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  1. Discuss your thoughts on Mr Monkeys Banana Ride here!
  2. The Wickerman marks a noticeable and remarkable change from previous Secret Weapon coasters. Not only does it aim more towards older families (over thrill-seekers) but it doesn’t feature a ground breaking element (if one can excuse their previous claims. It’s made out of wood too by the way. This review contains spoilers. Now enthusiasts, fans and the like have been wanting a wooden roller coaster at Towers for years. Previously with little success, until now. Cross Valley was cancelled and for years, Wooden coasters were deemed unmarketable. It perhaps doesn’t help the majority of U.K. park goers only have Blackpool and Stampida (at a push) as notable comparisons to wooden coasters. As time passed, the idea of a Woodie gradually warmed up. Attraction designer John Wardley had always wanted a Wooden coaster at Towers. A Wallace and Gromit themed coaster was just one of many ideas. Years later and the concept for the then labelled SW8 was announced and met with mixed reviews. Many were let down and concerned by the ride’s apparent small and mundane layout, whilst others were concerned of the ride’s theme. Construction progressed and again marked a remarkable difference from previous SW projects. Whilst the others were somewhat more secretive, the park in this case almost wanted more to know of what was to arrive. Windows, posters and video teasers frequently appeared, giving visitors what this future attraction may deliver. After numerous unfortunate weather delays (which seems to be a recurring issue with SW rides), Wickerman opened to the general public. Aside from it’s reliability it was met with mostly positive reviews and some saying it was the best thing at the resort to date. Being the first Woodie in the U.K. since 1996 and at a Merlin park, many could regard the ride as highly successful. But how? The ride doesn’t feature a notable world’s first? The Wickerman does not need a world’s first element, the ride is a complete package. An experience. It all begins from the moment you enter the queue line entrance, welcomes by a sign that is effective and blends in without being too garish or generic. There may be Pirate attractions around the corner, but the ride fits in almost like it has always belonged there. One may argue, too many newer attractions uphold bland and repotive queue lines, frequently resorting to ‘the cattle-pen’ layout. Not Wickerman. The ride’s queue gradually progresses up hill, managing to showcase the ride whilst seeming to head away from it only to become nearer. This queue line style is reminiscent of Tussauds designed rides such as Nemesis and Colossus. The noticeable theming such as buntings and different zoned audio in places, is a welcoming addition. As we become nearer, we reach a baggage hold and then enter into the pre-show room. The show isn’t the longest but delivers a short but sweet delivery into setting the scene and storyline. We now enter the station itself, where the pens (gates) await to open taking the next riders onto the train. The thematic announcements, lighting and styles combine nicely to the already impressive setting and atmosphere. The ride takes a slight drop out of the station through a 180 curve and we pass with some speed before reaching the lift hill after another 180 turn. It’s not the tallest by any means but still looks impressive height wise. We then enter another curved drop (this time enclosed) before we gradually drop. The ride from here features numerous hills, helixes and turns as the train races around the circuit. Several times interacting with the impressive Wicker statue (filled with smoke and fire effects). It’s not the longest, fastest or tallest but makes for one exciting ride. The ride ends after a final small banked curve and enters the first of two break runs. Numerous times smoke and light effects activate, as the train slowly returns to the station through an enclosed tunnel, the third one in total. The ride’s trains are immaculately themed, replicating a Wickerhead and can carry upto 24 riders per train. There are three in total resulting in a theoretical throughout of just over 950 people an hour, which isn’t a bad throughout. The shop is also surprisingly well themed (and looks even better in person). It features plenty of Wickerman merchandise, from your usual T-shirts, trains and keychains to the more unusual Wicker models and wood pieces. How does it stand amongst other Woodies? Balder has airtime, Wodan has theming with relentless pacing and Joris has the fun racing elements with niche features. The Wicker feels like a complete experience attraction and feels like it takes some elements from these. The ride’s first drop features some surprisingly good airtime (especially towards the back), there’s some great theming and impressively forceful areas within the attraction too. One could argue it weakens towards the end a little. However it still offers a highly enjoyable layout. John Wardley is said to have made some improvements to the first drop of the ride. As it currently stands, the ride is now my favourite Wooden coaster in the U.K. and joint second favourite in Alton Towers. It may be the most immersive attraction to open in the U.K. since Hex. Honestly speaking, the ride would not look out of place if it was located in Efteling or Phantasialand. Unfortunately this is where these comparisons end. 2018 for Towers is a high-end investment year and the park should be in top form. If only this was the case. The park still continue to face operational cuts as parent company Merlin see the park as struggling despite numbers gradually returning. This has resulted in mothballed kiosks, staggered openings, reduced hours and deductions to capacity. Even baggage holds have disappeared. On my second day visiting, four of the main coasters broke down simultaneously, resulting in longer queues and complaints. Whilst this could have been an unfortunate coincidence, it does question whether there have been further staff reductions. I don’t recall witnessing this on previous visits. Not to this level anyway. It was also a 4pm close, which felt too early as lots of people were still around after 5pm. The Rapids also seemed short of boats and the monorail no longer allows people on the platform unless the train has stopped. This has reduced the capacity significantly. Europa Park have managed to reopen their rapids after a major fire and relocate most of the food offering. Meanwhile at Towers, we still have Toadstall and Sub-Terra closed after 2-3 seasons and food outlets remaining closed on super-peak days. I understand both parks have different structures, but it is disappointing that Towers is being financially starved and limited in such a year. Just to please faceless shareholders, turn an even bigger profit and build Legoland clones. I do also worry how Wickerman will age after it’s first couple of seasons, especially considering Merlin aren’t known for great upkeep. Will the baggage hold still exist? What state the pre show holds? How re-rideable will it be? The state of The Smiler, does not hold much reassurance. The ride looks rather grotty and many effects remain broken. Just one effect is still working in the projection room. I’d like Towers and Merlin to prove me wrong with Wickerman. Right, I think it’s time to go back to the positives. The conservatories and Pagoda look competitively better after their restorations. Duel seems a noticeable improvement in most areas, whilst there is still room for improvement, it is believed to be a working project. The staff also seemed particularly friendly too. Wickerman is an excellent coaster and will hopefully pave the way for great things in the U.K. all Towers need to do is maintain and look after it. All we need is for Merlin to give Towers more budget and put them off budget cuts. Wickerman Nine Out Of Ten 2B669A04-336E-45CF-B0A8-F89E9166BA41.jpeg
  3. In 1996 within the Berkshire countryside, a defunct Safari park was invaded by bricks. Bricks that would mark the way for Legoland Windsor which would become the second Lego theme park in the world after Billund. Home to a boating school, driving school, Lego model village, A pirate log flume and more, the park was truly a unique place especially in it's early years. Twenty Years on, the park is now part of the Merlin machine currently operating six (and counting) Legoland parks and discovery centres. Through this ownership the park has experienced much change (for better and worse), experiencing rigorous expansions of larger updated attractions. However one could argue as a consequence the park has lost much of it's charm, seeing smaller features neglected or removed and a spike up in the park's commercialism. Something that can be seen from the many walking adverts and upselling,the use of shouty IP's and rise of the hotels (consequently ripping out two prominent rides). Now I think I have probably come across relatively harsh against the park. Yes it doesn't quite have the hardware of other parks out there; yes it can get packed with young families and is not to everyone's taste. But this is Legoland Windsor, the UK's most popular and successful park which now welcomes over 2.2 million guests a year despite its last E-ticket ride being over 5 years ago. It may not beat (or come close) to the likes of Europa, DLRP and Efteling, but Legoland retains a strong soft spot for me, being one of the first major theme parks I visited and the place responsible for my interests in theme parks (and Lego). I have fond memories of the many trips I have taken here since first visiting in 1997. From squirting everyone on the train (and getting karma through a leaky tap) to my fascinations with the sadly long gone Magic Thestre and Explorers Institute attractions. With much fanfare going towards a ghost train, 2016 may be a low investment year at Legoland, but the park is far from quiet. As new for this year, the resort finally takes advantage of the success of the Lego Movie by releasing a brand new film based on the shenanigans from the original movie. The movie wouldn't be the Lego Movie (no pun intended) without the lovable cast from the original film, including Emmet, Wyldstyle, Benny, Metalbeare and of course, Uni Kitty. The feature film see's the cast enter a fictitious theme park operated by President Businesses's brother Risky Business, who has built a specific attraction for each character. Then in true Lego Movie style, this turns out to be a trap with Risky Business planning to capture the cast for a terrible park show. However things eventually end well with the characters eventually visiting the real Legoland. The Lego Movie 4D has to be one the best cinema shows I've ever seen. It retains the charm and humour the original film boasted on and features many poke in the back moments to current trends, from the original film to even some tongue and cheek Disney references. It's a film that shouldn't be missed on any visit. 4.5/5 (not 10). Also new for 2016, the Star Wars Miniland gets a hefty extension. Early on the season, it appeared the original Millenium Falcon entrance feature had been removed. But I'm happily to announce it has been repaired/replaced which is great to see. After experiencing the original sections of the attraction, you are greeted with a series of heavy well built Lego Star Wars ships which lead into the new main section. This a great transition and works rather well. More impressive models (displayed on the side of the area). We then enter into the main area, which features a series of scenes based on the Death Star battles in the films, including the trenches. And a mightily impressive Death Star model. The size and scale is remarkable. The whole of the new area occupies space previously occupied by the Star Wars store (and Lego Racers store long before). It is certainly a fantastic addition and features many interactive elements, from ships flying around the model to numerous smaller animations being depicted by lights and push buttons. The Star Wars store has also seen some modifications, with the tills moved to the old display case and the shop moving forward to space previously wasted as a result of lost space. The Model Maker workshop area has also been updated (which I'm yet to see). 2016 has also seen the addition of another new eatery, Farmer Joe's Chicken Company, replacing the Duplo Buffet restaurant. The facade area is themed quite well (if a little blocky) but I suppose it fits the Duplo area well. I didn't try the food here, however I believe it's similar to the fried chicken company at Chessington and Towers. As as nice as it looks, it's a shame the park now lacks (non quick service) table restaurants as since the Burger Kitchen conversations, it really just leaves Knights Table, Hilltop cafe, Merlin pizza buffet and the hotel restaurants. Meanwhile perched in a hidden corner resides Loki's Labarinth, the park's maze, which is one of the few quiet areas in the park to escape the crowds. But not for very much longer sadly. Very soon, the whole maze will be completely removed to make way for a brand new Ninjago dark ride. I would strongly recommend visiting Legoland very soon if you wish to take in this attraction before it's removal as in Legoland fashion it's likely to close forever before the end of this season! The maze's removal will also mark the end of the remainder of the Amazing Mazes, which the attraction was previously part of until the other mazes were demolished in 2007 for Viking River Splash. Elsewhere in the park, another attraction has already become extinct making way for the park's second hotel. Dino Safari. The ride was the last ride installed when the Lego had full park ownership (now 30%) and marks the final nail in the coffin for the original Adventure Land. As exciting and detailed the new hotels appears from the concept art (amongst being a fan of castles), I can't help feel the location isn't ideal, with the elaborate Atlantis on the left and airy Legoland hotel on the right. Not to mention the loss of another ride and the likeleihood of costing £400 pn. Still I'm sure it'll be a hit with the park's audience and may hopefully ease some of the strain from the park's nightmare car park situation. At least segments of the original ride still live on (although in static model form). And though some things in the park may have become a little bland recently. There is still magic to be found. And wonders to behold. Some of which are small with details. With Hidden gems. And others larger than life. Which is like Christmas for most seven year olds. Happy Birthday Legoland, here's to twenty years of awesomeness (and hopefully another twenty). It may have changed for better and worse in its due course, but it's still my Legoland, the park I've enjoyed as a child and still enjoy today. Raise a glass of Brickcola
  4. It's closed season...and somehow people have forgotten about this game! Same rules as previous years apply: +1 and -1 each turn. Before you can take another turn, you must wait for three more turns or even 24 hours. Once a ride hits 0 points, it is REMOVED from the list. All other ride scores are RESET to 5. Same list as last year, only with IAC added to the list and Chief Rangers Carousel removed ( ). Slammer will remain on the list, despite its very turbulent end to its season...but will it emerge as a three year winner??? To start with, I'll be adding a point to SAW - The Ride and removing a point from I'm A Celebrity. So without further ado, LET THE GAMES BEGIN! Angry Birds 4D Experience (5) Colossus (5) Depth Charge (5) Detonator: Bombs Away (5) Flying Fish (5) I'm A Celebrity (4) King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems (5) Loggers Leap (5) Mr. Monkey's Banana Ride (5) Nemesis Inferno (5) Quantum (5) Rocky Express (5) Rumba Rapids (5) Rush (5) Samurai (5) SAW - The Ride (6) Slammer (5) Stealth (5) Storm In A Teacup (5) Storm Surge (5) The Swarm (5) Tidal Wave (5) Vortex (5) X (5) Zodiac (5) SAW + IAC -
  5. It has got to that time of year again! First Year Legoland is getting this game as I think it deserves to take part But otherwise same as ever: +1 and -1 each turn you must wait three turns or 24hrs before your next go, whichever is the sooner ride removed on 0 and all others reset to 5 List is the rides that are advertised on the Legoland Website to avoid over lengthy un-fun voting Will be interesting this year to see how all these rides place! What will be the best ride this season? To start us off I will be doing: +1 Laser Raiders -1 Thunder Blazer On your Marks, Get Set, Go!!! Aero Nomad (5) Atlantis Submarine Voyage (5) Balloon School (5) Boating School (5) Desert Chase (5) Digger Challenge (5) Dino Safari (5) Dragon's Apprentice (5) Duplo Train (5) Duplo Valley Airport (5) Fairy Tale Brook (5) Fire Academy (5) Hill Train (5) Jolly Rocker (5) Kinght's Quest (5) Laser Raiders (6) Lego Star Wars (5) Loki's Labyrinth (5) Longboat Invader (5) Miniland (5) Orient Expedition (5) Pirate Falls Treasure Quest (5) Pirates of Skeleton Bay (5) Raft River Racers (5) Scarab-Bouncers (5) Squid Surfer (5) Spinning Spider (5) The Dragon (5) Thunder Blazer (4) Vikings' Rivers Splash (5)
  6. It has got to that time of year again! Same as ever: +1 and -1 each turn you must wait three turns or 24hrs before your next go, whichever is the sooner ride removed on 0 and all others reset to 5 List is the rides that are advertised on the Alton Towers Website to avoid over lengthy un-fun voting Will be interesting this year with the new addition of Cbeebies Land & the removal of Submission from this year's line up! Will Nemesis keep it's Title of the 2013 Best Ride at Alton Towers? To start us off I will be doing: +1 Th13teen -1 Frog Hopper On your Marks, Get Set, Go!!! Air (5) Battle Galleons (5) CBebbies Land (5) Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (5) Congo River Rapids (5) Driving School (5) Duel (5) Enterprise (5) Frog Hopper (4) Hex - The Legend Of The Towers (5) Ice Age The 4D Experience (5) Marauders Mayhem (5) Nemesis (5) Nemesis Sub-Terra (5) Oblivion (5) Ripsaw (5) Rita (5) Runaway Mine Train (5) Twirling Toadstool (5) The Blade (5) The Flume (5) The Smiler (5) Th13teen (6) Sonic Spinball (5) Skyride (5)
  7. It has got to that time of year again! Same as ever: +1 and -1 each turn you must wait three turns or 24hrs before your next go, whichever is the sooner ride removed on 0 and all others reset to 5 List is the rides that are advertised on the Chessington Website to avoid over lengthy un-fun voting Will be interesting this year to see how the retheme of the Runaway Train to the Scorpion Express will put it in the rankings! Will Rattlesnake keep it's title from 2013 as the best ride at Chessington? To start us off I will be doing: +1 Zufari: Ride into Africa! -1 Sea Dragons On your Marks, Get Set, Go!!! Black Buccaneer (5) Bubbleworks (5) Carousel (5) Dragon Falls (5) Dragon's Fury (5) Flying Jumbos (5) Griffin's Galleon (5) Hocus Pocus Hall (5) Jungle Bouncers (5) Jungle Bus (5) Kobra (5) Madagascar Live! (5) Monkey Swinger (5) Peeking Heights (5) Rameses Revenge (5) Rattlesnake (5) Safari Skyway (5) Scorpion Express (5) Sea Dragons (4) Seastorm (5) Tiny Truckers (5) Toadie's Crazy Cars (5) Tomb Blaster (5) Tuk Tuk Turmoil (5) Vampire (5) Zufari: Ride into Africa! (6)
  8. It has got to that time of year again! Same as ever: +1 and -1 each turn you must wait three turns or 24hrs before your next go, whichever is the sooner ride removed on 0 and all others reset to 5 List is the rides that are advertised on the Thorpe Park Website to avoid over lengthy un-fun voting Will be interesting this year to see how the new attractions in Angry Birds Land, match up to the existing attractions and where Chief Rangers Carousel will be placed in it's last season! Will Slammer keep it's title from 2013 as the best ride at Thorpe Park? To start us off I will be doing: +1 Angry Birds 4D Experience -1 Storm In A Teacup (These cups seriously need Greasing!) On your Marks, Get Set, Go!!! Angry Birds 4D Experience (6) Chief Rangers Carousel (5) Colossus (5) Depth Charge (5) Detonator: Bombs Away (5) Flying Fish (5) Loggers Leap (5) King Pig's Wild Hog Dodgems (5) Mr. Monkey's Banana Ride (6) Nemesis Inferno (5) Quantum (5) Rocky Express (5) Rumba Rapids (5) Rush (5) Samurai (5) Saw: The Ride (5) Slammer (5) Stealth (5) Storm In A Teacup (4) Storm Surge (5) The Swarm (5) Tidal Wave (5) Vortex (5) X (5) Zodiac (5)
  9. 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
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