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  1. Upon arriving at the park, we were both very impressed with the location of the park, all the rides around the lake looked stunning as we were driving to the car park. Excited to see what this park had to offer, we head for the park entrance. The park opens and 09:30 and the rides open at 10:30, we turned up around 09:15 and there were already loads of staff at the ticket booths which was great to see, this meant we could buy our tickets ready to enter the park when it opened. As it happens we were the first to enter the park! we took the first hour to explore the parks zoo which we found to be hit and miss really, you could tell which were the new parts and which were the old. Some of the enclosures were great and some were really dirty and small, but we loved the Tamarin trail! Anyway, we didn't really come here for the animals (although we do love a good zoo!) the park was starting to fill up so around 10:15 we joined the queue for Ben 10 as there was already a hefty queue waiting to enter the queue, we gathered that this ride would probably get the biggest queues due to it's a popularity with the kids. when the queue opened however, we must of only waited around 10 minutes, we skipped most of it as they were looking for groups of two :P. The queue for this ride is very well themed and includes lots of good lighting and objects themed to the kids show. The ride itself is good fun! the restraints are nice making you feel very open and exposed, it's quite fast and intense for a family coaster and it is glass smooth! I'm not a fan of going backwards on coasters but these family vekoma boomerangs are proving popular and I can see why! We both came off smiling 8/10. Next up it was time for the Wild West shootout ride thing, now this ride wasn't very long and it had a very DIY feel about it but we loved it! I'm not quite sure what is was, I just came off loving it, I think it's just more fun than other shooters I have done. it was very interactive like when you hit a can it fell over etc and got to love them bonus'! In my opinion I thought it was a fun little ride and we even did it again later in the day! 6.5/10 Already quite impressed with the park we wondered down to the Buffalo coaster. This coaster could be heard from a distance as this thing is quite noisy, but the trains looked like the had been refurbished recently? and the layout seemed half decent! It was just as I expected really, bit rough and jolty but there are a couple of Helix's and you get some good views of the rest of the park! 6/10 Now we both had quite high expectations of this next ride as it has recently gone through a refurb and some of our friends really rate it highly: it was time for the Haunting. all I knew of this ride is that it was a madhouse so I didn't really know what to expect. The lighting was excellent, the ride had some great effects which weren't scary as such but this attraction is aimed at the whole family so we took that into consideration. the scenes are great in the attraction especially the big hall, I loved this part of the attraction as there is mist, projections, lights and floor movements - it all seemed to work really well! The finale is the ride itself which I felt was good but nothing more really, all I all it is a great attraction but hex is still my favourite madhouse I'm afraid. 8/10 We headed over to the other end of the park to try out the parks rapids 'Splash Canyon', probably my 2nd favourite rapids in the country, not as good as Congo River Rapids at AT but much better than Thorpe's Rumba Rapids! The Queue line for this is a horrible cattle-pen which is a shame, I can imagine it being horrible during a very busy day! and also they didn't seem to have many boats on which didn't help the queue. Apart from that you get some good interaction with Shockwave and there are some good water effects! 7/10 At this point is was gone Midday so we were getting quite hungry but as Shockwave had no queue we thought we would squeeze it in before lunch, There was no queue for the front so we went straight on, unfortunately no Go Pros allowed which was a shame. The restraints on this were not as comfortable as Riddler's Revenge over at SFMM but I understand that this was a Intamin and B&M combo. The ride was surprisingly smooth at the front and I came off instantly thinking that it was my favourite coasters in the UK, the loop is intense, the zero-g was a bit uncomfortable but I enjoyed getting thrown out of my seat. Yes the ride is quite short but it packs a punch. Now on the front row I would put it in my top 5 in the UK but later on in the day I gave it a ride near the back and boy was it rough! Gave me a headache for the rest of the day, but still I find it a good coaster so I rate it a solid 7.5/10 Burger Kitchen was our choice of eatery, food was quite pricey as you can imagine but not too bad. Quality off food was okay, nothing more than standard theme park food. After lunch, we walked around Thomas Land for a bit, the theming in this area is great and has a lovely atmosphere! This area had the longest queues of the park so unfortunately we didn't get to do much which was a shame but we could see why the kids loved it! We took a ride on Toby's tram thing, never seen a flat ride like this before and it was good fun, quite intense for little kids ride. To let our lunch digest we took a ride on the parks Ferris Wheel which seemed the same as Chessington's version, we got some good views of Ben 10 from this. Yogi Bear was now about to start so we thought we would go and give it a try, The film is just small clips of the actual film put together but it was alright I guess, we mainly went in to have a break from the rides but it was okay, not as good as Angry Birds. Next up was the other thrill coaster at the park 'G Force' there was only a 5 minute wait which was a bonus. I Wasn't expecting much from this ride due to the amount of bad reviews it gets but I remained positive, but I was wrong. The restraints have got to be the most painful restraints I have experienced! the lift hill is just horrible, not a fun experience, you are literally just hanging upside down with your body being crushed by your restraint. The coaster section was meh, it was jolty, no speed or flow to the ride and it is very short! Thank god it was a short ride though I don't think my body could endure any more pain! 3/10 Unfortunately Storm Force 10 was closed for the day so we didn't get to ride it oh well more reason to go back next year! As Maelstrom was nearby we decided to give that a go next. Wow! this ride is really intense and is probably one of my favourite flats in the UK! It delivers so much airtime, we loved it! 9/10 Pandemonium and The flying Dutchman were also closed but no biggie, I'm not too keen on flats anyway and Pandemonium didn't interest me. The Flying Dutchman was in pieces and the was a crane on the Pandemonium site so whether they will be removed or just being refurbished I'm not too sure. Anyway we headed to the barrels! The theming on this ride is great, yet so out of place haha! Not complaining though as we loved the German theme and the ride was really fun too! It was time for Apocalypse, now drop towers are the only type of ride where I get nervous due to the height of them and of course, the anticipation of the drop. To date Atmosfear at Liseberg is the tallest drop tower I've done (around 400ft I think) and is probably the scariest ride I've done due to the height! the sit down had a longer queue than stand up so I went straight for the standup, now I would be lying if I told you I wasn't a tad nervous. I had never done a standup drop tower before so this was new to me. At first it was too bad but then it tilted you, you don't tilt that much but you really notice it when all of your body weight is pushing against the retraint, let's just say if that restraint failed you would be a gonner! At the top you are only given a brief moment to appreciate the view and then you drop. The drop is so forceful it's amazing! by far the best drop tower I have done and one of my favourite rides in the country! 10/10 We did a few other small flat rides then we headed for our last ride of the day - Troublesome Trucks! This had the longest queue all day but the cred had to be done, I believe we waiting 30 minutes or something. It is a great little coaster though! the theming is really nice and it has to be one of the best tiny coasters I have done, it's so smooth! Oh yeah, The Bounty has to be the best Pirate Ship I have been on too! To summarise then, Drayton Manor exceeded our expectations and is one of my favourite parks in the UK. The have some really unique rides, including loads of family and kids rides! some of the theming is in need of refurb but the newer rides look great! What this park really needs now is another thrill coaster, hopefully something will be announced in the next few years! Shame about the staff though as rarely did we see a smile - very Grumpy! All in all it's a great park and look forward to returning next year!
  2. A few weeks ago I returned from a holiday to Amsterdam which of course included a trip to Efteling, one of the biggest theme parks in Europe. I'd read a bit about the park beforehand and wasn't too sure what to expect. On the one hand Baron looked like an excellent coaster and the atmosphere seemed so quaint and lovely but I was worried that the park would be too kiddie focused and as an adult there wouldn't be enough to interest me. Quick spoiler warning, I will be discussing parts of some attractions which I wouldn't have wanted spoiling myself so if you've got a trip planned please don't read this! The day started with an early wake up and by 7AM we were out of the apartment and on our way to Amsterdam Central Station. From here the journey is two trains and a bus which took around 1:45 from the station to the park gates which isn't too bad considering it's literally on the other side of the country! My park buddy today was my lovely girlfriend Laura who holds a single figure coaster count and isn't really a theme park fan at all so I was interested to see what she made of the place. The journey went by fairly quickly on the comfy Dutch double decker trains and the bus from the train station to the park was blissfully peaceful compared to the rowdy Thorpe bus. The whole Dutch culture is just so pleasant and this really reflected in the park too. Anyway the bus soon arrived fifteen minutes before park opening and we were strolling up the path towards the ridiculously huge and grand entrance (pictured later). Now this is how you make a first impression and a statement about the quality of your park, it built up the hype so much and once inside the structure we were through the turnstiles quickly and into the park. First up was Bob which was a decent bobsleigh. My only point of comparison here is Avalanche at Blackpool and I preferred Bob as the smaller cars made you feel much more vulnerable and like you're on a real life bobsleigh. It's a fun ride with some good swing up the corners and the theming was minimal but still managed to create an atmosphere. The queue line meanders through a forest, the station is nicely Swiss themed and there's a good soundtrack. From here it was a short walk to Baron 1898 (the lovely new B&M dive coaster) which unfortunately was not yet ready to open so we carried on to The Flying Dutchman, the parks rather unique dark ride/roller coaster/water ride hybrid and it absolutely blew me away. I'm talking Universal/Disney levels of quality here in terms of theming and atmosphere which I just was not expecting from this park. From the highly detailed facade outside the entrance you could tell it was going to be good and the theming continues inside as you walk through a dungeon and a 17th century pub before reaching the huge nighttime harbour where the ride loads. Once you leave the harbour it's pitch black and very foggy with only a dim lamp at the front of the boat illuminating the scene and nothing else around. All you can see is the fog surrounding the boat as it creeps forward into the darkness and even though you're just sitting inside a big warehouse in Holland you genuinely feel isolated and out at sea. After this was the most convincing fog projection screen I've ever seen where the Flying Dutchman jumps out of the sea and right into your face then there's two lift hills and a surprise drop where various ghosts and ships are flying around while rain effects beat down on you. There's also some great projection mapping of a ghostly demon sentencing you just before the doors open and you're thrust into the coaster section which was good for what it was, the camelback had a bit of airtime and the overbank was fun. It wouldn't work as a standalone coaster but as a small piece of a larger attraction it fits in well. I was fully ready to brace myself for the splashdown but weirdly all the water falls outside the boat however it still looks cool and is the perfect finale for the ride. Finally, after all the action there's a long, slow float along the lake back into the station. The whole thing is just so immersive and really varied. I love how quickly the atmosphere changes from the station in the lively harbour with its jaunty soundtrack to the cold emptiness of the out at sea section to the action packed and intense section with the lift hills. It moves along at such a quick pace and the roller coaster is the perfect cherry on top. My only complaint is that the dark ride section is a little short but I'd rather take a few minutes of brilliance over something longer and dragged out. While in the queue for Dutchman they announced over the PA that Baron had opened so that was our next stop. Unfortunately, Laura wasn't feeling up for this one so I made use of the single rider line. There's a very unique (notice I say this word a lot during this report!) loading system where at the front of the queueline before you enter the building you're batched and given a ticket with your row number on. After this you're then sent into the building with just two trains worth of guests and after the pre-show you hand an attendant your ticket and line up at the right airgate. This is a great idea as it means once you're inside the ride and immersed in the story and theming there's not a break in the flow where you're asked how many's in your group and sent to a gate, you just flow straight from the pre-show to the coaster itself without any faff. The first pre-show sets the tone nicely and introduces the story of a new mining site plagued with ghosts called the White Ladies. There's some jaw droppingly smooth projection mapping that interacts nicely with the shape of the room as the ghosts hijack the baron's introductory video and float around the room singing a haunting chant. The room is then plunged into darkness before the lights come back on revealing no sign of the ghosts. Next you walk up some stairs where an animatronic of the baron shouts Dutch things at you then it's time to wait behind your gate to board the coaster. Unlike most coasters the gates aren't these flimsy looking chest height things but actual doors that block off your view to the loading area so when you're waiting for them to open you feel like a mine worker about to enter a mine as opposed to a punter waiting to ride a coaster. Once on board the train stops after leaving the station and the White Ladies appear once again to attack the car. Here there's another projection mapping scene with lots of subtle animation in the room to accompany the projections which really makes you feel that the ghosts are there with you. The car then rises up the lift hill and the coaster begins. The ride itself is very good but nothing extraordinary, it's very standard smooth and floaty B&M stuff which definitely isn't a bad thing. The drop is very much like Oblivions but not quite as sustained, the zero G roll is nice and snappy and there's a very small bunny hop towards the end which doesn't look like much but gives some quite intense floater. I think my thoughts on Baron can be summed up by how much I've written about the overall experience of the ride compared to how little I've written about the actual coaster itself. If this was bare and just plonked on a slab of concrete it would still be a very decent ride but the theming and pre-shows bring it up to a whole other level. Next up was Carnaval Festival, the parks It's a Small World knock off. It's a fun and colourful ride but there's no plot, it's just six minutes of travelling past various animatronics and models of different nationalities. I enjoyed my ride but felt no need to reride later in the day. Just next door was another indoor ride, the Vogel Rok coaster. I went in expecting it to be a slightly improved X but it was actually a brilliant ride. The enormous bird outside is an awesome entrance but once inside the queue is pretty much a cattlepen, however it moves quickly enough to not feel tiresome. The ride itself feels a little taller than X, the swoops are much bigger and the ride feels a lot faster and more forceful. It's still very much a family coaster but being in the dark completely unaware of the layout to come is a thrilling feeling. Dotted around the coaster are a few laser effects and some large bird models that light up and appear to swoop very near to the train and the whole experience is wrapped up nicely by a rather grand on board soundtrack which adds so much to the ride. From here it was a long walk to the bottom left corner of the park where the next bunch of attractions we wanted to do were. In terms of size the park feels slightly larger than Alton Towers but every inch of path is so beautifully landscaped and in a lot of cases themed with lots of interesting buildings to look at meaning there's no long boring walks to the next ride. There's also no deadspots such as the walk from Gloomy Wood to Forbidden Valley, it's just a really pleasant park to spend time in even when not on the rides. Soon we made it to the Marerijk area of the park where we got our Raveleijn show tickets from the dispenser then rode the rides nearby while waiting for the show to start. First up was Dreamflight, a suspended dark ride which takes you through various fairy tale landscapes. Within the opening few scenes I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy a ride about fairies in their forests but I got so immersed and engrossed in the rides world. The ride consists of about five or six really large room sets that you fly around connected by tunnels between each scene and each one is so richly themed everywhere you look. Each scene is quite different, there's some forests and gardens but also a castle one and an absolutely stunning nighttime scene where you fly past a hub of floating cities in the sky. Over the course of the ride you gradually gain height which leads to a finale where you spiral down through a huge forest (this bit picks up some speed and felt so coaster like that I had to check the RCDB after) which works well as the bottom of the forest is so detailed that you notice more and more things the lower down you spiral. All in all a really beautiful dark ride. Next we had a ride on Villa Volta, a madhouse with a very long and drawn out series of pre-shows in Dutch which went completely over our heads. The ride itself was worth the wait though as it's a fantastic illusion. I don't really know what else to say here as minus the pre-shows it was pretty much just Hex which you've all experienced! Upon exiting there was a huge downpour of rain so we hid under the edge of a stall and ate a huge strip of friend potato wrapped around a stick and covered in BBQ powder. It tasted great and soon the rain cleared and it was time to make our way into the Raveleijn arena. I'm normally not a fan of theme park shows, I'd rather skip them to get more rides in but this is an absolute must do at Efteling. There's horses on fire, really intense swordfights and then suddenly an enormous fire breathing dragon just pops out of nowhere and a load of knights take it on! There's so many different stunts and effects going on and once it gets going its just nonstop action, you can tell the park blew so much money on the production and it was really worth it. At this point we'd almost finished a lap of the park so headed back towards the entrance via the Fairytale Forest. I was vaguely aware of its existence but I was shocked at the scale of it, it's absolutely huge and offers so many different routes. We only stumbled across our route by accident as we were lost and it was the quickest way to our next ride but I'm glad we did as we probably wouldn't have bothered with this area of the park otherwise. All the scenes are nicely animated and it's all very charming and quirky, if I had more time in the park I would have definitely liked to see more. Fata Morgana was next and the palace the ride is housed in looked amazing across the lake as we approached it. The ride uses a tow boat system and has a very PoTC feel to it despite being Arabian Nights themed but it had enough unique stuff in it to not feel like too much of a Disney rip off. You start off in a dense jungle with a pretty intimidating snake animatronic and progress through various Arabian slums and city streets before entering the palace where a tiger suddenly appears followed by a strange scene where lasers start firing near your boat causing the water to splash up. I couldn't quite follow the plot but this ride is so detailed, I think it's probably the most animatronics crammed into one ride I've ever seen and you really feel like you're going on an adventure. It's a long ride too clocking in at around eight minutes which you just don't get enough of with dark rides. After this it was a short walk to the rapids which were great, again a nicely long ride and it had lots of big open wave machine sections where there's lots of bumping and overtaking and general rapids based carnage. I got pretty soaked compared to everyone else on the boat but sometimes that's just how it is! The rain earlier had cleared the park out despite only being at 2PM meaning Baron had a fifteen minute queue at this point so it would have been rude not to re-ride. Laura joined me this time and really enjoyed it too. Next up was a coaster I was really looking forward to riding, George and the Dragon GCI woodie. I haven’t been on many quality woodies so to ride something so modern and smooth but also fairly intense was such a treat. Highlights here included the first drop which is steep with the crest taken at a good speed and any point where the track turns while also going up or down which being a GCI there are a lot of moments of! It’s such a smooth coaster and throws you around so much without feeling unpleasant in the slightest. While there were no real standout moments in terms of airtime you do still spend a lot of the ride with your thighs firmly planted against the lapbar so it definitely does its job in that department. One other thing to note that really threw me off guard was an outwardly banked RMC style turn near the end which was a strange sensation and like nothing I had ever ridden before. The final new ride we rode was Python, a really old school Vekoma double loop, double corkscrew. I’d ridden a clone of this before and got absolutely battered but the new trains and vest restraints actually make this about as smooth as a 90s B&M and the lack of headbanging is an absolute godsend. The layout is still pretty dull and leaves a lot to be desired but for a classic coaster this definitely does the trick. To cap the day off we had a reride on George and the Dragon and Flying Dutchman then hit the pancake house for the sickliest biggest pancake I’ve ever eaten. My initial reaction on the way home was OMG this is the greatest park I’ve ever been to and even after a few weeks of reflection I still think this is the case. The rides are of a very high standard (I’d say the execution of Flying Dutchman and Baron is definitely world class) and the rest of the line up is very very strong. There’s also so much to do, thankfully we didn’t have to queue for too long so were able to knock all the major rides out in one day with a few rerides but the quantity of stuff to do in the park is staggering. Things we didn’t ride included the worlds largest pirate ship, a heavily themed Seastorm esque flat, a 4D cinema, a haunted house attraction and of course we didn’t have time to fully explore the park and the Fairytale Forest. It’s a park worth far more than the sum of its parts and this is in part due to the operations and how the park is run. The entrance fee is very reasonable, the food was the same price as stuff in Amsterdam, there’s no fasttrack system and you never feel like you’re being upsold. It feels like every decision made by management is to enhance the guest experience and make the park as perfect as it can possibly be as opposed to just extracting money out of you like a certain UK operator. It’s so lovely to not see ‘Get your annual pass today!’ posters everywhere or have HB Leisure people hassle you on the pathways, you’re just free to escape from the world and enjoy the park without having to worry about things. I feel I’ve gushed enough now so I’ll leave it at that, if you’re still here thank you so much for reading!
  3. So was in the park from around mid day. The event started at half 7, and the park closed for normal quests at 6. People for Howl O scream were aloud in at 5 and were given wristbands, so from 6 only people with wristbands were given access to all the rides. This was nice as it meant we didn't have to sit doing nothing for an hour like we did at Universal. Was really looking forward to this event, open until 1am with 7 houses with all the main rides open. There was a also a show, live music and nightclubs for those interested. There were no specific scare zones listed on the map like universal but there quite a few around the park, and groups of actors walking round the park similar to Fright Nights. There were people dressed up in ghille suits hiding in bush's and trees all around the park who just randomly just out at people or make a loud bang every so often. I found out the hard way when at 6 (still daylight) I shat my pants when one jumped out a bush and made a loud bang. Didn't expect any actors to be out at all, especially at 6. The event hadn't even started and I had already had a much bigger scare than I got the whole time I was at Universal. Such a great idea, and scared so many people. No one expected it. There was a group of clowns roaming the park as well, and one of them made me jump again as well. At a corner there was a clown just standing there making strange noises distracting me, then another clown jumps out from behind a bin with a horn and scares you. Very well done. Anyway onto the houses... The Basement So first up was the Basement. Turned up here about 15 minutes before it opened not knowing how busy/quiet it was going to be, but thought it was strange there being like 5 people in front of me when there was only 15 minutes until it opened. As soon it was time, we were led down into the main queue and we were straight in. No talks like all the events in the UK, just signs at the entrance. So at Busch gardens all the mazes were free flow meaning you didn't have to hold on the person in front of you, and they put you in the maze in around groups of 20, not as small as what they do in the UK but not as big as Universal (which is just a 1 massive conga line.) Themed around mamas kitchen and how she is gonna cook you up and eat you. A brilliant house, better than all of the ones I did at Universal! Theming was excellent, water sprayed at you (as vomit) for example. All actors were great and stayed in roll the whole time, chainsaw ending on this one as well. 9/10 So next up located in Gwazi park (now closed during the day)... Circus of superstition 3D So being a 3D maze, you wear 3D glasses and everything in the maze is painted really bright UV colours, and all the glasses do is make the colours strike out a lot more. After doing a dreadful 3D maze at Universal Halloween horror night I really wan't expecting much from this one. I walked up to the maze to see a completely empty queue, and got asked if I wanted to wait for a group or just go in alone (Didn't meet my family until after this house). So for the whole first half of the maze I was completely alone until I caught up with another group. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life. Full of scares, including actors on swings/bungees who come out of no where and swing of the wall right up to you (you can't see them on a wall before they swing at you, they just come at you out of nowherere and swing back again. ) Clown costumes were excellent, music was excellent, acting quality again was amazing and overall just an amazing house. Defiantly one of the best I've ever done. 9/10 Facade looked amazing. And there was a giant clown running around outside as well. Next up was the new house for this year, Unearthed scarlets revenge. Waited around 15 minutes for this one, was a bit stupid of us going in the house at the entrance of the park just as the event started as it had no queue later on Gwazis queue was used as the queue for this house, and even went right up to the station... So annoying having a beautiful woodie lit up next to us SBNO which closed months before we went All the trains are still there sitting in the maintenance sheds. Anyway back to the house, it was alright. Theming was good once again and was creepy, but lacked scares, which wasn't helped by the fact too many people were let in meaning it was very slow moving inside there. The main character in there Scarlett was just weird, a sexy girl with horns? Don't know how she was meant to be scary, or how she linked in with the rest of the monsters in there and rest of the house. Was just all a bit weird. Was a good house but just no where near as strong as the first 2 I did. 7/10 Death Water Bayou Didn't really know what to expect for this one. Walked up a long path to find a nice facade, looked like an abounded house. This house was seriously amazing. Probably the best house/maze I've ever done. Seemed to have so many parts of the houses all combined into one, for example the swings/bungees from the clown maze were in here. A ridiculous amount of scares, a spinning tunnel, actors were amazing, theming was amazing, was just a really strong house throughout, loved every second. Very intense, most amount of scares in a maze. 10/10!! Zombie Mortuary Wasn't expecting to be scared a lot from this one, had never been through a zombie maze but once again a very good house. Soundtrack was great with a strong organ sound playing throughout, made a creepy atmosphere. Zombie costumes were really good, theming was good surprisingly a lot of scares. Another really strong house. 8/10 Deadfull Again a pretty strong house, not a lot to say about this one. Theming was great, remember seeing a Merry go round, a playground, a graveyard. Was more creepy than scary. 8/10 Zombie Containment unit 15 Unfortunately I didn't get to experience this one. It had over a 45 minute queue the whole night when everything else was pretty much walk on, so we really couldn't be bothered. Guessing the reason for this is low throughput, all I know is that you have a gun and have to shoot the zombies. My advice to anyone that goes would be to do this first before it builds up a queue, the queue did not go down the whole time we were there. Rides open at night were: Cheetah Hunt in the dark was very good with a lot of it being dark. Dodgems were great with smoke, lazers and loud music. Kumba :wub: :wub: :wub: Sheikra Falcons Fury, which the Americans seemed to love. and Montu. Overall this was by far the best Halloween event I've ever done. The park atmosphere was fantastic, actors all round the park were fantastic and obviously all the main rides are open for night rides. There was really good music throughout the park, lighting and smoke machines everywhere. It's crazy how much a huge place can all have such a good atmosphere. All the houses were very good, all had excellent theming, nice facades, great soundtracks and full of actors. Obviously some were better than others, but all the houses were very strong and there was none that I thought were terrible. Walking around the park in the day is completely different to walking around it at night, it just all comes out of no where. There are loads of really nice photo opportunities dotted around the park as well, with actors standing there and staff to take a photo for you. Have one of me and my Dad. We left the park a few hours early, we got we wanted to do done multiple times as there was literally no queues. Busch are good with re-rides on the coasters as well which is nice. Lots of actors at the exit when we left Apologies all the photos are terrible but they were all taken on my phone and all turned out very bad at night. Thanks for reading. Happy to do a trip report of Busch Gardens in the day, Universal halloween horror night, Islands of adventure, Studios, Sea World, Fun Spot if people are interested
  4. Hey guys, new here, I had a trip down to Adventure Island yesterday and I wanted to post a little Trip Report Park Open: 11am Park Close: 10pm Rides Closed: None I got to the park at about 12pm and left at 10pm (closing time on this day), first thing I noticed the park was really busy (of course it would be) but the rides queues were really short, shorter than expected. I hadn't been down here in about 4 years so it was nice to see the park still having short queues. First ride of the day was Rage, it was running 2 trains (3rd was having its wheels replaced but later was put on and had people loaded on it within about 2 test runs) Great operations I must say. The line was moving very very fast and no more than 5 minutes at all. We then headed on Skydrop, a good drop ride for what it offers. after, I went on time machine, now, I wanted to ride this when it opened but because it opened like a year late I never got the chance, needless to say I will never be going on it again, that thing was just so intense that I almost blacked out and came off almost sick (yikes), was glad I did it though, after we went on rage again (almost a walk on queue so how could we not?) and headed on some other rides on the other side of the park, had multiple re rides on pretty much everything and overall was a great day out (I only live about an hour away so it was a short trip) Operations 10/10 fast moving lines on every ride Staff, 10/10, all the staff were nice, fun, and did their own little stuff on the rides Day out, 9/10 Park was busy, very busy despite not many lines for the rides. Ride count: Rage - 17 Skydrop - 3 Time Machine - 1 Green Scream - 2 Over the hill - 1 Scorpion - 2 Dragons Claw - 2 Ramba Zamba - 1 Mighty Mini Mega - 1 Barnstormer - 1 Archelon - 1 Vortex - 1 Sk8borda - 1 Pharaohs Fury - 1 Fireball - 1 Devils Creek Gold Mine - 1 Helter Skelter - 1 Serpent Slide - 1 A very good day with lots of rides!
  5. WARNING: High Liam content. Well, what an amazing day this was! It was a joy to see everyone again and to meet some new faces (Btw, I got the xmas smilies by googling them, started typing this during xmas, was gonna remove them since but meh, it's a Christmas meet ) After being greeted with hugs and smiles at Waterloo station, it was off to The Eye (and that wonderful 4D experience). It was a clear day so we got some great views, could even see Stealth! Liam was such a tourist (actually, he was for the whole day) and came out with a great response to The Shard: "It doesn't look real! It looks like it's been painted on!" Seflie time! Next up was The Dungeons, which were a great laugh as usual, and with it being Liam's first time, we were provided with much entertainment in the form of his vocalizations. Such as: jumping on the boat ride; screaming in the plague doctors scene when the leeches crawl under your bum, and just general camp reactions. The highlight was, of course, when he got picked in the torture device scene Just...perfect! Shame we couldn't take any photos! Although... Our ORP from Drop Dead with Luke (and some random lady) was quite something... Luke's face! We skipped SeaLife and headed straight to Nandos, about an hour before our booking We managed to lose Peaj on the underground, whilst gaining Mark9 and Dan9...but were eventually reuinited in Nandos. Secret Santa was fun as always (but did we actually finish it?!), I think Liam was most impressed with his sexy fireman calendar At this point, I had intended on going around and handing all my Christmas cards out...not really sure what happened! So instead, I just went to people individually throughout the rest of the day and gave them their cards. But because of this, there were some people who I didn't get round to giving their cards to, so major apologies! BUT I did bring loads of candy canes And I tried to make sure everyone got one lol! After this cheeky dessert of candy canes, it was off to Madame Tussauds for most of us while the rest headed to the pub. A few bits (and groping of!) from Tussauds: Santa Banter! (In full HD 60fps, as are all my videos) http://youtu.be/FWs9qD1OAro I also added some silly/amusing annotations And it appears that our meet organiser was clearly still in shock after becoming seperated from us on the underground, and couldn't even catch a giant box A few stills from that footage: W're royal, ya know Erm, I still have no words... Aww I do love this photo! Soon, it was time for The Spirit of London! Here's some stills from my on-ride footage ...Because the detail in this ride is just brilliant. Luke popped his head round to tell us something important... (Watch the video that I have included further down to find out what, I didn't upload them for nothing ) Rebuilding London and St Paul's #Lad Hmm, this reminds me of a particular coaster... Only just realised when watching the footage back that this helter skelter is also Big Ben! Where did everyone go?! Plot twist: they were taken by the creepy fireman! I think it's partly the fact that his right eye just stares straight ahead which makes him creepy (ish). I thoroughy enjoyed the ride as always, as did Liam! Why not see (and hear!) for yourself? http://youtu.be/boytOANK8_E I was a bit sheepish about being too obvious filming it, hence why the view seems quite low down at points. But it's the things that are said/the reactions (again, mainly from Liam) that are the highlights of the video, really! "WHO'S THAT?!" "Oh my god we're going down...OOOH!" "We're going oop...WE'RE GOING OOP!" Winter Wonderland Well, once we'd eventually got inside and shuffled painfully to the Carousel Bar, we could enjoy ourselves (as much as humanely possible). Myself and some others did Wild Maus XXL, which was even more insane, hardly seemed to trim! There's a particular corner which is ridiculously fast - you can actually see people being thrown to the side when watching! Then while some others did Barrel of Laughs, we did XXL. It was definitely worth it! Far more than just a giant Freakout or better version of Vortex It was fast, pretty intense, had both great force and great airtime, and when I thought we'd reached full height, it still went higher! Pretty sure I shouted "What the f**k?!" a few times! Winter Wonderland off-ride footage http://youtu.be/E3htSa9TRvU At 14-15 seconds in, watch the corner just above the blue sign - that's the corner I just mentioned, you'll see how fast the car flies through! You also get to hear the wonderful operator on XXL, who kept repeating the same things over and over again. OH and watch (and listen) out for my little edit at the end It was eventually time to say goodbye It really was lovely to see people again, especially people like Liam who I haven't seen in a long time and live bloomin' miles away! Actually had to hold back from crying when hugging goodbye Although, it was nice to go to the pub after with some peeps and just chill, was a nice way to finish such a good day! Here is the album with all my photos in for any who want to see the rest of them: Christmas London Trip 2014 Oh and any photos with people in are set to private (the above link is a guest pass, so only those who I share the link to can see the private photos) So thank you to everyone for making it such a great meet, and of course to Peaj! Last year's meet unfortunately ended up on a very sad day for me and my family, so I don't have great memories from it. And for various reasons, 2014, up until around late October/November, was a pretty awful year for me personally. BUT (cue happy/triumphant music), since November-time I've finally been on the mend, and for the first time in a very long time (a few years perhaps!) I feel back to my old self - if not, better than that! Something must have shone through as I was often the one the actors spoke to at The Dungeons Seriously though, I feel so alive and more chatty, and I was eager to see how I'd be at a meet (especially with so many people), and I'm very pleased to say that I felt amazing! So here's to 2015 Happy new year! x
  6. At the end of June I spent a week in Salou. This of course meant that some trips to PortAventura would be happening! As well as a trip to Barcelona and the somewhat little known park of Tibidabo. First off, Salou is a lively large town situated right on the coast of the Costa Dorada, we stayed in a hotel in Salou and couldn’t fault anything about the place. Right in the centre & 5-10 mins walk to the beach. Loved it. One thing I particularly enjoyed about the stay was on the evening of the 23rd of June, the longest day of the year celebrations took place, aka Summer Solstice aka St. John’s Eve… and a bank holiday follows the day after. Fireworks are on sale at pop up shop shipping containers in the street and they’re going off until the early hours… Fabulous atmosphere all evening! PortAventura We did 2 days at PortAventura, using the Plana bus (every 10 mins from Salou, €2 pp), cheap & very efficient taking you straight to PortAventura in around 10-15 minutes. A land train also operates but takes around 20-30 minutes. The entrance area of the park is fantastic and you immediately have a view of the fountains in the lake with Baco rushing round and Shambhala & Hurakan Condor in the distance. Seeing as the park has staggered ride openings we opted to start at the back of the park at Dragon Khan. Khan opens at 10:00 with the park along with the rapids, Tutuki Splash, Furius Baco, and select other smaller attractions. If this was a UK park it wouldn’t be an acceptable way of operating. But when you consider that the park is open until 8PM, 9PM, 11PM, midnight or 2AM - 4AM, you still have ample time to get everything done more than once without express. I’ll probably mention this again later on… Mediterrania is the area you first enter. This pic was taken from the opposite side on the bridge between Mediterrania and Far West. You enter not far from where Baco's train is in this pic. One of my favourite things was how picturesque PA is. Queue jumping was something that we encountered at various times in our visit. The spanish seem to not care at all if someone jumps over the fence or in front of them. Anyway, except for that, I really liked the general atmosphere around the park, lots of foliage, lakes, extremely well kept garden areas and all queues are at least partially covered from sunlight. The (many) small & large shows dotted around the park also provide nice breaks from the rides for a few minutes here and there. One of the smaller shows... I would recommend purchasing express if you want to get *loads* done as a group. Naturally, most people head to Baco first and it had already racked up 1hr of queue when we passed it. Got to Khan and waited 2 trains and were on. Hurrah! Dragon Khan It's 148ft tall, yet with Shambhala overhead it really doesn't feel that way from the ground. Dragon Khan was operating 2 trains for the entirety of the 2 days we spent at the park. The area that the ride shares with Shambhala is impressive, I’m not usually one to care much for theming but it’s all done to a high standard, the large ‘Shambhala’ area entrance signs and singular theme items as you enter the area are nice. Khan starts off with the classic B&M pre-lift turn, followed by what seems to be a gentle climb to the top due to Shambhala’s domineering steepness from above. Once at the top of the lift, I found the first half of the ride to be taken at quite some speed even early in the morning at 10:30AM, the zero-G being the highlight of this half for me. The second half was ‘good’ but not amazing, I have read on other forums that the ride has new computer settings this year, and the MCBR now trims EVERY TRAIN to this pace, all day, every day: (Not my video) I very much enjoyed Dragon Khan, it isn’t anything which is personally going to go in a top 10, but it was a solid ride. It is quite a ‘generic’ / ‘american’ style layout (+1 loop), I suppose you could say. But the reason things become generic, popular, and cloned a lot is because they are good, no? Colossus still remains my favourite multi-looper, but that’s because I have much love for it’s inlines and non-stop paced ride given. Shambhala opens at 11:00, as does the flume. All other rides (Stampida, Hurakan Condor, El Diablo, Tomahawk, etc) open at 12:00. Templo del Fuego opens at 13:00. Again, this didn’t really bother us, if you plan and make sure you hit up attractions just as they open, you should have a good amount of rides done by mid afternoon. By the time you’ve done the rides open from 10, the 11 ones are open, then the 12… and it goes on. From a logistical side I can understand why they do this. *Hearts in eyes Emoji* Next was a wander round 1/2 the park, taking in the early atmosphere through Mexico & Far West and up to the rapids for a ride, followed by the Flume. We took the first couple of hours easy knowing that queues would die down once everything opens at 12. (we queued 40mins for the rapids), refreshing and got quite wet, surprisingly as some people were coming off quite dry! We took a look in some shops, and for some reason the park has an obsession for selling Betty Boop merch? Lol. The Silver River Flume at PA is built to have fantastic interaction with El Diablo, much waving occurs between boats and El Diablo. A very fun flume overall of nice length and a quickly moving queue thanks to the turntable station. Spinning flat ride thing called Serpiente Emplumada. Like Drayton Manor Sombrero's across between a Polyp... El Diablo, aka Tren de la Mina. It’s Lifthills and coathanger turns. It’s still an enjoyable ride and I prefer the Arrow Dynamics mine trains to the powered Mack ones. The queue on 3 trains moves fast once the express queue dies down. It’s interaction with the flume was a highlight, we had the back row and the drop out of the station provides a wonderful surprise pop of airtime, though when the pre-lift of a ride is one of the best bits it says a lot about the remainder of the layout!! Between lift 1, lift 2, and lift 3 the ride just does a lot of meandering around, until after lift 3 where you get the ‘big swooping drop’ and final dive through the smashed hut over the queue. Cool, but the many other Arrow 3-lift mine trains dotted around the world look to be better. Not bad but a bit odd! Shambhala. There is absolutely nothing I can criticise about this ride in B&M terms, it’s an all round crowd pleaser. My first B&M hyper coaster, it domineers over the entire park with a drop of 256ft. The ride ran 2 trains for the entire day on my first day of visiting, and had a queue of approximately 40 mins - 1hr 20 mins all day. On my second day of visiting it ran 2 trains from 11:00 til 12:00 when the 3rd train was added due to Furius Baco breaking down and Shambhala gaining a 2 hour queue. When running three trains, the single rider queue is nearly always empty. They manage it THAT well that when batching, not one seat goes unfilled. I even got a front row ride from the single rider queue one time!! In the station they have an LED screen which counts down how long they have to dispatch the train. On 3 trains they have 60 seconds from air gates opening to when it needs to be dispatched to prevent stacking. The screen then shows (what must be) the capacity number as a figure like 16:24 (was certainly not the time..!) for 1624PPH, very funky / nerdy & not bad considering it can get 1680PPH! They were running it very well on 3 trains. Onto the ride itself, when leaving the station, if you’re on a happy train you may get some cheering and drumming of the restraints! ha ha. The lift is speedy and if Khan is also climbing it’s lift some waving / interaction below will certainly occur! At the top of the lift the train sends you down the first drop so gracefully, put your hands up and just float down… it’s amazing! In the back seat you get the best airtime over all of the hills, anticipate the hills and you’ll get the best floaty feeling. The ampersand turnaround is a unique touch and looks cool from a distance, below is the view of the park from my hotel! Floaty drop airtime for everyone!! The mini ‘speed hill’ after the ampersand provides some slightly stronger airtime but it’s still not gonna leave you with feeling *omg ejected*. My preference is very strong thigh-pressure ejector airtime, but the B&M style is still an enjoyable feeling. If you’re in an outside seat, reach out to your side and get a refreshing spray through the splashdown, then get prepared for more airtime! The ride just does not let up and has 'floatiness' by the bucketload even in the final hills before the MCBR. (MCBR only has 1 hill after it). Overall, 9/10, most certainly a top 10 ride, it isn’t ‘OMG wow intense’ like I usually like, but it’s very fun and the most re-rideable coaster I have ever ridden. The train design is brilliant. Top ride! Hurakan Condor This was my 3rd Intamin drop tower. Apocalypse floorless was my favourite drop ever, until I rode Hurakan Condor! I rode it only 2 times due to lack of express pass and even a long single rider queue. Got standup both times (cue “yaaaass”). The height alone is quite terrifying (not too much off 300ft?) so when you get tilted forwards at around 20-30ft from the top, your heart rate races and you might just swear once or twice. Take advantage of the amazing view then put your hands out and prepare to drop… The falling feeling is fantastic and beats Apocalypse. My favourite flat ride on the park. 10/10. Stampida. One ride. Blue side. 4 trains running, 2 each side. A CCI wooden coaster which has been rehabilitated / improved by KumbaK with 'new' trains. Take the word ‘improved’ lightly here. The trains look like park benches and they also feel like them. The lap bar is hydraulic and will tighten as you go round the circuit with every jolt that you go over, I couldn’t brace myself against it because you have to take your bag on the ride with you and I didn’t want that to go flying so had to hold onto the bag… The ride could be good… But it’s flawed with track which feels like it’s washboarding so incredibly badly and trains & layout which prevent airtime because the lap bar isn’t moulded in the best of ways. Nonetheless, fun interaction times can be had when the trains separate and duel, the same with Tomahawk which shares the Stampida structure. I need to ride it again really to get a more clarified opinion. Tomahawk. Pretty much a kiddie wooden coaster with dinky trains. It seats one adult per row or one adult and a child. Runs 2 (old) trains and has new in 2007 KumbaK control and braking systems just like Stampida. I should imagine this is an incredibly thrilling attraction for kids as it’s actually quite violent around some corners! It’s also smoother than Stampida and has interaction with Stampida. Alright..! Furius Baco. Before reading this review, bear in mind that my favourite rides are Saw: The Ride, Speed (Oakwood), Mondial Capriolo, KMG Tango, Colossus, Slammer, Stealth and Rita. They are all rides which I enjoy because they are somewhat on the extreme end of the scale… In one aspect or another. First of all, check that speed... I'd love to know just how fast it actually goes thru that inline..! >>>>>>> https://vine.co/v/MtZq1MwKOj5 <<<<<<< From every aspect offride, Baco looks to be an relentless, furious (ha ha ha) ride which throws the riders around it’s speedy course like it can’t get back to the brake run quick enough. And that’s exactly what it does. And I love it. I had 4 rides in total on it, 3 on outside seats and 1 inside seat. The pre-show is weird. The theme is weird. Once at the pre-show, you do some shuffling back and forth as the catch car prepares to engage whilst the naughty monkey comes along and causes havoc. The launch feels INCREDIBLE, especially in the front row. Going at such a speed and having so much of yourself out in the open really enhances the feeling of acceleration. The launch ends with a hill down into the first pit which can deliver some intense airtime. Dropping down into the first pit, slammed around a corner at 80+mph before switching direction briefly and then switching direction again, you take a leap over the launch and a left turn to approach the inline twist. The feeling of speed is again, greater enhanced as you head for the inline twist. This is SO CLOSE to the ground you feel you could almost touch it, the feeling of speed is astounding and the way you don’t go through it as a heartline creates a rather cool twisty feeling... Final turn out of the inline and over the lake, with the final bump onto the brake run and I was totally wowed. Incredible ride. Baco gives you the wow factor in a way that most crazy Intamin creations do… I’m told that Mack mega coasters also have fantastic inline twists so can’t wait to try one out! Back to Baco - Now, there’s no other way of putting it, the ride is ROUGH. But if you can cope with intensity on the scale of Saw, Rita, to some extent Stealth, then you may enjoy Baco. The head banging could be reduced if they didn't have these 'elephant ear' type things on top of the restraints. Though I believe they are there after the incident with a restraint last year... Reminds me of Vekoma SLC restraints. Shame as Intamin's modern bars like on Baco are otherwise very good imo because you are pinned at the thighs. Overall, Baco is a ride which isn’t shy of pushing the limit and provides an intense experience which doesn’t ‘play it safe’ in the comfort department in order to limit intensity. I feel like the ride could probably make it round the circuit with a launch of around ~60mph seeing as it keeps so much speed for the entire circuit, but I’m glad Intamin pushed the boundaries when they built Baco! 9/10. One final thing. I can't not give this a mention. A bird opposite Tomahawk (yes the kiddie coaster) which sings Sex Bomb & an array of ~4-5 other songs all day long. (Not my video) So that’s it for PortAventura… Fantastic park which has a special collection of rides all in areas which have a great feeling of character. It was my first international park and I look forward to visiting the likes of Europa Park, Liseberg and all the other amazing locations on offer to us in Europe over the coming years… Can’t wait to return to PA in the future though! I had an amazing time! One final, signature PA pic! Trip report coming up from Tibidabo, Barcelona soon..!
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