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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. 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
  3. Even though Parc Saint Paul is less than 2 hours away from where I live, I somehow never bothered to visit the place. After several delays and figuring out a public transportation/uber strategy to navigate in and out there, it was finally time to discover Parc Saint Paul and its reported quirkyness The entrance sets the tone with a plastic-y gate that wouldn't feel out of place at a fairground. The Campion family - who founded the park and still operates it to its day - were originally fairground ride operators which explains the very funfair look of most scenery there, as well as the nature of the rides. Started the day on Aérotrain. The ride op which was actually very warmful and friendly, was the most remarkable thing about my experience on this tame Vekoma kiddie. It makes for some nice parking lot mini-skyline, but of course I forgot to take a picture from that angle Toilet humour. Next was the local shameful cred, Pomme (apple in French). Actually make that 2 shameful creds! Never seen this sort of hairpin style kiddie before. It's obviously fairly uneventful, but the tight hairpin turns actually deliver some soft laterals which are rarely found on the usual kid-targeted coaster. There is actually a lot of trees around the paths, which alleviates the whole tacky scenery and basic, flat pathwork of the park. Since I didn't really research into the park, was surprised to find some sort of authentic village houses around the chairswing area. They look nice enough even though they feel too realistic to fit the otherwise carefree, fun atmosphere of Parc Saint Paul. But anyway, moving on to the main draw! Wood Express is really fun! There are so many little pops of ejector air taken at a good speed thoughout the layout. It doesn't provide much if any laterals at all unlike its older French cousin Timber at Walibi Rhône-Alpes, but I found the Parc Saint Paul woodie to be smoother. Also, the second hop on the double down midway through is remarkably strong! Like all other hills the airtime is very short, but it is definitely felt there in particular. Since chest-belt GoPros are accepted here - as with most smaller French parks - I took the chance to use my camera and test its 4K abilities. Parc Saint Paul clearly made a very clever move buying Wood Express. It's a lovely ride for the whole family, but thrillseekers will certainly enjoy the fun, airtime-filled experience. I'm very pleased to see another nice new ride in France, we're truly in a good phase after years of frustrating stagnation Next door is Formula 1, my first Pax coaster :eek: The Russian manufacturer has a reputation for making wonky rides, and this one surely has its share of weird transitions! Tbh, I didn't find F1 to be really rough. It has quite intense moments, especially the main drop which is quite sudden. The bad banking and above all horrible restraints prevent me from truly enjoying this however. Still something very unique and worth trying at least once though! Ending the cred with another fairground-ish coaster. Une Souris Verte is your typical Zamperla spinning wild mouse. After trying the horrible SBF equivalent (with OTSR...) this one feels like a relief. It's still a very mundane experience. Piece of trivia: Une Souris verte is actually named after the eponymous folk song for children. The sign above actually displays the lyrics! But wait, isn't there another cred here? That's correct, but Wild Train is SBNO for the year. Shame as it was reportedly the better Pax of the two at Parc Saint Paul. Oh well... Make of that what you will 😛 Tried the drop tower. The ascend to the top is actually, really, really slow! The ride's not very tall, but the drop itself is decent I guess. With all the main trill rides ticked off, it's time for some re-rides on Wood Express! Luckily the line, which went up to 30 minutes before, ended up shortening to a 5 to 10 minutes wait at the end of the day. Kudos to the good ride employees who kept the ride running and often tried their best to fill up empty seats Ended up with 11 rides on Wood Express eventually - and it was consistently fun! I found the front row better, but the difference is very slight anyway. Parc Saint Paul was fun! Obviously it is mostly about Wood Express from my enthousiast perspective, however the rest of the park has decent enough filler to keep me interested for a short day. The employees are friendly, and the place overall has a warm, unpretentious atmosphere. It does lack the charm of other French parks (Le Pal and Nigloland come to mind in particular) and I would not want to revisit any time soon, but the good dynamic of the park has to be acknowledged Next on my trip schedule is Holiday Park, where I return for a +1 kiddie cred and more Expedition GeForce bliss!
  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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