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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


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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

 

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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


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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.

 

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Nickelodeon Streak - Apart from the flash colour scheme, it was kinda forgettable really. Not too rattly, nor too exciting either.


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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...
 

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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.
 

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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.


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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.

 

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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
 
MpJUrCe.jpg
qtHCcUW.jpg
6xvrz6R.jpg
foEAiTz.jpg
 
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
 
 
nLTqiwf.jpg
EgDHlC9.jpg
 
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 :D
 
n3MocAU.jpg
 
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.
 
 
DC3xKvC.jpg
 
Nickelodeon Streak - Apart from the flash colour scheme, it was kinda forgettable really. Not too rattly, nor too exciting either.
 
0VpFQes.jpg
 
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...
 
Wny1aPM.jpg
TQLySWH.jpg
 
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 :(
 
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II8QhhA.jpg
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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.
 
QcFGY34.jpg
V69UsRc.jpg
XZ7epOc.jpg
 
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.
 
p2BgyNs.jpg
VoHTBCt.jpg
 
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
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Day 2 & 3 - Alton Towers

After a very short night (we stayed late at Blackpool and then couldn't find the entrance to Alton's hotel resort for some reason...), I was very excited to walk in Alton Towers for the first time. Heard of the park ever since I became an enthusiast back in 2005, when I couldn't hear but praise about the creativity and quality of the rides. Even with the recent backlashes I was still very curious to experience Alton for real.

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First impressions: the Mainstreet is alright, however I am quite impressed with the gardens and Castle! The place certainly has a distinct charm, and feels more authentic than most amusement parks. It's just very pleasant and relaxing to walk around.


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We went to the back of the park and chose to begin the day with Rita. Great launch, but I really feel there is some missed potential here. Intamin launch coaster racing in the woods sounds really, really good on paper. In the end, the actual layout feels rather ininspiring and the forces rather soft. Decent ride, but I can't help but wondering what could have been.

I apparently forgot to take pictures of Thirteen, but I found it enjoyable really. Smooth and fun outdoor section, fairly solid scenery. Obviously knew for ages about the drop trick, but still enjoyed it for what it is.


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Hex was next. Really liked the pre-show and queue in general. The actual ride is classic, but enjoyable Mad House action. It is a nice touch to walk in and around the castle after the exit.


A long, very long walk leads our group to the most anticipated zone of the trip: Forbidden Valley!

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Galactica - I remember loving Superman Ultimate Flight at SFGAdv despite its reputation as a rather tame Flyer, so was looking forward to the one that started it all. I enjoyed gracefully gliding through the short and low to the ground layout, but I thought it lacked a truly breath-taking moment. I guess that's why Pretzel Loops were invented then!


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Nemesis - Going straight to the point with this one: Nemesis lived up to the hype for me! I just love how well this smaller invert breaks the generic B&M formula of "loop, zero G, another big inversion then corkscrews". I feel every portion of the layout flows so well and the terrain interaction makes the whole thing even more impressive. Most of the layout is intense, though not to the extreme levels of complete gray/black-out, except for that insane downwards helix right after the first corkscrew. Helixes are generally for me a monotonous affair, sometimes intense, but most often lacking a 'sudden' element to make it truly exciting imo. (Not sure if I worded that well) Not Nemesis'. With the sudden acceleration and change in height, that helix has such a wonderful dynamic and feels like being caught in a whirlwind! Definitely a 'favourite coaster moment' in my books.


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Dark Ride Shooters are most often good fun, and Duel is no exception. Having only done it once and trying too hard to get a high score (and of course, failing to do so), I was too distracted to really appreciate the theming. I think it was quite good though.


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We then proceeded to Wicker Man, but its Q was approaching 2 hours so we walked even further to The Smiler. I have to admit I was always perplexed by this record-breaker, inversions don't over-excite me and the original Gerstlauer Infinity has 14 of them. It does look quite appealing off-ride though. The whole scenery made out of mostly concrete and metal fences is really weird to me, but it kinda... works? I mean it feels a little out of place compared to other Alton Towers, but isn't short of entertainement value. Got a 2nd row middle seat, and the first half wasn't actually that bad. Mostly smooth upside-down action and a decent pop of airtime squeezed somewhere in-between. The second act was some headbanging galore however, putting me on defensive riding mode the whole way through :( It's kinda worrying for a relatively young coaster really.

At this point the group split off, and I chose to head straight back to Forbidden Valley hoping for some re-rides on Nemesis.

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Oh yeah.

In the end, managed 10 consecutive laps on Nemesis! Was a perfect way to conclude the day.


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The following morning, we went straight to the Wicker Dude for some early hotel guest ERT, but the thing was down, and we ended up waiting over an hour on a surprisingly busy Monday at the park.

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To be honest, I was actually unaffected by the hype and hype backlash around the ride's construction and only followed the whole thing from a distance - as you may know I was more preoccupied with the endless Hyperion updates showing the same pullouts every time ;) So I sat aboard the train expecting something in the range of InvadR, nothing overwhelming, but a fun family woodie type of coaster. And it felt just like that. I found Wicker Man to have rather good pacing (even that flat turnaround did not bother me very much), little airtime but an emphasis of laterals in a ride that feels a little short in duration. Nice use of the terrain, too.

I also didn't watch the preshow stuff beforehand. Pretty impressive video mapping imo!

The ride happened to break down right during the lap of some in our group - another half-hour gone due to an ordinary smaller GCI somehow not working properly! Thankfully though, we were compensated with Fast Passes, which were duly utilized later that day for some walk-on rerides on Wicker Man. Customer service was really decent overall during my visit I might say. Despite the issues here and there, still felt there wasn't much faffing around and that the staff was actually trying their best.

We then tried - and eventually failed - to get the remaining creds.


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The hour-long Q at Spinball Whizzer was partly responsible for the failed cred hunt. Noticed some distinctive structure shuffling each time a car goes through some specific sections of the layout which made me worry about how comfortable the ride would be. Turns out it was a pretty intense spinner! Threw me around quite a lot, and the whole experience was wonky, but fun. I feel guilty for thinking this is more exciting than Winjas, despite the latter's wonderful theming and tricks.


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I like how Alton created a nice zone to enhance Oblivion's drop. It really is an elaborated build-up for the big moment. Not sure if that's an unpopular opinion, but despite all that, the ride itself wasn't as thrilling as, per example, Griffon. The drop definitely feels better at the front, however even there, I thought it wasn't as much of a deal as the whole build-up suggests. Still an enjoyable machine though.

At this point, we only had about 2 hours left, so we decided "m*rde with the +1 creds, let's re-ride the good stuff instead!" Which we duly did. Along with the aforementioned Fast Pass laps on Wicker Man, we returned to Forbidden Valley for a final time.


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My best attempt at capturing both B&Ms in action.


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I was really impressed with Alton Towers in the end :) The valley and forest background are just superb, it is so unusual to wander a bit and to end up in a quiet, relaxing grove inside an amusement park. I appreciate a lot the park's emphasis creating an intricate ride storyline and atmosphere. The coaster line-up has some good depth and variety. However only Nemesis provides a truly breath-taking, superlative experience in my opinion. With AT's ride height restrictions, it was always going to be a tough act to follow and subsequent Secret Weapons did a reasonably good job, while never reaching the creative peak of Nemmie. Maybe I'm getting spoilt, but I can't help but imagine the park could have been even better with a more ambitious Rita, or a truly ground-breaking woodie. Despite those nit-picky considerations, Alton Tower easily becomes one of my favourite parks. It's a charming place that I would really, really recommend to my GP friends!

Edited by Coaster Hipster
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We visited Alton in 2010.

Th13teen was a fun ride, quite enjoyed it.
Air (Galatica) broke down as it did, but we waited. Really enjoyed that sense of flying.
Spinball Whizzer was fun, agreed on the movement of the structure, it was doing that in 2010!
Oblivion - remember getting up the top, thinking the view was amazing and then "oh sh*t, why am I doing this" on the reverse chain at the top of the drop. Exhilarating as you plunge into the darkness, but all that energy gained is wasted with the shortness. A real one trick pony.

Ran out of time for anything else, never got to ride Nemesis. 😩
 

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In July I went on pretty much the same trip you've done here. Good to see some Nemesis love. The UK enthusiasts I was with told me over and over again that Nemesis is overrated, but all I've ever heard about Nemesis is that it's overrated to the point where I'm not sure if it's really overrated at all.

It was a phenomenal ride, I don't buy the "most intense ride experience" line (The Smiler is more intense), but it certainly is my favourite coaster I rode in the UK. I didn't share the love of icon to the same level as the others in the group I was with. Sure, it's a fun coaster, and insanely re-rideable, but I found it not as good as Nemesis or even the Smiler. I want to be able to explain it logically but it's really difficult to. 

Icon had some amazing moments, (top hat, immelman, the roll, and a couple of the airtime hills) but Nemesis' layout just destroys it as far as I'm concerned, even if it has a much shorter ride time. Perhaps riding DC Rivals killed Icon for me. I know they're quite different coasters but both rides have twists and airtime bunny hills, icon's were lacklustre in comparison, (as you'd expect when comparing a mack multi-launch with a hyper), yet they make up the majority of the layout. The unique elements that icon has were its standouts, perhaps it should have focused more on things like that. When thinking about it though, at a park like blackpool the limitations on what they could design must have been really difficult to work with, I think they've done an incredible job considering the circumstances.

Nemesis just had an incredible layout, it's like nothing else I've ever ridden. The way it dives multiple times into the terrain and picks up speed as it continues rather than having one big drop at the start and slowing down afterwards like most coasters do was an amazing feeling. I think I annoyed people with my opinion on it compared to my opinion on icon, maybe they're so used to nemesis that they don't realise how good it is.

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      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!
    • By Coaster Hipster
      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!
       
    • By Coaster Hipster
      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!
    • By Coaster Hipster
      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
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