29th May – 13th June 2002
- Six Flags Marine World
- Paramount’s Great America
- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
- Six Flags Magic Mountain
- Universal Studios, Santa Monica Pier
- Knott’s Berry Farm, Adventure City
- Disney’s California Adventure
- Legoland, Mission Beach, Scandia
- Buffalo Bills, Las Vegas
- Grand Canyon, Speed, Stratosphere Tower
- Hoover Dam
White Knuckle Weekend 5
6-7th July 2002
- Blackpool Pleasure Beach, England
Standing Room Only 2
21st July 2002
- Drayton Manor, England
Oakwood Overnighter 4
2-3rd August 2002
- Oakwood, Wales
Pleasureland Hands on 6
7th September 2002
- Southport Pleasureland, England
A Jubilee Odyssey
21st September 2002
- Fantasy Island, England
- Bottons Pleasure Beach, England
Annual Club Meeting
Reviews & Reports
My highlight – seeing Colossus run, numerous times. I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to this ride so much – ten inversions does seem a tad excessive, but after seeing it run I have changed my view. It’s gonna be great!
The Colossus train practically crawled (and squealed) round on its first trip of the day! It was running a lot faster (and quieter) towards the end of the day when two guys from Intamin were taking a few trips on it. As we stood near the final turn into the station one of the riders gave the thumbs up – but it is his company’s creation – but I still hope he’s right!
Well done to everybody involved and a big thank you to Thorpe Park for letting us climb all over X and take all those pics and videos of the test rides of Colossus.
We were split into two groups to walk around the park in its undressed state. All the water rides were dry, and a lot of work was going on. We went inside X:\No Way Out (now referred to as just X), and climbed all over it, literally. Many of us climbed the stairs to the top section of the ride (where the backward and forwards shunting and water sprays occur).
Next we walked to Canada Creek, where we got more great views of Colossus in operation (at this point no-one had ever ridden the coaster!). We had a laugh when some of the sandbags split and fell out of the train during the consecutive in-line twists!
During the afternoon, Colossus carried its first ever passengers, two men from Intamin. They rode several times and seemed to love it! It screeched less and appeared to be running faster than earlier in the day. The signs were good! A few squeals of joy emanated from the in-line twist section of the ride, and one of the chaps gave a positive thumbs-up to show his approval. Apparently they were initially worried about whether the four consecutive in-line twists would be rough, but they commented that it was really smooth, with no ear bashing at all, and they were very happy! Looks to be a real hit for the park…and enthusiasts!
We had already been behind the scenes at Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures in the previous two years, so Thorpe Park was the obvious choice for the third. The fact that the ten-inversion Colossus was very near to completion was also a large draw!
Our base was in the paddleboat, next to what was then Colossus’ construction site. Every so often we’d hear the train go around, and on a few occasions the sound of it would be accompanied by a splash as the odd sandbag fell out into the lake when it was doing its four inline twists!
Our main guides for the day were Lee Glyde and James Paulding, who although working at Chessington, also knew their way around Thorpe. The group was split up so that the tour would be more efficient, with us all meeting inside X:\ No Way Out for a look around the ride with the lights on. We also got to see a test train that had forward facing cars.
After Tussauds purchased the park, their first ride was Tidal Wave; it was a big ride (for the UK) and let everyone know that Tussaud’s meant business, and Colossus really consolidated this. Tussauds has always had problems getting new rides of any size into Chessington World of Adventures, but with the purchase of Thorpe Park, another option was open to them.
Chessington would now be aimed at the family, with Thorpe going for the thrill seeking teenager and above. It was the perfect move, and now things are looking good for both parks as they expand into their own niches. The synergy between the two parks is perfect, so much so that 2004 sees the Samurai ride move over from Chessington to Thorpe, where it will find a more receptive audience.
Alton Towers & Drayton Manor Park
Reviews & Reports
This was the first Club outing for me and my daughter, and we were very pleased with the way the day went. We were on one of the first two or three trains out of the AIR station, before it started breaking down, so we managed to get a decent ride (without all the hanging around). I haven’t laughed that much on a ride for ages. We both loved it.
We are now no longer ECC-trip virgins! We had a very excellent day out – you lot are a fine bunch, and made me and my daughter very welcome!
Air has such a lame layout (laying on your back is the best bit), and low ride speed. Do we all put the blame at the door of B&M or Alton Towers for again buying “the first of a new generation” of coasters? I would sooner blame Alton than B&M. In a few years time, I can see this type of ride getting bigger, better, and faster, especially after it starts appearing in some US parks.
It was a shame that Air wasn’t working too well on our day, but then again, we all tried to make the most of it, and generally I think it was all still a good laugh and great fun. I felt very sorry for the Air ride ops. They took a lot of stick from customers. I saw two people go absolutely mad with the staff.
Nemesis of course, was absolutely flying as usual, and is still an awesome ride even though it’s eight years old. I was pleased at the end of the day when I managed the second last ride of the day. When we got back to the station, there were still a few people waiting, so four other ECC members and I asked if we could stay on for the final ride, and we were all shocked when they said yes! Special thanks to the Nemesis rides ops for giving us this extremely rare pleasure.
As for Drayton, I enjoyed it very much, and the Golden Nuggets ERS was great fun, and was such a good laugh. The Shockwave ERS was good, and trying it backwards was a strange experience.
Also for Drayton Manor to invite us back to try out Apocolypse’s Fifth Dimension Car for free was very impressive.
I would like to thank John, Justin, James and the rest of the team for an excellent weekend, Drayton definitely made up for Alton. The only moan I have about the trip is the food at Alton, we would have been better going to one of the fast food outlets as thats what it basically was.
Drayton’s Lunch – just like Mum’s. Especially amazing were the Dutch lads on our table, trying to get their heads round Mint Sauce, is it for dessert or main course? Quote – “You English guys put vinegar with everything” – this is good coming from people who have Mayonnaise with Chips!
My experience of Air was mixed. I only managed one ride during the day (when we went back to ride it later they had shut the queue), so it was difficult to judge it properly. I rode at the back, and enjoyed the ride. It was nowhere near as intense as the Vekoma flying coaster I had ridden (X-Flight in Ohio), but was very re-rideable. I think that when they get the problems with the restraints and sensors resolved it will be a big hit.
Saturday was fun! We found a new game to play at the end of the day – hunt the ECC- but couldn’t find any of you. It was sort of a last ditch attempt to overcome my shyness and sort out the DMP part of the trip but to no avail. Silly me, I know.
For years members had been requesting a trip to Alton Towers. We’d had several abortive attempts previously, but mainly due to the prohibitive costs it never got off the ground.
This year, thanks to the help of James Lloyd, we managed to get a good price. We planned the trip for the second weekend of the season to ride the new B&M Flying Coaster Air. Both Nemesis and Oblivion had opened on time, so we didn’t expect any problems. We arranged two ERSs; one on Air in the morning, and one on Nemesis for the evening.
Unfortunately, due to a mix up by the Alton staff, we were double booked with another corporate function and as their pay cheque was bigger than ours, we were “bumped” on to Oblivion for our evening ERS. This annoyed me a great deal because we’d had the trip booked for months and we were only told of the itinerary change a few weeks prior to the trip.
Upon arriving at the park we knew we were going to have problems. There was no one from Alton to meet us at the gate and no one there knew we were coming! Air was down so we went over to ride Nemesis with the hotel guests.
The lunchtime meal was OK, a little overpriced for what was essentially burger and chips, but the staff were very polite and courteous. Still no one from Alton to meet us.
Our evening ERS on Oblivion was enjoyable apart from the fact that we were made to run round the queue each time. We pleaded with the ride-ops to allow us to stay on the platform but they didn’t give in.
Unfortunately, Apocalypse was down for our second day at Drayton Manor so we were offered Golden Nuggets as an alternative. Thanks to Robert Harries, we instigated a sharp shooter contest with the highest score receiving a camera as a prize. The hour was a huge success.
The customary lunch was excellent and then to a great cheer in the evening Colin Bryan announced we could all come back later in the year for free because Apocalypse had been down all day. What a man, and what a park.
After the bitter taste Alton had left in my mouth from the day before, Drayton Manor certainly offered a fantastic sweetener. Drayton won hands down that weekend and you can see why we visit year after year.
CoasterBahn – Expedition Europa
Steinwassen Park, Europa Park, Holiday Park, Stuttgart Frühlingsfest, & Tripsdrill
Reviews & Reports
Steinwasen is a small but beautiful park in the Black Forest built on the side of a mountain. And it’s great!
The racing slide was cool and fast. A few members managed to fall off, including our new Chairman but fortunately the injuries weren’t too serious.
The powered sled was possibly the best ride at the park. You basically sat in a bobsled in a “gulley” and you could either accelerate or decelerate by pulling/pushing on a lever. The track contained straight sections and helixes and also had a few “duelling” spots with cars infront or behind you. It was fast, furious and great fun!
The morning at Europa Park was spent with my mouth wide open. The theming at the park is second to none. Every nook and cranny is themed – nothing is a compromise.
At Holiday Park the next day, we met with Werner Stengel at 10:30, I was shaking like a leaf, but my nervousness ceased after it was immediately apparent that he was just a normal down to earth bloke. He was being followed by a German TV crew for a prime-time coaster show. He told us lots of interesting stories about ride dynamics – he is a real coaster “God.” There is very little in the theme park industry that he hasn’t been involved in.
After our tour of Europa, nearly everyone dashed to SilverStar where the queue was only 20 mins. SilverStar was an excellent ride and most people seemed to be impressed by it. It has some great moments of airtime especially on the drop. However I couldn’t help but notice the ride is actually quite rough, and that’s unusual for a B&M especially when it’s only been open for one month. Still a wonderful B&M Coaster however.
We also had an unofficial takeover of the Rapids with a twist. Some members decided to buy a bunch of Water Balloons and throw them at the people controlling the water guns. As I was in the first boat out, some members were waiting to ambush our boat from the queue line, and when they attacked, we attacked back. It was all great fun, but I came off quite soaked. We had also used up most of our water bombs before we got to the people controlling the guns so we missed them.
At Holiday Park, after an unfortunate delay, it was time for GeForce and what a superb ride it was. The first drop is insane. It was incredibly smooth, the airtime was amazing, and the g forces were amazing. This is nearly the perfect coaster and I was certainly impressed. Seeing as I have ridden Millennium Force, and comparing the two coasters, it is certainly tough. MF is clearly built for speed, and GeForce is clearly built for airtime. Overall, they are both amazing coasters. Is this Europe’s best coaster though? Well it certainly ranks up there with the best of them that’s for sure, and I think I would have to say yes (just), while I still enjoyed SilverStar a lot, GeForce is just a little bit better.
A quick reiteration of what everyone was saying – what a fantastic trip! Great fun and certainly my best to date.
I loved the uniqueness of all the parks and their attractions. Not a case of day one visiting a park with a corkscrew and a boomerang, a few spinners and then to found the same at another park the following day. This has happened a few times on previous trips but that isn’t meant as a criticism – It’s an observation that on this trip we really visited some unique attractions. I can’t think of even a single attraction that was common to those parks we visited and this for me added a great deal to the trip.
SilverStar – wow, what a ride. It’s wonderful. I will always remember riding the back row with my eyes closed the whole way round. What an experience!
G’sengte Sau at Tripsdrill is a great little coaster, with tight turns and three consecutive bunny hops with good airtime. We were allowed to see the maintenance area, and to stand underneath the station track when cars were arriving – the only warning when a car came in was being told to duck! The water-carrying in glasses (!) was also fun for those who did it – I don’t think many people came back with any water left at all.
A good log flume, complete with a room full of nude figures and a rapids themed as a washing machine were also good. Both the queue lines for these two rides were also excellent; almost museum like, with exhibits and in the case of the rapids, a history of the washing machine, complete with old models made of wood and worked by hand.
I can’t go without mentioning the toilet takeover! We all went to use the brand new toilets near the log flume, and the marketing manager, who was taking us round the park asked if we had seen the pictures in the ladies toilets. Well, we didn’t need asking twice – everyone piled in there and opened every cubicle door, and sure enough, there were some pictures of scantily clad females on the back of each of them!
Reviews & Reports
Thanks for another great trip. Really good fun at Thorpe, even though Colossus was less well lubricated than some of those riding it! Thank god I had a waterproof with me – Tidal Wave was a soaker but nothing like as wet as the log flume – which saw Trips Monkey pouring water over those who sat in front of him in the log!
All of you that survived 19 or 20 goes on Colossus deserve a medal. A couple of goes in a row was enough for a “normal” person like me! Vortex was my favourite ride of the day – great fun – and of course X which was, well, indescribable really. Could someone please explain it to me?
Who won the chunder challenge indeed? Me! The bruises have already appeared on my shoulders.
It was a very tough competition. A more vicious way of weeding out riders will be needed next time me thinks!
Shortly after 09:00 we went into the park and had a 30 minute ERS on Vortex. It really is a great ride and possibly the most enjoyable/sociable ride in the park. If the gondola were to rotate a little faster then it would be a world class ride! Most people seemed to enjoy the session.
I had a few goes on Colossus straight after the ERS and noticed that it had become a little rougher than earlier in the year. There was noticeable vibration in the car too. I still think that there’s one in-line twist too many!
It is a great ride for the park and with the combination of the new ride next year I really believe Thorpe will overtake Alton as the UK’s best Theme Park.
Next up was an X ride. A few of the group had never ridden X, so we “treated” them to the experience. The look of disappointment and bemusement after the ride summed it up for me. Just what is the point of the ride and why did I ride it again?
Lunch approached and I’m happy to say that the meal was far superior to the one given at Alton. The staff were friendly and the burgers were top notch. Jim Lawrence took the chance to fleece a few people for merchandise during the break!
We had a take-over of Tidal Wave shortly after lunch and we had a whole boat to ourselves. Justin, Martian, Steve and I took the front seat but ducked just as the boat hit the water which ensured the people behind us got drenched. I was amazed because I got off the ride relatively dry.
Next up was a Logger’s Leap takeover by a few members. It’s from here that my memory gets a bit cloudy but I’m sure there was an irresponsible idiot near the back of our “log” that kept throwing water onto the people in front. If I ever catch that person then I’d like to shake his hand! The water fight that ensued was mental and we got off wetter than after riding Tidal Wave!
This was our first visit to Thorpe where we could ride – we had the AGM there earlier in the year. The reason for the trip to Thorpe Park was simple – Colossus. The UK was once home to the longest coaster (the Ultimate) but it has since lost that title, so for a UK coaster to have the “world’s most inversions” was pretty impressive. To still have it is even more impressive, and it looks like keeping it for some time yet.
It was one of our most successful trips to date, as the park had really created a lot of interest, and rightly so. Colossus was a big hit, although an odd vibration had started to make itself apparent. During the ERS we had a competition to see how many rides could be got in one hour. We all expected plenty of people not to be able to make every ride possible, but amazingly some did! The top amount was 21, which meant riding every other train of the two train ERS. Some people are mad!
The day also included a 30 minute ERS on Vortex, their KMG Afterburner. It’s a Spin ride that doesn’t spin much, so is accessible to a wide range of people – myself included. It’s a very sociable ride for an ERS, with everyone facing each other.
Luckily for me Thorpe is my local park, so to see the levels on investment being lavished upon it is even more pleasing. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Nemesis was being built, and Europe got its first B&M. The idea at this point of the small family park in Staines getting one as well was ludicrous. X:\No Way Out was still two years away!
May – June 2002
Six Flags Marine World, Paramount’s Great America, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Universal Studios Hollywood, Santa Monica Pier, Knott’s Berry Farm, Adventure City, Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, LEGOLAND California, Mission Beach, Scandia, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, & Hoover Dam
United States of America
Reviews & Reports
Europa Park, Stuttgart Volksfest, Oktoberfest, Mirabilandia, & Gardaland
Germany & Italy
Reviews & Reports
I left early on Sunday morning from the Netherlands for the 7-day, 3-park, 2-fair trip. The first stop would be Europa Park, and when I arrived, it was pretty busy. The park closed at 19:30, when I went to the restaurant for a very nice dinner, that can best be described as “top-notch”. The coach arrived from Britain later that evening after which a fair few of us went to the bar on the top floor of the hotel for chats, drinks and plain fun.
The next morning we had an early breakfast and met with Michael Kreft, who invited us for some exclusive park time. He escorted us through the exits of Euro-Mir (3 circuits), Poseidon (2 circuits), Euro Sat (2 circuits) and Matterhorn Blitz. We had lunch at the Baltasar Castle.
It is always great to return to Europa Park, from the moment you arrive it is as if you are covered by this huge blanket that says, “welcome”. The Mack family certainly know how to treat their guests. The park is truly an amazing place, having a great mix of rides, shows and attractions, great food and friendly staff.
Next day was Munich and Oktoberfest, something you just have to see to believe. Imagine tents three stories high with themed facades, as long as two football fields full (and I mean packed) with partying people eating and drinking (in the first weekend over one million litres of beer had been sold!)
After sampling a few rides, most notably the amazing StarWorld indoor spinner, Olympia Looping (amazingly smooth for a transportable) Euro Star (amazingly rough for a transportable) we went back to the hotel. The next morning we left Munich for Italy.
Mirabilandia was certainly better than expected and the park has a great feel to it, with nicely themed areas, good rides, food and shows. We were welcomed by the park’s PR with a stunning breakfast buffet after which we had an hour on Katun (amazing ride, very good pacing, nicely themed, probably as good as Montu).
Sierra Tonante is a good woodie, a bit shaky down the first drop, and one vicious turn where you think it should really be going straight on.
Then off to Gardaland, I had expected a lot of this park and it really did not deliver. OK, it looks very nice, with impressive landscaping and some of the rides are very good, but quite honestly we had seen it all in three short hours.
Some of the themed areas look stunning. The Mexican/Aztec themed river rapids is easliy one of the best looking ever. The ride is fun, with some sprays here and there, which can be adjusted for the weather. However right next to the ride is Blue Tornado, a Vekoma SLC. Its Top Gun theming is in itself quite nicely done, but next to an Aztec Temple and a Volcano, it looks very much out of place.
Overall it was a great trip, highlights certainly were Europa Park and Mirabilandia and meeting up with old and new friends.
“Many Thanks” to all who had anything to do with the arrangements for “The Italian Job.” It was a first class trip in all respects. The rides were good, our hosts were most generous and the accommodation was clean and comfortable. The trip proved a good mix of fairs and parks showing the “Brits” how it should be done. (We have a lot to learn in all areas).
I hope that everyone else had a great time, Claire and I certainly did. Although I would have preferred a little less time on the coach, but it was all worthwhile for the trip, as we visited three very good parks; two good fairs and saw some very nice scenery.
It was nice to get back to Europa Park and finally stay in the hotel, which was excellent! I had been to Europa Park last year so only the Globe Theatre, Poseidon and Kassandra (Haunted Swing) were new to me. The Globe Theatre is a good reproduction of the original Shakespeare theatre. The new Greek area includes Kassandra, a good haunted swing, and Poseidon, a superb Mack Water Coaster. The theming is excellent, and the coaster elements separate it from other water rides with swooping drops and banked turns that add a lot to the thrill of the ride which does NOT soak you! There was work going on to theme the ride between the station and the first lift, and the Greek village still needed to be done.
Stuttgart fair was very good and we had free rides on Alpina Bahn and enough time to sample the other rides and beer. This seemed to be a better ride fair than Oktoberfest. Rides there included a double Wild Mouse, Wild Wasser 3 (large log flume), two big wheels, dark rides, walk throughs, a Maurer power tower and numerous spin rides.
Oktoberfest was smaller than usual this year as an agricultural fair was being held next to it. I only sampled four rides and two beer tents; Jumping (Huss Jump one of the better ones), Star World (good as ever), Olympia Looping (ditto) and Fighter (Mondial Swinger upon which I saw people being sick on almost every ride). Other rides included Wild Mouse, Sound Factory (suspended Polyp style ride but the gondolas are no longer able to rotate through 360 degrees) Flying Carpet, ghost trains, spin rides and a bar that was on a rotating platform.
Mirabilandia was a nice park with some good rides; Katun, Sierra Tonante, Space Shot and Turbo Drop, car themed Log Flume, Wild Mouse, and a wet splash down. Katun was excellent in a well themed Mayan area, the ride is intense and well paced. Sierra Tonante was a good woodie, again a well paced ride with harsh brakes at the end. The Turbo Drop was the first that I have done and what a ride! Other coasters included a good Italian Mine Train, powered coaster and a Big Apple.
Gardaland was nice and home to Blue Tornado, an extended Vekoma SLC with the extra helix. Other coasters included a large Big Apple style coaster and a Vekoma double loop double corkscrew coaster. Other rides included a strange cable car where you stood up in a basket, a well themed Rapids and Log Flume, a viewing tower, a small themed Giant Drop, a motion base cinema, an excellent Egyptian style dark ride and another excellent pirate style water ride. Due to planning problems, the latter three rides are all underground.
I would like to go back and do the parks and fairs again sometime soon, but I would not dash back to Oktoberfest. OK it was good and worth doing but there are better fairs in Germany; Stuttgart, Bremen and Düsseldorf of the ones that I have been to. But Oktoberfest is one of those things that you need to do at least once in your life to experience it.
The journeys through Austria and Switzerland took us though some picturesque spots; Brenner Pass, Europa Bridge and a 17km tunnel.
Thanks to all involved for a great trip. Thanks also to Werner Stengel and the Bruchs for their hospitality.
This was our first trip to Europa Park, a park that has become a regular on our trip schedule now. It was also timed to take in both the Stuttgart Fair, and Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is a fair that, while packed with rides, is not that enjoyable due to the crowds. It is something that everyone should ideally do once in his or her lifetime though.
The trip then pushed south into Italy – we’d followed the construction of Katun at Mirabilandia, so we knew we had to go there at some point.
We did learn from this trip that the distance travelled – it was entirely a coach trip – was just too much. After this we started to fly on bigger trips. It adds little cost to the overall price, but you save on the coach price, and maybe even an extra night in a hotel.
Hands On IV
Southport Pleasureland & Knowsley Safari Park
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.