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Photo TR: Chuck Returns to Europe at Last with TPR


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Oh, what a strange little place that was. I ran out of time to check out the sciencey area, but didn't want to skip out on some of the more interesting rides.

 

They have a thing for anatomically-bizarre versions of barnyard animals, do they not?

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They have a thing for anatomically-bizarre versions of barnyard animals, do they not?

 

Not to the same extent as Bon Bon Land, but pretty bizarre, indeed.

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Speaking of Potts Park . . .

 

Chapter 2

Meanwhile, on the Way to the Heide Park Abenteuer Hotel . . . Potts Park

 

It was a six-hour haul from Amsterdam to our next major park: Heide in Germany. This would necessitate a lunch stop of some kind along the way. But why stop at McDonald’s or a standard Autobahn rest area--especially when you can have lunch at one of those wacky German “do-it-yourself” parks and playgrounds? Why not combine a meal with at least a slight chance at bodily injury? It’s the TPR way!

 

 

Chuck, is Potts an anomaly in Germany (or Europe)? Or are there other such "do-it-yourself" parks dotted around the landscape? Not only would I go nuts over this adult playground, but the droll whimsy of its 'ceramic menagerie,' would crack me up! Thanks for the fun pix (and the equally fun commentary).

 

Alice

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Schlossbeck is a similar park near Movie Park Germany: http://www.themeparkreview.com/parks/park.php?pageid=327&box=7. It's filled with crazy stuff, including some deadly playground equipment and a bizarre castle full of creepy "storybook" dioramas.

 

 

Thanks Chuck. Now THOSE parks are what I call PLAYgrounds! Nice to know that 'somewhere' in the world, adults can "play" without going to a fitness center! Our parks seem so 'sanitized' by comparison. What's life without a little adrenaline rush - at ANY age. Even just VIEWING those wacky spinning, splashing, swinging gizmos gets my energy revved. (Though I might think twice about the do-it-yourself 'spinning!') Was also deliciously creeped out by those 'storybook' dioramas. Talk about "GRIMM" fairy tales! Sure to cause a 'cackle' or two.

 

Alice

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Chapter 3

“Bleah,” “Arrr,” “Yeehaw,” and “Huh? I Forgot?”--Heide Park

 

Heide Park has changed since my last visit with TPR in 2008. That was in the days before it became part of Merlin, and the park seemed a bit more eccentric than it is today. Back then, the park's theming came across as a bit random; for example, the lake in the middle of park sported its own Statue of Liberty and a stern-wheel “steamboat” ride. Well, the boat is gone, as is half of Lady Liberty. It also once had a log ride with Old West gold-mine theming that reminded me a bit of Knott’s Berry Farm.

 

Don't look for this ride at Heide, as it's not there anymore; however, they do have another log flume. The park used to be into redundancy before Merlin came along.

 

But Merlin has made the park’s theming a bit more coherent, if not all that immersive. Heide now boasts four sections themed to pirates, Transylvania, the Wild Wild West, and what translates to “Land of the Forgotten” (a lost civilization with an Aztec flavor). Some of this is well done, such at the Land of the Forgotten and Wild Wild West (which is a holdover from the pre-Merlin days).

 

But theming in Transylavania and the pirate section is a bit spotty. For instance, the park’s Dive Coaster, Krake, boasts a very cool pirate ship being pulled apart by a gruesome sea monster that would give Capt. Jack Sparrow nightmares. But the rest of the area doesn’t seem particularly “piratical." Transylvania’s signature attraction, the B&M Wing Coaster Flug der Damonen, has trains that look like giant vampire bats and a fairly Gothic-looking queue and station. However, the other coasters, a Mack Bobsled and a Vekoma Loop Screw, really don’t fit the whole “Transylvania” theme. Even painting the rides a fiendish green or black, any color other than white, would've helped.

 

Operations are not quite all they could be. Colossos’s crew (the park’s Intamin woodie), in particular, seemed pretty slow. Another puzzling policy had to do with the park’s Express Butler Queue Bot system. They don’t offer it every day; instead, they wait to see what crowds will be like, then decide whether or not to offer it. They didn’t during our day at the park, which seemed strange as the major coasters sported waits of 45 to 60 minutes. It also seemed a bit odd to pass up an obvious revenue stream.

 

That being said, I still enjoyed Heide. Krake was a lot of fun, and I’ve always been a fan of Dive Coasters. I’m not partial to Wing Coasters, but Flug was one of the better ones (even though there was no “keyholing”). Colossos, despite becoming a bit bumpy, is still a great woodie, and Desert Race (a clone of Alton Towers’ Rita) is fun, too. Unfortunately, the park’s new “How to Train Your Dragon” ride is, well, a “work in progress”; that is, it was open, but obviously not ready for prime time.

 

The park’s excellent hotel has changed a bit, too, with rooms themed not only to pirates (as in the past), but also to demons and cowboys. The hotel restaurant is still very good, and there’s a nice bar on the ground floor. There’s also an odd show about a quest to find “artifacts” in different sections of the park. We had no idea what was going on as it was all in German, but one night, the show’s villain was some sort of witch or vampire, and the next night, a pirate. It also featured magicians; acrobats; a curious chorus of guys wearing body suits, bowties, and bowlers (maybe they were channeling Bob Fosse); a hilarious "Indian chief" stereotype played by a white German guy; and lots of video of the park. I didn’t take any photos of the shows, but Kyle has some good ones over in his TR: http://themeparkreview.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1721445#p1721445.

 

All in all, Heide is still enjoyable and fairly "eccentric," but also a bit more "corporate." I’d like to see Merlin loosen up a bit.

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Welcome to the Heide Park hotel, which has branched out from pirates to cowboys, vampires, and other fantastical type beings.

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Some hotels have bedbugs. Heide has dragons. Not sure Orkin can spray for these.

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Mike and I shared a “Wild Wild West” themed room, which I’m pretty sure was once a pirate room. The little “porthole” lights on the bunk beds sort of gave that away.

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Yep--just like I was out ridin’ the range, roundin’ up them little doggies, sleepin’ under the stars, and listenin’ to the music of my fellow cowboys as they broke wind after a big meal of beans.

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Coolest shower ever.

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But I could do without the horse watching me do my “business.”

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Hmm--not sure this map is entirely accurate.

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I’ve been to this park twice now, and I’ve yet to use the main entrance.

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If I were KT, I’d keep a weather eye on that seagull. It does seem to have the drop on her.

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It was a little damp that morning, but it didn’t last.

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Besides, damp weather is appropriate for Krake.

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If there’s anything I like better than a Dive Machine, it’s a well-themed Dive Machine.

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So, what’s the story here?

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You’re swallowed by a monster . . .

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. . . and expelled out its . . . er . . . maybe it’s best not to think about this too much.

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Yet I keep coming to two inescapable conclusions.

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1. Steer clear of the “Spritzwasserzone.”

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2. Get Krake a whole truckload of Immodium to help deal with its gastrointestinal issues.

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“Arr, it be the Piraten Burgers that’s given the beastie the troubles. Some maggot-filled hardtack and a few tankards of rum will set him on an even keel, sez I.”

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“Pardon me, boy! Is this the Transylvania station?”

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Everyone who tired to pronounce this ended up sounding like the Swedish Chef.

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This queue does look like it could be full of vampires--if they’re miner vampires.

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This is Floog, er, Fludge . . . oh, may as well go full Swedish Chef. Der lift goin’ der oopsy-daisy.

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Getzen der airtimin’ der flooty-floaty.

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Floog der twoosty-twisty!

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From a Merlin Board meeting: “So, we have to make the Bobsled ride fit in ‘Transylvania.’ Any ideas?”

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“Easily done! Just nail a bat to the entrance sign.”

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“Presto! Our nice family coaster is now a terrifying trip through, er, terror!”

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“The old Vekoma Loop Screw is in Transylvania, too. Guess we could put a vampire statue in the station or something.”

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KT needed this credit; therefore, Elissa wins “Mother of the Year”! Look at that grit and determination!

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The old riverboat station now looks appropriately Gothic. Too bad it's just "atmosphere." Why not a creepy "haunted-ship" walk through, or something?

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This sign works on two levels: 1. They do, indeed, serve bratwurst here. 2. It’s near the entrance of the mercifully closed SLC, which would, indeed, be the worst coaster station in the park. More to come.

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Let's hike around Heide a bit more.

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Back in 2008, this was a rather drab looking collection of flats nicknamed “Huss Land.” The Aztec theming looks much better.

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The Aztec motif works well for Colossos, too.

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The jungle theming is so good, you now need a machete to hack your way through the queue.

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Friendly, jowly George Clooney shows you the way.

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Yes, even as mighty as it is, . . .

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. . . Colossos must still fight its way through the jungle.

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It’s a bit bumpy now, but I think it’s still the best coaster at Heide.

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Here’s another improvement for which I am grateful. The old queue was a series of switchbacks that were set at a ridiculously steep angle. This is much better.

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“You maniacs! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!”

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Thanks to the current state of the U.S. Congress, I think a pizza-and-pasta buffet would be a better use of our Capitol building.

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The new kids’ area themed to “How to Train Your Dragon” looks pretty nice.

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I wish I could say the same for the ride. I have some blurry photos of the indoor section, but even if they were good, there isn't much to look at--unless you like mostly static statues, mist, a video projection, and a camouflage net that's hiding an obvious empty spot.

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OK, it has fire. That’s encouraging.

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Hmm--maybe a bit too much fire.

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“Hey, want to ride again? No waiting! Wait--where are you going? I get so lonely.”

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Well, at least it has some honest-to-god Vikings.

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As I said earlier, the new area does look nice. I’m sure it’ll improve as time goes by.

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You can still see the track for the riverboat and the slab where Lady Liberty used to be--before the rise of the “Planet of the Apes.” The park's monorail is still running.

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Krake is the coolest-looking coaster at Heide.

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Oh, yeah--Desert Race. Almost forgot about that one. I guess it's in the "Land of the Forgotten," although I wouldn't swear to this.

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But first things first.

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“Cherokee people! Cherokee tribe!”

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Sarah and Dan were deeply moved by the dignity and perserverance of America's indigenous people.

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I think Will Smith is trying to franchise these joints.

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Wisdom of the Old West: Never stand under a buzzard.

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Here’s one of the older, “less corporate” sections of the park.

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They still have this giant slide tower, but I think they removed a number of other slides.

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KT approved.

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Desert Rita is still fun.

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There’s a cool desert-themed “driving school” for kids, too.

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Good night, Krake. I hope the Immodium helps you get a good night’s sleep.

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Farewell, Flug der Damonen. Watch out for angry villagers with pitchforks and garlic.

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Goodbye, Colossos. You’re a little bumpy now, but we still like you.

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Aw, aren’t you the most adorable harbingers of the Apocalypse ever? That’s all for Heide--Hansa Park awaits!

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^That was a wise decision.

 

So operation wise and looking at the park's current management, Heide Park is becoming more like your above average six flags park? (Curious to see which coaster will get the VR treatment )

 

Oddly enough, two coasters at Europa, a much better park, offer VR experiences (and pretty well done ones, too).

Edited by cfc
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Nice pics! Anyway, I've always been wondering.. What's Flight of the Demons' backstory? From what I've heard, it was that the Transylvanians were sacrificing themselves to create demons and they didn't want to keep sacrificing themselves, so they started sacrificing the visitors of Transylvania to create demons. Come to think of it, that'd be a god-damn brilliant TV series or horror movie.

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^Here's a translation of the story on the park's website.

 

Flying demons conjured up by villagers. An error. For since they always need new souls to renew their energy, to become stronger and continue their flight. The villagers sacrifice the souls of visitors to save their own souls.

 

You'll never be yourself. Are you doomed? Or you can save your soul?

 

Last time I checked, I still had my soul.

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Chapter 4

Castles, Curses, and Creative Vision--Hansa Park

 

Hansa Park provides a nice contrast with Heide--the family-owned park vs. the corporate park. While Hansa may not have the finances and the corporate machine behind it like Heide, it more than makes up for it with a friendlier vibe coupled with a desire to be the best damn theme park it can. Yes, Hansa always seems to plan big when it comes to new attractions.

 

Of course, sometimes those plans can take a while to achieve. For example, when I was last there with TPR in 2009, the park’s new signature coaster, a launched Eurofighter named Fulch von Novogorod (“Curse of Novgorod”) was only partly themed. The ride was open to the public, but the show building was only half-covered with brick, the queue was full of bare drywall, and the ride’s “pre-show” before the launch was one spooky talking scarecrow.

 

Here’s the show building and queue as they appeared in 2009.

 

 

Even so, the ride was great. And its even better with its full theming today. The castle queue is nice and creepy throughout, and the pre-show features an operatic ghost (“N-o-o-o-v-go-r-o-o-o-d!”) and some creepy monks (the scarecrow is now part of the outdoor queue). The Eurofighter’s staple vertical lift boasts some nice effects, too.

 

Hansa is taking the same approach with its excellent new coaster, Karnan, which is themed to yet another cursed castle. The story is that a king wanted a fortress that would be completely impervious to enemy attack. Well, he gets what he wants--but at the cost of his soul as it becomes part of the castle itself. Riders are part of a team exploring some of the castle's hidden passages. They even use this “Indiana Jones" type of tale to explain why you can't take any bags, glasses, or other loose items with you. Even the boarding process itself is a spooky light show tied into the legend of the castle. (Hansa is doing some Disney-level stuff here.) The ride is open and running, but the castle isn’t finished. But, like its cousin on the other side of the park, it’s a great coaster that any park would be proud to have. There's some scary, "Skyrush-style" airtime on this monster, along with a few surprises (which many you probably already know about, but I'm not going to spoil for others).

 

The park’s entrance has also been considerably improved since 2009, with facades based on the great coastal cities of Europe.

 

Back in 2009, I wrote, “Hansa is a very good park that's working on being even better--all starting with a new, operational, if not-quite-finished world-class ride in Fluch von Novgorod.” Well, it now boasts two world-class rides in Fulch and Karnan, along with a great collection of other attractions and beautiful grounds. Everybody needs to visit this park near the Baltic Sea at least once.

 

Let me show you why.

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Hansa Park’s entrance looks like it wants to swallow you whole!

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Fortunately, Theme Park Review received the blessing of a local friar and his sacred mackeral, and we were saved from the hunger of the ravenous park entrance.

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Park management came out to greet us. I love little touches like this. They're very enthusiastic and rightly proud of what they've accomplished at Hansa.

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You now know the exact time and date when we entered Hansa.

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Elissa was happy to see two of these three mascots. ;)

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When a Vekoma and a Schwarzkopf love each other very much . . .

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The designers at Gerstlauer really are evil geniuses. This is one twisted hunk of incredible. No, I'm not talking about the wild mouse on the right.

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So, what is this “Karnan” all about, anyway?

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Aside from being a great excuse for a kick-ass coaster?

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Maybe this rather attractive German historian can shed some light.

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“We also want the most insane roller coaster you can devise. That way, when we are besieged by enemies, We will ride it, laughing and showing them how awesome we are! Their tweets will be so jealous and petty!”

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“We wish to rain death upon them from an enormous cobra roll. All will cower in terror at our enormous steel snake!"

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“We will laugh and scorn our enemies with obscene gestures as they seethe with jealousy!”

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“The wind from the first drop should scatter our foes like dead leaves!”

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“We want to feel their anger . . .

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. . . and get drunk on the wine of their curses and tears!”

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“This ride must be so amazing that it will render our enemies impotent, thus ending their foul line forever! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

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But local bureaucracy thwarted part of the king’s plans--for now.

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However, the king was able to build this family coaster dedicated to his “Schlange.”

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That’s some pretty cool theming for a simple family ride.

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Hansa puts a lot of thought into their queues.

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If this were Six Flags or Cedar Fair, you'd be lucky if they put up a few umbrellas to block the sun, much less construct an elaborate queue and tell you a story. Of course, it helps if you can read German.

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You get two laps on the “Schlange.”

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"Ride the snake . . . the snake is long . . ."

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The old wild mouse is crazy . . .

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. . . and a bit painful--but fun.

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How many American parks would provide a German hillbilly band with a wild mouse?

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Oh my god! Those poor people in the loop don’t know what they’re in for!

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Somebody stop the ride and warn them!

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Too late. They’ve been swallowed whole! Hmm--this is the second German park in which riders are swallowed by a monster, then expelled out its rear end. More to come from Hansa.

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^Does it show?

 

More from a great day at Hansa Park.

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In 2009 only about a third of this tower had bricks.

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The rock was there, though.

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The finished queue is now extra-creepy.

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This looks much better than drywall and Tyvek.

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Disney would be happy with this theming.

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Fluch von Novgorod ties Mystery Mine to its bumper . . .

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. . . and drags it down a gravel road covered in broken glass.

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It’s the King of the Eurofighters.

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It’s nice that some of Florida’s Country Bears found a new gig. I had no idea that Wendell, Ernest, and Zeke spoke German: “Die BärenbandBären spielen jetzt in der guten alten Schlüssel von g.”

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An open campfire and a teepee? No problem at Hansa Park.

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In fact, they trusted us with fire . . .

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. . . and lots of raw meat and potatoes!

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Fortified by brats and taters, it was time to explore the Old West.

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Proper etiquette is a must. Why, I hear that John Wesley Harding once shot a man for tracking bull crap on his new rug!

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If this frog band doesn’t give you nightmares, nothing will.

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Hansa offers a challenging ropes course.

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The suspension bridge was more my speed.

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But KT was taking the course like a champ.

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As for Derek, well . . .

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“I see a foolish white man.”

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“Don’t look at me. I can’t do nothin’!”

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You can hear the king of Kanan laughing at Derek’s plight. Only one person can save him now.

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Thank goodness for Sarah Crouse: Tomb Raider!

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Looks like another great family coaster is coming to Hansa.

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Like so many European parks, Hansa is beautifully landscaped--and a bit quirky.

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We finished our day at Hansa with some ERT on Karnan. I don’t think anyone objected.

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Pretty sure everyone took a Karnan shadow photo.

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Such a beautiful mess of twisted steel. It was worth traveling all the way to Germany to ride this.

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Big Chief What-the-Hell-Is-He bids you farewell. My thanks to Hansa for being such great hosts. Stand by for Movie Park Germany.

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*snip*

020_335.jpg

If this were Six Flags or Cedar Fair, you'd be lucky if they put up a few umbrellas to block the sun, much less construct an elaborate queue and tell you a story. Of course, it helps if you can read German.

It's the famous story of "This area is under video surveillance".

 

Anyway, thanks for all the great reports. Looks like you had a great time. Keep them coming.

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*snip*

020_335.jpg

If this were Six Flags or Cedar Fair, you'd be lucky if they put up a few umbrellas to block the sun, much less construct an elaborate queue and tell you a story. Of course, it helps if you can read German.

It's the famous story of "This area is under video surveillance".

 

 

My god! Then the old legends are true!

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