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The Great Zo

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Everything posted by The Great Zo

  1. I have definitely, absolutely, never seen a spinning mini-golf hole before. Now I have.
  2. Yep, nothing like it anywhere else I'm aware of. BGT, I guess, but that doesn't really compare. I like a good hike. Thanks!
  3. Alright, we've done animals, we've done kiddie coasters... ...we're all here for Wildfire. A beautiful ride sign for a beautiful coaster. You want some facts about Wildfire? We've got facts about Wildfire. I'm going to start with a few wide-angle shots from the last trip, just because I didn't get much of that in 2019. Here's a nice view from behind the lift. (photo from 2016) Looking up at Wildfire's imposing structure from the marine area. As coasters go, this one looks good. (photo from 2016) Heading down on that impressive first drop. (photo from 2016) The rocks are not far below. (photo from 2016) Ah, the zero-g stall. So much fun to ride, but so hard to photograph. Maybe I'll get some better shots later... (photo from 2016) This is kind of a moody pic from early in the day in the 2016 visit, but I love the colors of the wood with the darker skies behind. (photo from 2016) In 2016, we got to do one really interesting thing ... a visit to the lodge. (photo from 2016) The lodge is a little building nestled under the Wildfire structure. To be honest, I don't recall seeing it at all in 2019. Does the lodge even still exist? We met Parks and Resorts owner (and TPR forum member) Mattias Banker at The Lodge, for some fun info on Wildfire and a refreshing lunch. (photo from 2016) This picture, which hung in the lodge, is absolutely amazing. That's Mattias riding at front left, and, I believe, Fred Grubb of RMC at the back left. (photo from 2016) From the lodge, you also got some great views of how Wildfire was built right into the rocky terrain of Kolmården. (photo from 2016) Some interesting "behind the scenes" views of Wildfire as well. (photo from 2016) That's it from 2016 -- everything from here on out is new (well, newer) and previously unseen (unless you're on Twitter) so enjoy! We'll start from the station -- where any good coaster begins. And then, after a little turn around the top of the lift, the drop. The hair goes flying. You're out of your seat at this point. Great lighting on a beautiful day, so let's test out the zoom lens on the first drop. Kid in front-right is a little too calm. Because the people behind him are having a good one! Wildfire proved to be quite spectacular for rider reactions. Oh, the screams, and the lack of anything to actually hold on to. Having fun at the top of a 184-foot tall coaster. I'm enjoying the dad who's chillin' a bit too much in the front seat. Chillin' dad shows some excitement! Now that's a range of emotions. The marine area (and the Wildfire overflow queue) offer some nice views of the quick drops later in Wildfire's circuit. You will get some airtime. In other words, there will be some uplift. Hair just gets flying everywhere. Chillin' dad is still chillin'. How does he do it? Oh, and we've also got three inversions. Here's one of them, visible from the public area of the park. It's quite the twist. It's tricky to time out shots like this through a quick inversion -- you've gotta hit the shutter at the exact right moment. With light crowds, Wildfire was only running one train, but that kept the trains full, too. A photographic trade-off. There's a quick banked turn past the station, probably about 2/3 of the way through the ride. Just have to say -- Wildfire and Balder were responsible for virtually all of the near-wardrobe-malfunctions I accidentally photographed on the entire trip. A quick curve -- with a guest appearance by Chris and John in the back row! Hold on tight! Wildfire through the trees. I think I took this one from the Tiger habitat area. Finally, the turn into the brake run. Exhilarated riders. Excited riders! Exhausted riders. That's a lot of Wildfire. But wait ... there's more! All of the above pictures from 2019 were taken from the public areas of Kolmården. But we're not done yet. We got a trip backstage for some extra views of Wildfire -- and some new camera angles yet to be seen. We'll start with the first drop again -- this time, viewed above the trees from the west. That's a 161-foot drop. Great in any seat, but amazing in the back. Wildfire's structure is mostly wood, but there are some steel supports at the drop. A drop and a tree. This one was fun to compose in real time. A big curve somewhere in Wildfire's back half -- not even sure I remember exactly where. Up and around it goes. Supports below, trees above. An overbanked turn that passes near the Safari ride station. Here's another one of Wildfire's inversions -- from zoomed in very close. Wildfire's second and third inversions are both corkscrew-kinda things, though I'm not sure if that's the technical term for it. Flipped sideways. Restoring order right-side up. There is, however, one more inversion to go. Ah, here it is -- the zero-g stall. In my mind, even more so than the first drop, this is Wildfire's signature element. It's virtually impossible to photograph from the public areas of the park, but there are some interesting angles back here. Wildfire's zero-g stall is not just my favorite element on Wildfire, it's one of my favorite elements on any coaster. It's taken at just the right speed to make you feel truly weightless, while you're flipped totally upside down. If you tilt your neck up, you can watch the supports (and the ground) pass by below you ... but it feels like they're above you. It's almost surreal. So, I wanted to show a wide view of where I was set up for the next few shots -- along the ride's perimeter fence with a view up to the exit of the zero-g roll. Hello, bent 103B! The zero-g sequence begins. You lock into this straight, un-twisting position for a solid few seconds. Then, the twist on the way out. Right on into the next element. This is a zero-g stall the way they were meant to be taken! Alright, one more -- and maybe my favorite of the whole batch. Another shot that was tough to time out, and maybe the focus isn't perfect, but it's so wild to see the entire train flipped upside down through the stall. Well, that brings us to evening ERT and filming. I don't have much to share, because I was too busy riding, but the YouTube video tells the whole story. It was an amazing hour of coaster riding -- one of TPR's best ever. Also, no axes on the ride, please. If this is your view, you're in for a good time. I'm going to end this with a tweet from the TPR account -- a still image from the filming session. That was my view for our dozen-or-more consecutive rides on Wildfire. Seriously, does coaster riding get any better than that? That's all from Kolmården, and one of the most scenic coasters on the planet. We'll cruise on into Stockholm for the next installment at Gröna Lund.
  4. We've still got some more animals to visit. There are camels of the bactrian variety. Here's one taking a stroll. I'm going to call these animals by their proper name -- the Turkmenian kulan. But, really, they kind of look like donkeys, right? The kulan is closely related to donkeys, but they are not exactly donkeys. I think it's close enough for the purposes of noting that for all the donkey stuff at TPR, I've never actually posted any donkey stuff myself. So, here you go. Theme parks, roller coasters, and ... well, it's so close to being a donkey, it might as well be a donkey. We also have rhinos. Large rhinos and small rhinos. Well, they're both big, honestly. A rhino by the water. The unmistakable zebra... ...and another fine ostrich. A wider view of this enclosure -- one of the largest that isn't on the safari. This enclosure is partially encircled by pathways, so there are plenty of good places to view the animals from. There's also a two-level observation area, with plenty of information about the animals you're seeing. Honestly, what these last few pictures help to show is just how beautiful and well-designed Kolmården is. Everywhere around Kolmården, you'll see trees, hills, rocks, and little trails. It's like you're out enjoying nature. I think this one leads up to the highest point in the park -- about 116 meters / 381 feet above sea level. On the east side of Kolmården, there's an interpretive nature trail. This trail is also quite pretty, and includes some informational signs about the geology of the area. There are also some connections to other trails that I think might actually leave the park entirely. Two picnic tables overlooking the bay. As a reminder -- this is still very much part of Kolmården. It's as peaceful a scene as you'll find at any park or zoo like this. But really, are there any parks or zoos like this? Just to the south, closer to the park's main restaurant, there's an interesting area that wasn't open in 2016. It's a strange stone structure at another nice overlook. It's almost like it's designed to look like some kind of ancient temple. If you venture over here -- it's near the Kolmården church -- you'll be rewarded with more great views. There's also a bridge... ...but, sadly, the bridge was out. It was closed off and looked like it needed some repairs. Some of Kolmården's best views are from the rocks above the restaurant, or even down at the restaurant itself. We're probably 300 feet above Bråviken Bay from this vantage point. Why the rocky terrain? Here's the text from one of those informational signs. "In front of you and along the northern shore of Bråviken you can identify a steep vertical fracture in the bedrock. The Kolmårdenfault has an east-western direction and you can observe it also when travelling on the highway E4." Farms way off in the distance. Norrköping is somewhere off that way. A rocky shoreline across the bay. And, yes, yet another entry to this trip report with a church way off in the distance. Atop the rocks! Text from another sign: "The solid geology of Kolmården is very old. Different rocks were created 1800 million years to 1600 million years ago. Leptite, granite gneiss, veined gneiss and marble dominate among the rocks. Some of them e.g. the Graversfors Granite ("The Rose Swede") and the Kolmården Marble are well known rocks used e.g. in the Royal Castle of Stockholm and the UN-building in New York. Walking on a nearby trail you can see some of the rocks in Kolmården." It's easy to forget you're in a zoo or a theme park. But, the main pathways are never all that far away. There is a petting zoo! There's also Bamses Värld! This is the park's kids area, home to most of the rides at Kolmården. Bamse is a Swedish cartoon, based around the titular bear, Bamse. The Bamse franchise has been active since 1966. I think this is supposed to represent his house. (photo from 2016) Bamse is a big fan of dunderhonung (thunder honey) -- and we've got a kiddie teacups ride themed after it. (photo from 2016) Skalman (another character from the cartoon) gets the theme on this antique car ride. (photo from 2016) There's a rockin' tug as well. The theater in Bamses Värld is home for performances by the cast... ...and also meet-and-greets with the characters, including Bamse himself. (photo from 2016) There are also restaurants in Bamses Värld, including... ...this one. Mind out of the gutter, people. This translates to "grandmother's kitchen." We've got another kiddie credit, too. Here's Godiståget -- Swedish for "candy train." (photo from 2016) Godiståget is a 26-foot-tall Zierer Force 190. (photo from 2016) The train is very colorful. (photo from 2016) I caught Joe picking up the credit on the last trip! (photo from 2016) One more coaster at Kolmården -- Delfinexpressen. I'm not translating this one. (photo from 2016) Delfinexpressen is in the park's marine area, along with one other ride -- a pirate ship. Wildfire is on the hill above the two rides. (photo from 2016) Delfinexpressen is your basic Vekoma roller skater. (photo from 2016) Yep, it's got a dolphin on the lead car!
  5. Kolmården pictures! The majority of these pictures are from our visit on July 27, 2019. As with some of the other TR segments, I'll mix in some shots from the 2016 trip (July 1) to fill in a few gaps. An introduction ... beginning with a cool sign at the entrance to the park/zoo. Our first stop -- lunch at the Restaurang Safari. Not a bad view for a lunch break. Trees towering high on a cliff. Speaking of things towering high... ...ah, Wildfire. But we'll get back to you in a bit. We're going to start with the animals. Red Panda! I know of at least one person on the trip who loves red pandas. I know of at least one person on the trip who hated red pandas. I think they're pretty neat. They're kind of tough to photograph, but this one was mostly cooperating. Everybody on the trip loved rodents of unusual size. Say hello to the capybara. We have dry elephants. We have wet elephants. The white handed gibbons were entertaining to watch. This one's razzing the photographer. This gibbon is chilling. Yeah, I'm eating here, whaddya want. There are gorillas! There are chimpanzees! The chimps were pretty active. Just, uh, watch out for what they might fling out of their enclosure. (photo from 2016) Brown bears, having a good time. A curious meerkat! Some kind of wild boar / wild pig in the petting zoo area. There are goats, but they are not on the roof. This is a bontebok. I had to look that one up. Kolmården has a large collection of deer and antelopes and related species. I couldn't tell all of them apart, so just enjoy the pics I guess. There are many deer/antelope things. Two more in the bright sunlight. Interrupting a nice moment between parent and child. Sorry! One of the largest enclosures, with numerous large land animals, was also home to a huge flock of barnacle geese. They aren't listed as official zoo animals, but they're also not native to southern Sweden, so that's a little bit interesting. On the first trip to Kolmården, while getting out of some rain, we saw the park's dolphin show. (photo from 2016) I don't have very many pictures from the dolphin show, because it turns out our reserved seating was in the splash zone, and I thought wiser of it and put my camera away. (photo from 2016) Here's a very sleepy dhole -- a wild canine from southern Asia. The dhole were much more active when being fed on the first trip. (photo from 2016) The tiger enclosure is pretty impressive -- this is just one part of it. Wait, what's that old Russian bus doing in the middle of the enclosure? (photo from 2016) We had a special tour on the first trip, and got to go inside the bus. From this angle, it feels like we're the zoo animals! (photo from 2016) The whole thing is built out of an underground tunnel, allowing guests (and zoo staff) safe access. (photo from 2016) We got really up close and personal with the tiger feeding. (photo from 2016) That's one big cat. (photo from 2016) Ready for a closeup, too. (photo from 2016) Back to 2019, and the tigers are right where we left them. Just a hop and a skip... ...and make your way across the water. Two tigers! Three tigers! There are lions, too. We had a chance to see them up close on the first trip. I'll share a picture of a young one! (photo from 2016) We're barely scratching the surface on the animals at Kolmården, but to see even more, you'll want to take a ride on the Safari. Here's the view from near the entrance station -- it's a continuous run of open-air gondolas. They comfortably fit 4 people each, and can squeeze in more if necessary. Doppelmayr is the manufacturer -- same as the new-ish system at WDW. I even caught a wild Erik and Smisty modeling Gondola #7 for us! Here's a GPS track map of the path of the Safari ride. The station is at the southeast corner of the image. The whole path is about 1.65 miles (2.65 kilometers) in length. You'll get views of more than just animals -- Bråviken Bay looks quite nice. Oh, and some really unique angles of that little coaster called Wildfire. So, yes, there will be some Wildfire content in the "animals" part of the post. This still just doesn't look quite right. And yet, RMC makes it happen. You'd need the world's luckiest timing to get a train going through the course while you're up there. Oh, there's one. Enjoy your drop. It's pretty steep. Just before you disappear into the trees... The zero-g stall, and the scenery behind. Upside-down and weightless. Getting just a little too far away for a great shot of the turnaround... ...but I did snag one on the first trip! Wow, the wood's changed colors a bit over the course of three years. (photo from 2016) Oh sure, there's a view of the kiddie coaster too. Back to the animals! There are many you can see from the safari, including more deer and antelope and goat type things. I am not a zoologist, but this appears to be a picture of a shadow. Giraffes! I know this one! A wonderful lunch of tree stuff. Ostriches big and small. Especially small. (photo from 2016) Have you ever seen a baby ostrich? Now you have. (photo from 2016) The gnu were out. So was the moose. Caught the alpine ibex last time around. (photo from 2016) More brown bears, too. I think these are the males. This lion knows how to be photographed. Here's a wide view of what it looks like from a Safari gondola. The enclosures you're flying over are gigantic, with varied terrain and vegetation. It's also fun to see the spots where the gondolas cross over and under each other. There's a gondola on the first leg of the journey, passing closest to Wildfire. Late in the ride, you'll hit the highest point on the Safari -- with the best views of the landscape. We're pretty far above the rest of the Safari at this point. The scenery remains outstanding. Wildfire also remains outstanding. One more Wildfire view I barely got as we neared the end of the ride. Back down into the Safari station. Still a whole lot more of Kolmården to see!
  6. Saturday, July 27, 2019 Day 16: Kolmården Kolmården is a zoo. It's a really big, really awesome zoo. It's the kind of place I'd gladly visit on my own while traveling. It's maybe not, however, the kind of place you'd expect to find written up in a trip report on a theme park forum. But you're reading this at TPR, so you've likely already heard of Kolmården, and it's because of the big coaster investment they made in 2016: Wildfire. Before we get to Wildfire, here's some background on the zoo. Kolmården Wildlife Park opened in 1965, and was taken over by Parks and Resorts Scandinavia (also the owners of Gröna Lund) about 20 years ago. Kolmården was built in a densely forested, elevated rocky area on the northern shore of Bråviken Bay, a narrow inlet of the Baltic Seat. With respect to nearby cities, it's a little ways across the bay from Norrköping, and about 120km / 50mi southwest of Stockholm. Kolmården is quite large, even by standards of other large theme parks and zoos -- well over 200 acres if the Safari area is included. To put it another way, the walking distance from the park entrance to Wildfire (about as far as you can walk) is just short of a mile. As a zoo, Kolmården is quite impressive. It's maybe not the largest quantity of different animals you'll find, but the ones they have are generally kept in huge and elaborate enclosures. Pack your zoom lens -- you may need it to get shots of some of the animals that are far away from the pathways! Kolmården's size and setting work very well to its advantage in terms of beauty and openness. The pathways are wide, the trees and rocky outcroppings are everywhere, and until you run across a roller coaster or an animal, it's easy to forget you're in a zoo or ticketed park of any kind. There's not much to the "trip report" part of this post, so I'll keep it quick. We left Gothenburg early in the morning, arriving to Kolmården at about noon, and started off with a ride on Wildfire. After that, we had a group lunch at the park's main restaurant, and then split up to explore the rest of the property. We ended the night with an hour of Wildfire ERT/filming from 8PM to 9PM, then blasted ABBA Gold while cruising into Stockholm on the tour bus. Kolmården has two rides of note... Safari: The concept is simple here -- it's an incredibly long cable car / gondola ride over a variety of different animal habitats. What makes it so impressive is its remarkable scope and size. How big? The entire length of the circuit is 1.65 miles, and it took 35 minutes for our car to make it back to the station. Opened in 2011, it's Kolmården's signature family attraction, and for good reason. You'll see a lot of animals, and if you've got a long lens, you'll get some great pictures. Along the way, you'll also enjoy some outstanding views of Wildfire and the Bråviken Bay scenery. Wildfire: First, some background. Remember when Wildfire was first teased and announced here on TPR back in early 2014? Remember the "Building a Mega Coaster" video series released by the park? The hype was through the roof. There was no question TPR would get there as soon as possible, and plans were made to visit shortly after its announced opening in 2016. We sure cut it close. There were delays during construction, due at least in part to local politics. Then, after testing had begun, there was a temporary shutdown due to the whole RMC train restraint cylinder thing. We hoped for the best, and it all worked out, just barely -- our 2016 visit to Kolmården was just 3 days after the ride opened to the public. I loved Wildfire on that trip, but wondered to myself -- realistically, when am I going to make it back to this semi-obscure location in Sweden to ride it again? Well, as it turned out, only three years later. Wildfire is worth the hype. How many coasters in the entire world have this beautiful of a setting? Perched high on a rocky outcrop? Overlooking the water, through the trees of the forest? Hair Raiser in Hong Kong probably qualifies, but not much else. Wildfire is coaster scenery porn at its finest, but it's so much more than just that. It's an RMC, so you know it's good, but the first three elements are total coaster perfection. The first drop is great, and full-on ejector if you're near the back of the train. The zero-g stall is one of my favorite coaster elements anywhere -- and unlike the one on Goliath at SFGAm, this one's taken at the correct speed to actually work in the intended way. The weird turnaround / sideways airtime hill thing right after is RMC-weird in the best possible way. From there, the coaster goes through a series of quick turns, smaller airtime hills and drops, and two more inversions. The final 15 seconds of the ride are taken a little more meanderingly than you'd like, and the elements don't pack a lot of punch on the way into the brakes, but that's a small complaint. Not a big issue, especially when the first two-thirds of the ride are about as good as it gets. Robb produced a fantastic 8-minute long video from our filming session in 2019. We had an hour, we had multiple cameras, and we just tried basically everything. Tons of rider-cams, forward POVs, backward POVs, off-ride footage from spots you normally can't get to, and all kinds of hilarious shots of our group having a stupid fun time. This is one of my favorite TPR videos ever made. Oh, and enjoy the shot that begins at 2:32 -- that's the "Andy Cam" footage, looking straight up (or down) through the zero-g stall. It's pretty wild. Sorry Daniel, "Method Cam" might have to wait for next time! LARRY, WAKE UP!
  7. Thanks for reading! I wish I was that well organized ... more like I was putting this one together and just said "eh, I have some 2016 stuff I can throw in too..."
  8. This makes the whole thing make a lot more sense and I feel like it is something I should have known in advance. That would require an excessively large box...
  9. Sunday, July 3, 2016 Gothenburg: Shelter Where Available The third and final segment in this post covers my adventures around the city of Gothenburg! Or, if you'd prefer, Göteborg. In 2016, Stockholm was the end-point of the TPR trip. I decided to travel from there to Gothenburg by train. Definitely an efficient and interesting way to travel. Not the easiest thing if you're lugging a full-size suitcase because packing light isn't in your vocabulary. I arrived in Gothenburg early in the afternoon on Sunday, July 3. Most of these pictures are from a very long walk around the city for the entire rest of the day. There are a couple from July 4th while I was on my way to Liseberg, and one or two from the July 5th as I was preparing to head to the airport to fly back home to the US. With our Schiphol-induced travel difficulties in 2019, we didn't get any time to explore Gothenburg during the most recent trip. I'm glad I got to see the city in 2016, and I definitely wanted to share it here -- it's a pretty nice place! I'll tell the story of the journey in the captions, but we'll start at my hotel. I stayed at the Hotel Royal in Gothenburg. Just a couple blocks from the central rail station. Great price, great breakfast, very nice hotel overall. Tiny rooms, so probably better for a solo traveler, but I'll stay there again for sure if I return. One interesting thing is that the keys are all attached to heavy weights -- and you aren't allowed to take them out of the hotel. You return them to the front desk and pick them back up when you get back in. I've never seen that anywhere else. Starting my walking trip along the waterfront. This is the Barken Viking, a four-masted ship built in 1906. Its sailing days are over -- it's now moored on the Göta älv (Göta River) as a hotel. I almost chose to stay here, actually, but the Hotel Royal was a little more centrally located. Heading north across the river is the Götaälvbron (Göta älv bridge). I decided to walk across it. This little corner of Gothenburg (as seen from the bridge) is called Lilla Bommen, named for the red and white building of the same name. Lilla Bommen is also called The Lipstick, for obvious reasons. The very top is an observation deck, but it was closed on the day of my visit, unfortunately. A view over the river, and yet another post with an old church. That's the Masthuggskyrkan (Masthugg Church) way up on a hill. A familiar theme park was also visible off in the distance. The real reason I was heading north across the river was to head up there. Those cliffs are part of a hill called Ramberget. I got north of the river, made a stop in a grocery store for some refreshments, then walked west. Here's a view over the Hjalmar Brantingsgatan for a northern Gothenburg street scene. Soon, I was in the woods -- climbing a trail in Keillers Park. As I got near the top of the park, the views opened up, but the skies began to darken. Off to the west, I saw a downpour heading in. Based on what I could tell, it was heading straight into the city. I got out the zoom lens, and saw something interesting. That's a funnel cloud way off in the distance! Of course, I'm in Sweden, so I have no clue who I'm supposed to report this to. Well, the funnel cloud didn't look like much of a threat, and it dissipated within a few minutes. But the rain was still headed in, and I was in a park with no buildings and no shelters and had no vehicle. I needed a place to wait out the downpour, but where? Yeah. Look, it was better than getting soaked, OK? Solid decision. When the rain ended, the weather was perfect. Now, I had some time to check out the views from Gothenburg's most scenic spot. Here's a look southwest over the Göta älv. The suspension bridge to the right is the Älvsborgsbron (Älvsborg Bridge). Such an interesting variety of architecture and topography. Sweden is awesome. A view south over the rocky cliffs. Liseberg's gonna show up in a lot of these! Here's a picture that gives an idea of what the main cliff edge looks like at Keillers Park. There are lots of different viewpoints, and once the rain ended, the locals came out to enjoy it. Another view south over the city. Central Gothenburg is just across the water. Lilla Bommen and the Barken Viking. AtmosFear, Lisebergbanan, and AeroSpin are all running! It's a busy port area, so it's easy to get a crane in the way of your shot. I finally made it to the main destination -- the orienteringsbord at the summit of Ramberget. The marker at the top! It roughly translates to: See the great view. Height 100 meters above sea level. Another source lists the height at about 86 meters / 285 feet, but close enough. I was not the only one enjoying the view. I suspect I was the only one taking this many pictures of Liseberg, however. After a while, I climbed down from Ramberget, exiting Keillers Park and heading south. My next stop was Lindholmen, a mixed-use district on the north side of the Älv, directly across from central Gothenburg. I needed a way to get back to the other side of the river. I already walked across the bridge once, so why not take a ferry this time? From the ferry, here's a view back up at Ramberget and Keillers Park. Some photogenic clouds on a beautiful evening in Gothenburg. Coming back into the central part of the city. The rest of my tour was focused around the central part of Gothenburg. Here's the Göteborgs stadsmuseum (Gothenburg City Museum), with the clock tower from the Tyska kyrkan (German Church) behind it. Gothenburg is built on several canals -- this is one of them. Just behind this canal is Gustav Adolfs Torg, the city's central square. It's named for King Gustav II Adolf. The building nearest to the center of this picture is Gothenburg's Rådhuset (City Hall). On the south end of the downtown area is the Feskekörka -- an interestingly-shaped fish market. Gothenburg is a city that was originally very heavily fortified, many centuries ago. Today, most of the fortifications have been removed, although you can still imply their locations by the shape of the canals along the edge of downtown. This picture is from the top of the only remaining fortification -- the Carolus Rex XI bastion. As it turns out, you can see Liseberg from pretty much anywhere. Rush fans might get the theme of this restaurant, where I stopped for dinner. I had a very good, though insanely expensive burger. While the owners of this place might be fans of Rush and rock music in general, Gothenburg's chief export in the world of rock is death metal / alt metal band In Flames. A nice view over one of Gothenburg's canals as night begins to fall. Gothenburg Central Station (Göteborgs Centralstation) -- where I arrived by train earlier that day. Swedish reflections to end a long day. The next couple pictures are from the next morning, while I was on my way to Liseberg. This is a fountain on theh Kungsportsavenyen road in the Lorensberg neighborhood. Behind the fountain is the Göteborgs Konstmuseum (Gothenburg Museum of Art). A statue of Poseidon, and a view northwest into the city -- with Gothenburg's white and blue streetcars making their way. Liseberg was next, and I already covered that bit earlier. So, here's the final few shots from later that night. A walk back to the hotel through the quiet streets of Gothenburg. Heading north along a canal, at the end of my last full day in Sweden for 2016. One more moody shot to mark the end of the 2016 trip. But there's still a whole lot more to come from Sweden. Hope you've enjoyed your quick tour of Gothenburg, and an overload of stuff from Liseberg. Kolmården is up next!
  10. Monday, July 4, 2016 Liseberg: The Kanonen Era Jumping back in time a few years... Liseberg was the last park I visited on my first European trip in 2016. It wasn't officially a part of the TPR trip, which ended in Stockholm, but several people made the journey over to Gothenburg after the trip had ended. A few went on Sunday the 3rd, but I went on the 4th, meeting up with Joe S for some late-night rides on Helix to close out the park. As I mentioned in the main TR for the 2019 visit, the park's two premier coasters were running quite differently on both of my visits. While Balder was kind of slow in 2016, it was much more fun in 2019. And while Helix was having a bad day in 2019, it was running like dynamite in 2016, quickly becoming one of my very favorite coasters. This isn't a full TR of my 2016 visit, but I wanted to share some pictures of things I didn't really cover before. That includes more views of Helix, which wasn't running consistently enough for me to get very many pictures in 2019. Oh, and there's the whole Kanonen angle, too -- the moved-to-Iowa Intamin launcher that was replaced by Valkyria. Liseberg! It's shiny! AtmosFear ran for more than one cycle in 2016. And it was good! AeroSpin in action -- a ride I failed to photograph in 2019. I did ride it on both trips, and was quite dizzy when I was done. I did not ride the big wheel in 2019, but I did in 2016, so here are a few pictures from up high. This one is looking roughly north toward central Gothenburg, with the Lorensberg district in the foreground. Liseberg's main entrance. A view of the park, through slightly-difficult glass. Oh, Kanonen isn't the only ride that was removed between 2016 and 2019. Say a fond goodbye to Sagoslottet, the park's old fairy tale castle dark ride. Sagoslottet had some Peter Pan-esque ride vehicles. The pot-bellied emperor with no clothes is pretty much all anyone remembers from this ride, so that's all I'm gonna post of it. Here's the Lisebergbanan station pre-renovation. I never made it over to the far eastern section of the park in 2019, but there are some cool buildings, and one very nice boat. There's also a dance hall! Oh, and a departed Intamin launcher. Hello, Kanonen. Am I going to be drawn and quartered if I say that I liked Kanonen, but didn't love Kanonen? It's a really fun ride, it's just rather short as far as Intamin launchers go. With that said, it'll surely be the best roller coaster in Iowa! Airtime on the top hat! A Kanonen inversion, with a nice background of Balder supports. In 2019, I got to see the musician Hurula perform at Liseberg's main stage. In 2016, they were doing their normal Monday evening show Lotta på Liseberg -- starring Swedish entertainer Lotta Engberg. That's Lotta on the microphone in the middle. This was from the afternoon rehearsal. Liseberg's rapids ride is called Kållerado. I found that it was making rainbows. It's very colorful. Some views from the top of the hill -- here's Lisebergbanan with the old trains, and Balder running behind. Balder and Kanonen, together once upon a time. A Kanonen loop, and Balder sneaks in. This view is very, very different now. As promised, some Helix photos, since I had so few in the 2019 TR. Helix drops out of the station. You'll get some air if you're near the back of the train. A view from below of Helix's first drop. The Gothia Towers make a nice backdrop for Helix. Another example of the same. It's almost free advertising. So much excitement and upside-down-ness. Reactions on the launch track. Soarin' over Gothenburg. Another view from the top of the hill. Say hi to Lotta! So many inversions, and I can't remember which one this is. Flipping back around. Diving into the next element. Airtime on the return leg. With the right lighting, you can make a ton out of the scenery from the top of the Liseberg hill. Dramatic cloud picture! Going up? Over the highway. Train #2 gives me a near-perfect shot of an awesome ride. It should be obvious from several of these pictures, but, it was kind of a chilly day in 2016. Spiraling into the brake run. Well, that's a reaction. Almost had a Fabio moment here. Hitting the brakes at the end of the ride. Lisabanana makes an appearance over there. Great view of the wheel from the Helix brake run! Didn't post much from Mechanica last time so here's the ride sign. This is a strange-looking ride. It's also a strange-looking ride experience. Balder: 2016 edition. Lots of hairtime on those first couple hills, even in the cooler weather in 2016. Blue train! Red train! It took me a very long time to get this picture but it was worth it because now it's impossible to ever get again. Balder and Kanonen, at their highest points. That evening, Lotta på Liseberg drew a packed house. That's a lot of daisies. Helix is so good at night -- even the queue is awesome. It's very green. One more Helix shot -- with some sunset shadows on the brake run. That's two fun visits to Liseberg, and hopefully more to come some day in the future.
  11. This next TR segment is basically three mini-reports combined into one. The first bit is from the 2019 trip, and the rest is a look back to my 2016 visit to Gothenburg. That should finish everything up from the west side of Sweden. Friday, July 26, 2019 Day 15 Continued: Liseberg Backstage Liseberg is a place of class, magnificence, and history. But one tradition stands above all the rest: scribbling your signature on the wooden supports of Balder. Following that essential event, Pontus Hallsberg took a few of us on a backstage tour of three of the park's coasters: Balder, Valkyira, and Lisebergbanan. This is some fun stuff I didn't have space for in the last TR, but it might have been the best parts of the day! So, let's get it started with Balder. We'll begin at the recently re-designed entrance to Balder. Through a gate, we headed into the ride's infield turnaround. Some nice views of Balder in action from the inside. This is what we came for -- to add our names to those who have signed before us. Pontus explains the tradition... ...and behold, the marker of doom! So we all split up and found some wood. Meanwhile, Balder kept on rumbling above us. I have done my part. So did the rest of the group, with a selection of their signatures shared here. Daniel wants it in a box! David! Ryan is the first of us who was smart enough to put the full date! Barry! Brad points it out. AJ (who is actually one of our many Andrews) has added his name. John!! Caroline! Signatures from years past -- Elissa in 2014, and perhaps also 2011? KT loves ocean sunfish. Oh, this one might be my favorite. The backstage tour started in the ride op booth at Balder. We got a nice view from behind the glass of their very quick operations. Control panel shot! I never worked at a theme park (or even wanted to) but I bet this will interest one or two people who have. A view of the blue train out the window. The red train takes off. Can't do a backstage tour without getting a ride! Pontus and Robb look ready for some airtime. I jumped on the next cycle. What lies beyond this gate? The entrance to a haunt, for one. They even themed the escape route map. I love it! What else is behind the gate? The old Lisebergbanan trains! Fare thee well, old trains. Meanwhile, Valkyria cycles overhead. Some views from the Valkyria infield you can't normally get. Hey, you're upside down. Valkyria was also pumping out the trains, which made it easy to try some different photo angles. I like this view because you can see every row on the vehicle. Dropping down. Curving around. Hairtime is the best. An infinite spiral. Overbanked. Running out of caption ideas, but yeah, this is a great place to watch Valkyria from. Always some fun rider reactions, too. There's a decent view of the top of Balder's lift from over here, too. Balder takes a dive. From there, we headed into Valkyria's maintenance bay. If I wasn't writing this TR almost two years after the visit, I'd probably remember what more of this stuff is. We got a winch thing on the ceiling! A place to put the trains. You'll always need wheels. You also need tools. Wrenches of exceptional size. They didn't invent the wheel -- they just diagrammed it. More dummies than your average TPR trip. Very important! Also important: the sword of Valkyria. A strange view up at the station. A view from the loading platform. A rather steep lift hill. The anticipation is building. Checking in from the Valkyria control booth. A careful eye before the dispatch. End result: happy people. Across the way, there's Helix and some other stuff. We'll head over there and through Lisebergbanan's vacant extended queue. Way up the hill -- Helix and Uppswinget. A speedy Lisebergbanan passes. I spy a clearance envelope! There are some interesting views of Helix from way back here. Thankfully, Helix was behaving enough that we got a few pictures. Up and down the hills. This is some pretty good airtime. Helix only has two real airtime hills, but they're both quite strong. But this isn't a backstage tour of Helix, so... ...here's the Lisebergbanan maintenance bay. Under-the-track shot. More wrenches! I have no idea what this is, but it looks interesting. Another shot of the maintenance track. Pretty cool to get to see parts of a theme park you don't normally get to see. In case someone needs a hose-down. Orange wheels. Blue wheels. Varied wheels. Shiny silver wheels. Some stats for those of you who enjoy stats. And also know Swedish. Ah, yes -- the Zierer / Schwarzkopf combination. A map of the ride! And a view of the park from the way up to the control booth. One random shot of Balder from way over here, just because. Behind the glass at Lisebergbanan. They're collecting some awards. And cats. Balder and Valkyria were cycling quickly, but Lisebergbanan moves even faster. So many buttons, so little time. More buttons and lights. This is my favorite part of the control panel. It's a light-up schematic of the progress of the trains on the circuit. With that, we'll depart Liseberg C on one of the ride's new trains, bringing an end to the backstage tour. One more round of applause for Pontus for everything!
  12. The absolute first thing I thought of when I saw the thread title, before I even read a single post, was Six Flags Great America. I'm just gonna go with my first instinct on it. I feel like I can give some credit to parks like Kings Dominion, Carowinds, and even Energylandia, just because they each have a few really good coasters -- even though they also have a metric ton of junk.
  13. Re: Helix -- Yeah, absolutely give this thing another chance sometime. I was really surprised about the rattling, since I've never gotten that on a Mack before. Helix is still my favorite coaster at the park, but no doubt Balder was having a better day. Re: Caroline -- Holy crap them are fightin' words. @rubysparkles , what do you have to say for yourself??? You did get to the Universeum, though, which (from your TR) looked pretty cool. Literally since it was indoors on a hot day. If you liked that one hill, wait until the next TR update: there will be more hills
  14. NO! She does not! It's kind of crazy how I basically forgot how hot it was that day. 88°F at the airport on July 26, officially the hottest day in Gothenburg in 2019. Maybe I just like the heat.
  15. Dinner break! Sorry, just one picture from the outside of the restaurant. Just pretend we are eating delicious things. And now, back to the rides. Lisabanana! The station, the queue, everything -- this was all re-done between my visits. It looked good before, but it looks fantastic now. Looking up at the Lisebergbanan lift hill. They were dispatching trains on this thing with a Knoebels-like efficiency. These are new trains. Do you want to see what the old trains looked like? Stay tuned for the next TR segment. Valkyria, you're up next. B&Ms are often photogenic. This one is no exception. You can pretty much get right underneath the Valkyria first drop, which is the place to be for photos of a dive coaster. Mostly excitement here. Some fear. Always interesting to see how people react to the holding brake giving way. Coaster nerds of the type reading this post are probably a little bit desensitized to this kind of drop, but just look at the reactions. People love this stuff. You may want to secure your jewelry. Valkyria's first drop is 164 feet tall. Definitely some outright terror in this shot. Always some hairtime heading down the hill, too. Just having fun with trees and photo composition. Pseudo-artistic lighting fixture coaster shot, #2 of 2. A ha, time for some Balder photos! That's a different entrance sign than the one they had in 2016. Balder at the top of the lift. I think that wooden shield is there to muffle the screams from the neighborhoods across the freeway. Right at the top and about to drop. The trains on Balder move fast, and the railings make focusing a bit tricky, but there's some photo gold to be mined if you're quick with a shutter. This is just plain fun. This is why we love coasters, isn't it? Balder is an absolute hairtime machine. Brave Balder riders who may have underestimated the airtime. Ten bonus points to the dude with the IMAScore shirt! I think this is the only picture of Mechanica -- a Zierer Star Shape -- that I have in this update. It's a weird one. Also, there is a disk-o. I don't love disk-os, but these folks do. The big cranes behind the ride are a sign of future things to come at Liseberg... Rounding out the big flats at the south end of the park, Loki flies high above Balder. Oh, and we've got games! And you can win giant packages of Toblerone and Kex and whatever else! Which is awesome until you have to carry it around everywhere. I'm not sure what Center is, but you can win some here! Alright, it's golden hour now. Heading back up the hill for some nicely-lit shots of Valkyria... ...and Balder right behind it. More airtime. Endless airtime. The Intamin pre-fab prepares to rip another train's faces off. Timing out some two-train shots -- that's the real fun from this view. Airtime to the left, inversions to the right. Valkyria goes nom nom nom on the red Balder train. A very close encounter. Because every European park photo set apparently needs a "really old church that is gonna show up in a picture anyway so you might as well do one intentionally" shot. Meanwhile, far below Helix... The Hurula concert has begun. Cool stage lighting. Let's get a little closer. A good crowd for the show. Anyone in the park is able to attend -- though if you want to get up close, you probably have to stake out your spot pretty early. Thankfully, I have a zoom lens. I am completely unfamiliar with Hurula's music, but I enjoyed catching a few songs. Read more about Hurula on the Swedish Wikipedia! Other guitarist dude played half the show with his back to the audience. Probably for artistic reasons. Dramatic spotlights. One more picture from the concert, and then it was time for a few more rides. With sunset nearing, the park lights up. Windmills are not just for the Dutch. Stacy and I made an attempt to get on the wheel at around sunset, but the queue was rather long. We ended up at Valkyria with Pontus, getting a nice view as the park was turning from day to night. And then, ERT! Given the issues with Helix, I spent most of the time on Balder, getting uninterrupted night rides for a solid half hour. Pretty awesome stuff. Did head up to Helix closer to the end of ERT, and managed 2 or 3 cycles, taking in that amazing view of a sparkling Gothenburg from one of Mack's best creations. ...and it's just so green! That ends this TR update. We'll go behind the scenes at Liseberg in the next edition!
  16. Pictures continued! Heading south from the hill, a bike path crosses under the freeway. Liseberg is waiting just on the other side. You'll walk right past Balder's lift hill. Liseberg's southern entrance is right over there. On the way, a few more views of Valkyria, with more awesome Gothenburg backdrops. Valkyria is not my favorite coaster in the world, but it's fantastic for pictures. Happy coaster people! More (generally) happy coaster people! Arrival at the southern entrance, and heading back into the park for the rest of the day. This is a lot like that shot I failed to get at Legendia, but I wasn't going to miss it here. Heading up to the south end of Liseberg's hill, there is a carousel. Blomsterkarusellen! We have carousel fans here at TPR, so I always try to post a few carousel pictures. But, I'm also going to post Helix pictures. Crazy inversions! Awesome green track! Free advertising for grocery stores! What's not to love about Helix? Pseudo-artistic lighting fixture coaster shot, #1 of 2. There are a lot of great camera angles from Liseberg's hill -- almost the entire park is visible to some degree. Here's Loki from almost straight-on. Valkyria isn't that much higher either. Lisabanana's lift climbs the hill near one of the best viewpoints. Oh, and it's not just Lisebergbanan -- the log flume travels along the hillside up here also. Meanwhile, across the way, there's the hill where I got all those pictures from earlier. BBQ grills sold separately. Jumping ahead in the day here! I did not get a ton of pictures of Liseberg's flat rides. Honestly, this photo set doesn't quite cover every nook and cranny of the park. I'd definitely recommend checking out Chuck's and Erik/Smisty's trip reports, which fill out some of the other attractions and scenery at Liseberg. But, I do have to talk about Högspänningen. (above pic from 2016) Högspänningen is one of those weird spinning teacup wheel tower things. They don't seem too common, but they should be. They're surprisingly fun. Toverland has one, but it was not operating when we visited. This one was! When you're done spinning your friends around and trying to make them sick, you can enjoy the view! Here's a good chunk of Liseberg's family/kids area. Looking south, Valkyria looms in the distance. You can also see a Rockin' Tug and a monorail thing. Rabalder -- a Zierer family coaster -- is nearby. Can't miss Helix from here, either. Big-time airtime. So, Liseberg has two kiddie credits. This is Rabalder. The front of the train has kids and families. The back of the train is filled with TPR. Who knew kiddie credits were so exciting? Stampbanan is the other Liseberg kiddie credit. It is a really, really tiny thing. Admittedly, my friends are having a harder time faking the excitement on this one. At least this coaster is very colorful -- as are its surroundings. Barry and Daniel are giving it their all, and I respect that. Honestly, though, I'm more with Colin on this one. Oh, now we're getting thoughtful. You'll notice I'm not riding. As mentioned earlier, I already have the credits. But that freed me up for photo duty, which is a trade-off I'll take. What, nobody wanted to stick around to ride with the giant anthropomorphic rabbit? Heading over to the Stora Scenen to see who's on stage. It's Swedish musician Hurula, sound-checking for his band's show that evening. Decent stuff, as soundchecks go. Additional musicians, as needed. Minimalist set design for hat guy. Continuing a tour of Liseberg -- here's the plaza near the main entrance. This is a really nice area of the park -- a manicured hillside where people just take a break. Also, art. (photo from 2016) In a way you'll really only find at European parks, you'll walk through a garden and quickly forget you're in a park at all. There's a plaza full of handprints of famous people -- including this batch of four legendary musicians. I've seen two of the four in concert, but you'll have to guess which two. Of course, this legendary quartet is probably more what you're thinking of. And I may have listened to a ton of their music while editing this photo set. And I'm not even remotely ashamed of that, because ABBA is awesome. Big landscaped fountain things! A pleasant stream. No roller coasters to be found. Giant dinosaurs, on the other hand... The trail actually pops out near the Universeum, a separate attraction adjacent to Liseberg. You actually have to walk through all this landscaping and metalwork to finish the trail and get to the top of the Liseberg hill. When you're done, you'll find yourself right underneath the big wheel. You'll also find yourself adjacent to Helix's station, which, well... ...didn't have a lot of good news at this time of the day. What type of plant is growing in here? Ah, yes, that makes sense. So, back to the ride photos now -- and we'll start with the log flume. The lift hill tops out near the Helix station building. Whaddya mean Helix is down? Extra splashyness. This is an uncommon camera angle for a log flume -- there's a platform basically right next to the middle of the main drop. The photo fun here is just about endless. My goodness, I have seen the face of fear, and it is her. And excitement! And now, more thoughtfulness. You can look down at the splash from the same spot. It's a pretty big splash, and there's a wall on the right side that just makes it worse. The amount of wetness is, perhaps, slightly unacceptable. That's why, even though I love log flumes -- and this one looks fantastic -- I still have yet to ride. Next time I'll suck it up. A splash begins at the bottom of the drop. The log disappears. A mist falls on Liseberg. The boat skips along. Flume reactions are the best. Good lighting doesn't hurt either. Are we having fun? Yes, I think we are. If you can't have fun at Liseberg, you're doing something wrong. That's it from the flume -- one more batch of photos to go.
  17. Pictures from Liseberg! We entered the park at around 9AM. Valkyria was warming up for us. We had some ERT/filming on Valkyria and Balder. After that, here's one of the first Valkyria trains of the day. Loki is the park's Intamin frisbee, and it's huge and it's awesome. This whole section of the park -- Loki, Balder, Valkyria -- has a loose mythological theme tying it all together. I like the attention to detail on decorative ornaments like this. Oh, and who can forget Helix? So, after a few early morning rides, I promptly ... left the park. Cross under the freeway, head up these stairs... Walk through some streets on the edge of a neighborhood... Pretty soon you're climbing up a hill. This is the summit of Påskberget -- a rocky hill standing opposite Liseberg from across the freeway. There were BBQ grills up at the top, so I'm guessing it's a spot where locals hang out and enjoy the view. One of those locals is TPR user Lond, whose pictures in the Liseberg thread inspired me to find this spot and get some shots of my own. Here's a panoramic view of the entire park as seen from the hill. The reason I went so early in the day is for better lighting -- with the sun off to the left and the park largely un-shadowed. Looking north from the hill. The Gothia Towers, a higher-end hotel just steps from the park's front entrance. That's actually a pool hanging off the side of the middle tower. The north end of Liseberg's hill -- with the Liseberg Wheel, AtmosFear, Helix, and Lisebergbanan. The middle part of Liseberg, directly across the freeway. The south end of Liseberg -- dominated by Balder and Valkyria. Oh, and a whole load of traffic heading into the city. Southbound to Malmö, anyone? OK, pulling out the zoom lens. North of the park you can see the huge Ullevi stadium. The Liseberg Wheel and AtmosFear -- both in operation. It is a very large wheel! I did not ride in 2019, but I did in 2016. AtmosFear was down for almost the entire day of our visit, but it ran at least a few cycles in the morning. I'm not sure anyone from our group was able to ride. Putting the Fear in AtmosFear -- and capturing proof that it did actually operate! Helix says hello. Balder climbs the lift. There is, arguably, hairtime on the lift hill. If there's enough of a breeze. Comfortable Intamin trains, which is good, because the airtime is strong. Balder cruises on past the Gothenburg cityscape. Balder: going up. Balder: going down. A tight turn. Having some fun with buildings in the background of coaster shots. The hairtime is strong in this one. Red train or blue train? I think one of them was supposed to be faster, but I can't recall which. Balder and Valkyria together. And again, a two-train shot, though it's slightly cheating if one of the two is on the lift hill. Valkyria, Liseberg's newest coaster, stands tall over the south end of the park. Ascending the lift. Some interesting art on the hotel behind it. Hanging at the top. The moment of release. A quick descent. One of several inversions. Another double-ride shot, this time with Valkyria and Loki. A pendulum with an interesting color scheme and a whole lot of airtime. Way down below, the recently-refreshed Lisebergbanan station. This was still early enough in the morning that some attractions (such as Uppswinget and AeroSpin) were not yet operating. Helix and Lisebergbanan, however, gave me plenty to shoot my camera at. An early inversion on Helix. Flipping around. The big building in the background sits atop the hill, and houses the ride queues/stations for Helix and AtmosFear. There's also a restaurant and some other stuff. If you want inversions, Helix has 7 of them. Sometimes, you catch two coasters at once! And, out of pure dumb luck, John and Chris from our group on the Lisebergbanan train. Sometimes, one of them goes upside down. Just past the halfway point on Helix -- the second launch. Which immediately goes up... ...into an inverted top hat. This is a pretty cool element. Nearby, Lisebergbanan pumps out the trains at an insane rate. Helix says hello... ...while ripping through one hell of an airtime hill. This one feels like it just keeps on going. It might have taken some patience, but I timed out this sequence of trains on both Helix and Lisebergbanan. More timing than skill, but either way. That's it from the hill -- the photos continue below as I head back into the park.
  18. Friday, July 26, 2019 Day 15: Liseberg I loved Sweden when we visited in 2016. I loved Sweden again when we visited in 2019. That's my way of saying I've got a whole lot of pictures from Sweden, so it's gonna take some time for this TR to get through all of them. We're going to start with a two-parter at Liseberg. This post will cover the majority of our full day at the park, with pictures from all over the place. Part 2 will include photos from our special behind-the-scenes activities, as well as a throwback to my first visit to Liseberg and Gothenburg in 2016. Of course, before we could make our visit in 2019, we had to get through the insane travel day detailed in my last post. Tired or not, Liseberg was worth the effort. The Trip Report Our guide for the day was Liseberg's Pontus Hallsberg, a long-time friend to many in TPR. This was truly a full day at at the park -- we walked through the front gate at 9 AM, started off with some filming and ERT on Valkyria and Balder, and stayed through ERT at the end of the night. In between, we had plenty of time to see the rest of the park, get the rest of the credits, and even enjoy a little live music. After our morning filming session, my group got on two more rides -- Loki, the park's large frisbee, and Helix, a fantastic Mack coaster you've probably heard of. After that, I left the park, heading to a photo spot I'd always planned on visiting. While I took some pictures, some of the others from my group hit up attractions I wasn't as interested in. We regrouped and knocked out some of the flats at the top of the hill, then made our way to Balder to continue an important tradition -- signing our names to the coaster's wooden supports. You won't see that event in this trip report -- it will be added to the behind-the-scenes stuff in the next update. After the tour and a stop for lunch, I couldn't miss the opportunity to get some pictures of my friends on Liseberg's kiddie credits. The fact that I was off-ride taking photos kind of betrays the fact that I already got the credits (by myself) in 2016, which might be more pathetic if I'm being honest. I broke off for more photography after that, focusing on the log flume and Valkyria, and then we met up for a group dinner at Stjärnornas Krog. Google says that translates roughly to "restaurant of the stars" which is probably giving us too much credit. The rest of the night consisted of a little bit of everything -- some ice cream, some more photography, live music courtesy of Swedish musician Hurula, and a few more coaster rides, including a lap on Valkyria with Pontus. ERT began at 11 PM, and we shared the ERT with the Pleasure Beach Experience, another visiting coaster group from the UK. I got several rides on Balder, and two or three on Helix to close out the evening. We even got to see one of the Helix trains being put away for the night, but there were so many people crowding into the maintenance bay that I couldn't get any decent pictures of it. 9 AM to midnight is 15 hours by my count, although I sometimes screw up the math. That's a lot of time at Liseberg, but this is a park that's easily worth such a long day. The Park Liseberg is a beautiful, unique, fun, charming, energetic place. It was the final park I visited in Europe on my 2016 trip, and I thought it was a fantastic end to the vacation. It was one of the parks I was most looking forward to revisiting, and my opinion hasn't changed at all. It's a top park in Europe, and probably in my top 10 worldwide. Liseberg is an urban park, but it's pretty big for an urban park -- quite a bit larger than Grona Lund or Tivoli Gardens. The western half of Liseberg is set on a hill, which has an elevation about 100 feet above the lower eastern half of the park (which is close to sea level). Some of the park's more thrilling attractions were installed on top of the hill, including AtmosFear (drop tower), Uppswinget (screamin' swing), AeroSpin (sky roller), and Helix. There's no question that these attractions -- plus the huge Ferris wheel atop the north end of the hill -- provide Liseberg's best views. Although escalators make for the easiest way up and down the hill, there are also less-obvious pathways and trails that lead through some landscaped / wooded areas. It's so nice that you'll forget you're in an amusement park for a few minutes. Just not the kind of thing you'd see at an American chain park. Liseberg is also a really well-rounded park. Although the coaster collection is small, they cover a range of intensities. There's a mix of kiddie and family attractions, two water rides, a year-round haunt, several intense flats, and a new dark ride (Underland) set to open in 2021. There are several of the quirky/weird/unique games that Swedish parks are famous for, with giant candy bars awarded to the victors. There are no shortage of amazing views and peaceful places to take a break. The dining options are varied, and I enjoyed everything I had to eat on both of my visits to the park. Hard to beat good live entertainment, too, and Liseberg's huge main stage (Stora Scenen) brings in big acts from around the world. Oh, and just about any park is fun at night, but Liseberg really comes alive in a way few parks do. It's Cedar Point tier in terms of night-time greatness. I'm honestly having a hard time thinking of any legitimate criticisms of Liseberg that wouldn't require the park to flat-out steal a bunch of additional land. Liseberg is a little bit limited on space, but they've made outstanding use of what they've got. I guess I'm not a huge fan of the lockers on Valkyria. I guess some of the staggered ride opening times aren't ideal. Sure, I'd love another one or two high-end thrill coasters. But as I'm looking at a map of Liseberg while writing this post, I struggle to think of a way you could do much better than how the park's already built. The Rides Aerospin is a fun way to knock yourself dizzy for an hour. Loki is a fantastic Intamin frisbee -- far better than the Huss models I got used to at Cedar Point and Kings Island. The Log Flume looks fantastic, but I still haven't been on it because of how wet it looks! AtmosFear (which I rode in 2016) lacks a bit in intensity, but makes up for it with amazing views from far above Liseberg. To focus on the big four coasters... Helix -- Wow, did I love Helix after the 2016 trip. It instantly entered my Top 10 overall, and was one of my favorite rides on the entire trip. I'm going to mostly remember Helix from that trip, because Helix was having an off-day during our 2019 visit. It ran OK in the morning, but was down for lengthy periods later in the day, and eventually opened again (including for ERT) running just one train. It was also a bit rough in spots, perhaps related to the maintenance issues ongoing. This sort of thing is going to happen, and I don't want to make too big a deal of it. Instead, I'll describe how I felt on Helix in 2016. It's just such an interesting and sometimes weird mix of elements. It really does do a little bit of everything -- a drop right out of the station, two launches, a corkscrew, a barrel roll, a bunch of weird inversions I can't name, and two genuinely crazy airtime hills. It's also got one of my favorite coaster scores, courtesy of (who else) IMAScore. It's a great ride with nice views during the day, but at night, you'll see all of Gothenburg glistening below you. Or above you, or beside you, depending on what direction the coaster train happens to be oriented. A night-time close-out-the-park marathon of Helix in 2016 is one of my favorite coaster memories of all time. Didn't quite get to replicate it in 2019, but did get two or three rides at the end of the night to re-live the experience a little bit. One not-so-great operating day aside, I absolutely love this coaster. I still have it ranked #14 overall, which puts it at #3 overall on the 2019 Europe trip, only behind the trip's two RMCs. Balder -- The Balder hype machine is almost as legendary as the coaster itself. Would it live up to the expectations? In 2016, it definitely did not. I visited on a cool day, and Balder was not running well. It was already starting to lose speed and shuffle around the turns after just the second run of airtime hills. I tried not to get too down on the ride, since basically everyone involved with TPR had told me it was better than that. So, did Balder live up to the expectations on a hot July day in 2019? The answer is: almost. It was running much better than three years prior, keeping its speed up on all but maybe the last run of airtime hills, and delivering some pretty intense airtime especially on the first few. Balder definitely moved up my rankings after the 2019 visit, and I think it's a great coaster. I just can't quite put it in that absolute top-tier with rides like El Toro (SFGAdv) or even Colossos (Heide Park). What sets those rides apart, in my opinion, is prolonged extreme ejector airtime. Balder can't quite get there, but it does find a way to pack a ton of airtime into a relatively small footprint, and some of that airtime is briefly of the "rip you out of your seat" variety. So don't take this as a negative review -- it's a very positive review, I just can't go quite as far as others do with it. Valkyria -- Valkyria is the newest coaster at Liseberg, opening in 2018 in place of Kanonen. It's a modern B&M dive coaster with six-across seating, so it's an easy comparison to a ride we'd been on just a week or so before: Baron 1898 at Efteling. I think both Valkyria and Baron are really good coasters, but not quite great coasters. Between the two I'll give the slight edge to Baron, in part because of that ride's remarkable theming, and in part because of the standard restraints (which give a little more freedom of movement). Valkyria uses B&M's vest restraints, which I'm not much a fan of, but I recall that they didn't lock like they do on some of the B&Ms in the US. Valkyria may not be a favorite, but I'll agree with Chuck: it's easily better than the forceless Valravn. Honestly, I just love taking pot-shots at Valravn. At the risk of enraging Elissa, I think Valkyria's a better fit for Liseberg than Kanonen was. Sorry! To apologize, I'll have some beautiful Kanonen pics from 2016 in the next update! Lisebergbanan -- I forgot until I re-read Erik's trip report that we were going to start calling this Lisabanana. Whatever name we go with, it's a really good ride for all ages. It's not as intense as some of the other Schwarzkopf coasters (including Jetline at Grona Lund) but it's longer, and sports some fantastic views. The big triple helix is the ride's centerpiece, and you may even catch a glimpse of Helix running nearby along the way. This is just a solid family coaster, and one I'm glad the park sees fit to continue to invest in. Between my two visits in 2016 and 2019, Lisebergbanan received new trains and a complete makeover to the station and queue. That's a lot of typing. The pictures are up next.
  19. Yeah, how'd you sleep that night? Was it restful? Poland seems like probably not an every-Europe-trip destination, but I bet I'll get back there at some point. I wouldn't mind seeing Krakow at a more leisurely pace, and Energylandia will probably have another 18 roller skaters to pad my numbers with, so...
  20. Thanks, I figure they're not for everyone but at least I've got you and Garbles! Was just thinking that "Krakow Kings" would also have worked if we were trying to stick with alliteration.
  21. Thursday, July 25, 2019 Day 14: Rhymes With Schiphol Part II Yeah, we're gonna give Day 14 a title about Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport even though we didn't ever actually make it back to Schiphol. That was supposed to be our layover stop on the way to Sweden, but it was not meant to be. Probably because Schiphol is a ... well, if I just came out and said it, it would give away the joke. I know they don't rhyme exactly. It's close enough. But here we are, ridiculously early on a Thursday morning, preparing for a transition day as we fly across Europe, hopefully to end with a fun evening at our next park: Liseberg. Most of us got just a few hours of sleep. Some didn't get any sleep at all. But bright and early, we were ready to head out of Krakow. Let's get to the pics! A night scene of the entrance to the Krakow airport. Heading into the check-in area at -- no joke -- 4:30 AM. Yeah, it was still pretty quiet, and we had a little extra time. So, of course, I found the Observation Deck. I have never met an observation deck I didn't like, even if it charges you 2 złoty to enter. A corridor lined with awesome airplane photographs... ...and a nice view of the small airport (though, unfortunately, behind glass). Look at that lucky Lufthansa plane with a jet bridge. Like so many airports in Europe, there are a lot of bus gates here. A few more airplanes on a misty morning, just before sunrise. More time to kill, so a view outside the airport. There's the hotel! The walkway and drop-off area. Krakow's airport is named for Pope John Paul II (Kraków Airport im. Jana Pawła II). The main building has this really strange triangular prism shape. Honestly, it's really cool for photography. So, yeah, gonna share a few pics of it. Everything is sideways. Sunrise in Krakow! Heading back inside, and almost time for our flight. So, we'll head through the second level of the airport. Waiting areas near some of the gates. We had to head all the way down to Gate 1. And here is our gate. KLM Flight 1992 to Amsterdam, departing at 6:40 AM. We were through security. Our luggage was checked. We were standing in line to wait to head down to the airplane. And then we were denied boarding. Well, not just us, but everybody who was flying to Amsterdam for a connecting flight. Turns out Schiphol was having a little problem. The day before, the airport's main fuel supply system completely broke down. In case that sounds bad, well, it's hard to fly an aircraft if it doesn't have any fuel. So hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed, and people had to sleep at Schiphol airport overnight. The problems and delays cascaded into the next day -- our Thursday morning -- with severe attempts to limit the numbers of passengers flying into Schiphol for connecting flights. So, our group of 24 or so people -- denied boarding for a flight that still took off without us -- was essentially stranded in Krakow. Here's where you learn one very important key to traveling with TPR: if something gets screwed up, you want Elissa on your side. We tried to find ways to help. I ran around and talked with hapless check-in agents, who through no fault of their own were unable to help us rebook. Others in the group started looking up alternate flight options, and even the possibility of traveling by rail to Warsaw, where additional flights might be available. But ultimately, after spending literally hours on the phone with Delta, Elissa began to announce the changes to our plans. There was no possible way to get all of us on the same flight, and it wasn't even going to be possible to get all of us to Gothenburg that day. But the morning malaise turned to excitement as our next agenda item became clear: we'd be splitting up, rebooked across multiple airports and multiple flights, eventually making our way to Gothenburg in small groups. Going alphabetically, we were essentially split into four parts. One group got out quickly, and actually had time to make it to Liseberg that evening. Two other groups headed out in the mid to late afternoon, eventually re-uniting in Munich for a flight to Gothenburg. The final group became the "Polish Princes" -- stuck with a flight the next morning, but choosing to wisely use the extra time to explore more of Krakow. For those of us in the second group, including me, we had some time to spare. So at least a few of us headed back to the hotel to catch a little extra sleep, then ... back to the airport for Krakow Departure Day, Take Two. Back at the airport for another go. Oh, and have you ever heard of obwarzanek krakowski? It's a rolled bread (sort of like a bagel or pretzel) that vendors were selling dirt cheap in the airport. Surprisingly good. Should have gotten more than one. First ever airport credit named after a pope! Yeah, back at the observation area again, because the hotel booted us out at noon. Planes from Germany and Poland at this relatively small airport. A Ryanair 737-800 lands. Fly Dubai and Norwegian (both 737-800s). Ryanair 737-800 again. LOT Polish Airlines Dash-8. Swiss A220-300. A very new plane. To make up for the, uh, inconvenience ... the airport gifted us 42 złoty! That's about $11 US, but it went further than you'd think at this airport. So, we got pizzas... ...at Boccone Trattoria... ...which was a pretty nice airport restaurant. Perhaps you could kill some more time by reading Polish romance novels. Or, let's face it, we're ready to head out. Lufthansa flight 1625 to Munich! I even caught our plane -- a CRJ-900 -- on its way in. So, it's back to the gate, and this time, we actually get on a bus that takes us to an airplane. Amazing. Our ticket out of Krakow has arrived. Boarding the flight to Munich. Any fears about luggage getting misplaced during our travel issues were put to rest -- everyone's stuff made it. And then we're up. Goodbye Poland! ...and hello Germany! Krakow's airport is small. Munich's airport is massive. Those giant hangars that dominate this photograph? Those are for Lufthansa's A380s. That pyramidal hill is actually a designated planespotting location for the Munich airport! We passed some large planes (including this A350-900) as we taxied to... ...another bus gate. Yeah, this is fun, driving around the outside of the airport. Well, we got inside, and I tried to figure out the quickest way to get to our connecting gate -- as we didn't have a ton of spare time. We went up... ...then back down to the tunnel that leads to the K/L gates. An underground train goes from one side of the airport to the other. POV shot! See, there's ride content in this post! At our gate, if you're bored, you could play some virtual reality games. ...or just get ready to board Lufthansa flight 2432 on an A321 to Gothenburg, because we're all ready to get to Sweden. Guten Flug. The funny thing about this unexpected visit to the Munich airport is that my additional travels at the end of my trip were always planned to finish in Munich. It was always a part of my itinerary. I just got in an early visit. Really interesting planespotting airport, too, even if you're just taxiing and looking out the window. Here's an Oman Air A330-300. South African A330-200. What are you looking at? A rare Lufthansa A340-600. There aren't many left, and I think they might even be retired now due to the pandemic. Turning onto the runway. Goodbye, Munich, that was a fun couple hours. That A380 in the picture really stands out, doesn't it. Views of some small villages... ...and huge cities, as we went over Berlin. This view really takes my breath away. Finally, a sunset in Sweden. Beautiful views over the Kattegat. ...and one more stinkin' bus gate! Mad that I overexposed this shot, but I'm using it anyway. That's a little better. Hey, it's a Volvo. That must mean... ...we're in Gothenburg! Or Göteborg, if you'd prefer. I flew out of this airport at the end of my 2016 trip, so it wasn't my first time here. The Hotel Lorensberg, not far from Liseberg. It was too late for our group to get to the park, but I did get some dinner at the Stage Door restaurant across the street. They had just closed the kitchen, but made me a burger anyway, and it was fantastic. I tipped them well. A 7-11 just down the street was also nice. Oh, and we may have had some fun with Lorensberg's extremely old-fashioned elevator. That brings an end to a long, extremely strange day of travel -- with the best group in the world to share a strange day of travel with! And that means we've got a full day at Liseberg up next!
  22. This is a short two-part update to cover some odds and ends between theme parks -- so no roller coaster content this time around. The first part will cover the end of our time in Poland, and the second part will cover our travel day from Krakow to Gothenburg. Well, for most of us, anyway... Wednesday, July 24, 2019 Day 13 Part 2: Poland, Continued When we last left off, we had just finished a half-day at Legendia. About a quarter of the group stayed at Legendia a little longer, but about 3/4 went ahead to our next destination. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum If this doesn't seem like a normal stop on a TPR trip, it's because it's not. I believe it was Kristen's idea originally, then coordinated by Elissa. It's not far from Krakow, and for many of us, perhaps the only time we would ever get the opportunity to go there. No, I'm not doing a full report of Auschwitz. I couldn't do it. And no one would want it anyway. So I'm going to share one picture. "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." We toured both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II - Birkenau. You can't really describe the feeling of being there. You wouldn't want to wish it on anybody. But to see it is to understand the magnitude of the atrocity, even if no reasonable human could ever understand the reason. And to understand that oppression and injustice aren't things locked in time, but things that can happen again. And that's something no functioning society should ever forget. --- We returned to our hotel, and shortly thereafter, hopped in a couple Ubers for... One Night In Krakow (and the world's your credit card) Truth be told, we didn't have a whole lot of time in central Krakow, but just enough for dinner on the main square (Rynek Główny) followed by some very quick sightseeing, and one specific photograph I'd made it my goal that evening to acquire. First a few shots from our hotel, which I'd yet to cover. The Hilton Garden Inn is directly across the street from the main entrance to the Krakow airport. It's got a check-in desk, because it's a hotel. It also had a free laundry room! Right in the middle of a TPR trip, that's a huge plus! Ooooh, the fancy "L'atmosphere" hotel restaurant. Not bad. This walkway leads from the hotel (left) to... ...the airport. You'll be seeing more of the airport soon. So, we arrived in Old Town Krakow just as dusk was falling, making our way toward the main square along cobblestone streets. I think we ended up with 10 or 11 of us at this Polish/Italian restaurant, which was not bad at all. After dinner was done, the group split up. I had done very little night photography on this trip, and wanted to get some shots of central Krakow in what limited time I had available. We discussed meeting back up to share an Uber back to the hotel a little later, and after a quick stop for ice cream, I pulled out the mini-tripod and got started. ^ Saint Mary’s Basilica (Kościół Mariacki) ^ Kraków Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) ^ another view of Kraków Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) ^ Town Hall Tower (Wieża ratuszowa) ^ Church of St. Wojciech (Kościół św. Wojciecha) ^ Saints Peter and Paul Church (Kościół ŚŚ Piotra i Pawła) ^ Wawel Castle (Zamek Królewski na Wawelu) At this point, I headed out on a bridge over the Vistula River to get the one shot of Krakow I'd wanted more than all the others. Wawel Castle, with its reflection on the waters of the Vistula River. A classic shot. And I got one more, zoomed in. I took this picture at 11:53 PM. Within a minute of that, I checked my phone and found a message from my friends. Some of them were going to stay out later, but the rest were getting an Uber and heading back to the hotel, so I had to meet up with them. Problem: I was nowhere near their location, and the Uber was just about there. So, that was the end of night photography -- I proceeded to jog through the streets of Krakow and cover 1.2 miles in 10 minutes, despite being exhausted as heck at the end of a long day, because I was not missing my ride back to the hotel! (Maybe the hardest I've ever worked for two single pictures?) Well, that wraps up our adventure in Krakow, and our adventure in Poland as a whole. Here's a map of our travels. More to follow...
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