Finland has been on the back burner for a few years now. Had a little bit of interest, but nothing really worth pushing for. Then Taiga happened. And now here we are.
The hilariously limited operating season of this place forced our hand on the order events for this leg of the trip, being open on Saturdays only by the end of August.
A bit more funfairy than I was expecting, but we’ll let the creds do the talking.
Junker was first on the agenda. The look of the park has already improved with the walk under this ride, admiring the interactions. Based on previous experiences this cool looking Gerstlauer Infinity could have been a hit or a miss.
Luckily it’s a hit. Once again they exceed my expectations and knocked out a varied, forceful and fun layout. The launch on these is a lot better when they don’t awkwardly drop into it and you soon find yourself cresting a weirdly shaped top hat. They seem to be all the rage these days.
This is followed by some decent airtime into the Finnish loop, which I loved. The weird drawn out shape of the inverted section provides some great contrast. It powered through the mid course without hesitation, kicking ass into the second half which has another couple of great inversions and a twisty airtime hill.
Next was a Fabbri spinner with some anime looking characters on the cars. Used to think these were quite rare but the seem to be popping up on me everywhere now. They’re alright. Most unique feature is the RCT style right angle in the lift hill and the fact that they free spin on the lift as well. Strong stuff.
Wood Coaster had recently reignited my love for GCI, but sadly Thunderbird was another very run of the mill woodie experience. Though it tries to do some of the features of the better stuff, it lacked the size to make it effective. It had a nice little straight section of what should have been airtime hills, which they don’t seem to bother with on a lot of their layouts. This wasn’t taken at enough pace to be any good though.
Oh good, another Boomerang with weirdly modified trains, just not lap bars. This thing needs no attention.
There was another Zamperla 80STD at the back of the park, but I don’t have a picture of it. So here’s a stock photo of another I’ve done this year, complete with stock name and stock font. There’s more to come too.
And rounding off the creds is this thing by L&T. It had upcharge Virtual Reality available. Nope.
The one other thing that was deemed worthy of doing before rerides was this shooting dark ride, Devil’s Mine Hotel. It’s ‘set off the effects by shooting them’-style, but in a way that you can’t really take any of it in. Bonus reference points for Yukon Mining though, along with having what looked like a demonised Gruffalo inside.
So there we go. A fairly insignificant park that’s a nice half a day out and well worth the visit on a Finland scale, if only for Junker.
After that success, the rest of the bright Scandinavian evening was now dedicated to:
Park expectations were twisted again, the lineup always made me think eww, no effort, but the place itself has a great little aesthetic with its location in the city by the lake.
Talking of lineups, Tornado was meant to be the best thing going. I didn’t have high hopes because the Spanish one sucked.
This one is a massive improvement though. It has presence. The station is underground in this big concrete cave. You enter the air gates and a bright orange train comes screaming through an inversion straight over the top of the station. I love a bit of intimidation framing.
It’s not like really good however, just a bit of fun and a bit of a change of pace. It doesn’t quite have the grace and force of better inverted stuff. The cobra is a bit lame and it barely moves through this overbank turn. The roll in the station and the overall interaction was the highlight for me.
We wanted to get the Volare out of the way, but it broke down in our face. Good.
Then we got lost on the way to the Sky Rocket and ended up at this.
Angry Birds themed Zierer Tivoli. Better than Thorpe’s attempt at theming, but still very shoehorned. The train has the same old bug eyes and leaf.
There it is. Second best one of these I’ve done just for not having comfort collars or shin crushers. They are… quite good for a basic clone. The launch always surprises me with how much kick it has and the trimmed drop out of the top section still packs a punch. Finland’s frenzy in getting every single compact coaster type with no corners starts off OK.
They fixed the Volare. Good. Never had a massive issue with these despite their reputation. They’re as dumb as they are brutal, but not to any damaging degree and it’s quite funny to endure. It was absolutely flying through the blocks at ridiculous speeds into those sharp corners, with hilarious consequences.
Golden Horse do this layout better, so I’ll let that one speak for itself.
Hated my last one of these. This one was alright. Might depend on where you sit. Launching sideways with a shoulder restraint didn’t seem to be an issue any more.
With all that out of the way, headed up to the upcharge observation deck for some views.
The glass was pretty terrible up here and they’ve closed off the outdoor section due to anti-social behaviour… but here’s a nice overview of Tornado’s layout.
Let’s end this trip on a high then. The Italian coaster scene has been getting a bit depressing.
Day 8 – Movieland Park
Didn’t know what to expect from this place, all looks a bit dodgy and the cred lineup doesn’t do it any favours. The place did already have comedy on its side though in the fact that their monorail had collapsed a couple of days prior to our visit.
Quality is to be expected then.
The unassuming entrance. They also have a waterpark and some themed restaurants so they can use the word ‘resort’ everywhere.
The actual entrance. We were going to get the major cred out of the way first, but it was down. So we settled for their newest attraction, Expedition Pangea. And it’s a whole different level of themed experience.
You get to drive your own jeep, freestyle.
Just let loose into the wilderness with dinosaurs.
Cause as much damage as you want.
I was driving, but I’m told the airtime sitting up on the back seat is terrifying.
It’s got interactive screens and a guide as you go round.
I believe it’s a world exclusive, because who would be bold enough to put guests in this much danger? I already love this park.
Looks like I didn’t need to go to Hollywood after all.
These things are scary at the best of times. This one has the added bonus of playing the Twilight Zone tune at the top while things are falling apart with smoke and explosions. Making that drop a little extra special. Love it.
Magma 2.1 is what you’d call a studio tram tour, but it takes place in a racing truck driven by a maniac (and the maniacs all have plaques on the wall with hilarious code names). The way they speed around the place in these things would make a good ride alone, but it also has loads of stuff going on with big scenes, water effects, explosions and one amazing trick that I can’t even begin to describe. Love it.
Android was a bit much. The preshows have some terrible footage of what looks like Italian people who have come to mime an English script and it’s their very first read through. And that’s the take they went for. So you can visibly see them miss half the words that are being spoken and keep on bumbling through without caring for the effect.
It turns into a simulator thing on rows of seats and the footage far too Transformers. Same plot with you being in an escape vehicle. Same machines bursting out of the ground to punch you. Same being dragged through a building on a chain. Same you want the allspark? you can have the allspark! moment. Same falling over the edge and being caught by a machine at the end. The one thing they did differently was it had a live actor sitting in front of you miming stuff, but I couldn’t really get behind it. Didn’t love it.
Construction, get excited.
This was different, don’t think I’ve done one before. RCTs legendary Spiral Roller Coaster. Bit of a Schwarzkopf snap to it and the cars dangerously scrape the grass at a certain point.
They have one of those XXL Go-Gators here that I was particularly looking forward to. It was closed all day. Spite!
Never mind, speedboats. Again I believe Kitt SuperJet is proudly world exclusive, for a theme park anyway. If you want watersports you have to go out and pay for it the hard way, but Movieland brings the danger to you. As well as the monorail collapsing, they had flipped one of these a few days prior to our visit. Good. Aside from the sweaty life vests, this thing was incredible. As with the trucks, it’s driven by a complete nutter (and the nutters all have plaques on the wall with hilarious code names). Before we began, he had a bit of banter with a nervous German woman behind us who was particularly scared of the outside seat. “All is wet, all is wet. We go in. We swim.” I was also on the outside seat. Good. The 600HP is unleashed and you go bouncing around a big watery stage set, tightly gripping a metal bar while things pretend to shoot at you. The power is cut, the boat spins and you launch off the water with incredible, blister inducing, whiteknuckle force. As you land, a wall of water to the face. This happens many times and no mercy is shown. There’s also a shed scene that you fly into with enough force to bring a tsunami crashing over the boat. Effects go off, more things shoot at you, water cannons shoot you in the face and then round 2 begins. Love it.
So while I’m soaked to the bone on one side, let’s hit the legendary submarine simulator, U-571. I was rather nervous going into this, with images conjured in my mind that it was even wetter than the speedboats, that I’d be waste deep in water and the logistics of clothing and having a plane to catch the very same day.
It starts off in an incredibly immersive preshow room, with the submarine sitting in a dimly lit dockyard and an actor teasing people with buckets of water before oh no, people are shooting at us again. This time it’s planes and big geysers are going off everywhere, threatening to soak us while we run to the sub and clamber down a ladder.
What goes on inside was bizarre and cool, but a little underwhelming. You sit sideways on a pipe in the dark while the actor bloke pretends to take you down into the depths. Stuff goes wrong, you start tilting at an enormous angle. Again this is quite a physically tough ride on the hands as you’re gripping onto sweaty metal bars on either side to stop yourself sliding onto the floor. It’s mostly that, I think it sprung a few leaks somewhere and shot a few people, just it wasn’t the sadistic waterboarding experience I kinda hoped for. A cool setup that should have gone all out on us to be something truly special.
With the insanity out of the way, it was time to tick off the Invertigo and leave.
Luckily it was up and running. Turns out Diabolik is a superhero/villain who steals stuff, so it has a theme and on-board sound making it slightly better than your average Vekoma Boomerang-fest.
Done. Easily my favourite park in Italy because it’s just so wild and different. The big boy parks were very run of the mill and this place just did things to me that I’d never experienced before. I value that a lot these days.
But we weren’t quite finished with Italy yet.
There was still a +4 to be had before we departed.
Starting with yet another of these.
And another of these.
Construction, get excited.
Then things suddenly got a lot more good looking.
This appears to be Preston & Barbieri’s finest creation. 2 lifts!
It’s all done very nicely. With rabbits flying planes.
Didn’t expect that level of theming at all. I like that some of these family parks are going all out these days, putting some of the big boys to shame.
They’ve got an animal-y bit on one side of the park.
Donkey, no hat.
Chickens on the loose.
Parrots on the loose.
Finally the powered coaster. Interesting decoration on the back of the train. All the focus is usually on the front.
Had some good log flume interaction.
Their centrepiece seems to be this Miniland area, like lego but not with lego. Looks slightly more impressive than Fiabilandia’s attempt. Had a quick whirlwind glance, but then had a plane to catch.
And with that, we’re done.
New creds – 70 Total parks – 15 Volcanoes – 2 Best coaster (Finland) – Taiga Best coaster (Italy) – Storm Best park (Finland) – Linnanmäki Best park (Italy) – Movieland Miles driven – 2625 Spites – 3/73 (4.1%)
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.
It just dawned on me again as I was thinking about that park again. 7 attractions in 13 hours. What was that, Legoland Windsor?
I left you hanging in suspense about that last kiddy cred in the park from the previous day. Well don’t worry, being such a nice park and knowing their audience, they were running all standard tickets with a come back for free the next day thing.
Meaning we left stupidly early to be sure we were knocking on the door of opening this time. For rerides or the +1? You know which.
Day 6 – Mirabilandiaagain, sadly
Did iSpeed again just to make sure. It was alright.
Walked on to Leprotto Express. Park complete (Desmo Race aside…)
Could have walked on to Master Thai. Hindsight.
Did Katun again just to make sure. It was alright.
Caused a bit of a hilarious scene by powering out of the car park less than an hour after opening, while it was completely rammed full of foolish souls desperately queueing and trying to get into the place for the day.
What is it with the road system for the place? As we headed south away from the park, there was 5 whole miles of tailback, not moving. 5 miles. For Mirabilandia. No.
Places to be.
This place has those big shady things in the car park. Off to a good start.
First cred you’re likely to come across is this one. It looks very shiny and new, but a bit plonked compared to lots of their other stuff. Where’s the mountain?
As a bit of a bonus we got E-stopped in the station after the first lap as the operator saw a kid crying. She didn’t know how to reset it, but an engineer slithered out of the trees in under a minute, manually parked it and opened the bars to let the kid off. We followed. 1 lap is all we needed.
Giant map of Europe on the floor with a couple of oddly scaled landmarks chucked in. (Not my finest caption).
More Fabbri spinners in the world. Who knew? At least they put a rocket in this one.
Now we’re talking. The World’s first Wacky Worm. Custom layout. Terrain coaster. Dark ride sections. This represents so much to the hobby.
It was amazing. The indoor cave section especially is of much higher standard than I would have imagined. They present their Pinfaris with pride here. It has 2 trains. 2! And people were piling in 3 to a row. None of this 1 adult per car nonsense. Beast.
The last cred is the same technology again, but as a mine train. It has a bit of a darker theme and a more intense drop. Gotta build yourself up for this one.
Took a wander round the lake where we found a goose who trolled us. It seemed like it was stuck here and was visibly trembling in fear. What can we do to help the poor guy? I went in for a closer look and in its effort to run away from the nasty human, it comfortably backed out and waddled off.
This dark ride, Il Lago del Sogno was also amazing. It’s a train, of boats, that floats, with an external power rail thing like a Bobkart. Weird and cool.
They did lunchtime ride closures here so we had to chill in the shade for a bit while waiting for the last one. Luckily it was a nice place in which to do that.
And that ride was Il Castello di Mago Merlino. It had some stuff going on, but spent too much time outdoors and lacked the ‘I’ve got a golden ticket’ song.
Better than Mirabilandia.
We had a bit of a stupidly long drive after that at which point we realised how much of a pain the toll road systems are when it’s a busy motorway. Queueing half an hour to pay a couple of quid for the upkeep/privilege of using a road seems counter-productive. And they’re clearly not flogging the electronic payment system enough as barely any locals use it. We were also avoiding the manned booths like the plague after some earlier encounters with them. The entry slot for giving money is in a really awkward and difficult place for a driver to reach, they treat you with disdain and refuse to even look you in the eye while making the transaction, then they the put change down with no effort to make it any easier for you to reach out and take it, slowing everything down even more and pissing people off.
Eventually found ourselves on the outskirts of Milan, near the smaller airport I forget the name of. As we drew near to where the sat nav thought we were going, I pulled into a place that had a brown sign and the name of what we were looking for. A confused man asked me if I wanted to park. The way the conversation went I assume it was some knock-off parking for the airport and not what we actually wanted. The actual parking was further down the road, by a McDonalds. And in a weird old place.
Europark Milano Idroscalo
Basically a permanent funfair.
And a tasteful one at that.
Scouted out the prices and worked our way through it. Starting with this. I hope you like Jamming too.
This ride type was on my bucket list for new ride types, cos the name amuses me. And now I’ve done it. It’s hilarious. Horrible restraints, stupidly rough and the spinning never really gets going when there’s people in it. But they’re all positives in this instance. Sadly M&Ds with their other one has even less appeal for me to visit now.
I’m not a football man, but I assume it’s amusing that the lowest scoring for this game is represented by the UK flag.
Had a new found appreciation for this trusty +1 after riding the king of worms the same day.
This was also amazing. Looked like Wild Maus XXL until you get up close. Then something looks off. I didn’t know Kingda Ka was a travelling ride either. It is according to that ticket booth at least.
It’s made by the legendary Interpark, known for their quality rides (interestingly enough I think the Wild Wind was the other thing on my bucket list for new ride types) and this is the only (permanent, I guess) Funny Mouse in the world. It had a bizarre layout, laced with beautiful violence and comedy. Loved it.
The walls of the ride were mostly covered with images of RMCs, but from before people knew they were cool, like concept art for Twisted Colossus – I said they were tasteful. But this was the exception to that rule.
I was particularly excited for this day. One of those places I’ve been meaning to get to for a very long time and what was always meant to be the ‘main event’ for Italy in my mind.
Day 5 – Mirabilandia
Things didn’t get off to a great start as what was meant to be an easy journey arriving for opening turned into a bit of a nightmare as soon as we got near the park. We slowed to a crawl for nearly an hour just to get into the place and therefore missed rope drop by miles. Everything all gets funneled into this one roundabout which has the car park entrance as well as a couple of other local attractions and then there’s a massive queue of cars for self-serve parking machines that don’t work very well and have to have some bloke running between them to help everyone out.
It seemed we had still managed to beat a good amount of people as the car park looked quite quiet and everyone was (sensibly) heading to the water park in the heat.
Went to iSpeed first as it’s an Intamin (could explode at any moment) and has the lower capacity of the big 2. Queued for 20 minutes. Doesn’t seem too bad. Then it broke down. Stuck it out and eventually got on it.
Eh. My expectations weren’t huge, I’ve just come off the back of discovering that at least a couple of these Intamin accelerator coasters can be really world class (Storm Runner), but on the whole they don’t really do enough for me. Sadly this was the latter. If you’re being fussy you might say it’s an Intamin blitz coaster instead, but that’s worse really. This was the birth of Taron and Taiga?
You start with your bog standard top hat, which is alright. There’s an alright hill after that, but this then marks the end of airtime for the ride. The rest was corners that felt a bit uninspired and then the ‘mid’course happens stupidly late, kills the pace, puts you into a hill that does nothing and it ends (like Shambhala).
Sure it’s decent fun, but I thought this thing was regarded really highly. Is it just another European anomaly? (like Shambhala).
We then wandered in the direction of the legend that is Katun, a name I’ve been saying before I even did this hobby properly. It wasn’t as easy as you might imagine to find a massive invert, wandering round the what was now standard crowds of shirtless, sweating Italians. We passed the wild mouse/mine train on the way which had a queue stretching miles outside of what it could physically hold. Not a good sign.
There it is.
Being the throughput machine it should be, the queue moved reasonably quick. We noticed for the first time that people in this park were happy to suck up extortionate waits for front row queues – often reaching a similar length to the main queues. Ouch. Back please.
The trains look really cool as they often do on these and I like the moving floor decoration. Through the stargate we go.
Eh. My expectations weren’t huge, I’ve recently had the realisation that as amazing as some B&M inverts are, they’re no longer going to be absolute game changers or threaten the best for me personally unless something radical is going on. I’m just sad to be let down by a legendary name. Never meet your heroes.
It didn’t really excel at any particular moment, and that’s important to me when you look at the fact that so many of these things do all the same stuff in pretty much the same order with a couple of different corners (or straights) in between. Loop, zero-g, cobra, mid course, couple of corkscrews. The formula is fine if it’s kicking your ass and it works, otherwise it may as well be ‘whatever lads, chuck a Batman in there.’
It doesn’t have any of those really forceful moments that inverts are renowned for. It doesn’t have the vicious snap in the inversions that I really enjoy. It doesn’t have any other quirks, unique features or character going for it. It’s just big, and there.
Sure it’s decent fun, but I thought this thing was regarded really highly. Is it just another European anomaly?
To add to the disappointment, I got rudely shoved by a member of staff just as I was climbing out of the train for no apparent reason. Wasn’t like they were hauling ass and trying to beat a throughput record or anything.
Oh boy. Potentially the worst queue of my career here. I DESPISED this thing. It has Virtual Reality headsets. It’s run really badly. Everyone queues for it anyway. 2 short switchbacks took in excess of 90 minutes. In baking, sweating heat. With poxy shade tarpaulin things that were 50% transparent, had huge gaps in and therefore 0% effective. Of course I’ve queued longer for a few rides in my time, but I honestly can’t recall anything on this scale of unpleasantness that wasn’t at least for a ride of actual significance.
It’s not even two creds either. Damn these Mobius loops. Didn’t do the VR obviously. Stupidly rough for its size and generally a complete waste of my life.
Having the farce that is Desmo Race broken in your face isn’t the best solution when you’re starting to take issue with a park. We took a wander past that but they were sending endless tests round with pieces of the train missing. Not a quick fix.
The rest of the new area is ugly and dumb. I understand that it’s themed to motorbikes but there’s a total excess of cheap rides that all amount to the same thing. A flat spinning ride where you’re sat on a motorbike. A swinging spinning ride where you’re sat on a motorbike. A tracked ride where you’re sat on a motorbike – they managed to break this one later in the day and had to crane one of the bikes off. A low capacity coaster based off a prototype that didn’t work where you’re sat on a motorbike. All poorly themed and pointless.
Moving on from there, we found the smallest cred in the park. It had a reasonable queue, but nothing could top Master Thai at this stage and were committed to the long haul. Then it broke down. An engineer showed up holding a portable power supply and began having an animated Italian argument with the woman in the exit shop, then left. As did we.
Divertical then. This thing should have had an awful queue due to the weather but didn’t for some reason. It seemed perfectly manageable. Are these Skyrush’s old restraints? Literally a bar on your legs. Seems fun. I ended up leaving with a very basic opinion of this. The lift is cool to watch, but the ride doesn’t do a whole lot. It picks up a fair speed for what it is and got me wet to a welcome degree for the weather at the time.
Was somewhat depressed by this stage, sat down and had a sandwich. Food was alright at this place. That was something.
Sucked up the queue for another of these things. Credit where it’s due, it ran stupidly violently and consequently left us on the brake run in hysterics. Probably the highlight of the day.
Sucked up the queue for Flying Fish themed to dinosaurs without any dinsoaurs.
Didn’t suck up the queue for the cred that had broken. Decided to do the ferris wheel and prioritise a couple of rerides instead. This was a 13 hour operating day in a park with about 9 things to do and we were already running short on time. That’s not good.
Queued an age for the wheel which had terrible glass, giving terrible pictures.
Went back to Katun after that. A large number of the guests by this stage seemed to have covered themselves in an orange dusty powder. To soak up the sweat or because it looked cool? I don’t know. It was annoying as it just ended up on everything they touched (seats, bags) and even though the sun was going down, the queues remained as unpleasant as they had been all day. A night ride was no better.
Ended the night with another 90 minutes for iSpeed, which was a little better to be fair to it.
Then got lost trying to leave the park ahead of the rest of the population, eventually making it out by pushing directly through the centre of a large crowd that was having a rave in front of a stage and throwing orange powder everywhere.
It was quite funny when you stopped to think about it.
(Note from the future: In my haste to leave and general disgust with the overall experience of the day, I somehow ended up getting my first ever speeding ticket directly outside the park. A whole 9 months later, a letter arrived from the Italian police to break the bad news and this park has now indirectly cost me an extra €150, with the whole ordeal still ongoing as it’s a very poor system.I can now happily declare that this is the worst major theme park I have ever been to).
The next day took us to ol’ Crazy Horse. A more low-key affair on the way up through Italy but with a fair few creds on offer.
Day 4 – Cavallino Matto
Not often you see admissions staff in heels. Interesting start.
First coaster in sight. I admire the cheese theming.
And then the other of that L&T ride from Powerpark in Finland a few days ago. 2 in the world, done in a week.
Another of these almost wild mouse rides. Exciting so far?
Thought we’d just done a ride themed to him, but there’s a subtle difference.
This ride is a bit different and relatively new. The one and only Water Coaster to be made so far by Technical Park. It’s sort of a log flume, but it distinctively runs on coaster track for significant sections. There’s lots of drifting around animatronic dinosaurs, including big ones that dribble on you. Weirdly it ends to How to Train your Dragon music. I think they ripped the wrong CD. Not very wet, not very thrilling, it was alright.
But this thing. This thing was amazing. Togo are the undisputed kings when it comes to Stand-Up Coasters and this one is just viciously fun. Huge too.
They always nail the actual sensation of standing up and that becomes pretty damn special with the stuff that this layout does:
Terrifying airtime hills.
This weird wonky straight thing.
And finally the deadly speed hills.
Our first go in the front was a little hairy. I got a little punched in the head by the restraint and was then worried before we even took the first drop, but by the end it was all worth it again. We went against the advisory rules in the station which said you shouldn’t ride it more than once every 50 minutes and got straight on again in the back row…
Standing airtime was a thing on Milky Way. It wasn’t significant, but it was there and it was cool. This time it was feet fully off the floor, arms flailing and then having to worry about how you landed yourself back on the train again in order to cope with whatever came next. A very rare sensation in this game which was simultaneously scary and amazing. Loved it. I’m more annoyed that one spited me earlier this year now. Highly recommend trying one of these before they die out.
Called it a day after that success. Another quirky little place worth a visit, with just the one standout attraction.
Guess what? Culture.
Apparently it’s one of those towns where you’re not allowed to drive in the middle of, or you’ll end up doing a Top Gear/Grand Tour causing a scene and apologising to endless locals in many outdoor cafe’s. So there’s a park and ride thing in a stadium on the outside. Easy and cheap. Drops you off outside the walls.
Didn’t really know there was other stuff around the leaner, but here it is.
First ride of the day was again, the main event. I’ve had my eye on Shock for a while now, since enjoying other launched Maurer X-Cars. They can make good little rides, if a little clunky in places and this one was no exception.
The launch into possible trim and airtime hill gives a powerful surge before you’re flung into the rest of the first half of the layout. It all happens pretty fast with a good contrast of positives and negatives through the non-inverting loop, stupidly tight overbank corner and the entry into the midcourse.
It loses a bit of steam after that, exiting a little slowly, doing some meaningless corners and then a cool little inversion to finish. Strong stuff for a Maurer though, potentially the best example of what I’d say is their strongest ride type as a full package. There’s just too many duds in their spinner world (spoilers).
From there we took the counter-clockwise cred lap. Dune was up first – a Vekoma Junior with the nicer trains. Is what it is.
Opposite that is an interesting dark ride based on a show I’ve never heard of, but my wife was able to fill me on the details mid-ride. In short, anime pixie girls.
Not quite as cut and paste a fantasy tale as I would have imagined though. Apparently they have superpowers such as ‘technology’ or ‘music’. It takes the Peter Pan/Droomvlucht style of ride to reasonable levels of effort and has some good little sets, just with a bit of mismatch in scaling in places.
Construction – get excited.
The madhouse next door was closed for some reason, then we got lost in a newly rethemed jungle area.
It contained this Wacky Worm though. Good.
The classic shot.
More construction – mmm… look at them fences.
The Maurer Spinner was next which we were fortunate enough to have an excitable Italian man shout the name of the ride in our face, in the proper accent. The outside looks cool with its M.C. Escher theming (big fan – I’ve been to his museum). The hardware is just another lackluster spinner though, never really doing much in a big empty warehouse.
Huntik is their other dark ride that caught me off guard. Again it’s based on some show I’ve never heard of, but you can catch up on back to back episodes on a TV in the entrance/exit area. It’s a shooting ride with almost-Spiderman/Legend of Nuwa technology, just far less dynamic. It has a rockin’ soundtrack through on-board speakers though and ends almost perfectly to a particular riff and someone shouting the word Huntik! I like that.
Flying Dutchman: The Mine Train is supposedly custom, but it’s suspiciously similar to the standard double lift layout that I’ve done a few too many times. It rode with some vigour at least.
And that was it, other than the Flying Island.
With views of the nearby shopping place at which we would soon have a hearty lunch.
The sun sheltered car park completed with solar panels – lifesaving and smart.
You’ve got to laugh at the little meandering pre-launch track layout of Shock that obviously wasn’t used to its original intention. Supposedly it was going to start with a bit of a dark ride section.
Shock re-rides were particularly welcome after we had learnt that the staff don’t even touch your lap bars so you could go rather loose and be fully out of your seat for a good many moments in the layout. It’s a damn good ride.
There was a bit of car park faff on the way out – we had prebooked tickets online and had the piece of paper but got as far as the barrier to realise you needed an actual ticket and they were unstaffed. Turns out you have to go into the service centre, swap your piece of paper and the ticket you picked up on the way in for another one. Seems a bit pointless doing it online.
Interesting little park really. I got a bit of a Chinese vibe from the place in the way that some stuff is very intensely themed in a rather haphazard fashion. Also in the sense that it’s a very quiet park on what should be a very busy day and shares that feeling of ‘build it and they will come’. Then they don’t come.
Talking of which…
An even grander entrance to an even quieter park.
First port of call was the slightly off-looking Mack water coaster thing that isn’t a coaster apparently. The lifts were a bit slow in the burning sun, but the drops were surprisingly powerful for something with such bulk. We also managed to trigger an Etnaland-scale cheer and applause within our boat. I’ve missed that Italy, you haven’t been quite the same since.
Then it was the slightly off-looking Colossus clone. Not sure on the look of those square supports.
How was lap bar Colossus? Nothing special to be honest. I like Colossus enough, it’s a bit of fun on occasion. The restraints are less than ideal but the core issue is that it doesn’t ride particularly well for what it is. So it’s like an SLC with vests in that it shifts your focus on what the ride is doing to you. Fix the restraints and you just tend to notice more that it’s rattling and juddering through 100 inversions and not really giving you a huge amount of joy. Yes, the drop is profiled better (but less amusingly) and yes the in-lines are a bit cooler with a lap bar, but was it worth cloning? Not at all. Flamingoland are fools.
I was recommended to do the horror walkthrough round the corner from there. It contains a load of scenes from famous horror films and it was quite fun playing name that film. I’m no expert as I very rarely do them, but as a scare attraction it wasn’t very good. It’s one of those conga line ones where any level of suspense is just broken by the faff of moving 10 people with different attitudes towards the experience through a room in a timely fashion. Also as with many year round attractions like this, half the rooms were empty and in the other half most of the actors weren’t doing a whole lot – there was an unthemed staff member at some point in the middle of it telling us to turn right instead of left while also standing directly in front of a scare. I was promised Voldemort in one of the scenes. Didn’t happen.
The day was running on and we had started noticing from the signs that most of the attractions were due to close before the park did, so we hurried on to the other, better cred.
This ride was really good. The first half of the layout is surprisingly forceful for its size (and given that Thirteen’s feeble first half is the easy comparison), whipping you through some tight turns and twists in the dark with some rather fetching theming. I’m a bit confused on the theme as there are still newspaper articles on the station wall about the film studio burning down. Is that stuff from the old name? The rest of it now appears to be related to Dante’s Inferno. It’s mostly done in parchment and ink storybook style, animated with projections and it gets quite graphic on the drop track as some big monster thing starts munching on some people. Boom! Drop tracks never get old. Properly out of the seat, laughing with joy. The second half is a little weaker, as seems to be the trend on these when you’ve run yourself out of height on the previous element. Great stuff overall though.
It’s an immersive tunnel ride, about dinosaurs if you hadn’t guessed it. This one seemed slightly odd in that the focus of the action seems to be on the front screen, with less interesting stuff going on at the sides. Fortunately we were seated at the very front of the front car of the tram vehicle, but I can imagine it would be less than ideal if you were all the way at the back of the warehouse. Had a bit of a grim ending – we got eaten. Wasn’t that fussed about it to be honest. I’ve done better.
Final ride of the day would have been the flying simulator but we got as far as the end of the preshow (which went on for far too long) and were then evacuated out a fire exit as it had broken down (or as a direct translation “had a spectacular technical problem).”
And that was that.
This place is obviously suffering even more than Rainbow from a similar vibe. Trouble is it has even less decent things to do and the shopping outlet directly over the road is worse than useless, closing all its restaurants at 7pm – how un-Italian of them. We had most of our amazing pizzas at 10pm. Inferno is worth the visit at least.
No. We spent the morning on Etna checking out the nearby craters and views. I wasn’t with adventurous enough company to do the trekking required (and pay the money) to make it to the top. I’ll save that for another time/place.
It ain’t no chicken on a bus, but goat on a volcano has a certain ring to it.
We then had other matters to attend to (creds) and headed back to the coast.
Travel tip for Italy: Their petrol stations have distinctions between rows that are either self pump or assisted so approach slowly and make a beeline for the one you want. The price difference between the two is laughably huge, like up to 50p more per litre (so you can easily spend another £20 per tank) just to have some bloke give you 10 seconds of his time. There’s probably a deeper meaning behind it like supporting people’s jobs or they’re trying to phase it out like the UAE, but I couldn’t believe the amount of cars I saw going for such a rough deal.
Spite! I really wanted this thing, just look at the face on RCDB.
But with Etnaland not opening during the daytime I guess it was inevitable that this place wasn’t going to bother either.
With that disappointment fresh in our minds, the ferry back to the mainland was in a word, disgusting. They don’t have enough space for a significant amount of cars to queue up on this side so it was spilling out into a major crossroads across tram lines and angry drivers, cyclists, pedestrians at all angles. You just had to be bold and become one with the chaos, fearing the insurance waiver as you went. It took over an hour for the queue to filter down and everyone was stewing in their air-conless cars at about 36 degrees by this stage. Local tempers were high, they were all doing stupid manoeuvres to try and cut in front of a couple of cars (to get on the same ferry). They were ignoring the staff trying to organise the loading and having shouting matches with anyone and anything. I’d like to leave please.
With that tragedy behind us, we hit the long road back up through southern Italy in search of another cred to satisfy our cravings.
The only feasible ones were all sitting around Naples so we got to see Vesuvius, our second volcano of the day.
Rides were harder to spot though. The first place we came to was a sketchy little kiddie fairground on a side street but the +1 appeared to no longer exist. Suspiciously it has since disappeared from coast2coaster as well. Double spite.
Day 2 – Liberty City Fun
We finally ended up at a place a bit more substantial.
Should have been a +2 even.
But one of them was ‘under maintenance’. Triple spite.
I did admire their endorsements though. Particularly Woody with a gun.
Flew straight from Helsinki to Rome after the mini Taiga marathon.
Here’s an obscure one for you. We needed something fun to break the journey up on the way down to Sicily and I stumbled across this Alpine Coaster via Wiegand’s website. It doesn’t currently exist on any of our trusty databases, so it took some China levels of research to track down the actual place as the details are only as specific as the nearest town for some reason. I first found some local Italian newspaper reporting on the plan to install some thrill rides on top of a mountain, saying what a terrible idea it was and how it would harm the beauty of the area. This had one of those auto-play news videos that came up in the corner which showed a mob of angry Italians taking to the streets in protest. This looks fun. I then found the next related article which was people cutting the ribbon on the land for the area, including an interview with the owner which said they were going to put rides in soon, honest. Now it’s just confusing. Does the ride exist? Satellite images for 2019 would suggest it doesn’t. I did eventually find their actual website and we made it to the parking area halfway up a mountain with a little shed and a ticket window. The road to the top is closed off to traffic so you get a shuttle bus included in your wristband. And up we go.
Day 1 – Parco delle Stelle
Bit of a dreamy location for a park. How long before someone starts working out where to fit an RMC Raptor.
Here’s the Alpine Coaster.
Unusually it starts at the top and lifts you back up at the end.
It might be the most intense one I’ve done so far. It’s very gravity driven and picks up a hell of a speed very quickly in some sections. The helices seem to be used just to pad things out and slow it down a bit before it tears itself apart. They don’t always feel the most structurally sound as rides.
The lift back up is very steep and rather uncomfortable though, so re-rides were ruled out on that front.
They also have this evil thing off the side of a cliff. I often say I’m really not a fan of being held upside down, but I couldn’t really skip this one. The views (particularly with the sky at your feet) were pretty unparalleled. It was also considered training for a certain ride at the other end of the country.
Didn’t do this. Saw that it required helmets and had horrible ideas that I’d probably do it wrong, flip over the side of a barrier at great speed and kill myself on some rocks. In reality, this guy got stuck before the corner because it was too slow. Needs work.
Did some wildlife watching instead.
These little fellows were everywhere.
Satisfied with that little adventure, we waited for the bus to take us back down to civilisation again.
Drove past some of this chaos on route. Wildfire… is… free… Yes it was very hot and very dry.
Then did some actual sailing on the ferry. Massive improvement over the Irish one which was the most boring thing in the world. They fill it at ten times the rate here and then pull away while the ramp is still coming up.
By the time you’ve clambered out of the car and gone upstairs for a wander they’re calling you back down again.
Sicily ain’t quite what I expected. It’s a bit more… ghetto than the rest of Italy. In fact I had to sign some waiver thing at the car hire place basically saying that any insurance and excess cover was null and void out here – and don’t park on the streets. Noted.
The car park for this place was pure comedy though, first time we’d seen that the Italians will just park anywhere and everywhere with no thought to organisation or rules. Some had literally just crashed bumper to bumper into each other and said that’ll do, heading off into the park. I joined in with the spirit of it all and found somewhere that wasn’t a designated space, parking at right angles to the rest of the surrounding cars. That’ll do lads!
If you’ve looked at a map before you’ve gotta be thinking this a long day right? So this place doesn’t open its doors to the main park until 7:30pm in the summer months and we had just arrived for that opening. It’s quite a novel experience.
The entrance area was a total nightmare. Gates weren’t yet open and neither were the ticket windows. Just a thousand shirtless people sweating and shouting in a large crowd. We did our best to line up moments before the windows opened and then instantly got queue jumped by 20-30 people who then each had extended familes of 20-30 people that would come and join them.
We eventually got what we wanted and headed in, just as darkness was descending. Sadly my camera is just no good in the dark, so we’re a bit limited on photos here.
Storm was first on the agenda, our reason for being here. Actually we’ve been lied to. It’s clearly called Tstorm. Short for thunder or written by a northerner, take your pick.
It has a bit more of a station than I expected, and a rockin’ soundtrack. There’s amps and a drum kit inside and a song called Sweet Thunder Love playing on an endless loop (now available on iTunes they say).
There’s only 2 of these Mack ones in the world (set complete) and the other is a straight clone of the Intamins. I potentially wouldn’t have come here at all if this had been the same, but Tstorm does things with a twist.
The song continues on speakers up the lift hill and bam, that crazy megalite first drop airtime hits you. From the turnaround you get two big straight hills that kick some serious ass. Sadly the middle section is weak. It does some turns and the famous twisty hills from the original layout but they really don’t do much at all, the speed is way off. It ends on a final powerful little hill and then throws you into the secret inversion which was riding on par with Blue Fire’s for intensity, so a strong finish.
It left me in a bit of confusion. It’s harder to say whether it’s better than Alpina or not as at least it tries to be different but it has both stronger and weaker moments. It ain’t no Piraten though.
Let’s tick off the rest of the creds.
Miao. The classic 2 loop with a cat on the front.
Hip Hop Coaster was a bit of a beast. Stupidly rattly for a thing of its size but it was the first time that this park really shone through for just how funny and happy the locals are to be here. They were loudly chanting the riff from Seven Nations Army throughout the second lap and then it ended to thunderous applause and cheering. For a Zamperla kid’s coaster. It was infectious.
And it continued here. Every single mine train that came back into the station had every passenger and everyone in the station just erupt into celebration. It was just joyous to behold and we joined in every time – even by the end of the night we were the ones initiating it.
For some reason this rare S&S ride type would have been ranked one of the worst coasters on the planet by Mitch Hawker back in the day. No idea why. It’s a cracking mine train with some really forceful turns, good tunnels and rock interaction. You can even walk inside the mountain all underneath it if you want to deafen yourself when a rowdy train comes past.
My boys Hafema have got a little log flume here called Dragon River which absolutely destroyed us with a couple of 10ft drops. Big animatronic Dragon chatting in Italian too. Loved it.
There’s a weird little interactive dark ride called The School on which you have to answer multiple choice questions (in Italian) at various points in the layout. It’s mainly a ghost train and bad things happen when you get stuff wrong. I believe we got it all wrong.
The big boy water ride also decided to open itself for the first time all day at 9:30pm. Surreal. It shouldn’t have been particularly special, but it slowly drifts out of the station into a cave at which point I failed to hold back a sneeze that echoed ridiculously loudly and scared everyone in the boat, which they loved of course.
It hits a turntable and elevator lift while vigorous tiki(?) drumming plays, to which we began excitedly tapping along on the lap bar, everyone else quickly joining in. The elevator hits the top and we look out over the drop. It inches forward. We start cheering and clapping. Everyone joins in. WAHEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! It wasn’t even wet. But it was magical.
I loved Etnaland. With an atmosphere like that it really set the bar high for Italian parks.
That night we slept halfway up a volcano, hoping for an eruption to add to our natural disaster spite collection.
There was time for one more park in the morning before the plane home. A humble affair in the middle of the city.
Hunan Martyr’s Park
Entertainment ground. That’s the one.
Spongebob x Nemo collab.
Jungle Mouse was the order of the day of course. It had a weird smoother track style and a much less vicious layout. A questionable modern perk.
And there used to be a looper here on this patch of grass. Spite.
New creds – 45 Total parks – 18 Dark rides – 26 Jungle Mouses – 8 Best coaster – Jungle Trailblazer (Nanning) Best not-a-clone coaster – Harpy Best park – Fantawild Asian Legend for the overall lineup. Honorable mentions to Colourful Yunnan Paradise and Oriental Heritage Changsha Distance travelled ~ 3313 Miles-ish Not counting things that haven’t opened at all yet (Xingdong and the S&S), Spites – 5/50 (10%)