Europe 09/21 – Energylandia
One year on, the pull of Poland, or more specifically Energylandia, is still strong. Two new creds and another opportunity to experience Europe’s best one-two punch was all the persuading we needed to pop in again while in the area.
Day 15 – Energylandia
Of course it wasn’t just any old two creds. One of them is multi-launch sensation Abyssus, a coaster that I was once super excited by, though time, delays and riding most of the other recent Vekomas had caused those feelings to fade somewhat.
We headed straight to the back of the park for it, on a walk that manages to be even more exhausting than ever. The chocolate mine train thing that they’re building appears to be cutting off what will eventually be a quicker access route to the new Aqualantis area, so for now it’s a walk to Zadra… and then some. It’s no mean feat for first thing in the morning, particularly if you’re parked on the awful stoney car park right out in the corn fields. Luckily this meant basically no one had arrived yet, in a case of what I like to call Forbidden Valley syndrome, so our morning laps were mostly queueless.
So, how was #1 Abyssus?
It begins with one of those awkward clicky launches that don’t quite sit right with me. I forget what other ride(s) do(es) it, but it definitely doesn’t happen on better coasters with LSMs. It’s sudden, but subtle, a very quick transition from nothing to everything as if to get over that initial inertia, before instantly dialling it back to a gradual ramping of acceleration. If you’re not doing ‘heads back, face forward, hold on tight and brace yourself’ it’ll tap you in the back of the head for it, just enough to be bothersome, but it won’t then keep it there with any force. I’m probably not describing it right but it feels unrefined and meh.
A mild twisty section follows, interspersed with a couple of promising airtime hill teasers. It’s quite a short section of track before hitting the second launch running. I always love a good rolling launch, though I’m not sure the satisfaction of it extending the ride time is quite there when you haven’t really done anything notable or special so far.
That propels you up into this turnaround top hat thing which is rather unremarkable upon entry and then (in the back at least) gives a weird sensation of ‘trying to eject you’ *pause* ‘trying to eject you again’ thanks to the silly trim brake.
The vertical loopings is up next, which gives that not-so-great bland sustain feeling from the likes of Lech, before hitting the highlight moment in the form of this strong hill towards the station, much like Lech. It’s well framed too of course, I can’t knock the aesthetics.
Ducking under the station leads into the Batwing. It might just be a weird ‘feeling I get’, but this to me is like 21st century Arrow coaster territory. Yes, we’re inverting, but why?
Things get a bit more varied after that, as it begins to rather elegantly bounce between the twists and turns and airtime hills that go on to give quite a lengthy and satisfying ride experience, leaning at last on one of the strengths I find in a multi-launch where I sometimes catch myself thinking ‘oh yes, we’re not done yet.’
The corkscrew’s rather decent. Some of these later moments deliver far better than others though, and not necessarily in a good way. It tries to do one of those funky sideways hills to keep up with the cool kids, like they did on the Space Warp models, but it’s really just a visual and doesn’t do much of anything. The train seems to run out of steam in the final few seconds as well, which I find further throws the pacing off. We had to be trimmed earlier to stop us greying out and now there’s not quite enough gas in the tank to end on a high.
I’m still not entirely sure how to feel about all that, it’s a very conflicting ride for me. Aside from all the negativity I managed to bring out in that blow by blow, some of which is simply annoying me even more as I type it, I actually liked Abyssus far more than I had (eventually) expected to. It’s no gamechanger, it’s not spectacular by any means and yet it’s still really good fun.
It’s not like anything else in this particular market and I think that appeals to the side of me that still loves to try new things that break the mould a bit. That doesn’t mean that what they’ve achieved is necessarily for the better, but they’ve developed their own style that is distinguishable from the competition and that is at the very least satisfying and refreshing to experience. I can also see why that has turned into what I believe is a somewhat misplaced fascination with what Vekoma are doing right now. For me this is their best work yet and I can’t even see why it wouldn’t make the sacred top 10%, but that doesn’t stop me picking a hundred holes in it.
Enough waffle, there’s another coaster to be had.
#2 Light Explorers, the park’s second junior boomerang and sixth or seventh Vekoma has a more linear layout to contrast the original. It’s all rather nicely decorated and set over this watery landscape. I do dig the Atlantis vibe they’ve got going on, though it’s clearly not finished yet and there seem to be still quite a few placeholders for things left to do. It’s nice that each of the new areas give off an aesthetic that can’t really be found in the bulk of the main park.
Something is calling to us in the distance though. With everything new out of the way it was back to Energylandia basics. Once you’ve trimmed away all the fat there’s nothing left to do but see the day out by bouncing between Zadra and Hyperion.
We began on the former, which is still a ridiculous thing of epic magnitude and instantly casts aside any doubt of what an actual top tier coaster rides like, just in case Vekoma had you doubting yourself for a minute in the midst of your filler-filled two-week coaster marathon.
The first drop was better than I remember. The massive airtime hill was slightly worse than I remember. Perfectly balanced as all things should be and Zadra remains exactly where it was in my mind.
Hyperion still had a hilarious vibration to it in my personal favourite seats (outside back row). For me this only adds to the experience, spicing up those moments like the return hill that just don’t quite hit the mark amongst an otherwise outstanding coaster. Character. It may as well be a woodie at this point.
Somehow across a two day visit last time we never found the time to queue what seems to be a perpetual 20 minutes for the dark ride here. Now it’s supposed to be one of my things I do, there was no excuse, though it still felt like time not well spent in those switchbacks.
And the feelings are justified; Monster House is a pretty awful ghost train with zero atmosphere. The lighting, the audio, the alien things just don’t add up to a cohesive experience. Hasn’t this already been revamped as well?
The park had been decently busy all day, almost to the point of unpleasantness in certain areas like the Zadra zone, what with Oktoberfest going on, and there being lots of extra food and drink stalls crammed in. There were far too many bodies at certain times of day, but this was rewarded with a park-wide announcement of an extension to the opening hours from 6pm to 8pm. Can’t argue with that.
It all turned into a bit of a game at the end of the evening, trying to maximise opportunity, minimise queues and get the optimum number of laps on each of the big boys to then end the day with an Abyssus pseudo-night ride that had previously not even been an option. There’s always some worry as the day draws to a close at Energylandia, they do have an over-eagerness to add and remove trains on rides as and when the queue times fluctuate, constantly chasing their tails a bit and when you’re waiting at least half an hour a pop it can easily cost you a precious lap or two.
Everything ran almost too perfectly though. Hyperion got stupidly busy as soon as we left it, Zadra clung on to those two train ops until just after we departed and the night ended by running like idiots to Abyssus, hoping they wouldn’t shut the queue early in order to ‘clear the area.’
They didn’t, in fact we ended up on it twice in the dark as almost no one else in the park appeared to want to commit to ending the day so far from the main entrance. It wasn’t a patch on the other night rides available here, but it was still pretty damn special.
Well now, I’ve gone and surprised myself by managing to make it to the end without ever uttering the words vest restraints.