Here it is then, the final day of an over 3 week super holiday flying around Europe, because none of the rest of the World wanted us. I know I say this every time but this trip easily goes down as one of the best ever and I’d had an incredible time visiting loads of new parks and revisiting old favourites.
Almost as punishment for having such a great time though, the final day of the trip didn’t exactly live up to expectations.
The day started with a revisit to Holiday Park.
It turns out I never wrote a trip report of my first visit in 2016, but it’s fair to say I’ve never really been a fan of the park. The too long didn’t read summary would play out as such…
Rude staff, not a great atmosphere, they didn’t want to run Expedition GeForce leading us to cut a day short at Europa Park to return and the ride line up without GeForce isn’t good.
Today though, things would be even worse…
Warning! This is going to get ultra descriptive and ranty, but trust me it needs to.
We arrived at the park entrance and much like at some of the other expensive chain parks (Magic Park Land + Jacquou Parc) we got burnt to a crisp in the slow moving completely unshaded cattle pen queue.
During this slow moving queue I’d been reading the Covid safety signs that were everywhere in the entrance plaza. You must wear “a face covering” at all times indoors and while queuing for and experiencing the attractions. You didn’t need to wear “a face covering” while just strolling around in the park.
I bring your attention once more to the phrase, “a face covering”, because it was for this reason I wore my standard mask I’d been wearing all trip. Had they said here that a medical mask was required I would have got one out of the car, exactly like at Phantasialand.
The reason the queue had been moving so slowly is they were checking Covid vaccination certifcates at the front. You were given a wristband for showing one and this enabled you to visit indoor attractions and the shops.
Me and Heartline were given the all clear and a wristband from a man at the front of the queue, all while I’m still wearing my normal mask.
This wristband enabled us to ride the park’s (new to us) indoor coaster, Tabalugas Achterbahn.
The staff member at the entrance of the building nodded and waved us inside at the sight of our wristbands and soon we were at the coaster, where the operator once again checked our wristbands before letting us on, oh and I’m still wearing the same face mask by the way.
I make this the 6th Zierer Force Two that I’ve ridden, I’m not proud.
Then it was time for the big one, the reason we’d even returned, the (once) incredible Expedition GeForce.
We strolled over to the ride, I’m buzzing to get back on (what used to be) one of my favourite coasters in the World.
The queue is moving slowly, of course, this is Holiday Park, what do you expect?
When we got to the station stairs though it was clear why things were moving so slowly. One of the two members of staff running the ride was being an absolute word I can’t say here, getting into arguments with everyone for everything and just generally throwing his weight around, thus completely killing the already awful throughput of the ride.
Then it was my turn, for both the final chapter in the medical mask saga and to the face the wrath of this idiot.
I’m standing at the airgates, the coaster train is rounding the final bend in its return to the station and then it happens.
“You’re not wearing a mask”.
“Yeah, but it’s not a medical mask.”
“It doesn’t say anything about needing to wear a medical mask at the park entrance”.
“It’s the law.”
“I’ve worn this same mask countless days in Germany and no one has once said that.”
“It’s the law, you can’t ride the coaster.”
“I’ve literally just ridden Tabalugas indoors and I’ve been given a wristband to say I’m good, are you saying your other staff members have done wrong?”
“It’s the law, you’ll have to leave, get a mask and then come back to ride.” He points as though he wants me to leave back through the queue while wearing my apparently unsafe mask.
“So I’m safe to walk back through the queue but not to ride the roller coaster?” He panics slightly.
“No… you can walk through the coaster, but you can’t ride.”
With that, I left.
I went to guest services, both to get a mask and question what had just happened.
The lady inside gave me a mask and although she agreed my normal mask was fine she wasn’t all that interested in hearing me complain about the idiot over at GeForce.
All medical masked up now I returned to the coaster.
I caught Heartline on his way mid mini marathon.
“You all sorted now?”
“You haven’t missed much, it’s running bad.”
And he was not wrong…
Almost 7 months later (yes I’m slow at trip reports) and I still can’t 100 percent be sure what the exact cause was, but to say Expedition GeForce plummeted out of my top 25 would be an understatement.
I pin the blame halfway between the coaster itself running no where near how it ran in 2016 and the fact I’ve ridden over 800 coasters since.
Either way, it was real poor. The airtime moments were now meh and the boring stuff inbetween was even more boring.
Just to add insult to injury, upon my return to the coaster, I noticed many guests not wearing medical masks and some not wearing any at all…
After 2 laps I’d had enough, both of what’s left of Expedition GeForce, and the park itself.
With that, it was time to leave, but even that’s too much for Holiday Park.
We got back to park entrance but couldn’t see any way to exit. People were pouring in through all the turnstyles, the exit gates were locked and the staff were ignoring us as we stood there.
So we walked into guest services, where we were blanked again and once again found no exit.
With no other option we just powered back through the turnstyles into the sea of people, with the staff still ignoring us…
Let’s get the hell out of here.
For the record I’ve emailed the park countless times now asking them to justify any of the crap we faced that day and so far (7 months later) I haven’t recieved anything, not even an insincere apology.
Wild und Freizeitpark Klotten
The 2nd park of the day and the final of the trip would be a park that’s been the butt of many jokes ever since I started taking travelling seriously. “They went all that way for just a Gerst Bob?!” Well today was our turn, but in our defence they have now added a dark ride…
I think it’s fair to say the park has a rather special setting, perfect for calming down after the shambles that was Holiday Park.
After a rare bit of language related miscomunciation, we purchased our tickets and made our way into the park.
Just after you passed through the turnstyle, but just too far away to see when you are buying tickets was a hand drawn information sign, which was informing vistors that today the dark ride would not be in operation, dirty.
There was nothing at all in the ticket area or on the ticket window itself, nothing on the website and the lady at the desk didn’t tell us anything to that effect, Klotten are happy to take your money before telling you what’s operating apparently…
We stood at the sign for a while seriously contemplating walking back to the desk and asking for a refund, in the end though we decided to press on.
And head straight to the aforementioned Gerstlauer Bobsled, Heiße Fahrt.
Klotten need to count themselves damn lucky that Heiße Fahrt is as good as it is, because thanks to this coaster alone I almost forgive the park for their dirty tactics.
This trip had the ongoing joke that every Gerstlauer Bobsled we rode was the best yet, well, with the expection of Van Helsing, Heiße Fahrt is the best in the World.
I think the picture below speaks a thousand words but this coaster goes way harder than I thought the hardware allowed. It’s a truly out of control experience, that feels like it’s going way too fast, throwing you around far too much, oh and then there’s actual freaking amazing airtime, which for a Gerst Bob is insane.
Don’t take my word as proof though, or even the above picture, ask Heartline, who managed to lose his hat on the ride in circumstances that still puzzle us to this day.
With the dark ride closed, the only other attraction worth riding in the park was Zum Rittersturz, the park’s giant elevator lift flume ride.
The ride was better than I expected to be fair, it featured a small indoors section which was fun, the drop itself was great and thankfully we didn’t get too wet.
On our way to exit we spoke to the lady at the admissions desk about how we might be able to get the hat back, not even Google translate could help make sense of what was being spoken however.
Upon returning home and emailing the park in German, we got a response saying that many black hats are lost daily and we are welcome to come back and search through the box of black hats to find Heartline’s, 7 months later and I’m still not sure if this is parody or not. At least we got a response however, unlike Holiday Park…
Then it was time to head back to the Chunnel and back to reality, at least for a couple of weeks.
3 weeks into the trip now and it was time to pay a revisit to Movie Park Germany, continuing our quest of riding all of Europe’s new Intamins.
On our last visit in 2017, despite the park and its attractions not blowing me away, I still walked away with a good opinion of the park. It turns out the park is quite consistent in this because today would go down the exact same way.
Movie Park Germany
Exactly like last time, we arrived in the car park to the smell of sewage and the sight of a rusting SLC, this time though we knew the park was more than just this awful first impression.
Once inside we made our way straight to Studio Tour, the aforementioned new Intamin. I know they had to because the show building was located there, but Studio Tour’s location in the park is really strange, hidden in the far right of the park, behind the children’s area.
Let’s get it out of the way early, if you were to judge the park’s newest investment as just the roller coaster ride system used, which you shouldn’t, then you’d probably walk away pretty disappointed. It’s fairly tame, rather short and really could have benefitted from the use of a drop track.
If you are able to appreciate Studio Tour as a full package though, then you’re going to have a great time on this highly themed, charming, complex family coaster on a wacky journey around the Movie Park Studios. You’ll have an even better experience if, unlike me, you are aware of the park’s history, because they have gone to great efforts to throw in loads of ‘easter eggs’ for the fans which is pretty awesome.
Is it the best coaster at the park? No, but it is an excellent addition to a park that even now feels like it needs more things to do.
Excalibur – Secrets of the Dark Forest
Next up was a ride on the recently(ish) rethemed rapids.
I’m happy to say when changing the ride from Mystery River to Excalibur that 70% of the great theming survived, as did 60% of the character. Regardless it’s still a great example of an Intamin rapids and well worth riding.
Van Helsing’s Factory
Then it was time to reunite with an old favourite.
You know how during this trip report I’ve been finding the greatest Gerstlauer Bobsled yet on a regular basis? Well you need to exclude Van Helsing from that discussion (let’s go with the logic that it’s fully enclosed) because it is the greatest Gerstlauer Bobsled ever made, is the park’s best coaster and I love it.
I loved it before, but somehow experience has made this thing even better. How they managed to make something this insane that doesn’t crack 30 feet tall or 30 mph is ridiculous. Heavily themed, an amazing soundtrack and stupidly intense, Van Helsing is amazing.
Star Trek: Operation Enterprise
This made me feel a little bit sad.
I may have let my inner Mack fanboy sway my opinion when I first rode and ranked Star Trek: Operation Enterprise. That or somehow it’s now riding considerably worse than in 2017? Maybe a bit of both?
Either way, today, it really wasn’t doing all that much for me.
Then we sort of hit a wall of things to do.
Time Riders (John Cleese dark ride) was closed for Covid, the immersive tunnel was closed due to Covid, Halloween set up or it didn’t exist anymore. We didn’t want to ride the SLC, because of course we didn’t. We didn’t want to ride Bandit, in case, unlike last time, it was now the worst wooden roller coaster on Earth.
So in other words, we had many hours left in our day, with 3 things worth riding. Star Trek (which wasn’t riding well), Studio Tour and Van Helsing.
Credit to the park, we decided to stick it out, and I’m glad we did because it all came together quite nicely in the end.
At around 2/3 we took advantage of the Covid tests the park offered in their car park. We needed a negative test to get home in 2 days and were quite worried about how we’d go about getting it done.
I’m not sure how much credit can go to the park for this but the guys running the test centre were incredible. Thankfully English was spoken, the process was super quick, they couldn’t have been more helpful and about 20 minutes later we were now cleared to return home, not before 2 more days of coasters though.
Job done, let’s celebrate with a slushie.
Oh crap, we forgot to ride Area 51…
Much like with Excalibur, I think I preferred Area 51 before it was rethemed, when it used to be Bermuda Triangle. Don’t get me wrong, it looks amazing now and is still a great ride but there was something legitimately unnerving about the previous version that I really enjoyed.
Now, let’s go get that slushie.
Despite feeling like we’d run out of things to do several times, we’d once again had a good day out at Movie Park Germany. I think it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t rush back until the park add another major investment but I once again left the park with a good opinion of the place.
Thanks for reading, click here for day 22 of my trip report, where we visit Fraispertuis City and manage to get back to the chocolate dark ride at the Swiss museum of transport.
Much like Energylandia, we’d find ourselves returning to Phantasialand just over a year since our last visit in order to ride a new large-scale Vekoma. Unlike Energylandia, I wasn’t really all that excited to ride said new Vekoma or to return at all really, after having gotten a much better than usual trip to the park the year before.
But alas, back to Brühl.
This time, for the first time, we were directed to park in the car park behind Mystery Castle, which is thankfully one of the decent car parks.
You’ve missed it, I’ve missed it, but medical masks are back and shockingly Phantasialand are one of the best parks in how they handle it.
There was a repeating announcement in the car park and at the park entrance that warned that medical masks must be worn in the park. This gave Heartline the warning he needed to put on one of the blue medical masks before leaving the car. I wasn’t sure if my mask, basically a medical mask in shape, not colour or fabric though, would be accepted, so I brought both masks in just in case.
After what I believe was actually the nicest greeting to the park we’ve ever recieved, it was time to F.L.Y..
In more comparisons with Energylandia, we must discuss the presentation of F.L.Y. and Rookburgh before we move onto how the coaster rides.
Quite honestly Rookburgh is one of the most stunning and highly detailed areas I have ever witnessed at a theme park. There’s so much to look at, I swear I barely took in half of the detail on my visit. There is also so much going on effects wise, with smoke, sound effects and animated theming either going off at random or being triggered by the arrival of F.L.Y..
Another thing I really like is how the coaster track perfectly blends in with the theming, which means you’ll never be able to memorize the layout.
If I had to nitpick though, I’d say it’s a shame that the intense theming doesn’t really carry all that much into the queue of F.L.Y..
Speaking of the queue, further praise must be given to the park for actually having a completely functional locker system. You can’t bring anything onto F.L.Y., so it’s good that this has been well thought out, unlike Arthur at Europa Park which descends into several thousand people battling for lockers for 15 minutes every time you ride.
F.L.Y. itself then, how is it?
That’s a really tricky question.
On a technical level it’s something really special, the way the coaster is able to effortlessly switch between sitting and flying to start the ride is something I’d never get bored of experiencing. Also you can’t gloss over how cool the concept of a multi-launch flyer is. Finally the way the coaster interacts with the stunning theming of Rookburgh is incredible.
Then there’s my 2 major downfalls the coaster has, which stop it from being in any way near my favourite coasters in the World.
I’m slightly shorter and slightly chunkier than the average bloke, not by much though, and to me F.L.Y. borders on being a painful experience. The vest part of the restraints cut deep into my shoulders throughout the entire flying experience and then I find myself faffing about trying to push myself off the vest, which takes away quite a bit of the fun of the ride.
It’s pretty boring as a roller coaster.
Take away the amazing theming interactions and F.L.Y. would suck. The coaster suffers from the new Vekoma issue of applying the exact same forces to your body for 90 percent of the experience. This coupled with the flying position (which hurts me) means it’s really hard to understand what is actually happening to you, other than I’m flying on my stomach (and it hurts), now I’m flying on my back (and it doesn’t). Compare this to the best flyer in the World, Flying Dinosaur, which offers a beautiful variation of forces, including weightlessness, followed by crushing positives and I hope you can see where I’m coming from.
In summary, F.L.Y. and Rookburgh feature some of the best theming in the World, the coaster itself though is not a World class ride.
On the second of our back to back rides on F.L.Y. to start the day, the lady at the entrance of the coaster politely asked me if I would change my mask for one of the blue medical masks. She didn’t expect me to do it right there but instead said I could change it while walking through the queue.
A warning at the park entrance, meaning I had the mask on me and a polite request from a staff member, this is how this sort of thing should be handled, stay tuned for the last day of our trip to see the exact opposite…
That’s enough F.L.Y. for now, let’s go check out the rest of the park.
Maus au Chocolat
Maus au Chocolat was first and remains one of my favourite interactive dark rides.
Followed by Black Mamba, which wasn’t riding as well as it was the last time we visited but was still pretty awesome.
In constrast however, Taron, which is still the park’s best coaster, was riding the best it ever has.
The coaster was back to how I remembered it riding when I first experienced it and nothing like it had been riding in recent years. Airtime was back and it was great, I was being violently thrown out of my seat again and I loved it and the snappy changes in direction were actually snappy again. I don’t exactly know what was causing Taron to suddenly ride much better today but I hope it continues because the coaster has moved way up in my books, sadly not in my top 25 though because Hyperion is still better, sorry.
Next up, in true Phantasialand style, we were angrily shouted at in German by a staff member for accidentally entering Wuze Town when we weren’t supposed to while lost looking for where you’re meant to queue for Winjas now.
It turns out the queue starts outside, opposite the long closed Hollywood Tour.
You still aren’t able to pick your fate on Winjas, thankfully though we got lucky and were able to ride on the Fear track. Winjas (Fear especially) are always fantastic fun and nothing has changed.
We visited Crazy Bats next, which is still running without the VR, meaning you get several minutes of pitch black riding around a warehouse, which is interesting… It felt good to have a ride though, surely this thing can’t have much long left at the park.
Lastly, for fresh stuff today, we went to check to see if Colorado Adventure is still amazing. Sadly we were unable to get anywhere near the back of the train, where the magic happens, always next time I suppose.
Then it was time to get to know F.L.Y. some more before ending our day with a few awesome laps on the newly reborn Taron.
Phantasialand are famous for kicking you out of the park (and the toilet) as quickly as possible, today however, with barely 30 seconds before the Taron queue was due to close, a wonderful staff member ushered hundreds of people in before the deadline, what park are we at again?
2 trips in a row that I’ve really enjoyed, F.L.Y. for the most part is great, Black Mamba is always an underrated gem, Winjas are awesome and Taron is now kicking serious freakin’ ass. I hate to admit it guys but I might be slowly becoming a fan of the place.
Thank you for reading, click here for day 18 of my trip report, where we visit the decent Duinrell, the horrible Hellendoorn and the wonderful Waarbeek.
Thanks to last night’s shenanigans, we decided we’d make the most of our hotel until they kicked us out at check out. This meant sleeping until the last second, getting ready in record time, then meeting Heartline in his room for some intense last minute ticket purchasing.
Due to Efteling selling out (in more ways than one) the day we were visiting would need to change, as would Movie Park Germany, which for reasons unknown was no longer open on the day we planned to visit.
Laptop closed seconds before house keeping booted the door down, it was time to get back on the road, God help us all…
The revised plan for today was now just a visit to Erlebniswelt Seilbahnen Thale, which from this moment onwards shall be referred to as simply Thale.
This plan sounds a bit lame on paper but was actually both a really good idea and very enjoyable visit.
Erlebniswelt Seilbahnen Thale
The sat nav took us to a large car park surrounded on 2 sides by stunning mountains with at least 2 cable cars travelling up them. Where we went from here was completely guess work but eventually we found our way to the park.
I knew from reading the park’s website that the local area has ties to witchcraft but I wasn’t expecting the small park you walk past on your way to the park itself to have embraced the idea as much as it did.
The Devil himself chilling in the park, I’m down with whatever happens next because that is awesome.
Shortly after seeing the Devil, we arrived at the park itself.
Is that the witch herself? Or just a decoy?
Under the gaze of the witch (or decoy) you have a choice to make, turn left and down to enter the main park or turn right and up and head to the cable car station which takes you to the top of the mountain to ride the alpine coaster.
We opted to start at the bottom, mostly through lack of understanding the set up yet.
Unless my memory is spiting me again, all of the rides in the bottom main park are self operated, which for the record I enjoy massively.
This meant you had to purchase a “points card” from a little ticket office, which we eventually did after confusing every member of staff in the area and at one point being quoted a price that was almost 10 times the price it should have been.
Points card in hand, we first started with a ride over the Bode in a witches cauldron on Boderitt.
This wacky suspended Wiegand single rail coaster was good fun, made better by getting to operate it yourself, which was done by tapping your points card on a reader, pulling the lapbar down and then pressing a button when you get the green light, which of course I managed to do wrong, but I enjoyed it so it’s fine.
Next up Heartline and his wife went to ride Hexenbesen.
Hexenbesen, which I forgot to take a photo of, is an even more wacky suspended single rail Wiegand coaster where 1 rider at a time lays down, unrestrained, in a metal tube, that then goes flying around the course. You board the ride at the top of a flight of stairs, then exit before it goes back up to the start position at the end.
I was slightly too heavy for the posted max weight, so told myself before the trip that I wouldn’t attempt it. I did however see that many credit hunters (currently 241) had got a ride in and no doubt many of them had been cheeky with that restriction. I therefore told myself if the opportunity presented itself I was open to the idea.
Now was not the time though. Heartline and his wife accidentally ended up riding the coaster with a group of children infront and behind them, with parents given them disapproving looks, and they were below the listed weight limit, Heartline is rather tall though.
To cheer myself up I rode my first Butterfly. I won’t rant about how even after riding one they clearly aren’t a coaster, instead I’ll once again praise how much I enjoy self operated rides.
While Heartline and his wife were riding the Butterfly I noticed via the Coaster-Count app that 2 more credit hunters had added Hexenbesen to their count today, stop tempting me temptation.
In the end though, it proved too much.
While wandering around the park trying to find something to spend the last of our points on, Heartline noticed that Hexenbesen and the area around it were completely empty, so we launched.
We ran up the stairs, I slid into the tube, Heartline scanned the card, I pressed the button and there was no turning back.
Did the coaster collapse into a fireball? No. Was I arrested on the spot? Also no. Am I recommending you repeat my actions? Certainly not.
Hexenbesen was really good fun. Sliding about while laying on your stomach in a metal tube just feels so wrong it’s right.
No one had even noticed or cared that I rode Hexenbesen, but in my head I was now Germany’s most wanted, so we made a quick escape to the cable car station, so I could hide at the top of the mountain, oh and ride the alpine coaster.
How great it was to have clearly printed and displayed packages for the cable car and alpine coaster, I’m looking at you Andorra…
We lucked out and managed to get the glass bottomed cable car on the way up, which is apparently highly sought after.
After a leisurely walk through stunning scenery we stumbled on the alpine coaster, named Harzbob.
I really enjoyed Harzbob and it reminded me of a situation that was very simular to our last major Europe trip.
You start the trip by riding several large famous alpine coasters, think the little ones later in the trip are going to be fairly boring and tame, then they absolutely kick your ass.
This was certainly the case with Harzbob which was viciously throwing me around in the woodland, where I was half expecting the witch to appear at any minute.
Another leisurely walk took us back to the cable car station, the fresh air melting away the stress of the night previous.
We got another glass bottomed cable car on our descent, either we are extremely lucky or they aren’t that difficult to obtain.
As we walked back past the small park with the devil on the bench, there was an old lady chanting to the passers by, I think the witch has arrived, let’s get out of here before she finds out I rode Hexenbesen.
I really enjoyed my visit to Thale, it was the perfect relaxing way to recover after last night’s incident and we were now charged back up and ready to experience the final leg of intense days that the trip had to offer.
Thank you for reading, click here for day 17 of my trip report, where we visit Phantasialand to ride F.L.Y. and see if Taron needs to move further down my top 25.
Another factor in acquiring a Plopsa pass was to give us an excuse to revisit old mate GeForce (and his new +1) while in the vicinity. Finish on a high we figured, end the trip with a coaster of quality and class, not ‘just another cred run’. After a few weeks it does tend to feel like that.
Day 23 – Holiday Park
2016, Holiday Park, sitting in the cold in our first ever hire car, watching ‘the world’s greatest rollercoaster’ for signs of life that wouldn’t come. This view still brings back haunting memories.
Indoors first though, for the chain-wide favourite Zierer Force Two coaster, this named #1 Tabalugas Achterbahn, after the dragon who recently lost his boat ride to Schwaben Park. These things do generally look pretty nice.
And here we are again. It’s been so long since I was a true fan of Expedition GeForce that I was about to make a statement like ‘I was never the biggest fan of GeForce but…’, but that would be a lie. As a humble greenhorn this ride kicked my ass and I loved it, even going out of my way to visit it twice within the first year of riding it, spite not included. Over the subsequent 5 years it has slipped a fair amount in my mind, mainly under the stress of endless newcomers. I always thought that the layout was suboptimal with all the lost potential through the middle section, though the epic airtime did make up for most of that.
Well now it’s slipped a fair amount in person. Weak, disappointing, a shell of its former self. Good to have the confirmation I guess. Gave it a few chances in various positions to be extra sure but it ended up just going through the motions.
Looks like this next place is still on the cards then, after being unceremoniously dropped last year.
Always pictured the park in a field somewhere, so the views were a pleasant surprise.
Excitement at the entrance soon turned to disappointment as the first board we came to, after buying tickets, stated that the dark ride was closed. One of the two reasons for visiting. Ugh.
Well at least #2 Heiße Fahrt is really good. Finishing in style on yet another Gerstlauer Bobsled. Every time I ride one of these I keep thinking it’s the best one yet.
And that could easily be true. It’s like a jumbo version of the standard layout with extra big twisty drops, extra high up turns and four, four! back to back airtime hills with more flair than GeForce.
Rode the dubious water coaster, Zum Rittersturz, as the drop looked rather violent and it was one other way to try and justify the entrance ticket. Turns out this one begins with a little dark ride section, a teaser perhaps of what the actual dark ride located in that same unique stack could have been like.
The drop was violent and rather unforgiving on the shoe, particularly in a mostly empty boat.
And so ends the adventure, nothing left but an uneventful trundle back to the tunnel.
I think I needed this visual for myself, just to put into perspective how stupid some of the routing ended up being, and here it is:
Total countries (principalities?) – 13 New coasters – 109 Total coasters – 128 New dark rides – 18 Total dark rides – 25 New parks – 41 Total parks – 50 New wacky worms – 14 Best coaster – Ride to Happiness Best dark ride – Symbolica Best park – Fantasiana (again) Distance travelled ~7800 Miles-ish (more than double previous record) Spites – 1/110 (0.91%)
We actually rather enjoyed our time here before, it was definitely one of those parks that got a worse rep than it deserved and so were were looking forward to experiencing all some of it again, along with their brand new attraction and a couple of other rethemes.
The new attraction being the catchily titled #1 Movie Park Studios. With so many of these Intamin things popping up, I had forgotten which ones did what, especially with that deceiving ‘multi-dimension coaster’ label that was being thrown around. Which dimension is it?
This one begins with a preshow, a Marty McFly looking bloke is projected here, welcoming us to the Studios and standing in for director Steven Thrillberg who we were supposed to meet – except he’s too busy making three films at once. But no worries, we can still have a tour. (If you want a more eloquent write-up, check this out). Things get convoluted and we’re introduced to a goofy automated ride system called SAM, I suppose giving an explanation as to why the tour is a rollercoaster (and that certain things go a bit wrong), though it didn’t feel strictly necessary to do this and pads the runtime a bit.
Sadly, almost as if to compensate for that fact, you then get a bit rushed through the next part of the queue which contains windows to some very intricately themed rooms containing all sorts of props, drawings and little details of other rides around the park, past and present. Bypassing all that in a blur takes you straight up to the station stairs, where Steven Thrillberg himself is chatting stuff on a TV and your carriage awaits.
After climbing into the cars, which are a bit Objectif Mars again, sans spinning, you despatch round the first corner and immediately take a wrong turn, ending up in the middle of a house about to get torn apart by a tornado. Effects happen and I fully expected a drop track here, but instead we got a backwards launch. I’ll take it.
You next end up on a turnable that goes the long way round, 270° past a bank of studio monitors with technology going a bit haywire before proceeding forwards again into the set of a car chase movie. With a drop right along side a rival car, the main launch hits and sends you up out into the outside world.
For the little entrance fly by section, which is a fun moment.
Heading back inside for a couple of faster turns, you come across the last of the three movies – King Kong kicking off at stuff, though it rushes past in a bit of a blur at our new found speed. The tour is complete, thanks for riding.
Well, it’s great as a ‘dark ride’. The coaster itself is a bit of a non-event if that’s what you’re going for, it’s a good dynamic piece of hardware that does the job well and a nice bonus that it happens to be a cred I guess. Looks like I was wrong about the drop track!
Could have done with a bit more proof reading at the end here.
Just next door is the rethemed rapids ride, now Excalibur. I never did the old queue as we ended up with fastrack last time and slithered in through a side door instead. This was here now, might have been before, would that make sense? Probably not. Big and impressive though.
I’m all for rapids rides with significant indoor sections and good levels of theming, there’s something a bit more magical about the water sloshing around in the dark and the peril that comes with it. It’s well paced, fun and ends with finding Excalibur of course, in a big cave. Was it better than Mystery River? Couldn’t say.
Walked straight past all the family coasters that would have been so much easier to ride this time around, if only that was how the hobby worked. Sadly Time Riders (the vicious John Cleese simulator) was out of action for ‘local covid restrictions’, although I’m led to believe this is a more permanent doing and it’s the next attraction to be overhauled. May never be the same again.
Van Helsing was ready to kick ass though, the fantastically themed Gerstlauer Bobsled. Maybe I’ve been wrong thinking all these new ones might be the best one yet, I love this thing. Fast paced, grim, violent, with surprise hairpins and/or airtime in the dark, it’s proper quality stuff.
As is the queue for Star Trek: Operation Enterprise. They’ve done away with the preshows here interestingly, I remember thinking they hurt the rerideability a bit, especially as they didn’t really link so well to the series, after being immersed so well in all the rest of it.
I feel like this Mack launch coaster is exactly as I remember it, just that my standards have gone up quite considerably, particularly given what had happened a couple of days prior. It’s fine, competent, nothing special, a good mix of forces here and there. Triple launches are starting to feel a bit faffy without anything spectacular at either end and I find myself wanting to get into the meat of the ride more quickly. Still lacks a conclusion as a themed experience as well. Did we get assimilated or what? Also the furry communicator badges on their uniforms look a bit ropey and were starting to bug me as the day went on.
Instead of redoing John Cleese, I feel like they should be paying more attention to the beachy American area with the two terrible creds (and no, repainting the SLC doesn’t count). It’s a weird transition from nicely decorated studio rides to cheap looking Diskos, generic theming and industrial wasteland. We walked straight round the lot in a loop to remind ourselves what was there worth riding, and the answer was nothing.
Time for a little distracted detour. With less than 72 hours until we would be heading home, we needed a negative covid test result from somewhere, anywhere. The park themselves were hosting a little test centre out in the car park so we figured it might be worth a shot and headed out to see them now that the morning rush was over. Better than stumbling into some obscure pharmacy in a city, as was the original plan, at least.
Though our request was unusual, ‘we want a test to go home in three days, not to get into the park we’ve already been in’, they knew exactly what we were on about, were super helpful about it all and got right to it, giving us exactly what we needed. Major relief there.
To celebrate(?) the fact we could now end the holiday soon, we rode Area 51, another more tenuously rethemed water/dark ride. Forgot how huge the drop in the dark was for such a big boat, it goes on for an age and is quite a special moment. Alien stuff happens as you drift around in the depths of the indoor section, followed by a backwards portion waiting for a drop that never comes. The final descent out of the volcano is stil hilariously tame and I’m simply not enough of an expert to have noticed the differences. Was it better than Bermuda Triangle? I couldn’t say.
It had been chucking down with rain at certain points and everything in the park was walk on, so we did struggle somewhat to last the day, even though we wanted to give the place every opportunity. They’ve got many solid attractions and definitely appear to be heading in the right direction, just nothing with that killer instinct to keep you there indefinitely. All other cred options in the area had already been exhausted, so we took an early long drive back towards the French border for the night. All coming full circle. -ish.
I can never seem to escape this park, even though I’m far from the biggest fan. Last year was brutally bad timing as we missed the long awaited opening of F.L.Y. by a mere couple of weeks. Obviously that had to be rectified and so here we go again, ready to ride yet another Vekoma multi-launch that I was once hugely excited for, though feelings had since faded into obscurity.
Headed straight to Rookburgh to see what all the fuss had been about over the years. It’s quite the spectacle, I’ll give it that, and I like the way the area feels so far removed from the rest of the park as if it’s a little pocket world of its own. Walls were worth it. Walking through the queue goes on for an age, but provides plenty of opportunity to have a good watch of everything going on around the place.
We reached the instructional batching point amongst the first guests of the day, but then proceeded to get stuck here, watching the video over and over again for what felt like a long time. The ride was already playing up and having some technical delays. I assume this robot bloke is/was meant to do something, though he appeared to also be broken. The video explains the immensely complicated boarding procedure which is, I suppose intentionally, rather like boarding a flight. You receive a magic wristband from a member of staff and then proceed to a bank of lockers, selecting any one you want. Once all your goods are stowed, absolutely all of them, the band will lock it for you by touch and then of course become registered exclusively to that number until the end of the ride. It’s now time to pass through the metal detectors and staff with scanners to check you haven’t been naughty and tried to sneak a cheeky picture of the station to sell to Golden Horse. The station queue splits off into two, with what was originally intended to be colour coded entrances based on the wristband you received, I believe for single riders and such. These are covid times however, so everyone gets blue anyway and they just filter from both alternately.
It’s a nice station, full of bubbling pipes and mood lighting. I particularly like the way the trains come in at pace, there’s an efficient, almost public transport feel to it which is again what I guess they were going for.
Having not followed anything about #1 F.L.Y. too closely, the trains themselves were rather impressive to behold. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing as they came in sideways, seats mounted upright at 90° in sets of two. They’re massively long, nice and easy to get in to, the little one way leg flaps are rather genius and it’s all actually rather comfortable I found. The trains despatch to much waving from the staff and continue in their weird sideways motion through an indoor section that contains a number of themed adverts for wacky inventions and then a large scene of a bustling airship dock(?) on screens. As you round the corner from there and head outside, the seats elegantly swivel round to the right as the track twists from behind you, to overhead, and the launch track awaits.
The pause at this point is a little awkward, I feel like the ride could have benefited from a rolling first launch to keep the excitement going after the swelling of the music and the accompanying scene. Nevertheless you’re off, zooming around the area through a million different twists and turns. It’s somewhat of a sensory overload even after multiple goes, helped along by a few bonus water and smoke effects. Inherently though, the riding position doesn’t lend itself terribly well into taking all of that in, it’s hard to focus on any of the stunning visuals when you’re looking towards the floor as it blurs past. Out of interest I also tried looking forward instead, for the duration of a front row lap, and it ended up being rather uncomfortable on the neck.
But is the actual ride any good? Kinda. There are some highlights in the latter half, as soon as that second launch hits and shoots you up here, there’s a surprising tug of acceleration followed by a bit of near-exclusive ‘airtime on a flying coaster’, though these are both only really felt towards the front. The following section is punctuated by some more highly unusual but satisfying lurching floaty moments, but those were the only real takeaway for me. The rest of the ride is rather repetitive and bland, much like the uninspired swooping turns and endless inline twists of lesser rival B&Ms, only highly exaggerated and then nicely decorated. Again I’m sure that hit the directive for this attraction, it’s just not something that keeps me coming back for more. F.L.Y. is a fantastically fun themed experience with some fascinating new technology that’s simply joyous to behold, it simply doesn’t do the things I personally like flying coasters to do, namely crush your soul with ridiculous inversions.
Now that we had the measure of that, we found ourselves token lapping the rest of the park yet again. Mice were shot with chocolate on Maus au Chocolat.
Winjas were feared. Finally got the better side of these two again, after many years of trying. Interestingly the queue for the rides has temporarily been moved to outside of the building, instead entering through a theatre door and skipping the usually rather grim indoor maze section.
Crazy Bats weren’t seen. The indoor coaster still isn’t running with virtual headsets, thankfully.
Feet were ripped off on Black Mamba.
Colorado Adventure was ruined again, by unnecessary assigned seating on a half-empty train. Back row for life.
Oh and Taron. Taron was kicking ass, moreso than usual. I’m not sure what went on but it was running almost too well. The queue wasn’t unbearable and we got more laps than ever before. There were snaps I hadn’t felt for a long time, those one-and-a-half airtime moments were delivering and there were random bursts of positives I don’t remember existing. I was making a point to readjust my mask during the trims at the end, for comedic effect, but even they were providing some unprecedented floatiness and then the final turn would instantly and aggressively whip it down my face again. Every time. The creature is clearly asserting some dominance over the new kid in town. And rightfully so.
We had a great day once again, it’s always easy to fill the time with the undeniably strong and varied attraction lineup of Phantasialand. No water rides this time sadly as Chiapas likes to ruin shoes and River Quest was clearly having capacity issues – barely any boats running and a 90 minute queue all day, with F.L.Y. at 45 and nothing else over 20. Every time I visit this park now it grows on me and the negative experiences fade further into the past. But they are what gives the place character, so I think I’d better slow down.
Though it was of course entirely worth it, that later night at Energylandia didn’t end up doing us any favours. After all the previous traffic tragedies, Poland really took things to another level by leaving us stuck at the tail end of a motorway accident until 3am as we attempted to make headway to the German border, in a queue so bad that even the recovery truck couldn’t get through due to poor ‘parking’, people leaving their cars and/or falling asleep at the wheel.
Day 16 – Erlebniswelt Seilbahnen Thale
The original plan of an early start the next day was of course abandoned after that travesty and so we needed to settle on a much more relaxed itinerary to accompany the crossing of Germany. This resulted in visiting just one humble collection of Wiegand equipment, set of course against a wonderful backdrop.
The town of Thale is situated in a part of Germany that has a strong association with witches and other fun devilment.
They have some big mountains, devils on benches, senior citizens yodelling
and of course rides. All of the equipment here is self-operated in true German fashion, you can load up a card with points at a ticket desk and use it as contactless payment to trigger the despatch of any ride at the push of a button.
#1 Boderitt is one of Wiegand’s rarer Mystical Hex models, in this case with cool looking cauldron cars. For being such an open vehicle it was rather scary in the backwards facing seat as it swung rather enthusiastically from side to side and left me unable to prepare myself for anything. Backwards is good.
The place is also home to their prototype suspended design and first of their rides to be called #2 Hexenbesen or ‘witches broom’, of course in homage to the region. It’s a wacky contraption that involves solo riders laying on a crash mat inside a tube, again pushing the dispatch button yourself and ‘flying’ your way down to the bottom of the layout.
Where you unceremoniously have to slide out backwards and clear the area before the car can take itself back up the lift hill. Fascinating, and great fun.
Away from all that are the cable cars with alternate bonus glass floors that are scratched and pointless.
They take you up to the top of the mountain to find one more piece of Wiegand wares.
And more witches.
Getting back on the old dual rail style felt like a bit of a downgrade after recent experiences. #3 Harzbob is also a bit of a short and unremarkable version of the hardware, but it’s all part of the adventure. Also helped that it was open.
That’s pretty much it for yet another transit day. Germany became the latest in a long line of countries that didn’t really want us to get anywhere in any hurry and, having crossed the entire width of the country, it was time to make camp in a particularly populous region of theme parks, old and new.
Here it was, the last day of the trip that saved 2020 from being completely awful. As I enjoyed my morning shower a concerning idea popped into my head, why don’t we ditch our planned schedule for today and instead give Phantasialand yet another chance. You see our plan for today was going to be grabbing a +1 from a park we had no real interest in visiting, then doing 2 funfairs back to back with neither of them having anything that exciting. This trip was probably going to be the only fun we’d have all year, so the thought of just killing time at places we didn’t really want to be at just seemed wrong. Phantasialand is only 20 minutes away and even if it’s awful to us like it’s been in the past at least they have decent rides and if worst comes to worst I can just moan about them on the internet again.
Straight into the park with no hassle this time and straight to Taron.
Thanks to the park being by far the quietest we’ve ever seen it we were able to finally get a decent number of laps on Taron today, sadly however this didn’t help the coaster much. Taron seems to get weaker for me every time I ride it and this trend continued today. While technically an amazing coaster thatI do still rank highly, Taron slips more and more every time I visit and at this pace it won’t be long before it falls out of my top 25.
River Quest next, I freaking love this thing.
It was amazing to witness Heartline’s wife take her first ride and be as terrified as I was when I first stepped onto this insane Hafema rapids ride.
While we are still wet, let’s go ride Chiapas.
This Intamin flume ride didn’t do all that much for me last time, other than ruin my shoes… Today however, it still ruined my shoes, but it also delivered an extremely fun ride, one that all 3 of us spent laughing the whole way through. Seriously though guys, sort out those stupid restraints.
When me and Heartline rode Colorado Adventure last time we thought it was awful and laughed in the face of anyone who dared to call it the best mine train coaster in the World. Today though, in the last couple of rows, it was outstanding! Standing airtime throughout and uncontrollable laughter until it hurt, yeah this is the good stuff, we were wrong, sorry.
I convinced myself, as you would, during our midnight mid-fireworks display rides, that Black Mamba is one of the better smaller B&M Inverts out there. Today however, in the light of day, it’s really good but maybe not quite as special as I thought on that night.
Maus au Chocolat
Next up was a re-visit to Maus au Chocolat, I’m happy to announce it remains probably the best interactive screen based attraction out there.
Thanks to the current situation you weren’t allowed to choose which track you’d like to ride on Winjas, thanks to bad luck we got the weaker one twice… Never mind though because both sides of Winjas are awesome and they remain one of my favourite attractions at the park.
New to us was Crazy Bats, but since they weren’t using the VR headsets it played out much more like a re-visit to Temple of the Nighthawk, which I’m totally OK with. I found Nighthawk rather endearing and this was exactly how I remembered it, coasting around in silence in pitch black with a lifthill every 10 seconds.
We headed to the China Town area of the park for lunch and while we were there we couldn’t help but take a ride on Geister Rikscha. It’s outdated and I don’t understand half of what’s occuring but I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the park’s Chinese ghost train.
After lunch we headed for a few more laps on Taron and it was there that we decided we were more than happy to leave early and visit one of the funfairs after all.
So I finally had a good day at Phantasialand! Don’t get too excited though, I’m far from going to claim it’s one of the greatest parks in the World and I’m not going to pretend all of the previous negative experiences didn’t happen. Today I had a great time, but we’ll have to see if the park can continue that when we visit yet again now that F.L.Y. is open.
Öcher Bend Funfair
Winter Wonderland and a previous school trip to a German funfair had me believing we were going to be stepping into an all out party at Öcher Bend Funfair. Sadly though it was a rather tame affair but I’ll put that down to visiting when it was still light out and being the only ones there.
A Schwarzkopf Wildcat was the first of the two coasters we rode here. It was far more violent than I was expecting and for that reason I rather enjoyed it honestly.
And the other was a Wacky Worm where the train was a lion, no really.
After that we headed back towards the Channel Tunnel. We were all expecting to be intensely questioned about where we’d been, where we were coming from, who we saw, where we stayed, but thankfully it ended up being very friendly. We chatted about the various coasters and parks we visited on the trip and even informed the heavily Irish officer that the back row is almost always better than the front in the coaster world, this was enough to let us back in.
While doing research for the trip Heartline discovered something wonderful, the elusive and legendary Höllenblitz was currently residing in a safari park in Germany. We’ve been waiting years for this beast to come to us at Winter Wonderland, I think it’s time we made the effort.
And an effort it was, but that was mostly just putting up with going on my 2nd safari experience, which was an absolute slog from beginning to end. Drive through safari experiences can be best described as stand still traffic involving animals. I’d much rather just be walking around in a zoo than in a queue of traffic not moving while I can’t see anything, I can’t really recommend them to anyone if I’m honest.
But we’re not here for the animals…
SBF spinner first, while getting blinded and seriously sunburnt.
The park had strangely renamed this monster as Safari Blitz on all their official publications but thankfully had made no effort in changing the coaster itself to match this new name.
Höllenblitz was everything I wanted it to be and more.
First there was the thrill of finally getting to ride such a legendary coaster, one I’d been waiting years to experience. The theming inside and out was insane and the whole thing just screamed that this was something special.
Then there was the fact that Höllenblitz is more than just a statement, it’s actually a seriously kick ass coaster as well. The spinning is insane, some sections are super intense, but most of all Höllenblitz is incredible fun. If it wasn’t for time restrictions I could have kept on riding this legend all day.
We wanted to experience some of the other attractions at Serengeti Park, but thanks to stupid one way systems and long queues we simply didn’t have enough time if we wanted to get to the next park we had planned today.
Fort Fun Abenteuerland
The drive to Fort Fun, much like yesterday, was annoyingly full of endless hold ups, meaning that when we finally got to the park time was extremely tight. Fearing we possibly wouldn’t have enough time to ride all the coasters, our plan was to just ride anything we stumbled on.
And first up was Devil’s Mine.
This custom Vekoma Junior had one of the longest and most intense queues I’ve ever experienced. It went on for miles and around every corner was immense danger. Heartline’s wife has bad knees and ankles so me and Heartline went out infront and had to keep shouting back to her to watch out because something insane was about to happen. Tight stairs in almost complete darkness, funhouse style bouncing floors in almost complete darkness, passages you could smash your head on in almost complete darkness, Devil’s Mine had it all and it was great fun.
How was the coaster though? I preferred the queue honestly but it’s not without it’s charm. There’s a few decent airtime moments and it’s nice to see a custom Vekoma Junior in the sea of clones.
Next up was SpeedSnake, a Vekoma Whirlwind that had been fitted with new lap bar only trains in 2017. It puzzles me why they bothered fitting this thing with semi decent trains when the coaster itself is beyond pointless as layouts go. Corners and corkscrews mate, it’s what they want…
Our plan was the ride the park’s Zierer Tivoli next but it wasn’t going to be. As we got to the coaster the operator closed the entrance gate infront of us and started to walk off. It turned out he wasn’t being mean, neither had we reached the stated ride closing time, there simply just weren’t enough people in the area to run the coaster. A sign on the op box told us that in order to run the ride we’d need 12 people minimum and despite the operator attempting to round up enough people for us it just wasn’t possible.
Feeling down but not out we were now determined to make it to the park’s last coaster before that closed too.
After running up many hills and with all 3 of us gasping for breath we just made it to Fort Fun’s alpine coaster before it closed. I’m happy to announce it was more than worth the effort and is easily my new favourite alpine coaster, which says a lot considering how many great examples I rode on this trip.
Trapper Slider was insane and took all the elements I loved about other alpines and then upped the intensity even more. This thing absolutely hauled and came seriously close to hitting many of it’s overgrown surroundings. I was laughing, screaming, shouting and violently throwing the brakes on and off on the entire descent, it was amazing.
After this we ran 1 last time to get a ride on the park’s Ferris Wheel moments before it closed.
Thanks for reading, click here for the final day of trip, where we have a completely satisfactory day at Phantasialand.