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  1. Like
    pluk reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, A California Trip - San Francisco & Beyond   
    Two months later, with the dust settled on my trip I already look back with great fondness. I've talked about the theme parks but what about the culture of California. How different is it to the humid and tourist trap that is Florida. Many UK enthusiasts don't venture past the state with all the oranges for obvious reasons.
    First thing is people in California are thinner then the East side. Disney World is full of ECV's, California has very few. Florida theme parking is one big bubble of tourists, California is far more about making your own way around without the aid of specially put on buses and taxis. The first thing that struck me about San Francisco is the hills and the beautiful scenery of the downtown area. It looks fantastic from afar, with the golden gate bridge a particular highlight (although Chris said it doesn't look any better the the Humber bridge; spoilsport). As is the culture we had a lot of Starbucks on the trip. It doesn't help that on every block lies a Starbucks or a Chipotle or a Starbucks.

    San Francisco is also incredibly hilly, we took a walk around the outer ring and some of the hills are murderous. We wandered over to the Castro, the gay area of San Fran and where history was made. Anyone interested should read up on Harvey Milk, the first gay politician elected into office and subsequently murdered a few months later. The area has an ease about it and is an excellent place to watch an Austrian drag act win Eurovision.

    On day three, our adventures took us over to the Golden Gate Bridge, an iconic American landmark. It is a beautiful sight to behold and even though we accidentally drove over it, I had a real appreciation for its significance.

    Our destination was actually the Walt Disney Museum, an essential place to visit for any Disney park or film fan. Fantastic place where you see the history of a man who changed the world we live in. From his early days creating Oswold and Mickey to designing the worlds first true theme park. This was a man ahead of his time in more ways then one. Essential viewing.

    And then next was Pier 39, home for a bunch of sealions who make a lot of noise and have a lot of fights. Quite smelly too. But this was where we had an American sized lunch which was impossible to finish. We gave it our best shot.

    And after four days of Touring this wonderful place, it was time to pack our bags and head to Magic Mountain and onto Los Angeles. Tune in next time. If you want too.
  2. Like
    pluk reacted to JoshC. for a blog entry, Breaking Free from the Merlin Machine - Drayton Manor   
    For the first in about 10 or 11 years, I visited a non-Merlin theme park. It's been a long time coming, and anywhere was a start. And that start was to be Drayton Manor.
    After such a beautiful week, Saturday decided to take a turn for the worst, and give us rain, thunder, lightning (though with a couple of breaks of sunshine during the day!). Adam picked me up and we arrived at Drayton around 9ish. Even though we were early, we could tell it was gonna be quiet day, and thank goodness, after some of the horror stories I'd heard about the park's operations.

    We arrived to some sun, though we could tell dark times were ahead.
    Half 9 came and the park opened. One of the first things which confuse me about the park is opening the park at 9:30, but not the rides until 10:30. There's not really enough to do for a whole hour, other than the small zoo, which we headed to straight away.

    Tigers are a'coming.

    A chimpanzee looks to Apocalypse in the distance.
    Rides were testing so we headed over to G Force (which apparently had been closed for a couple of days) and we were pretty much first in the queue. 10:30 came and it opened; yay. This was my first coaster with inversions that had lap bars, and I'd heard some pretty poor things about it, but kept an open mind. And yeah, I thought it was quite fun. My first ride didn't give me any problems with the restraints, and it was a fun, fast-paced ride. I did get a bit of air time as well, which is nice. It's an odd ride (especially with the "humpety bumpety" lift) and seems to do all the best bits at the beginning, giving a week end, but hey-ho, it's a fun enough ride.

    My G Force face.
    Next up was the big, new thing - Air Race. I wasn't quite sure how it'd ride, what with the continual spinning and moving and stuff, but it was actually really good. The rocking start is very good, and then it just keeps spinning, round and round and round. It doesn't get boring, and there's some nice moments where you're left hanging upside down for quite a while. Near the end of the ride, we started spinning in the opposite direction. Would be nice if it did it sooner, just to mix it up a little, but hey ho. On a ride later on in the day, we counted that we went upside 18 times (sorry Smiler! ).

    Air Race does have a nice entrance feature though.

    Air Race's queue line is a nice cattlepen - like many of Drayton's queue - and has a TV playing annoying things.
    Shockwave followed. Have to say, the station and theming in the queue line is quite nice actually. The seats and restraints on this thing though is very, erm, eurgh. Yeah, I'll go with eurgh. They're not comfortable and they just don't feel right. The ride itself has two highlights - a random little dip before going onto the lift, and the zero-g roll (which is actually incredible). The rest is uncomfortable, rattly or boring. There vertical loop was bleurgh, the double corkscrew is verging on painful and then the random straight bits are unimaginative (though, at least they don't try to castrate you). Now I see why so few stand ups have been built...

    Found in Shockwave's queueline - made me chuckle...
    Next up was Splash Canyon, the park's rapids. It was barely 11 o'clock, but we were already soaking wet, so water rides wouldn't make much difference. Fun little ride, not that wet really, though the indoor section did take me off guard.
    Another water ride followed, and this time it was in the famous Stormforce 10. I'd heard a lot of good things about this, so I was excited. Have to say, the queue - which we once again walked through - is nicely themed and works really well. Onto the ride itself. The first drop is nice, and the way it's done was unexpected by me. Then wandering through the random waterfall is cool. The second drop, the backwards one, was a shock. We were sat at the very back, which meant we got the full force of water. For a split second, I thought I was on Tidal Wave I was that wet. Brilliant water ride. Not-so brilliant for when the weather is already chucking it down. Final drop is quite nice too. So yeah, a great water ride all in all, but I'll try to avoid the back next time...
    A quick spin on Malestrom (nothing really to say about this, just a nice filler really) and drying off in one of the heater things (which was so worth it given how wet we were...), it was time to venture indoors for Pirate Adventure. It's an indoor boat ride which is basically a knock off of Pirates of the Caribbean. Have to say it's alright, though it seemed like a lot of the animatronics were broke. The ending was super anti-climatic too, which was a shame. For the record, this was probably our longest queue of the day at an amazingly long 15 minutes. Goes to show how quiet it was I guess. A go on the dodgems, sponsored by Free Radio, followed, and they were pretty decent.
    Food followed in the Safari Pizza & Pasta:

    Very nice indoors restaurant located by the zoo. Indoors there's loads of animal animatronics which move and stuff and it was quite a nice atmosphere in there. (By the way, unlike Merlin's Pizza / Pasta, this isn't all you can eat in case you're wondering. We just had a nice pizza and wedges meal).
    We headed over to Ben 10: Ultimate Mission, the world's first Vekoma Junior Boomerang. It looked surprisingly tall and quick for a junior coaster, and I have to admit, it was one coaster I was really looking forward to. Again, there was next to no queue, which was great. The majority of the queue is indoors, and is very well themed, with aliens, loads of 'high tech' stuff, noises, lights, etc., and a false corridor which tricked Adam and I. Very, very good.

    First ride gifted us with front row. Being lifted up backwards was a nice sensation, though the stop is very harsh and judders you around a bit. Then you're dropped down and you pick up a lot of speed very quickly, meander around a bit, then up a random wiggle. You hear the laser fire and do backward to the station. It's a short ride of course, but it's great. It has a bit of everything and left both of us happy. No doubt kids love the ride as well. It's certainly Drayton's most complete ride and is fun for everyone. What's even more impressive is how it takes up so little room. Given the lack of queue, we went straight back round to do it again, which is a testament to the ride's quality.

    Look at that joy.
    Afterwards, we ventured to what I'll nickname 'dark ride row'. We started off with The Haunting, a Vekoma madhouse. Much like Hex, it has two pre-shows before the ride. The first pre-show is very nicely done, with some TVs giving you an introduction, and one or two nice effects used. The second pre-show isn't as good I found, going on for a bit too long, and that you couldn't always hear what was being said. The actual madhouse itself is good, with a nice ending I thought. So all in all it is a nice ride, but it also showed by just how good Hex is as well. Haunting is great in its own right, but Hex is in a different league.
    Next door was Golden Nugget - Wild West Shoot Out. As the name suggests, it's a gun-based ride where you shoot things for points. Other than the name and logo, there's no reference to the Golden Nugget cereal. It's a very cheap ride clearly, and to be honest, is quite laughable. It's nice that some things happen when you hit the target though. But still, not a great ride. We ended dark ride row with Drunken Barrels, the tilting teacups. They were good fun, and the plate actually tipped, but our cup was way too stiff to spin.
    It was now time for the last major ride (in my opinion), Apocalypse. Decided to go in at the deep end and do stand up first (though, unfortunately, the floorless seating wasn't available today). The seats are okay - more comfortable than Shockwave's at least! - and the tilt is a great twist; did get me a little bit. However, the drop itself is okay at best. Just doesn't really get me as much as I'd hoped. Though the suddenness of the drop is a nice touch. Sit down followed straight away, and I think I prefer that seating arrangement due to the added comfort. One thing which disappointed me with this (and a lot of Drayton in general actually) was the lack of audio, apart from the occasional siren. No atmosphere, very little tension and it just felt like the ride could have been so much more intimidating with some sort of background noise.
    We decided to get some other rides done, including Flying Dutchman - yet another odd Drayton ride - and Buffalo Coaster. Buffalo is quite possibly the weirdest coaster I've done, with an odd layout, monorail-like speeds, yet the occasional okay bit. It goes on forever as well. I feels like it's time should be nearly up, and the space and surrounding area would be great for a family coaster (hi there Mack!). Oh, one laughable thing about Buffalo - on our ride, the train overshot the station, meaning the people in the front row couldn't get out, and had to have another go (I feel for the poor souls).
    I would do a list of all the things which are more useful than Buffalo, but I think I'd be here for too long...

    Buffalo with Apocalypse in the background. The Buffalo should look a lot more sad though.
    We then went to the other side of the park to venture round Thomas Land. Looks nice, and I know that my younger self would have exploded with excitement to be there. Only ride we did round here was Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster. For a ride set in Thomas Land, it was actually alright, and the ending on it was a specific highlight. Great ride for the younger market.

    We saw Percy whilst queueing fro Troublesome Trucks.

    NEW FOR 2015. Funnily enough, when you're in the park, you don't really recognise the construction going on. When you're outside the park, by the entrance, you see the site, but have no idea what it's for.
    With basically everything done, it was time for rerides aplenty. Air Race, G Force and Shockwave were all done again, as was Ben 10. After a while, a storm came over, bringing more rain, thunder and lightning, bringing most rides to a close (as an interesting fact, Apocalypse was hit by lightning this past week ). One of the few rides which remained open was Polperro Express Train; a short train ride which goes round part of the park. It gave some nice views of Shockwave, Stormforce 10, G Force and the rapids, and it was a nice break from the rain.
    Some rides slowly began reopening, so we were able to get a few more rides in (including on the Golden Nugget ride since it was indoors, and just so we could laugh at it's awfulness some more). We ended up riding Ben 10 five times during the day, which I think shows how it is indeed a good ride for the park. The day ended off with a ride on G Force, and it was the only one where I had an uncomfortable experience. However, I still stand by my views that it is a fun ride; just a shame the restraints can cause it to be otherwise.
    Drayton Manor is a nice park all in all, and given it's a small park, it's done well for itself. But there's a few rides which are very cheap and laughable which need sorting out, I imagine on a busy day it's a bad place to be in (queue board times to some description would be nice for example), and there's some things lacking (audio on all rides for example). I don't want to end on a negative note, as I enjoyed the place and had a fabulous day out, and if you take it for what it is, it is good. I definitely would recommend people trying it out (especially if you have a voucher of some description), there are some good rides there which make it worth going there once.
    Visiting has given me the extra incentive to try out other parks as well. It's not that I haven't wanted to, but it's more that I've been a been a bit blasé about it all. However, after yesterday's experience, I now have an urge to try parks new and different (and who knows, might even crack Europe next year!)
    I'll leave with perhaps the best photo of the day; our last ride on Ben 10:

  3. Like
    pluk reacted to Gggggggg for a blog entry, Why I love Great Yarmouth's Pleasure Beach   
    I have always, and will always love Great Yarmouth's Pleasure Beach. Here, I am just writing a short post about why it will always have a place in my heart, and will always be a must do attraction every year.
    First of all, the location. My favourite place (second to TP ) - where I take all my holidays, and practically have a second family, is just 45 minutes away from Great Yarmouth. Great Yarmouth itself is, in my opinion, is a wonderful place, although I never really venture away from the famous Golden Mile, with a beautiful beach, great arcades and mini golf. And with the Pleasure Beach being right on top of the beach, the views are spectacular.
    Next, the memories. I have been going here at least once a year since I was about three or four years old. I remember, many years ago, going on the Yo-Yos with my nan, and always calling them 'The Lollipops'. My mum is always telling me about the time I got my wristband, and ran off onto the Yo-Yos, and she really panicked! The Yo-Yos were always my favourite ride (now replaced with the Disko and the Sky Drop!). I still look through the photo albums of my old days back at GYPB; Having watched it change over time is also truly astounding.
    Next, the history. Looking on photo sharing sites, such as Flickr, I've seen so much about the rides, location, and owners of the park, it's as if I've been going since the 1920s! I never realised how old some of the rides are, and it seems such a shame that they got rid of some of the old rides.
    Lastly, the rides. I love the rides here. Simple as that. (At the risk of sounding like an advertisement) There are rides here for young and old! I remember going on the Snails with my mum years ago, and she would tell me all the fairy tales as we went round. I still go on it to this day! The bigger, faster rides do have a soft spot in my heart, though. The Disko - always my first port of call. Such a great experience, and you get the impression that the platform is going to fly off and end up in the sea! The Sky Drop will always be loved by me. Normally, I don't like drop towers, but I could spend a whole day on this one! And then there's the good old fun fair favourites. The Twister and the Waltzer! Always have to go on these, as they are so fun, and you just gotta love 'em! Lastly, but by no means least; the roller coaster. That roller coaster is amazingly fun, especially due to it's fascinating history, and exposed framework. And that head chopper.
    PS - I DO NOT like the Evolution. No, just... no.
  4. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Nemesis: The 20 Year Old Beast   
    After my weekend at Towers I thought I'd explain why Nemesis is my favourite.

    Even before this point you can hear it roaring around its twisted layout which can be quite intimidating. It is the roar of a monster! An untamed alien that wants to escape!

    The British weather was brilliant to help set the scene! But you can stand directly under element of Nemesis with no netting ruining your photos.

    Unlike Smiler

    Without the netting these photos would have been half decent!

    Nemesis is full of force! It's relentless!

    This is one drop. All be it forceful but not anything significant. The only bonus about Oblivion is the long ride time you get due to the stacking.

    Nemesis may be a mix of a few colours but it looks good for the ride theme.

    Due to height, the black sections on this look stupid.

    Nemesis has never been rethemed.

    This has (although I do really like Duel).

    Some say it's rough, no just intense.

    This was rough.

    It has a cooler station.
    This makes you look at blue lit concrete.

    It's not trimmed.

    Th13teen is.

    It's never caught on fire.

    The Skyride has.

    It's fun all the time!

    The Flume isn't.

    And it's 100% photogenic!
    Okay so maybe I've been a bit harsh on the other rides, but for me Nemesis is best! Some of you probably think I'm a sheep and just follow the herd of people who love it. No. My first experience of Nemesis was when I'd just hit 1.4. Never been to Alton Towers before hand and we went on the Monorail to the entrance. With our AP we went to Forbidden Valley for ERT and I heard the roar! No idea what it was until I saw it. And there it was, Nemesis! I remember my first ride and after many years it's still never disappointed! Sure it's not the fastest, or the biggest, but for me it holds a special place in my heart and has never let me down. I appreciate everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that is mine
  5. Like
    pluk reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, A California trip - Disney 24 hour day   
    Alarm set for 4am. Check

    Pin badges and Oswald hat ready. Check

    Coffee. Check

    It was time to take on the ultimate theme park challenge, 24 hours in two of the busiest theme parks in the world. Even on paper it doesn’t sound easy. Luckily there was things on our side. We knew Pirates of the Caribbean and ‘it’s a small world’ would have reopened so extra capacity at Disneyland. We knew kids wouldn't be able to take on this challenge and we knew many wouldn’t attempt such a feat so the first few hours were cruical. So with that in mind, we arrived via driving through the middle of Los Angeles at Disneyland at around 5:45. A giant Olaf snowman had been sculpted on the entrance way and to open the parks was none other then Josh Gadd, of Frozen fame. He spoke about living near Disney World (BOO!) and how he takes his kids to the Disney parks like a right of passage. With that the parks were opened.

    Oh hey Olaf!

    Fireworks get the parks opened! Here we go!

    We had decided early on to get into California Adventure first and grab a Radiator Springs fastpass. Our thinking was to get the busiest rides out the way first so we could relax on the longer rides later in the day. We grabbed ourself an information leaflet for the day and bad news. Radiator Springs, Tower and California Screamin’ wouldn’t be opening till eight. That left us two hours to find something to do. We tried Toy Story Midway Mania but that wasn’t ready yet, so Little Mermaid was chosen. We then had a go on Soarin’ which opened at 6:30, and then onto Mickey’s Fun Wheel. Wow. This is a ferris wheel which offers stationary pods and ones that swing violently. We naturally chose swinging and what a ride. Seriously more intense then it looks and only the second ride I’ve done that offers sick bags in the pods. It was now around 7:30 and we decided to head towards Flo’s via Radiator Springs to see if fast pass was available. SUCCESS! It was. Whilst Chris went to get the coffees, I grabbed our fastpasses which was for 9:30am. We relaxed for a bit, after all, there was plenty of time left. 8 o clock was finally upon us and we went for a ride on the Tower (grabbing a fast pass too) which was as spell bounding as ever, a ride on Heimlichs chew chew train, Tower then took a gamble. We decided to queue for RC Racers, after all fast pass hadn’t started and this was the only reasonable time to try it. If you know the queueline, we were just under the bridge near the entrance. From there it took us exactly 18 minutes to get onto the ride. Faster then using fast pass the week before. So there you go people, the detrimental effects of any fast pass system right in front of your eyes. We decided therefore to do it again. And it took us 15 minutes this time. People have queued six hours for this thing and here we were essentially casually strolling on without a care in the world.

    Astounded by this turn of luck, our fast pass turn was quickly upon us. And then it broke down. We had to wait an hour for it to come back to life, so I decided to have a lie down instead of getting depressed about things.

    Finally free we descended on California Screamin’, grabbing a fast pass and queuing for Toy Story Mania. It took about 25 minutes to get on and we got exactly the same score somehow. With five minutes remaining till our fastpass, we rode King Tritons Carousel and then rode Screamin’, good as ever. It was now around 11:30 and basically time to jump ships and visit Disneyland. It only seemed natural that our first stop should be Pirates of the Caribbean but naturally we grabbed an Indianna Jones fast pass. Now Pirates. This is a classic ride and no mistake. It makes the Florida and Paris versions look like mere imitations in my opinion.This version evokes such an incredible atmosphere, there is just something about being transported away to that period of time, to not be able to see the roof of the shed sticking out in the pirate boat attack scene or for the journey to be more leisurely paced then its brothers. Captain Jack isn’t necessary but he doesn't detract from this enriching, engaging experience. It’s popularity here is incredible. Hundreds of people joining the queue every minute, each one eagerly anticipating Walt’s last ride he was involved in before he died. I loved it. It’s my favourite ride at Disneyland.

    Alas, it was time to move on, we ended up in Fantasyworld for a little ride on its a small world. This one takes on the Paris look of having an outside loading area but unlike Paris, this one is a series of show rooms and not just one big warehouse. And here the props are far much larger and interesting then I’ve seen previously. My favourite hula girls also appeared here with speedy hips so that made me happy. Time for a ride on the other side of Matterhorn, the Tomorrowland side. Felt quite similar to the other one although Chris found this side rougher. We still had a while until Indianna Jones so we entered Tomorrowland and rode on Buzz Lightyear’s Spin thing. I officially hate all three versions of this ride so far. Dull, Dull, Dull. At least this one didn’t have fastpass. Before heading to Indianna we grabbed a fast pass for Star Tours, went and had some chicken on Main Street then rode Indianna Jones Temple where some more effects seemed to be working this time. That was good. With luck our Star Tours fast pass time was upon us but before we headed over that way we grabbed a Thunder Mountain night time ride fast pass and knowing the parade was on, waited near the Storybook Canal Boats. Somehow this had alluded us on our trips, it business and random closing times meaning we never got a look in. This time we somehow started the queue for it, meaning we’d be the first on when it reopened. Totally different world to Paris where there it’s walk on all the time. I like the cast members talking to us though, nice feature. Rode Star Tours then headed down to potentially queue for Splash. I wasn’t keen, 65 minutes for a ride that I don’t really like wasn’t worth it so we queued five minutes for Winnie the Pooh instead. By now it was around six o clock and to slow the pace down a bit we headed to Fantasyland to get rides on Pinocchio and Snow White. With twelve hours left of the day we still felt okay to carry on but it is hard going to keep the energy levels high.

    Fastpass Top trumps. I think I win.

    We decided not to bother with Space Mountain either and decided to get some snacks to give us an energy boost. It was soon time for Fantasmic and the fireworks. We didn’t move once Fantasmic ended, instead choosing to watch the fireworks from a distance. Works just as well. Our plan was to try and get on Pirates before the second Fantasmic started but unfortunately got caught in the one way system. So instead we had a go on Jungle Cruise which was walk on. The cast member this time was a bit of a mumbler so didn’t catch much of her jokes. We got off and Fantasmic was about to start. We darted into Pirates queue and luckily wouldn't be exciting as Fantasmic finishes (would be disaster). Pirates <3

    After our ride we went and saw the Tiki room show which I am a big fan off. This was a chance to rest our feet, necessary after nearly 18 hours of Disney parks. After Tiki, it was Thunder Mountain time where the fast pass queue and stand by queue had become one big sprawl of people; it wasn’t pretty but we made it. And what a ride in the dark it is. So much fun especially as its barely lit up at all. Wonderful stuff. We had no more fast pass energy left and somehow we ended up in Tomorrowland. Space Mountain seemed to be dead so we decided to ride Autopia. I hate this ride too, it seems like such an unnecessary waste of space especially in a park as small and compact as this. Unfortunately we also had to sit in the car for ages as one had stopped somewhere around the circuit. BROKEN! We were evacuated from the ride and decided to call it a day at Disneyland. California Adventure was calling with a 3am showing of World of Colour. There’s nothing like standing in the cold at 3am in the morning and being sprayed with water for thirty minutes. With Screamin’ and Radiator Springs Racers closing at 4 we raced (pun not intended) over to get a go but both had closed already and with Tower the only major ride still running after 4 (but with a tasty 120 minute queue) we decided to call it a day. We’d made it to 22 hours and I especially knew I had driving to do in the morning.

    TOWER! I love you but 120 minutes is just to long at 4 in the morning.

    So what can I say about the day. It is a hard hard day of theme parking and takes the patience of a saint. It says something that the night-time shows finish and you still have essentially a day at Alton Towers left before the parks close. I whole-heartedly recommend it though as the parks have a special atmosphere like no other. Getting on Pirates was the icing on the cake.

    And with that, thats the theme park side of the holiday done and dusted. Whilst I would love to have done some of the other parks in the area, that can be done another time around. For now though, we had done some of the most famous theme parks in America and I have to say I was so impressed with the rides on the west coast. The B&M's and Intamins in Florida are kind of hit and miss but over in California, each one was ridable and enjoyable. Special mention goes to the two floor less coasters of Medusa and Scream. They were great.
    I'd like to thank anyone thats read all my trip reports. You guys rule
  6. Like
    pluk reacted to ThorpeAddict for a blog entry, Alton Towers Weekend 7/8 June 2014   
    Sorry this is soo late! Had exams and mocks recently so haven't really had the chance to. Please forgive me
    Although I have a Merlin Pass, Alton Towers is a rare trip for me because I live 4 hours away from it, and I can’t drive yet The last time and the only time I have visited before was a weekend in 2012 at Scarefest.
    At Scarefest it was obviously very busy, so it was nice to go to the park at a less busyier time. Early ride time was not available at Scarefest either so it was my first time using that.
    Early ride time was different to what I expected, everyone is aloud in the park but then you need proof that you are aloud early ride time to get into certain areas of the park. On the first day me and my brother just walked into Cebeebies land without showing our annual passes and we didn’t get stopped? So anyone could of just walked in there. It was also quite annoying that you have to go a long way to get into X – Sector rather than just going through the normal entrance. On both days we got into the Smiler queue line at about 9:30, then when it opened we got pretty much straight on it.
    Had a total of 12 rides on Nemesis over the weekend, and I can still say that Nemesis is my favourite coaster. Better than I remembered if I’m honest, the force on this ride is crazy. This is defiantly a ride that I prefer riding at the back Shame that the waterfalls aren’t red anymore though One thing I realised is that this ride never really seems to have a single rider queue, I think it’s because people don’t realise that there is a single rider queue. The single rider queue is at the station and not at the entrance of the main queue, I’m not complaining anyway I wouldn’t of known there was one if I hadn’t of asked a member of staff at the entrance.
    The Smiler
    Didn’t get to Alton last year so it was my first time riding the Smiler, and I love it The first time I rode it I literally had no clue where I was the whole time seeing as it is literally inversion after inversion! Love the theme music for the ride and the station but the baggage area wasn’t designed amazingly. Front row has got to be my favourite for this and managed to get it 3 out of the 5 times I rode it! I believe all of the effects were working and surprised I didn’t see it break down once! It’s got to be my second favourite ride on the park I was quite surprised how rough some parts of the ride are already though, especially towards the end of the ride, it’s only been operating a year! Glad I didn’t have to wait in the main queue at all, it must have been the biggest, and longest cattlemen I’ve ever seen!
    I remembered this ride as ‘alright’ from last time, nothing special but I rode Rita in the rain, it’s got to have been the worst and most painful ride experience I can remember. I had to shut my eyes for most of it because the rain was hurting my eyes, and my head was just banging left to right the whole time. I didn’t remember it being this rough, and I’m not sure if it was because it was raining? On top of that operations on this were appalling all weekend and just couldn’t be bothered to queue for it again. The baggage is also a nightmare on this, so many people trying to get to the tiny baggage shelves at once didn’t work out very well.
    I remembered this ride as quite slow and boring, but I rode it in the rain and it just seemed a lot faster and forceful, I really enjoyed it! Second day however it wasn’t raining, and defiantly didn’t seem as fast, but it was still fast. They were only using 1 station when we were there and then it shut down for about 15 minutes, after that they were using both of them again.
    Water rides
    My first ride on Battle Galleons, and was a lot of fun. Got soaked, more wet than expected. Offride there was entertainers with 2 umbrellas each, one either side of you making a shield which was fun.
    The queue for the flume was a nightmare. As this is quite an old log flume, to restart one of the lift hills you need to reset it from the top, so a staff needs to run all the way to the top to reset it. At one point all 3 of the lift hills stopped, resulting in 3 staff having to go off. Every time a lift hill stopped, they needed to spread out all of the boats again and because the station doesn’t space out the boats automatically, the ride host needs to literally drag the boats back and forward in the station. They then needed to run the boats empty for about 5 minutes. What was meant to be a 15 minute queue ended up being about 40 minutes. I’m not sure how often the lifts stop, but it happened very often while we were in the que which is annoying. The ride itself was very enjoyable though, makes me miss loggers tunnel even more Another annoying thing (not for us though) was that there are only 5 modified boats for people who aren’t as tall. There was an extended queing time for them boats of 35 minutes. There was no warning about this, they were just told this as they got the front. I mean come on, it’s a family attraction? At least make announcements in the queue letting people know in advance.
    Was really impressed with Congo River rapids, so much more enjoyable than Rumba rapids. It’s not the fact that it’s more themed or there are more effects, it just does a lot more. We got stuck at the end of it which was quite fun, the lift hill was working, a boat just got stuck at the bottom. We were only stuck for about 15 minutes, but it was quite funny. There were so many boats.

    There were boats behind us as well.
    One thing I noticed about the water guns is that you actually get 10 shots, there’s not a timer like the ones at Thorpe. At Thorpe you can only end up getting about 2 boats for a quid because the timer runs out, which is really bad value!
    Didn’t go on Duel last time because of time I guess, and we had no clue what it was. I was really impressed with Duel though, defiantly my favourite dark rides now. It makes Tomb blaster look terrible. I like it how you are in carts of 5, instead of Tomb blaster. Was really impressed with how well themed it was, and loved the indoor queen as well. My highest score was on my third time riding it, 42,100. What are everyone’s high scores?

    Yep, my brother was great at duel
    Cebeebies land
    We only went on Go set go treetop adventure, to get an overview of the area. The whole area looks really nice and is well done. Can imagine it getting very busy over the summer. Me and my brother were going to go in Justin’s play house, but apparently you need someone over 18 to go in? So we gave that a miss. Don’t remember being asked if I’m 18 on the one in Chessington?
    Other good points
    - Queues weren’t as big as I expected
    - Single rider ques are great, would love to see these at Thorpe
    - Had more rides on The Smiler than I thought I would
    - Some random guy gave me a gold fast track right at the time I was going on the Sunday, so I used it on the Smiler then gave it someone else. He got gold fast tracks for free from complaining, and I think they gave him an extra one by accident.
    - 8 re rides on Nemesis, skipping the 20 minute queue. One time we went round we were on the same train. One of the rows were closed off for the exit queue but there was no one there, so they just sticked 4 single riders on, so me and my brother were together
    - All coasters were running full capacity the whole time Although rita wasn't acting like it
    Other negative points
    - Staff seemed quite moody as a whole, a lot friendlier at Thorpe.
    - They wouldn’t let us re ride on Oblivion; even though they were just letting empty seats go round? We had to walk all the way around.
    - Even if there were queues for the rapids and the flume, they wouldn't fill up the boats which meant extended queuing times.
    - Skyride down all morning on Sunday.
    - Slowest operations on Rita
    - Didn't see the park keepers :’(
    Air x2
    Battle Galleons x1
    Charlie and the chocolate factory x1
    Congo river rapids x2
    Skyride x2
    Duel x3
    Go set go tree top adventure x1
    Heave ho x1
    Ice age 4D x1
    Nemesis x12
    Nemesis Sub Terra x2
    Oblivion x6
    Rita x1
    Runaway mine train x1
    Sonic spinball x1
    The blade x2
    The flume x1
    The Smiler x5
    Thirteen x3
    TOTAL : 48
    Thanks for reading
  7. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Behind the scenes: Stealth & Swarm   
    As part of the 2-4-1 deal TPM was given for the new VIP experiences, a group of us went down to go behind the scenes and ascend 127 feet.
    We began our day going into Stealth's bunker where the launch system sits. The size of it is ridiculous! There are a few photos of Inatamin accelerator hydraulic systems around the internet but they don't do it justice! It also makes the coolest noise ever when it launches unfortunately, no picture were allowed down here so here's one of everyone's favourite Stealth element.

    I also really like this photo

    Next we headed up to the console where we saw people press buttons and how the system registers where a train is at any one time. For anyone who loves codes, Code Bronze is where it doesn't launch (because the dog is out of the 3mm tolerance on the 3 tonne catch car), Code Silver is a rollback and Code Gold is a stall at the top of the ride.

    We were however allowed out onto the platform thingy of the station to take pictures

    Yes, we also got to wear fancy hi-vis jackets alongside our steel toe capped boats.

    Still amazes me that this thing is 3 tonnes!
    We then headed under the station to watch a launch and here the dog fall into the catchcar (that's what the lovely ping noise it makes while moving back and forth before launch is) and then down the metal path to the warehouse.

    In the workshop we were lucky to see one of the trains that is operational this season (don't ask me why it was in there and not operational, surprisingly that wasn't a question that came to mind). In here we saw them drop the dog and realised how little actually touches the catchcar to launch it. There was also a cannibalised train which they rebuild over the season so over winter they only have to strip down one train as the other is done during the season. We were then meant to head to Saw but we overran at Stealth (2 hours we were there for ) so were given The Swarm's workshop before our lift hill walk.


    With 10 of us around this hatch taking pictures, people soon began to wave and shout at us

    We waited around for it to close and then watched the magical transfer table move!

    Although it may look slow, you have to remember it's carrying a ridiculously heavy train and it is moving as fast as possible as this was requested by the park and B&M set it to the fastest safest speed.
    The track locks into place

    We all ran away

    And in it came!
    Like other B&Ms, the wheel bogeys are left completely open making it easy to inspect and change without having to move the train (like you have to on those wretched Intamin rides) so the train runs on a set of wheel in the middle and two rails where a slot between the seat runs along.

    And out we went

    To the control booth

    Sun setting

    To ascend this!

    Still going


    And we made it

    And what a view it is!

    Quick panoramic of the park

    And it was time to come down
    Few things, the park went to B&M and asked how they'd go about making it backwards. They considered alternating rows, one whole train backwards and the other forwards and in the end when with what we have due to the queueing situation. B&M supplied four new chassis for it and they do still have the other four for when it went forwards so it may return but for now it will remain as it is as it's still proving popular. The engineers do try and keep the theming in working condition and even want to replace the sign as its peeling away but budgets say other things and it's not always possible for them to fix effects such as the water spray and fire as their job is to get the ride operational and often by the time they've done that it's open and they can't get to the effects. The gas tower was also mentioned and they are looking into bringing back the fire especially with ABL now open but again budget and time says otherwise.
    Was a great day and the view from Swarm's lift is amazing!

    Goodnight Swarm.
  8. Like
    pluk reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, A Californian Trip - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom   
    As some of you may know, I've been over in California for two weeks embracing the west coast. In that time Chris and I visited five new theme parks and went on some of the most well known rides out there. So to start off with;
    Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

    I don’t know many people that have been to this park so for me, it would live or die based on how my trip was to go. The day started relatively badly. A heavy hangover from the Eurovision celebrating the night before meant some hangover coffee and food was required from Starbucks. Nevertheless, we sobered up and drove the 40 minute drive to one of two Six Flag parks in California. Now, when it comes to Six Flags, enthusiasts always come across as frosty. It’s reputation is near the bottom of the barrel. Reports of poor operations, rude and unhelpful staff ad dirty, littered areas are common complaints. I’m happy to report none of these came across on this particular visit.

    Access to the park was swift, we purchased annual passes (at $100 each including parking and discounts it was a steal!) and made our way over to our first ride and my first new B&M since Dæmonen last year, Medusa. Now our first mistake was to take our bags into the queue so unfortunately our first ride was actually my first ride as Chris sat it out to put bags in lockers ($5 for all day use in all lockers in the park, very good value!).

    Now, when it comes to the Floridian B&M’s they were very hit and miss. They are either large and overblown but over rated like Hulk and Montu or they little pieces of perfection like Manta and Kumba. Having already ridden Superman de Acero, Kraken and Dæmonen, I was fully aware that the floor less riding seat wasn’t the be all and end all of these rides. When it comes to Medusa I just took it for what it was; a glorified sit down ride. I have to say I really enjoyed it. It gets away with a few things though. For example it is as much of a car park coaster as Scream is at Magic Mountain. But that doesn’t effect the ride experience much at all. Secondly it’s oversized vertical loop, dive roll and zero g roll are a lot of fun. There is so much hang time throughout the inversions and it has that old style, B&M aggressiveness that some would say are missing from modern day Beemers. The Sea-Serpent roll which features exclusively to B&M rides on here isn’t that great but is the only dull moment on this ride. After the MCBR, the ride hots up with some very forceful helixes over the faded car park white lines. These are all taken at ground level and feel very quick. The corkscrews are also very quick and intense and the final helix is great fun.

    I have a feeling that Medusa was running so well because of the heatwave that California was having at the time. It was 37 degrees on our visit, (absolutely stifling weather) and all the rides were running fast. This helped Medusa in particular as it just seemed to have that extra wallop. It was running two trains the whole day and the staff were giving great guest interaction. I thought they were supposed to be unfriendly idiots and no interest in the guests. Not true here. I found their visual check spins quite funny as they put their arms at full length, say visual check and spin on the spot. So, first ride down, three rides done on Medusa (two in the back row, one in the front) and a fantastic start to the theme park trips.

    Our next stop was Kong, a Vekoma SLC. My only other experience with this ride type is Infusion at Blackpool. This wasn’t too bad although it was definitely a slight head banger. We had one front row ride on our trip, no more goes were required.

    Next stop was the weirdly named Sky Screamer, a glorified wave swinger that gave great views of Medusa and nothing more. This was closely followed by Cobra, a Zierer junior coaster which wasn't too bad, not too dull but nothing crazy.

    We stopped for a little bit too have some water and chill out and then head to our next batch of rides. Discovery Kingdoms entrance is weirdly placed between areas. On your left is Medusa and Kong, over the entrance is V2 and to your right is Superman:Ultimate Flight and Roar. So naturally our next stop was the other coaster corner starting with V2

    Starting with V2 (Vertical Velocity), this is an Intamin impulse coaster that has a weird angled piece of track at one end and a vertical spike at the other. The ride launches you one way then the other then back again until you reach nearly the end of the track. Weirdly the zero g at one of the end is angled oddly so sometimes you get halfway through the inversion and others you make it the whole way through. Oddly, this never had a queue but this may be down to its poor reliability as it seemed to rarely run through our day.

    Next up was Superman: Ultimate Flight, a premier launch roller coaster that won awards a few years ago for its original ride design. I can understand that, it is pretty out there in terms of rides but it has a fatal flaw. It’s poor throughput means queues can rise quickly. Luckily it was relatively quiet on our visit but I can imagine long waits on busier days. So with that being said, how is the ride. Yeah its good, the constant launching back and forth through the station feels very good and the ride definitely has some good bum of seat action. It also features a good amount of air time and the sensation of speed is there in bucket loads. I just question whether parks can justify such a low throughput ride.

    Our final major roller coaster was Roar, a wooden coaster built by GCI, the masters behind Wodan at Europa Park. Before our visit, Roar was a very unloved ride, thrown aside by the enthusiast community (well.. TPR) for being rough and uncomfortable. Luckily, the ride had a slight refurbishment with track being replaced before our visit so the question was, could it take down Wodan.

    No it can’t.

    But it shares many characteristics with the German version such as the relentless sensation and the amazing sense of speed as you are thrown left and right the whole way around the circuit. The first drop was a particular highlight. The rest of the circuit kind of melted into one in my mind. Suffice to say we enjoyed both our rides on this ride even though it only ran one train. The other didn't seem to be around at all.

    So with the major rides all done it was time to kick back and enjoy the rest of what the park had to offer. A nice lake surrounds the park affording it a nice scenic view. We had some nice chicken and chips and then went around the zoo area. We were slightly surprised by how close we could get to the animals such as the giraffes and elephants. You could also pay to ride the elephants around a little enclosure.

    Next up was Boomerang: Coast to Coast or as I refer to it as, my first Vekoma Boomerang. I’ve heard the horror stories and the outlook wasn’t great. But you know what, I thought it was fine. Sure there was the odd jerky sensation but I’ve had worse. It certainly wasn’t uncomfortable.
    In the park is several huss creations such as a top spin (that had no water thankfully) and there was little roller coasters for the kids dotted around. Our final stop was a show with Dolphins called Drench. With marine life being a hot potato at the moment, what with the Blackfish documentary this show had a slight edge for me. The dolphins looked well looked after and seemed well treated so erm.. not much more I can add to either side of the argument.

    So to conclude. Discovery Kingdom. Done a large floorless or a decent woodie before? Probably not going to add much to your interests. But if you want to go to somewhere relatively ignored in UK coaster circles, somewhere that does have genuine charm and some cracking good rides then you can’t go far wrong then Discovery Kingdom.
  9. Like
    pluk reacted to Matt Creek for a blog entry, Legoland Windsor- Everything Is Not Awesome   
    After accomplishing a sufficient amount of work at uni, I thought it was time for a visit to Legoland Windsor. Supposedly my home park (as this is where my pass is sorted), this would be my first visit to the park for 2014 to see what changes had taken place and to check out the new (re-themed) attractions at the park.

    In the near distance lies Pirate Shores, the re-themed Pirate area of Legolañd and also the area's 3rd retheme since it's existence.
    I was rather impressed with the parks recent additions such as the hotel, Star Wars Walkthrough and Duplo Valley and hoping this years updates would continue that good standard.

    After entering the park, here is the entrance to Pirate Shores (formerly Pirates Landing). The sign looks bright, striking and an improvement of the pirate landings one. The support structure remains the same though.

    Apart from the slightly changed sign, the first change to notice in the area, is a new selection of models located just in front of the Jolly a Rocker. They're ok I guess, nothing too striking however a pretty good addition theming wise.

    And now it's time to try out the first re-themed attraction, Pirate Falls- Treasure Quest (formerly Pirate Falls), the 2nd re-theme of the park's log flume ride (however not much actually changed on the 1st). First we are welcomed by This bright new sign welcoming us to the entrance to the ride.

    The queue area for the ride. This section has seen a number of changes including the rebuilding of the queue shelters. Whilst having a similar design to the original ones, these make look nice and fresh compared to the old ones which did look a little worn.

    That being said, the empty area in the middle of the queue looks rather dull at the moment, which used to be home to building blocks for kids previously and despite some theming being added, it just looks a mess, dirty and unfinished.

    The shaft above the drop has also been completely rebuilt in the same style of the original, which was good to see (as the old one was starting to look pretty worn).

    And finally (it's difficult to see from here), some new models. Almost every model on the ride has been replaced for the retheme, making the ride almost new again.
    But Here's The Big Question, How does it compare to the original theme?
    Despite being re-themed in 2010, most of the ride remained the same and though many models were looking rather worn and some effects not always working, the ride was still very entertaining with its humour, creative storyline and animated figures.
    Unfortunately, I cannot really say the same for the new one as what's been delivered in the new one compared that above can only be described as dry and bittersweet. The ride's new storyline is less amusing, diverts off to pointless characters and situations which don't add to the storyline and lacks any kind of humour.
    The animatronic side is just as disappointing as there are few things animated in the ride compared to the old one which in comparison to the ride now was flooded with them. Scenes such as pirates mistreating a monkey being replaced with the (apparent) protagonist and antagonist of the new story fighting, which whilst sound effects are included, not a single movement is included in this scene.
    Whilst there are numerous new water effects on the ride such as squirting skull heads (after the squirting mice) and frog fountains at the drop (Legoland love their water) plus a new piratey soundtrack and improved audio around the ride, this sadly cannot make up for the disappointment in the rest of the ride.
    It's almost like they had loads of ideas for the re-theme for the ride to start, but then suddenly lost motivation and effort to finish the ride, gave up and just plonked everything in, Compared to Fairy Tale Brook's re-theme, the ride is quite a let down.
    The only good points are the new audio and sound system and that the ride now looks fresh and new (except a few areas). Overall rating, 3/10.

    Moving on disappointing Treasure Queuer, it seems Burger Kitchen has now invaded Legoland. Gone is the Crossed Ribs BBQ, an awesome restaurant that sold food similar to Calypso BBQ and existed at the park from day one.

    Seeing that it looked little more than a metal shed when being built, the facade they've used to conceal it isn't bad and makes it fit in the surrounding area much better.

    Which is a pity they couldn't hide it from above, even painting it brown would've done the job.

    The inside isn't any better either. Whilst Crossed Ribs was never (what I call) heavily themed, it was at least more related and coherent to a pirate setting. This interior and design though, has as much coherence to pirate shores as much as Tesco or Primark does.

    Whilst the area so far isn't that great, let's take a look at the new play area they're building, which doesn't appear to be open yet.

    And is still under construction. Not a single part of the new area has even been constructed, plus there's still some leftovers from the old (and removed) Rat Trap still in existence.

    Apparently the play area was supposed to be open for April. However by the looks of things, that will probably be closer to June.

    Meanwhile in Lego City, Burger Ranch has also been replaced by- (wait for it), another Burger Kitchen.
    Personsly I think it looks horrible outside, it ruins the character of the area, doesn't connect the remaining rock theming and just sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Whilst the indoor section is perhaps marginally better than the interior of Pirate Shores, I'm not that impressed by it, although I suppose the fact there's more undercover seating is good for when's there's heavy rain at the park.
    Amity Fish and Chips at Thorpe (in comparison) looks much better than either of these though and that isn't perfect either.

    Elsewhere in Lego city, the Xbox gaming zone has had a makeover.

    Whilst I've never been a fan of the gaming zone (and never will), I can say this a slight improvement over the old one. A big improvement would be to rip it out and bring back an awesome walk through similar to the Magic Theatre!

    We finish this update with a look at the miniland area of the park, one of the few parts of Lego that are still magical and done right.

    Miniland is such a nice place to visit whilst at the park, the buildings and creations the model makers have built are excellent. It's a shame this area doesn't always get the love and attention it deserves.

    However, hopefully those years of neglect will be coming to an end, as part of the area (now completed) will become a brand new Paris area in miniland (although it looks like it has replaced a former area).

    The attention to detail is incredible and it looks very well done. So far this looks like the only thing the park has done right this year. Hopefully it will look very nice when completed.

    Overall, although I had a good day when I went, I felt rather let down and disappointed by all the new changes to the park this year except the Paris miniland. Pirate Shores has replaced all the soul and character of the area with bland generic pirate settings, the burger kitchens just don't fit in and the Xbox zone is still an a X box zone, if I wanted to play on an Xbox, I'd just play on one at home instead of using it at a themepark.
    Legoland was always a park I associated with good theming and upkeep in it's years open (though far from the likes of Disney) and the park always had a 'mostly' well kept look at the best of times. However this appears to have changed for the worse in 2014 with many effects not being fixed and repaired and new outlets with little to no theming appearing.
    It's saddening to see one of your loved childhood parks ripped of soul and character and not just blandly themed burger kitchens and life-less theming replacing once amazing theming on one of your favourite rides, but also things like the giraffe model being removed from the train just for a marginal increase in capacity and the toilet signs (previously Lego figures) replaced by a more simple and generic design replacing them (m for male f for female).
    Overall unless you have an annual pass and/or live within less than an hours distance of the park, I would perhaps not bother visiting Legoland, for 2014 at least. I've always been a big fan/supporter of the park, but most of he changes at the park for this year are just so disappointing and the park sadly at the moment is little more than a corporate money pit and not really worth entry at half price (forget full price).
    If you're thinking of going to Legoland, visit Chessington instead as it's much better!
  10. Like
    pluk reacted to Benin for a blog entry, Mon voiture c'est penne! - Petits Parks of France - Day 1   
    Day 1 – Parc Saint Paul
    A rather early morning of 3am was the choice made to venture to a selection of rather un-known French parks, and after a McDonald’s service station breakfast and a quick jaunt on the Eurotunnel we were firing down the French motorway with not a care in the world.
    Unfortunately, disaster would strike us. We began to hear noises from the car, and decided to pull over on the hard shoulder to investigate. After some initial checks, we agreed to move the car forward slightly to see if there was truly something wrong, and it refused to start up.

    Many calls were made and eventually a mechanic (who of course, spoke no English) turned up, and made that classic intake of breath noise that all mechanics do that tend to signify that the car/vehicle is completely buggered.

    We were taken to a nearby garage, and made the decision that €2000 for a new gearbox was not worth the money at all, so we would leave the car forever in France, grab a hire car and continue with our adventure post-haste. The garage were very helpful to us especially given the language barrier, however Demi Lovato’s version of “Let It Go” was not particularly appreciated by myself.
    We got a taxi to a hire car place and after many a hasty phone call from the guy working there we were eventually given a Volkswagen UP! So after a delay of about two hours we continued on our adventure to Parc Saint Paul.

    Upon arrival, our expectations of the place were not high, especially as their new Vekoma Junior coaster was being spiteful and not open. Nevertheless we headed to our first coaster of the trip, a Wacky Worm. Joyous! This one however was very well themed, with lots of statues, a very giant apple and even astroturf. Of course, it was still a Wacky Worm.

    Next up in the actual coaster department was the Wild Train, my first Pax coaster (who aren’t exactly known for being good). And the slight launch out the station worried us greatly as to how awful this ride might be, so to say it exceeded all possible expectations would be rather accurate. It was certainly wild, with a fair amount of airtime and reasonable Gs about, with a hint of re-rideability, which is always a bonus in my book.

    We meandered further into the park, and decided the spinny mouse could be done later because it had an awful queue (which didn’t get any better unfortunately) and went onto the next Pax coaster, Formule 1. Unsurprisingly, it’s themed to Formula 1, with the different cars based off different manufacturers, and a scary statue of Schumacher at the entrance. It’s also a slight rip-off of the Gerstlauer Bobsleds, with a much steeper lift and a more insane experience, with over-banked turns being the main culprit of this. Again it was rather enjoyable ride, if slightly terrifying.

    We wandered a bit further into the park, discovering that it wasn’t all quite run-down as we expected it to look within. There was a fair amount of woodland, lakes and even some buildings taken straight out of Lightwater Valley. It’s very family set with more for the kids, but we saw tonnes of BBQ sets for people to come and cook their own food, and it did have a rather lovely atmosphere.

    Back to the rides, Mini Mouse Cartoon was next, which is a Zamperla Mini Mouse or something. It makes a Wacky Worm look interesting that’s all I know. +1

    Next door to that was Telepherique, which was by far the most amazing thing ever created by a French person. It’s a platform led zip line, only in (such a) cred format. It involves a lot of spinning, swinging and swearing (and even crashing in some cases, like with me). Part of that old “Never in the UK” ideal, I thought it was brilliant, but the others not so much.

    We headed back to the Souris Verte Spinning Wild Mouse of boredom, having endured the queue of burdenous times. I’m so bored of these now it’s not true. Again, +1

    We then decided to go and see the Tiger show, to which those who visited Bagatelle and seen their Lion show had “I have seen things” moments as a result. However only two of the tigers looked like they wanted to eat the fat French man who was flicking them with a whip. Fortunately there was no maiming of the fat French man (or unfortunately, dependant on opinion of such animal shows), so we were able to continue on our journey via a Giant Slide.

    As John and Peter did the horror house thingy, we meandered around the House of Mirrors, which wasn’t very entertaining. After they returned, we went into the 3D Walkthrough, which was actually quite epic and looked tonnes better than Hocus Pocus Hall even did. We then marvelled at the themed bins and doors as we had some ice cream.

    We had another go on the Formula 1 coaster, before me and John did the Drop Tower of Forever – Extreme Edition, which decided it would go from slow to fast to slow again during the trip up the tower, which was equally hilarious and burdenous. I don’t think my laughter was appreciated by the randomer next to us though who was unsure about the whole thing. When it did get to the top, the drop was instantaneous, so it was all a bit weird. Good though. We finished this with another go on the Wild Train before heading off for a long drive down to our hotel, but not before a quick character photo!
    Overall, the park exceeded our (admittedly lower than low) expectations of it. It’s very much like Lightwater (but tinier), and whilst it had a fair amount of rides dumped in places, they did make an attempt to make them look really nice. Hopefully the park can continue on a positive trajectory in the future, because we certainly enjoyed ourselves.

  11. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Paultons Park 15/03/14   
    My aim this year is to visit as many of the British theme parks as possible giving this blog the name "A Year of Britain" in the hope that next year it can expand and so on Anyway, first up is the delightful Paultons Park!
    I had only been once before back when Cobra opened in 2006 and it was a really nice day out. So 8 years on it was time to see what had changed.

    Upon arrival it was raining But do not fear, it was only the bizarre but cool new raining tree!

    Although the new entrance wasn't ready and we had to go through that lovely tent it sure is a nice looking new entrance and plaza!

    This bird was certainly impressed with the new entrance!
    One thing about Paultons is how beautiful it is! The park is in a lovely country setting and has some great nature and wildlife. But it is also clear that they care about the appearance of the park which is great!

    Lots of open grass space! It's really nice as this is the first thing you see before any rides. Peaceful and tranquil.

    Before the rides opened at 10:30 we had a wander through the dinosaurs.

    All dinosaurs looked happy and well looked after so all good here.

    Not yet weird purple lava volcano drop tower with a dinosaur in the queue...

    Time for the first ride of the day on the very decent Cobra!

    It's a very blue ride! So to counteract this they have cleverly placed a red bin in the way of this shot.

    Now don't confuse Cobra with Kobra at Chessington, down here they call it The Edge. Quite easy to tell the difference, Paultons spell things properly, Merlin use stupid letters.

    After sorting that out, we rode Magma!
    Queue is weird but nicely themed, ride makes very little sense (a volcano with a dinosaur and a mine? Yeah I know...) but it was a fun ride. Made me a bit queasy as it spins slowly while dropping and goes on for ever but still fun

    Moving on we have Red boat Blue boat Up boat Down boat. I mean Raging River Rapids. Standard fun fair model but good fun and very bright!

    Look at how nice the plants around this chairswing is! And Cobra.

    We were a week early for the Victorian carousel But it looked good and the plant things around it were really cool!

    Mr Meerkat will definitely be first in line!

    What's this I see?

    Mr Penguin isn't giving it away...

    Of course it's Peppa Pig World!
    Although it was heaving in there which is good because it made the rest of the park dead, it is really well done! It's bright, cheerful, heavily detailed and the rides are based on the characters making it very popular. For what was a relatively small and unknown park, this area has given the park new life and success! They (unlike Drayton) don't keep adding to this area, they are instead using the money and improving the rest of the park adding a variety of family thrills! Merlin, Cbeebies land has a LOT to live up to.

    A ride with a sting in its tail.

    And I will finish this entry up with a picture of the really nice 4D cinema! I hear that the same company are doing the 4D cinema at Thorpe which fills me with hope as this is a really nice cinema!
  12. Like
    pluk reacted to Benin for a blog entry, Efteling - A weekend of Fairies, Dragons and Pancakes - Day 3   
    Day 3
    The final day on park started with a character breakfast, as Pardoes did lots of interaction at an extremely peaceful level never seen at Disney. Once again our first port of call was Vogel Rok with 2 straight goes on the front before having to move back. Burdenous people!

    And again like the day before, Joris was our next venture. We got there slightly before it was due to open, so I watched the engineers play around with the sensors on Flying Dutchman. Upon opening we got 4 goes, including front and back seat action. It’s always good when rides like this run extremely well first thing in the morning, and when there’s no queue whatsoever, even on 1 train operation.

    Bob had a fair queue so Single Rider was called upon this time, and resulted in minimal (read, none) waiting. Was still rather enjoyable if a bit awkward being slammed into a random Dutch person on some of the corners. Took some pictures of the Pirana refurb that’s currently taking place as well, it feels like being at Chessie.

    Fata Morgana was next, I actually took photos this time round instead of being gobsmacked; here they are.

    We then wandered the park aimlessly for a bit, taking in another Puppet Show before another go on Carnival Festival before grabbing another hotdog and hat combo and watching yet another Jokie Show.

    Straight out of RCT Coffee Shop!

    We walked into the Museum again to have another look, and got given free badges for it, yay! Back in the Fairy area, it was time for more Dreamflight and Villa Volta. Because why not? The Train had just come in so we decided to hop on for a ride.

    Much safety

    It was then of course time for MORE Pancakes. Much further nomming was had, and we purchased some pancake mix to sneak past customs on the way home, and with Shrove Tuesday next month!

    We once again rode Carnival Festival and watched the Jokie Show, before one final go on Vogel Rok of the holiday. Bless it. Next were the Gondolettas, which are the fastest Tow Boats I’ve ever seen, yet still take 20 minutes to go around the huge lake.

    Heading into an area we had barely visited, it was time to mop up the rest of the unridden rides, starting with the Vintage Cars, which were long but nowhere near as good as Asterix’s, the Pile of Ship Halve Maen and it’s 14 rows of WHY were next, which was pretty awesome. Then the final piece of the puzzle was the weird cousin of Seastorm, Moby idiot, which doesn’t go backwards and just goes around in circles at walking pace. Very weird.

    It was time for the final rides, and what better option to have fulfil this than Joris? A ride on each side for the final determination of which was ‘better’ (the winner of which was Water), but both are winners, as they’re both good. Now when will someone in the UK build a GCI?

    After Joris, we walked back to the entrance, encountering some cats and buying some sugary as hell doughnuts before settling to watch Aquanura one last time.

    Upon which it was back to the hotel room to rest before heading home.
    Efteling is a truly fantastic park. Whilst it may not have a giant assorted of rides, and half of the park is taken up by landscaping or a Fairytale Forest of Forever, it fills itself with charm and colour throughout. And the rides that do exist on the park are all good at the minimum, which is rare for a park to have no truly bad rides (although Carousel land confused me greatly, why have 3?). The staff were all very pleasant and the characters very interactive. The hotel is rather basic in the rooms but even then have little details dotted in them.
    I could just say it’s my favourite park because of the Pancake Kitchen (which may have helped my opinion formation), but there’s so much more to the park than that. The Disney quality dark rides and the ‘dead’ areas allow you to relax across your day (though I’m sure the full cattlepens would combat this feeling), and with the Fairytale Forest it has one of the most well designed and picturesque areas in a theme park.
    A truly good theme park is one that doesn’t feel like a theme park. And Efteling fits that bill to a tee.

  13. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Florida Parks in the Dark   
    In this final instalment of my Florida adventure we look at 3 parks in the dark, SeaWorld, Universal Studios and Island's of Adventure.

    So let's begin!

    With SeaWorld's beautiful tree!

    Because it's Christmas!

    So even the lake was full of trees!

    There was an ice rink

    Red SkyTower

    A Christmas train set


    Mythical beasts


    Another tree

    And fountains!
    So SeaWorld is beautiful at night especially with Kraken and Manta!

    And welcome to Universal Studios!

    Where the minions were lit up!

    A concert under Rockit

    Lit up Optimus

    Their Christmas tree

    Water screens

    With minions, lasers and fireworks!

    Bye bye Studios

    Here we come Islands!

    Where the Discovery Centre lit up the lake

    Suess was bright as ever

    With one fish

    And a cat

    Down in Hogsmeade Dragons were challenging

    And the lake was glowing!

    One of the best area entrances got better!

    With night time adventures

    And the Discovery Centre up close

    A Lagoon of Toon!

    Home to Dudley


    And partying dogs

    But watch out

    (terrible image) Doctor Doom is about!

    But so is Spidey! We're safe again

    Watch out

    It's not going to work

    The Hulk.
    And that concludes my Florida adventure. I hope you've enjoyed reading all my entries
  14. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Legoland Florida   
    Today we venture to the bright world of Lego, now in Florida!

    The entrance area is lovely and open and fresh, much better than Windsor's.

    Must be a thing to have dinosaurs at the entrance to LEGOLAND's.

    And some Lego tourists.

    Once again it was apparently Christmas time, still didn't feel like it.

    We begin the journey in their newest land, World of Chima!

    It's a heavily themed splash battle which I'm sure to any viewers of Chima would make loads of sense! But even to someone who hasn't ever seen Chima, the story was clear and effects very good. The only thing it lacked was interaction with the effects because all day you would be the only one on the ride so didn't have anyone to "battle."

    Knight's Kingdom was up next

    Home to the Dragon

    And one of the jousting rides, which we were too tall for.

    Land of Adventure!

    The whole Egyptian theme works much better in the Florida sun

    And Dinosaurs!

    As a wooden coaster!

    Lego City with this very impressive Lego Ford!

    And Flying School

    An awful Vekoma.

    So moving on swiftly

    Jungle Coaster!

    I mean Project X!

    Pirate Ski Show!

    And now to relive a bit of history.

    I know they have to keep this by the State Law I think but I'm still very impressed with the upkeep they have put into these gardens.

    Not even the crazy rabbit is allowed in!

    Time for a look at Miniland.

    Trust Merlin.

    I really liked LEGOLAND Florida and I really hope it is a success. It has got everything apart from a log flume which surprises me, but it is still a beautiful tranquil park like it was when it was Cypress Gardens. Time for another break before we head over to Islands of Adventure. So sit back and have some lunch until next time.

  15. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Busch Gardens   
    Welcome to part 2 of my Florida adventure at...

    Busch Gardens!

    What a beautiful day it was

    So let's leap into the action!

    And begin the day with

    I know many people detest this ride, but I love it! Yes it's a bit rough, but for me it is still a thrilling enjoyable ride! For me it will be a shame if it goes.
    The death of Gwazi is not yet confirmed but for Timbuktu it sure is.

    Glad Scorpion isn't leaving though, it is a good fun ride.

    Up on The SkyRide we saw a hippo,

    Some flamingos

    And a Cheetah hunting!

    But before all of that, the Congo is calling with the mighty Kumba roar!

    Kumba is one of the most highly rated B&M's out there and deservedly, but it doesn't have massive theming pieces which people seem to love at the moment. It is just perfectly styled as the above picture shows, whilst there is no direct theming it is a themed or well styled ride. It just works.

    Montu is the opposite, it is heavily themed.

    But also fits in. Another great example of how to do a roller coaster well.

    This Hyena is tired of rides for now though, so we will take an animal break.

    Hang on, that's not an animal! Guess it's ride time again!

    Can you do this Oblivion? No. No you can't.

    After a quick cool off from the heat it was time for Busch Gardens latest addition...

    It is such a beautiful looking ride. The green and yellow combination is great!

    It is a great family coaster! Has the punch of an Intamin launch, silky smooth, fast paced ride with some excellent pops of airtime and speedy changes in direction. Can't compare it to Maverik but this is certainly great fun!

    And away they go!

    It may not look it but it was Christmas time...

    This sign says so!

    This brings us to the end of our 2nd adventure! Next up is a world of Lego and gardens, so from me and the meerkats we will see you there!

  16. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, SeaWorld   
    Here it is, my blog on my trip to Florida! It will be split up into 5 entries, 1 on each of the parks: SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, LEGOLAND Florida, Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios.
    Because it is always such a relaxed park and was the start and end to our holiday, first up is SeaWorld!

    It's just a lovely place to walk into and as the holidays were approaching, everywhere was all Christmassy! What more could you want?
    Of course, a B&M flyer with a water splash right in front of you as you turn the corner.

    What's its name I hear you ask...

    And up they go!
    The ride is amazing, such force on the pretzel loop and a great flying experience with some decent interaction with the waterfall entrance feature. Definitely stands proud on SeaWorld's skyline! What also makes this ride great is that if you hate rides, there is a lovely aquarium next door which shares the tank you walk past in the ride queue and has some of its own species such as an octopus.

    Moving on we find ourselves at yet more stingrays, so we must be at Stingray Lagoon!

    This pool allows you to stroke (if that's what you'd call it) stingrays! They do like to splash around though which is always good fun!
    On our way to Trek with some Turtles, these fellas swam by.

    Blue Horizons (dolphin show) is a great mix of music, colour and dolphins.

    Woah dude!

    Look a turtle!

    2 turtles!
    Turtle Trek is a lovely new attraction. Whilst I wasn't a massive fan of having to queue to see the underwater viewing, 5 minutes isn't bad and the 3D 360 degree movie was a great story! And the music in that area is so calming and relaxing.
    Time for some sunbathing.

    Who doesn't love alligators?

    Journey To Atlantis was next and I have to say, this is the ride that needs refurbing next! The dark ride bit is seriously outdated in its effects, makes little sense and is wasted potential. It just shows how old it is especially with the dark rides being made by Uni. Other than that, a good fun water ride with a coastery final drop.

    The Kraken awaited us!

    Fortunately it was wide awake so we didn't have to disturb it.

    Poor Kraken never gets any sleep with these sea lions and gulls around!

    Pirate Island! Clyde and Seamore save the day in what has to be my favourite show at SeaWorld. The humour is great and the audience interaction is amazing. A tip for everyone, get to this show 20 minutes early, it is so worth being there that early!

    Next up we travelled to a different place entirely, Antarctica!

    Where they also celebrate Christmas.

    This icy world transports you to the freezing cold penguin environment.

    The enclosure is superb! The ride good fun (mild is very mild wild is basically mild) but nonetheless a decent ride and a big improvement on the old penguin area.

    Continuing on we ascended this 300ft SkyTower.

    Previously you've had to pay for this but now it is free for everyone and offers some great views of the park and surrounding area. You can clearly see the Epcot ball, Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and Doctor Dooms Freefall.

    Jaws I mean Shark Encounter followed and hopefully this will be the next enclosure to get a refurb once the Shamu one is complete.

    We then had a go on the flamingo boats.

    Saw some actual flamingos and went on the quest for Shamu!

    As Shamu's area was being improved I hereby name this squirrel who was on the construction fence Shamu (We could have watched the show but always missed it and weren't overly fussed.

    The Polar Express will help us move along swiftly...
    To the end of our Sea World adventure, but don't fear, the adventure will continue at Busch Gardens very soon!
  17. Like
    pluk reacted to JoshC. for a blog entry, JoshC.'s Review of the Season - 2013   
    Here it is - the 2013 Review of the Thorpe Park season! I'll be sticking to a similar formulaic approach as the 2011 (sorry about the pictures being broken here; I'll be sorting it out asap!) and the 2012 Season Reviews I've done. If anyone has any suggestions on how to improve the style / format of it all, let me know! Sorry about the length of this; it's hard to a balance between a detailed review and keeping it short. Also, for anyone wondering, I won't be doing any for other parks, simply due to the fact I haven't visited them enough to do a 'season review' like this one. Watch this space though - who knows what the next season will bring for me? And so, with that out of the way, in the words of Thorpe Movie Studios' Director, "get ready to roll...lights, camera, action!"
    The Swarm
    We all know the story now - an alien race has attacked Thorpe Park, leaving destruction in its path. Unfortunately, this didn't bring in the guests last season - maybe the park's marketing was too effective and people actually thought real aliens had invaded? So, the thrill factor of the ride was upped - giving us the billboard and the 2 backwards rows. The general consensus is that, simply put, the billboard is a great addition, which is visually pleasing on and off ride, and creates what many regard as the best near miss of the ride. So Thorpe really hit the nail on the head there.
    The backwards rows, however, have divided opinion a lot more. It certainly creates a unique and interesting experience, but it does detract from the 'point' of Swarm. That said, it still is a crowd pleaser, so it's not all bad. The main problem which seems to have arose from it is that of the station queue are being congested, and loading procedures sometimes being affected because of it. I noticed towards the end of the season, the backwards passes were scrapped in favour of just going backwards after seeing the queue size, so maybe that's the way forward? (Pun NOT intended!) I also see that Heide Park's wing coaster is having bag storage in the station area, so if that works out, I'd love to see that implemented for Swarm to solve the problem of the crowded bag area.
    All in all, Swarm's touch ups this year are welcome to all, keeping a great ride experience and improving it with more large-scale theming.

    The billboard, featuring the winning competition slogan.

    The reverse of the billboard.

    Swarm is still one of, if not, the, most photogenic rides on park.
    Another 'New for 2013', though not heavily advertised, was the rethemed X. Finally, after closed season upon closed season of rumours that it would be given attention, the rumours were true! Forward facing trains, individual lap bars, a lowered height restriction, a vague theme, lights, music all in one - it added up to a whole lot of potential for what was likely a cheap-ish retheme. Now, my first go on the new X happened when the block brakes were still on the ride. It created a slow, boring and unenergetic ride which was a shadow of its older self in my opinion. Being a fan of X:\ No Way Out, it was hard for me to see how the park could successfully improve it.
    However, my goes after that were without the block brakes. And the ride got better. And better. And better...you get the picture. I love it now. Everything about it just works; it's just a fun little ride which everyone can enjoy, and was something that was really missing in Thorpe's line up. As someone who remain sceptical over an overhaul of the ride, I'm really glad it's worked out and given the ride a new lease of life!
    Nemesis Inferno
    In 2003, the public felt the heat of Nemesis Inferno for the first time. 10 years later, and the fire is getting hotter and hotter! Inferno ran brilliantly this year, giving a faster and more relentless ride than ever before. It just goes the show that even B&M Inverters which are seen as 'boring' or 'unforceful' can still grow into something which can pack a punch. The tunnel's effects were a bit hit and miss, yes, but for the most part, I think they've been pretty good this season.
    What speaks more volume about Inferno than I could ever say, though, is what I saw back on a cold, snowy April's day this season. The park wasn't busy at all, and rides had a maximum of a 5 minute queue, with 5 minute queues. Inferno, however, had a consistent 20-30 minute queue throughout the day, not because of slow loading procedures or anything, but simply because it was pulling in the crowds. Goes to show you don't need some amazing gimmick to create a coaster which will keep people coming back...

    Inferno on a sunny day.

    Inferno on its 10th birthday (look at that queue!)
    The Other Thrill Rides
    In a season where the park has aimed to slightly shift its target market so it's not all about thrills, the park's thrill rides themselves have had some mixed fortunes.
    Stealth has had a pretty successful season, with no major breakdowns coming to light. It's nice to see a ride which was previously having a few troubles here and there be continually running smoothly. I love how the park use the ride's plaza area for loads of small little things, like Dr Pepper stuff and the ice cream event, making it feel like it is not only the 'icon' ride of the park, but also the icon area. Also, the Ice Cream event photoshoot was massive fun - 20+ rides on Stealth on a summer morning is always a great way to wake!
    Colossus and Saw, known as the two rough rides on park, have also had decent seasons. Whilst Colossus is no longer the coaster with the most inversions in the world (or even the UK; thanks Smiler...), it's still got the 'world's first' to draw people in. It needs a spruce up, yes, but hopefully that will come sooner rather than later - after all, the park themselves have said they're keen on the idea when the time is right! Saw is a very Marmite ride; most people seem to have a strong dislike for it, whereas a few have a soft spot for it. I'm in the minority who enjoy it and feel that this season has been alright for the ride. Effects have been good on the whole, and I still don't think the ride is rough. If I have one criticism of the ride, though, it is that the outdoor audio is broken / turned off / too quiet to hear (I have no idea which); really would like to see that rectified.
    Slammer started off the season really well (if anyone had been asked to place a bet on it working throughout days of snow, most people would likely have kept their money...), but it unfortunately hit its snag around the half way point of the season. It's a shame to see a ride which is having so much time and money invested having so many problems (and, as far as I'm aware, it's not reoccurring problems, it's usually a different problem each time). Hopefully 2014 will be 'the season' where it manages to be pretty much problem-free as you do wonder how many more long periods of downtime the ride has to have before the park say enough.
    Slammer's S&S brother, Rush, has remained pretty consistent during the season, which is good news. It's been a bit of a shame to have shorter ride cycles this season compared to other seasons, but I assume there's a reason behind this. Detonator and it's shiny new restraints has been brilliant as ever; always gives you 'that feeling', and never fails to deliver. Vortex has been feeling very 'juddering' this season though, which has lead to an experience which makes me feel rather queasy unfortunately. Fingers crossed that this closed season will see the ride given a little bit more TLC.

    Samurai also had a bit of trouble this season.

    Detonator stands tall as the park's most consistently good flat ride.
    The Water Rides
    With the charge in target market becoming obvious just before summer time, the park's water rides played a bigger role than normal this time around. For a park the size of Thorpe, I think 5 water rides is a on the larger side, so why shouldn't the park put them in the limelight a bit more?
    The season began with everyone fearing that the removal of Loggers Leap's tunnel would ruin the ride. Fortunately, not all of the tunnel was removed, and the ride experience isn't really affected by it at all. Of course, this is no reason for the park not to replace the tunnel, as I bet for first timers, the indoor lift is somewhat of a surprise. Other than that, Loggers has remained on good form for the most part, though seemed to struggle a bit towards the end of season. Also, the smell after the tunnel seems to have gone away / become less potent; if that's the park's doing, then yay!
    Rumba Rapids is a ride high on my list (maybe top) to get a bit of attention. It doesn't need too much, a bit of work inside the tunnel, a fresh lick of paint and hey presto, it's pretty much done. The thing is, even though it's a short ride, rapids rides are the perfect ride for everyone and can work on any level. Tidal Wave is a ride I don't do, but it still looks as striking and wet as ever, so no complaints! Depth Charge's new boats are presumably heavier, as I've found boats to go faster and further, which is great fun.
    As for Storm Surge, well...I'll let you fill in the gap here for yourself...

    Tidal Wave...operating in the snow.

    A variety of TPM members show off their Storm Surge reactions...
    All the Rest
    Not much else to say really about the other rides. It was nice, but a bit strange actually, to see the Teacups be repainted with the Tetley branding half way through the season - goes to show that they are working towards a good look for the park. Other rides like Quantum and Zodiac were doing as well as ever I felt, and rides like Rocky Express and Flying Fish were nice fillers which will no doubt become more popular as the family market builds all the more.

    A blank Teacups midway through the season.

    Despite supposedly closing at around 5pm for Fright Nights, Rocky Express stayed open much longer. Perhaps there's more demand for the ride than the park realised!
    Thorpe Park Mash Up
    Mash Up ran for a second year, again in conjunction with Ministry of Sound. The fact that the previous couple of Easter events only lasted one season must say that the name and style of Mash Up was appealing. Unfortunately, I didn't go to the event this season, but I expect it was much the same as last season's, which worked well, so no problems there!
    Sun Scream and Dr Pepper
    Sun Scream returned for what I think was its fifth season, and was again sponsored by Dr Pepper. The more family-friendly direction the park were heading saw no stunt show, but instead a 'chill zone' take the arena, sand-sculpting be in the smaller half of Neptune's Beach and other things for everyone to enjoy. Then there was the Dr Pepper red button roaming around the park long after Sun Scream had finished, giving everyone the chance to win prizes if the dared to press the ominous red button. Good to see random little fun things like this crop about.
    Despite Sun Scream obviously being popular enough to last many seasons, I think it's time to think of something a little different now. It's all feeling a bit tired and overused now; just a slight change in direction and couple of other tweaks with give it a fresher feel which I think is needed.

    Sand sculpting on the beach.

    The Colossus sculpture was highly detailed.

    The Chill Zone was very different to the usual bike stunt show which would take over the arena.

    The Red Button.
    Smaller Events
    There's been a fair few smaller / one-off evening events this year, no doubt to help encourage people to make use of the other evening things the park does (keeping Bar 360 open till 11pm for example; great idea!) and to give something extra for Crash Pad guests. These included comedians working their way up, roller disco nights, lesser-known groups such as 'Please..?' and 'Anttix' playing in the dome and others.
    It's nice to see the park experimenting and trying to get crowds in for longer / for other reasons than 'just the rides'. In honesty, I doubt these were huge successes, due to the lack of marketing they got, and that people probably weren't drawn to smaller names. However, the park shouldn't give up with them - they need to stick it out with things like this, find what works and what doesn't. Yes, it's a bit of a risk, but that's what the park need to do!
    Summer Nights
    A surprise feature of the season was Summer Nights - 7 roller coasters and 2 water rides open for 3 hours for a small charge. Okay, at first the park were wanting to charge what was probably a bit too much (£18 for non-AP holders, £15 for AP holders), it was great to see Thorpe respond to the criticism and swiftly lower prices. The park was very quiet for all of the nights it ran (the first night being essentially dead and there literally being no queues). It was great to be in the park with such a relaxed atmosphere, and the staff were clearing enjoying themselves as well. Everything about the event worked so well.
    The true testament to the quality of the event is that the park are doing it again next season, for pretty much every weekend during summer!
    Queue free indeed.

    A literally empty left hand side of Swarm's station area.
    Fright Nights
    Two words - Intellectual Properties. These are what dominated this season's Fright Nights, and will do for at least the next two. IPs are tricky things to pull off at theme parks, but I think that the risks involved with pairing up with Lionsgate paid off.
    Some may say that the IPs have ruined the mazes, but I think that isn't the case. Cabin in the Woods was a brilliant and unique idea, which worked brilliantly. Blair Witch Project was something different to the rest of the park's line up, and even though it didn't live up to expectations, it's a good learning curve for the park. Also, considering it was a 2* rated attraction, it really isn't that bad. Saw Alive remains a strong maze in the line up and the idea if the You're Next characters roaming the park was very clever. The only weak spot was My Bloody Valentine, which was a shadow of the original Experiment 10.
    I expect we'll see at least 1 or 2 replacements next season (or maybe even a completely new line up bar Saw; who knows?), so the event should continue to grow in its own way. The way to improve the event from here is for park-wide theming; the park has got the mazes more or less sorted, they've got lighting and audio done rather well. To create an event which can start to compete with the best, theming the park is essential, and with Fright Nights being the crowning glory of the park's season, let's hope they can continue to go all out!
    The highlight of the event, for me, has to be Face it Alone. By far the most extreme experience possible, well worth the money and exactly what the park needed to add to create this 'terrifying Fright Nights' which they claim. This really should return next season, as it is certainly a great experience.

    Small theming pieces were around the park; specifically by the mazes.

    The roaming actors caused quite a crowd when they were around.
    Reserve 'n' Ride
    Another experimental thing for 2013 was Reserve n Ride. A free-to-use service which replaced Swarm's main queue for about a week and a bit all in all. The overall idea of it seems very optimistic - turning the park into a queue-free environment, because you can book the time you want to ride.
    The system worked to be fair. However, there are some problems, such as having to rely on having a smartphone with a decent battery life, and people understanding how the system works. The idea of making the park queue free is highly ambitious, but this might be a suitable replacement for Fastrack in some respects. Again, it's great to see the park trying out totally different things, and it will be interesting to see if this develops further next season.

    When it worked, there were no queues in sight.
    Food, Drink and Merchandise
    Back before the season began, many were wondering if the outsides brands would be leaving the park, especially with the Burger Kitchen outlets arriving at Alton Towers and Chessington. Fortunately (based on reviews of BK at the parks), all outside brands stayed and no new food outlets came to the park in 2013.
    All food outlets have continued to serve good quality, and the prices remain good value for what you get (which are made really rather good if you have can take advantage of Annual Pass discount). The only shame about drinks is, for a period of time, some outlets wouldn't refill the quenchers. Seems really odd, just doesn't make any sense (apart from for outside brands, of course). I did notice that during parts of the season, they became more relaxed about it all, which was pretty good.
    A quick word on merchandise too. It's been great stuff yet again and of decent value too. Swarm's merchandise is still beautiful!

    Amity Drop n Shop got a new sign!

    Enjoying amazing kebabs.
    It's no secret that there's not an awful lot of green space around the park. It's all too easy to forgot that the park is surrounding by water, which is actually a really beautiful setting when you think about it. So here's a couple of photos showing off the little bits of natural beauty that is around the park...

    Sunken Gardens towards the beginning of the season...

    ...and in the middle of the season.

    Swans and their babies by Swarm. They ain't afraid of no aliens.
    Other Stuff
    Just a couple of other bits as well. We've seen new LED signs outside ride entrances come about this season, which are good quality and much more inviting than the previous ones. If there wad one criticism (which is quite a picky one too), it would be that all of them say 'WELCOME TO THORPE PARK' every so often, which seems a bit pointless really. Having it on the large queue boards, fine, but on the individual ride ones is a bit excessive.
    Also, one thing I noticed on Summer Nights, when all the audio was the same all around the park, some of the speakers were a few seconds out of sync. I don't know if it was a one off or if that's now been sorted, but if it hasn't, then I'd like to see that fixed up. It's such a small thing really, but it makes a world of difference.
    Speaking of audio, 'The Noise' was a great idea, and something which was well executed. It will be interesting to see if they stick with a similar idea next year, or go back to a themed entrance music piece.
    A Look Ahead
    2014 brings us the rebranded Crash Pad, aka 'The Waterfront Hotel'. Thorpe are creating their own shipping container hotel, with brighter colours and more rooms available. It will be interesting to see if there's a change in quality or price now there's no ties with Snoozebox, but that's only something time will tell. From reviews that I've heard this year, The Crash Pad was actually nice inside, despite the unpleasing exterior, so maybe it's one of those things which will get more popular as word of mouth spreads?
    Other than that, we have no concrete announcements of anything new next year. There's been talks of a new 4D film, the return of the Canada Creek Railway, the movement of Vengeance to the park and others, but will any of it happen? If the change in target market to be a bit more family friendly becomes more prominent, then at least one of those things should happen. Thorpe have alluded to a spruce up of the entrance as well, which is much needed in my opinion. Other than that, I expect we'll see a couple of spruce ups around the park, as there are a couple of rides in need of a bit of tender loving care. Whilst it will be a quiet year for the park investment-wise, it doesn't mean that there won't loads of interesting little things come the new season!
    So that's it for another season - onwards and upwards as they say. Thanks for reading!
  18. Like
    pluk reacted to Benin for a blog entry, Benin's Take on 2013 - International Parks   
    So I’ve discussed the UK parks, but what about the foreign ones I visited? Well here we goooooo!
    Disneyland Paris
    Well it snowed, oh BOY did it snow. Not that it ruined the enjoyment of course, there’s nothing more hilarious than riding Tower of Terror, getting to the top and the doors opening to a mini-blizzard. The park did extremely well dealing with the heavy snow and I take my hat off for the way they dealt with our booked restaurant situation.
    The parks were their usually selves really, though it’s hard to judge due to the weather playing havoc with staff numbers and rides in operation. The real highlight of the trip was the Tower of Terror staff, which were constantly fantastic and provided the funniest moments of the week.
    Also Disney Dreams, which is fantastic <3
    This was an exciting trip, especially to somewhere rarely visited by enthusiasts and had a fair share of ups and downs over the week. Although really it peaked from the offset with Eurovision-mania taking a real hold on Copenhagen and Tivoli in particular. Other highlights from Tivoli were Vertigo (terrifying thing of DOOM), the cuteness of Daemonen and the absolutely awesome Fun House. Classic Rusty Banana was an instant hit with us too, proving you don’t have to have all the latest technological advancements in the last 100 years to be a good ride.
    Unfortunately the next two parks were not very good, Bakken in particular we all loathed and spent 2 hours there. Bon-Bon Land had one joke and it wasn’t very good, although the drop towers were an amusing time as was Fantasy World, the rest of the park was just mediocrity beyond measure (Fabbri Giant Swing aside ride-wise).
    Bakken was just dire. That simple, with the worst Intamin in existence within its grounds (yes worse than Baco, having now experienced it I can give that opinion) in the shape of Tornado, which wasn’t even the worst ride in the park, as their Rusty Banana had been Kumbak’d. I shudder just thinking about them. And you know there’s something wrong when your best ride is a flat, and after you’ve spent the morning at the Carlsberg factory.
    Fortunately, the other island proved more fruitful in our ride endeavours. Legoland was quite good; with the Robo-Arms probably the best ride there, although the Powered Dragon and Polar X-Plorer were both very suitable rides for the park. Viking River Splash was also pretty good, I look forward to their dark ride attempt next year mind, which looks AMAZE <3
    Djurs Sommerland was the best park out of the 6. It had the best rides, the best dogs roaming the park; it had the best play-areas (bouncy pillows for the win). It was quite simply, very, very good. The standard of theming was surprisingly high for the only traditional theme park (bar Lego) we visited, and Piraten and JOYvelen were certainly worth the admission fee. JOYvelen especially was a complete surprise to us, as we weren’t expecting such a solid family coaster, but that’s what we got, and more parks need to buy one.
    We finished with Farup Sommerland, which was a random place, filled with a lot more play areas, including the hour long adventure course. Lynet and Falken were good coasters, but we were spited by Orkanen unfortunately, as that looked quite good fun too. The park played well upon the family picnic market it seemed to, and it was a decent enough closure to our trip.
    Overall we rode the best AND worst Intamins in the world. No mean feat for a country like Denmark.
    Belgium, Part 1
    My first trip to Belgium was partly cultural, with Bruges being involved. But why be cultural when you can ride creds?
    First up was Bellewaerde, a weird Chessington like park, only not falling apart at the seams and a relatively decent zoo to go with it. The main headline was a Zierer family coaster, Huracan, which had an epic random dark ride section, but not a very good ride section. Considering the space they had available, it was a disappointment really. Fortunately the rest of the park was quite good really, with the Boomerang being smooth and the support rides being of a decent enough quality to suit the park.
    Bagatelle was the next port of call since I had never been before. My 300th coaster is now Triops, a Vekoma Invertigo, which was quite good but not as landmark as X (Six Flags) or Beast. The park is pretty poor really (Soquet are NOT a good manufacturer of rides), aside from the best Rapids in the world with their amazing whirlpool of spinning. When you actually lose 5 seconds of a ride due to the complete insanity of it all, you know it’s good. Even if the rest of the ride is a bit meh, it makes it all the more better as you focus on that one element.
    Not the best parks in the world really, but easy enough to access really.
    Coney Island
    Over in New York for another cultural trip (though that’s up for debate when it comes to the USA), and a jaunt over to Luna Park brought to you by Zamperla for the classic Wooden coaster.
    And it wasn’t very good. A real shame really as it had some promise, but after the first two turnarounds it developed into a rough and painful experience. Perhaps the hurricane had something to do with that though?
    The rest of the park was unsurprisingly, mediocre; what with everything being a Zamperla, and my first experience of a Volare was one of sheer hatred. It was also VERY expensive, but Nathans was made of joy <3
    Port Aventura
    God bless the Spanish austerity issues, especially if the park is going to have such deals on the hotels and unlimited Express passes! So off we went to sunny Halloween Spain and experience two fantastic B&Ms and 1 god-awful Intamin. I won’t repeat myself much as the TR is still relatively fresh, but it was a good fun weekend overall, though the park needs some lofty improvements and to get rid of Baco post-haste.
    Belgium 2 – Rock n Plop
    Even more recently was another jaunt to Belgium to experience more Halloween events. Walibi’s is quite famous and it was also another excuse to go back to Plopsaland because Anubis <3
    We shocked a Belgian enthusiast when we all loved Psyke Underground because it’s FAB, as well as enjoyed the new branding, the ridiculous number of actors (40 in one maze alone) and the music battle show. This is a good park with a fair amount of potential but problematic neighbours.
    Plopsaland has Anubis, therefore it’s FAB <3 Also the new land was amazing and has an awesomely themed Disko Coaster. Again, the TR is still around so check that out for further details.
    Overall, a decent year of parks for me, particularly abroad, where only 2 were really bad (as in, worse than Chessington bad). And so far next year’s plans are really looking to expand on things as well, which is a good thing considering none of the UK parks at the moment are looking to deliver anything worthwhile visiting for.
    Roll on 2014!
  19. Like
    pluk reacted to Benin for a blog entry, Benin's Take on 2013 - UK Parks   
    So we come to the end of what has been a rather disappointing year in the UK (there’s no two ways about that) it was up to the park’s abroad to show us how to do things, and that is something they most certainly did.
    United Kingdom
    I didn’t actually visit any non-Merlin UK parks this year, I nearly made it to Mingoland but fortunately that didn’t pan out.
    The additions to the Merlin parks sounded good (at least if you weren’t Thorpe, who seemingly cannot think of suitably well thought out additions when not building a roller coaster), with Zufari being inspired from one of the most engaging Disney rides, and Smiler’s secretive and fantastic advertising showing that when they put their minds to it our parks can advertise things properly. But what went wrong?
    Alton Towers
    This one is clear, Smiler was both the best and worst thing about this year for Towers. The positives are simple, it is the biggest ride that has been built in the country for years, it captured the imagination of the public, it is a marvel of engineering/construction, the advertising was going well, it clearly boosted the park attendances upon opening. It was what people wanted.
    Unfortunately, whoever Towers hired to build the thing probably appeared on that BBC show that sort out dodgy companies in a previous life. The list is longer than the Ultimate of what went wrong, the primary issues surrounding the ground it was built on being surveyed incorrectly which meant they had to delay half the construction in order to concrete the ride it properly. Then of course the winter decided to throw snow onto the matter, delaying it further. Subsidence, flooding, storms, incorrect placement of track, aligning issues, etc. were also major influences on the ride’s construction. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ride construction be so flawed and have so many external issues added on.

    One of the few track pieces inserted correctly...
    Then of course, the ride opened, then closed, then opened again, then threw bolts at people. Gerstlauer’s biggest project became the world’s biggest pain, which is a real shame because the ride itself is fantastic (although still the 3rd best ride on the park), but the rushed construction, poor planning and awful contractors will be this ride’s legacy, in amongst the countless breakdowns and the like.
    Elsewhere on park, it was a weird situation, as Smiler made the park rather top-heavy in investment. Constant other issues like storms, poor ride reliability and powercuts meant that the park didn’t particularly have good PR for the season (see also the July Smiler breakdown which wasn’t communicated until about 3 days before it re-opened). However, what has been a shining light this year has been the entertainments department, which involved the fantastic pirate show with Roger Ramrod, the new Park Keepers who eventually got a vehicle to tour in, the Orchestra in the Summer; a relatively decent array of stuff for Halloween and the Fireworks. For our parks, where shows are particularly high on the agenda, these were a real joy to see happen; and easily the best part of the year for Towers. I hope that this continues on into the future more than anything.

    Fantastic ride, a legacy of issues...
    Where does one begin? Zufari ended up being a cluster of good ideas badly executed in the worst possible way. Bunnygate. Runaway Train was SBNO all season. Dragon Falls lost its theming. Rameses died. Vampire’s operations got worse somehow. Across the board the park was quite simply, dreadful, and will probably see a very low attendance figure this season (more than usual at any rate).

    Just when you thought Chessie couldn't get any worse... 2013 happened...
    The Halloween event was probably the best week of their season, and even then the not-so-late openings and general park issues couldn’t be ignored. Most of the theming was non-existant based on previous years attempts. Their two mazes were excellent value for their minimal budget though, with Hocus Pocus Hall’s refurb being a complete surprise. However, that cannot skim over the fact that the park has easily been the worst one this year, and with nothing to look forward to next year (though this can be brought to all Merlin parks, though Towers will get LOTS of guests next year), I simply cannot get excited for it.
    In a strange turn of events, the park that did nothing of real value (Mraws is still a poorly designed gimmick and X really isn’t that special) did the most by doing what they should’ve been doing for years. Expanding the social network side and using it to their full potential, whilst creating new events (some which worked well, some which didn’t, Summer Nights variated beyond belief as to the quality of the event, although popularity was non-existant, which isn’t the best indicator of the worthiness of an event from the park’s POV) and just generally keeping a decent improved profile this year.

    This was the Ice Scream event...
    Will it improve matters completely? It’s hard to tell, as currently the park’s portfolio of rides and attempt at a new direction are very much at odds at each other whilst they also have to get rid of the old image of unreliable rides (which Slammer doesn’t help), long queues and Fastrack over-selling on a regular basis. The two former issues still exist on the park, even with the random attempt at complete Virtual Queuing for Swarm, which still seemed to have plenty of teething problems.
    Fright Nights apparently existed, although that wasn’t particularly clear even when visiting the park during it advertised (the second time of the year an advertised event didn’t exist, Ice Scream I’m looking at you). The park-wide theme amounted to a CAD entrance sign, film music and the same announcement on every ride with Detonator being the only modified version. The roaming actors were very good though, both sets (Director and You’re Next), but it just didn’t feel like there was an event going on, which is very disappointing when the park was calling it “the UK’s answer to HHN”, that has plenty of theming on the park, Thorpe did not.
    Apparently the mazes were good (or not so good, opinions varied across the board for both Thorpe and Towers’ attempts), although my experience of Blair Witch Project was simply diabolical. Fortunately for it Walibi’s Zombie River exists, which was worse, but not by much.

    Thorpe let me know in no uncertain terms that my feedback is always appreciated...
    PR aside, the park has advanced to doing the basic minimum I want from our parks. But they made a lot more effort this year to improve the guest interaction and issues, which can only be considered a good thing. Just hope that this extends further in Thorpe’s DNA and also to the other parks.
    Legoland still exists for some reason. Miniland is an absolute TIP and needs fixing up as standard. Elsewhere it’s still the usual meh place really with nothing spectacular going on. It really needs a decent new ride in there. Well themed high throughput coaster preferably, but currently I do wonder why I bothered going at all. Still, not that worst park of the season.
    In another post, I’ll look at all the International parks I visited. Check back soon.
  20. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Fright Nights- 28/10/13   
    Having noticed the lack of FN trip reports I thought I'd make one for my visit after surviving the storm of 2013!
    The park opened late, didn't affect our visit as we arrived at 1. The only things we noticed was they had moved Cabin's queue entrance to the Colossus side due to a huge puddle on the normal side, and a few metal fences had fallen over at the Inferno end of Blair Witch. The park was very quiet with the longest queues we noticed being 45 minutes for Saw and an hour for Asylum. Due to the walk on rides we did these all night and only ventured into the Cabin. The staff were once again great with The Swarm operator turning the lights of in the station on some dispatches which looked great! Slammer, Samurai and Loggers were closed all day but apart from that we didn't witness any breakdowns. So a great evening and a great ride count:
    Swarm: 3 -2 forward 1 backward
    Saw: 2
    Colossus: 3
    Nemesis Inferno: 2
    Stealth: 5
    X: 5
    Detonator: 3
    Rumba: 1
    Cabin: 1
    Rush: 2
    Picture time!


    My camera was working too fast so there are a few photos like this.

    You're Next were utilising the blurry effect last night.

    The woods survived the storm just about

    It's on fire!

    The Swarm will save it...

    Oh that's on fire too.

    This is what the station looks like in the dark.

    Loved this, the one in the Stealth plaza is also lit up and has smoke which blows across the launch track.

    The water is so clean it sparkles!


    Colossus with no train

    Colossus with train.

    Colossus with lanterns.

    Towards the tower of light...

    Purple Stealth

    Blue Stealth

    Green Stealth

    Orange Stealth (my favourite)

    Blue Stealth with a train at the top.

    And I leave you with a question, what is this a photo of and where was it taken? (answer in the comments section if you want )
  21. Like
    pluk reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, 2013 - A Retrospective   
    2013 has not been the grandest years for theme parks in the country, more like a cheap table wine that you pick up for cheap at Tescos. From obvious budget cuts and rides standing but not operating for an entire year at Chessington too The Smiler trying to throw everything and the kitchen sink at passers by, it is clear that the Uk industry has stagnated somewhat in 2013.

    And yet, shockingly and surprisingly, despite not adding anything substantial, Thorpe Park has come out as the clear winner by a long shot. From much better reliability park wide, to improvement in effects up-keep and new events, the park has clearly embraced social media and openly interacts with guests more frequently. This all in turn with a slight shift in target audience, Thorpe has the potential to be the park of 2014 as well if it can keep the ball rolling with ideas that are fresh and innovative.

    So where did this begin? Ah, I know, March time. I had booked a whole week off of work so that I could visit Thorpe for its opening weekend, take a look at how The Smiler construction was going and have a go on Zufari whilst enjoying old family favourites such as Runaway Train, Dragon Falls and Vampire. It wasn't to be. A refurbishment list made itself apparent, a lot of these rides were not to be open due to the park not able to maintain rides for a quarter of a century and Zufari was postponed by a week. No matter. As temperatures continued to drop, three successive trips to Thorpe occurred, one for the Swarm media photo day with Thorpe Park Mania, one before a meet weekend and another on what was to be the coldest trip of the season. On all three days, somehow, Slammer worked continuously, we even had a ride in the snow which is pretty surreal, I'm sure not many could say they've done that. Despite the freezing temperatures, the only rides closed all day were Colossus and Saw. A Trip to Chessington could have given you a ride on Bubbleworks and Tomb Blaster if you were really lucky. Alton also impressed during March, the emptiest I had ever seen it. Surprising sights such as only two people on Air at 4 in the afternoon is very different to the usual sights.
    New Coasters - 142. Wodan - Europa Park

    With the sun out, birds singing and all but one ride open at Chessington (for now), it was back with my theme park shoes and off on holiday. Instead of staying with the UK, it was back off the Europe for my favourite theme park so far. Europa Park is an utter joy to be had. Even though we spent three and a half days there it just isn't enough to fully embrace the joy of a theme park that is run professionally and efficiently with show after show, ride after ride and a park that has full pride in everything it provides for its guests. Ride highlights included Blue Fire being as good if not better then I remembered, the wonderful Euro-Mir and the very impressive, relentless Wodan. We stayed in the sublime Bell Rock resort and scored Eurovision one night, toured the hotel the other and had a delicious cocktail on our final night. Thursday night it was back off to England for a days rest and then onto the next trip, Denmark.

    New Coasters:- Dæmonen - Tivoli Gardens
    Odin Express - Tivoli Gardens
    The Caravan - Tivoli Gardens
    Rustcherbanan - Tivoli Gardens
    Vandorm - Bon Bon Land
    Vild Svinet - Bon Bon Land
    Hunderprutterutchebane - Bon Bon Land
    Tornado - Bakken
    Rustchebanan - Bakken
    Mine Train Ulven - Bakken
    Racing - Bakken
    Vilde Maus - Bakken
    Mairehønen - Bakken
    Piraten - Djurs Sommerland
    Skatteøen - Djurs Sommerland
    Karlo’s Taxi - Djurs Sommerland
    Thors Hammer - Djurs Sommerland
    Juvelen - Djurs Sommerland
    Jungle X-Plorer - Legoland Billund
    X-Treme Racers - Legoland Billund
    Dragen - Legoland Billund
    Timber Ride - Legoland Billund
    Lynet - Farup Sommerland
    Mine Expressen - Farup Sommerland
    Flagermusen - Farup Sommerland
    Pindsvinet - Farup Sommlernad
    Falken - Farup Sommerland

    On our arrival it was a sweltering 16 degrees (hot for Denmark) but throughout the week, the weather would fly up and down. It is a very odd climate indeed. We spent the first night celebrating Denmark's win of Eurovision and throughout the week we would hear that music blasting out of car windows. We even got to see the winning act perform live at Tivoli. The major highlights off the trip were the first Rustcherbanan at Tivoli Gardens, which is a truly wonderful attraction and deserves to be appreciated for its sheer beauty and smoothness, Piraten and Juvelen at Djurs Sommerland which were equal in the fun and thrill stakes, Polar XPlorer at Legoland Billund was a very fun ride, as was Lynet at Farup Sommerland. With the good comes the bad and Bakken was truly atrocious with the diabolical Tornado symbolising everything I think wrong with the modern day Intamin company. Not enough refining, too much trying to please a park on a sub-standard product. The Rustcherbanan at Bakken had also been seriously ruined by KumbaK with magnetic breaks destroying any element of momentum that the ride tries to build.
    I left Denmark feeling very sad, it is a wonderful country, if not for its coasters then for its feeling of freedom, liberty and forward thinking Danes.
    New Coasters - 170: The Smiler - Alton Towers

    And after what felt like a life time of waiting, The Smiler finally got itself going and very swiftly, a trip was planned with my non coaster friend. The Smiler is a great ride. Ok, so it can't upstage Nemesis or Oblivion but I still maintain it is a great ride with a bit of a kick in it especially towards the end. You could say I've been lucky, every time I've visited, it has been open and whilst seeing break downs galore whenever I enter the queue, I've always been fortunate enough to ride. Even with it throwing bits off quite frequently. For my 25th birthday, it was off to Thorpe where I got my last ride on Slammer before its annual four month closure. It was a beautifully sunny day with minimal queues. And still it wasn't my best trip to Thorpe this season.. but that is coming. Shortly after my birthday, spent a weekend at Towers for some Smiler loving. The end of the month saw the Inferno ERT even for TPM members where we got to walk through some of the ride area and some lucky pups got to have a little walk up the lift hill.
    This was a relatively quiet month with a solitary trip to Alton Towers where yet again a substantial ride count was halted by the troublesome Smiler eating up so much of the day.
    Now this was the trip of the season. Thorpe hosting its summer late night events. I know some got rained on and the organisation is not as strong as it could be. But during my trip I can safely say I had the best Thorpe I've had for some time. The park was busy enough during the day but with the later hours, I got a chance to properly relax and appreciate my time there. With the joyous hot weather as well, it didn't feel like a theme park in the UK with rubbish weather and even worse opening hours. It felt like I was in sunny Florida or Italy with some great friends from TPM. I came away pretty blown away by how great the trip was, testament to how much Thorpe has grown and increased in confidence during the season.
    New Coasters -
    Space Mountain: Mission 2 - Disneyland Parc
    Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Disneyland Parc
    Indianna Jone et le Temple du Perile - Dienyland Parc
    Casey Jr - Disneyland Paris
    Crushs Coaster - Disneyland Paris
    Rock ‘N’ Rollercoaster - Disneyland Paris
    RC Racer - Disneyland Paris
    Tami Tami - PortAventura

    And so with the weather starting to deteriorate it was off to Disneyland Paris, a place I have never been before. I did enjoy it and found it far more relaxing and stress free then the pressure kitchen that is Disney World. It helped that the parks were very quiet with 5 minute queues on Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain and Tower of Terror being seen throughout the visit. Dreams was a real highlight, seriously great entertainment and needs to be seen by as many as possible. The final trip, two weeks later was PortAventura which unbeknown to me was the start of its Halloween events. Now, I really don't like Halloween events. I know they are extremely popular but I don't find them scary in the slightest despite the actors best efforts. For me, the important thing for the trip was to get my ride on Tami Tami and to fully enjoy Shambhala and Dragon Khan. Which I certainly did, getting more then my fill on both these coasters. Baco, lived up to its awful reputation, set last year but maintained fully in 2013. Is it worse then Tornado? They are both awful and nasty.

    My year was finished off with a Fright Night finish at Thorpe. I don't do mazes but with it being quiet during night, it was nice to get a few night rides on Inferno, Stealth and front row Colossus.
    ​And with that the year off theme parks is over. 2013 was not a great year for the UK admittedly. So much potential completely left untapped with Smiler not being as reliable as required and Chessington letting down every single guest that walked through its doors with its sheer incompetence. I used to be a major Chessington fan but frankly its no longer worth the effort. Full of low capacity rides that are either falling apart, closed or so low on staff that it takes five minutes to load a boat. Hence my lack of visit in 2013.

    Here's to a full on 2014 for everyone and thanks for reading (if you did).
  22. Like
    pluk reacted to Benin for a blog entry, Belgiqueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! - Day 2 - Plopsaland   
    In what will probably be an unsurprising development, our 2nd park of the weekend was Plopsaland, because we all love it to bits.

    It also has an immense amount of new things at the place this year, from a new MASSIVE theatre, two new rides in a newly themed area, and two rethemed rides (the kiddie cred and onion boats) which is really fantastic to see. Add this to the hotel development which is on-going and it does seem like the park is going places.

    They had a good amount of Halloween stuff going on as well, and numerous walking characters because why not? We faffed about the entrance area and K3 Museum before the park opened and we headed over to Vleermuis, the Batflyer since I had only the one side of it and both are separate creds (cue arguments). I forgot how much of a burden it was to get into it and I eventually sat in the child seat. Urgh. Still, plus 1.

    After this we meandered a bit and found the Lapins, a bunny variant on the infamous porn ponies, so naturally we had to ride them because they’re FAB.

    It was then time for our favourite ride on park, Anubis, which has led to us becoming quite massive fans of the TV show (Nickelodeon’s version, not the Dutch one) and very goony about it. Hell, we even played the Board Game in the hotel on the Friday night. Either way, the ride is still very good, aside from the awful rattle you get off the launch; everything else is pretty damn smooth. It also gains points for finale in-line times.

    Up next was the brand new Wickieland and its two new rides. On my last visit this was but a circus tent, but now it’s a lovely themed area with one of the best themed flat rides I’ve ever seen. We first did the Splash Battle of Burden, as the queue is unfinished and people waiting to get off can just fire at you without fear of retribution. In addition to that, you can also get people on the Disko Coaster, which is a hilarious concept indeed. The ride itself was a Splash Battle though, so nothing special really.

    The Disko was next, and unsurprisingly that too rode like one, only sans bouncing which disappointed me slightly. However it does look immense and puts Kobra to absolute shame.

    We fancied a bit of dark ride action so went to the Forest of Plop, which is still as fab and weird as before. We also petted a moody cow in the farm area before electing to have some food because hungry times were abound. This resulted in Waffles of JOY <3

    After the waffles we went into Maya Land, which is a lovely indoor themed area. We did the Slide before the Waterlillies (a Demolition Derby) and finishing on the Flying Flowers of Burden, which were Dumbos but with annoying water fountains. Mergh.

    We decided for another 2 goes on Anubis before heading off towards the newly partially rethemed area. It so far looks a lot better than it did 2 years ago that’s for certain, and hopefully when they finish doing the other coaster and the Teacups it’ll look even better. We did the Onion Boats and found a rubber ducky before Victor’s Race, a Zierer Tivoli with very happy planets and a dinosaur control box.

    It was then time for the first show in the new Theatre, and the entire park seemingly decided to go and see it. It was our first glimpse into the new building and all I can say is wow. There is a MASSIVE reception area which can be used for business functions and probably the hotel in the future. Then inside the theatre itself it looks fantastic, with comfy seats and just all modern stuff. Pete the Pirate was the show in question with a Halloween theme, and the guy doing it was the same who appears in the TV show and epic looking Film. Chalk another for the European park shows, as it had catchy shows and typical kid-friendly amusements.

    We then went in search of other shows, but this led us to the amazing doughy balls of sugary joy! They even had raw dough within them! OM-NOM-NOM!

    The Roller-Skater was next, with it’s weird theme and covered in old theming from the rethemed Zierer. The painting techniques on the back of the washing machine were fab though.

    Into the Castle area and we watched the Witches show, which involved dancing, interaction and sweeties! After a quick run around on Draak, the Mack powered coaster of epic music and weird layout, we sat down for the Ron and Jon show. This was basically a lot of slapstick between two guys which was then exacerbated by a giant monkey of WHY?! It was still quite funny though and it was nice to see a show we could understand.

    After that it was 2 more goes on Anubis, a bit of shopping and the journey home. We could’ve stayed for the last show, but I think Walibi took a lot out of us the day before.

    Unfortunately our trip home was a disaster, as we were turned around from the EuroTunnel due to a stuck train to the ferry, which was delayed so we had to wait around 2 hours to even leave the country, by which point the trains had started up again. Then the ferry was a burden as well. And the rain, the constant miserable rain. URGH. Got back at 12:30 Monday morning and went straight to bed, making a disappointing end to a fantastic weekend.
  23. Like
    pluk reacted to EC! for a blog entry, Europa Park Part 4 (FINALLY)   
    Sorry about being so lazy not to finish this and this won't I guess be the best installment ever but bear with because this is the last part in my trip report to Europa park!
    Because the queue had died down, I decided to go on Euro-Mir again, unsuprisingly by myself as none of my family liked it apart from me

    Such a good ride tbh!!! Like I said before it is very intense for what it is and by this point only had a 5min queue!


    We were almost about to go straight to Silver Star when I had not ridden Atlantica Supersplash. These intrigued me as this seems to be quite a marmite ride, some love it, some find it utterly boring, So with only a 15 minute queue, me and my dad decided to adventure on to this very well themed ride!

    Look at those shaky camera skills go!

    I have to say I was in the first category, I actually really liked the ride sure it was never going to set my pants on fire like Wodan or Blue fire but it was a heck of a lot of fun! I like the backwards bit and my favourite part was the nice little bunny hop before the splash and it is extremely well themed, it would out quite alot of Thorpe park to shame with that theming This might surprise you but I give this an EC! RATING:8/10 I just totally prefer it to Poseidon which is rough as hell, plus it got me more wet and reminded me of a quirky version of Hydro/Drenched.

    Que dodgy selfie to show how Atlantica left my one side completely dry and the other completely soaked:P

    I really wanted to take a video (which I forgot to do at Silver Star ) So this was like last minute, sorry it is abit crap but it proves I was there

    More pics of the Awesome Fjord Rafting!

    If anybody goes to Europa this year or in 2014, I highly recommend this little counter next to Euro-Mir/Food Loop , the pasta is absolutely sublime and the sauce the best I have ever tasted from a counter like that. Its really worth your while checking it out! my only little niggle was that the bowl was abit small but it was gorgeous none the less.
    EC! FOOD RATING: 9.5/10

    Walking back to the entrance of the Park we see THE GLOBE THEATRE!!

    Matterhorn: another incredibly well themed ride!

    We were going to do this but then we realised it some how had a bigger queue then Silver Star so we went to that instead

    Best queue for a big ride we have had all day!

    Getting quite excited now!

    Inside Queueline/Exhibition!

    I wont say anymore then its a Merc F1 car otherwise I will turn into a complete nerd!

    We are getting there!

    My sis looks so amused

    EEK! almost time!

    Well this ride was just awesome! Funny little story for you, you know the Specsavers ad with the old people at backpool Pleasure beach who accidently get on Infusion to the fright of their life?...... Well this happened to my gramps. He thought he was going on Euro-sat, even though the Silver Star signs were BLATANTLY obvious, he was completely oblivious to this until we got on the train and left the train..... his first words were "SH*T I'm ON THE WRONG RIDE!!" at this point me, dad and my sister just burst out laughing! the worst thing was he was on the out side seat so he could see straight down which made him scream a few words that shouldn't be said around the dining table after that point all we could hear after that point was a very high pitch scream come from him for the rest of this ride OMG I was weak after that, this ride was so good but I was totally distracted by my gramps shear terror look on his face. This ride was awesome made better by our little debarcle, it was a shame it finished so quick, because the airtime was out of this world! Such a good ride EC! RATING:9.5/10


    At this point I had to say a sad good bye to Europa It certainly is the best theme park I have been to Since Disney Florida, I loved it, and I am SO going again soon!

    Bye Blue Fire!

    Bye WODAN!!

    Bye Europa! See you again soon!
  24. Like
    pluk reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, Disneyland Paris - Studios Part 2   
    It was time for the Stars in their cars parade. Not great to be honest. Part of the problem here is that it's just generic cars and aren't that exciting to look at. It also blocks off the entrance/exit to the park so want to leave, nope you get stuck. Want to get on Tower whilst its quiet, no you have to wait for the Parade to pass. Not the greatest planning.

    Not long Remy, Not long...
    With the parade over and the two shows not starting for a while, we headed back to Toy Story playland and had a go on RC Racer. Luckily the queue was only 10 minutes long as the ride is so short it does push its luck. Not a bad effort by Disney, it's just a shame you have to queue in the shed area next to the station instead of the cool race track part of the queue line. The ride itself is comfy enough with enough speed to satisfy even the most hardened coaster fans.
    After that it was Slinky's piece of rubbish which is the most useless kids rides ever constructed. It's actually a little bit insulting.

    Shortly before we rode.
    Cinemagique and Animagique followed. Love them both with Animagique having the edge. Any attraction that has Donald in a tizz is a winner for me and I particularly liked the show.
    Our final stop was Tram Tour which felt as useless and convoluted as the Florida version. The main problem is both have been cut down from their original intent. Here, with Ratatouille construction the tour feels in two halves. A long jaunt over to the water canyon followed by a tedious return journey through a set of a film know one even remembers let alone heard of. We queued a good half an hour for it and it wasn't worth the wait. The queue was only that long due to only running two trams.

    With day at Studios over it was time for steak in Disney village before returning to Disney Parc for a trip on Dumbo and another showing off Dreams. Love that show.

  25. Like
    pluk reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, Disneyland Paris - Day Three. Studios Park   
    Day started with a 15 minute queue for breakfast. This was slightly chaotic with hundreds of people going for breakfast at the same time, a lot of people coming an hour early and not being turned away. Wouldn't happen at Towers
    From there it was on to Studios Park, our first stop Crush's Coaster. We didn't arrive dead on ten so when we got to Crush, the queue was already displayed at 60 minutes. We decided to bite the bullet and just go for it. This was the only ride where we saw a queue line monitor, a staff member regularly throwing out queue jumpers which was refreshing to see. Turns out, the queue for this isn't as bad as I first thought and its all down to Disney efficiency. Sure, this is a low throughput effort for Disney but even here the queue moves at a very steady pace. And its all down to the park running all twelve cars at once. As we watched we noticed cars are sent out every nine seconds. That is frankly astonishing to watch and throughput works out at roughly around 1200 an hour. So even for a low throughput affair, that is some impressive numbers from a Maurer. The ride itself is nice and quirky featuring some nice dark ride sections, a speedy lift hill and a reasonably good layout inside. I could argue that inside the shed, there's very little effects or theming but then again, its dark down below the water and the lack of things to look it increases the disorientation. This is far superior to Caligostro at Rainbow Magicland.

    Our next stop was Rock N Rollercoaster. Too say I'm not the biggest fan of the Florida version may be an exaggeration, here I find the ride just tiresome. I think the major problem is that for me, this just isn't a Disney type ride. Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios has issues but as a ride with a soundtrack it works fine. Here, Aerosmith just isn't a themed experience and I find the idea behind the ride so tedious. The theme here is... Aerosmith want to do something. I have no idea as unlike in Florida, the pre-show is very short and it seems to play continuously so you either walk in when its half way through or miss it completely. The station itself is similar to Florida except the cars are more pimped up and a tad silver. And as for the ride. I didn't notice how tedious the actual ride is in Florida because as the only upside down coaster at Disney World, it had a bit of difference to it. Here at Paris, which has Mission 2, a far superior version of what is the same ride type, Rock N Roller is just a little bit dire.
    Plain exteriors.
    Our next stop was Aarmageddon. Now I have a real problem with this type of attraction. If you told me that we were actually going into Space and we encounter problems then I'd probably come out loving it. But tell me I'm just an actor in a short scene being filmed for a film and I immediately switch off. It's exactly the same problem I have with similar rides in Florida. If anything, this is the only attraction that fits the bill of a studio park but I want to feel like I'm part of a narrative, not just being slotted in around loads of fire effects and smoke. Imagine if in the Hollywood Hotel you were told you weren't actually part of the narrative and just testing the ride system for the TV experience. It would be rubbish. Same applies to Armageddon so yes, probably my most hated experience in the day.
    Our next stop was Tower of Terror where we ended up queuing an hour. Crazy really, but it is the best ride in the entire resort so what the hey.

    After that we went for an English showing of Stitch Live where I was picked on by the character. I am Mark from the London and I am wanted for crimes against aliens. There we are, something new we learn everyday.
    I must have really bad luck as I was also picked on in the Laugh Floor in Florida.
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