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pluk

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  1. 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.
  2. Like
    pluk reacted to Benin for a blog entry, An Express Visit to Port Aventura - Day 3   
    Day 3
    And lo, the final day approached as we groggily awoke for one last B&M whorage session. However there was some unfinished business to attend to first, so we checked out the hotel, dumped off our bags and headed in to Baco once more.




    It was announcing technical difficulties…
    This turned out to be the addition of the second train however, so we waited it out and before long we were winging our way out of the station on the front row. The pre-show began, the brake fins dropped, the tension built...
    We didn’t move…
    Baco seemed keen to not be out-done by its B&M brethren who had both suffered breakdowns prior to today, so decided enough was enough or that it was too early to be working (to which me and Mark agreed) after a late night.



    #BacoFace
    We were rolled back into the station before being told to get out and wait by the exit. After some time, we left, not being arsed to hang around a broken Intamin when there were B&Ms to ride.



    And so the whoring session began, with 3 goes each on Khan and Shambhala; jumping between the two in the process and enjoying every moment of them.





    We then decided to head back towards Baco because I didn’t want it to be the last ride of the trip and leave a bad experience in my head, so we headed around the park via El Diablo, some ice-cream and some more Halloween characters for one last attempt at Baco.



    Back on the front and it miraculously worked this time, though how good a miracle it was not really agreed upon. Many say it’s better in the front/inside seats, it is really, but does that stop it from being several seconds of pain, bounce and wondering why we wanted to give it a second chance (clearly, our trip to Bakken taught us very little)? The answer is a resounding no, and we longed for the apparent roughness of Khan once more.

    Post Baco Red Ear

    A quick train ride later, and that’s exactly where we were. Though Shambhala took more precedence this time as it was much easier to re-ride compared to Khan, but that’s down to the heavy load of g-force more than anything wrong with the ride. So after 4 more goes on Shambhala (bringing the total rides of it to 20) it was back on the train to the entrance and time to venture back out into the real world of delayed flights and rubbish European airports.





    https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/q77/s720x720/563137_10153314757995220_127835768_n.jpg " />
    So the final thoughts… The park is very good really, though lacking in dark rides is the main issue here, as it mostly has a decent assortment of flat rides spread (thinly) around the park. Hopefully the 2014 is a nice big indoor attraction of SOME kind, regardless of what it ACTUALLY is (aside from a splash battle, but I’m not too sure if it is one).
    Out of the big 4 coasters, 2 are fantastic, 2 are rough as hell, with El Diablo, Tomahawk and Tami-Tami decent supporting cast to them. The shows are excellent across the board even with the language barrier existing as they are pretty generic in theme/story, but all those involved in the shows were entertaining and deserve plaudits. This especially rings true to those walking characters, who when they could on the quieter Friday put in a hell load of effort into their interactions, whilst the Halloween ones put in just as much.
    The Express Pass however, was an absolute god-send to us, especially considering the situation of queuing in Spain. And it allowed us to take our time around the park instead of just standing in stuffy cattlepens being walked past. The interesting thing is that despite the cheapness of the unlimited and the one-shots, there were no queues for Express to the degree we see on busy days in the UK parks; perhaps they really limit the numbers over there due to the hotels? Or is it just that the country is broke?
    Regardless, an excellent weekend away, and a rather excellent park really. Good theming, good shows, (some) good rides. Good job Port Aventura.

  3. Like
    pluk reacted to Benin for a blog entry, An Express visit to Port Aventura - Day 1   
    An Express visit to Port Aventura
    Day 1
    They always say you should keep an eye out for good deals in life, theme parks being no exception, so when Port Aventura had an offer for 50% hotel stays I leapt at the chance to revisit the park, namely for Shambhala.
    A VERY early Friday morning was the backdrop to our journey via Gatwick and Barcelona, and after eventually finding the coach to the hotel, we arrived at the park armed with quite possibly the best value for money unlimited Express Passes ever (€54 for all 3 days and front row on Shambhala, Khan and Baco).


    My legion of Spiiiiiiidersssss

    Our first port of call was to be the legendary Furius Baco. Much tension was too be had as a result of the various tales of the majority berating the ride and it’s experience with the odd few decreeing it as a fantastic unique experience.
    Unsurprisingly, I was in the former camp…
    It’s a terrible, terrible ride, we nearly rode it in the back until the ride staff member moved us to the 5th odd row, and I was forced onto the outside seat by Mark. The launch is perfectly fine, but as soon as that’s done the ride shakes and rattles along the track, every flaw amplified due to the vibration affect that occurs due to the nature of the seating.
    From an engineering standpoint, it’s so clear why the ride is as bad as it is, and why B&M decided to put riders in-line with the track to ensure that the vibration effect on the train is minimalised. Being on the same axis of rotation is the name of the game, and Baco fails completely. It has two pros, it looks nice and it doesn’t last for very long, that’s it.
    1/10



    Mark was not looking forward to riding this again, ignorance is bliss as they say…

    We decided to go as far away from Baco as possible and go on some good rides, so it was over to China and Shambhala. The design of which is very interesting, as whilst it dominates the area and Dragon Khan, it also complements the area as well, perhaps because a nicely painted and bright Khan still stands out amongst the white track.
    Straight on we went even with the 1 train operation (note, Baco had 2 trains and a longer queue than the 1 train B&Ms) and into the bright sunshine we went, catching a look at the construction site next door, but before long we were cresting the drop.
    To say the resulting ride is brilliant would be quite accurate, although there seemed to be some harsh discussion regarding its place in the Mitch Hawker top 10 last year, I feel that it is justly deserved.
    Like all B&M Hypers, Shambhala thrives on the floaty airtime that fills every hill; however, a few things really stand out for me against the rest of them. First, the Ampersand turn is a fantastic way of doing things rather than a bland overbank, the mini hill after this with its ejector is also brilliant, the splash is a cool element to look at for the off-riders and produces on occasion a nice cooling effect to riders, the hills after which are excellent due to the way it which they vary the drop height to give some difference to the experience.
    9/10





    From modern B&M to classic B&M now, as Dragon Khan was next on our list. 9 years ago I remember it being a fantastic ride, and to see if it was still as such we were straight into the back row.
    Since my visit I have seen a lot of people stating that Khan is rough (to degrees of things like Baco and Goudrix), but I cannot really see the issue. It has rattle yes (it’s 18 years old, rides age, that simple) but these incidents are during the high speed, high G sections so are relatively infrequent. Especially after riding Baco, Khan would easily be considered as smooth.
    Either way, it’s interesting to see how B&M have evolved between Khan and Shambhala, with Khan having a fair few snappy transitions (the Zero-G and MCBR drop especially) but also a few ‘glidey’ sections through it.
    Khan was still excellent though, loved it, and I don’t understand where this sudden rattly hate has appeared from. If Khan gets detracted for it, then so should things like Nemesis.
    8/10



    Big rides done, we went over to find Tami-Tami as Mark had missed out on his last visit to the park. So off we went back into the Sesame Street area to find that the show had just finished and characters were out. So photos happened…




    After a drink and chill we eventually joined the non-existent queue and quite enjoyed our ride. It’s only a Vekoma Junior sure, but the dense foliage around it really improved the ride somewhat, especially the final helix.
    Walking back through China we snuck it another go on Shambhala and Khan before El Diablo, where my last ride on it was backwards (rotating cars before it was cool was Port Aventura) and the derided-ness of this ride and it’s lift hills is well known. Indeed, we gained a soft spot for it actually, as you can see what they were trying to do with it, they just used Arrow because cheap times. Maybe if they’d actually had some track after the second lift that went right instead of left there would be more fans of it? Who knows…


    Next up was another ride new since my last visit, Hurakan Condor, which fortunately had a short enough queue to warrant us bothering. It was ok like most Intamin free-falls, but I’m not a real fan of the excessively tall ones because they do get boring after a while. Though the 4 seater one is considerably better than the Gyro variants.


    Next door was the new for this year mirror maze Secret of the Mayans, where you are given medical gloves before you enter to prevent smearing the glass, which is weird. Inside it’s actually a very long experience, with a random bit in the middle with some effects. It was alright and good for getting out of the heat for a bit.
    Back outside, we stumbled across Bert and Ernie, so naturally, photos ensued due to Bert being a depressing muppet.

    Bert’s either high or misses his sandwich…


    Onwards we walked to the Wild West area, and a queue for Tomahawk, which has a silly throughput/lack of ability to sit two adults together. But it’s still a surprisingly decent and long ride for a kiddie coaster, with the duelling aspect a novel idea.
    It was nearly time for the Bird Show, so we walked past Sheriff Woody and the long, LONG way to the show (burdenous park layout), and it was rather entertaining in the end, with lots of banter from the host who didn’t stop talking for the whole thing; a basic bird show really but still decent.



    Up next was the Wild West Stunt Show with a Halloween overlay. This had fantastic pre-show entertainment, with a scarecrow jumping at entering guests and the excessively camp man in his D&G denim jacket of JOY. Again, pretty basic as shows go, but it was a good laugh.


    <3

    What was next wasn’t much of a laugh, as Stampida since my last visit had new Kumbak trains added, and after Bakken’s Rusty Banana being god-awful, I had a fair amount of fear about it.
    I was right, the ride rattles through the course badly, a shame because I think it’s a rather well designed ride (particularly where you lose the other train briefly before it’s charging at you), ruined by an awful company who somehow are allowed to do this.
    Poor show.
    3/10


    We headed back to China to have some last quick goes on the B&Ms before heading back to the hotel for dinner (which was a very nice buffet). We then sat in the plaza drinking and watching the very good hotel entertainment, with a stand-out moment when a birthday girl was given a cake by Winnie Woodpecker. Our parks would do to realise that such moments will stay with younger visitors for a long time.
    We were impressed with our first day on the park, but the first day of their Halloween event was next, and the hours of 10am-11pm were very exciting indeed…
  4. Like
    pluk reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, Disneyland Paris, Day two. Into the Parc. Part Two   
    Big Thunder is the quintessential family roller coaster. Mildly fast, full of variety and not too many large drops to scare kids. The general consensus is that Paris's version is the best of the four. While I can only compare to Florida, I'd go as far as agreeing with aspects of that opinion. The only real part where Paris falls down is its queue line. There seems to be various ways that the ride is run and none of them seem that great. On the first day for example, fastpass was available but there was no one batching into the main queue and unlike Florida, the fastpass queue didn't get their own side of the station. So what you had was fastpassers having to split into the queueline whenever a gap appeared. The second damaging thing was that at some point in the queue, it splits into two sides. If you decide to queue on the right you get whacked by a longer queue length, fastpass people attempting to join and that is also the side where disabled guests get on. If you opt for the left hand side you almost walk straight into the station, undeterred by distractions. It's the most bizarre operations and despite it being a very high capacity rollercoaster, has so much faff going on. Florida doesn't have any of these problems so it's almost like Paris decided to try something different and it doesn't quite work.


    The ride itself is similar to Floridas version with two key differences. The first is a fantastic start to the ride with the train dipping into an underground tunnel and gathering a lot of speed before it engages with the first lift hill. It's great to see that with thirty years of running, the Big Thunder lift hills still have the loudest lift chains out there. I wouldn't be surprised if kids were more scared of the noise then the ride. What happens for the majority of the rest of the ride is the same as Florida, California and Tokyo so I won't bore by describing the ride in detail.. except the ending. I was always a bit meh about Floridas dull ending through some rocks and skeletons. Paris is far superior with the train lurching violently to the left, into a cave and descending under the river, gathering so much speed like it really is out of control. I'd bet that it isn't as steep as it feels and yet works very well. The trains pulls up out of the tunnel into the break run and everyone is a bit blown away by that ending. Great finale and really makes the Big Thunder island concept work very well.


    We decided to have another go, what with it being a ten minute queue and chose the left hand side of the queue line. It was then off to face one of my greatest terrors; Indianna Jones!
    I'm not sure what the point of this ride is. It doesn't fulfil the quota of upside down rides as there is already Space Mountain and there's already a ride themed around a mine car at Big Thunder. I can only think that this was a desperate attempt at another ride in the park for adults. Whatever the reason, I know it has a poor reputation for being rough, boring and unnecessary but I kind of liked it. Sure it can't do straight lines or hills without whacking your head on a restraint but as a ride it was perfectly acceptable. It had a five minute queue the majority of the time so I don't think it entirely fits into the park in anyway. If Disney got rid and went for a ride like the version at California, I wouldn't say no.

    Our next stop was Pirates of the Caribbean but was for some reason unavailable. We had the same problem at Florida on our first trip so had no worries that it wouldn't open at some point. We decided on doing some Fantasyland rides such as Pinocchio and Snow White which we queued 10 minutes a piece for. I like this rides because they aren't flashy and "look at me" like some dark rides and they do their job of telling their respective stories adequately. Sure they won't win Gold Ticket awards but for high throughput, reliable attractions they work well.


    Next stop was the notorious it's a Small World. I liked it. I don't know why I like the idea behind the ride when everyone else despises it with a passion, but it just works for me. It looks like its had a clean up too as the majority of animatronics were working, it looked tidy with no dust anywhere and things looked repainted. For a high capacity boat ride, it ticks all the boxes.. even if it never seems to be able to get a queue.



    Finally with the rain now fully upon us, we found a nice hidden away area with one of my personal favourites from the trip, Casey Junior. I adored this ride and I can't figure it out why. It just seems so novel and under-stated

  5. Like
    pluk reacted to Mark9 for a blog entry, Disneyland Paris, Day two. Into the Parc. Part One.   
    Having been given a breakfast slot for 9:45, we decided to skip a bit of continental and headed into the park around 9:00 instead. Seeing a main street so empty is an experience you'll rarely get so we took the opportunity to get some photos and get some coffee from one of the various outlets along Main Street.

    I'll never get tired of the Castle/Main Street view.

    LOOK AT THE THEME!
    We also approve of buying food and getting tickets for free coffee later in the day.
    One thing I really noticed about the parks here is how much more relaxed you can be. With Florida you get caught in a whirlwind of rushing about from ride to ride, reservation at restaurant to show or parade and never take proper time to appreciate where you are. Throughout our time in Paris, we did a lot of sitting around, relaxing and soaking in the atmosphere. Playing a part in that is that there is less to do here then in Florida but I can only put that as a benefit to Paris.
    Our first stop during Magic Hours was Space Mountain: Mission 2. From outside, it is a frankly stunning piece of design, that giant cannon is a piece of theming genius and fits in perfectly with the rest of Discoveryland. I'm rather fond of this area as it is. I can understand why they diverted away from Tomorrowland as that area dates faster then they can build/update it.
    As for Space Mountain. I do like the ride on a thematic level. The idea of being launched into space via a giant cannon is based on Jules Verne's novel 'From the Earth to the Moon' and I love it. I just wish the theming worked such as the recoil of the cannon or the misters as you are blasted into the building. The ride itself is rather atypical of Vekoma. Enjoyable but you really struggle to find a position in which you don't bang your head on the side of the stupid restraints. That being said it is very well paced inside, the ride keeping its speed up to the last moment. It does feel a bit like you are descending into a vortex as the trains spirals around the building, every now and then taking in an inversion surprisingly.
    We rode several times through the trip and it was either outstanding, unbearable or average. So I find it hard to really rate it.
    Our next ride was Buzz Lightyears Laser Blast, A ride I despised in Florida but here it was actually a decent ride. The props all seemed to make sense and weren't all cardboard cut outs with targets on them. I even liked the finale which I won't spoil here. I don't understand the points system but then again, it is only a throw away ride.

    With no interest in Orbitron or Autopia we decided to head back to the central hub and wait for the rest of the park to open. More views of the wonderful Sleeping Beauty castle awaited us.



    With 10 o clock upon us it was time to venture into Frontierland. We grabbed a fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain whilst everyone else descended into its main queueline. We instead thought we'd try out Phantom Manor. It's American equivalent, Haunted Mansion, is one of my favourite dark rides and I'd heard many great things about the Paris version. I wasn't disappointed as such. The subtlety of the storytelling (ie, there was no narration) meant that we had to really pay attention to the scenes throughout. Something to do with a bride whose family dies (or she murdered them) and so she gets buried as the ride descends from amazingly themed Mansion to an odd underground Western film. Very odd. The shoe-horning of Phantom Manor into Frontierland didn't work for me although there is no way the attraction itself could fit into the other three lands of the park. A triumph though and just shows that when it comes to dark rides, Disney are (mainly) on top.

    Our next stop was the Molly Brown boat ride around Big Thunder Mountain. We never found the time to do this in Florida so it was a welcome find to get on it and just relax for twenty minutes. It's a shame that aside from Big Thunder Mountain there is nothing to really look at. I hear that some kind of fountain show used to occur at the end but no longer works.


    Next time will focus on Big Thunder Mountain, Fantasyland and yet again we get to Pirates of the Caribbean to find it broken.
  6. Like
    pluk reacted to EC! for a blog entry, Europa Park Trip Part 3   
    Okay so this is the penultimate in trip reports of Europa, this will be dedicated to the best woodie and best steel coaster I have ever been on and also the best river raft ride haha!
    We shall begin..... With Euro-Mir's soundtrack, I love it !!!!


    Ok, here we go!

    I cant remember the name of this splash battle ride but it was fun just like battle Galleons! EC! RATING: 7/10
    But what is looming in the background I wonder.....

    ITS WODAN!

    Wodan and Blue Fire interlocked together!

    First train I see. By the way this had the longest queue of the rides I went on with 65minutes!

    Going in the longest queueline I have ever been in!

    Inside the indoor queue!

    Blue ICE!

    Cool Roof effects!

    SPEED!! and lots of it too!

    A train going down the drop incredibly fast!! The whole structure shook which I think is normal....

    Such an imposing structure!!



    The Creepy Goddess woman thing!

    Train going in Wodan Style!

    More indoor queue. Its soooo long

    Wodan Dragon

    God Odin!

    Almost there!

    Wodan Complete!!
    Right I have said this to a few people now but Wodan is the best roller coaster I have EVER EVER been on! Its fast, its long, it has mega fast turns, it has an abundance of airtime and it everyone even enthusiasts screaming their head off, I can't say how wonderful this ride is, Like Thrillseekeralex I thought as it was a 1.2m restriction I thought it would be mundane but I was SO wrong Its the only ride that has made my gramps cry and scream in terror! Its everything I wanted and more from this ride so I am technically cheating here but Wodan get an EC! RATING:11/10 Its that good it deserves an extra point!

    Next up Blue Fire!

    More Blue Fire!

    The Banked turn!

    The Review
    Ok So this is the Best Steel coaster I have been on, the fact it has lapbars makes it so much fun and you can flail your arms as much as you please, The launch is Rita Intense which is fun but it runs rings around Stealth and Rita. The loops are intense and the vertical loop gives great hangtime! The themeing is also fantastic and it offers great headchoppers like the diving under the Wodan structure and the rock tunnel between the vertical loop and the backed turn. it is such a fantastic coaster and I just wish one day the UK gets a mack coaster as they are Class EC! RATING: 10/10

    MY 2 old men on Fjord rafting! Dad and gramps got absolutely soaked on this ride almost Tidal wave soaked !
    The Review.
    This is by far the best river rafting ride I have been on you get so wet and it so really well themed and has a decent length, its better then congo river rapids at alton because of the sher abmount of water feature on the ride to make you wet, funny thing was I was the only dry one, my cousin got soaked too haha EC! RATING: 8/10
    Okie dokie I shall end this part here, the last part will be tomorrow, when I finally ride a certain Silver Star! untill then toodel hoo!
  7. Like
    pluk reacted to JoshC. for a blog entry, 'A Look Back' - Colossus   
    After trawling through the planning portal again, which is always interesting I find, I came across the original plans for Colossus. Much like with the http://forum.maniahub.com/topic/151-tidal-wave/page-30#entry164771]original Tidal Wave plans, they are quite different. But before I divulge into that further, let's look at how a new coaster came about in the first place...

    As is well known, in 1997, the Tussauds Group took over Thorpe. Prior to that, as you'd expect, it was hard for the park to get serious funding for any major development or investment into the park. In the 10 years prior to that, there had only been two 'major' investments - Canada Creek and X:\NWO. Due to the otherwise low investments, and local competition from Chessington and the newly opened Legoland Windsor, guest numbers were declining and the park was not making profits. In fact, the park themselves describe it as a "spiral of decline", and between 1993 and 1998, visitor numbers had dropped from 1.35million to 0.8million; quite a significant drop really!


    This shows the number of visitors, in millions. This was made sometime during the 1999 season, so any figures for 1999 and after are predictions / hopes (with a coaster opening in 2001).


    Thought this might be of interest too. Attendances at the Tussauds parks and Windsor Safari Park on a similar timescale.

    The introduction of Pirates 4D and Tidal Wave was aimed to be, if anything, a 'quick fix', to boost visitor numbers in the short term. Pirates had the intriguing tagline of 'the UK's first 4D cinema', and Tidal Wave could pretty much sell itself, so those investments spread over two years would help attract some people to the park. However, more is of course needed, especially as Tussauds aimed to turn the park into a profitable, year-round business. Of course, as it is, Thorpe still isn't a year-round park.

    The aim was, just after the turn of the century, to introduce two big, huge new rides. This would, essentially, be the first step in truly turning the park around. Tussauds noted that, following the introduction of Nemesis at Alton Towers, that park turned around, and it was hoped the same could happen with Thorpe. Two rides were applied for in 1999, to open in 2000 and 2001 - what is described as a "45m elevator ride" and a 40m coaster respectively. Both plans were withdrawn following discussions with the council (and, as such, plans for the rides are not available online). Despite the council advising the best location of the coaster - the current location of Colossus - it was said to be difficult to get approval for the coaster. Whilst it was probable they could have gotten approval for the 45m ride, they decided to withdraw that application too to help with the approval of a revised, 30m tall coaster - what we now know to be Colossus. I can't quite figure out where this elevator ride would have gone, but by the sounds of it, the area would have been close to the coaster, and were to be developed soon. So, I'd guess we'd be looking at where the Lost City flat rides are (which makes sense with rumours I've heard of Detonator originally being planned for Lost City).

    So, the park didn't just want this new coaster, they needed it. Without it, the park would struggle and continue its spiral of decline quicker than a helter-skelter. It was projected that an additional 200,000 people would visit the park thanks to the new coaster; a quarter of their current visitors. Can you imagine a ride now where the park hoped they'd get almost an extra 500k visitors thanks to it? So, it was a huge risk in one way; if they didn't get the visitors, it was huge amount of money pretty much chucked down the drain.

    So, that's enough background I reckon. But, with all that in mind, what sort of ride do you go for? Well, the park's first choice was, interestingly, a LIM coaster (just to be clear, this coaster had a maximum height of 30m. As I mentioned earlier, the plans for a 40m coaster aren't anywhere online, unfortunately). A brief outline of the coaster itself: The actual launch mechanism was to be inside a tunnel, for protection apparently. After the launch, the train would dip down slightly, and then enter a cobra roll, which would be the high point of the ride, and a vertical loop would follow. Some strange, twisty meandering in the air, an airtime hill and another weird twisty bit and the ride ends. It covers almost the exact same area as Colossus I believe, though a bit shifted about of course.


    A side on view of the coaster.


    A view from where, I think, Rush or Quantum is now situated. Looks...interesting.

    However, for reasons I can't find, the plans changed, despite approval of this coaster. I'd assume one reason the plans changed to what we now know to be Colossus is to get the world record inversion count. If you're gonna do something big, you may as well do something massive, right? Personally, I think I prefer what we have now. Colossus really was, and always will be, the ride which 'put the park on the map'. Whilst it might now be uncomfortable and not highly rated - especially amongst enthusiasts - it did the job, and still does to this day.



    A couple of badly-edited pictures showing the difference of how the coasters would have looked.

    As some may know, and as I mentioned to earlier, Colossus was intended to open for 2001. However, due to this change in plan, the project was pushed back a year. Perhaps this was fortunate for the park; 2001 brought instead 3 new attractions, bringing in more guests, and adding to people knowing of the big, brand new coaster coming next year.

    So, we now have the coaster we know and 'love' as Colossus applied for and approved. Yet what we have today is still slightly different to what was originally planned! The entrance was is a completely different place to where it is now - though the cobra roll. The queue would start there, go down into the pit (similar to Smiler's entrance in a way I guess), and then meander around in a similar, but shorter, fashion to as it does now. The shop also bordered directly with the station, instead of its current location.


    I've - badly - shown the queue layouts; black is ordinary, red is Fastrack (then known as Virtual Q). Interestingly, approx maximum queue times were 40mins and 15mins respectively!


    This is a RCT screenshot made by John Wardley, where you can see the entrance through the cobra roll. (Photo taken from Thorpe Park Guide Archives).

    I'd guess the changes to the queue line and shop location were more cosmetic more than anything else. Again, I think I prefer what we have now, specifically the pit, than what we could have had.

    So that's about it really. If you read through all that ramble, I hope it made sense. I just thought I'd share the wondrous history of Colossus which I've pieced together - from the initial reasons and vision, to design and to what we have got today.
  8. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Adventure Island- 23/08/13   
    Adventure Island, the UK's number 1 free admission fun park!

    Loving the new sign!

    It's really noticeable around the whole park!

    Even away from the park, and it spins, and sure looks pretty at night! Rage decided to sneak into this shot...

    And again can be seen all around the park

    So here are some shots of this very good Gerstlauer Eurofighter!

    Enjoying the jolt smooth drop.

    Loop-de-loop

    This inversion offers great hangtime

    I actually really like its colour scheme.

    Easing off the thrills. Look, it's that sign again!

    An Archelon and Green Scream.

    Over The Hill, an excellent family haunted ride made in house.

    Southend really is lovely! (The blue slide was broken at this time so that's why there are two boats on it)

    A classic

    Look at all these fun rides, and yes, that is a devils gold mine

    Mighty Mini Mega is great fun! Make look lame but pulls some decent speed

    Kiddi Koasta, great for youngsters and this offering from Zamperla should replace those Wacky Worms, this is much more fun!

    They really like there pink and yellow (but at least it's not black) and once again Rage and the sign make it into the shot.

    And the legendary Time Machine, it really does make you feel like you've just travelled in time (backwards or forwards I don't know)
    Adventure Island, the UK's number 1 free admission fun park!

    Loving the new sign!
    Oh, I guess Time Machine takes you back in time.
    Thanks for reading
  9. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Thorpe Gardens- 21/08/13   
    Before you read this is a very tongue in cheek report.
    There is a well known phrase that often gets thrown around regarding Thorpe, "If I wanted to look at trees I'd go to a garden centre." So I decided to visit Thorpe and see what gardeny stuff it has to offer.

    First of all you're greeted by this lovely lake surrounded by trees!

    More of this lovely lake and the trees.

    Lots of foliage...

    Even more!

    Some nice trees with decorative rocks.

    An array of trees, I'm spoilt for choice.

    Another lake and you guessed it, trees!

    They even tried to make it like an experience with the dense foliage.

    And more with a scaled up volcano piece that you'd put in your fish tank.

    This bunch of trees looks interesting, like they're shaped around an entrance

    These trees look well cared for.

    TREES!

    Even a baby tree!

    And themed trees for that ultimate devastated look in your garden!
    So maybe the "tree" statement should be more like "If I wanted to look at plants I'd go to a garden centre" because you don't really go out to buy a tree.
    So plant wise...

    Some nice flower boxes.

    Nice selection of potted plants.

    Lovely flower bed. The colours are very enticing!

    More flower boxes

    A nice array of plants and flowers with another decorative rock!

    Simple yet very effective.

    Look at them all, so pretty

    There's so much it's having to fight for space!
    So I think that saying about Thorpe is well and truly rubbish. I had a better day looking at the trees and plants at Thorpe than at any garden centre! The only similarity is this...

    They had this very expensive ornament called "Slammer." I was going to buy one but apparently it's currently unavailable even though it's sitting right there! The labels on items always lie.
    Thanks for reading
  10. Like
    pluk reacted to coastergod for a blog entry, Blackpool part 2   
    so If you are reading this then you most probably read part 1. Well now for part 2. I hope you enjoy it.
    So after All the Shenanigans mentioned in part 1 it was now time for some Proper rides, as well as some other stuff.
    We went to Pleasure beach with our wristbands and on one of the best sunny and very busy days of the year.
    We went straight to Big one, and my is that a ride. It was the longest hill I've gone up, and I could feel my heart beating and looked to my friends, one was definitely about to either vomit or s**t himself. The time had come for us to take it. The first drop of the ride. I nearly screamed that I lost my voice. all you could hear was me swearing basically. the rest of the ride was so intense as well.
    From here onwards I can't remember where we went but I do remember the rides themselves so here goes.
    Avalanche was next. I actually quite love this ride and the whole concept, and it is great fun. The queue was very short on that day, and we went on twice.
    After it was Revolution. One of my friends had looked forward to this, so I was very interested to why he was so excited about it. It is actually an alright ride and I particularly enjoy it going backwards. (I love backward rides e.g like X no way out(the old one) When going backwards everything feels so different and more scary and I definitely felt it in this ride.
    Grand National: At last, a wooden coaster. One I've been waiting to go on for a while. (europa park hadn't opened Wodan at the time I went). I love the concept and its quite fun.
    Wild mouse: Really intense for its type, not going to lie, and a great ride. One of the best rides there- not too intense, not too weak.
    Ice Blast: Good ride, and one which was walk on for us. I enjoyed it though Detonator is more scary for me. It is a faster ride for me and has more to offer, with the "blast" up being my most enjoyable part of the ride.
    Infusion: looks good though most the queues were here and we wanted to avoid the queues where possible. Hope to go on next time though!
    Big Dipper: I found it too repetitive and boring, only after a while. at first it was good, don't get me wrong, but yeah...
    I know my friends enjoy it though, but it's not my cup of tea.
    Teacups: self explanatory.
    Thrill o Matic: was quite boring, although if you were a fan of the Wallace and Gromit Series I could definitely see you enjoying this ride.
    Vahalla: The last ride we went on, and WOW. what could I say?? Great theming, amazing effects, and the backwards drop. OMG!!!! I couldn't believe it. I felt like I was going to fall out on that one, and I knew about it and freaked. I tricked my friends to sit nearer the back if they didn't want to get wet, and Lol. I knew it before hand (Thanks to Coaster Jamie).
    so in the end heres the ride count:
    Big one x1
    Avalanche x2
    revolution x2
    Grand National x1
    Wild Mouse x1
    Ice Blast x2
    Big dipper x1
    Teacups x 1
    Dodgems x1
    Vahalla x1
    Thrill o'matic(took most the time with queuing, and not worth it unless massive fan of W&G series)
    To eat: We all decided to have A simple Burger king. Chicken Royale for me and big whoopers for my friends. (I'm not a massive fan of burger king's beef Horse burgers)
    Dinner: we just got some fish and chips near in Blackpool (Harry Ramsden)
    Back to hotel: Hilton (to the gym and swimming pool and sauna/steam room)
    The day after Pleasure beach we decided to hit the normal beach. Central Beach ,wasn't really for our liking, so we decided to go a few miles to Lytham St Annes. They have the best ice cream I have tasted. Its a calm beach with massive sand dunes. Only problem is the sea is a F****ing mile away from the main beach, otherwise its a great place and I highly recommend it.
    That day we returned to Blackpool for dinner and we had it near Central pier. Really nice place, can't remember what its called but its by the Blackpool information office(tourist). They have different stuff but I recommend any type of bread by them or dough like a pizza, although if you aren't a fan there is lots to offer. You can sit inside or outside and again I would recommend highly.
    Overall this was one of my best trips and those who are reading this, it is the end of the journey. Thanks!
  11. Like
    pluk reacted to J.S217 for a blog entry, Thorpe Park Summer Nights 27th of July and the 3rd of August   
    On the 27th of July
    I spent 12 - 13 hours at the "Nations Thrill Capital" I arrived at the park 9:00am since my train's getting to Stains were Early (about 40 minutes early) so I waited till 10:15 for the Brilliant Cornflakes to arrive then we entered the park. The first ride we went on was Rush because it was on the way to Colossus and Rush often gets around a 30-40 min queue in mid day. Rush is fantastic in the morning with 5 High swings we both said that it was the best cycle of Rush we have ever had. Then we headed for Colossus which to our surprise was on 2 train operation before 11:00 We had a rather smooth run On Colossus with not much Headbanging After our nice smooth run on "The Power of 10" we headed over to "Brave the Mighty Warrior" Samurai which was running brilliantly although it was taking around a Minute to Zero but the Setting was fantastic the best I have seen it run all year Followed we headed over to Loggers Leap which was closed but we saw a Engineer riding it and he said "it should be opening shortly" so we went off to the drink refill place so Cornflakes could fill his Reusable bottle right after he got his refill we headed over to Saw The Ride this was around 11:15-30 so there was a 30 minute queue which seemed much shorter because all 8 Cars were in operation so I believe we queued around 15 minutes we had quite a smooth ride which was nice. After our Smoothish run we headed for the good old Logflume which had reopened It was Loggers leap so a very enjoyable wet ride Stealth was next and Styles was batching (who we will meet later) we queued 15 minutes for it which was brilliant so we did it twice then it was time for lunch so we headed back over to Canada creek to eat at Calypso BBQ then at 1:00 we were joined by Scarycoasterboy. With all the day group here we headed over to X where we waited 30 mins because they were putting on a 3rd train then when we got on it was not the best experience On X I have had ( best one I have had was when all lasers were off the room was full of fog and only Strobe lights where used) Time to Brave it Backwards we queued around 30 mins for it sadly though my ride on it seemed very bumpy and hurt my back but The Swarm Redeemed it's self at night. Wait this is not time travel back to the present . after our go on the Swarm Cornflakes and Scarycoasterboy wanted to refill fill there Capsule< that is what it is called at the roast and relish which I think is the best place to fill up the capsule because it is a do it your self type thing It was time to Fly on the Fish where we got 4 cycles it was around 2-3 pm now so it was very hot so what did we do we stood in the Tidal wave Splash zone to cool off We wandered the park now till we ended up back at Stealth and at this time the queue was even shorter so what did we do we done it 2 times of course then at this time it was round 4:30 so we had 90 minutes till the park closed so we done a mini Detonator Marathon about 3 times in a row then we headed for Inferno which was walk on so we waited for the front then after our ride we noticed the station was empty so we headed for the back row and went round again . (Forgot to mention while we were on Detonator we noticed Rumba Rapids had reopened ) so after our 2 goes on Inferno we went on Rumba for a nice relaxing ride to close out our day we left the park at 5:45 so we would be first inline to collect our summer nights tickets which we were so now it was time for the waiting game. till Styles joined us then just after 7pm the gates opened for Summer nighters. the 3 of us ( we were still waiting for Styles) headed over to Colossus and when we got to Colossus it started to rain so it was delayed but to our delight Saw The ride had people already on it so that is where we went now joined by styles so we took our ride the first ride the car was going pain fully slow up the lift hill like it was going to break down....... but luckily we made it over the crest of the drop and it was again lovely and smooth so when the car arrived back in the station we got off , went straight back on this car was super it glided around the indoor section like it was a knife slicing warm butter. I was really looking forward to the rest of the ride then we came to the lift hill.... the car in front was not moving then we stopped so we had 40mins of being stationary in the poring rain so my jeans where absolutely soaking but the very kind ride attendants gave us complimentary Towels and ponchos to stop us from getting wet and a complimentary Hot drink. Which was ever so kind of them so we had to have our car pushed backwards off the transfer track so there was room for a ladder to get us off after a few minutes we were off and taken into the maintenance Shed which was another added Bonus because we could see all the diagrams of the wheel structures and the wheel assemblies and the cars which when under them they look huge. After our little excitement we retrieved our belongings and headed over to Colossus what a ride on Colossus so smooth and running brilliantly in the rain so we just stayed on for another go it was Time for X mainly to Warm up so we dived through Tunnels of light 3 times each ride was brilliant then it was time to Brave the Inferno after about 11 hours of it running so we stayed on the back row for all 3 cycles which was Super after our rather Intense Rides on Inferno we headed over to Stealth 3 Exhilarating times Stealth is a must do in the Dark as with Her neighbor The Swarm Oh yes The Swarm was next after entering the Station for The Swarm we noticed it was half full so we ended up doing it an astounding 6 times over and over once which was the front and another time was backwards the Reason the Swarm is so fantastic at night was because the Fire effects go off at every 3 Cycles which gives the billboard a fantastic look after our 6 Times on the Swarm it was time to head back home It was a fantastic day and night and with the rain the lovely people at thorpe park were saying if you keep hold of your ticket you will be able to visit Summer nights again for free which I did :D
    3rd of August
    After chatting with Han30 who was going to Summer nights with Mr Fish I asked if I could come along to since I had my free ticket so I was picked up by Mr fish from my house and before hitting the park we headed for The Harvester to have a meal before I just had seasoned fries and the refillable pepsi the fries were lovely and filling then we headed to Thorpe after arriving at around 6:00 we went inline to collect our summer nights tickets in which I just handed over last weeks ticket and they replaced it so there was no faf then we met up with Marc but while Me Fish and Han were in the line Marc waited because he was meeting his friend. so the gates opened just after 7pm so we headed for Saw we waited for 15 mins and it turned out it had broken down while we where in the queue we Said hi to Peaj,Michelle and Jay then we headed for Inferno which seemed to be the only ride working so we got in the station and it was a lot more busy than last week but was terribly busy so we got on the Back row got back in the station and stayed on again( It did not really have that pop it usually does but that changed later on in the night ) which was brilliant then we got off because we saw Saw was back in operation so we headed over . We got straight on the front of row one then it was rather smooth and enjoyable it had so much airtime on the camel back and indoor drop so we got off and went back on and while waiting for our second go we met up with Phill Pritchard ,Dan9 ,Mark9 Marc, Marc's Friend and TobyNBZ then after Our two times on Saw we headed for Colossus in which we waited a few minutes for a rather enjoyable run on Colossus then we headed over to X which was walk on so we had a take over ( this time with just lasers which was brilliant) Thanks Marc then after X we then did Storm Surge. Which was quite fun because the ride Attendants had Water guns and was getting riders drenched before even getting on board.
    When we were on we had the lovely 1 Hour lift hill massage before having quite a decent run on Storm surge with quite a lot of spinning which was good but then we waited for another hour to get back to the platform and during our waiting we Saw Peaj again with Jay and Michelle and finally when we got back to the platform we headed over to Stealth (Stealth in the Dark is brilliant ) then a few of us had the crazy idea of doing Tidal wave after and those Crazy people were Me Marc Mark9 and Dan9 the first time round it was not that bad but Phill and Toby were waiting by the water cannons and got us soaked then the ride attendant said that our bars could not go up so we had to go round again this time I got drenched from Head to Toe. "After them Fixing the bars" we got off and met up with the rest of the group then Han and Fish went Off to the Swarm while me and the Others Headed for Inferno. This time it was running fantastic 3 times in a row we did it each time it was brilliant then I headed over to meet Han and Fish at the Swarm in which I got to ride it with Han then after our ride on the Swarm we had 25mins left till 10:30,
    so Me Han and Fish ran to Saw and had 4 brilliant rides on it lots of airtime and just very smooth then after our final ride we all went to Bar 360 to have a little bit of Social time and Some drinks with every one
    Over my two trips to Summer Nights Were Super I really hope it becomes a Yearly tradition and A huge Thank you to MR Fish for giving me a lift there and back it was fantastic and it was lovely seeing every one Thank you for reading
    I promise that is it.
    Jack Stevens
    I hope it is easy to read my grammar is rather appalling
  12. Like
    pluk reacted to JoshC. for a blog entry, Phantom Fantasia - 30 Years On   
    As we'd expect, 30 years ago, Thorpe Park was a very different place. In fact, it wasn't really until 1983 that the park saw investment in 'theme park rides'; until then, the park was a more educational/leisure area. One attraction which opened in 1983 saw Phantom Fantasia - the first incarnation of what many knew as Wicked Witches Haunt. The ride was rethemed into WWH in 1994, before its untimely closure in 2000 due to the infamous Thorpe Park Fire.
    Whilst I never got a chance to ride the original Phantom Fantasia (would be a bit difficult considering I hadn't been born then ), I've heard / read a couple of accounts of the ride, and it seemed to be a very British attraction - it had that eerie / scary tone, yet had humour to it as well. It was a ride which sounded fun for everyone, and was just spot on. When we remember that at this time, Thorpe was a small business, and the idea of a theme park wasn't really around in Britain (something which Wardley discussed about so well in his autobiography I thought), it's - in a way - an astounding achievement.
    Here's a few photos of the original Phantom Fantasia, from either 1983 or 1984 (put in spoilers to save on space and such):
    Unfortunately, I can't really offer much explanation into the scenes and such. However, Neilfever added a brilliant video of the ride onto his Youtube account a few years ago...

    One final Phantom Fantasia photo to leave you with is this one...

    Anyone recognise him?

    You walk past him as you exit Nemesis Inferno! I think after the fire, he appeared in MHFS, and now keeps guard of the now abandoned area...
    Wicked Witches Haunt
    I did get a chance to go on WWH, however. Several times. My memory of it is rather hazy, seeinghow the last time I went on it I was barely 6, but there are some scenes that I remember. I think that in itself speaks volumes of this attraction - for me to remember it 13 years after my mind shows that it was an attraction that stayed with you. It might not have been the best dark ride, but that doesn't mean it didn't affect you.
    My personal memories of the ride was that it was one of the attractions you 'love to hate'. Not in Storm Surge way, but in a way that it always left me scared or spooked out, I'd have to close my eyes really tightly or cover my eyes and I'd sometimes let out a scream. As a child, it was ride that scared me, but that's why you like it. The best way I can word it is that it's the child-equivalent of a scare maze, or watching a horror film.
    The witches didn't scare me really. I guess at that age, you're introduced to stories that split opinions on witches - some seem horrible, but are actually nice and vice versa. The thing was though, it did give me a 'feeling'; something bad could well happen here. The scenes that never failed to scare me were the ones with spiders - there were big, fair, ugly hairy spiders. They jumped out at you and stuff. I was petrified. I think the finale, or a scene very close to it, involved the carriage turning to face a wall, and then the biggest spider there was jumping out at you. Scary stuff. For the family audience the park had at the time, it must have been a huge hit.
    So, that's really all I have to share. Whilst the ride was not 'iconic', it certainly played its part in Thorpe's history, and is probably something that will be mentioned for years to come. I do doubt that the ride would have stayed at the park much longer anyway, due to the shift in target market, the age of the attraction and such, it is a true shame it burnt down. But c'est la vie.
    A couple of links which show of PF/WWH really nicely -
    http://www.memoriesofthorpepark.co.uk/phantomfantasia.html
    http://www.baffles.me.uk/features/tpg/features/wwh/index.html
    Would be great to hear others' memories of the ride too!
  13. Like
    pluk got a reaction from Phill Pritchard for a blog entry, Ministry of Sound - What You Did Miss   
    Inexplicably...














    YAY!!!






    etc etc etc, you get the idea!
    Real report from the night here.
  14. Like
    pluk got a reaction from stretchy for a blog entry, Ministry of Sound - What You Didn't Miss   
    First off, Ministry of Sound at Thorpe Park was outstanding. I did not have any idea what to expect from it really, was thinking the dome would not make much of a venue and the notorious Thorpe clientèle might make things a bit uncomfortable. I was very wrong on both counts.
    The evening was run like two different events stuck together, summer nights riding followed by the nightclub separately. I expected them to blend together in some way, having appropriate music pumped around the park maybe, but it was all nice and relaxed wandering through the empty dusky park with beer in hand. A couple of other bars would have been nice (there was nothing on the whole Inferno to Colossus side of the park), but riding in the darkness with no queues is always going to be superb. Was also a very nice touch of them to open up Rush and Tidal on top of the advertised line up, little things like this really make a difference, great to see the park being so generous.
    Once the rides began to close everyone made their way to the club, where the transformation of the dome really worked; totally cleared of furniture and machines, surrounded by black curtain, a couple of well staffed bars set up, a huge stage and lighting rig and a sound system that really worked in what must be an awkward space acoustically. Impressive. They even had a stand selling dirty doners to mop up that alcohol, which I gratefully devoured at the end of the night. There was a bit of a scrum for the bar at first, but that soon died down. Then everyone started dancing, and didn't stop. The atmosphere was great, I didn't see any trouble (except a couple of fellas who had smuggled in joints and smoked them in the middle of the dance floor stinking the place out, if you'd call that trouble), everyone was just there for a good time and it certainly seemed like they had one.
    But there is always a but. The music was not what it could have, or I think it should have, been. It started well with a good string of proper classics for an hour or so, but then it lost its way. I can see what they were aiming for, they had advertised a 90's night but most of the people who went were barely born then, so they were playing mushups of 90's with modern stuff like putting Katie Perry over some 90's tune or another. That is all very well, but there is only so much of that stuff that exists and they soon started repeating themselves, and they needed to throw in some of the real classics too.
    A couple of months ago a posted a few of the tunes I would like to hear. Of those we got little snippets of just two (Insomnia (minus the essential break and build) and Funk Phenomena (as a little sample in a mash up)). Here is largely what you did miss. And this is what, unbelievably, you didn't miss...
    Tori Amos - Professional Widow Arman Van Helden remix. THE bassline of the 90's, missing this was criminal!


    Sugar is Sweeter - CJ Bolland Arman Van Helden remix. The other bassline of the 90's.


    Moloko - Sing it Back. The 90's were chock full of sing-a-long feel good house music and this was one of the best, would have gone down a storm I'm sure, along with many other of the same ilk.


    Gat Decor - Dergees of Passion. Full of energy, two classics mashed together to make something greater than its two parts.


    Goldie - Inner City Life. The 90's saw the start of a whole new genre of music, maybe it wouldn't quite have fitted on the night but I'd have gone bat**** crazy.


    And just as important as the record selection on a night like this is how it is all stitched together, which comes down to the skill of the DJ. In a previous life I used to do a bit of DJing myself and the mid to late 90's was my peak, now I'm not suggesting for a second I'd have done a better job than those who did this night (actually, sod it, yes I would have) but maybe if they'd have got someone from the right era they'd have had a better idea. Back then the best DJs put their personality into the mixing, and they could do that because it wasn't all slick and perfectly matched up for them by a computer hooked up to some CDJs, but was on 12" vinyl which they touched and and manipulate with their own hands, putting a huge amount of energy into the set if it is done well. Thorpe posted a pic from behind the decks, and it was indeed a pair of CDJs. There is no way the DJ could have done the music justice with those.
    If you want to see what I mean I've found on youtube my favourite DJ set of all time, Jeremy Healy on the Fantazia House Collection volume 3. I must have listened to it a thousand times and still find it fresh and exciting, the tracks are amazing on their own but what Healy does with them puts the whole thing in another league. Compare this with the digitally stuck together soulless nothing MoS themselves release today on their mix compilations, and largely gave us on the night. I'm sure that no one will bother but please, clear yourself an hour and a quarter, hook this up to some proper speakers and play it loud. This is what we should have been aiming for that night...

    http://youtu.be/LxFjg1R77G4
  15. Like
    pluk got a reaction from JoshC. for a blog entry, Ministry of Sound - What You Didn't Miss   
    First off, Ministry of Sound at Thorpe Park was outstanding. I did not have any idea what to expect from it really, was thinking the dome would not make much of a venue and the notorious Thorpe clientèle might make things a bit uncomfortable. I was very wrong on both counts.
    The evening was run like two different events stuck together, summer nights riding followed by the nightclub separately. I expected them to blend together in some way, having appropriate music pumped around the park maybe, but it was all nice and relaxed wandering through the empty dusky park with beer in hand. A couple of other bars would have been nice (there was nothing on the whole Inferno to Colossus side of the park), but riding in the darkness with no queues is always going to be superb. Was also a very nice touch of them to open up Rush and Tidal on top of the advertised line up, little things like this really make a difference, great to see the park being so generous.
    Once the rides began to close everyone made their way to the club, where the transformation of the dome really worked; totally cleared of furniture and machines, surrounded by black curtain, a couple of well staffed bars set up, a huge stage and lighting rig and a sound system that really worked in what must be an awkward space acoustically. Impressive. They even had a stand selling dirty doners to mop up that alcohol, which I gratefully devoured at the end of the night. There was a bit of a scrum for the bar at first, but that soon died down. Then everyone started dancing, and didn't stop. The atmosphere was great, I didn't see any trouble (except a couple of fellas who had smuggled in joints and smoked them in the middle of the dance floor stinking the place out, if you'd call that trouble), everyone was just there for a good time and it certainly seemed like they had one.
    But there is always a but. The music was not what it could have, or I think it should have, been. It started well with a good string of proper classics for an hour or so, but then it lost its way. I can see what they were aiming for, they had advertised a 90's night but most of the people who went were barely born then, so they were playing mushups of 90's with modern stuff like putting Katie Perry over some 90's tune or another. That is all very well, but there is only so much of that stuff that exists and they soon started repeating themselves, and they needed to throw in some of the real classics too.
    A couple of months ago a posted a few of the tunes I would like to hear. Of those we got little snippets of just two (Insomnia (minus the essential break and build) and Funk Phenomena (as a little sample in a mash up)). Here is largely what you did miss. And this is what, unbelievably, you didn't miss...
    Tori Amos - Professional Widow Arman Van Helden remix. THE bassline of the 90's, missing this was criminal!


    Sugar is Sweeter - CJ Bolland Arman Van Helden remix. The other bassline of the 90's.


    Moloko - Sing it Back. The 90's were chock full of sing-a-long feel good house music and this was one of the best, would have gone down a storm I'm sure, along with many other of the same ilk.


    Gat Decor - Dergees of Passion. Full of energy, two classics mashed together to make something greater than its two parts.


    Goldie - Inner City Life. The 90's saw the start of a whole new genre of music, maybe it wouldn't quite have fitted on the night but I'd have gone bat**** crazy.


    And just as important as the record selection on a night like this is how it is all stitched together, which comes down to the skill of the DJ. In a previous life I used to do a bit of DJing myself and the mid to late 90's was my peak, now I'm not suggesting for a second I'd have done a better job than those who did this night (actually, sod it, yes I would have) but maybe if they'd have got someone from the right era they'd have had a better idea. Back then the best DJs put their personality into the mixing, and they could do that because it wasn't all slick and perfectly matched up for them by a computer hooked up to some CDJs, but was on 12" vinyl which they touched and and manipulate with their own hands, putting a huge amount of energy into the set if it is done well. Thorpe posted a pic from behind the decks, and it was indeed a pair of CDJs. There is no way the DJ could have done the music justice with those.
    If you want to see what I mean I've found on youtube my favourite DJ set of all time, Jeremy Healy on the Fantazia House Collection volume 3. I must have listened to it a thousand times and still find it fresh and exciting, the tracks are amazing on their own but what Healy does with them puts the whole thing in another league. Compare this with the digitally stuck together soulless nothing MoS themselves release today on their mix compilations, and largely gave us on the night. I'm sure that no one will bother but please, clear yourself an hour and a quarter, hook this up to some proper speakers and play it loud. This is what we should have been aiming for that night...

    http://youtu.be/LxFjg1R77G4
  16. Like
    pluk got a reaction from Tom for a blog entry, Ministry of Sound - What You Didn't Miss   
    First off, Ministry of Sound at Thorpe Park was outstanding. I did not have any idea what to expect from it really, was thinking the dome would not make much of a venue and the notorious Thorpe clientèle might make things a bit uncomfortable. I was very wrong on both counts.
    The evening was run like two different events stuck together, summer nights riding followed by the nightclub separately. I expected them to blend together in some way, having appropriate music pumped around the park maybe, but it was all nice and relaxed wandering through the empty dusky park with beer in hand. A couple of other bars would have been nice (there was nothing on the whole Inferno to Colossus side of the park), but riding in the darkness with no queues is always going to be superb. Was also a very nice touch of them to open up Rush and Tidal on top of the advertised line up, little things like this really make a difference, great to see the park being so generous.
    Once the rides began to close everyone made their way to the club, where the transformation of the dome really worked; totally cleared of furniture and machines, surrounded by black curtain, a couple of well staffed bars set up, a huge stage and lighting rig and a sound system that really worked in what must be an awkward space acoustically. Impressive. They even had a stand selling dirty doners to mop up that alcohol, which I gratefully devoured at the end of the night. There was a bit of a scrum for the bar at first, but that soon died down. Then everyone started dancing, and didn't stop. The atmosphere was great, I didn't see any trouble (except a couple of fellas who had smuggled in joints and smoked them in the middle of the dance floor stinking the place out, if you'd call that trouble), everyone was just there for a good time and it certainly seemed like they had one.
    But there is always a but. The music was not what it could have, or I think it should have, been. It started well with a good string of proper classics for an hour or so, but then it lost its way. I can see what they were aiming for, they had advertised a 90's night but most of the people who went were barely born then, so they were playing mushups of 90's with modern stuff like putting Katie Perry over some 90's tune or another. That is all very well, but there is only so much of that stuff that exists and they soon started repeating themselves, and they needed to throw in some of the real classics too.
    A couple of months ago a posted a few of the tunes I would like to hear. Of those we got little snippets of just two (Insomnia (minus the essential break and build) and Funk Phenomena (as a little sample in a mash up)). Here is largely what you did miss. And this is what, unbelievably, you didn't miss...
    Tori Amos - Professional Widow Arman Van Helden remix. THE bassline of the 90's, missing this was criminal!


    Sugar is Sweeter - CJ Bolland Arman Van Helden remix. The other bassline of the 90's.


    Moloko - Sing it Back. The 90's were chock full of sing-a-long feel good house music and this was one of the best, would have gone down a storm I'm sure, along with many other of the same ilk.


    Gat Decor - Dergees of Passion. Full of energy, two classics mashed together to make something greater than its two parts.


    Goldie - Inner City Life. The 90's saw the start of a whole new genre of music, maybe it wouldn't quite have fitted on the night but I'd have gone bat**** crazy.


    And just as important as the record selection on a night like this is how it is all stitched together, which comes down to the skill of the DJ. In a previous life I used to do a bit of DJing myself and the mid to late 90's was my peak, now I'm not suggesting for a second I'd have done a better job than those who did this night (actually, sod it, yes I would have) but maybe if they'd have got someone from the right era they'd have had a better idea. Back then the best DJs put their personality into the mixing, and they could do that because it wasn't all slick and perfectly matched up for them by a computer hooked up to some CDJs, but was on 12" vinyl which they touched and and manipulate with their own hands, putting a huge amount of energy into the set if it is done well. Thorpe posted a pic from behind the decks, and it was indeed a pair of CDJs. There is no way the DJ could have done the music justice with those.
    If you want to see what I mean I've found on youtube my favourite DJ set of all time, Jeremy Healy on the Fantazia House Collection volume 3. I must have listened to it a thousand times and still find it fresh and exciting, the tracks are amazing on their own but what Healy does with them puts the whole thing in another league. Compare this with the digitally stuck together soulless nothing MoS themselves release today on their mix compilations, and largely gave us on the night. I'm sure that no one will bother but please, clear yourself an hour and a quarter, hook this up to some proper speakers and play it loud. This is what we should have been aiming for that night...

    http://youtu.be/LxFjg1R77G4
  17. Like
    pluk reacted to Han30 for a blog entry, My first trip to Alton Towers - 07/07/13   
    On Sunday 7th July I took my first trip to Alton Towers - I had the opportunity to go way back in 2002 when Air opened but I chickened out because I was a massive wuss back then and the thought of being miles from home scared me
    I was REALLY anxious about going - mainly because of my anxiety issues and also, as before, the thought of being so far from home was pretty scary (furthest I have ever been is DLP back in 2000 before my panic attacks began). But I bit the bullet and went and am SO glad that I did (even if it did mean me needing to take a fair amount of medication).
    After a 3 and a half hour drive we arrived and I was feeling really excited. We parked up and got the monorail into the park entrance and myself, Mr Fish and Matt Creek met up with Stretchy. Once the kiosks opened we got our tickets (Mr Fish and I do not have MAPs so we BOGOF'ed). Went through the turnstiles and were approached by a member of staff asking if we wanted to buy a photo pass - gutted that you only get 4 photos when it used to be 5 but we wanted some ORP's - The photo passes were £25 BUT that included a free digital download for each ORP so Mr Fish and I went halves (I couldn't justify spending £25).
    We tried several times to contact Marc who was joining us along with Ricky & Chris, Thrillseeker Alex and Liam but had no luck so we headed straight to The Smiler. Luckily the queue wasn't too long by the time we reached it and we stood watching it testing - the dummies have smiley faces on them . At one point, one of the trains stopped almost at the top of the second lift hill and I thought "uh oh" we are doomed but the ride opened and we walked through the queue line which took about 2 years (slight exaggeration!) I looked back at the queue which was trailing right up the hill and was thankful that we got there when we did. The inside section of The Smiler is HOT - not helped by the fact that it was a boiling day anyway!
    We got on the ride and had the front row which was really good although I felt a bit stupid when I started screaming like a lunatic when the train had only just started moving
    My only concern with the ride was my fear of vomiting on people - and because the ride goes SO close to the queue line I would have been mortified had I been ill and not only sprayed my fellow riders but also potentially those waiting to go on the ride. Luckily this didn't happen (I take some amazing anti-sickness pills). I really enjoyed the ride even though it does leave you feeling more than a tad disorientated . Without that second lift hill I think I would have felt pretty ill. Speaking of which, the vertical lift hill - not keen on them to be honest because I have a crazy fear of looking up at the sky (odd I know - that is the only part of Saw: The Ride that I dislike - that, and that puppet thing ). Having been on Saw, I kind of expected a massive drop at the other end but I can't complain given that you are inverted 14 times
    We went back on The Smiler at the end of the day for another go - Marc and the others had bought fast track tickets for their first ride so our second ride, we all went on together.....and queued for 2 hours (although I am pretty sure it was longer than that as there were a couple of announcements apologising for delays due to queue jumpers - naughty!). So being in the queue line for a fair amount of time (whereas the first time I rode we were on the ride fairly quick) you realise just how close the ride goes - it made me jump several times! The ride also seems to roar - it is so loud and me being pretty much deaf as a post I could barely hear what the others were saying . However, being in the queue for so long gave me the opportunity to get a load of photo's and vids of the ride - which I would post here however I STILL haven't figured out how to do so
    When we eventually got onto the ride, I sat in the third row on the far right - Alex wanted to sit between myself and Liam to compare what we were both like regarding screaming - again I began screaming as the train left the station and as the ride left the first lift hill I think I may have come out with some unsavory language . I don't know if it was the train we got or the fact that I was sat in the 3rd row but - it was PAINFUL and I came off with a massive headache .
    Overall I really do like the ride and the fact that when you are in the queue line, the trains go so close to where you are standing. I thought the queue line would freak me out as you are penned in with fencing above your head but I felt ok about it. The inversions are good, a couple which are really intense and at points you don't know what the heck is going on (or that might just be me as I generally don't know what is going on at the best of times).
    This is the second Gerstlauer coaster I have ridden and I would say (although I don't like to compare) that I prefer Saws inside section (although not keen on the puppet!) and the drop after the lift hill, but both are brilliant rides.
    Ok so I appear to be waffling.....
    As I said before, it was really hot on Sunday which meant that the park was pretty busy - meaning that my ride count was low, however, that didn't affect the fact that I had an amazing day and also conquered my fear of one particular ride that the thought of bothered me.....OBLIVION.
    After riding The Smiler we headed over to Oblivion which had quite a short queue - I was feeling really anxious, bordering on a panic attack. I really hate the feeling of falling - although I have been on Detonator 3 times and panicked on the way up but each time loved it. The ride decided to have some technical issues whilst we were queuing so some people decided to leave the queue line but we remained in it even though I was desperate to run off . It didn't take long before the ride was up and running again and I was getting closer to having a heart attack. We got front row (yay) and I was almost in tears going up the lift hill - I just wanted it to be over and done with ASAP which it was and I actually loved it! I thought it would be far worse than detonator but you don't get the same force so I would have happily gone on again had there not been a queue. I felt really pleased that I did it - not only because I was bricking it, but also because I had only previously ridden 2 B&M coasters (Inferno and Swarm) - I would love to ride every B&M coaster but my fear of flying plus lack of money is a bit of a block to this!
    So after riding my 3rd B&M, myself, Stretchy, Mr Fish and Matt Creek headed off to meet up with Marc and the others (who had already managed to get on Nemesis, Nemesis Sub-Terra Battle Galleons and Th13teen! Whilst waiting for them they had 3 staff members entertaining the crowds and I had to restrain myself from joining in. So I stood there watching (and singing into my microphone aka water bottle) whilst they were dancing along to "You Can't Stop The Beat" - would be great if Thorpe did similar stuff to this as it was really entertaining and a group of girls joined in and were obviously having fun (not that I was jealous)
    Marc and the rest of the group arrived and we headed off to ride Th13teen. The queue times were clearly not updated as we were in the queue for what seemed like forever - but we played Mr Fishs game which consisted of picking an envelope which contained the name of a theme park and then having 30 seconds to name as many rides as you could. I got Thorpe Park but confused myself as they have way too many rides which begin with letter S, so I lost to ThrillseekerAlex who got Alton Towers and beat me - then went on to win the prize which I had my eye on - a pacman soap on a rope. Stretchy made me laugh when he genuinely didn't believe that Monkey Swinger at CWOA used to be called Billys Whizzer - the look on his face classic! To be fair, Stretchy has never been to Chessington which I think needs to be sorted out - however with the current state of the park I wouldn't suggest he visit any time this year
    We eventually got into the Th13teen station and I was slightly scared because I think it was Ricky who informed me that you get electrocuted or something (or I may have just made that up). There was an amusing moment when both myself and Alex counted 10 people in our group when there was actually 9 of us (my excuse is that I counted my imaginary friend ). I sat next to Alex who I think could tell I was a bit anxious (not helped by the fact that, whilst going up the lift hill he told me that the ride has 2 loops - NOT funny when you are sat there with just a lap bar - if I am going upside down I wanna be fully secured thank you very much) Thankfully I had already ruined the element of surprise by watching the ride on the internet so I knew what to expect however this didn't stop me screaming - A LOT! I think my screaming got worse when the first mini drop happened followed by the slightly bigger one then I began screaming like a complete lunatic when the ride went backwards - I HATE going backwards, even on a train but screaming actually helped otherwise I may have been a bit
    We had lunch at Woodcutters which was really nice and the service was good in there, and then headed to Hex - when we got inside, the ride was having issues - typical, but it was sorted fairly quickly. I had NO idea what to expect from this as it is one of the rides I hadn't really read much about. Whilst the first film was playing I could feel a breeze on my neck and felt a bit anxious, then turned around and realised it was Liam!
    The end bit of the ride seriously disorientated me - we walked into the last room and I said "Oooh we can sit down" - then when the lap bars came down I began to wonder what the hell was occurring (no one in the group warned me about it) - holy cack, I nearly pooped myself (yes I am a bit of a wimp) - and things that mess with your mind (especially mine as it is a tad bongled already) I am not keen on and it got to the point where I had to close my eyes and lean my head on the lap bar thing.
    After Hex, Marc, Ricky, Chris, Alex and Liam went to use their fast track on the Smiler, so myself and the others heading towards Nemesis - we were going to catch the sky ride but thankfully it was busy (the thought of cable cars scare me senseless) - however, after trekking what felt like 20 miles I would have happily got on a cable car just for a rest . So, after taking about 5 hours to walk to Nemesis I was just about ready to collapse - stretchy and Matt Creek were walking way faster than myself and Mr Fish - I am so unfit I had to take my inhaler(!). Nemesis had a bit of a queue but it seemed to go down quite quick, and we decided to go front row - I am always a bit anxious on rides I have never been on before (I even screamed on the dragon coaster at legoland ) but I felt pretty much okay about Nemesis having ridden Inferno 5 times in a row at the ERT event. I sat front row, far left and absolutely LOVED it - B&M coaster count up to 4 and I have to say that you would never know that the ride will be 20 next year - it was pretty smooth and just amazing! Although I have only ridden Nemesis once and Inferno about 14 times, I would probably rate Nemesis higher in terms of intensity and general enjoyment. Again as I have said before, I don't like to make comparisons with rides but they are both B&M inverted coasters and have the same blinking name in them. I personally think Thorpe should have called N:I just Inferno because people are naturally going to compare the two, even those who aren't particularly enthusiasts.
    Although I do prefer Nemesis to Inferno, I like that on Inferno you have the pre-lift hill section and the tunnel with the mist darkness which I think is pretty enjoyable but the ride layout of Nemesis in my opinion is far better - plus actually has theming. I was a bit worried about feeling rough after Nemesis but I felt completely fine - Inferno leaves me feeling dizzy for some reason and I am not sure how I managed 5 consecutive rides on it although I had to run off after ride no. 5 as I thought I was going to be ill.
    I really wanted to get an ORP from Nemesis but some of the flaming screens weren't working grrrrr so our picture didn't come up. Random thought here (my ride knowledge is extremely limited) - is the vertical loop on Nemesis bigger than Inferno?! It has to be - it looks mahoosive in comparison.
    Ok so I am still waffling and on my way to typing a flaming essay/novel.....
    I really wanted to ride Air but it had a 60min queue and we needed to meet up with the rest of the group. Ripsaw was looking quite tempting with those water fountains but we made our 5 hour journey back to meet up with the others - the sky ride was busy so we burnt off about 2000000 calories by trekking it back
    We all met outside Battle Galleons and as, by that point I had already sweated off about half a stone I was in desperate need of refreshment so myself and some of the others went on. Wow - I had NO idea I would get SO wet. It also made me realise that some kids can be completely annoying as we had a bunch of them in the boat in front shouting at us - just spray the water people, and shut ya cake holes
    Again I screamed on this every time I got pelted with water when I wasn't expecting it - at one point I was the only person in our group on one side of the boat so I attempted to multi-task and use 2 guns at the same time but then realised that it didn't work out so well as I couldn't move the guns unless I had a 3rd hand
    Towards the end of the ride we spotted Liam and Alex waiting to drench us so we were on a mission to get them as soaked as possible - however, they were no where near as soaked as us when we got off the ride - I was literally drenched - almost "Tidal Wave" drenched but it helped to cool me off . I didn't realise that you can get an ORP from this so when we walked past the screens, the pic had been taken when I was on one side of the boat by myself so all you could see was me looking tired and behind me, the other guys backs!
    By now it was just gone 5pm so we all headed over to The Smiler for our last ride of the day. I really wanted to do Oblivion again but it had a long queue and we didn't want to risk not getting another chance to be corrected flung around and upside down 14 times. I won't repeat myself (for a change) as I have already typed up a bit about the second ride but all I would say is - first row was great - third row = massive headache!
    Smiler merch is.....not cheap, although I quite fancied the onesie they do. However Stretchy pointed out that a lot of the products are poor quality so I just bought a small bag (which would probably break if I put anything more than a bog roll in it) and a Smiler wristband. The teddies in there are something ridiculous like £15 = daylight robbery!
    Due to delays and the massive queue line (I have always said I would never queue longer than an hour for any ride but a lot of people sat down in the queue line - myself included) so we didn't leave the park until gone 7ish. The monorail was closed so we had to walk about 200 miles to the car park. I was exhausted, sweaty but so happy that I had FINALLY gone to Alton Towers
    As I said before, my ride count was low but this didn't put a dampener on the day at all - it would have been nice to try out Air, The Flume and Rapids (we didn't even go to Katanga area ), Rita and Duel but on a busy hot day it was impossible. Being so far from home (Ok not massively far, but just short of 200 miles) I dealt with pretty well and even getting there was a huge achievement for me.
    It was lovely seeing Stretchy, ThrillseekerAlex, Ricky, Mr Fish, Matt Creek and Marc again fantastic to meet the lovely Liam aka LIMA and Chris. We went to Harvester afterwards where I suspect we all stunk as they put us on a table away from everyone else and underneath air conditioning - I was SO cold. Ricky made me laugh when he asked for a side order of no air con .
    All in all a brilliant day with lovely people - I am hoping to be able to go back to Towers when it is much quieter so I can go on all the rides (if that is even possible in a day) - I had NO idea how big AT is but I love the fact that one minute you are at a ride, then you are walking through what appears to be a forest, then you see how lovely the gardens are. THEY HAVE TREES!!! Thorpe Park could definitely do with a bit of greenery! Having visited Towers it really does make TP look like a concrete jungle - BUT in Thorpes defence, they have a better selection of flat rides IMO.
    I thought the staff at Alton Towers were really friendly which definitely makes the day that little bit better when they seem happy and chatty. Though I feel sorry for the guys working on the Smiler - I still have the song stuck in my head - it is like "It's a small world" all over again but the tune is rather catchy even if it does make me feel like I am going insane®
    Really glad that I got the opportunity to ride The Smiler - it is a good ride but not something which I would count as world class (but then the only other theme park I have been to outside the UK was DLP over 10 years ago) - it certainly attracts the crowds but for me Nemesis was far superior although I did enjoy the Smiler (first time more so).
    So I shall leave my wafflage here and sign off by saying.....SMILE.....ALWAYS!
  18. Like
    pluk reacted to Han30 for a blog entry, TPM, coasters, meet ups, fears, friends and fun   
    Warning - may WILL contain wafflage!!!
    Right now I can't sleep - damned insomnia/anxiety grrr. So I thought I would type/waffle for a bit - apologies in advance for rambling but I could cure insomnia with my blog entries (though this is just my second one) - actually - going to read this back once done and maybe it will get me off to sleep
    A few weeks ago I wanted to leave this site and went through deleting all posts I have made since I joined back in April 2011 - it took a while but then I realised I didn't want to leave after all .
    Then recently I decided not to go to anymore official meets because I have pretty bad anxiety and social phobia (though I cover this up well and go opposite and come across as fairly confident), plus other issues. I have however retracted on that and am attending next weeks Stealth ice cream thangy. Yes I am indecisive!!!
    My reason for this blog entry is really to say an absolutely massive thank you to TPM and the members here that I have chatted to online or met at meets. I came across this site a few years ago and was a lurker for a while before joining and I am SO glad that I did. Back in 2011 I lost my Mum and it was a hard time, but going into chat made me feel a lot less isolated and I have had times in chat where I have literally been crying with laughter, and on several occasions almost choked from laughing so much! If I could type out a message to each of you I have met/chatted to it would make this post even more waffly than it is already - but as I said, a massive thank you to people here - for making me laugh, making me feel welcome, for accepting me for who I am and just in general being lovely people.
    I was worried about going to my first meet up (Guildford) back in Feb of this year - so much so that I had to take a friend (and a fair amount of anti anxiety meds) - I had NO need to worry and felt so welcomed by everyone and had an amazing day. I thought my age would maybe be a bit of a problem but to be honest I don't act my age or feel my age despite being a fair few years older than many on this site. But through the meets that I have been on, I have felt fine talking to younger members and likewise, people around my age - lets face it, we are all here because we share a common interest!
    I have anxiety issues and other stuff going on (which I won't go into) but I can honestly say that this site and the people here have been so supportive - more so than any other forums I have visited over the years.
    The meets that I have been to have been absolutely brilliant - I haven't laughed so much for a long time or had such fun. Not only that but I have conquered several fears. This may sound odd considering that I joined TPM, but before this year I had only ever been on 2 inverted coasters - one naff one with a tiny loop, and Space Mountain - both before I started getting panic attacks, and to be honest, the idea of being turned upside down scared me a tad. I also had/still sort of have a fear of being ill over people on rides - the thought of it mortifies me. That and the fear of heights and fear of being dropped (eg: detonator/oblivion etc). But I joined because I have an interest in the theme park industry, rides etc - however, my knowledge is pretty limited - but I am a bit simple
    My first trip to Thorpe this year was for the Swarm ERT/photo shoot thing and, to be totally honest, I was scared.....a lot. But I wanted to confront my fears and go on coasters and ENJOY them. With help from several TPMers, I went, I saw and I faced my fears and had an amazing time. So maybe I cheat a little because I need anti-anxiety meds and also anti-sickness tablets but it gets me to the meets but (and I genuinely never thought I would say this) - I have ridden ALL of Thorpes coasters and love all of them. That plus Detonator and Samurai which I vowed I would NEVER ride, so it was a big achievement.
    It helped A LOT having people around me who were calm and supportive - in the past when I have gone to theme parks (which has never been regular) I have gone with family members who tend to make my anxiety worse. Before this year, my last trip to Thorpe was in 2002 when Colossus opened and just looking at it was enough to make me feel ill and intimidated.
    This year I have gone to 6 official meets - Guildford trip, Swarm photo shoot, Open season meet at Thorpe Park, Chessington meet, Legoland and Nemesis Inferno ERT. All of which have been fantastic and I have met such lovely people. Before these meets I have always felt a bit uncomfortable talking to males but this is another thing which I have gotten over and I have enjoyed having chats with many of you guys (and gals - though we could do with a few more females here I reckon).
    Before this year, I was lucky if I got to a theme park once a year - I am sparse in the friends department and none of my friends like rides or theme parks so for the past few years it has generally been an annual visit to CWOA with my niece (which, to be honest is quite fun as you get to go on the kiddies rides which aren't that bad - Berry Bouncers or whatever they are called now are cool!).
    So far this year I have been to Thorpe Park 5 times, Legoland once, CWOA once and Alton Towers once - and I don't have a MAP. I am VERY grateful that my first 4 visits to TP I got in for free - the Swarm photoshoot got me in for free and I was kindly given a magic pass for 2 other visits - one of which I was able to get another ticket for as it was a freezing day! I don't take things for granted and realise how lucky I have been to be able to go on meets (both official and unofficial) - and for the people who have got me there as I don't drive. Speaking of which, another fear I have conquered was......TRAINS! I hate them, they hate me (no I am not paranoid) - but with the support and encouragement of several people here I was able to finally get on a train on my own for the first time in gawd knows how long. And knowing that if I felt panicky I could call someone to speak to them was a massive help.
    Jeez I really know how to cut a short story LONG - but hey, if you are still awake, give yourself a big pat on the back.....you will surely be asleep any time soon.....
    So yeah - in short (or long as it appears) - a huge thank you to you guys and gals. I feel like I have made some lovely friends through this site and when meets are coming up, I look forward to seeing people I have met before and also meeting new people. The only downsides to meets for me, are saying goodbye - (I hate goodbyes!)
    Also a huge thank you to Marc, Peaj and Thorpe Park for the ERT/photo shoot events - they are brilliant and it makes me feel really lucky to be a part of this community that is not only welcoming but allows us to have one off opportunities (nemesis inferno lift hill walk was a once in a lifetime chance even though it was a tad scary!).
    Before I finally shut up I just would like to say a big massive apology if I have caused offence to anyone here on these forums - I really hope that I haven't and *if* I have, it would not have been intentional
    Thank you for reading and goodnight.....oh no wait.....it is the morning! Zzzzzzz
  19. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, Smile. Always. 16/06/13   
    Yesterday (16/06/13) was my annual trip to the wonderful place that is Alton Towers. The past few weeks I had been quite worried in hearing that Smiler had kept breaking down, stalling and so on. Luckily, we not only got one chance to smile, but we got two!
    The park yesterday was fairly quiet with queues ranging from 10-40 minutes for the main coasters with Smiler being between 80 and 120 minutes all day. Everything was working except Oblivion and Enterprise. We had lovely weather all day, not too hot, not too cold, it was just right. It was a great day and I did quite a few new things for me (Nemesis front row, Sub Terra, and The Smiler).
    Ride Count:
    Nemesis: 3 (1 front 2 back)
    The Smiler: 2
    Air, Duel, Rita, 13, Sonic, The Flume, Rapids, RMT, Sub Terra, Battle Galleons, Ice Age, Submission, Skyride: 1
    Now time for some Smiler pictures and a few others.

    Our day started off by seeing this lovely 3D Smiler advert in our hotel (I did want to take it home )

    Sunny day at Towers, and the Monorail.

    Diving

    Corkscrewing

    Equalling Colossus' record.

    Now beating Colossus' record.

    Diving, again.

    No advocates...

    Advocates!

    Random Battle Galleons pic

    Oblivion closed, but don't want it to feel left out.

    Lots of tangled track.

    So much track!

    Laughing gas, I mean mist.

    Half way corrected!

    And I leave you with this sad picture of Harry the duck. All he wants is to become a yellow rubber duck but the staff at Towers can't fund his transformation. To help Harry, all you need to do is ride The Smiler instead of The Flume, then hopefully the staff will realise how important this transformation is for Harry. Thank you for your support.
    Thanks for reading
  20. Like
    pluk reacted to Mitchada04 for a blog entry, New Pass, New Year!   
    Today I went to Thorpe for the afternoon mainly to get my new pass for my trip to Towers on Sunday but also to explore what the park has to offer for kids as they try to shift their target market to include families.

    New pass, check. Drinks capsule, check. And away we go!

    Flying Fish is always a good start for your family adventure.

    Storm Surge is always good for families, and well liked. Why I don't know but the customer is always right.

    Look! Another family coaster and it seems popular today.

    And of course there is the good old teacups, even with Tetley sponsorship for all you tea drinking adults.

    Then you can continue spinning on the waves of Calypso (but not today as it was closed)

    Mr Monkey welcomes you to his banana boat. Yep, not just a pirate ship, a banana boat!
    There's also a Carousel behind me but forgot to get a picture of it, thought it might be to extreme for families.

    Children can then go on a great fun log flume, but with a double drop!

    Next up you can ride a wild train to some awesome music. Provides a great thrill for people of all ages.

    Speaking of trains, hopefully these will once again go down allowing families to go on a bear hunt.

    Now for the more thrill seeking youngsters Zodiac is a suitable option with only a 0.9 restriction!

    And the wild ride that is Quantum which even makes my stomach churn.
    Children between over 1.3 but not quite tall enough for the large coasters can also enjoy Rush and Detonator which both offer great thrills for their height restriction.

    To end your family adventure you can take a slide down Depth Charge and relax on the beach which is brilliant in nice weather!
    Overall, it isn't going to be impossible to shift the target market with lots of it going to be down to marketing as they have a handful of suitable family attractions. I'm sure in a couple of years with the proper hotel and a few years of investment in the park a change will have successfully occurred, and all for the best! As long as they don't lose sight and go too soft with their additions. I am very excited to see how this change turns out!
    Note, my day did not consist of riding these rides
  21. Like
    pluk reacted to Benin for a blog entry, It's like a fairytale or something... In Bruges - Day 3 - Bagatelle   
    Day 3 – Parc Bagatelle
    A very early morning led to the 2 hour drive across half of two separate countries towards the seaside of France towards Bagatelle. This is rather a small park, but recently nabbed a Vekoma Invertigo last year, and was once infamous for having a scary as hell Lion show which is now gone.

    We arrived at the park to be greeted by a long queue, as out of the 4 cashier desks they had 1 open. And the queue barely moved due to large groups and numerous vouchers. This annoyed me greatly, and resulted in a 30 minute wait to even enter the park, with 20 of those on 1 cashier. Not the greatest start to the day.
    This was then compounded by Bag Express, known for its dive into a water channel, which was empty. With the gimmick gone, this Soquet coaster was utter crap, with a helix of WHY being a small highlight in an otherwise death coaster.




    Could things get better? Le Triops stood proudly in its orange paint, waiting for the moment to become my 300th coaster (yay). Having ridden at least 1 of these before and many other Boomerangs, I was of course thinking how crap it was going to be, regardless of Bellewaerde’s decent one the day before. Fortunately, it was similar to Bellewaerde’s in regards to smoothness, with small jolts that didn’t affect the ride too badly. We later did it again backwards first (cos Vekoma) and found that just as good. Worthy of being a landmark coaster? Best I could do at the time








    Onwards we went into the park before passing Aqua Bag, which was basically Bumper Boats with water pistols attached. It was amaze <3 They’re expanding it to hold more than 5/6 boats as well, which will mean in the future it will be especially mental. Les Rapids were next, another wedge boat style one with one of the most mental things I’ve ever experienced on a rapids. It has a whirlpool section akin to River Quest at Phantasialand, only faster, spinnier and the drop itself results in 5 seconds of pure confusion, fear and amazingness in one fell swoop. Aside from that the layout was pretty non-descript, but having anything more would really take the overall impact of the whirlpool section away.








    Further meandering led us back to the front of the park and the Zamperla Spinning Mouse, which had barely any queue, so it was ridden and was exactly the same as the one at Farup. To finish off the coaster list was Spirals des Dunes a baby Soquet coaster which was weird as hell to be quite honest. Lunch followed before we had a quick go on the Porn Ponies.







    The Sea-Lion/Penguin show that replaced the Lions was about to start so we watched it. Was ok, if very basic, but yay Penguins! And gigantic Sea-Lions which struggle to move! A quick go on the Vintage Cars as they were opposite the show revealed nothing special beyond lots of trees and a bridge or two. The 4D show of random Mad Racers came next, with similarities to the Simpsons ride abound due to the giant screen in front of two pods. It made absolutely no sense at all.






    Nicky had a go on the Eccentric Bikes before we had another go on Triops. At this point we wondered what to do next, and concluded that we’d get a snack before heading back to Calais for the journey home. So we had a waffle, got the park train back to the entrance, before having a quick go on the Pedal Karts which went past the lions before we left.





    That’s it really. Not much else to say for the park, it wasn’t very good overall, with two good rides out of the generic crap of it all. It even has TWO log flumes! I would say the start of the day didn’t help my mood about the park, but even so, it’s not a very good park, and they have a lot of work to do even with the recent rebrand of everything. More quality, less Soquet crap please!

    We made it back to CitiEurope in one piece to find it completely shut bar the restaurants. This is silly of you France, as that place attracts so many Brits on their way back from a weekend away. At least open Carrefour up! Then we discovered a train delay which made the Calais terminal HIDEOUS. Although only delayed an hour, so it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been.
    With that, this report closes. I would recommend Bellewaerde but Bagatelle is bad, bad, so very bad.
    I’ll be back to bore you all after New York!
  22. Like
    pluk reacted to Benin for a blog entry, It's like a fairytale or something... In Bruges - Day 2 - Bellewaerde   
    Day 2 – Bellewaerde Park
    Time for coasters! And with a brand new one it was time to head along to Belle, via several country roads and an awful diversion, we eventually arrived at the destination (N.B. There is an easier route to take to get to the park we discovered on our way back, blergh)…



    Formerly a safari park, this place certainly shares similarities with both Chessington and Flamingoland, but let’s not set our hopes too low, and go and ride the first coaster of the day (in order to avoid long queues later), Ladybird a Large Zierer Tivoli…
    Bugger. Well, these coasters are actually quite fun at times; although how it fitted into the Western theme area I have no idea. Though this thing was basically bread and butter to the usual types of this ride, so it’s unremarkable.



    Next up, Boomerang. It’s like the park WANTS us to hate it, but either way, this is a well themed one so at least it looked nice to ride. After Nicky’s apprehension of her first Boomerang, we were on and were surprised to find it smooth, barring the odd jerk during the backwards section of course, it wasn’t perfect. But comparatively, it was like riding a B&M. Amazing scenes!





    The final coaster was the brand new Huracan, an indoor Zierer coaster with random outside bit and epic dark ride section. Most reports heard before were of high praise regarding the level of theme this ride has, and this is most certainly true of the queue, station and pre-lift section. It’s pretty damn awesome, if the queue is quite bland and rather boring. Onto the ride itself and with no explanation you’re set off through various rooms with random theming in each, with music booming out of the speaker, pretty cool so far. After the wind room we’re off into the daylight (and random pointless red strobe) up the lift into the pre-darkness section. I do like the way the music fades out at this point and returns upon entry into the building, and speaking of such, the ride section is decent, but completely lacking in anything. I do like the daylight peeking it allowing you glimpses of the track, but there’s just nothing else. Even cheap cut-outs a la Revenge of the Mummy would improve things. Although with a minimum height of 1m, they put their hat on that market and went with it. The brake run laser show is quite cool, but I can only imagine what if they had decided to put in a freefall section on this to finish it instead? Then the turn back into the station to finish instead of stopping and waiting for the train in front to depart?
    Good family coaster mind, with some decent dark ride element to it, but it had a lot more potential that could have been realised.
    7/10






    Coasters done, it was time for other things, so we polished up the Aztec area with El Volador, a Topple Tower which ran a lot faster than Djurs’, and El Toro a Huss Breakdance of JOY. After which we broke for lunch.








    As the weather was awesome (where has Summer gone now?) we elected for the Log Flume, which had a massive ONE drop, and two lift hills… Lol wut? It was rather refreshing though to be fair, but that to me made no sense whatsoever.


    It was then time to meander around the zoo part, or at least part of it, as it was still reasonably spread out. But regardless we saw Giraffes, Elephants, Zebras and Lemurs for the exotic stuff, whilst goats were the more typical animal nearby.












    A wild Madhouse, Houdini appeared, which was promptly ruined by loud teenagers. But had an amusing clip which was as good as SMUGHEX. Further into the park we delved and found the potentially unique Bengal Express, which makes the idea of Zufari look turd, why? Because you’re in a train going right through the Lion and Tiger enclosure that’s why! Ok it’s well protected and everything, but still… Was awesome.











    Next up were the Bengal Rapids, my very first Wedge rapids style ride, where rather than one complete boat they’ve cut it up and had essentially 3/4 (depending on where you go) sections that can and do act separately from each other. This also means that you can be attacked from any direction which balances out the general lack of being able to have too many large drops (which was disproven by Bagatelle). Was quite good fun though really in the end.



    We dried off with an ice cream before doing the Squirrel Monkey island and then continuing around to the Huss Drop Tower Screaming Eagle, which was a good bit of fun as well. Next up was the Jungle Mission boat ride, after our experiences of such in Denmark, we dreaded to think what would be next, but we found an excessively random ride mixed into some animal enclosures (including Capybara, YAY), worth a go.










    At that point we felt like we had done as much of the park that we wanted, so we rode Boomerang and Huracan again, before heading to the shop and home. Overall I would say Bellewaerde is a good park with a lot of potential ahead. The theming it has is very well done but is rather sparse overall. They also (in my opinion) need a real stand-out ride to really reach out to a larger audience of people, with a hint of uniqueness. Probably why I think Huracan would have benefitted from the freefall drop but on the other hand it would have meant missing out on that 1m limit.
    I really liked the park, and whilst the zoo portion of it is tiny these days, they have some excellent viewing areas which make it rather similar to Flamingoland, only without the awfulness of being it. I hope they expand continually in the future because there is a great potential in there.


  23. Like
    pluk reacted to Dan9 for a blog entry, Smiles and snake pits - 05/06/13   
    Disclaimer: New ride spoilers and large amounts of hype-generation ahead.

    On Wednesday myself, Tommy and Turtle ventured to Alton Towers attempting to experience Marmalisation for ourselves. After sadly missing the Moo-norail, we got the Splash monorail to the entrance where there was no major knowledge as to whether The Smiler would be open. For context, on the previous day it had stalled during testing and been closed all day along with the rest of X-Sector due to crane needs... SMILE ALWAYS. There were a few small signs suggesting it would closed, probably brought on by the words "THE SMILER WILL BE UNAVAILABLE", but we still had some optimism. Once in, we remembered our keeno-persona's and ran towards THE SINISTER INTAMIN WOODLAND AREA!!1!, before realising that Alton Towers is pretty big and no one has such energy at 9am. So Rita wasn't doing anything, and Th13teen was 'broken', oh you pesky Intamins you.

    So our gardens visit occurred a lot earlier than expected as we hiked for three whole days to Nemesis. I think Mark9 nailed it when he called this 'rollercoaster crack' sometime ago. One ride simply isn't enough. There must be two. Or five, as it happened to go on the day. It just seems to get constantly better with every ride, I could have kept going but there was more to be seen and done so we left it at that. Air was unfortunately not ready at 10am and as a result we wouldn't get on it at all. We waited 5 minutes for Sub-Terra to open instead, which is still such a good attraction. There was a new smell I'd never smelt on it before too, highly unpleasant! Back at Intamin forest INTAMIN'S WERE RUNNING so we went on some Intamin's. I'm actually quite fond of Rita despite it being a bit of a shaker/neck-basher. Whilst as an attraction I can acknowledge it's fundamental flaws, the whip you get going over the first hill and the following turnaround is pretty damn fun so I always like to give it a go each visit. Then, Thirteen, oh Thirteen. I'll probably be doing another blog on this ride sometime since there's always so much to talk about, but anyway, it was good on the day, aided by the rag-dolling and the confused stranger with Tommy. Blah blah, Hex was next, blah blah, then we finally went to check out X-Sector where at around 11:45am, The Smiler appeared to be waking up. We managed to walk past the queue at just the right moment, and despite the horrifying amount of people in the extension queue we, it only took 75 minutes to queue for our first ride. Turns out they were batching pretty heavily at the ride entrance. This brings us onto the part of the report where I talk about
    THE SMILER
    : )
    The first thing you notice about it is well, how much you... notice it. It was great moment to see it whizzing around it's track for the first time, accompanied by cheers of relieved guests who'd be queuing for hours already! It is a fabulous spectator ride, and I was absorbed watching it for the first time when we reached the queue by the main fence. The music here plays very loudly, but it's a very decent soundtrack indeed. It sets the tone for the ride well and whilst I love the main theme, it perhaps could have more variations. It remains very samey (or just short) when it had the potential for a lot of development. I might try and remix it a bit to show what I mean, but fundamentally it's still a great theme and I didn't get sick of it at all for the many hours I heard it throughout the day.

    Through the main entrance and down the steps, the view of the whole ride and the Marmaliser is majestic. The outside queue starts of fine, going under the Marmaliser and many of the rides elements offering a great view, however the second half does get very tiring in the hideous cattlepen. Shoutout to the Smiler staff member 'Tim' who happily provided the 'smiles', constantly, harassingly, and quite unsettlingly to whomever he took a special interest in. The specially dressed Smiler staff in general did an excellent job all day, dealing with immense crowds and interacting with those in the queue. Had fun looking at the flying butterflies created by scanning the eye's with The Smiler app, and then we made it inside. I'd thought this would be the end of the cattlepen torture but alas... it's a shame really, the projection mapping does look very cool but it was overridden by feelings of UHCATTLEPEN COULD YOU NOT. PLEASE?! I feel that something more immersive could have been done here, but I guess it's not a major thing. Anyway, queue done, baggage done, and we're up the stairs into the station. Whilst it is fairly simple and bare, I liked the lights in here, which were very reminiscent of The Sanctuary so I was happy to see that continuation. Enough ramblings, the ride...

    The first drop is just excellent. I knew it was coming but I wasn't prepared for the sheer suddenness of it. Sitting in the back row first time definitely helped, and the smoke effects as you leave the station make it hard to see what the rest of the train is doing so their was definitely a lot of surprise in that drop. No smoke effects inside for us unfortunately, but the barrel roll with strobes was made no less dramatic. Already I'm loving this, and we haven't even gone up the first lift hill. The first small drop off the lift looked like pure RCT awkwardness, but it was also surprisingly satisfying. I could keep dissecting every element from here on, but I fear my ability to talk for ages about this ride will make reading it a bit of a drag, so I'll skip to the point: Alton Towers are onto a winner. It's just excellent fun. The first half is smooth and quite disorientating, and everyone seemed relieved to have a break in the middle! The double dive loops were definitely a highlight of this half. The first airtime hill was unfortunately too trimmed to have any, however the second one was much better, aided by the hilarity of the Inoculator sending everyone into frenzy. Before that, the sea-serpent is another excellent manoeuvre, falling out of one inversion and soaring straight into another. The cobra roll part of the Staffordshire knot definitely has a major 'janky' moment, however I didn't find this to be anything as *painful* as Saw's and I thought it actually benefitted the forcefulness of that section. However, not all in my party agreed so I guess it's an individual thing. The first of the final two inversions is very forceful whereas the second is more 'graceful'. The ride's final sections are as satisfying as it's early ones, and the bits in the middle weren't exactly bad either...

    Late season opening, unclear opening date, further weeks of delays... so was it all worth the wait? Unquestionably, convincingly, categorically; yes. It's an excellent addition to an already excellent line-up of rollercoasters. The reaction we saw of other people returning from their rides was always just as joyous. The exit corridor is fabulous too, but I'll let you all discover that for yourselves. Once it opened, there were no breakdowns during the day however this hasn't always been the case. Hopefully it beds itself in quicker than Saw did, and downtime remains minimal. Of course, this is early days. Saw wasn't great when it opened anyway but it has aged even less gracefully. I pray that this ride does not follow the same path as at the moment I simply yearn to ride it again and again. I'm not claiming it's perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but if you take away the 'OMG 14 INVERSIONS OMG REVOLUTIONARY WORLD FIRSTS' mindset, it's an enormous amount of fun.

    I won't ramble about the next part of our day since I've covered the main headline, but we then ate at FCC by the window with an excellent view of The Smiler, whilst discussing it for a fair while. Then came Oblivion (still bloody excellent), The Flume (which was my first ever ride interestingly enough. I now understand why no one was really that keen to get me on it on my previous visits...), Runaway Mine Train and Duel. We checked Air's queue which was beyond an hour, so we had the choice of that or jumping in the 150 minute queue for The Smiler again. The Smiler it was... it's testament to the attraction's quality that I was happy to queue such an amount of time after my first go when other options were available. I'd probably do it on my next visit too. Watching the really cute trains whizzing around the circuit, interacting with one another, is merriment for any enthusiast.

    Dan9 - Smiling advocate, for the moment.

    8.5/10
  24. Like
    pluk reacted to Ryan for a blog entry, Europa Park 2013   
    So, you may or may not know, but I went to Europa Park recently. If you get a chance to go here then by all means DO IT, such an amazing park. The whole surrounding town area is just so nice also, really feels welcoming! Here's just a few pictures from my trip there:
    Milka factory

    SELFIE (in random German woman's car edition)

    Part of our room, we paid 150 Euros each for 2 nights here, with our own bathroom/kitchen/balcony, just a 10 minute walk to the park, absolutely amazing value!

    One of the beautiful hotels at Europa Park


    Entering the park has that magical Disney feel about it

    Amazing ride with an entrance to match!

    The roughest ride I've ever been on, fun, but very rough (Euro-Sat)

    Even Europa has scaffolding rides


    Food Loop is such an amazing experience for a restaurant

    Food Loop menu screen

    Got my souvenir

    Nice little panorama




    Bench ride win

    Bench ride selfie

    My new favourite ride at any park ever



    REAL LIFE DUFF BEER

    Lots of Milka

    Hotel Colosseo


    What a wonderful, wonderful park.
    I'll do another blog post when my friend who I went with uploads his pictures
  25. Like
    pluk got a reaction from Luke_A for a blog entry, Still Alive   
    I had a final destination type near death experience the other day.
    Driving to work along an A road a hail storm of biblical proportions suddenly fell out of an otherwise sunny sky, accompanied by a bit of thunder. I've never seen a lightning bolt hit the ground close up before, so when one hit a wooden power cable post about 20 ft in front of me a very nearly **** myself, such a blinding light and deafening crack of thunder that I could feel in the air as much as hear. The post exploded in an enormous shower of sparks which really filled the sky, followed almost instantly by another post on the opposite side of the road which the bolt must have traveled to along the cable to. It was like driving through an 80's car advert.
    I was doing about 60 at the time when amongst the chaos I noticed out of the corner of my eye something falling towards me from above. The power cable between the two posts was dropping out of the sky onto the road below and I was driving towards it. Now I know that you are insulated from electricity in a car but at that moment you don't think that rationally and I was convinced I'd explode like the posts if it touched my car. It flashed through my mind whether to slam my brakes on and hope I stopped in time or put my foot down and try to get under it.
    Not wanting to come to a stop right underneath it I slammed my foot on the accelerator. The power cable bounced off my windscreen and into the floor behind me in another huge shower of sparks. I guess if had smashed through I'd have been a goner but it didn't even make a mark, I survived. That was an exciting couple of seconds I can tell you.
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