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  1. Legoland Billund Monday 11th of July 2022 https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/legoland-billund for plenty more photos. So I’ve just returned from 3 weeks in Scandinavia. The first park I visited was Legoland Billund. Normally I’m not that into Legoland, I went to the one in Windsor because it was included in the Merlin Pass I had at the time, and I went to the one in Japan because I had an unexpected free afternoon (and basically wanted to ride the Mack Submarine Ride) , but they are just ‘okay’, a bit expensive and not really that engaging unless you are a kid or a real Lego fan. But, it almost felt rude to be doing a theme park trip in Denmark and not pay a visit to the original Legoland. This one is actually better than the rest and has a few rides that make it worth a trip even if you are a thrill rider. I arrived at 9 and stayed till 4, but would have had no problem staying right through till close at 7. I had a hire car to make this part of the trip a bit easier, its about a 3 hour drive from Copenhagen, with a spectacular crossing of the 18km long Great Belt Bridge. But you pay accordingly for using such a big piece of infrastructure, the toll works out to $50 each way. Intentionally left early so I could hop out and have a look around. Still I arrived well before opening time. The park has a wait time app and I’d already looked at it a couple of times in the preceding days to see what got bad waits and started my day on those rides. Flying Eagle is a Zierer Family Coaster with nice theming and cute little animals everywhere. As a coaster its pretty good, maintains it speed, and had this one bit with a few S bends. If I was after a standard model family coaster this would be it. It’s just a shame it has only one train, because it gets smashed with crowds. Next I kept moving towards the back of the park, but saw X-Treme racers had no line so I ducked into that too. It’s a larger model of a Mack mouse, so starts off with a big drop, does a few switch backs, couple more drops, couple more switchbacks and then done. Fine for what it was, but it’s just a mouse right? The cars do look pretty cool with their Lego Technic theme. Next door to it is the Lego Movie World, which is quite new and looks great. Apocalypseburg Sky Battle is a flat ride (but seemingly a popular one) however again I was ahead of the crowds so no wait. It’s what you’d get it you crossed Tailspin with an enterprise, so you are simply spinning around, with wings you can tilt to make your seat flip. It felt a bit harder to get it to work, but you can usually get a couple of spins in one direction before it runs out of momentum, and then tilt the wings the other way to get some more spins. The main attraction is Emmets Flying Adventure - Masters of Flight A flying theatre like Sky Voyager, but the difference is that instead of the seats being pushed out towards the screen, you load facing the back wall and the whole row rotates to face the screen. The ride takes you out of cloud cuckoo land (complete with vanilla scent) one Emmets “Triple Decker Flying Couch”, but then the Duplo aliens attack, so cue a chaotic flight through various lego movie scenes. Great fun, but it definitely has a lot more movement than your usual flying theatres where you are gently flying over landscape. This had much more diving and spiralling. I didn’t ride Unikitty Disco Drop, but loved how it looked. By this point I was at the back of the park at one of my most anticipated rides, Polar X-Plorer, a Zierer ESC with a drop track. The theme is like an Arctic base where they are investigating animals, and there are various panels on the walls with scientific information, environmental messages etc. The ride is a bit more punchy than you’d expect! It carries momentum like a full sized coaster, with good speed off the first drop, pops of airtime and forceful turns. You then come around into the ice mountain seen in the middle of the ride (And they didn’t bother doing rockwork inside, they just painted all the framing and mesh black). Overhead is a screen with lego explorer people hammering into the ice, when all of a sudden you hear a crack and the whole section of track you are on drops about 5m, and stops at the bottom, linking up with the rest of the track. From here the track comes out of the mountain, but its basically at ground level now so all it can do is some tiny dips till it gets back to the station. But on the way as you re-enter the building you pass some windows looking into the Penguin exhibit. Which I decided to check out next. Ice Pilots School originally opened as Power Builder, and is a robocoaster ride. They made an attemp to theme it like a Hangar you’d see in some remote location for arctic flights which was nice, but overall the attraction doesn’t scream at you from the outside. Are they trying to avoid it getting overcrowded? It does seem like it could run into capacity issues. Here, you use a touch screen to program a motion sequence for your arm, get onboard, and try it out. Of course i picked the most extreme ones i could, so the arm is catapulting you all the way over the top, or spinning around on the spot whilst making your seat twirl too. It probably only goes for about a minute, and some of the movements are a bit forceful, so the cycle they give you is enough. Looping back towards the front of the park I passed the Temple. Every Legoland has this and it’s pretty meh. Imagine something like Buzz Lightyear with rotating cars and laser guns, except the sets are just bland lego egyptian themed and the guns work poorly. But it tends to just be a walk on most of the time due to the capacity of the ride system so fine for a diversion. I think at that point I opted to eat early (Park opened at 10) sinceI heard food places get bad lines (Which turned out to be true walking around a couple of hours later): Found a place selling the signature “Lego Fries”, which tasted about as good as they looked. I got in the queue for Vikings River Splash the river rapids ride. This is another ride I’ve seen and been interested in, since it it has a vertical lift and splashdown. As far as rapids go, its fairly gentle, and you wont get wet. Most of the theming was viking related humour that would appeal to kids (Eg 3 stone statues singing “We will rock you”). The lift hill comes halfway through the ride on this one, plus of course the vertical lift at the end. It’s just a shame the final drop doesnt spin you like the one at Califorina Adventure. Overall a good fit for the park though. Dragen had a bit of a line so I went for a lap on the monorail and got my bearings for the rest of the park (It’s in a bit of an L shape) I try to do observation towers around midday since it means the sun is out of the way for most of your photos and the tower itself isn’t casting strong shadows across the park. LegoTop is it, but only about 30m high, so it’s good for a view over Miniland, but the actual coasters are at the other end of the park so you dont really get a good overview of them. However up there I spotted Ninjago and realised that was one of my other priorities to ride. Ninjago is a Triotech dark ride with 3D glasses, but instead of guns you swipe your hand above a sensor and use that to direct your shots. Felt like it had a moderate level of control, though quite a few stray shots. It can be finicky, you have to hold your hands 10cm above the sensor, which can feel unnatural and some kids struggle with it. The queue was a series of interconnected dojo rooms, which carried through into the ride itself. The story I wasn’t really familiar with, but at each screen there were hordes of skeletons or bad ninjas and even dragons you were shooting at. A couple of scenes used projection mapping onto rockwork. There were still a few more things I wanted to ride. Ghost - The Haunted House is a fairly kid friendly haunted house walkthrough, with some interactive dioramas and a mirror maze. The finale of the ride is actually a little drop ride (High capacity frog hopper really) where you are ‘levitated’ by a mad professor and then dropped. Seems like is a Merlin special, becuase a lot of the Dungeon attractions they run have this ride, as well as Sub Terra at Alton Towers. Visually it’s nicely done overall but could have been a more coherent experience Piratbade is one of those Mack towboat rides that actually goes through a substantial enclosed dark ride. Quite liked this actually, it was mostly static with the odd lighting effect, but nice and relaxing and quite popular. More parks need the slow scenic boat rides IMO At that point I was over near Dragen, the Mack powered coaster, so waited about 30 mins for that. I’ve heard mixed reviews of this one but I thought it was pretty cool! It starts off with a dark ride section through castle scenes, eg the kitchen, the jesters court, the wizards lab and of course an encounter with a dragon. It’s a powered coaster, so once you reach the dragon it actually picks up speed along a long straight (I guess the closest thing to a family launch coaster with 1997 tech), climbs a bit of a hill then does some helices in rocky area with shrubs and vines. The coaster portion was short but you know what I didn’t mind and thought this was better than the other Dragon coasters at other Legolands. At this point I was getting close to the time I had to leave. I went back to Polar X-Plorer for a second go at the back of the train, still good Back at the front of the Park is Atlantis, one of Merlins Sea Life aquarium, but with an entirely too long pre-show where you watch an average 3D animation of you going down below, dragged out by the fact all the story telling has to be in 3 languages (accomplished by the 3D interior of the sub having cartoon speakers labelled with the Danish, English and German flags) The actual aquarium was well themed and larger than I expected, with many gummysharks and tropical fish. I do wonder about the messaging of having all those lego models in the tanks…plastic in our oceans I rounded out my visit at Miniland. This one was mostly focused on Denmark, with a bit of Scotland, Norway and I think Germany, they also had a section of worlds tallest buildings with model of the Burj Khalifa, Shanghai Tower, Mecca Royal Clocktower. Really nicely done, I liked the oil drilling rig, and the working port with the various moving boats. A lot of the other usual world wonders you’d see at Legoland had been spun off to be located along the Minibade self drive boat ride, but you can still see them from the walkways around that ride. I wouldnt have minded doing the Lego Canoe flume ride but the sun was beating down a bit and I didnt feel like waiting 40 mins. Overall, I had a good visit despite the crowds and got a fair bit done there. The one thing they needed to fix was the F&B lines. They were spilling out everywhere, and to add insult to injury a lot of the vending machines were broken so I couldnt just grab a drink that way. As for what I’d do to improve the park? Tough to say, it’s quite complete as far as family parks go, they have enough water rides, enough dark rides, enough flat rides etc, and enough in terms of unique flagships. I filled up several hours, and of course if you are kid you are going to want to do the splash battle, more of the flats, the driving school etc. Maybe a really small duplo coaster like the one in Windsor to take pressure off Flying Eagle? As always, you can see more detailed photos of the whole park here: https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/legoland-billund After finishing at the park I drove an hour up the road to check out Elia, which was once featured in a Tom Scott video. From a distance the steps look normal sized but they are more like climbing the tiers in a grandstand. Its supposed to let off a jet of fire once at random times, but didn't when I was there.
  2. Belantis is located about 10km south of Leipzig in Germany. https://www.parkz.com.au/parks/DE/Leipzig/Belantis If the gallery is being buggy, cycle though the photos from this point to see all 180: https://www.parkz.com.au/photo/18063-Belantis/gallery/sort/newest/location/park-225/offset/0 I had a few spare days left on my rail pass, and it’s only 1h 15m to get from Berlin (Where I was at that point) to Leipzig, and then from there you take a local S-Bahn train to Markkleeberg and a bus to the park. I got caught out because the return buses don’t run as often outside of school holidays, so I would have been stuck till 4pm. Instead I got STUNG for a taxi back. Belantis is a spread out park (About the size of the dry part of Dreamworld) built around an old coal mine. The pit is now a lake, and there are different themed lands, eg Medieval, Egypt, Ancient Greece, Mayan, Native American etc. The park feels like a mixed bag, some pockets have quite good looking theming and feel like immersive zones. Other parts it looks quite weathered and cheaply done, a lot of the park is just grave/bitumen paths and long grass and untidy landscaping.And maintenance doesnt seem the greatest, with crumbling theming in parts. If you go on Google maps you can sort of see how spread out and sparse the park is. https://www.google.com/maps/place/BELANTIS+-+Das+AbenteuerReich/@51.2536898,12.3132948,467m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x47a658c795f65d89:0xe080217d017f2766!8m2!3d51.2536898!4d12.3154835 I reckon the park would have felt better if they had just brought it all closer together. It’s the same issue WnW Sydney has basically. As for the rides, they are alright and some were interesting and unique, but I don’t think anything really grabbed me other than Gotterflug, which was a riot. The entrance area I thought looked good. Quite liked how the building was overlaid with the sundial design. First ride was Hurcan, a large Eurofighter. I heard this one was quite rough, and it shook a bit, but nothing unbearable. I don’t think you’d want to ride more than 3 times though. Starts off with a vertical lift and drop, zero g, then an oddly shaped cobra roll the train appears to wobble through. Then after a couple more turns it finishes off with some interlocking corkscrews. Nice layout actually. Too big for this coaster or top spin though. Aint it the cutest? After that passed through the Pirate themed area and tried Capt’n Blacks Piratentaufe, which is one of those family sized drop towers except it can sway from side to side. Cool little gimmick actually. The pirate area looked quite good, but it’s basically an island of theming, and once you leave its back out into windswept barren park area. It happened to be on the way but Posiedons Flotte was next, the park was dead so I was the sole person flicking around on this thing. They are their most fun when you hold the boat inwards and then suddenly turn outwards, which creates strong lateral forces. Think of it like a water borne version of flying scooters. Pressing on was Fahrt De Oddeseyus, which is a tow boat ride around the lake, passing some crap ancient Greek theming on the way, and at one point passing through a concrete culvert tunnel. Good way to waste 10 mins. I couldn’t hold off on the Egyptian bit any longer, and joined a 10 minute queue for Fluch des Pharaos, a large flume ride built by Hafema (The company that brought us Jurassic Park in Singapore and River Quest at Phantasialand. It’s sort of halfway between being a rapids ride and a flume, with boats that are inflatable dinghies holding 8, with the metal lap bars strapped/sewn onto the rubber body of the boat. The pyramid looks impressive from the outside, but a bit of missed potential. The indoor section of the ride is very brief, and really just long enough to get you to the elevator lift. Theming is essentially flat walls with a couple of statues and a mannequin of a temple explorer. The boat rolls sideways into a vertical lift, where there is a UV painted image of a big Pharaoh head, before you are lifted up, and slide sideways out again at the top, and down the main drop. The main drop is about as big as WWF, but not really wet at all. From there the ride is done at a speedy pace, leading through a few more twists and turns, and into the whirlpool element, which looks more interesting than it is, but the curved drop in the middle is kinda waterslide-ish. A couple more turns, passing a waterfall on the way, and the ride is over. It’s better than a regular flume ride, but the theming was too featureless. Right next door was Cobra Des Amun Ra, a Gerstlauer family coaster, and quite good, with a punchy layout full of elevation changes. It doesn’t just lumber around like the likes of Roadrunner/Madagascar. The station and queue building was nicely done for a coaster of this size too. Just as I got off, the park mascot made an appearance in the STATION, and then hopped on for an actual ride. You’d never see that here in Aus. Doubling back on myself, I took a ride on Gotterflug, which is a Gerstlauer Sky Roller. This is a similar concept to tailspin, but instead of it being seats on a tilted arm, it’s more like a star flyer in that it is a circular ride that rises up. The thing is super easy to get spinning, so you can get triple digit rotation counts if you like. I held back, but still spun more than any ride I’ve done on a Sky Roller. Crazy stuff. The back of the park is one big dead end, which is silly. There’s what, about 200m of path missing between Huracan and the Native American zone that would complete a logical loop around the lake, but its absence results in an 800m backtrack to reach the end of the park as a result. The park has a heap of random little non rides, like this nature walk, wonky bikes, kiddy cars etc. Filler I guess. This medieval town square is another example of a pocket of good theming, but all the shops were shut. So the next bit was the Medieval section, which has a Gertslauer bobsled coaster called Drachenriit, more or less a wild mouse on steroids with a spread out layout, and a much more interesting design overall. Starts off with a curved drop, then a few conventional switch back turns, then the remaining majority of the ride is quick helices and punchy bunny hills. Great fun. This whole area looked quite nice actually. The main castle building holds a Vekoma mad house ride, which I was sad to miss since it was closed for maintenance, but at the same time I’d done plenty of others on this trip anyway, so it wasn’t a full on loss. There was also a hedge maze. The bit at the back of the park was a sort of Native American village. I skipped over the canoes and the Frisbee ride. At that point I had done everything I wanted to, so I swung back via Huracan and tried a ride in the back seat instead, and then made my way to the exit. Time spent around 3 or so hours. It was at this point I discovered I had misread the bus timetable (carefully typing the footnote on the timetable into translate led me to discover that certain buses don’t run outside holidays), so I headed back to the entrance, where guest services called a taxi. I ate a pretzel in the meantime, before departing. Overall, the park is just average. I went mostly because it wasn’t too far out of the way from my location, and it meant more or less completing the set of major parks in Germany. Doesn’t stack up to the majors like Phantasialand or Europa of course, but I felt the 2nd tier parks like Holiday Park or Tripsdrill were better as well.
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