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  1. Disney's Hollywood Studios https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/disneys-hollywood-studios (For more pics) Last but not least from my November trip. I ended up here on a couple of the days through park hopping. For the thrill seekers, the park probably has the best lineup at Walt Disney World. Plenty of new stuff to see here. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance An amazing attraction. I don't think there is much that comes close in terms of being a true start to finish immersive experience with a strong storyline. Haunted mansion is great for instance, but they still whack you on an escalator at the end of the ride for example. Big Thunder is pretty, but no story right? Harry Potter is a great ride, just make sure you stay looking straight ahead! But this, its so well thought out from start to finish. You begin in a reistance base, carved out in some caverns on the edge of the settlement, full of supplies and munitions. The first preshow tells you that you have to get off the planet since your current location is no longer safe. A cute BB-8 Animatronic whirls around in a concerned manner. You then head outside and board a transport ship. It's like a mild simulator ride, (not too strong since everyone is standing up), anyhow your craft is intercepted by the first order in a space battle, and you are dragged into the shuttle bay of a star destroyer. The doors open, and you are in a completely different location, the massive void of the shuttle bay! It's real wow moment, up there with that moment on POTC where you turn the corner into that huge battle. And you turn around and there your ship is, parked against the wall. From there you are taken into custody hustled down into holding cells and locked inside. Kylo Ren and General Hux try to interrogate you, but are distracted and wander off to deal with other issues. In that moment, some unseen allies come to your rescue, and burn a hole in the wall to bust you out. From here its into your next ride vehicle, a trackless transporter. From then on, the fun really starts. You start sneaking off through the corridors of the star destroyer, but within about the 30 seconds you are spotted by some storm troopers and they open fire. This is where the Disney magic really shines, with actual laser shots ricocheting around you, holes being blown in walls etc. From then on its several minutes of running for your life through different battle scenes. At one point you are darting around like mice under the legs of an AT-AT, at another point Kylo ren sticks a lightsaber through the roof and tries to cut you up. The only real downer was that on all my rides the last couple of scenes were running in B mode. None of the huge moving laser guns were working, so your vehicle sort of just moves back and forth erratically, seemingly dodging ghosts. The final scene had no Kylo Ren animatronic, so you just see him hovering outside in his spaceship before getting shot down, and you head to the escape pods without the rushing air effect of being sucked out into space. And then of course its a wild finale where your vehicle drives into a simulator pod meets freefall ride and evacuates out of the star destroyer, crash landing on the planet. What makes this cool is the unload area is actually outdoors, so the whole thing is wrapped up in a neat little package and you are back to where you started. Did this 3 times. Ah well, maybe when i return to one of the parks it'll all be going. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run I've done this back at Disneyland when the 'soft' opened their version of Galaxy's Edge and Rise wasn't ready yet, and then Covid happened and here I am finally seeing the rest of it in 2023. A huge recreation of the Milennium Falcon sits out front And you make your way through a well themed, but some what lifeless workshop themed queue. IMO they should have made it more like star tours with more things moving, though the soundtrack is quite humorous in this area if you listen in. And then after walking through a gangway, you board the faclon. On one ride, just before closing i had the most odd experience where I had an entire pod to myself. The ride is an on the rails shooter, with a bit of steering ability, and of course all your motion simulator fun, as you go off flying to steal some coaxium from another planet. A couple of of players shoot, a couple shoot and a couple do mostly nothing except hit one button at the right moment. So I got to take on the pilots position, with everything else being done on auto for you. Slinky Dog Dash Possibly the gentlest LSM launch in existence? The theming is quite fun, they have actually got this whole sub narrative that what you are riding on is a roller coaster kit owned by Andy, so the queue is scattered with spare bits of track and supports, as well as a lot of oversized toys. The first launch goes into a horseshoe turn and helix. Stops at the 2nd launch, which is themed a bit like a launcher on a hotwheels set. From there is a floater hill, a bunch of very mild bunny hops that would be right at home on a Japanese jet coaster, finished off with an S bend. When you are waiting on the brakes, squeaky penguin sings to you with his microphone, which was a nice surprise you dont see from the queue. This thing can get painful queues, but I tended to try and ride it later in the day and waited like 30-40 mins on both rides. Alien Swirling Saucers This is the same ride as Maters Junkyard Jamboree, several turntables interconnected so you move in a double figure 8 pattern, with some mechanism below the floor allowing your car to move from one turntable to the next. What is also cool is that your car is connected to the turntable by a springloaded tow bar, so your car drifts and swings wildly from side to side, not unlike the classic whip rides. Good fun. The "pizza planet" in the middle of the ride is a nice detail. Now why dont they have an ACTUAL pizza planet at Disney, it would be a license to print money Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy Fine for kids, but its Disney so its still decent. Imagine an animatronic Lighting mcqueen with a projection mapped eyes and mouth. Hey greets the crowd, moving about on his podium. He then demonstrates his speed, with a panoramic racing simulator on a giant screen behind. But his arch rival hacks in to try and beat him, but of course McQueen prevails. Tower of Terror Still excellent. As the prototype, this one actually has a section where your vehicle moves from one lift to another through a brief dark ride scene, with some cool optical illusions. Paris still wins out in terms of sheer intensity of the ride programme, and probably Tokyo has the best preshow. Rock n Roller Coaster Some embuggerance with this one, as it kept bloody breaking down. Surprisingly, one of my favourite things about this is how the whole loading area is themed. The preshow has you watching Aerosmith recording in their studio, and they invite you to join them at their concert via stretch limousine. When you step out the back door of the studio, you are in an alleyway, and your limousine is waiting in a multi level car park, but the theming is so immersive, eg the operators booth is inside the cashiers office, the secondary control panel is on the call box, there’s all sorts of other details like a motorbike being fixed, and even a low clearance height bar above the track where it leaves the station. The launch is powerful, and its a smooth, frantic layout full of positive gs, with a sea serpent roll, a lot of helices, and then a surprise corkscrew at the end. Mickey and Minnies Runaway Railway This one is fantastic. You head into the chinese theatre, ready to watch a short film featuring Mickey and Minnie on a road trip, (Hmm reminds me of how the gremlins ride started out). On the way, they meet goofy driving a train, and an explosion on the train in the cartoon creates a real explosion in the theatre, creating a smoking hole in the wall that leads to the cartoon realm. You are invited to pass through, and inside, everything is done in the art style of the cartoon, with scribbled details on the walls, 2d props etc. The ride vehicles are a train of trackless pods behind a locomotive driven by goofy. Shortly into the ride your cars become detached from the loco, spinning out of control through a number of projection mapped scenes, often taking different routes. On the way you keep encountering Mickey and Minnie in peril. One scene had you caught up in a tornado, with very strong winds. Another was in a big city, where a jackhammering worker causes everything to shake. An impressive moment is where a room has faux rockwork and looks like a jungle, but when you return to it, it has transformed into an underwater environment. There’s also a nice moment where you end up in a dance studio run by daisy duck, and all the vehicles waltz side to side in unison. But, the quality of the graphics was something else, it just looks so bright and crisp, like a blacklight painting come to life, and they have managed to incorporate other moving props into it seamlessly. Did this a couple of times. I ended up timing it to try a few of the food items at the park. The Totchos from Woody's Lunchbox are a big ole bowl of carbs. Chilli con carne with corn chips and potato gems. But i think the 'blandness' of the corn chips overpowers everything. And i was sure to have booked in a drink at Oga's Cantina. I was recommended to try a Fuzzy Tauntan, which was rum and a few other sour flavours, but the foam on top actually made your lips go numb, like as if it had Lignocaine in it or something. The other drink i had was like a juice blend with coloured boba balls floating in it. They had a theatre showing newer Mickey Mouse shorts. Since when did it become like Ren and Stimpy? Overall, I think the park has one of the best ride lineups at Disney, and a mixed bag in terms of Immersive theming. Star Wars and Toy Story are great, but the rest of it is generic city streets and backlot theming, with a fair bit of the latter being under renovation. *****************************
  2. SeaWorld San Diego 25/11/23 ( Quite a few photos here https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/seaworld-san-diego ) Sea World San Diego is a place I haven’t visited since about 2007, and back then the ride lineup then consisted of Journey to Atlantis, Shipwreck Rapids and a rubbish simulator named Wild Arctic. But now they have COASTERS™ (Though I missed Tidal Twister by a few months, the memory lives on at one of the press a penny machines) And I've always been intrigued by Manta…. A one day ticket doesn't come out cheap since you get hit with a high admission price and a full whack for parking, but tbh I didn't mind, it's a decently decent park. I started off one with I was low key excited for…Arctic Rescue. Aside from one of them, all of these Intamin straddle coasters are all pretty decent. And the one in San Diego has three launches. The station was shoehorned into a bit of the building that previously held the simulators, and they have just installed platforms etc straight in. Thought it looked a little rough. The trains totally aren't Jet Skis that have had little wheels added to make them look like snowmobiles. But the coaster, pretty good! It's not the outright intensity of Juvelen/Yukon Quad, its perhaps more on par with Namazu, but still enjoyable quick transitions and pops of airtime...Imagine a longer version of Jet Rescue with a few more elevated hills. There is some Arctic base theming scattered around the ride, like a helicopter, a few dome roofed buildings, rocks, and patches of grey and white gravel on the ground to give the impression of snow. The ride itself is all in its own compound so non riders basically can't watch it. I got the following pics from the skytower and from out the opening of the load station. Nearby is Emperor , a B&M Dive Coaster. There's really no theming to speak of on here. Just truckloads of gravel under the ride, and even things like the pathway fences and the station platform look like it was all just 'hardware store' type construction rather than something themed around diving penguins. They were only running a single 18 person train too. But with the bad out of the way lets get to the good. It's a solid layout up there with the best, and seems a lot more inversion focused than the other ones, and no slow points breaking up the ride...3 inversions, almost 4 actually. The vertical first drop leads into your standard Immelmann, then a tall overbanked turn that borderlines on a cutback. From there is an unusual element that is sort of like a roll meets incline loop. The closest comparison I can think of is the knot element on Flug der Damonen. From there its one last corkscrew and into the brakes. Action packed from start to finish, with that tall first drop with the holding break providing enough intimidation factor. The park also has Electric Eel...Another Premier Skyrocket. You can go read my Busch Gardens trip report for my thoughts on this. Great coaster, and at least this one had some effort put into the presentation. It was on the way to I took a ride on Sky Tower. These things never seem to be open at the SeaWorld parks, and they charge extra for some reason🤑. It was a good overlook over the park, but who thought it was a good idea to put contravision film on the windows. It was like being on a bus, and it meant your photos come out really murky (and it disrupts the view in general), kind of defeating the purpose. And finally Manta. You can tell this was more of an old school Busch attraction, because the theming was very detailed, and a lot of effort was put into the landscaping, with a large area of the ride actually sunken into the ground. The coaster more or less plays out like the middle bit of DC Rivals, with small hills, quick twists and helices, so firmly a family thrill coaster. The first launch is interesting. The ride pulls out of the station into a darkened room, with a tube of scrim surrounding the track, with projections of manta rays swimming around and dramatic music. The train actually rolls back and forth a couple of meters each way a few times, in sync with the screens, creating a sort of sensation that ocean currents are moving you about. Doors open, and it actually accelerates with a bit of a jerk down the first launch. The first bit of the ride dives and weaves around the queue area, with a good head chopper under the bridge too. At this point, I dont think Mack had perfected the rolling launch, so halfway through the ride you slow for a MCBR, only to get launched back to full speed again, which certainly felt awkward. The final half had more twists and hills, and was out in the open, surrounded by the flamingo exhibit. The other ride I was interested in was Bayside Skyride , another upcharge. This one actually just runs outside of the park, giving you views of the marina and Fiesta Island. Most of the other rides are for kids, and they are all pretty cute, though how many rides need to have "rescue" in the name lol? In particular I thought the teacups looked pretty well done. And a Jellyfish themed wave swinger! It seems so obvious yet nobody has done one before to my knowledge. I did check out some of the animal exhibits too, and they are well done, but didn't devote a whole lot of time to them given I had other plans for the evening I was there. As is it was, doing a couple of laps on each coaster took me through to late afternoon. In particular I liked the Sea Turtles. And I thought the entrance area was well done too with elaborate giant coral structures, and touch pools. But what is wild is that literally in the past few weeks they have demolished all that, even though it only went in a few years ago! (Reddit) Overall thoughts on the park, still pretty good, but I think the two newest coasters could have had more effort put into the presentation. The ride lineup is well balanced, maybe a dark ride. I'd also say they should round out the kids area with a proper kids coaster, but in park they were heavily promoting Sesame Place, so it seems like they are encouraging families with young kids to go there for that. Put this park on your Californian itinerary if you like launch coasters or want to try a dive coaster!
  3. Busch Gardens Tampa - 12/11/23 https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/busch-gardens-tampa (Plenty of photos) 3rd time back to this park, which remains one of the best rounded in the US, with pretty decent theming, impressive coasters and a good collection of Animal exhibits too. Perhaps the one thing that has gone backwards is the operations. Previously Busch parks were usually pretty rock solid with operations, but this time around you'd encounter one train ops and sluggish speeds which kind of surprised me! Arriving at the Moroccan themed entrance: Its right there next to the entrance, so of course I started off with Iron Gwazi Wow, what to say, this ride is crazy. More intense than my previous favourite, Hakugei, but IMO more imaginative than Steel Vengeance. Pretty wild how they have made a hypercoaster out of what was once a pair of 28m high dueling coasters, and it almost looks bodgy how they have added extra steel tubes to hold up the ride. Once the muck around of the loading is done, a steel drop and turn out of the station leads to the huge lift. The first drop is out of control, being slightly steeper than vertical, a true freefall. From there you come up and up onto a huge outward banked hill, down and around an up to another apex, followed by a roll that spirals towards the ground. The pace continues with a quick flick into an overbanked turn, and then an element I wasn't really aware of, a drawn wave turn that crosses over the front of the station. The rest of the ride is a bit lower (relatively), banking and dipping around, really throwing you out of your seat. Frequently you look at the messed up looking track ahead and wonder how on earth the train is going to get through it with the speed it is carrying, but somehow does. The finale really shines, with a zero g stall, and then an airtime hill where it has double humps at the top, perhaps the most agressive airtime in the ride. A couple of turns later and you hit the brakes with plenty of speed. So there you have it, its neck and neck between this and Velocicoaster. Continuing around the park, I grabbed a ride on Tigris, another one of those Premier SkyRocket coasters. Turns out I've been on half of the ones operating worldwide, Ill recycle my review from the one at Sarkanniemi: A punchy launch, really fast vertical twist, good pop of airtime as you transition at the top, then a fun heartline roll. The 2nd half rapidly picks up speed as you dive down again, with more air in the non inverted loop. So despite looking quite simplistic from the outside, it's quite forceful and varied. I disagree that it is anything like Buzzsaw. Continuing around, it was time for Falcons Fury Along with Ikaros, would be my favourite dark ride. There's nothing like being slowly rotated to face the ground, and then freefalling, seeing it rush up towards you. It was telling though that it was virtually a walk on all day. They probably overbuilt the thing, with capacity for 32 people, so would take time to actually get enough passengers to cycle it. I had hoped to ride the new Serengeti Flyer, but every time I went by it was closed, and I don't recall seeing it operate all day. The other new coaster I had to ride was Cobras Curse, a unique Mack Spinning coaster with short little 2 car trains where everyone faces the same way. Also had a nifty conveyor belt loading system (Wouldn't it be great if Scooby got this!) The queue goes through a well themed queue with an archeological exploration theme. The ride has a vertical lift like scooby in front of a giant cobra statue, with some cringe audio, but what was interesting was they figured out a way to keep the platform level as it ascends (though it does shake a bit as a result). It's a ride of 3 parts. The first third is forwards with a first drop and couple of quick turns. The next third is backwards around a couple of helices, and the final 3rd has actual spinning, through 3 horseshoe turns in a row. I think it must have the energy efficiency of a brick though, its a large drop, but it seems to run out of momentum after a few turns. There's a 2nd lift to give it a bit more height, but even after that its slowing down by the end. The ride does look great, and integrates well with the theming, but perhaps a bit mid overall. By that point I was just about around the park so it was time for a few re-rides on some old favourites, starting with Montu Get out there and ride some of these older B&Ms, they really keep their pace up, and alternate between hard pulling inversion and hard pulling turns. Montu is extra interesting, with a few elements sunk into trenches, themed like Egyptian ruins. Cheetah Hunt So it wasn't until it was pointed out to me that the first element is supposed to be like a giant tree that a cheetah is jumping in and out of. I think maybe at the early stages it was meant to be an actual themed tree, but of course the reality of budgets means it is what it is. A decent launch coaster, but perhaps a bit more drawn out and less intense than the others, since a lot of the ride is this big long run with shallow drops in and out of trenches, though there is a slalom, barrell roll and airtime hill towards the back of the layout that amp it up a bit.. I think the likes of Taiga, Toutatis, and even our Superman Escape eclipse it. SheiKra Was my favourite in the park last time, and probably still is, with its huge scale, hang time through the elements, and just the sense of fun with such a large group of riders screaming together in the front row, with kids on the ground being soaked by the water splash. Kumba Still holds up, with its non stop elements perfectly sequenced to flow into each other, and runs pretty well still. Scorpion Another ride type you should get out and see while you can are these old schwarzkopf looping coasters. They were ahead of their time, with fun well designed layout and lots of intensity. Always wondered why Arrow sold more rides than these guys. There are plenty of bad arrows, but no bad Schwarzkopfs. Serengeti Express Train One thing I have never done until now. It's quite a long ride, and the only way to really see the animals on the open range section up close (Rhino Rally is long gone, and I wasn't gonna fork out for one of the safari tour feeding experiences) As the day wound to a close I checked out a few of the Animal exhibits, wish I had allowed more time for them, since they are genuinely excellent, and typically slightly off the main paths which makes them a quiet escape. And a couple of night rides on Iron Gwazi, fully warmed up. Wahooo! And a few more photos....
  4. Universals Islands of Adventure https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/islands-of-adventure (For all the pics) Ah, nice to be back at one of my favourite parks. Well themed, good mix of dark rides, water rides and thrills, and pretty well considered in terms of having plenty of things for kids scattered throughout. I've been here before, so less urgency to see everything (I skipped over the water rides), that will make this trip report a bit shorter. For those unfamilar with the park, it has a few themed lands: Port of Entry. The "main street" of the park, with a bit of exotic explorers theme, with plenty of gags. Marvel Super Hero Island: Built before the whole MCU thing / Disney, its a real animated looking area with oversized cutouts and stylised buildings. And because of the terms of the licensing agreement, Disney cant use these characters in their parks lol. Toon Lagoon: Errr, more comics I guess, but these are the ones you'd see in newspapers, like the Phantom, Popeye (But no Garfield or Peanuts it seems!) Jurrassic Park, needs no introduction, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Islands of Adventure was a good park, but just didn't get the attendances it needed. Potter turned all this around. Lost Continent. The only non IP zone in the park, but part of it was swallowed up by Potter, and the two attractions it DID have are now closed. Hopefully this gets redeveloped. Seuss Landing. The most kid friendly area of the park, wonky and full of colour. But lets cut to the chase, everyone probably wants to know about Jurrasic World Velocicoaster Yep it lives up to the hype, a highly themed, properly intense launch coaster from Intamin that is just a polished experience from start to finish. The story goes that in their quest to further thrill guests, Jurrasic World have decided to build a roller coaster in a raptor pen, where you can see them up close. The queue is well themed, a highlight being the medical room where a couple of raptors are in a crush getting their daily check up, and the room actually smells like antiseptic. There's also windows onto the launch track, with transparent screens showing raptors chasing each launching train. Just before the station you have to put your stuff in a locker, activated with your park ticket (and if your ticket is on your phone, they give you a card with a barcode to use instead. The final bit of the preshow is hilarious, with Owen the raptor trainer ranting about how the whole concept of a coaster in a raptor pen is a terrible idea and you should all leave, and Claire the manager saying it will all be fine and perfectly safe. There's a separate queue for the front row in the station, with not too much extra wait due to the speed they dispatch, so its worth doing once or twice. My tip, front right is the best seat, because on a few of the elements that side seems to get banked up more. As for the coaster. Before the launch is section with raptor pens either side of you, with screens showing them thrashing around inside, bumping the cage walls etc and workers keeping them at bay with cattle prods. A good launch leads into an Immelmann with strong airtime at the top (think DC rivals loop), dive down steeply into a rocky tunnel (and the rockwork on this ride is really good, with sharp spiky bits that you feel like you're going to hit. Next comes a dive loop, followed by a bunch of quick twisted turns, transitions, and a couple of airtime hills all crammed in. You are constantly rising and falling and avoiding rocks, so there's a real element of surprise as you work through this section. There are a few raptor statues perched on the rocks, but they sort of blend in, so you really have to look for them. Eventually you hit the 2nd launch, which really spices things up. A top hat with ejector leads to a steep drop, a high speed S bend at ground level, and then a very long zero g stall which has you hanging upside down for a few seconds. Next comes a 720 degree helix, but the 'helix' is interruped with elements, so theres this fake out reversed banked turn, then a wave turn (imagine a sideways airtime hill) And then for the wild finale, a speed hill over a lake, followed by the "mosasaurus roll", which is like a more agressive version of the roll on ST, really dunking you down and throwing you to the side, so you cant help but grab the bar. A quick couple of turns and you hit the brakes. I think the name of the element is a gimmick though. I get the feeling the intent was that there was supposed to be a jaws style animatronic jumping out of the water when the train goes past. They totally should do that. Pretty awesome overall, the two halves have their own character. Fast transitions and confusion on the first half, big grand elements on the 2nd half. Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure A real 1-2 punch with the park having this as well. Imagine the fun of Jet Rescue spread out over 1.5km of track. The park is onto a winner, with it consistently having a a posted wait of 60-90 mins. Again though they tend to overstate, i saw a wait of 70 min but it was more like 45. The first bit of the queue is themed well too, full of magical creature classroom stuff. By magic they have duplicated flying motorbikes for everyone to join hagrid on for a lesson on magical creatures in the forbidden forest. The final room in the queue I thought was clever, Imagine standing under a deck, with people riding motorbikes and doing doughies above you. They used some form of projection to simulate this. Ocassionally too you'd see silhouettes other creatures like giant spiders appearing to walk above you. Loading is done by a moving conveyor, so this ride really does have huge capacity, its just that demand is high too because its a good ride. The first bit has a short launch then a drop down then a bigger launch, and a few quick turns at ground level. Eventually the track enters hagrid's hut, when a blast ended skrewt (imagine a giant double ended scoption shooting fire out of its ass) shoots smoke at you. With that you launch again, up into an airtime hill through a castle ruin, down a curved drop into a tunnel, more ground level turns, another launch, and even more turns. Already at this point the coaster part has been pretty substantial but there is more to come. The track continues into a short foggy tunnel through a rocky outcrop, with a crashed car on it, surrounded by cornish pixies. Well they have designed the sightlines well here, because the shape of the outcrop is good enough to disguise a vertical reverse stall, like a little baby tower of terror. Obviously you get to go up higher in the front seat, but i never got that sadly. You travel backwards, with a high speed track switch sending you up into a helix, and by the time you have had a moment to process all that you have reversed into a show building. In the show building, the walls and ceiling appear to be writhing with devils snare vines all around you. Great concept, but you can see the shed roof and trees ''cutting off" at the ceiling line quite clearly here, which undoes some of the immersion despite the money they would have spent. But a couple of seconds later, the whole track drops a few meters (Much like Thirteen at Alton or Namazu at Vulcania), and you exit the darkness into the open air. Then one last launch, the most powerful of all. The coolest feature is a trail of light and smoke along the side of the launch, giving the impression of rocket fuel (or in this case "dragons breath" giving you the power needed to accelerate. A couple of final high speed turns and you hit the brakes, and join a conga line of 3 or 4 trains rolling into the unload station, also with a conveyor belt. Overall this ride is excellent. Good level of intensity on the coaster bit, and the way it hides both the reverse stall and the drop tracks as suprises on the way, integrated seamlessly into the pacing works really well. The level of theming is high for the most part, aside from perhaps the indoor show building (from the outside it looks like a shed too, guess it needs more trees to cover it?) As a final note, I saw perhaps the most chaotic good, but non condonable behaviour ever at a park. On one of my rides i was in the singles queue, but it was moving slow. You get most people in even groups, which can make this line crawl. A group of people ahead of me decided to cut into the main queue sneakily. I was thinking they were just line jumping, but of course, I was not going to cause a scene and complain. But, the plot twist came when they were at the front. When the grouper asked them how many, each of them said one, one, one, one. Net result, was that 8 people got cleared from the singles queue in the space of a minute lol. Skull Island: Reing of Kong This is the only other 'new' ride for me was this. It's an immersive tunnel attraction, or rather a few of immersive tunnels in sequence. You ride in a tour bus that stops in long cylindrical rooms with screens either side. There's also a motion base, so at each of these points stuff happens on screen, before you drive off into the next. The studio tour at Hollywood has an abridged version of this (Where the tour shuttle will drive into a building shake table with screens either side) The queue is well themed, through a dark temple. A highlight is this giant worm in a glass cabinet moving about, a taste of all the other mutant things you'll see on Skull Island. You board your tour bus and from there set out on your jungle expedition. The next few minutes can be described as various battles and attacks from giant creatures, with a liberal amount of water being squirted at you every time something gets decapitated or shot, ugh. Overall, decent I thought, but I think the limitations of the bigger vehicles and the longer time spent at each screen makes it feel a bit less frantic than other screen based dark rides like Spiderman or Transformers. Incredible Hulk Coaster Tell a lie, technically this is 'new' since they replaced all the track since I last visited. The queue has been totally refreshed and looks great, with lots of neon scientific equipment, too bad you cant take pics, since the lockers are before you enter the queue, so no phones. Onboard, the launch tunnel has been fitted out with LED screens, showing energy pulsating around the train before you launch. Forgot how darn intense this ride is, with positive G forces that dont let up, and huge elements. And of course that zero g roll straight out of the launch tunnel is a great start to the ride. Cat in the Hat A bit of a sleeper hit. This ride goes through the story of Cat in the Hat, with the words being recited, with each scene being an animated version of a page of the book. A real delight actually. **** A note on food. I had the "Green eggs and ham". Basically potato gems, with scrambled eggs (with chives to make it green) and diced ham and some cheese. Actually a filling breakfast option. Amazing Adventures of Spiderman Always a favourite, and now in 4K (I've done the 4K version in Japan, good to experience it in English) Still holds up well, and the re animated sections have more background gags to spot. Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey A great ride from a physical standpoint, after all, being flung around on a robotic arm whilst following a track is real technical achievement. But since then, the newer Harry Potter rides have done a bit better in terms of storytelling, leaving this one feeling a bit chaotic. I guess you cant blame them, this was the first HP ride ever built, so it seemed like they were trying to fit as many things in there as possible. Quiddich? Dragons? Dementors? Still a great ride, just wish more parks would do them, and with more themes (At this point, I think its only WB World Abu Dhabi that has done one) **** These days you can now get 'warm butter beer' in the area, but I thought it tasted like white hot chocolate mostly. I had a laugh that Heathcliff was mentioned....Heathcliff comics are absurd: And thats IOA for another decade likey.
  5. Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/magic-kingdom I actually kicked off my 3 days at WDW at Magic Kingdom. Plenty of new stuff to see. Things are a bit more high tech at Disney these days, you can load your ticket into google wallet and tap in at the entrances, entering Lightning Lanes (the new name for fast pass) , and the app is pretty comprehensive in terms of being able to check wait times and order food, and credit to them this aspect is all very tight. The more recent points of contention is Genie Plus and Lightning Lanes and Boarding Groups for certain attractions. Basically, fast pass is no longer free, that's an extra cost to use per day, and the service is branded through the app "Genie Plus" I did without it on 2 of my 3 days since crowds seemed light enough and I could game single rider a bit. I swear though they inflate wait times to encourage people to use it. On certain rides you can also pay to skip the line on a one shot basis and enter via the Lighting Lane, and well, I ended up doing this for Tron and 7 Dwarves mine train, more on them later. And finally, boarding groups. At the time of my visit, due to their newness and popularity, Tron and Guardians (At EPCOT) both require you to go into a ballot for a time to board the ride. They do one drop at 7am, and another at 1pm. It does make it a little stressful because who wants to come all that way to ride the new stuff and have it come down to luck. Personally I think they should still offer standby. If someone wants to wait 2-3 hours to ride the new thing, more power to em! I did witness a couple of people at the entrance who were not familiar with the system a bit annoyed about being unable to ride and the complexity of it. But it turned out not to be a worry. If you are on the app at 7am and refresh as soon as the clock ticks over, you can pretty easily end up with a timeslot to ride in the morning. Despite this, I still also bought a one shot lighting lane for tron just because I wanted a guaranteed re-ride. I rocked up early: I had a plan to rope drop Seven Dwarves Mine Train, but it was broken down so I started on Goofys Barnstormer Standard vekoma roller skater but the theming is really really well done. In fact, I had never ventured into the whole circus area before, but I loved it. Under the Sea - Journey of The Little Mermaid Also new to me. An omnimover dark ride with some really detailed theming right from the start. The beginning is pretty cool, with Scuttle the seagull trying to explain Airels story in a confused manner, before your ride vehicle goes downhill and 'under the sea', with projectors used on the walls to create a sense of dropping below the waterline. The ride is fun and colourful, with a huge scene of fishes dancing to "Under the Sea". The ride kind of skips over the whole epic battle with Ursula and just has Ariel transitioning to human and getting married to Prince Eric. Very well done, and I can imagine kids would find it magical. A certain foodstuff I had wanted to try was LeFous brew from Gastons Tavern. It's basically frozen apple juice, topped with passionfruit foam, which was the most tart thing ever, it was like straight passionfruit cordial mixed with wizzfiz or something. With some time to kill until my TRON timeslot I reacquainted myself with Space Mountain. I still reckon the HK/DL/DLP versions are better, just lacks something without the music IMHO. The layout is a little tighter on the MK version and feels like a wild mouse. The exit route has way more theming than my last visit, with various cheesy displays of futurism. Finally it was time for TRON Lightcycle Run. The scale of this ride is enormous, with a huge canopy and broad elevated walkways leading to the entrance, with trains thundering overhead regularly. Once you get inside its a whole bunch of black corridors with neons and backlit graphics. The coolest feature however is a little preshow room with switchable glass with a projection. After a bit of fluff about being "scanned into the world of Tron", the glass turns transparent, revealing the trains launching below and some seriously cool looking theming. The double sided locker system works well, and has hundreds of bays. The trains have you hunkering down a lot more compared to your average straddle coaster, it's practically like being on a flying coaster. Some people have commented the ride is 'short' but its 1km long. I think what happens is people mentally dont count the outdoor section, and focus only on the indoor part. The indoor part is pretty cool, with you racing through glowing checkpoints, plus the occasional wall projection of other lightcycles racing against you. One thing that sets it apart from other indoor coasters is the turns are a lot larger and more sweeping. It's not like they have tried to cram a spaghetti of track into a box, its more like a full sized launch coaster that happens to be in a building. Impressive ride! No sign of Seven Dwarves being open on the app so I decided to try a few other tomorrowland attractions I've never done. First Astro Orbiter, which offers some great elevated views over the land. Then Peoplemover, which also offers moderately elevated views, interspersed with a few little dark ride scenes with a bit of a silly space age feel to them all. I had never done Carousel of Progress so gave this one a spin too. It's a rotating theatre, and during the show you stop in front of animatronic dioramas of a family in the 1900s, the 1920s, 1940s and so on, with the patriarch of the family talking all about all the latest and greatest developments in the world, eg the 1920s talked about how you could travel coast to coast by train, and how Babe Ruth was hitting home runs, and how their house now had brand new electric lights. And then you get to the 2000s bit and it was like 1990s mixed with back to the future. At that point it was time for my paid re-ride on Tron. First ride was in the back, so I took the front this time (It's never a long wait to request a front seat at Disney I find) Back is better if you want to see all the projections on the wall and more of the theming, but front is better if you want to stick your hands out and pretend to fly and feel the wind. What other new stuff was there for me to see. Never had done Country Bear Jamboree so that was a must. Loved this detail on the floor of the foyer. The show takes the piss out of rednecks, with the bears in the show singing drunkenly, having buck teeth, and even alluding to dressing in morally questionable (For the 1900s) mannee. Entertaining, I imagine the local audience would probably get more out of the stereotypes. When It came time to ride Big Thunder Mountain it started raining heavily. Fortunately the queue is all undercover, and they have added various themed interactive things in the queue, like Zeotropes, and fresh air monitors with displeased canaires inside. And yeah, Big Thunder running in the wet rocks! Swung by the conversion of Splash Mountain into Tianas Bayou Adventure. Enchanted Tiki Room was up next (Geez Im having a passive day!), a colourful animatronic show with four main singing birds, each with a stereotypical accent (French, German, Spanish, Irish), plus hordes of other birds that are lowered up and down from the ceiling for duets and choral sets. Its funny how times change, at the time it opened people were mesmerised by singing birds, but I guess today it feels like a room full of those novelty singing birds you get a tobacconist/gift shop. The sets are beautiful though, and the actual lyrics and storyline are entertaining. Swiss Family Treehouse is always worth a stroll through. And I couldn't pass up a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean, still the benchmark in terms of being the most immersive classic Disney ride IMHO. At this point, Seven Dwarves was still not open, and they had even put out a push notification to everyone apologising for the extended downtime. Another food I wanted to try was in Adventureland, Cheeseburger and Pizza Spring rolls (You get one of each). Still wish our parks had more gimmicky snacks like this on rotation. A total surprise to me was discovering they had a Christmas overlay of Jungle Cruise called Jingle Cruise. Most of the fun of it seems to come in the form of extra christmas theming in the queue with a tropical twist. During the ride itself, the jokes are just as corny, but of course with Christmas related puns. Further Christmas decorations on the way too At that point in the day I realised there was one other attraction on my hit list I had wanted to check out, Enchanted Tales with Belle. I was thinking it was more of a walkthrough, and it has a little bit of that, but by and large its a kids meet n greet that has a fancy beginning and some cool animatronics. The main thing I wanted to see was the magic mirror effect they have, which appears to magically grow larger on the wall in front of you and open up to reveal a direct portal into the Beauty and the Beast castle that you walk through. It's a pretty cool trick how they achieve it, and there are YT videos showing how they do it, so I wont spoil it. Surprised this hasn't been used on other attractions. Once you get inside they have a talking wardrobe, and most impresive, lumiere the candle, with actual moving flames on his 'arms', which fully move and gesture as he talks. But yeah other than that they get the kids up front and give them cardboard cut outs to 'act out' a scene from Beauty and the Beast, and then Belle turns up and meets the kids, so yeah not really worth it unless you have young kids. But, finally, Seven Dwarves Mine Train opened...And I was still stuck in this thing! The wait times were already building up, so I bit the bullet and paid for another lighting lane to get on it. Good Thing I did when I arrived at the entrance, the standby wait time had blown out past 90 mins, and even the lightning lane entrance was backed up. This ride has intrigued me since it has swinging cars just like Orphan Rocker at Scenic World, so it was good to get a glimpse at what it would have been like. Actually great fun, and the theming is really detailed, particularly halfway through where you go into the gem mine and all the dwarves are singing 'hi ho hi ho its off to work we go', with full projection mapped faces on each one of them, and lighting effects from all the glowing gems. The cars do actually get a a decent swing going 2 or 3 times during the run. I was expecting Disneyfied toned down intensity, but nah this was good! And I think that's all I did. I was still a bit jetlagged so felt there was a high risk of falling asleep If i did something like Small World, so park hopped to somewhere a little more energetic..... Did you know the streak down the middle of the street Liberty Square is meant to represent raw sewage of the olden days.
  6. So, these popped up on RCDB at the start of the month All designed by a guy named Grant Telfer, who apparently also designed the human-powered coaster at Green Valley Farm. RCDB suggests there's one still operating in Keith SA, and one SBNO in Murray Bridge. Anyone know anything more about these?
  7. Here are a few more galleries from my visit to France earlier in the year. I’m heading away again on Friday so I’ll have a bit of time in transit to write some trip reports to go with all these. Walibi Belgium https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/walibi-belgium Went here last minute towards the end of my trip as a day trip via high speed train from Paris to Brussels. Actually a good park. Konda is 10/10 and feels like a spiritual successor to DC rivals. The Mack powersplash Pulsar is legitimately good. And their bobsled Tiki Waka had great theming that reminded me of crash bandicoots style. Walibi Rhone Alpes https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/walibi-rhone-alpes Biggest little park in the world, and a really attractive place. Has a good variety of attractions, the difference is everything is scaled down a bit, but still a lot of fun, particularly Mystic and Timber. Remains to be seen if their new Intamin hot racer is smoother than Big Dipper Parc Spirou https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/parc-spirou-provence Not a big park, and lacking in shade. Main thing I wanted to ride is their rollerball coaster, which is like a non flipping version of a zac spin. It broke down after I rode it, so the visit wasn’t wasted. Also had a few simulators, which did have quite funny films. The level of finish didn’t quite match other parks, it felt like a lot of it was slapped together from bunnings (or whatever the French equivalent is) Vulcania https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/vulcania Science museum with a roller coaster really. The quad bike coaster Namazu is quite good, maybe slightly less intense than Jet Rescue, and nicely integrated into the hilly landscape, plus a well themed drop track. Got to go behind the scenes The rest of the park has doco films on big screens, simulators of varying quality, plus a decent trackless dark ride about cultures that worship volcanoes. Wave Island https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/wave-island A quick hit here since it was across the road from Parc Spirou. Has a lot of stuff from Polin. Enormous freefall slides, an 8 lane racer, and a few raft slides (3 of which used master blaster sections) The feel was kind of this beach shack feel, and in this case the ‘slapped together’ style kinda worked and made it feel really laid back. Futuroscope https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/futuroscope Frances answer to Epcot, but the pavilions look cooler from the outside. The park opened with a number of screen based attractions in a quantity that would make Universal blush. Many of these have been switched out over the years, so many buildings are empty. The Intamin spinner Objectif mars looked visually sharp, but the ride experience was middle of the road and the dark ride section didn’t gel for me. On the other hand, Chasseurs du Tornades is the best simulator ive done, with a huge rotating platform in the eye of the storm, with heaps of wind and fog. The rabbids dark ride was LOL worthy, other things like the Robocoaster and flying theatre were solid too. More to come…..
  8. Genting Skyworlds - 16 April 2023 https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/genting-skyworlds I went to Malaysia for a couple of weeks in April and had the opportunity to visit Genting Skyworlds, a park which finally opened back in Feb 2022 after countless delays. This park was originally going to be Fox Studios World until Disney bought Fox. Coupled with the park continually missing deadlines, it was all fuel on a fire, causingthat licensing deal being dropped. Eventually the park opened, with some of the themes scrubbed out, but it still has plenty of other IPs like Ice Age, Night at the Museum, Planet of the Apes etc. Genting Group are also the ones who run Resorts World Sentosa and Universal Singapore, so in a way this feels like the long lost brother of Universal Singapore. It’s a compact, yet highly themed park, with a good mix of dark rides and flat rides, though only 2 of the 4 coasters are operating due to Dynamic Attractions basically running out of money to finish them (though to be fair, one of them has been testing and reportedly wont take as much to finish). (see https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinereid/2023/03/22/leading-disney-ride-manufacturer-puts-itself-up-for-sale/ ) The huge orange SFX coaster still has half the track sitting in a lot behind the park you can see when riding Acorn Adventure. The whole Genting Highlands complex is immense. Imagine you took somewhere like Mt Tamborine or Katoomba up in the rainforest, and just chucked in huge high rise developments, malls etc at the top of the mountain. Locals love it because its a bit cooler and less humid at that elevation Theres also a temple you can stop at on the Skyway for free, which had bizzare business going on. Getting to the park is easy enough. You can get a coach for like $5 AUD up from KL Sentral Station. This coach takes about 90 mins and drops you at the Awana Bus Station up at Genting, and from there you catch a cableway up to the top, where there is a huge mall, casino and hotel complex, and of course the park. Theres a whole indoor park inside the mall too with a Zamperla Volare (More on that later) and some other touristy stuff like VR attractions, a Ripleys etc. It’s quite cool coming in and seeing the whole park below you. The entrance is well done, and they do a nice little 5 min dance routine as an opening ceremony. With the app you are entitled to 3 Virtual Queue booking, no paid option as of yet. You pick from the available time slots and come back at that time, which is nice bit of flexibility since you dont have to rush back to whatever the first slot availble is. Started off on Samba Gliders since I figured it would be low capacity. A continuous belt loading system in the station helps, but there still were a few stoppages. Ended up with a backwards facing ride. Nice and nippy, especially after a bigger drop halfway through which leads into a highly banked helix. Though this was better than Canopy Flyer at USS. Next up i headed to Ice Age Expedition Thin Ice, a trackless “Hockey Puck” dark ride just like the Antarctica one at SW Orlando (Which I followed being built, but never got to ride) Impressively, the whole ride is underground below the main park level (or IDK i think the park is basically just one huge elevated slab) so you head down into a cave to reach ride level. The theming in the queue ranges between “awesome” and “why did they bother”, but the ride is good fun. The story centers around Syd losing track of the kids at his summer camp, and you having to go around and round them up, and of course in the process getting caught in dangerous situations like an eruption, avalanche etc. A few ride vehicles are sent out at once, and they follow and interact with each other in each scene, and then all typically stop in front of a big screen where the action happens. A great family ride. I had snagged an early VQ slot for Acorn Adventure so headed to that. The story centers around scrat trying to find his acorn, so you see him throughout the ride chasing after it. This is my first experience with a chinese built coaster, and it actually was quite good! Was seated in the back, and the best way to describe the ride is that it picks up speed but the turns dont get any bigger, so by the end you are just hauling through the turns and transitions. It’s a bit like the ending of Phantoms Revenge where the train feels like its going a bit too fast for the layout. And the theming is top noch too, like this full sized 3d dino trapped in ice. My next priority was Invasion of Planet of the Apes, another trackless dark ride using exactly the same hardware as Acorn adventure, though this one has you wearing 3D glasses. The queue had a bit of a post apocalypic theme. You are led into a preshow where you discover a virus has wiped out most of humanity, but made the apes super intelligent, and now everyone is at war. You are a friend of the apes and need to find one of them before the anti ape league does. The ride vehicles move really well and do shake you around a bit, which was quite cool. The first part has you scooting around inside a warehouse as various teams of soliders try to shoot at you. 3D wasn’t always synced well with the vehicles, so you'd see some weird stretching of the graphics since the vehicle wasnt quite programmed to be at the correct vantage point. SFX were ok, but there was one bit that seemed a bit crap where it was just static soldier mannequin props shooting at you from behind a plastic curtain with flashing lights. Did i mention the ride is set in San Francisco, so there is an unintentionally hilarious sequence where you smash out of the warehouse and your ride vehicle is then running downhill along a stereotypical SF street. And of course you are being shot at by some bad guys in cable car tram, also skidding downhill. Felt like something out of an 80s cop show lol. Not too far away is Night at the Museum, another trackless dark ride, but this time using the Toy Story Mania type system where you pull a cord to shoot at a screen. The queue theming is great. Taking you from the museum halls to the Back of House area, where they need new night time security guards. The actual ride area was very plain. Just totally black apart from the screens, with each screen being themed around a museum exhibit coming to life. My favourite was the neanderthal one, where they learn how to make fire, proceed to set their rags on fire, and its up to you to shoot to extinguish the flames. Another sequence has you being chased by hordes of terracotta warriors, and you shoot lollypops at them, which causes them to pause and be placated by the sweets. Great concept, but i just wish the bits between the screens had been properly themed like the galleries of the museum to match the standard seen in the queue. The other “Good” ride available was Epic: Voyage to Moonhaven. It’s a film i hadnt even heard of, but its by the same studio that did Rio and and Ice Age, but in summary it's one of those movies where tiny leafmen creatures live at the bottom of your garden and war with each other. The theming was well executed, and actually spoke to me because I immediately recognised the house was based on Olana house in upstate NY (A place ive been to) The house is themed around a professor who tries to spy on these leafmen. You board a boat for a garden tour, and go down a drop, which causes you to shrink to bug size. A warning, this drop is WET. Like ice age, the main dark ride is below ground level. Lots of colourful garden scenes, leading into darker more ominous scenes inhabited by the bad guys. Eventually you escape, up a lift hill and into a short outdoor section where you are welcomed back and congratulated for helping beat the bad guys by sitting on your arse on and riding. My other VQ slot was for Boot Camp Training, a combined ropes course / climbing wall / zipcoaster complex. You HAVE to use VQ on this attraction, so if you wish to experience keep one of your slots spare. Right on cue the Malaysian afternoon rain storm rolled through, so after getting to do the ropes course I took cover until the zip coaster opened again. Was reasonably fun, good amount of swinging on the turns, and the finale was interesting because instead of a brake run the track turns uphill sharply and anti rollbacks catch you. The clip n climb walls had you climbing to the top, where you then had to jump off and let the belay system take over as you lowered back to ground, which is admittedly somewhat nerve racking. Was funny though seeing ,multiple people coming back to earth but not having their legs ready and kind of just butt planting on the ground, It reminded me of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKpitX0k4Nc Of course, I knew already Mad Ramp Peak, the motorbike version of Radiator Springs Racers wasn't going to be ready, and as for the SFX coaster, who knows. But it was a bit disappointing the Independence Day Defiance flying theatre was also closed, as was the Terraform Tower Challenge space shot ride. As the day wore on, breakdowns seemed to become more frequent and it took a few attempts to ride some stuff. Both of these rides have been open for a while so was hoping the soft opening jitters were long gone. The flying theatre i've been told has quite a good film, and the ride system looks interesting because it actually lifts you up from the floor (a bit like how the bonnet on a car opens) And the space shot too I was curious to try because spoilers (there is a trap door below the load area, so you drop down into a show scene before being launched up) There was also supposed to be a fountain show at 4.30. Turned up at the lake where it was supposed to be on. Nothing. Not even a message on the screen to say it was being cancelled. So, the rest of the day I spent trying most of the smaller attractions. In no particular order. ESD Global Defender. Aerobat ride Just like Apocalypseburg Sky Battle at Legoland Billund. This was part of the Independence Day area, so had a cool little ultra modern queue building. Tilt the wings to make your seat flip but you do have to work at it, and it was easy to get stuck upside down and end up with blood rushing to your head. PS anyone else think its odd the original park was supposed to have Alien Vs Predator AND Independence Day? Epic Hummingbird Flyers Dumbo type ride with a lever to move your bird up and down. Gorgeous theming on this, and there was a sound track with the good guys instructing you to avoid the water squirts from the bad guys by flying up or down at the right time. (so potential to get wet on this) Bigwelds Zeppelins Turns out Disney is not the only place to have more than one dumbo ride in the same park. This one was more gentle, but the whole robot town area also had a great aesthetic. Rivet Town Roller Took a few attempts to get on this since it seemed to go down a lot. I actually could have ridden this at Nick Universe in 2019 but was a bit jet lagged back on that day so skipped it. Its like a matterhorn ride crossed with a 4D coaster. Your seat has a joystick and a motor, so you can make your seat flip forwards or backwards. Whatever direction you tilt the joystick the seat will continuously flip in that direction. If you let go, the seat will reset to upright. I worked out you could emulate a flying coaster by tilting the stick till you were face down, and then repeatedly tilting and correcting it slightly back and forth to remain horizontal. Good interactive ride. Blue Sky carousel Double deck carousel with some really creative things to ride on, eg a Rio moped, a mammoth, a baby T rex, slugs etc. Clearly the brief was “imagination” and being whimsical and they pulled that off well. Did re rides on Acorn Adventure, Planet of the Apes and night at the museum. Overall, its a good park with great theming and plenty of details to spot if you look. The rides they have open are pretty good. If they had the other two coasters open it would totally be A-league and really balanced. If you are in KL definitely head up and check it out, but I probably wouldn’t make a dedicated trip just yet until they get those two flagship coasters sorted.
  9. Sarkanniemi is an amusement park in the city of Tampere, about 90 mins by train north of Helsinki. https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/sarkanniemi-amusement-park Easy trip and a bargain at only 9 EUR! I got into the city around 8. The park is about 2km from the main station, so I just wandered across the city centre and took in the sights till opening time. It is located on a peninsular on the lakeshore, and part of a broader tourist complex that has an observation tower (Similar to the ones in Canberra/Sydney) kids farm, aquarium, art gallery and planetarium. Your ticket includes all of these things. With more time to kill I wandered around the adjacent marina and got some photos. The main draw for me was of course Tornado, a rare example of an Intamin SLC . There’s a decent selection of other rides, and perhaps the highest density of Zamperla rides you’ll see anywhere. The entrance to the park isn’t exactly the most inviting… So, kicking off with Tornado. It’s so unique heading into an underground tunnel and finding a station cut into the rock. It feels like a themed attraction, even though its entirely utilitarian design. Should have called it “missile” or something like that. I had heard beforehand it was rough as guts, but it was running “fine”, not perfectly smooth, but not bad for something built 20 years ago. Starts off with an average first drop into a forceful loop, a straightaway in a tunnel, before a forceful cobra roll. A lazy banked turn that threads through the loop leads into a downhill section of track into another tunnel. Hidden inside is a barrell roll through the top of the station cavern. You come out on the other side, and into another barrel roll, which just about everyone gets this photo of: So yeah, pretty good, the layout feels a bit formulaic, as you can see from the aerial image, just elements plugged in one after each other. It has my favourite ride colour scheme ever too. Some nerd pics include the wheels, and the video AI system they use for checking if the restraints are closed. I think next i headed to Boom, a Zamperla drop tower. It’s a bit like Inferno at AW. It doesn’t really hit true freefal because you are attached to cables the whole time, it kind of just “goes down fast”. You have to give the engineers credit for doing the difficult thing of making the whole tower rotate rather than just the car. Turns out a lot of the rides didn’t really open till 11 so had some time to kill so wandered around the Angry Birds area and went on the Kantii X Kantii car ride. Nice views of the lakeshore but the thing must be 40 years old. Vauhimato was also here, an early model Zierer kiddy coaster. Hey where have i seen that train before? Realised that the observation deck and aquarium were already open so I headed back out of the park and had a look at them. It was getting close to 11, so i headed back down to go back into the rides area, and at this point the weather started to turn. I reasoned if it was raining I’d do Koskiseikkailu rapids ride. As far as rapids go, it was on par with Bæver Rafting at Farup. Basic concrete channel in the woods with not a whole lot of theming, though i did think the entrance waterfall did have a bit of this very Finnish mid century modern style to it: The rain got really bad as I was exiting. So i parked up at a Cafe near the Doghill Fairytale Farm and had an early lunch. The area was quite nice from the perspective of "Lots of wholesome stuff for kids to do" When the weather started to improve I continued with the park. Motogee Actually pretty fun! Gave this a couple of laps. It's a Zamperla motorbike coaster, and it in fact uses a cable launch like superman, but the difference is it's a simple electric motor rather than hydraulic. Has the right amount of speed, and relatively tight turns, so it feels quite zippy. And because most of the course is downhill, it never loses pace. Hype Premier Sky Rocket 2, and I love these things. A punchy launch, really fast vertical twist, good pop of airtime as you transition at the top, then a fun heartine roll. The 2nd half rapidly picks up speed as you dive down again, with more air in the non inverted loop. So despite looking quite simplistic from the outside, it's quite forceful and varied. I swear whoever did the theming from this borrowed from Bounce Inc. High Voltage A Zamperla power surge. Despite having these at LPM and AW, I've never thought I'd have the stomach for one. Anyhow, its actually not too bad, its sort of like being on Tailspin with the flipping seats, but in this case you aren't controlling the spinning. So nothing unbearable, its bark is worse than its bite, but Im not sure if I'd bother with one again. Trombi I last did one of these Volare flying coasters years ago at Canadas Wonderland, and it....wasn't good. The park was quiet so i did 3 laps over the course of the day to really cement my opinion on the thing and see if there was any way to enjoy it. The issue is that it has turns as fast and as sharp as a wild mouse, but you are in a flying position in a car that isnt very comfortable, so it is a ride of endurance. This is one ride where trim brakes would help it. If you just cruised through slowly, it would actually be somewhat enjoyable. I think looking down rather than straight ahead makes it a bit more comfortable, but overall it's just a bit of a failed concept to be honest. Tyrsky Zamperla Disko coaster with a cute dolphin theme. The setting was nice since its on a peninsular out on the lake. Sort of rode by accident, since I went up to get a photo, saw they were loading and it had no queue, so, what the hell. Tukkijokki quite an old school flume ride. It start off with a lift hill and then follows the terrain with several small drops working down the hillside, and at a couple of points you come quite close to Tornado. A second lift takes you to the big drop. Interesting for the proximty to tornado but it wasn't a particularly attractive ride. Some kids thought it was a stand up coaster. The park is reasonably compact. It was still raining sporadically so I did some re-rides and took plenty of photos, but eventually called it quits around 4 when i was getting a bit cold and damp, so headed to my hotel for a nice hot shower and a sleep. More photos of the park are here: https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/sarkanniemi-amusement-park Overall, it's a decent park. Operations were good, didn't really seem to wait long for anything, and they even had 2 trains going on Tornado despite non existent queues. Overall its a well balanced lineup, with higlights being Tornado, Hype and MotoGee. If you are going to PowerPark its on the way, and even if you aren't its a cheap and easy day trip from Helsinki.
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