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  1. So we're just about to head home from a trip to the UK to see family and, while we were there, do some theme parks - old and new. This will just be a relatively short summary of all the parks because, basically, I can't be arsed. In our party are me, my wife, and three sons (10, 6, and 3). So without further ado... Blackpool Pleasure Beach I used to live just down the road from here. Well, a few towns down the road, so about six miles. That's just down the road in Aussie terms. I always disliked the park growing up as the general consensus is that it was full of scrotes. My wife however quite enjoyed it and we went regularly, and I grew to quite enjoy it too. We quickly found that prices in the UK have become seriously shitty, especially in comparison to Australia. For a lot of things, just replace the $ sign with the £ sign and you've got UK prices, except with a crap exchange rate. Entry to BPB (or whatever they're calling it now) was in the region of £150 for the day for us all, and the park was only open 10-4. Annoyingly, as well as having bag checks and metal detectors when entering the park, every person has to "check in" to every ride, individually, using the Pleasure Beach app. Lots of people hated this, but we printed the QR codes out and used them. The rides - Icon was my favourite, a launched coaster that lasts a while, does a fair bit, and stays close to the ground. The Big One, the highest in the UK until very recently, is the best way to see the park as it winds over, under, and through a lot of attractions. Infusion is a suspended coaster which is full of elements, unfortunately not as smooth as it once was (my head was getting pinged about like nobody's business). Revolution is Revolution - a loop, which you go through forwards, and then backwards, but with excellent g-forces. I didn't get on Avalanche as I was taking smaller kids on rides, but I recall it as "good". And I daren't ride Steeplechase again as last time my legs were killing me. In terms of old wooden coasters, we did the Blue Flyer with all the kids - out youngest seemed to enjoy it but we're not sure as he didn't want to do any more coasters. Big Dipper was fun but one us aged folk definitely want to hang on for. Nickelodeon Streak - didn't get on that, and same with Grand National. But we've been on them before and know they're good fun, and towards the end EVERYONE makes a beeline for the Grand Nash. The park does have a lot of other rides - it puts a lot of other parks to shame in terms of amount and variety. There's a lot for the kids, and highlights were the carousel (not the huge one) where the attendant was very accommodating to the kids, the SpongeBob bus thing, and the old spaceships and the Eddie Stobart trucks. My wife and eldest son also went on Valhalla and said it was great but lacked the backwards bit which has just been replaced by a turntable, you get better than ever and was a bit overly dark rather than having as many effects as before. The park felt... worn. This was usually our favourite park but there was barely anybody about and most things were a short wait, if that. The park is actually in the middle of a bit of a rubbish housing estate with a road running under it, and the very grey sea just outside and biting winds. Lunch was handled by Burger King (which seemed to pale by comparison to HJs), and for tea we couldn't resist a proper chippy with gravy or curry sauce from a place outside. Blackpool was a bit of a letdown, which is odd as normally we come back and do the park at least twice - this time we only go into the park once, though we do come back to visit relatives and stop by the gift shop (we bought far too much). It's also a shame that Wild Mouse is gone, and the Grand Prix on its way out. Noah's Ark stands over the entrance, and River Caves was closed. We didn't have time to do Alice, and Ghost Train probably would have scared our middle child. In any case, on to... Alton Towers So we decided to get Merlin passes, they're pretty good value. Alton Towers was always a park we never thought much of - the rides seemed short, the place is big, the queues long, and the park just seemed a bit "up themselves". But no, we have the passed and we're determined to do AT twice to get round everything, and we're very glad we did. Hidden in the countryside, AT is both a theme park (with water park, hotel etc) and an old stately home. Since it is set in the grounds of the old home it can be a distance to get from ride to ride, and there's lots of things that you can find and hidden areas. I'm pretty certain we didn't go everywhere in the park on our two visits. Starting off, for both days we went shortly before half term and on a weekday, meaning queues shouldn't be big. And they weren't, with most rides a short wait or a walk-on. Parent swap was used quite often, and we got on just about every coaster on our first day, as well as a few things for the kids. Our second day was just Galactica (which was closed on our first day) and stuff for the kids. So, in any case, coasters first. Wicker Man was the main one I wanted to go on, this being the only coaster there I hadn't done before. Really enjoyed it, some great airtime and it wasn't too short - though wasn't too long either. Smiler was our favourite, for both my wife and I and our 10 year old. As well as all the inversions, it actually managed to space them out so it's not just "element after element after element". Unfortunately the song will haunt your dreams. Galactica is an alright flying coaster, but too short, while Nemesis - or Nemesis Reborn - is probably the most famous coaster in the UK, and a nice tight little SLC famously built under ground level due to local planning laws. I found it alright, but nothing special. Others - Oblivion I didn't go on, but from memory it's "alright", and the same can be said for Rita (though in the rain the launch feels like hail) and Thirteen with its track drop, and that's it. The Mine Train though was good fun, a powered family-friendly coaster which did a fair number of laps, and intersects the river rapids course - so passengers of both rides would wave at each other. In terms of kids stuff, our youngest loves Hey Duggee, so he was well at home in the giant Hey Duggee playpark. There was plenty more there for them, and he seemed to want to just go round the Night Garden boat ride. Our eldest enjoyed the David Walliams bit and our middle the driving school. I'm not sure whether AT is my favourite on the trip or not. Smiler is definitely my favourite coaster (though Wicker Man could be second). Our first day was pretty wet throughout, and our second fortunately a lot nicer. The park, at that time (I remember queues there on previous visits for Air being 45 minutes or more in the pouring rain) was very pleasant, and I'm actually a bit sad we didn't have time to go round the house and gardens much. It was the only park we went back to fir a second day, but also the only park we felt we needed to - it, and all the other parks (apart from BPB) were open 10-5. Forgot to mention, the Rollercoaster Restaurant was pretty good. Food prices were okay and the portions good, but it comes to you on a rollercoaster track which was pretty fun to watch. I will get round to summaries of the other parks soon.
  2. Hello everyone! Over the weekend I decided to go to Melbourne and visit Luna Park and decided to share my thoughts here in this thread. Sorry for the lack of photos. Luna Park is located in St Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne and is Australia's oldest theme park turning 110 a few months ago. Unlike the Sydney park, Luna Park Melbourne has operated since 1912 without closing. Unlike the other theme parks such as Gumbuya World and Funfields, Luna Park Melbourne doesn't see the need to expand. One thing that is noticeable is that there is no map on the website or in the park, making you go to explore the park and its secrets itself. The park is quite small without room for expansion. Unfortunately, we went on a busy day where the park was sold out. We booked the tickets earlier in the morning so we didn't have to miss out. We arrived to the park at around midday and there was a 15 minute wait to get in. Once you get in, you are greeted with the Twin Dragon being right next to you, and the historic carousel being right in front of you. The ride has been operating since 1913 and is heritage listed. Also the Luna Palace is getting repairs, and the dodgems have been moved to a temporary white tent. We planned on going on the Scenic Railway first, but waited due to there being a 40-minute wait. I first went on the Speedy Beetle coaster, a SBF Visa spinning coaster installed in 2019 similar to Crazy Coaster at Adventure Park Geelong. I had a 15-minute wait, and the dispatches were alright at around 3 minutes. Fun ride, however a little rough. One thing they do let you do is put in your seatbelt yourself which is great. The next ride I rode was the carousel. It is one of the oldest rides in the park, opening 110 years ago in 1913. Luckily, the carousel was a walk on due to me arriving just when it was boarding. Some of the horses were out of action (I think 2 were) but most were operating today. Overall, a fun ride that still holds up today. After the carousel, I rode the Enterprise. It is a HUSS Enterprise that opened in 1993 but manufactured 10-years before. I only had to wait around 15 minutes for it, in which the wait was worth it. as the operations. A lot of families were surprisingly going on it including little kids. A ride worth going on if you go to the park. Meanwhile, the other people on my group decided to ride the Sky Flier, which was a Ferris wheel located next to the carousel and The Power Surge. The worst thing was they had to wait 30+ minutes, then wait 4 cycles because of a weight balance thing. I didn't go on it but at least I didn't have to wait that long. After that, me and my sister went and rode a few rides. First up, we did the Power Surge. A ride manufactured by Zamperla that used to be on the carnival circuit and occasionally visit the park for peak seasons before being installed permanently in 2013. I would say it is the most intense ride in the park. Unfortunately we had to wait a cycle due to the same weight balance thing which made it so 8 of the 24 seats were unused. After that we did the Supernova, which is an SBF Visa Star Flier similar to Trident at Sea World except it has 2 seats a pole instead of 3. It gave you some nice views of the park and St Kilda beach that looked really good. However there is one thing that ruined it. I reckon it had a 10-minute dispatch time which is horrible. We waited around 30 minutes which was a decent time though. Then, we went on the ghost train. It was one of the most popular rides in the park and had a 35-minute wait. It is a very popular ride, installed 80 years ago and has been relatively unchanged since then. Operations were GREAT, only having 30 second dispatches which is great for a ride in Australia. One of the negatives however is that the queue is cramped, leaving no room to move around and the seats are also cramped, luckily I got my own car. Unlike many other parks, they don't call out single riders and instead make people ride on their own, slowing down the PPH. I then went on the Twin Dragon, where it was a walk-on due to them actually calling out for single riders for once. It is similar to the one at Funfields, which was the former one at Sea World. It is less intense as the one just mentioned however but still a fun ride. The queue line is cramped like the ghost train. After it was time for the Scenic Railway. We waited for 55 minutes to ride, not to mention the coaster was only running 1-train today even know the park was full. Luckily, the queue was less cramped than the previous two. With operations, unfortunately they were very slow, not to mention it had different unload/load stations that slowed down the operations. I'm pretty sure the ride was getting less than 150 people per hour by looking at the queue. Another bad thing about the ride was that the trains were very cramped and not good for tall people, as me and my sister both hit our knees on the train after each drop. Not to mention there was also no single rider most likely due to the weight balance thing. Overall a good ride but the cramped train and ops brought it down for me. Then, I went on the Pharoh's Curse, that is actually well themed and similar to Doomsday at Movie World. I was meant to get a walk-on, but they didn't allow it due to the weight balance thing, so I had to wait. After I did get on in the front seat. They had to switch an operator which caused a 10-minute dispatch time. I pulled down my restraint, but the operator pulled it back up and used the computer to pull it down, which ended up in me getting stapled that caused pain to my stomach and legs. Also the restraints must have been damaged by people scratching it like foam. The final ride was the Spider. It was built in 1983 by Eyerly Air Company and has been operating at the park ever since. Like many of the other rides, I got my seat alone due to the weight balance. It's actually pretty fun for a ride like that, and have me some good spinning moments. After that it was time to leave, and my group had fish and chips on the St Kilda Pier before going back to Bendigo. Overall, the park was an alright place to visit, but it goes down for me due to the horrendous operations including the 10-minute dispatches and the weight balance thing making many seats empty, also making the people per hour go down by a lot. Even my group (who were all GP except for me) complained about the operations. I only got on 12 rides in the 5 hours I was there. They also only have the standby line, no single riders or fast pass lines. They also need to upgrade the rides as they are becoming old, and many stapling you which make you hurt. The staff also seemed to just take their time and didn't care how long the dispatches were. My rankings: Operations: 4/10 Rides: 7/10 Staff: 5/10 Atmosphere: 9/10 Value: 6/10 Overall: 6.2/10 Definitely not the best theme park out of all of them in Victoria, but some good fun for people visiting. I suggest getting there early as you might be able to get some walk-ons but getting there after 12 you will not on rides like Scenic Railway etc.
  3. I've posted trip reports from the parks I hit on my recent business trip to Australia. Luna Park Sydney: https://www.bannister.org/coasters/trips/2023/0203.htm Green Valley Farm: https://www.bannister.org/coasters/trips/2023/0204.htm Sea World, Dreamworld: https://www.bannister.org/coasters/trips/2023/0205.htm Gumbuya World, Luna Park Melbourne: https://www.bannister.org/coasters/trips/2023/0211.htm Aussie World: https://www.bannister.org/coasters/trips/2023/0212.htm
  4. Hi All, Thank you for inviting me to complete a trip report on my recent trip to LA - it's my first time doing a trip report, so hopefully I do okay! My husband and I recently flew Qantas to LA - departing 27th (and to our surprise, arriving the 27th) and we left on the 5th Jan. We spent 2.5 days at Disney (a day cut short due to illness), 1 day at DCA, and 2 days at Universal. We stayed at Disneyland Hotel for 3 nights, and then moved to the Kimpton Everly in downtown LA, about a 7 minute drive to Universal. Disneyland: I've never cried at a theme park until our first day at Disney! What a magical (and overwhelming) experience. I've never been to America, and have only been to Hong Kong Disney as a kid - so I did a lot of preparation for this trip, so I knew my way around the park and how to use Genie+ confidently. I'm also a massive Disney parks nerd, so my husband was constantly bombarded with 'fun facts' on every ride. We had honeymoon and first visit buttons - and we loved the attention. Cast members were so beautiful in acknowledging them and occasionally giving us a bit of extra magic (some extra Genie+), we even had Belle stop to welcome us on our first visit, and a wonderful stranger at DCA gifted me a Minnie Mouse handbag (that interaction made me cry). Genie+ was a success - we didn't mind paying for it, we found it a great benefit to our trip. We didn't end up waiting much the entire trip, as most attractions we use Genie+. We also purchased a lightning lane for Rise of the Resistance twice - my husband is a massive Star Wars fan so he needed two goes on the ride to really take it in (he did cry!). We also purchased Magic Bands, which are new to Disneyland. They were helpful for tapping on for lightning lanes and obtaining photos taken by cast members, but a little disappointing they aren't yet integrated to pay for food/merchandise and for opening your hotel room like you can in Florida. Hopefully, this comes in the future. We found the parks to be reasonably busy on our first two days there - but on the half day (we went from 4pm) we found it much quieter due to the rain - which didn't bother us in the slightest! Contrary to the blogs I had read, we actually rope-dropped and headed to Tomorrowland - it was basically dead, and we smashed out Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear and Star Tours before the park had even opened. We then hopped over to Adventureland and New Orleans Square for Haunted Mansion (this was the ride I was most excited for - slightly disappointed I didn't get to ride it in its original capacity as it had the Xmas overlay, but still wonderful). We then headed over to Galaxy's edge for ROTR and then spent the rest of the day/night going to various rides (I think we ended the night on Indiana Jones). We caught the fireworks show and watched it from the river (I cried) and then had dinner at Blue Bayou, which was an amazing and delicious experience. We jumped on the monorail back to the hotel, which I think our feet appreciated. DCA: Our second day was spent much the same way, we took a break at lunchtime for a nap, and met up with some friends to play mini-golf nearby. We then came back to the park that evening and had our first dole whip (YUM). We then hopped over to DCA, as we had booked tickets for the World Of Colour Dessert Party. While the view of the show was incredible, I'm not sure I feel the experience was worth the money. You got unlimited drinks (which was great, as they bought us two cans of soda to take with us), and then food was a little container with cheese, crackers, grapes and a few sweet treats, including a mickey rise krispie treat, a chocolate cheesecake, and a shortbread cookie. It was yummy, but at $80 a person, I feel a little overpriced. After the show we managed to snag a Genie+ for webslingers, and then jumped in line for Radiator Springs Racers right at closing time - a posted 50-minute wait but I think we only waited 30 mins. Our third day was spent in the rain at DCA - which again didn't bother us (we live in Victoria and are used to the rain now!). We didn't manage to do every attraction, but did as many as we could, including Soarin, Monsters Inc, Incredicoaster, Midway Mania, Little Mermaid - and my favourite, the animation drawing class! We had lunch at Flo's diner in Cars Land, and I think my favourite ride of the day was Guardians of the Galaxy! Our fourth and final half day at Disney was quiet as I was still unwell (recovering from a stomach bug I managed to get on new years eve), but we did ROTR again, as well as Winnie The Pooh and my favourite ride of all time, Peter Pan (which I cried again, you'll see a theme here). Universal: Moving onto Universal, our first day was lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed the tram tour, and we ended up doing it twice. Harry Potter world was by far our favourite - we are both MASSIVE HP fans so this was incredible - and I'm told it's even more amazing in Florida. Sadly, my husband wasn't able to ride Forbidden Journey due to size which was disappointing, as he had had no issues at all at Disney. This was the only ride at Universal he didn't fit on though, which was okay. Flight of the Hippogriff was closed both days sadly. We also rode Simpsons ride (both massive Simpsons fans so this land was great!). The park was quite busy the first day, and we didn't purchase the queue jumping thing (we found it quite expensive for only two days), but also didn't feel the wait times were as long as some were at Disney. Our second day rained NON_STOP and we were drenched after 5 minutes in the park - but we didn't let that stop us. We rode the Mummy, Jurassic Park and the Tram Tour again, and also watched the special effects show. Lunch at the three broomsticks was delicious, and then we decided to make our luggage much heavier by spending big in Hogsmeade. The park was VERY quiet this day due to the rain - most attractions only had 5 minute waits! Sadly due to the tummy bug we didn't see much of LA - only seeing the stars and the Chinese Theatre. But looking forward to going back in the future (maybe with less rain) and see more of LA. I hope this report isn't too long (sorry if it is) - I'm happy to answer any questions if you're looking to travel to Disneyland or Universal soon :)
  5. *Pic heavy thread* Hi all! Whilst in Melbourne, I decided to visit Funfields theme park to wrap up 2022 and figured I’d share my thoughts here. For those who don’t know, Funfields is located in Whittlesea (about 40 mins from Melbourne’s CBD). Opening in February 1985 as the “Alpine Toboggan Park” (that’s right, this park pre-dates Wonderland) it was rebranded as Funfields in 2005 and has seen rapid expansion ever since. The park no longer offers printed park maps, however a large sign containing the map (as well as a QR code that links you to a digital copy) is located near the entrance. As you enter the park, you are greeted with a large outdoor picnic area complete with barbecues. Funfields allows (and even somewhat encourages) guests to bring their own food and drinks and camp out on the lawn (multiple people even brought tents which are also allowed). Turning left leads you to the first themed land in the park; “Mystic Kingdom”, a children’s area with a medieval theme. The area features some impressive theming, including an interactive animatronic tree. The land is home to a series of flat rides for the youngsters, including an SBF mini drop tower, an SBF Airborne Shot, a ferris wheel, carousel, spinning balloon ride and a teacups ride re-located from Australia Zoo (most of which I forgot to take pictures of, opps)! I love the way this operator’s booth is themed. The “Burnout” (formally the “Stingray” from Dreamworld) was also located in this area, but has since been retired to the car park (apparently it’s for sale). Continuing through this area leads you to “Amazonia Falls”, the park’s interactive water playground with a jungle theme. Manufactured by Wizard Works, this attraction is quite unique in that it’s completely solid-state and uses a computer to activate the water effects, rather than relying on the traditional mechanical valve technology most water playgrounds use. This also allows for some pretty interesting effects such as motion activated fountain jets and “TNT detonators” (where pushing the plunger will cause water jets hidden in the surrounding splash pool to suddenly activate, soaking unsuspecting guests). The structure also has a “tipping bucket” of sorts, though it’s not really a bucket at all. Instead the “treehouse” simply dumps water on guests every 3 mins. A smaller, more traditional water play structure by Whitewater West called Birdy Cove is also located nearby. This attraction is designed for children under 6. Private cabanas are available to hire in this area as well. Moving further up the hill, we arrive at the Tiki Bay Bumper Boats (manufactured by J&J Amusements), one of the older attractions at the park, having been installed in 2004. Still as popular as ever. Behind Tiki Bay is the Typhoon, a Proslide Cannonbowl water slide advertised as being the longest of its kind in the world when it opened in 2013. Despite the many expansions and additional investments Funfields have made after its launch, Typhoon still remains one of my favourite slides not only in the park, but in the country! The sheer amount of speed you pick up in the enclosed section never fails to take my breath away. You absolutely FLY through this thing! That combined with the drop into the typhoon bowl itself and the suspense of not knowing if you’re going to complete the final drop facing forwards or backwards creates an incredibly fun and intense ride experience. A must do attraction when visiting the park! Next up is unfortunately the first stinker in the Funfields line-up IMHO, the Splashdown in-ground water slides. A flashback to the old “Alpine Toboggan Park” days, these slides were installed in the 80’s and quite frankly, that’s were they belong. Whilst they may have some historical significance, I wouldn’t mind seeing them be replaced with something a little more modern. Next are Wipeout and Blackout, two slides manufactured by Australian Waterslides and Leisure and installed in 2009. While they may have been somewhat overshadowed by their newer Proslide counterparts, these are still decent, fun slides that are worth checking out (especially Wipeout which lives up to its name. It has a tendency to launch riders over the final splashdown pool, providing a pretty thrilling finale). Now we reach the ride that started it all, the Alpine Toboggan. Despite being installed in 1985, this attraction still holds up extremely well today. The carts were speed-limited a few years ago due to multiple accidents when guests ignored the warnings to slow down on corners. Some believe that this has negatively effected the ride experience, however I was still able to get my cart up to a decent speed and had a very enjoyable ride. Perhaps it differs from cart to cart? Between the Wipeout/Blackout waterslides and the toboggan is a path that leads to the rear section of the park. Following this takes you to…The Voodoo! A very highly themed Zamperla Discovery Revolution. Funfields really went all out with the theming for this attraction and the attention to detail is amazing! The basic storyline is that your are exploring an ancient temple, looking for lost treasure. However, the treasure is guarded by an ancient Voodoo spirit named “Tawhirl”. Signs throughout the queue combined with an ominous soundtrack help to set up the story and prepare you for the experience ahead. Many props (lost items from previous explorers who attempted to grab the treasure and failed) are scattered throughout the queue and around the ride area. I love the attention to detail in this rock work too! It’s supposed to look as if the gondola has smashed through the middle. Then, as you enter the site of the old temple (or board the ride) Tawhirl becomes displeased with your presence and unleashes her wrath, picking you up and throwing you around (the ride swinging you around) to keep you away from the treasure. The ride experience is a perfect balance of being fairly intense, but still something the whole family can enjoy. A perfect addition to the park with simply excellent theming and a well executed storyline. I also really love how the theming from nearby Volcano Beach in the background perfectly matches up with Voodoo’s theming in the foreground here. Seems the park actually thought about sight lines which is pretty impressive! Speaking of which, Volcano Beach is the park’s wave pool and another very well themed area. I think I’ll let the pictures do the talking here: As you can see, it’s probably the most immersive and highly themed wave pool in the country. I absolutely love having the volcano as the centrepiece and that there’s plenty of shade around the beach area to relax in. It pumps out some pretty decent waves too! A cafe is also located in the area offering takeaway food such as chips, burgers and pizza as well as ice creams and lollies. Salads and even coffee is also on offer here (a larger cafe near the front of the park carries a similar menu too). Private cabanas surrounding the wave pool are also available for hire. Behind Volcano Beach sits the newest addition to the park, Supernova! It’s a shame this attraction has been largely overshadowed by the opening of Gumbya’s new coasters, as it’s the park’s biggest investment yet and is by far the best water ride they’ve installed to date. The pacing on this slide is fantastic. From the very beginning of the ride, you immediately pick up quite a lot of speed and navigate the first few turns at a pretty fast pace (this speed is maintained throughout the slide). The “Supanova” colour effects in the tunnel are very impressive and the fact you pass through them at fairly high speed really adds to the experience. Then comes a pretty intense drop into the main tornado (not sure if the drop is any steeper than other tornados, but it certainly feels that way) before taking one final turn and finally ending the ride in the splashdown pool. It may not come across in this write-up, but the slide is actually quite long in length and would have to be one of the most intense water slides I’ve been on (aside from maybe some drop slides). If I was to nitpick though, I would say the most disappointing aspect of the ride was the first “bowl” element near the beginning (not sure what it’s officially known as). I was expecting that you would spin around in this bowl or do something exciting. But nothing really happens. It’s just sort of there and you simply glide past it on one side and that’s it. Not really sure what the significance of it is TBH. Apart from that though, this is a sensational slide overall that is fast and thrilling and not to be missed! Next to Supernova is 2017’s Gravity Wave. I must say, the two slides weaving around each other looks very impressive from the tower. While Gravity Wave is definitely a decent attraction, I do unfortunately think it’s a bit of a one trick pony (at least compared to Supernova). The ride starts out incredibly slowly and meanders around until the main drop. While the main drop is still incredible and definitely worth checking out, Typhoon is still the superior slide overall IMHO, with Supernova beating them both by a mile. Still, having both Supernova and Gravity next to each other works really well and adds to a solid line-up in that area of the park. Next to Gravity wave is the Kraken Racer, a 4 lane aqua racer from Proslide. Another good addition to the park. The park is also home to Thunderdome Speedway, a go cart track installed in 1997 that still pulls in decent crowds today. Heading back towards the front of the park leads us to Treasure Cove, a pirate themed mini golf course. One of the holes even goes through a tunnel! This cemetery area reminds me of Movie World’s Boot Hill. In front of the mini golf is Sea World’s former Pirate Ship, Blackbeard’s Fury. Manufactured by Huss and added to the park in 2009, this attraction still rides beautifully and is well maintained by the park. It even has additional theming that wasn’t present during its time at SW. That covers all of the major attractions the park currently has on offer. All up, Funfields is a very impressive park that is well kept, well run and features a fantastic line-up of rides with decent theming and a great atmosphere. Other factors such as themed audio throughout the park, decent food, friendly staff and great operators add to a fantastic overall experience. I do feel like the addition of a coaster is very much needed to complete with Gumbya, though there is plenty of room for expansion, so hopefully this will come later. The water rides on offer are far superior to what Gumbya currently have though. So they easily have them beat in that regard IMHO. All in all, Funfields is definitely a must do park while visiting Victoria and is easily one of the best regional parks in the country!
  6. The next park on my list in Scandinavia was Tusenfryd (Thousand Joys) https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/tusenfryd Initially I wasn't going to Norway at all, but it turned out a couple of things I wanted to do on a planned day in Gothenburg were closed, so I got a cheap flixbus ticket and got on the bus at 5am for a day in Oslo. The bus had me in Oslo by 9, that was enough time to grab a quick brekkie then backtrack to Tusenfryd. A regular urban bus goes there, only took about half an hour and the bus was quite frequent, so no problems using public transport. The park is stretched out along a hillside with rocks and boulders....very Nordic! In fact the hill is so steep some escalators take you up to the park from the entry gates. So my first ride was Speed Monster. Remember back in the mid 2000s when everyone was getting Intamin hydraulic launch coasters, including us? Tusenfryd got one too. It's the best thing here and I did several laps throughout my visit due to the good throughput. The launch is powerful as you'd expect, straight into the pretzel like Norwegian loop, which has a good flick and twist at the top. The pace continues as you make a big turn through some trees, before a good ejector hill. The finale is good too, with a corkscrew and a couple of good twisted airtime hills that have some good laterals. The next ride was HuriHuri, which opened this year. It's a zamperla spinning coaster and could best be thought of as a slightly more sophisticated version of those SBF spinners. Mild family thrills. Throughput was terrible. The gates at the end of the platform were not automatic so the op had to go close them manually. It reminded me of the op having to attach the plastic chain on sea viper....x4! You can see the queue that built up after I exited. The other big draw of Tusenfryd, a Vekoma wooden coaster that has had both GCI reprofile it and now has Gravity group trains. Looks good on paper, long drops down the hillside, big camelbacks, fast pace. But it's absolute trash. Gave it a go front and back, in the back you can literally see the cars full on bouncing up and down and shuffling like crazy. Bahhhhh Continuing into the park I headed down the hill into the Viking themed zone, which had 3 big rides. No real wait for SuperSplash.....a Mack super splash. It wants to be a water coaster with its camel back, but it's more like a shoot the chutes. You ride in a huge 16 or 20 seater boat. Lift hill, small dip, gradual U turn, and then the main drop and floater hill Mack water coasters are known for, with a splashdown that gently spritzes you. The other water ride is Ragnarok, a Hafema rapids ride (They built the rapids at Universal Singapore, and at Phantasialand) It has a bit of Viking theming but it's all foam and not that well maintained so it's peeling The rapids themselves are great, some good turbulent sections, a whirlpool where you pick up speed as the track goes around a spiral before a curved drop out the middle. There's also a 2nd drop that's damn steep too he 3rd ride in this area is Thor's Hammer, a 4d motion base dark ride by ETF. It had a good vibe walking in because the whole thing is underground. The motion is pretty gentle compared to the Six Flags JL rides, Spiderman, Transformers etc. I couldn't really follow the story, imagine a few screens with Viking guys battling. The media on the screens was top quality, like Hollywood standard, but I guess because the screens are so small (think smaller than JL at MW) you didn't quite get that sense of awe. That and the fact its not in 3D. The intermediate scenes were nice enough too, there was one nice bit with a troll forest. So in conclusion I think to work these motion base rides need to have huge sets to really envelope you. Lunch was down in the Viking area too, they had a stand sponsored by the local dairy company, selling flavoured milk and toasties....Was like being at the royal show/ Ekka! Moving on, they had Western Express, a Roadrunner clone but it was on a metal base frame. Yep yep yep. I wandered up the back of the park and saw the foundations of the Gerstlauer suspended coaster. I was too big to ride the world's smallest coaster, Dvergbanen. Took one look at the upcharge haunted house and couldn't be arsed. They had a couple of other flat rides such as a space shot and another zamperla giant discovery called spinspider, but wasn't in the mood for a nauseating flat. I finally reached the last coaster, Loopen, an older Vekoma loopscrew, so called because it has both a loop and a corkscrew It has a fairly compact layout, but the fan turn was so jarring on your back. A graceless ride I do not remember fondly at all. Spinemelter 3000: ******************** As for the park, before my visit I was told it was Six Flags Norway and it is true in a way, it was a bit run down in places, a lot of bitumen pathways and chain link fences. Have a look at SF Saint Louis in comparison and that's the vibe I got. They are in the midst of giving the park a facelift, with two new themed zones, Route 66 and Expedition Lost Kingdoms. In amongst all that they also have a bit of a Viking Zone, and a Wild West zone, and a bit of fairytale kids zone, but the wierd thing is they dont actually have names for these area, or promote them on the website like they do for the other two areas. https://www.tusenfryd.no/en/oppdag-parken/planlegg-ditt-besok/temaomrader It mostly seems to be new signage on some attractions, and some face lifted buildings, but I Think because all the in between spaces are all bitumen and chainlink the intended vibe of the zone doesn't carry through. Eg in route 66, where are all the American road signs? I finished up mid afternoon with some more rides on Speed Monster before taking the winding path downhill instead of the escalator for some interesting photos. (And the photos of this park can be viewed here https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/tusenfryd ) And then back on the bus to the Oslo city centre to spend the remainder of my day, eventually getting a coach back to Gothenburg at 11pm, just as the sun was setting)
  7. Legoland Billund Monday 11th of July 2022 https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/legoland-billund for plenty more photos. So I’ve just returned from 3 weeks in Scandinavia. The first park I visited was Legoland Billund. Normally I’m not that into Legoland, I went to the one in Windsor because it was included in the Merlin Pass I had at the time, and I went to the one in Japan because I had an unexpected free afternoon (and basically wanted to ride the Mack Submarine Ride) , but they are just ‘okay’, a bit expensive and not really that engaging unless you are a kid or a real Lego fan. But, it almost felt rude to be doing a theme park trip in Denmark and not pay a visit to the original Legoland. This one is actually better than the rest and has a few rides that make it worth a trip even if you are a thrill rider. I arrived at 9 and stayed till 4, but would have had no problem staying right through till close at 7. I had a hire car to make this part of the trip a bit easier, its about a 3 hour drive from Copenhagen, with a spectacular crossing of the 18km long Great Belt Bridge. But you pay accordingly for using such a big piece of infrastructure, the toll works out to $50 each way. Intentionally left early so I could hop out and have a look around. Still I arrived well before opening time. The park has a wait time app and I’d already looked at it a couple of times in the preceding days to see what got bad waits and started my day on those rides. Flying Eagle is a Zierer Family Coaster with nice theming and cute little animals everywhere. As a coaster its pretty good, maintains it speed, and had this one bit with a few S bends. If I was after a standard model family coaster this would be it. It’s just a shame it has only one train, because it gets smashed with crowds. Next I kept moving towards the back of the park, but saw X-Treme racers had no line so I ducked into that too. It’s a larger model of a Mack mouse, so starts off with a big drop, does a few switch backs, couple more drops, couple more switchbacks and then done. Fine for what it was, but it’s just a mouse right? The cars do look pretty cool with their Lego Technic theme. Next door to it is the Lego Movie World, which is quite new and looks great. Apocalypseburg Sky Battle is a flat ride (but seemingly a popular one) however again I was ahead of the crowds so no wait. It’s what you’d get it you crossed Tailspin with an enterprise, so you are simply spinning around, with wings you can tilt to make your seat flip. It felt a bit harder to get it to work, but you can usually get a couple of spins in one direction before it runs out of momentum, and then tilt the wings the other way to get some more spins. The main attraction is Emmets Flying Adventure - Masters of Flight A flying theatre like Sky Voyager, but the difference is that instead of the seats being pushed out towards the screen, you load facing the back wall and the whole row rotates to face the screen. The ride takes you out of cloud cuckoo land (complete with vanilla scent) one Emmets “Triple Decker Flying Couch”, but then the Duplo aliens attack, so cue a chaotic flight through various lego movie scenes. Great fun, but it definitely has a lot more movement than your usual flying theatres where you are gently flying over landscape. This had much more diving and spiralling. I didn’t ride Unikitty Disco Drop, but loved how it looked. By this point I was at the back of the park at one of my most anticipated rides, Polar X-Plorer, a Zierer ESC with a drop track. The theme is like an Arctic base where they are investigating animals, and there are various panels on the walls with scientific information, environmental messages etc. The ride is a bit more punchy than you’d expect! It carries momentum like a full sized coaster, with good speed off the first drop, pops of airtime and forceful turns. You then come around into the ice mountain seen in the middle of the ride (And they didn’t bother doing rockwork inside, they just painted all the framing and mesh black). Overhead is a screen with lego explorer people hammering into the ice, when all of a sudden you hear a crack and the whole section of track you are on drops about 5m, and stops at the bottom, linking up with the rest of the track. From here the track comes out of the mountain, but its basically at ground level now so all it can do is some tiny dips till it gets back to the station. But on the way as you re-enter the building you pass some windows looking into the Penguin exhibit. Which I decided to check out next. Ice Pilots School originally opened as Power Builder, and is a robocoaster ride. They made an attemp to theme it like a Hangar you’d see in some remote location for arctic flights which was nice, but overall the attraction doesn’t scream at you from the outside. Are they trying to avoid it getting overcrowded? It does seem like it could run into capacity issues. Here, you use a touch screen to program a motion sequence for your arm, get onboard, and try it out. Of course i picked the most extreme ones i could, so the arm is catapulting you all the way over the top, or spinning around on the spot whilst making your seat twirl too. It probably only goes for about a minute, and some of the movements are a bit forceful, so the cycle they give you is enough. Looping back towards the front of the park I passed the Temple. Every Legoland has this and it’s pretty meh. Imagine something like Buzz Lightyear with rotating cars and laser guns, except the sets are just bland lego egyptian themed and the guns work poorly. But it tends to just be a walk on most of the time due to the capacity of the ride system so fine for a diversion. I think at that point I opted to eat early (Park opened at 10) sinceI heard food places get bad lines (Which turned out to be true walking around a couple of hours later): Found a place selling the signature “Lego Fries”, which tasted about as good as they looked. I got in the queue for Vikings River Splash the river rapids ride. This is another ride I’ve seen and been interested in, since it it has a vertical lift and splashdown. As far as rapids go, its fairly gentle, and you wont get wet. Most of the theming was viking related humour that would appeal to kids (Eg 3 stone statues singing “We will rock you”). The lift hill comes halfway through the ride on this one, plus of course the vertical lift at the end. It’s just a shame the final drop doesnt spin you like the one at Califorina Adventure. Overall a good fit for the park though. Dragen had a bit of a line so I went for a lap on the monorail and got my bearings for the rest of the park (It’s in a bit of an L shape) I try to do observation towers around midday since it means the sun is out of the way for most of your photos and the tower itself isn’t casting strong shadows across the park. LegoTop is it, but only about 30m high, so it’s good for a view over Miniland, but the actual coasters are at the other end of the park so you dont really get a good overview of them. However up there I spotted Ninjago and realised that was one of my other priorities to ride. Ninjago is a Triotech dark ride with 3D glasses, but instead of guns you swipe your hand above a sensor and use that to direct your shots. Felt like it had a moderate level of control, though quite a few stray shots. It can be finicky, you have to hold your hands 10cm above the sensor, which can feel unnatural and some kids struggle with it. The queue was a series of interconnected dojo rooms, which carried through into the ride itself. The story I wasn’t really familiar with, but at each screen there were hordes of skeletons or bad ninjas and even dragons you were shooting at. A couple of scenes used projection mapping onto rockwork. There were still a few more things I wanted to ride. Ghost - The Haunted House is a fairly kid friendly haunted house walkthrough, with some interactive dioramas and a mirror maze. The finale of the ride is actually a little drop ride (High capacity frog hopper really) where you are ‘levitated’ by a mad professor and then dropped. Seems like is a Merlin special, becuase a lot of the Dungeon attractions they run have this ride, as well as Sub Terra at Alton Towers. Visually it’s nicely done overall but could have been a more coherent experience Piratbade is one of those Mack towboat rides that actually goes through a substantial enclosed dark ride. Quite liked this actually, it was mostly static with the odd lighting effect, but nice and relaxing and quite popular. More parks need the slow scenic boat rides IMO At that point I was over near Dragen, the Mack powered coaster, so waited about 30 mins for that. I’ve heard mixed reviews of this one but I thought it was pretty cool! It starts off with a dark ride section through castle scenes, eg the kitchen, the jesters court, the wizards lab and of course an encounter with a dragon. It’s a powered coaster, so once you reach the dragon it actually picks up speed along a long straight (I guess the closest thing to a family launch coaster with 1997 tech), climbs a bit of a hill then does some helices in rocky area with shrubs and vines. The coaster portion was short but you know what I didn’t mind and thought this was better than the other Dragon coasters at other Legolands. At this point I was getting close to the time I had to leave. I went back to Polar X-Plorer for a second go at the back of the train, still good Back at the front of the Park is Atlantis, one of Merlins Sea Life aquarium, but with an entirely too long pre-show where you watch an average 3D animation of you going down below, dragged out by the fact all the story telling has to be in 3 languages (accomplished by the 3D interior of the sub having cartoon speakers labelled with the Danish, English and German flags) The actual aquarium was well themed and larger than I expected, with many gummysharks and tropical fish. I do wonder about the messaging of having all those lego models in the tanks…plastic in our oceans I rounded out my visit at Miniland. This one was mostly focused on Denmark, with a bit of Scotland, Norway and I think Germany, they also had a section of worlds tallest buildings with model of the Burj Khalifa, Shanghai Tower, Mecca Royal Clocktower. Really nicely done, I liked the oil drilling rig, and the working port with the various moving boats. A lot of the other usual world wonders you’d see at Legoland had been spun off to be located along the Minibade self drive boat ride, but you can still see them from the walkways around that ride. I wouldnt have minded doing the Lego Canoe flume ride but the sun was beating down a bit and I didnt feel like waiting 40 mins. Overall, I had a good visit despite the crowds and got a fair bit done there. The one thing they needed to fix was the F&B lines. They were spilling out everywhere, and to add insult to injury a lot of the vending machines were broken so I couldnt just grab a drink that way. As for what I’d do to improve the park? Tough to say, it’s quite complete as far as family parks go, they have enough water rides, enough dark rides, enough flat rides etc, and enough in terms of unique flagships. I filled up several hours, and of course if you are kid you are going to want to do the splash battle, more of the flats, the driving school etc. Maybe a really small duplo coaster like the one in Windsor to take pressure off Flying Eagle? As always, you can see more detailed photos of the whole park here: https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/legoland-billund After finishing at the park I drove an hour up the road to check out Elia, which was once featured in a Tom Scott video. From a distance the steps look normal sized but they are more like climbing the tiers in a grandstand. Its supposed to let off a jet of fire once at random times, but didn't when I was there.
  8. Belantis is located about 10km south of Leipzig in Germany. https://www.parkz.com.au/parks/DE/Leipzig/Belantis If the gallery is being buggy, cycle though the photos from this point to see all 180: https://www.parkz.com.au/photo/18063-Belantis/gallery/sort/newest/location/park-225/offset/0 I had a few spare days left on my rail pass, and it’s only 1h 15m to get from Berlin (Where I was at that point) to Leipzig, and then from there you take a local S-Bahn train to Markkleeberg and a bus to the park. I got caught out because the return buses don’t run as often outside of school holidays, so I would have been stuck till 4pm. Instead I got STUNG for a taxi back. Belantis is a spread out park (About the size of the dry part of Dreamworld) built around an old coal mine. The pit is now a lake, and there are different themed lands, eg Medieval, Egypt, Ancient Greece, Mayan, Native American etc. The park feels like a mixed bag, some pockets have quite good looking theming and feel like immersive zones. Other parts it looks quite weathered and cheaply done, a lot of the park is just grave/bitumen paths and long grass and untidy landscaping.And maintenance doesnt seem the greatest, with crumbling theming in parts. If you go on Google maps you can sort of see how spread out and sparse the park is. https://www.google.com/maps/place/BELANTIS+-+Das+AbenteuerReich/@51.2536898,12.3132948,467m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x47a658c795f65d89:0xe080217d017f2766!8m2!3d51.2536898!4d12.3154835 I reckon the park would have felt better if they had just brought it all closer together. It’s the same issue WnW Sydney has basically. As for the rides, they are alright and some were interesting and unique, but I don’t think anything really grabbed me other than Gotterflug, which was a riot. The entrance area I thought looked good. Quite liked how the building was overlaid with the sundial design. First ride was Hurcan, a large Eurofighter. I heard this one was quite rough, and it shook a bit, but nothing unbearable. I don’t think you’d want to ride more than 3 times though. Starts off with a vertical lift and drop, zero g, then an oddly shaped cobra roll the train appears to wobble through. Then after a couple more turns it finishes off with some interlocking corkscrews. Nice layout actually. Too big for this coaster or top spin though. Aint it the cutest? After that passed through the Pirate themed area and tried Capt’n Blacks Piratentaufe, which is one of those family sized drop towers except it can sway from side to side. Cool little gimmick actually. The pirate area looked quite good, but it’s basically an island of theming, and once you leave its back out into windswept barren park area. It happened to be on the way but Posiedons Flotte was next, the park was dead so I was the sole person flicking around on this thing. They are their most fun when you hold the boat inwards and then suddenly turn outwards, which creates strong lateral forces. Think of it like a water borne version of flying scooters. Pressing on was Fahrt De Oddeseyus, which is a tow boat ride around the lake, passing some crap ancient Greek theming on the way, and at one point passing through a concrete culvert tunnel. Good way to waste 10 mins. I couldn’t hold off on the Egyptian bit any longer, and joined a 10 minute queue for Fluch des Pharaos, a large flume ride built by Hafema (The company that brought us Jurassic Park in Singapore and River Quest at Phantasialand. It’s sort of halfway between being a rapids ride and a flume, with boats that are inflatable dinghies holding 8, with the metal lap bars strapped/sewn onto the rubber body of the boat. The pyramid looks impressive from the outside, but a bit of missed potential. The indoor section of the ride is very brief, and really just long enough to get you to the elevator lift. Theming is essentially flat walls with a couple of statues and a mannequin of a temple explorer. The boat rolls sideways into a vertical lift, where there is a UV painted image of a big Pharaoh head, before you are lifted up, and slide sideways out again at the top, and down the main drop. The main drop is about as big as WWF, but not really wet at all. From there the ride is done at a speedy pace, leading through a few more twists and turns, and into the whirlpool element, which looks more interesting than it is, but the curved drop in the middle is kinda waterslide-ish. A couple more turns, passing a waterfall on the way, and the ride is over. It’s better than a regular flume ride, but the theming was too featureless. Right next door was Cobra Des Amun Ra, a Gerstlauer family coaster, and quite good, with a punchy layout full of elevation changes. It doesn’t just lumber around like the likes of Roadrunner/Madagascar. The station and queue building was nicely done for a coaster of this size too. Just as I got off, the park mascot made an appearance in the STATION, and then hopped on for an actual ride. You’d never see that here in Aus. Doubling back on myself, I took a ride on Gotterflug, which is a Gerstlauer Sky Roller. This is a similar concept to tailspin, but instead of it being seats on a tilted arm, it’s more like a star flyer in that it is a circular ride that rises up. The thing is super easy to get spinning, so you can get triple digit rotation counts if you like. I held back, but still spun more than any ride I’ve done on a Sky Roller. Crazy stuff. The back of the park is one big dead end, which is silly. There’s what, about 200m of path missing between Huracan and the Native American zone that would complete a logical loop around the lake, but its absence results in an 800m backtrack to reach the end of the park as a result. The park has a heap of random little non rides, like this nature walk, wonky bikes, kiddy cars etc. Filler I guess. This medieval town square is another example of a pocket of good theming, but all the shops were shut. So the next bit was the Medieval section, which has a Gertslauer bobsled coaster called Drachenriit, more or less a wild mouse on steroids with a spread out layout, and a much more interesting design overall. Starts off with a curved drop, then a few conventional switch back turns, then the remaining majority of the ride is quick helices and punchy bunny hills. Great fun. This whole area looked quite nice actually. The main castle building holds a Vekoma mad house ride, which I was sad to miss since it was closed for maintenance, but at the same time I’d done plenty of others on this trip anyway, so it wasn’t a full on loss. There was also a hedge maze. The bit at the back of the park was a sort of Native American village. I skipped over the canoes and the Frisbee ride. At that point I had done everything I wanted to, so I swung back via Huracan and tried a ride in the back seat instead, and then made my way to the exit. Time spent around 3 or so hours. It was at this point I discovered I had misread the bus timetable (carefully typing the footnote on the timetable into translate led me to discover that certain buses don’t run outside holidays), so I headed back to the entrance, where guest services called a taxi. I ate a pretzel in the meantime, before departing. Overall, the park is just average. I went mostly because it wasn’t too far out of the way from my location, and it meant more or less completing the set of major parks in Germany. Doesn’t stack up to the majors like Phantasialand or Europa of course, but I felt the 2nd tier parks like Holiday Park or Tripsdrill were better as well.
  9. Even though Parc Saint Paul is less than 2 hours away from where I live, I somehow never bothered to visit the place. After several delays and figuring out a public transportation/uber strategy to navigate in and out there, it was finally time to discover Parc Saint Paul and its reported quirkyness The entrance sets the tone with a plastic-y gate that wouldn't feel out of place at a fairground. The Campion family - who founded the park and still operates it to its day - were originally fairground ride operators which explains the very funfair look of most scenery there, as well as the nature of the rides. Started the day on Aérotrain. The ride op which was actually very warmful and friendly, was the most remarkable thing about my experience on this tame Vekoma kiddie. It makes for some nice parking lot mini-skyline, but of course I forgot to take a picture from that angle Toilet humour. Next was the local shameful cred, Pomme (apple in French). Actually make that 2 shameful creds! Never seen this sort of hairpin style kiddie before. It's obviously fairly uneventful, but the tight hairpin turns actually deliver some soft laterals which are rarely found on the usual kid-targeted coaster. There is actually a lot of trees around the paths, which alleviates the whole tacky scenery and basic, flat pathwork of the park. Since I didn't really research into the park, was surprised to find some sort of authentic village houses around the chairswing area. They look nice enough even though they feel too realistic to fit the otherwise carefree, fun atmosphere of Parc Saint Paul. But anyway, moving on to the main draw! Wood Express is really fun! There are so many little pops of ejector air taken at a good speed thoughout the layout. It doesn't provide much if any laterals at all unlike its older French cousin Timber at Walibi Rhône-Alpes, but I found the Parc Saint Paul woodie to be smoother. Also, the second hop on the double down midway through is remarkably strong! Like all other hills the airtime is very short, but it is definitely felt there in particular. Since chest-belt GoPros are accepted here - as with most smaller French parks - I took the chance to use my camera and test its 4K abilities. Parc Saint Paul clearly made a very clever move buying Wood Express. It's a lovely ride for the whole family, but thrillseekers will certainly enjoy the fun, airtime-filled experience. I'm very pleased to see another nice new ride in France, we're truly in a good phase after years of frustrating stagnation Next door is Formula 1, my first Pax coaster :eek: The Russian manufacturer has a reputation for making wonky rides, and this one surely has its share of weird transitions! Tbh, I didn't find F1 to be really rough. It has quite intense moments, especially the main drop which is quite sudden. The bad banking and above all horrible restraints prevent me from truly enjoying this however. Still something very unique and worth trying at least once though! Ending the cred with another fairground-ish coaster. Une Souris Verte is your typical Zamperla spinning wild mouse. After trying the horrible SBF equivalent (with OTSR...) this one feels like a relief. It's still a very mundane experience. Piece of trivia: Une Souris verte is actually named after the eponymous folk song for children. The sign above actually displays the lyrics! But wait, isn't there another cred here? That's correct, but Wild Train is SBNO for the year. Shame as it was reportedly the better Pax of the two at Parc Saint Paul. Oh well... Make of that what you will 😛 Tried the drop tower. The ascend to the top is actually, really, really slow! The ride's not very tall, but the drop itself is decent I guess. With all the main trill rides ticked off, it's time for some re-rides on Wood Express! Luckily the line, which went up to 30 minutes before, ended up shortening to a 5 to 10 minutes wait at the end of the day. Kudos to the good ride employees who kept the ride running and often tried their best to fill up empty seats Ended up with 11 rides on Wood Express eventually - and it was consistently fun! I found the front row better, but the difference is very slight anyway. Parc Saint Paul was fun! Obviously it is mostly about Wood Express from my enthousiast perspective, however the rest of the park has decent enough filler to keep me interested for a short day. The employees are friendly, and the place overall has a warm, unpretentious atmosphere. It does lack the charm of other French parks (Le Pal and Nigloland come to mind in particular) and I would not want to revisit any time soon, but the good dynamic of the park has to be acknowledged Next on my trip schedule is Holiday Park, where I return for a +1 kiddie cred and more Expedition GeForce bliss!
  10. For whatever reasons, I never visited English amusement parks until this year, even though coasters across the Channel - especially Alton's - had my interest ever since I became an enthusiast back in 2005. But with the additions of both Icon and Wicker Man and the opportunity to join fellow French/Belgian goons on a road trip meant I finally got the chance to experience creds in England! Day 1 - Blackpool Icon - I was actually quite worried about the Qs after seeing quite a packed entrance, but in reality the wait times were fine throughout the whole day - 30 minutes at most on the new coaster. Rode it 6/7 times and while Icon doesn't reach the graceful bliss of Helix or the insanity of Taron, it remains a pretty solid ride experience. Some weak spots here and there, but also a couple of strong highlight elements as well! It is a grower for sure. Definitely preferred the back seat for the nice mix of airtime and laterals exiting the Immelmann. Highlights: The first hill, the twisted hill and the Immelmann (back seat) Lowlights: The first launch is kinda weak, the meandering turns around Stepplechase After starting the day on a high, our group decided to tick off the classic woodies one after another. Big Dipper - Was quite worried to ride this, fearing a really unconfortable experience. In the end it was pretty harmless, and even delivered some fun little pops of air! Re-rode later in the day with a bulky guy, which meant I had a lot of space between me and my lap bar. Flying over those small hills was quite exciting actually Grand National - Only got to try the left side. It was quite bouncy, but not to the point it became too rough. There are some definite moments of sudden airtime only old woodies (and maybe some wonky Pax coasters) deliver. The racing element also made the experience quite enjoyable. Nickelodeon Streak - Apart from the flash colour scheme, it was kinda forgettable really. Not too rattly, nor too exciting either. Blue Flyer - Couldn't help mispronounce this kiddie "Blue Fire" instead. Kinda cute coaster actually, and I would have loved to have this sort of ride at my home park when I was a child. With the woodies done, we went for a lunch break before getting on the Arrows... Stepplechase (yellow side) - Hmm... ouch?! The seating position was really awkward and almost every turn entrance or exit was jolty. Really unique ride for sure and I wouldn't want it to be torn down, but it's really unfortunate that the ride experience is not so comfortable. Big One - I have to say this Arrow hyper looks really photogenic and mighty. Aboard, it provides nice views of Blackpool and the coast as well. Otherwise, this is arguably one of the shakiest coaster I've ever ridden! Definitely had to hang on to the bar in front of me. For some reason though I couldn't help laughing during the whole experience - despite the rattle, the coaster carries some good speed throughout the whole layout making for an 'entertaining' experience. Actually wished I could get a second ride on it but the train valleyed in the final turns so... nope. Revolution - The whole thing looks really weird - first climbing some stairs as if you were about to do some water slides, then entering this 'station' without a ceiling and with no doors between the platform and the train. But for all the weirdness, Revolution is quite a fun ride actually. Fairly intense loop and some little pops of airtime on the drops. Avalanche - Was surprised by the second half. I ended up being crushed by the bar with the ending helixes being unexpectedly intense and twisty! The lack of MCBR arguably helps the momentum of this Bobleigh, and it feels smoother than Trace du Hourra back home. Didn't get to ride Infusion as it closed right when I was about to enter the Q. Not that I care much about that. I am quite happy with my first day at Blackpool. Some areas feel quite tacky, but the whole place is lively and I appreciate its unique selection of dated vintage rides (RIP Wild Mouse though). Icon adds a much-needed quality ride experience to compliment well the heritage coasters. I wouldn't return soon unless they add anything big, but BPB was a pleasant start to our trip! Next part: Alton Towers For whatever reasons, I never visited English amusement parks until this year, even though coasters across the Channel - especially Alton's - had my interest ever since I became an enthusiast back in 2005. But with the additions of both Icon and Wicker Man and the opportunity to join fellow French/Belgian goons on a road trip meant I finally got the chance to experience creds in England! Day 1 - Blackpool Icon - I was actually quite worried about the Qs after seeing quite a packed entrance, but in reality the wait times were fine throughout the whole day - 30 minutes at most on the new coaster. Rode it 6/7 times and while Icon doesn't reach the graceful bliss of Helix or the insanity of Taron, it remains a pretty solid ride experience. Some weak spots here and there, but also a couple of strong highlight elements as well! It is a grower for sure. Definitely preferred the back seat for the nice mix of airtime and laterals exiting the Immelmann. Highlights: The first hill, the twisted hill and the Immelmann (back seat) Lowlights: The first launch is kinda weak, the meandering turns around Stepplechase After starting the day on a high, our group decided to tick off the classic woodies one after another. Big Dipper - Was quite worried to ride this, fearing a really unconfortable experience. In the end it was pretty harmless, and even delivered some fun little pops of air! Re-rode later in the day with a bulky guy, which meant I had a lot of space between me and my lap bar. Flying over those small hills was quite exciting actually Grand National - Only got to try the left side. It was quite bouncy, but not to the point it became too rough. There are some definite moments of sudden airtime only old woodies (and maybe some wonky Pax coasters) deliver. The racing element also made the experience quite enjoyable. Nickelodeon Streak - Apart from the flash colour scheme, it was kinda forgettable really. Not too rattly, nor too exciting either. Blue Flyer - Couldn't help mispronounce this kiddie "Blue Fire" instead. Kinda cute coaster actually, and I would have loved to have this sort of ride at my home park when I was a child. With the woodies done, we went for a lunch break before getting on the Arrows... Stepplechase (yellow side) - Hmm... ouch?! The seating position was really awkward and almost every turn entrance or exit was jolty. Really unique ride for sure and I wouldn't want it to be torn down, but it's really unfortunate that the ride experience is not so comfortable Big One - I have to say this Arrow hyper looks really photogenic and mighty. Aboard, it provides nice views of Blackpool and the coast as well. Otherwise, this is arguably one of the shakiest coaster I've ever ridden! Definitely had to hang on to the bar in front of me. For some reason though I couldn't help laughing during the whole experience - despite the rattle, the coaster carries some good speed throughout the whole layout making for an 'entertaining' experience. Actually wished I could get a second ride on it but the train valleyed in the final turns so... nope. Revolution - The whole thing looks really weird - first climbing some stairs as if you were about to do some water slides, then entering this 'station' without a ceiling and with no doors between the platform and the train. But for all the weirdness, Revolution is quite a fun ride actually. Fairly intense loop and some little pops of airtime on the drops. Avalanche - Was surprised by the second half. I ended up being crushed by the bar with the ending helixes being unexpectedly intense and twisty! The lack of MCBR arguably helps the momentum of this Bobleigh, and it feels smoother than Trace du Hourra back home. Didn't get to ride Infusion as it closed right when I was about to enter the Q. Not that I care much about that. I am quite happy with my first day at Blackpool. Some areas feel quite tacky, but the whole place is lively and I appreciate its unique selection of dated vintage rides (RIP Wild Mouse though). Icon adds a much-needed quality ride experience to compliment well the heritage coasters. I wouldn't return soon unless they add anything big, but BPB was a pleasant start to our trip! Next part: Alton Towers
  11. I've had a nice and cheerful experience with the guys at CoasterForce at Parc Astérix, so I decided to join them for another, bigger trip! This time I would also discover 3 new parks in Germany, in addition to a return to Phantasialand... Summary Part 0: Phantasialand - Return of Taron Part 1: Movie Park Germany - Star Trek is actually underrated! Part 2: Heide Park - My first Wing Coaster Part 3: Hansa Park - Lovely management and stunning Kärnan Part 0: Phantasialand Although not an official part of GhosterForce, many people from CF added a stop to Phanta before the main event. The temptation to return there and get more night Taron craze was too much! One of my car-mates was Rachel, who was visiting the park for her first time, and her excitement was infectious! It's always a special feeling for me to return there and enjoy unique creative theming and rides, but to share the experience with someone who's never visited before added to my joy and certainly made me proud of my favourite park We also met CSLKennyNI, which was a real pleasure. Really cool guy with great insights on the park and the German coasters in general Starting with Maus au Chocolat allowed us to avoid long lines there, and therefore the high-pitch mice noises didn't get too annoying. I find this shooter dark-ride to be a lot of fun, despite the shoulder pain it indulges and despite my actually terrible aiming skills! The walk to Wuze Town includes a stopover near the much-discussed F.L.Y. sign. Winjas was good family fun as usual. It has a lot of gimmicks, but it truly adds to the experience instead of being a marketing overhype. Only complaint is that the cars are really narrow, even for a skinny dude like me :eek: We cleared off this side of the park with two of its more dated rides: Temple of the Night Hawk and Hollywood Tour. I suppose that, along the Berlin entrance, Phantasialand will work on refurbishing this zone to bring it to the standards of the park. Temple is actually fairly smooth and has some decent pace, but its family-ish layout calls for much more theming than a ride in the complete dark with no effects whatsoever. Chiapas is for me what a flume ride should be. Gorgeous, immersive theming and music that keeps you entertaining throughout. The disco part never ceases to keep me excited! After that, I split a while from the group to take more pictures and off-ride videos, we rejoined for Mystery Castle. The launch took me by surprise as I was expecting some more wait before the boost kicks off. I know it's part of the theming, but I wish it weren't so dark during the actual ride experience, so you could see the others as you drop and launch up again during the short program. Still a creative and exciting take on the usual drop tower/space shot type of attraction! We walked through the Klugheim zone but did not ride the gem Intamin yet. Not exactly sure how we resisted the temptation with so many breathtaking interactions with the ride, but I also remember Rachel really really wanted to make Taron her #300! Colorado Adventure was I believe her final stepping stone before reaching 300. I still like this Mine Train very much, the long layout provides a enjoyable ride. However, Big Thunder Mountain in Paris did have more of a wild out-of-control feel since its rehab. The banking on Colorado is funky at times. You have some wonky laterals which gets really fun during the dark section. Not having hard OTSR on an old Vekoma (and no inversions either) really helps I suppose! Can we ride Taron now then? Yessss!!! After that exhilarating Night ERT last April, I was curious to ride again the much-praised Intamin Blitz. Predictably, it wasn't as intense at noon, but Taron still surprises me, notably with the wicked change of direction right after the first airtime hill! Really snappy twist coming after a dive under some building so you can't really see it coming if you're not familiar with the layout. I split again from the group for the launch break. I was planning to shoot more videos of Taron, but a 5 minutes wait for single riders decided otherwise... Not gonna refuse such a treat! Did 3 more solo rides then, and also grabbed a front row ride on Raik, which does have a twisty bit of its own. It's a cool extra really Black Mamba at the front was still remarkably forceful. The layout is kinda generic, but very enjoyable nonetheless. The drum beat playing as the train exits the station always makes me more excited! Did a couple more re-rides later in the day which confirmed my positive thoughts about the Invert. I somehow forgot to take a picture of Talocan on fire. Such a spectacular thrill ride and once again, the scenery and atmosphere really enhance the experience there! Onto the final "new" attraction of the day: I never did Hotel Tartuff in 7 previous visits to Phantasialand. :eek: It's very easy to miss it and mistake it for yet another merch store in the Main Street. The CF lively atmosphere made the Fun House quite fun actually! The rest of the day was re-rides so let's skip to the most exciting part... Exclusive rides on Taron for the hotel guests, yay! I have to say, while the coaster does feel less borderline insane than before, I still get the adrenaline rush that makes me run in excitement from the station exit to the ride's gates all across the empty line again and again. The epic fanfare, the magnetic roars, and a twisty fast-paced layout really kept me excited during the whole hour. I ended up riding Taron 10 times during that session, and 15 times the day overall. Phantasialand really had a superb idea to make this hotel ERT, that's a brilliant piece of marketing there!
  12. Traveling and crossing borders in Mainland Europe isn't too bad, so I took the opportunity to visit again two parks in nearby countries north of France! Part 1: Efteling As I moved on from simply visiting and credding to filming videos at parks. I started appreciating places that actually care about theming and landscaping a bit more. I had visited Efteling 2 years ago, and while I thoroughly enjoyed that trip, I felt I needed to go again sometime to fully enjoy the merits of the park. That's why to my surprise, I did not need a new coaster, as the addition of Symbolica and night opening were attractive enough to get me back there! I arrived shortly after the 10 am opening. The entrance must be one of the most distincive and majestic among theme parks. I went against my instincts by strolling along the lake to take some pictures. Efteling is a really large park, and the distance covered by the lake is only a fraction of it! I had surprisingly pleasant memories of Bob, one rare surviving iteration of the Intamin Swiss Bob model. My ride this time was not as enjoyable - the fun swinging and relatively steep drops couldn't make up for what was some noticable bouncing in the train. I waited 45 minutes, completely forgetting about the single rider line nearby. Oh well... Went for the second row on Baron 1898 and got right wing seat. It was a bit underwhelming. The drop didn't feel as floaty and impressive as I remembered, and I felt a couple of minor headbanging during the inversions. Nothing too serious of course, but still surprising. Hopefully I got a couple of rerides afterwards, but that's for a another paragraph (Ugh, my camera sometimes fails to get a non-blurred picture. Frustrating!) Joris ended that run of (slight) disappointment as it happily matched my expectations. Went for Vuur first, and it was running pretty well! Good pace and a lot of fun laterals. Ever since my Poland trip, I have the unreasonable curiosity in (re)riding any old Vekoma to put to the test my recent love for the Dutch manufacturer. Equipped with vest restraints, Python turned out only slightly uncomfortable. There was some notable rattle during the drop and vertical loops, but the ride as a whole felt more uneventful than really horrible. The Pagoda is the only ride (to my knowledge) which provides great overviews of the park and where you can bring your camera. It's really valuable since the views from up in the air are quite impressive! Symbolica was another eye-drawer from outside. Really like this type of architecture as I find it fitting for the carefree atmosphere of a theme park, and here it is implemented really well! This dark ride was the 2017 and it shows its infant age. Really sophisticated and enjoyable addition. The scenery is appealing except for the stairs leading down to the station which lack some details. Loved the atmosphere and wish I could have done it more if it weren't for the substantial queue wait... Wanting to give Baron another try, I was rewarded with a fun lap at the front! It eliminated the (minor) jolts issue and provided a much more impressive drop! At this point I went across all the park to take more pictures. I also wanted to buy some merch before the crowds flood the stores right before closure. Went back to Joris only to find it temporarily closed for some minor technical problem. The issue was quickly solved however, which meant I ended up waiting a little less for my lap on the Water side! That one is certainly my favourite of the two. Some really good hops in quick succession here (That picture was taken hours before) Vliegende Hollander never impressed me in videos or on-ride. Not a single exciting layout element and the boat section is almost completely in the dark. Too bad for a ride with such a fab queueline and building Night ride on Baron was undoubtedly the best I've had. I even got a small pop of airtime of the final hill, which was really cool I then wasted too much time on taking (yet more) pictures, and it ended up costing me a final ride on Joris. Unfortunate, but Baron was still an excellent way to end the day on a high note! Next in Part 2 will be Plopsaland with another night opening!
  13. Hello again! This topic will comprise of my Trip Reports to parks in Europe. I really like to describe my experience on coasters and I hope you'll enjoy the reads (The Phantasialand and Liseberg TRs are a copy paste of my reports originally posted at CoasterForce) Part 1: Phantasialand (April 2017) After missing out on Taron the previous year because I visited the park too early, I was determined to make it this time! The coaster has received rave reviews, almost unanimous, and my anticipation was sky high for a coaster that has a very unique and confusion layout...A 3-hour drive from my friend Erdekraft's home meant we had to wake up at 5 am to ensure we would get to Phantasialand around opening times. We arrived at the Ling Bao (no pictures, whoops) hotel right before 10:00 am for check-in. We took our hotel ERT bracelets and headed straight to Winjas': The sight of Wuze Town's main hall and the double helix still amaze me. Even though it is my 3rd visit to the park, I was surprised by how fast the elevator lift was. It lasts for like, 10 seconds until you reach the main drop? The coasters themselves were fun as always. They didn't really duel during my visit but I did not mind given how immersive the theming is. Both layouts are varied, complete and have some little tricks that set them apart from other spinning coasters. I can't conclusively decide which one I prefer, even though both my friends heavily leaned towards Fear because of the bigger drop and overbanked turn. Our second ride of the day was Temple of the Night Hawk. Erdekraft nicknames it 'le coaster nul' ('the sucky coaster' in French). It isn't that bad to be honest. Just meandering a very long time in the dark. Would be more interesting lights on and with theming in my opinion. I guess even Phantasialand has room for improvement I was looking forward to riding Black Mamba which left me a positive impression last year. And my first ride was... fairly disappointing sadly I sat at the front right seat, and definitely felt some headbanging during a couple of transitions. The intensity was there though as I remembered, but those jolts meant I couln't fully enjoy that first ride. Funnily enough, Erdekraft sat in the middle front and had no trouble whatsoever, but heard me and my other friend (sitting at the left) say 'ouch' at the very same time! Thankfully, there was no such headbanging on my following laps later in the day or the next day, and as such I still rank this B&M Inverted highly for its extensive theming and narrow, forceful layout.Our impatience then was too much, we couldn't resist the urge to go and see Klugheim... Taron was about an 1:30 hour wait. I was extremely intrigued by the hype and applause around the latest Intamin blitz that I feared ending underwhelmed. Therefore I was very excited when it was time to ride aboard the new trains complete with their Mack-inspired lap-bars. They felt a little bit bulky at first, but caused me no problem overall. Good job Intamin! My first impression was that the ride was worth its reputation, a Top 5 coaster full of intensity and snappy turns. The couple of airtime hills are good ejector but definitely not the most insane/powerful Intamin ever did (EGF and El Toro still fare better imo). But more on Taron later that day with the hotel ERT... Mystery Castle was a 5 minute wait. Aside from the great theming, this Space Shot-thingy dazzled me with its light effects which made me lost sense of height. At some points during the program I couldn't tell if I was towards the top or the bottom of the ride. I suppose the effects worked wonders on me! Chiapas and its earworm soundtrack... Still the best flume log I've ridden, great Mexican scenery all along and fast, efficient switch track tricks. The log reaches a fairly nice speed at the bottom of the main drop. Templo de Fiesta is still good funky Onto another best of its kind, this time Colorado Adventure. This Mine Train is only pure fun, no dead spots, a good speed throughout and fairly smooth even though a few oddly banked turns caught me off-guard when I raised my hands ^^ The final helix makes for a great picture location. The next ride was something much more agressive with Talocan. A good soundwork and fire effects really add to the atmosphere, especially during the queue. The ride itself was on the edge of too much intense spinning for me buy fortunately I still enjoyed it.We then decided to eat a quick dinner with some Chinese noodles (no pics, yep again). For some reason our noodles contained a substantial amount of sweetpepper. Well, doesn't matter if you have bad breath when you still get an ERT on Taron later! Taron evening ERT. I will go straight to the point: this hour of exclusive ride time of Taron was the most fun I ever had in an amusement park. I really enjoyed my first lap on this coaster, but the 6+ rides with little to no wait after park closure took matters to an entirely new level. The second half was literally breathtaking, I couldn't even scream of joy even though I wanted so, because the twists were so snappy, and the turns so intense. The official POV doesn't do it justice really. While the first half might be some fast strolling around the rocks after the airtime hill, the second part is so relentless the overall experience feels overwhelmingly exhilarating. The Taron fanfare and the sweet Intamin LSM sound build my excitement even higher for a complete experience, ride and theming joining hands to deliver a fantastic moment! I think EGF still ranks ahead on pure airtime joy, but Taron comes very, very close behind because of that magic ERT. As opposed to most coasters I've ridden before, Taron has an 'organic' feel that is hard to describe. I can't tell each element from another, as the elements are so intertwined. A truly wonderful engineering achievement to my eyes. (Picture courtesy of my friend Maxime) We went back to our room still bewildered by the outstanding time we had. The experience was so fulfilling we couldn't help laughing for the next hour! -Day 2- After the insanity of evening ERT on Taron, this custom Vekoma family Boomerang might seem like a footnote, but there's still plenty to say about the other 2016 addition at Phanta. Raik, for that matter, is actually my very first Family Boomerang. I have to say I was pretty impressed by the speed the train goes through the station after the first backwards crest. For a family-oriented coaster this is still fairly scary The scenery is very detailed and easy on the eyes. I didn't get the fog effects but I loved how the lights changed from red to green as the train switches from going backwards/forwards. The only downside of this charming coaster is its limited capacity because of its shuttle nature. I waited around 45 minutes in the morning (in the single rider line!) for my one ride. Thankfully the atmosphere is more than nice enough to cushion my impatience and I got rewarded with a nice interaction with Taron on my way through the backwards lift! Maus au Chocolat was our last major attraction to experience again. This 3D shooting dark-ride was a pleasant and fun one. I love the theme, it is refreshing and new for a ride of this type and still very fitting! The theming is well executed and the whole 3D-thingy well integrated. The rest of the day, which precise schedule I can't exactly remember mostly consisted of rerides on Black Mamba, Winjas Fear and Colorado, with the B&M getting the most laps overall despite (or because ?) of the unconfortable experience of my ride at the front the previous day. We also went around the lake for a welcome break from all the intensity and dense (but wonderful!) theming of Phantasialand. Overall, Phanta stands out as my favourite park. It simply has the most balanced mix between intricate theming, excellent operations and of course, fantastic coasters. Taron and, to a lesser extent, Black Mamba might get most of the attention, but Winjas and Colorado Adventure are really quality rides for their type. I would only avoid going to the park during very busy days, because the dense scenery with many narrow pathways might become uneasy, but otherwise I have not a single minor complaint about the park. It truly is fab! I hope that you'll like reading coasters reports in Europe. If so, I'll be posting my story of visiting Liseberg last month next
  14. Wet N’ Wild, Seaworld & Movieworld Theme Parks Gold Coast Trip Report Early November 2016 We hadn’t been to Wet N’ Wild nor Movieworld for over 12 years, nor Seaworld since Nov 2011, and our crew all enjoyed a visit to each last week. Firstly, we mostly used public transport during our week in & around the Gold Coast (using QLD transport Go Cards we’ve had for years), and it was great – the new light rail tram from the Uni/Hospital to Pacific Fair is excellent, those theme park buses e.g. TX2 are great, the airport 777 coach was excellent, and it all cost a fair bit cheaper than a few years ago for some reason. Also, these days we always plan a less-busy week to visit the Gold Coast & theme parks, i.e. out of NSW/QLD/VIC school hols, not during a big race event nor schoolies weeks etc., AND try & get to theme parks during the Mon, Tue or Wed during weekdays. We managed this for Wet N’ Wild & Seaworld (Monday & Tuesday visits when seemed OK), but couldn’t get to Movieworld until the Friday – and it seemed noticeably busier. --- Wet N’ Wild: Wet N’ Wild on the Monday was quite enjoyable, few queues were longer than 15mins especially after ~2pm. The park entrance was pretty good – a large shaded area & welcoming staff to assist before heading to the gates themselves. They opened the processing booths ~5mins before official opening time of 10am which is good, thereafter the turnstiles to actually enter the park were a bit of a bottleneck – they could have opened a couple more of those right on 10 to help. There seemed to be a fair amount of shaded areas (much more than I recall last time) which is essential, also quite a lot of lifeguard staff around, most of whom seemed fairly friendly. - Calypso Beach: Big gentle river float was nice for the little ones, though there was a bit of rubbish/litter throughout which should’ve been cleaned up regularly. - Black Hole: Slides were good, though not dark nor long enough for mine, would be far better if longer, darker 7 perhaps with a couple of scary-type face shapes lit up partway along. - Kamikaze: Never did it myself but family reports indicated it was fun. - Tornado: We did it ~10 times later in the day with no queues which was great (& a pretty good workout carrying the large inflatable up those stairs). - Mach 5: Fun, kids loved it, though the exit should have a safer quick option straight back to the inflatables when it’s not busy. - Jetstream Bodyslides: Pretty cool if short, did them several times whilst carrying the inflatables up to the Mach 5 for the kids. - Constrictor: Never did it myself, family reports indicated it was OK but a big queue. - Aqualoop: Awesome. Did this several times with barely any queues, even got most of our less-adventurous crew onto it for lots of laughs. Quite like the back-strapped board etc. Would love a taller/longer faster version with double-loop or something. - River Rapids: (4 waterslides with 2 enclosed, 2 open): Longest queue I found, thus only did it once, pretty cool. Would’ve done it a few more times if there were no queues. - Skycoaster: We all had a look, but couldn’t bring ourselves to strap-in for that insane freefall. - Surfrider: Never did it myself (looked too intense for me honestly), those in our crew that did enjoyed it. - Family fun areas: Pretty good, thankfully pretty varied. Though the restriction for much of it to not wear any eyewear / goggles is ridiculous (many kids benefit from swimming goggles etc.) The toilets were mostly fairly messy, they should have more regularly cleaning etc. The overall layout seemed basically OK, those zipline cables running from the River Rapids to near the Skycoaster looked like a flying fox ride thingy – I don’t know if they are/were but they should be and it should be open, looked pretty cool. The exit through the shop was a bit dodgy – much tiled flooring that got slippery when wet etc. but no biggie. Overall a better experience than I expected, especially when using a good-value pre-purchased multi-park multi-day pass or something. I’ll look forward to taking the family back there in a couple of years on a nice warm sunny day again. --- Seaworld: Seaworld on the Tuesday was also fairly enjoyable, moreso than I expected. The park entrance was a bit dodgy as usual, a mess of people about the place, with little shade. Staff to initially assist & direct you as you approach, from say 9:30am to ~11am) should be implemented. We followed somewhat unclear signage & queue arrangement to the left into some weird processing area, had some token photo taken, then moved to a booth actually fairly promptly. The staff at the booth were pleasant and fast, and we got through the turnstile pretty quickly actually, which was good. There were a few shaded areas about the place, but it could do with more. The new big animal models about the place looked great – shark, kraken, dragon, whales, with informative plaques, sounds & movement etc. the kids loved, good to see. - Monorail: Would’ve liked to ride it once to get across the park & relax a bit in (presumably) cool aircon, but it seemed to travel so slowly and infrequently with no apparent schedule nor signage indicating ETA etc. we just bailed both times we tried. Shame. - Creatures of the Deep: Pretty cool. Some faults with some of the interactive items should be fixed. - Polar Bears: Sad. That’s no place for such creatures (except for genuine rescued/treatment situations etc.), we didn’t see any bears, but just browsing the enclosures made me kinda sick. - Shark Bay: The huge underwater tank viewing is always pretty cool, kids loved it. Some of the plaques need replacing. - Ray reef: Also pretty cool, kids enjoyed petting some etc. - Nickelodeon Land: Good idea but layout’s a bit of a mess, queues were a bit nasty, the kids roller coaster boat was enjoyed greatly by some of our younger crew. - Castaway Bay: Actually pretty good, I expected it partly closed, but those pirate ships with water cannons are great fun for all, & the kids climbing fortress is great too. - Storm Coaster: Some big queues, for a damn short ride. Did it a few times later in the day with barely any queues, still: seems like a fair effort to design & construct wasted in part for a ride so short. Pretty good ride though. - Jet Rescue: Impressive! We quite like the similar Mick Doohan Motor Coaster @ Dreamworld, but this Jet Rescue almost blows it away – ended up doing it too many times, started really shaking us up. Good stuff. - Dockside Tavern: Love the idea, the fact it serves alcohol & good-looking food, and we enjoyed a refreshing beer or 2. When we were there it was under-staffed, and the wind really affected the balcony tables – perhaps some kind of roller sheets or something to roll down when it’s windy to help? The Dolphin, Seal & Jetski shows seemed OK, fairly well-organized amphitheatre seating for the animal ones etc. Some of the overall layout seemed a bit messy, with lack of clear signage etc. but not too bad. I’m unlikely to return there again for several years. --- Movieworld: Movieworld on the Friday was also fairly enjoyable, again moreso than I expected. The park entrance seemed ok with a fair bit of shade, and we got in quite quickly with our 7-day multi-park passes, good stuff. Staff to initially assist & direct you as you approach, from say 9:30am to ~11am) should be implemented. The grand impression & design within the main gate is pretty good, leads to a sense of excitement etc. There were quite a few shaded areas about the place which is good to see. - Junior Driving School: excellent idea, nice big layout, seemed well-organized with lots of shade. Queue was hefty when we first got the kids onto it, and once they were finally all on the cars and they all started off, it seemed only around 1 minute later they all stopped and that session was over! Ridiculously short duration! We later revisited it with far lesser queues & thankfully they run the sessions longer then. - Loony Tunes 4D Theatre Show: Pretty cool. - Road Runner Coaster: Kids seemed to like it, cool. - Kids WB Fun Zone: Some good stuff, little kids loved the Train & Taxis. - Stunt Driver 2 Show: Pretty cool, good to sit down for a while, though it was busy/popular. - Wild West Adventure Falls Ride: Very good, though the queues through the busy period were horrendous. Nice ride. Again later in the day revisiting with hardly any queues was great. - Scooby-Doo Indoor Coaster: Excellent. Again queues through the busy period were horrendous. Nice ride, & later in the day revisiting with hardly any queues was great. Kids loved it. - Batwing Spaceshot: Didn’t ride it ourselves, but it looked cool. - Superman Escape Coaster: Awesome. Massive queues through busy period, revisited when quieter later, want to do it more (could only fit in 2 rides on it this day). - Arkham Asylum Coaster: Awesome. One of the best rides I’ve ever done. Only did it once late in the day with hardly any queue, will revisit it and am keen to pay extra for it’s VR experience. - Main street entertainment, characters etc.: Pretty cool, Batman with the Batmobile looked awesome. Superman, Supergirl, Wonderwoman, Catwoman, Green Lantern, The Flash, The Joker, Marilyn Monroe all looked great, and most of them interacted with the crowd later in the day pretty well. Similarly the cartoon characters Tweetie, Bugs, Scooby-Doo etc. were cool. The Green Lantern Coaster was closed whilst we were there (we knew it would be), I’m definitely riding that thing next time. The Doomsday Destroyer was closed, didn’t concern me as it looks a bit nasty for mine. Overall a better experience than I expected, especially when using a good-value pre-purchased multi-park multi-day pass or something. Lookin’ forward to taking the family back there in a couple of years on a day that’s more mild than hot hopefully, again, where we’ll definitely hit that Arkham & Superman coasters multiple times again! --- Cheers.
  15. So here we go, for the final time in a while, we're off to Blackpool Pleasure Beach! Yay! A bit of background first. I come from a town that's just a short distance from the Pleasure Beach, then moved to Yorkshire for university and stayed here since. But each year my wife and I will come over to the Pleasure Beach for a day. As a child I firmly believed Blackpool was absolutely God-awful as a town - and still do (edible crotchless underwear available in capsule machines on the sea front). But the Pleasure Beach is one of the few things it has going for it. We're travelling to the Pleasure Beach with our two-year-old son and my brother-in-law, and are joined by two friends at the car park opposite the football ground (or, as we locals used to call it, "the skip"), with my parents-in-law arriving later and joining us in the park itself. It's probably about a 10-minute walk to the park (after they've increased the bloody car park fare to £12, I think it was, and payment by card only) past all the B&Bs, one of which is called "Roachville". I have little doubt it lives up to its name. Arriving at the park and it's customary to go to the loos just outside, which of course lacks baby changing in the men's. Finally into the park itself (after getting our wristbands that we bought online, being given all sorts of promotional bumpf, going through the metal detectors and collecting our belongings from the trays) and I do have to say that, whilst the Pleasure Beach doesn't look great, it most certainly is. If you're ever in the UK then it's probably THE park you want to do, probably even moreso than Alton Towers. It doesn't have the nice, peaceful tranquility or massive modern rides of the big, big parks but it makes up for it in just how unique it is. We head on over to Infusion first of all, an SLC that's set entirely over water. In fact, I think it's still the world's only roller coaster built entirely over water. It's a good little ride (we go on it twice whilst the queues are low) but it does batter me a bit with element after element after element. There's not much space, but it is very tightly compressed. It does really look the part though - the park have done very well with this, fitting it into a small space whilst allowing people to look onto it from a long observation area (where there are plenty of food places). Even better is that the Big One and Big Dipper run alongside this, as well as the train! The queue area is also strangely great, basically consisting of bridges going over the water and between the track struts. Next up was Avalance, during which I decided to stay off-ride with my son (one of our friends looked after him whilst we were on Infusion). Avalance is a bobsled coaster, and it's not too bad but nothing special for me. Over far too quickly. But it does take a while to queue for (for some reason). I think I remember this opening, and my sister getting stuck on it when it broke down. Ho-hum. Kept my son entertained by watching the Revolution with him, which he loved as it went round the loop. Last main ride, at the moment at least, was the Big One. The tallest roller coaster in the world when it opened, the lift hill is 235ft above sea level (but 213ft above ground) and, whilst the height has been overtaken many times over the years since, it's still a great coaster. It would definitely be in my top 10 in the world, especially for the following four reasons: 1 - the first quarter of the ride is BRILLIANT. There is a roll to the right on the lift hill drop but I quite like that. Then so many great straights up until you nearly come out of the park (so by this point you've travelled most of the length of the park), before a corner and then back the same way, whilst running alongside Infusion and Big Dipper. 2 - the sheer size of this coaster, and the unique layout of the Pleasure Beach. Because of the size of the land the park has (hint - not much) and keeping so many old attractions, the Big One winds around - and actually through - quite a lot of the park. If you want to see the Pleasure Beach, this is the way. 3 - it lasts AGES. Compared to a lot of major UK coasters this one really gives you a lot of value for money. 4 - loads of people on it are wimps, screaming and holding on for dear life. I just tend to laugh as I put my arms in the air (as much as I can without thwacking my wife in the face). And yes, as it's sponsored by Pepsi Max, it's painted in appropriate blue and red and, before the lift hill, goes through two giant Pepsi Max cans. It did suffer a bit of a breakdown as we arrived, but the queue wasn't that big. Following this, my in-laws have arrived and so, whilst the rest of the group go on the Steeplechase, I go with the in-laws and my son to Nickelodeon Land so he can go on some stuff. Which is fair enough - he quite enjoyed some of the rides once he got into the swing of things. Steeplechase, though, is a ride I really can't go on any more - my legs seemed too long last time to ride on it (the only steeplechase coaster left in the world, like sitting on carousel horses but they're on a roller coaster track) and I fell over in pain when I managed to get off the ride. Not really a ride I'm bothered about, but it would definitely be a pity if it went. Lunch was eventually called for and the only place on-site which could offer anything half good is a Burger King (or Hungry Jacks as they're called in Australia). Fair enough. Got an "Angry Whopper" which apparently has hot sauce baked into the bun. That, fries and a drink for, I think, £6, which isn't bad for theme park food prices. Alright, what else did we do? After this it becomes a bit hectic. Various other rides with my son in the Nickelodeon Land. Also, the others went on the Nickelodeon Streak (new name for the Roller Coaster / Velvet Coaster, which is now painted bright orange). Again, not really a ride I'm too bothered about, but it's good to see that Nickelodeon chose to keep it rather than dismantle it or change anything. Good old coaster. Wild Mouse with my wife. This thing hurts. A very compact, lethal little coaster. If you think "well, I've been on a Wild Mouse elsewhere and they're nothing special", boy are you wrong about this one. Made of wood (and I have to duck at one or two bits, otherwise my head will collide with parts of the track overhead), this thing consists of 90-degree turns (and even 180-degree turns) that are incredibly sharp and taken at speed. You can choose to sit alone or, if you're sadistic (as we are), sit with someone else, one person between the others' legs. The Big Dipper was ridden a few times, as was the Grand Nash. Both of these coasters are old wooden ones and firmly fit into the category of "ow ow ow my spine". The Grand Nash is of particular note as it's a racing coaster but only has one track - it just loops back on itself. If you choose the train on the right, you'll arrive back on the left. It is a single track with two cars. Both Grand Nash and Big Dipper are pretty old, with the Big Dipper apparently being built in 1923, and are pretty interesting to ride and see how they make use of the space. I especially like how the Grand Nash goes through the "garden" bit of the park (which ordinarily you can't go to) and you can see the greenhouses where plants are grown, as well as weeds coming up through the track as it passes close to the ground. In terms of the roller coasters we went on, Revolution finishes the bill. Previously the Irn Bru Revolution (with orange and blue colours, though now it's not it's simply painted a dull grey), this is Europe's first fully looping roller coaster. A simple premise - you climb up the stairs to the station, get on it and it does a loop and then stops. Then it goes backwards through the loop, back to the station. Still pretty good, and it's one of my wife's favourites. We did do a few other rides, mostly with my son. We took him on Alice In Wonderland, an old dark ride where you sit in the car and go past some mostly static sets, which he didn't seem that fussed about. Then we took him on the Ghost Train, which is mostly the same thing (and probably about as scary as Alice), but it also has a small "roller coaster" element in which you basically go down a ramp really fast, and then back up. He seemed to quite like watching this bit before the ride (as this bit comes outdoors, then goes back indoors) and didn't seem to mind the ride. We also took him on the River Caves - a cool little boat ride that looks like it goes through the sunken remains of the Crystal Maze sets, with a tiny drop at the end, which he was quite interested in. And for ourselves - he didn't want to go on it - we went on the Wallace & Gromit ride, a new dark ride which is basically Alice In Wonderland, but with Wallace & Gromit. We also did the Ice Blast (previously the PlayStation), which is a drop tower and fair enough. That basically makes up the Pleasure Beach, which I think was closing at about 6:30 (or something like that, having opened at 10:30). Following this we went to a nearby pub for dinner, and then started heading home at about 9-ish, my son having been awake since about 7 in the morning. Somehow he hadn't slept all day and zonked out immediately on getting in the car. Should also mention that we did consider doing Valhalla, but it was near the end and none of us really fancied it. Valhalla is basically an indoor water ride par excellence - absolutely thoroughly brilliant, if you like water rides. I haven't come across one that comes near it. Ripsaw Falls at Islands Of Adventure is the nearest, but pales in comparison to Valhalla. It is brilliant. It is fantastic. It will absolutely soak you, no questions asked. You will jump through flames, backwards, whilst travelling through a giant freezer and if somehow you don't end up soaked (you will), someone will be on hand at the end to tie you down and pour sixteen buckets of ice-cold water over you. Again, you will get soaked, and unfortunately you're in Blackpool, one of the places in the world where you're least likely to get dry in the sun (a foreign concept to the locals). So. Pleasure Beach. Absolutely brilliant place, so long as you can get the right time and queues aren't massive (we normally manage okay). Yes, you've got scummy parents smoking pot in the queue for the Wild Mouse and yelling at their effing kids, and the weather's not too brilliant (it rained for the morning, but then turned okay for us). But it has a fantastic collection of rides (the ones we did are most certainly not all of them, but definitely most of the major ones) with a new coaster in the works. And again, it has such a unique layout! Constrained by space and planning restrictions, it is like Alton Towers where rides have to be imaginitively planned, but with hardly any room. And somehow it works! During the Big One, you will travel over part of the Big One track, alongside Infusion, alongside the train, over the Big Dipper track, over the Grand Nash station, over Steeplechase and underneath a part of the Nickelodeon Streak. The Revolution, arguably one of the smallest "big" coasters known to man, still allows people to walk under the loop. So many rides just wind around each other, unlike other parks where each coaster is nicely sectioned off from everything else - even the park itself. The Pleasure Beach has absolutely no qualms about putting a garden directly underneath Avalanche, for instance, so you can have a walk around them whilst the coaster roars overhead. It can be a confusing park at times - occasionally, near the mid-area, you have to deal with some things being on different levels (coming off Big Dipper, for instance), and it's easy to forget that the park actually has a road that runs underneath it too (we used to park on it when we went ice skating). The park has, sadly, gotten rid of three of my favourite attractions in recent years - the old Gold Mine (think halfway between a dark ride and a roller coaster, which has now been replaced with the much more sedate Wallace & Gromit), Noah's Ark (a brilliant "fun house" walk-through attraction, which always made me wonder how they fit it all in), and Bling (a recent flat ride which was fun, now replaced with Red Arrows - a "Gerstlauer Sky Fly thrill ride" which was boring). Soon after I went to Cedar Point back in 2011, I joined the park's unofficial forums. Some people on it thought they couldn't think of another park which had to fit so much into so little space. Pleasure Beach does that, but on a much smaller scale. I guess Movie World kinda does, but it does seem to scale down some of the rides a lot. Pleasure Beach doesn't. Somehow it still has pretty big rides but it still works. If you're ever doing a roller coaster tour of Europe, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is one you need to go to. Probably as much as Alton Towers, if not moreso.
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