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cfc last won the day on December 7

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  • Birthday 02/16/1960

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  1. Part 15 An Identity Crisis and Dueling Infinity Coasters: Power Park Puzzled strangers are nothing new on Theme Park Review trips. Here’s a case in point. We flew to this rather small airport in northern Finland en route to the country’s (and I imagine the world’s) northern-most theme park--Power Park. The group was hanging out at baggage claim when I noticed this, I presume, Finnish gentlemen in a suit and tie staring at us in astonishment. It was as though he couldn’t believe that anyone who wasn’t Finnish would fly here unless they absolutely had to on business. Hey, fun is very serious business. Sometimes, fun requires you to wear a fire suit! So, off we went from the adorably cute little aerodrome to Power Park . . . or was that “Powerland”? The resort and park bear both names. From what I’ve gleaned, “Powerland” started out as the amusement section of the Power Park resort. However, over the years the “Powerland” name was dropped, and the whole place--hotel, go kart tracks, stables, and amusement park--became known as “Power Park.” But I could be mistaken. Power Park boasts two Gerstlaurer Infinity Coasters: Junker and Pitts Special. Junker is a launched ride with a sprawling layout, some inversions, and plenty of airtime. Pitts Special has a vertical chain lift, a twisty layout with no inversions, and some decent airtime. The rides are next-door neighbors. When you see all that green track from the park’s go-kart grandstands, it looks like it’s all one ride. Everyone seemed to love Junker, but were more indifferent to Pitts Special. I look at it this way: Junker is great ride, while Pitts Special is a good one. There was a TPR Gran Prix this year. I drove in the 2009 version and found that I wasn’t a “go-kart guy” (I also had the worst time of anyone on the track that day, as I’m far too cautious). But Power park had plenty of other attractions to offer, such as Thunderbird (an old GCI built in 2006) and a fun Wild West shooting dark ride in a haunted saloon. (Yes, like other Scandinavian parks, Power Park has its own western town.) Start your engines and come on in. The cleverly named “Park Hotel.” It’s actually quite nice. The photo of the photo session of the video session of the TPR Gran Prix. I’m dizzy just from writing that. See all that green, twisty Gerstlaurer track? It's two Infinity Coasters that seem to merge into one! Perhaps Power Park is a portal to the Multiverse! I think the train in the foreground (red stripe) is Pitts, while the train in the background is Junker. But it’s really hard to tell from this vantage point. Is "Powerland" the alternate-universe "Power Park"? We’re not talking “junker” as in your cousin’s old 1980 Chevette. This is “Junker” as in the old WWII German airplane. A dramatic shot of Junker in flight, diving out of the sun, strafing an enemy airfield . . . well, maybe not that. Pitts Special cannot do this. Reactions range from “whee” to “why did I get on this thing?” Put me in the “whee” group. I really liked this ride. Time to unleash the group on an unsuspecting park! (Photo by Robb Alvey.) Neo’s Twister is a ride that exists. The fact of its existence is neither “good” nor “bad.” It simply “is”--and that’s enough. Bill Maher in a cowboy hat doing a set in Vegas--Finnish style. “You gonna flip them flippers or whistle ‘Dixie’”? It’s a truck and a restaurant? O brave new world with such people in it! “I’m Jack Palance. And tonight, you’re going to ride a Vekoma Boomerang that doesn’t actually try to kill you! Believe it . . . or else!” Joyride. It too exists. Like Neo’s Twister. This gives you a good look at Pitts’s weird “treble clef” element, which reminded me of Fury at Carowinds. At least that's how it looks from this angle. Thunderbird runs surprisingly well for a 17-year-old GCI. I like its nice sign and waterfall, too. It does, indeed, have hair time--if you provide the hair. “This here’s the wildest ride in the Finnish wilderness!” OK, this was apparently a somewhat uncomfortable section of track. (Photo probably by AJ or Andy.) I vote for the front row on Thunderbird. (Photo probably by AJ or Andy. Or maybe Elissa. I forget.) So that’s what happened to WDW’s old Tower of Terror billboard. Let’s have another look at Pitts Special. It’s the best Infinity Coaster at Power Park that isn’t Junker. OK, I kid--it’s a fun ride. It’s also endearingly bowlegged. Here’s another ride that happened, but I’m not sure it exists as more than a hallucination. There’s this little indoor mall near the park with a collection of unusual cars--such as James Bond’s Lotus from The Spy Who Loved Me. You get a nice view of the park’s skyline on the walk back from the mall. Before we bid a fond farewell to Power Park . . . . . . here’s one last look at Junker.
  2. Part 14 The Park with a Monster in a Subway: Grona Lund It’s been awhile since I updated this trip report, but before I get started about TPR’s latest visit to Grona Lund, I’d like to express my condolences to the families of the victims and to the park over the tragic accident on Jetline, which happened just a few days after our group had departed Stockholm. To the best of my knowledge, there hasn’t been a final report about what happened, and the ride remains closed. Like Kolmarden, I’ve written a lot about Grona Lund over the years. I’ve visited this park a few times with TPR, and I like the place quite a bit. Even so, there has been a big change at the park since my last visit: Monster, the park’s B&M inverted coaster. When I was there with TPR a few years ago, they gave us a construction tour when the ride station was just a concrete-lined, partly flooded hole in the ground. I’m happy to say that Monster is even better than I’d expected. I love how it swoops over the park, just barely missing the roofs of buildings. There’s even a surprising pop of airtime at one point (not something you expect in a B&M invert) and this cool little “carousel” bit it does at the park boundary. The concrete-lined hole from a few years ago now resembles an old-time subway platform. Monster was definitely worth a solo “Zen ride.” I took one during an ERT session. It was quite a nice experience with just the B&M “roar” for company and some great views of the Stockholm waterfront. Let’s move on to the photos of TPR’s day at Grona Lund. You may see guys in wet t shirts--you have been warned. Morning ERT is serious business, as you can tell from Steve and Big Mike’s expressions. In case you hadn’t heard, this park kind of likes towers. So, you have to walk upstairs to get into the subway to ride Monster? Makes perfect sense. This station needs a barbershop quartet, if they have such things in Sweden. Everyone can now claim that they have truly ridden a Monster. I can’t vouch for how much “stump thumping” occurred or who the “stump thumpers” were. All I know is that "stumps" were, indeed, "thumped." "Why don’t we call it ‘Soarin’ Over Grona Lund’”? “What the hell? A letter from Disney’s lawyers?” “Let’s stick with ‘Monster.’” This drop into the brakes before entering the station is pretty cool. Best final brake run anywhere. Intense, yes, but old geezers like me like it too. (Photo by Elissa, I think.) I don’t want any of you to be too nervous about Insane, but notice I’m not riding it. I think they kind of like it. “My god, what is happening?” Last known photo before they were spun into a different dimension. It appears we have a dissenting vote in the “Do you like Insane?” poll. “Really? We vote both vote ‘yes.’” How’s the Vilde Maus water challenge going, guys? Watch out for that hill! Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened to me, too. What? No water cups? Get the buckets ready. Welcome to one Insane workshop. Intamin in all its naked glory. “YOU THINK I AM INSANE? NO, IT IS YOU WHO ARE INSANE!” “OK, before you Insane guys start carving yourselves up with chainsaws, get your tickets and wristbands.” Er, lady? I don’t think you’re properly dressed for this particular fun-house obstacle. Good luck, men! I see you’re wearing appropriate attire. Eric nearly blends in. Soon he will be one with the FUN DIMENSION! This crazy slide/conveyor belt practically throws you over the side. Eric enters the Multiverse of Madness. When the Swedes build a “Tunnel of Love,” they build a real “Tunnel of Love.” I’ve always been impressed with how well they use space at Grona Lund. The harbor is pretty busy today. I’m glad the giraffe crane is still here . . . . . . as are the Swedish tacos. This Angry Bird went a bit off course. Twister is down for retracking, but I love the old-school sign and entrance. Look--it’s Sarah’s favorite attraction! Just knock on the door, Sarah. Your host will be with you shortly. The “troll tree” is still here, but I guess it doesn’t shoot out flames anymore. I love how Monster just flies over its entrance. Joey has two balls. He is very proud. Elissa was not victorious in this challenge. Another beautiful, old-school ride entrance. Watch the ground rise up to meet you on Ikaros. The sun sets on another beautiful day in Stockholm. We'll be heading to Finland soon.
  3. Sheep? Hedgehog? For my money, the park is all about Fønix (and maybe the insane obstacle course and haunted funhouse).
  4. I just asked if they were replacing the trains during the Q&A, and they said they were sticking with the current trains. The trains they have now were made by S&S Worldwide according to the Roller Coaster Database.
  5. Busch Gardens’ Media Town Hall: Loch Ness Monster--The Legend Lives On & More The Loch Ness Monster has been thrilling park guests since 1978. For many Virginia locals, this was the first “big” coaster they ever rode. If any ride can be considered an “icon” for Busch Gardens, it’s the Loch Ness Monster, with its interlocking loops and cave helix. This weekend, BGW’s pass members have a chance to take a last ride on Nessie before she shuts down for a big makeover. Park president Kevin Lembke discussed some of these changes at a “Media Town Hall” on Friday, November 3. Here’s a glimpse at what’s being planned for the ride when it reopens in spring 2024: “All-new theming and innovative effects throughout ride experience.” Innovative Studios will be providing the new thematic elements. “Over 900 feet of steel track replaced (3,240 ft. total).” Premier provided the new track. BGW is working on a way to provide “souvenir pieces” of the old track in 2024. “Enhanced queue experience with added storytelling.” This won’t be the first time the park has “beefed up” the queue. The lower queue section, used on busy days, has been sporting an expedition camp for years now. It’ll be interesting to see how they expand on this concept. The park also put new trains on the Loch Ness Monster in 2018. But there’s more than just the Loch Ness Monster renovation going on at Busch Gardens--Christmas Town begins on Friday, November 10! Here are a few details about how the park plans to ring in the holidays this year: “Gloria” will returning to the Abbeystone Theatre in Killarney. “Wiseman,” a new singing trio, will be performing at the theatre in Italy. The “Polar Pathway” (Escape from Pompeii) will feature synchronized lights and music, and the “O Tanenbaum” show in Germany is getting an upgrade, too. A “Build a Bear” shop will be open in England. The Virginia Beer Company is brewing a Christmas Town Stout. All this, in addition to the millions of lights, classic holiday shows, and special Christmas fare the park offers each season. The Squire’s Grill in England is also being renovated. When this work is finished, the old “buffeteria” will resemble a rustic, old-time English tavern. A new food venue, the Catalina Grill, is also coming to Water Country USA. And lest we forget, 2024 will mark the 15th anniversary of Christmas Town and the 25th anniversary of Howl-o-Scream. We’ll hear more about this later. Busch Gardens Williamsburg in early November, when Howl-o-Scream and Christmas Town collide! HOS closed on Halloween, so there are still a few traces of the "Jack Is Back" show in Killarney. The park's presentation was in the Abbeystone Theatre. Park president Kevin Lembke looks ready for Christmas Town. I took my "last ride" on Friday. Drumroll please. This is the only piece of "concept art" they showed us. The rest is still under wraps, but they are planning something for the big cave helix. Pantheon will be running during Christmas Town, as will four other coasters. The new Christmas Town Shows. Time for a quick photo with the Big Guy . . . . . . before taking a "last ride." Up they go to whatever fate awaits them! The first drop to the "loch." Loop # 1! Emerging from the cave . . . . . . and into loop #2. Back to the station. Don't forget--Christmas Town starts next Friday! You can't ride the Loch Ness Monster during Christmas Town, but you can hang it on your Christmas tree. Thanks for reading.
  6. Part 13 Hey, It's an Old Park for TPR: Kolmarden I've been to Kolmarden a few times with TPR in the past, so I'm not sure how much more I can tell you about it now. It's still a great zoo with Wildfire, one of the RMC's best creations, which careens around natural rock formations and beautiful woods. The park is also mind-numblingly, blister-inducing big. It takes between 30 and 40 minutes to walk from the main entrance to Wildfire on some steep, hilly paths, which provided the biggest challenge to Barry and his comrades after the Skara Sommarland incident. Seriously--you need decent walking shoes for this park. I can't really add much here to what I've previously written about Kolmarden, but here are a few highlights: Wildfire is still amazing, both on the ride and backstage. We got a nice behind-the-scenes tour of Kolmarden's gondola safari, including the big engines that run it and the place where they store the gondolas at night. The park offers a fun opportunity to "camp out " (or perhaps "glamp") next to their wildlife habitats. We got a good look at the campsite when the group went there to feed their giraffes as part of a wildlife tour. The pictures and captions will tell the rest of the story of our great day at Kolmarden. Enjoy! Zombie mastodons can be dangerous--watch yourselves! Happy Halloween! So, their way is the highway? How novel! Who's ready for something you apparently can't do at Busch Gardens Tampa at the moment? Hey! Big-ass body of water! You're distracting from my view of Wildfire! "Whoever splattered me with this white stuff is gonna get the horns, I swear to god!" "I say, Cyril, you didn't spray paint the chap with the horns again, did you?" "Me? Er, why of course not. I'm too busy here, umm, enjoying these . . . sticks." "I'm a real zebra. Not like those phony ones in the old Tarzan flicks." They plunged into the mysterious fog and were never seen again. At least not in this dimension. One must step lively to take a backstage tour of Wildfire. "Welcome to Wildfire! Who's ready to lube a train?" Off they go. Back they come. Here we are at the nerve center of Wildfire. The train gave me permission to take this photo. "You sure you want to let those guys in here, sir? They'll see the BIG BOARD!" Here we have an example of "forced perspective." Is Wildfire's wheel really big, or is Robb's head really small? The only thing better than taking a tour of Wildfire . . . . . . is taking a ride on Wildfire. One of the best rides in Europe.. It's tough to beat this natural setting for a coaster. Who's ready to go behind the scenes at the safari ride? Watch your step. Here's where they store the gondolas after closing. The chords are for recharging the on-ride narration, which is offered in multiple languages. This ladder is even steeper than those stairs. This is like climbing around inside a battleship. "Yep--the lion dragged him down there. Well, half of him, anyway." Looks like something out of a 1970s sci-fi movie. "Captain! We canna maintain this speed much longer!" Is this the best theme-park "safari"? Possibly. It gives Kilimanjaro Safaris at DAK a run for its money. " Just call me 'Skull Loki.'" Aw, this coaster is so adorable! Who doesn't love dolphins . . . except for sharks? And orcas? "Hi. We're chimps and we're ready for some flingin' if you catch my drift." OK, who's up for some bear baiting . . . I mean feeding? Welcome to Camp Crystal Lake. Shot from Jason's point of view. "Oh, I'm so glad you're still alive. Pay no attention to the man in the hockey mask. Now you can give me some of those delicious pellets." "After you've fed us, we really don't care." "Yes, Jason can decapitate or eviscerate you then. It's totally fine." "Yes, you'd better move along. Jason is not known for his patience." Do not let his adorable, dreamy appearance fool you. This is a Satanic Raccoon! Die, panda wanna-be, die! They still have the half-buried bus where the tigers can whiz on you. "Could you toss me a small child? There's a good chap." One last look at Wildfire before we head out.
  7. I think this is good choice. This will be a nice change of pace after all the "family launched coasters" they've been building at the other parks.
  8. Little late answering this, but it's Drachen Fire's old maintenance barn. They've used it for Howl-o-Scream mazes, but now I think it serves as a dressing room.
  9. Part 12 Hey, It's a New Park for TPR: Furuvik Furuvik is another part of the Swedish theme-park empire that also encompasses Grona Lund, Kolmarden, and Skara Sommarland. Like Kolmarden, its much larger cousin, Furuvik is a zoo with a small collection of rides. Unlike Kolmarden, all the rides are gathered in one spot called the "Tivoli," so you don't have to hike to two or three miles to get to them. The main attractions in the Tivoli are two Vekoma family coasters: Lightning (a fun launched ride with cool-looking, kind of retro trains) and Fireball (one of those Family Boomerangs that have been sprouting like dandelions all over the place recently); there's a family "dragon" coaster, as well (it's a Zierer--just for a change of pace, I guess). They even have a Sally "Boo Blasters" type dark ride with a nicely themed queue to round out their collection of flats and carnival games. But the zoo is the main attraction here. Furuvik has an interesting mix of habitats, ranging from a Swedish farm to an island for primates to enclosures for camels and other hooved beasts. Even the zoo contains a few odd attractions. There's a somewhat creepy boat ride that winds through a mysterious cave and abandoned village (not sure if there were supposed to be live animals there). They also have a little obstacle course where people ride hobby horses. The zoo is working on rebuilding its image following an unfortunate incident involving some escaped chimps earlier this year (Google it if you're curious). But they still have a fair-sized collection of orangutans. You can even walk among some of the smaller primates in both indoor and outdoor habitats. The name "Furuvik" means "pine bay" in English, and it certainly lives up to it. The park sits in a forest by the sea, and there's a nice spot where you can hang out by the water. There's even a museum there devoted to coastal defenses. This makes sense, as Russia isn't too far--just on the other side of the bay. They have a cat as a mascot? I like this place already. All zoos should have a Tivoli. Behold the power of neon! Art Deco lives at Furuvik! Sarah looks rather blissful sitting on what looks like a dynamo from a 1930s "Flash Gordon" serial. Hear that dynamo hum! Seriously, it looks like Emperor Ming the Merciless mounted some sort of death ray on the front of this train. Lightning is a good ride--thrilling for kids and fun for adults. For families, yes, but we old farts like it, too. (Photo by either AJ or Andy, I think.) I saw neither fire nor balls on this ride. But Vekoma Family Boomerangs are becoming a "thing," it seems. At least it's not themed to a gravy boat. Well, if you were disappointed by the lack of fire or balls earlier, here are some furries on a dragon-themed coaster. Well, may as well get in line . . . OH MY GOD! We must escape the furries! (Photo by . . . Elissa or Jere, I think?) OK, ghosts. We're gonna get all "Scooby Doo" on your ass! OK, everybody got that? His instructions are in Swedish, but I think it boils down to this: Aim your gun . . . . . . and blast the hell outta them ghosts! (Not sure who took this photo.) OK, all you Mystery Science Theater fans--sing along: "It's Joey the Lemur! The friend to mankind!" "I don't know about you, but this yellow stuff is getting me really high!" "Yes, you can walk under me, but be advised that I eat a rather high-fiber diet. You have been warned!" "Look into my eyez-z-z-z-z . . . you are in my power . . . you will accept me as your sovereign leader . . . understand?" It was a bit of a walk to the creepy boat ride. SNAKE! MONKEY! OH MY GOD! This boat ride would make a pretty good haunt. It's already kind of spooky. And the unstable boats add an extra thrill. There's a walk-through habitat full of critters, such as this white-headed saki. ( That's this animal's name according to the park's website). Looks like it's feeding time. "How about feeding me, pal? Just stick you hand down here." "OK, where's that lady with the food?" "I'm out here. Please don't try to tear my arm off this time." I think one orangutan is about to mug another orangutan. Meanwhile, back at Lightning, this bird seems oblivious to the peril it's in. "OH CRAP!" You'll be happy to know that the bird escaped unharmed. "Oh boy! Sticks and leaves! We camels love sticks and leaves!" "Hey, big boy, once you go camel you don't ever want to go back. Get me?" As I said earlier, "Furuvik" means "pine bay." "Yeehaw! Yahoo! And other such cowboy nonsense!" Thanks for a fun day, Furuvik. We hit this somewhat frightening single-rail alpine coaster on the way back to Stockholm. (Photo by Elissa.)
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