Reviews & Reports
The idea of organising a trip to ride coasters in what is normally the coldest, wettest month of the year was a courageous one. Initially I was a little sceptical about making the 500 mile round trip, but what the hell, it was an opportunity for the first rides of the year on a terrific and underrated coaster. I certainly made the right decision.
Having been one of the very lucky few to be chosen to walk the track, I spent the previous week praying for good weather, but even I could not believe how fortunate we were. The track walk was unreal, with Ray offering a very interesting talk as we walked from the station backwards around the Cyclone.
The walkway alongside the track was incredibly slippery with the first of the year’s grease and a lot of condensation, but slow methodical progress was no problem, with safety being of paramount importance. What amazed me was just how steep the drops were, much steeper than you imagine when riding, forcing you to hold the handrail with both hands to stop slipping down. It was brilliant. Having walked around to the second turnaround the wrong way we then walked the lift hill the correct way, and again the experience was unbelievable. Many thanks must go to Ray, Jake and Lynne at the Pleasureland for allowing the track walk, especially with Jessica – an experience of a lifetime for an eight-year-old. Ray was wonderful, telling Jess that she was brave for deciding to stop on the climb from the third drop and walk back, thanks for being there to help her down, your constant attention did not go unnoticed, thank you. All this and it was only 9:00am!
Coffee and toast calmed the nerves somewhat and warmed those chilled bones before a good session in the Fun House to blow away the cobwebs and loosen all those tired muscles. The joy wheel was as good as ever but I am sure that Lynne kept hold of the last Golden Ball in the ball pond just to make us all looks fools.
Then it was onto the behind-the-scenes tour of the workshops, a walk through the drained River Caves, very novel and surely a first for most members, and a walk up the lift hill of the Log Flume. Then we started the ‘97 season proper with the Cyclone ERS.
The initial disappointment at the non appearance of the backwards-facing-car was soon dispelled by the first ride of the season, arms up all the way, apart from under the scaffolding at the end of the tunnel. That could have been a true white knuckle-ride! (Ed: I don’t think your knuckles would have been white somehow!)
The riding with 45 members was brilliant and with some members waiting for the back seats, it was possible to get a ride on every other train. The short delay while the rear facing car was being put onto the train was interesting to watch and then the experience of backwards riding lived up to my expectations. Many thanks to the ride crew for putting on the backwards-facing train for us, it was greatly appreciated.
After the ERS, Pleasureland provided a great lunch before the question sheets for the Treasure Hunt and the Ride For Points challenge. Being entirely honest(!!!) we entered into the spirit of the competition and with some amazing organisation managed to amass over 100 rides in the space of just over two hours, averaging almost one ride a minute. In addition to this amazing feat we answered almost all of the questions for the Treasure Hunt. Highlights included three goes on the Bouncy Castle when not inflated, a ride on the Viking Ship that was out of operation and countless rides on the Gallopers, and we did manage a couple of rear facing rides on the Cyclone in the process.
Feeling flushed with success we proudly made our way to the Go Karts, only to hear a rival team boasting 400 rides on the Cyclone! Did they really start counting in February last year? I think we should be told! What chance did we stand! The Go Karts were great fun and the under eight’s race was the highlight, with no ill mannered driving and a brilliant win for Jessica.
The coffee, cakes and quiz rounded off a wonderful day.
A big thank you must go to Pleasureland, especially Ray, Jake and Lynne. They need not have gone to so much trouble for us, but the fact that they appeared to go out of their way to make sure the day went well shows that they understand the enthusiast.
Just a quick note to say a huge thank you for the Southport trip. Walking the track was an absolutely fantastic experience (Ed: You can see Mary above), even if more frightening than I was expecting. It is higher, steeper and much more slippery than it looks! I certainly won’t forget it in a hurry.
The rest of the day was great fun – even taking into account all the cheating that took place! I still have countless bruises from the Fun House, and stiff stomach muscles from laughing. Fully grown adults playing in the ball pond, on the slides and riding on the kiddie rides to get points provided the best entertainment I’ve had in months!
I must take this opportunity to thank the staff at Pleasureland for all their help, especially Ray who very patiently walked us around the track and took us on the behind-the-scenes tour. This provided some excellent photo opportunities, and it was really nice to see inside the workshops. Also, a big thank you to Robert who was running the Big Apple coaster. I hope his back isn’t too damaged from pushing us lot.
Just a short letter to say what a fantastic time I had at the Hands-On day at Pleasureland. The opportunity to walk the track on the Cyclone was excellent, as was the ERS on it. Also fun was the Fun House, especially the Joy Wheel.
I’d just like to say a big thank you to everybody involved in organising the trip and all the staff at Pleasureland – they were superb. A speical thanks to the poor guy on the Big Apple who had to push our, heavier than normal, train from the station – ride after ride.
When I put my name down for the trip, I had had no idea what to expect. I’d only joined the Club in the new year, as a very novice (but keen) enthusiast, and knew next to no-one. I’d never been to Southport before and I’d only seen a couple of pictures of the Cyclone, which looked fairly encouraging, but that was my lot.
The good feeling started even as I walked down the prom towards the park. The sight of those twelve lucky people, silhouetted up there on the crest of the Cyclone’s second hill, made my spirits leap, and set the adrenalin going. The coaster year had begun in style! Even the weather was smiling on us. It was going to be good!
And it was. In fact it was more than “good,” it was brilliant.
The park couldn’t have done more to make us all welcome. Team games in the Fun House, a highly entertaining and interesting guided tour behind the scenes, including walking part of the Log Flume, and nearly all of the River Caves; and then of course the ride crews, who joined in wholeheartedly and happily filled in our Treasure Hunt and “points for rides” score sheets. They even managed to help one Club team, ride the Cyclone some 400 times in less than three hours! The food, too, was excellent, and the Go-Kart Challenge was so well organised that even I – who’d never sat behind the wheel of anything more adventurous than a dodgem – felt safe enough to give it a go. And to see the race-track being willingly cleared of people and cars alike so that the junior members could enjoy their very own laps in safety – was great.
And the Cyclone itself! What tremendous fun it is – you really fly in those back seats. The backwards riding, too. It hadn’t been promised, but then the crew rolled out that backwards carriage, and the atmosphere in the station just soared. Thank you, Pleasureland, for giving us just that little bit extra to make the day even more memorable.
A huge “Thanks!!” too, of course, to the Club itself, and all the other members who joined in that day. I must admit that, when I’d set out that morning, I’d felt very nervous and shy, and afraid of either getting swamped altogether, or alternatively being left out on a limb by everyone except the two or three people I already knew. The whole group were so friendly and helpful though, that in the end, it would have been hard not to have had a good time. So, thanks everyone for such a happy day. May many more like it follow!
Several things made this Club trip special. Firstly, I was one of the lucky twelve to walk the Cyclone, secondly, the weather was excellent, and thirdly, the park staff were extremely friendly and everything went smoothly!
I arrived at exactly 8:30am and was greeted with a great welcome. Myself, Phil, Andrew Spence and I, as well as some other members who I didn’t know, walked up the lift hill and stayed at the top for ages. Having walked up MegaFfbia’s lift hill last year, this was a great privilege and I would like to thank Pleasureland. The drops on the ride were very slippery and at some points quite frightening. I did most of it, excluding the steep climb up the fourth drop.
Following the walk, we had some coffee, followed by a tour behind the scenes, which was quite amazing. Old Big Dipper and Cyclone trains were being examined and even an old ship from Sir Hiram Maxim Flying Machines was there.
The Treasure Hunt and Points for Rides were great fun, although some members decided to ride the Ladybirds several times. I won’t mention any names!
The Cyclone was superb on the day. Very fast, lots of airtime and the backward-facing car was placed on while we were watching. The way the engineers placed the reverse car on just goes to show that we should do everything we can to keep excellent rides like the Cyclone operating.
Finally, a big thanks to those who organised a great, original park trip. Also thanks to Pleasureland for owning a great roller coaster and making us all feel really welcome.
The excitement I felt for this trip started about a week before the actual trip when I heard that I had been picked to walk the track. For those of you who were with me walking the track you’ll know what a thrill this was. It’s not often a chance like this comes along, and when it does you just grab it with both hands and hold tight.
I have to admit I was a little surprised when Lynne Walker came out to greet us that early, but on reflection it was just the start of a whole day of good guest relations. From there on it only got better!
Having been introduced to the two ride operators who would escort us around the track, we split into two parties and started the tour. The walk around the track was not just a climb, look, and climb down again type of thing. The ride operators imparted little known facts, and glimmers of information, that you can only get from experiencing the ride first-hand. From the price of a new lift hill chain to the procedure for removing a link to the result of a metal track being ripped from the wood by a train – this is the stuff that makes a Hands-On trip the speciality it is. (We did manage to stump our guide when we asked how much a new lift hill top pulley wheel would cost to replace, but this only added to the enjoyment!)
After the walk we were escorted to breakfast and the pre-fun introductions. Even at this time, when everybody was probably still partly asleep, the staff were planning our day. And what a day!
I’ve always enjoyed playing in the Fun House, but the excitement of planned games only helped make it better. From finding the golden balls in the ball pond, to the controlled fun on the Joy Wheel.
Then we had the behind-the-scenes tour. This was both informative and interesting. I’d never realised how little a Ghost Train actually took up (in terms of floor space), or how many cranes were needed to assemble the Pirate Ship until this trip.
Next came the highlight of the trip – the Cyclone. Now I’ve ridden wooden coasters before, from Blackpool Pleasure Beach to Great Yarmouth but each one has its own charm. The Cyclone is no different. I like riding at the front, you get the thrill of seeing the track and the anticipation of the drops, but the back was definitely the place to be on the Cyclone. I’d swear I was literally standing on the third and fourth drop. Whilst we waited for the backwards car to be fitted, Lynne Walker joined us in the queue. She is a charming lady to talk to, full of drive for the park, and someone who really takes an interest in the public opinion. I didn’t get a backwards ride during the ERS, but knowing the park were leaving the cars on the train all day, vowed to make it back to ride backwards during the day. This I managed and thoroughly enjoyed. (The last woodie I rode backwards was the Texas Tornado at Morecambe, but the Cyclone beat that hands down – or rather, hands up for the drops!)
Lunch was a well organised affair with the catering staff getting the credit they deserved, thank you. At this point I thought it would be a free-time period until the evening, but the staff had other ideas, the “Points for Rides” and “Treasure Hunt” meant we didn’t just wander about aimlessly. I’m sure some of the staff wondered what we were doing – especially the poor ride-op who was always asked his name! This day was getting better by leaps and bounds.
The next event, the Go-Karting, which I’ve always enjoyed. The first race out I had the duff kart (well, somebody had to get it!), I felt I could walk faster, and could really have done with a push getting up the hills. It was great to see nearly everyone having a go, even if they’ve never driven before – especially the younger members.
To round off the day we had the points count up for the rides and the Treasure Hunt. There were some very creative accountants in the rides section, but we all had fun and that’s what really counts.
I’d like to thank all the staff at Pleasureland Southport for (a) putting up with us, and (b) helping to make the day a most memorable one and everybody for coming, it really makes the trips fun. It’s great to see faces old and new, and to get together for some mayhem now and again.
I would personally like to add my voice to the praise that is being heaped on Pleasureland. It was, as you can imagine, a nerve-racking time for me, but all seemed to go very well. Some people questioned the reason for doing a trip to “just” Pleasureland. That question proved pointless. The park put together an absolutely incredible day. They could not have done more if they tried. For this I extend a huge thanks to Lynne Walker, she was totally responsible for the day’s activities, and did an amazing job. Thanks also need to go to Chris McFarlane and Andy Preston, whose original idea it was to do a trip to Pleasureland – the idea was most definitely a good one. One final thank you, and that’s to the Cyclone. Is it the UK’s most underrated coaster? I think so. It can easily give the BPB woodies a serious run for their money, and when it flies, there’s not many coasters that can touch it. For a ride of its size, it certainly packs an airtime-filled punch.
Tour De Force
Foire du Trone, Parc Astérix, & Disneyland Paris
Reviews & Reports
I wrote to you following the Southport trip asking you to “beat that,” not really believing that it would be possible, but you did it. The Tour de Force trip was a brilliant weekend with so many highlights it is impossible to list them all. A big thank you to everyone involved in making it such a wonderful trip.
Despite all the worries (IRA motorway blockages, French fisherman blockades), all 51 intrepid souls set off for France, with the journey passing quickly. After dumping our belongings at the hotel, right before the first coastering of the weekend at the Foire du Trone.
Prior to the arranged meal, rides were taken on the following:
Banzai: what a ride, similar at the start to a Boomerang, being pulled up and up, waiting for the release of the train but then to be dropped only to rock backwards and forwards before doing it again from a greater height with smoke effects, very different but great fun.
King: a great coaster and really wild in the back seats, and this monster travels the fairs, amazing.
Crazy Mouse: a steel Wild Mouse with spinning cars, brilliant wild fun particularly with two people riding on one side of the car, going into turns backwards, sideways and very occasionally forwards, it was unbelievable.
The meal that had been arranged for us allowed everybody to get together. The generosity of the showmen, providing bottle after bottle of Champagne, was unexpected and very welcome, thank you to them. The meal filled a vacuum and the supply of crepes by the showmen as dessert was once again very generous. Short speeches followed and then the offer of the day, free running on Jet all evening for the Club. What more can you say, wonderful.
Following the meal it was out into the fair with rides on Jet, the Ghost Train, Big Wheel, Chattanooga Choo Choo to name but a few. Final highlights were the brakes not quite working on Jet forcing a more exciting end to the ride than normal, and a very painful ride on Kamikaze, the twin looping powered ride that leaves you hanging upside down between the loops.
Feeling weary we returned to the hotel the easy way, ie via the coach, some though elected to stay and make their own way back.
The following day saw an early start at Parc Asterix and it wasn’t long before we began to walk down to Tonnerre de Zeus. The coaster looked superb standing next to Goudurix, and the final sprint to the queue line got the adrenalin going. The first ride in the next to back car was amazing, the airtime on the first drop and the drop off the helix was out of this world. Tonnerre de Zeus is certainly better than I remember Megafobia at the start of the ’96 season. More rides followed in the middle, front and back seats! WOW the back left seat must be, in Justin’s words, “the best coaster seat on the planet.” Wonderful.
After a couple more rides on ‘Zeus it was time to do the rest of the park including a head-banging on Goudurix, and a more sedate ride on Vol D’lcare before lunch in the Circus restaurant. A very nice meal followed with a raffle for Asterix goodies donated by the park before an afternoon of riding. The Log Flume must rank as one of the best I have ridden, the coaster section and the final drop were great, the remaining coasters were worth a ride before a return to ‘Zeus for “one more ride.”
After leaving the park, a tour of Paris was offered by Keith, our tolerant driver for the weekend, and I was expecting to see the Eiffel Tower and very little else. What followed was one of the best tours I have been on, showing us all the sights with an amazing commentary courtesy of Gary Williams. I have never heard “Franglais” spoken quite like that with a west country accent, but to see the flat owned by Sophie Lawrence (Sophia Loren) was just one of those unforgettable moments. A 360 degree trip around the Arc du Triomphe was interesting as was the strange congregation of parked coaches in an area dominated by red lights.
The following day saw a short trip to Disneyland Paris and despite the horror stories of huge queues, it turned out to be a very quiet day by Disney standards. Being a first time visitor to the park, I was interested to compare it to other parks and to see how it lived up to the marketing. I was pleasantly surprised at the layout and general facilities in the park. I suspect that had the park been busy my view may have been tainted. Queues were reasonably short for some of the rides, around 30-40 minutes for the majority but the thought of facing a two hour queue for even some of the minor rides would fill me with dread. Again, there is too much to relate but highlights included seeing the Big Thunder Mountain train leaving the station backwards! Phantom Manor, Space Mountain and It’s a Small World!! During the day we managed all the major rides and made our way back to the coach loaded down with souvenirs for the trip home.
My one complaint, and this is not only about Disney, is persistent queue jumping that seems prevalent in European parks. Why is it that the parks do not enforce a queue policy, as at Alton Towers, to make everyone’s day more pleasant?
There were far too many highlights and memories of the trip to be able to relate, suffice to say it was an amazing weekend and many thanks must go to the team for organising the event, especially for the welcome we received from the showmen at the Foire du Trone – which was totally unexpected.
What can I say after such a great trip, but “follow that!” I can’t wait for “Tour de Force: the return.”
Thanks for a most excellent trip.
The weekend’s entertainments; ‘Zeus and Goudurix were as good as I had hoped; the Asterix log flume was excellent; Disney was a lot more fun than I ever would have expected (all steelies should have headrests like Space Mountain’s or give up and have lap clamps only); and a big thank you to Gary (and Keith if he ever gets to read this) for an instructive guided tour of Paris.
However, the best for me was definitely the Foire Du Trône. Having grown up with fairgrounds, rather than theme parks, I may be a little biased – but you can’t beat the atmosphere at a good fairground. This was by far and away the best I have ever experienced (I haven’t had experience of any of the big German fairs though).
Extreme was extremely good and now ranks as a favourite. Jet and King were a pleasure. The ghost trains were impressive (OK, they are never going to be up to Disney standards, but I like them). And it was interesting to see a Top Spin operating as it should be.
The only naff bit was Evolution, but once the bruises fade I guess my memory of it will as well.
Just a quick note to say “thanks” for the incredible first Euro Trip for the ECC. I’ve received First Drop for many years, and have been to many meetings and trips – this one renewed my faith in the Club’s ability to bring coaster fans together.
It was nice to see a blend of old and new faces, and to meet some European coasters “nuts.” (I didn’t appreciate how coaster “starved” Belgium was!).
Well done to everyone involved with the trip for making it an unequalable(sic) weekend. (Even the whiplash I received from Tonnerre de Zeus and Extreme paled into insignificance).
The competition was strong (Hamburger boxes and plastic ponchos) but in the end we came out victorious in the tacky souvenir competition by coming in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and probably 4th place with our collection of useless junk. For some reason I got it into my head that the prize was a Nemesis video, so I spent £15 on stuff that even the clinically insane would smirk, from a strange wooden mushroom thing to a plastic winged hat so as to win. I did – and got a cap!
Now the rides: Foire du Trone was amazing, as was Xavier Lapere, he’s a very special member and we should all worship him. King, Jet, Crazy Mouse and Infernal Toboggan were all brilliant and the Mack Runaway Train was going about 30 times faster than Chessington’s. If Extreme had to be seen to be believed you should really have tried the loos. Put it this way, I’d choose a lamp post over the 2F fee of going on the floor in a portacabin.
Tonnerre de Zeus was incredible – even a bit better than Megafobia, and the tunnel was a nice touch. Keith (aka “The Driver”) surprised us all by sitting in the back seat, on his first go, with his arms in the air like a real enthusiast.
Goudurix – Well my reprofiled head and back bone is still amazed at the intolerable roughness of this infernal contraption and we both loath the very existence of it. It’s a brilliant ride – just far too rough. The Log Flume was a surprise bonus and was probably the best I’ve been on.
In the evening, Gary’s tour was excellent and the circumnavigation of the Arc du Triomphe was probably the trip’s best ride!
Space Mountain is a no-dead-spots ride, which packs quite a punch – much better than Justin’s rather negative review. Temple du Peril was the Temple du Peril and was OK. I feel we should at least accept its existence as a medium thrill ride and not a complete zit on the face of the earth.
All the people we met were brilliant and thanks must go to Justin, Jean Marc, and everyone for putting up with us. We shall be back – with a single room please. (Ed: There’s a story here that needs to be told. Joy and Marcus are mother and son, not husband and wife as I first suspected. When this was discovered, I had to check all the other people’s family “relationships” to make sure no embarrassing sleeping arrangements were made. Suffice to say, the next trip form will have this as a question!).
It was a chain of coincidences that we, my wife Carina, our nearly 3-year-old son Lukas, and I, could take part in the Tour de Force. We’d booked a trip, going to the same parks and the fair weeks before we heard about the ECC-Trip. In fact, because of problems with the baby sitter for our daughter, who was staying at home, we had to change the dates for our trip four times. We finally contacted Justin just five days before the trip confirming that we could go.
We reached the Foire du Trone one hour before we should meet the British members. This was a good thing as we used the time to walk around the fair, and I must say I have never seen eight roller coasters (or similar) at one fair before. The meeting point, the Jet Star was an appropriate meeting point. But we also wondered why, when it was 6pm, that most of the rides were closed.
At 5pm we bumped into two Swiss members, Patrick Flumet and his girlfriend Stefanie. Shortly after that Jean-Marc arrived, and a little later the crowd from Britain. They were slightly late, but nevertheless found us – and the event began.
It was great, which ever ride we went on, there were ECC members also doing it. After dinner and presentations, we were going to ride, ride and ride. I’ll never forget the crazy Kamikaze “The Loop” – Ride, it was great to ride Reverchon’s novelty Crazy Mouse and the le King, which I had heard so much about. We were very tired from the trip to Paris, and with an early start the next morning, we decided at 10pm to finish up and went back to our hotel.
The next day we met the crowd at Parc Asterix, I’ve heard a lot of good things about woodies (Ed: It is worth pointing out that Germany has no wooden coasters), so I expected a lot from Tonnerre de Zeus. The ERS was really funny, and was worth the whole trip alone. Also, where ever we went, there were any members riding with us and no ride was safe before us. I was also glad to see Goudurix, the inversion record breaker in ‘89 from Vekoma, again. I rode it 1993 and I really enjoyed the ride, even if it was “bashing” a lot. I must say though that Tonnerre de Zeus is my new number one roller coaster.
The Menhir Express, was the fastest Log Flume we’ve ever ridden, and Lukas was kept busy in the half hour queue by its brilliant design – and he really enjoyed the ride. After it he cried: “Once again.” In fact, he said it after every ride we had on it.
But Lukas’ number one ride was the children coaster, le Vol d’ Icare. A Zierer Tivoli-Family-Coaster with a Schwarzkopf design. In fact, we stayed on that ride until the park closed.
I had planned to go to the Fair again that night, but we were all so tired, that we decided to go back to the hotel – a good move as the next day was to be spent at Disneyland Paris.
While Carina and Lukas went and rode some kiddie rides – unhappily Lukas was not allowed on any Disneyland coasters. I went on Space Mountain with Andrew, Mark and Rob. In contrast to the Parc Asterix woodie, I expected too much from Space Mountain, and later from the Indiana Jones coaster. My wife and I came to Disneyland in 1993, so we decided to skip the larger rides for the rest of the day so that Lukas could enjoy the rides and walk-throughs.
It was a very good trip, a good chance to use the last, not-lost, English language scraps I still had. It was also possible to talk with coaster enthusiasts from Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany and off course, the UK. We will certainly take part on future trips, and look forward to meeting more coaster enthusiasts from all over Europe.
Thanks for a great trip, with more coasters and “spin ‘n’ spews” than you can imagine.
The highlight of the weekend was going to be Disneyland Paris because I just love Space Mountain, and Disney really is the best – but I was wrong about the highlight.
The Foire du Trone was a great surprise, the size and variety of rides was unbelievable. Six coasters, two Giant Wheels, and many more rides including the Insider, which was like a Big Shake – and boy did it shake. Another top ride was The King, the fair’s main coaster. It was next to impossible to keep your hands up the whole way round. Finally though, the best “spin ‘n’ spew” ride ever – Extreme – which says it all really. The best seat is on the outside, and you’ll need to hold onto your pants! Early on it feels like you’re going to fly and crash out of control, but then the ride just gets faster.
Fairs in England, and amusement parks for that matter, should check out these Euro fairs, they beat our fairs any day.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who worked so hard to put the Tour de Force trip together, both home and away. It was the first foreign coaster trip for my friend John and me, and we enjoyed it immensely. In fact, it’s hard to condense so much into one small letter, without ending up with something which reads like a telegram, and doesn’t do it justice at all. Instead, here’s a couple of big surprises John and I got, even if no one else agrees with us.
First, though, some things just have to be said, however inadequately.
‘Zeus is astonishing. I was one of the lucky ones who got on the inaugural train of the ERS, which meant that the first time I saw what the ride could do, I was on it! It’s incredible – breathtakingly fast and furious, hanging on by your toes nearly all the way, things flying out of pockets left, right and centre, arms in the air, it just doesn’t want to stop. It’s total fun. And this is a brand new coaster! What will it be like by the end of the season!? Hopefully, better still. And, to anyone who hasn’t been yet: as you walk beneath the statue… look up.
A massive thank you, too, to the warm-hearted people of the Foire du Trône, who gave us such a fantastic reception on Friday night – Champagne, lovely food, discount ride tickets for so many exciting rides, I just wish we’d had more time to spend there. Special thanks to Xavier Lapère, for his generous gift of our many free rides on the excellent Jet. It was an unforgettable evening, all round, but that was one thing which made it extra special. And, no, I didn’t go on Extreme. To cut a long explanation short – I thought it looked nice enough the colour it was, without tomato skins.
And, of course, thanks to Keith (our one-in-a-million driver) and Gary (our compere for the evening) for giving us all the chance to just flop and relax on Saturday night, and enjoy a coach tour of Paris. Memorable highlights included: two complete circuits of the Arc du Triomphe, arms upraised, a pair of er…. rabbits in Pigalle, and the awesome height of the Eiffel Tower as measured against The Big One.
Right – surprises. I have to say now, that the best one by miles was the welcome we received at the Foire du Trône. I hope lots of other people will write in about that, because I know everyone was feeling the same. It was magic.
Individually, though, for me and John if for no one else, one big surprise was Goudurix. We’ve only really been coasting for two years, and been stuck in Britain, so we’d never ridden anything like Goudurix before, and were determined to try it. From everything we’d heard about it, though, it wasn’t good news to a short-arse like me, whose ears seem to have grown at the worst height, that until I got the hang of it, even Nemesis used to bash me half insensible.
We ignored the headrests and the handles, wrapped our arms firmly round the clamps at waist level, and just hoped for the best. And what a surprise! Seven Vekoma inversions, and not one blow landed all the way round!
So we went round again. And, later on, three more times. And while it was no B&M (I don’t recommend the back seats in the old cars; there’s still one slam it’d be hard to fend off even with neck muscles like Arnie’s), we honestly did enjoy it. In fact, I think John would’ve gone round a couple more times, while the queue was so short, but with ‘Zeus just over the way…
The third surprise, and possibly the most unexpected – Disneyland Paris. OK, we’ve never been to the American parks, and maybe that’s why we had a good day: because it had nothing to live up to, and we asked nothing of it, bar a couple of rides on Big Thunder Mountain before the queues built up. Which, once the staff had got things running properly, we had. Big Thunder Mountain is the best runaway mine train we’ve ever been on. It makes the powered ones feel restrained, and its scenery is tremendous.
The theming, the architecture, everything, is on such a thoroughly lavish scale, it can’t help but show up its imitators. Even the ride operators’ costumes are beautifully tailored to suit their settings – it’s all so intensely perfect it’s almost unreal. I get the feeling that if Disney chose to build a world-class coaster, there really would be nothing else like it anywhere. “Falling with style,” and then some!
In the meantime, we followed the advice we’d been given, took in a couple of entertaining extras, then headed back to Space Mountain, again expecting very little of it. All you world-weary purists may groan, but we thought it wasn’t such a dud at all, even nobbled, as it is, by its three-stage brakes. The launch was great, the theming is brilliant, the track was well balanced enough so we still can’t decide exactly how many inversions were in there, and the train’s leather padding genuinely does stop your head from rattling around. They’re the only headrests, so far, we’ve found to be worth using. Add to this a queue time of 20-25 minutes, and we were happy enough.
Actually, when 3 o’clock came, we were sorry to have to leave. Disneyland may not be white knuckle territory, but it’s an experience, and it was fun, and even if we never return there, we’re glad we’ve seen it. Thanks ECC, for getting us there.
Now, all that remains is to get a copy of that ‘Zeus footage the French TV people were shooting, and to ask, “Please, print that picture of Spot!” (Ed: We’ll save spot for a little “spot” of his own – that’ll confuse everyone not on the trip!)
I was not sure what to expect at the Foire du Trone, there were plenty of rides I had not seen before, including five steel coasters (King, Jet, Banzai, Infernal Toboggan and the Wild Mouse). All were thrilling with King being the best.
One of the highlights that evening was Extreme. When you see this ride in action it looks like the windmill from hell. When I rode, words that I normally don’t say come screaming out. The G forces were great, it was smooth and at times – very fast. Leaving the ride it was difficult to walk straight. For a fairground ride it is superb – it is a shame there isn’t one at a British park.
The food arranged for us at the fair was magnificent value, fries, sausages, a crepe and washed down with Champagne. Superb. Thanks to all the owners, it made us feel really welcome and contributed towards this great evening.
Then on Saturday is was Asterix. What can one say about the new woodie, Tonnerre de Zeus. It’s very fast, has no dead spots, there’s airtime, it’s great fun and it smells of new wood. This ride is going to be a classic. But I fear if it gets any faster, they will slow it down – but I sincerely hope not.
So, is it better than Megafobia? Well for me I would say “no,” but it’s close, very close. Well done CCI, another great job.
Parc Asterix is adding big new attractions every year and have something for all ages. Well done Asterix, and thank you for the excellent lunch you provided.
Then on Sunday we had our trip to Disneyland Paris. I rode the excellent Big Thunder Mountain, which I think was better than the Florida version. I also tried Space Mountain, with its launch up into darkness – it was a fun ride. The park looks good, with no litter in sight anywhere.
I hope we can have another European trip real soon.
Just a few quick comments about the trip; After riding Goudurix – Inversion coasters from B&M are the best. So forget it Vekoma, Arrow, Togo and the rest – please!
‘Zeus – After hands up all the way, your arms feel 10ft long after leaning out of the train so much on the “Megafobia” corners.
King – The best and fastest non inversion coaster (that travels) I have ridden.
Extreme – The best non coaster ride I’ve ridden since my first Top Spin in 1993.
‘Zeus and Megafobia, two of a kind. I can’t wait to ride Stampida.
I thought I’d drop you all a line to thank everyone for organising such a brilliant trip.
I think the highlight was the Foire du Trone – the rides were amazing, it’s just a shame British showmen continue to trot out the same old crap rides. They could all learn a thing or two from their French counterparts.
The Crazy Mouse was a real good laugh. It’s just a shame it wasn’t any longer. A clever idea – let’s hope someone buys one in the UK very soon.
I thought King was made unusual by the “kick cave” towards the end of the ride. I don’t think I managed to sit in my seat during the final part of the ride.
What can I say about Extreme? I still don’t really know what happened on it. The best way I can describe it was that it was like a huge crane had gone out of control and was throwing you around in the air. Definitely one of the most intense rides I’ve ever been on. (Not one to go on straight after Champagne and chips!)
I was just amazed at the scale of some of the rides, the decoration and lighting was incredible. I’d have loved to have been at the fair when all the rides were working and the crowds were out in force. The atmosphere must have been fantastic. I can’t see how Hull October Fair brags about being the biggest in Europe. Who wants to got one with six Waltzers, twists, Dodgems and boring Miamis?
Parc Asterix was great too. Although I enjoyed Tonnerre de Zeus – it must be the fastest woodie I’ve ridden – I do feel Megafobia has the edge. There was a couple of times when I thought this isn’t as interesting as it could be. Megafobia never lets up from the top of the lift hill to arriving back at the station. Still, Parc Asterix is to be applauded for installing the woodie – let’s hope it leads to even more being built.
As for Goudurix – all I can say is one ride was enough. Talk about rough – and I rode in the new train. It reminded me of the Ninja at Six Flags over Georgia. I don’t know why manufacturers can’t build rides which are thrilling and enjoyable. Perhaps they should all take lessons from B&M. I thought the rest of the place was pretty standard theme park fare.
As for Disneyland Paris -what can I say? I’ve visited the two Disney parks in the States and must say the Paris one does seem to lack something. Mainly the Disney “charm” – the staff must have been one of the most miserable anywhere – or is it their own brand of Disney “charm” they are developing?
I thought that Space Mountain was the best of the three I have ridden. But the lift hill does lead you to think you are about to undergo a very different ride to the one you get. I don’t think loops in the dark add anything to the ride (In fact I was much more impressed by the re-vamped Black Hole at Alton Towers.
Anyway, thanks to everyone again for organising a fantastic trip which was excellent value.
Well, what can we say about the recent Tour De Force trip to Paris? Brilliant, fantastic, etc… For us, the travelling fair must have been the highlight, with a good selection of coasters and spin rides, some of which have never been seen in the UK. The fair also had a good selection of Ghost Trains, Log Flumes, arcades, side stalls and even bungee jumping. Why oh why can’t we see fairs like this in the UK?
Among our favourites at the fair were King (large non-looping coaster), Jet (compact Schwarzkopf coaster), Crazy Mouse (spinning coaster by Dodgem makers Reverchon), Extreme (a wild spin ride that lived up to its name) and Mega Dancer (another wild spin ride). Some of the French showmen also showed us some tremendous hospitality, with discount rides, free rides at Xavier’s Jet coaster and the free champagne.
The following day at Parc Asterix was very enjoyable and their new CCI wood coaster Tonnerre De Zeus is excellent, and full of airtime and a well-paced non-stop ride from start to finish. The park is well themed and has a number of rides and shows. After ‘Zeus our favourite ride was the excellently themed Menhir Express log flume, which is WET. It has two dark sections; one of which features a coaster-style drop and speed bump and the other a revolving tunnel (which works very well). After Asterix we had a coach tour around Paris, which was very enjoyable, with the highlight being two trips around the Arc Du Triomphe, which must be one of the most notorious roads, in our opinion more like Dodgems.
The theming at Disneyland Paris was excellent and Space Mountain must be one of (if not) the best themed dark coaster rides around. Even though we only had a short time at the park, we were able to do the main rides that we wanted, that included the three coasters and the excellent Phantom Manor and Pirates of the Caribbean dark rides.
Finally we would like to thank everyone involved with organising the trip: Justin, Jean Marc, Andy Spence, Keith the coach driver, the French Showmen for their tremendous hospitality. Can we do it all again next year?
It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and I’m getting up – it’s a long way from Belgium to Parc Asterix. I had no problems getting up as I hadn’t managed to get any sleep at all! This was the first time I would have met other people with the same passion, so I was really looking forward to it.
I arrive at the park at 8:15 – I don’t need to be there until nine, but I also meet another early arrival – Volker Drexler from Germany. We had an interesting conversation about travelling coasters in Germany. A coach arrives as well, and it’s full of Brits, an American and some more Germans – after a delay we enter the park.
What a coaster ‘Zeus is. It was only my second woodie after the Anaconda at Walibi Smurf park in Metz, France. This is a huge ride, but it made me realise that height has little to do with the quality of a ride.
I won’t describe the ride, although I would like to emphasise a few points:
A) The “photo drop” has the best airtime I have ever experienced.
B) My seat of predilection is the back seat.
C) Like Wayne Davis (issue 28/29), I’m not sure anymore if I am a “steelie.”
Indeed, ‘Zeus may well be my top coaster, it’s only challenge coming from Dragon Khan at Port Aventura.
As ever, Goudurix was really rough in the butterfly element; however, it is still in my top five.
I’d like to thank Neil Bradbury and Paul Antcliffe (for allowing me to “tag along” with them – they were really nice guys. Also thanks to Chris Coe, who I rode ‘Zeus with in the morning, it seems that he was smiling all day. Finally, thanks to Justin and Jean-Marc for putting together the trip and giving me the opportunity to meet everyone.
I just wanted to say thank you for the recent Tour de Force trip. I had been looking forward to this and was certainly not disappointed.
Starting from London, the coach trip was good and Keith the driver certainly entered into the spirit of things.
The first evening at the Foire du Trone was certainly something never to be forgotten. All the rides were very good, including the Jet Star, but the best ride was Extreme. This is a fantastic ride and was certainly one I will never forget. I would like to try that ride again.
The visit to Asterix on the Saturday was highlighted by the rides on Tonnerre de Zeus. This ride was better than expected – the first drop was great. However, I must say that I did enjoy Goudurix – once you had got the technique of riding it.
The coach trip around Paris later on that evening was an added bonus. After a very tiring day, I was ready for bed, so I was surprised to hear some of the group had the energy to enjoy an evening out on the town in Paris.
The next day was Disney day. Big Thunder Mountain was very good, but my favourite was Space Mountain. I am always amazed at the technology of these rides and would rate this better than its counterparts in Florida and California.
On the Friday night I arrived home tired but very happy. Thanks for an excellent trip.
As ever, I’d like to finish this supplement with a few thank you’s. As ever, they’re in no particular order. Firstly, a huge thank you has to go to Jean-Marc, he was the main driving force behind the whole “escapade” and, in fact, he’s already started work on next years trip! He also, of course, designed the logo, liased with the parks, translated, sorted out the special offers, and a whole lot more. Thanks JMT. Xavier Lapere I didn’t know before the trip, but I’m glad I got the chance to meet him, he is an all round “diamond geezer.” A note here should also go to the other ride owners at the fair who showed us such amazing hospitality. I must admit that I was not at all surprised to learn that most people thought the highlight of the trip was the fair.
Thanks go to Liz and Paul Burton for handling all the trip letters, and to Andy Spence for lugging all those T-shirts and sweatshirts around for the whole weekend. Keith the driver deserves a special mention for totally getting into the spirit of the event – those who spotted him, hands in air, on the back seat of ‘Zeus, will know what I mean. Also, I would like to thank Robin Payne, who started the organisation of the trip. Unfortunately a little collapsed lung(!) meant that I had to take over. Shame on you Robin!
Finally, I would like to thank everyone for coming, and I hope to see you all again next year when we can do it all again, but this time, everyone has to ride Extreme.
Bremer Freimarkt & Walibi Flevo
Germany & The Netherlands
Reviews & Reports
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.
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!