Hands On III
Reviews & Reports
First up was an ERS on the Cyclone. For a smallish woodie, it is packed with airtime, and in most seats too! Pretty good in my book. Second was an ERS on the TraumaTizer and King Solomon’s Mines (Rebuilt Wooden Mouse). As ‘Solomon’s Mines was not operational for the start, I decided to ride TraumaTizer first, albeit with hesitation. I found out that I did not need to worry. Although a SLC, I was quite shocked at how smooth it was; hardly any head-banging at all! For once you can enjoy every one of the insanely twisted inversions without the worry of getting a severe headache. Excellent. At the end of that ERS, King Solomon’s Mines was operating. I had one go, and that was enough! Very rough, and some bruises are given.
Next up was the Fun House. Best part of the day. The Joy Wheel, Social Mixer, Crazy Steps, Spinning Barrel, and Ball Pond all added up to lots and lots of fun, although, six members in the ball pond turned out to be a vicious experience. For those persons who ended up trying to bury me in the Ball Pond, be warned – I will have my revenge next year!
May I say thank you for a great weekend. Everyone is friendly and helpful at Southport, even the ‘cool’ guy on TraumaTizer. I think our fun rubs off on them and they enjoy themselves too. The Cyclone was as great as ever, even more so on the back seat.
Knowsley Safari Park was very quiet but we had a good day. The talk by the curator was extremely interesting, he really knows his stuff. We were privileged to go on the safari trip, which was made very interesting, and by far the safest way to visit the baboons! It’s the first time we’ve virtually had a whole park to ourselves – they just followed us round opening up rides as we wanted them.
The Hands On Days at Pleasureland Southport are always popular days and this year attendees enjoyed TraumaTizer, the Cyclone, King Solomon’s Mines and the Fun House as well as meals and refreshments in the Casablanca restaurant. The track walk of the Cyclone was called off due to the weather.
It is good to see that the park has improved over recent years and started to get the attractions that it deserves. The days of the concessions at the park are numbered and it certainly shows with the many improvements that are continually happening.
2000 was a very big year for Knowsley Safari Park. Amongst other things, they doubled the amount of amusements they had. The increase was due to the direction and persuasion of Club member Andy Preston. These additions included Viper (Pinfari coaster), Flying Eagles (Flying Scooters), Pirate Ship, Crazy Barrels, Safari Train, etc.
Held the day after the Hands On 4 event, Rumble in the Jungle was a good way to allow members the chance to see what the Safari Park had to offer. A lucky few had the chance to go around the safari drive in the park bus with the animal curator, who also gave a talk to all attendees after lunch.
Wild Wild Weekend
Düsseldorfer Rheinkirmes, Warner Bros. Movie World, & Bobbejaanland
Germany & Belgium
Reviews & Reports
Two days have passed since the trip and I still can’t stop thinking about the weekend. What an excellent trip it was.
Saturday started with an overwhelming ERS on Lethal Weapon. Not having to queue for a ride is the best benefit you can get from Club membership. I tried both sides, and as I remembered from last year, the high-speed turn after the loop makes the left side the better one. Directly after that followed the surprising early morning ERS on Wild Wild West, my country’s first woodie. Anticipation grew, would it come up to my expectations?
After the first ride I was surprised and disappointed. I was surprised because for Germany’s first woodie I expected a more family orientated ride, but what I found was a large coaster with high-speed, steep drops. On the other hand I felt disappointed because due to the TÜV restrictions, the turns are performed at very slow speeds. Hoping for the coaster to run in, I waited for the evening ERS to make my final opinion. Till then we still had some hours of excellent riding.
I hope everybody tried out the cool Looney Toons Studio tour with the surprising coaster-style finale and the excellent Neverending Story, which gives the term river “rapid” a new meaning.
The well-organised lunch has to be mentioned too. The Warner Bros. chief spoke to us and it was very interesting to hear that another 34 million (Dm) will be invested in 2001. Could we have a B&M please! Poor Justin had to cope with the very cheeky toons Bugs Bunny and Sylvester.
Then the evening ERS came and luckily the coaster ran in during the day. So I can finally say that we have a very good coaster in Germany now. It won’t top my number one (the Grizzly in Paramount’s Kings Dominion), but it’s very good. It also looked like the public really enjoyed the ride, so we can hope to see more woodies in Germany soon.
On Sunday we met at Bobbejaanland in Belgium and started the day with an ERS on their double wild mouse Speedy Bob. Ten very funny rides later, we tried the other coasters: Air Race, Revolution and Looping Star. The last offered a very good high-speed ride.
Finally, I want to thank everybody who was involved in the organisation for this excellent weekend. Endless riding and getting to know new fanatics, what more can you want. It was definitely not my last trip.
Firstly, many thanks for another good European trip on the Wild, Wild, Weekend trip, which we both enjoyed a lot. The Düsseldorf fair, was enjoyable and the hour or so that we had there was enough to sample its delights, with the kiddie Speedy Gonzales coaster proving a bit of a talking point.
Warner Bros. Movie World was an enjoyable day and it was good for us to get return there and get back on the Neverending Story, which must be one of the best rapids around. Not to mention Lethal Weapon, Bermuda Triangle and the Looney Tunes Studio Tour. Wild Wild West was OK, but we would like to ride it towards the end of the season when it has been run in a little more.
Speedy Bob at Bobbejaanland was a fun ride, as was their new rapid-style water slide and it was good to see that their Looping Star was running as good as new.
Finally, thanks to everyone involved in organising the trip for a great weekend and especially to the staff at WBMW for their hospitality, including Bugs Bunny and Sylvester, and to Dave the driver.
The first part of the trip was a surprise visit to a German fair. Although it was a small fair by Germany’s standards, it was still larger than most British ones. It had a Wild Mouse that was good fun and had a couple of good spin and spews to contend with as well. It was a nice surprise as it was good to have some fun after a long day of travelling.
Warner Bros. Movie World was definitely the highlight of the trip. The theming was Disney quality throughout. The Lethal Weapon ERS was very good – and it’s a really good ride. I liked the last inversion, especially! You hang out of your seat for a couple of seconds, but it did get a bit painful after the fifth go!
Wild Wild West was a good ride, except for the bumpy bits. Not a bad effort for Germany’s first woodie. Probably the best ride at Movie World was the NeverEnding Story. The theming was really good and there was plenty of music to enhance the experience. It’s the fastest rapids ride I have ever been on. Thankfully, you don’t get too wet either.
There were some good shows including the Marvin the Martian 3D show. The only attraction that was not very good was the Behind the Scenes Tour. You had a good view of some warehouses and that was about it. No wonder there was no queue for it!
The staff at Movie World made every effort to make this a great day. The food was great too. They really do deserve a big thank you for all their efforts. I really enjoyed it. Shame about the smell of sewage in the Gotham City area though. Maybe that was part of the theming!
Bobbejaanland reminded me of Alton Towers. It is a very big park with all the rides spread around so you have to spend quite a bit of time walking. The ERS on Speedy Bob was good fun, but it took the operators a while to get going!
The Air Race swing coaster was a bit tame. One ride was enough. However, the indoor Log Flume was good, even though I got soaked on it. One member got drenched from head to toe.
The Looping Star was very good as well, with some nice ‘g’ forces on the loop. The park also had an unusual indoor coaster that had a really long train. It was OK but not thrilling.
The highlight of the park was the rubber boated water ride. It was great fun, especially with eight of us!
Thanks go to Warner Bros. for a magic day and ECC for organising yet another great trip.
As ever, I would like to thank everyone who attended the trip and for making it one of our best yet. We started the trip with a surprise visit to a “small” German fair that only had two small coasters in attendance. By German standards it didn’t even register as anything major, to someone used to British fairs, it was incredible! There was a small coaster called Speedy Gonzales that managed to pack a large punch considering its size. If I can, I like to add surprises to trips, but this ride even surprised me.
Warner Bros. couldn’t have been better hosts if they’d tried. They even moved an ERS to the morning as the evening session might be too late (the coach driver needs to be parked up for nine hours at night). When they realised that Wild Wild West wasn’t running as well as it could do in the morning, they added another session that night. As the coach had to leave as early as possible, they allowed us to park it in the park, next to the coaster! And indeed it proved to be worth it, as the evening session was much better than the morning one in both atmosphere and ride quality.
Other highlights of the day included: seeing our name in lights on the park’s message board, NeverEnding Story (still the best rapids I have ever been on), Bermuda Triangle and Lethal Weapon.
The food was also something out the ordinary – it’s always a surprise to be served good quality food at a park, and here we had some of the best food I have ever seen at a park.
I would like to thank Christian Angenvoort at Warner Bros. who did a superb job in organising our day there.
Bobbejaanland is an interesting park! It has a fairly large selection of coasters, some being unique such as Air Race and Revolution. But it does seem to me that the park needs a “signature” ride that stands out. There is talk of a new inverted coaster, and it would definitely be a move in the right direction, but I can’t help thinking that a wooden coaster would look great here. Although I could say that for every park!
Without a doubt, the ride that was enjoyed by most was Bobby Drop, the rubber ring rapids-style ride. It’s amazing how much fun can be had from such a simple and relative inexpensive ride. Of course, it helped that we rode it together, so the boats were generally filled with members. But still, it really wouldn’t be beyond many parks to install one of these, and I am sure they wouldn’t regret it.
So that about wraps it up, many thanks to everyone who helped with the trip, and I hope to see you all again soon.
White Knuckle Weekend 2
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Reviews & Reports
I’ll try and be brief, though it’ll be hard, because White Knuckle Weekend II was just so packed, it’s difficult to know where to begin.
John and I hadn’t been to BPB for three years, chiefly because (to be brutally frank) we could no longer afford the rocketing prices, especially with regards to the Big One, and so, sadly, had had to turn our backs on the place, old favourite or not. This trip was a way of making it possible again. Thanks to everyone who made it happen; it was great.
Intentional highlights included a fascinating guided tour behind the scenes, taking us into some very small and wondrous spaces, such as the shed which houses the ‘National’s lift motor; and underneath the Derby Racer, which is quite an awesome experience when it’s running full pelt. We were also shown through some of the workshop/office/warehouse/merchandising bits, and then, to our immense interest, were permitted to peer through the doors of P2K, at the steadily maturing structures within. Thank you to our friendly guides and to the various members of staff who took time out to answer our many questions – it was hugely appreciated. As was the bonus ERS on the Avalanche. Super smooth, super fast, we grabbed quite a few rides on it.
The unintentional highlight — Blackpool Pleasure Beach, unlimited. Twenty quid wristbands, at Blackpool! The freedom to ride, and ride, without having to count each rationed ticket expended, and without having to break the bank to do it. It was… heaven, really, and the queues were there but they weren’t large, so you could relax and simply indulge. Nice one BPB, let’s hope it’s an early-season trend that you’ll repeat. The three different methods of payment offer free choice for everyone, at last, even folks like us, who, given the chance, will ride non-stop till we drop.
Talking of drops, we’re probably the last Club members to get around to riding the PlayStation and reconfigured Big One. Here’s what we think of them, anyway.
PlayStation’s launch is tremendous fun. It’s the fact that there’s nothing to tell you exactly when you’re going to go. The operators just let you sit there, in anticipation, and then, whoomph, just when you’re in the middle of catching your breath, you’re blasting upwards, leaving your stomach on the ground. Superb.
The Big One’s turnaround section is one hell of a lot smoother and faster now and I like the increased sideways tilt. The first drop… Well, it took some getting used to. The original drop, it felt, flowed far more naturally, and wasn’t anywhere near as vicious, laterally. Now, you honestly do feel that you’re going to be flung out sideways as the train does that peculiar “shimmy,” as it turns on its way down. I’m not sure if that’s good or not! It feels marginally faster and steeper too. In the balance, I’m just relieved that the coaster hasn’t been spoiled by its amendments.
As to the thoroughly knackering ERS on the Rollercoaster, it was good to have, but, next time, I vote that everyone aged 40 or over gets to stay on the platform! Phew, those stairs!
Oh, and speaking of the Rollercoaster ERS, I’d especially like to thank Martin the medic and his band of merry men, and Jeffrey and the ride operators, who were all so kind and condolent when I hurt my neck. Also, thanks to JR, for injecting his own brand of humorous concern — the Rollercoaster’s fine and doing well. No problem. And last but not least, a special thank you to Mark Cook, for being supportive, gentle, commiserative, and just a pal.
And, generally, thank you to everyone on the Beach — all the cheerful, friendly, helpful people, who did so much to make the weekend what it was: a truly incredible, exhausting, exhilarating experience. What more can one say? Roll on next year!
What a brilliant weekend I had at BPB on the 12th and 13th June. The guided tour, which we had behind the scenes, to see what the public never see, was very interesting.
Many thanks to all the ride operators – it would not have been possible without them. A very big thank you to Mark for all the work he did so that the Club members could all have a good time.
White Knuckle Weekend II had a hard act to follow because of the success of the first White Knuckle Weekend last year. I’m pleased to say that in my opinion, Mark Cook and BPB excelled themselves again.
The itinerary was even more action-packed than last year and there were plenty of surprises. We were all told to be back at the Visitor’s Centre for 14:00 on the Saturday for our first surprise. It was announced, to a great cheer, that we were breaking up into four groups for a behind the scenes tour of the park. We managed to get access to the maintenance shed, administration block, catering area and even under the Derby Racer and Flying Machine to view the machinery! We also managed to get a glimpse of Project 2000 undergoing ride testing.
The ERSs were superb, with the surprise extra one on Avalanche being a welcome addition. I managed to get three consecutive rides without leaving my seat and it was a shame more people didn’t take advantage of this.
One thing I did notice was the friendliness of the park staff. They have been slated before in the Club’s annual survey, but I’m pleased to say that during the weekend they were very pleasant and friendly. “JR” mentioned that they had invested in staff training over the last year or so and it certainly seems to be paying off.
I’d like to thank all those involved in the planning and execution of the trip. I had a great time and find myself thinking, “beat that!” I’m definitely looking forward to Oakwood in August!
Well done all the team who organised the trip to BPB. Thanks to BPB for welcoming us again. We had a really great time. We had 12 continuous rides on the Pepsi Max during the ERS, which was great.
We had about ten rides on the Grand National, which seemed to be running fast, probably due to the early morning rain. The behind the scenes talk was very interesting too.
We are looking forward to the next trip to BPB, as well as other trips this y
Thanks for another good White Knuckle Weekend, which was most enjoyable. Although sadly, only on the Sunday for us as we were returning from a five day European trip on Saturday. Anyway what we did was most enjoyable.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach as ever put on a good weekend and we would like to thank everyone involved. Looking forward to doing it again next year, but for two days.
I just wanted to say what a great weekend I had once again at Blackpool. The ERSs were great, especially the Big One on Sunday morning, which was absolutely flying around the track.
Once again, it was the “unexpected extras” that made the weekend special; the additional ERS on Avalanche and of course, the behind the scenes tour.
A big thanks goes out to all the staff at BPB for their courtesy and good humour throughout the visit, especially the security guard who cheerfully let us into the North Entrance building after hours on Saturday night so we could retrieve the coats we left in a locker!
If next year’s trip is just as good I’ll be very happy. If it is even better, I’ll be amazed!
Thank you Mark for a super weekend, needless to say we were absolutely knackered by the end, especially after negotiating the spiral stairs of the Rollercoaster far too many times.
I think we are going for the record for how many times on the PlayStation. As well as the ERS on Saturday, on the Sunday we purchased arm bands and went round and round, or rather up and down, until it closed.
I don’t think they will use the armband system again, the staff found it frustrating having to zap you like a packet of cornflakes each time. Also, we heard that the Big One “lost” over a £1000 on the Saturday by being used by arm band wearers and not individually paying people. This is silly because you wouldn’t be riding it that many times if you’d had to pay each time anyway. I wonder if we all had something to do with this!
We hope they do run them again though, as it presented an opportunity to go on the rides you wouldn’t normally try – which must be good for BPB, at least it keeps us off the Big One.
The staff on all the rides were really cheery over the weekend. The operator of the Rollercoaster even waved to us when we were on the Monorail.
The food was excellent, including the burger and chips (I refuse to call them fries) we had at the Rib Shack, and the donuts, as well as the organised meals of Chicken and the Chinese – even if I did get shouted at for being a show off and using chopsticks!
See you all at the next bash.
What a wonderful weekend! For Carole and I it was a return visit to Blackpool Pleasure Beach a mere three weeks after our memorable wedding there, and once again BPB did a fantastic job. As always, nothing was too much trouble, and every member of staff we encountered was excellent.
As well as the superb package of ERS time on no less than five rides, both the shows and the food, the “behind the scenes” tour was fascinating and our guides very entertaining. The underside of the Derby Racer mechanism was just one of the highlights for me.
The introduction of a BPB unlimited riding wristband was a bit of a surprise, but I hope those attending saw it as an addition to a great trip. Certainly, the presence of several ECC members in the top 20 on BPB’s ride activity reports seems to confirm that people had a great time with theirs!
It was good to see lots of “old hands” from previous trips, along with new faces. Regular Cathie Cook managed to crack herself one on the chin during the Roller Coaster ERS (of all things!), but after a quick precautionary trip to hospital on Saturday night, she was back for the Sunday morning ERS on the Big One. I’m not sure whether this proves the injury did or did not affect her judgement!
Once again, my thanks to all the BPB staff and departments who made the weekend complete. Special thanks go to Brian Robinson, without whose organisation the trip would never work; to the new “Slim Jim” Rowland and the operations team for not only running the rides, but having fun along with us too; to Mandy Tattersall for once again finding a mountain of prizes for the Trivia Trail; and to catering, security, medical and all those other “unsung” people who make the park work and keep us all safe and entertained.
As always, sincere thanks to everyone who helped me with this trip. In no particular order they were: James Lawrence, who took over Merchandise from me, and did a great job; Liz, for once again looking after all the trip application forms; Justin for arranging the Top 10 Coasters video, among many other things; and last but not least, my wife Carole for helping me make it through the wedding, buying a new house and preparing for a week’s business trip to France while simultaneously organising the ECC trip!
Reviews & Reports
We got a fairly early night’s sleep and managed to get a good rest for the following day’s events. After we’d sorted ourselves out, we made our way over to Bounce for the morning’s ERS only to find Paddy and Peter had come to bring us bad news. All the electricity in a several mile radius of the park had been cut off’ leaving us ERS-less. But all was not lost! The park has a generator that runs the children’s area’ so Paddy opened the Kiddies fun house for us to “play” in. Where do I start? This turned into a riot! There were padded toys flying everywhere! The staff were not amused. After an hour of mayhem we made our way back to the tent to sort out the bits and bobs ready for the meal. Oakwood put on an excellent buffet, with more than enough food to go around. Liz arranged a collection for the evening’s BBQ, and as loads of people had bought extra drinks and food and were willing to share it, there was more than enough for everyone.
Free time in the park followed until 22:30, when it was time for our ERS. First off, Bounce, the Huss Shot ‘n’ Drop tower. It’s a great fun ride, but not anywhere near as powerful as the S&S versions. Everyone enjoyed themselves and with Paddy on the controls we enjoyed numerous “E-Stops” at the top of the tower. At 23:30 it was off to Megafobia.
Towards the end of the session, Paddy announced that if he got at least two naked riders he’d extend the ERS. On this announcement, seven blokes stripped off on the station platform and boarded the train. Everyone was speechless; we couldn’t believe they’d done it. Paddy had another one up his sleeve. As the train rolled out of the station, Paddy hit the E-stop to give the girls a good view of the blokes. They had a train to themselves for a few rides, and most of them seemed happy riding in the buff.
I wasn’t one of those who were brave enough to camp out in the Welsh countryside, on what must have been one of the wettest nights last summer. I only live about an hour’s drive from the park, so I slept in my nice warm bed instead. I still had a great time and a day of “firsts”: first time in the kiddies fun house; first time on a Skycoaster (having never plucked up courage – or the cash – before) which is something I hope to repeat at every opportunity; first time in the Crystal Maze and quite a few others as the day drew on.
The highlight (for me) had to be the midnight riding on ‘Fobia – even though I kept my clothes on! – and of course the wonderful hospitality of the McNamara’s. Staying in the park late to run ‘Fobia for us after the morning’s disruptions was definitely “beyond the call of duty” – and much appreciated.
It took us nine hours to drive to Oakwood. Though tired, we nonetheless headed into the park as soon as our tents were pitched. Crystal liked the Bounce and Mick loved Megafobia. After the evening fireworks we headed back to camp, in the rain. It had been raining heavily and our tents were quite wet, inside and out! Some campers were partying late into the night.
James set off a huge firework at 07:00 to wake those still sleeping – and it worked. We had woken up early and said “Never again,” having spent the night in cold wet conditions. However, by the time we had shared a brew-up with Rob and walked to the Bounce for the ERS, the night didn’t seem quite so bad and the sun was shining. (Ed: the rain stopped at around midnight, and The Kelsey’s tents were the only ones with leaks!)
After the day’s riding, it was back to base camp for more partying by some people and a windy night in the tents. We made a resolution that for future camping we’ll have a bigger tent and softer mattresses. Although we had never camped before as a family, we had a great time even despite the rain and the wind.
Sunday dawned fairly bright, so we packed our tents and went back into the park for a couple of hours’ riding before the long drive home. Mick headed for Megafobia and Crystal for the Bounce. (Mick and Crystal enjoyed the Bounce so much that when we went to BPB the following week they didn’t bother to join the long queue for the Playstation!)
Before the first camping trip to Oakwood, a few of us had done a private trip to the park where we camped on Paddy McNamara’s farm. It was a great weekend, and I knew we had to open this up to the entire Club. Paddy wasn’t that keen on having everyone down on his farm, so he suggested we use a field at the park instead. The rest is history.
The “Oakwood Overnighter” has become one of our most popular trips, and definitely one of the most enjoyable. It has also grown considerably over the years, as you can see from the more recent Oakwood trips.
With the park being such a long way from most people, just visiting it in one day seemed like an awful waste of energy. Staying within the park seemed to be the obvious solution to this. Some of those attending still don’t camp, which is fine, but more do each year, including those who didn’t early on.
For many years this trip was organised by Liz Hall and myself. Due to personal commitments, Liz now takes more of a back seat.
This trip was also the start of “naked riding,” something started by an amazing event reported on in issue 32 of First Drop.
Flamingo Land Theme Park & Zoo
Reviews & Reports
Our morning ERS was delayed due to technical problems, so instead the park brought us to look at the site for the Mach3 ride, which is to open soon as Magnum Force. When we eventually got to ride, the Bullet was very rough. Mick managed three rides and Crystal just one, which they found was quite enough! After the ERS, we rode as many of the other rides as possible. The Corkscrew caused sore ears on the first bend, as there was the customary ‘kick’ which most corkscrews seem to have. Thunder Mountain is a small but fast coaster enclosed inside a completely dark artificial mountain. There was also a coaster which had ‘bobsled’ type cars; we can’t remember the name, but it was fun.
After lunch, Mick rode the log flume, which broke down. We think this must have been a regular occurrence, because the operator came with a set of steps quite quickly to rescue the stranded passengers. We also went through the ‘passage of terror’ that was well hidden at the back of the children’s area.
After the park closed to the public, the Wild Mouse ERS took place. It started to rain and the mouse was running really fast due to the wet. We enjoyed our day, trying out most of the rides. Next time, we’ll know there are other rides hidden around the park. There are not many parks with six roller coasters in one place, we say six coasters because there was also a Dragon Coaster, which we had several rides on too.
The day started with our ERS on the Bullet – a great ride, very pleased that it has stayed at Flamingo Land. You can become a bit squashed if they push the shoulder restraints down too hard – or was that just on little people? (Ed: No, it hurts for people of all sizes!) The front seat is great for the feeling that you’re not going to stop on the vertical ascent, but the back seat is best for the start where you are pushed up and backwards before being catapulted through the station, and round the loop.
We enjoyed a great day, even though the weather was somewhat unsettled, especially during our final ERS on the Wild Mouse. This is a fast and ‘hold on tight’ ride. The Club managed several rides, even through the driving rain.
We certainly hope that the Club will run another trip to Flamingo Land – especially with the new Magnum Force, as that takes ages to load with the new restraints – and that another meal will also be included. Our day featured a superb buffet that was well above and beyond what is normally available at Flamingo Land.
I have always liked Flamingo Land as it offers a good value day out, considering the number of attractions that they have to offer. So it seemed a good opportunity to go and visit the park with ride times on the Bullet and Wild Mouse and a buffet dinner.
It also gave us the chance to see the park’s new coaster for the following year. The former German travelling coaster Dreier Looping (to be renamed Magnum Force) was in pieces on the ground at the time, awaiting a new paint job. One of the park’s Managers told the group a bit about it and what they were going to do with it.
With Magnum Force, I am sure next year’s trip will be even better.
Bremer Freimarkt, Heide Park, & De Efteling
Germany & The Netherlands
Reviews & Reports
After a nine-hour train/bus ride, Frank Kuipers and I arrived in Bremen. Bremen was to be my first experience of a German fair. On the Thursday evening we managed one ride on Booster, a perfect new Huss ride.
Heide Park was a big surprise! I hadn’t expected it to be so well themed – with such an eye for detail. Only the music at the Dutch village was a bit weird: they played a song that in the Netherlands is often played at funerals! Limit was a great deal less rough than El Condor, Vekoma’s prototype SLC. Other attractions were surprisingly good such as the big Log Flume and the Mine Train.
Saturday was our last day at the fair. The ERS on Eurostar was great, and my first time climbing a lift hill. Starworld, Black Hole and Booster were also great. This is definitely not my last German fair!
Sunday saw the trip going to my home park – Efteling. I was delighted that everyone enjoyed the park with some of the best dark rides like Fata Morgana and Dreamflight. We also paid a visit to the fairytale forest: the roots of the park. Someone made a big compliment: “Alton Towers is called a theme park, but it is not. It’s a leisure park, Efteling is a theme park.” Unfortunately, the coach departed at 15:00 so we had to say goodbye to our new English friends.
Well, what can I say? The highlight of this trip had to be Villa Volta at Efteling. Until this trip, I’d never ridden a Haunted Swing, but Villa Volta just blew my mind – the effect was totally convincing, and the ride chamber is so detailed.
Limit (Heide Park) was my first SLC, and as I am slightly too large to fit comfortably into the restraints, I made three rides my ‘limit’ (pun intended) for consecutive riding. I think this ride is very good – not the ‘hang and bang’ I was expecting.
The fair in Bremen was pretty good – although I’m not a fan of spinning rides, I did give Booster a go – and it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it looked.
After an early breakfast, we set off at 07:30 to Heide Park. As soon as we arrived everyone dashed over to the Limit (the park’s newest ride). It was running really well and I enjoyed every minute of the ERS. I thought this was a very interesting and well laid out park.
After some free time we met up again for lunch and a talk with some of the park representatives. They told us about their new ride for 2001. We were even allowed to see the model, which no one outside of people from Heide Park had seen. That evening we headed back to Bremen for the fair. It was very busy and I only managed four rides (Eurostar, Starworld, Frisbee and one I haven’t ridden before, Booster). It twisted you sideways, and you were spun and thrown in all directions.
Another early start Sunday saw us in Efteling, which was themed like a Disney park and was really fascinating and enchanting. The group I toured the park with had a great advantage, as one of them, Jos, worked there and guided us to all the main attractions. I think my favourite ride at Efteling is Villa Volta; it was the best haunted swing I have ever ridden.
I was a bit scared at hardly knowing anyone as I’d only been on one previous Club trip at Flamingo Land, my local theme park.
Everyone on the trip was very friendly. It was nice to be able to go on whatever rides you wanted to and not feel pressurised into going onto something you didn’t want to just because you were in a group!
On the Friday, we headed off to Heide Park where I managed to get five goes in a row on Limit. I never thought I’d find another ride as much fun as Nemesis at Alton Towers but the Limit excelled.
In the evening, we spent a couple of hours at the fair, which was right next door to our hotel. I have never seen anything so bright and big in all my life – the size was beyond words. I went on quite a few rides with a friend, who I asked to go on an indoor ride Starworld to find out what it did. From the outside of it, some of the cars seemed to be spinning and I don’t like to spin too much. I spent about 15 minutes psyching myself up to go on a tower ride and really enjoyed it, especially the part where you climb slowly to the top and then drop right down. I watched the Mouse from the top of the big wheel but decided that the mice were running at a manic speed and saved it for the next day. Unfortunately, the next day’s speed was a bit too slow for me!
I did the original work on this trip and had got a lot done but had to stop due to “proper” work commitments. All that was needed was to find a hotel in Bremen. The way we did this at the time was to get a list of all the hotels in the city and send faxes to them to acquire prices. I’d ignore the top two or three because they would usually be too expensive. I had no luck at all in finding a place.
I handed all my work over to Chris McFarlane, and he carried on looking for a hotel. He immediately faxed the top one and got a good price. We usually work out trips by saying a hotel per night cost should be about £30.00 per person at the most. Chris got a price for the top hotel in Bremen for £32.00 – we booked it.
When the coach pulls into a hotel, the organiser will go in ahead of everyone to make sure the rooms are ready. I went into the marble-lined foyer and saw a woman walking along in a full-length fur coat, small dog in hand. I knew we were in for a treat. They had a piano and singer in the bar (God help them later!).
Best of all though, it was next to the fair, so when it ended at around midnight, guess where everyone who’d made good use of the beer tent headed? I am sure if we phone them and try and book rooms now, it’ll be full!