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  1. Germany trip - Part 2/3 From 19th May to 25th May 2016 With Loose Steele Bluth Parks visited: Hansa Park, Heide Park, Phantasialand **Photos to be added at a later date** Day 1 - Hansa Park is in the previous blog post Day 2 - Heide Park General points ⁃ Park open 10-6 ⁃ It was a Saturday so the park was very busy (See queue-times to see the difference between Saturday and Sunday particularly!) ⁃ Difficult to access before 10 on a Saturday due to train timetabling ⁃ Fairly large park, especially compared to Hansa ⁃ Weekend following the opening of the 'How to Train Your Dragon' land ⁃ Good ride reliability! A few times rides appeared as temporarily closed on queue time boards, but we were unaffected by/didn't see a break down all day (except Flug in the morning which I will talk about) Public transport made it difficult to get to the park before opening - There is a bus from Hamburg to the park that arrives at 10:10am, but leaves to go back at 5 so we did not opt for this option and instead got trains. Despite Heide offering a shuttle bus from Soltau station, the bus times did not coincide with our options for trains so we instead alighted at Wolterdingen at 10:17 (Train before arrived at 8:05 and we would have needed to be up at 6 or something ridiculous). The park is then a 20-minute walk from the station on a road surrounded by trees. On arrival it was obvious the park was going to be incredibly busy despite its size. At 10:45 queue time boards showed Desert Race had an hour queue and Krake was on 45 minutes so we headed to Flug der Daemonen which was sporting a 10-minute queue. We considered the Express Butler (Q-bot essentially) as it only costed €20 and you could use it similar to reserve and ride where you wait in a virtual queue for the wait time of the ride you wished to ride. There were other pricing options such as €30 to wait half the queue time, and €70 for unlimited use on all rides all day too. We however had faith in our ability to plan the day effectively and get on everything necessary without giving an extra €20 to Merlin for no reason. Flug der Daemonen Walking into the queue, I was pleasantly surprised at the theming, The portion of the queue in the old log flume building was really atmospheric and also a good use of the historical existing structure, despite some unthemed cattle pens following that (and nets everywhere of course) the queue was very dealable, having views of the ride above and a noise when the train passed by an area of the queue similar to the Swarm. Batching into the station was good as it kept everything organised (Germany ❤), however meant you could not opt for front row if someone else got their first! So we got the back on the left hand side and admired the station and bag-drop turntable (No bag rooms made life so much better for all ❤) before setting off. Halfway up the lift we came to a stop and after 5 minutes a member of staff came out to talk to someone two rows ahead of us (we presumed about camera usage on the ride?!) - Another 5 minutes and the ride started again. At the end of the ride the person was spoken to by security and a park manager and trains were being sent empty, potentially indicating that he was tampering with the ride in some way?! Unknown to us but we had lost a crucial 10 minutes early on in the day and went off to our next ride. The experience itself was good! I personally preferred that the transition from the lift to half loop was quicker than The Swarm, the airtime hill was good, the twists and turns were tight which led to a little bouncing of the trains but it didn't make the ride uncomfortable. Sounds are played during times the train enters tunnels which was very effective and one of those small things which makes a big impact on the ride experience. On the whole the length of the ride was welcome in comparison to The Swarm, but the Swarm is definitely more thrilling. Flug may suffer potentially as every inversion feels the same, just another roll rather than a loop; even an inline would be a nice change. All in all it was a fun ride with an interesting layout, theme, and effects. The queue-line shop was hellish though... We couldn't make sense of why Flug der Daemonen was shoehorned into the area its in as there is space elsewhere in the park, plus it makes the left corner of the park just a mash of coasters with Krake, Bobbhan, Flug, Big Loop, and Limit all there. But it was impressively shoe-horned at least, leading to some tight elements and interaction with pathways, the queue, and itself. Scream An Intamin Gyrodrop tower. This was fairly well themed as a pair of giant cogs moves as the ride is raised. The queue moved quickly due to the high capacity, and it was nice to hear a very similar version of the detonator music! Because it's a gyrodrop, it offered some good views of the resort from above as well as the local area (forestland). A familiar top-spin gondola was spotted in the maintenance area, but more on that later! The drop itself was more forceful than expected and caught us off guard - Really enjoyable ride. Limit An SLC which is the same as the rest... Awful. I would love to see more parks invest in new trains for these like those on the SLC in WB Movie World, Gold Coast, Australia. However I was a fan of the fact that the transfer track went over the queue line hilariously. Land of the Huss flats There is a Mayan-themed area with 7 flat rides all next to each other, all manufactured by Huss (The company is based in Bremen not too far from the park) The topspin and Rotor ride were closed, and we ignored the enterprise. The topspin was closed for essentially maintenance, so the Ripsaw gondola may have been sent to Heide to have its parts cannibalised in order to get this one up and running again! We enjoyed the breakdance although it was tamer than a recently enjoyed one in Tivoli Park. A chair swing sits on a raised platform central in the land with the other flats surrounding it. There was a moon dance which was surprisingly forceful, and a twister-type ride which was good fun too. Desert Race A quick look at queue times showed Desert Race at 20-30mins, so we headed there after all it had been 60 earlier on. Walked past these wonderfully themed toilets on our way. **Photo to come soon** Another rotating bag drop was used here ❤ The ride seemed very out of place and just plonked down, but the experience itself was pretty fun. The layout is the same as rita with some more ground-hugging moments and a faster turn after the trims before the main brake run. Better than Rita? Yes, but potentially only due to the first turn not being the jolt we've grown to know and love of course. The park's rapids were really good. Long with two waterfall sections and loads of actual rapid sections. The Mack Powered Mine Train has a similar (if not identical) layout to the one at Europa Park, and was therefore deemed a failure as the theming was lacking in comparison, especially when entering the big shed. How to Train your Dragon Land Land had opened two weeks prior and took advantage of the prevoius nordic-ish themed land Had a boat ride like Charlie and the Chocolate factory which entered a cave and has screen-based Dragon entertainment. There was a spinner ride with water similar to Solugden at Djurs Sommerland, Denmark. There was a smaller spinner and finally a Zamperla Kite Flyer ride where you lie down and are spun like a chairswing. It was painful on the neck if you didn't push upwards, but much fun was had. The land was well themed and the IP is popular, so good news for Merlin, Dreamworks, and guests alike! Lunch We ate at the Dämonen Grill which was located next to Flug. The ordering system was similar to Nando's athough there is a ordering form with both german and english to make it easier for everyone! Restaurant was really well themed, with some nice cosy seating areas too! Food was nice and like all the german food was in massive portions... 5? from me. Krake The queue reached 90+ minutes at a point so when it was down to 45-60 minutes we thought this would be the ideal time to ride. The queue itself just had Dragon's Fury written all over it as you queue by the brake run with little view of anything. After a bag drop (whyyyy) you enter the station where you have the choice of choosing front row or rows 2/3. We opted for the front having waited a good 50 minutes outside already, an extra 10 minutes really wasn't an issue, however most other people felt the same and the other rows were not being filled. People queuing assumed that row 3 wasn't a row and staff made no effort to correct this, even allowing people on the 3rd row to re-ride despite 15 + people waiting for row 2?! This may have been due to staff shortage as they were running 2 trains (Not sure how many trains the ride can run, but there was a lot of stacking on 2...). Two staff members checking bars and two in the bag room is just annoying to see when they run good bag shelves etc on their other rides. The ride itself was really good; loved being eaten by the Octopus and coming out of a ship, nice floaty immelman and airtime hill too. The ride is short but the main attraction of a dive machine is the drop which is delivered well here. Big Loop The park's oldest coaster with a train donation from Corkscrew at Alton Towers. As rough as you expect a 1989 Arrow Sit-down to be, but it was still fun. Bobbhan Having ridden the Bobsled at Europa Park we didn't have high expectations, but felt like we should ride as we had the time towards the end of the day. Surprise hit of the day! It is long with loads of tight turns, and general hilarity which was so so much better than Europa's bobsled. Colossos The queue was listed at 90+ minutes all day so we decided to do this towards the end of the day. Queue was incredibly unimaginative switchbacks despite plenty of room amongst this monster of a ride. Managed two rides as we entered the queue a second time just before ride close at 6. Both times we rode at the back as our experience with Intamin pre-fab wooden coasters (Balder at Leisberg) led us to believe this would give the best chance of airtime and fun. The ride is just huge and incredible, debatably still the signature attraction of the park despite the much newer Krake and Flug pulling big queues and dominating the skyline on the left side of the park. I don't have much to say except that it was as good as expected if not better, so much airtime and immense speed. Whilst I would prefer the smooth-yet-exciting transitions of a GCI such as Wodan, it really was the most enjoyable ride in the park for me and I can see why it was so popular. Overall it was an enjoyable day despite not having time for some of the smaller rides like the monorail, and whilst the coasters were good they lack a certain charm that Kärnan and Fluch had the day before, and none are stand-out rides except maybe Colossos! Heide exuded the charm of a lot of European Parks which had their own mascots, and paid a lot of attention to detail etc with a quirkiness. At present it does scream 'Merlin' quite a bit, but probably not noticeable unless you've been to a UK Merlin park. Day 3 - Travelling Train from Hamburg to Brühl before getting a taxi to Phantasialand (Were too late for the shuttle bus the park provides as our train was delayed). I wrote days 1 and 2 on my phone during this time which may explain the difference in writing style or detail compared to Phantasialand days (part 3).
  2. Germany trip - Part 1/3 From 19th May to 25th May 2016 With Loose Steele Bluth Parks visited: Hansa Park, Heide Park, Phantasialand **Photos to be added at a later date** Edit: SPOILER TAGS ARE NOT WORKING AT PRESENT, SO BEWARE THERE ARE MANY SPOILERS We hopped on the plane at LHR being keen for the parks again, Got the metro from HAM woo! Am I getting airtime? Jumped out the train it's Hamburg Central Station, checked in the hotel I can see the free mouthwash. We are both so tired, everybody seems so gerrrman Day 1 - Hansa Park Woke up early to ensure we had time to buy train tickets and catch a train to get to the park on time: After buying inter-rail passes (although just for Germany), we took two trains to get from Hamburg to Sierksdorf and had a short 10 minute walk to the park. Scanned our online-purchased tickets and were in just before main ride opening. General points about the park: ⁃ Open 9-6 with most rides opening at 10 ⁃ Not a big park, mostly family orientated ⁃ All rides were walk-on during our visit as the park was empty ⁃ Did not see a broken down or SBNO ride all day Der Schwur von Kärnan (The Oath of Kärnan) - Spoiler tags are being a bit temperamental on this post, so I am warning you below This was the newest ride, opened last year. It is a Gerstlauer infinity coaster and whilst not fully themed yet boasts many unique qualities World's only hyper coaster with an inversion World's first and only freefall drop on a lift hill Europe's second tallest coaster after Shambhala Queue You walk past the massive tower, around a castle-turret themed queue and down a set of stairs entering into the building. On the stairs you wait to be batched into a room, and whilst waiting there are televisions playing a documentary-style TV show which explains that the King who built the Kärnan fortress may have used a spell in order to keep the fortress impenetrable (nonsense says the archeologist being questioned!). 16 people (one train) are then batched into an incredibly well-themed room where another video plays. This video speaks of the unearthing of the inner workings of the castle and discovery of rooms etc which may lead us to believe the spell is real! We are told it is too dangerous to bring belongings with us and a bookcase shelf opens for us to deposit items. Following the depositing of items you are led through a tight winding corridor past some cogs into a room with 12 doors in a circle which meet in a spire above, and 4 rows of 4 crowns on the floor. When everyone has stood on a crown, the lights get low and above the doors there are crests which illuminate one by one, first slowly, then quickly, and the music climaxes before ending when one row of crowns on the floor lights up. The floor lights then correspond to a door crest and the door opens for your group of 4 to board the train. The process repeats until every group of 4 is assigned a row on the train. This process is completely random; even after 9 rides we could not spot a pattern to the choice at all. We rode twice in the front, once at the back, and the rest row 2/3. The whole pre-ride experience is just fab. Having a story behind not being able to take bags on is so unneccesary it's brilliant, and the idea of the spell choosing your rows stops the squabbling/extra queue for the front and creates an extra bit of excitement/tension before the ride. Ride experience - SPOILERS You turn left and pass under a barrel roll before a gentle hill down in pitch black and back up, before a very sharp (why no banking?!) left onto the lift hill. The lift hill gets off to a slow start much like other vertical lift hills on Gerstlauer coasters, but makes it way up the lift very quickly to about 3/4 of the way up. There is nothing to see except lights of sensors on the track, which may make the lift suspenseful for some but just boring for me personally. There are sounds which get increasingly louder and louder until... You freefall drop 100ft down the tower. In reality you freefall for a short time before brakes gradually slow you to a halt at 1/4 of the lift hill. The drop is isn't forceful, and whilst it would shock a first time rider I think it's dull and not worth the engineering effort it probably took to make it. Despite this, it isn't a bad thing and certainly adds to the theme of the spell but perhaps not adding a great deal to the ride experience overall. If there was more going on in the lift than just darkness and noise then it may have been better, but in its current state is just misplaced somehow. After the drop there is another long wait before you start moving to the top of the hill. The whole lift from start to finish takes 2 minutes, meaning a maximum throughput of 480pph (?!); the ride was running two trains when we were there, and whilst could definitely run more, throughput is incredibly hindered by the lift sequence. The train slows at the top of the 200+ft lift hill and down you go. Down down down. The layout is a bit of a blur but essentially you go incredibly quickly through very tight turns and elements; the train really flings you out at times during the non-inverting loop at the beginning, there are some tight turns and good airtime hills. If the ride had OTSRs it doesn't bear thinking about how rough it may have been, so the clam-shell lap bars were welcome although incredibly tight by the end of the outside ride. The ride does seem to lose a little momentum but the final few turns despite the 80mph start at the bottom of the first drop, however an airtime hill before a sharp brake run shows the train is still travelling at quite a speed. Past the brakes, a door opens and you enter an un-themed black room with an unexpected, slow, and slightly painful due to the tightness of restraints at this point, barrel roll. Sharp right into a brake run where your ORP is taken, then a right onto the offload past a lit up shield (lol theming again). You step off the train on the left and collect your bags from the other side of the bookcase before walking out through a gift shop. Put simply the actual coaster experience is crazy, travelling as fast as stealth through elements designed to fling you out of the train, tight turns, and airtime hills. Impressive pre-show and batching procedure, and despite poor-pacing inside (potentially due to not being finished) the experience is on the whole incredible in all the right ways. Fluch von Novgorod A Gerstlauer Eurofighter opened in 2009 like our Saw - The Ride The queue was very well themed, you snake through corridors before choosing row 1 or 2 closer to the station. Boarding the train from the left, after a quick check and you're off. Using a pepper's ghost illusion a figure appears to the right and has a little sing, the train progresses and on the left a hooded figure with projected-face speaks more german goodness before the train moves forwards once more. A sharp drop into an unexpected forceful launch, sharp right outside into an airtime hill which I would build in NoLimits and say 'no that's unrealistic'. Twists and turns before a barrel roll and brake run into a building. In the building is the classic Eurofighter lift hill with the hooded figure from before speaking to you from the left, crows seemingly attacking you (air cannons), and lights etc in the ceiling above. You plummet into a 97° drop, through an over banked turn, and into a set of trims before a sharp hill into the main brakes. A scarecrow then flys from the ceiling towards the train, which is particularly scary as it is unexpected due to being on the final brake run; also most effective if you're on the front row. Whilst there was a fair amount of movement/rattle on the cars, the ride was not rough and incomparable to Saw's roughness despite similar speeds and tight elements (Why Saw, why...) The theming and story was brilliant, and the only negative would have to be how short the layout was after the inside drop, there is just so much momentum that it seems wasted to end the ride after one hill. But it was really fun, the launch was surprising, and the ride was forceful too. Other rides and attractions The other inverting coaster was a Schwarzkopf coaster called 'Nessie - Superrollercoaster'. I have ridden looping Schwarzkopf coasters before but from memory only ever shuttle-loops, so I wasn't sure what to expecting in terms of roughness, and was pleasantly surprised that it was incredibly smooth. The ride was fun with a loop through a mine train ride, a helix, and a few airtime moments (best in the back). The ride finale is a drop into the mouth of the happy Loch Ness Monster into a tunnel of flashing lights (also the train storage area). In the station there was a speed counter which showed how quick the previous train had traveller through the loop (Highest spotted that day was just over 86kmph, lowest around 80kmph which shows the difference between a full and almost-empty train). All in all it was an enjoyable coaster! The aformentioned mine train which passed through the Nessie loop was a very tired-looking Vekoma junior coaster. Fairly forceful and long considering it was a junior coaster with penty of interaction with Nessie and its own track Die Schlange von Midgard (The Snake of Midgard) was another Gerstlauer, this time family coaster. The ride enters into a well themed preshow area before acceding the lift hill and completing the ride's short but thrilling curcuit twice. As has been mentioned before on the forums, it is truly ridiculous the level of theming and detail put into this small attraction which rivals that of Disney and certainly puts Legoland's Dragon Coaster to shame to be honest, despite the difference in length of pre-show section Spinning boat ride that was incomparable to Storm Surge - There was no water in the boats, the boats spun very forcefully despite several changes in direction of the flume, the circuit was a lot longer and more interesting, and it had a great deal of theming in the station and lower half of the ride. It was really good fun and you can see why Storm Surge might have been a good ride for Thorpe, but unfortunately it is just run terribly somehow. Die Glöcke (The Bell) - So much wtf, it was fun but I'll keep a KMG afterburner or similar over it anyday. Plenty of fun playgrounds and a free high ropes course which had the biggest queue of the day. A train which made its way around the park, Depth Charge clone, inverted pirate ship, Rattlesnake clone, indoor space-themed bumper cars, Calgary Stampede clone, and much more! In the Kärnan pre-show there is a plan on a wall for a Gerstlauer sky-fly, so this may be installed on the patch of land behind Kärnan between Schlange and Die Glocke where there is currently empty plot. Overall veiw of Hansa was that it was a fairly well themed, well cared-for park. You can see that the theme and implementation of newer rides is really important to the park and well thought out, not dis-similar to the shift of Paulton's from rides like the Edge to the current Lost Kingdom.
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