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  1. Thanks for the diagram Gazza on the other post. Does anyone have any concept of this "Inclined Turntable" from online? or is it something brand new? still trying to understand how it works to visualise it. Also do you think the whole area where wiggles car ride is will be knocked down for this new Coaster?
  2. Disney's Hollywood Studios https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/disneys-hollywood-studios (For more pics) Last but not least from my November trip. I ended up here on a couple of the days through park hopping. For the thrill seekers, the park probably has the best lineup at Walt Disney World. Plenty of new stuff to see here. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance An amazing attraction. I don't think there is much that comes close in terms of being a true start to finish immersive experience with a strong storyline. Haunted mansion is great for instance, but they still whack you on an escalator at the end of the ride for example. Big Thunder is pretty, but no story right? Harry Potter is a great ride, just make sure you stay looking straight ahead! But this, its so well thought out from start to finish. You begin in a reistance base, carved out in some caverns on the edge of the settlement, full of supplies and munitions. The first preshow tells you that you have to get off the planet since your current location is no longer safe. A cute BB-8 Animatronic whirls around in a concerned manner. You then head outside and board a transport ship. It's like a mild simulator ride, (not too strong since everyone is standing up), anyhow your craft is intercepted by the first order in a space battle, and you are dragged into the shuttle bay of a star destroyer. The doors open, and you are in a completely different location, the massive void of the shuttle bay! It's real wow moment, up there with that moment on POTC where you turn the corner into that huge battle. And you turn around and there your ship is, parked against the wall. From there you are taken into custody hustled down into holding cells and locked inside. Kylo Ren and General Hux try to interrogate you, but are distracted and wander off to deal with other issues. In that moment, some unseen allies come to your rescue, and burn a hole in the wall to bust you out. From here its into your next ride vehicle, a trackless transporter. From then on, the fun really starts. You start sneaking off through the corridors of the star destroyer, but within about the 30 seconds you are spotted by some storm troopers and they open fire. This is where the Disney magic really shines, with actual laser shots ricocheting around you, holes being blown in walls etc. From then on its several minutes of running for your life through different battle scenes. At one point you are darting around like mice under the legs of an AT-AT, at another point Kylo ren sticks a lightsaber through the roof and tries to cut you up. The only real downer was that on all my rides the last couple of scenes were running in B mode. None of the huge moving laser guns were working, so your vehicle sort of just moves back and forth erratically, seemingly dodging ghosts. The final scene had no Kylo Ren animatronic, so you just see him hovering outside in his spaceship before getting shot down, and you head to the escape pods without the rushing air effect of being sucked out into space. And then of course its a wild finale where your vehicle drives into a simulator pod meets freefall ride and evacuates out of the star destroyer, crash landing on the planet. What makes this cool is the unload area is actually outdoors, so the whole thing is wrapped up in a neat little package and you are back to where you started. Did this 3 times. Ah well, maybe when i return to one of the parks it'll all be going. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run I've done this back at Disneyland when the 'soft' opened their version of Galaxy's Edge and Rise wasn't ready yet, and then Covid happened and here I am finally seeing the rest of it in 2023. A huge recreation of the Milennium Falcon sits out front And you make your way through a well themed, but some what lifeless workshop themed queue. IMO they should have made it more like star tours with more things moving, though the soundtrack is quite humorous in this area if you listen in. And then after walking through a gangway, you board the faclon. On one ride, just before closing i had the most odd experience where I had an entire pod to myself. The ride is an on the rails shooter, with a bit of steering ability, and of course all your motion simulator fun, as you go off flying to steal some coaxium from another planet. A couple of of players shoot, a couple shoot and a couple do mostly nothing except hit one button at the right moment. So I got to take on the pilots position, with everything else being done on auto for you. Slinky Dog Dash Possibly the gentlest LSM launch in existence? The theming is quite fun, they have actually got this whole sub narrative that what you are riding on is a roller coaster kit owned by Andy, so the queue is scattered with spare bits of track and supports, as well as a lot of oversized toys. The first launch goes into a horseshoe turn and helix. Stops at the 2nd launch, which is themed a bit like a launcher on a hotwheels set. From there is a floater hill, a bunch of very mild bunny hops that would be right at home on a Japanese jet coaster, finished off with an S bend. When you are waiting on the brakes, squeaky penguin sings to you with his microphone, which was a nice surprise you dont see from the queue. This thing can get painful queues, but I tended to try and ride it later in the day and waited like 30-40 mins on both rides. Alien Swirling Saucers This is the same ride as Maters Junkyard Jamboree, several turntables interconnected so you move in a double figure 8 pattern, with some mechanism below the floor allowing your car to move from one turntable to the next. What is also cool is that your car is connected to the turntable by a springloaded tow bar, so your car drifts and swings wildly from side to side, not unlike the classic whip rides. Good fun. The "pizza planet" in the middle of the ride is a nice detail. Now why dont they have an ACTUAL pizza planet at Disney, it would be a license to print money Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy Fine for kids, but its Disney so its still decent. Imagine an animatronic Lighting mcqueen with a projection mapped eyes and mouth. Hey greets the crowd, moving about on his podium. He then demonstrates his speed, with a panoramic racing simulator on a giant screen behind. But his arch rival hacks in to try and beat him, but of course McQueen prevails. Tower of Terror Still excellent. As the prototype, this one actually has a section where your vehicle moves from one lift to another through a brief dark ride scene, with some cool optical illusions. Paris still wins out in terms of sheer intensity of the ride programme, and probably Tokyo has the best preshow. Rock n Roller Coaster Some embuggerance with this one, as it kept bloody breaking down. Surprisingly, one of my favourite things about this is how the whole loading area is themed. The preshow has you watching Aerosmith recording in their studio, and they invite you to join them at their concert via stretch limousine. When you step out the back door of the studio, you are in an alleyway, and your limousine is waiting in a multi level car park, but the theming is so immersive, eg the operators booth is inside the cashiers office, the secondary control panel is on the call box, there’s all sorts of other details like a motorbike being fixed, and even a low clearance height bar above the track where it leaves the station. The launch is powerful, and its a smooth, frantic layout full of positive gs, with a sea serpent roll, a lot of helices, and then a surprise corkscrew at the end. Mickey and Minnies Runaway Railway This one is fantastic. You head into the chinese theatre, ready to watch a short film featuring Mickey and Minnie on a road trip, (Hmm reminds me of how the gremlins ride started out). On the way, they meet goofy driving a train, and an explosion on the train in the cartoon creates a real explosion in the theatre, creating a smoking hole in the wall that leads to the cartoon realm. You are invited to pass through, and inside, everything is done in the art style of the cartoon, with scribbled details on the walls, 2d props etc. The ride vehicles are a train of trackless pods behind a locomotive driven by goofy. Shortly into the ride your cars become detached from the loco, spinning out of control through a number of projection mapped scenes, often taking different routes. On the way you keep encountering Mickey and Minnie in peril. One scene had you caught up in a tornado, with very strong winds. Another was in a big city, where a jackhammering worker causes everything to shake. An impressive moment is where a room has faux rockwork and looks like a jungle, but when you return to it, it has transformed into an underwater environment. There’s also a nice moment where you end up in a dance studio run by daisy duck, and all the vehicles waltz side to side in unison. But, the quality of the graphics was something else, it just looks so bright and crisp, like a blacklight painting come to life, and they have managed to incorporate other moving props into it seamlessly. Did this a couple of times. I ended up timing it to try a few of the food items at the park. The Totchos from Woody's Lunchbox are a big ole bowl of carbs. Chilli con carne with corn chips and potato gems. But i think the 'blandness' of the corn chips overpowers everything. And i was sure to have booked in a drink at Oga's Cantina. I was recommended to try a Fuzzy Tauntan, which was rum and a few other sour flavours, but the foam on top actually made your lips go numb, like as if it had Lignocaine in it or something. The other drink i had was like a juice blend with coloured boba balls floating in it. They had a theatre showing newer Mickey Mouse shorts. Since when did it become like Ren and Stimpy? Overall, I think the park has one of the best ride lineups at Disney, and a mixed bag in terms of Immersive theming. Star Wars and Toy Story are great, but the rest of it is generic city streets and backlot theming, with a fair bit of the latter being under renovation. *****************************
  3. Epcot 14/11/2023 https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/epcot for heaps more pics. Epcot is undergoing a bit of work, and they are really leaning into their retrofuturism, particularly with the renovations of some buildings in the hub, a new sculpture at the entrance and new icons for each attraction. And you know its kinda fun. They acknowledge the place is a timewarp, much like tomorrowland, but they are leaning into it. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Woweee. Did this twice, again by getting an early boarding group via the app by refreshing at 7am, plus forking out for a one shot lighting lane. An amazing achievement and a massive coaster. The queue ties into Epcot by posing as an exhibit about the planet Xandar. Xandarians have come to earth to teach us about their planet, and are even inviting us up to their mothership via teleportation. The teleportation is done well, a similar effect I think to the old Poseidon's fury at ioa where you go into a room, the lights go out, and the walls are lifted up to reveal a bigger room surrounding you. Of course, something goes wrong when a bad guy steals the cosmic generator from the ship, and before you know it you are loaded into trains to chase after him. The ride uses controlled spinning, and the building is divided into two huge halls with long screens running the lengths. The "preshow bit of the coaster" passes a few big screens, before you are rotated backwards and sent down a long launch with electrical effect's. The track twists and turns along each room, and the battle plays out, moving along the screen with you, and even distorts away as the track turns away from the screen. The rotation of the car keeps you focused on the action. I got "Im gonna getcha getcha getcha" on one of my rides, I forget the other song. No miami disco for me. Mission Space. This one has has a slight facelift since last time, with new films for both the extreme and gentle versions. For those who don't know, you sit in a simulator pod, suspended from a centrifuge, allowing for strong Gs during the ride. The gentle version has the centrifuge deactivated, so is just like a normal simulator and has you doing an orbit around the world, with some of the most cliche commentary ever...."soon we will pass over Japan, the land of the rising sun....below you can see Paris, the city of light. Things get a bit energetic towards the end where there is a storm as you come into land, throwing your space shuttle about. The extreme version.... Damn i forgot how intense this is, or maybe Im getting older. The ride is based around a mission to Mars. The bit during take off has quite long periods of sustained Gs, like a powerful rotor type ride. There a breather in the middle as you go into "hypersleep" for a few months to reach mars. And then an exciting sequence for Landing where you almost go off a cliff! Skipped Soarin because they were running the darn old Californian film (I'd wanted to try the new one!) Test Track Ehhh, I liked the old one better. The previous version of the ride was themed like an actual crash test facility, with your car swerving around cones, over rough surfaces, through a heat chamber etc. very fun and practical feeling. The new version tries to give the impression you are in a "sim car" , and all the interior theming of the ride is like tron. This is tied together with a preshow where you craft a car on a touchscreen, and yeah its fun coming up with some sort of abomination. I tried to do a car like the one homer simpson designed but gave up. But now i think the computer theme makes it too farfetched and sterile feeling imo. Still the outdoor section at high speed is pretty exhilarating still. Ratatouille This one I thought was better than the one in Paris, because the cars were able to shake slightly, which was deactivated in Paris for some reason. It made the motion on the screen have a bit more feel, kind of like the seats in a 4d cinema. The motion isn't Spiderman/Transformers level, but still pretty good. Journey into Imagination is quite silly. Typical Disney dark ride with rotating cars, but this one has them in trains, with a few dips in the track too. The ride is themed like an institute for inventors. The queue passes various office doors with punny names and odd things going on inside The ride takes you on a tour of labs, but the irritating dragon figment causes mayhem and sings a song Frozen Ever After The queue for this is a bit hellish, with streams of lightling lane users and then 3 or 4 people from standby, so spent about an hour stuck in this nicley themed, but crowded town square themed queue line. I haven't seen the film so can't really comment. One thing that struck me was how dark it is inside. Its not so much a white snowy wonderland, but a lot of blacklight theming and dimly lit scenes, which to be fair give it a real nordic dark winter feel. Journey of Water - Inspired by Moana This is quite nice, a walkthrough with all kinds of interactive fountains, including waterfalls that shut off right as you walk through, ones that respond to your hand waving, a water harp, pop jets for little kids, and a spectacular one that simulated waves crashing against the shoreline. My only comment would be why isn't this at Animal kingdom where it would fit in better. I guess it's supposed to be educational, but a strange fit for the future world area. Spaceship Earth I have hazy memories of because last time I was here i was jetlagged and fell asleep on it because it was nice and dark lol. The ride is edutainment, taking you through the history of the world and communication, so you spiral up through the spherical building, and pass through scenes of people in the ancient world keeping scrolls, through to people in the 70s using magnetic tape computers. On reflection, its the same type of ideas as Carousel of Progress over at MK. The final part has dated a bit. Your photo is taken, and on a touch screen you are asked questions about what you are interested in and your lifestyle, and it whips up a quick animation about what the future might be like, based on your inputs. The food and wine festival was on when I was visting. There was a muppets food lab where you could get a pickle flavoured shake. I opted to see what their interpretation of Australian food was. Lamington was nice but the coconut wasn't desiccated it was big soft strands, but the wine was good :} The weather was somewhat bad on the day so I was ducking for cover a bit when going around the world showcase. Another thing worth checking out is Coca Cola Club cool, where you can try free soft drink samples. The infamous Beverly is a clear but very bitter drink that tastes like drinking liquorice. My personal favourite was Joy, a korean peach pear lychee sort of drink I could have sipped all day. A few of them are just fizzy tropical flavours, so its a good go to if you dont want to pay Disney drink prices. Overall, still a great park, If I had one more day I could have really spent more time in world showcase and seen a few shows.
  4. Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/magic-kingdom I actually kicked off my 3 days at WDW at Magic Kingdom. Plenty of new stuff to see. Things are a bit more high tech at Disney these days, you can load your ticket into google wallet and tap in at the entrances, entering Lightning Lanes (the new name for fast pass) , and the app is pretty comprehensive in terms of being able to check wait times and order food, and credit to them this aspect is all very tight. The more recent points of contention is Genie Plus and Lightning Lanes and Boarding Groups for certain attractions. Basically, fast pass is no longer free, that's an extra cost to use per day, and the service is branded through the app "Genie Plus" I did without it on 2 of my 3 days since crowds seemed light enough and I could game single rider a bit. I swear though they inflate wait times to encourage people to use it. On certain rides you can also pay to skip the line on a one shot basis and enter via the Lighting Lane, and well, I ended up doing this for Tron and 7 Dwarves mine train, more on them later. And finally, boarding groups. At the time of my visit, due to their newness and popularity, Tron and Guardians (At EPCOT) both require you to go into a ballot for a time to board the ride. They do one drop at 7am, and another at 1pm. It does make it a little stressful because who wants to come all that way to ride the new stuff and have it come down to luck. Personally I think they should still offer standby. If someone wants to wait 2-3 hours to ride the new thing, more power to em! I did witness a couple of people at the entrance who were not familiar with the system a bit annoyed about being unable to ride and the complexity of it. But it turned out not to be a worry. If you are on the app at 7am and refresh as soon as the clock ticks over, you can pretty easily end up with a timeslot to ride in the morning. Despite this, I still also bought a one shot lighting lane for tron just because I wanted a guaranteed re-ride. I rocked up early: I had a plan to rope drop Seven Dwarves Mine Train, but it was broken down so I started on Goofys Barnstormer Standard vekoma roller skater but the theming is really really well done. In fact, I had never ventured into the whole circus area before, but I loved it. Under the Sea - Journey of The Little Mermaid Also new to me. An omnimover dark ride with some really detailed theming right from the start. The beginning is pretty cool, with Scuttle the seagull trying to explain Airels story in a confused manner, before your ride vehicle goes downhill and 'under the sea', with projectors used on the walls to create a sense of dropping below the waterline. The ride is fun and colourful, with a huge scene of fishes dancing to "Under the Sea". The ride kind of skips over the whole epic battle with Ursula and just has Ariel transitioning to human and getting married to Prince Eric. Very well done, and I can imagine kids would find it magical. A certain foodstuff I had wanted to try was LeFous brew from Gastons Tavern. It's basically frozen apple juice, topped with passionfruit foam, which was the most tart thing ever, it was like straight passionfruit cordial mixed with wizzfiz or something. With some time to kill until my TRON timeslot I reacquainted myself with Space Mountain. I still reckon the HK/DL/DLP versions are better, just lacks something without the music IMHO. The layout is a little tighter on the MK version and feels like a wild mouse. The exit route has way more theming than my last visit, with various cheesy displays of futurism. Finally it was time for TRON Lightcycle Run. The scale of this ride is enormous, with a huge canopy and broad elevated walkways leading to the entrance, with trains thundering overhead regularly. Once you get inside its a whole bunch of black corridors with neons and backlit graphics. The coolest feature however is a little preshow room with switchable glass with a projection. After a bit of fluff about being "scanned into the world of Tron", the glass turns transparent, revealing the trains launching below and some seriously cool looking theming. The double sided locker system works well, and has hundreds of bays. The trains have you hunkering down a lot more compared to your average straddle coaster, it's practically like being on a flying coaster. Some people have commented the ride is 'short' but its 1km long. I think what happens is people mentally dont count the outdoor section, and focus only on the indoor part. The indoor part is pretty cool, with you racing through glowing checkpoints, plus the occasional wall projection of other lightcycles racing against you. One thing that sets it apart from other indoor coasters is the turns are a lot larger and more sweeping. It's not like they have tried to cram a spaghetti of track into a box, its more like a full sized launch coaster that happens to be in a building. Impressive ride! No sign of Seven Dwarves being open on the app so I decided to try a few other tomorrowland attractions I've never done. First Astro Orbiter, which offers some great elevated views over the land. Then Peoplemover, which also offers moderately elevated views, interspersed with a few little dark ride scenes with a bit of a silly space age feel to them all. I had never done Carousel of Progress so gave this one a spin too. It's a rotating theatre, and during the show you stop in front of animatronic dioramas of a family in the 1900s, the 1920s, 1940s and so on, with the patriarch of the family talking all about all the latest and greatest developments in the world, eg the 1920s talked about how you could travel coast to coast by train, and how Babe Ruth was hitting home runs, and how their house now had brand new electric lights. And then you get to the 2000s bit and it was like 1990s mixed with back to the future. At that point it was time for my paid re-ride on Tron. First ride was in the back, so I took the front this time (It's never a long wait to request a front seat at Disney I find) Back is better if you want to see all the projections on the wall and more of the theming, but front is better if you want to stick your hands out and pretend to fly and feel the wind. What other new stuff was there for me to see. Never had done Country Bear Jamboree so that was a must. Loved this detail on the floor of the foyer. The show takes the piss out of rednecks, with the bears in the show singing drunkenly, having buck teeth, and even alluding to dressing in morally questionable (For the 1900s) mannee. Entertaining, I imagine the local audience would probably get more out of the stereotypes. When It came time to ride Big Thunder Mountain it started raining heavily. Fortunately the queue is all undercover, and they have added various themed interactive things in the queue, like Zeotropes, and fresh air monitors with displeased canaires inside. And yeah, Big Thunder running in the wet rocks! Swung by the conversion of Splash Mountain into Tianas Bayou Adventure. Enchanted Tiki Room was up next (Geez Im having a passive day!), a colourful animatronic show with four main singing birds, each with a stereotypical accent (French, German, Spanish, Irish), plus hordes of other birds that are lowered up and down from the ceiling for duets and choral sets. Its funny how times change, at the time it opened people were mesmerised by singing birds, but I guess today it feels like a room full of those novelty singing birds you get a tobacconist/gift shop. The sets are beautiful though, and the actual lyrics and storyline are entertaining. Swiss Family Treehouse is always worth a stroll through. And I couldn't pass up a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean, still the benchmark in terms of being the most immersive classic Disney ride IMHO. At this point, Seven Dwarves was still not open, and they had even put out a push notification to everyone apologising for the extended downtime. Another food I wanted to try was in Adventureland, Cheeseburger and Pizza Spring rolls (You get one of each). Still wish our parks had more gimmicky snacks like this on rotation. A total surprise to me was discovering they had a Christmas overlay of Jungle Cruise called Jingle Cruise. Most of the fun of it seems to come in the form of extra christmas theming in the queue with a tropical twist. During the ride itself, the jokes are just as corny, but of course with Christmas related puns. Further Christmas decorations on the way too At that point in the day I realised there was one other attraction on my hit list I had wanted to check out, Enchanted Tales with Belle. I was thinking it was more of a walkthrough, and it has a little bit of that, but by and large its a kids meet n greet that has a fancy beginning and some cool animatronics. The main thing I wanted to see was the magic mirror effect they have, which appears to magically grow larger on the wall in front of you and open up to reveal a direct portal into the Beauty and the Beast castle that you walk through. It's a pretty cool trick how they achieve it, and there are YT videos showing how they do it, so I wont spoil it. Surprised this hasn't been used on other attractions. Once you get inside they have a talking wardrobe, and most impresive, lumiere the candle, with actual moving flames on his 'arms', which fully move and gesture as he talks. But yeah other than that they get the kids up front and give them cardboard cut outs to 'act out' a scene from Beauty and the Beast, and then Belle turns up and meets the kids, so yeah not really worth it unless you have young kids. But, finally, Seven Dwarves Mine Train opened...And I was still stuck in this thing! The wait times were already building up, so I bit the bullet and paid for another lighting lane to get on it. Good Thing I did when I arrived at the entrance, the standby wait time had blown out past 90 mins, and even the lightning lane entrance was backed up. This ride has intrigued me since it has swinging cars just like Orphan Rocker at Scenic World, so it was good to get a glimpse at what it would have been like. Actually great fun, and the theming is really detailed, particularly halfway through where you go into the gem mine and all the dwarves are singing 'hi ho hi ho its off to work we go', with full projection mapped faces on each one of them, and lighting effects from all the glowing gems. The cars do actually get a a decent swing going 2 or 3 times during the run. I was expecting Disneyfied toned down intensity, but nah this was good! And I think that's all I did. I was still a bit jetlagged so felt there was a high risk of falling asleep If i did something like Small World, so park hopped to somewhere a little more energetic..... Did you know the streak down the middle of the street Liberty Square is meant to represent raw sewage of the olden days.
  5. Disneyland Paris https://www.parkz.com.au/attraction/disneyland-paris So, the other half to my trip report for Walt Disney Studios Both days I visited I went into the park in the afternoon. This probably makes sense because there’s not really anything you want to ‘rope drop’ in Disneyland, it’s all quite high capacity attractions (aside from Peter Pan, which I ended up skipping both days, just couldn’t be arsed waiting 90 mins for it. Most rides seemed to be around 30-40 min waits, so no problem visiting a wide variety of attractions. Overall impressions is that it is very nice, you can really see how they went above and beyond with the theming here in order to impress the well cultured European market. The castle is ornate. They have nice arcades behind main street. More details in general. I also felt that Paris has the “better” version of many of the classics. Their big thunder mountain is better, Pirates of the Carribean has a better themed queue and facade, Phantom Manor looks a lot cooler than the haunted mansions, and of course who can forget their more thrilling Space Mountain. Only downside is I don’t think the park has enough ‘unique’ rides (Aside from Space Mountain being very different). It’s like how Tokyo has Monsters Inc or Beauty and the Beast, or HK has Mystic Manor, or MK has Seven Dwarfs mine train. The main unique thing Paris has is some additional themed walk throughs. So Paris is good if you are a fan of the classic E-ticket rides, but you’ll have to go next door to the studios for something more unique. On to the rides! Indiana Jones - Et Le Temple du Peril Ugh got this one out the way early. It’s like a bigger version of Nitro Coaster type layout, a glorified galaxi with a loop, but built by Intamin. Rough as guts, and the theming is decent (But not a touch on Raging Spirits) The queue line is down under a canvas tent and you go up a grand stone staircase to the ride, which is built around a temple. It does get points for how well they position a stone arch that hides the structure of the loop, so if you are not paying attention you might not be aware it goes upside down. Star Tours Yeah, this one is always nice for its well themed queue. The storyline we got was a bit older, it was the pod racing sequence and then ending up on Naboo, which I think debuted when the new 3D version of star tours was launched. The last time I did star tours in Tokyo in 2019, it was a brand new film based on the last Jedi Space Mountain This was perhaps the one I was most hyped for. When they would show Disneyland Paris on shows like Getaway as a kid, Space Mountain would alway feature prominently. The outside looks gorgeous, particularly the enormous cannon pointing up the side of the mountain. It’s a shame they deactivated the whole mechanism where it woul roll close and recoil when fired. It was such an iconic thing. Maybe one day they will bring it back, and delete the star wars overlay in the meantime. The first bit of the queue is outdoors, before going through some plain corrugated metal corridors inside. Eventually you reach the well themed open air station. It has the new Vekoma trains with onboard audio, so comfort wise it was fine. Out of the station is an enclosed turn, drop and then incline which gets you onto the catapult launch. Despite not being the fastest launch, the fact you are pushed back in your seat going uphill gives it a bit of force. Inside, its like a more drawn out version of RNRC / Avengers Flight Force. Starts with a big drawn out turn that does a lap around the ride building, eventually leading into a sidewinder and a couple of tighter turns, mcbr, then a drop into a corkscrew. From that point the layout peters out a bit, with a regular lift hill towards the end, some more turns and helixes, and vekomas early attempt at an overbanked turn. All the while the audio is playing chaotic star wars music and there are projections on the wall of tie fighters etc being blown up. It’s a Small World What can you say about this ride? Does anyone other than kids enjoy it? Do people just ride it for tradition? For its infamy? Because it has a shortish queue and it gets you out of the sun for 15 mins. Possibly all of the above. I think all the kooky imagineers get put on the design team for this, with all the stylised design sets depicting various countries. Molly Brown Riverboat A moment to relax. I rode this in the afternoon which allowed for some awesome shots of Big Thunder. Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast A ride I secretly enjoy and will always ride at Disney. There was a 30 min wait for this one, so I actually googled how do get a high score. A couple of the secret targets are very hard to to hit, but i was able to spam some of the difficult triangular targets and at least get a score in the hundreds of thousands rather than the tens of thousands. Pirates of the Caribbean This is proper POTC. Other versions have you going straight out from a New Orleans area into this pirate boat ride. Meanwhile this one has you going into the actual corridors of a pirate fortress, so big points for having an actual themed queue. All the scenes were the same, including the pirate battle and the burning town. What made this version better was how the layout was on a few levels and had a few crossovers, so youd get views through to other scenes from a higher level before actually arriving in it a few mins later. Phantom Manor Another Disney classic, and well executed. It looks a lot more spooky having the house sitting up on a hill by itself, surrounded by overgrown gardens. There were a couple of scenes unique to this version. In the load area there is a lonesome bridge, staring out a huge glass window with a thunderstorm raging outside. At the end of the ride you go through a haunted mining town (to tie in with its location in Frontierland), and that part was reminiscent of Fire in the Hole. Still, my favourite part will always be the floating head in the glass ball. Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs. These fantasyland dark rides are a bit ‘blink and you’ll miss it’. You speed through a quick retelling of the story in what feels like a couple of minutes, so only have a brief moment of time to appreciate the scenes before crashing through the doors to the next one. Nice enough, but I struggle to think of a single moment in the ride that really sticks with you or where I was like ‘woah how did they do that’. Ok there was one memorable thing. The ride control panel is themed like an old open book, and the buttons are on the pages. Les Voyages Des Pinnochio Similar Comments to the above. Mostly UV black light painted sets. Autopia Big Ole car ride through some pleasant pine trees, and a handful of billboards with advertisements for space destinations, and themed bridges to give it that Discoveryland feel. If you are short on time you could probably skip this, but again, not much of a queue so I gave it a go. Big Thunder Mountain Ended up saving one of the best for last. There was an intial false start. The ride needed an evac so they emptied the queue and i came back an hour later. The paris one is different because the coaster is on an island in the middle of the river, with the station on the mainland. This means you have a pitch black tunnel at both the start and end of the ride to get over to the island and back, which bookends the experience nicely with thrilling moments. So from the station you drop down into a mine, and it feels like you go really quite deep underground. I’d just about say its a better tunnel than Oblivion. From there it’s classic Big Thunder, with themed lift hills (including one with projection mapping involving fuses burning towards a stack of TNT) and helixes, but also a lot more random drops, and it seems to maintain speed better than the others, rather than hitting a lift the moment you build up a bit of speed. The end of the ride has you go into a themed tunnel, but then the track starts diving deeply and getting darker, and then you just keep diving and diving and go around a huge underground banked turn, and head back up a lift hill. The train practically makes it to the top before the chain finally catches and you rise out into the daylight and coast into the station. So one thing you must know about Paris is that it has a handful of well themed walkthroughs. This seems to be a European ‘thing’ since you see similar attractions at Efteling and Europa Park. Adventure Isle A series of bridges, caves and passageways and great themed sections, like a grotto full of pirates treasure, and a skull shaped rock you could look out through. Needs more slides La Cabane Des Robinson Not Far from Adventure Isle, and another Disney Staple. What I find notable is the way it uses a lot of visual distraction to still maintain the reveal of different parts. From a distance, all you see is this giant tree and a couple of platforms sticking out. When you get there, you basically just see a staircase disappearing up into the tree and the famous water wheel. Quite unassuming considering all that is going on above. When you are up there in the tree canopy, you can see walkways going everywhere, above and below you, and the bits of the treehouse perched in different parts of the tree, so all you can really do is follow the walkway along and be guided through the labyrinth. Thematically its one of my favourites. La Cabane Des Robinson Not Far from Adventure Isle, and another Disney Staple. What I find notable is the way it uses a lot of visual distraction to still maintain the reveal of different parts. From a distance, all you see is this giant tree and a couple of platforms sticking out. When you get there, you basically just see a staircase disappearing up into the tree and the famous water wheel. Quite unassuming considering all that is going on above. When you are up there in the tree canopy, you can see walkways going everywhere, above and below you, and the bits of the treehouse perched in different parts of the tree, so all you can really do is follow the walkway along and be guided through the labyrinth. Thematically its one of my favourites. Le Passage Enchante d’Alladin This has a few dioramas behind glass telling the story of Alladin. Havent seen this film since about age 5 when we watched it on the last day of term before school holidays, brought back memories, ended up watching it again on the plane home! Les Mystères du Nautilus Probably my favourite of the walkthroughs, and I almost missed the best part! From a small building next to lake in Discoveryland you go down a spiral staircase and through an underground passageway into the interior of the Nautilus submarine (You see the top of the Submarine poking up through the water next to the entrance. All the rooms are ornately themed, with a cool engine room full of moving equipment. The main room I strolled straight through, but when I looked back i noticed a crowd of people gathered around a small circular window. Went back to have a look, and all of a sudden the window expands like an iris / camera shutter, revealing a much bigger circular window looking out of the submarine. The iris opens and closes every few mins, revealing something new each time, eg a pod of whales swimming by. Amazing bit of imagineering to build that mechanism. La Belle Au bois Dormant I found out about this one via the Imagineering Story. They did some really ornate stained glass windows in an area in the ‘foyer’ of the castle, so definitely take the time to check this out. La Tanière du Dragon Under the castle, there is a damp cave with a dragon that occasionally wakes up and roars. Easy to miss if you dont know about it. Alice’s Curious Labyrinth A large hedge maze with statues from Alice in Wonderland. You eventually reach a small castle, but its bloody narrow and crowded up there, though its a great vantage point for photos over the park. Disneyland Paris Railroad I thought this was going to be closed for my visit but it ended up re-opening late afternoon day 2. They've designed the carriages to only load from one side, so most of the views are designed to face into the park…If you are riding, sit on the side closest to the platform. For those of you not familiar with the Disneyland Railroads, you dont just do a lap around the park, a couple of times you pass through other ride buildings, and through a couple of indoor sections with actual built sets (The latter too hard to get photos of in the darkness. The other “train” Casey Jr Circus Train was closed on my visit, so no powered coaster for me. So final thoughts. Nice park, superb theming, but perhaps it just feels middle of the range compared to the other Disneylands since it’s all ‘classics’ and the last new ride they got was Buzz Lightyear. More photos here: https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/disneyland-paris
  6. 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
  7. 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!) 😍
  8. 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
  9. 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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