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  1. Hello everyone! Last month I attended the 2018 Euro Attractions Show, which is the IAAPA European event reuniting most of the professionals in the industry. I was covering the show for French website CoastersWorld.fr resulting in several interviews starting with these two: First of all I had the great privilege of meeting Sascha Czibulka and Camiel Bilsen of Intamin. Sascha is the company's Executive VP and has been with Intamin for 17 years, while Camiel is their promising young designer and has been heavily involved in the making of Hyperion. Highlights include: - Going for a bolder approach to design Hyperion and staying ahead of competitors (4:58) - The strengths of Intamin's new track design (5:55) - Intamin's new seat and lap-bar (7:18) Secondly, I also approached James Swinden who was recently promoted to Lead Engineer at Great Coasters International. In a more concise interview, James discusses various creative and technical aspects of designing wooden coasters. I very much thank him for his accomotation and patience doing this report, his serious dedication to his work truly shows I hope you'll enjoy these interviews. In any event, feedback/criticism is always appreciated. More interviews will be coming up, including one with Vekoma's lead engineer Benjamin Bloemendaal! He's arguably the mastermind behind Vekoma's spectacular renaissance and gave excellent insights into his job and the process of coming up with exciting coaster designs Some extra pictures from the event: Model of the Takabisha clone currently in construction in New Jersey
  2. Vekoma today launched their new website just in time for the IAAPA in Orlando! The revamp not only displays their new logo and branding, but most importantly displays their exciting new concepts: https://www.vekoma.com Among the revelations are a layout for the Suspended Thrill Coaster, the next generation of SLCs: Finally some info about the Next Gen Flying coaster has been shown too: Also announced are an upcoming Next Gen Motorbike coaster, and the Lech Coaster (Bermuda Blitz) and Formula designs are finally present online too. (Lech photo by Flex) Super excited about the developments at Vekoma as you may know. Lech is my personal favourite coaster in Europe (above the likes of Helix, Taron, Expedition GeForce and Nemesis...) and the improvements in smoothness and ride elements from the company are spectacular. I actually met their new lead engineer Benjamin Bloemendaal for a video interview last September, and he's definitely very talented but also skilled at communicating his passion and ideas for designing rides (shameless self-advertisement there, but hey it's an insightful vid I swear!) 😍
  3. Last September, I was in Berlin for this year's Euro Attractions Show as a reporter for French website CoastersWorld. As part of my coverage, I made several interviews with representatives of coaster manufacturers. Here are the first two of these! First, James Swinden of Great Coasters International gives his insight into his company's way of building wooden coasters. I really appreciated his sincere passion for his job, and for a professional still very early in his career, his answers were very articulate and accurate! Second, Sascha Czibulka, Vice-President of Intamin, gave me a 16-minute long interview that really exceeded my expectations! His answers were superb, detailed and very informative His account of how the hydraulic launch system had been created for Knott's Berry Farm was particularly valuable. Really talented senior executive who knows his work very well. If you're interested, there's some more to come: - Maximilian Roeser of MACK Rides talks about the manufacturer's lastest coasters, including DC Rivals! - Chuck Bingham of Martin & Vleminckx discusses the challenges and rewards of building wooden coasters in China. - Chad Miller of The Gravity Group tells us the story of how he became a coaster engineer, and the most important aspects of a woodie according to him. (hint: airtime!) - Peter van Bilsen gives the reasons behind Vekoma's remarkable comeback. I want to thank all people involved in these interviews. The interviewees of course, but also all of my CoastersWorld mates for their precious help in the making of these videos. This was a wonderful experience meeting and interviewing all these professionals, and I hope you'll like the resulting interviews
  4. I had to make it to Poland this year. The self-hype on Lech Coaster was too big for me to handle! A goon friend joined me (not without intense lobbying from my part ) on this adventure which would comprise +14 coasters... but no Intamin, Mack or B&M! Part 1: Energylandia After a short night of sleep and an early flight, I was quite tired when the cringy entrance theme of Energylandia greeted us. The entrance building is quite tall and mighty, but also lacks details and a less cubic shape. The architecture and appearance of the short "Main Street" really tells that the park has only opened/got massively refurbished a few years ago. In fact, Energylandia was inaugurated in 2014 and underwent massive expansions year after year. We decided to tick off the less glamorous creds first. Happy Loops was our first cred of the trip and it was slightly more eventful than its short and flat-ish layout suggests. Quite jerky and still dull though. Owocowy Ogrod is the local Wacky Worm. I can’t believe that having never ridden one in my previous 13 years as an enthusiast, but I got 4 in a single year. This one had the better theming of them all, which doesn’t say much anyway. Energus sits closeby as a stark contrast in term of kiddie coaster quality. The theming, although still needing improvement in some areas, is far superior and fitting for a theme park. We got a ride on the back row which provided a nice pull on the first drop. The rest of the layout felt decent but decidedly unmemorable. I'm sure the kids will love it nonetheless! By this point we had enough of the mundane credits and felt it was time to go for some real coaster thrill. Formula 1 it is then. Finally getting a sight of the new, sleek Vekoma inverting track is quite impressive! It’s quite hard to resist being excited seeing how fast and seamlessly the new trains negotiate the tight elements I have to say the operations are supremely efficient. What a pleasant surprise actually! I was not expecting such quick dispatches for a really young park. The ride station was run by 5 well-coordinated employees and trains rarely ever stacked, regularly leaving the station platform every 1 minute and a half. Perhaps even less! I got to ride F1 a total of 7 times on my first day (plus an additional 5 the next day), and I have to say Vekoma have really done well! The ride is not the most intense, but exciting with a fantastic pacing and sequence of elements. It provides my favourite moment of hangtime on a coaster yet with the remarkable Immelmann loop starting the layout. The rest of the ride is beautifully engineered and the airtime gets excellent towards the end of the day. F1 does feel a bit short, but to me, is like a prototype from Vekoma which displays what amazing products they can produce nowadays! The vest restraints were a little inconvenient at first, but I did not notice them at all for the rest of the trip. Our confidence in Vekoma boosted by this impressive experience, we proceeded to one of their older and most infamous designs: the SLC, Mayan Roller Coaster. However, the notable use of newer trains with vest restraints reportedly improved ride comfort - even though not all fans who already tried Mayan will agree. Our first lap on the front seats was actually really fun. It was still jerky and shaky at some times, but the vest restraints really mitigated the pain and allowed us to enjoy what is a fairly nice layout. The second lap, at the rear, that immediately followed (yes!) led me to the same conclusion. I even screamed in laughter surprised by how actually enjoyable this coaster design can be. The entrance of the double in-line twist provides a quite scary footchopper, and while not the most forceful ride, Mayan has a good pace. Curiously, my third ride, as well as my fourth on Day 2 on this coaster gave me a more ordinary SLC experience, with the usual jarring and discomfort. Inconsistent, but potentially good could well describe this recent SLC. After a late launch consisting some cheap but decent kebab food, we wanted to digest with something relatively tame. The nearby Family Boomerang, confusingly named Boomerang was a good fit. The theming is among the more detailed from the park, and apart from a jolt during the backward lift hill release, the experience from there was smooth and entertaining for what it is. There was decent moderate fun for the family as well as some fun floating moments. A second lap the day after was a little less convincing, the back row seating we picked providing no floater during the second spike. Viking, an SBF Spinner with OTSR (!!) had the longest queue of the day with a 50 minute wait. It was also by far the worst ride of the park. No redeeming quality and an awful lot of headbanging. We got a couple of rerides on F1 to quickly forget this awful taste of poor coaster manufacturing, and found the new-gen Vekoma even more enjoyable. The only issue (with the park has not much to do with) is the annoying habit of some Polish peeps to shamelessly line-jump without being punished. Two kiddie creds sat next to each other. Circus Coaster and Mars are both forgettable and feel out-of-place for an ambitious, well-presented park. The former didn't even added anything to my main Coaster Count as it is a e-powered!... I was quite eager to try Dragon which is an iteration of the latest and biggest version of the SFC model. I find it to be one of the most exciting forms of family coasters, with a nice drop, an adequate amount of intensity and nice overall flow. The theming is probably among the best in the park, a quite immersive experience which interacts with the coaster. Re-rides on the next day made me enjoy the coaster even more! I left Energylandia having spent two very cheerful days. Employees are very friendly and respectful despite the language barrier. I lost one bag in a hurry and was astonished to find it back at the park reception with everything in it. Such a relief since it contained my GoPro transfer cable! The park as a whole looks much nicer than I expected. It's clean, easy to navigate and the paths have nice textures and aren't too large to feel like peep highways. I thought Energylandia would be a mere collection of coasters, but I found instead a charming place despite the perfectible theming! Very efficient operations and a coaster line-up which is set to become one of the most exciting in Europe makes for a must-visit park in a few years, if not already Part 2 will focus on Legendia and the aforementioned/super-anticipated Lech Coaster!
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