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  1. 2 for 1 deal in this trip report. For photos of both parks, see: Fun Spot Orlando https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/fun-spot-orlando Fun Spot Kissimmee https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/fun-spot-kissimmee Both of these parks are quite "amusement parky", with travelling flat rides, multi level go kar tracks buildings that are mostly sheds, and a couple of worthwhile coasters that make it worth a stop. The Orlando branch is right near Universal, and the Kissimmee branch is not far from the entrance to Walt Disney World, they both are open till midnight, so I guess they tend capture a bit of business from their proximity to the majors. They are both also a fair bit cheaper, in a way catering to a secondary locals market who might be outpriced by the majors. They also offer a deal where you can visit both parks in one day, but my schedule didn't really permit that. Interestingly, both parks had some of the same rides, for example both had a screamin swing, both had a kiddy coaster named Sea Serpent. Interesting that they didn't try to give each park more of its own identity. You can buy wristbands or pay by the ride. I was dog tired when I went to each (On separate nights), so just did individual rides, even though it would have only been a few dollars more to upgrade to a wristband. Orlando: The Vekoma SFC Freedom Flyer was HNFT, so clearly no rides to be had on this one: They've also got a Sea Serpent kiddy coaster from Miler. Basic turns and dips. But the star of the show (And actually one of the best coasters in Orlando!) is White Lightning The perfect compact wooden coaster. Runs very smooth, a decent first drop leads into much smaller hills and turns, keeping the pacing strong. There's also a nice high banked turn at one end, reminiscent of what you see on Thunderhead at Dollywood. Also a cool double up and double down for the airtime fanatics. Interesting how they proudly promote it's a GCI Kissimmee They have the worlds tallest skycoaster, and some interesting looking go kart tracks with multiple levels, but with jetlag biting i elected to just stay for an hour or so and do the coasters. Galaxy Spin is a standard Zamperla spinning coaster (Near identical to the Reverchon ones) Another Sea Serpent kiddy coaster, though with a different layout to the others. (If you are wondering about the photos, I happened to grab brekky next door before heading to Disney one of the days, so went for a wander around. The whole place is open air. Hurricane is a type of coaster I've never encountered before, like a really bizzare travelling layout that feels like a mix between a Galaxi and a wild mouse, but a lot more interesting. Up this end of the park at that hour it was dead, there was just one operator floating around between 4 or so rides, so he just powered it up for my cycle. Looked janky as hell. But pretty good actually. Interesting to think that the likes of Space Mountain are actually pretty similar to this in terms of elements. What a difference some theming makes. This brings us to Mine Blower, probably the best worst wooden coaster in the world. The ride has had a reputation for being rough, even from the day it first opened. In some sections they have replaced the wooden track with a type of steel track from RMC. All I can say is thank heavens for that, I can only imagine how bad it would have been without this retracking. The ride shakes like hell on the wooden bits, and clatters around the track and when you see a particularly tight set of turns or hills coming up you feel like you're about to get brutalised, but like magic, it's those parts where it transitions onto steel tracks. These parts run very loudly. but at the same time makes those bits bearable. It's probably one of the craziest wooden coaster layouts out there, with a steep first drop, an actual zero g roll over the station, then heaps of dives, s bends, and little hills, and even an overbank turn at some point, so its a bit of a blur and when you hit the final brakes you wonder what the hell happened. I gave it a couple of rides. Totally worth a stop to experience because its so unhinged, but be prepared! In conclusion, yeah if you've got the time and energy, its worth dropping in for a lap on the wooden coasters, I'd even say White Lightning is somewhat of a must do when in Orlando.
  2. PowerPark (Powerland) is an entertainment complex located in central Finland about 350km north of Helsinki / 200km north of Tampere. https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/powerpark So its not really that conveniently located. Initially I was going to hire a car for a day, but that was going to cost close to $200 for the day. However, the park is located a couple of km from the tiny obscure train station of Härmä on the main line to the north of the country. Finnish trains are well priced, but annoyingly, only a couple of trains per day actually stop there, which I guess made me uneasy since you don't exactly want to miss your train and be stranded in the Finnish countryside for an additional day. But as it turns out, the park has a shuttle that meets every train, the northbound train gets you there around 11.30, and the southbound leaves around 6.30, so enough time for a day in the park (Though you might want to stay overnight if you wanted to do every last ride, do some go karting etc) Free lockers too, but it was definitely a 'push' (And there's only 12 so keep that in mind) The park is owned by a wealthy businessman who manufactures industrial machinery (The factory is actually behind the park) and the guy seems to have a thing for go karting and stunt planes. So really the park is a passion project where he seemingly just builds rides, hotels etc on his land because why not? Overall, the look of the park is a mixed bag. Some parts are themed properly. Some parts look 'okay' but not necessarily what I'd call an attractive style. Some parts are just Italian flat rides chucked down everywhere. Some parts they clearly had an interesting idea on what to build. And there are various other facilities like go kart tracks, hotels too. So it ends up looking like this. But anyhow, onto the rides. Junker Top class, and has everything. Decently quick launch, a top hat, huge looping element around a walkway, airtime, twists and turns, and a couple of quick final inversions including a dive loop into a tunnel and a sudden corkscrew at the end. Normally Gerstlauer can be hit and miss, eg sometimes their rides run great, sometimes they are rough. In this case definitely a hit, and the fact the trains only had lap bars made this even better. Pitts Special If Junker was the hit, this was the miss. When this was being built, I thought this was pretty cool, A steep drop going into a mix of twisted and straight airtime hills, a variant on a non inverted loop, and even an RMC style wave turn. It almost reminded me of a mega lite coaster. Anyway. Not to be. The non inverted loop thing knocks out a lot of speed, and then the rest of the hills are slower and drawn out, so you get virtually no airtime anywhere, just the sensation of scooting over various elongated elements, though the wave turn was sort of interesting. So they bought a lemon I feel. If the idea was that it's meant to be less intense than Junker and more 'family' oriented fair enough, but then why put in an intimidating vertical lift hill? Its a shame because the design had so much potential. To add insult to injury, the park was running only a single 8 car train, so the wait was a bit annoying. I gave it another go later on the arvo, and it was still pretty average. Thunderbird A good ride from GCI, though again the staff were a bit slow. It opened the year after Thunderhead at Dollywood and clearly it had similar thinking. It would alternate between huge high banked turnarounds, and fast paced sections low to the ground where it was full of little bunny hops and twists. Ran really well too, so its a quintessential "out of control" wooden coaster. Hopefully our Leviathan has a similar vibe. Cobra Vekoma Boomerang. A lot of people complain about the roughness of these, but the main problem i have is doing 3 inversions backwards in quick succession is a bit nauseating. That said, this one ran well too. The trains are not the latest type (Eg like on Gold Coaster) but rather an intermediate design that was only ever used on a couple of coasters. In terms of looks it's battling it out with Sea Viper, but at least it's comfy Joyride A coaster from the early days of the park when I think they were just spamming carnival rides. It's almost like a Galaxi 2.0 , with nice transitions and helices rather than the design many of us would have ridden back in the days of Metropolis or Thrillseeker. I did find this support amusing. Mine Train Zamperla family coaster nearly identical to the Spongebob one at Sea World. Devils Mine Hotel Fairly standard ghost train fare, with trucks blaring headlights at you with their horn, and store dummy animatronics popping up. But lets be honest, most of your attention is focused on the shooting if such a system is installed, and there were enough moving bits and bobs to make it interesting. Oh, and they only give you a set number of shots. But even spamming the fire button didnt seem to cause any problems in terms of running out early. Neo's Twister Spinning wild mouse, but with fairly shallow drops, so not that fast. What it lacked in speed, it made up for in spinning. The layout looks like something from Roller Coaster Tycoon. One problem...The seat dividers were literal metal bars rather than moulded fibreglass, so they would dig into your thigh and pelvis bone at every turn. Ouch! (The spinning coaster at the Perth Show is a similar design, but thankfully had moulded seats) Dragon Tower A tall drop ride from Moser. Can you really separate drop rides though? They all feel bit similar, though this had 360 degree rotation on the way up. Seats could have been a little less bulky. The park also offers and observation tower mode where you just get lifted up and down slowly, without the drop. Though no cameras allowed so didn't bother with that option. Fun House After a bit of research, it seems like a lot of these European fun houses are made by https://gosetto.com/fun-house/ Essentially, you can purchase various modules like walkways, conveyors, spinning tunnels and then whack them together to create your walk through. So aside from having a thing for planes and go karts, the park owner seems to love construction as well, and there was some vague decoration base on this. Typhoon 360 Not sure who made this one, and normally I skip over these 360 pendulum rides, but I had to in this case because they built this cantilever roof that goes either side of the pendulum, creating an actual head chopper as you swing under. Thankfully this got up to the full inversion much faster than other versions, so it wasn't too much of an endurance test. Balloon Tower No queue, so onto here for some photos. Giant Wheel And good photos from up here too at the other end of the park. Kwai River This is a flume ride from British company interlink and has perhaps the most bizzare layout I have seen on a flume. You actually start at the top, travel across a bridge, then drop through a slot in the bridge. The boat runs on wheels so is able to make a turn halfway down, before a secondary drop. A flume that thinks it's a wild mouse. The remainder of the ride ambles along and eventually you get to the main lift and drop. And then a lift at the end of the ride to get you back to the station. So an interesting concept though the bare concrete and grass means it's not much of an 'adventure'. You can see there are plenty of other decent flats like the Booster and the Feista Mexicana. Had I had more time I probably would have given them a go, but in the end I focused on re-riding the coasters since they are unique to the park. How do I rate the park? Junker and Thunderbird are worth the trip. I had heard the karts were good too, but I just didn't have the time. I missed the bull riding thing too because it didn't open until late and I had to leave In the end I did all the above once, though did 2x on Pitts Special and 3x on Junker and Thunderbird. Visually, just wasn't a fan. Parks need to be themed, or presented well, but half and half like here means the ugly stuff undoes the efforts of the pretty stuff. That all said, it seems like they are adding extra theming as they go. Compare this pic from rcdb of the boomerang when the built it: And today: So, you wouldn't go to Finland just for this, but if you are already heading to Tampere for Sarkaniemmi then this is a good add on. They seem to show no signs of letting up, so I'm sure more good coasters will be built here. Feel free to ask any questions. More photos here https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/powerpark
  3. Hello everyone! Last month I attended the 2018 Euro Attractions Show, which is the IAAPA European event reuniting most of the professionals in the industry. I was covering the show for French website CoastersWorld.fr resulting in several interviews starting with these two: First of all I had the great privilege of meeting Sascha Czibulka and Camiel Bilsen of Intamin. Sascha is the company's Executive VP and has been with Intamin for 17 years, while Camiel is their promising young designer and has been heavily involved in the making of Hyperion. Highlights include: - Going for a bolder approach to design Hyperion and staying ahead of competitors (4:58) - The strengths of Intamin's new track design (5:55) - Intamin's new seat and lap-bar (7:18) Secondly, I also approached James Swinden who was recently promoted to Lead Engineer at Great Coasters International. In a more concise interview, James discusses various creative and technical aspects of designing wooden coasters. I very much thank him for his accomotation and patience doing this report, his serious dedication to his work truly shows I hope you'll enjoy these interviews. In any event, feedback/criticism is always appreciated. More interviews will be coming up, including one with Vekoma's lead engineer Benjamin Bloemendaal! He's arguably the mastermind behind Vekoma's spectacular renaissance and gave excellent insights into his job and the process of coming up with exciting coaster designs Some extra pictures from the event: Model of the Takabisha clone currently in construction in New Jersey
  4. Last September, I was in Berlin for this year's Euro Attractions Show as a reporter for French website CoastersWorld. As part of my coverage, I made several interviews with representatives of coaster manufacturers. Here are the first two of these! First, James Swinden of Great Coasters International gives his insight into his company's way of building wooden coasters. I really appreciated his sincere passion for his job, and for a professional still very early in his career, his answers were very articulate and accurate! Second, Sascha Czibulka, Vice-President of Intamin, gave me a 16-minute long interview that really exceeded my expectations! His answers were superb, detailed and very informative His account of how the hydraulic launch system had been created for Knott's Berry Farm was particularly valuable. Really talented senior executive who knows his work very well. If you're interested, there's some more to come: - Maximilian Roeser of MACK Rides talks about the manufacturer's lastest coasters, including DC Rivals! - Chuck Bingham of Martin & Vleminckx discusses the challenges and rewards of building wooden coasters in China. - Chad Miller of The Gravity Group tells us the story of how he became a coaster engineer, and the most important aspects of a woodie according to him. (hint: airtime!) - Peter van Bilsen gives the reasons behind Vekoma's remarkable comeback. I want to thank all people involved in these interviews. The interviewees of course, but also all of my CoastersWorld mates for their precious help in the making of these videos. This was a wonderful experience meeting and interviewing all these professionals, and I hope you'll like the resulting interviews
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