit meh. Not the good level of wacky that some Soquets are. Looks nice though with the treesWith creds done, it was just a case of ticking off rides. One intriguing ride was Squadron 33, which is a mix of an Enterprise and Gerstlauer Sky Fly..As I've said, I hate spinning rides, but I'm also a sucker for doing something a little different and unique (most of the time), and I don't usually mind Sky Flys (though I hate Enterprises..), so I gave it a go. But damn did I regret it. I was able to rotate myself at points - I think! - but the double spinning motion really hit me. It was much more difficult to judge when you'd be upside down. However, you can get some really cool 'drops' if you time your rotations right.Definitely not my cup of tea, but a really solid and different ride in fairness! After recovering and doing gentler rides, we'd managed to squeeze to just past midday, so had lunch at the restaurant near the front of the park. They had "tacos" on the menu, with a variety of fillings (Mexican, doner, vegetarian, etc). I ordered a Mexican taco, and was somewhat disappointed to find that their version of a 'taco' is in fact a panini... Still, was alright for price.It turns out that after lunch I didn't bother taking any more photos, which probably says something about my feelings about the place. The afternoon was spent doing some of their other family rides on the side of the park that doesn't have creds and a couple of rerides. A particular highlight was their water boat ride, where you drive your own dingy around what's effectively a pool, which also has a water gun attached. You get a solid 3 minute cycle to just squirt people, including helpless people in the queue, and bump around. Pure, simple fun - but also very wet! And, in fact their rapids ride was decent as well - also very well, and actually built by, you guessed it, Soquet.. Oh that random French company, you're full of surprises. I lied, I took one photo after lunch...of this pistachio ice cream I had. It was tasty. So enjoy this final photo...The park also had a 'sitting on a rocking chair with a gun in front of a screen and shoot things' attraction, behind their spinner, but it was closed all day. No sign explaining why and nothing on the website, so not sure if because of Covid or if it's just buggered.We managed to drag the day out till just after 2pm, before ultimately deciding to move on. With no creds or nothing of particular fun en route between the park and Calais, where out half 7 ferry would eventually await us, we decided to divert to Cité Europe, the large shopping centre by the channel tunnel terminal, to kill a couple of hours before a stress-free journey home.Final Dennlys thoughts: My trips have a habit of sticking on a smaller park after visiting great parks to end it (my first major European trip saw me end with a visit Bobbejaanland after multiple days after Efteling and Phantasialand, for example). Unsurprisingly, Dennlys felt rather flat after an incredible day at Asterix. The park is nice and has a few cool rides for a family group, but felt a little weak compared to some of the other smaller parks from the trip.And so that's that - thanks for reading!
  8. Even if they make this their flagship park (a claim I'm wary of at this stage because that can very easily just be PR drivel), that doesn't mean much. Bung in a second hand Vekoma Boomerang, put a new dark ride in the place of Pirates and put a kids ride in place of G Force and that sees them invest more than they've invested in any other of their parks. So it doesn't take much. It's great the park isn't closing, but I don't expect this to change Drayton in any way.
  9. Drayton Manor has been sold to the Looping Group: https://www.draytonmanor.co.uk/blog/drayton-manor-park-confirms-sale-to-looping-group/ The Looping Group own Pleasurewood Hills and West Midlands Safari Park in the UK, as well as parks abroad such as Bagatelle, Mer de Sable (France), Hellendoorn (Netherlands) and more. The parks themselves are fine, but only see small investments. I'd expect the company will be able to turn Drayton around - in the sense that they'll get them making profit again - but I don't expect we'll see anything major happen to the park.
  10. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the world's first non-inverting cobra roll.. https://www.instagram.com/p/CDWovGEhNev/?igshid=18cphty7y76is
  11. They have retracked large parts of Zeus recently (I think some this past winter, or maybe the winter before, or both). I do wonder if that's made any difference! Believe me though, I'm just as sad I didn't like Zeus. I love woodies, and a big classic old school woodie in theory is right up my street. But it just wasn't meant to be.
  12. Assuming, of course, we get mazes! With more parks and Halloween events announcing they're not going ahead, I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing bigger places announce that they're not doing mazes whatsoever. The parks should at least capitalise on a spookier atmosphere and night rides, but with high levels of uncertainty about the situation, I wonder how many places are willing to put the money into building mazes, training staff, etc only for them to be cancelled. In particular with Thorpe, they haven't started hiring actors yet (when they normally would have by now). Obviously there's still months before October so it's not a big issue, but it gives some indication to the park's current stance imo
  13. And now the big one, Day 4 - Parc Asterix! And this was, in fact, my first visit to Asterix.I'll start as ever with the Covid measuresFace coverings were obligatory on all rides and in queue lines. There were hand sanitising points at the end of every queue (just before you board the ride), as well as at ride exits and dotted around the park. There were social distancing markers in queues, but no one really followed them much tbh. However, park security had a major presence in queue lines, regularly walking through queue lines, making sure everyone had coverings on, and were covering their noses. This went to the extreme where I witnessed a security guard watch someone have a drink and not move on until they had finished their drink and put their covering back over their face. A little OTT in my opinion, but equally I can't argue with results: seeing everyone in queues masked up did give a good level of reassurance.Interestingly as well, the park were very hot on filling up every seat - single rider was still in operation, and they were happy to get smaller groups matched up in queues too. The only exception was on water rides, where they weren't trying to fill boats to the full. There are questions about the point of social distancing on rides in my opinion, especially if everyone is wearing a covering, but it did feel odd sitting next to strangers again.Anyways, onto the park. First time I've experienced metal detectors at a full on theme park (Ja-Dar isn't necessarily a 'full on park' imo), but it was done smoothly and easily. Anticipating it would get long queues, we headed over towards the back of the park, where the first stop was Tonnerre de Zeus..We were on in under 15mins which was nice. Zeus is a ride I'd heard a lot about for many years. Whilst I'd seen a lot of people say it's a bit of a love-or-hate ride, most reviews I'd actually read were that it was good, which gave me some quiet optimism. Sadly though, it did nothing for me. It's got a long layout, yet manages to feel like it does nothing with it. It's not rough, but doesn't have enough fun / classic woodie laterals to give it that sort of edge. I don't remember there being any air time either. It just sort of goes around for a while and ends?Even riding it later in the day, it did very little for me. I remember feeling a bit more positive about it, but not much. I just don't really get it? Why do people like this?Is it because of Zeus' underpants? I bet it's because of Zeus' underpants. I don't care if you're wearing floral underpants - your ride isn't that good A quick stop to the neighbouring Goudrix was of course in order. Similarly, this is something I'd heard a bit of a mixed bag of, but mostly negative reviews. In particular, @pluk's review of it from a few years ago stuck in my mind (spoilers for those who don't know: he's not a fan of it..). And, of course, it has regularly been near the bottom of several coaster polls over the years. So I wasn't looking forward to it. However, I was pleasantly surprised! The ride was smooth, the right level of intense and reasonably fun. It's not something I rank highly, as a layout of inversions is ultimately a bit meh, but it was fun enough.Again, a ride was had later in the day. And frankly, I don't know what happened - was a riding a different ride? It was rough and jerky and I did not enjoy it from the third inversion! Perhaps not as bad as some had described it, but still pretty bad. Really not sure how I could have such different reactions to it.My first ride was in the front of a car, and the second in the back of a car, so I guess that could have something to do with it. Could also be different trains too I guess. After that second ride though, I didn't want to risk a third to try and figure it out. But it's just crazy how different the ride experiences were. A ride on L'Oxygenarium ("the good Storm Surge" I believe us Brits are required to call it by law) followed, en route to the next cred: Trace du Hourra. I've only ever done Intamin Swiss Bobs before, so it was intriguing to see how the Mack equivalent would ride. And it was alright. Layout is solid, theming around is good and the operations were outstanding. It'd be nice if it swayed a bit more, as it did feel very restricted, but I guess many of these rides feel like this. We collected the +1 of the Zierer bum rattler, SOS Numerobis (which has an excellent, almost B&M-like roar might I add), before arriving at the highlight attraction, which is of course Oz'Iris.Just looking at the area you can tell it's something spectacular. It just looks stunning, from the theming, the dive under the pathway, to even things like the track colour. Everything just blends beautifully. The queue wasn't too long, no more than 30mins, which was long enough to appreciate the stunning indoor queue line too. And once you get into the station, you see they've capped off the atmosphere perfectly. Even the little lighting sequence on dispatch is just great. Everything works. Also, fair play to the staff, who worked their nuts off loading and unloading the ride - jumping inbetween rows to unclip the seat belts whilst the train was still moving(!), and checking bars insanely quickly. Something like that is an art.As for the ride itself, it was brilliant. A lovely mix of forces, floatly moments, great inversions, decent length and perfectly paced. First drop is fantastic. My highlight has to be when you dive underground past the waterfall, and then come out into the inversion, which is wonderfully profiled. It's just fantastic all round.My issue with B&M rides, which may be a bit controversial, is that when their rides age, they seem to become more intense and forceful. I've noticed it particularly with Inferno at Thorpe, but even my experiences on the likes of Nemesis, Baron 1898 and even Galactica suggest this 'more intense with age' trend. They're like cheeses: they mature and get stronger flavour. As someone who's not a fan of high-G intense rides usually, it's meant some of those rides have gone down in my rankings as time goes on (particularly true with Nemesis).Oz'Iris was intense, but it was the right level for me. It'll be interesting to see how it feels in a few years (ie - when I go back for the Intamin), and whether it's experiencing the same 'growing intensity with age' thing! But for now: 4 rides throughout the day, including a wondrous front row ride, puts it as my favourite B&M, and slides into my Top 5.. I really liked this bit in the station, loosely showing the layout of the ride The random fountain show was fun too - never saw it in its entirety though!Another water ride was in order before lunch, and with the log flume closed for technical difficulties, Le Grand Splatch was the port of call. I'm not normally a fan of big boat / big splash rides (too wet too quick), but this was surprisingly decent, since the finale was more for show, and it was water effects which got you wet. In case you haven't been able to tell, I really like water effectsWith stomachs grumbling, lunch was needed. I'd heard not-good things about food options at Asterix, but ended up being pleasantly surprised at the quality of the restaurant by the log flume (Le Relais Gaulois). A canteen-style restaurant where all the food options looked really good, and ended up being great too. Reasonably priced too, so would recommend!Explored some of the kiddie area, including their decent boat ride, before heading to their Vekoma madhouse, Le Defi de Cesar. I'd heard wonderful things about this, including the pre shows, but knew before visiting that because of Covid, they weren't running said preshows. I was intrigued how it would operate, and the short answer is: badly. It didn't help we went on the ride just after a shutdown, but you enter the ride through the exit and just go straight into the ride. Sadly there was no audio and half the screens weren't on either, creating a really awkward experience. From what I've heard, it sounds like the complete experience is a good one, but this was just rubbish. Hopefully the lack of on ride effects was a blip, but I do wonder if they should just keep it shut whilst they're running the pre shows. Boat ride in the kids land has loads of nice set pieces This chap gave me some serious moustache-envy...Keeping within the Roman area, we cooled off on the rapids, which look stunning but could do with being a bit wetter in my opinion, before braving Pégase Express. Unsurprisingly, this had a long queue pretty much all day, but I guess a 40 minute queue for the park's newest coaster in the middle of July isn't too bad. Again, queue was magnificent, giving great views of the ride and the rapids, and the indoor section was brilliant. The ride itself is solid too. The launch out the station took me by surprise, the section after the lift hill is good fun with some nice twists and turns. The shed is simple but effective, and the backwards section is the perfect length and style. So all in all, a fantastic family coaster.Also worth saying they weren't using the bag drop; don't know if that's just because of Covid (it seemed in an awkward space) or if they're just not bothering with it (let's face it, if you can keep your bags on Goudrix, you can keep your bags on this easily).The final cred was ticked off after this. Another +1. Something I'd been really looking forward to at Asterix was L'Aérolaf, the park's 'rotating bar'. You buy a drink, then take a seat at a table at the bottom of a tower. You then go up 35m and slowly rotate, taking in views of the park and surrounding area, whilst enjoying your drink for about 10mins, before coming back down. Awesome concept for a theme park, and I'd always wanted to do one of those 'have a meal in the sky' experiences - so this was very much a discount version on that. Great views, really nice and open (you just have a seatbelt in your seat of course), and was a great way to break up the day.It's on the pricier side - my mocktail was 7,90€ - but I'd say it's worth doing. For reference, a bottle of Coke was 6,90€, which I think was about a 3-3,50€ mark up compared to elsewhere at the park. So if you view it in that sense, you're paying about 3,50€ for the experience, which isn't bad. You even get to keep the themed cup your drink is served in!One weird quirk for this though: You had to wear a covering whilst the table went from the bottom to the top. You were then told you could remove it. When it was ready to go back down, we were told to wear a covering again. Felt very odd and pointless given everyone had their coverings off/down for the past 10 minutes and we were the same distance away as before. Excuse the feet, but yeah - it's high! Me trying not to look like I'm bricking myself and desperately afraid of dropping drink Ahh, the face covering hides that fear...but just makes me look like a confused middle-aged man who has no idea how the selfie mode on his phone works...Final major ride to do was Menhir Express, their log flume, which was back open and had a reasonable queue. It was a decent log flume, good level of wet and the surprise shed moment took me completely off guard and I loved it! This took us to about half 4ish, leaving the final 2 and a bit hours for re-rides and just admiring the park. Things really died down in the last half hour or so; Oz'Iris was basically walk on for example! Really awesome way to end the day.Final thoughts: Asterix is bloody brilliant. I really enjoyed it and, all in all, it's up there as one of my favourite parks. I may not be a fan of two of their major coasters, but it's clear they serve a purpose and people do enjoy them. Their water ride selection is brilliant. And they have a good selection of other rides which will suit most people's tastes too (I never bothered with their flat rides for example, but they were always busy and look sublime). Their quality of theming is amazing as well, along with all the staff being top notch too! Would love to see the park get another dark ride or two, and can't wait till 2023 for the Intamin (or whenever it gets pushed back too..!)
  14. Was Swarm badly marketed though? Personally, I think they did a solid job with it. Anyone who visited the park in 2011 heard about it as they had a good on-park marketing campaign. They played on the popular 'end of the world' gimmick for 2012. The online stuff was good. The last minute You Me at Six song drew a lot of attention to tbf. I think Swarm's major issues were that the brand was weak, and that the ride experience wasn't the intense thrill ride people expected. But they were both post-opening issues. Personally, I think whatever they did in 2012, it would have "failed" in Merlin's eyes. The park were coming off the back of their two best years ever attendance-wise, and 2012 was a year when a lot of other things captured people's attentions. People just didn't want to go to Thorpe, and indeed theme parks in general saw a dip. Swarm has stood the test of time though and is largely a popular and well-received ride. But obviously that means little for Merlin's short termism.
  15. JoshC.

    Intamin

    Hopefully Intamin sue Mack over them 'stealing' the Mega Lite layout then... (See this (also Piraten at Djurs) vs this) Whilst we're at it, I hope Vekoma sue B&M for copying the layout of the Junior Inverts which B&M built in China. I can't find a link, so feel free to not believe me or just take my word for it, but I've heard that RMC aren't planning on really doing launch coasters. They're happy with what they have, and the issues with Lightning Rod have kept them grounded. You say that Intamin have contracted RMC in the past, and mention rides which were built 10-15 years ago, in a market that Intamin don't deal with any more (wooden coasters). Things have changed a lot since then. RMC don't have much more experience with single rail track either, really. They only have built two (which have opened) - that's nothing. It's easy enough for Intamin to 'catch up' with having that experience if you will, and we don't know what's been going on behind the scenes (which could lead them to installing more confidence in buyers over RMC). Intamin's innovation has always been hit and miss though. For every success they've had, I'm sure we could name a failure too. Of course, that's not a reason to stop innovating, but there's a level of wearing rose-tinted specs there I think.. Intamin's more recent work has seemingly been perfecting what they already have too, along with the minor innovation of a swing launch in middle of a layout (see: Pantheon at Busch Gardens, the Velocicoaster at Universal, Parc Asterix's 2023 coaster) and the anticipation stall top hat (which I question, but that's another story). If we look at some of their rides since 2018, we have: Hyperion Hagrid's (a ride with 7 launch moments...) Dueling Dragons (the crazy launched invert / sit down duelling coasters in China which sync perfectly) Taiga Objetif Mars (a new take on their spinning coaster, with launches and other surprises) Along with the highly anticipated trio I mentioned early, plus others (Walibi Belgium's one for example). If they're churning out quality rides like that and choosing to diversify their catalogue, I don't really have a problem with that. As for the cost of their rides, Intamin are obviously a premium manufacturer. But I think smaller parks with smaller budgets do turn to them, as they know there's quality there too. Parks in Asia have turned to them for family coasters. Parks like Futuroscope and Vulcania in France have gone to them for family-thrill rides. Plenty of Chinese parks, from the ones with tons of money to the smaller ones with less money we rarely hear about, go to them for a variety of rides. Intamin have a reputation which they've built up (largely good!), which helps them a lot really.
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