Jump to content

pluk

Moderator
  • Content Count

    4378
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    28

Reputation Activity

  1. Like
    pluk reacted to JoshC. for a blog entry, BelGerAnd2 - Germany   
    I've wanted to complete my BelGerAnd2 "trip report" for a while, mostly for sake of completion, but I've really struggled to figure out what to say about Phantasialand.  It's easy to sing the praises for the park, and most of those praises would see me reiterate myself.  So let's get those out of the way...
     
    Maus au Chocolat and Chiapas are the perfect examples of how to a shooting dark ride and water ride respectively.  Black Mamba is a great coaster that really turns into a beast in the afternoon, and Winjas is a fine example of how to blend coaster and 'other' elements into one ride.  Colorado Adventure is a neat little family ride, though nothing *that* special in my books.  River Quest is disgustingly terrifying and yet amazingly fun, and the new theming it's received thanks to Klugheim is great (though I wish they disguised the lifts a bit better).  The Berlin area is generally fab too.  The park's general atmosphere, theming, sense of showmanship and storytelling is surely one of the best in Europe.  
     
    And, in an unusual twist for me, I'll focus a bit more on the negatives...
     
    Mystery Castle
    I honestly do not get the fuss over this ride.  I went into it last year with no real idea of what to expect and was left disappointed.  Though after hearing there's 2 cycles, one of which is not great, I was left with a glimmer of hope.  But this year, I realised that what I had previously experienced was in fact the 'good cycle', and I had the joy of experiencing the not-so-good one.  Disappointed is probably the best word that describes my feelings about this.  Underwhelmed also springs to mind.  But at least the queue is fantastically themed!
     
    China
    Though the China area looks good, the two dark rides (a madhouse and omnimover) are far from good.  The madhouse is definitely my least favourite one I've been on, and the omnimover is more outdated than anything else.  The trouble these rides have is that whatever park they were in, they would only ever be 'okay' or 'passable' at best, and so their quality - or lack of - sticks out like a sore thumb in Phantasialand.  I know not everything can be sorted out all at once and these are on the potential hit list, but that doesn't mean it's acceptable.
     
    Temple of the Nighthawk
    Jack and Matt seemed to adore this because of the new music it has.  But I still found it awful and boring and just generally a waste of space.  Again, it's another ride like the Chinese duo; it's lack of quality sticks out so badly within the park.  And, unlike China, it feels slightly forgotten and neglected, almost as if the park are just waiting to axe it.  
     
    Operations
    Perhaps a bit of an odd one, but one thing I noticed during our visit was that some of the operations weren't great.  Not really talking about throughputs or getting through the queues here, moreso how they dealt with them generally.  Queue times weren't that accurate (especially on the not-so-big rides) and queue boards weren't updating properly (the boards were advertising a 6pm close for a few hours when it was in fact an 8pm close, leaving some confusion).  And when one of the Winjas coasters closed, they still allowed the queue to split, creating confusion in the queue and havoc in the station area.  Something that should have been dealt with better, especially since the side that did close seemed to have a problem which didn't have a quick solution.
     
     
    Klugheim
    Not to leave this blog post on a negative note, let's talk about Klugheim.  It's reason enough to make the effort to go to Phantasialand.  Taron might not be everyone's cup of tea, and it might not break into everyone's Top 10, but I can see it being appreciated by almost all of the enthusiast community (and the general public as well).  Raik is a solid family coaster, and Klugheim in general is a fantastic area to explore.  Oh, and the staff uniforms for that area are just incredible.
     
    Also, much to whole group's excitement, we got to (albeit briefly) speak to Chris, one of the park's managers who was seen in build up videos to Klugheim's opening.  He was a super nice guy, and he let us queue up for front row on Taron at the end of the day, despite them closing the front row queue.  Only wish we had more time to talk to him because he genuinely seemed so passionate and excited about the coaster when we saw him in the station area; very hands on too!
     
     
    I really hope that despite my laziness in writing this up, and focusing a bit too much on the negatives, the absolute joy I had at Phantasialand is still shining through somehow.  Yes, there's a couple of niggles and a few rides that are getting past their shelf life, but recent investments indicate that when they kick the bucket, something incredible will come in its place.  I genuinely cannot wait to go back, and I really hope more and more people but Phantasia on their radar!
  2. Like
    pluk got a reaction from JoshC. for a blog entry, Holiday Park - Expedition GeForce   
    The first day proper began with a short easy drive to Holiday Park of about 15 minutes, Speyer really is an ideal base for a visit here. On a term time weekday with the Germans all tucked up behind their desks somewhere we were greeted with a practically empty park and some rather generous 09:00 - 18:00 opening hours.
     

     
    Arriving a bit early we were let through to the little holding plaza where the two pathways into the main park were held with barriers, while some of the few people waiting played in the great dancing fountains. Looming over the entrance is the drop tower, but no-one cared; nearly everyone was crowded around one of the two pathways jostling with anticipation. A check of the map confirmed what I suspected - this was the pathway (TopTip, it's the left one, get to the front and just follow the path) to the main attraction, Expadition GeForce. We dutifully joined the mini scrum and at the stroke of 09:00 were on our way...
     

    Big FM Expedition GeForce, to give it its full annoyingly sponsored title
     
    Before we made our trip I had deliberately not spoilered myself too much with individual rides and, as much as possible while still wanting to plan effectively, whole parks. I didn't know much about Holiday Park or anything there, other than that GeForce existed and was consistently rated as one of the best coasters in the world. I didn't have the highest hopes for either to be honest; a couple of times it was said to not bother with Holiday Park at all and go elsewhere instead, and as for GeForce being one of the best I had seen it derided as massively overrated many many times. I'd also seen POV's of it and thought it looked pretty average too. 
     

    Anticipation...
     
    I was wrong. Everyone doing it down was wrong. If it is over hyped and overrated it is by the tiniest of margins; it really is one of the best. The first drop is great, but it is really only the means to gather the momentum for the ejector chaos which is to follow. The second hill crest is one of the best moments on any coaster anywhere, the attempt it makes to fling you from under your little lap bar is extreme and sustained like nothing else, followed by a couple more similar but less violent and more sustained peaks. Every moment of it is fast and fun; the right to left on peak transition change halfway through whips you through spectacularly, the bunny hops to the finish are taken at a perfect floaty speed. As is nearly always the case, back is best. TopTip: The front row queue line is actually for the front two rows, and when you get up there everyone wants to ride the actual front row, obviously, so the wait for that is even longer than it looks. This even held quite a queue when the rest of the ride/park was walk on. Just don't bother, why wait longer for less good? 
     

    Joy (sweaty man in red, if you weren't sure)
     
    It's safe to say I rather enjoyed it, and with it being walk on even on single train operation I whored the hell out of the back rows towards the end of the day. Lost count of rides, easily in the double figures and I left the park with some pretty heavy thigh bruising, but it was well worth it. First coaster of the holiday and it's unexpectedly straight in the top 10, put me in rather a good mood for the rest of the park and the rest of the trip.
  3. Like
    pluk got a reaction from Roodie for a blog entry, Holiday Park - The Rest   
    With GeForce getting us on to a high it was in to the rest of the park to see what it had to offer, and it turned out there were a couple of other stand out bits.
    First up was something else I had little expectation of having not done the type before and thinking they looked awkward and a bit cheap and nasty, Premier Rides Sky Rocket Sky Scream.
     

    Hanging
     
    Again I was wrong and I loved it. The launch is fast and smooth, I think this was my first rolling launch and it's a fantastic feeling being given that boost backwards and forwards, and the coaster above a whole lot of fun. As the ride twists from inside to outside the track at the top it really whips you away from you seat but even with the slow inversion and tight maneuvers on the way down it's all very comfortable with the lap bar nice and snug.
     

    A beautiful mess
     
    The walk through (thankfully not 'queue' in our case - I imagine the throughput on here is its biggest downfall) before the ride is well done too, great theming. TopTip: The coaster feels very similar from the front to the back, in this case the view from the front probably makes a bit of an extra wait worthwhile. Real good fun, a solid coaster. Certainly wouldn't mind one of these making there way over here sometime soon. 8/10.
     
    Then my favorite discovery of the whole trip that I'm sure won't be new to most here but it was to me. The perfect flat ride that is a Gerstlauer Sky Fly. It can be all things to all guests; while my wife was happy gently rocking away I could spin and spin like a mad thing, pulling what must be incredible sustained forces, in absolute comfort. I could spend the whole day on this. If I went all Michael Jackson with some rides in my back garden this would absolutely be top of my buy list. 
     

    Getting going
     
    It's in what will be a nice area, with a little balloon ride already open and a couple of other small round rides of some sort currently being built, all on a flight theme. This will be the star though, and was the only thing with a (still small) queue in the whole park. I got myself spinning nicely, probably strung about 20 together in one sustained spin, but when it starts to feel like it might be a bit much it's very easy to bring it under control give it a little break then flip it over and off you go again. TopTip: the front outside seat (2nd row) is the easiest to get spinning.
     

    I'll be the upside-down one
     
    Hours and hours of fun. The only limit to there being one in every park is the throughput. I wonder if it'd be possible to have one with seating all the way round before lifting and tilting? Anyway, this is now my favorite flat ride by a mile. 10/10
     
    The a whole are which shouldn't have been for us, but is so well done we loved it. The kiddies area based on a bunch of characters I've never heard of was brilliant, not just the fabulous colourful and complete theming, but the rides themselves for kiddies fare are excellent. The ride ops didn't seem to mind that we were a couple of adults squeezing ourselves in and were quite happy laughing at us. As Benin might say, don't care, got creds.
     

    Bouncing frog of crazy
     

    Yes, I'm on a grasshopper. And what?
     
    We ate in this area too, a burger restaurant in the middle of the land was good quality and value. A couple of other eateries we saw around the park appeared prety expensive in comparison. TopTip: all drinks bottles have a deposit added when you buy and given back when you return, this is standard across Germany. We didn't know this, and threw away a few Euros worth before a helpful staff member told us.
     

    Flying high in the land of creds
     
    All reminiscent of Peppa Pig land in what it is doing, but on a larger scale and with better rides. The drop tower and frog carousel (same ones as at Europa) are genuinely brilliant, so much fun, but there's loads of little rides and not a duff one between them. Certainly worth a visit if you are an adult on park and presuming this is recent shows the they really are going the right way with their theming efforts and general quality. 8/10
     
    Once a day off peak, the WaterSki Stunt Show does its thing on the lake. As always with these things presenter faff to stunt ratio is way off, especially when that faff is incomprehensible to my English ears, but that said this was fun and it was pleasing to know that the Germans main opinion of the French is that they smell a bit. Maybe we're not so different after all.
     

    Casually watersking with no skis
     
    Some of the stunts really were spectacular though, and a bit of pyro is always nice, so we really enjoyed it. But it could have done with 15 minutes of presenter being lopped off its running time, and even that would still leave a lot of presenter. Bonus points for not giving the tiniest crap about health and safety (if I had stood up at one point I would have been kicked in the head by someone on a zip wire flying above me!), this sort of entertainment is what is most sorely missing from UK parks. Bring it back! 7/10
     
    Aside from that there's a good solid support ride line up, couple of spiny rides running well, rapids and nicely themed flume both decent without setting the world on fire. A lighthouse tower that as far as I'm concerned can do one along with all the others ever made, pleasant little boat ride etc. A little museum on the parks history was interesting, although there was no English translations it appeared to show one old exhibit where you could come and look at the dwarfs, living in a little train! Times have changed. Even with the lack of dwarfs to look at these days there's still certainly enough to do to while away a whole day.
     

    Standard boat-ride selfie
     
    It's not perfect though. The whole right side of the park from SkyScream to the kids place feels really tired and in need of attention. The PhantomPhantasia-a-like ghost train is dire really, especially when ridden a few days apart from Europa's take on the same thing, and the carousel is horrible, really dilapidated and deeply coated in grime. Worthy of special mention, just up the path to Sky Scream in the most jarring extremes of quality is Hollys Wild Autofart or something. A particularly awful and out of place wild mouse. Horrible theming, rattly horrible ride. Looks so cheap compared to the more recent additions/re-themes and the quality of the park as a whole. 1/10 - burn it. These things only really stand out as the newer stuff really is very good.
     
    Overall I was very impressed with Holiday Park as a whole, am glad I went and would certainly return. It was a short drive back to Speyer for an inevitable couple of beers before another early start the next day, off to the second park of the trip...
  4. Like
    pluk got a reaction from Matt Creek for a blog entry, Holiday Park - The Rest   
    With GeForce getting us on to a high it was in to the rest of the park to see what it had to offer, and it turned out there were a couple of other stand out bits.
    First up was something else I had little expectation of having not done the type before and thinking they looked awkward and a bit cheap and nasty, Premier Rides Sky Rocket Sky Scream.
     

    Hanging
     
    Again I was wrong and I loved it. The launch is fast and smooth, I think this was my first rolling launch and it's a fantastic feeling being given that boost backwards and forwards, and the coaster above a whole lot of fun. As the ride twists from inside to outside the track at the top it really whips you away from you seat but even with the slow inversion and tight maneuvers on the way down it's all very comfortable with the lap bar nice and snug.
     

    A beautiful mess
     
    The walk through (thankfully not 'queue' in our case - I imagine the throughput on here is its biggest downfall) before the ride is well done too, great theming. TopTip: The coaster feels very similar from the front to the back, in this case the view from the front probably makes a bit of an extra wait worthwhile. Real good fun, a solid coaster. Certainly wouldn't mind one of these making there way over here sometime soon. 8/10.
     
    Then my favorite discovery of the whole trip that I'm sure won't be new to most here but it was to me. The perfect flat ride that is a Gerstlauer Sky Fly. It can be all things to all guests; while my wife was happy gently rocking away I could spin and spin like a mad thing, pulling what must be incredible sustained forces, in absolute comfort. I could spend the whole day on this. If I went all Michael Jackson with some rides in my back garden this would absolutely be top of my buy list. 
     

    Getting going
     
    It's in what will be a nice area, with a little balloon ride already open and a couple of other small round rides of some sort currently being built, all on a flight theme. This will be the star though, and was the only thing with a (still small) queue in the whole park. I got myself spinning nicely, probably strung about 20 together in one sustained spin, but when it starts to feel like it might be a bit much it's very easy to bring it under control give it a little break then flip it over and off you go again. TopTip: the front outside seat (2nd row) is the easiest to get spinning.
     

    I'll be the upside-down one
     
    Hours and hours of fun. The only limit to there being one in every park is the throughput. I wonder if it'd be possible to have one with seating all the way round before lifting and tilting? Anyway, this is now my favorite flat ride by a mile. 10/10
     
    The a whole are which shouldn't have been for us, but is so well done we loved it. The kiddies area based on a bunch of characters I've never heard of was brilliant, not just the fabulous colourful and complete theming, but the rides themselves for kiddies fare are excellent. The ride ops didn't seem to mind that we were a couple of adults squeezing ourselves in and were quite happy laughing at us. As Benin might say, don't care, got creds.
     

    Bouncing frog of crazy
     

    Yes, I'm on a grasshopper. And what?
     
    We ate in this area too, a burger restaurant in the middle of the land was good quality and value. A couple of other eateries we saw around the park appeared prety expensive in comparison. TopTip: all drinks bottles have a deposit added when you buy and given back when you return, this is standard across Germany. We didn't know this, and threw away a few Euros worth before a helpful staff member told us.
     

    Flying high in the land of creds
     
    All reminiscent of Peppa Pig land in what it is doing, but on a larger scale and with better rides. The drop tower and frog carousel (same ones as at Europa) are genuinely brilliant, so much fun, but there's loads of little rides and not a duff one between them. Certainly worth a visit if you are an adult on park and presuming this is recent shows the they really are going the right way with their theming efforts and general quality. 8/10
     
    Once a day off peak, the WaterSki Stunt Show does its thing on the lake. As always with these things presenter faff to stunt ratio is way off, especially when that faff is incomprehensible to my English ears, but that said this was fun and it was pleasing to know that the Germans main opinion of the French is that they smell a bit. Maybe we're not so different after all.
     

    Casually watersking with no skis
     
    Some of the stunts really were spectacular though, and a bit of pyro is always nice, so we really enjoyed it. But it could have done with 15 minutes of presenter being lopped off its running time, and even that would still leave a lot of presenter. Bonus points for not giving the tiniest crap about health and safety (if I had stood up at one point I would have been kicked in the head by someone on a zip wire flying above me!), this sort of entertainment is what is most sorely missing from UK parks. Bring it back! 7/10
     
    Aside from that there's a good solid support ride line up, couple of spiny rides running well, rapids and nicely themed flume both decent without setting the world on fire. A lighthouse tower that as far as I'm concerned can do one along with all the others ever made, pleasant little boat ride etc. A little museum on the parks history was interesting, although there was no English translations it appeared to show one old exhibit where you could come and look at the dwarfs, living in a little train! Times have changed. Even with the lack of dwarfs to look at these days there's still certainly enough to do to while away a whole day.
     

    Standard boat-ride selfie
     
    It's not perfect though. The whole right side of the park from SkyScream to the kids place feels really tired and in need of attention. The PhantomPhantasia-a-like ghost train is dire really, especially when ridden a few days apart from Europa's take on the same thing, and the carousel is horrible, really dilapidated and deeply coated in grime. Worthy of special mention, just up the path to Sky Scream in the most jarring extremes of quality is Hollys Wild Autofart or something. A particularly awful and out of place wild mouse. Horrible theming, rattly horrible ride. Looks so cheap compared to the more recent additions/re-themes and the quality of the park as a whole. 1/10 - burn it. These things only really stand out as the newer stuff really is very good.
     
    Overall I was very impressed with Holiday Park as a whole, am glad I went and would certainly return. It was a short drive back to Speyer for an inevitable couple of beers before another early start the next day, off to the second park of the trip...
  5. Like
    pluk got a reaction from JoshC. for a blog entry, Holiday Park - The Rest   
    With GeForce getting us on to a high it was in to the rest of the park to see what it had to offer, and it turned out there were a couple of other stand out bits.
    First up was something else I had little expectation of having not done the type before and thinking they looked awkward and a bit cheap and nasty, Premier Rides Sky Rocket Sky Scream.
     

    Hanging
     
    Again I was wrong and I loved it. The launch is fast and smooth, I think this was my first rolling launch and it's a fantastic feeling being given that boost backwards and forwards, and the coaster above a whole lot of fun. As the ride twists from inside to outside the track at the top it really whips you away from you seat but even with the slow inversion and tight maneuvers on the way down it's all very comfortable with the lap bar nice and snug.
     

    A beautiful mess
     
    The walk through (thankfully not 'queue' in our case - I imagine the throughput on here is its biggest downfall) before the ride is well done too, great theming. TopTip: The coaster feels very similar from the front to the back, in this case the view from the front probably makes a bit of an extra wait worthwhile. Real good fun, a solid coaster. Certainly wouldn't mind one of these making there way over here sometime soon. 8/10.
     
    Then my favorite discovery of the whole trip that I'm sure won't be new to most here but it was to me. The perfect flat ride that is a Gerstlauer Sky Fly. It can be all things to all guests; while my wife was happy gently rocking away I could spin and spin like a mad thing, pulling what must be incredible sustained forces, in absolute comfort. I could spend the whole day on this. If I went all Michael Jackson with some rides in my back garden this would absolutely be top of my buy list. 
     

    Getting going
     
    It's in what will be a nice area, with a little balloon ride already open and a couple of other small round rides of some sort currently being built, all on a flight theme. This will be the star though, and was the only thing with a (still small) queue in the whole park. I got myself spinning nicely, probably strung about 20 together in one sustained spin, but when it starts to feel like it might be a bit much it's very easy to bring it under control give it a little break then flip it over and off you go again. TopTip: the front outside seat (2nd row) is the easiest to get spinning.
     

    I'll be the upside-down one
     
    Hours and hours of fun. The only limit to there being one in every park is the throughput. I wonder if it'd be possible to have one with seating all the way round before lifting and tilting? Anyway, this is now my favorite flat ride by a mile. 10/10
     
    The a whole are which shouldn't have been for us, but is so well done we loved it. The kiddies area based on a bunch of characters I've never heard of was brilliant, not just the fabulous colourful and complete theming, but the rides themselves for kiddies fare are excellent. The ride ops didn't seem to mind that we were a couple of adults squeezing ourselves in and were quite happy laughing at us. As Benin might say, don't care, got creds.
     

    Bouncing frog of crazy
     

    Yes, I'm on a grasshopper. And what?
     
    We ate in this area too, a burger restaurant in the middle of the land was good quality and value. A couple of other eateries we saw around the park appeared prety expensive in comparison. TopTip: all drinks bottles have a deposit added when you buy and given back when you return, this is standard across Germany. We didn't know this, and threw away a few Euros worth before a helpful staff member told us.
     

    Flying high in the land of creds
     
    All reminiscent of Peppa Pig land in what it is doing, but on a larger scale and with better rides. The drop tower and frog carousel (same ones as at Europa) are genuinely brilliant, so much fun, but there's loads of little rides and not a duff one between them. Certainly worth a visit if you are an adult on park and presuming this is recent shows the they really are going the right way with their theming efforts and general quality. 8/10
     
    Once a day off peak, the WaterSki Stunt Show does its thing on the lake. As always with these things presenter faff to stunt ratio is way off, especially when that faff is incomprehensible to my English ears, but that said this was fun and it was pleasing to know that the Germans main opinion of the French is that they smell a bit. Maybe we're not so different after all.
     

    Casually watersking with no skis
     
    Some of the stunts really were spectacular though, and a bit of pyro is always nice, so we really enjoyed it. But it could have done with 15 minutes of presenter being lopped off its running time, and even that would still leave a lot of presenter. Bonus points for not giving the tiniest crap about health and safety (if I had stood up at one point I would have been kicked in the head by someone on a zip wire flying above me!), this sort of entertainment is what is most sorely missing from UK parks. Bring it back! 7/10
     
    Aside from that there's a good solid support ride line up, couple of spiny rides running well, rapids and nicely themed flume both decent without setting the world on fire. A lighthouse tower that as far as I'm concerned can do one along with all the others ever made, pleasant little boat ride etc. A little museum on the parks history was interesting, although there was no English translations it appeared to show one old exhibit where you could come and look at the dwarfs, living in a little train! Times have changed. Even with the lack of dwarfs to look at these days there's still certainly enough to do to while away a whole day.
     

    Standard boat-ride selfie
     
    It's not perfect though. The whole right side of the park from SkyScream to the kids place feels really tired and in need of attention. The PhantomPhantasia-a-like ghost train is dire really, especially when ridden a few days apart from Europa's take on the same thing, and the carousel is horrible, really dilapidated and deeply coated in grime. Worthy of special mention, just up the path to Sky Scream in the most jarring extremes of quality is Hollys Wild Autofart or something. A particularly awful and out of place wild mouse. Horrible theming, rattly horrible ride. Looks so cheap compared to the more recent additions/re-themes and the quality of the park as a whole. 1/10 - burn it. These things only really stand out as the newer stuff really is very good.
     
    Overall I was very impressed with Holiday Park as a whole, am glad I went and would certainly return. It was a short drive back to Speyer for an inevitable couple of beers before another early start the next day, off to the second park of the trip...
  6. Like
    pluk got a reaction from CharlieN for a blog entry, Holiday Park - The Rest   
    With GeForce getting us on to a high it was in to the rest of the park to see what it had to offer, and it turned out there were a couple of other stand out bits.
    First up was something else I had little expectation of having not done the type before and thinking they looked awkward and a bit cheap and nasty, Premier Rides Sky Rocket Sky Scream.
     

    Hanging
     
    Again I was wrong and I loved it. The launch is fast and smooth, I think this was my first rolling launch and it's a fantastic feeling being given that boost backwards and forwards, and the coaster above a whole lot of fun. As the ride twists from inside to outside the track at the top it really whips you away from you seat but even with the slow inversion and tight maneuvers on the way down it's all very comfortable with the lap bar nice and snug.
     

    A beautiful mess
     
    The walk through (thankfully not 'queue' in our case - I imagine the throughput on here is its biggest downfall) before the ride is well done too, great theming. TopTip: The coaster feels very similar from the front to the back, in this case the view from the front probably makes a bit of an extra wait worthwhile. Real good fun, a solid coaster. Certainly wouldn't mind one of these making there way over here sometime soon. 8/10.
     
    Then my favorite discovery of the whole trip that I'm sure won't be new to most here but it was to me. The perfect flat ride that is a Gerstlauer Sky Fly. It can be all things to all guests; while my wife was happy gently rocking away I could spin and spin like a mad thing, pulling what must be incredible sustained forces, in absolute comfort. I could spend the whole day on this. If I went all Michael Jackson with some rides in my back garden this would absolutely be top of my buy list. 
     

    Getting going
     
    It's in what will be a nice area, with a little balloon ride already open and a couple of other small round rides of some sort currently being built, all on a flight theme. This will be the star though, and was the only thing with a (still small) queue in the whole park. I got myself spinning nicely, probably strung about 20 together in one sustained spin, but when it starts to feel like it might be a bit much it's very easy to bring it under control give it a little break then flip it over and off you go again. TopTip: the front outside seat (2nd row) is the easiest to get spinning.
     

    I'll be the upside-down one
     
    Hours and hours of fun. The only limit to there being one in every park is the throughput. I wonder if it'd be possible to have one with seating all the way round before lifting and tilting? Anyway, this is now my favorite flat ride by a mile. 10/10
     
    The a whole are which shouldn't have been for us, but is so well done we loved it. The kiddies area based on a bunch of characters I've never heard of was brilliant, not just the fabulous colourful and complete theming, but the rides themselves for kiddies fare are excellent. The ride ops didn't seem to mind that we were a couple of adults squeezing ourselves in and were quite happy laughing at us. As Benin might say, don't care, got creds.
     

    Bouncing frog of crazy
     

    Yes, I'm on a grasshopper. And what?
     
    We ate in this area too, a burger restaurant in the middle of the land was good quality and value. A couple of other eateries we saw around the park appeared prety expensive in comparison. TopTip: all drinks bottles have a deposit added when you buy and given back when you return, this is standard across Germany. We didn't know this, and threw away a few Euros worth before a helpful staff member told us.
     

    Flying high in the land of creds
     
    All reminiscent of Peppa Pig land in what it is doing, but on a larger scale and with better rides. The drop tower and frog carousel (same ones as at Europa) are genuinely brilliant, so much fun, but there's loads of little rides and not a duff one between them. Certainly worth a visit if you are an adult on park and presuming this is recent shows the they really are going the right way with their theming efforts and general quality. 8/10
     
    Once a day off peak, the WaterSki Stunt Show does its thing on the lake. As always with these things presenter faff to stunt ratio is way off, especially when that faff is incomprehensible to my English ears, but that said this was fun and it was pleasing to know that the Germans main opinion of the French is that they smell a bit. Maybe we're not so different after all.
     

    Casually watersking with no skis
     
    Some of the stunts really were spectacular though, and a bit of pyro is always nice, so we really enjoyed it. But it could have done with 15 minutes of presenter being lopped off its running time, and even that would still leave a lot of presenter. Bonus points for not giving the tiniest crap about health and safety (if I had stood up at one point I would have been kicked in the head by someone on a zip wire flying above me!), this sort of entertainment is what is most sorely missing from UK parks. Bring it back! 7/10
     
    Aside from that there's a good solid support ride line up, couple of spiny rides running well, rapids and nicely themed flume both decent without setting the world on fire. A lighthouse tower that as far as I'm concerned can do one along with all the others ever made, pleasant little boat ride etc. A little museum on the parks history was interesting, although there was no English translations it appeared to show one old exhibit where you could come and look at the dwarfs, living in a little train! Times have changed. Even with the lack of dwarfs to look at these days there's still certainly enough to do to while away a whole day.
     

    Standard boat-ride selfie
     
    It's not perfect though. The whole right side of the park from SkyScream to the kids place feels really tired and in need of attention. The PhantomPhantasia-a-like ghost train is dire really, especially when ridden a few days apart from Europa's take on the same thing, and the carousel is horrible, really dilapidated and deeply coated in grime. Worthy of special mention, just up the path to Sky Scream in the most jarring extremes of quality is Hollys Wild Autofart or something. A particularly awful and out of place wild mouse. Horrible theming, rattly horrible ride. Looks so cheap compared to the more recent additions/re-themes and the quality of the park as a whole. 1/10 - burn it. These things only really stand out as the newer stuff really is very good.
     
    Overall I was very impressed with Holiday Park as a whole, am glad I went and would certainly return. It was a short drive back to Speyer for an inevitable couple of beers before another early start the next day, off to the second park of the trip...
  7. Like
    pluk got a reaction from CharlieN for a blog entry, Holiday Park - Expedition GeForce   
    The first day proper began with a short easy drive to Holiday Park of about 15 minutes, Speyer really is an ideal base for a visit here. On a term time weekday with the Germans all tucked up behind their desks somewhere we were greeted with a practically empty park and some rather generous 09:00 - 18:00 opening hours.
     

     
    Arriving a bit early we were let through to the little holding plaza where the two pathways into the main park were held with barriers, while some of the few people waiting played in the great dancing fountains. Looming over the entrance is the drop tower, but no-one cared; nearly everyone was crowded around one of the two pathways jostling with anticipation. A check of the map confirmed what I suspected - this was the pathway (TopTip, it's the left one, get to the front and just follow the path) to the main attraction, Expadition GeForce. We dutifully joined the mini scrum and at the stroke of 09:00 were on our way...
     

    Big FM Expedition GeForce, to give it its full annoyingly sponsored title
     
    Before we made our trip I had deliberately not spoilered myself too much with individual rides and, as much as possible while still wanting to plan effectively, whole parks. I didn't know much about Holiday Park or anything there, other than that GeForce existed and was consistently rated as one of the best coasters in the world. I didn't have the highest hopes for either to be honest; a couple of times it was said to not bother with Holiday Park at all and go elsewhere instead, and as for GeForce being one of the best I had seen it derided as massively overrated many many times. I'd also seen POV's of it and thought it looked pretty average too. 
     

    Anticipation...
     
    I was wrong. Everyone doing it down was wrong. If it is over hyped and overrated it is by the tiniest of margins; it really is one of the best. The first drop is great, but it is really only the means to gather the momentum for the ejector chaos which is to follow. The second hill crest is one of the best moments on any coaster anywhere, the attempt it makes to fling you from under your little lap bar is extreme and sustained like nothing else, followed by a couple more similar but less violent and more sustained peaks. Every moment of it is fast and fun; the right to left on peak transition change halfway through whips you through spectacularly, the bunny hops to the finish are taken at a perfect floaty speed. As is nearly always the case, back is best. TopTip: The front row queue line is actually for the front two rows, and when you get up there everyone wants to ride the actual front row, obviously, so the wait for that is even longer than it looks. This even held quite a queue when the rest of the ride/park was walk on. Just don't bother, why wait longer for less good? 
     

    Joy (sweaty man in red, if you weren't sure)
     
    It's safe to say I rather enjoyed it, and with it being walk on even on single train operation I whored the hell out of the back rows towards the end of the day. Lost count of rides, easily in the double figures and I left the park with some pretty heavy thigh bruising, but it was well worth it. First coaster of the holiday and it's unexpectedly straight in the top 10, put me in rather a good mood for the rest of the park and the rest of the trip.
  8. Like
    pluk got a reaction from Matt Creek for a blog entry, Holiday Park - Expedition GeForce   
    The first day proper began with a short easy drive to Holiday Park of about 15 minutes, Speyer really is an ideal base for a visit here. On a term time weekday with the Germans all tucked up behind their desks somewhere we were greeted with a practically empty park and some rather generous 09:00 - 18:00 opening hours.
     

     
    Arriving a bit early we were let through to the little holding plaza where the two pathways into the main park were held with barriers, while some of the few people waiting played in the great dancing fountains. Looming over the entrance is the drop tower, but no-one cared; nearly everyone was crowded around one of the two pathways jostling with anticipation. A check of the map confirmed what I suspected - this was the pathway (TopTip, it's the left one, get to the front and just follow the path) to the main attraction, Expadition GeForce. We dutifully joined the mini scrum and at the stroke of 09:00 were on our way...
     

    Big FM Expedition GeForce, to give it its full annoyingly sponsored title
     
    Before we made our trip I had deliberately not spoilered myself too much with individual rides and, as much as possible while still wanting to plan effectively, whole parks. I didn't know much about Holiday Park or anything there, other than that GeForce existed and was consistently rated as one of the best coasters in the world. I didn't have the highest hopes for either to be honest; a couple of times it was said to not bother with Holiday Park at all and go elsewhere instead, and as for GeForce being one of the best I had seen it derided as massively overrated many many times. I'd also seen POV's of it and thought it looked pretty average too. 
     

    Anticipation...
     
    I was wrong. Everyone doing it down was wrong. If it is over hyped and overrated it is by the tiniest of margins; it really is one of the best. The first drop is great, but it is really only the means to gather the momentum for the ejector chaos which is to follow. The second hill crest is one of the best moments on any coaster anywhere, the attempt it makes to fling you from under your little lap bar is extreme and sustained like nothing else, followed by a couple more similar but less violent and more sustained peaks. Every moment of it is fast and fun; the right to left on peak transition change halfway through whips you through spectacularly, the bunny hops to the finish are taken at a perfect floaty speed. As is nearly always the case, back is best. TopTip: The front row queue line is actually for the front two rows, and when you get up there everyone wants to ride the actual front row, obviously, so the wait for that is even longer than it looks. This even held quite a queue when the rest of the ride/park was walk on. Just don't bother, why wait longer for less good? 
     

    Joy (sweaty man in red, if you weren't sure)
     
    It's safe to say I rather enjoyed it, and with it being walk on even on single train operation I whored the hell out of the back rows towards the end of the day. Lost count of rides, easily in the double figures and I left the park with some pretty heavy thigh bruising, but it was well worth it. First coaster of the holiday and it's unexpectedly straight in the top 10, put me in rather a good mood for the rest of the park and the rest of the trip.
  9. Like
    pluk got a reaction from CharlieN for a blog entry, The journey   
    My lack of having visited Europa had been hanging over me for far too long, so it was decided Germany had to happen. Not wanting to go all that way without seeing any of the country or other nearby parks, a plan was made to add Holiday Park, Tripsdrill and a mountain coaster to the week long trip. A plan which was made largely guided by trip reports and advice from the lovely members here and on TowersStreet, so thank you all, and I’ll try and include some bits which might help other thinking of doing similar.
    With Stanstead to Baden-Baden flights booked at the stupidly cheap Ryanair price of £32 return, a car hired for the very reasonable £150 from Europcar, and accommodation booked for each night, myself and the Mrs headed off on our little adventure to southern Germany…
     
    Firstly, I was really impressed with Ryanair. We'd never used them before, just out of circumstance not snobbery, but I probably preferred it over Easyjet for general ease of travelling with them. Shame about the nauseating iluminous yellow headrests inescapably glowing in your eyes. Europcar were also very good; the internet is full of people claiming to have been ripped off by them (and practically every car hire company it seems) with hidden charges and claims of phantom damage being charged, but all went smoothly for me with the invoice following me home for exactly the amount I was expecting. Top Tip: buy excess insurance in the UK for about £20, don't take the excess waiver policies that do exactly the same for 10 times that amount with the hire company.
     

    The beast. (That's the car, not me)
     
    And so with the mighty 1.1 purring with anticipation at my toes, it was to the Autobahn to try not to get killed. I found driving in Germany a pleasure in general; the roads are very well maintained, clearly signposted for directions and far less crowded than here in the UK. Everyone knows how to drive on multiple carriage way roads (ie, if you are not overtaking something, get the hell out of the way) so it all works rather well. Some things to look out for include:
    - the lack of speed limit signage (you'll often get one as the limit changes, but there are no 'repeaters' as we have here, so you have to notice and remember)
    - speed cameras are grey and hidden to catch you rather than warn you
    - on autobahns you really have to watch the speed of those coming up behind when you look to move out for an overtake. It's easy to glance in your mirror at a small speck, go to pull out and notice it's already up with you doing 200mph, when we are used to everything doing roughly similar speeds.
    - on smaller roads merging traffic often has right of way over what appears to be the main carriageway, but not always, and confusingly there aren't always any road markings (which I could decipher) to warn you which way round it is. Everyone else seemed to know what was going on, but not me. Only one near miss but be cautions!
    - when roads are closed, that's your problem. No diversion signs!
    TopTip: this might be obvious, but I hadn't thought about it, your phone needs data for satnav, so buy a roaming package before you leave rather than having German Virgin Mobile faff like I did.
     

    This paper saved my life a few times. So simple but effective.
     
    We headed off to our first destination of Speyer, about an hours easy drive from the airport for a place giving relatively easy access to both Holiday Park and Tripsdrill. Arriving in the early evening there was no hint of a rush hour on the roads despite us driving through the peak time. We stayed at Hotel Am Wartturm which was very nice and good value, close to the motorway exit so avoid any driving though town stress and about 20 minutes stroll though a strangely beautiful graveyard. We slung the bags in the room and took that stroll to what is one of the most important moments of any trip...
     

    ...the first beer
     
    Speyer is a beautiful place. Like everywhere in Germany it seems immaculately kept, with beautiful architecture and a relaxed but busy vibe with bars and eateries lining the streets, all seeming to be good quality, with people out drinking and being happy without anyone ever being rowdy. If you tried the same set up on the streets of the UK it would be carnage. We took in a few bars and a restaurants for a lovely evening, but didn't want to go crazy and spoil the theme park fun that was to come with a hangover.
     

    Cultured cathedral shadow drinking
     
    Although we were there for two nights and had a good look round (the bars, primarily!) both evenings, I wish we had allowed ourselves more time to spend in the town itself, spend some time there during the day. I've heard good things about the Technik Musium there too, one for next time.
     
    So nice and sensibly early to bed ready for the excitement of the next morning, when this supposed theme park trip report might actually make it to a theme park...
  10. Like
    pluk got a reaction from Matt Creek for a blog entry, The journey   
    My lack of having visited Europa had been hanging over me for far too long, so it was decided Germany had to happen. Not wanting to go all that way without seeing any of the country or other nearby parks, a plan was made to add Holiday Park, Tripsdrill and a mountain coaster to the week long trip. A plan which was made largely guided by trip reports and advice from the lovely members here and on TowersStreet, so thank you all, and I’ll try and include some bits which might help other thinking of doing similar.
    With Stanstead to Baden-Baden flights booked at the stupidly cheap Ryanair price of £32 return, a car hired for the very reasonable £150 from Europcar, and accommodation booked for each night, myself and the Mrs headed off on our little adventure to southern Germany…
     
    Firstly, I was really impressed with Ryanair. We'd never used them before, just out of circumstance not snobbery, but I probably preferred it over Easyjet for general ease of travelling with them. Shame about the nauseating iluminous yellow headrests inescapably glowing in your eyes. Europcar were also very good; the internet is full of people claiming to have been ripped off by them (and practically every car hire company it seems) with hidden charges and claims of phantom damage being charged, but all went smoothly for me with the invoice following me home for exactly the amount I was expecting. Top Tip: buy excess insurance in the UK for about £20, don't take the excess waiver policies that do exactly the same for 10 times that amount with the hire company.
     

    The beast. (That's the car, not me)
     
    And so with the mighty 1.1 purring with anticipation at my toes, it was to the Autobahn to try not to get killed. I found driving in Germany a pleasure in general; the roads are very well maintained, clearly signposted for directions and far less crowded than here in the UK. Everyone knows how to drive on multiple carriage way roads (ie, if you are not overtaking something, get the hell out of the way) so it all works rather well. Some things to look out for include:
    - the lack of speed limit signage (you'll often get one as the limit changes, but there are no 'repeaters' as we have here, so you have to notice and remember)
    - speed cameras are grey and hidden to catch you rather than warn you
    - on autobahns you really have to watch the speed of those coming up behind when you look to move out for an overtake. It's easy to glance in your mirror at a small speck, go to pull out and notice it's already up with you doing 200mph, when we are used to everything doing roughly similar speeds.
    - on smaller roads merging traffic often has right of way over what appears to be the main carriageway, but not always, and confusingly there aren't always any road markings (which I could decipher) to warn you which way round it is. Everyone else seemed to know what was going on, but not me. Only one near miss but be cautions!
    - when roads are closed, that's your problem. No diversion signs!
    TopTip: this might be obvious, but I hadn't thought about it, your phone needs data for satnav, so buy a roaming package before you leave rather than having German Virgin Mobile faff like I did.
     

    This paper saved my life a few times. So simple but effective.
     
    We headed off to our first destination of Speyer, about an hours easy drive from the airport for a place giving relatively easy access to both Holiday Park and Tripsdrill. Arriving in the early evening there was no hint of a rush hour on the roads despite us driving through the peak time. We stayed at Hotel Am Wartturm which was very nice and good value, close to the motorway exit so avoid any driving though town stress and about 20 minutes stroll though a strangely beautiful graveyard. We slung the bags in the room and took that stroll to what is one of the most important moments of any trip...
     

    ...the first beer
     
    Speyer is a beautiful place. Like everywhere in Germany it seems immaculately kept, with beautiful architecture and a relaxed but busy vibe with bars and eateries lining the streets, all seeming to be good quality, with people out drinking and being happy without anyone ever being rowdy. If you tried the same set up on the streets of the UK it would be carnage. We took in a few bars and a restaurants for a lovely evening, but didn't want to go crazy and spoil the theme park fun that was to come with a hangover.
     

    Cultured cathedral shadow drinking
     
    Although we were there for two nights and had a good look round (the bars, primarily!) both evenings, I wish we had allowed ourselves more time to spend in the town itself, spend some time there during the day. I've heard good things about the Technik Musium there too, one for next time.
     
    So nice and sensibly early to bed ready for the excitement of the next morning, when this supposed theme park trip report might actually make it to a theme park...
  11. Like
    pluk reacted to Kerfuffle for a blog entry, Journey to Skull Island...and back   
    Fellow mortals. If you are reading this, it means I have literally just returned from a preposterous trek within the vicinity of the most dangerous place on Earth...Skull Island.
     
    ...but of course for the most technically-minded (and gullible) of readers, this is only my report from my recent trip to Orlando.

     
    No sooner than I arrived had I had an unexpected encounter with a mysterious creature. One of Skull Island's deadly inhabitants?

     
    Anyway, the call to adventure was nigh. But in order to get to Skull Island I had other adventures to attend to...

     
    ...such as requesting some backup at Skull Island from a childhood superhero (but in all seriousness, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman is quite spectacular).

     
    ...until finally...I FOUND IT! I knew I had struck gold and now it BECKONED me!

     
    ...Kong himself in particular

     
    No other soul had DARED venture into this unforgiving realm...hence this very conveniently placed sign.

     
    In case you haven't already guessed, Skull Island is HUGE!

     
    Almost as huge as this rather innocent looking castle next door.

     
    I heard Kong can fight a pack of dinosaurs. Does this include dragons???

     
    Anyway, to cap this all off, here's my review on Skull Island: Reign of Kong

     
    ...This gets a 9/10 from me. Spectacular ride experience, incredible amounts of detail along with a pretty decent queueing experience. Definitely worth the queue time.
     
    But that's not all! I leave you with my total ride count.
     
    Islands of Adventure:
    The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman: x5 Dr Doom's Fear Fall: x2 Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls: x1 Jurassic Park River Adventure: x3 Forbidden Journey: x4 Flight of the Hippogriff: x1 Dragon Challenge: x2 (Chinese Fireball: x1, Hungarian Horntail: x1) Hogwarts Express: x1 Poseidon's Fury: x1 Skull Island: Reign of Kong: x2  
    Universal Studios:
    Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit: x2 Revenge of The Mummy: x2 Transformers: The Ride: x2 The Simpsons Ride: x2 Men in Black: Alien Attack: x1 Escape from Gringotts: x2
  12. Like
    pluk reacted to JoshC. for a blog entry, BelGerAnd2 - Holland   
    Walibi Holland was the only new-for-me park of the trip, and there were two obvious draws for visiting:  the new Mack coaster Lost Gravity, and Goliath, the Intamin mega coaster.  We seemed to get lucky with our visit, as the park was very quiet, and we didn't queue over 15 minutes for anything if memory serves me correctly.  Overall impressions of the park are quite mixed for me; there's some great attractions around the park (and of higher quality to Walibi Belgium's offerings), but there's still a fair amount of trash about that makes it difficult to praise the overall park too much.  Anyways...
     
    Xpress:  Platform 13
    Located by the main entrance to the park, but before the 'containment gates' into the main bulk of the park, this opened up at least 15 minutes before the park opened.  And my god, this was a massive gem, probably the biggest surprise of the whole trip.  The coaster itself is almost a clone of Rock n Roller Coaster (I haven't done RnRC myself, but that'll not doubt give some indication to the quality of the coaster to those who have done it).  But the reason for this standing out so much was because of the atmosphere in the queue line.  Themed around a mystery train disappearance, the queue line feels exactly like an abandoned train station, and features plenty of scares, a creepy atmosphere, surprises and excellently themed sets along the way.  Dare I say, the queue line is a better scare attraction than many scare mazes that the UK theme parks produce at Halloween!  
     

    An unassuming entrance
     
    Lost Gravity
    With surprise opening out of the way, we headed over the Lost Gravity, which opened shortly after the 10am opening.  Words cannot really describe this ride.  Whoever designed this must have been high on a cocktail of drugs, but they've managed to create a ride which chucks together loads of random, somewhat incoherent, ideas, and makes it work for a fun ride.  The queue is weird and features a couple of wtf moments, the theming is odd, the effects make no sense (including the huge flamethrower effect which makes even the staff jump as there's no rhythm to it going off).  The ride itself - first drop is fab, airtime hills are fab.  The top hat thing is weird.  The second half of the ride is really slow and killed by the MCBR, but at the same time, is still alright.  I definitely think the outer-left seat is going to give the best ride experience.  
     
    All in all, this attraction makes no sense at all, but is still a fun little thing.  It's nothing *special*, but definitely a great concept, and hopefully more parks invest in Mack BigDippers in the future...
     
     

    The top hat looks very square from this perspective...
     

    Escalator theming the queue because...reasons?
     
    Goliath
    The main thing I remember about Goliath is how painfully obvious this was a ride from the Six Flags era.  No theming, awful-looking queue, no audio in the surrounding around, unimaginative name, awkward location.  That's not to say it was a bad ride, but I guess because I always look for a more overall experience than *just* a coaster, the lack of overall experience will stand out to me.  The coaster is pretty fun, offering nice moments of airtime and intensity, and has a decent-ish layout on the whole.  We had a ride on it in the hail, which was both painful and awesome in equal measure.  We ended up riding this a few times during the day, so I guess that shows how loved it was by the group as a whole, but it's just a shame there wasn't more to go with it!
     


     
    From here, the park goes a bit downhill.  Robin Hood, the park's Vekoma woodie, is alright, and has a bit more airtime than it's sister Werewolf, and is good in its own right, but failed to leave much of a lasting impression on me.  Speed of Sound, a Vekoma Boomerang, is one of the better Boomerangs I've done in fairness, but the transition between the cobra roll and vertical loop is rather unpleasant.  The soundtrack is annoyingly catchy though.  Coaster-wise, we also did kiddie coaster Drako, which wasn't terrible.  
     



     
    El Condor
    The final coaster we did at the park was El Condor, a Vekoma SLC.  I heard bad things about it, so wasn't exactly looking forward to it.  But dear oh dear, this was dreadful.  The OTSR actually squished my ears due to the lack of room they provided.  The ride was rough, rattly and in general just uncomfortable and awful.  And this was in the front row too!  Honestly, I cannot think of a worst (notably) coaster I've done.  One can only hope this is on the chopping block for the park (hopefully for their 2019 coaster...)
     

    This is not BaronC. approved.
     
    Outside of the coasters, there's little of note really.  Merlin's Magic Castle was a largely forgettable Vekoma madhouse, though did feature a nice bit of misdirection in the main ride show.  Their rapids and log flume were fun and featured some quirky signs (though are clearly nothing to write home about as I've forgotten their names, and I'm too lazy to look them up...).  And aside from a couple of smaller rides, there's not really much else on park.  
     
    I'm probably selling the park a little short here, but time constraints, laziness and a general mediocre reaction to the park isn't really encouraging me to go much further.  It's evident that the park's recent investments have been very good for the park though, which is only a positive sign.  The lack of indoor rides was something that really stood out to me (especially given the pouring rain!), but hopefully next season's 'thrilling dark ride' will help with that.  
     
    One final point - the park's direction.  Walibi have made is obvious that they want Walibi Holland to be a thrill park, focusing on teenagers and young adults.  They pretty much said as much when they closed down their 4D cinema for next year's apparent new attraction.  And, much like Thorpe at the beginning of the decade, they've tailored their marketing and general park atmosphere to that market.  From "#HardGaan" ('#GoFast') plastered all across the park and live DJs playing music across the park (with many songs featuring plenty of swears), they know what they think this market wants.  Oh, and there's this charming t-shirt, which many staff wear, and is also on sale...
     

    Subtly, not Walibi Holland's strong point.
     
    I'm by no means a prude or anything, but this whole style seems very theme park unfriendly.  And it's nowhere near as clever, subtle or humorous as some of the stuff Thorpe did during their fathead phase (the 2011 fireworks event 'Thorpe Park BLOWS IT UP / BLOW S#!T UP' advertising was something which I genuinely found amusing and clever, and still brings a smile to my face thinking about it).  Part of me hopes it works for them, as I think turning Walibi Holland into a thrill-focused park would be great, as they have plenty of opportunities (much more so than Belgium and Rhone-Alpes) and a firm foundation already.  But at the same time, we've seen plenty of parks try this strategy, before realising alienating families is never a good thing.  So who knows.
     
     
    Anyways, enough rambling.  Platform 13, Lost Gravity and Goliath were all fab coasters in their own right, but everything else is a bit drab.  Hopefully we can see more fabness in the future.
     
    Next time - Germany, and Phantasialand of awesome-ness...
  13. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Taron- A controversial view   
    Phantasialand is a stunning park. Up there was one of my favourites, and definitely my favourite non Disney/Uni park. 

    Look at the stunningness. Everything is just so well done. Immersion is great. Rides are fab. Like Maus Au Chocolat. It just has so much magic going for it! Midway Mania sounds tacky compared to this. The fun house down Berlin street is odd for a theme park but great. 

    Destroyed Josh on our second go as well  

    It's a beautiful park.

    And the most well known top spin lives here.

    And a solid, well themed B&M. Mamba is an odd case. In the morning near the front it was lame. In the afternoon after some rain at the back it was top 10 contender. But it lacks consistency soooo much! For more park photos see last years report as nothing has changed. Winjas is still awesome. Nighthawk now has music, Hollywood boat tour still looks like it could have the scenery collapse at any moment. Wakabato was just avoided. Still don't get Mystery Castle, had an even shorter cycle this year! River Quest is hilarious. Mad house is an odd theme. 
     
    KLUGHEIM

    The area looks great!

    Intimidating yet deceiving as it's almost on level with the path.

    Looks like a village in a rocky mountain with a coaster.

    Woosh

    Watching the coaster fly all around you in the area is great

    And Raik which is so much fun with a brill station.

    This second launch makes one of the coolest sounds I've heard from a ride ever


    It winds all over the place.

    WIth a love of design, engineering and sheer immersion it was great to meander about.

    But that's it really.

    The queue moves fast and has a geeky view of the transfer track.

    But what about the ride?
     
    Well, Jack Josh and Matt knew when we came off first time it hadn't wowed me. I wasn't really joyous by what I just rode, I was quite mellow. I mean, there was nothing wrong with it. At all. Just, nothing made me go OMG. I love the dive into the second launch and up past the waterfall. That's the only thing that still sticks in my head. It felt like there were lots of lul moments, then crazy, then lul. But I don't feel it flowed in the right order to make a stunning ride. It's not a top 10 for me. Probably not a top 20. But that doesn't mean it's bad. It is a good fun ride, has created a hugely themed area secluded from the park. It is spectacular to watch, wander the little village with Taron roaring overhead. But the ride isn't standout in my eyes. For the next level of theming yes, as a ride, no. It is a solid ride that will do well against time. It won't be a fad. As long as it doesn't get Intamin rough, it'll always be a good ride. It also got me thinking though, why does every new ride these days have to seemingly be a top 10 ride or the next best thing. What's wrong with just building a good solid coaster that no one will dislike. I guess you could see it as Inferno in a way. Nothing special, but a ride that is always liked, pretty popular and serves the park extremely well. So yeah, Taron. Good.
     
    Now Chiapas however is special.

    A gorgeous ride

    Now with it's weird issues sorted so you can sit properly.

    Wacky ride.

    Crazy drop

    But a fun theme! Great music throughout, lighthearted nature, doesn't soak you so is always enjoyable. Definitely my favourite flume type ride, sorry Dudley's.
     
    Intamin will sell lots of these once they're confident it won't have multiple issues again. And Taron too, I'm sure they'll sell more launchers now with the new trains. 

    Go to Phantasialand! 9/10 park at least.
     
    In more serious news.

    If anyone spots Josh, please inform Phantasialand. He is currently trying to rip of the Chiapas rave room somewhere in Monchengladbach. That way he'll get banned  
  14. Like
    pluk reacted to Marhelorpe for a blog entry, Derren Brown's Ghost Train - Technical Rehearsal Review   
    On the 1st July 2016, Derren Brown's Ghost Train officially opened to the public for technical rehearsals and I was one of the lucky few to be able to experience it before it's official opening. What follows is an extremely long review and walkthrough of the attraction which will be summarised by bullet points in addition to long paragraphs to make it easier to read.

    (I uploaded a previous review yesterday regarding the experience which some of you may have read. I deleted it because after reading it back, I thought I could re-write it a lot better so this is more of an updated review than a new one.)

    PLEASE NOTE: There will be some spoilers ahead in this review with detailed explanations of what happens, so unless you would like to know what happens, please don't read ahead. I didn't need to sign an NDA or form when I rode this 3 times.

    So to begin the review, I'll start with the exterior and queue-line:

    1) Queue-line and exterior

    The queue itself has two photo booths which you pass through before you begin your experience. The first one involves you looking through a glass window and focusing your eyes upon a red dot on a TV monitor screen which displays certain images related to the theme of the ghost train. During this stage, the dot moves up until it turns green telling you the picture is taken. You are given a "one way ticket" with a barcode which you must scan on the reader in both photo booths in order to get both types go photo at the end.

    About 20 minutes down the queue later, you approach the second photo booth and there are signs giving the symptoms of an infected person such as white, bloodshot or dilated pupils which all relates to the vague fracking theme of the attraction. In this booth, using the tickets you were given earlier, you then individually place your heads onto these stands and look straight into a screen to align your eyes with the camera. Once it's aligned, 3 cameras (one at the front and two on each side) scan your head using LED's to light your face up from all angles which I presume is for a 3D rendered head in a jar souvenir you can buy at the end of the ride, as well as a regular additional on-ride photo with your head in a green jar. After you've been "disinfected", you proceed to the last section of the queue which is roughly another 20-30 minute wait if the line is full.

    As for the queue speakers, the audio kept on cutting in and out constantly on an average time of 15 seconds and it happened all day through all the speakers. Not sure why this was happening but I can only guess it's a glitch with the audio system in the queue as they were testing the exterior audio all morning it seemed. Sure it will be fixed very soon, but the audio itself really did build up tension whilst waiting in the queue!

    Lastly, you are then grouped together with about 55-60 other people outside the baggage booth. Here, you just simply wait outside whilst dropping off your bags until the green curtain slides back and you are then welcomed inside the building. Unlike the other indoor mazes which involve a staff member telling you all the safety instructions before you go inside, this didn't happen. Derren himself tells you this inside the building which leads to the next part of the experience.

    2) Pre-show

    After passing through the green curtain, you enter this very dark room which has a stand for you step up onto and you look upon a scene which involves a vacant empty chair under a spotlight, and a black chalkboard behind. Above you are a series of about 10-12 differently styled light bulbs all lit up dimly, all with an old-fashioned look and feel to them all. Above the scene in front of you are two projectors displaying text on the walls which are used for directional purposes to lead the audience in and out of the room before and after the show has finished.

    When the show begins, Derren appears in front sitting in the chair and he discusses about what the meaning of fear is, how it links to enjoyment and what awaits ahead inside the Ghost Train. Amongst his speech, he subtly goes through the safety and recommendations for those who might find it a bit too much to handle. Before long, he finishes with "I'll see you on the other side" before disappearing from the room promoting you to proceed to the next star of your journey.

    I found this pre-show very entertaining to watch as it was very well executed and convincing for the audience, plus it built up more tension for the other guests I noticed! So for the pre-show, great intro and build-up for what's to come!

    3) The Ghost Train (Part 1)

    As you leave the pre-show room, you are led up a few stairs round the back of the building and you then enter the warehouse with the victorian train carriage suspended by chains in the air. From first impressions, the carriage is a lot larger and longer in length than I was expecting and the platform you walk along is quite high up. Whilst you wait in the warehouse on the suspended platform for the next train, you can hear various sound effects coming from all angles inside the warehouse, such as bats flying above you, screams from the ghost train, and the sound of trains moving along the rails below the suspended carriage. I must admit, the sounds coming underneath the carriage on the gravel floor sounded identical to the real London Underground trains when they move along the rails so it was a very realistic sound effect also coupled with an echo effect just to make it more realistic.

    Before long, the carriage doors open and the previous guests from the train carriage leave the platform and exit through another door whilst your group proceeds to board the train through the other set of doors. The train conductor and actors are there shouting "All aboard!" dressed in uniform and directing you inside the carriage. Once inside however, the atmosphere changes entirely. Gone is the dark, old-fashioned sound and feel to the red carriage you just boarded and instead, you are greeted by two London Underground staff instead inside a perfectly identical replica of a London Underground train (more specifically the ones used on the Northern and Jubilee lines). The detail inside is so close to the real ones that I begin to wonder if the creative team had the designers from the real tube train involved with this project.  There isn't a seating arrangement or plan once inside, you just take any seat you can find and get your headsets ready.
     
    TIP - even though there were a couple of headsets that weren't working, make sure the headset you put on has a green LED light lit up and NOT a red one, otherwise the content won't work. They don't make this obvious but please bear that in mind when you board.

    It also became obvious why the number of seats recently went from 60 to 58. In each carriage(s) , two seats next to each other were stripped back room for wheelchair users, so there's no need for disabled passengers to leave their wheelchair, which also helps with the throughput.

    TIP - when you put on your headset, the best and more comfortable way of doing it is to place in on the top of your head then before you place the goggles over your eyes, pull down the two speakers for the headphones instead. They are ergonomically shaped to fit your ears so you'll know if they are fitted on correctly. Once they're set, just pull down the headset and adjust the tightness of the headset with the velcro straps just like Galactica. Even though my vision was fine all 3 tries, I couldn't work out how to focus the image through a mechanical dial like Galactica has. Maybe I'm being stupid and missing it, but I couldn't feel or see anywhere to adjust it. Not that I needed to, but maybe someone else will.
     
    I won't go into too much detail about what happens inside, but rest assured, there's a lot more to this ride than you would be lead to expect and it certainly makes the experience very thrilling and engaging. The first half is by far the best part of the entire experience!
     
    On e this section is over and you've got off the train (as it does physically move into another section of the building) the next part of the journey begins.

    4) The Evacuation

    As the underground staff guide you out of the train, they lead you through to a room which stinks of this gas they mentioned telling you to cover your mouths. Once you've evacuated the station, you find yourselves inside the underground tunnels itself with various other underground trains parked stationary. There is also a giant leaking pipe which the construction workers inside are trying to fix. The whole feeling and atmosphere here made me quite nervous as it was very loud with the noises of train passing through the tunnels and the stench coming from the gas leak.

    Here as a group, various effects happen which include of a moving train, shadow, light and sound effects and acting from the underground staff. Again, I won't say much here, but it certainly surprised me the first time!

    I must say, some of the effects used in this section really had me for a few moments. This coupled with the smells and nosies really made this section a thrilling yet mildly scary section of the experience.

    5) The Ghost Train (Part 2)

    As before, you take your seats in the underground carriage with the VR headsets on (don't forget to find one with a green LED light on it) and the final section of the experience continues here. The underground train through the headset is empty again and the train moves virtually and physically again for a quick moment here. Then, out of nowhere, one of the creatures rips apart the entire side of the carriage you are sat in and you can see outside a street in London with lots of cars and vehicles congested and abandoned whilst your carriage is held upon a bridge.

    What happens next is rather not say but it does involve more visual effects with the headsets as well as more physical movement from the train carriage, including a brief sensation of falling.

    After this, the ride experience is over and you exit the carriage from where you started through the victorian carriage, you are then lead down some stairs to the baggage hold area and finally through the ride's shop.

    Now, I'd like to quickly talk about the VR headsets as that had quite an important role in this experience.

    6) VR Quality

    Compared to Galactica's headsets, I can assure you that these ones used on Ghost Train are of far higher quality for the following reasons:

    • Everything was much higher definition with more pixels and a wider viewing angle.
    • Unlike Galactica, the VR content was a smooth 60fps film from start to finish making the quality much nicer.
    • The headsets I find are much more comfy to wear and the speakers are louder than that of Galactica's.
    • The headsets used two images for each eye but at slightly different perspectives. What this resulted in was all of the content being rendered in 3D making the experience even more immersive.

    7) Conclusion

    Overall, I would say that this is a solid investment for Thorpe and it certainly delivered in many areas I was hoping it would, some of which exceeded my expectations. The VR quality was great, the build-up worked effectively, the theming is some of the best we've seen yet at any theme park in the UK and it thrilled me with fear and excitement which is what the ride is designed to do.

    The best thing about the experience is how all of the technology, mechanics, engineering and theatrical elements all bind together to create this very unique experience. If Thorpe can keep them all in sync together as it currently is and enhance the experience a little more with some slight alterations, this can in my opinion be one of the best ride experiences out there currently that I know of.

    However, due to the fact it was a technical preview, there were a few bugs I experience the 2nd and 3rd time I rode it. At one point, the headset I wore in the final section forgot which direction I was looking and very quickly zoomed to the left, and the other bug was when I looked to far down the carriage on the left the 2nd go, the graphics seemed to shake and wobble slightly. But thankfully, for both of these glitches, they automatically fixed themselves both in less than a second after I noticed them, so the system involved detected the glitch and fixed them almost immediately.

    Another little disappointment I had was the entire experience wasn't as scary as I was expecting it to be. Don't get me wrong, it still made me pretty nervous in some areas, but not terrifyingly so. Mind you, a lot of the other guests seemed pretty scared as a lot of them were screaming inside the carriage, so it might just be me being used to scares delivered at theme parks probably.

    So even though there were a couple of downs, the rest of the experience was superb in my opinion and I will happily give it a high recommendation to any park guest to try and do. Bear in mind it was a rehearsal, so it wasn't 100% delivering, but as it stood when I rode it, it's fantastic and is in the top 3 rides for me at the park now.

    Derren Brown's Ghost Train - 8/10

    To finish, below are a series of images taken from the day in addition to the on-ride photos you get which are both included in the DigiPass. Enjoy! 

    Also, if you would like to ask me any questions about the experience, please feel free to ask.
     

     

     

     

     

     

  15. Like
    pluk reacted to Matt Creek for a blog entry, The Creeky 100   
    After visiting the likes of Europa Park and Liseberg recently, I would be taken to yet another theme park that's been on my to do list for many years now [with many failed attempts]. However compared to my last two, this one may come across as being a little anticlimactic.

    My next new park of call would be Drayton Manor Theme Park. Located just under 30 miles from Towers, what would this family park be able to offer in the UK outside the Merlin lot?

    This sudden entrance. It's no towers street but it's not in anyway a bad entrance.

    G-Force a maurer which is the only one in the U.K that isn't a mouse or spinner. 


    The ride starts with a looping lift hill, because it goes upside down on the chain lift. This process was about of comforting as the ride's throughput of 12 people on one train. The rest of the ride was alright but mostly forgettable.

    The next coaster is Shockwave, this coaster marked a major milestone on my coaster quest. It's cred 100.

    Wow, what an amazing B&M that was! It's intamin actually but for some reason looks like a B&M. I was honestly expecting to hate this ride [shock[wave]], but found it ok. It's certainly not my favourite coaster. All stand up for cred 100!

    The park's newest coaster is Ben 10. A Vekoma junior boomerang which opened in 2011.


    And my opinion it's their best too. The coaster features a richly themed queue line alongside a short but sweet paced ride which is great fun. Throughputs were relitively good here too. 

    Another coaster offering is the Troublesome Trucks in Thomas Land [more on that later]. Decent young family coaster which offers two laps round too.
     
    Apparently I didn't take as many photos as I thought. This may have been down to the park being incredibly busy with thousands of school kids [no exaggeration] which means there was more people in the queues, and when there's more in the queues the wait for the rides is always longer. 

    Last and least is the Buffalo Coaster.

    Which has to be slowest powered coaster on earth. It literally crawls the whole way through and takes a few years to complete each lap. Yay, old Zamperla.

    The park has more to offer though. Like this drop tower called Apocalypse. I only managed sit down here but was definitely impressed here. It's certainly on a par with Detonator to say.


    Drunken Barrels. Arguably the best tea cups in the UK both in theming and experience. It also tilts up a little too, making for a even more fun experience.


    Maelstrom, this mighty looking outside facing after burner. Possibly my favourite park ride and means they already have a significantly better selection of flats than Towers currently do.

    They also have an Air Race here which they also named Air Race [yay for creativity]. This ride was actually lots of fun and I enjoyed the prospect of being flung upside down continuously dozens of times a lot more than I expected. 

    Look!, it's a working Log Flume, don't see many of these nowadays.



    The working log flume is Storm Force 10, which is a fun log flume with a backwards drop. As much as I liked this, you do get wet here, very very very wet. Even a poncho couldn't keep me immune to wetness. Tidal Wave has nothing here.

    They also have a Rapids ride. This was a rather fun ride but it was no Congo let alone Fjord or Colodado. Still it beats Rumba so that is certainly something.

    Have no dear dark ride fans, they do have dark rides. This one is The Haunting.


    For 2016 the ride has apparently received an upgrade, but being new to the park I can't really compare. I liked this ride a fair bit, they had some good [not great] projection mapping and the pre-shows were cheesy but fun and reminded me a bit of Containment. 
     
    It's not a patch on Hex but I suppose it's strong point is this is actually open for guests to ride and not slowly gaining dust in a Vault sealed for 2 centuries. 

    The other dark ride is this Golden Nugget shot out ride. The ride's actual reference to the name like parkwide audio is practically non-existant. It's almost as good as Tomb Blaster.
     
    Unfortunately, their third dark ride has been closed for repairs. Apparently for a couple of seasons too. That's piracy!

    Meanwhile for the park's younger guests are spoiled with Thomas Land. The most popular and best kept area of the park, and technically the most immersive [which isn't saying a lot].

    Aside from starting the trend of UK parks getting I.P kids areas, it's a loverly place to walkthrough with an upbeat happy atmosphere and decent theming in places for a park like this. If I had then when I was child, I would probably never leave as I used to be obsessed with trains [maybe I still am].

    They also have a Big Wheel and Cable Car. Neither of which I got to ride.

    And this cool looking Pirate Ship which I also didn't manage to ride [thanks to busyness]. I'm sure it beats Blade though.
     
    Drayton is an interesting park and for a family and independent one, it isn't bad. I did feel however the park as a whole felt dry, in the sense it lacks park wide audio in most places, a standout attraction and the rest of the park outside Thomas Land feels overlooked. With the exception of Ben 10, none of the coasters are at all standout and easily take it or leave attractions. 
     
    The flats, flume and [to a lesser extent] The Haunting help but cannot rectify this. If the park did some more investments outside Thomas Land now, they could really go on the up especially as the newer additions certainly show some signs of hope and prosper. I think a Mack coaster for example along the lines of Lost Gravity or Arthur even could give the park a much needed staple star attraction the place deserves. Merch here was also practically none existent and the few bits they sold had absolutely no interest to me what so ever.
     
     As much pleasantness I experienced at the park, it probably isn't a park I will probably rush back to. At-least until they build something worthwhile or visit again with friends. The latter is more likely. Drayton is no Towers but for an independent UK park it's alright. 
  16. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Paris Asterix   
    Paris! Because mini breaks are awesome!

    With ghostly looking lighting

    This is the church in Madeline. Although the outside doesn't look as spectacular as St Augustin or Notre Dame, it is much grander on the inside

    View to the Concorde

    St Augustin

    With a mini version of the tower roof inside the tower roof. ROOFCEPTION

    Arc De Triomphe 

    Was a long way to the top

    Worth it for the views though! And, like many things in Paris, free for 18-24 year olds! 


    Because Mickey is everywhere

    IT's just a gorgeous place to walk about

    Army museum 

    The Grand Palais plus crazy french junctions!

    2nd floor of the Tower

    Oh yay. The Euros are on. So planned that...

    Let's look this way instead then.

    Just love the structure of it!

    And the football, obviously.


    Bridge of padlocks.

    New addition!

    Louvre

    Another free attraction for 18-24s

    The shpinx. Yup, THE sphinx. He's the one

    Thought Milo might have been bigger.

    Woo Mona Lisa. This is the pure definition of overrated.

    The opposite painting was quite spectacular though

    Notre Dame

    And the hunchback!

    Iron Man is also everywhere

    The very odd Grand Arch

    This view was amazing though! Perfectly straight down to the Arc De Triomphe!


    Trying to be artsy at the Louis Vuitton Foundation!
    Now no mini break would be complete without some cred hunting!

    Hello Asterix!

    This was really good fun!

    Wacky lift hill

    And dual load and offload! This is what these rides can be like. Not Storm Surge.

    Surprisingly this purple monster isn't the entrance to the ghost train but more the exit. The ride itself is good fun, some decent scare tactics but nothing to shout home about.

    This however was an excellent Mad House. The preshows were fun and the water one was fab. The mad house itself was like others, but cleverly used screens with the motion to make it feel like you were going sideways on a boat at points.

    It's Europe so there was of course a boat ride which was one of the better ones I've done

    Little Monorail type ride. This village bit you can see here has no rides. A few shops, a meet and greet but it was a lovely little walk through. As were two other sections of the park. It's a real shame Merlin and other parks want to cram rides in everywhere instead of having these little sections. It's nice to just wander about in a well themed area. Makes me sad Haunting in the Hollows isn't better. 

    Another example here.

    With an indoor bit that they used during one of the kids shows as part of the story.

    It's the little things that I love about European parks.

    Little things.

    Moving on. Goudrix. Not great, not bad.

    Looks filthy. Clean it up ta.

    Or scrap it.

    New for this year is another well themed Disko that can so easily be produced. 

    Throw in some pyro and water effects and boom.

    Nice themed entrance

    And you get yourself a relatively cheap but good investment! 

    There's also a huge Bobsleigh, a bumpy splash thing that just looked painful

    A log flume and a rapids which seem mediocre till cray cray tunnel

    This pure cred with a good themed queue

    This really ugly out of place flat

    And the two shout home about rides.

    Really hard to photograph as it's hidden, Zuess is a superb woodie. Proper old school with speed, rattle, harsh turns and ridiculous speed throughout.

    And then this. Oz'iris! In this photo you can see a little fountain show taking place which had some score from HTTYD playing alongside. 

    It really is a baby Montu, but better.

    It's stunningly beautiful


    The station building is amazing

    The first drop without the predrop is crazy in back row.

    The pacing is superb!

    Length brilliant! Forces on point

    Indoor queue gorgeous! There's so much more to it than this photo.

    The elements of the ride portrayed on this wall for you geeks (not the best photo ever)

    And this guy in the middles. Sums the ride up brilliantly. Well themed, but with a sense of humour and fun about it. 
     
    Oz'iris, people said when it was being built could it beat Nemesis. Unsure, but it's possibly the closest thing I've ridden that could. I don't think I've quite loved a ride this much in a long time. Definitely my favourite new ride since Manta, and it could beat that. I will have to seriously rethink my top 10 later this year.
     
    Parc Asterix overall is a well themed park with a sense of humour and fun about it. All the staff seemed lovely, efficient, and happy to help. On Oz'iris they were running around unbuckling seatbelts before the train had fully stopped so when the bars were released all belts were undone. I've never seen anything like it. There are a few areas of the park that need work, but that's the case with many parks. Recent investments show they're heading the right way and will no doubt sort out other areas in need. My only real niggle with the park, where's the ride merch??? Loads of Asterix stuff, but no seperate ride merch  Park rating: 8.5/10
     
    Oz'iris: 9.5/10

    Next trip: Belgerand Part2
     
  17. Like
    pluk reacted to Ryan for a blog entry, Reign of Kong - Universal Studios Orlando - SPOILERS   
    KONG…
     
     
    This has been an attraction I’ve been following for a very long time, I just knew that if the ride was going to be as good as the facade, then Universal have done it again. Boy oh boy have they done it again. They have well and truly hit it out of the park with this ride. From the moment you enter the queueline, to the moment you step out of the mammoth ride vehicles at exit, you are fully immersed in the world of Kong.
     
    The story stars with myself and Amarghh regularly checking to see if Kong would soft  open each day for the past week. We had been past when construction walls were down but they were doing previews for team members whilst they ironed out any problems. Today, they were planning to do previews from 4-6PM, but the park shut at 8 so we knew there’d be a chance of soft opening for guests from 6-8PM. We were making our way through CityWalk at 17:55, half hoping and half waiting to be disappointed for softs, when we saw on Twitter that TM’s had told guests to start forming a line outside of Kong. We ran… and we are so glad we did because shortly after they closed the queue for it. Talking of the queue, it was proper scary.
     
    So obviously you start at the entrance to the ride, with the large rock work Kong sculpture dawning down on you, the intimidation starts early. Weaving around the outside queue, with good views of the ride vehicle swooping past you, you slowly make your way into the ride building and the anticipation builds. There are multiple animatronics, scares and sounds in the queue line that help to make it a part of the attraction. 
     
    You will be greeted by an animatronic of an old witch like lady who is summoning Kong, at the end of her speech comes a large roar from the gorilla himself (don’t worry, this one doesn’t get shot). There are fire effects going off around her, and you are making your way closer to her throughout this part of the queue. 
     
    In the background you can also hear native chanting, which really helps build anticipation and makes it feel like you’re being watched at all times. This is where the HHN style queue line actors come into play, yes, queue line actors. There are obvious peep holes where the actors pop out from, but me being me was expecting them not to be around for this soft opening. I peeked my head into the hole to see where they’d be and a loud sound came from the hole followed by an actor jumping up. I crapped myself. Throughout the queue you can hear people screaming and actors jumping out, this really does make you feel immersed in the story with the natives watching you and making you feel uneasy. 
     
    The carved rock work in the queue matches outside of the entrance, it’s fantastic. There are skeletons, demon body things etc carved into the walls to really make you feel like you’re in this old cave. 
     
    There’s one amazing animatronic of the slug/snake/worm creature that is very freaky, every 30 seconds or so it’ll start moving and hissing at you, very cool stuff.
     
    Gradually you make your way towards the station and a massive truck greets you, it carries around 72 people I think? So you’re batched into rows of 6 (I believe) and put into this truck. These trucks are so clever, they are all controlled wirelessly with no drivers. In the front of the truck is a tinted window with an animatronic driver sat there. There’s 5 drivers that you can get, each one has their own storyline that they give to you during the ride. 
     
    Now onto the ride itself, it’s brilliant, it really is. You make your way out of the cave and round a winding track, until you’re faced level with the large Kong doors. They swing open and you head inside. On your left hand side is a large skeleton and on the right are some very cool large animatronic bats. You stop shortly after this to a screen portion of another vehicle being attacked by some bats, which carry one of the characters way and you give chase. One thing I want to say here, is this screen part and the next are very very brilliantly done. Some screen based rides I find disappointing and unrealistic, but not this. They blend in with the physical cave elements very nicely and give a lot of depth to the cave. 
     
    So you speed off to the next scene which is also screen based, and has the characters being attacked by the large worm creatures (the ones like the animatronic in the queue). Your vehicle starts moving up and down slowly in this scene, I guess it’s some sort of muddy/quick sand area. The creatures attack the vehicle but the badass main lass in it shoots the crap out of them which sprays  you with ‘blood’. Unfortunately, one of them grabs her and takes her away and you never see her again. The whole time this is going on, your animatronic driver is narrating and pooping their pants (depending on which one you have). 
     
    This is where you come up to the main 360 dome screen part, with dinosaurs and Kong himself wrestling all around you. There’s a lot of movement with the vehicle in this part as Kong throws you, climbs over you and catches you before you fall to your death. It’s done so well and you’re continuously looking from left tok right to left to right in your vehicle to catch all the action. It really is going on all around and on top of you! What I don’t like about this section, and what brings the whole attraction down a notch, is that if you are sitting on an end seat then you can very clearly see the bottom of the screen next to you. Whereas if you sit in the middle you can’t see the edge of the screen.
     
    You zoom off to the final part, which for me is honestly the best part of any theme park attraction I have ever done. A three story high (you only see from the waist up, he’s huge) animatronic Kong. This animatronic might well be one of the best theme park attractions ones ever done, the facial expressions are perfect, the sound coming from him is crisp and you can smell his breath! The best part is you slowly crawl past right next to him for like 30 seconds, so it’s not a blink and you miss it (ayyyyeti). But yeah it’s a brilliant and massive animatronic that does look very realistic. I love it!
     
    All in all this is a really good attraction from Universal. It’s not their best (doesn’t beat Harry Potter or Spiderman for me) but it’s a great ride. My only negatives from it are the ability to see the edge of the screens on the 360 dome bit if you sit on the end, and the fact it just seems quite short? It’s supposedly Universal’s longest ride, but it seems like it’s finished so soon? It might be that the excitement of the opening day of it has got to me, so I will try and ride it as much as I can over the next week. But I know this is going to be a very popular attraction for the park!
     
    Final point, we broke down on this just as we were about to enter the cave, which sucked and killed the momentum of the great outside portion. But the staff were lovely and let us go on it again straight away! Another great thing which I love with this ride, if anyone tries to stand up in the vehicle the animatronic driver immediately tells them to sit down!
     
    Enjoy some photos I took  














  18. Like
    pluk reacted to Tom for a blog entry, Dem Deutsche Days - 2/3   
    Germany trip - Part 2/3
    From 19th May to 25th May 2016
    With Loose Steele Bluth
    Parks visited: Hansa Park, Heide Park, Phantasialand
    **Photos to be added at a later date**
     
    Day 1 - Hansa Park is in the previous blog post
     
    Day 2 - Heide Park
     
     
    General points
    ⁃              Park open 10-6
    ⁃              It was a Saturday so the park was very busy (See queue-times to see the difference between Saturday and Sunday particularly!)
    ⁃              Difficult to access before 10 on a Saturday due to train timetabling
    ⁃              Fairly large park, especially compared to Hansa
    ⁃              Weekend following the opening of the 'How to Train Your Dragon' land
    ⁃              Good ride reliability!  A few times rides appeared as temporarily closed on queue time boards, but we were unaffected by/didn't see a break down all day (except Flug in the morning which I will talk about)
     
    Public transport made it difficult to get to the park before opening - There is a bus from Hamburg to the park that arrives at 10:10am, but leaves to go back at 5 so we did not opt for this option and instead got trains.  Despite Heide offering a shuttle bus from Soltau station, the bus times did not coincide with our options for trains so we instead alighted at Wolterdingen at 10:17 (Train before arrived at 8:05 and we would have needed to be up at 6 or something ridiculous).  The park is then a 20-minute walk from the station on a road surrounded by trees.
     
    On arrival it was obvious the park was going to be incredibly busy despite its size.  At 10:45 queue time boards showed Desert Race had an hour queue and Krake was on 45 minutes so we headed to Flug der Daemonen which was sporting a 10-minute queue.  We considered the Express Butler (Q-bot essentially) as it only costed €20 and you could use it similar to reserve and ride where you wait in a virtual queue for the wait time of the ride you wished to ride.  There were other pricing options such as €30 to wait half the queue time, and €70 for unlimited use on all rides all day too.  We however had faith in our ability to plan the day effectively and get on everything necessary without giving an extra €20 to Merlin for no reason.
     
    Flug der Daemonen
     
    Walking into the queue, I was pleasantly surprised at the theming,  The portion of the queue in the old log flume building was really atmospheric and also a good use of the historical existing structure, despite some unthemed cattle pens following that (and nets everywhere of course) the queue was very dealable, having views of the ride above and a noise when the train passed by an area of the queue similar to the Swarm.  Batching into the station was good as it kept everything organised (Germany ❤), however meant you could not opt for front row if someone else got their first!  So we got the back on the left hand side and admired the station and bag-drop turntable (No bag rooms made life so much better for all ❤) before setting off.
     
    Halfway up the lift we came to a stop and after 5 minutes a member of staff came out to talk to someone two rows ahead of us (we presumed about camera usage on the ride?!) - Another 5 minutes and the ride started again.  At the end of the ride the person was spoken to by security and a park manager and trains were being sent empty, potentially indicating that he was tampering with the ride in some way?!   Unknown to us but we had lost a crucial 10 minutes early on in the day and went off to our next ride.
     
    The experience itself was good!  I personally preferred that the transition from the lift to half loop was quicker than The Swarm, the airtime hill was good, the twists and turns were tight which led to a little bouncing of the trains but it didn't make the ride uncomfortable.  Sounds are played during times the train enters tunnels which was very effective and one of those small things which makes a big impact on the ride experience.  On the whole the length of the ride was welcome in comparison to The Swarm, but the Swarm is definitely more thrilling.  Flug may suffer potentially as every inversion feels the same, just another roll rather than a loop; even an inline would be a nice change.  All in all it was a fun ride with an interesting layout, theme, and effects.  The queue-line shop was hellish though...
     
    We couldn't make sense of why Flug der Daemonen was shoehorned into the area its in as there is space elsewhere in the park, plus it makes the left corner of the park just a mash of coasters with Krake, Bobbhan, Flug, Big Loop, and Limit all there.  But it was impressively shoe-horned at least, leading to some tight elements and interaction with pathways, the queue, and itself.
     
    Scream
     
    An Intamin Gyrodrop tower.  This was fairly well themed as a pair of giant cogs moves as the ride is raised.  The queue moved quickly due to the high capacity, and it was nice to hear a very similar version of the detonator music!  Because it's a gyrodrop, it offered some good views of the resort from above as well as the local area (forestland).  A familiar top-spin gondola was spotted in the maintenance area, but more on that later!  The drop itself was more forceful than expected and caught us off guard - Really enjoyable ride.
     
    Limit
     
    An SLC which is the same as the rest... Awful.  I would love to see more parks invest in new trains for these like those on the SLC in WB Movie World, Gold Coast, Australia.  However I was a fan of the fact that the transfer track went over the queue line hilariously.
     
    Land of the Huss flats
     
    There is a Mayan-themed area with 7 flat rides all next to each other, all manufactured by Huss (The company is based in Bremen not too far from the park) The topspin and Rotor ride were closed, and we ignored the enterprise.  The topspin was closed for essentially maintenance, so the Ripsaw gondola may have been sent to Heide to have its parts cannibalised in order to get this one up and running again!
     
    We enjoyed the breakdance although it was tamer than a recently enjoyed one in Tivoli Park.  A chair swing sits on a raised platform central in the land with the other flats surrounding it.  There was a moon dance which was surprisingly forceful, and a twister-type ride which was good fun too.
     
    Desert Race
     
    A quick look at queue times showed Desert Race at 20-30mins, so we headed there after all it had been 60 earlier on.  Walked past these wonderfully themed toilets on our way. **Photo to come soon**
     
    Another rotating bag drop was used here ❤  The ride seemed very out of place and just plonked down, but the experience itself was pretty fun.  The layout is the same as rita with some more ground-hugging moments and a faster turn after the trims before the main brake run.  Better than Rita?  Yes, but potentially only due to the first turn not being the jolt we've grown to know and love of course.
     
    The park's rapids were really good.  Long with two waterfall sections and loads of actual rapid sections.
     
    The Mack Powered Mine Train has a similar (if not identical) layout to the one at Europa Park, and was therefore deemed a failure as the theming was lacking in comparison, especially when entering the big shed.
     
    How to Train your Dragon Land
     
    Land had opened two weeks prior and took advantage of the prevoius nordic-ish themed land
     
    Had a boat ride like Charlie and the Chocolate factory which entered a cave and has screen-based Dragon entertainment.  There was a spinner ride with water similar to Solugden at Djurs Sommerland, Denmark.  There was a smaller spinner and finally a Zamperla Kite Flyer ride where you lie down and are spun like a chairswing.  It was painful on the neck if you didn't push upwards, but much fun was had.
     
    The land was well themed and the IP is popular, so good news for Merlin, Dreamworks, and guests alike!
     
    Lunch
     
    We ate at the Dämonen Grill which was located next to Flug.  The ordering system was similar to Nando's athough there is a ordering form with both german and english to make it easier for everyone!
     
    Restaurant was really well themed, with some nice cosy seating areas too!  Food was nice and like all the german food was in massive portions... 5? from me.
     
    Krake
     
    The queue reached 90+ minutes at a point so when it was down to 45-60 minutes we thought this would be the ideal time to ride.  The queue itself just had Dragon's Fury written all over it as you queue by the brake run with little view of anything.  After a bag drop (whyyyy) you enter the station where you have the choice of choosing front row or rows 2/3.  We opted for the front having waited a good 50 minutes outside already, an extra 10 minutes really wasn't an issue, however most other people felt the same and the other rows were not being filled.  People queuing assumed that row 3 wasn't a row and staff made no effort to correct this, even allowing people on the 3rd row to re-ride despite 15 + people waiting for row 2?!  This may have been due to staff shortage as they were running 2 trains (Not sure how many trains the ride can run, but there was a lot of stacking on 2...).  Two staff members checking bars and two in the bag room is just annoying to see when they run good bag shelves etc on their other rides.
     
    The ride itself was really good; loved being eaten by the Octopus and coming out of a ship, nice floaty immelman and airtime hill too.  The ride is short but the main attraction of a dive machine is the drop which is delivered well here.
     
    Big Loop
     
    The park's oldest coaster with a train donation from Corkscrew at Alton Towers.  As rough as you expect a 1989 Arrow Sit-down to be, but it was still fun.
     
    Bobbhan
     
    Having ridden the Bobsled at Europa Park we didn't have high expectations, but felt like we should ride as we had the time towards the end of the day.
     
    Surprise hit of the day!  It is long with loads of tight turns, and general hilarity which was so so much better than Europa's bobsled.
     
    Colossos
     
    The queue was listed at 90+ minutes all day so we decided to do this towards the end of the day.  Queue was incredibly unimaginative switchbacks despite plenty of room amongst this monster of a ride.  Managed two rides as we entered the queue a second time just before ride close at 6.
     
    Both times we rode at the back as our experience with Intamin pre-fab wooden coasters (Balder at Leisberg) led us to believe this would give the best chance of airtime and fun.  The ride is just huge and incredible, debatably still the signature attraction of the park despite the much newer Krake and Flug pulling big queues and dominating the skyline on the left side of the park.  I don't have much to say except that it was as good as expected if not better, so much airtime and immense speed.  Whilst I would prefer the smooth-yet-exciting transitions of a GCI such as Wodan, it really was the most enjoyable ride in the park for me and I can see why it was so popular.
     
    Overall it was an enjoyable day despite not having time for some of the smaller rides like the monorail, and whilst the coasters were good they lack a certain charm that Kärnan and Fluch had the day before, and none are stand-out rides except maybe Colossos!  Heide exuded the charm of a lot of European Parks which had their own mascots, and paid a lot of attention to detail etc with a quirkiness.  At present it does scream 'Merlin' quite a bit, but probably not noticeable unless you've been to a UK Merlin park.
     
    Day 3 - Travelling
     
    Train from Hamburg to Brühl before getting a taxi to Phantasialand (Were too late for the shuttle bus the park provides as our train was delayed).  I wrote days 1 and 2 on my phone during this time which may explain the difference in writing style or detail compared to Phantasialand days (part 3).
  19. Like
    pluk reacted to BenC for a blog entry, Stuttgart Sojourn: Holiday Park   
    Stuttgart Sojourn
     
    Welcome to Part 2 of the Stuttgart Sojourn; an April weekend exploring the regional Parks of south Germany (if you haven't read it, Part 1 is here). Following an overcast, but very enjoyable, day at Tripsdrill, a good night's sleep in one of their cosy Schäferwagen, and a hearty continental breakfast in a log cabin in the middle of the WildParadies (a second gate Wildlife Park next to the Theme Park), it was time to make the hour-long drive north to Haßloch's Holiday Park!
     
    And what a difference a day made to the weather; out was the blanket grey cloud, and in were bright blue skies with warm sunshine. Theme Parks generally look great in any weather, but they look especially great when the sun has his hat on .
     

     
    Holiday Park
     

     
    Holiday Park is based 12 miles out of Neustadt in Haßloch, and much like Tripsdrill before it, is set in the middle of vast areas of German countryside. Rather more "corporate" and polished than Tripsdrill, the Park was owned and run by the Schneider family from its opening in 1971, and was sold on to Studio 100 (who own the Plopsa brand) in November 2010.
     
    Since then, Studio 100 have made significant efforts to "Plopsa-ify" the Park, importing into Germany the characters so prominent in their other Parks (and if you haven't heard of Plop the Gnome, Wickie the Viking, and Maya the Bee... well, you're not missing much). And there are now lofty ambitions for Holiday Park, which had suffered in the years prior to the Studio 100 takeover, with the stated aim to drive gate figures up to 1.2m through a phased €25m investment (to match visitor numbers at the flagship Park, Plopsaland De Panne).
     
    It's easy to spot the new owner's influence from the moment you enter the car park - Holiday Park now sports a jazzy new themed archway at the entrance, much like the one at its sister Park.
     

     
    The eagle eyed amongst you will have already spotted the Park's signature attraction in the above photo, and it was indeed the first ride we made a Maya-the-Beeline for as we entered the Park.
     
    Expedition Ge Force's reputation precedes it; winner of the (revered?) Mitch Hawker Best Steel Coaster Poll 5 times in the last 10 surveys, and never dropping below third place over that time. With three of my personal favourite coasters coming in at 8th (Shambhala), 9th (Nemesis), and 11th (Katun) respectively, it would be fair to say that I was hyped to get to ride the so-called "King" of the leaderboard.
     
    The ride is loosely themed around an expedition, with jeeps / backpacking gear / kettle drums scattered around the queueline, but the station is essentially an unglamorous tin shack, and the unthemed trains are of the standard Intamin lap-bar variety, commonly seen on their megalite rides (although these had tedious seat belts around the waist as well as the lap bar).
     

     
    So far, so average. Also average were the operations - one train op, with the 2 ride attendants checking and re-checking both bar and seat belt twice each before the train was dispatched. We were lucky that despite the glorious weather, the Park wasn't overly busy - but had these ops been on a busier day, the resulting queues would have been pretty intolerable.
     
    What isn't in any way average though, is this ride's scale. In a small-ish Park, it looks absolutely huge (at 171ft tall), with a monstrous sweeping layout that takes up a pretty large amount of Holiday Park's available space.
     
    The cable lift hill is speedy, and affords some magnificent views of the surrounding countryside, along with the large twisty mess of track that riders are about to navigate. And as with Shambhala, the anticipation (and feeling of vulnerability) on the ascent is tangible.
     

     
    There are many standout moments on this ride.
     
    The 75mph first drop is an absolute winner; steep and sharply twisted down to the ground - in the back row particularly it's a killer. The numerous airtime hills, like the one below, deliver a sustained shot of ejector airtime. And the head choppers towards the end of the ride, where the track doubles back on itself underneath the supports of the first airtime hill, are some of the best I've experienced for maintaining the illusion of collision.
     
    CoasterForce have a video of the ride that's well worth a look. GeForce is really, really good fun.
     

     
    And yet, despite all this, it is hard to recommend it as the best coaster in the world.
     
    The ride was built in 2001, around the same sort of time as Thorpe's Colossus. Aside from the lack of OTSRs, the train and track construction is pretty similar. The trains sound the same as Colossus as they roar around the track. And the comparisons with Colossus unfortunately extend to comfort: Expedition GeForce has exactly the same level of constant vibration / roughness that Colossus has.
     
    For some people, this may add to the ride - no-one can claim that GeForce isn't exhilarating, or that it doesn't "give you a good ride". It's quite the thrill. But it does, especially in the back rows, mean that rides can come off GeForce feeling a bit beaten up.
     
    And alas our old friends - the Intamin lap bars of doom - also don't help this feeling. Granted, they're far preferable to Colossus' restrictive OTSRs, but they do crush your thighs, especially over those ejector airtime hills, making re-riding more of a difficult choice than it should be. How Richard Rodriguez spent 104 days on the thing I've no idea.
     
    So, Expedition GeForce: brilliant in many ways, but not, in my opinion, the best coaster in the world.
     

     
    The Park's other big attraction is 2014's Sky Scream, a Premier LSM launched coaster with a small footprint; identical to Superman Ultimate Flight (the 2012 original) at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Part of Studio 100's €25m investment plan, the ride replaced the ageing Vekoma Corkscrew Super Wirbel, and a la Towers' entrance, corkscrew track from retired ride has been installed over the pathway towards Sky Scream as a nostalgic decoration.
     
    And as you can see, the old overgrown Wirbel area has been completely transformed by the new ride. Anyone for a quick trip in the Sky Scream Limo of Horror?
     

     
    I was not expecting to come away with a hugely positive review of the ride, thinking that the experience would be similar to Parque de Atracciones' Abismo, Linnanmäki's Ukko and the like (in short: fun Maurer rides, but too short, and with stomach-hugging, oppressive restraints).
     
    I was surprised.
     
    Sky Scream is smooth, intense, and well engineered. The train shuttles out of the blocks into a half-powered set of LSMs, pushing it halfway up the incline. Then it shuttles (backwards) into the station, where the LSMs (now with reversed magnetism) push it nearly all the way up the incline on the opposite side. Gravity does its bit to take the train back down (forwards) into the station, where the LSMs (at 100%) boost the train right up the incline and over the top of the 150ft structure.
     
    A slow inline twist follows at the top (as with the Maurer SkyLoops), and then a short holding brake (seen below) creates suspense, before the train bombs down again at a very steep angle into the non-inverting loop, and then down again back into the station. The train overshoots the station once, before being comfortably braked coming backwards in to stop.
     
    Sky Scream is a lot of fun, with decent Gs felt across all of the elements, and the (comfortable) lap bar restraints meaning the rider can properly enjoy being thrown around the circuit. It's worth saying that the trains come complete with a leg bar as well as a lap bar - which could be an irritation for taller people - but (at 6'1'') this didn't materially affect my enjoyment of the ride.
     

     
    Holiday Park chose to open the ride without any of the associated themeing in place (see an early photo here), but a mention must be given to the final product, which is now of a very high quality. The queueline acts as a walk-through Haunted House, with jumpy TV-screen effects, detailed set scenes, and loud noises (chains, dogs barking) startling prospective riders throughout. The Park actually has banners outside the entrance advising under 14s to stay away! I particularly enjoyed the lenticular portraits that changed from "normal" to "spooky" as you walked on past; done before, but nonetheless effective.
     
    Overall, Sky Scream gets a thumbs up. Yes, it's short, but for the size of its footprint I think Premier are on to a winner, besting Maurer's ride by having intense launches, and being less clunky and more comfortable. And with two of these rides having opened last year, and two more opening this year, I'm clearly not the only person to think so.
     
    Given its limitations, Sky Scream clearly can't compete with the very best coasters out there, but I'd ride again without hesitation. Couple that with an impressive themeing package, and Studio 100 have done a great job here - no bad thing if this is indicative of future quality from Holiday Park.
     

     
    The Park's final coaster comes in the form of Holly's Wilde Autofahrt ("Holly's Crazy Car Journey"), a brightly-themed 2010 Maurer Wild Mouse from the now defunct Loudoun Castle, not dissimilar to Rattlesnake at Chessington. There's not a lot to be said about these rides, other than this one was running well, with barely a brake in sight... other than at the very end! The cars screech around the corners with gusto, throwing all riders uncontrollably into the side of the vehicles.
     
    Brutal, but fun!
     

     
    It's easy as a coaster geek to undervalue common ride types, such as the wild mouse, the boomerang, even the wacky worm... but for 99% of a Park's guests, particularly the younger ones, these rides are as fresh and exciting as anything else out there.
     
    I was reminded of this when watching riders on Holly's Wild Fart (yes, a fart gag) - almost every car was filled with guests screaming their heads off and having a thoroughly good time. These ride types are successful for a reason, and although we goons might have ridden many identikit versions of a type ourselves, this doesn't make their existence any less worthwhile.
     

     
    Onto the Park's supporting attractions, and first up was Sky Fly, a new-for-2015 Gerstlauer, um, Sky Fly. Whilst not winning any awards for naming innovation, the Park have presented the ride well in a colourful new area surrounded by stalls, cafes and a toilet block. I am a huge fan of this ride type, which involves riders tilting the wings on their individual aircraft left and right in order to induce rotation, all whilst being whirled around a central support via a giant arm (much like a Mondial Top Scan).
     
    Holding the left wing down / right wing up will rock you in one direction, holding left wing up / right wing down will rock you in the other. Get enough momentum up and you can make it over the top and complete a 360. Keep your wings "fixed" in the wing position (up / down) that pushes you over the top, and you'll continue to rotate in that direction like a madman. Of the 12 guests per ride, usually 2-3 will grasp the concept and make it over the top.
     
    What is brilliant is that the rider can set the intensity of their ride by how much they want to rotate their aircraft. What is also brilliant is that if you get the rotation momentum right, the resulting spinning is downright insane - and easily one of the most intense flat ride experiences out there. If you have read my mini Trip Report from Nigloland in 2014, you'll know that their Air Meeting gave me a subconjunctival haemorrhage, as well as an uncontrollable fit of the giggles. Whilst the eye problems were thankfully not repeated in Holiday Park, the giggles certainly were, and I came away with a big grin on my face, along with lots of strange looks from the waiting crowd.
     

     
    The Park also has a Star Flyer, the 260ft Lighthouse Tower, from Funtime. I like these rides mainly for the fab views (yes, more German countryside), but with only a few chains holding your chair onto the central spinning structure, I can see why some otherwise-confident guests chicken out of riding...!
     

     
    Burg Falkenstein ("Falkenstein Castle") is a German hill castle in the Harz mountain range, located between Aschersleben and Harzgerode, dating back to the High Middle Ages. It's also the name of Holiday Park's only dark ride!
     
    Built in 1987, the ride certainly looks the part from the outside, complete with wooden stocks and well-established plants growing up around the aging brickwork...
     

     
    ...and long-time visitors to Thorpe will recognise the inside - it's Phantom Fantasia!
     
    Sort of. Mack provided Holiday Park with this version of the omnimover-style ride 4 years after they furnished Thorpe with theirs, and 5 years after they gave Europa Geisterschloss.
     
    Alas time has not been kind to the Burg on the inside. Burg Falkenstein has to be one of the most badly-aged dark rides in Europe, with only a tedious journey around supposed "animatronics" that are either falling apart, squeaky, or stationery, to offer. The attraction is very dark, and there is the impression that scenes have been removed over the years; there are some entirely blank spots during the ride. Altogether very dull.
     
    It's a well above average dark ride building, and a well below average dark ride. A shame.
     

     
    Much more impressive is Donnerfluss ("Thunder River"), an Intamin rapids ride that also happens to be Holiday Park's oldest ride; built in 1983, Donnerfluss was also Germany's first ever rapids.
     
    Sporting the same boats as Thorpe's Thunder River (also an Intamin creation), this rapids has all the components of a great water ride: good rockwork, thunderous waterfalls, surprise geyser bombs, and most importantly, some pretty hairy rapids sections! 3 out of 4 of our boat got very wet; only one of us came off unscathed, and thankfully that was me .
     

     
    And on the subject of good water rides, Wickie Splash is another solid addition to the Park's lineup. The Mack flume was opened as Teufelsfässer in 1992 ("Barrels of Hell"; darkly-themed with the devil, skeletons, and fire effects), but received a family-friendly Plopsa re-brand in 2014.
     
    The re-theme is fantastic, brightening up the whole area with shiny, colourful buildings and characters from the Wickie the Viking series (if you still aren't familiar, you can enjoy / waste 3 minutes introducing yourself here). And the log flume itself is excellent; 3 fun drops including one backwards, with the inside turntable sections allowing for some storytelling with Wickie and friends. The final drop is an airtime-filled double-down, much like Logger's Leap's (now sadly missed), but a smidgen higher at 65ft.
     
    Good length, multiple drops, a backwards section, well themed, wet but not too wet. You can't ask for much more from a Park flume!
     

     
    The final ride of note in the Park is Anubis Free Fall Tower; the first free fall drop in Europe, standing tall at 230ft. I love Intamin drops, common though they are, and this delivered as consistently as any other. That said, having opened in 1997, its age does show - the fall itself was pretty unrefined and clunky, and there was definitely a greater than average amount of shaking on the way down!
     
    It's also worth saying that the link to Anubis, Studio 100's successful kids drama, was tenuous at best - there were a few posters of the show displayed in the queueing area... and that was it.
     
    Previously the ride was simply called Free Fall Tower. Nothing like shoehorning in an IP when it's not required...!
     

     
    And last, but by no means least, we come to the Park's all-season Wasserski Stunt Show, staged at least once a day in the Park's 1,300 capacity Aquastadion.
     
    Replacing the incumbent show of the last 2 years, "Hollywood's Talking Dead" (um, OK ), for their 45th birthday Holiday Park debuted a brand new spectacle: "Die Jubilaumsshow Holiday Park - 45 Jahre" ("The Anniversary Show of Holiday Park - 45 Years"). There was even a giant celebratory cake floating in the middle of show lake.
     

     
    The Holiday Park waterski show remains Europe's first and only waterski stunt show in Europe, and against any metric, it's an absolute winner. A team of c.10 stunt performers showed off some serious skills on the water, involving waterskis, waterboards, high speed boats, jetskis, and jetpacks. There was also some abseiling and high-wire work across the audience.
     
    And the whole show was set to a pumping up-tempo soundtrack, with gunfire, cannon-fire, pyrotechnics and party streamers thrown into the mix!
     

     
    Perhaps the best thing about the show though was its bonkers storyline. My German's not exactly great, but from what I could gather...
     
    Holly (the Park's original mascot; not a Plopsa character) wants to throw a party to celebrate Holiday Park's 45th birthday Holly has made a giant birthday cake, and needs help lighting the candles Comedy French bad guy (in a comedy cape, sporting comedy mustache) turns up with his comedy French henchman, having arrived all the way from Disneyland Paris (in a Mickey-Mouse themed old banger) Disneyland Paris bad guy claims that Disneyland is the best Park in Europe, and therefore must ruin Holiday Park's 45th birthday celebrations Holly attempts to eliminate the Disneyland bad guy, via many high-speed chases and stunts on the water Having had no success, Holly rings up good friend Roland Mack (!), who provides Holly with a Europa Park stunt boat (!!) Holly saves the day by arriving in the nick of time on the Europa Park stunt boat Both comedy French bad guy and henchman are blown up in a big fireball via a cannon The cannon is then filled with fireworks and directed towards the cake The cake explodes with colourful fireworks, streamers erupt into the audience, Holly does a dance, much jubilation, etc...  
    Utterly hilarious, and great to see such tongue-in-cheek rivalry between Parks on the continent...!
     
    Holiday Park flatters itself by making the comparison to Disneyland and Europa, but still... top stuff .
     

     
    So if it wasn't clear already, I had a great day at Holiday Park, with GeForce, Sky Scream, and the Wasserski Stunt Show being reason alone to make the journey over to Haßloch. It's in a period of transition, with the new owners investing in both new areas (Sky Scream) and redevelopment of old areas (Entrance Plaza, Wickie Splash) - and long may this investment continue.
     
    There is certainly more to do; the Park's layout is strange, and the quality is inconsistent; generally, things that have been Plopsa-ified are of a far higher standard than the legacy areas from the old ownership (I'm looking at you, Burg Falkenstein...). So there's a way to go before the whole thing feels coherent. But I am confident - seeing the improvements to date, and having the backing of the chain behind it - that this upward trajectory will continue.
     
    And any Park that invests heavily in entertainment gets my vote. In addition to the Wasserski Stunt Show, Holiday Park puts on an energetic daily parade involving all the Plopsa characters, as well as regular shows for little ones in the main plaza area.
     
    Thanks for all the smiles, Maya the Bee!
     

     
    And thanks to you for reading; comments welcome as always.
  20. Like
    pluk reacted to ThorpeAddict for a blog entry, Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream October 2015   
    So was in the park from around mid day. The event started at half 7, and the park closed for normal quests at 6. People for Howl O scream were aloud in at 5 and were given wristbands, so from 6 only people with wristbands were given access to all the rides. This was nice as it meant we didn't have to sit doing nothing for an hour like we did at Universal.
    Was really looking forward to this event, open until 1am with 7 houses with all the main rides open. There was a also a show, live music and nightclubs for those interested.
    There were no specific scare zones listed on the map like universal but there quite a few around the park, and groups of actors walking round the park similar to Fright Nights. There were people dressed up in ghille suits hiding in bush's and trees all around the park who just randomly just out at people or make a loud bang every so often. I found out the hard way when at 6 (still daylight) I shat my pants when one jumped out a bush and made a loud bang. Didn't expect any actors to be out at all, especially at 6. The event hadn't even started and I had already had a much bigger scare than I got the whole time I was at Universal. Such a great idea, and scared so many people. No one expected it.
    There was a group of clowns roaming the park as well, and one of them made me jump again as well. At a corner there was a clown just standing there making strange noises distracting me, then another clown jumps out from behind a bin with a horn and scares you. Very well done.
    Anyway onto the houses...
    The Basement
    So first up was the Basement. Turned up here about 15 minutes before it opened not knowing how busy/quiet it was going to be, but thought it was strange there being like 5 people in front of me when there was only 15 minutes until it opened.

    As soon it was time, we were led down into the main queue and we were straight in. No talks like all the events in the UK, just signs at the entrance.

    So at Busch gardens all the mazes were free flow meaning you didn't have to hold on the person in front of you, and they put you in the maze in around groups of 20, not as small as what they do in the UK but not as big as Universal (which is just a 1 massive conga line.)
    Themed around mamas kitchen and how she is gonna cook you up and eat you. A brilliant house, better than all of the ones I did at Universal! Theming was excellent, water sprayed at you (as vomit) for example. All actors were great and stayed in roll the whole time, chainsaw ending on this one as well. 9/10
    So next up located in Gwazi park (now closed during the day)...
    Circus of superstition 3D

    So being a 3D maze, you wear 3D glasses and everything in the maze is painted really bright UV colours, and all the glasses do is make the colours strike out a lot more.
    After doing a dreadful 3D maze at Universal Halloween horror night I really wan't expecting much from this one. I walked up to the maze to see a completely empty queue, and got asked if I wanted to wait for a group or just go in alone (Didn't meet my family until after this house). So for the whole first half of the maze I was completely alone until I caught up with another group. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life. Full of scares, including actors on swings/bungees who come out of no where and swing of the wall right up to you (you can't see them on a wall before they swing at you, they just come at you out of nowherere and swing back again. ) Clown costumes were excellent, music was excellent, acting quality again was amazing and overall just an amazing house. Defiantly one of the best I've ever done. 9/10
    Facade looked amazing.

    And there was a giant clown running around outside as well.

    Next up was the new house for this year, Unearthed scarlets revenge.

    Waited around 15 minutes for this one, was a bit stupid of us going in the house at the entrance of the park just as the event started as it had no queue later on Gwazis queue was used as the queue for this house, and even went right up to the station...



    So annoying having a beautiful woodie lit up next to us SBNO which closed months before we went All the trains are still there sitting in the maintenance sheds.
    Anyway back to the house, it was alright. Theming was good once again and was creepy, but lacked scares, which wasn't helped by the fact too many people were let in meaning it was very slow moving inside there. The main character in there Scarlett was just weird, a sexy girl with horns? Don't know how she was meant to be scary, or how she linked in with the rest of the monsters in there and rest of the house. Was just all a bit weird. Was a good house but just no where near as strong as the first 2 I did. 7/10
    Death Water Bayou
    Didn't really know what to expect for this one. Walked up a long path to find a nice facade, looked like an abounded house. This house was seriously amazing. Probably the best house/maze I've ever done. Seemed to have so many parts of the houses all combined into one, for example the swings/bungees from the clown maze were in here. A ridiculous amount of scares, a spinning tunnel, actors were amazing, theming was amazing, was just a really strong house throughout, loved every second. Very intense, most amount of scares in a maze. 10/10!!
    Zombie Mortuary
    Wasn't expecting to be scared a lot from this one, had never been through a zombie maze but once again a very good house. Soundtrack was great with a strong organ sound playing throughout, made a creepy atmosphere. Zombie costumes were really good, theming was good surprisingly a lot of scares. Another really strong house. 8/10
    Deadfull
    Again a pretty strong house, not a lot to say about this one. Theming was great, remember seeing a Merry go round, a playground, a graveyard. Was more creepy than scary. 8/10
    Zombie Containment unit 15
    Unfortunately I didn't get to experience this one. It had over a 45 minute queue the whole night when everything else was pretty much walk on, so we really couldn't be bothered. Guessing the reason for this is low throughput, all I know is that you have a gun and have to shoot the zombies. My advice to anyone that goes would be to do this first before it builds up a queue, the queue did not go down the whole time we were there.
    Rides open at night were:
    Cheetah Hunt in the dark was very good with a lot of it being dark.

    Dodgems were great with smoke, lazers and loud music.

    Kumba :wub: :wub: :wub:

    Sheikra

    Falcons Fury, which the Americans seemed to love.

    and Montu.
    Overall this was by far the best Halloween event I've ever done. The park atmosphere was fantastic, actors all round the park were fantastic and obviously all the main rides are open for night rides. There was really good music throughout the park, lighting and smoke machines everywhere. It's crazy how much a huge place can all have such a good atmosphere.
    All the houses were very good, all had excellent theming, nice facades, great soundtracks and full of actors. Obviously some were better than others, but all the houses were very strong and there was none that I thought were terrible.
    Walking around the park in the day is completely different to walking around it at night, it just all comes out of no where. There are loads of really nice photo opportunities dotted around the park as well, with actors standing there and staff to take a photo for you. Have one of me and my Dad.

    We left the park a few hours early, we got we wanted to do done multiple times as there was literally no queues. Busch are good with re-rides on the coasters as well which is nice.
    Lots of actors at the exit when we left

    Apologies all the photos are terrible but they were all taken on my phone and all turned out very bad at night.
    Thanks for reading. Happy to do a trip report of Busch Gardens in the day, Universal halloween horror night, Islands of adventure, Studios, Sea World, Fun Spot if people are interested
  21. Like
    pluk reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, 2015- A look back   
    If 2014 was a year with new rollercoasters left, right and centre, then 2015 was like returning to old friends and sharing a big hug. This was a first for me. Not a single new park in 2015 and only two rollercoasters to my name. Why was this? I wish I knew but my priorities seemed to be tried and tested parks rather then venturing out into the unknown in a quest too boost a coaster count.
    To start the year, it took till May to visit my first theme park of the year; the amazing Europa Park. We all know the draw with this, the important thing is that this theme park blows my mind overtime and if you haven't been yet, go. The best collection of rides, shows, hotels, entertainment, bars, environments and theming in the world. We took a detour via Disneyland Paris which just seems to go from strength to strength.

    A month later, came Florida for my birthday (Although my partner will always maintain it was just for Star Wars weekend). Despite all the criticism Florida gets, I always have a wonderful time at Disney World and always shed a tear when I leave. Was good to see Dan9 on his first trip there too.

    October time and back to Disneyland Paris before the big refurbishment years hit which includes massive closures to Disneyland Parc. No Thunder Mountain, no Star Tours and other rides down for several months. We were there to take my partners mum on her first Disney trip. She had an amazing time is already pushing us to visit for Christmas in 2016.

    The final foreign trip of the year was a free trip that I won to Europa Park. I could complain that we were only there for a day and a half and spent most of the time tired, but thats petty when everything about the trip was paid for buy the Stuttgart government. Every ride had some kind of Christmasy vibe such as the Spacemen on Euro-Sat dressed as Santa or entire rafts on the Indian river raft ride taken over by Snowmen. It was wonderful.

    And now.. the depressing part of the trip report.
    I've taken a massive break from Merlin, even before the Smiler incident. My trips to Alton, Thorpe and Chessington in 2014 had been pretty depressing. The parks were getting run down, lots of ride closures and things broken and a general feeling that the parks were not where they should be and with no hope in sight I'd just gone cold turkey and wouldn't be talked round to visiting. Once the Smiler crashed in June, I felt compelled, despite my feeling that Merlin don't deserve defending, to defend the park against the public and particularly the media calling our parks unsafe, deserving of closure and other negative comments that really put a shiver down my coaster enthusiast spine. Despite all the bad things that I know of the Merlin parks, safety has never been something I've questioned or even thought of when riding an attraction at their parks.
    I even felt a need to visit and it wasn't until August that I stepped back into Thorpe Park. The same old issues arose. Loggers, Saw, Slammer, Colossus, Fish, Storm Surge and the Swarm all closed at the same time. The terrible Angry Birds Land and the not even worth looking at I'm a Celebrity Maze hardly inspire confidence that Merlin can get these parks back on track. There are some nice shiny parts of Thorpe but Nemesis Inferno, Stealth, The Swarm and Detonator cannot save Thorpe. A worthy, insightful, interesting, entertaining, fun attraction is needed desperately IMO.

    October saw me visit Alton. Christ what a ghost town. The Smiler incident has truly ripped the heart out of Alton Towers. I've never seen Nemesis, Air and Rita running one train and struggling to fill all the rows and I've certainly never seen Oblivion on a two carriage operation. Whilst all the outrage at Alton about rumoured ride closures and massively cut hours is justified, theres only so much money that can be made from the few people that visit. It's very easy to sit in a room and declare Alton a disgrace for whats happening there. All we can say is that Alton is ever to get back to its feet, it needs to remember what its sole purpose is and hopefully in two/three years time, Alton would be the popular place it was ten years ago.

    And with that, happy new year everybody!
  22. Like
    pluk reacted to Benin for a blog entry, Benin's Park Awards 2015   
    Back again with more definitive decisions on whatever I've visited over this year. And it's been a VERY busy year, with trips far and wide (as far as the Netherlands at least), as once again Europe called to me on a much more regular basis than anywhere in the UK. Indeed, I only visited Towers once, and only because I would've been upset with that red dot on my Coaster-Count profile. Perhaps next year I'll look to complete the leftovers of the UK.
    How does one define 60 odd park visits into one list of things? With a bit of difficulty, but here we go:
    Best Park – Efteling
    Yep, not really a difficult one, the quality shines through Efteling completely. Effects fixed over the course of a few days trip, things added for no real reason, and just generally a nice place to be. No matter the season, since there's seemingly ALWAYS something going on.
    Best New for 2015 Ride – Baron 1898 - Efteling
    I was going to give this to Cu Chulainn, honest. But, yeah. Baron does everything I want from a ride. Theatrical, theming, classy music, fun ride, projection mapping. Ticking all the boxes for a good ride, but what makes it great is the details involved, there are plenty that are easily missed. They've also changed the outdoor batch and made it slightly better, still a weird system though, but it seems to work a lot better now. Baron sums up Efteling very well in everything with it, and I wish there were more like it.
    Best “New for Benin” Ride – Troy (TROY!) - Toverland
    In hindsight I'm not sure how many stand out rides there were for me this year. Too much mediocrity clearly. However Troy (and Toverland in general) was a rather bright spot this year. Troy is excellent quality and showed why GCI coasters are in general, great additions to a developing park.
    Best Water Ride – (H)el Rio - Bobbejaanland
    A surprisingly fab Rapids ride, the Halloween décor they had added to it improved it a fair amount, even if the ridiculous Ferris Wheel lift seems to be lifeless these days (would’ve been interesting to experience that), it made up with it with the whirlpool of death as also featured at Bagatelle’s rapids. But the Halloween music, theming and smoke made it so much better than I’m sure it would normally have been.
    Best Flat Ride – De Waarbeek’s classic selection
    Cheating I know for this one, but quite frankly the couple of classic flat rides available at De Waarbeek were great fun. From the self-propelled Whip to the unrestrained Caterpillar with added cover, a really nice surprise to discover.
    Best Dark Ride – U-571
    This is how you do a simulator attraction, a real standout from Movieland and sums up the place nicely. Effort and insanity go hand in hand from the naval base theming, the great staff members, to the fact that you have to run down metal steps as water bombs go off. The simulator feels real too, and the lack of restraints adds to the fear. I was fortunate/unfortunate to not experience the WET version too, which apparently ups the ante further. Which sounds insane.
    Best Show - Romanes vs Gaules, The Match
    New for this year, and Asterix really pulled this out of the bag. This is an amazing show, with a great setup, spoof adverts on the screens, great references to pop culture. Just the effort put into it makes it one of the best shows in a theme park today. Also gains points for having a real dog involved.
    Worst Park – Duinrell
    A bad atmosphere and even worse rides, there was just something about this park that didn’t end up sitting right with my positive side. Pretty much started downhill with the stupidly long queue to enter the place, followed by a massive walk around a caravan site. At least most of the other parks I visited this year had some positive elements.
    Worst Seaside Park – Hemsby Fun Park
    Decided it would be unfair to put Seaside parks in with normal ones this year, Hemsby was a clear winner for this though. The place is an absolute dump.
    Worst Coaster – Sequoia Adventure
    I had the misfortune of riding this again this year. It cemented its place as the worst coaster I’ve ever been on. No wonder they can’t sell it.
    Worst Water Ride – DiVertical
    It was closed and spiteful. Tbh, there were no real water rides I went on worthy of this award, so the chance to jump on some Intamin rubbish cant be knocked.
    Biggest Surprise – U-571, Movieland Studios
    Best dark ride, and biggest surprise in general. The unexpectedness of the attraction is what makes it so unique.
    Biggest Disappointment – The Forbidden Caves
    I loved Lost Temple in Germany. I really did. So I thought Bobbiejobbie's effort would be as good, but it was lacking a fair bit if I'm honest. The pre shows just felt faffy, as did the long walk to the ride. The story also didn't really work to the ride type. Shame.
    The “I forgot actually how good this ride was” Award – Oz’Iris – Parc Asterix
    A new award, purely for Oz'Iris if I'm honest. Its so good! Better than Katun in my book now, and shows that just because B&M don't go ridiculously intense anymore doesn't stop them creating real gems.
    The “WTF was that?” Award – Revolution, Bobbejaanland
    Just... I don't even know tbh... From the 30 car train in the curved station, the weird seating arrangement, the underground train sounds, the massive round lift hill room with the screen to the tiny descending drops in the outside. Revolution was certainly an enigma.
    Why is this under-rated? Ride - Goliath - Walibi World
    This is better than Expedition GeForce. There I said it. Where GeForce I found lacklustre last year, Goliath this year was seemingly a breath of fresh air for me. Perhaps the layout, perhaps the lax ride ops meaning no stapling, but it's just something about Goliath that made it a better overall ride than it's highly rated German counterpart.
    Strangest Park – Movieland Studios
    I've already mentioned U-571, but the rest of the park deserves credit too. Magma 2.0 is a fantastic experience, whereas things like Terminator (interactive shooting gallery) and Kitt Superjet (waterjet attraction) seemingly add to the insanity. The Rambo stunt show was also fab, and involved ACTUAL volunteers. It really is just a random and entertaining place.
    Best Park related Experience – The Plopsaland Backstage Tour
    A whole morning finding out about Plopsa and a full on tour of the backstage. It was informative though really, and worth it was the cred anxiety that took place. I wish Plopsa would open something in the UK.
    Worst Park related Experience – Gardaland’s Express Pass Problem
    Oh Merlin, even when barely going in the UK you still curse me. Providing AP holders with unlimited Fastrack for €80 for the year was never going to end well, and it pretty much ruined the day at Garda as a result. If they ever bring it over to the UK, their fan won't be able to move.
    Best Ride Experience – Sky Drop Tower – Tivoli Friheden
    Kinda pushing the definition of ride, but I'm glad I did this. Summed up you go up a tower, winched up and then free fall into a net. The tower is tall. The experience of literally free falling attached to nothing is something no other ride can fulfill. Well worth the money (£5).
    Milestones – 450th (Hembsy Caterpillar), 500th (Formule X)
  23. Like
    pluk reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, Glitz and Glamour   
    Yes I know what you're thinking, another Europa Park/Disneyland Paris trip report from Mark9. I was blown away by Europa Park in 2010 and 2013 and surely this trip can't be any different. And how could I possibly compete with the three blog wonder of Matt Creek's comprehensive Disneyland trip reports. Well... this is a report with a little bit of difference (Or at least I hope so, this is all on the fly so might just end up me complimenting every aspect of Europa Park). Nonetheless, I hope this entertains or at the least interests you.
    Scene 1 - Staying on site at Europa
    I make it a point to stay on site at Europa. Unlike other parks where it isn't essential, I feel staying on site gives such an advantage because of the sheer beauty and theme of the hotels. I've previously stayed in the Tipidorf, Hotel Colosseo and Bell Rock, and this time around was Hotel Alcatraz. Themed around a Spanish castle, this 9 floor building is the closest to the theme park.

    During check in I was hoping, praying for a view of the park. My wishes came true with an 8th floor view over the entire park. This blows away my previous favourite view of Shambhala and Dragon Khan at PortAventura.


    Hotel Alcatraz itself isn't the best of the hotels at Europa but it is certainly the most intimate, As an alcoholic I particularly enjoyed the 40th anniversary special cocktails in the bar on the 9th floor which afforded spectacular views of Wodan and the hotel area. I had a Blauer Enzian (The Mack name for their powered coasters) and a 40th Euromaus special. They were delicious.

    Staying at Europa Park is a fantastic experience and well recommended. The staff are friendly, accommodating and the attention to detail in the rooms is second to none. Next time, I'll be staying in Hotel Isabel but for first timers, Colosseo is the one I'd recommend.
    Scene 2 - 40 Years of Europa Park
    ​Something that separates Europa out from the competition is its sense of pride in its achievements. It's easy for a park owned by a coaster manufacturer to perhaps do this, investments after all are cheaper and as a showroom for the Mack products, it can afford to be perhaps more extravagant then others. I find this a cop out excuse though. The reason Europa Park is the best park in Europe (perhaps the world) is because it never rests on its laurels, it never slows down and it never stops improving. Back in 2013, massive works had been done to the rapids including a new lift hill building, animatronics and theming and a new tunnel to accommodate the rapids going over the pathway into Iceland. This time around two other rides were in the process of change. Columbus Dinghy, a simple boat carousel like Chessington's Seastorm had seen massive change with new queue line theming, a show during the ride and a simple addition of a steering wheel which allows the rider to control when the boat spins. A small change but massively changes the fun levels of the ride. And completely unnecessary as there was nothing wrong with the ride set up previously.
    The other two ride's to see a change is the rides Splash Battle, Whale Adventure. Now with the tag line 'Northern Lights'. It wasn't open unfortunately, still in construction but a massive change and I'll be interested if the water sprayers remain on the boats. Eurotower has been spruced up with new theming and a steampunk look.
    Other new additions include a new 40th anniversary parade, a new 4D show which was really fun, a travel escalator in the car park (WOO) and a new show called Fabulous Europe. This was a dud, essentially trying to imitate Disney's Soarin' but lacking any kind of cohesive flow or enjoyment.


    Scene 3 - Rides and Stuff
    Rides are Europas bread and butter. With so many, it's impossible to get them all done in a day. That being said, there has been some operational changes and it makes me slightly concerned. Firstly, Europa was always a park that wanted you in and out a seat as quickly as possible. That hasn't changed. What does seem different is that the rides weren't at full (or higher capacity). Now maybe it wasn't necessary as the park wasn't packed on our visit, but I was surprised to be hanging around for a few seconds in stations on Euro-Mir and Eurosat along with trains being deliberately stacked. Silver Star's third train never made an appearance, neither did the second Pegasus train. They also seemed pretty intent on checking bars which in previous years only happened on Wodan and Blue Fire. Now the only ride not really checked is Alpen Express, that was the only ride that ran with urgency.
    Arthur as a piece of ride hardware is sublime. It's an amazing piece of kit that train. The ride itself could be better. There's some parts of the ride show that don't live up to expectations such as the giant rat in which its pulley system is more noticeable then the rat itself or the fact the first screen on the ride is so in view of the queue that its effect is pretty much zero. I would love for a park like Phantasialand to get their hands on the hardware as they could do it absolute justice. Europa kind of dropped the ball on the ride experience on this one, even though I enjoyed the ride for what it was.

    And finally, I just wanted to show some pictures of how beautiful Europa is. Trip reports sometimes get stuck in a list of ride descriptions and misses what makes a park good or bad. This time around, I really wanted to appreciate what makes Europa special.

    Euro-Mir

    Switzerland

    Atlantica Supersplash and Portugal

    Austria

    Greece
    And with that another year of Europa Park had passed. Pleas visit this wonderful park. It deserves every accolade and every part of your attention.
    Scene 4 - Disneyland time
    I'll keep this brief. Visiting at the moment doesn't deliver the Disney experience that people probably deserve, at least if you're going primarily for the rides. With Space Mountain closed for a refurb, a lot of pressure is being put on Thunder Mountain and that seems to have terrible reliability. First day, it was closed, second day it opened at 12, third day it was on and off. With both main coasters down, rides like Indianna Jones and Phantom Manor have 45 minute queues. It's the first time I've ever used an Indy fasts or even seen it running. Beyond refurbs of Thunder and Space, another massive ride is required to spread those queues. A potential Star Tours 2 refurb in Discoveryland will only go so far. All the ride investment is in Studio Parc and even there was rammed. I'm never going to queue 55 minutes for RC Racer or 20 minutes for Slinky Dog. That's an insult.
    The park though is on the up and is a very different place from my first visit in 2013. Life seems to be returning such as a new spring time show, more meet and greets occurring regularly and the stages in Frontierland/Discoverylandcoming back into action. With Cafe Hyperion closed in Discoveryland, all the other food places on park were open. I couldn't believe my eyes to see Hakuna Matata open and actually serving food. Hopefully this isn't temporary and will continue to serve in future.



    So all in all a successful week. If you read this far, I thank you for your time. Till next time, Mark9 out.

  24. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, The Smiler: How the Correction Occurs   
    For a few years now Towers has been subject to a mind marmalising force known as the Ministry of Joy and I think it's only time I reveal some of the hidden secrets after we persuaded a few Smile Assistants we want to help correct others. To do so we had to receive a grand tour of the correctional device. Be warned, what you see and read today is top secret and may correct you just by looking at it. It is your own choice to continue reading this...

    Before embarking upon the process we decided to analyse the mysterious goings on by the Ministry. Maybe if we could work out their ways we'd be able to avoid correction.
    However, it is very difficult to understand this mess.
    Some advocates were being corrected as we watched on.

    As we approached we were already being told to join them.

    We knew from the start, trying to find out how they correct people without being corrected would be difficult.

    Here is a vehicle to make you smiling advocates. Did you know, on Smiler they are called vehicles, Oblivion are shuttles, Air are crafts and the other coasters are trains. Random.

    It was time to reach the top and try and understand the mess.

    It seems to completely correct you it has two halves... must be two rides.

    Crazy.

    We were informed by the Smile Assistant Matt that this large tree in the middle is the height tree for X-Sector. Back in 1998 when the lord of Darkness was trying to force people to look down, the Ministry of Joy had to make the tree taller so put more ground under it. By doing so they could build Oblivion. However, in 2011/12 a storm threatened the trees existence so they chained it down because without it they may have had to close Oblivion and wouldn't have been able to build the correctional device that is Smiler. It is also 1 metre taller than Oblivion.

    Low and behold the device itself! In the background you can see Enterprise but originally that was meant to leave instead of Submission. Engineering got £10,000 to get Submission back to having its two arm working together which the Ministry couldn't wait for! However, some management people decided it hurt too many people and wasn't making them Smile so they got rid of it and spent the £10,000 on Enterprise.

    Under the twisted track is the queueing pen. It is made up of 6 areas, area 1 the Optical procedure room, area 2 the one outside that, area 3 has the shop alongside area 4, area 5 being the back corner and area 6 the new extension up to the toilets. Now, there are 3-5 ways of fully optimising the queue but you are meant to do it in order so 6-5-4-3-2-1 as much as possible so people can work out the queue time. Smile Assistant Dave told us of this time he made it do like 6-5-2-3-1-4 or something crazy and no one could work out the queue time... it has also never been replicated as no one can work out how he did it. In total there are as many as 20 possible queue line possibilities in some form.

    Here we see the first lift... the secrets lie within the tunnel.

    For the geeks.

    These arrows help you to know where correction is... not like you have a choice though.

    This door <3 There used to be a set of stairs here. The door is in the baggage room and it was meant for Smile Assistants to use in case a vehicle stopped on the brake run before the first lift. However, some staff took the fun too far and were opening it going boo, knocking on it and so on. So, they moved the metal staircase around the corner to which it now leads to nowhere and the door is permanently locked.

    The first of 14.

    So elegant. (I fear I'm starting to be corrected...)

    Ah the glass floor. Smile Assistant Matt told us it works better with the lights on and was meant to help correction. But, due to delays on the Swiss side of things the whole tunnel was rushed to completion. It was originally meant to continue the Optical Procedure but this never happened. They'd love it to get completed but don't think it ever will.

    Here is where you leave the station.

    If you wave at the Smile Op and they wave back at you with their foot, that is because upon dispatch they have to hold two buttons down for 5 seconds before Correction can begin. And you all thought they were just being weird (yeah they are).

    We then went into the pit. Yes, it is mainly made of concrete.

    And track.

    And muddy arrows.

    Confusing.

    The reason parts of the supports go into the concrete and others like this tiny one are encased in footers is because the support wasn't long enough (due to the groundwork issues) so instead of waiting for new pieces they used the materials they had (a lot of concrete obviously).

    The Marmaliser.
    It was all starting to get too much!!! So we went for a walk.

    We came across this chained up tree.

    On the walk a witch stopped us and said "You will either get corrected or for every geek who comes to visit this tree Nemesis will slowly be destroyed." I couldn't let this happen!
    So 7 goes later followed by a further 4...

    We were corrected.

    And Nemesis keeps going strong!
    So remember one thing guys,
    Smile. Always.
  25. Like
    pluk reacted to Celia Mae for a blog entry, A Trip Up North   
    Alton Towers finally happened!
    SCB can tell you, we've had a countdown going for ages and finally we went, so I am no longer an AT 'virgin' as some would put it.
    When it came to actually going I was nervous, as a lot of hate had been spread around about low standards and operations and the like compared with last season; however this time I once again found myself in the position I was in at CWoA, not knowing what to expect so practically being an ordinary punter.
    So, day one.
    We started the day at TP, as there were a few rides I wanted to compare to those at AT (namely Colossus and Smiler, Nemesis Inferno and the original Nemesis, Stealth and Rita, and yeah you get the picture). Got everything we wanted done plus a few extras within an hour and a half; bar Inferno which was already in it's full extension with only one train running... Yeah so as we wanted to get to AT at some point that day we decided it was best to not.
    Arrived at Towers at around 2pm to find the car park practically empty. We definitely chose a good week to go, up North aren't on their Easter break yet, so it was mostly families and adults there, which helped a lot with both the atmosphere and the queue times for the types of rides we wanted to go on.
    First thing we walked straight on to Smiler, despite the signs saying it had a 15 minute queue (still would have been good), and I really didn't get what everyone was on about it being rough. Yes I am a fan of Colossus and the fact that it's rough (even though it has gotten notably worse this season) but I will at least admit that it is rough. With Smiler, I don't know if it was the rain or that they'd done some work, but I found it as smooth as I knew Inferno to be.

    Did all the big rides except Nemesis and Air, we had them on ERT the next day anyway and as I've been struggling with walking recently walking all the way over there wouldn't be great. So just to taunt SCB we took the monorail over Nemmy twice.
    Found the staff all very friendly, after going round some areas multiple times (SMILER) some of them even started to recognise us, which made the atmosphere seem a lot lighter. Those staff with roles stayed in them well, and there was this one ride op on the Smiler who was pulling faces at everyone and waving through the glass.
    Day two was much the same, started in Forbidden Valley and worked our way back round the park to the X-Sector, as SCB had booked a surprise lift hill walk and behind the scenes tour on the Smiler. It was awkward how they had Nemmy and Air on ERT, however two other rides over there so far out of the way that didn't open until 11. Still as we knew this we planned around it and didn't end up having to wait long.

    Then it came to our behind the scenes tour. Earlier that day we had spoken to the awesome Smiler op in the bag room where he made some joke about giving him $0 for the wristband (the code on it was $0) to get our bag back. We discovered his name was Dave and as we waited for our BST we found ourselves wishing it would be him to show us around. Lo and behold a few minutes later over the tanoy came "Dave can you please go to the ride entrance" Yay!
    Dave showed us around and showed that the ride staff all really know their stuff, telling us all about the ride systems and what they have to do in the winter maintenance - the amount they do is crazy. All the staff were joking around and chatting and made us feel really at ease, encouraging us to ask any questions we wanted, no matter how stupid. The other ride op Matt and a Smile Assistant called Anna took us up the lift hill and were really helpful, and then we toured the dark section of the ride down below the station learning one particular secret that SCB will go into more detail about in his blog all about the tour... It's hilarious. Watch this space, but for now here's a few photos I took...
    Evening checks from the op box

    The whole of the lift hill

    The 'Smile' taken from the pit beneath the ride

    The rest of the ride from the pit

    What the inside of the dark section really looks like


    Couldn't get over the view from the top of the Smiler... I think I found my next drawing project.

    Come day three the Sun remembered the Earth existed and decided to come out a bit, which mean so did the people. Still AT reacted to this quickly and we hardly noticed at all. We knew Dave and Matt would be opping Oblivion so we went up to see them, and Dave called out to us over the tanoy (remembering both of our names, which was more than we expected) and had a little chat to us after. We'd found out the day before that Oblivion was his favourite ride in the world and he'd ridden it over 2,500 times! Wow. So he wanted to know how we found it and made a joke about having words with us later when we said it was a bit meh.
    Went on Enterprise next and the member of staff there recognised us from the night before and asked how we'd enjoyed the lift hill which was really nice and made us feel really special, as he held the car for us to get out and everything. Saw Dave again later in the day opping Enterprise covering this guy's break, and he made some joke about it being my "16th" birthday and got all the people in the queue to sing for me, he also made some joke to SCB about if he felt sick my hood was right in front of him...
    Also we felt a little adventurous, so decided to explore the Towers themselves. They were amazing and it's surprising how much you are allowed around, plus you get some brilliant views from the roof. My only problem was at the front by the exit for Hex there is a huge stained glass window that is in brilliant condition, however you can only see it from the outside which is disappointing. It would look much better from the inside; however after extensive checks every single entrance to this particular room is blocked off. So then we went back to the Smiler

    Went back to Oblivion last thing to say bye to Dave and Matt and to say thanks before we went home, and Dave once again drew attention to me over the tanoy and we sang again, except this time I was 14. Typical. I do NOT look 14! He came to talk to us after and wished us a good journey back and asked us if we had any more questions, and then we went on our way.
    It all just proved how much the staff make a difference, and how a few personal touches really can make your trip even if it's just them talking to you a bit before the ride, rather than ignoring you like they do at TP. Before this I hadn't been to a park that was huge on theming, as both Thorpe and Chessie have gone a bit downhill in that area recently, and the difference it made was huge. The atmosphere of each area was different and the stories were clear, unlike parks down here.
    Meh, one can hope this might improve soon in these so called theme parks, but it seems recently all they've cared about is IPs and "world's first"s.
    I guess we'll see.
    PS, Sorry Colossus... I have a new favourite <3

×
×
  • Create New...