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  1. America! It’s somewhere I have wanted to go and visit since I can remember. I had always dreamt of visiting here, since seeing it in films, television and more. The style and the culture. Recently that dream became a reality, thanks to a great opportunity with some great mates. Bringing not only a chance to visit the states but one of it’s most iconic parks Cedar Point. Now you’ve probably already read Mark9’s informative trips from here, so a different scope should be required. In my reviews I will not only mention of Cedar Point, but my full experience of the States, being my first trip outside of Europe as of 2018. Day 0/ Sunday- Going West Wise and I parked up at Gatwick’s long stay before joining the transfer to the terminal. After uniting with Doyle, we were good to go beginning our long descent to America! After devouring a Spoons brunch, we hopped onboard our first of two flights with Icelandic air, who despite being relatively unknown proved to be better than expected; the engines were loud though. Like very loud! This would be my first long haul flight (having previously flown 2 HR 40 max on short haul). I expected a long, boring and tiring flight, but it wasn’t as bad, thanks to some on flight entertainment. Dead pool and Isle Of Dogs were amongst my choices with the odd Fawlty Towers episode. Three hours later we arrived at Reykjavik Iceland, where we literally changed to our connecting flight immediately. This plane was even better than the first apart from one of our screens being broken, which was unacceptable. Another five and a bit hours later , we finally landed at Cleveland Ohio. This was it, I was finally in America! Not after customs though. The American custom process is much stricter and complex than the European one ( pre-Brexit at least). You are asked a number of questions upon arrival. Although the staff seemed friendly enough all instructions must be obeyed! This did take longer than first hoped. Another security check took place before we were finally out. A quick bus to our hire car company commenced before we were finally on the way once we chose our vehicle. It was interesting to note the differences on American roads. From yellow traffic lights and lack of roundabouts. Even the cars were different in many respects. Red indicators? No front number plates? All here in America. We finally arrived at our hotel for the trip, Cedar Point’s Express Hotel. Although simple it was clean, tidy and welcoming. Ride pictures above the beds is such a nice touch! McDonald’s was our first stateside meal (conveniently located across the road from the hotel). The burger was certainly more tasty amongst a bigger portion and unlimited refills (a common measure in US eateries). Day 1/ Monday- The Magnificent Seven-teen Despite the long flight, I managed to wake up bright and early. Then again, I was still running on UK time so, 6am Cleveland time would equate to 11am in London. Monday would be the first of three full days to visit Cedar Point. Home of seventeen coasters (eighteen including both of Gemini’s track), the park boasts the second highest coaster count in the world. Least until a few years time when Energylandia will probably top it all. The park features it’s own road/highway which may be the only major access route to the park. The views of the ride skyline make it what is arguably one of the most beautiful and impressive theme park views around! They didn’t lie about it being a roller coast. We parked up and arrived promptly. One of the advantages of staying at Cedar Point property is being allowed to enter for early ride time, one hour before main opening. After playing the Star Spangled Banner, we made our way to our first attraction of the day, Steel Vengeance (the patriotism there is impressive). New for 2018, this RMC replaced the ageing Mean Streak coaster, taking it’s layout and making it better. The hype for this ride was unreal. I know I shouldn’t judge an attraction before riding, but I was unbelievably excited to experience this! Such a beauty! Watching this ride going around it’s circuit! So, how was Steel Vengeance you ask? Absolutely Incredible! The ride is impressively tall, fast and packed with airtime (both floater and ejector) and hangtime amongst a lengthy ride duration. I came off this ride immediately knowing it to be my number one coaster, and that was just from a middle row ride! Cedar Point may not be specialists when it comes to turning, but SV definitely had some (if you look hard enough). From it’s styled lighting and story boards. They even feature different dispatch announcements for each train (Chess, Blackjack and Digger). This was my first RMC, so fingers crossed I haven’t set the bar too high already and don’t appreciate others as a result. My only criticism is naturally their ‘no phone in queue line’ policy, where phones must be put in a locker prior to riding. They even had undercover staff in the queue looking for anyone who snuck their phone in! There was also a security/police personnel at the entrance in case of abusive guests. Things aside, Steel Vengeance is an incredible ride and worth tracking out for alone (amongst Cedar Point’s other amazing rides). Maverick was the second ride of our trip. This intamin blitz coaster opened in 2007 replacing the former flume ride. I really like how they have preserved the old station and reused it as Maverick’s queue even if it is just your average cattle-pen. Maverick really surprised me. Whilst I’d heard great things about this coaster, this thing literally wowed me! From it’s tight intense transitions, landscaping down to it’s hidden launch which was just amazing. This ride for me narrowly beats Taron due to it’s variety of elements. And turnsurprise launch. There is also a back story to this attraction too. We had a bite to eat next at this Smokehouse place. We all had spicy sausage, chips and a muffin. It looked a lot more delicious than this photo suggests, I like the details on these presumably old posters and signs. Millennium Force was number three. The hype this coaster gets is absolutely insane, so I was concerned it would be overrated (given it’s mixed reception from enthusiasts). I queued (ages) with an open mind trying not to think of how much I might like the ride. Millennium Force surprised me! Often ranked very highly on coaster polls I was greatly satisfied this ride turned out to be just as good (if not better) from what I was expecting. From it’s 300 ft plus cable lift hill, the ride delivers in plenty ways. There is definitely plenty of force as this coaster flies around it’s circuit. There is also plenty of interaction a lot more airtime than I was expecting too. Who said it was forceless? I honestly came off shaken, in a good way which is why Millennium Force gets fifth place in my top 10 (speaking in September 2018). N.B the gap between the 2-7 on my coaster ratings is pretty minuscule. Having done what are arguably the three biggest (and best) rides at the park it was time for something comparatively smaller, Iron Dragon. Opening in 1987, this Arrow suspended coaster is one of just five that remain operating (once 10). It’s also the oldest to remain operating (fourth one made). The ride wasn’t anything remarkable, although I suppose it is one of the older ones of it’s type. Least I’ve now managed to one with the old Cars I guess. Rougarou was next. This B&M coaster used to be a stand up but was converted to a floorless a few years ago. I was pleasantly surprised with this ride. Like really surprised! The pacing and momentum through those inversions and helixes was superb. Truly an underrated coaster here and everything Dragon Khan should’ve been. We headed east next to Gate Keeper, however it was down so we did Wicked Twister instead. This was a pleasant surprise and definitely a lot better than expected. The feeling of those launches and seeing the track top above was one crazy feeling! Blue Streak followed, which was first and last wooden cred of the trip. This ride was pleasantly fun and reminded me of Big Dipper and Nick Streak at Blackpool. At 54 it is also one of the oldest coasters too. We headed back to Gate Keeper which was now running which would by my second B&M Wing Rider. Apart from the view onto the car park, I thoroughly enjoyed this one, from it’s selection of elements to the interactions near the entrance and theming elements! A better ride than Swarm in some areas but not in others. We took the Sky Ride down to the entrance to experience Raptor. Not the Towers one. This version is an absolute classic and similar to the ones the first Magic Kingdom park’s used to have. They offered pleasant views of the park and peninsula. A shame Drayton spited theirs! Raptor opened in 1994 (the same year as Nemesis) which is also a B&M invert. It was hear we also experienced our first ‘in line shutdown’. No P.A announcement but they managed to get the ride up again pretty quickly in around 10 minutes. The amount of people leaving the line without appearing disgruntled was remarkable. They certainly seem more relaxed out here! We managed front row on Raptor which turned out to be an impressive invert. It was a bit like Inferno but bigger and better. Some of those inversions really pull force and put you off guard, especially that reverse inline. Currently my second favourite of four inverts (just four?) and favourite B&M in this park! We grabbed another of many soft drink refills from the Coadter’s Diner before making a move to the further North Coasters in this park. The amount of free style refill and drinks choices out here is remarkable and offers considerably better choices than back home. Jamie Oliver is one of many reasons why the UK doesn’t get nice things anymore! We did Corkscrew, another of several Arrow coasters at the park. Despite its age I found it surprisingly enjoyable. Magnum XL was our next ride. In 1988 This beast was the tallest coaster in the world at 205ft tall, until it’s slightly taller sister the Big One stole it! I found my first ride on the Magnum noticeably jerky and uncomfortable almost to the point I proffered The Big One. It’s a good job I didn’t just do it once! It’s still popular too. Gemini followed. This is an interesting attraction in that it’s a racing coaster that looks like a woodie in places but is actually a steel coaster. It’s height implies it’s a thrill coaster, but it mostly rides as a thrilling family ride. Whilst Gemini may not have the frills and excitement as other coasters at the park, it perfectly serves it’s purpose as a fun and exciting ride. The racing element here likely helps enhance this factor. After Gemini we raced over (pun intended) to Cedar Creek Mine Ride, the final of C’s Arrow quintet. This is the second oldest coaster operating at the park, which you can tell from old fashioned restraints style which are manually functioned by ride staff. It also occupies one of the larger footprints too. Aside from it’s historical significance, there isn’t anything remarkable about this ride as nothing really sticks out for it. Least the location is nice though. Still beats El Diablo. We took a quick break from our coaster and soft drink hoarding by going on Sky Hawk, the park’s S&S Sky Swing. This was honestly tonnes of fun and swings much higher and longer than Rush indefinitely. Valravn would serve as our final ride and Cred of day one. We joined the queue just before it closed and spent most of the time chatting an American family who seemed quite friendly; I found most people during my trip out there friendly. Timing it right (when staff asked for a three), we finally boarded what would be our final B&M we hadn’t done at the park. Although Wise and Martin seemed to like it, I came off feeling like something was missing. Like key wow factor moment. It probably didn’t help being asked to randomly swap seats with another rider. Despite it’s height, the drop felt empty and I think the reason for this is largely down to the lack interaction. Whilst CP isn’t a park that specialise in theming, they could have at least added a tunnel or something as that alone would already be a noticeable improvement both to the ride in appearance and experience. Don’t get me wrong it’s not a terrible coaster (far from it). But I just feel I csme off it feeling a little disappointed and wanting more and preferring Oblivion to it despite being a longer ride. I think the second half is generally better on this one! Least Yukon Striker actually has an impressive first drop! Now your probably thinking I’m missing out on an important ride here. Something that you can’t help but notice really impacts the park’s ride selection and skyline. The answer Unfortunate is No. we didn’t go on Woodstock Express on day one! Oh, and Top Thrill Dragster was down due to some cable replacing work, so looks like we’ve been spited a Cred here. Or have we? End Of Part One
  2. Welcome, to the Haunted Reviews, Mwoarhaha 2016 has provided me with a vast number of park trips and adventures. A trend which has continued happily for the Halloween season. Due to excessive number of events done and trying not to bore you with maze review after maze review, I thought I would try and compact my trips into just one report. Where I intend to focus mainly on the best bits (and sometimes the worst). Xtreme Scream Park/ Beginning with a bang. This was my first event and it certainly did not fail to disappoint. Despite its fairly remote location and its budget not being massive I was highly impressed with this event, from the interaction and portrayal of roaming actors to the scattering of spooky theming. Pie Factory was by far my favourite maze, down from the consistency of actors and scenes throughout and the fact some scenes worked fine without any actors as they helped build up the suspense and fear factor. Apart from The Dungeon which I wasn't a fan of, was strongly impressed by all mazes there (a total of six). Stilton House Hotel and Hunted are honourable mentions. Scarefest It may surprise some of you that prior to October this year I had never been to a Scarefest event before (although I tried and failed last year). And finally losing my Scarefest virginity finally happened With no regrets attending. All three maze offerings were of acceptable quality, Terror Of The Towers being surprisingly good despite being a largely established maze. Sub Species was my preferred maze, which I liked the split elements and the preshow which was of good quality. Altonville Mine (or Skin Snatchers) seemed the weaker one and looked like it had potential, but I feel we may have just experienced a poor run through which was a shame. Aside from the decent park lighting, the amusing flash mob and acceptable theming, the addition that Pleased me the most was House Of Monsters. A family based attraction which was more funny than frightening, the use of scenery and acting proved and was certainly an entertaining attraction that was worth the £5. Particularly liked the Skeleton and vampire actors and was certainly 15 minutes well spent and reminded me of Shrwk's Adventure in a few ways but maybe better. Night rides are cool too Fright Nights No Halloween would really be complete without at least a visit or two to Fright Nights, especially being one of my local parks. The event celebrated it's 15th anniversary by bringing back some of the park's popular roaming actors from deceased mazes including the Freezer and Experiment 10. This is always one of the things I like about Fright Nights and would like them to add a scare zone one day. Big Top was much better this year. The flow was better, the acting was consistent and it generally felt more of a maze than a few disjointed scare zones. Face It Alone was as enjoyable as always but cannot help feel last year's was better. Whilst I've tried to remain positive, this is where it sort of dwindles. The park was rammed on literally each attendance. Whilst some may see this as a positive thing, the crowd handling certainly has room for improvement. Three and a half hours for Platform 15 just can't be justified, as the queue was barely moving and not even completely full. The maze itself however was better than expected and offered something different and unique from the rest with its location and plot line. The long tunnel was one of the stronger elements which I thought built up suspense rather well. Cabin is still cabin, acceptable but rather stale now. I can't comment for the rest as I never got to try them . Howl O Ween Despite possibly saying I probably wouldn't go I visited anyway (call that unacceptable if you must). The only reason I visited was because it was on the way for other scare attractions and night rides never go a miss. A round on tomb blaster, Carousel later and a final night ride on Fury ended the season. Didn't manage any mazes as they're the same as last time and Vampire was dead. The theming however was quite good though. Acceptable theming! Tulley's Shocktoberfest Tulleys is somewhere I've been wanting to go for a while now and was finally able to do so this year. Though lacking the exterior theming and roaming actors, this event certainly impressed me which provided a sufficient of mazes, eight to be precise. The Horrorwood Tractor ride was certainly my favourite with it's interactive scenery and theming elements and vast range of different actors appearing throughout from scary cowboys to mad scientists. Certainly more of a ride than a maze and clearly better than Zufari. Other mazes that impressed me included the Colony and its large length and variations, The Cellar with its haunted theme and Pandemonium with its use of 3D elements. Hellements was the only maze I wasn't taken with as it seemed weaker than rest, though Creepy Cottage was rather on the short side though. Only other negative was the location as a whole looks very temporary and the use of temporary loos but that can't be helped given the location. Legoland Brick Or Treat Perhaps not a Halloween event in the traditional sense but still appropriate. At the end of each year Legoland holds themed fireworks to end the season with a bang, alongside a selection of kids Halloween activities in their enchanted forest area. This year's fireworks were themed to Nexo Knights (one of their current product lines) which featured audio dialogue synchronised to the fireworks. The display as a whole was good, although not amazing. Helped by it's audio plot line and glasses that turn the fireworks into Lego bricks (worth the £1.50). I particularly liked how the harbour area (one of the main viewing areas) was sort of turned into a pre-show before the main event as a result of the connected fountains and light being synchronised to the music. Apart from the lack of good nighttime lighting and the number rides closing at dusk, was a very good event. And this marks the end of another good Halloween season which has certainly been a good one (most of. The time). Didn't do Screamfest Burton and Screamland, but hopefully they can be done for another year. so, in brief: Best maze- Pie Factory Xtreme Scream Best non maze attraction- Haunted Hayride- Tulleys best fun scare attraction- House Of Monsters- Alton Towers Best scare event- Xtreme Scream Park Most improved maze- Big Top Thorpe Park Most awkwardly hilarious moment- Walking out of a fire exit on the Twisted maze at Xtreme Scream Best lit park- Alton Towers StormmSurge- Hellements- Tulleys Until next time, Farewell.
  3. 2016 has certainly been one of my best years for visiting new amazing parks, being lucky enough to visit Europa Park, Liseberg, Paultons Park and Drayton Manor (I suppose). This September though, things would become even more fantastic as I was to experience my first time. The first time I would be visiting Phantasialand. This is a park I've been wanting to visit now for a longtime, hearing how flawless the theming and attention to detail was here and the quality of the rides; at least most of them anyway. Berlin street is certainly a magical entrance into the park (at least once you escape the main road directly outside). Especially once you walk past the grand carousel and intricate street with themed food outlets whilst listening to upbeat dramatic orchestral music. It's almost like being in Disney. 2016 brings to the park a major new investment, Klugheim. A brand new themed area featuring two new roller coasters and two new food outlets. The headliner attraction of the new area is Taron. A multilaunch coaster from Intamin. Taron is certainly an amazing looking attraction and rides as good as she looks. From the momentum of the first launch to the twists and turns amongst moments of ejector airtime through the articulated rock work straight into that second launch. Taron may not quite be a Helix beater, but she is definitely a worthwhile addition to the park amongst it's tangled track, superb soundtrack right down to the brand new restraints which are significantly better to the Rita/Stealth ones. My only major criticism of the ride probably has to be the massive cattlepen, which resides at the back of the area and remains remarkably hidden. Raik is also a great junior boomerang and probably my favourite so far, putting Veloceraptor into a close second. The main eatery Rutmoore's Tavern is a great place to go for lunch too and serves some decent hearty meals. I had a pork knuckle meal served with salad and potatoes which was of very good quality. Certainly of the best park eateries I've visited and maybe only second to Polle's and Food Loop. Klugheim aside, there are plenty of other top quality attractions at Phantasialand. Including Chiapas, an amazing modern log flume with a steep drop, dark ride sections and superb theming. Nailed it! An amazing floor less topspin known as Talocan, which is almost like watching a show off-ride. Black Mamba, a superbly themed B&M invert which beats Inferno but Nemesis (on layout st least). Can't believe I didn't take any (poor) pictures of it. Colorado Adventure, a Vekoma mine train that features three lifts that never get boring. The forces from that twists and turns especially entering those tunnels is exhilarating to say the least. Safe to say my photography is not always acceptable. Winjas was a surprisingly good duel Maurer spinning coaster which features two tracks called Force and Fear. Fear was the favourite due to feeling longer as a whole. Maus Au Chocolate, an interactive dark ride where you shoot guns throughout different scenes trying to stop mice from infesting a chocolate factory. The smells were nice too and guns far better than those blocky things on Tomb Blaster. And no trip to Phantasialand would be complete without a ride on the classic River Quest. Honestly, these Rapids are crazy in the best way possible and make Rumba Rapids look like a slow carousel in comparison. Mystery Castle has to be one of the most mysterious rides in the park. This castle structure hides a number of massive drop towers which shoot up and down completely enclosed in the tower. David and I got the longer cycle (we believe) whilst Lou watched as she doesn't like drop towers. Better than Chessington. One of the park's older rides is Geister Riksha, a Chinese themed ghost train attraction. It is pretty dated in parts, but definitely upheld much charm throughout the ride. Amongst the great theming and rides alongside it, the park's shows should not be ignored. We decided to watch the Ice Show which featured a college style theme. The costumes and mixture of music made for a great watch. Especially when one of the dancers seems to resemble TPM's very own Liam-T. Whilst this place has so many good rides, it does have quite a share of not so good rides however, like this (supposed) splash battle, Wakobato. This ride is so close to houses, you may as well be in their back garden. Honestly, what's the point in this ride? You don't get wet, there's no scoring system, the theming is repetive. There is literally no point in this ride existing. The Hollywood tour certainly hasn't aged well as is very dated in places. The Wizard of OZ and Kong sections really look worn and creepy in some ways too. Feng Ju Palace (theming aside) may be the worst madhouse I've been on so far. What's the point of that pre-show? It was honestly just like watching a boring stretched out version of Street Fighter. And Nighthawk, was just strange in one of the dullest ways possible. Three lift hills going around in complete darkness. Only real positives were the station looked nice and the lift hill lights were acceptable. Final Thoughts Phantasialand is a truly magical and immersive park, adding plenty of intricate between the different areas, whether that be the African or Mystery areas. Klugheim is well and truly an amazing area and certainly one of the best themed areas in Europa (let alone 2016). Taron is an amazing attraction and certainly the new signature ride the park deserves. Of course like every park, there are down sides. For example some of the park's older rides are looking particularly worn and dated compared to it's recent stuff. Take Hollywood and Nighthawk for example, it almost feels a different park when you compare them to something like Chiapas or Maus Au Chocolate. However I've heard they are on the chopping block anyway. A nice modern dark ride or two and a modern dark ride coaster would fit this park perfectly. The final question-does it beat Europa Park? Phantasialand really did blow me away and is one of the most parks I have ever visited. Unfortunately though, it doesn't quite beat Europa Park (though it is close). Europa for me is such a vast sized park that there's literally tonnes of things to do yet feels very relaxed regardless of busyness. The complimenting themed areas and its updates to rides new and old may also help it greatly here. Europa are also pretty relaxed when it comes to safety, to the degree they don't check every ride and allow filming (if equipment is secure). At Phantasia, they are very strict on this, to the level where even Go Pros are banned on all rides including the likes of Maus Au Chocolate. As a result I was told off on the Hollywood ride, let alone a coaster. Rant aside, it's a minor set back, but at the end of the day I go to parks to get immersed and enjoy rides. Not make POVS or YouTube hits (even if it seems like it). To wrap this up, Phantasialand is a park everyone needs to visit. It has some greats rides and theming and is pretty easy to get too as well from Cologne Bonn Airport. Two days should be enough for most, but it could be stretched to three quite easily. Favourite ride of the trip. Taron of course.
  4. Somewhere in the rural Hamptonshire countryside, lies a mysterious theme park. But this isn't any ordinary theme park, which is home to dinosaurs, Cobras, wonderful beasts and a famous animated pig (to name a few). This is a park that is certainly on the up, investing in attractions that improve the park whilst retaining and complimenting it's character and values. It's a place so renowned for its greatness, legend has it adventurers have travelled to the depths of boots to witness it's golden gates. WELCOME, TO PAULTONS PARK Home to the weird and wonderful, like this raining tree. For 2016, the park have invested at great lengths to bring us this wonderful prehistoric land through dedication of 8 million coins. It's well spent if you ask me. One the main new discoveries of this new lost area is one of two coasters, Flight Of The Pteranosaur. A veto a family suspended coaster which dominates the centre of the world. The rock work theming is superb and of high quality. And what a great family coaster this is. The coaster is great fun and interacts with the area superbly alongside a good proportion of theming. The end helix is also superb. As far as I'm aware the layout may be clone of another (maybe Grona's) but that doesn't take anything away from the ride which certainly looks to be a hit for the park. It's the perfect fun thrilling coaster for the family. Theming, with working animatronics. The second new coaster is the Veloceraptor. Another Vejoma, but this time a boomerang style coaster like Ben10. This is another superfluous coaster for the park and another fun ride. Whilst it doesn't beat Pteranosaur for me, I do prefer it to Ben 10 as this gives more a kick I think. But the area is more than just coasters though (listen Merlin). They also have one of these crazy fun spinning rides like the Crazy Taxis at Europa Park. This ones called Boulder Dash. This small Triceratops coaster, which I didn't get chance to ride ( ). Fact, this ride isn't actually brand new and was rethemed into the new area. It used be known as the Flying Frog I believe. They also have a Safari track ride too which is neat. Some very good theming here too. It's great to see park put so much effort into something just like this whilst a number of others (not naming) are either ripping theirs out or leaving them to rot. Best car style attraction in the uk by far. Theres also an interactive Dino show too, which is good to see the park not just focus on the ride side either. Plus there's some roaming dinosaur animatronics in the area too. They even have an area shop which is themed to a good level also. They've also added a new food place and smaller flat ride to the area too. Certainly making one of the best themed areas in the uk. Also in the park, resides my second home. Critter Creek. The theming quality they have here has been done very well, especially for a park like Paultons. And here is the Cat-O-pillar, which again has been rethemed into the new area. The theming again is fantastic, weird and wacky. The coaster was alright but not my favourite. The area is also home to a random aquarium type place. For a park like this, it's a nice little walk through. The park is also home to Cobra, arguably their signature ride. The queue line was a little shabby (spilt mess in the queue and a few areas of chipped pant), but that can be forgiven for the moment. There is even a shed tunnel, and that isn't the best part. Cobra is a really fun coaster and possibly my favourite ride at the park (either this or Pteranosaur). Two things to note about this ride are that it is a Gerstlauer, and an enjoyable one at that and that its 10 years old and was working fine. No lifeless structure here. Speaking on lifelss, this ride was shut (at least when we went passed it) which was a shame as it looked fun. They however have a Disko called The Edge (not Kobra) as Paultons know how to spell. This one is also run on a better setting too as you really get a good cycle. My only criticism are you were required to wear leg seat belts and mine was very tight. (Which ruined the experience in a way) and the ride doesn't feature much in terms of theming, but I'm sure that will be sorted one day. The park also have a 4D cinema which features a fairly quirky but nicely themed facade outside (not cheap looking). The movie itself was alright, nothing amazing but was nice for a sit down and seemed entertaining enough for the guests. Its no Angry Birds but is good for what it is especially being the only undercover attraction so far. The park even have a loverly grand carousel. Featuring some loverly shrubbery too. But the one thing park are famous for is Peppa Pig World, the investment (alongside Cobra) which have really helped the park develop in the last few years. Sadly I didn't anymore photos here because my phone's camera reached capacity but all I can say is, it's a loverly themed area for the park's clientele and the park got the right balance with everything there too. We only managed one ride in the area, that was Windy Castle. From the outside it looks like a little innocent spinning observation ride thing, think again! Peaj, Steve, Alex and I all shared one capsule and when you have no spin limits on a ride that also rotates upwards on a 4-5 minute cycle you're in for one hell of a white knuckle ride. it was honestly crazy and ridiculous how crazily fast we were all going here and whilst it was hilarious to start with, I'm certain my thrill limit has been reached as it felt very painful and comftable towards the end of the ride and pretty nauseated for the tail end of the day too. Think this has put me off tea cups for the time being. As much as things post 2006 have clearly marked the up for the park (moreso post 2010), there's still a fair few number of areas in the park that look bland and in need of an update. one of these is the park's log ride which is pretty much an off the shelf Reberchon. Considering this ride isn't even 20 years old does show how superior their new stuff is now. I could probably say the same for the Go Karts. I didn't try these either as I think there was an up charge. that being said, there isn't a massive amount of upselling at the park. Considering I didn't see any HB leisure stalls or any posters trying to persuade me to buy a pass. Although the park exit is deliberately through a massive toy shop, that is more a tactical decision (and a cunning one at that). But Paultons isn't just home to a decent selection of family rides. There's also a very reasonable amount of gardens and green spaces which help enhance a day here. Which made for a really enjoyable day out that was enjoyed by all. Unfortunately though Peaj was eaten by a giant hedge snake and hasn't been seen since. Paultons is definitely a loverly park and worth a visit. its a place that puts effort and dedication into everything they do. Whether that be building a giant new themed area, staff friendliness or keeping the place tidy (we saw someone pick up litter minutes after it was dropped). With the possible exception of Cobra's queue, everywhere was beautifully well kept with no signs of wear and tear anywhere and a good atmosphere throughout. The future for the park is bright and seeing the massive improvements they've made in the last few years (each one better than the last). All they need to do is build a proper flume and add a dark ride and they will then have a perfect full lineup. Whilst the park have little to nothing in terms of merchandise, I think they have it right by housing a massive toy shop at the exit which will no doubt be blissful joy for many of the kids (and a nightmare for many of their parents). Chessington step aside. This is what a family park should be. Jump in the boot and let's go!
  5. Two weeks after experiencing the wonders of Europa, I would be experiencing another new European park. This park was Liseberg, Sweden's largest amusement park located slap-bang in the middle of Gothenburg home to a fine number of flat rides and coasters. Prior to 2014 I knew nothing about this place until a certain ride helixed into the lineup making this park leapfrog onto my list of must do parks. After checking in and dropping our bags off at Gothia Towers we headed over to the park. This is a lovely hotel which is beautifully modern inside and conveniently located across the road from Liseberg and worth a stay. It's striking appearance almost makes it look like something from the Matrix. Such a simple, but highly effective entrance. New for 2016 is Aerospin, a Gerstlauer sky roller, which is similar to sky force but riders are positioned on a raising tower instead of an arm. This ride is mixed bag for me. The views from the top of the ride are absolutely stunning offering some lovely views below but trying to spin on this is even more difficult than on the sky fly models. That said trying to freely spin over 200 ft in the air is terrifying enough. IMA score soundtrack for the winning though. Also new at the park for 2016 is this traditional looking carousel and this lovely looking garden area.The park used to have two S&S drop towers and small wheel in this area but they were removed last year for Aerospin and these. Parks need quiet/green spaces aside from the rides IMHO. Another of the park's recent flats is Mechanica, a star shape which opened last year. all this theming and attenton for a flat ride? Amazing! Mechanica has to be one of the most intense rides I've ever experienced too. They also boast a decent afterburner, this time from Zamperla. Flamingo need one! And a better and more scary version of Rush. This one goes over a cliff [ if you're looking the right way]. There's also a Jukebox themed polyp ride which is great fun and an automatically operated Waltzer which can do some crazy spinning if the timing is right. They also have a log flume which features an impressively original name. What makes me even more happy is that at over 40, this is a working log flume. Good drops though. The park also boasts a fun and wild set of rapids. Whilst Fjord is still my favourite, this is still better than Congo and wipes the floor with Rumba. Liseberg is also home to Europe's largest drop tower once observation tower. Whilst the drop isn't the best, this is made up for this with the superb views at the top and atmosphere. The ride is actually called Atmosphere. There is however only dark ride at the park, the Fairy Tale Castle. The best thing about this ride is that it's indoors and plays the dream flight soundtrack. Their scare maze Hotel Gasten however is absolutely amazing and worth the paid extra [around £4]. But there's another important aspect to Liseberg. The coasters. The park is home to four major coasters, the first of these is Kanonen, an intamin launch coaster. Considering how small this coaster's footprint is, the layout is remarkable. Unfortunately, the ride's setback is the restraints which are rather tight fitting and dig in during the ride. Well done Intamin. Still a good coaster, but probably not a great one due to the restraints alone. Liseberganen is the 2nd of the park's large coasters. A 1987 Schwartzkopf Whilst at nearly 30 years this may be the park's oldest coaster, it packs one amazing punch and is an amazingly fun thrilling ride. Flying through twists and turns, hills and helixes on the park's hillface. The ride's only minor issue is the brakes, which hit you worse than absinthe. It literally feels like you've almost experienced a car accident each time they kick in. Then there's Balder, the park's intamin woodie which has apparently won a number of rewards since it's existence. Which features number of other coasters in it's queue. Nemesis, Grand National and Megabobia all feature here. Which is a fantastic coaster. This features some brilliant moments of ejector airtime throughout the ride, although the corners are unfortunately a little dull honestly speaking. It doesn't beat Wodan but is still one of my favourite woodies. And now for the ride you've waited for. Helix And what a spectacular diamond she is. Helix alone is worth travelling out to the park for. From it's modern airy sci-fi style queue line to it's amazing ride soundtrack. The ride starts as it means to go on, hurtling into a corkscrew immediately after leaving the station followed by a vast array of inversions, twists, turns, helixes [no pun intended] and hills delivering a significant amount of ejector airtime. This ride never shows any signs of slowing as it ascends into the second launch before the ride gets stale in anyform, launching round more exciting elements before entering a final corkscrew into the brake run. As a result of the ride's immense layout and superb styling amongst being one of the most photo friendly coasters around, makes it my new number one coaster even over taking Wodan. Never have I been on a ride so many times in one trip and still been wanting to go back for more. Once Blackpool gets one of these, it could well be a game changer. Throughputs on this were also very good, no faffing around at all. I would say most park-wide operations were on a par with Towers overall. And it's in one of the most picturesque parks out there amongst being my favourite amusement park [not theme park]. And Darkadder won a giant Toblerone!
  6. Over the last year, my theme park adventures have taken me to some weird and wonderful places away from the U.K. This is all started with Disneyland Paris last april [with a return visit in September] followed by Efteling in November. But from here on, where would my next theme park adventure take me? It would take me to Europa Park, the crème de la creme of European parks amongst being one of the best in the world [if not the best]. After a doable 1 hr 20 minute flight to Basel from Gatwick followed by a 75 minute car journey we had all arrived at our accomodation in Rust. Located 15 minutes away from the park with at least 6 beds per room, this accommodation was perfect for the large [but nicely sized] group of us going. The perfect crash pad and HQ for TPM and ideal for the usual and many meet shenanigans. After an evening exploring the culinary delights and limited sleep, it was time to enter the golden arches into this beautiful park . The entrance area is absolutely beutiful and is another example of a theme park entrance done right, with the grandiose entrance and fountains outside leading into a beautifully layed out main street leading through to the main park. With over 60 rides and attractions [not including shows], Europa Park houses the highest volume of attractions in one park [including Disney] making it even more impressive. Aside from it's stunning cohesive park areas it's a place where you only have to turn a corner to find a random show or enter a small marked façade and find one of many dark rides. The above picture is a disclaimer that I have visited [something that seems to be becoming a standard these days] Europa currently houses 12 coasters [with another on the way soon] making it the park with the most coasters in Europe amongst the world. One of these is Wodan, a GCI coaster which opened back in 2012. At over 130 ft tall, it is a mighty beast of a coaster and rides as beautiful as it looks [if not better]. After the descent into the drop, the coaster races through it's circuit in a crazily out of control yet impressive style as it's flies through turns and helixes around the area whilst diving in and out of tunnels. Wodan is a spectacular coaster and does everything I currently want from a coaster. From an impressive queue to an even more amazing layout. It is with the combination of both these elements that now make this my new number 1 coaster, knocking off Nemesis from it's top spot after nearly 4 years in the running. Firing off in the nearby surroundings, stands yet another impressive master piece. Blue Fire is such a photo friendly coaster and rides as well as she looks. After passing through the mandatory but impressive dark ride section, the ride thrusts into a smooth but impressive launch which isn't as intense as Stealth and Rita but considerably more comfortable. The coaster flows through it's circuit providing intensity and elegance at the same time, from it's flying through twists and turns to injector airtime inversions whilst proving to be glass smooth. Blue Fire is yet another amazing coaster the park have created and everything from the comftable lap bar trains, to the greatly paced layout make for a fantastic ride, which is now my second favourite coaster overall, only just beaten by Wodan [for it's queue line alone]. This coaster makes me even more excited to be experiencing Helix soon and hopeful that if Blackpool are getting one of these, it will put them back on the map as a must do park. Then there is Silver Star, Europa's giant which until 2012 was the tallest coaster in Europe, taking the height title from the inferior Big One. Despite hearing people saying it was rather mundane before visiting, I actually enjoyed this one alot. From it's steep drop, to it's airtime hills which did give quite a floaty feeling. The ride's position does make it feel you're outside the park though almost which is a strange feeling,but probably helps make it stand out I guess. The ride is one of the first to be spotted when approaching the park and can be seen for miles. It was astounding watching a train go up the lift less than two minutes apart each time too as a result of the park's outstanding operations. But Europa isn't just home to fantastic thrill coasters, but some equally impressive family ones too like Arthur. This is such a gem of a ride which features many dark ride scenes indoors [mixing screens and traditional scenery amongst animatronics] with great bursts of outdoor coaster sections throughout making for a great paced coaster which would be perfect for a number of family parks. Another amusing fact is this has to be only family attraction in existence to feature swearing on the ride, due to the rap song in the alley scene using the n-word . And if those weren't enough to handle, I also managed to take a brief visit to Epcot as well. Of course not, this is Euro Sat, one of the park's indoor dark ride coasters which is located in this giant ball [which mostly resembles Space Ship earth]. But once inside, the similarities between the two become vastly different with the attraction's 80's space theme and german rave music included. Whilst this may be one of the park's older coasters it certainly doesn't hold back as it really packs a punch in it's layout amongst it's long spiral like lift hill. After a couple of go's this attraction was a hit with most people, myself included [which may even be in my top 5 park favourites]. The ride is so much fun and could be described as a superior version of X with some space mountain effects. Euro Mir has to be one of the most bizarre coasters I've ever ridden. From it's long spiral lift [also like Eurosat] to it's long twisty turns amongst mirrored buildings before going through numerous twists and turns. As much as I liked this one, I definitely prefer Eurosat to Euro Mir. Then there's Poseiden, an amazing water coaster. This is yet another enjoyable ride in the park, which I think is nicely paced out with lift, coaster section, splash, lift, coaster and a final splash before returning back to the station. The throughputs on this again are amazing as boats were literally flying out the station to the degree there were even two on the lift at the same time as well. Then there's Atlantica Super Splash, which as perhaps the weakest coaster at the park. However with the decent theming and settings surrounding this can be mostly forgiven. I'd swap Storm Surge for one of these anyday. Then there's Pegasus,which for a family coaster features a decent amount of theming amongst a fun and remarkably thrilling layout for a family coaster. And lets not forget about the park's veteran coaster Alpen Express, which features a fantastic layout for a powered coaster and really speeds through that cave and last ride section at a fantastic pace too. I'm yet to try the VR on both coasters, but if I visit again soon will definitely be doing so. Nestled within the Swiss area is the matterhorn blitz, a wild mouse with a difference. From it's amusing elevator lift to it's steep drop and tight corners, I found this version considerably more enjoyable than many others out there which reminds me a little of the old Jungle Coaster [despite this being superior]. Last but not least is the Schweizer Bobbhan, the park's bobsled coaster and by definition the prototype, due to Europa being a showcase of many of Mack rides [being owned by the Mack family]. The ride layout is highly enjoyable but not quite as good as Blackpool's but probably wins due to it's loverly location. A loverly location indeed. It also has one of the longest break-run-station transitions in existence which takes up nearly half the ride alone. However, there is more to Europa than a dozen coasters. It's all about the park's random dark rides. Many of which are cleverly hidden away some of which are little more than a ride sign and a door in the wall. Like this random christmas themed ride in the Russian section. Or this PIrates Of The Caribbean style knock off. Which was actually remarkably good and well done. Even the ceilings were themed up as well. And there's no waiting for this Ghost Train either. It was actually really well themed and reminded me quite alot of the sadly long gone Wicked Witches Haunt ride amongst some tongue and cheek references to the Haunted Mansion with it's singing heads and stretching room. The food at Europa is absolutely fantastic [even the quick service places]. The restaurant that naturally stands out the most however is Food Loop, the originally Roller Coaster Restaurant. The food wasn't bad either. I absolutely loved this place, from the clever way of ordering food on the screens and then watching them race down along the track to your table. Whilst I don't think it beats Polle's as my favourite theme park eatery I really did enjoy this and look forward to trying the Towers version in the near future hopefully. The park also has many shows, so many you could almost spend a whole park day watching them. One of these was a show about celebrating the park's history featuring rotating sections like the Caroulsel of progress I believe. There was an Elvis tribute act in the Globe Theatre in the England area, no I am not lying. Was still amusing though. However the ice show in the greek area was considerably better and more entertaining. The projection mapping and performances in this one were impressive to say the least. There was also a park parade too which even had a soundtrack [quite reminiscent of Magic Everywhere]. Whilst the Paris parade was most likely the better of the two, what makes this one nicer is it feels a lot more close and intimate. There's a noticeable reduction of crowd hogging and finding a place to watch seems an easier task without waiting an hour find a good spot. Some of the other weird and wonderful attractions in Europa include this set of football themed Dodgems, with an actual over sized football in play too. The 'infamous' London Taxi ride, which is a lot more fun than getting a real taxi. The Queen's Diamond, a laser maze which is a fun little filler. This amazingly well themed splash battle attraction. This quirky inverted monorail ride [the attention to detail is ridiculously good]. This 4D show about Euro Mouse. It was sort of like Angry Birds 4D but slightly better. There is also the astoundingly themed Columbus Dinghy. This features projection mapping, fountains, rider control of directions and thematic centre piece all just for a sea storm ride. It's absolutely amazing. And not forgetting this Jungle Cruise style ride. This was again lots of fun and a worthwhile filler attaction. This picture alone perhaps describes the difference between Merlin and Europa. RIP Skyway There's even a Fairy tale forest-esque area at the park which is very reminiscent to Eftelling's, except for being much smaller. But even then, Europa Park is very beautiful and picturesque place to visit. And the on-site hotels are just as beutfiul Even the underground walkway is themed. And it was a fantastic place to visit. Europa is an amazing park. It features pretty much everything you'd wish in a theme park. A wide range of rides, coasters and dark rides, plenty of shows and green spaces, decent upkeep and great selection of food as well. The park definitely had a lot of tongue and check influences from places such as Disney & Efteling amongst some elements bringing back the days when our parks used to put care and effort into their rides. Comparing this park to what have in the U.K is like comparing a tesco microwave meal to a michelin star restaurant [which the park apparently has actually] and they just can't be compared at all. Europa certainly has to be my favourite theme park now, probably just scraping past DLRP in greatness. It's not a park you would go to experience the rides more-so [bar Blue Fire & Wodan], but one just for the amazing surroundings and showcases in how everything there compliments one another and isn't just plonked down. To appreciate the park, it's definitely a place where you need several days to visit, in which the longer you stay, the more you will appreciate the park. I spent three days at the park, which is probably the minimum amount of time of getting the core park elements done, but could could have easily done another day or two, just to experience all the shows, re-ride the coasters, do the VR and adore the park even more. Bucky approves of Europa Park.
  7. It had been almost two years since my previous visit to Alton Towers, due to numerous reasons and terrible planning in 2015 [see my Alton Towerless weekend entry]. Whilst 2016 is set to Thorpe's year on the new ride development front, a new attraction managed to pull me in to the orbit of Alton Towers. That new experience was Galactica, the park's former flyer Air, now turned VR coaster for 2016.Would this ret-heme reach new heights or lack atmosphere without Air. Now I know what some of you are thinking, where is the proof that I actually visited the park recently following my non trip to Disneyland Resort? Here it is. Anyway, back on topic. The Entrance The entrance plaza is definitely alot more striking and eye catching from the old one. The new logo is a nice touch with the ride's name below which gives the attraction a modern and sleek personality. Most of the rocks have been repainted space grey except the one that used be between the old air sign. The Galactica floor paving is also a very attractive feature in the plaza area. The Music Soundtrack the ride has also gained a new soundtrack. Created by IMA Score [arguably the B&M of park music], the new theme is very tranquil, airy and ambient whilst entailing a sense of excitment and wonder. Amongst it's similarities with other IMA work , the music features similarities to a number of film soundtracks & Composers. These include Vangelis, The Matrix, American Beauty and Interstellar. Since most of these are Space/ Sci-Fi related, the music is definitely coherent. The Queue line/build up Aside from some improved fences and painted areas, the queue line remains almost identical to when it was Air [which was expected]. However it does look a lot more neat and tidier and builds the ride up more. The photo opportunity unit is where the old merge point was which involves placing your head in a bowl like thing and automatic photos taken moments later. Once finished, the queue continues where the ride splits in to the two stations like before. The ride's stations are considerably different whilst retaining similarities to the original. The main change that both are now fully enclosed [whilst previously being semi-enclosed]. This helps add some atmosphere prior to boarding alongside the new instructional videos through the attraction's fictional computer Eve explaining how to prepare prior to riding. One of the things I love and hate are the air gate signs. I love how they say Galactica Gate [a sort of reference/element from one of Air's old features]. However I don't like that there are no numbers on the signs, which feels like a very simple flaw [making boarding harder for guests]. The experience Once seated a ride host helps you strap on your VR goggles located in boxes/pouches connected to the restraint. The goggles can be adjusted at the back for comfort and element, whilst the focus can also be adjusted for blurriness. One thing that should be noted is that dispatch times are considerably slower than when it was Air and the gap between putting on the headset and dispatch feels uncomfortably long and under whelming. When the VR starts, it literally does start. no introduction, no build up it just begins as if someone's pressed play on a device. The VR experience starts off well to begin with [bar the sudden jump], where a narration and the ride theme accompany some interesting graphics depicting being in a launch tunnel with lots of working machinery and devices. This is visually impressive to witness and reminds me somewhat of films like The Matrix, Inception and Interstellar to name a few. Once you get to the top, a launch sequence begins where you then enter the space travel part of the attraction. Whilst it's interesting to witness on the ride, it's just as exciting off ride with the Portal element [more on that later]. Unfortunately like the ride's drop, it is here where the VR experience goes downhill. Whilst the graphics are interesting to witness, a lot happens in the VR, too much. One minute you enter this hot fiery galaxy then the next your in this cold snowy planet less than 20 seconds later. This is before entering at least 2 more different worlds and then suddenly re-entering the portal element. It is here you are told you are safe and back at HQ before the VR ends a bit suddenly. You are then told to remove the goggles before heading back in the station. Once back on foot, you follow the exit path where you soon enter the Galactica shop, which occupies 1/3 of Air's former shop. Some nice space-esque lighting. It may not be on the grand scale of the Derren Brown shop but it's still nicely themed and reminds me a little bit of Space Mountain in a way. There's some fairly decent merch in here too [though the shot glass looked a little tacky]. One of the other significant changes and additions is the portal. Located at the bottom of the drop, trains fly through this massive thematic element where a number of different light, smoke and mist effects go off in the process. This is a fantastic addition to the ride and gives Galactica that much more interaction and excitement to off riders amongst improving the themed experience as a whole. The Critical Review The Good The portal is a stunning piece of theming and has got to be the most exciting feature built at Towers since the Marmaliser. The sound track retains the fantastic quality IMA Score are renowned for The entrance plaza is much more distinctive, striking and eye pleasing prior to when it was Air The station area builds up to the ride much more than Airs used to The pre-show videos fit in remarkably well The new shop is decently themed The Bad The wait between dispatch and VR kicking in is quite painstaking Dispatch times are much slower to how Airs were The headset can feel a bit uncomftable at times The pace of the VR is off putting, it's too fast and begins and ends too suddenly Headset tries to fall off during ride VR may not be optional now Conclusion I have always thought Air has lacked style and personality compared to the other coasters [minus Rita]. It's felt rather bare, empty and a little unfished. However the retheme to Galactica has definitely given the ride a much stronger image and personality as a stand out ride which feels more like an experience as . As Galactica the ride has gained a fantastic thematic centrepiece, loose storyline of space travelling and holes of it's empty past filled in. However, it can't be helped that the VR feels like a gimmick just to make the ride's update feel more marketable. Whilst it still has some good points, the flaws including throughput, comfortability and pacing do outweigh the plus points. Unless something gives, I can't see the VR lasting by 2018 time as it causes too much hassle. The perfect ride would be Galactica's theme/landscaping with Air's original flying concept. Creeky Rating 6/10 But Lets Face It! Towers isn't about VR It's about experiencing this beuaty! As she's had a marvelous makeover this year And I don't know about you. But at 22 she still runs very fine And one the park's turds has been washed in glitter. It was running quite well that day too. However this alone can't help the fact The Uk's best experience is currently closed A much needed flat has been sweeped out of the lineup Alongside a much less popular one Alongside a family staple [even it wasn't a patch on the also closed Loggers] Not forgetting the selected shops And food outlets that have also closed up for 2016 And these massive B&Q fences only add insult to injury However I can happily cope with this closure, nothing lost here. This place is nice though and Nemesis beer? what's not to like But this needs to be great whenever it happens. Wood that be possible? However with an entrance like this, how much is there not to like So Smile always! And I'll be back in June To hopefully check out this exciting looking experience One Creeky Criticism One last thing I will however say, the park does now really lack rides. In an 8 hour day [thanks to ERT], I completed everything except Congo & Mine Train due to queues [and others not wishing to ride]. I even managed to do all coasters except Rita & Smiler at least twice alongside Duel and Skyride. Considering it's the UK's biggest park, Towers no longer feels like a multiday park. At the moment it's very easy to nail the park in one day [even with a trip through the gardens]. Lets hope the park can get off it's knees and return to greatness now.
  8. 2015 in summary has been one of the best years visiting theme parks myself, reaching some major milestones including visiting to major parks outside the uk [Disneyland Paris & Efteling] and my first ever coaster climb on the Swarm. Previously, my end of year reports have involved fully analysing the highs and lows of all the parks I've been visited that year [amongst those I almost did or had some importance]. However due to the higher amount of park's I've been lucky to visit this year [12 different parks this year compared to 6 in 2014] I have decided to compact it down in to more of a award system than complete in-depth analysis. This will enable me to focus mainly on the high's and lows of the year rather than review everything which might take significantly longer to do so [and perhaps be less interesting to read in the meantime]. So here goes, a new end of year review style. Please let me know what you think and whether this method works better than the previous ones I've used [your constructive comments are always helpful]. Here goes. Broken Coat Hangers: The 2015 Matt Creek Awards Thorpe Throttle [ Winner- Marketing Of WC16 [bypass if you don't to know anything about next year's ride [you know who you are]] Honourable Mentions- Neptune Touch ups, Fin's Bar, It hasn't been the best or easiest years for the park in 2015 [in all honesty], however the park have managed to nail down some fantastic additions, whether that be an improved bar restaurant or touch up's on one of the older park areas. What has stuck out for me however is how the park have built up promotional material for their next big bang, WC16. The marketing for this such ride has been done in a discrete but creative way where more is differently less. The thing I actually like about the marketing is not just the creative clues and slogans such as the 'Mind The Gap' and 'Minds Wanted' that the park have done but also the deliberate diversions and teasers they have done for this such attraction to create further speculation. Thus relating further to how all suggestions of this ride being related to Dr Who, The Big Top or even the walking dead, all that were wrong. The promo videos have also brought such intrigue from the worn steam punk look and underground twin dolls which is certainly some of the best marketing the park have done so far. Lets just hope the ride turns out to be just as good as this marketing and we could be on to a winner. Thorpe Flopper [The epitome of 2016] Winner- Fright Nights Dishonourable mentions- ride reliability, I'm A Celebrity, £60 tickets, Sadly Thorpe have dropped a fair share of eggs this year [not that all of it is their fault] but nonetheless as a recurring visitor throughout the years it is never great to witness. £60 for a day ticket is just too much [unless you are Disney or Universal], a new attraction with such a low throughput feels rushed, shoe horned and somewhat an afterthought and having half a dozen rides as ornaments on visits is good for nobody. It is Fright Nights however that gets the collar of shame though. Whilst Saw Alive & Blair Witch were somewhat better, Cabin retained it's greatness and Containment brought a unique addition to the line up [even if there is room for improvement] this years event felt somewhat underwhelming. For some reason, this year's Fright Nights seemed to lack the scare and atmosphere it had done in the past few years, whether that be due to the lower presence of Lionsgate, Tidal Wave being derelict or the fact the event just felt stale and too similar past events in the wrong ways. My Bloody Valentine was awful and feels too short without the hospital scene, Cabin felt stale especially since things like the revolving tunnel were still broken and the Big Top was somewhat of a big roulette. Some run throughs of the maze was fantastic and shone from the others but on others it was a mess which after queueing 2.5 hours does not leave a good impression either. Add together the concerning amount of ride closures and break downs at a time where it feels the park is somewhat struggling with guests adds only insult to injury. I counted 12 shut down rides at the end of my 2nd trip [the first Saturday] which had to be one of the worst trips to Thorpe I'd been to since 2011 when I regrettably chose to visit on a school trip day, god knows how worse it would've been without the wonderful people I went with that day too. So in all fairness unlike the previous two, 2015 Fright Nights in my eyes wasn't a successful event, which is a shame seeing they added two new attractions which with some altering and consistency could be fantastic, but this years event just felt weak and watery.. Even face it alone could not save it which in stark contrast, was absolutely brilliant and is the best it's ever been [though extreme it may be in some forms]. Lets hope 2016 can deliver a top level Fright Nights that the park deserves and that can complement next year's big plans. Merlin's Big Bang [Merlin highlight of 2015] Winner-Scarefest 2015 HM's- Heartlake City,Shrek's Adventure Another difficult one to pick up here [mostly due to most things Merlin wise being unfortunately somewhat negative], however one that does shine out for me though is how the Uk's 'supposed' No.1 park sort of brought themselves back to knees after such a bad fall last Halloween. I am talking here about Alton Tower's 2015 Scarefest event, which looked absolutely fantastic this year. Given a much needed refresh with two brand new mazes, scare zones and plenty more entertainment and theming bits, Alton Towers delivered a winner on to one of their leading events showing how a UK Halloween event should be done and kicking it's siblings events to the curb at Thorpe and Chessie. Strongly regrettably due to a number of reasons including finding the time, work commitments and a large amount of family do's [the majority of my family have October birthdays], I never had the chance to visit Scarefest, but from the pictures and videos I have seen around, the event as a whole looked spectacular. Shrek almost won this award, being a highly impressive fun and interactive attraction, but keeping in mind the bus no longer works, the ticketing system is a hassle to say the least and that Shrek's peak in popularity was at least 5 years ago does suggest a slight missed opportunity here which is why Scarefest wins it [just]. Merlin Maul [low light of Merlin in 2015] Winner-The Smiler Crash DM's, Chessington, parkwide reliability, short sighted budget cuts, an inevitable one here, but it's safe to say for many enthusiasts, the Smiler crash is by far the worst thing to happen for 2015, making even Chessington's dire park-wide state seem in the shadows. Love it or hate it, The Smiler has always been rather unreliable, from it's stop and start opening, hissy fit downtime or flying coaster wheels that one time. However what happened last summer was not just a disaster but a major catastrophe. The ride has murdered the park of all goodness and excitement it once had, seeing exciting exciting projects like the SW8 Cross Valley woodie buried underground because the operator is so OCD about success they apparently have null confidence of bringing on such an exciting challenge which would work to the park's favour. I feel sorry for those on-board who received injuries and it's a miracle no-one departed. It'll take sometime before the park can recover from this dreadful event and is extremely likely visitor numbers will still be noticeably lower next year to what they were in pre-2015. The park's method on getting back on to the road is also a debatable one, seeing as the park will be closed selected weekdays next year amongst no february half term or friday fireworks, which in a way seems to be the opposite of what they should be doing. This is also alongside the 'rumoured six rides being closed'. Lets only hope that the Air re-theme and food loop turn out to be worthwhile additions and that the Towers TLC plan brings us lots of upkeep improvements. Hopefully we could see some ageing rides given some love in the end. Best park of 2015 Winner- Efteling HM's Disneyland Paris, Adventure Island, Blackpool One I am still undecided on as it was between Efteling and Disneyland Paris [two park's I adore and love]. one of the reasons Efteling won was because they have created a number of memorable immersive experience that are at or near Disney quality yet are on a smaller budget. Rides such as Baron 1898, Dutchman and Fate Morgana are just a few of a good chunk of rides that have fulfilled this request. However, like most good theme parks, it isn't the rides that help this place shine through, but the park's setting. The location is beautiful and with it's countless stunning water features, architecture and heavily forested setting it easily comes across as one of the most picturesque park's out there even beating Towers. The fact despite it's size you can't help but walk around fairly relaxed also helps with the park's lovely atmosphere amongst the fact you can spend 2 hours in the Fairy Tale Forest and not regret it. The highly impressive Aquanura show, which is the best fountain show I have witnessed amongst Polle's Kitchen, a fantastic pancake house in the centre of the park only help this park further here and without doubt, it's a park not to be missed. For those of you wandering why Disneyland Paris didn't win, I can safely say it was only lost by a fingernail. Whilst I adore DLP, the thing to remember here is though the park is currently going through a major refurbishment phase plus also I have found some of the food offering leaving a lot to be desired too. Whilst neither of these ruin my day, they are things to note and since I have love both these places so much, it results in me having to be extremely picky for the winner to come out strong. Sometimes my opinions on which is better changes frequently on which I prefer. Whilst Efteling officially won this reward, both parks should be praised and achieved for the amazing places they are and are at standards that we can at the moment only dream our home park's become almost as good as let alone as good. Best new ride of 2015 Winner- Baron 1898 HM's Sky Force For me there was only going to be one winner for this category and it had to be Baron 1898. Whilst the ride is a little on the short side, it makes up for it's length by implementing some of the most impressive theming outside of a Disney park ever seen, ranging from the impressive heavily articulated station building with chimney to the custom supports and cog wheel feature attached to the lift hill. Alongside this, the ride spectacular pre-shows, special effects, Baron animatronic and even the ride's soundtrack [which IMA score have written another masterpiece with here] have crated a champion ride which appears to have been a massive success for the park amongst giving Efteling a signature ride. Baron is further proof that by adding superior quality thematic elements, structures and theatre, you can turn an alright ride in to a great one! Best new cred [that isn't new] Winner- Tower Of Terror HM's Big Thunder Mountain, Flying Dutchman, Joris, Ratatouille, Pirates Of The Caribbean No surprises here, but when I had my first ever ride on Tower Of Terror at Disneyland Paris, I instantly fell in love with it! Tower does pretty much everything I want in a dark ride, tell a story, explain why you're there, take us on a believable adventure and concludes in a spectacular fashion. ​Aside from it's spectacular themed façade [which can be seen for miles away], it's all the subtle details in the queue that make me love this ride more like the card game or the cob-webbed crow statue or even the eery service corridoor which reminds me a little of Saw's queue but feels much superior in feel. A rarity of this ride is, despite it's heavily based dialogue, I find Tower highly re-ridable,something I definitely haven't found on the likes of Hex or even Villa Volta which makes it win for me. Even the shop is spectacularly themed. Best Coaster Winner-Baron 1898 HM's Swarm, Joris, Megafobia, Considering I didn't get to ride Nemesis this year, it's safe to say Baron wins the award for the best coaster I have done this year. I just loved everything about the ride from it's theming and build up. I would say more, but I'll likely just be repeating myself considering Baron has also won best 2015 ride too. Best Dark ride Winner- Tower Of Terror HM's Fate Morgana, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Droomvlucht, Ratatouille I seem to treading on myself yet again here, but again for reasons explained up above it is clear Tower Of Terror is a definite winner for me here as a ride this seems to fulfill perfection. How the Americans will compare [whenver I get that opportunity to experience] will be a different matter. Pirates, Fate Morgana & Ratatouille to mention a few are all fantastic dark rides too which I also love and enjoy in their own way, but they cannot take down the terrificness of the Tower, at least not at the moment. Most underrated park Winner-Adventure Island HM's Pleasurewood Hills The 'so called' under dog award. This goes to park's which have done a great job during the season yet don't seem to be in the main ground. Adventure Island may not have much space and room to play with [making even Thorpe look large], but they certainly use much of this space to their advantage. This includes a handful of coasters, half decent dark ride, large selection of flats amongst other such rides. But it isn't just the good/creative use of space and attractions that have filled it, but the love the park receives. The ride staff here are some of the most friendly and enthusiastic ones I have ever seen, amongst the overall the love that goes in to up keeping their rides which each winter not just see's the rides stripped down but often repainted and refurbished to a level we only wish many other parks did. Adventure Island has never been a leading contender in the park industry, nor will it or ever try to be, but should be commended for the lovely shiny but minuscule little gem of a park it is and deserves a visit every once in while as a place that seems to have more love for their park in their fingers that others don't seem to have in their whole body. Most improved park Winner-Disneyland Paris HM's Blackpool, Adventure Island Disneyland Paris takes the reward for the most improved theme park of 2015. Whilst it's always been a magical place to visit, somepoint in the last decade the park went on a slippery slope where the park went in to some decline. This included cuts and cancellations to shows, reduced quality in food and service and rides and theming getting in to a very poor state [for Disney standards]. Whilst the park still shone from the UK ones in it's declining years, it seems the park has finally realised how run down [for Disney] the park had become and as a result is unleashing a massive upgrade plan. This will see many attractions and areas receive the much needed updates they deserve which shall hopefully bring the resort back to the amazing standard it was in it's early years, which at the time was said to be the most beautiful. In 2015, there has been a sudden shift of improvement in the park, with a massive range of new shows and additions, not to mention the amazing updates throughout the park too [even It's A Small World looks lush after it's revamp].Whilst we are in for a rough ride next year, with at least six attractions [three major] closed for major refurbs, by this time in 2017, the park shall hopefully look fantastic for it's next big park anniversary. Lets hope some of our parks can follow this suite [though on a smaller scale of course]. Best theme park show Winner-Disneydreams HM's Ravelijin, Aquanura Until this year, the best theme park show I had probably seen was the stunt show at Legoland. It is that statement alone which shows how much more I have been able to achieve witnessing no fewer than four shows on a grand scale. On another one I find remarkably hard to decided upon [with all being fantastic]. The prize here goes to the spectacular firework, fountain festival that is the wonderful Disney Dreams. This is a show that not delivers some fantastic effects and projection mapping on the park's centrepiece but is able to bring back all those childhood memories with a fantastic choice of repetoire from some of Disney's most iconic films. Numbers include Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and even Hunchback which all works perfectly to the loose Peter Pan plot line too. It is also one of the few places to belt out Disney songs and not look stupid [outside of Peaj's car]. Aquanura is also a fantastic show don't get me wrong, and perhaps a more subtle and sophisticated dreams without screens [or as massive crowds], but it is Dreams that wins it on nostalgia alone that makes it the best show in my books. Worst ride Winner- Armageddon DM's Studio Tram Tour, IAC, Storm Sturge, Smiler From the best to the worst, and one that has a fair share of it's contenders. It is Armageddon that wins it in the end however. Whilst the actual main section is actually quite good, the ride has one of the most dull,pointless and boring pre-shows that it makes even Charlie look interesting [somehow] which is the only time for me that Disneyland Paris felt unmagical. Best looking 2016 attraction Winner- Taron-Phantasialand HM's WC16, Lost Kingdom, Mako, Kong, Frozen ride 2016 looks to be one of the most exciting years we've seen for new rides for a while now, especially in the UK where we have not one, but two large projects in the works for two parks [one of which is looking to slowly appear on the main stage]. It is however Phantasialand's next big thing that I am most excited about in 2016 however. Whilst I may be booed by some for overlooking the uk, the new massive ride they are building looks to be one of the best coasters ever built in Europe alongside thematic landscaping that hasn't been seen since the likes of Everest. Taron looks to be one crazy but amazing coaster with so much track and elements crammed in to such a modest location and should make for one beast of a ride. Lets just hope Intamin don't ruin the trains [cough cough Baco]. It's crazy to think they will be building another smaller coaster on that site too alongside upgrading River Quest. Whilst Taron may have won best [looking] new ride next year, it doesn't necessarily mean it will win the best 2016 attraction next year but anything can happen. Who knows, WC16 could well be a ride that is a worldwide game changer with theming that makes sense and Lost Kingdom could hold an overwhelming amount of charm. It could even be Wild Fire or Walibi's next big thing which seem to be underdogs at the moment [however it's unlikely I will be getting either of those creds next year]. Florida also holds another exciting year [which will also be the case for 2017 & 2018] as being rides that interest lots. However I can't see me reaching the states at all next year unlike I am extremely lucky. Personal Acreekments The more personal awards, this about memories not additions of statistics. Most magical Creek moment [park highlight of 2015] Winner- Disneyland Paris [1] HM's, Riding megafobia in the dark on the back, Efteling in the dark, arriving at Disneyland site listening to the Mickey Mouse March This time last year, I was resenting the fact I still hadn't been to Disneyland Paris [especially that there at least six failed attempts and a working trip to France]. After nearly losing all hope [as seen in my random video], my wish was finally fulfilled as I was lucky to visit for the first time thanks to TPM's Peaj. Having my first ever visit last April with Peaj, Fish, Alex & Jaymiee, I had an amazing trip to Disneyland Paris which has to be one of the most magical trips away I've ever had and I don't think I've been so happy for some time. Whilst the winning title may seem on the vague side, I just can't decide upon a single solo moment that sticks out, due to enjoying pretty much everyone during the whole trip. This includes my first ever park ride [and first goes on everything], eating at Cafe Mickey, watching Dreams,the arrival at the gates alongside being joined by one of my best mates from sixth form [who lived in Paris at the time] and whom I hadn't seen for years [who thankfully got on very well with everyone]. Even the gift shops and the pre-drinking on the friday were enjoyable experiences [though arriving to Disney first thing with a slight hangover and 3 hours sleep is never a good thing]. Whilst I have enjoyed all my Disney trips this year [I've only done two], I will always remember the first one and how 'amazing' it was. Creakened Creak [biggest achievement of 2015] Winner- Getting to Disneyland Paris HM's visiting Efteling, walking on Swarm Safe to say this is a surprising winner of course . Disneyland Paris did me a great deal of favours, not just introducing me to my first Disney and world class theme park [if you don't count Towers], but also opened the doors to a brand new era. An era that I will hopefully get to experience many more fantastic parks and new rides outside of the Uk, Efteling is an example of this. It's just amazing how many theme park gems we seem to have in Europe. Biggest amusment of 2015 Winner- Peaj getting Disney cast member out of character HM's MOS shenanigan's, everything that happened at the Disney meet In what appears in the third reward running, Disneyland Paris has done it once again is the winner of the most amusing shenanigan of 2015. In many Disney rides, cast members don't just operate and run rides, but they portray a specific character to help build the setting and experience for guests, whether that be restaurant staff on Ratatouille or bell hoppers in Tower Of Terror. The event here, takes place on the latter where one these cast members was behaving as such portraying the mysterious and creepy bell hoppers, where it would take quite an ordeal to get that member out of character. That ordeal was when Peaj said how many there were in the group resulting in that cast member to go out of character and whiff due to Peaj's breath apparently . It shall not be explained why this happened, but it was very hilarious to watch and witness. The Bewilder reward [Matt Creek's low light of 2015] Winner- Choosing the worst weekend to visit Alton Towers DM's not getting Drayton Manor, The only one that could've won it for me. When I learned I could not make the official TPM Towers meet [due to work and party], I decided to plan my own trip up to Towers with a friend and myself. This trip took place on June the 6-8th. In what was supposed to be a very exciting and relaxed weekend, I also booked myself and friend a VIP lift walk on one of the park's main coasters. This coaster was the Smiler. Everything was all booked and ready to go, where excitement was growing by the day for my trip to the park; then the accident happened. ​The park closed Wednesday, then Thursday, then Friday and unsurprisingly Saturday and Sunday as well where my trip to Towers was no more. Luckily though thanks to some kind friends in the Towers area, our plans were not beaten, only badly blooded as were able to go to Blackpool instead on the Saturday whilst spending a relaxed day at the Towers hotels on the Sunday. Even then, the Big One was shut and we had to cancel our Treetop slot due to running severely behind and catching a train home. In regards to the lift hill walk, I was lucky enough to get a refund after changing it Nemesis after the accident but sending an understanding email once I knew they would be closed. Hopefully next year I will finally manage a proper Towers visit, even if the park is underwhelming aside from the new food restaurant [which is the only thing that I'm really excited about there currently]. Spilt Dignity award [most embarrassing act but amusing to those watching]] Winner- Re-enacting the dance of thriller drunk HM's choosing the wrong rows in tower of terror,Fuzzy Duck, the strange six symbol, Life style of Aladdin [in the what disney character would I be game]. The reward where I look the most idiotic but perhaps most amusing to those watching and witnessing these shenanigans. This reward goes to that time in Wales where after drinking several TGI cocktails and a lot of wine, Professor Drunk appeared, however whenever certain songs came on, I randomly danced around 'trying' to re-enact them. One of those was Thriller and once other of the group had arrived on the Friday another Thriller re-enactment went ahead. This resulted in me running round the room, slamming doors, pulling up hoods, jumping at people and then the coat hangers. The coat hangers were spontaneously picked from the side and banged together at the songs climax, however just before I dropped on to the bed at the end of the song, as a result of banging them together so hard and repeatedly one of those coat hangers broke and become dislocated. After awkwardly placing it back, it was safe to say our excuse from this outcome would've been re-enacting the dance to Thriller, though someone did say they didn't remember the original Thriller containing coat hangers. Safe to say there's been almost as many this year as last year where my Creaky dignity has gone out the window. Whether this be always going out on the wrong row on Tower Of Terror, signing a random six on the same ride [confusing the operator] or losing a simple game whilst sober, they're all pretty embarrassing but funny to look back on. And so ends 2015 bringing us in to a hopefully exciting 2016, a year where it will be time for Thorpe, Phantasia, Paultons and most of the Florida parks to shine. However it may not be the best of years to visit Towers, Disneyland Paris and Hollywood studios for numerous different reasons which will be the mix of building sites and derelict based on current rumours. What does 2016 have planned so far? I have several park's lined up for the list in what could be the biggest year yet. This includes a weekend trip to Liseberg which is already booked plus plans for Phantasialand and Europa Park [the latter I hope to do with TPM]. Uk park's will likely involve Blackpool, Towers, Paultons and Dreamland whilst Thorpe Legoland and Chessington are most likely givens. There is more to be confirmed, which will could be anything. Drayton could finally be done, alongside a fly by to Billund Legoland and even a last trip to DLP before my pass expires [which may not be renewed until early 2017]. We shall have to see. Finally, I would like thank the whole of TPM for being amazing this year [and tolerating my Creakiness]. Extra thanks goes to: Peaj- for being a fantastic meet organiser and those Disney trips, which without I probably still wouldn't have been [and be moaning continuously of having not been]. Myk & Shinequa, Fish and Scary Coaster Boy for giving me lifts to parks throughout the year [whom without I wouldn't have visited as many parks] Stretchy- for everything done that Tower[less] weekend Mer- for making my renewal cheaper [at this expensive time] Marc & Ian for running TPM Alex for tolerating Saw Plus all the mods for keeping the site safe, fun and amusing Happy Christmas, Here's to 2016, see you next year!
  9. Efteling is more than just about the rides, especially when a large chunk of park comprises of the Fairy Tale Forest. The Fairy Tale Forest is a massive forested area in the park which features a large array of animatronics and models telling the story of numerous fairy tales. There are different types of settings, some that are outdoors, others that are inside and some that are somewhat a mixture of both. Some have said to me how you can spend hours looking around the whole area. Believe me, it's no joke as it took me around two hours to polish the whole area whilst taking everything in from the charm and overall atmosphere of the area and believe me, it didn't feel like a waste of time at all and was an intriguing experience in the wacky yet wonderful world of the Fairy Tale Forest as there was just so much to see. As a result of this, I shall only be showing some of the best fairy tales. if anyone wants to see any more of the missing, just let me know. The iconic tree is one of the main centrepieces. To me, he comes across as wise and intelligent. Could This Dragon be the influence for the creation of Joris? One of the most interesting ones, the Chinese Nightingale. The way they did the carpet on this one still remains interesting today. The Emperors New Clothes, One of the more modern fairy tales in the forest.The effects and animatronics used here were nothing short of impressive. There's some giant bits of theming in here [pun intended]. One of the most famous ones I think, the dancing water lilies I think. The track is included on the park CD. The insppiration for Aquanura surely? On of the more familiar ones, Cinderella. I like how the castle appears at the end. I think Europa park got some influence from this one. One of the more simple but effective ones here. And who could forget this fellow? One of the original ones here [Anton Pieck anyone]? And of course this guy, who is one of the first characters you will encounter in the forest. But there's more than just dozens of fairy tale models and characters in this forest. There's a full scale theatre right in the middle where a puppet show aires every so often. Great show for young families, although the position of the dragon puppet is debatable. But there's more to just the Fairy Tale Forest and the rides. Ravelijan, a full scale live action show featuring numerous impressive live stunts and effects addition to theming and a soundtrack that are superb. Whilst I didn't understand the what was being said, the choreography and everything else was enough for me to know what was going on. Ravelijan as a result of it's greatness is now my favourite theme park show [that doesn't use fountains & projections] and that includes Lights Motors Action too. Amazing show. Like many of the best parks, Efteling features many random wonderful attractions around. One of these is this walk-through which depicts numerous fairy tale diorama scenes. An interesting distraction. There was also an indoor carousel in the same complex which made me think of the long closed Carousel Kingdom at Thorpe Park. Naturally during a busy day out, the need to have a bite to eat becomes inevitable. but Efteling, it's not all 'shove it down your mouth' at the park eateries. Like a lot of the park, it is a unique experience. Polle's Kitchen is a must do on anyone's visit to Efteling. Because they do the most amazing pancakes you've seen and eaten. They do savoury ones. Or sweet ones. Both I had during my trip were absolutely fantastic. It's one the best places I've ever eaten at within a theme park and the theming and turning gears which will speed up and react to the music every so often help significantly. You can also buy pancake mix in the shops and restaurant as well, to yours heart's desire. There's even a small museum in the park dedicated to the history of the park. It may not be for everyone but is nice to see the park keep such a historic addition. Now on to one of the most ambiguous additions in the park, Spooksplot. Which down to interpretation can be seen as a show or an attraction. I see it personally as a show [though maybe not in the traditional sense]. This is because you enter an unguarded entrance way, which adds to the mysterious atmosphere, wait and then enter where you are then shown a series of interesting effects in a spooky gothic setting whilst the music of Dance Macabre [Jonathan [Matt] Creek] plays. Despite it's unknown entrance way, it fits in to the park very well even today as a sign of one of the first stepping stones where Efteling started expanding from the fairy tale forest in to the large world class park it is today. The effects there are still intriguing from the peppers ghost to the moving stairs especially considering this is nearly 40 years old, being the first projected created by the now late Tony Van De Ven, the successor to the park's original creative artist. This attraction was also one of the set pieces to the music video to Kate Bush's first tv appearance [type Kate Bush Efteling in youtube]. But no visit to Efteling would be complete without watching the shows fantastic fountain show Aquanura, the largest fountain show in Europe [third in the world]. It's an absolutely fantastic show, especially how they synchronise all the different fountains and colours to the music which are all ride themes from the park. These include The Flying Dutchman, Joris and Dream Flight, all of which are re-orchestrated to transition better but still retain their original features. And some beautiful night shots to close my Efteling report, because this is one of the most picturesque parks I have ever visited [probably overtaking even Towers on that one]. Efteling is an underrated park. It features some fantastic theming and impressive rides alongside some excellent shows, entertainment and even eateries and as a result is one of my favourite park's I have ever visited. My favourite rides were easily Joris, Dutchman, Baron & Fate Morgana amongst many others. Not many weak rides in this park here, Monseur Carnival comes across as the only ride I did not really like and though Python was a little dull, I did not dislike it. My only criticisms to the park would be the park closes rides at closing times [not the queue like many others], which would be nice if they took up the Towers way of closing things and the merch. Whilst there was some merch there to buy [notably Baron & CDs], I did not find there was a great selection and actually found it quite difficult choosing stuff to buy in the wrong sort of way. If the park could do more ride branded items like pens, mugs, t-shirts and even badges, it would be so much better. Aside from these few floors, this park like Disney [ in it's own way], wipes the floor with much of the current UK offering. A lot of UK parks could learn many things if they took a leaf out of Efteling's book.
  10. Causing a bit of a gap to the long speculated trip reports of certain members visiting several new major parks [surprisingly not Benin in this case], you may be wondering what the Creek will be able to provide to contend with this. If you were hoping for reports of new visited parks and the like, you may leave feeling rather disappointed [there are big plans in the works for the near'ish future though], however what I will offer instead will be in the shape and form of unique and different theme park activity. Having been a big fan/enthusiast of parks and coasters for a long time, there is something I had always wanted to do at a park for a long time in my life; that was walking up to the top of roller coaster lift hill. Following the foreseeable cancellation of my Towers lift hill walk [due to the unfortunate accident of a certain ride], I instantly booked myself a coaster climb on one the coasters at Thorpe [whether it's a good idea to this the day after a heavy night clubbing and drinking is another story however] Judging from the [poorly quality] picture above you can tell right away which ride I went for; Colossus After having experienced my chosen ride at the end of the day before closing, I waited patiently outside the ride's exit [as instructed by the details on the email I'd received when I booked it], where I was soon approached by a member of Thorpe's stuff and when clarifying my name, I knew my experience was about to begin. Being directed in to the Swarm's control booth with others taking the walk [a dad and his son], we were given an informative talk about the ride's generally statistics from basic things such as opening in 2012, being built by Bolliger & Mabillard and costing 20 million to more complex and interesting facts. When it comes to dispatching the ride, the operator in the control booth must press both green buttons with his hands in-addion to the platform staff pressing the other four buttons. If one of these buttons isn't pressed the ride will not dispatch. Interestingly, there are four positions staff can be allocated to on this ride, control operator, baggage room, front and back of station, where are total number of seven staff are required on two trains operation and six on one train operation. The ride's console is a lot smaller and advanced from the park's older consoles [inferno's apparently strikes similarities but is noticeably bigger]. Not only can individual rows of restraints be released individually [no need for the recheck all bars here] but the computer system can also calculate how many trains have been running on the system and give a general count of throughput. Speaking on throughputs, one train operation on Swarm allows for about 600 people per hour [pph] whilst two trains allows up to 1200 PPH. As you can witness from the photo [and the giveaway on the booth] the ride was on just one train at the end of the day, however this was to ensure final checks on the ride's others train which would be checked up through the evening/night and then run on the circuit the next day whilst the existing train would then receive it's inspection. Interestingly whilst the work shop is located on the right to the station building, there is a giant cold fridge in there too [ I forget why though]. Other interesting things the console allows [pictured above] is to open/close gates, stop and start the ride and also stop and start on the lift hill too. The ride was naturally locked down when we were there which only the engineering crew would be able to open to stop any possibility of the ride operating whilst we were there. One of the other proceedures of loading aside from the buttons and thumbs up is all seats must be closed and locked for dispatched regardelss of them being with or without riders. The second part of the console, this allows the operator to speak to through the tannoy systems, and press automated announcments such as weather closing and reopening. There's naturally a phone too for the operator to contact platform staff. like all ride's alike, the ride uses CCTV throughout the surrounding area which is to used to ensure the ride is working correctly and that no one has trespassed in the surrounding area [which would result in an e-stop]. Before doing the actual part of the lift walk, everyone was instructed to put on safety harness vests, which involved putting the main part on your chest whilst adjusting and tightening the giant clip and then getting your legs through the holes then adjusting them. This was finalised by the ball hold which would connect to the coaster wire itself. Then it was time for the walk itself to begin. This gaint bit of machinery operates the lift hill of the ride. The harness I was wearing was connected to the chainwire at the side, which involved in the positioning of the clip. Every so often, you would need to push the clip through a check point area so to ensure maximum safety. If you folded the clip in, then it would stick you to position. The design of this safety figure has been designed to prevent slip backs, so if you accidentally trip up on the way up or down, the clip safely locks you in place preventing any major accidents from happening. One of things talked about was the actual meaning of the ride's project name LC12. I naturally put it down as Lez Cougan, however the actual meaning of the acronym was infact Lost Cause. Mentions of other project names such as Project Odyssey [Colossus] and Project Dylan [saw] were also mentioned briefly there too. And many steps later, we finally reached the top. It was a very nice day so I was able to get some pretty good views of the park and surrounding area whilst I was up there [including Heathrow]. Who Thought Thorpe was so beautiful I learn't many interesting new facts on my climb which was great to hear whilst taking in the stunning views below. These included, 1/ Stealth & Rita were originally supposed to be one big coaster however due to some difficulties in planning it, this was split in half. So Thorpe got one half [the better half IMO] whilst Towers got Rita. 2/ The reason why Nemesis Inferno was themed like a volcano was because of the fire that took place on the site the ride replaced [Tropical Travels]. 3/ If Thorpe were to build something massive on the empty island next to Swarm, they would need to remove something equivalent in size [my tour guide described the park's landscape as being like a Lilo. I naturally had to ask/enquire about WC16 [Thorpe's new dark ride] during the climb. However unsurprisingly he wasn't able to provide much information except that it would be the first kind of ride to ever exist in the world and that it would be a top class ride. Even facts down to when it would open [spring or summer] could not be provided. He did mention there would be more interesting in vestments on the way within the park and that Thorpe's target was now all age groups. When it came to Fright Nights, he said that this years one would be bigger and better, however couldn't confirm completely if there would be any new attractions or face it alone returned [but hinted the former was likely]. On the operational front, the ride cannot operate below 5 degrees or in winds over 35 MPH, there's a wind tracking device at the top of the hill which is sort of in the form of a micro wind turbine. The main Thorpe hotel is expected to open around 2018/2019. It was mentioned how a spruce up of the entrance would be liked [depecting a very RCT style appearance] and hinted that a redesign in the future would probably happen however the dome would remain for the foreseeable long term due to it's complex structure and helpful functions within the park. One of the most eager questions I asked I did manage to get an answer for though was the future of the now closed Chief Rangers Caroulsel? When dismantled the ride was stored temporarily in the staff car park for a while, however unfortunately the ride will never be able to return to the park. This is because it's going to a different park. Which though wasn't said however apparently it isn't close to any major European parks and the country of location is unknown [so tracking of the ride will likely be extremely difficult]. I am happy to confirm though that many prominent items from the old ride have been salvaged including the old ride centrepieces which are apparently now located in the education centre. The other horses on the ride are believed to have been kept to use on the ride's new home. I asked on what the forseeable future for Mr Monkey might be and he reckons the ride is here to stay as a tribute and lone survivor of the Ranger area that once dominated the park. When it came to potential rides going, the answer was generally that Thorpe like to keep their rides and that Samurai was closed so that they could give it out the attention it needed to work again as it was still a popular ride at the park. When it came to Colossus's 'potential' repaint he was unsure on whether it would get fully done and did agree that ride presentations are an important aspect of rides. He did however hint towards the possible return of the railway in the future and the re-theme of Rumba though. Proof this is real A pic of me and my guide I'm a long way up! After this unique,interesting and insightful experience, I gradually made it down from this giant coaster back to the ground where I thanked my host before grabbing my belongings and making my way. The Big Question Was The Walk Worth £50? Just about, in this experience, not only do you get to go up and down your coaster of choice, but you are presented with stunning and amazing views of the surrounding area not just in the park but on for many miles throughout the landscape. You also learn a lot of new facts and information on different things in the park from the operational and management side to how the park works as a whole. Seeing the control cabin of one of my favourite coasters was another interesting sight and I enjoyed my time doing this experience where all the VIP team were extremely friendly and helpful and this was no rush or pushing ahead on the experience at any time. I will probably do another lift walk here at somepoint in the future [not sure when though] on Colossus to see how it compares and look how different the ride works from an operational view, B&M were described as the creme de la creme of coasters when I was there. If you're in to different theme park experiences and wish to experience a lift hill walk, I would definitely recommend experiencing one on The Swarm!
  11. Dreamland Margate has been a place that I have always been interested in for years and when I found out it would be reopening this year I knew I had to plan a visit, after all it's the nearest park to me with a woodie (with the others either being in the north, East Anglia or Wales). This is why I have decided to hold an unofficial trip/meet up there this summer to check what has been perhaps the most exciting 2015 development in the UK. This is not a meet by all means as there's no specific plans/arrangements apart from having a great time and exploring the park and possibly surrounding areas. The trip is currently scheduled for Saturday 11th July 2015, which loosely may also be my TPM birthday celebration trip too. The park's openings hours that day so far are 10am-8pm. For anyone who's interested and would like to join, feel free to comment below or any form of PM or communication you request. Further information on the park, prices and how to get there can be found on the Dreamland website. http://www.dreamland.co.uk
  12. Despite our slightly stumbly trip back from Mcdonalds, we made it back to the hotel in where Part 3 of the trip shall now entail. After a waking alarm at 7am, packing our bags and everything, we headed back to Disney, this time using Peajy Taxis instead of the train. During the 2nd day at the park, we gain a sixth person to our party, Sam [Lightyear93] as one of my sixth form mates was able to join us for the day [who is currently doing a placement in Paris]. He too has a Disney Pass. After failing to get my lovely chocolate croissant due an arrogant Frenchman in front at Mainstreet, I sadly had to settle for a normal bog standard one [though Alex kindly let me have a bite of his] where our first ride of the day would be Pinoccio's Daring Voyage. And what a loverly little dark ride it was. I've always had a soft spot for the Disney film [for some reason]. 7/10 better than the random knock off at Tivoli World. After giving a little whistle while we worked our way in Fantasy Land, we did the Snow White ride which was nearby. This was another exciting little dark ride which I really enjoyed and definitely had a lot more details and effects than what I had watched on POVs from ages ago and was very enjoyable, 7.5/10. I preffered the Snow White ride to the Pinoccio one, because I think it told the film's story just a little better and showed us more key scenes, eventhough the latter is a little higher on my list of favourite Disney films. In terms of all fantasy land dark ride, I would put Snow White first, with Pinoccio closely following second with Peter Pan third and it's A Small World unsurprisingly being fourth. We will take in a few shots of the Castle [because you can never see too much of the castle], before we check in to somewhere much different. We had problems with our hotel earlier one so were directed to this place which definitely looks a grand giant place. This Place sure looks like it hasn't been worked on for quite a while. It was moments later we were sent to the hotel's library where we waited for our rooms to be ready, just as the television suddenly turned on and told us about a strange incident that took place over 70 years, before we got sent to the service lift where we entered and left the Twilight zone. Twillight Tower of Terror is an absolutely fantastic attraction, highly immersive from beginning to end, starting with the creepy worn hotel foyer with the very much in character bell hoppers, the mysteriously themed library room, the eiry boiler plus the ride itself which is packed with some amazing scenes and effects on top of a drop sequence that upstages even Detonator, the weightless you feel is just amazing. I almost lost my Goofy hat my second go too Definitely the best ride at the resort, best drop tower I've done and my favourite dark ride which shoots straight up to number 1 on my dark ride top 10, where the result of the new credits of high quality dark rides on this trip have placed Hex down to 3rd. 11/10 Now on to an even bigger opinion splitter than Saw The Ride, Animagique. Alex hates this, but Peaj loves this, but what would I reckon to it? The show was alright. It was fun, it was cheesy and featured some good old fashion Disney fun with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and a string of other characters from Disney classics wrapped up in song and dance. It was very interesting how they did all the backdrops and transitions during the show and you can't fault a show that features Mickey in it. 6/10 I would much rather watch this on repeat all day than riding it's a Small World. During our time, we managed to experience Lights Motors Action, which was an absolutely amazing packed action show full of impressive stunts, effects and car chases featuring quite a few Vauxhal Astra cars [Adam's after us]. 7/10 Then It was Cinemagique which was an absolutely magical show, featuring the story of a man who answers his phone during the movie and is then sucked in to a reel of films from the ages including early black and white films, westerns and even Star Wars. There's also a Damsel in distress throughout the action too where both end up together through film. There's even a few touchy moments too including the end of Toy Story 3. 8/10 Next up was Rock N Roller Coaster, a ride which for me was definitely the most coherant to my occupation due to it's theme on being a music studio. Despite it's split opinions on this rides [some love it, others hate it], I really enjoyed this, from the music studio theme to the launch which felt similar to Rita's but far more pleasant. I love the light sequences and inversions on top of the synced audio throughout the ride which feels like a superior and thrilling equivalent to X at Thorpe [where similar statements about both ride's similarities have been made]. This was [and still is] Sam's favourite Disney ride which is no surprise really, however he wasn't too happy to learn that this ride in the future is set to be re themed in to A spider man coaster, when this will happen I don't know but reckon 2018 once the 25 anniversary celebrations start to wear off and focus comes back to improving the park's ride line-up. From a Rock Tour to a Tour Of Rocks, as we went on the Studio Tram Tour ride. It was an ok ride, nothing special really, very mediocre if I'm honest. The canyon effects with the truck was interesting and the London scenes were an ok distraction, but otherwise the ride was mostly forgetable, 3/10. We also did Armageddon later on. The actual main section of the attraction was pretty impressive, where youre very much in the centre of a working film set featuring loads of effects such as things from the side and ceiling moving and falling off plus several moments of fire interactions so close, you almost believe you're going to burn for the slightest of milliseconds. The pre show however ruined this for me as it was so boring and incoherent and one of the few moments in the day I felt underwjelmed. 4/10 [the preshow is that bad]. After this ride we went off to Planet Hollywood as we were all getting really hungry [the tour having not helped] to eat with the stars. Despite containg some pretty decent movie related theming inside, I was a little concerned at how this restaurant would turn out having read some negative reviews on there recently. However luckilly we had a very good meal, the food was much better than expected although in some cases a little smaller than expected, the burger I had there was excellent. The guy serving us was very friendly and a right laugh, asking if all of us were having a lads holiday thing or something and quesitoning why we went Disney, before we explained why, such a fun restaurant. After this, it was time to parade out of the planetarium structure back in to Disneyland Park in time to catch the daily parade [after Peaj did some pintrading]. I didn't take as many pictures as I had originally hoped [probably because I was filming and the weather was pretty miserable at this moment in time].. Absolutely loved the parade, it's a staple activity for any trip to Disney long or short and is such a great sight seeing all the characters from Pinoccio to Frozen and Disney mascots with all the performers looking so happy and enthusiastic [and as one would hope]. I also love the soundtrack too. After this, we paraded back to the Studios and did Crush's Coaster which proved to be the longest wait of the ride at 60 minutes which in the end we just went for [high popularity+ Low Throughput= Forest Fire]. The first queuing section of the ride is a fairly dull cattlepen [least it;s undercover and features the odd bit of theming], but the indoors bit of the queue is much better due to the range of extensive theming and the Seagulls with their famous catchphrase. Whilst Cattlepen's, Low throughputs and long waits don't often indicate great rides, this was actually fantastic. I loved the interactive elements in the ride and spinning of the car on top of the numerous twists and turns throughout the circuit. This is probably my favourite spinning coaster now [topping even fury just], probably helped that Finding Nemo is another film I strongly enjoy. 9/10 [if it weren't for the queue and throughput I might have given it 10]. From one PIxar land to another, we headed to Pixar play land to get a ride on RC Racer. Sam poses with Buzz and Buzz Lightyear, The Rc Racer queue line is very well themed, it's a lot like a giant Scalextric track and builds up the ride quite well. Until you reach the indoor cattlepen, least it's still themed though. Rc Racer was a ride I really enjoyed, I loved the ride when it got to the high points during the ride as it offered a bit of air time each moment it did this, shame it was a bit on the short side, 7/10. We didnt do the parachute drop or slinky dog due to lack of time so moved on to something new. [imghttps://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xtf1/v/t1.0-9/11102662_948259215224775_6943918262360886461_n.jpg?oh=7685b2d40106df07c57ba166da4b4a85&oe=55DE2122&__gda__=1440660089_e78f3cdac430b41c58eece2a8f04b6d0[/img] Off to experience the park's latest addition Ratatouille, when approaching the ride you the attraction's own dedicated courtyard which features beautifully themed facade's to the ride and parisian style paving on top of a very picturesque centrepiece fountain. The queueline like most studios rides starts off rather cattle penny but for some reason feels more bearable queuing than most, maybe due to the atmospheric music, posters and bits of theming that are present in the surrounding areas, but then indoors again it becomes much more interesting due to the heavily themed Parisian rooftop style scenery and the interactive Gusteu who comes to life every few minutes in the queue. Ratatouiee for me is a very good dark. Whilst it doesn't quite top Tower & Pirates for me, it is overall a very fun interactive with lots of different features which work to a degree where it makes you feel like you're completely in the action from the kitchen chase to the exploding champagne bottle. 9/10 We entered the shop which like most at Disney is heavily themed plus featuring plenty of merchandise along the way too.It was also here Alex learned his disappointment on how he could've bought his Ratatouille hat for a cheaper price. The Studios Park had now closed for the day and from this moment onwards, I slowly got more of a feeling that the end was nearing, my magical trip to Disney was much nearer to the end. After this we went back to the main park and did another ride on Buzz Lightyear, Sam beat by quite a margin and Peaj dressed as Buzz with the mask and startled quite a few people in the ride's exit. Then we did it's a small world again [the horror] and in the process we had just missed our last chance at getting rides on Casey Jr & The Canal Boats as it was no 8pm. As we planned to leave the park around 9pm [before the crowds rounded up for another viewing of Dreams], we had around just an hour left to experience the magic of Disney and so it was decided we would experience two park staples once more, Pirates & Big Thunder. Pirates was amazing as ever [despite getting the slight stacking thing towards the end again] whilst despite appearing to have capacity problems as just one station was being used, Big Thunder was an excellent end to the trip featuring it's amazing layout in the twilight. Once our ride one Big Thunder was up, so was the Disney magic as it was time to prepare for the long journey back home. After slowly walking through the now lit streets of Main street for the last time this trip, Tom & I shopped around for merchandise in World Of Disney whilst Peaj and the others got food from the earl to eat just before our trip home. The World Of Disney shop is a massive place with loads of merchandise where I spent a good 90 euro or so on things to buy. One thing I have realised since going to Disney is unlike the uk parks, the big gift shops don't sell all the park merchandise so sadly I'll have to get a tower of terror and Rock N roller t-shirt on another visit. And once out of the shop, I said farewells to Sam who left just before us to get a train back to Paris and then reunited with Peaj & co. to eat my last Disney meal, an Earl Of Sandwich which was absolutely delicious and prepped me well for the long journey back. After final loo breaks and filling petrol up at the park's petrol station, we all headed off in the car watching Disneyland Paris slowly vanish and disappear in to the darkness with the smallest of tear in my eyes as the magic was over and we drove back to Calais ready to return to the real world. How Does Disneyland Paris Compare to everything in the UK so far? The park is amazing, it features heavy immersive theming, a great selection of rides, lots of shows and entertainment and decent park hours. Whilst the park has it's fair share of faults, the main park is in the middle of a parkwide refurbishment with scaffolding and closed attractions everywhere and the Studios seems to be an extreme of rides that are excellent such as Tower or poor such as Trams & Armageddon, I hate to admit it but the place wipes the floor with most of the uk offering. The overall magic of disney full of characters, theming and interaction verses the secondary full of rundown, mediocre themed and over kill of cattlepens can't be compared to what's just over the english channel.Then again, Disney has a much bigger budget for about everything, has the privilege of owning much more land and having much less hassling building issues such as landscape and noise pollution due to it's area. The uk themeparks however still win for me in the following categories though: Park Wifi Park Toilets They're easier to get to [mostly] So until my hopeful return here in September, I say Goodbye and head in to the sunlight of the real world once more.
  13. Once Upon A Time, in a land of Merlin empire lived a Creaky Themepark Fanatic who had a life long dream to visit Disneyland Paris. Living under the curse for 21 years, many attempts to break the spell in 2014 were unleashed, but none prevailed. However many months later in to 2015, The Creek encountered Buzz Lightyear & Remy who cooked together a magic plan. Joined by a Mickey Taking Sorcerer. And The Spell Was Broken!!! Matt Creek had made it to Disneyland Paris. Transformed back to his normal Creaky Disney Self, he was about to enter a world full of magic and one that was immune to horrendous staggered opening hours, budget cuts, Fastrack sales, One Train operations and very run down areas. The Car Train which takes you from England to France, the beginner of the magic. We stayed at the Aparthotels in Val'D Europe during our stay which was very cheap and nice to stay in too [ a bit like having your own little apartment really]. Day 1 After a few hours sleep and croissants for breakfast, it was off to the most magical place in Europe [although it;s probably second after Europa]. The Val'D Europe Shopping centre, a predrink to all the magic. The platform for the train that takes you to Disney. And for One Euro Seventy, that really is rather magic. Matt Creek wears a Mickey Mouse shirt [and socks], to prepare himself for the magic A Double Decker train. What is this magic? And with a few moments like that, you arrive at the gates as if by magic. The surroundings of the Disney Village, we will experience that magic later And it is here where we find the real magic starts to work it's way in, OMG WE HAVE ARRIVED AT DISNEYLAND PARIS, I REPEAT WE HAVE ARRIVED AT DISNEYLAND PARIS!!!!! Spring theming at the entrance to the park. It's touches like this which make the surroundings even more magical Main Street USA, the theming and attention to detail is just magic. This theming is magic, But it is this view here where it really is truly Magic. Creek In The Magic The attention to detail in Main Street is just superb and just amazing. Pictures can't justify how great the setting and the build up to the castle in distance is superb. It's an even better park entrance view to Towers Street which in comparison to the vibrant Main Street looks like a worn out town during the recession. Magic More Magic The attention to detail in that Castle is magic!!! Another view as if by magic! Discovery Land, this area is lacking the magic more from the rest of the park at the moment. This is because Space Mountain is currently closed part of a long refurbishment. And with the covered scaffolding, elements of the different facades have magically disappeared. Videopolis whilst closed is looking fresh as if given a lick of paint by magic. And now it's off to do our first magical ride of the day, Star Tours. And here's an arcade after the ride. Least it's more magical than the one in Oblivion. Star Tours was an amazing first ride. The queue line was heavily themed with different spaceship crafts and characters from Star Wars and built up to the attraction rather nicely. The ride itself [was just as good as you went around in a spaceship like craft passing different scenes and settings from the Star Wars films and it really did feel as if you were flying. Rating 8/10. Inside The Magic Buzz Lightyear Laser Blasters, this ride has a magic throughput It's just as magical from the outside Some people don't think this ride is magical, but I can't find a mark anywhere Even The Shop Is Magical Buzz Lightyear Laser Blasters was a ride I really enjoyed. It didn't beat Star Tours in terms of my favourites but I did like the ride very much. I don't know why it receives haters because it is really a good ride and much better than Laser Raiders & Tomb Blaster [at least in it's current state]. 7/10 More Spring theming. It's just magic More Magic The Lion King. It's like I'm reliving my child hood, the magic Words can't express this magic A mysterious magical structure lies in the distance Which even a big green fence cannot destroy this magic It's magic I tell you The reason why Disney beat Merlin is because things like this are often magically well kept The Big Magic Thunder Mountain No Matter where you look at it from, it's completely magic There's so many photos taken from the trip, If I were to comment on all them, there would be a shortage on Magic. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is an absolutely amazing ride. The high quality immersive theming [which is present at most of Disneyland Paris] makes this ride look visually stunning. But what makes the ride from good to great is the fun impressive layout on this ride, from the exciting dive undrground at the start and the end of the ride to it's interaction with other ride trains and plenty of fun twists, turns and hills on the way. Big Thunder is now officially my favourite family coaster and so far best ride at Disney. 10/10 Phantom Manor, this place is full of dark magical things Just make sure you don't use your flash on inside, otherwise you will receive a magical complaint from staff Phantom Manor was another good ride. Not my top favourite, but I still really enjoyed it. I love rides with a dark, spooky and Gothic style theme and this ride falls in there nicely. I liked all the effects they used such as the hollow dancers and singing heads amongst other things. 7.5/10 The most magical thing about this chandelier is it's still standing and hasn't been been removed and left empty like a certain park ;] Now for a magical relaxing break. Am I the only one to think that this rock used to be more magical? The views of Big Thunder you get from Thunder Messa are truly magical Thunder Messa is a loverly little boat ride that takes you on a relaxing journey on the rivers of Frontier Land. it's such a relaxing ride to do and escape from the crowds [if there's any] and with the light green colour of the river, heavy level of trees and big thunder nearby, it feels like a nice gentle boat ride in America during the early 1900's. Even the walkways in disney are magic [and not mishmash tarmaced paths]. And That ends Part 1 of my trip report, part 2 coming round shortly full of rough boulders, Caves that you can get lost in for 15 minutes and much more Mickey taking.
  14. As very much everyone is aware, I will (hopefully) be making my first ever trip to a Disney park one month from today, a time even this far off I'm absolutely buzzing for. However, still being a 'Disney park virgin' for the time being, I though I would conjure up a series of rides, places and attractions ive been on that I believe the closest 'present' experiences I've had to the authentic disney rides I shall be riding, whether the result of this is fairly close or just a complete joke in comparison. All in all, this list is just a bit of fun at the end of the day. 1/ Big Thunder Mountain- Runaway Mine Train Alton Towers Plus Inferno's volcano for the theming 2/ It's A SmallWorld- Bubbleworks Chessington 3/ Phantom Manor- Duel Alton Towers Probably the closest accuracy in the list 4/ Pirates Of The Caribbean- Pirate Falls Treasure Quest Legolañd Windsor Apparently it's not a pirates life for me. 5/ Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast- Laser Raiders Legoland Windsor 6/ Autopia- Grand Prix Blackpool Mark9 will appreciate this one 7/ Pinoccio's Daring Journey- Pinoccio Tivoli World Slightly more accurate 8/ Snow Whte's Scary Adventures- Alice In Wonderland Blackpool Only one I could think of places I've visited 9/ Peter Pan's Flight- Fireball Adventure Island Southend Yes, very accurate. Really, I couldn't think of anything in terms of suspended dark rides I've done, so this had to do. 10/ Indiana Jones Le Temple De Peril- Turbo Brighton Pier Ok,I'm didn't actually ride this, but I saw it. I think it's pretty accurate at least in the layout though. 11/ Storybook canal boats- Fairy Tale Brook Legoland Windsor 12/ Star Tours- Angry Birds 4D Thorpe Park Since I'm yet to do a simulator, this is the closest I could find. Maybe I have hit a new low. Now for the Studios rides 13/ Tower Of Terror- Hex Alton Towers More so on experience than hardware. 14/Crush's Coaster- Sonic Spinball Alton Towers Couldn't find anything exact so this will have to do. 15/ Rock an Roller Coaster- X Thorpe Park The only comparison it could ever be. 16/ Ratatouiee- Wallace & Gromit Blackpool Pleasure Beach http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/Wallace_%26_Gromit's_Thrill-O-Matic.JPG 17/RC Racer- Kobra 18/ Dumbo- Flying Jumbos 19/ Slinky dog- Knights Quest 20/ Tram Tour- Orient Expedition p 21/ Space a Mountain is again X due to lack of dark rides, but it will be closed when I go. One Month to go now!!!!!!!!!!! I shall be reviewing the place for real when I finally visit. I don't own the photos.
  15. So Christmas is almost here as 2014 gradually comes to an end in what has been one of the most mixed years for everything [in what could easily be material for a new soap opera]. However here I will only be mentioning the theme park side of things [after all it's a theme park forum). Unfortunately compared to a number of active members here such as Benin, my theme park collection trip is on a much smaller scale, as someone quoted to me talking about how comparing Thorpe park to Universal & Disney World was a bit like comparing a corner shop to a large supermarket, something which is very much the case here, but carrying on. Thorpe Park Total number of visits 12 visited March 2x,April, May July 2x, August,October 5x In what might be the park's busiest year for a while, Thorpe has had a very mixed season. The park has seen some minor but excellent improvements such as a new map, improved eateries [Amity Fish & Chips & Cantina extension] and the Inferno shop [which has some great touches in there]. Park events this year were also on a roll and the easter event at the park looked very good [although I didn't actually make it this year] and Summer Nights improving further with not just the main coasters open but also opening of rides such as the teacups and Dodgems on top of a park wide DJ. MOS was just as good as last year [maybe even a little better] and Fright Nights delivered once again bringing us Studio13 [a decent replacement to the Asylum], some great improvements to Blair Witch and Face It Alone, which is an amazing experience for anyone who loves scare mazes and wants to experience them on a more extreme setting. OK, moving on to something [which I appear to be dodging opinions upon] and that is the opening of Angry BIrds Land, perhaps the greatest opinion splitter since Saw, some people seem to love it whilst others hate it like the plague. For me there I love and hate it for different reasons. I love the installation of the new 4D cinema and Dodgems. The cinema offers a fun,interactive & immersive experience for the park [plus a much needed indoor attraction too] whilst the dodgems offer a decent filler ride for the park with the Bird VS Pig car designs offering some good competition which hasn't been seen since the Beanoland days. The area also gives us a new area dedicated to families [something Thorpe have lacked in recent years] and utilising space that was previously rather wasted. What I didn't like about the area though was the fact it has divided the Amity area in half [one of the park's best area transitions] and feels a bit shoe horned and Detonator's retheme feels a bit cheap [pun intended] and more could've been done [the ride music is fine by the way]. I also don't like how the flooring and lampposts in the area are very miss mash in comparison and should've been redone. Whilst the park has made quite a lot of improvements, there is still a long way to go before perfection as the park is still suffering from ongoing problems such as Fastrack, ride breakdowns, Stealth & Samurai in particular were unreliable this year [though the engineer team I know do work very hard [which could do with a few more in numbers] and the continuation of 1 train ops on weekdays and mornings on peak days. There are also a lot of park areas that do look very worn such as Canada Creek which still had no new Loggers tunnel, Ranger County & Rumba to name some. This year we also said goodbye to yet another classic attraction at the park, the Rangers Caroulse, an attraction which was in service at the park for 20 years which disappears to make way for the highly speculated 2016 dark ride. Whilst just a Caroulsel contained rich history of Thorpe's past, not just being the second to last park Ranger attraction to survive but featuring a collage of former park ride vehicles onboard including Phantom Phantasia, Thunder River & Hudson River Rafters. Lets just hope the park salvage as many horses/models from the ride as possible [if there is no chance of the attraction's return]. Best Year since 2009 Alton Towers Total visits 2 Visited June Arguably the most magical theme park in the Uk and our nearest port of call to Efteling, Europe & Euro Disney. during the last few seasons some could argue the magic has been lost a fair bit with three disappointing seasons in a row. 2011 saw one of the lowest number of guests and 2012 featured the then disappointing Sub-Terra ride [amongst still low attendance]. 2013 was supposed to be one the year the park shined as a whole but was trashed completely due to how the park's big new coaster The Smiler was handled overall plus it's poor reliability. Whilst far from perfect, 2014 appears to have been a better year for the park. Operations seem to be on a roll again, ride reliability is better [bar a few exceptions] and improvements in food and entertainment too. Whilst having naturally low expectations, I was rather impressed with the new/re-themed area that opened replacing the ageing farmyard. The area is full of life including freshly re-imaged rides, plenty of themed walkthroughs and gardens and lots of friendly enthusiastic staff. The In The Night Garden Ride was very good in particular with it's animatronics and storyline, Postman Pat was a great fun ride full of heavy themed models and the Get Set Go was a brilliant re-incarnation of the random Squirell Nutty [it feels more like an experience now]. As I'm not the biggest fan of IP's in theme parks [bar some exceptions], the idea of brand-name here makes perfect sense and fits in well within the park. Scarefest proved a mixed bag this year giving us the new Scarytales which looks to have been a good addition however with the loss of one of the former Scaremazes Carnival Of Screams, which was not replaced. Best year since 2010 Chessington Total visits 2 [very very nearly 3] Visited April, May [almost October] 2013 at Chessington [to some] was complete shambles, park falling apart, poor/slow operations, closed rides, disappointing opening hours and also a fire at one of the park's newest outlets. Nothing seemed be done right [even the new Zufari ride]. However for 2014, the park's come it's own again and whilst [stastically speaking] hasn't installed a 'proper' new ride it's improved much of whats there significantly. The hugely retimed Scorpion Express [formerly Runaway Train] whilst definitely being better with the now removed rock face, has a lot more personality now with it's quirky features such as abandoned town backdrops, moving/squirting Scorpion and fire tower plus the overall back story of a town overrun by Scorpions and new soundtrack. Despite losing the Boiler in the queue [which is now in the ride area], the queue line is still nicely themed [for Merlin standards] with interactive elements and the like throughout the queue. Other additions such as the re-imaged Market Square, Mexica & Transylvania areas also impressed me among noticeably better park operations among having more soul altogether this year. Amazu is also an interesting update to the monkey walkthrough which looks nice and updated compared to it's old form and whilst the Azteca hotel has taken up a fair portion of land that could've been used for new development it should hopefully bring in more guests and customers to the park and also the theming [on top of the retheme of the 1st hotel] should definitely add up to the wild/exciting experience for staying guests. Sadly I never [quite] made it to the now rebranded Howl'O'ween event which looked very good from the reviews I saw and heard about, but who hopefully this will finally happen in 2015. Speaking on 2015, I'm looking forward to see what more the park will be doing as we will see a big update to the penguin enclosure and a new show [after all penguins are rather popular at the moment plus more updates to the park overall. Whilst a massive improvement to the disastrous 2013, there's still a long way before the park gets back to it's old 'magic making' days [pre2005] as there's still lots of areas at the park looking old,worn and forgotten. Falls, Tombs, Skyways & Bubbleworks are good examples of this. Overall Best year since 2010 Legoland Windsor Total number of visits 2.5 Visited, April,September, November Despite it's lack of anything groundbreaking or eye-catching in the last few years, Legoland continues to remain as popular as ever [shockingly receiving even more guests than the nearby Thrill Capital]. Unfortunately, 2014 wasn't the best of years of the park as once again nothing too exciting and worthwhile for those over 10 appeared with the main new addition being a big new play area replacing the ageing Rat Trap and a chunk of the enchanted forest walkthrough. Unfortunatly the other new attraction for the park this year was the [3rd] re-theme of the Pirate Falls log flume featuring new models, audio and storyline. Whilst the new one features better audio and looks a lot more fresh in appearance I still prefer the original as it featured more charm and humour then. Aside from a new play area and re-themed log flume, the park also received two further additions which are perhaps unwelcome appearing in the form of Burger Kitchens. Located in the Pirate & City areas of the park, these outlets see the replacement of Burger Ranch & Crossed Ribs [an eatery that has existed since the early park years and did some good BBQ food]. Despite offering more indoor seating for cold/bad whether days these aren't a good addition as the food line up at Legoland has been reduced slightly and Burger kitchens haven't been renowned for good quality [I'm still yet to try one actually]. Despite not being too impressed with the park during main season, I opted out [and paid the perhaps overpriced fee] to visit the park during it's Christmas event which despite the reduced ride line up [and park access] I really enjoyed as I virtually had the park to myself when I went not just getting on rides without queues but getting actually rides to myself and the park was also lit up beautifully with loads of lighting scatted over the park making it feel like a christmas kingdom. It was a truly magical experience there [either that or I'm reflecting on the amount of friends who went to Euro Disney at that time of year ]. 2015 was set to be one of the most exciting years for the park for a while, with the addition of a big scale immersive themed Haunted House attraction [giving the park another much needed dark, high capacity and older aimed] ride. However unfortunately this plan was ripped to shreds due to the selfishness of the residents and local council resulting in the rejection of the plans [despite recommendation] and what we will be receiving instead will not just be on a smaller scale but also strongly unappealing too. I just hope the park can send an appeal and get this ride approved in the future instead. Blackpool Pleasure Beach Blackpool for me was the biggest theme park venture for me [at least outside of the Merlin circle] in what proved to be one of the most exciting weekends this year gaining lots of new credits at the famous Pleasure Beach. Whilst it's no Disneyland, it proved to be surprisingly good with some very exciting coasters including Grand National, Steeplechase and Avalanche with each ride holding it's own. I also got to experience the highly immersive Valhalla which is an amazing experience and is the best uk water ride by a country mile. Many of the other rides also proved to be very good too including Wallace & Gromit which was a very good dark ride whilst Alice [although rather dated] proved to be an entertaining and fun attraction]. The only ride that left me feeling disappointed was Impossible which was just pants. Other attractions I was able experience included the Blackpool Dungeons which was a very good experience and whilst there were some flaws, some elements were better than the London ones including the Drop towers at the end. The circus show and tower themselves were also very and interesting [the latter offering some loverly views from the top]. Coral Island was an interesting attraction with a cool monorail and ghost train which was sadly ruined greatly by funny and moody staff. Oakwood Whilst having a very enjoyable trip in 2013, I sadly never had chance to return to the park in 2014, however by the looks of reports, that was possibly for the better as the park had apparently gone backwards greatly, featuring poor operations of rides, lots of rides closed daily and many areas completely rundown [which make Thorpe's flaws sound almost forgivable]. Lets just hope the park learn from their mistakes next year and finally open the Sleepy Hollow area. Disneyland Paris Where do we begin with this soap opera of my life? Well, It didn't happen [at least in 2014]. There were at least five attempts to get to the park in 2014 [no exagerration] but a lot of things down to budget, timing and personal reasons [which I'm not going in to] none of these trips were successful so I never got to see Remy. 2015 however will hopefully break this spell. Tivoli World Like the last 5 years, the park has virtually remained unchanged still housing the same ageing/out dated attractions that have existed for many years. The park hasn't gone backwards but it certainly hasn't gone forwards and only receives a mention for being the only theme park in Europe I managed in 2014. What looks ahead for 2015? In terms of the uk parks, not much I'm afraid at least for the Merlin parks as so far the only new additions confirmed are glorified log cabins, a retimed area [without any new rides] and a new penguin show and enclosure, meaning we won't get any official rides [as we currently know]. For smaller uk park's though it looks a better year though as we will definitely be receiving some new attractions next year. Blackpool will be getting the Red Arrow flying ride, Paultons will be getting a brand new themed area called Critter Creek, Drayton are getting [yet more attractions] in Thomas Land and Oakwood will finally be receiving it's new Sleepy Hollow themed area. As for Europe, Efteling will be receiving a new major exciting dive coaster, Gardaland will be receiving a dive coaster, Hansa will be gaining a new exciting coaster whilst parks in Denmark and one of the Walibi ones are expected to also earn new rides too. And this marks the end of 2014, roll on 2015 I say, a year I will hopefully be getting some new parks and several across sea [that aren't Tivoli World].
  16. It's time for... TPM'S FAVOURITE DICTATOR! Who is the worst of the worst? Is it... ADOLF HITLER Leader of Nazi Germany, thought to be one of the most evil men to of ever lived. JOSEPH STALIN Pretended to be Communist in order to impose an Authoritarian Dictatorship on the people of Russia. KIM JONG UN He's an enthusiast, just like you. ROBERT MUGABE Election rigging, torture loving BASTARD. Overseer of massive inflation and rapidly depleting health conditions in Zimbabwe. SADDAM HUSSEIN Oversaw a war with Iran and the invasion of Kuwait, possessed weapons of mass destruction and tried to commit genocide of the Kurds. LEONID BREZHNEV Continued Stalin's oppressive, totalitarian regime in Russia. (The sole reason I put him in the poll was so I could use this picture) MUAMMAR AL-GADDAFI A proper James Bond style villain - known for his odd dress sense, his entirely female defence force - Oh and the fact that he turned Libya into a one party state and expelled all Italians from Libya. Is your favourite Dictator not on the list? Choose the other option in the poll. **VOTING ENDS ON NOVEMBER 1ST** It's time to find out who is... TPM'S FAVOURITE DICTATOR!
  17. Welcome back to part 2 of my exciting trip report at Blackpool. Lego Spongebob welcomes you to this next big instalment of the blog [Wow! are we at Legoland now?] Speaking on Big, I think it's finally time I give this giant a ride then! It's a massive beast that dominates the whole park, so it should an amazing ride then ;]? And it's time to review, Vertical Reality! In 1994, the big one was a massive tall beast that was major large scale ride and investment along with being the tallest coaster in the world and being only second to Nemesis in greatness. 20 years later though and much of the greatness has dried up. Whilst the big one is far from being an absolute awful ride, it's also a long way from being an amazing one too. The ride starts rather well, with a brief pre-lift section and then the long lift which offers some great views of the pleasure beach and surrounding area as the world beneath gradually disappears. Once reaching the top, the ride goes down the drop suddenly swerving right and the ride speeding up as it's drops to the bottom, which is a thrilling and intimidating experience with the gust of speed, smallish restraints and massive drop. Since the ride has started so well it will continue with this greatness during the remainder of the experience. The answer to that unfortunately is no! After the first drop, the ride loses much excitement and force as the ride climbs it's first hill, which unlike most hyper rides it doesn't fly over it but instead gradually reaches it whilst losing speed along the way until it's almost crawling when it reaches the top. The rest of the ride doesn't really fulfil much either as there isn't much force or too much thrill for the rest of the ride which is quite disappointing, also there isn't a great deal of airtime on this ride which considering I was sitting towards the back and these types of rides should feed upon it was also disappointing too. It does well in taking you up a great height with an intense first drop along with giving good sights of the park and area, but apart from that it doesn't quite fulfil the greatness in the giant dinosaur it first appears. That being said I shouldn't really complain too much as it is the uk's tallest and perhaps largest roller coaster [ultimate is of course the longest] and that we've actually got a large ride on this scale on our island, considering how little space we have and so many of our parks are heavily restricted on what they can actually build [especially Legoland, Chessington & pretty much almost every park]. I think it will be a long time before we see another massive ride on this scale [if ever]. From one Arrow to another Arrow, it's time to ride the one and only Steeplechase, because no other rides of this type no longer exist in the world apparently, So what are my thoughts on this ride rarity? whilst it looks rather average and generic off ride, it's actually a great roller coaster ride, it doesn't have any gimmick, it doesn't have any unique elements, nor does it need any of these as it's such a great all round ride, with it's fun racing element, scenic views and interaction with other surrounding rides and it's loose and open restraints as only a seat belt holds you in, a fun and slightly scary experience. From one horse race to another, it was time to experience the Grand National, our fifth and final wooden roller coaster on the trip, one that was highly appraised by many park and coaster fans alike. But would this be the ride to top my coaster list at Blackpool or even take the crown away from Megafobia as best woodie? Can't believe I didn't take more pictures of the ride, I guess the rush around riding at the park and the fact most of the ride can only be seen outside the park are the main reasons I didn't. Anyway, what did I think of the ride? Grand National was amazing, it was such a fantastic great fun ride with it's racing coaster element, multiple drops and hills which give quite a lot of airtime [ more than Big One ever will] along with a great paced layout makes this a great fun thrilling ride. But the big question, has it become my favourite my favourite all top time woodie? The answer to that is yes, however only to the ones in the park. It's such an incredible ride and there's not really a bad thing I can say about this ride [apart from the loud station brakes maybe] as it doesn't fail to deliver greatness during it's ride experience. Megafobia still holds on to no.1 woodie [for now] as that ride is just so intense. We need more woodies here in the uk [Merlin take note]. Before we move to our next ride, I KNOW A GUY THAT WILL GET ON YOUR NERVES! GET ON YOUR NERVES! GET ON YOUR NERVES! Time for another ride which will also be another first for me, my first bobsled coaster and NO! We are not at Europa before you ask! So, what did I think of Avalanche then? I thought it was a really good ride actually, gains a lot of speed in it's circuit and flies through those helixes which is just an incredible experience with the train coasting down the tube rather than the usual track setting on many other coasters. Just wish the ride was longer really as it ended just as I was really getting in to it [love Mack rides]. Hope to try the other few mack bobsleds one day! I had really been through quite a roller coaster revolution on my trip to Blackpool and the final new coaster had to be the appropriately named, Revolution. And that was all the Blackpool coasters completed. Despite looking like a mediocre one trick pony, this ride is actually pretty good. You're thrusted forwards first of all in to the loop the first time which is quite good, but then the backwards launch is a feeling like nothing else, the feeling of being pushed in to your restraint during the loop is such a strange and slightly scary experience as you feel like you're going to fall out! Moving on from the coasters now and it's time to take a trip in to wonderland, I've a golden ticket And what a wondrous ride this turned out to be. Whilst in no way is this a ground breaking or top notch, it's fun little dark ride, full of charm, humour along with being a generally pleasant attraction to experience. Incidently, this ride is a sort of knock off from the original Alice In Wonderland ride at the California Disneyland with it's cheshire cats style vehicles,indoor-out door dark ride sections and storyline which opened seven years before this one [why am I referencing so many other parks on this TR, especially Disney]? From one extreme to another and now it's time to enter Valhalla. Wait a moment, the waterfall isn't running, I hope it isn't closed. That Looks more like it! The ride was closed during most of the day and didn't actually open until quite late in the afternoon, we must've meant it had quite a few problems as it broke down several times after that as well. We decided to join the extremely long queue for the ride which cost us around 90 minutes of time [we could've used for other rides]. But was it worth the extra long wait? The answer here actually is Yes, but just about. Valhalla is a very long and very wet water/dark attraction which features an array of drops, effects and a drenching. Some of the thing included on this ride are just incredible! going in to a long hot room with heat and fire one minute, then entering a freezing cold one with ice,misters and the like the next is absolutely incredible, is this is before I get on to the backwards drop, immense sound track and other elements too. Valhalla is an absolutely amazing ride and experience, it's so breath taking when you see it all and everything inside unfolds and well worth the time. The ride makes almost every other water ride in the country look like a travelling Zamperla log ride [even Loggers] and is something that wouldn't really look out of place at a park like Efteling, Phantasialand or even Europa. Absolute masterpiece. Hex however is still my number one dark ride for the story and towers alone, but Valhalla comes in at a very close second. Moving from a breath taking experience which despite being ringing wet, I still couldn't get over, we headed off to get some final rides at the park whilst it was gradually getting dark before closing. But the question is, which rides did we finally ride, or even re-ride during the twilight hours and which Big addition would be chosen as the finale and first proper night ride of the trip? Only time will tell, but you'll just have to wait until Part 3 submerges.
  18. It's been my intentions over the last few years to try and visit to try and visit a new theme park or attraction each year, which started with Alton Towers in 2012 and Harry Potter Studio Tour, Madame Tussauds, The Dungeons along with a return to Oakwood [after 15 years] in 2013. At first I wasn't expecting to receive any new park credits for 2014 with Paultons Park called off and Euro disney put on hold. This year it was my intentions to visit a park that was of the following, 1/ was a major place with top class rides, 2/ was outside the Merlin circle 3/ a place outside of the uk. On this trip, I was able to achieve two of these, by finally visiting Blackpool Pleasure Beach, a park I have been wanting to visit for some time and home to a large collection of prominent rides to the uk/world theme park industry [though some are hit and miss in places] where I would gain a whole new list of ride credits [and first]. Upon entering the park, you are greeted by a number of different things, one is the sheer prominence of rides that appear in front of you towering in the back ground, particularly the Big One which pretty much dominates the whole park, the second is the amount of former rides laying dormant at the park. The monorail and ark are two of these, both of which I saw before even getting properly through the gates which isn't the greatest thing to see. The first ride/new cred of the day was the infamous Wild Mouse. First opinions of the ride describe it as a small compact and doesn't look too exciting, however this ride has some tricks up it's sleeves! Despite first appearances, the ride is surprisingly good, very fun and quite scary at a few occasions too, with its sharp tight turns, bumpy rattle through the track and it's sharp and sudden drops, an experience with just seat belts and no restraints is quite intense. A great classic that shouldn't be overlooked despite first appearances, plus my second ever woodie! From one classic to another [most of Blackpool's rides are classics], it was time for the one and only Ghost Train. A few minutes later and my spooky distraction was over. I quite enjoyed this ride and it's got got quite a few interesting elements to the ride including the roller coaster like drops, moments of the ride going outside and the spinning tunnel with train lights [which seem common to some ghost trains]. Whilst it's not on the leagues for rides such as Hex & Duel, which may be a bit of an unfair comparison to begin with, this ride wins it over for novelty and ride length and is an example of what a traditional Ghost Train ride should incorporate. It's certainly better than Castille Del Terror at Tivoli and Spooky 4D, both of which probably aren't as old as this which already states it's point. From one dark ride to another, our next attraction was Impossible, which comprised a set of indoor attractions all joined up together, starting with a mirror maze, a series of strange objects and illusions and a small haunted swing style ride where the room spins around. This wasn't the best of attractions as it mostly felt like a cluster of attractions just stuck together to make one big ride. The Mirror maze was alright, but the swing ride was so dull it was laughable. I'm sure 30 years ago [long before Hex] the swing element would've actually looked pretty but now, it's so bad it's good! After a random mediocre experience, it was time for some white knuckle fuel on Ice Blast, which is now the only non coaster thrill ride in the park with Bling gone. The ride starts with the seats raising up slightly and then lowering gradually where riders are instructed to secure all loose valuables [like there's chance now], before the capsule is thrusted upwards, then downwards and then up again, until height is lost and the pod gradually lowers back to the ground. The ride is ok, the launch is pretty fun and thrilling as you are pushed in to your restraint flying up followed by some small hits of air time and the then the end. Not a bad drop tower, however it certainly doesn't beat Detty but is much better than Bounce! After launching back to earth, it was time to take on another woodie who is the grand daddy of them all at 91, it's time to take on the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper is such a fun coaster to ride, as it leaps from hill after hill during it's circuit, offering a reasonable supply of air time, whilst it's not as good as Megafobia back in Oakwood, one must remember for a ride of this age it still provides an excellent experience which is great fun with lots of thrills along the way. Another great woodie. By now on the trip it was time to take on a ride that I and many had been strongly anticipating during our trip, one that would offer an immense ride experience and tick quite a few boxes for firsts. This ride was known as [drum roll]. Infusion Well first things first, it sure looks rather pretty for an SLC. This is the first one I've actually ridden. Having heard of many of these ride's being rather rough and uncomfortable [including this one], I set my expectations for this ride rather low. But would my opinions be just as rough once I had finally ridden it? The answer to this in most ways is NO! Whilst the ride was in no way perfect or in anyway a patch to a B&M invert, this ride was surprisingly good and did beat my expectations. The first half for me was quite fun actually, it rolled through twist, turns and inversions whilst over a large lake of water and fountains. It wasn't really rough at all infact I could almost call it smooth. The second unfortunately wasn't as the ride did seem to get noticeably rougher, as I bashed my head in to the restraint outside of choice several times, making the ride a little painful towards the end. Not a bad ride really and I enjoyed most it. The end is certainly rougher than Colossus but maybe not as much as Saw. Following on from my hit and miss SLC, it was time for ride on the Grand Prix, which is sort of Blackpool's equivalent of Autopia, although this ride existed before any of them were built as I'm aware! Not a bad little ride, but not remarkable either. The ride pretty much takes a journey down a spiralling descent passing nearby rides such as Avalanche & Revolution among others, gradually turning around ascending back up the spiral to the station where the ride finally finishes. Time for another cracking ride, me thinks! Technically Blackpool's newest contraption, unless you count it as a retheme from when it was the Gold Mine [something I never got to try unfortunately]. Despite getting very mixed reviews [some loving it and others hating it], I'm going to definitely say I love this ride. I've always been quite a fan of Wallace & Gromit [especially growing] and used to watch the movies on VHS on a fairly regular basis [wow do I sound old] and would enjoy seeing all the action whether it be the penguin train chase or Gromit flying in the red plane. For me, the ride has captured the world of Wallace & Gromit very well, which is full of funny gags, rich detail in theming and settings along with high quality scenes and animation throughout the whole ride, also including plenty of audio dialogue and of course the catchy theme tune as well. In terms of overall quality, this ride does kick all of Merlins other existing uk dark rides to the curb [at least in their current forms], with Hex being the only exception. It may lack the originality of many other rides out there, but it's a great fun family attraction and whilst the ride mostly consists of prominent scenes from the four shorts and film, I think it's paced very well and fits together perfectly. The ride is such high quality that I would say it's almost at the league of some of disney's dark rides [something I cannot properly clarify currently] and the only slip up on the whole dark ride is the scene where the penguin is falling in which the movement mechanism came be seen! Currently my 3rd favourite dark ride at the moment of writing. You'll find out what my top 2 favourite are shortly. Leaving Wensleydale behind us, we set off to Nick Land and decided to take a ride on the big orange track thing in the distance known as Nicklodeon Streak [formerly Roller Coaster]. It was quite a fun and enjoyable ride with quite a few bits of airtime and force. I wouldn't say it was as good as Dipper and Mouse but it still a great ride, I'd put it on top of Infusion anyway. Also this ride running just one train [with the state of the 2nd not looking ready for adding]. Apparently this ride is almost always on just one train [unlike the others], at least the queue wasn't too long and it was more pleasant than waiting for one train Colossus. I think it's time to jump on another coaster now. I'll say Blue Fire! oops, I meant Blue Flyer, just remembered I'm in Blackpool not Europa [one can dream]. This is not a bad little, quite a fun little woodie for kids to do, certainly not my favourite by far and perhaps my least favourite coaster, but then it's aimed more for kids and young families. Still it's another credit and woodie to add to the collection. By now, all these woodies and other rides made us a bit hungry so we decided to grab some lunch at the park, where we decided to head over to the conveniently named Coaster bar, positioned on one of the pathways between Dipper and Avalanche. I went in for the Chicken Fajita in the end which was ok [sadly the picture didn't turn out as well as hoped] , not the most amazing thing but it edible, good enough and not bad value for money, plus the wedges were pretty decent [beats Oakwood's offering by a country mile though]. Whilst eating, we were all amused by a selection of songs playing from a slightly quiet and muffled speaker here. But these weren't ordinary songs though as these were intact all songs from Disney movies [snow white, Pochahontis, Enchanted etc.] which was certainly something I didn't expect especially in Blackpool. This made me rather happy whilst eating my food, having always a rather big fan of Disney [one day Disney]. And that concludes part 1 of my exciting trip and weekend away in Blackpool, but Which big ride had a very big queue which became a big surprise? Which ride had a big trick and which big disney character sort of has their own big take at Blackpool? Stay tuned for some big updates in part 2!
  19. Hi and welcome to this third part of my exciting weekend in Blackpool. Here's how the story continues after our wet immersive ride on Valhalla. It's heading towards the end of the day and twilight has arrived [no the ride sadly]. The park looks really beautiful at sunset, and despite being the tail end of the day it just makes the park come to life, it looks just as beautiful as Thorpe does at this time of day. By now it was time for some final evening/ twilight rides. Another round on the Grand National was first which provided an even more amazing experience this time, as our train was literally flying through the circuit giving lots of airtime and excitement, helped by the fact we won the race too. We had another go on Big Dipper was very good again, but not quite on Grand National's reign. Another go on Wallace and Gromit was taken, I'm just a very big fan before our final final ride during our trip. But which Big attraction did this turn out to be? For a brief moment, I would just like to mention just how beautiful the park looks at night, it's amazing and quite possibly the best park I've seen at night. Anyway back on topic, I'm sure you've guessed the final ride of the day [or should that now be night?] and that's The Big One. The ride at night was both very good and very bad this time. Very good in the remarkable night time views you see below, the racing around the track at night and the first drop being even more intimidating at night. The drawbacks of course were the ride still lacks force in most parts and the ride was also surprisingly rough too as it was rather violent and jerky TBH [who said you need shoulder restraints for a rough ride?]. And the day was over. Blackpool is a really good park despite the place getting a lot of slack as they seem to try and put a lot of effort in to the place despite the amount of empty and SBNO ride spots. Apart from the slightly grumpy cleaner lady at the end, It was an absolutely fantastic day and I get to return here again one day. For the 4-5 hour drive up here, the journey was just about worth it. Another thing here is just how many firsts and records I have achieved during this trip including my first wild mouse, first racing Steel & Woodie, Tallest coaster in the uk [and tallest one I've done yet] plus doing my first SLC. Moving on, our trip at the Pleasure Beach may be finished but our trip and time away certainly isn't. Whilst having some chips, cheese & Gravy up the promenade whilst looking at the beautiful illuminations which just look amazing along with the occasional dressed up and lit tram which was a magical experience, we headed to the South Pier. While most headed for the Waltzer, I headed for the Log Flume with Toofpik which cost a fairly reasonable £3. The ride was alright, just a standard general compact two drop log flume you see at many fairs and small parks. Good for another ride credit, although it does make The Flume look like Chipas. We then headed to Central Pier where there were more fairground rides around, but none of us could be bothered to do any more and just had a cheeky drink at the bar at the back of the pier. When finished, we set off back down the pier to head to one of the best themed and looking amusement arcades on the whole promenade, Coral Island. Full of many amusements and video game machines, I was quite excited of visiting this place at first, plus not to mention what makes this place look better than most other arcades is it includes a couple of rides including a Pirate monorail and ghost train ride. Walking you do feel quite excited and with rides and arcades over here it's almost like going in the indoor bit of Fantasy Island or the Trocadera [in it's hey day when it was open]. Sadly the Ghost Train was closed when we arrived meaning we first headed for the Pirate Monorail which for £1 was quite a bargain. And so began the ride. It's not a bad little attraction, which goes around most of the floor space of the building giving some ok views of the surrounding area, plus there's also a brief random inside section which is separated from the rest of the arcade which includes some pirate theming elements and random audio music too. There's also guns to shoot random targets along the ceiling too although sadly the scores were turned off at the time we were riding. It's a very lucky we were actually able to ride this in the end as the lady operating this was a bit funny as she said this was a kids ride and weren't able to go on it without children. Luckilly Peaj managed to talk with the op and we were all finally to get on the ride. The events with staff didn't get much better as the time progressed as security guards pushed us on from a couple of video machines for no reason which gave me quite a bitter taste in my mouth. They're supposed to be bringing in customers, not scaring them away! decent arcade, unpleasant staff. After walking back to our hotel where dominoes pizza, TPM twister and general meet chat and banter occurred it was time for bed as we headed off in preparation for the second and final day that awaited us in the morning. But what towering events await us? When will the trip excitement unravel like a circus and who's waltzing off in a magical world only Merlin could control? Wait and see in Part 4.
  20. Hi and welcome to Part 4, the final instalment of Creaky Northern Adventure. After a pleasurable day at the pleasure beach, a night of exploring two of Blackpool's [best] piers and a not so bright Coral Island, the trip was set to continue on the 2nd day which would conclude the trip. The big question, where would be heading to next? With so much to do at Blackpool, you'd struggle so much to find any exciting attractions and ones that stand out from the others, after all it's not there's any other tall landmarks on the seafront. Of course, there's one thing there we should visit. The Blackpool Tower AKA Merpool Tower, because of the fact it's located in Blackpool and owned by Merlin, it even holds two typical traits two by having not the longest of opening hours and includes it's own bed of scaffolding. However before we go up to the eye of the tower, I think it's time to go and explore a pretty common Merlin chain attraction that seems to be getting around a lot of places these days. This place is, The Burger Kitchen Of course it wasn't [although FYI there actually is a Burger Kitchen on the 2nd floor of the tower] as we explored Blackpool's take on the Dungeons. So, What did I think? I thought they were actually very good actually, a lot of the scenes have the same high quality, gross, immersive experience the ones in London have [and in some ways a little better too]. The drop tower was certainly better at this one and despite getting more of a ride at the London one, it certainly feels a lot more coherent here as it feels like you're actually going up to be executed and then dropped when you're sentenced. A very decent attraction, not to be helped by the wonderful Natalie on tickets . The only flaws in the whole attraction for me was the bit with the Saxons/Vikings felt a bit meh due to it mostly being a cinema screen with things going and bits moving [though it's good they added that bit of history though], the stairs going down in the forest which detracted things a little, I'm sure not much could've been done in the building, but still not forest in the world has stairs [a slope would be a better option IMO] and the arcade at the entrance which just detracts a little [there's video arcades everywhere]. A tasty Fish & Chips for lunch and admiring of the sea front and it was time to experience the Blackpool Circus. Unfortunately cameras/photos were not allowed [another typical Merlin trait] and anyone was caught with one, they would stop the show and get a staff member to take it off you and give it back at the end . The circus was great fun, filled with humour, excitement and amusement throughout. I did particularly enjoy Mooky the clown with his funny jokes and interactions, especially at the end when they got members of the audience involved to act out a simple silent movie/play which was such fun to watch [WHY WHY WHYYYYY Delilah]. The rest was good too. With BMX cyclists, strong man, motorbike ball racers, synchronised swimmers/acrobats, beautiful gorgeous showgirls and even a working fountain [Merlin aren't good with working fountains], it made an amazing show to experience that definitely reflected and summed up the life, soul and atmosphere that Blackpool provides. I can definitely see why they call it Vegas of the north now. Once we fountained out of the fairly big top [but it's actually on the lowest level of the tower], it was time to have a look at the Blackpool Ballroom, which despite not being the cup of tea for most of group was certainly a grand gem located there, with it's grand old fashioned decor, sea side/old time atmosphere and the grand Wurlitzer with it's distinctive rich tone playing out throughout the dance floor. Tpm's Mer and Peaj even took a dance on the floor of this famous ballroom. Waltzing away from the ballroom now and it was time to complete the tower's attractions with a flight to the top of the tower itself. Built in 1894 [100 years before Nemesis was awakened back down at Towers], the tower was born. Standing at a staggering 518ft [480 accessible to the public], the tower can be seen for miles. It's design was also inspired from the Eiffel tower in Paris too [near Euro Disney]. The tower offers some simply breathtaking views from above giving sights for many miles of the surrounding area which is so beautiful to see. I'll let you see for yourself rather than bore you with more talking. You can even see the big One. You get some beautiful views, until the [Merlin] safety net obstructs [for safety of course] and getting good pics is then a lot harder to achieve. The viewing platform It's a bit like a prison. A pretty prison in the sky. And that was it! Blackpool tower offers some truly remarkable views of the whole surrounding area. I may have wandered back to the Merlin circle, but it was well worth it for this jewel and new credit, not to mention I've now got myself another new resin and souvenir from my fantastic trip here. Legoland Discovery Centre & Warick Castle are now the only unique Merlin attractions I'm yet to do in UK aside from the countless Dungeons and Sealifes [JoshC]. Blackpool also has a sea life and Madame Tussauds I hear you say? Unfortunately we didn't manage to try these attractions as not everyone in our party had a MAP at the time and also it was time call Blackpool time as it was getting late and as most had school, uni or work the next day none of us wanted to be too late! These weren't the big losses at the end of the day as the Sealife is probably similar to the one in London and much of the Madame Tussaud's material are items no longer needed from the London attraction. Once walking back to our cars, we said our farewells and it was time to say goodbye to Blackpool and hello to the long journey home with hours of motorway, traffic, seating with only company, ride themes and a cheeky mcdonlads on the way to keep me going. I had a fantastic trip in Blackpool and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Pleasure Beach was brilliant, The tower was Brilliant, The Cirucs was brilliant and the Dungeons, Ballroom, Piers and the rest were also very good, not to mention the great company I had up here that weekend too, with some great laughs, TPM Twister, Late Dominoes pizza etc. If amusement parks, Video arcades, sea sides, exciting nightlife and impressive shows,illuminations and random midway attractions are your thing, Blackpool is the place for you! It would be very easy to spend a week or even a fortnight out here as there's so much to do. Two days at the Pleasure Beach, One day at the waterpark and Piers, two at the Tower and surrounding midways along with another two chilling, visiting the arcades and more of the night life and culture and you're easily already got plenty to do with a week's visit here, plus there's plenty of hotels and BNB's near or along the seafront. One day I hope to return here again for another visit and re-experience the great things I did on the last trip and some ones I didn't do last time, including the missed out ride creeds at the Pleasure Beach [River Caves, Flying Machines, Nickland etc.] among others. The only problem with Blackpool is it's such a b**** to get to as it takes 4-5 hours each way to get as it's so far away, not to mention the horrendous traffic on the road and you need to really stop a couple of times on the way to get food rest your legs and use the facilities once in a while, but apart from that, it's good. Big Thanks goes to Peaj, Scary Coasterboy, Mr Fish and many others for making this trip possible and helping arrangements towards the fantastic weekend it became. Hopefully I'll be reporting on another major park someday outside the Uk Merlin circle again, although if it's a while then it could well take the Mickey .
  21. As part of my annual holiday, I would have the opportunity to see and visit one park [just one] outside of the uk and the Merlin circle. But the big question is, which park would it be? Well it's definitely not Port Aventura for starters. Nor is it Europa Park. And it certainly is not Disneyland Paris either [more to come on that tagline later]. But the big question is, which theme park in Europe did I manage to visit this year? The answer to that question is Tivoli World. But the big question, out of all the places to visit, why have I returned back to this average mundane park for? The answer is this, every year my family and I rent a villa out in Spain and despite being home to exciting parks such as Port Av and, Warner and Terra Mitica [places I can only dream of seeing currently], the nearest of those is at least five hours away. This means the only theme park available within the surrounding area is this place. So, having been about a year since my last visit to the park, has much changed at the park since my last visit? The answer to that unfortunately is no! However there have been some minor changes around the park. The first thing to note is the Tokaido [powered] roller coaster which was closed last time I went,however was up and running again when I visited this time. What did I think of it? I didn't, the ride is rubbish. It goes around the circuit 5.75 times, why 5.75? For some reason, the ride starts by going backwards and then eventually launches in the forwards direction. It goes through the circuit [properly] five times before passing it once more looking like it's going to do another lap, then suddenly it slows down, stops and then reverses bcd to the station. This ride never used to do this. Surely getting five laps around is a good and generous thing? Not for me it isn't. Despite having similarities with Scorpion and Fish's layout, except the first helix is missing, the trains have a strange and uncomfortable design where riders sit in two's but one is in front of the other instead of beside meaning they push in to you during the sharp drops and turns. There's also no seat belts either . The ride is also very rattly and rough [no doubt due to it's age] where each lap passing on, the ride becomes more and more uncomfortable, infact by the end, I just wished the finish already. Didn't like this one at all, gone off it in most ways. Makes Flying Fish look like Scorpion Express and Scorpion look like big thunder. Cleanse it with fire! Next up was this ride, a sort of Vintage Cars style ride. TBH it didn't much as wasn't too interesting and the only good bit of the actual ride was around the half way point, where you get a half decent view of the surrounding western stage area. Next up is the Twister [good name choice ] and to consider this one of my park favourites and the first ride I [actually] enjoyed is quite concerning that this park isn't that good [it probably isn't]. Hang on a moment, I thought I was at Tivoli World not Disney. Oh Wait, it's another of those Disney knock off rides [sort of]. Despite not being the most amazing of dark rides [Hex,Duel,Mk1 bubble works], there is something I seem to really like about this ride [having done it 3 times during my visit]. I don't know whether it's because of the ride's general charm with basic but noticeable models, the catchy upbeat soundtrack outside or just the fact of wanting to see euro disney. Moving on, and it's time to take flight on the park's [large] ferris wheel [they have three for some reason]. You can get some really nice views of the park [which isn't a very big place] and surrounding area. Castillo Del Terror, quite possibly the worst ghost train I've ever been on. TBH nothing really works [anymore] and the few things that do seem to only happen after the cars actually passed. The most exciting part of the ride for me was actually when the car went outside of the warehouse building, which probably shows how poor this ride actually is, I've done ghost trains in fairgrounds better than this one. Time for a short break whilst I have some ice cream. OK, back on topic and hang on a moment, we've gone back, back too far! Actually this is the dinosaur walkthrough at the park, which is ok, very well themed [or at least it was when it was installed] but sadly like much of the park, it feels dated, worn and behind it's time. Next up is the Montana Rusa [spanish for Roller Coaster which is an original name imo] which for once didn't have a [long] queue. Did enjoy this ride lot, it's a bit like one of those old cyclone style like the one at Clacton. Time to for another [decent] ride, this time on the drop tower. Enjoyed this one a lot, a fair bit of drop time but still won't beat good old Detty. Meanwhile next door, a green mesh fence has suddenly appeared. I wonder what's going on here? Looks like one it's rides has been stripped down in to pieces. This ride is a Top Spin [which I was hoping to finally ride], however it was closed last year as well so something major must be wrong with it. Tivoli has some loverly gardens positioned in the park, and whilst they're perhaps seen better days, it's still a loverly place to see and walkthrough on each trip there. The Show boat, this a funhouse style attraction where you walk around the boat featuring numerous obstacles and things plus a view outside. They also stage a pirates of the caribbean show here as well, which unfortunately just got boring after a little as it got repetitive. What's that in the distance I wonder? Ratonlandia, what's this? A sort of walk through attraction which depicts living mice. Certainly quite a strange and random attraction to have at a theme park, but at least this bit is now open again [it was closed for several years for something]. Nightime, and now the park really comes to life and despite the saying everything looks better at night, this place truly glows. Time for a Caroulsel ride you say? This was the best at the park [they have many [too many]]. They also sold some pin badges here too. This one however took the mickey The park just seems to come to life at park, sort of transforming from a rather mundane theme park to a magical place with life. There;s also plenty of show here as well including a circus show, which was quite funny and included a space theme plus traditional spanish flamenco with live musicians. This one was also very good. Our last stop will be the Union Express, a railway diorama which was quite an interesting distraction. http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy267/mattthemepark/DSCF2006_zps5a6391d6.jpg http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy267/mattthemepark/DSCF2010_zpsc205d32c.jpg And that marks the end of the trip. So What did I think about it this time? To be honest, it's much the same as last time, same rides, same settings and apart from the mouse walkthrough and that powered thing being reopen [which I guess you could say the park has gone forward a tad], nothing at the park has changed. It's certainly no Alton Towers, Thorpe or even Chessington, but somewhat has a nice feel at night with all the lights, shows and fountains going on and is a park I don't really go for the rides [which excluding a few are rather average]. I suppose this park is better than the uk ones in some ways, the late nightie hours and closing [which is 2am in summer], the many shows and features that were installed in the park in it's prime [now passed their best] exceed these, but it's still a park crying for some major updating. I don't know if I'll be revisiting Tivoli again yet, [if I go away to the same place next year probably], but hopefully the next blog outside the Merlin circle won't be this one. I'd only recommend this park if you're staying in the Malaga area [considering the next nearest park is 3 hours away]. If you're going there for theme parks, you've probably chosen the wrong part of Spain. Adios
  22. Seeing that the Swarm came tops, I thought I'd do another poll similar but this time which coaster everyone likes the best in the dark/night time at Thorpe. Things to consider your choice/s are Coherence to the theme Lighting (as too much ruins the effect) Interaction to surroundings (at night)
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