Two fresh new parks this time, Hansa which I knew very little about and Heide, Merlins German endeavour. Travel to both is easy and both very accessible from Hamburg. I'll start with Hansa Park.
Hansa Park is a delightful little park with big ambitions and a great working relationship with Gerstlauer. In it lies a euro fighter, an infinity coaster and a family coaster. All delightfully realised and with great stories. Our first ride though was a Maurer wild mouse, exactly the same as Rattlesnake. It was a little bit more heavily trimmed but looks good.
Our next stop was Karnen. This thing is a beast. The only other ride that makes me this nervous is Stealth but at least that's over in two seconds. This prolongs the agony for a good two/three minutes and is an incredibly thrilling attraction. I don't want to spoiler for anyone but lets just say its one of the most thrilling first drops out there. Its outside ride section suffers a bit from being completely un-themed but the ride is thrilling enough and fast enough to overcome the lack of physical things around you.
I wasn't a fan of the batching procedures though. I think taking away the choice of what row people can sit in is a bit of a waste of time. I had one ride in row three and three in row two. I wanted the back damn it. This thing is a beast though and genuinely scary.
Next is the fan favourite Fluch Van Norogord. What an attraction this is. I loved the theming, the ride layout, the atmosphere and all the damn gimmicks that come from it. It's frankly hard to believe this was built in the same year as Saw and yet is 100 times better. It's not rough, it has a thrilling and engaging layout, excellent effects and a full on story. I preferred this to Karnan.
The order in which was did everything else is a bit of a blur but suffice to say I think Hansa Park is a great place. It's clearly got some lofty ambitions, things like Karnan and Fluch prove they want to be big players and the amount of work going on around Karnan seems to indicate that they are investing heavily. The entrance way seemed to be having a lot of work too.
Nessie Supercoaster was a fun Schwarzkopf which seems to be getting a bit of a change. It closed early to have part of its track repainted. It also seemed to speed check how fast you go through the loop too as there was a board on the control cabin indicating speeds after every cycle.
So that was Hansa. Definitely get yourself there as its a park thats clearly going places.
And then it was Heide. Somehow, this German Merlin park has evaded me for years even though it's thrown in an Intamin launch coaster and two B&M's. For some reason it just never got me interested, probably Europa Parks fault. Perhaps it was helped by it being my 30th birthday and so I was happy anyway but Heide was a bit of a surprise to the system. When I think of Towers, Gardaland, Thorpe, I always think corporate. Like behind the Merlin rubbish is a hand that wants to steal my money and doesn't care if I walk out the door happy or sad. Heide doesn't feel like that. And I think the big reason is that for anything built before Merlin owned the place, is absolutely gorgeous. The entrance way buildings, the care and love given to the rapids building or Grottenblitz's station, the amazing Schweizzer Bobbahn queue line and building. Theres real love and affection that has gone into the rides and so far its relatively un-ruined by Merlins talons.
Ironically though, our first ride was Desert Race, a simple Rita clone dumped on some ground and themed with old jeeps, a helicopter and some sand. I really hate the trains, they are so basic Intamin with awful stickers stuck on the side proudly saying the words desert chase and some irrelevant numbers. Against all odds the ride is pretty good, far smoother then Rita and somehow, far more air time. Just a shame it looks like a dead dog and that you can't get anywhere near the ride because its all stuck behind a fence.
Our next ride was Grottenblitz, a ridiculously slow mack powered coaster which was okay. We strolled past the closed Colossos which was having a bit of work but you can clearly see what needs replacing. Our aim at Heide was to do the rides in order of terrible to good, hence why we started with Desert Race. The next ride on the cycle though was Limit, a Vekoma SLC which was about as standard as they come and nowhere near as rough as Blue Tornado at Gardaland.
Things were on the up now though as we hit Bobbahn, an absolutely sublime bobsleigh rollercoaster from Mack. This thing is genius and definitly the best of the ride type. The way it just keeps going, never losing speed and being genuinely thrilling and exciting. Bravo Mack. This area is Transylvania. It's like if the Chessington version was all placed on a hill. And the next ride was Flug Der Damonen. I'd heard quite a lot of negative things about Heides wing-rider over the years but in the last two months or so, that opinion seems to be slowly changing. Not as industrial as Raptor and not as destructive as the Swarm, this six rowed ring rider uses the remains of the old log flume for its queue line and is better for it. It creates a great opening atmosphere and gets you lower towards the bottom of the ride. One thing to notice about Flug is it heavily uses the natural terrain to build up the ride and I really liked it for that. The station is similar to Raptor in that you are batched to one side and there are little bag holders at each row for your belongings. Why oh why Thorpe didn't do this too, I never know as The Swarm is such a headache for getting on compared to its European brothers.
Everything about Flug is more immediate and aggressive then the other European wing riders. It's 'Thorpe Park' inversion is fantastic and seems to create a far more swooping effect then Swarm. The air time hill is god tier. I loved it. You then fly into an immelmann turn which dives you further down into the pit before inlining over the area. The ride quickly adjusts itself to fly over the Transylvanian buildings to the left and swoops into a 'demon' knot, the first of its kind on a wing rider. The final turn is so much more impactful and immediate then the slow inline twist and feels like far more of a fitting ending.
Simply put, this is easily one of the best rides in the park. Unlike Swarm and Raptor, this never feels like its lumbering or slowing down; I think having only six rows really helps Flug keep up the momentum. I liked how the ride feels like two halves and gets better and better throughout. It was just a winner for me.
With that B&M goodness behind us it was time to visit an old friend, yes thats right, Big Limit and the old Corkscrew trains from Alton Towers. They still suck and this ride needs some new Vekoma restraints please.
The final major ride is Krake, the worlds first mini B&M dive machine. Unlike Baron and Oblivion: The Black Hole which feel relatively long, Krake is way too short. There's just not enough ride to justify a 30/40/60 minute queue. It's a great ride but don't get me wrong but there just isn't enough substance. It's theming also needs a repaint desperately, the octopus mouth is now just white and nowhere near the pink it used to be.
And so thats Heide. Please visit and give Merlin all your money so that they can rebuild in two areas where they've clearly shut for budgetary reasons, one the Aztec area which had two spaces completely vacant and two where the rides were SBNO. The other closed off area is right at the entrance and looks really bad. Like, really bad.
Thanks for reading, Mark9 signing out.