Italy 09/19 – Gardaland
The next day was an interesting start, with extreme rain and lightning following us for the whole journey to the park.
For far too many places I’ve been to this would be a reason to not bother at all. But trust in Merlin, one thing they do have going for them is their willingness to put up with a bit of weather.
And the Italians know it. They were rocking up in nothing but shorts while we sat sheltered in the car, assessing the situation via the app and confirming that they had just opened a couple of rides. Eventually there was a lull in the rain and we headed in through the garish tunnel.
Got as far as the entrance before it started absolutely chucking it down again. We took shelter by the ticket scanners, getting stranded as the ground began to flood around us and sure enough all the rides were suspended again.
Well we’ve got another 13 hour day here (12 by this stage), lets see how this pans out.
Day 7 – Gardaland
With another dip in the rain intensity, we navigated a couple of rivers that were pouring down the paths around the entrance area, up to higher ground and made it to Blue Tornado’s restaurant. The rides were still all closed, so this was to be our third camp out spot of the morning.
The very last of the weather had cleared by midday and our day could finally begin.
And what a beginning. Bonus helix SLC. Running on three trains. 3! That was the best part.
Straight to #2 Mammut from there, not pictured yet because it was still damp and then I forgot. I might have one somewhere.
Started off concerned. Could have sworn this was a custom mine train but it begins as yet another straight clone of the double lift jobs.
Luckily there’s a whole bonus lift hill afterwards and a third section to spice things up. They clearly like their bonuses here.
Believe that was all I needed to make something more significant into my cred #900. The choice wasn’t great to me, between a couple of seemingly vanilla B&Ms while I’m on a big dose of B&M fatigue at the moment. So Raptor – world’s first wing rider. That’s something I guess.
The fatigue continues.
It’s nicely presented and all that, but the way I’ve interpreted it the layout positioning seems to be a bit backwards. It uses the terrain and heads outwards to the big straight drop, but that’s the lowest point of the ride and it has to then head back up a hill to the rest of the layout, over the pathing and everything and this just makes it sluggish as hell.
So it’s loses all momentum after the first corner and then bumbles around some stuff. Then ends exactly like Swarm with the slightly too uncomfortable inline, some brakes, a corner, then more brakes.
Milestones brushed aside, we went back into business mode and hit Merlin’s greatest investment of the last decade before it had had too much of a chance to get an unbearable queue. It was still an unpleasant queue as it had flooded badly and required climbing over posts and fences so as to not go wading in some parts, but it was quiet. Done.
The other huge custom Wacky Worm of the trip. It had a weird rock song playing about losing your soul that seemed to be speaking directly to our inner hobby brain. Great stuff.
It didn’t look like it was going to get busy at this stage, so we stopped for a bite to eat instead of needlessly ploughing on.
Special mention to the member of staff here – my bag has been on it’s last legs for about 10 years now and has a very temperamental zip, which gave out as we went to leave the restaurant. She saw us struggling with it and decided to make it her mission to fix it for us. Of course her skills were far superior to ours and we were soon on our way with a renewed sense of appreciation for the park.
That could very quickly fade again. Which first?
Putting off the inevitable, Shaman. No Virtual Reality in action. It had the video they would have used playing on screens in the station though, so you could imagine the unpleasantness. Rode alright as it was.
This was probably my most dreaded ride in the whole world. As you may well know by now, I can’t think of anything worse on a ride than being stranded upside down.
I’ve come to the medical conclusion that I have powerful arteries, the blood flows to my head in under a second and it’s indescribably unpleasant.
It’s definitely the closest I’ve come to just not riding something while we were standing in the station watching the cars mischievously bump into each other. I was continuously saying out loud that I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this.
But I did it anyway. Instantly regretting it as I adjusted the Slammer restraints down onto myself and reminisced about the way that thing used to torture me.
Lots of nerves up the lift. How am i going to cope with this?
Mostly by holding onto my head and repeatedly saying ‘stop it’ until it ends. Three times over.
We thought the being thrown downwards beforehand would be the worst part, setting up the discomfort nice and early but it teases you over surprisingly smoothly.
So it was manageable. Just. I’d ride the other one now without too much hesitation.
We headed towards the other B&M next, but got distracted along the way by Ramses the dark ride.
Shoot those robot mummies.
Sadly it didn’t have any music playing, so was rather lacking in atmosphere and it ended up being somewhat forgettable really.
I Corsari, the other dark ride around the corner was rather good though. Yet another ‘inspired by’ Pirates of the Caribbean style attraction and it had some impressive sets. The queueline in particular, climbing downstairs in to the boat was so well themed that it didn’t even feel like a theme park, just completely real and effortless.
They seemed to have shoehorned in some projections of angry ghost pirates on top of whatever the original focus was though and this came off a little tacky. Not sure I’ve seen such a forced ride exit shop either – with lots of generic plastic swords sharing the same space as the actual exit platform.
There’s a couple of themed areas of the park between there and Oblivion – The Black Hole that literally have nothing in them, so that’s weird.
Oh good, here it is.
There’s a really jarring queueline for this that starts off in a big tent separate to the ride. It shares a bit of the original Oblivion vibe but with an added Smiler feel in that it’s all in your face a bit too much rather than being subtle. I imagine queuing is deeply unpleasant (like Smiler) if it’s long and actually holds you in any of this first section with loud noises, flashing lights and vibrating floors. You then leave the tent, scale some unthemed stairs, over an unthemed bridge and enter an unthemed tin shed to be batched into the unthemed station. This was all roasting hot, with some metal walls that could actually burn flesh.
It hadn’t really clicked through all of that that it’s themed to black holes (seems obvious now) and this is probably the coolest effect of the whole thing, stuff being sucked into the bottom of the drop. You don’t really notice it on the ride though sadly. And why is it green?
The ride itself? Meh. Middle of the road for this kinda thing. Not quite big enough to give you the spectacle and not punchy enough to give you something to think about either. Yes it has forces and yes it’s fun, but it’s another one that doesn’t excel in anything. Not even sure if it was meant to.
Flying Island time. Really short cycle, it was dripping stuff on the seats and I could barely see. Pictures turned out alright thankfully.
There’s a rapids down there somewhere that we did. Not wet and no jeopardy. Another very forgettable attraction.
Mammut as promised.
Last ‘cred’ was another of those strangely contentious Italian ones. It features an Intamin cable lift, this track and I believe they call it a coaster on their website. That’ll do for me.
This is a very attractive ride, just not dynamic in any way. It seems to spend a lot of time meandering around static scenery which starts out impressive looking but it isn’t long before it gets very repetitive. Both lift and drop sequences are almost identical as well, which doesn’t help.
Where’s the fuga? Clearly should have been an Aquatrax.
With the park complete, we had some logistics to deal with back at the car, namely dumping a load of rain related stuff we no longer needed so we could relax at the park for the evening.
As the evening drew near though, the main issue with Gardaland began to show. It’s all a bit underwhelming.
Rerides on the main attractions just reconfirmed that they aren’t very standout or interesting and only really highlighted some operational niggles that began to wear us down far too quickly.
In Raptors case, there’s some emergency exit gates positioned throughout the outdoor queueline ‘cages’ and very large quantities of teenagers began using these to queue jump everyone who was walking the long way round repeatedly, usually more than doubling each wait time.
Ride ain’t worth putting up with that.
For Oblivion, it broke down a couple of times (only Merlin can break B&Ms) and they moved us all back out of the station into the roasting shed in haphazard fashion. Then they took a train off and from then on staff just ground to a halt and started running it painfully slowly and being faffy about article storage.
Ride ain’t worth putting up with that.
So we got bored and left a few hours early.
It was a pleasant enough day and good to get it done, but left absolutely no desire to go back. Bit too one and done for a park of this scale.