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  1. Following on from the joys of Joyland, it was time to experience the third and final new park wonder of our park trip; this place was Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach. After driving down the seafront from Joyland, something that seems a cross between a larger Southend and slightly cleaner Blackpool, we arrived at the Pleasure Beach's car park which more of just a grassy field on the seafront really, luckilly though it was free for us [due to tickets]. So once we collected our wristbands from the ticket collection area [unfortunately on the other side of the park], it was time to start riding. OMG We're at Disneyland! Actually, Disney haven't built any Mulan based attractions at any of there parks [even the Tokyo & Hong Kong ones ], so the Pleasure Beach beat them to it with this ride. Not a bad ride actually, a lot more forceful than the likes of Rocky Express & Knights Quest. One random feature this ride also included was how the ride cars were suddenly covered up by a giant green canopy half way round the ride resulting in riders not seeing where they were going. Tivoli World had this on their ride equivalent but decided to get rid of it a few years ago for some reason. The only drawback on this ride resulting in a chunk of the fun factor disappearing was I got crushed during most of my ride by a [Mr] Fish Welcome To The House Of Fun! [gotta love Madness]. This is the park's fun house attraction which features lots of crazy moving stair cases, paths and spinning things inside whilst inside a dimly black lit room featuring 3D objects around the whole interior. Really enjoyed this one a lot, ending up doing at least a couple more times during the trip. For some reason, the background energetic upbeat music reminded me of the Spongebob Squarepants theme tune. Now this is frightening; frighteningly bad I'm afraid as I found this ghost train very bland and average really and definitely not a favourite. Still better than Tivoli's Ghost Train & Storm Surge however. As you can probably tell, we are not at Alton Towers however this ride used to be. It used to be at Alton Towers from 1982 until 1997 when it was removed from the park to this place. The ride wasn't terribly interesting and just done for the cred really, still it's a good coaster for people getting in to coasters and clearly fits in much better here than it does at Towers [it would stick out more than Spinball ever could if it was still there]. The Twisted Steel Log Flume thingy. Didn't ride this actually as I didn't really want to get wet then [nor did the rest of the group] so we moved on. If you time your walking around the ride's area really badly, you would get soaked during the ride's main drop. Now what is that sticking out there? That's right, a metal pole that guy in to place. But this is the ride though that really makes this park worth visiting for [aside from those creds], The Roller Coaster [got to love creative names ]. Such a great coaster, the way the ride flew up and down the drops throughout was superb and the pacing as a whole made for a great thrilling family coaster. This coaster is very different from many others as instead of having brakes/stops scattered throughout the circuit, this ride used a brakeman who rides on the coaster train on his own seat with the riders and applies brakes throughout the whole circuit when required. This not just results in each ride technically being unique, but means on some rides you can get some really good airtime on the ride, something which seemed to improve steadily during our time here making for a fun ride. The ride was only running one of a possible four trains [two were stored in workshop areas and the other was off the track completely] however luckilly there wasn't much a queue at all meaning we never waited more than 5 minutes for each ride. The ride's complex structure also helps add further fun factor and interaction as there's a few head choppers there too. Whilst it doesn't topple my top 10's or even favourite woodies from the list [Megafobia 1st, National 2nd, Dipper & Wild Mouse 3rd], it still a ride I thoroughly enjoyed and is probably 5th on my wooden coaster list. Since experiencing this ride, two milestones have [sort of] been reached, one being it's my first ever Scenic Railway, the second being I have nearly done all the UK woodies now with just Gulliver's Antelope & The Scenic left, however one of those is still closed & the other is at a park which is difficult for child-less adults to enter to so this is closest I'll get to a completed list for now. They also had their own Sky Drop tower which was identical to the one at Adventure Island. Good drop tower really, not a patch on Jolly Rodger but better than Bounce. Another ride however that was on the must do's was the historic yet charming Snails & Fairytales ride positioned in-front of the Roller Coaster. Loverly charming ride where after seeing pirates & farm animals along a track which interacts with the roller coaster flying above, this happens. You are taken through a secret portal to Disneyland for a couple of minutes seeing all the wonderful characters from the films whilst the It's A Small World music plays through your ears, before returning back to the real world and exiting the ride. I really liked this attraction alot and whilst it's definitely not going to any rewards anytime soon, it is such a charming relaxing attraction that should be second on your to do list after the big coaster here. Whilst Jadam & co. got to experience an impressive Mack spinner under the title dwervelwind, I got also to experience a new spinner coaster here called Whirlwind. Despite being a kids coaster, I enjoyed this ride quite alot, was surprisingly fun and is worth a go, better than the Apple Coaster at least. Then it was time to tackle the park's Family Star coaster. Was alright as coasters go, but nothing special really. Time for a fairground classic which was the Twister, this one however was quite different as it was slanted as opposed to the normal flat layout which made for an interesting ride, not to mention the cycle was pretty good too. Then on to the first Waltzer I've done in a while [enjoyed a lot more than I expected actually]. Other rides at the park [not-pictured] were a monorail style ride which went around the park, you got some good views of the Roller Coaster & Snail rides [amongst the more fairgroundy ones] and a small Disko ride like Ramba Zamba, although it wasn't my favourite ones. Once we'd done all of these, we did Roller Coaster & Snails once more before heading off back on our long journeys home ending what has been my highest splash of new creds at once for a long time. As park's go, Great Yarmouth isn't the best park around, lacking the large scale of Blackpool or the thematic element of other parks and the fact it feels a bit like a permanent fun fair in parts. However what wins the park over as the place to go is the park's classic Roller Coaster, Snails & Fun-house attractions which are all great in their own ways and the former makes me excited for when Dreamland's open reopens amongst the day I visit Tivoli Gardens & Bakken [to a lesser extent]. Until then Oakwood, Disney and countless Halloween events remain ahead plus my second big non Uk park in November on my first trip to Efteling.
  2. Whilst Jadam, Josh & Peaj had a massive theme park road trip in Europe last month. I [sort of] had my own last weekend with Mr Fish, Myk & Shinequa [although on a much smaller scale] as we hit all the parks in the Great Yarmouth area visiting several new parks which would give a nice little splash to my list of parks visited, ride creds and new parks in 2015. After making my way to Stevenage via Kings Cross [so that tom Tom could get me] through an underground commute I hope won't happen again which almost almost resulted in missing my train, we arrived at Shinequa's place where after experiencing some decent fish and chips [much better than the ones we had at Chessington] we crashed over at for the night ready for the long day ahead. After an early morning call and heading our way to the Great Yarmouth region, we headed to the first of the parks we would experience that day which would be Pleasure-wood Hills, small family park in Lowestoft home to several half decent coasters and underdog dark ride. Once arriving in the stony car park [which is a bit bumpy], one of the first things you notice is that the parking lot is sort of in the middle of the park giving you some pretty good views of a number of the park's rides. This is the site you're welcomed to once you reach the main entrance. It's not a bad design for a little park like this [but would probably look nicer if it weren't for the weather]. And this is the site you're greeted to once you arrive in the park. Apparently there used to be a caroulsel right at the front of the entrance in the middle of the pathway which has since been relocated, which is a shame as it would look quite nice still at the entrance. Still beats Chessington's north entrance though. These buildings remind me a bit of Thorpe when it was owned by RMC [not the coaster manufacturer reassigning ageing woodies in to hybrids]. Moving on to rides then! First up was this Moby idiot attraction which was sort of like a rocky express style attraction where the ride moves along a circular track with ups and downs. It wasn't anything special as it didn't reach any fast speed but gets a thumbs up for the theming on-ride. Getting back to shore, we went on the Hyperdrive Dodgems, which is an attraction that it was brought in to the park this year even though they already have another set of Dodgems on the other side of the park. It's quite an interesting addition actually in the way the ride has a completely different layout involving a central reservation in the middle of the ride turning it in to a racing style dodgems attraction giving a different type of feel to the ride. Due to the heavy rain we faced that day, the dodgems floor was wet causing the cars to skid and slide every time a car entered the right hand corner, which made it quite for me to turn corners there to the degree it resulted in me crashing in to Fish's car and getting wedged so badly in the outer side that the operator had to switch off the ride temporarily to resolve this issue, which was very amusing to have experienced at the time [maybe that's why I liked them more than others]. The inferno/RCT2 style background music possibly helped. Due to the wet weather, some of the rides didn't look like they were going to be opening on visit. One of those was the Marble Madness coaster, which was a shame [or so we thought!] On our way exploring the park, we passed Hobs Pit [which didn't open until 12]. the facade though is quite nicely done though [and has a bit of a homemade feel to it]. The next ride we went on was the Pleasurewood Express, a minature railway that goes round the park [there's another railway round the park too]. The ride itself offered a loverly scenic ride around alot of the park and quite a lot of the rides too. THAT WAS UNTIL YOU ENCOUNTER THE MOST INSANE BUSH CHOPPER EVER ENDURED! You read that correctly, there were bushes so overgrown on the ride we had to duck ridiculously low where failing to do so would result in pain [I'll stop there as other than that I'm ripping off Jadam's entry ]. Least the driver warned us about them and after we left took the ride around again to try and sort them out. It wasn't a very nice day weather wise and I think this photo pretty much summarises that. From the ground to the air, we took our flights on another scenic ride at the park, the Chair Lift [first type of ride I've done in this form too] The ride is very calm,soothing and relaxing, although is very very slow. Definitely slower than walking and takes at least five minutes to get from one station to the other, still better than Storm Surge! What's that snaking in the distance I wonder? Why it's Rattlesnake, the park's original coaster [and my first new coaster cred of the day!]. Not a bad little coaster actually, pretty forceful in some of those corners, sort of reminded me of Treetops at Oakwood a little really but maybe a bit better because you got three laps around, shame they no longer have theming on the ride's lift hill through . Time to see how the other Dodgems compare, think I preffered these actually as there more traditional really [still powerslides]. Now on to one of the park's more thrilling additions, The Fireball. Really enjoyed this one actually as it gave out quite a lot of spinning and reached quite high on the ride's peak [probably better than Vortex]. Shame it looks like it's just been brought in from a travelling fair though! OMG WE'RE AT DISNEYLAND! Actually the building is home to meet and greets with the park's mascots [including Woody Bear who we met] and was also home to a Noel's House Party style show back in 90's [how times have changed]. Still reminds me Disney though. Then we boomeranged it back to the entrance where it was time to experience Wipeout which would be my first erm, Boomerang. This ride has a fair bit of history as it first started life at a funfair/exhibition in Scotland known as the Coca-Cola Roller in 1988 before moving to American Adventure in 1989. Apparently it was described as being one of the top coasters in it's time [which shows how far we went with rides in the 90's]. Then the park sold the ride to Pleasurewood in 2004 due to it's changing target audience [it shut down a year later]. The ride didn't open though until 2007 due to difficulties in planning and construction [originally supposed to be opening in 2006]. It also received a new train too which was taken from La Via Volta in Walibi Holland [the old train was apparently horribly rough]. I quite enjoyed the ride, The first half was great fun although the backwards journey was a little nauseating, those views of the sea on the backward lift hill though . After being wiped out [pun intended], it was time for some lunch and went to the Flying Fish restaurant [why I do I feel Thorpe is following us ] I had Sausage and Chips which with large drink cost around £7.50, which wasn't a bad price actually and surprisingly good food too [beat's Chessington's chippie]. So let's have a casual stroll to see what's happening at the park. Oh not much, just Marble Madness running.WHAT! MARBLE MADNESS RUNNING! LETS RIDE IT NOW! Marble Madness was quite fun, fairly jerky at times but I really enjoyed it. Considering it's a very similar ride to the one at Chessington [except being a mirror image], I think I actually prefer this one slightly, but Chessington's is still better due to it's heavy theming and creative queue line [at least until Merlin give it the Dragon Falls treatment ]. The ride opened at Pleasurewood in 2014 however used to be at Flamingo Land before though [then known as Wild Mouse] which opened in 1997 before being removed at the end of 2012 to be replaced with Hero which I haven't ridden yet but hear is horrible. It was then time, to enter the mine of Hobs Pit. This ride opened in 2013 ad replaced an attraction that I think used to be some sort of Fairytale type ride [Myk described it was ripping off disney quite a bit]. But Hobs Pit though was a ride that had alot of hype around it when it opened being described as scary attraction [with 12 rating] and an attraction that would not look out of place at Alton Towers & Thorpe Park. But would it live up to expectations? Well, for a park this size I would say Yes. The ride starts where you are greeted by someone wearing mining gear who summons groups of four at a time where you go through a mini scare maze with some effects and the like where you're soon greeted by a mini pre-show like thing before following the rest of the path where you're all batched in to a small ride vehicle where you go through a mine setting with lots of effects and visuals [some of the scenes in there are actually pretty graphic for a theme park ride actually] before leaving the ride vehicle [where apparently you belong to Hob]. Hobs Pit was a great dark ride [especially for a park like Pleasurewood to have] and was my favourite ride at the park during my visit. Aside from throughput, it probably wouldn't look out of place at a Merlin attraction and the experience as a whole reminded me a lot of a cross between The London Dungeons & The My Bloody Valentine Maze at Thorpe Park. Then it was time for the Jolly Rodger drop tower, a ride which opened at the park in 2011 Aside from the lack of theming [and the fact it was broken at the start of the day], I really enjoyed this and am going say a bit of a big statement here but say this was my second favourite drop tower after Detonator [on top of getting some good views of the sea too]. Now it's time for Cannonball Expresss: Ooooppps! I mean Enigma. This ride opened at Pleasurewood in 1995 being relocated from the now defunct Rotunda park in Kent which would by my first [and hopefully not last] Schwartkopf coaster [a manufacturer of coasters who have sadly now become defunct]. The ride broke down the first time we queued for the ride [due to faulty brakes] but reopened later on. Enigma is a fantastic little ride and offers a selection of fun thrilling elements within the ride and was probably my second favourite ride after Hobs pit during the day. The main and only complaint I have about the ride is the throughput. The throughput on this ride is awful, as the ride only uses one train which takes eight people at a time and often receives hefty queues of over 30 minutes at the park as result. Apparently the ride used to have not two, but three trains and some theming too which is a shame as it would be an even better ride if they could ever bring back one of those lost trains back to the ride [wonder where and why they went]. A green and broad view of the park showing the Marble Madness and the park's Log Flume which we didn't try as we couldn't really be bothered [and the water looked a bit green too]. There used to be a golf course where the kid's play area is [why they removed it I don't know]. Time for to take sea again on a classic Pirate Ship. Not my favourite I'm afraid, this one really seemed to clonk and jolt whilst the ship was in motion which for me really detracted the ride experience and as a result goes towards the bottom of the list of Pirate Ship rides I've experienced, even Mr Monkeys is better nostalgia aside [really!]. We also experienced this classic Caroulsel which was actually quite fun and was double decker too! Double Decker! Now here we come across an interesting attraction: Tales Of The Coast, a scenic/dark ride which is positioned near to the entrance of the park yet is not included on the map. This begs the question of is this just a mistake by park management or will is this ride set to be closing down? Who Knows! It was an interesting ride to experience, although felt like one with potential but let down on execution and overall care of the park. The ride begins gently floundering outside with on-board audio and some theming [which doesn't fit in with the ride's theme terribly well. You then enter this dark looking shed [the doors apparently used to open and close but longer do which is a shame]. Here you come across a number of different scenes on the ride before turning a corner and seeing more models before encountering a dog like model and then re-entering the outside wondering what just happened. Zufari says hi Another ride we did at the park [which I didn't picture] was Tide Traveler which was a cross between an enterprise and twister, however despite that didn't lift up which was a shame [although apparently it used to] which left me feeling a little dissapointed really. When it came to around 3:30 we took a trip to the park's gift shop before heading off from the park to experience more Joys in Great Yarmouth. Pleasurewood Hills is a loverly family park with some great rides and little additions, whilst it's not on the level of places like Thorpe Park & Alton Towers [mostly due to having smaller rides, less theming and lack of area audio], it's a great place to visit and if you're after something different from Merlin parks withou going abroad, this might be the place for you! Jadam was wrong, there wasn't a lot of pain here
  3. Following my eviction from the concrete jungle island during February, it was off to a whole new kind of Island. Where could we be going? Why to Adventure Island Southend of course! Where all the action is happening! Expect Lots Of Rage [is better than Saw The Ride] Plenty of Whip [a great little ride] A Helter Skelter of drama Fury from Pharaohs [it's just a standard twister really [but quite well themed] And extreme conflicting Time Machine [I didn't do this ride ] Peaj Branning & Ian Beale prepare for what is ahead A mighty Scorpion of pounding When you experience something like this, it can feel like you've had a whole bottle of wine once you come out of it. A bit like coming home from a manic house party [Crooked house is a fun attraction with lots of interactive bits] Which can be a right serpent of trouble Devils Creek [I think they named it after me ] Where Ian Beale plots something [we believe an evil mastermind plan of some kind] Whilst Dirty Den looks out for the ladies Whilst Jack and Adam [Phil] Mitchell prepare to fight [for the best spinning possible] Fireballs come and go Because there's always a Barnstorm in the square [my second favourite ride there] Matt [Creek] Branning approves of this. But there is more!!! AS a series of new film sets near completion for the next episode [This will be a new indoor park that's apparently going to be open all year round]. Jack Approves Moments later Peaj uses his secret weapon just as a series of beating drums end this episode. Critics Review [the serious bit] Adventure Island Southend is a loverly little park. Whilst it doesn't have the hardware thats Thorpe, Chessie & others have, it has a great series of lots of fun pleasant rides with Over The Hill, Barnstormer & The Crooked House for families and the likes of Rage, Time Machine, Vortex and numerous other spinning rides for the thrill seekers [this could be the 2nd best uk park for flats]. Staff here were very friendly and enthusiastic, the park was in general fairly well kept [we must remember this is a small independant park afterall] and the wristband was pretty reasonable which I bought at a discounted rate instead of the usual £27 . If you fancy something different from your usual Merlin parks in the south of England, this place may be somewhere worth visiting.
  4. So Christmas is almost here as 2014 gradually comes to an end in what has been one of the most mixed years for everything [in what could easily be material for a new soap opera]. However here I will only be mentioning the theme park side of things [after all it's a theme park forum). Unfortunately compared to a number of active members here such as Benin, my theme park collection trip is on a much smaller scale, as someone quoted to me talking about how comparing Thorpe park to Universal & Disney World was a bit like comparing a corner shop to a large supermarket, something which is very much the case here, but carrying on. Thorpe Park Total number of visits 12 visited March 2x,April, May July 2x, August,October 5x In what might be the park's busiest year for a while, Thorpe has had a very mixed season. The park has seen some minor but excellent improvements such as a new map, improved eateries [Amity Fish & Chips & Cantina extension] and the Inferno shop [which has some great touches in there]. Park events this year were also on a roll and the easter event at the park looked very good [although I didn't actually make it this year] and Summer Nights improving further with not just the main coasters open but also opening of rides such as the teacups and Dodgems on top of a park wide DJ. MOS was just as good as last year [maybe even a little better] and Fright Nights delivered once again bringing us Studio13 [a decent replacement to the Asylum], some great improvements to Blair Witch and Face It Alone, which is an amazing experience for anyone who loves scare mazes and wants to experience them on a more extreme setting. OK, moving on to something [which I appear to be dodging opinions upon] and that is the opening of Angry BIrds Land, perhaps the greatest opinion splitter since Saw, some people seem to love it whilst others hate it like the plague. For me there I love and hate it for different reasons. I love the installation of the new 4D cinema and Dodgems. The cinema offers a fun,interactive & immersive experience for the park [plus a much needed indoor attraction too] whilst the dodgems offer a decent filler ride for the park with the Bird VS Pig car designs offering some good competition which hasn't been seen since the Beanoland days. The area also gives us a new area dedicated to families [something Thorpe have lacked in recent years] and utilising space that was previously rather wasted. What I didn't like about the area though was the fact it has divided the Amity area in half [one of the park's best area transitions] and feels a bit shoe horned and Detonator's retheme feels a bit cheap [pun intended] and more could've been done [the ride music is fine by the way]. I also don't like how the flooring and lampposts in the area are very miss mash in comparison and should've been redone. Whilst the park has made quite a lot of improvements, there is still a long way to go before perfection as the park is still suffering from ongoing problems such as Fastrack, ride breakdowns, Stealth & Samurai in particular were unreliable this year [though the engineer team I know do work very hard [which could do with a few more in numbers] and the continuation of 1 train ops on weekdays and mornings on peak days. There are also a lot of park areas that do look very worn such as Canada Creek which still had no new Loggers tunnel, Ranger County & Rumba to name some. This year we also said goodbye to yet another classic attraction at the park, the Rangers Caroulse, an attraction which was in service at the park for 20 years which disappears to make way for the highly speculated 2016 dark ride. Whilst just a Caroulsel contained rich history of Thorpe's past, not just being the second to last park Ranger attraction to survive but featuring a collage of former park ride vehicles onboard including Phantom Phantasia, Thunder River & Hudson River Rafters. Lets just hope the park salvage as many horses/models from the ride as possible [if there is no chance of the attraction's return]. Best Year since 2009 Alton Towers Total visits 2 Visited June Arguably the most magical theme park in the Uk and our nearest port of call to Efteling, Europe & Euro Disney. during the last few seasons some could argue the magic has been lost a fair bit with three disappointing seasons in a row. 2011 saw one of the lowest number of guests and 2012 featured the then disappointing Sub-Terra ride [amongst still low attendance]. 2013 was supposed to be one the year the park shined as a whole but was trashed completely due to how the park's big new coaster The Smiler was handled overall plus it's poor reliability. Whilst far from perfect, 2014 appears to have been a better year for the park. Operations seem to be on a roll again, ride reliability is better [bar a few exceptions] and improvements in food and entertainment too. Whilst having naturally low expectations, I was rather impressed with the new/re-themed area that opened replacing the ageing farmyard. The area is full of life including freshly re-imaged rides, plenty of themed walkthroughs and gardens and lots of friendly enthusiastic staff. The In The Night Garden Ride was very good in particular with it's animatronics and storyline, Postman Pat was a great fun ride full of heavy themed models and the Get Set Go was a brilliant re-incarnation of the random Squirell Nutty [it feels more like an experience now]. As I'm not the biggest fan of IP's in theme parks [bar some exceptions], the idea of brand-name here makes perfect sense and fits in well within the park. Scarefest proved a mixed bag this year giving us the new Scarytales which looks to have been a good addition however with the loss of one of the former Scaremazes Carnival Of Screams, which was not replaced. Best year since 2010 Chessington Total visits 2 [very very nearly 3] Visited April, May [almost October] 2013 at Chessington [to some] was complete shambles, park falling apart, poor/slow operations, closed rides, disappointing opening hours and also a fire at one of the park's newest outlets. Nothing seemed be done right [even the new Zufari ride]. However for 2014, the park's come it's own again and whilst [stastically speaking] hasn't installed a 'proper' new ride it's improved much of whats there significantly. The hugely retimed Scorpion Express [formerly Runaway Train] whilst definitely being better with the now removed rock face, has a lot more personality now with it's quirky features such as abandoned town backdrops, moving/squirting Scorpion and fire tower plus the overall back story of a town overrun by Scorpions and new soundtrack. Despite losing the Boiler in the queue [which is now in the ride area], the queue line is still nicely themed [for Merlin standards] with interactive elements and the like throughout the queue. Other additions such as the re-imaged Market Square, Mexica & Transylvania areas also impressed me among noticeably better park operations among having more soul altogether this year. Amazu is also an interesting update to the monkey walkthrough which looks nice and updated compared to it's old form and whilst the Azteca hotel has taken up a fair portion of land that could've been used for new development it should hopefully bring in more guests and customers to the park and also the theming [on top of the retheme of the 1st hotel] should definitely add up to the wild/exciting experience for staying guests. Sadly I never [quite] made it to the now rebranded Howl'O'ween event which looked very good from the reviews I saw and heard about, but who hopefully this will finally happen in 2015. Speaking on 2015, I'm looking forward to see what more the park will be doing as we will see a big update to the penguin enclosure and a new show [after all penguins are rather popular at the moment plus more updates to the park overall. Whilst a massive improvement to the disastrous 2013, there's still a long way before the park gets back to it's old 'magic making' days [pre2005] as there's still lots of areas at the park looking old,worn and forgotten. Falls, Tombs, Skyways & Bubbleworks are good examples of this. Overall Best year since 2010 Legoland Windsor Total number of visits 2.5 Visited, April,September, November Despite it's lack of anything groundbreaking or eye-catching in the last few years, Legoland continues to remain as popular as ever [shockingly receiving even more guests than the nearby Thrill Capital]. Unfortunately, 2014 wasn't the best of years of the park as once again nothing too exciting and worthwhile for those over 10 appeared with the main new addition being a big new play area replacing the ageing Rat Trap and a chunk of the enchanted forest walkthrough. Unfortunatly the other new attraction for the park this year was the [3rd] re-theme of the Pirate Falls log flume featuring new models, audio and storyline. Whilst the new one features better audio and looks a lot more fresh in appearance I still prefer the original as it featured more charm and humour then. Aside from a new play area and re-themed log flume, the park also received two further additions which are perhaps unwelcome appearing in the form of Burger Kitchens. Located in the Pirate & City areas of the park, these outlets see the replacement of Burger Ranch & Crossed Ribs [an eatery that has existed since the early park years and did some good BBQ food]. Despite offering more indoor seating for cold/bad whether days these aren't a good addition as the food line up at Legoland has been reduced slightly and Burger kitchens haven't been renowned for good quality [I'm still yet to try one actually]. Despite not being too impressed with the park during main season, I opted out [and paid the perhaps overpriced fee] to visit the park during it's Christmas event which despite the reduced ride line up [and park access] I really enjoyed as I virtually had the park to myself when I went not just getting on rides without queues but getting actually rides to myself and the park was also lit up beautifully with loads of lighting scatted over the park making it feel like a christmas kingdom. It was a truly magical experience there [either that or I'm reflecting on the amount of friends who went to Euro Disney at that time of year ]. 2015 was set to be one of the most exciting years for the park for a while, with the addition of a big scale immersive themed Haunted House attraction [giving the park another much needed dark, high capacity and older aimed] ride. However unfortunately this plan was ripped to shreds due to the selfishness of the residents and local council resulting in the rejection of the plans [despite recommendation] and what we will be receiving instead will not just be on a smaller scale but also strongly unappealing too. I just hope the park can send an appeal and get this ride approved in the future instead. Blackpool Pleasure Beach Blackpool for me was the biggest theme park venture for me [at least outside of the Merlin circle] in what proved to be one of the most exciting weekends this year gaining lots of new credits at the famous Pleasure Beach. Whilst it's no Disneyland, it proved to be surprisingly good with some very exciting coasters including Grand National, Steeplechase and Avalanche with each ride holding it's own. I also got to experience the highly immersive Valhalla which is an amazing experience and is the best uk water ride by a country mile. Many of the other rides also proved to be very good too including Wallace & Gromit which was a very good dark ride whilst Alice [although rather dated] proved to be an entertaining and fun attraction]. The only ride that left me feeling disappointed was Impossible which was just pants. Other attractions I was able experience included the Blackpool Dungeons which was a very good experience and whilst there were some flaws, some elements were better than the London ones including the Drop towers at the end. The circus show and tower themselves were also very and interesting [the latter offering some loverly views from the top]. Coral Island was an interesting attraction with a cool monorail and ghost train which was sadly ruined greatly by funny and moody staff. Oakwood Whilst having a very enjoyable trip in 2013, I sadly never had chance to return to the park in 2014, however by the looks of reports, that was possibly for the better as the park had apparently gone backwards greatly, featuring poor operations of rides, lots of rides closed daily and many areas completely rundown [which make Thorpe's flaws sound almost forgivable]. Lets just hope the park learn from their mistakes next year and finally open the Sleepy Hollow area. Disneyland Paris Where do we begin with this soap opera of my life? Well, It didn't happen [at least in 2014]. There were at least five attempts to get to the park in 2014 [no exagerration] but a lot of things down to budget, timing and personal reasons [which I'm not going in to] none of these trips were successful so I never got to see Remy. 2015 however will hopefully break this spell. Tivoli World Like the last 5 years, the park has virtually remained unchanged still housing the same ageing/out dated attractions that have existed for many years. The park hasn't gone backwards but it certainly hasn't gone forwards and only receives a mention for being the only theme park in Europe I managed in 2014. What looks ahead for 2015? In terms of the uk parks, not much I'm afraid at least for the Merlin parks as so far the only new additions confirmed are glorified log cabins, a retimed area [without any new rides] and a new penguin show and enclosure, meaning we won't get any official rides [as we currently know]. For smaller uk park's though it looks a better year though as we will definitely be receiving some new attractions next year. Blackpool will be getting the Red Arrow flying ride, Paultons will be getting a brand new themed area called Critter Creek, Drayton are getting [yet more attractions] in Thomas Land and Oakwood will finally be receiving it's new Sleepy Hollow themed area. As for Europe, Efteling will be receiving a new major exciting dive coaster, Gardaland will be receiving a dive coaster, Hansa will be gaining a new exciting coaster whilst parks in Denmark and one of the Walibi ones are expected to also earn new rides too. And this marks the end of 2014, roll on 2015 I say, a year I will hopefully be getting some new parks and several across sea [that aren't Tivoli World].
  5. For the first in about 10 or 11 years, I visited a non-Merlin theme park. It's been a long time coming, and anywhere was a start. And that start was to be Drayton Manor. After such a beautiful week, Saturday decided to take a turn for the worst, and give us rain, thunder, lightning (though with a couple of breaks of sunshine during the day!). Adam picked me up and we arrived at Drayton around 9ish. Even though we were early, we could tell it was gonna be quiet day, and thank goodness, after some of the horror stories I'd heard about the park's operations. We arrived to some sun, though we could tell dark times were ahead. Half 9 came and the park opened. One of the first things which confuse me about the park is opening the park at 9:30, but not the rides until 10:30. There's not really enough to do for a whole hour, other than the small zoo, which we headed to straight away. Tigers are a'coming. A chimpanzee looks to Apocalypse in the distance. Rides were testing so we headed over to G Force (which apparently had been closed for a couple of days) and we were pretty much first in the queue. 10:30 came and it opened; yay. This was my first coaster with inversions that had lap bars, and I'd heard some pretty poor things about it, but kept an open mind. And yeah, I thought it was quite fun. My first ride didn't give me any problems with the restraints, and it was a fun, fast-paced ride. I did get a bit of air time as well, which is nice. It's an odd ride (especially with the "humpety bumpety" lift) and seems to do all the best bits at the beginning, giving a week end, but hey-ho, it's a fun enough ride. My G Force face. Next up was the big, new thing - Air Race. I wasn't quite sure how it'd ride, what with the continual spinning and moving and stuff, but it was actually really good. The rocking start is very good, and then it just keeps spinning, round and round and round. It doesn't get boring, and there's some nice moments where you're left hanging upside down for quite a while. Near the end of the ride, we started spinning in the opposite direction. Would be nice if it did it sooner, just to mix it up a little, but hey ho. On a ride later on in the day, we counted that we went upside 18 times (sorry Smiler! ). Air Race does have a nice entrance feature though. Air Race's queue line is a nice cattlepen - like many of Drayton's queue - and has a TV playing annoying things. Shockwave followed. Have to say, the station and theming in the queue line is quite nice actually. The seats and restraints on this thing though is very, erm, eurgh. Yeah, I'll go with eurgh. They're not comfortable and they just don't feel right. The ride itself has two highlights - a random little dip before going onto the lift, and the zero-g roll (which is actually incredible). The rest is uncomfortable, rattly or boring. There vertical loop was bleurgh, the double corkscrew is verging on painful and then the random straight bits are unimaginative (though, at least they don't try to castrate you). Now I see why so few stand ups have been built... Found in Shockwave's queueline - made me chuckle... Next up was Splash Canyon, the park's rapids. It was barely 11 o'clock, but we were already soaking wet, so water rides wouldn't make much difference. Fun little ride, not that wet really, though the indoor section did take me off guard. Another water ride followed, and this time it was in the famous Stormforce 10. I'd heard a lot of good things about this, so I was excited. Have to say, the queue - which we once again walked through - is nicely themed and works really well. Onto the ride itself. The first drop is nice, and the way it's done was unexpected by me. Then wandering through the random waterfall is cool. The second drop, the backwards one, was a shock. We were sat at the very back, which meant we got the full force of water. For a split second, I thought I was on Tidal Wave I was that wet. Brilliant water ride. Not-so brilliant for when the weather is already chucking it down. Final drop is quite nice too. So yeah, a great water ride all in all, but I'll try to avoid the back next time... A quick spin on Malestrom (nothing really to say about this, just a nice filler really) and drying off in one of the heater things (which was so worth it given how wet we were...), it was time to venture indoors for Pirate Adventure. It's an indoor boat ride which is basically a knock off of Pirates of the Caribbean. Have to say it's alright, though it seemed like a lot of the animatronics were broke. The ending was super anti-climatic too, which was a shame. For the record, this was probably our longest queue of the day at an amazingly long 15 minutes. Goes to show how quiet it was I guess. A go on the dodgems, sponsored by Free Radio, followed, and they were pretty decent. Food followed in the Safari Pizza & Pasta: Very nice indoors restaurant located by the zoo. Indoors there's loads of animal animatronics which move and stuff and it was quite a nice atmosphere in there. (By the way, unlike Merlin's Pizza / Pasta, this isn't all you can eat in case you're wondering. We just had a nice pizza and wedges meal). We headed over to Ben 10: Ultimate Mission, the world's first Vekoma Junior Boomerang. It looked surprisingly tall and quick for a junior coaster, and I have to admit, it was one coaster I was really looking forward to. Again, there was next to no queue, which was great. The majority of the queue is indoors, and is very well themed, with aliens, loads of 'high tech' stuff, noises, lights, etc., and a false corridor which tricked Adam and I. Very, very good. Aliens. First ride gifted us with front row. Being lifted up backwards was a nice sensation, though the stop is very harsh and judders you around a bit. Then you're dropped down and you pick up a lot of speed very quickly, meander around a bit, then up a random wiggle. You hear the laser fire and do backward to the station. It's a short ride of course, but it's great. It has a bit of everything and left both of us happy. No doubt kids love the ride as well. It's certainly Drayton's most complete ride and is fun for everyone. What's even more impressive is how it takes up so little room. Given the lack of queue, we went straight back round to do it again, which is a testament to the ride's quality. Look at that joy. Afterwards, we ventured to what I'll nickname 'dark ride row'. We started off with The Haunting, a Vekoma madhouse. Much like Hex, it has two pre-shows before the ride. The first pre-show is very nicely done, with some TVs giving you an introduction, and one or two nice effects used. The second pre-show isn't as good I found, going on for a bit too long, and that you couldn't always hear what was being said. The actual madhouse itself is good, with a nice ending I thought. So all in all it is a nice ride, but it also showed by just how good Hex is as well. Haunting is great in its own right, but Hex is in a different league. Next door was Golden Nugget - Wild West Shoot Out. As the name suggests, it's a gun-based ride where you shoot things for points. Other than the name and logo, there's no reference to the Golden Nugget cereal. It's a very cheap ride clearly, and to be honest, is quite laughable. It's nice that some things happen when you hit the target though. But still, not a great ride. We ended dark ride row with Drunken Barrels, the tilting teacups. They were good fun, and the plate actually tipped, but our cup was way too stiff to spin. It was now time for the last major ride (in my opinion), Apocalypse. Decided to go in at the deep end and do stand up first (though, unfortunately, the floorless seating wasn't available today). The seats are okay - more comfortable than Shockwave's at least! - and the tilt is a great twist; did get me a little bit. However, the drop itself is okay at best. Just doesn't really get me as much as I'd hoped. Though the suddenness of the drop is a nice touch. Sit down followed straight away, and I think I prefer that seating arrangement due to the added comfort. One thing which disappointed me with this (and a lot of Drayton in general actually) was the lack of audio, apart from the occasional siren. No atmosphere, very little tension and it just felt like the ride could have been so much more intimidating with some sort of background noise. We decided to get some other rides done, including Flying Dutchman - yet another odd Drayton ride - and Buffalo Coaster. Buffalo is quite possibly the weirdest coaster I've done, with an odd layout, monorail-like speeds, yet the occasional okay bit. It goes on forever as well. I feels like it's time should be nearly up, and the space and surrounding area would be great for a family coaster (hi there Mack!). Oh, one laughable thing about Buffalo - on our ride, the train overshot the station, meaning the people in the front row couldn't get out, and had to have another go (I feel for the poor souls). I would do a list of all the things which are more useful than Buffalo, but I think I'd be here for too long... Buffalo with Apocalypse in the background. The Buffalo should look a lot more sad though. We then went to the other side of the park to venture round Thomas Land. Looks nice, and I know that my younger self would have exploded with excitement to be there. Only ride we did round here was Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster. For a ride set in Thomas Land, it was actually alright, and the ending on it was a specific highlight. Great ride for the younger market. We saw Percy whilst queueing fro Troublesome Trucks. NEW FOR 2015. Funnily enough, when you're in the park, you don't really recognise the construction going on. When you're outside the park, by the entrance, you see the site, but have no idea what it's for. With basically everything done, it was time for rerides aplenty. Air Race, G Force and Shockwave were all done again, as was Ben 10. After a while, a storm came over, bringing more rain, thunder and lightning, bringing most rides to a close (as an interesting fact, Apocalypse was hit by lightning this past week ). One of the few rides which remained open was Polperro Express Train; a short train ride which goes round part of the park. It gave some nice views of Shockwave, Stormforce 10, G Force and the rapids, and it was a nice break from the rain. Some rides slowly began reopening, so we were able to get a few more rides in (including on the Golden Nugget ride since it was indoors, and just so we could laugh at it's awfulness some more). We ended up riding Ben 10 five times during the day, which I think shows how it is indeed a good ride for the park. The day ended off with a ride on G Force, and it was the only one where I had an uncomfortable experience. However, I still stand by my views that it is a fun ride; just a shame the restraints can cause it to be otherwise. Drayton Manor is a nice park all in all, and given it's a small park, it's done well for itself. But there's a few rides which are very cheap and laughable which need sorting out, I imagine on a busy day it's a bad place to be in (queue board times to some description would be nice for example), and there's some things lacking (audio on all rides for example). I don't want to end on a negative note, as I enjoyed the place and had a fabulous day out, and if you take it for what it is, it is good. I definitely would recommend people trying it out (especially if you have a voucher of some description), there are some good rides there which make it worth going there once. Visiting has given me the extra incentive to try out other parks as well. It's not that I haven't wanted to, but it's more that I've been a been a bit blasé about it all. However, after yesterday's experience, I now have an urge to try parks new and different (and who knows, might even crack Europe next year!) I'll leave with perhaps the best photo of the day; our last ride on Ben 10:
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