Hands On II
Reviews & Reports
Well, the 1998 season started in a rather unexpected way. The things that you do not normally associate with Southport in February: sun, sea, sand and Cyclone were all present for the Hands On day at Southport on Valentines day 1998.
The day started off for the lucky 12 with a walk of the Cyclone track which, due to the unseasonably warm and dry weather was dry and a complete circuit of the track was possible from the station back around the ride. A most informative talk was given by Jake on the way around. The experience was amazing and it is still hard to believe just how steep the drops are.
Following a welcome coffee and toast, it was into the Fun House to limber up for the new coaster season. The Joy Wheel and ball pond were as much fun as ever. A behind the scenes tour followed and answered the question “what has happened to the track from the Big One removed last year?” Well, Southport have used it to build a new bridge to the Log Flume. Having attended the Hands On day last year, the thing that impressed me most was the difference in the appearance of Pleasureland, the park is much neater and tidier with new paving and fencing, a vast improvement which can only be of benefit to the park.
Then it was onto the serious work of the day, riding the Cyclone for the new season. After a few rides to get into the swing of the new season, the coaster picked up speed quickly and by the end of the ERS it was flying. The opportunity of being able to get a seat on every other train at worst during an ERS is fantastic.
Following lunch, Points for Rides sheets and wristbands were issued and two hours was available to ride as many of the park’s attractions as possible. Then it was down to the Go Kart track to inspect the remaining Big One track and to take part in the Go Kart racing. A brief shower during the afternoon together with slick tyres make the track slippery to say the least, with predictable results! Star of the racing must have been James “sideways” Lawrence who seemed to be trying every possible variation on lines through corners. Great fun, lots of spins and minor shunts but it was over too quickly.
It was then back for coffee, cakes and a quiz and the results of the Points for Rides. I was shocked that our team was disqualified from the event for cheating, along with three other teams, does nobody realise the effort that went into doing over four hundred rides in two hours!!! It was a great end to a great day’s riding and a great start to the 1998 season.
Many thanks to Lynne, Jake and Ray at Pleasureland and to Justin, Andy Preston and Chris McFarlane for the trip organisation. I can’t wait for Hands On 1999, sun, sea, sand, Cyclone and SLC.
This was the first Club trip I have been to since passing my driving test on 12th December ‘97. I did the trip to Southport last season and was lucky enough to walk the Cyclone. I could have done the walk this year, but thought it fair to let other members come within inches of death!
The trip was still as good, if not better than last season. The Cyclone was running superbly, as were many of the other rides including the Wild Cat and the Apple Coaster(!). I cannot believe how well the management are re-vamping the park. My first visit, eight years ago, was a let down because of the state the park had got into, but the transformation is breathtaking. All the rides are well themed and looked after and not just dumped on concrete. The Log Flume is fun, but could do with more “getting wet” features and the addition of the brilliant Flying Scooters, which sadly had problems during this visit. By the year 2000, I’m sure the staff, engineers etc. can make this a world class park. Okay so it isn’t 500 acres, but the park is big enough to build rides to compete with any big one!
I met loads of new people and some old faces(!) and with it being a small group, it was much easier to have fun than when 400 turn up. Also, the variation on ride activities, is better than everyone turning up for one ride and only getting a single turn. Some people can only afford certain trips and they want them to be special, not stuck in a queue all day, which you can easily do on a normal visit to, say Alton Towers.
I would like to thank Ray, Lynn, Chris McFarlane and everyone at Pleasureland for another classic trip. The Cyclone is one of the greatest coasters anywhere (even with those seatbelts!).
I had been a member of the Club for just over a year and this was going to be my first Club trip. I had been looking forward to this trip for weeks, the only thing putting me off was having to get up early so that I could get on the M6 by 6am. There was no traffic on the motorway, so I easily made it to Southport by about 8am. I had never been to Southport before, so I didn’t know what to expect. When I saw the Cyclone for the first time I was pleasantly surprised as it was slightly bigger than I had expected. I was luckily picked to walk the track and couldn’t wait. We walked the track backwards (Ed: from the end of the track to the lift hill, you didn’t have to walk backwards!!!) and overall it took about 45 minutes. I managed to walk around the full circuit, which was very hard, as you don’t realise just how steep and slippy the drops are until you are half way up them. One thing that did surprise me is just how solid the structure is. Most people look at wooden coasters and don’t think they look very safe, but I can tell you that they are!
After this came the hour in the Fun House which was great fun, especially the battles some of us had in the ball pond. The later ERS on the Cyclone was brilliant. Most members had about ten rides and the opportunity to sit in any seat. This was my first time on the Cyclone and I thought it was an excellent coaster. I do prefer steel coasters myself (I still ride wooden as well) but this coaster was just as fun for me. Instead on starting fast and getting slower, this seemed to just get faster and faster!
After the nice hot lunch (fish ‘n’ chips) we went off to try the rest of the rides, and in the late afternoon we all walked over to the Go-Kart track. Next to the Go-Kart track you could see the old track from the first drop of the Big One which was interesting. The Go-Karts were a perfect finish to a great day. It was actually just as fun to watch as it was to drive them, as many members attempted power slides round the corners. There were a few crashes and a lot of under-steer around some corners (I think some members forgot where the brake was) but it was all in good fun.
To round it off, a great day, a great coaster, and a mad bunch of people (including Justin pretending to be the Cyclone operator). I can’t wait for late next year for when we can go back and have an ERS on the Cyclone and the SLC.
So, to the end of another very successful trip to Southport. As ever, I am extremely grateful to Chris McFarlane and Andy Preston who handled the entire trip from the Club side. From the park, again, it was Lynne Walker who did an amazing job organising the entire day for us. I announced during the trip that Lynne had recently received a well-earned promotion, so congratulations Lynne from everyone at the ECC.
Thanks also to Tony Corfield for finally being able to tell us all about the new Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster (SLC) that is to be built for the 1999 season. Details of our third “Hands On” weekend will soon be made available that will take in this new ride. So until next time…
Tour De Force 2
Foire Du Trone, Parc Astérix, & Disneyland Paris
Reviews & Reports
So, what is a delicate shade of green and could be seen flying up down and around in circles in Paris in late April? Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, but read on.
So the travellers for the second Tour de Force trip gathered in late April in Hillingdon, Victoria and Folkestone for the trip to Paris. An early evening arrival at the hotel after an uneventful trip gave a few minutes respite before the short walk from the hotel to the Foire du Trone for the evenings entertainment. On arrival there was a meal to refresh the parts that most coasters can’t reach before the first challenge of the weekend.
Justin decided that following the meal all the group should go around to try to ride Extreme. Luckily and perhaps wisely, I decided to chicken out of this most intense ride experience let alone directly after a meal. Several of the party decided to accept the challenge and the ride started and kept going and going and going. I lost track of the number of programs it ran, but soon the happy smiling faces changed and the green man syndrome made an appearance, sorry Justin. A few members even returned for a second session immediately after getting off the ride! I couldn’t even bear to watch.
A small group of survivors and spectators made our way to the Top Spin and during an equally long program witnessed Chris Penn doing his bungee jump from a crane adjacent to the Top Spin whilst being suspended upside down ourselves, really bizarre. The rest of the evening was spent on King, Infernal Toboggan, the Crazy Mouse the Reverchon spinning mouse, the Giant Slide and Jet with free riding all night. Eventually fatigue got the better of us, so it was back to the hotel to prepare for the following day at Asterix.
Arriving early at Parc Asterix gave plenty of time to make our way to Tonnerre de Zeus for the ERS and as the park were running two trains, the riding was literally non-stop, pausing only to swap seats. It was fantastic and ‘Zeus was flying. It was not long before the park opened and it was time to sample the other delights including Goudurix and the fantastic Log Flume before lunch in the restaurant. Time for a rest and to plan the afternoon which included a visit to the stunt show, which was superb and of course, more rides on ‘Zeus. By the end of the day ‘Zeus was unreal and flying, the back seat was unbelievable.
The trip back to the hotel took in a few of the sites of Paris including a lap of the Arc de Triomphe, the disappearing coach at the Trocadero and a trip through “The Underpass.” Soon it was back to the hotel and a short walk to the fair for a second evenings entertainment. After a shower of rain, King was really flying to the extent that you did start to question the fact that the train would make it around a circuit without derailing – it was that good. There were also vivid tales of projectile vomiting on Extreme witnessed by some of the group, but I’m glad to say I missed that one.
The following day was Disneyland Paris and having last visited the park in the summer I was expecting crowds, but I was very pleasantly surprised, the park was very quiet indeed and by lunchtime we had done all the major rides including Phantom Manor, Big Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain and all that was left to do after lunch was Star Tours and the Train ride around the park before shopping and making our way back to the coach for the return journey.
Despite a minor delay at the Tunnel, we arrived back at Victoria and Hillingdon with a group of very tired but very contented souls, making plans for the next trip.
Many thanks to Justin, Jean Marc, Liz and all the team for all the work that had gone into making the trip the success that it was. See you all again next year.
It was a weekend of firsts. My first foreign coaster trip, my first time meeting other ECC members, my first ride on a “woodie,” my first time through the channel tunnel… the list goes on!
To say I was nervous on Friday morning as I met the coach would be an understatement. Would these people I was going to Paris with be “OK” or nerds wearing their anoraks? Thankfully, no fur lined hoods were evident, so it was onto the coach and off we went.
The hotel was “different.” It was somewhere near to the Foire du Trone to “crash” and that was fine by me, as the fair was open until 1am, and the busy itinerary meant some early starts. Good choice of room-mate too, Lee [Sullivan] seemed to want to ride just about everything there!
So there we were, having just eaten and standing outside “Extreme.” How do you explain this ride? I’d read the articles in First Drop, but it wasn’t until I came face-to-face with it that I realised WHY it was called that! What a fantastic ride! I’m not a spin ‘n spew fan, but this one was very smooth indeed. OK, so my leg kept going dead due to the high-Gs, but I loved it!
Many many many other rides followed, including the fantastic coasters Jet and King, and the “interesting” Banzai.
But one of the highlights must have been “Slalom” – a bouncy slide! If, like me, you love airtime, then you’d be in heaven! WA-HOO! (Until you crash into the bottom, but you have to keep smiling in case Justin’s camera is out again)
‘Zeus… My first woodie… I’m converted! Without a shadow of doubt, this is my instant number one coaster. Period. Countless rides on the ERS, full train, empty train, front, back, you name it. And as for later in the day when it was going quite a bit faster…!
Airtime is incredibly high and there is so much energy when you hit the brakes you can get quite thrown about – but there again, “one-click” might not have been a good idea! Sitting in the back on one ride my jacket flew over my head (the only time I brought my arms down all weekend) and gave me an idea of ‘Zeus would be like as a dark ride!
And then (after lunch & riding the other rides at the fair) back to the fair! It was there that I found a ride more spewy than Extreme! It was called “Playball” and the only way I can describe it is to say “Extreme, but changing the g-force direction.” In other words, Extreme holds you in the right hand side of your seat throughout the ride. Playball grabs your stomach and throws you left/right with each spin. Far more intense, but not a comfortable ride!
Big Thunder Mountain at Disney is without doubt the best mine train type ride I’ve ever experienced, which is most of the ones in the UK. Space Mountain is a Vekoma, but with a very good lift hill and dark effects. Dark rides tend to be rough (you can’t lean into the bends for obvious reasons) and being a Vekoma as well… but the theming of the ride and park as a whole shows the UK’s attempts up!
All in all, there were so many good rides, so little time. Add to that a brilliant gang of people (ie the ECC mob) and it made for an unforgettable weekend. Thanks to Justin, Jean-Marc, Liz (get well soon), Xavier and everyone else involved – more, more, more please!
I did say this was a weekend of firsts. The first of many more to come I hope! See you all in Germany!
After coming back from Paris, I would just like to say what a great trip it was. The highlight was of course Tonnerre de Zeus, which is now my favourite coaster of all.
The ERS was superb because the only time we got off the ride was to change seats! It’s a good ride in every seat, but even better in the back. Parc Asterix’s theming was a surprise, but the Disneyland Paris theming was out of this world.
Just as enjoyable as Parc Asterix and Disneyland Paris was the Foire du Trone. Extreme lives up to its name, and you get a good value ride for your money – with rides lasting about ten minutes!
Following the excellent Southport trip this year, I was really looking forward to the Tour De Force 2 trip and I wasn’t disappointed.
Wow, the fair was huge, especially compared to our fairs in the UK and it was bigger than some of our parks. The theming on the some of the rides was very good too. The atmosphere was excellent.
Extreme was to be the first ride of the day (and we had just eaten!). Watching Extreme almost put me off. It looked really intense, but I decided to queue up with ten or so other brave ECC members. As soon as the ride started up, my heart was pounding, there was no turning back. Initially, the ride seems all right, just a bit of throwing around, that is, until it speeded up. Arrgh, what a nightmare, the G’s are so intense, it felt like my legs were being ripped off, the repeated sudden swoops from upside-down to right-side up give my “meat and 2 veg” a real bashing. This rides looks bad, to ride it is ten times worse!
After Extreme, I thought it would be a good idea to cool off on a roller coaster and headed towards King, the largest coaster at the fair. It is a fine ride with some nice swooping drops. It amazes me how these coasters can be transported. Banzai was good considering it is home made! The train is lifted up a very steep incline and the train is dropped and allowed to rock back and forth on its “U” shaped track. Jet was a good coaster too, with some very tight bends and no restraints! There was also a Crazy Mouse with spinning cars. That was good fun, especially with four in a car and there was a large Pinfari coaster called Toboggan. This is more coasters than most parks in the UK and they are all transportable!!
There was another “bad” ride called Play Ball that was even worse than Extreme. I didn’t ride that one, but a few daring ECC members did! The ride must have been bad, as we never saw more than five riding it at a time!
The only complaint I have about the fair was the lack of dustbins (I think I only saw one) and the toilet facilities were terrible. Apart from that, the fair was superb.
Tonnerre de Zeus at Parc Asterix was awesome, better than the excellent Megafobia. Just imagine a bigger ‘fobia but with lots of long airtime spots and much more lateral forces. You got a really good ride in any seat. It’s now my favourite coaster.
Goudurix was OK, better than I had imagined. I experienced a bit of head banging (probably due to the awful restraints) but apart from that it was OK. I wouldn’t ride it too often, as it is probably not very good for your back. It was my wife Trish’s first coaster that went upside down! I know that Goudurix is known for its head banging, but I can safely say it is not the worst. The worst has to be Megablitz at Coney Beach (Porthcawl, Wales).
Parc Asterix also had some good water rides (especially the Log Flume) and a couple of other smaller coasters that were fun. The food provided by the park was very good too.
Disneyland Paris is very well themed. I know the rides are not white knuckle, but they are still fun. I was very impressed with the Pirates of the Caribbean water ride and the Haunted House. Thunder Mountain was fun and Space Mountain was good, although it did have a bit of Vekoma head banging!
Thanks go to Justin, Liz and Jean-Marc for organising an excellent trip and I’ll be looking forward to the German trip.
Thanks for organising a great trip to Paris, this was my first coaster trip abroad and I enjoyed every single moment. Even the hotel, whilst not exactly the Ritz, did lead to a lot of laughter!
The highlight of the trip for me was the ERS on Tonnerre de Zeus. To have two trains available to us was the icing on the cake. I thought things could not get better until it rained, those last few rides of the day were unbelievable. For those who rave about Megafobia and have not ridden ‘Zeus, they can only imagine how much better it is. In fact, the whole day at Asterix was really enjoyable, including the ride on the deceptive Log Flume, certainly one of the best I’ve been on. Thanks to Jean-Marc for his part in organising the day, even the meal they gave us was probably the best I ate all weekend.
Disneyland Paris was every bit as good as I expected it to be, even the queues were not too long, except for Indiana Jones which I failed to get on. Space Mountain was not as good as I had expected – I’m glad I was told there were inversions, because I did not realise I had done any! However, the launch was great. Big Thunder Mountain is probably the best Mine Train I’ve been on and the effects inside are very well done.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the Foire du Trone. I’ve been to several UK fairs, including the Goose Fair, but I have never seen rides like these there! What surprised me most was the lack of crowds, if we had fairs like this in the UK they would be packed. I must admit that I bottled out of Extreme and when I saw the faces of those who rode it, I felt glad I did. So many proper rides on a fair, and a slide that gives you airtime – unbelievable.
Thanks to everyone involved, and thanks to Dave the coach driver for managing to get us on earlier trains!
I think it would be fair (sorry about the pun) to say that everyone had a great time.
Again, thanks go to: Jean-Marc and Liz. Andy Spence and Mark Cook who handle the T-shirts. As before, Xavier Lapere deserves a huge pat on the back for generally being a “diamond geezer.” The other ride owners at the fair also deserve a pat on the back, apart from the Extreme operator, who was a sadistic #£%&$*@ and I hope he rots in hell for what he did!!!!
I would love to finish by saying that I look forward to seeing everyone again next year, but there will not be a trip to Paris of this nature next year. This is due to the fact that the Foire du Trone has been cancelled – it was very close to being cancelled this year. We will keep an eye on the situation, but it does not look good. We do have a few surprises up our sleeve though…
White Knuckle Weekend
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Reviews & Reports
Undeterred by the forecast of rain, about 70 enthusiasts arrived at Coasters diner for the White Knuckle Weekend for a welcome coffee before the serious riding began. Strong winds, but thankfully no rain, were causing difficulties for the Big One. Luckily the Steeplechase was also running to give us the opportunity of riding another coaster whilst the operators juggled sandbags and riders to try to keep the Big One operating.
The first ride on the Big One went OK, but the train was slow over the hills. On the next ride we were asked not to put our arms in the air. This was a first for me and it felt odd riding with all in the train having their hands down, but we would never have been forgiven had the train stalled and valleyed out. More rides followed and the Big One was becoming quicker. Then it was off to explore the rest of Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
The first stop had to be the Big Dipper to offer our support to Richard Rodriguez on day 25 of his marathon. Following this, we rode Playstation, Grand National, Rollercoaster, Space Invader and Revolution before a very nice lunch at Coasters where we were joined by JR and Keith.
After lunch we deserted the Pleasure Beach and went down to South Pier for a ride on the new Crazy Mouse. At £1.60 a ride, this is very good value for Blackpool, but I suspect that this may change depending on the season. It is well worth a look if you get the opportunity. The rest of the afternoon was spent at the Pleasure Beach.
BPB had arranged for a second train to be put on for the Big Dipper ERS, with Richard continuing his marathon. I had the pleasure to sit next to him for one ride, a small claim to fame but one that I am very proud of. The ERS was fantastic with just enough time to get off the train at the end of a ride and run around and get back on before the next train left the station. I lost count of the number of rides I had. My hat really goes off to Richard, it takes something very special to be able to attempt the record.
Following the ERS it was off to the Ice Show for a very enjoyable evening. However, I found it difficult to get images of Amanda Thompson bawling at the skaters on the “Pleasure Beach” television programme out of my mind. It was however, an excellent show.
After the good weather on Saturday, Sunday was wet. We arrived for coffee, and it was raining heavily, and it continued to rain throughout the ERS. BPB again surpassed themselves and arranged for the Grand National to be operating in addition to the Playstation. This meant that there were enough seats between the ‘National and Playstation to allow uninterrupted riding. There is nothing like the feeling of riding the ‘National when it is flying, holding hands on the lift hill, hands in the air on the drops, slapping hands on the corners, and racing side-by-side to the finishing post.
A return to Playstation for the last ten minutes of the ERS when most people were on the ‘National meant that continuous riding was available, not even pausing to swap seats. It was fantastic. All too soon the ERS was over and we unfortunately had to leave the Pleasure Beach as we needed to get back early.
The weekend was fantastic, I have given up saying “Beat that” but every trip just seems to get better. Many thanks to Mark for the enormous amount of organisation that must have gone into it. Also many thanks to JR, Keith and all at BPB who despite the weather, did a fantastic job. It is appreciated.
Many thanks to Mark, Chris and all the staff at Blackpool Pleasure Beach who made the White Knuckle Weekend, in the words of Wallace and Gromit, “A Grand Day Out.”
The whole weekend, from start to finish, just seemed to get better and better and the staff at BPB seemed to fall over themselves to make sure of that. From the first surprise of the Steeplechase ERS to the last surprise of the Grand National ERS and Mystique Show tickets, it could not have been bettered.
Riding the Grand National on Sunday morning in the rain may not seem like fun to some, but to those members present it caused great fun and laughter. I’ll reserve judgement on the three car trains on the ‘National. For those who like riding the back seat, it may well have lost its sting, but the ride does seem a lot faster and a bit smoother.
What we did enjoy was the amount of free time, no pressure to go to functions. We also enjoyed the fact that there were not too many of us. It made it much friendlier and gave us more time on the rides. It did seem strange that so many people got the answer correctly in the quiz! Could it be that we all spent our time ‘feverishly’ looking for the answers, or did a wee bit of cheating take place?!
To say we enjoyed it is an understatement, I think all the members on the day expressed that fact. I know it would be hard, but try and keep the numbers attending around that mark – and reserve our place for next year’s trip now.
Well I have just arrived back home after a great weekend with the Club. It was the best trip I have been on and the feedback from the members I spoke to was very positive.
Just a quick note to say thanks for a great weekend.
Martin and I were on our first ECC trip, obviously not knowing how the event was going to work, it almost seemed scary turning up at Coasters Diner on the Saturday morning thinking everyone will know everyone else (gooseberry is the thought that springs to mind!). Needless to say we were totally wrong… Excellent organisation, great company, BPB were superb with the rides, catering and the staff were first class.
Thanks once again to Mark and the other ECC organisers and members for making this trip so memorable for us mere novices.
What a good event the White Knuckle Weekend at Blackpool Pleasure Beach (BPB) was. The staff at BPB seemed to be bending over backwards to accommodate us; two double ERS’s, two trains on the Big Dipper (which also had the exclusive ride time doubled to one hour) and the bonus Mystique show tickets.
I would like to thank everyone involved in the event at the Club and a big thank you to all at Blackpool Pleasure Beach for their tremendous hospitality. I’m certainly looking forward to doing it all again next year…
Just a short note to thank Mark for organising a fantastic weekend in Blackpool. My mother and I really appreciate the time and effort put into it that made it such a success. The ERS’s were superb and it was great to meet Richard Rodriguez on the Big Dipper who turned out to be a really great guy.
I would like to pass on my thanks to BPB for their superb hospitality and generosity shown to us over the weekend – and especially for the cracking Hot Ice Show. Special thanks to Jim Rowland (JR) for picking my mothers number in the prize draw. We are now proud owners of the Pepsi Max card standup.
Once again thank you all very much and we hope to see you again on the next UK trip – assuming Sheffield Wednesday aren’t playing at home the same weekend!
Thanks for a brilliant weekend. Saturday, what a start – an ERS on the Pepsi Max Big One, with the added bonus of seeing Richard Rodriguez on the Big Dipper, what an ERS he’s having! (Ed: has had!) After some free time to enjoy the park, we all met for lunch, which was excellent on both days. The ERS on the Big Dipper was great, especially with the chance to meet Richard in person.
Sunday, weather, raining but who cares, we have an ERS on Playstation and an extra ERS on the Grand National running simultaneously, magic! What a weekend, I can’t wait until next year’s.
Thanks to all at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Mark Cook for organising the trip.
I’d never been on a trip before, so I was a little apprehensive about meeting so many coaster enthusiasts. Needless to say the apprehension soon faded when I discovered what a really friendly bunch of people they all were.
At 9:00am we had our first ERS, a solid hour on the Big One. The ride ops seemed to be in good form considering the early hour and there was much banter between them and us.
Taking advantage of the light crowds in the morning, I sneaked two goes on Playstation as the queues for this ride can get quite long and slow moving. Needless to say it was as good as ever. The rest of the morning was spent riding BPB’s other excellent rides until I lost my glasses on either the Revolution or Big Dipper.
We all descended on Coasters for lunch and we were graced with the presence of “JR” and Keith Allen of the “Pleasure Beach” television series fame. Keith spent 10 or 15 minutes at our table and I managed to quiz him about coming work on the Big One this winter. Mark Cook also announced, to great cheers, that JR and Keith were running the Grand National for us, as well as the Playstation for Sunday morning’s ERS. The lunch time meal was excellent and there was a real atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie.
After lunch was more free time. The Club reconvened at the Big Dipper entrance at 6:00pm, because there was a rumour that the Big Dipper ERS was going to start early. The rumour proved correct because at 6:15pm Keith turned up and closed the ride to the general public. The ride ops put the second train on and we were away! The ERS was only supposed to last 30 minutes, but it ended up being a whole hour.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make the Sunday due to a number of things. From all accounts it was excellent and I’m disappointed that I couldn’t make it.
Overall it was the best coastering weekend I’ve ever had. I take my hat off to Mark for organising such an excellent trip. I’d also like to thank JR and Keith for being superb hosts, they really pulled all the stops out for us on this trip. I just hope that it’ll become an annual event now.
Just a note to say a big thank you to everyone involved with organising the Blackpool Pleasure Beach trip last weekend. The ERS’s were amazing, especially getting double time on the Big Dipper and the unexpected opening of both the Steeplechase and the Grand National just for us. I did feel sorry for the staff who got drenched in the Sunday morning rain at our expense, but if it is any consolation, I had a brilliant time!
The inclusion of the food, half price “A” ride sheets and the show tickets (including Pasaje Del Terror which was enormous fun) made the weekend remarkable value. I applaud all the management and staff at BPB for making a very memorable two days. Now when can we go again?
Did we have a great time or what? As trip organiser for White Knuckle Weekend, I’m probably not allowed to say this, but I’m going to anyway: That was the best coaster trip I’ve ever been on! Of course, I did set out to make a trip that I would want to go on myself – loads of rides on loads of coasters – what else could you want? I had a great time!
As always, some thanks are due (in no particular order) to: Liz, for sorting out all those trip payments and application forms; to Jean-Marc for coming up with a stunning design for the trip T-shirts at short notice; to Andy Spence for helping with the T-shirt printing; to Chris McFarlane, for setting up the initial negotiations with BPB; and last, but not least, my girlfriend Carole for helping out in so many ways during the preparations.
But the biggest thanks have to go to all those people at BPB who made the weekend something I’ll remember for a long time to come – Brian Robinson for organising the whole thing so well; Jim Rowland and Keith Allen and their staff for running the rides and for the Pasaje del Terror tickets; Peggy Chadwick and her staff for doing the catering; Mandy Tattersall for the trivia trail prizes; and Geoffrey Thompson for inviting us back to do it all again next year. Everyone at BPB worked very hard to make it a special trip for us, and it really showed.
Thanks to everybody for coming. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And in answer to all those people who asked, “can we do it all over again next year?”. You betcha! Only next time we’ll make it even better. How? Just wait and see…
Düsseldorfer Rheinkirmes, Phantasialand, & Annakirmes Düren
Reviews & Reports
Around 70 enthusiasts converged at the hotel in Düsseldorf from all over Europe and the US for the CoasterBahn ’98 trip. On the Friday night we were cautioned by a German member that the fair would be very crowded due to a fireworks display – this was an understatement. It was so busy that I decided only to do one ride that evening, Star World, and then to just enjoy the atmosphere of the fair.
I took in the fireworks display from a grass bank above the fair, which provided a great view of both the fair and fireworks. When the fireworks were over, and everybody headed for the fair, we fought our way through the throngs of people back to the hotel to try to get some sleep before the early start next morning.
Saturday was Phantasialand and a “surprise” that had been included on a revised agenda and had us all guessing. All I knew of Phantasialand prior to the trip was from a report in a recent issue of First Drop and I was very pleasantly surprised by the park. The ERS on the Colorado Mine Train was wonderful, it is definitely the best one I have been on, the ride is fantastic.
Following the ERS, the group split up and did the rest of the park. I was very impressed by the general standard of the park and in particular, the coasters. The Mountain Railway was a revelation with a wonderful series of long sweeping drops and turns that reminded me of the old Scenic Railways. The Space Center with its three lift hills again was a terrific ride, with some very good effects.
After lunch in the Chinese restaurant, which was superb, we were given access to Mystery Castle. The main free fall area inside the tower is incredible, appearing much larger inside than you would expect when viewed from the outside. The ride is not yet finished, but it is still a very impressive ride indeed and will no doubt be superb when it is complete.
The surprise was revealed over lunch – this was not to be a single fair trip, but that we would be visiting the fair in nearby Duren where the Olympia Looping coaster was operating. Having missed riding Thriller, this was the next on my list of must-do coasters, so I was very happy to say the least.
The Duren fair was smaller than Düsseldorf, but still far bigger than anything in the UK. We arrived at Olympia slightly concerned at its reputation as a rough ride, but it was awesome. The first curved dive down into the first loop was awesome, the turnaround into the next two consecutive loops was stunning, the rise up onto the brakes and the swoops down into the final two consecutive loops was fantastic. What a ride, truly awesome but smooth with it, it was that good. As you may have guessed I liked the ride. With only two hours at the fair, a ride on the Wild Mouse just had to be done, we had to return to the coach to go back to Düsseldorf. The bad news on the return trip to Düsseldorf was that EuroStar was not operating due to a fault on the chain, would it be running by Sunday? Fingers were crossed.
A swim in the hotel pool early on Sunday set the day off to a good start, but the news of EuroStar was not what we wanted to hear. We made our way to the fair only the see the crane working, so the ERS looked out of the question. Still, this being an ECC trip, we were soon being allowed access to Star World to look around inside and climb over this fantastic coaster. The coaster is one of my favourites and is fantastic and the cars were spinning wildly. The Wild Mouse was then opened for us to ride followed by Airwolf and the new Maurer Sohne Power Tower. Apparently this was set to the “Mad Bastard” setting, I can’t think why! But it was a really good ride.
We were due to leave the fair shortly after, but were asked to be at EuroStar where we were met by Ingar Bruch, wife of the owner Oscar. She apologised profusely, but pointed out that the chain was English! We were then offered a drink, and while we were talking there was the unmistakable roar of a train on the first drop of EuroStar. In unison, 76 people put their drinks down and ran towards the coaster, where we were immediately ushered to the rear exit ramp and onto the train for a single ride before rushing back onto the coaches. It was everything I remembered from Bremen: exhilarating, intense, a wicked helix, just fantastic.
What a superb weekend. From start to finish, it was wonderful. Many thanks to Liz, Justin and Mark Wijman and everybody involved in the trip – it really was fantastic. The highlight for me must have been Olympia, a dream come true.
What a great time we both had on the CoasterBahn II trip, the Düsseldorf fair was excellent and it was good to get back on some of our favourite rides that were on the original CoasterBahn; EuroStar, Wild Wasser III, and Star World which was running faster that last year! It was good to get on a few new rides as well: the Power Tower, a Take Off (what g’s!), Circus Circus, and Flying Circus (which did not live up to its reputation). It seemed as though the entire population of Germany was at the fair on the Friday evening, although there were only short queues for the rides!
It was good to get back to Phantasialand and ride the excellent Colorado Adventure and the new Mystery Castle. Phantasialand was thankfully not as busy as we were expecting and hence not that long to queue for the rides. Mystery Castle, which is still being run in, was very good and neither of us can wait to ride it when it is running at full speed.
The Duren fair was a great addition to the trip. As well as Olympia, rides included Jumping (Huss freefall jump spin ride) and the Huss Freefall tower.
Finally, many thanks to everyone involved in organising the trip and also to Ingar Bruch, Tim Derrichs and Tim Herre. So when are we going to do this again?
I’d like to say an enormous thank you to everyone who helped to make CoasterBahn 2 the amazing trip it was. What an ERS that was, on the Colorado Adventure at Phantasialand! The park really did us proud. What an exhilarating ride it is, too. Twists and turns, dives and plunges through darkness, a cascade of water, excellent scenery; and so fast and smooth compared with Vekoma’s usual knockabout style.
For the rest of the park: another smooth Vekoma, Space Center. One huge dark-ride, maybe not pure white knuckle fare, but good value for your queuing time, and definitely worth a few goes. I also snatched a quick ride on the other main gravity coaster Mountain Railway, a Schwarzkopf pink knuckle ride.
Of the non-coaster rides, probably the ones which stand out the best, for me, were the non-identical twin Log Flumes, pleasantly wet, with a surprisingly small queue, considering the hot weather. Plus, of course, Mystery Castle, an indoor freefall, that had just opened and was still in its testing phase. A big thank you to the park for allowing us to sneak in and try it. Being indoors and facing each other across a spooky column of mist, while you shoot roofwards, certainly adds something different to the ride.
And, for the rest of the trip – not one fairground, as expected, but two! I can still hear the cheers when Justin announced it. A surprise detour to Duren, and the five-inversion Olympia Looping; what else can I say? I’ve got a soft spot for Schwarzkopf loopers anyway, so this was a real bonus. The g forces are incredible, the whole thing is so intense, it really does make you wonder, first time around, just looking at it and watching it, if you really, truly do want those back/front seats you’re queuing for. Then you ride them, and you definitely do.
Many, many thanks to the showmen at Düsseldorf for their generous hospitality, particularly the Bruch family for their free ride tickets, and the amazing wad of cash we were given to share out, in lieu of quite unexpected food.
First and foremost, of course, was Düsseldorf and EuroStar. Something wild in purple steel, larger in effect than Drayton Manor’s Shockwave; and, like the Olympia, this monster travels!? It was a pleasant surprise to find that, whether their restraints just suited my height or something, neither Eurostar nor Olympia were half as rough as I’d heard. Wonderful rides; if only there was room for them in British fairgrounds. We can but dream.
The impromptu ERSs on Sunday morning were a welcome bonus too. Now, at last, I can see what people meant about Star World. What an amazing feeling, spinning round like a Waltzer while you’re on a coaster, with flames and all sorts going off around you, especially if you manage to grab the back seats. I’ve never ridden anything else like it. An instant hit.
Finally, due to Skater (Düsseldorf’s version of Extreme) running a sort of two-minute beginner’s trial-size program, on Sunday morning, I at last got to try a Top Scan. It feels totally weird. Lots of sweeping around at strange angles, while your legs flap chaotically about in the air, and your stomach does very peculiar things indeed. I don’t think I could take very much of that, but it was good at least to get a “safeish” chance to try it.
One last big thank you, of course, must go to the folk from Crosskeys, and especially, for me and John, to driver Dave and hostess Christine, who between them, kept us entertained, fed and watered, and happily got us back to London just in time to leap onto our train. A brilliant trip, all round. Thank you, Justin, Liz, Mark Fulcher and everyone else who organised it. It was a cracker!
It was my first trip to Düsseldorf to visit a German funfair and I was not at all disappointed. I was quite amazed to see how large the fair was. The atmosphere on the Friday night was electric with much jostling through crowds to get to Eurostar.
The next morning saw an early start to Phantasialand to ride the Colorado Adventure. Wow!, what a ride. I have never been on a Mine Train like this one before. It was the best Mine Train that I have ever been on. Another highlight of the day was our surprise visit to a fair at Duren which had the Olympia Looping, a five looping roller coaster. Then it was back to Düsseldorf funfair for more rides. I liked the spinning rides, but after doing Take Off and then Extreme, I was feeling quite sickly.
The next morning at the fair it was my last chance to do Flying Circus, so I plucked up the courage and rode it. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be and I was glad that I had done the ride.
The trip was very well organised and was most enjoyable from start to finish.
This was my first time on a Club trip, but having read the reports from previous trips, I had a rough idea of what this was going to be like, but I wasn’t prepared for everything that happened.
On the first evening we arrived in Düsseldorf, and wasted no time in getting checked-in at the hotel, before getting down to the fair. I only got one ride that evening, on EuroStar. First impressions of the coaster were very good, although I did find the first drop and loop a little rough, even so, a first class steelie, very quick and very intense.
The next day was at Phantasialand, and the ERS on the Colorado Adventure Vekoma mine train. I was expecting a rough, brutal, uncomfortable coaster, what I found was a quite intense, fun, and fast one. This coaster, along with the Space Center dark ride is a testament to what Vekoma are capable of when they don’t use shoulder restraints.
The big surprise of the trip was a visit to a second fair at Duren. This was host to the Schwarzkopf Olympia Looping, as well as a Huss “Shot ‘n Drop” ride. Olympia was, for me, the best coaster on the trip, as smooth as a B&M, very quick, surprisingly comfortable.
At breakfast, stories were circulating that Eurostar had a snapped chain, this meant we would not be getting access to it as planned. We were kept busy though with a walk around the inside of Star World, the enclosed coaster, then free rides on the Wilde Mouse, Power Tower (another free-fall), and Airwolf. This was my first (and last!) experience of a Mondial Inferno.
The biggest “thank you” of all has to go to the Bruch family and the crew on EuroStar for doing the seemingly impossible. Other thank you’s go to the people who organised the trip. Dave, driver of coach “M” (Ed: We had two coaches, coach “B” and coach “M”), for getting every last bit of speed out of the coach on the run from the tunnel to London, and to everyone else who was there for making me feel so welcome on my first, and certainly not last, Club trip.
What a weekend! Up at who knows what hour to catch the coach at Victoria, a few hours (!) in the coach and Graham, my son, and I were in Düsseldorf on the eve of the coasting experience of our lives.
The first ride of the trip for me was Star World, the dark, spinning ride lifts you gently to start with but soon you’re hurtling down through the darkness, broken only by the flashes of laser lights criss-crossing the huge indoor space which encloses the ride. The Wild Mouse was also fun, but the high point of the night (and the weekend as it turned out) was EuroStar. When we came back down to earth, we’d already had all the fireworks we could take, so we headed back to the hotel for our first taste of he dark nectar they call Alt beer. About four hours of sleep later, we were on the coach to Phantasialand.
Our visit began with an ERS on Colorado Adventure, a coaster masquerading as a runaway mine train. Anyone who wanted could ride continuously for the whole of the one hour session. Personally, three or four circuits leaves me needing a rest, but I noticed some members, nine-year-old Graham included, who only got off the train to change seats.
We tried Wild Wasser 1, (one of the parks twin log flumes), and the Mountain Railway ride before meeting the group again for lunch and then an exclusive session on Mystery Castle, Phantasia’s newest ride. The theming throughout the park is excellent, but in Mystery Castle the designers have excelled themselves.
Justin had announced the surprise of a second fair, including the Olympia Looping. We rode it the back where the g forces were terrific. Unfortunately, the shoulder harnesses pulled down too tightly and this, combined with the roughness of the ride consigned Olympia Looping to second place behind Eurostar. That night I celebrated my birthday with a couple of bottles of beer, some Belgian chocolates (my present from Graham) and Graham, Tim and James Tipler singing “Happy Birthday to you” in our room at midnight. I loved it.
On Sunday morning we had a bit of a lie in before returning to Düsseldorf fair. Once there we were taken on a close up inspection of the inside of Star World and on an exclusive session on AirWolf. After that it was time to relax. Graham and I declined the opportunity to ride the Wild Mouse again but couldn’t resist Wild Wasser 3, the largest travelling log flume in the world.
Ingar Bruch, wife of the owner, met us in front of EuroStar. She was incredibly nice, apologising for the fact that the ride wasn’t working, inviting us all to have a drink at her expense and even forcing 500 DMs into Justin’s hand to compensate us for not having time to enjoy a meal with her. As we stood at the bar there was a roar from around the corner. It could only mean one thing, we were going on EuroStar. This time the ride was much faster than when we first rode it. One of the great things about exclusive sessions is knowing that everyone else on the ride shares your enthusiasm. This time around the atmosphere was electric.
I’ll try not to gush, but I just can’t think of a better introduction for us to the European Coaster Club on tour.
After the joys of Paris in the spring, could Germany in the summer match? After greeting everyone I knew, we started on the long trip to the German fair. At the hotel I was immediately struck by how “upmarket” it was. It has constantly amazed me how Justin and Liz arrange such fantastic weekends at such low prices, and this confirmed my view. The hotel was superb.
I walked to the fair, and after a few failed attempts at queuing for rides, I spotted the indoor coaster Star World with no queue, so I jumped on board. Hooray! I had ridden something, and what’s more, it was a good ride too! It was while I was being thrown upside down on the adjacent Airwolf that the fireworks started, so I had a great vantage point to watch them from – even if I wasn’t the right way up to appreciate them fully!
It was now quite late, so we decided to fight our way back through the crowds, and made it back to our hotel for a quick couple of beers, and a gossip to see what the others had been up to without us. Then bed.
Day two started early as we all headed off to Phantasialand to ride the excellent Colorado for an ERS that lasted over an hour.
After lunch we made our way to the back entrance of the Mystery Castle, so we could get a sneak ride in. Excellent theming made it well worth a visit, and the ride was fantastic. I cant wait for it to be up and running fully, as it seemed to be going quite fast already.
We then headed off for a surprise visit to another fair, to ride the five looping Olympia Looping. This was a brilliant ride which was spiced up for me, when it was pointed out how much the structure moved and shook after the cars went through the last inversion.
A final early start next day brought bad news – EuroStar had broken down. A little downheartedly we arrived at the fair to the sight of workmen trying to mend the broken lift chain. We were instead shown around the inside of Star World, where an impromptu Q & A with the owner took place. Then onto an ERS on the Wilde Maus and Airwolf. We then split up, so a group of us headed to the Log Flume, which was able to turn round the cars in the ride, to send them plummeting backwards! Excellent, and a welcome cooler on a day that was becoming a scorcher.
Arriving back at EuroStar we met the ride owner’s wife, Angela Bruch, who apologised for the lift breaking down. Whilst we were having a final goodbye drink with her, a loud rumbling was heard. EuroStar had been fixed!! This meant a mad dash for the ride, an entrance round the back, and in front of some bemused locals, one final ride on the front seat of the best ride all weekend. The g forces in the front were incredible, and I don’t think the smile left my face the rest of the day.
I’d like to thank Justin and Liz and all the other people who made it a great trip, and I can’t wait for the next one.
Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed the trip and the people on it. Very well run and very good value for money, let’s hope that the next one falls on one of my rest days.
Many thanks for another superb ECC trip. It’s great to be around other coaster fans and ride some of the best rides Europe has to offer. The whole weekend was one non-stop roller coaster ride (to coin a phrase) from the moment we left Victoria to our sad goodbyes on Le shuttle and back in London.
The group worked well together, any larger and you could be in danger of becoming “a number.” Special thanks to Justin and Liz for all their hard work, most of which is done behind the scenes and arranged months in advance.
Thank you again and I’m looking forward to the next trip!!!
Firstly, I’d like to say “Thank you” for a very enjoyable trip to Düsseldorf. The fair on Friday night was fantastic with the added bonus of half an hour of fireworks.
The next morning at Phantasialand started with an ERS on their Colorado Mine Train. They ran all three trains which meant that no one had to wait, and rides were almost unlimited. For a Vekoma ride, it was very smooth.
With our new found friends, Graham and Rauiri Ross, myself and my nine-year-old son, James explored the rest of the park. Some of the most prominent rides were Space Center, a Vekoma dark ride and again a very smooth track, and Grand Canyon, a fun, figure of eight Schwarzkopf ride.
An early lunch at the parks’ Chinese Restaurant prepared us for our preview of Mystery Castle, an Intamin prototype ride, not the best “shot and drop” type ride I have experienced, but as it is new, I’m sure it will improve with time. We all met up, after the parade, back at the coach to be told of a surprise up Justin’s sleeve, a trip to the Düren Fair which houses Rudolph Barth’s Olympia Looping, amongst others. What a superb ride, and again, so smooth.
The next morning started with a behind the scenes tour of Space World, a spinning, dark coaster. After a speech and demonstration of some of the special effects, the owner, Klaus Renoldi, treated us to a ride, which was just magic. Airwolf was next, a mad, spinning ride, which we were “lucky” enough to have a free ride on. This ride is pretty gut wrenching, but Justin persuaded the ride operator to “pump it up” somewhat! I staggered off, feeling rather sick, but enjoyed it nevertheless.
Due to the chain lift problem the previous day, EuroStar had not been running, so we were really pleased when Justin announced one last ride on it before we left. I found it very fast and a little rough, but really impressive.
We had a long trip back, arriving home at 1:00 am Monday morning, but it was well worth it. Another fair, and possibly a woodie next year? I hope so. Thanks.
In one weekend, my top two steelies have changed from Nemesis and the Big One to Olympia Looping and EuroStar. What a trip!
This was my first coaster trip outside the UK and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Like everyone, I was amazed by the organisation of the German fairs, but one aspect which really surprised me was the way the rides were run. On Friday night the queue for EuroStar was so big that I, being used to UK park queues, expected at least an hour wait. Ten minutes! Park owners ought to look at these rides seriously, as they prove not only that you can have great rides with incredible capacity, but also allowing riders to choose seats needn’t hinder efficiency as long as the staff know their job, as the EuroStar crew did.
The fact we got to visit a second fair was a double-edged sword. Yes, it was fantastic to visit and had some awesome rides (Olympia Looping and Jump), but it is awful to think that with such great fairs so common in Germany, the UK is so very far behind.
Phantasialand really had a job on their hands to compete, but they were excellent too. Colorado Adventure was a great ride (and another real queue shifter), while Mystery Castle was truly superb and very atmospheric, especially during the group riding session.
The only disappointments were the travelling freefall towers and that EuroStar broke down – the way that that last ride came about more than made up for it though!
Thanks to all who organised this truly great weekend, to the very generous Bruch family, and Tim Derrichs who not only allowed us inside Star World but also arranged a wonderful 2:00am impromptu ERS on this astonishing ride. You can put my name down for Coasterbahn 3 now.
“It can’t possibly travel.” This was the phrase to sum up the recent Coaster Bahn trip to Düsseldorf Fair. It was my first trip to a German Fair – truly a life changing experience. I stood in disbelief as I watched (and rode) a triple drop Log Flume, Dark Coaster, Free Fall tower, Inverted Coaster, huge spinning contraptions and countless other wonders. Not only were these top class thrill machines, but they would no longer be here in a week’s time.
For me, and I am sure many others, the highlight was the Olympia Looping. This being a surprise “extra” to the tour made it all the more special. Again, the size of this portable ride is breathtaking. For a travelling ride, it was exceptionally smooth, yet the intensity was wild.
Well, thanks to Justin and the rest of the team for a great weekend. The Nottingham Goose Fair shall never be the same again…
I need to thank a fair (bad pun intended) few people: Liz, for handling the paperwork, and being my much appreciated “right hand man.” Mark Wijman, for handling the Phantasialand side of things. The Dave’s and Christine’s for the coaches. Mark Fulcher for looking after coach “M” for me. Tim Derrich’s for being nothing less than a top geezer. Tim Herre for being my translator. And to everyone else who helped out in some form or another.
Finally, many thanks to the Bruch family, still some of the best people I know in the entire amusement industry.
American Adventure World
Reviews & Reports
The morning started with me making the one hour drive up to Derby with fellow member Andy Haley. We had both been on several Club trips before, and so had experienced a few Exclusive Ride Sessions, but the main reason why we both decided to attend this Club trip was for the ERS with a difference: an ERS on the 200ft (61m) Sky Coaster!
I have been on a few Sky Coasters over the years and have to admit that I absolutely love them, but I had never been on one of the 200ft models. The park itself was fairly empty, and all of the rides were a walk on. At about midday we all gathered outside the Sky Coaster and split ourselves up into smaller groups of two or three. During the ERS, I managed three rides on the Sky Coaster and I was very impressed with it. It was definitely worth the drive up to Derby!
All in all, it was a very quiet trip but a good trip nonetheless. I was amazed at how empty the park was. We all prefer to visit parks when they are not busy as it adds up to more coaster time, but I think that this park was a little too quiet! With that said, I had a great time, and I’m sure that the other attendees did as well.