24-26th October 1997
Southport at the start of the year was great. Tour de Force in Spring was terrific but how was the first ECC trip to a German fair going to go?
It was with this in mind that 35 intrepid souls gathered at Hillingdon, Victoria and Folkestone excited and eager to experience the delights of two of the best inverted coasters in Europe.
An early start saw us in Belgium by lunch time and a long coach journey was spent talking about coasters or sleeping. The anticipation grew as we neared Bremen, with eager faces peering out of the coach anxious to spot the Eurostar lift hill or the Observation Tower at the fair.
In no time at all the keys had been collected from the Hotel, why waste time checking in when there are rides waiting? Then it was off to the fair.
The first impression when we got off the coach was of stunned amazement, as we looked on in disbelief at the 300ft (91.4m) Observation Tower, the lift hill and loop of Eurostar visible in the background. It was noisy, the smell of Bratwurst was in the air, hundreds of people were milling around. There was nothing left to do but join in the fun. The walk to Eurostar quickly became a run as anxious members made their way to this amazing coaster – floodlit against the night sky.
A short wait and then it was onto the coaster for that first night ride. What can I say to sum up Eurostar, a very intense coaster and great fun. From the lift hill there is a swooping drop to the right into the loop and then a turn into the inline twist over the entrance area in full view of the waiting and watching public, then it’s into another turn before dropping down into the double corkscrew element and onto the helix before returning to the station. Fantastic, very intense, a brilliant ride and it is transportable! Just how a ride of this size can be built in a week amazes me.
From here it was on to experience the remainder of the fair. Highlights included the fantastic enclosed Magic Mountain coaster with spinning cars, terrific fun and a laugh a minute, the new Huss Shot ‘n Drop Space Shot-type ride, the double Wilde Maus, well the list goes on and on. With typical German efficiency the fair unfortunately closed on time, so it was back to the hotel for a rest before returning to the fair on the Saturday for a more leisurely visit.
Arriving at 10.30 we were met by Angela Bruch, daughter of Oscar, and given free access to Eurostar including being allowed to climb the lift hill. The size of the coaster is amazing and the appearance of the ride takes on a completely different perspective when viewed from within it. An hour exploring and photographing the ride passed quickly and then it was time for a short walk around the fair before lunch. The generosity of the Fairground owners was wonderful and thanks to some swift talking by the German members in the party free ride tickets kept appearing, culminating in an impromptu free ERS on the double Wilde Maus before lunch.
A wonderful lunch was provided for us by Angela Bruch before we were given an hour ERS on Eurostar. By this time the fair was now open to the public but the Club were basically given a train for an hour, giving members as many rides as they wanted, and if that wasn’t enough, rides were then free on Eurostar for the rest of the day. Due to the wide selection of rides on offer at Bremen everybody then headed off in different directions to sample the delights of the rides and the Beer Halls. Words cannot describe the quality of the rides, the general cleanliness of the fair suffice to say that most British parks let alone fairs cannot hold a candle to Bremen.
After more rides on Magic Mountain, Eurostar, Shot ‘n Drop, the Big Wheel, Wildwasser 3, an incredible travelling log flume and countless more, it was time to reluctantly say goodbye to Bremen and to head off to the Netherlands. The majority of the party took the opportunity of a tour into Amsterdam that evening and the running commentary provided by James Lawrence proved most interesting. James obviously has a very deep interest and understanding of Dutch architecture and railways and he provided a most interesting and informative guide to the city. A walking tour took in most of the bright lights, mostly red ones, before a quick bite to eat and trip back to the hotel. Overall a great day with one or two people enjoying the odd ride more than most, on the trams of course!
An early start the following morning saw a short journey to Walibi Flevo to ride El Condor, the prototype of the Vekoma SLC.
The ERS on El Condor was preceded by a brief welcome from the Park and then it was on to the ride. With the sun shining, the ride, with green support structure and white track, looked absolutely superb. The ride itself is great fun and not to be missed. An unexpected treat allowed us access onto the lift hill for those brave enough, and the view from the top was superb. I would like to take this opportunity to wish Walter, an ECC member and operator of El Condor a speedy recovery from his back operation and look forward to seeing him on our next visit.
Following the ERS we were taken to the Restaurant for coffee before being let loose in the park. Highlights included the Log flume with reverse first drop, a Waikiki Wave which broke as soon as we got off and the Rapids. How did you manage to sink the boat Justin? (Ed: Skill!)
After a brief lunch there was just enough time to take in the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, which was excellent, before heading home. By 11.00pm we arrived at Hillingdon, said our goodbyes and headed off home, tired but happy.
So was it worth it? After Southport I said “beat that,” I did the same after the Foire du Trone and now I have to do the same again. I experienced a terrific fair the like of which has never been seen this side of the Channel, I have tasted Chocomel and Frishi, learnt things I never knew about train services and Kebabs in Holland but I still don’t understand the tales of darts or about the banana. If only 1998 can live up to this year I will be a very happy coaster nutter.
Many thanks must go to Justin for the trip organisation, to Angela Bruch and the Eurostar operators, to the staff and ride operators at Walibi Flevo and to James for navigating and sharing the wealth of his experience of the city of Amsterdam. It was absolutely fantastic. Yes I did enjoy it, just a little!
Let’s face it, the last thing anyone needs after a 12 hour coach journey is to start inverting, spinning, swinging and falling. Well, not normal people anyway. So for the brave souls who survived the journey, paradise was to be found in Eurostar, the most intense inverter this side of Montu and Nemesis. Containing that “oh so small” helix straight out of a drop, the lovely tight bends separating the inversions and not to mention the “Ouch, my balls!” final brake. Having ridden a fair number of the B&M inverters and a few Vekomas to boot, I was looking forward to seeing how the Intamin version performed, I was not disappointed. Although not as smooth as a B&M, it did have the fast “wham bam” pacing and was immediately preferable to the Vekoma “hang and bangs.” Quite how this thing travels and rides as well as it does is anyone’s guess. Credit must go to the Bruch family for maintaining such an excellent ride.
Eurostar was not the only surprise of the fair. After leaving Eurostar I thought I’d wandered into some sick torture chamber. There was enough equipment on display to keep the most active sado-masochist happy. If it spun (fast) and went upside down it was here.
Some of the highlights: Salto Mortale (aka Extreme) which resembled an out-of-control egg whisk; Frisbee, a spinning dish that swings, we even got the Germans clapping and singing along to the Ken and Barbie song on this one; Typhoon, his and her’s enterprise wheels joined at the hip and spinning every way imaginable; Can Can which was a No No for me, it spun round and round and kept flipping over and over, another “crotch cruncher” so I’m told.
Magic Mountain (the spinning-car roller coaster) was probably the best ride at the fair. Imagine the Black Hole and Haunted House at Alton Towers crossed with a Waltzer and you get an idea of what this is like. Absolutely hysterical. Flashing lights within the ride allowed you quick glimpses of which way round the other cars were as you went through helixes and drops. One word and a question sums it up – MAD and why aren’t there more of these?
And the next day of course was Walibi Flevo with the notorious El Condor (the original Vekoma “hang and bang”), this was actually smoother than its American cousins. So how on earth did T2 (Kentucky Kingdom) get so rough if it came from the same mould as El Condor? The mind boggles.
All in all a great trip for inverter and spin and spew fans. More please.
CoasterBahn… should’ve been SpinBahn.
Chris & Claire McFarlane
Firstly, we would like to thank everyone who was involved or helped with the CoasterBahn trip, for an excellent event, the German fair alone was well worth the money and the long coach journey. This was our first German fair and we were not disappointed, there was a good atmosphere and an excellent selection of attractions at very reasonable and value for money prices. The fair alone certainly (for us) threw UK fairs into insignificance and we can not wait to get back to another one.
The highlights for us at the fair were the massive Eurostar, Magic Mountain, Wild Wasser III (it is incredible to think that these three travel around) as well as newcomers, Frisbee, Double Mouse, Jump and Salto Mortale upon which we spent 7½ minutes for around £2, which was just a little too long even for us spin ride fans.
Walibi Flevo was a very nice park with a good selection of attractions. El Condor was very good as was their Log Flume with a backwards drop. The rapids ride was very eventful, as our boat slid into the water one of the sections went under the water, the rest of the ride was spent hitting the bottom and one of the central tubes came out and followed us around.
Finally, thanks again to everyone involved for an excellent trip, can we do it all again soon?
We had been travelling for over thirteen hours. We had seen the sun rise and set. It was cold. It was raining. We reached the fair at Bremen, Germany – We said, “Wow.”
The first and most important thing which you must remember is the size of these things. German fairs dwarf some of our theme parks, hold more major attractions, and are completely mobile. Imagine coming across a pub, a fully furnished, large pub. It has solid walls, it has a solid roof, it is a building. And yet it can be taken down and put back up again in a day. It was touches like this which made the fair. Instead of a greasy burger stand, you have a whole tiled kitchen / restaurant in which to eat. The Log Flume was a totally themed mine ride, with rusted mine carts and fully automated vignettes. The whole thing looked as if it had been there for centuries! You completely forget that it is mobile.
It is truly a shame that we do not get this class of mobile attraction in the UK. It was really brought home to me when I arrived back from the trip to see that a mobile UK fair had set up in my home town, consisting wholly of a Topspin clone, three Hook-A-Duck type stands and a burger van. Everyone in the local area had come to see this Topspin, commenting on its size and how good it was. I don’t see why some European Fairs don’t come and spend some time in the UK, we are crying out for them.
Even the larger UK fairs, such as the Hull fair or the Nottingham Goose fair are nowhere near the quality of the European fairs, after all, who wants twelve Waltzers and 200 stalls?
Walbi Flevo was also another surprise. This park has only been open for three years, and you would never know. The amount of money which has been pumped into the park must be amazing.
The most important factor which really made the trip, and something that rarely gets mentioned in these reports, is the social side. You could go to the most wonderful and exciting places in the world, (which we do!) but if you were with a bunch of people who you didn’t like, you would not enjoy a minute. This was my third Club trip, and I have to say that the different groups of people on each trip have been wonderful. There is a real party atmosphere, even when you have been travelling for over ten hours, and it is a great way to get to know all the latest coaster news. You are not travelling with a bus load of strangers, just a whole lot of old friends that you have yet to meet.
The long journey started early Friday, but it was well worth the effort seeing a German fair for the first time, and at night with all those coloured lights, loads of people, beer tents and great smells of all the different varieties of food on sale, not to mention the excellent rides!
Approaching the Oscar Bruch Eurostar I see that the track colour is dark blue, just like the Cadbury’s Dairy Milk wrappers. This, together with the silver supporting structure makes it look really tempting. So, being tempted, we had our first ride. The whole experience is just “WOW,” much better than I was expecting, although a little rough in places, but, who cares! Now this ride should get the top award for “the noisiest ratchet.” Boy, was this loud!
We went on more rides, including the Wild Mouse and Magic Mountain with its spinning cars, giving you a different ride every time. The Huss Shot ‘n Drop was here also. Other members said it was better than Playstation. The “Shot” part had great acceleration after which you bounced up and down. Then came the “Drop.” We were taken to the top slowly, then pulled down, and yes, you do leave your seat. Great Fun! I think that Nintendo should sponsor the Shot ‘n Drop as their N64 is much better than Blackpool’s Playstation!
The Hotel for Friday night was excellent, so was the breakfast the next morning. You could eat as much as you liked. After breakfast we ventured back to the fair again where we were allowed to walk under, and over Eurostar. At the top, 140ft (42.7m) up it was very breezy, but we had an excellent view of the entire ride plus the rest of the fair below.
Lunch was smoked ham, potatoes, peas and beans, with plenty of beer, all laid on for us by the Bruch family, very tasty. May I say a big thank you to them for all they did for us during this trip. After lunch, we rode the Eurostar again and again, in between the other rides there, including Frisbee. If I said that it was like riding a spinning Pirate Ship, you can imagine why one ride was enough! There was a wonderfully themed travelling Log Flume, great fun, with one of the drops taken backwards.
5 o’clock came and we had to leave to travel to our next hotel. Again, an excellent one. After checking in, about half of us took a trip to Amsterdam’s Red Light District. We had a good look around, had a meal and a few beers and got back to the hotel around 2:00am. After another great breakfast, we set off for Walibi Flevo. We arrived there early to that we were able to have our ERS on El Condor, the Vekoma suspended inverter. I was really surprised to find it was quite smooth, with two seats together instead of four, which gave it a more open feeling. (I’m glad Southport are getting one in 1998, it’s a great ride.) The Park let us walk the lift hill of El Condor which gave us an amazing view, especially on such a sunny morning.
After our ERS we explored the rest of the park and rode the Rapids which had articulated boats, the Log Flume, which was great fun, having a reverse drop and then a forwards drop, a Waikiki Wave and just before we left we managed to fit in King Solomons Mines stunt show. The trip back to the tunnel was a long one, but we were rewarded at the duty free where we stocked up! I arrived home at about 1:30am, tired but happy.
Thanks Justin, and I hope there will be more of the same next year.
I first visited a German fair when, at the tender age of 14, I was bundled over to Aachen on a school exchange. Although I enjoyed the rides, which included my first ever encounter with an Enterprise, my stomach was less impressed and I spent the return journey ejecting my lunch through the window of my hosts’ Mercedes. Sixteen years later I was ready for another visit, this time to Bremen with the ECC. I viewed the trip with a mixture of excitement and apprehension – excitement at the prospect of riding Eurostar, and apprehension at my stomach’s response to the exotic collection of spin and spews which would be there.
The first thing that struck me about the fair was the sheer scale of it. It’s amazing to think that everything there, from the 311ft (94.8m) observation tower to the wooden bier kellers, is transportable. It certainly puts British fairs to shame.
The second noticeable thing was the hospitality of the Germans – not just the Bruch’s, who arranged for us to have our own train on Eurostar as well as a much needed hot meal – but also all the other fairmen who gave us free rides.
Eurostar itself was a fantastic, intense ride which left me shaking with adrenalin following my first ride on Friday night. On Saturday I had two rides in the front before falling in love with the back seat, and was reluctant to leave after the ERS!
Of the other rides, Wilde Maus (my first mouse!) was fun, even in the rain; the Huss Shot ‘n Drop had a great launch although it was short on airtime, and Wildwasser III, with its backwards drop and animatronics was more fun than most stationary Log Flumes I’ve ridden. My favourite, though, was Magic Mountain, which combined coaster, Waltzer and Ghost Train to good effect. If only Blackpool Pleasure Beach added spinning cars to Space Invader!
I was more wary of the spin and spews but by Saturday afternoon I felt brave enough to try out Can Can (which I enjoyed, though it was not a great favourite with the fellas) and Salto Mortale. Instead of making me sick they merely whetted my appetite for more spin and spews, so it looks as if I’ll be off to Hamburg in December!
Walibi Flevo seemed very quiet after the fair, but still had plenty to offer. El Condor was not as rough as I’d feared, so I got a fair few rides in there, but the highlight of the day had to be the Log Flume, where our attempt to fit six large people into one small log made for a very wet ride. The lowlight? Well, anyone who rode the Tequila ride will tell you that putting a track through a greenhouse does not equate to a thrilling experience.
If I had a pound for every time someone asked about doing a German fair trip, my trousers would end up round my ankles under the weight of them all. Organising one was a pain as it was difficult to pin one down enough in advance, and to know with some confidence what exactly would be there. To this end I would like to personally thank Angela Bruch for taking care of everything at the fair end of the trip. Thank God she had a mobile phone or I don’t know what I would have done! Angela organised the ERS on Eurostar for us, free rides for the duration of our stay, the meal and the amazing access that was given to us enabling us to climb all over Eurostar. The trip would not have been the success it was without her, and for that I am eternally grateful.
A special thank you should also go to the other ride owners at the fair who showed us so much hospitality – especially in the free rides department. Now if this had been a UK fair trip…
To top the trip off, Walibi Flevo really excelled. I knew that the German fair was going to be the main draw, but Walibi was by no means the poor relation here. Their hospitality allowed members to walk up El Condor’s lift hill, which meant many people had walked two lift hills at the end of the weekend – and this was two more than most had ever walked before. El Condor excelled, which was great as many of the later SLC’s – remember that this is the prototype – had been poorly received, mainly due to their roughness. It was also an honour for the park to inform us before anyone else about their 1999 plans – which of course means that we’ll be heading back that way very soon. So many thanks to Hans van Driem, Rudi de Clercq, Hans Smith and Sandra van Werzel, at the park, for making the trip a success. Also thanks to Mark Wijman who helped enormously with this part of the trip.
Finally, thanks to everyone who came, and thanks for not falling down the lift hills – I think my heart missed a beat every time someone set off up one.
It is worth saying at this point that this trip was the warm-up for a bigger German fair trip next year (1998), so get ready to do it all again, only this time on a larger scale!