By Coaster Hipster
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!)
By Coaster Hipster
Even though Parc Saint Paul is less than 2 hours away from where I live, I somehow never bothered to visit the place. After several delays and figuring out a public transportation/uber strategy to navigate in and out there, it was finally time to discover Parc Saint Paul and its reported quirkyness
The entrance sets the tone with a plastic-y gate that wouldn't feel out of place at a fairground. The Campion family - who founded the park and still operates it to its day - were originally fairground ride operators which explains the very funfair look of most scenery there, as well as the nature of the rides.
Started the day on Aérotrain. The ride op which was actually very warmful and friendly, was the most remarkable thing about my experience on this tame Vekoma kiddie. It makes for some nice parking lot mini-skyline, but of course I forgot to take a picture from that angle
Next was the local shameful cred, Pomme (apple in French).
Actually make that 2 shameful creds! Never seen this sort of hairpin style kiddie before. It's obviously fairly uneventful, but the tight hairpin turns actually deliver some soft laterals which are rarely found on the usual kid-targeted coaster.
There is actually a lot of trees around the paths, which alleviates the whole tacky scenery and basic, flat pathwork of the park. Since I didn't really research into the park, was surprised to find some sort of authentic village houses around the chairswing area. They look nice enough even though they feel too realistic to fit the otherwise carefree, fun atmosphere of Parc Saint Paul.
But anyway, moving on to the main draw!
Wood Express is really fun! There are so many little pops of ejector air taken at a good speed thoughout the layout. It doesn't provide much if any laterals at all unlike its older French cousin Timber at Walibi Rhône-Alpes, but I found the Parc Saint Paul woodie to be smoother. Also, the second hop on the double down midway through is remarkably strong! Like all other hills the airtime is very short, but it is definitely felt there in particular.
Since chest-belt GoPros are accepted here - as with most smaller French parks - I took the chance to use my camera and test its 4K abilities. Parc Saint Paul clearly made a very clever move buying Wood Express. It's a lovely ride for the whole family, but thrillseekers will certainly enjoy the fun, airtime-filled experience. I'm very pleased to see another nice new ride in France, we're truly in a good phase after years of frustrating stagnation
Next door is Formula 1, my first Pax coaster :eek:
The Russian manufacturer has a reputation for making wonky rides, and this one surely has its share of weird transitions! Tbh, I didn't find F1 to be really rough. It has quite intense moments, especially the main drop which is quite sudden. The bad banking and above all horrible restraints prevent me from truly enjoying this however. Still something very unique and worth trying at least once though!
Ending the cred with another fairground-ish coaster. Une Souris Verte is your typical Zamperla spinning wild mouse. After trying the horrible SBF equivalent (with OTSR...) this one feels like a relief. It's still a very mundane experience.
Piece of trivia: Une Souris verte is actually named after the eponymous folk song for children. The sign above actually displays the lyrics!
But wait, isn't there another cred here? That's correct, but Wild Train is SBNO for the year. Shame as it was reportedly the better Pax of the two at Parc Saint Paul. Oh well... Make of that what you will 😛
Tried the drop tower. The ascend to the top is actually, really, really slow! The ride's not very tall, but the drop itself is decent I guess.
With all the main trill rides ticked off, it's time for some re-rides on Wood Express! Luckily the line, which went up to 30 minutes before, ended up shortening to a 5 to 10 minutes wait at the end of the day. Kudos to the good ride employees who kept the ride running and often tried their best to fill up empty seats
Ended up with 11 rides on Wood Express eventually - and it was consistently fun! I found the front row better, but the difference is very slight anyway.
Parc Saint Paul was fun! Obviously it is mostly about Wood Express from my enthousiast perspective, however the rest of the park has decent enough filler to keep me interested for a short day. The employees are friendly, and the place overall has a warm, unpretentious atmosphere. It does lack the charm of other French parks (Le Pal and Nigloland come to mind in particular) and I would not want to revisit any time soon, but the good dynamic of the park has to be acknowledged
Next on my trip schedule is Holiday Park, where I return for a +1 kiddie cred and more Expedition GeForce bliss!
By Coaster Hipster
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
By Coaster Hipster
So my friends at French website CoastersWorld just made a documentary about Alpina Blitz, the Mack Megalite at Nigloland. They've been granted some cool perks by the park, such as some backstage tour, permission to film from the coaster's lift hill catwalks, and an interview of the manager itself, Rodolphe Gélis!
The video blends some nerdy technical footage (ever wanted to see a transfer track being used?) with insightful backstories about why and how Nigloland chose this coaster type. Mr Gélis notably explains why the park picked Mack over Intamin, and gives his own experiences and opinions about coasters!
Of course, the video has English subtitles for you
Feel free to give your thoughts on this documentary. My mates at CoastersWorld plan to make it a series with more insights on other coasters...!
By Coaster Hipster
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!