Finland + Italy 09/19 – Gardaland
It’s probably not correct to say I was excited, but I was intrigued to visit the only major Merlin park I hadn’t been to.
We left the hotel heading towards Gardaland in a massive thunderstorm that hadn’t stopped by the time we arrived in the car park. At first we were one of the only cars in there, wondering if we’d come for nothing. Over the next 20 minutes or so though, despite the intense rainfall, the car park began to fill up around us, clearly the Italians both trust that the park will open and that the rainfall can’t stay this heavy all day.
During a break in the rain we left the car and moved at pace towards the park entrance. There it started again in spectacular fashion, the ground flooding around us while everyone attempted to shelter under the turnstyle building.
During yet another break in the rain, this time we actually got to enter the park and made it as far as Blue Tornado’s massive restaurant building before it started again. There we sat until finally the rain stopped for good and Blue Tornado started testing.
And then it opened. Probably the happiest I’ve ever been to get the SLC cred.
Just in case the rain comes back, let’s hit the park’s Vekoma Mine Train next door. It was fine.
Up next was the World’s first B&M Wing Coaster, Raptor. It would appear my luck with this coaster model has run out because it well and truly lived up to my friend’s nickname for it, Craptor.
Raptor is the perfect example of style over substance, because in places it looks fantastic but as a coaster it’s lacking. Mostly uneventful and almost completely forceless is how I’d describe Raptor’s ride experience. It took me straight back to the days before I knew it was possible for B&M to do something special with this hardware.
Kung Fu Panda Master
I couldn’t believe it when Merlin announced they were opening a terrible capacity off the shelf Fabbri spinner in one of their major parks and I still can’t even after riding it. Thankfully the park was still quiet at this point because I imagine the queue for this thing gets disgusting when it’s busy.
The second large scale Wacky Worm of the trip. It’s got nothing on the original at Fiabilandia but it was still a unique experience and great fun.
We had lunch next, in a completely deserted restaurant. After we finished eating and went to leave, the zip came off of Heartline’s bag. What followed was 2 minutes of us faffing and making it worse before an extremely friendly staff member came over and fixed it for us. This was awesome and one of the strongest memories I have of the park.
I have no memory at all of the park’s Vekoma Looper though, other than speaking of vote manipulation in Kpop while in the station.
Sequoia Magic Loop
My first Screaming Squirrel. The same friend of mine who invented Craptor says he enjoyed this thing. Heartline was freaking out and getting me worried about it though. How was it? Pointless, stupid, but actually quite funny and I don’t hate it.
I was rather let down by the park’s shooting dark ride. I thought I read online it had a kick ass rocking soundtrack while you shoot robot mummies but all we had was sound effects for our entire ride, leading to the whole thing having almost no atmopshere. I can’t deny I really like the concept though.
While I’m getting slightly bored of Pirates inspired dark rides, this one was very good and was different enough to be interesting.
Oblivion – The Black Hole
I’d been cringing at the name of this B&M Dive Coaster for far too long, now it’s time to add it to my spreadsheet.
I can only assume the queueline for Oblivion has been repurposed from a previous attraction, or at least I hope it has, because it’s pretty awful. You enter a large tent, that’s easy to get lost and queue jumped in, that’s full of various annoying effects that don’t really link together and don’t at all link to the theme of the coaster. Worst of all though it takes forever to walk through the stupid tent making re-rides a chore.
Is Italian Oblivion worth re-riding though? No, not really. Right, hear me out. I’m not the biggest Dive Coaster fan at the best of times and when you couple that with the fact Oblivion is one of the weakest examples I’ve ridden then I hope you can understand where I’m coming from.
A weak drop sends you through a sluggish Immelmann, then an airtime hill that doesn’t have much air, a pointless helix and finally a drawn out heartline roll.
While taking photos of Oblivion, 3 Italian airforce Tornados flew over the park, this is another of the strongest memories I have of Gardaland but it’s probably not right giving Merlin credit for it.
Next we rode the spaceship looking Flying Island for some aerial views of the park. Sadly I only took 1 picture and you’ve already seen it…
The weather situation had returned to the Italian normal by this time, high 30s and running from shade to shade to avoid serious sunburn. The perfect time to check out the park’s water rides.
First up was the rapids, that I’m going to review as not very good because I’ve completely forgotten everything about it.
Fuga da Atlantide
This was a strange one. This Intamin water coaster of sorts runs on coaster track for 2 prelifts, 2 lifthills, 2 turnarounds, 2 drops and 2 splashdowns but has water channels everywhere else. According to those in charge it isn’t a cred but I’d argue otherwise. Enough about what it is, how was it? It was alright. The theming is really impressive in places but the attraction itself is a bit boring. You spend a lot of time slowly floating around and then the drop sections aren’t anything that special.
With everything we wanted to do knocked off, we dumped our no longer needed rain protection in the car and then began re-rides on Raptor and Oblivion.
It was during these re-rides that a thought set in for the both of us. We were only re-riding these coasters out of respect of what they are and not because we really enjoyed them that much.
Things were also made worse by queue jumping and rude staff at both attractions. These factors led to us not making it to park close with our re-ride session, but never mind, we were more than satisfied.
I enjoyed my day at Gardaland, it’s just a bit of a shame that the park doesn’t have a stand out attraction yet.
Thanks for reading, click here for day 11, where we visit one of my new favourite parks in the World, Movieland Park.