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Photo TR - Istanbul, Georgia & Armenia

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Hi guys.


This is my first TR for a while but I was recently lucky enough to travel through the Ex soviet Caucasus region for a couple of weeks. Its a bit off the normal travellers routes but its well worth a visit if you have the chance.


There are few parks there but I managed to visit many small parks in both Georgia and Armenia and came across a few surprises. On my way out I flew via Istanbul in Turkey and decided to spend a few days there before my flight on. Istanbul is a vibrant city and the hustle and bustle reminded me of South Asian cities like Bangkok and Shanghai. There are few major parks in Turkey but recently the construction of Vialand in Istanbul has turned a few heads with two brand new Intamin coasters and a variety of interesting flat rides.


Articles such as this http://english.sabah.com.tr/economy/2013/05/27/turkeys-biggest-entertainment-park-vialand-opened-on-golden-horn mentioned the park was now open so I took the opportunity to go and visit. I knew the Intamin LSM wasn't built yet but I have seen pictures of people on the other rides so I headed down the river (Vialand is a pain to get to, its not on the metro network) and got a taxi to Vialand.


However upon arrival I found the park is not open at all. The news articles mentioning the opening are lying. The shopping centre out front is open although not finished and actually looks really cool. But the park itself is not even close to an opening. Despite soft openings taking place on a few of the rides the park is most definitely closed. I spoke to a few staff around and they said the park proper would open mid July.


There was however the option to take a tour of the park in its current state. They did want the full entry price to look around though (around £17 or $27), I was travelling with 2 non enthusiast girls this day who didnt want to pay to enter a closed park, so it was decided to check out the shopping centre. So my first part of this TR is not even a park. its the shopping centre in front of a park.


I did head back to the park later in the trip but I was Cameraless so don't have pictures. But here are my thoughts on the park so far.

- It's small, very small.

- The themeing is good but reminds me of Chinese parks like Happy Valley. It looks good but its all a bit disconnected.

- The Intamin Family coaster looks really good and could provide some good airtime.

- The drop tour looks pretty cool with the top sticking out of the building but most of the ride enclosed.

- The park will be really quite green when finished with loads of trees and a large garden section.

- The spill water style flume looks great. They've done really well themeing a standard layout water ride.

- The park is way off the transport infrastructure and could struggle with visitor numbers.

- If you want a rough idea of the park. Think a small Happy Valley with good landscaping.


Anyway here the pics I took that first day.



The taxi dropped us off at the back of the unfinished Mall section.



The front gate looks the part.



The parks mascot... a Duck I think.



The Intamin LSM track by the entrance is still sat waiting to go up. the footers are in though.



The themeing is nice but its not quite perfect. The castle however looks pretty cool.



Swing and a miss.



The shopping area is really nice.



The art installation in the middle was kind of cool.



Arty pic of an art installation.



The area will have a small tram running through the shopping district.



I thought they made violins? I would say about 50% of the shops are currently open.



The park is certainly nowhere near done.



Track waiting to go up.



This ride could be one of the highlights of this year. But they just need to build it really.

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This is what I suspected when I saw the articles claiming the park was 'open'. You're spot on on your China comparisons. We saw a ton of places like this with dead shopping malls out front and parks that looked like they'd be dead soon. Looks like we'll all have to keep an eye on this place and get on this ride as soon as it opens!

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So considering the first park was a dud we headed back into Istanbul and the girls went shopping. This allowed me some time on my own and I headed down the road to Atlantis. This is a small family entertainment centre in a shopping mall in Istanbul which has one small coaster and a number of flats.


The coaster is called Cilgin Kopekbaligi (Mad Shark) and is built by SBF. its a very odd ride. The lift hill has a 90degree bend in it and after a nice sharp drop the ride consists entirely of one large helix into the brake run. I'm not quite sure why as they certainly had the space to do more with it. To say its a good ride would be wrong but its smooth enough and the unneeded OSTRs aren't overly annoying.


The park uses a card system which seems to be popular in this part of the world. You essentially buy a card for 2 Lira ($1) and top it up at various stations positioned around the park with a set amount of money, the coaster itself costs about $3.



The station



The first drop is quite nice and has a nice kick to the right.



However after that first drop the ride is just a big helix all the way to the brake run.



I would love to have pics of the train going round but as I was one of only 3 to ride it while I was there this was impossible.



The park had a number of small flat rides.



Each flat ride costs about 7



Dodgems are at every park in this part of the world. these ones seemed faster than most though.



The park is listed on the Mall map as Atlantis but the card says Fun Lab... anyway this is the recharge card you have to buy to ride. Each ride has a turnstile you swipe the card on to enter and it deducts the required amount. Quite a cool system for a small park.



Is it me or does the shark look Drunk?



Another look at that first drop.



There's a nice indoor drop tower here too.



Down we go.



A view from the top floor down to the rides area.

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Now for a less heard of park.


After a few days in Istanbul we caught a flight to Tbilisi in Georgia, Tbilisi is a lovely city and a bit off the beaten track. It has a good cafe culture and reminded me of European cities such as Vienna with its mix of old architecture and lots of open spaces. The city is nestled in the surrounding hills and as such offers some beautiful views.


Mtatsminda Park is situated on top of a mountain in the middle of the city and you have to get a funicular to the top to reach the park (you can walk the long way round). The funicular uses a swipe card system which handily is also works for all the rides in the park. again you can top this up at booths around the park with however much money you wish to spend.


The main attractions here are the Ferris Wheel which offers stunning views of the city and the Loopscrew coaster which is built by SBL in China. It's not a bad ride, reasonably smooth but if you've ridden a loopscrew before you know what you are going to get here.


Mtatsminda Park was the surprise of the trip for me. Beautifully landscaped and some lovely themeing on the kids areas. The park has a really nice atmosphere and is geared a bit more towards children than the thrill seeker. But you can easily spend a few hours here and have a great time.


On to the pictures.



Getting up to the park requires the use of this massive funicular to the top.



This TV tower sits atop the peak. Unfortunately you can't go up.



The park is really very green and this is the central avenue down the middle.



The fountain marks the centre point of the park.



There are some amazing views available.



The huge ferris wheel sits on the edge of the park and overlooks most of Tbilisi.



The new attraction this year is a drop tower, Not yet open though. I love the Loading graphic on the map though.



Looks a decent size too.



Some of the paths in the park aren't pathed but it sort of fits here.



The ferris wheel can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.



And as such you can see most of the city from the top.



Ohhh i see you over there.



The ride takes about 10mins and the compartments are air conditioned.



Much of the park is hidden in the trees.



It's a beautiful park. Reminds me of Tibidabo in Barcelona in terms of location.



When on the wheel we spotted this little wheel in the city. I investigated this later.



Some of the weird themeing in the kids area.



The whole park had a very pleasant atmosphere.



I see you over there.



Really nice cafe in the trees.



The toilets were a little odd looking. However be warned they are squat toilets.



Kids play area.



Nope I have noooo idea what this is.



This was officially the wettest ride I have ever been on. Thanks to some ride ops who sized us up as tourists and timed the boats perfectly.



Sallie after her drenching.



This is why we got so wet. Both drops were timed for maximum wetness for us.



you can walk round most of the ride.



These guys got off lightly.



At the top of the park sits this.



familiar to anyone who's spent time in China. this is an SBL ride.



The OSTR's aren't great but there is minimal roughness. just one small kick in the 2nd corkscrew.



The ride was fairly popular and is one of only two looping coaster in the country.






The ride looks well maintained and has a bright paint scheme which makes it stand out.



The kid in the 3rd row looks terrified.



The corkscrews are hidden away behind the station.



The view from the top was pretty spectacular. One of the best views from any coaster I have ridden.



One final shot as we head back down into the park.



The little guy in the box is all over Georgia. Nooo idea what he is though.



There are loads of little hidden shops and cafes around.



And lots of fun little touches in the themeing.



The park started to get busy around 1pm.



Ohhh some minor copyright infringement there.



Well hello Mr bin. Good day to you sir.



The kids area for the park is extensive.



The parks other coaster. The first of many big apple style rides on this trip.



The ride was easily the most popular in the park.



The new tower ride sits right at the end of the main avenue and should give a great view when open.



Snake slides where pretty good fun. This park is really quite hilly.



Not sure what this is but it looked fairly new.



Themed dining area.



The other weird attraction here was an area full of animatronic dinosaurs.



Sallie lost this staring competition.



There's handy facts on each of the 20 or so dinosaurs here.



Coming Soon!...



This new restaurant at the top of the Funicular is going too look really good when it's done.



Park map to give you an idea of the layout.



Goodbye Mtatsminda Park its been really good fun.


Heading back down. There is a stop half way down for a church.

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The "stacked houses" themeing looked very cool.


Was there anything in it, like guest services, or

a shop or eaterie? I see a stored sign through

one of the windows, at the right.

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Thanks for the comments guys. I shall post some pictures of the city in a later update. For now though, more parks.


Following our trip to Mtatsminda Park, Sallie wasn't feeling too well the next day so I decided to go on a little explore and find that ferris wheel we had spied from the bigger ferris wheel on the hill.


It turned out to belong to Tbilisi Zoo which has a small amusement section. The park includes mostly kids rides but also had a Big Apple coaster which wasn't listed on the RCDB. Most of the rides look like they have seen better days and could do with a touch of paint. The animal cages were also a little small, although the majority of animals looked in good condition.


Rumour has it the Zoo will soon be moved to a whole new site out near the Tbilisi Sea (actually a lake) and I think this can only be a good thing as the current site is slap bang in the middle of the city.



The majority of rides here are aimed at kids.



every park here has some dodgems.



The park does look quite nice though and is nicely landscaped.



There are plenty of flat rides dotted around.



The only coaster in the park is creatively called "Coaster"



These rides are ten a penny in this part of the world.



And in any part of the world for that matter.



The ride could do with a little bit of paint.



The ride was really popular though.



close up of the track.



The smaller ferris wheel in the park.



never seen one of these before. odd little ride.



The ride was a little rough.



I wonder how many big apple clones exist in the world.



one final shot of Coaster.



This is of course a zoo. and as such has some animals too.



I have been to better zoos and some of the areas were far too small. But then again I have been to much much worse.



The ferris wheel we saw from the previous park.



This ride did not feel quite as safe as the previous one.



the small chain as a restraint made this somewhat more unnerving.



Zebras hanging around with some goats.



Every one loves these guys.



This was the coolest thing I saw all day. An albino peacock. (look closely there is a white head in all those feathers too)



Many of the rides were carnival rides.



One final shot of Tbilisi Zoo. Next up was a quick underground ride to Rose Revolution park.

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