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  1. Parc Asterix Featuring Toutatis - 2/6/23 https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/parc-asterix Aside from Disney, if you’re a theme park fan in France you’ll probably want to visit Parc Asterix, about 60km north of Paris. This year seemed like a good time to visit with the debut of Toutatis, which was being massively promoted on billboards throughout the Metro system in Paris. It’s a great, but very busy part, that does a fine job of combining impressive rides (and there are heaps) with good theming. If you only have a day you can use their Filotomatix express pass option, and they also sell 1 shot passes too. The website suggests you need to download an app to use Filotomatix, which becomes an embuggerance because the app isnt available to non French Google/Apple accounts, however in the end you dont need to worry because you can use the system through a browser. The throughput on rides is good, but because the park is so popular it can get long lines. I did get a fair bit done from 10am till 7pm. Onto the rides. Tonnere 2 Zeus This ride feels like a distant relative to Ghostrider, fast paced and wild, though this one was revamped by Gravity Group rather than GCI. It also has a backwards row like on Leviathan, no charge and no real extra wait but I skipped over since they can be a bit much on a bumpy ride. The layout is good, first drop into a tunnel, a few hills and a double down with plenty of air. Highlights included a 90 degree banked hill (essentially half of a high 5 element) and a helix towards the end of the ride. OzIris Really good, with a layout that is more interesting than your average invert. Seemed to climb and dive much more steeply, so good variation between near misses at ground level/sense of speed, and flying high. Starts with a steep first drop that nests into the terrain a little, before whipping up into a dive loop, then an overbanked turn and a loop. After the loop it did something unusual where the track kept going downhill (imagine the first inversion on Viper SFMM in reverse), picking up speed through a tunnel, before an immelmann. Then comes another overbank turn and steep drop into a tunnel that goes ‘underwater’. The ride finishes in double, with a zero g roll, and an elevated helix, then a drop, another zero g roll behind the station (with a cool near miss with the edge of the building), and finally a forceful ground hugging helix. Overall, a dynamic ride! Goudurix Gout du Risque, the ‘taste of danger’. A bit of worry going into this one, since it's often regarded as one of the worlds worst coasters, but I found it on par with other Vekoma loopers (Like Blue Hawk at SFOG) and SLCs of the same age. Does have some real bumps at the bottoms of loops however. Features an interesting Butterfly element which is like a really disorientating pair of inverted top hats, a butterfly loop, and a classic double corkscrew (RIP Sea Viper) Menhir Express Mack log flume with a cool coaster style drop partway through. The station and splashdown area is really well themed, but most of the course is industrial style troughs and a couple of ‘sheds’ , so a mixed bag. Trace du Hourra Awesome fun. I love bobsleds, and this one is enormous, with quite long drops, and helices, including a few that get tighter as you go downhill, increasing the force. Bobsleds are thrilling in their own way because they do feel pretty out of control, so when you pick up speed you get this sense of nervousness…Is it going too fast for this turn coming up? Capacity is great too, they had multiple trains running and could get them loaded in under 30 seconds. Romus Et Rapidus Ok rapids ride. The station is well themed, but it mostly seems quite open and surrounded by grass and the huge holding pond, so felt a bit underwhelming thematically compared to the rest of the park. Managed to stay dry until a damn rouge wave came in through the side and got me right at the end. Pegase Express Cool concept. Mixed execution. The ride is a lot like Firechaser Express at Dollywood, with forwards and backwards portions. The ride is themed like an ancient greek rail network, where you ride through the sky on a pegasus. The station has hilarious station theming, with a departure board showing some strange destinations for trains. Starts with a gentle launch out of the elevated station, helix, drop, and finally the main lift hill. The main coaster has a series of rolling hills and turns, over the top of the rapids, its like a family version of ‘hyper coaster’ in terms of style. Its a bit plain and open like the rapids ride, especially since you are running along the edge of the car park. There’s a good diving drop through a billboard, and you come around into an enclosed dead end show building themed like a temple. Good idea for a theme, but it looks weird sitting up on unthemed stilts. The door closes behind you, and a projection mapped head of medusa comes to life and in a fit of rage, blows you out the temple backwards. From there, more hill and turns back to the station (quite a long backward section) till you reach the track switch at the end and return to the station. Oxygenarium This is a family raft slide, but with a fully sealed boat so you can ride it fully clothed. You wont get wet at all. The theming is fun, with huge oversized air pipes coiling around, and the sound of droning air blowers in the station. The lift conveyor has plenty of theming, with whirling gizmos, and enclosed tunnels with electrical arc effects and giant cables. The slide down is fairly short, felt shorter than mammoth falls, but foam pads on the slide cause the bottom of the raft to grip on one side, causing a bit of spinning. It all concludes with a helix, which you get a nice view of in the queue. The final splashdown leads to a slow, gentle drift back to the station. SOS Numerobis Run of the mill Zierer kiddy coaster. Le Carousel du Cesar Went on here intending to get in the giant Obelix, other passengers beat me to it, so I had to settle for a horse. Epidemaïs Croisière Quite a long tow boat ride through various static scenes from Asterix. I think this would have been one of the earlier rides at the park, and I guess you'd have to have a real appreciation for the comics to 'get' it. Vol D’Icare This is good. Design wise, it reminded me of a cross between a standard family coaster, and one of those Gerstlauer bobsled coasters, so lots of quick turns, sharp drops and so on. The vehicles are nicely themed as winged baskets, truly representing the flight of Icarus, and the ride itself is well themed too, surrounded by Greek ruins. Discobelix I was told this had a good effect of a flaming cauldron at one end, but sadly this was switched off first thing the morning. The station looks good, with the disko seemingly ripping through and knocking out columns. Le Defi De Cesar Oh boy, a madhouse, I love these. I think operations were pared back 'due to covid' and never fully reinstated, since it had several preshows, but on my ride they just took us in through the exit, did the ride, and out the same way. Either that or they plan to close it in the near future. Was a walk on compared to many other busier attractions. The story is that you have been recruited to Cesar's army, and are being sent out on a warship. The ride chamber is elaborately themed to represent this, with windows containing screens so you can see whats going on outside. You set off from the port, encouter Asterix and Obelix, and your ship is sunk, and this is where the ride starts tumbling around. I liked it, it was a creative way of doing a madhouse beyond the usual "the room is magic and turning upside down" type storyline. La Rivière d'Elis Pleasant little onion boat ride through some gardens, with quite an elaborate stone mountain as the centerpiece. Always amazes me to see minor rides like this in Europe with theming budgets bigger than some of our local major rides. Main basse sur la Joconde (Hands off the Mona Lisa) TIL That the Mona Lisa is called Joconde. An awesome, big stunt show. Some villains steal the mona lisa whilst it is being shipped in a high security van at a port. Four bumbling policeman fail to stop the theft, and spend the show chasing the villains. A witness to it all, a tradie painter tries to help out too. So the whole show is about the painting changing hands between the three, with cartoon style fighting and action, for example one of the villains escapes down a sewer, a giant round style cartoon bomb is tossed down a manhole behind them, boom, and then the painting pops with a "whooop" sound effect, up out of the hole and is caught by one of the good guys. Well choreographed, and some good practical effects like entire buildings being blown apart too. L'Aérolaf It’s best described as a floorless observation tower, inside a fancy looking steel frame. It's technically not an upcharge, but before you board you buy a drink/snack to take on the ride, and these are priced much higher than the rest of the park. I did it anyway since you get good views of the coasters at this end of the park, and quite a generous amount of time at the top, a good 5-10 mins. Attention Menhir ! I dont speak French but this was a good show. The preshow is at a campsite where Romans are plotting an assault on the Gauls village, you can see the shadows of the characters in the tents plotting. You then move into the main 4d show, which is a hilarious cartoony battle between the Romans and the Gauls, with plenty of giant rocks and arrows flying about in 3D. The show used a technique i have never seen before where actual lasers are projected onto the screen, so they could do stuff like stars flying when characters fight, or hypnotic rings around eyes when they were angry / ‘powering up’. L'Aventure Astérix Short walkthrough with some sculpts of the Asterix characters and some history about the creators. A highlight was a model of the park, with pointer showing which comics each attraction was based upon. Toutatis Top 10 ride here! The well themed station building sits under an earthy mound, decorated with carved standing stones. Inside the building, things look even cooler, with load area sitting in a dome shaped chamber, with light pulsating between the gaps between stones. At the front is a carved face of Toutatis, with eyes that glow with energy each time a train dispatches. The trains are very open and comfortable, with elevated seating and an overhead lap bar offering a great feeling of freedom. A short drop leads out of the station into the first launch in a well themed trench evoking memories of Taron , which offers a good kick of speed. Numerous overhead walkways provide great views for bystanders, as well as a few head choppers. All those coasters that have below ground sections in concrete trenches that resemble a dirty motorway underpass, take note! A turn to the right out of the launch leads into a unique take on a Zero G Stall. This one is more like a barrel roll that switches directions halfway through, providing a bit of hangtime. A wide turn and a dip down leads into a bunny hop that has been tilted to the left, a miniature version of the outward banked turn. It’s all very unique and sets the tone for the ride ahead. The train effortlessly turns onto the launch track, and it is here where things become wild. Normally multi pass swing launch coasters cop a bit of flak. After all, you are taking what was a 2-3 second period of extreme acceleration and dragging it out over a longer period and distance. Not necessarily that satisfying for those who want to be pinned against the backrest. Toutatis changes all this, with 2 short banks of LSMs in valleys, with an extended speed hill in between. Quick punches of acceleration and positive g’s alternate with negative g’s on the hill. It transforms the launch into something else akin to a bucking bronco, becoming wilder on each pass. This launch is also well themed, with giant logs forming head choppers The high speed track switch means there is no pause in the pacing, so on the backwards trip you are sent up a straight reverse spike, offering great views of the layout ahead and floating airtime. With the 3rd launch you are sent up over a top hat, cruise over the apex, before descending into a beyond vertical drop. Again, more airtime. A high speed turn leads into my personal favourite element, a Zero g stall. The sensation of travelling upside down, floating in your seat for close to 3 seconds will never get old. A long ground hugging u-turn has a “speed hump” halfway through the turn lifting you out of your seat. From here there is a bit of classic Intamin, with an ejector airtime hill, and a snappy S curve. Next comes a wave turn, with floating ‘sideways’ airtime combined with the sense of being pushed outwards off the track. Diving down of the wave turn is another low to the ground high speed turn that passes around the queue area, transitioning directly into a barrel roll that tries to dunk you out of the train with a statue underneath as a near miss, immediately leading into an overbanked turn. The ride finishes off with a double up. That last sequence is pretty rapid fire, so its quite an unhinged feeling finale. Operations on the ride are solid. A countdown screen in the station helps operators keep an eye on the time, and it was not uncommon to see trains loaded and checked in 30 seconds flat. Overall, it’s an incredible package of the ride. It offers all the sensations a coaster fan would love, it’s full of variety with not a single repeated element, it’s got the theming, it’s got the comfort and it’s got the operational efficiency. Closing thoughts, it's worth a whole day, and maybe even half more if you want to take in more of the park and do re-rides. Would highly recommend doing it with an express pass. The French really do have a great sense of humour, and it shows through here. And some of the in between themed areas are incredible actually. Would have liked more time to explore them, and perhaps eat at the giant fruit restaurant, or the circus restaurant... And a lot of the smaller attractions I'd totally come back and do since they seemed to have a bit of love in the theming department too, rather than merely being filler. More pics here https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/parc-asterix
  2. Linnanmaki 25th July 2022 https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/linnanmaki Linnanmaki is the #1 park in Finland, located just 2km north of the city center. And its for a good cause. The park is run by a not for profit and all proceeds support child welfare work. In fact, if you arrive in Helsinki via boat (I caught the night ferry from Stockholm) you can quite clearly see the skyline of the park in the distance. In particular, the skyloop really stands out, but you can see the white painted drop tower, and even the tophat for Taiga if you really squint to the left of the striped crane. Various tram lines serve the park from either side, so it’s easy to get to, but the park itself is located on a hill in the middle of a public park so there is a little bit of an uphill walk to the front gate. In terms of size, the park is about 250x250m, so it’s about ¼ the size of say DW, but has heaps of rides packed in. It's definitely an amusement park, though most of the kids rides have a circus sort of theme, and most of the bigger rides have vague themes/names based on Finnish mythology. Turns out I misjudged the entry time so was there an hour before rides actually started, so took the time to wander around the outside and get some photos. Linnanmaki offers wristbands for 45 EUR, or individual ride tickets at 10 EUR each or 45 EUR for a 6 pack. (So for most visitors you’d clearly get the wristband, I mean I did 16 separate rides, plus some re-rides so it’s easy to get your moneys worth) Tagia has a deal that if you use two ride tickets, you can skip the line. But if you already have a wristband, then a single additional ride ticket allows a skip. So later in the day I forked out 45 EUR for a 6 pack, reasoning that 7.5 EUR a pop was a good deal to get plenty of rides on a top roller coaster that I probably won't be back to ride for at least a decade or more. When the gates opened i made a quick beeline for Taiga. What to say? This has to be pretty close to the world's best launch coaster (Haven’t ridden Velocicoaster though) Such a varied layout, great pacing. Beats Maverick, beats Taron. From the station there’s a decent initial launch into a zero g winder, which is like this 90 turning corkscrew but it banks outwards at the top so heaps of hangtime. Then you pitch sideways into a big curved drop down a hill, and some snappy jet rescue style transitions between some turns, a good start which lines you up with the 2nd launch. Then it really kicks into gear, hitting 100km/h along a launch that dramatically crosses over a major pathway. Then into a great tophat with great views due to being at the edge of the hillside. Following that is a long zero g stall, quite unusual travelling upside down for so long but magically floating in place with the train. Floater soon becomes ejector as there is a tiny dip at the exit of the stall which doesn’t look like much in POVs but is as aggressive as some of the airtime on Skyrush. A 3rd inversion, an immelmann follows, before another big banked turn, a snappy transition then a helix above the station. A brief moment of respite as you do some s bends high in the air, but that all goes out the window with an aggressive dive back down the hill, that really catches you off guard. At full speed at the bottom of the hill is a bit of a wave turn giving some unexpected air. You finish off with a long drawn out corkscrew that dunks you out of your seat like the final inversion on ST, then you cruise around the final turn into the brakes. What an adventure. It’s a tangled mess like Taron so it’s hard to follow which way you are going to go. Switches between thrilling and outright furious, and the gentle moments in the course are set ups for quite aggressive moments. At the exit is a nice gift shop, positioned on the edge of the hill with some big windows I heard Salama can get long lines so i went there next. A custom Maurer spinning coaster. Had heard it was underwhelming but i thought it was fine. Had a suitably confusing layout, combining several high banked turns, quick drops and so forth. The track layout was good but it could have perhaps spun a bit more. Visually its not the prettiest thing since it was built above the existing rapids ride, so it has a lot of heavy supports spanning over the rapids below. The rest of the rides, in no particular order.... Tulireki Ugh, turns out Mack can occasionally have a stinker. This is like a wild mouse with banked turns and a helix, so it’s like Mack were trying to replicate a Gerstlauer bobsled. But it has the “e-motion” suspension system, which just makes it rough, and in particular at the bottom of the drop clunks down so you get a nice bit of spinal compression. One and done for me! Ukko A Maurer skyloop just like Buzzsaw / Project Zero. Do you need me to review this again? As a bonus as soon as I joined the queue they called for a single rider so I was in and out in 5 minutes. Apparently the name is the Finnish god of the sky and thunder, but then the theming was this hippy yellow submarine type deal which made no sense but looked fun. Kirnu These free spin / Zacspin coasters can be polarising, but if you have misgivings, this ride is the one for you and is nowhere near as intense. I think what helps is that its a lot shorter and the main curved drop is much more drawn out, so you get a fun flip, but not the repeated sensation of being thrown up and down and shoved back and forth. (Now i dont mind the full sized ones of these btw ) The feeling is really like being swept around on a top spin and doing a single flip. Made sure i got 2 rides, left facing foward and right facing backwards. I think forwards leaving the station is a little scarier because you cant see the first drop. Vuoristorata Your spine can get readjusted on Scenic Railway, but this thing is brilliant. It's a classic wooden side friction coaster with a brakemaster riding onboard. The layout is a fairly standard layout, an oval with a cross over in the middle so it makes a double figure 8. The airtime is variable depending on your brakemaster. On one lap i sat at the front and we must have been going a little too fast on the double down and i was well and truly chucked out of my seat. And its just a fixed lap bar so a momentary freak out when it happened. Was running 3 trains quite efficiently so I got a few rides. Linnunrata An indoor family coaster built inside an old water tower. The queue line reminded me of those 90s lasertag places or watching escape from Jupiter. But you were made to wait outside and rushed through this part, likely 'due to covid' The ride is one of those Zierer family coasters with a very long train (like this) and it had two lift hills, so was a reasonable little journey, and was quite dark for many parts so was actually not half bad! On the way were quite a few strobes, and big foam planets hanging from the ceiling, the usual space coaster stuff. Did a couple of laps because it was good. Panoraama Rotating observation cabin. Clean the windows please! Pikajuna A powered mine train type coaster, but if was a bit naff, a fairly basic layout with a couple of helices, though they did make the effort of making the station look like a giant train (So is it meant to be like the train is giving birth to a baby train, who knows?) Hurjakuru Under Salama is this rapids ride. Normally the top of the hill would be the last place you'd build a rapids, and what was even crazier is that the high point of the ride was at the lower side of the hill, which meant the end of the course was essentially in a huge ravine. Yeah it was ok, the foggy tunnel at the start with viking theming was probably the highlight, and i guess being in more of a deep gorge for the rest of the layout made it feel like more authentic rafting. Kingi Another moser drop tower, with rotating seats. These are a little weaker than the intamin counterparts because the brakes start so high up the tower, so you dont get as much freefall, and the braking is more drawn out and less forceful. The theming was great, this curtsey medieval look. The staff had no hustle so the wait felt longer than it should have. Kammokuja This was a spooky walkthrough, but you wore a special type of chromatic 3d glasses that would make all the blacklight murals appear to 'pop' off the walls. Hocus Pocus Hall at Chessignton was like this too. No actual scare actors, though a couple of basic animatronics would jump around when you walked past the trigger. Was ok. Kyöpelinvuoren hotelli This was a ghost train/haunted hotel, but it was a bit newer than the classic ones many parks hold together with duct tape. Given it was newer, the quality of the theming was a bit better, the lighting had more polish and it had some nicey animated projected screens too. A solid B+. Rinkelli A big ferris wheel, with great views of several of the coasters. Seemed very popular so a bit of a wait. Taikasirkus This is a family dark ride through a circus, so if you have clourophobia or globophobia steer well clear. The vehicles were little 2 person 'eggs' suspended from an overhead track, and these could rotate just like the disney omnimover, so you would face certain scenes. The scenes were all quite cute and well done, basic movements in the characters brought them to life. I got a giggle from the clown sweeping up elephant dung. Maisemajuna A mini monorail that does a lap around the park, so another good opportunity to take some photos. Overall, it’s an excellent park with a lot to hold your attention. I rode heaps and heaps but still only did less than half the lineup, so it represents excellent value for money. If you are in this part of the world Helsinki is a nice city, and Linnanmaki is worth the effort. No i didn't ride this. Also, I should give a special shout out to the food, they had a proper indian restaurant. And the taco place near Kingi was decent too. Almost 300 photos here: https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/linnanmaki
  3. So only 1 year after it build the stunning Taron (and Raik), Phantasialand already announced its next big thing: the world's first launched Flying coaster! What we know: - It will be the longest Flyer in the world, beating current record holder Flying Dinosaur (1,124m) - It will be located in the new Steampunk zone - It will feature a launch (duh.) What we do not know: - The manufacturer. Money's on Vekoma now, but B&M is not out of the equation too. - Opening year. 2018 is possible since they already started working on the new zone this year, but 2019 seems more likely. - The type of launch. Magnetic and tyre are the two most discussed options. - The layout and elements. Phantasialand keeps adding amazing stuff at a crazy pace!
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