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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's 2017 Foreign Adventures


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Great report! As I mentioned earlier we're definitely planning to hit Liseberg in the next few years so it was really cool reading through this. The park already looks amazing and the dive machine should make it even better.

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Thanks! Yeah the operations at all the Scandinavian parks were top notch.

 

Unfortunately that cannot be said about all of Scandinavia *cough*Tusenfryd*cough*. But the Danish and Swedish parks definitely seems to be handling this very well.

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Great photos and storytelling! Glad you made it around without any issues with trains/busses. Awesome job. This trip is amazing! How much were you spending on lodging on average/overall?

 

Thanks!

 

That's a tricky question since some of the places like Alton Towers and PortAventura included tickets with the room. But I ultimately spent about $100 per night on lodging. I probably could have spent less if I chose to stay in hostels, but I preferred standard hotels. I also was placing an emphasis on having a 24 hour front desk and close proximity to train stations/airports since I had a lot of early flights/trains.

 

Big Blue Hotel (Blackpool)- If you see the other hotels in Blackpool, you'll want to stay here.

Alton's Enchanted Village- Cute lodge with 2 days at the park included.

Bloc Hotel Gatwick- Located in the airport. Unique room with everything controlled by touch screen.

PortAventura Hotel Carribe- Extremely nice resort and it included 2 days at the park.

Expo Hotel Barcelona- Decent hotel. Small room but near the Saints train station.

Best Western & Stockholm- Small but a great location in the heart of Stockholm.

Gothia Towers- Extremely nice, wonderful staff, across from Liseberg.

 

Great report! As I mentioned earlier we're definitely planning to hit Liseberg in the next few years so it was really cool reading through this. The park already looks amazing and the dive machine should make it even better.

 

Thanks! I was bummed to have missed out on Kanonen, but the dive machine should be another great coaster in their lineup.

 

Thanks! Yeah the operations at all the Scandinavian parks were top notch.

 

Unfortunately that cannot be said about all of Scandinavia *cough*Tusenfryd*cough*. But the Danish and Swedish parks definitely seems to be handling this very well.

 

Tusenfryd is a park I hope to make it to someday for Speed Monster and Thundercoaster, so they have time to improve their operations before then.

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Liseberg is a great park--all it lacks is a good dark ride (but it does have Hotel Gasten). Balder is still my favorite wooden coaster, but I have yet to ride Helix.

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A shooting dark ride would fit perfectly into Lisebergs lineup. I never thought about it before, but I definitely like that idea. I hope that is next on the agenda after the dive machine.

 

Tusenfryd is a park I hope to make it to someday for Speed Monster and Thundercoaster, so they have time to improve their operations before then.

 

I wouldn't hold my breath, my visits in 2015 and 2016 were both terrible. One train operation on Thundercoaster with 60-90 minutes line seems to be standard. Speedmonster has always been an exception though, it has always been running two trains during my visits with about 20 minute line.

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^ I was warned about bad operations before going to Thorpe and didn't have a problem there. Yes lines were long, but outside of Colossus, everything seemed to be running at max capacity. It seemed to be more due to crowds than bad ops/slow dispatches. Granted for every park that breaks free of the bad operations label, there's a Six Flags America.

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These sky rollers can be one of the most intense flat rides out there, as long as you channel your inner Richard Simmons. If you rock the paddles in perfect, opposing unison, making sure the motion in one direction is complete before reversing the paddles, you will eventually get that first inversion. From there, all hell breaks loose.

 

I was super pumped about riding the one at Canada's wonderland this past summer and, while it was an immensely fun ride, I couldn't get the thing to flip for the life of me. I did exactly as your instructions suggest (I even watched a few YouTube vids beforehand to try to get the gist of the motions and whatnot), but the best I ever got was a near-180 degree half-rotation, which made for some great hang-time, but was hardly the catalyst to the all-out inversion assault that I hoped I'd be experiencing. Here's the thing: I was riding in an inside seat. Just about every time I've seen footage of someone spinning out of control, it's in an outside seat. Does anybody know if it's even possible to flip the inside seats? I only had time for one crack at it, but to be honest, I can't imagine I could have worked the wings any better than I did.

 

Great tr, by the way. Liseberg is a bucket list park for me. And I greatly appreciate knowing that there are other cheap-motel-enthusiasts out there. I'm not alone.

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I've definitely gotten it to flip like a bat out of hell on the inside seats on the version attached to the arm. On the tower one, I think it can still be done on the inside as well. The problem with the one at Canada's Wonderland is how incredibly short that cycle is. I consider myself pretty good at these sky rollers but I didn't have enough time on one of my rides on Skyhawk.

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Oktoberfest- Part 1 (Coasters & Incredible Log Flume)

 

After journeying around Europe for a week on my own, I was to meet up with TPR for Oktoberfest. I landed at the Munich Airport and just had to get to the meet up point at a hotel in downtown Munich. I boarded a train that I believed was destined for downtown Munich. I saw droves of people dressed in lederhosen and dirndls, so I figured I was going the right way. There was a stop just before the downtown exits where all of the locals got off, but before I realized what had just happened, the doors closed and the train zipped by every single downtown exit much to confusion of myself and all the other foreigners on the train. Turns out 5/6 trains stop downtown and I was on the 1/6.

 

Thankfully I made it to the meet-up point on time and was shortly on my way to Oktoberfest with TPR. Like the US tour last year, I was kicking off another exceptionally well-run tour (thanks Robb and Elissa) with some awesome people. After having to plan out planes, trains, buses, and hotels for a week, it was refreshing that my only responsibility was to get my butt to meeting points at pre-determined times.

 

There have been quite a few great Oktoberfest photo TRs popping up lately, so hopefully I can shed some new opinions on the festival. Simply put. It’s the best carnival in the world. Tell me what other midway has as many full-size coasters, insane flat rides (and that’s putting it mildly), and dark rides. But it’s more than just the rides. It’s really about the whole experience. You could easily spend a few days (and a few hundred Euros) riding everything at the fair and never get bored. But there’s so much more. There’s beer, food, more beer, people watching, even more beer, downtown Munich, and yes, even more beer.

 

Day 1 began with a tour of the fairground’s coasters. This was a Saturday. With the perfect weather, we were advised it would be by far the busiest day of Oktoberfest. Saying we were walking through a sea of people would be putting it mildly. Despite this, we had no problem riding all the coasters on day 1. The dispatches on everything rivaled that of the operators at Phoenix. Except replace the mild-mannered Pennsylvanians with chain-smoking German carnies.

 

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I think everyone else wanted the same shot as well.

Quick aside, if you want some spectacular aerial photos of Oktoberfest, I highly recommend checking out Saint Paul Cathedral across the street. Is it for a reverent experience with God? No, though if you want to be like Tim Tebow go right ahead since it’s a beautiful cathedral. What’s special about this cathedral is that they let you climb the extremely narrow and tall tower. It’s a pretty tiring and dizzying hike ~200 feet up, but the views are worth it. And it was just 3 Euros.

 

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Saint Paul Cathedral is across the street from the fair and the best place to get aerial photos of the grounds.

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You just need to make it up 300-something stairs in the most non-ADA compliant stairwell possible.

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But if you make it, you get views like this. Notice the sea of people and this wasn't even on a weekend.

First we diverted off the main pathway to ride one of the fair’s newest coasters that I didn’t even know existed, the Drifting Coaster. The illegitimate love child of a wild mouse and a suspended coaster, this was an interesting experience. Around every bend and zig-zag, the trains rock back and forth. Those of you who have been on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train have experienced this before, but the drifting coaster takes the kiddie wheels off.

 

We sat down and pulled our restraints down. Seeing the buckle we scrambled to locate the seatbelt as the car dispatched only to realize there was no seatbelt. That basically fits the bill of a sketchy carnival coaster perfectly. I was lucky enough to be seated in reverse, which meant I had absolutely no clue what was coming. As we crested the lift, I prayed the ride would be smooth. I knew going in the ride would be really good or a total deathtrap. We rounded the only tame corner on the ride and got some crazy ejector air on the first drop. The pretty significant bump at the bottom of the first drop worried me the ride would be closer to a death trap, but thankfully that was the only uncomfortable part of the ride.

 

There were a few drops the rest of the way, but they weren’t nearly as steep as the first one. What stood out were the turns. Wild mice are fun little coasters, but admittedly the intense laterals can sometimes be uncomfortable. The Drifting Coaster eliminates laterals in favor of insane swinging. Because of how tight and abrupt the turns are, it’s fully possible to swing beyond 90 degrees. Honestly with a severely unbalanced car, I could see these coming close to inverting you. I would love to see more of these unique coasters pop up in favor of the overpopulated galaxy/zyklon style coasters dominating the US fair circuit. 7 out of 10

 

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It looks like your ordinary mouse from afar.

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But then you see what the car on the far right is doing. The swinging was really wild!

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Notice the somewhat funky profile on that first drop. Don't question it, you'll get some great air.

The Drifting Coaster alone would be a major coaster for a US fair. But for Oktoberfest, it was overshadowed by two Schwarzkopfs that could hold their own at any standard amusement park. The non-inverting Alpina Bahn was next. Many of the rides at Oktoberfest had fantastic lighting packages and inviting facades, but Alpina Bahn’s may have been my favorite. The entrance reminded me of my grandfather’s cuckoo clock with the random animals dancing above the station. I didn’t have much time to admire it since I’m pretty sure the ride was running 4-5 trains, so lines were non-existent.

 

I grabbed the back-row and was completely caught off guard by the first drop. It looks as innocent as an 80 foot drop could look. And honestly it starts innocently enough. The banking on a twisted drop usually removes the laterals. But about 2/3 of the way down, there’s are some extremely unexpected and powerful laterals. The subsequent hill gives some nice floater air to boot.

 

The ride’s focus isn’t on airtime though; it’s all about the helixes. Despite being a portable coaster, there’s a huge fountain in the middle of the ride that’ll splash some unsuspecting rides during some of the helixes. I don’t remember them being particularly forceful, but they’re decently fast and very smooth. Towards the end, there are one or two tiny hills that give quick pops of air before returning to the station. While overshadowed by Olympia Looping, I really liked Alpina Bahn too. 8 out of 10

 

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The non-looping Schwarzkopf. It doesn't get as much attention, but it's also really good.

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A split second later, the riders will all be thrown to the left. I was not expecting laterals that wild on a banked drop.

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It also had a few surprising moments of air.

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I just love the station's theming.

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Oh and it even has a fountain. A traveling coaster with a fountain.

Before making it to Olympia Looping, we had one more stop at Hollenblitz. From the outside, this enclosed spinning coaster looks more like a dark ride. I never thought I’d see the day where a coaster would sport a longer train than one of those Zierer Tivoli coasters, but Hollenblitz appears to have equaled, if not surpassed, the former in train length.

 

My first ride on Hollenblitz was towards the front. As we started spinning up the lift, I realized this would be unlike any other spinning coaster I had been on. The spinning was also different than on the other spinning coasters I’ve been on. The spinning was slower and relatively forceless, but it was still quite disorienting. There wasn’t a moment on the ride where my car wasn’t spinning. And that includes the ride’s only major drop, which is also the only outdoor portion of the ride.

 

The theming is also laughably amazing. You see the coal miner on the front of the train, so you’d expect a coal mine theming. Instead you are treated to a giant Christmas tree, lasers, and fire on the inside. So I’m going to say the theme is a coal miner’s Christmas party going wrong. I ultimately got three rides on Hollenblitz. My second ride was a relative dud in terms of spinning, but the third towards the back was just as spinny as the first. I personally prefer the Gerstlauer, Mack, and Maurer spinners that I have been on because of the more forceful spinning, but this is lightyears better than any of the compact spinners on the US fair circuit. 7 out of 10

 

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It looks like a dark ride, but don't be fooled. This is a very spinny spinning coaster.

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You'd think the coal miner themed lead car would mean there'd be mining theming on the inside. Instead get ready for a Christmas dance party.

With the other unique coasters knocked out, it was time for the main course- the one, the only, Olympia Looping. Despite being a fairground coaster, this coaster has quite the reputation and is considered one of the world’s best and most intense coasters. As a mechanical engineer, I think the most impressive thing for me is that this is a portable coaster. I was impressed back in March to see a 30 foot coaster at a local carnival. But this hulking creation was over 3X taller and had a much more involved layout.

 

Even with the crowds, the queue line was non-existent as they were running 4-5 trains on the coaster. The loading procedure was even quicker than Alpina Bahn. The second after you sit down, one of 10 or so attendants is ready, cigarette in mouth, to slam the accordion restraints down on your shoulders. Robb gave us a tip before riding to sit up straight to avoid the restraints from tightening down and crushing our spine mid-ride, but for my first ride I didn’t even have time to sit up straight before the restraint came down. For all my rerides, I knew to carefully and quickly sit down straight as a statue. The restraints are definitely awkward, but if you can get the accordion bit fitted correctly it’s a pain-free ride.

 

The view of the fairground ascending the lift is breathtaking, particularly at night with the entire midway illuminated. Shortly after, comes the first drop. I was sort of disappointed by it since I had my hopes it would be as wild as Alpina Bahn’s drop, but then again it could have been uncomfortable with the accordion restraints. But what I wasn’t disappointed by were the vertical loops. All 5 of them were extremely forceful. I think the most impressive thing is that each loop feels faster and more intense than the last. The helixes were nothing to write home about, especially after experiencing 5 of the world’s most intense inversions back to back to back to back to back.

 

I personally thought Olympia Looping as a coaster was a bit overrated. As a traveling coaster, it’s exceptional and it’s truly an impressive sight to see. Compared to permanent coasters, it’s still good but I wouldn’t say the coaster alone is worth traveling across the ocean to ride. While I can appreciate forceful inversions, my personal preference is for airtime and hang-time filled inversions. But if positive Gs are your thing, you need to ride Olympia Looping. It’s easily the most expensive ride at the fair, costing 9 Euros per ride, but I happily forked that over for quite a few rides during the trip. How could you visit the fair and not ride a 100-something foot tall coaster with 5 inversions? 8 out of 10

 

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And there's the main attraction. It sits at the end of the midway calling coaster lovers.

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Olympia Looping has some loops.

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I wasn't kidding about the chain smoking carnies. He's casually enjoying one as the train roars by.

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Honestly I wouldn't be shocked if that guy was smoking too while checking the ride in the morning. And unless I missed it, I don't think the guy had a harness. That man has balls of steel.

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As great as the ride looked during the day, it came alive at night like many of the fair's rides.

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I thought it was a bit overrated, but for a fairground coaster it was exceptional and still an overall good coaster.

Since the fair remarkably didn’t have any kiddie coasters, the final credits were wild mice. I say credits since the fair has dueling wild mice because a single one would be too pedestrian for the awesomeness known as Oktoberfest. I hit both of these on latter days on the trip since I was more focused on the insane flat rides and beers, but I couldn’t pass up riding both sides of a dueling wild mouse coaster.

 

As far as standard mice coasters go, this one is my new favorite. It already would have been up there for running unbraked and giving some pops of air on the final drops, but the unique dueling bit makes this one stand out compared to the other versions. 6 out of 10

 

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What would be an ordinary wild mouse is made better by having them duel.

I was originally only going to include the coasters in the first update, but I decided to add in the log flume. Many of you are familiar with the standard portable model at US fairs. Lift-turn-double drop, turn, lift, turn, drop, turn. Well the one at Oktoberfest craps all over the US portable models. Wildwasser is one of the taller rides at the fair, which is no small feat on a midway with 6 coasters and several massive flat rides. Honestly, this may be one of the tallest flumes I’ve been on anywhere. If I were to guess, I’d say it’s probably about 80 feet tall.

 

But it’s not just the height that blew me away. After ascending the first lift into a tunnel, the boat stopped. Did we break down? No, somehow this portable flume had a reverser table! Still stunned by the fact a portable flume included that element, I was caught off-guard by the great backwards drop that followed. Still traveling backwards, we went into another enclosed bit. I think Wildwasser stole the theming from Hollenblitz since this section had some mining scenes.

 

Afterwards the log reverses course and heads up the two large lift hills. I can’t emphasize just how large this flume is for being at a fair. Then comes two solid drops that are probably about as tall as the main drop on a normal flume, except they are taken back-to-back much like the drops on Liseberg’s Flume. The final splash leaves you with the perfect amount of wetness as long as the victim in front lifts their feet (I didn’t know for my first ride). But then there’s one last surprise. As you round the last corner, there’s usually a backup of 4-5 logs. As you’re trapped there, a cute little beaver pops out of a log because everyone knows that beavers like their wood. As you look the creature in the eye, it suddenly shoots everyone in the log with a water jet and you can’t help but come off laughing. Unless you hate water. Then you’ll come off crying.

 

Wildwasser honestly may have been my favorite ride at the fair after Olympia Looping. Having the two large drops alone would have made it a memorable flume, but adding the surprises (backwards drop, dark ride bit, and squirting beaver) really made this flume stand out for me. It’s honestly one of the best flumes I’ve ridden anywhere. It’s not better than Splash Mountain, Ripsaw Falls, Valhalla or the one at Knott’s, but I’d be hard pressed to name a better flume after that. 10 out of 10

 

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The flume is absolutely hulking. It craps all over the little traveling ones in the US.

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It has the drops like you'd expect.

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But it also had a reverser table, backwards drop, and a dark ride bit. The backside views is the only way to see the little tunnel where the reverser table occurs.

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Nolan can't escape the wrath of our good friend the beaver.

To be continued…

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Great photos and storytelling! Glad you made it around without any issues with trains/busses. Awesome job. This trip is amazing! How much were you spending on lodging on average/overall?

 

Thanks!

 

That's a tricky question since some of the places like Alton Towers and PortAventura included tickets with the room. But I ultimately spent about $100 per night on lodging. I probably could have spent less if I chose to stay in hostels, but I preferred standard hotels. I also was placing an emphasis on having a 24 hour front desk and close proximity to train stations/airports since I had a lot of early flights/trains.

 

Big Blue Hotel (Blackpool)- If you see the other hotels in Blackpool, you'll want to stay here.

Alton's Enchanted Village- Cute lodge with 2 days at the park included.

Bloc Hotel Gatwick- Located in the airport. Unique room with everything controlled by touch screen.

PortAventura Hotel Carribe- Extremely nice resort and it included 2 days at the park.

Expo Hotel Barcelona- Decent hotel. Small room but near the Saints train station.

Best Western & Stockholm- Small but a great location in the heart of Stockholm.

Gothia Towers- Extremely nice, wonderful staff, across from Liseberg.

 

Wow, thanks for the info! I'm definitely going to stash this for future use. Your criteria would be similar to what I'd use to pick out spots. Appreciate it!

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No problem! No matter what you end up doing, the two hotels I strongly recommend are something onsite at Alton and PortAventura. After taking into consideration the free tickets the room came with, I probably only paid closer to $40-60 per night for an incredibly nice hotel.

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Oktoberfest- Part 2 (Crazy Flats & Dark Rides)

 

Another one of the most well-known aspects about Oktoberfest (at least among coaster enthusiasts) is the collection of flat rides. There are unique rides such as the Voodoo Jumper and oversized versions of US counterparts. Even rides that look pedestrian are far from it. I think the operators had a fetish for watching people hurl after some of the cycles they were running on the rides.

 

I mentioned Voodoo Jumper, so I mind as well start there. While there were a few flats I enjoyed better, Voodoo Jumper was probably the best experience. By this point, you’ve probably seen Robb’s video. The ride is visually stunning at night with all the lights, fog, fire, and music. When you combine that with a bat-out-of-hell cycle, you’ve got something truly special.

 

If you’ve seen Robb’s video, you probably also saw some of the POV shots. If it looked like a confusing blur of fog and lights, that pretty much sums up the ride. Video does not serve this ride justice and it really needs to be experienced. The ride combines quick pops of air with incredibly forceful spinning as the ride bounces and spins about. And if you hate spinning rides, you’ll probably be cursing the operator under your breath since once of my cycles was 7 minutes long. How could this nutty flat not get a 10 out of 10.

 

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This photo doesn't do the ride justice. I tried taking a photo of the fire and the fog, but it looked like the world's crappiest Instagram filter.

If you want oversized, look no further than the appropriately named XXL. This is one of those KMG frisbees, except much bigger. According to KMG’s site, the ride is capable of reaching a max height in excess of 130 feet and that’s absolutely believable when you see the ride. I think the ride seems even bigger since the ride only seats 20 passengers in a compact circle as opposed to all the other giant frisbees which have 2-3 times the capacity.

 

The cycle on this one was fantastic, but a bit odd. It started like a normal frisbee, eventually reaching the max swings which gave some strong air. After 3-4 swings it slowed down, which seemed very much unlike an Oktoberfest flat. But just before the ride swung to a stop, the ride kicked it into overdrive and repeated the cycle again, except this time the vehicle spun quite a bit more. Now that’s more like it! On the larger ones, I personally prefer floater air (like Loke or maXair), but this is still one of the best frisbees I’ve been on. 9 out of 10

 

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XXL was appropriately named. The small gondola made it seem even taller too.

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Everything at the fair came alive at night. The lighting packages were amazing.

There’s also a 180-200 foot tall drop tower known simply as Power Tower. The ride seemed to have some technical troubles towards the end of our visit, but I was able to get my ride early in the trip. Not sure if that ended up being a good thing though. I expected to get some outstanding views of the Munich skyline at night, but that wouldn’t be the case. Unlike Boston, New York, or the other major US cities I have been to, Munich was very dark at night. Before the first drop, we were probably held atop the tower for 20-30 seconds, and it did give fantastic views of the fair at least.

 

However, the drop was really poor. The drop felt like the descent on an S&S space shot. Note that I say space shot, not turbo drop. The drop was absolutely forceless and dull. Thankfully there were two relatively quick climbs after that gave a little floater air that redeemed the ride somewhat, but it’s still towards the bottom of the drop towers I’ve been on. Power Tower was probably the most disappointing ride on the midway. 5 out of 10

 

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There was no power in this tower.

But fortunately there’s an even bigger drop tower to be ridden in Skyfall. The ride tops out in excess of 260 feet, which would be huge even by permanent park standards. Skyfall probably boasted the longest wait of any ride at the fair. I had to skip the ride the first two nights at the fair for this reason, but I finally got my ride during the day when the line dropped to only about 15 minutes.

 

I’m really glad I rode this one during the day since I was able to fully take in the Munich skyline this time. Also by riding it when the ride was less crowded, they held us at the top much longer. I thought Power Tower held us at the top for a while, but I think Skyfall may have held us up there for a minute. Even more impressive is that the gondola rotated around to give a full 360 degree view of the city and fair. But once the spinning stopped, the ride raised up the last foot and dropped like a rock. While not quite as good as an Intamin model, it wasn’t far behind in terms of intensity. There was solid air the whole way down. 9 out of 10

 

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However, this one definitely had power.

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Plus having a 260 foot portable drop tower is just nuts in its own right.

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Also note how the employee is literally riding the catch car down the tower.

Because having one 250+ foot tall tower isn’t crazy enough, they also have an equally as tall star flyer honoring Jules Verne. As I mentioned on the Grona Lund TR, SFNE’s 400 foot SkyScreamer has taken the fear element away from these “smaller” towers. However, I still love star flyers, particularly ones with fantastic views. And with this one set beside downtown Munich above one of the world’s most visually stunning festivals, the Jules Verne Tower certainly fit the bill. 9 out of 10

 

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250ish feet up.

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Another awesome lighting package.

The fair had several pendulum/frisbee style flats and my personal favorite ended up being the Flip Fly. A spinning, inverting frisbee type ride, the ride has some strong ejector air on the swings leading up to the inversions. I don’t remember getting crazy hang-time on the inversions, but I do remember the extremely powerful Gs on the downswings trying to rip my legs off. After 3-4 minutes of this intensity, the seats unlock and begin to rock to add another dimension of intensity to the ride. I rode a frisbee similar to this at the Brockton Fair this year, but this one threw in the great ejector air at the beginning. 10 out of 10

 

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A frisbee was crossbred with a top scan to produce this insane flat.

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Great air at the beginning, then disorienting inversions, and then a WTF finale when the seats start flipping.

Parkour was another crazy spinning flat with some similarities to Voodoo Jumper. The ride lacked the crazy lighting package of Voodoo Jumper, but the ride bounced and spun as well. The difference was that Parkour focused more on the spinning that the jumping. And boy did it focus on the spinning! I thought Voodoo Jumper pulled some strong Gs on the spins, but Parkour one-upped it. The spinning rivaled the Waltzer I rode in Blackpool the week before. It’s the type of spinning that’s so fast and intense that it starts to lift you out of your seat. Another easy 10 out of 10 for me.

 

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This is more my type of parkour since I can't get hurt in a profoundly stupid manner. That job was reserved for the conveyor belt of death.

Continuing the trend of crazy little spinners was Techno Power. I believe the ride is called a KMG Remix and I actually rode one of these almost 10 years ago at a local carnival. I remember the ride being very fast and forceful, but unfortunately it was removed after someone was thrown from the ride. My memory was correct, as this thing spun insanely fast. Unfortunately the way the seat dug into the back of my leg became pretty uncomfortable by the end of the ride, much like it does on the new Zamperla endeavors. For the finale, the ride actually slowed up (which was a relief) and went almost vertical, which replaced the powerful positive Gs with some brief pops of air. While this is an intense ride, I have to admit it wasn’t the most comfortable. I’d much prefer the Voodoo Jumper or Parkour over this. 7 out of 10

 

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I hadn't seen one of these in almost 10 years. So of course I rode it.

I wanted to try the supersized KMG Speed, but that one had an extremely long line. Fortunately there was a similar looking alternative on the other side of the fairgrounds with no wait. I’ve ridden a few of these speed/skyscraper flats, but this one felt different. While the other ones I’ve been on have plenty of rocking and flipping, the car on this one seemed to be locked into place. The comparison that immediately comes to mind is how this ride resembles SFMM’s Green Lantern while the other versions resemble Grona Lund’s Insane. Thankfully the restraints on this one are more comfortable than the ZacSpins, but the intense Gs on the downswings still became a tad uncomfortable by the end. This was one of the few rides with a short cycle and I was appreciative of it. I should also add that I was still pretty drunk when I rode this one so that may have factored in a bit. However, the ride was definitely intense and fun for the first few rotations. 7 out of 10

 

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The impaired skyscraper.

For the first few days at the fair, I walked by the flying bobs too many times to count. I completely ignored the ride. I can ride a garden variety Chance Thunderbolt anytime. And honestly, I much prefer the versions with the non-swinging cars so I can receive some side-splitting laterals. The only flying bobs one I’ve absolutely loved was Canobie’s old Matterhorn that was removed almost 10 years ago. The park ran the Matterhorn so ridiculously fast that you swung to about 150 degrees and unfortunately the speed they ran it at is rumored to have run the ride into the ground, causing its removal.

 

I didn’t think I’d ever see anything like Canobie’s Matterhorn again, but then out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a mirage. Munchner Zugspinzbahn. The cars on this one were swinging at the same angle. I rubbed my eyes, remembered I was sober, and eagerly got in line. It makes sense that if anyone were to run their flying bobs like Canobie’s, it would be the German fair circuit. And sure enough, it was awesome. The swinging wasn’t glass smooth, but that’s not due to the ride being rough. Rather it’s the ferocity at which you’re whipped out to 150 degrees. With just a simple lap bar a few inches off my lap, it was pretty terrifying and awesome at the same time. The ride only traveled forwards, but it ran for a pretty long time in that direction. I’m so glad I eventually gave this ride a shot since it allowed me to relive the thrill of Canobie’s late Matterhorn. 9 out of 10

 

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I'm usually not a fan of the flying bobs himalayas, but when they are coming this close to inverting? Take my money!

One of the other rides I hit on the last day in the final hour was the Rotor. Relegated to a random alley off the main midway, it didn’t appear to have nearly the ridership of any of the fair’s other flats. Since rotors are pretty rare (Canobie’s is the only one I know of) I relished the opportunity to try this one. Despite being just a flat ride, the facade looked amazing with a waterfall. Then there was the queue line. The queue line was a full-fledged fun house! Honestly the queue alone was better than quite a few of the fun houses that I’ve been through.

 

I mentioned unsuspecting riders. As I stood against the wall waiting for the ride to begin, a few people were asking the operator what the ride did. One specifically asked if the ride spun. The operator said with a stone-face, “No.” What a devil! I tried to hold back a chuckle and made sure to stand across from them to a) avoid the puke and b) watch the show that would unfold. I’m fortunate enough to ride the Turkish Twist frequently and that rotor runs extremely fast. This rotor was considerably slower.

 

But where it excelled was how far the floor dropped. I’d estimate it drops maybe a 1-1.5 feet on the Turkish Twist. On this one it probably dropped a good 6-7 feet! Because of the slower speed, I gradually slid down the wall during the ride. Once the ride stops, you actually exit on the lower level while you boarded on the top level. I got off, stepped back, and watched. The dude looked a bit queasy but he amazingly kept his beer down. The same couldn’t be said for his companion though. He let it go right on the midway. All rotors are fun rides. While this one lacks the intensity of Canobie’s, the long cycle and how far the floor drops makes it stand out. Oh and that queue line. 8 out of 10

 

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It looks more like a dark ride, but there's really a rotor in there. You just need to navigate a 3 story fun house first!

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The floor drops so far that you exit on a lower level.

At closing, Oktoberfest looks like a zombie apocalypse. Right at closing time (whether it be 11:30 or 12), all of the ride lights immediately go out and the booming midway becomes a desolate wasteland of beer steins, trash, and passed out drunks (who always seemed to be Americans). On the Monday night, we ran to Skater, the top scan, right before closing and were lucky enough to get on the last cycle of the night. The operators rushed to board us before the cutoff time and we just barely were dispatched.

 

The only top scan I’ve ridden to this point is the one at Canada’s Wonderland. Knowing the movement this ride was capable of, I figured the German carnies would run their version far more wildly than a Cedar Fair park. I was right. As the gondolas spun, the laterals felt like they could rip my legs off and that was combined with the sudden, random, and forceful flipping that reminded me of a Zipper. Only here I was out in the open instead of being locked in a cage like an animal. The cycle seemed short, but I figured that was just because of the ride’s intensity.

 

On the last day, I thought better of my assessment of the cycle. What if it was running shorter since I rode at closing? Only one way to find out. I boarded and was treated to the same. But once the ride stopped, it picked up speed again; this time in reverse. Oh yeah! Performing the flips in reverse was different but every bit as intense as the forward ones. As a fan of insane flats that throw you around in every possible direction, Skater was one of my favorites at the fair. 10 out of 10

 

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I was a Skater boy. This ride trashed all over Canada's Wonderland's version like Avril Lavigne did to her career with the song Hello Kitty.

If one of these crazy flats were at a US carnival, I’d consider it a pretty good fair. The only ride that comes close to matching the top end rides on this circuit is the common Zipper or rare KMG Speed. So Oktoberfest was a flat ride fan’s wet dream. My personal favorites were probably Skyfall, Skater, and Voodoo Jumper, but really all of them were very good outside of Power Tower.

 

The fair also had several dark rides. My personal favorite wasn’t a ride per say. Rather it was a show called Encounter. Now I never rode the old Alien Encounter attraction at Magic Kingdom since I was a young child still afraid of Honey I Shrunk the Audience (I didn’t want to be shrunk down ok…) and Tower of Terror (not because of the drop; I didn’t want to be turned into a ghost…), but everyone I rode with said it was a direct ripoff.

 

The showroom looked exactly like Stitch (unfortunately I have ridden that one). Except instead of an abomination of a ride, I was greeted to a genuinely terrifying and well-done ride. I think having the ride in German added to the intensity since I had no clue what was going on. There may have been a warning that the creature escaped, but I hadn’t a clue and shortly after had my restraint bounce and legs tickled, among other things. I was expecting the animatronics to be nothing short of a dumpster fire, but the center alien actually looked pretty dang good. 10 out of 10

 

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Magic Kingdom's Alien Encounter lives (in German and with a much lower budget).

Then there were three more traditional ghost houses I rode. I wasn’t a fan of Fahrt zur Holle or Eckl Geisterhaus. Both reminded me of the cheap dark rides you see at US fairs. I did like Geister Palast though. This one was significantly larger than the others with 3 levels. The props came extremely close to the cars (a few were mere inches from my face) and weren’t some paper mache garbage from your local Halloween store. But my favorite thing about the ride, for the pure ridiculousness of it, was the fact that the ride op pushed the cars up the first lift. I’ve seen ops push cars out of a station before, but never up an incline. That dude is taking the stairmaster to a whole new level.

 

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This was the best of the 3 dark rides I tried.

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And the operator really did push the cars up the lift.

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Fart in the Hole!

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Eckl Geisterhaus was like the carnival dark rides in the US, and I don't mean that as a term of endearment.

 

To be continued (again)…

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Oktoberfest- Part 3 (Beer, Dark Rides, & Things to Do While Drunk)

 

The real reason 99% of people come to Oktoberfest is for the beer. I have to admit that I am not a particularly big beer drinker, but that’s because I dislike the taste of a majority of beers. When I go out to eat, I’d rather spend the extra money on a better meal or an appetizer over a beer. However, I broke that rule for Oktoberfest. How could I come to Oktoberfest and not have authentic German brews? That and the fact that beer cost less than water helped. If you can get tap water in Germany, you should book a plane ticket for Vegas.

 

Simply put, the German beers have ruined many of the American beers I wasn’t a major fan to begin with anyway. I’m not a fan of dark beers, but I am a fan of the lighter beers or weissbier in German. Stateside, my personal favorites are Blue Moon and Allagash White. Those beers are good, but the ones at Oktoberfest put those two to shame. My personal favorite at Oktoberfest was a Paulaner weissbier I had at a mini beer tent by Alpina Bahn. It was easily the smoothest beer I have ever had.

 

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It was a small tent, but this was home to my favorite beer of the trip.

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The Paulaner was so smooth.

Speaking of the beer tents. About half the midway consists of rides. The other half consists of beer tents. You have larger tents/festhauses as well as several smaller ones. Finding a seat in the larger ones is like finding a front row parking space at the Christmas mass. You either need to arrive super early, have a large enough group to book a reservation (thank you for TPR), or make friends with random people.

 

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If you don't have a reservation, you better get there at opening. Otherwise finding a seat could be difficult. This isn't an Athletics game.

For the smaller tents, it’s a matter of how packed the tent is. Long story short, they are all usually pretty packed. Even more than the rides. Saturday was akin to standing shoulder to shoulder at a Disney parade, but the other days were more manageable. My personal favorite place to have a beer (not necessarily my favorite beer, though it was good) was at the beer-go-round by Olympia Looping. It’s just as it sounds. It’s a revolving platform with a bar in the center. The place was fantastic to enjoy a beer and just take in the sights- the roar of Olympia Looping, 2 Germans passionately making out next to you, and a dude having a photoshoot with the miniature horse on the platform.

 

On our full day at the fair, we had lunch at the Lowenbrau tent and it was fantastic. 2 liters of beer, a half chicken, and a massive pretzel. I will openly admit that I’m a lightweight, so I was pretty inebriated after drinking 2 liters of beer in less than 2 hours. Rather than try the 5 liter challenge like a few of the ambitious members of TPR, I knew I was at a happy place and stopped. I was tipsy but still well enough to function and take part in never-in-America attractions afterwards that were made all the better by me not being able to walk straight.

 

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The lion atop the tent said "Lowenbrau" like an angry drunk woken up from his evening nap.

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Oh and there was music too.

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They said this was a half chicken, but it sure looked like a full chicken. It was huge!

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Massive pretzels for beer absorption.

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But the highlight was 2 liters of this. Let's just say I got pretty tipsy.

Robb and Elissa were nice enough to take us over to the Toboggan, aka conveyor belt of death slide, immediately after we had our beers. For those who haven’t seen the TPR video (do so immediately), the slide itself is a pretty slick spiral slide. But the real experience is getting to the top. Take those high speed walkways at airports, triple the speed, put it at an incline, and have the hand railings stationary. If that sounds difficult, it is and made it one of the best places at the fair for people watching. I had seen countless YouTube videos of people wiping out on the conveyor belt. Going in, I was confident. Confident that I would spectacularly wipe out. And that was before I had 2 liters of beer.

 

Before I went I saw countless guys in lederhosen go booty over teakettle, fall flat on their back, or be escorted up the ramp as a furiously marching marionette. If you were a girl or child, the attendants chivalrously were there to help. If you were a guy, they just sat back and watched the show unfold. As I approached the conveyor belt of death, I almost stopped to consider my life choices but just went for it. I almost instinctively grabbed the railing (the leading cause of wipeouts) but was somehow able to contain myself. I wobbled back and forth and a half second later was riding the ramp sideways like a surfer. I made it up! I probably looked like an awkward bumbling fool, but I made it up on my own.

 

The slide itself was good too. It’s much like the spiral slide at Knoebels. It’s pretty fast. But the experience is really all about the conveyor belt of death which I conquered. Successful on my first try, I was able to get to the stop yet again on a reride (or reslide?) immediately after. I don’t think I’d always make it to the top, but on this day luck was on my side. Instead of tempting fate a third time, I sat back, pretzel in hand, and continued to watch the carnage. 10 out of 10

 

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It looks like an innocent slide, but when you add the inclined, high speed conveyor belt and drunks, you have a recipe for wipeouts.

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This fellow was so ambitious. He thought he could make it.

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He could not and went butt over tea kettle.

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And then rode up on his back.

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His buddy after him somehow turned himself around and tried running down, but resistance was futile.

The only other attraction that may beat the Toboggan for people watching is Teufelsrad, aka the devil’s wheel. Like the Toboggan, check out TPR’s video if you have never seen one of these. If you haven’t, picture an arena filled with chanting, drunk Germans with more enthusiasm than a baseball game. In the center, you have an unassuming wooden wheel. The goal is to stay on the wheel, as it spins, longer than everyone else. The MC will call out a category (guys, girls, couples, children, etc) and if you satisfied it, you were welcome to run to the center of the wheel. If you were American and didn’t know German like me, you were pretty much doomed to be stuck on the outside of the wheel where the chances of success was bleak. You really needed to be in the center to have success.

 

Battling centripetal force, especially while inebriated, would be challenging enough. It’s pretty common for people to be sent tumbling off the wheel within the first minute. With less people on the wheel, it’s a little easier to stay balanced. So that’s why the German carny (who seriously has the best job in the world) releases a wrecking ball. It looks like a giant, poofy Christmas ornament, but the ball appeared to have some deceptive heft to it and would drill unsuspecting riders in the face. If people were still on the wheel at this point, the carnies would then whip out ropes to lasso you off. Don’t worry, they have no regards whether or not they get you by the torso, leg, or neck. To them it’s all the same.

 

It was definitely an interesting experience going on the wheel, but without a good spot in the center, it was an exercise in futility for me. Although the friction from my shoes did keep me on longer than expected, I always wiped out prior to the wrecking ball being released. But as fun as it was to ride, I found it much more entertaining to watch. In particular, there was a girl who appeared to know the operators and she gave them a run for their money. Even in the end as they tried lassoing her, she would flail about like a breakdancer to wiggle out of the rope. They eventually got her with a blindside lasso, but she made them work for it. This is something I don’t think we’ll ever see in America. And I’m not just talking at a park. This would probably even be considered too dangerous for TV shows. Overall the experience was an easy 10 out of 10.

 

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Round and round they go. And eventually centripetal force wins.

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To accelerate things, they send down this festive looking wrecking ball to smash you in the face.

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For those still on the platform, they lasso you in like cattle.

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And then there were none.

The fair also had a multistory and rather long fun house in Lach Freu Haus. Fun houses alone can mess with a drunk’s balance, but this fun house is particularly evil for two reasons. The first is water. Part of the fun house requires you to navigate slippery stepping stones. One bad step and everything is getting wet. Then there are a few suspension bridges that sink into the water if you move too slowly or weigh too much. And guess what, the average American will sink the bridge into the water, decimating your shoes.

 

The other element that can absolutely mess with your equilibrium is 3D. Yes the fun house has 3D elements. Are there paintings/pop-outs along the way? No, that’d be too tame and safe. They decided to add a 3D laser show to the spinning barrel. Those barrels are already disorienting enough, so adding 3D seemed like a jolly idea. But that actually wasn’t what caused people to wipe out on the barrel. It was the tilting of the barrel. The dang thing wobbled forwards and backwards as you went through it. So not only did the ground move side-to-side, but it also bobbed up and down. I nearly wiped out, but was able to scamper across before going face-first into the hardwood floor. The same couldn’t be said for a few other members on the trip.

 

The rest of the fun house had much tamer elements by comparison, but they were all quite good. It wasn’t quite up to the level of Grona Lund, but there was plenty left. My two favorites were the sliding stairs and the spiral slide. The latter was particularly good since I usually stick to spiral slides and never build up any speed (see the slide at Kolmarden Zoo). This one was quite slick so it was actually enjoyable rather than binding up my shorts. 9 out of 10

 

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This was an awesome fun house with some evil tricks up its sleeve.

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Down he goes.

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3D, tilting, spinning barrel of doom. Is there anything else it could do to mess with your equilibrium? If so, let the carnies know and I'm sure they'll incorporate it in.

Then there were two rides at the fair that were extreme workouts. Yes the Toboggan and Devil’s Wheel required balance, but I didn’t come off panting like I had run a marathon. That was the job of Looping the Loop and the Uberschlag. Looping the Loop is a manual flying carpet ride. You’re placed in a cage and told to go at it with the goal of completing the loop (note- the vehicles are counterweighted so you never invert, much like a flying carpet). There’s no additional restraints, so you’re free to shift your weight about the entire cage to go over the top. I first tried this evil contraption in the evening. It was easy to get halfway up and there were some good forces thanks to the tight radius. But completing the loop was a royal pain.

 

I was rhythmically gyrating (there was really no other way to go about it) and eventually got my cage to the top, but I wasn’t quite able to complete the loop. I tried and tried, but I kept getting stuck at the top or right at the top. In desperation, I tried shifting my weight at the top by running forwards, but I mistimed it. Remember how I said we were unrestrained in a cage? The ride sort of threw me backwards during its powerful downswing and I smashed into the cage. Thankfully I was able to regain my bearings and avoided any major injury. I had enough of that thing…for the night.

 

I probably should have avoided the ride after almost breaking my back, but I decided to go another round. I again worked my way up to the top and kept getting stuck. I wasn’t going to be bested by this German carny’s little contraption! This time when I reached the top, I furiously started jumping up and down like a pissed off child at a mini golf course (I had plenty of experience doing this when I was younger). Eventually I completed the loop! I went around a few times, jubilant and accomplished. Then I held on with a kung-fu death grip until the ride came to a full and complete stop. Mission complete. 8 out of 10

 

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It sounds easy enough to rock this cage over the top.

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But by the end of it, you look like this. Exhausted.

While you never actually invert on Looping the Loop, it was possible on the Uberschlag. Since you actually invert on this one, the restraints were much more restrictive. On this one, I felt like a prisoner. The straps tying you to the pole were ok, but it was the ankle restraint that had me thinking I was at Alcatraz. Since I couldn’t throw my body around, I had to gyrate even harder this time in order to build the height of the swing.

 

Unfortunately I hit a wall (figuratively thankfully) at 120 degrees. I tried going higher, but those 120 degree swings produced some pretty good airtime. By the time I landed back on the ground, I didn’t have enough time to properly shift my weight to go any higher. I kept trying, but when I tried pushing harder it started to hurt my ankle a bit so I drew the line. Getting this one to flip truly would be a beat of endurance. I had to bow out, but still had fun once I got the swings going. 8 out of 10

 

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If you wanted to know what a prison swing would be like, the Uberschlag is for you.

The past few rides are all things that are traps for drunks. The last ride, Fahrpreise, has employees drinking on the job. Don’t worry, it’s not the ride operators. That would be dangerous. They just have their obligatory cigarettes. The drinkers were the live band. Yes this ride had a live band. Before our ride, the operator handed them shots of beer for them to enjoy. Needless to say I have never seen anything quite like it.

 

The ride itself could only be described as traditional. It was like a hybrid of a trabant and a carousel. The ride had absolutely no restraints, but the tame movements didn’t require them. We had a blast just laughing at the whole ride set-up and enjoying the live music which captured the feel of Oktoberfest perfectly. It’s not a world-beater, but it’s something that needs to be experienced. For us, it was the perfect way to end a night. 6 out of 10

 

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The child of a trabant and a carousel was pretty funky and cool.

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I wasn't kidding. They seriously had a live band playing.

Oktoberfest was an incredible experience. Everything from the food to the beers to the people to the crazy rides made the event standout. There’s really nothing quite like it. I was there for 4 days (some full days, some partials) and could have easily spent more time. Riding all the rides does get expensive, but basically everything delivered and was worth it in my opinion. I don’t know when I’ll return to Oktoberfest, but I know I will return someday.

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Bayern Park

 

Bayern Park was the complete antithesis to Oktoberfest. Instead of the loud, bustling midways, Bayern Park had the feel of a well-shaded, scenic German village. The entry area reminded me of the architecture in the German section of Busch Gardens, but again, much quieter. As a whole, I'd say the park caters to children. But it was also home to two of the most intense rides on the trip, Freischutz and Duell der Adler. Interesting, these two rides are two of the park's newer attractions too so maybe they're trying to spark a demographic shift and target a whole new audience.

 

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Hobo, I don't think we're in the city anymore.

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This poor lion may have been slightly violated during our group photo. Only slightly.

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The architecture on these buildings made me feel like I was at Busch Gardens.

We only had 3 hours at the park, so we began a quick loop. While the rides at Oktoberfest try to top each other in a dick measuring contest, Bayern Park really tucks most of its rides away. Without the map, we probably wouldn't have found 2-3 of the smaller coasters. We wanted to begin with the funky river rapids water slide. The weather was slated to get cooler as the day went on, so we wanted to knock this out first in case it got us drenched. So we proceeded through an odd-looking castle that we thought was the entrance.

 

Thought is the key word. The queue was a narrow, winding labyrinth in almost total darkness. When we reached the end, we realized we had made a mistake. We considered bailing out, but decided to stick around and see what was inside. We figured it'd be some type of walkthrough. When the doors opened, we were shocked to see a drop tower. Mind you, the tower was probably no more than 40-50 feet in height so it was clearly a junior drop tower model. But nonetheless we were intrigued by the ride being enclosed.

 

Soon after the ride began rotating (yes the tower spun too) towards the top. Each level of the tower had these creepy looking dolls that were honestly more terrifying than the garden variety ghosts in Tower of Terror. As a kids tower, the drops weren't that fast, but they did give a tiny stomach dropping sensation. Later in the ride, I was surprised by a few fast ascents to the top that even gave some pops of floater air. When we got off, we weren't really sure what we had just ridden. I still can't believe the amount of theming put into a junior drop tower, but we ended up enjoying the ride they call Thaolon. 7 out of 10

 

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In retrospect, this doesn't really look like a river rapids ride.

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Instead it was an enclosed, haunted, junior drop tower that ended up being way better than it should have been.

Next we actually got on Whitewater Rafting. Turns out the entrance passed right over the ride and had a big old sign next to it, go figure. None of us had ever seen a rapids ride quite like this. Honestly, it was pretty similar to those Whitewater West spinning raft things that Cypress Gardens and Six Flags New England used to have. Except here the dinky inflatable rafts were replaced by robust river rapids boats. And that honestly made the slide more terrifying.

 

The section leading up to the lift is a decent little lazy river section with some theming. I think it was themed to mining, though we're pretty sure one scene had a dude bludgeoning another dude with a hammer. I thought this was a kids park? But after the haunted dolls and murder, I wasn't so sure. After the lift, the thrilling section began. It felt wrong careening full speed in a river rapids boat towards an unbanked water slide turn. Since we had a pretty full boat, we were genuinely terrified four Americans would send the raft careening over the edge, giving the park some more bodies to use in Thaolon. I think you can tell we survived, but the rafts definitely slid up the walls more than expected. The final splash was surprisingly dry, but we appreciated it. 8 out of 10

 

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We enjoyed the lazy river while those miners were non-lazy and mined.

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It was a slightly unnerving feeling sliding up the walls in a big old raft, but when we realized it was well engineered, we ended up really liking it.

As the rest of the group enjoyed their first beer of the day, we decided to venture off to the far side of the park. One end of the park has a pretty large pond and the walkway loops around it. At the end of the loop are some kids rides, highlighted by the cute little mouse ride where we saw kids riding in the not-in-America position (aka sitting on the back of the car with their feet on the seat while enjoying an ice cream cone). But there was one adult ride down there and one that could genuinely be dangerous after beers, an alpine slide.

 

Earlier this summer, I rode my first alpine slide at Attitash. I really enjoyed the ride, but I definitely rode it with training wheels and exercised discretion around almost all of the turns. On Attitash's, there were several steep drops that were seemingly engineered for stupid decisions. Accidents on that thing are common bedside stories in New England. Give me a mountain coaster and I'll ignore the brake like Massachusetts drivers ignore the speed limit. But when it's possible to fly off the course, I am careful. I started with that tentative approach on Twinbob Rodelbahn, but about 1/3 of the way down I realized the downward angle was so slight that I couldn't possibly fly off the course. My hubris was rewarded as I sped (though that's an overstatement) the rest of the way down. Honestly it was ok, but I found this one a little too tame and significantly shorter than Attitash's. 5 out of 10

 

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I'd say riding this after beers was tempting fate, but I don't think this one went fast enough to send you over the edge.

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Note the kid definitely not sitting on the seat.

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At one end of the pond was a Disneyland sized castle.

After burning the good chunk of the day on non-coasters, we figured we should start racking up the credits. The first one we hit was the custom Zierer Tivoli, Achterbahn (aka Roller Coaster in German). There were no real drops, but the ride had the obligatory super long train so the helixes generated decent speed in the back. The best part of the ride was how it interacted with the nearby trees. It was definitely better than most junior coasters, but just an ok ride overall. 5 out of 10

 

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It's a Zierer so of course the train is a gazillion cars long.

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Many of the ride's helixes loop around trees, which is always better than the standard Six Flags parking lot.

On the way, we passed the park's flume and since it was a walk-on, we gave it a whirl. While Oktoberfest had the unique traveling flume, Whitewater Ride had the standard portable flume layout. The drops were just ok, but what made the flume slightly better than usual was the little landscaping and theming around the ride. While a standard layout, it's built on a hill and the first turn actually had some hidden theming. I guess it's obligatory for all German flumes to have at least one random show scene. 5 out of 10

 

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I've seen this layout a few times, but I've never seen it look this good.

Continuing the theme of the day, we again got distracted on our way to the credits and made our stop at the slide. Usually slides are relatively tame affairs unless they have been throughly waxed and can give some air. This slide was different. I honestly think this slide would never have to be waxed and it would still give a crazy ride. Called the Steep Slide, it's appropriately named. I don't know what the angle of descent was, but I can confidently say it was steeper than most coasters and was on par with a speed slide. Because of the tight radius at the start of the slide, you're guaranteed to get some frightening airtime. The whole experience isn't more than 3-4 seconds, but it's a rush. 10 out of 10

 

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The slide on the left is your normal wave slide, but what's that on the right?

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That angle of descent looks steeper than most coasters. And it gives better airtime than most drops too.

We then went into credit whore mode since we had less than an hour left. Next to the death-defying slide was Froschbahn (aka the Frog Ride). Also a Zierer, this one was far less respectable than the larger one across the park. Like most rides at the park, it looked great and the layout was well-hidden. The latter was a plus so no one (hopefully) saw us riding this credit. 2 out of 10

 

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The layout goes behind those trees. All 200 feet of it.

It was time to try my first Butterfly. But which one to pick? The park has two, one enclosed and one outside. We decided to go all in and picked the indoor one first. The coaster (if you call it that, I do) is located in an odd castle building that contains quite a few do-it-yourself attractions. Along with Star Shuttle, there was also some rock walls, a manual swinging ship, a weird looping ride, and some free arcade games. Naturally we all ran to the credit first.

 

I was in a group of 4 people that had never ridden a Butterfly before, so it took us some fumbling around to figure out how to operate it. Eventually we got it and the ride was fun. The first drop really had me feeling it in the gut, kind of like the first drop on a Vekoma boomerang, but the rest of the ride was just meh. It seemed to take a while to stop; a fact that made for an entertaining show with a few other members on the trip. 4 out of 10

 

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This park really has a thing for castles, doesn't it?

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Butterfly 1.

While we were in the building, I decided to try the manual swinging ship, Komet. I hadn't seen it run, so I figured it'd be a cute little ride that rocked back and forth. I pulled the lapbar down that rested a good foot off my lap and pulled the string to start the ride. The instructions said to hold the string to keep the ride swinging. The first few swings were like a lawn swing, so just as I started yawning, the ride reved and made a sound that would excite 1001 Nachts woman. It then got higher and higher and higher. When it reached its max height, I was afraid I'd break the dang thing, but I was getting some surprising ejector air. Who would have thought a swing no taller than 20 feet could be capable of air that strong. I would have loved to keep going, but I didn't want to be a dick and stopped so the next passenger could be treated to the airtime buffet. 9 out of 10

 

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Aw so cute.

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And then it transforms into an airtime machine.

After Komet, I had to try the funky inverting wheel. I had to wait about 3-4 runs (the longest wait of the day by far) and was treated to a considerably tamer ride. Yes it inverted. But the inversions were taken incredibly slowly. Honestly the best part was intentionally stalling the wheel upside down much to the chagrin of the passengers waiting in line. It was an interesting little ride, but I wish it inverted a little faster like the Unicoasters. 5 out of 10

 

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The powered wheel of death was shockingly tame by comparison after the little swing ride.

With only 20 minutes left before ERT, we ran over to Butterfly. A few people sat it out after the first one, but the real credit whores (myself included) made sure to ride the outdoor one as well. It was the same ride pretty much, except this one was shaded by trees instead of being illuminated by incandescent light bulbs. 4 out of 10

 

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Butterfly 2.

So you may have realized that I saved the park's two biggest thrill rides (and arguably best rides) for last in Freischutz and Duell der Adler (the Sky Roller). That was intentional for two reasons. One, I didn't want to make everything else in the park seem tame by comparison. Two, we had ERT on them and I wanted to ensure I had time to hit everything else. Number two is the primary reason, but since we had 10 minutes before ERT, we decided to sneak a ride on Freischutz through the normal queue. Thought normal isn't the right word here. The queue is a maze. And I don't mean that in the sense that it's ridiculously long. No I mean it in the literal sense. It is actually a series of 3 mazes with multiple routes. All paths seemed to lead to the station, but it was still weird.

 

This was my second Maurer X-Car. My first was Rip Ride Rockit. When the Rockit opened, I remember reading several reviews stating the ride was rough. I was worried during my ride, but I was treated to an almost glass-smooth, intense coaster that I ended up loving. With the same lapbar only trains, I had high hopes that Freischutz would deliver another smooth and intense ride. It did half of that. The top speed is less than 50 MPH, but that launch was surprisingly forceful. It was no Top Thrill Dragster, but it put the launches of Helix and Flight of Fear to shame.

 

The inverted top hat was excellent (I seriously love these inversions) and had some great hang-time. The next bit gave the ride its positive Gs. The vertical loop was decent, but the two overbanked turns afterwards were incredibly forceful and caused me to grey out a bit. The hang-time returned on the zero-G roll and that was followed by a ferocious final corkscrew that really whips you through it. The ride is short, but it's a rush that perfectly alternates between positive and negative Gs.

 

So you may have discerned by this point that if I'm praising the ride's forces, that it let me down in the smoothness department. And you'd be correct. Thankfully there were no OSTRs or else this could have been brutal. Even without banging my head, I still got a bit of a headache since the ride rattled the entire way through. I don't think there was a single track piece after the launch where I didn't feel like I was riding a vibrator. I got rides in the very front, front of the back car, and very back, and all 3 seats were quite rattly. I did hear the middle seats on both cars were smoother, but I didn't get a chance to try those. Still despite the vibrations, I did enjoy Freischutz since it is a really intense ride with impeccable pacing. 8 out of 10

 

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The queue looks so unassuming, but it's a labyrinth. An actual labyrinth.

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Any looper with lap bar only trains gets a thumbs up from me.

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The ride perfectly alternates from positive to negative Gs.

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Sadly the launch is the only smooth part of the ride. A shame since this could have been pretty high in my rankings otherwise. Still a fun, forceful ride though.

We wrapped up with Duell der Adler, the Sky Roller. I had experience on the versions at Canada's Wonderland, Blackpool, and Liseberg, so I knew how to put on a good show. I rocked the wings in rhythm and was eventually treated to the balls-to-the-wall, intensity that I crave. I probably averaged 50-60 flips per ride. The most amazing thing to me about this flat is just how intense the flipping is. I can't think of a single ride with faster flips out there and for that reason, I absolutely love it.

 

On what we thought was our last ride, we waited for our restraints to be unlocked, but the park gave us another lap. Most riders were excited by this and we made sure to go out with a bang. The one feature I particularly liked on this one is that the ride statistics are fully visible to riders as they exit. On the other versions I've been on, the flipping stats seem to be hidden in the operator box, so the only way you can keep track of your flips is if the operator calls it out or if you can miraculously keep count while going head-over-heels. Here, there's a monitor so you can either brag about your performance or run before someone calls you out for having as many flips as Big Thunder Mountain. 10 out of 10

 

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I can't emphasize it enough that this is one of my favorite flats out there.

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It was great riding with others than fully intended to flip these like madmen. Usually you only see 1-2 people going balls out while the rest of them are stationary or barely rocking.

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Yours truly was in car 2.

I thoroughly enjoyed our few hours at Bayern Park. As a whole, it's a perfect family park. But then Freischutz and Duell der Adler are two of the more intense rides out there. I'm not sure if that's the direction the park wants to go in or if they just wanted some added variety in their lineup, but as long as the park keeps their quirky and funky charm going with all their additions, I think Bayern Park will always be worth the day trip when I'm out in Munich.

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Skyline Park

 

Going into Skyline Park on the trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect. While they appeared to have a pretty unique ride collection, pretty much everyone on the trip who had previously been there wanted to forego it in favor of more time at Europa. We ultimately decided to stop in for three hours. I’m glad we stopped in so I could experience the park, but I can definitely understand why several wanted to skip it in favor of more Europa time.

 

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Are you ready to count how many times the word "sky" is used in this report?

The park was odd. There’s no other way to describe it. Some of the individual rides are well-themed; others were portable carnival rides with absolutely no theming. The front side of the park is extremely well-shaded and feels like a cute family park, but then you reach the other 75% of the park and it’s a big desolate field. No trees. Just grass, grass, and more grass. The only thing breaking up the grass was a random cornfield smack dab in the center of the park.

 

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The waterfall looks cool, but note the wide open fields between rides.

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One of the park's "midways". On the bright side, they have plenty of room to add new attractions.

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I'm thinking the new for 2017 log flume is really for 2018.

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They also have this big geyser here. Why? Because they can.

But the weirdest and most frustrating thing were their ride operating schedules. I’ve been to parks with delayed ride openings; we all have. I’ve been to parks where certain rides close early. Skyline did the first and we left before the second could occur, but what made them truly special was how they’d operate their rides on half hour shifts. For example, the Wildcat would run for a half hour and then the Maurer spinner would run for a half hour. We were given a schedule so we could at least try and plan how to efficiently ride things.

 

There was one curveball though. It wasn’t actually a half hour the rides operated. Technically it was only 25 minutes so the operators had 5 minutes to walk to their next ride. We could plan for that. The tricky part was that the operators would cut off the line 5-10 minutes before the posted ride closing time. So basically you had to be in a ride line by X:15 or X:45 or else you couldn’t guarantee a ride. That made racking up all the credits pretty tricky in just three hours.

 

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When a park's operating schedule looks like a game of red light, green light, that's never a good sign.

When we arrived, almost everything was closed. Most of the group went to the slingshot, which was amazingly included with park admission. I had been on the one at Kings Island and I thought the ride was solid, but just ok. I decided to explore the rest of the park in search of some rarer rides.

 

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Including this with park admission is pretty cool though.

I thought the self-operated stuff seemed like a safe bet to be open. Nope. The Nautic Jet (boat jump) was closed. The Butterfly was closed. Even the park’s slide was closed. Eventually we did find two operational rides- the self-operated swinging ship and the self-propelled rocking ship. The self-operated swinging ship was identical to the one at Bayern Park, right down to the name as well (Komet). I still can’t believe just how much air these little swings provide. The other attraction we tried was a funky ship were riders manually bounce and rock the ship. I could see that ride being awesome in a large group, but for just two people it was meh.

 

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Some of the self-operated stuff was still closed. I'd come back to this one though.

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Go figure, even the slides were closed.

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Finally an open ride! This is that weird manual rocking ship. Would be fun with a larger group.

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They also had one of my pipe dream rides- bumper car go karts!

As we passed through the rest of the shaded section of the park, we found some super well-themed rides (closed of course). My favorite was the kid’s car ride themed to a junkyard (or was it really the park’s junkyard?). The theming was beyond the theming Six Flags typically uses for an apocalypse, which is honestly a big compliment. Then there was also what appeared to be an indoor rotor/spinning ride with a highly detailed facade. Compare that to the world’s worst splash battle that was literally plopped down into a field with zero theming.

 

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Junkyard theming or a real junkyard? You decide.

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Suddenly Six Flags theming doesn't look so bad.

Eventually we got a group message that some of the coasters had opened! So we began with Sky Rider. I should also note that like half the rides in the park have “sky” in them and that’s not an exaggeration. I wish it was since it was nearly impossible to keep track of everything’s name. Sky Rider is a rare Caipro batflyer and this one is even more unique by the fact that it has spinning cars. The cars don’t spin too much, but I did really like the open seating arrangement that the vehicles provided. Because of this, one of the highlights was the elevator lift at the start of the ride.

 

There were no drops, so the beginning was extremely tame. By the end it built up enough speed to induce some solid swinging on the final turns. It definitely could have been more thrilling had it spun the whole way through, but as it stands it’s just ok. The ride was unique, but one ride was more than enough. 6 out of 10

 

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Up they go.

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Most of the ride was a slightly faster monorail, but the final turns at least did swing a bit.

Up next was my most anticipated ride at the park, Sky Wheel. A rare Maurer sky loop (and a name I’m honestly shocked Skyline hasn’t used yet), the ride looked intriguing. People who had been on sky loops were less than enthused by the prospect of riding one again, so that probably should have been my first sign. It’s by far the tallest coaster in the park. You can either choose to follow the pathways to the ride or take the more direct route to the ride by passing through the huge grassy field in front of it. After riding Freischutz, I was worried this could be an uncomfortable experience. Thankfully it didn’t rattle.

 

The issue here was the restraints. As the ride progressed, the restraints got tighter and tighter. Unlike Skyrush where you get your thighs crushed, Sky Wheel’s restraints dig deeper and deeper into your stomach, which is not somewhere I typically picture a lap bar resting. I enjoyed the first lap for the glorious hang-time through that zero-G roll, but the descent is where the lap bar tightened.

 

The next ascent back up essentially had a holding break in the form of the catch car, which is where I received a nice gut punch from the restraints. The rest of the second lap was enjoyable, but the ride gave me another gut punch when the catch car caught us at the conclusion of the ride. With more comfortable restraints, this would be a far more enjoyable attraction. As it sits, it’s a mix of really good (the zero-G roll and descent) and really bad (the catch car/holding break). 6 out of 10

 

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Do you take the path or walk across the open field?

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If it weren't for that holding brake, I would have really liked this odd ride.

Kids Spin was right next door so we guiltily grabbed the credit. As far as junior coasters go, the little SBF spinners are a cut above. This one is one of the extended models so you think it’d be better, but much like the version at Santa’s Village, this one simply didn’t seem to spin as much as the more compact ones. I just spent way too much time analyzing this kids coaster. Moving on. 3 out of 10

 

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This is actually a respectable kids coaster I can enjoy.

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For some reason, the bonus helix version seems to spin less than the standard layout.

We took a coaster break with another one of those weird river rapids/water slide hybrids. Called Wet n Wild, it wasn’t really wet and it wasn’t really wild. The coolest and funkiest thing about the ride is the elevator lift. But this is no ordinary elevator lift. This is a rotating elevator lift. The downhill bit spun considerably more than the one at Bayern Park, but the turns weren’t nearly as wild. 7 out of 10

 

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It was at this point the rotating elevator lift drew us in.

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I was expecting a much bigger splash, but this was about all it did.

It was now 10:20, so we decided to make our way over to Achterbahn, the Schwarzkopf Wildcat, before it closed. But right as we got there, we heard the operator shout “no, no, no” and she closed off the queue line. Aw fooey. Guess we had to wait until 11 for our last chance to ride it. We used that time to beat the rush (and when I say rush, I mean the rest of our group) to the Maurer spinner, Sky Spin.

 

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Right after I took this photo, the line was shut down. Time to consult the schedule...

Right on the dot, the ride opened at 10:30 and we were on one of the first cars. I really enjoy these Maurer spinners (particularly in reverse), but there was something different about this one. As we approached the first drop, I prepared for that great backwards drop, but then saw the track ahead of me as we decided. “What the…?” For some odd reason, the spinning on this one begins immediately after the lift rather than the first turnaround like every other installation.

 

The rest of the ride seemed a tad jerkier than the others I’ve been on, but it was mostly unbraked. Unlike on Laff Trak where you crawl through the second half, you are traveling at a pretty good clip on this one and spin non-stop. 7 out of 10

 

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Note how they are spinning on the first drop. That doesn't happen on the others I've been on.

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This was probably the park's best coaster.

Sky Dragster was one of the rare coasters that operated non-stop. We hit that one next. The prototype Maurer (this place seems like their showground) spike coaster, Sky Dragster is an interesting concept. The premise is that you can control the speed to go as fast or as slow as you wanted. Naturally all the coaster enthusiasts were going to push these things to the extreme and see just how fast they could go.

 

The seats were unique and more like a motorcycle than the motorbike coasters I’ve ridden. The initial launch was surprisingly forceful, so I was actually pretty optimistic. But then the ride started to lag a bit. Oddly the ride would seemingly decelerate on the drops only to then speed up again on the inclines. I did like the final helix/turnaround thing which had the ride’s steepest drop (even if it was taken slower than I’d like) and some really tight turns.

 

The ride clocks your speed and keeps track of the fastest runs per day, but I’m not really sure if there was anything we could have done to go faster. Were we supposed to strategically use the throttle instead of going full tilt the whole way? Does it go faster with more or less weight? We didn’t really have the time to explore. I’ll say it was an interesting concept and pretty fun, but I just wish it could keep the intensity of the initial launch the whole way through. 7 out of 10

 

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The "launch" was so promising, but then the ride seemed to lose a ton of speed.

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It was fun, but nothing spectacular and worth going out of the way for.

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Ryan made it look really fun.

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I have to admit, the seating arrangement was cool and felt more like a motorcycle than the other motorbike coasters I've been on.

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And they clock your time. No clue how you can change it though since we all ran it full throttle.

The park also has one of those skyscraper/speed rides included with admission as well. Since those are one of my favorite flats and this one was both a walk-on and free, I had to ride it. As I waited for my seat, the ride seemed to come to an abrupt halt. Oh poop, did it break down? No, the operator thought one of the restraints came undone but after a quick visual check he shrugged it off and kept going.

 

I’m not quite sure who the manufacturer for this version was, but the restraints and overall size of the ride were different. The OSTRs were pretty bulky on this one and the arm was noticeably smaller than the others I’ve been on. Still despite the smaller size, the ride had some really strong forces on the downswings. Unfortunately the cars didn’t flip as much as I would have thought, but unlike Cyber Space at Oktoberfest, these cars did rock back and forth so the forces were comfortable. 8 out of 10

 

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Also included with admission.

Not wanting to risk missing Achterbahn, we immediately made our way over there. It was about 11:15 at this point and seconds after we got in line, the operator cut the queue off. I know it’s a standard model, but I had never been on one of the Schwarzkopf Wildcats before so I was interested to see how it would compare to all the galaxi/zyklon coasters I’ve ridden. This one was noticeably taller, but the drops weren’t that steep. But it was a smooth, enjoyable coaster. 6 out of 10

 

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The jumbo galaxi was a case where bigger was better.

We missed out on the bobkart at Bayern Park due to time, so we decided to try the one at Skyline Park. I had never been on one of these rides before, so I was intrigued. Offride it looked like an electric powered alpine slide. It ended up being a pretty long ride. However, it wasn’t really fast. For that reason, it was more of a relaxing ride than thrilling. I honestly thought it felt like Kennywood’s Auto Race for a majority of the ride. 5 out of 10

 

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That guy was ready for the photo.

With only 20 minutes left, we only had time for one final ride. We could have been complete whores and ridden the Butterfly or we could look God in the eyes on Nautic Jet. We went with the latter since it was a far more unique experience, especially considering the two butterflies we rode at Bayern. Going up that incline in reverse and staring at that jump at the bottom of the ramp is pretty terrifying. As coaster enthusiasts, we’ve all experienced airtime. But you can’t help but feel uneasy about a vehicle physically leaving the track like this.

 

The descent began and it had some punch to it. However, the real thrill began when the boat left the track. As gravity shoved the boat down towards the water, I got a solid stomach dropping sensation. After what seemed like an eternity, we the boat splashed down. The ride looks surprisingly wet off-ride, but it’s actually quite dry as long as you lean forward since the boat dips back a bit on the landing. It’s short and simple, but it’s one heck of a thrill. 9 out of 10

 

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Nautic Jet was a pretty freaky experience. I thought of all the times I designed rides in Roller Coaster Tycoon where I intentionally ended the track early. Except this one ended with a splash instead of an explosion.

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I wonder if that's really a pond or the pee from terrified riders?

All in all, Skyline was probably the weakest park on the trip. Saying Skyline was a bad park would be an unfair statement. I'd more go with disappointing. While the entrance area seems promising, the majority of the park felt lifeless. From a ride perspective, it does have some fairly unique attractions, but the thing that stands out most is the crazy operating schedule for the rides.

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Europa Park

 

While called the Oktoberfest tour, the real highlight of the trip for me was Europa Park. What else can be said about this amazing park? Everyone who has been there sings the park’s praises and I will happily join that bandwagon. The park is spectacular. It has some fantastic coasters, great rip-offs of every Disney dark ride, immersive theming, and mouthwatering food around every corner.

 

I think the most striking thing about the park is just how attraction dense it is. Usually parks this big really spread out the rides. Europa spreads out the major attractions, but in between each of these are a ton of random boat rides, dark rides, walkthroughs, flats, etc. Thankfully we crossed the park several times since I missed quite a few of them on my first pass. That’s partially because of how many there are and also because of how well-themed the entrances are.

 

We had 1 full day, 1 half day, and 1 preview day at the park. I was able to get on all the major rides, but I very well could have spent a few additional days as well reriding my favorites and exploring all the things I didn’t get to (primarily the shows). To top off the amazing park, Europa is a true resort with 4-5 beautiful hotels. Each hotel has theming on par with the park and several restaurants. We stayed at Hotel Colosseo and it was easily one of my favorite hotels.

 

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Hotel Colosseo was beautiful.

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Though I was a fan of the theming at the other hotel.

Our first day was the “preview” day after we left Skyline Park. We had an hour before ERT on Blue Fire, so we decided to knock off a few rides. Atlantic SuperSplash was near the entrance, so we decided that if we were going to get soaked, it would be better to do it on a partial day at the park. I rode an identical version a few months back at SeaWorld San Antonio and this was almost the same experience. The backwards bit seems like a gimmick, but I do really enjoy the backwards drop and of course the large forwards one is even better.

 

But I did say almost. While the splash itself didn’t get us too wet, the mischievous dolphins at the bottom sure did. Those creatures looked so cute, but then they all blew their loads at the same time like 40 year old virgins. So needless to say we got pretty wet, but that was expected. I would have ridden this again, but there’s a better one across the park (more on that later). 7 out of 10

 

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I cut out the dolphins out of spite.

I said the park rips off Disney dark rides, but I kind of feel bad saying that. Yes the park basically has a copy of all their major dark rides, but they’re actually very well done. Take for example Piraten in Batavia. I didn’t need my translator to realize this was their take on Pirates of the Caribbean. Once it began, I could tell they were inspired by the Florida one specifically.

 

There was a short little drop at the beginning and it dropped us right into the midst of two ships battling. Sound familiar? The rest of the ride is just as politically incorrect as a pirate ride should be. This was easily the best of the park’s dark rides and just a notch behind Disney’s Pirates. 10 out of 10

 

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Pirates of the Not Caribbean

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It's every bit as non-politically correct as the original.

We followed one great dark ride up with one that wasn’t quite as great. I believe Europa saw the future. They predicted Disney would create Frozen, infest all our radios with Let it Go, and when its popularity peaked, create a theme park ride based on it. Sure enough, Epcot opened Frozen Ever After. But years before Europa already had something called the Snowflake Snow Ride.

 

I have absolutely no clue what was going on during the ride (something that I could say about quite a few of their dark rides), but the cheap animatronics alternated between cute and creepy. Some of them had innocent, little doll faces that would be perfect at a younger sister’s tea party. Others had faces that would make Chucky proud. Oh and the ride was in the Russia section which automatically made it better. The ride was probably the shortest of their dark rides, but still decently enjoyable. 6 out of 10

 

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Creepy or cute? You decide.

We had a few minutes before we wanted to get over to Blue Fire for ERT. Euro-Mir was right there and had a 5 minute wait posted, so we couldn’t resist. At most major parks, we wouldn’t have risked missing part of ERT, but Europa’s throughput on rides is up there with Disney. They don’t offer a line skipping program, but I didn’t see a wait longer than a half hour over the three days there. And most things were less than 5 minutes. They pumped trains out like Barry Bonds pumped roids into his body.

 

Euro-Mir was no different. We boarded the very back and I was treated to the weirdest spinning coaster I had ever experienced. All I knew about Euro-Mir going in was that the lift hill was a dance party. It’s weird to take time to praise a lift hill, but it’s a 4-5 minutes of Russian techno music as the car slowly spins. Eventually you exit the building and navigate some wild mouse style turns. The spinning felt much more controlled on Euro-Mir than the other spinners I’ve been on and that was apparent in a bit.

 

I was facing forwards on the drop. While I would have preferred to go backwards, it was still a really large drop for a spinner. The next hill spun me into reverse and then the car locked into place. That was odd, but it allowed me to experience the rest of the ride in reverse. The helixes had some good Gs and there were a few surprise drops.

 

After a reride later on the trip in the same seat, I realized the spinning is in fact controlled as I believe I had the exact same ride. I loved the smaller Mack spinners I have been on (Turbulence & Sierra Sidewinder), so I was interested to try a far larger version. The spinning wasn’t quite what I expected. In some ways, I wish it spun randomly, but it was still a very fun and unique coaster. 8 out of 10

 

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One part techno dance party, one part coaster.

Blue Fire is often considered the park’s best coaster (no small feat in a park with a hyper), but after riding it, I can see why. The entire attraction looks fantastic with the vibrant blue track and detailed rock work. And that theming extends to the launch area. Blue fire is some type of energy source and the launch occurs after some sort of explosion. Having just ridden Helix a few days ago, I was actually shocked that Blue Fire’s launch had some strength to it. I loved Helix, but was still puzzled how forceless its launches were. Blue Fire amended that.

 

It’s not uncommon for a launched coaster to begin with a top hat, but Blue Fire’s take on the popular element is different. It’s some sort of funky overbank/top hat hybrid that mixes some air and laterals. The subsequent vertical loop has some solid hang-time amplified by the lap bar only trains. The Mack launch coaster trains are among the most comfortable trains out there.

 

The first half is short, but has some great air entering and exiting the mid-course brake run. But the real highlight is the second half. There are two zero-G rolls with some fantastic hang-time. There’s a nice little floater S-hill that threads the vertical loop before approaching the last inversion. To this point, Blue Fire lured me in to expect another graceful twist. Except the final inversion is a ferociously wild inline twist combining delicious hang-time with powerful laterals. It felt like the old-school B&M zero-G rolls, except I only had a lap bar holding me in here.

 

It’s no secret I prefer floaty/hang-time inversions over positive-G heavy inversions. For that reason, Blue Fire was right up my alley. The ride is a mishmash of all my favorite elements- a great launch, airtime, and hang-time. I got 7-8 rides during the ERT session and added another 7-8 over the next two days as well. I can definitely see why parks have cloned this layout since it’s a great, well-rounded ride. 9.5 out of 10

 

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Blue Fire has a little of everything and it does everything well.

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I'm not sure if that's a top hat or an overbank, but whatever it is, it's great.

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I love floaty, hang-time filled inversions and that's Blue Fire's specialty.

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And it has great theming to boot.

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Looks like Blue Fire didn't like waking up early.

We had early entry, so on Day 2 we began with the powered Alpenexpress Enzian. The coaster has an upcharge VR option. While we all opted for the standard ride, I do applaud the park for how well they implement the VR. Rather than slowing the entire line like Six Flags or SeaWorld, Europa has a few designated rows with VR. The result is the non-VR riders still have a speedy line. VR did appear to have somewhat of a wait, but the upcharge fee kept the line manageable.

 

I rode my fair share of powered coasters in Europe, but this one was probably the best. The layout was much longer than it appeared and it passed through a well-themed mine (which turned out to be a walkthrough attraction) a few times during the ride. The ride wasn’t forceful and had no drops, but it was an enjoyable little coaster. 5 out of 10

 

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Why would I pick VR and miss out on this beautiful mine?

We then made our way across the park to one of the world’s most maligned hyper coasters, Silver Star. I am a big fan of the B&M hypers, but I guess not every enthusiast can appreciate copious amounts of floater air. While the station has a sleek, futuristic vibe to it, the coaster is basically plopped down in a parking lot. It was very much apparent during the lift, but I was having too much fun on the rest of the coaster to notice.

 

The first four drops are the standard B&M hyper fare, so needless to say my butt wasn’t anywhere close to the seat. There was an uncharacteristically strong rattle at the bottom of the first two drops, but it was brief and the coaster is glass smooth. The return leg is particularly noteworthy on Silver Star. The drop off the brake run and the subsequent hill give some surprising ejector air. I wasn’t expecting that for all the disdain this ride receives! The final hill is back to the typical B&M air before speeding through a cool, little slalom section back to the station.

 

Silver Star wasn’t anywhere near the bottom of my B&M hyper list and I honestly preferred it to some of the more popular ones like Diamondback and Nitro. I got 7-8 rides on Silver Star during my visit since the line was never more than 10 minutes. As per usual, my favorite seat on this B&M hyper was the back row. I refused to wait an extra half hour for the front, but my ride in the second row had really good air as well. I slightly preferred Blue Fire, but Silver Star gives the park a formidable 1-2 punch. 9 out of 10

 

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Hate the ride all you want, but it basically says you don't like floater air.

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The ending bit had these cool slalom turns to differentiate it.

Since we had lights-on ERT later that night on Eurosat, I made sure to get my lights off ride during normal park operating hours. We were fortunate enough to visit the park just before Eurosat 1.0 was slated for removal. The futuristic Epcot dome was transformed into a giant Jack-o-lantern for Halloween, and that is of course accompanied by a song sure to get stuck in your head. I grabbed the back for my first ride.

 

I was fully prepared for a long lift on Euro-Mir, but I wasn’t expecting it on Eurosat. It was another 4-5 minute spiral lift, so there was ample time for that song to stick. Once the coaster bit began, it was apparent to me why the coaster was being replaced/removed. The ride was pretty jerky. If it had been outdoors or illuminated, the jerkiness wouldn’t have been an issue, but in total darkness I couldn’t brace myself for the upcoming turns.

 

I formed a much more favorable opinion during the lights on ERT session. Surprisingly it wasn’t because of the lights; it was the seat that made all the difference. After a few rides during ERT, I realized the front was the only smooth seat on this ride. Riding up front, I was able to appreciate the progressively faster turns that were reminiscent of Disneyland’s Space Mountain. During one of my last rides, the lights went out right as I crested the lift which was a very cool experience. Up front, it was a 7 out of 10

 

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I'm shocked Disney hasn't tried this yet.

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The space theme was replaced by Halloween for our visit.

Europa didn’t rip off the Matterhorn ride, but of course they had to name something after the famous Swedish mountain. Matterhorn Blitz is almost a clone of one of the large Mack wild mice. I say almost since this one begins with a funky, tilting elevator lift. After that, the layout should be pretty familiar.

 

As the large version, this one has a sizable drop at the start. Despite that drop, I typically prefer the standard versions since the hairpin turns and ending bunny hops are considerably wilder. While Matterhorn Blitz has the same pitfall, Europa mitigates this issue by adding a series of tunnels and trees along the ride’s course. 6 out of 10

 

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Elevator lifts make everything better.

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It's a standard layout, but you wouldn't be able to tell with all the trees and tunnels.

The bobsled was the rare ride at Europa that was a disappointment. The ride looks fantastic as it weaves through some trees and tunnels in the Switzerland area. However, the ride was less than fantastic. The large drop at the beginning is a rarity for a bobsled coaster. But immediately the ride’s flaw reared its ugly head. I noticed Blackpool’s Mack bobsled vibrated quite a bit. Europa’s is far more pronounced. Anyone who complains of a B&M rattle really needs to ride this thing. 3 out of 10

 

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It looks so good!

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But it feels like riding over an unpaved, gravel road.

We were warned before visiting the park that Arthur could have one of the park’s longer lines, so we went there next. The ride is a weird suspended, powered, spinning coaster system. In many ways, it feels more like a high-speed dark ride, and fittingly, a majority of the ride takes place indoors. Europa went all-out on the indoor themed area as it looks amazing. My phone was incapable of capturing the beauty of the area (it hates darkened rooms and lights), but it just needs to be seen.

 

While I didn’t have any loose articles myself, a few in my group did. Usually lockers are a complete cluster of riders boarding and unloading. Europa has a new system on Arthur and it was so unbelievably well-organized that I want to know why more parks haven’t implemented something similar. You insert your loose articles on the side of the entrance, but you remove them on the side of the exit. It seems like a simple idea, but it reduced many of the headaches associated with lockers.

 

I’ve always been a fan of ET and Peter Pan for the unique vehicles and Arthur feels pretty similar. I loved the indoor scenes, particularly the Las Vegas ripoff bit. But what separates this from your average dark ride is the outdoor bit. We were traveling backwards, so there were some little drops and turns with more force to them than you’d expect. As for the ride, it was excellent by dark ride standards and still good by coaster standards. 7 out of 10

 

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I wasn't going to even try getting some indoor photos of Arthur. My camera can't handle lights or darkness. Those two things pretty much describe the indoor area.

One of the other rides we heard generated a bad wait was Wodan. On our way there, we stopped to ride the log flume. I was expecting a ho-hum log flume, but I should have known Europa would be better. Remember the mine that Alpen Expressen travels through? The flume travels through this bit too, except here you are traveling at a much more leisurely pace so you can enjoy the technicolored gemstones. The drops themselves were pretty typical for flumes and thankfully the ride didn’t get us too wet. 9 out of 10

 

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It looks like an average log flume.

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But then it has this awesome bit where it passes through the mine.

Wodan ended up having the longest wait of our visit at 40 minutes, but the queue was a well-themed cave so the wait felt much shorter. We decided to go all-in and wait a few extra trains for the front and definitely made a good decision. Several others on the trip had less than favorable opinions of Wodan. They said it was bumpy, but they all rode further back in the train.

 

The layout is pretty typical for GCI, which means it’s impossible to recount what exactly happens. The first drop on this one is surprisingly tall for a wooden coaster and also straight, which is an oddity for GCI. Wodan maintained its speed from start to finish, which resulted in some strong pops of air on most hills. Riding up front, I found the ride quite smooth and no trouble at all.

 

I rerode Wodan the following day further in the back. Oddly enough, the coaster had a single rider line so I was able to bypass a half hour wait and board in less than 5 minutes. I believe I was seated 2-3 rows from the back. It was definitely bumpier, but I still found it comfortable. It was probably on par with Thunderhead in terms of bumpiness. The first drop was excellent in the back, but the rest of the ride was better up front, both in terms of air and smoothness. It’s not a top 15-20 wooden coaster (or whatever the Golden Ticket awards has it at), but it’s a fun coaster. 8 out of 10

 

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Wodan had a typical GCI layout, which means there's almost no straight track.

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Though Wodan had a mostly straight drop with some great air in the back.

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I really liked it. It was mostly smooth (up front) with good air and relentless pacing.

At this time we decided to be credit whores and make our way to Ireland for the park’s newest coaster, Ba-a-a Express. On the way, I noticed a play structure with some very tall (50ft at least) and twisted slides. They looked like more of those awesome, metal European slides. I was eager to try them, but turns out they were for kids only. Aw man.

 

Yet we were allowed on the kid’s coaster that wasn’t more than 10 feet tall. What should have been a pretty ba-a-ad (see what I did there) ride was actually mildly enjoyable because of how overengineered and overthemed it was. Tell me what other kiddie coaster has individual retracting lap bars the size of Blue Fire’s, a retracting platform like a floorless coaster, and triggered animatronics. That’s combined with the rockwork the coaster passes.

 

Since it was so overengineered, the ride was smooth. It was tame and one ride was enough, but if I were a kid I would have been blown away by just how much effort went into this coaster. 3 out of 10

 

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Those slides look too awesome not to let adults ride.

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But at least we could ride the kiddie coaster in all its glory.

The two coasters we had left were both conveniently located in Greece. We intended to hit Poseidon, the second water coaster, first but it was down for maintenance. They appeared to be working on the final splashdown area.

 

To pass the time, we went on Pegasus. I was expecting something like a roller skater, but Pegasus was surprisingly good. The first drop came close to giving airtime in the back seat, but one of the smaller drops midway through the ride actually delivered air. The rest of the ride was a series of smooth turns and overbanks. Sure it’s overshadowed the rest of the park, but this would be a solid coaster for a smaller park. 6 out of 10

 

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Thankfully they got this up and running shortly.

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This was a surprisingly good junior coaster.

Poseidon was still down, so we rode Greece’s two other rides, Fluch der Kassandra and Abenteuer Atlantis. Kassandra was a tiny madhouse. There wasn’t too much in terms of effects, but the movement of the room was excellent and on-par with the Vekoma models. 7 out of 10

 

Fittingly downstairs (yes it was built below ground) was Atlantis. A shooting dark ride, I was a big fan of this one for a few reasons. One, there were hundreds of different targets. Two, the guns had locators on them so I could clearly tell what I was shooting. Three, the targets had different point values so there was some strategy in selecting targets to shoot. All three of these things were combined with some nice theming to make a strong dark ride. 8 out of 10

 

Poseidon had reopened, so I made sure to board it next. The station and slow bit before the first lift looked exceptional and had some very nice theming. The first coaster considered of some large twisting drops, but it was a bit jerky like San Diego’s Journey to Atlantis.

 

But the ride’s finale delivered. The final plunge was awkwardly profiled which resulted in a nice pop of air, and that was followed by a little speed bump that gave a tiny pop as well. Like Atlantica, the splash gave us the perfect amount of wetness. But unlike Atlantica, there were no dolphins from hell to soak us to the bone. 7 out of 10

 

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The final drop was easily the best part of the ride.

One of the perks of the visit was a guided tour of the park’s newest attraction, Voletarium. Their version of Soarin’, Europa was nice enough to give us a ride prior to the tour. The ride system was identical to what I had ridden at Ferrari Land the previous week, but thankfully I didn’t have to stand through a half hour of pre-shows and holding rooms.

 

I was less familiar with the landmarks used on Voletarium than the other flying theaters I’ve been on, so it was interesting expanding my horizons. One of the biggest differences with the film on Voletarium was how short the scenes were. It’s definitely a tradeoff that I’m not sure was a positive or negative. On one hand, we got to see more sights. On the other hand, I seemed to just run out of time to fully take in the scene before it switched over. And of course, the ride ended with a flyover of Europa. 8 out of 10

 

The rest of the tour was filled was perfect for a theme park geek. We saw how the ride system worked, the control room, and were also allowed to take some great photos from the roof of the building. I really appreciated just how detailed the tour was, so major thumbs up to Europa.

 

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Not Soarin' but close.

As great as the views from Voletarium’s roof were, the best views of Europa could be had from their observation tower. The views of Silver Star in particular were great since it’s nearly impossible to take photos of inside the park. The only other place to get photos of it is the parking lot and as hotel guests, we were never afforded those views. I love observation towers and would love it if every park had one. 9 out of 10

 

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The views atop the observation tower are amazing.

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I wasn't kidding.

Universe of Energy is everything bad about the Epcot ride, except without Ellen. Honestly I almost fell asleep on this ride and frankly didn’t think it was very good. There were a bunch of dinosaurs, which should be exciting, yet somehow it had less excitement than Living with the Land. When I say I’d rather look at plants and pumpkins over dinosaurs, you know something is wrong. 1 out of 10

 

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No Ellen here. Just boring dinosaurs.

Ghost Castle is actually a good Disney ripoff, but there were some variations. For example, the stretching room had a shaking floor (a very nice touch) and a hanging man (another nice touch until he retracted before we exited the room). The rest of the ride was basically the Haunted Mansion minus the hitchhiking ghosts. And that was perfectly fine by me since I love the Haunted Mansion. 9 out of 10

 

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95% Haunted Mansion.

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The 5% is the creative differences like putting a dude inside the crystal ball instead of a woman.

Those fluent in Italian know what Piccolo Mundo means. For those too lazy to go to Google Translate, it means Small World. So yes, Europa has a Small World. Instead of creepy dolls, this one has dancing pizza and Italian food. I honestly felt like I was on an acid trip, but it was a good trip. And it was of course accompanied by an infectious tune as well. 8 out of 10

 

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Now this is a good trip.

Completing the Disney dark ride ripoffs was Europa Park Historium. The ride system was identical to the Carousel of Progress. If I understood German, the ride would have been a whole lot better. As an English spreaker, I was only able to take in the photos and videos. It was definitely cool seeing how Europa expanded from a smaller park into the full-scale resort that it is today, but I’m not sure if I’d ride it again at the expense of the park’s other rides. 5 out of 10

 

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The Carousel of (Europa) Progress in German.

The park also had a nice river rapids ride, Fjord-Rafting. We were hopeful the ride wouldn’t drench us considering the cooler temperatures. Most of us were lucky, but we did have one unfortunate rider who seemingly got hit by every single rapid and waterfall. The layout was much longer than your average river rapids and there were some hidden sprayers along the course.

 

The one element I really appreciated that you don’t see on other rapids was the rough water bit. About halfway through the ride, the raft enters into a wide open stretch with some pretty strong waves reminiscent of a wave pool. SeaWorld San Antonio’s river rapids had a rough water segment like this too and it was a nice alternative to the tamer waters of the Hopkins ones I can ride in New England. 8 out of 10

 

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Believe it or not, most people don't get wet on this.

Another noteworthy ride at the park were the bumper cars. Are they classic Lusse scooters? No. Then why am I talking about them? It’s because you play soccer during the ride. I kid you not. There’s a giant inflatable ball (it looks like an exercise ball) and the cars are colored to separate everyone into two teams. The goal is to bump the ball into the goal at the farside of the arena. This sounds simple, but it’s extremely difficult with all of the pile-ups that occur. Still it’s a fun and quirky touch that makes the ride stand out. 8 out of 10

 

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American football is something that would more fittingly describe bumper cars.

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Just try to score in the middle of this mess. It's hard, but oh so fun to try.

Remember how I said Europa had all sorts of random rides wedged in between their coasters? We made sure to indulge in all of them no matter how ridiculous they looked. There was a spinning boat themed to marionettes, a boat ride themed to elves and magic mushrooms, a Jungle Cruise/Tom Sawyer boat ripoff, a suspended monorail with erotic sex statues, and a miniature train themed to decapitated clowns and circus mice.

 

The latter was my personal favorite and a guilty pleasure. The latter seemed more geared for kids. On the first turn, we passed a restaurant and two grown adults looked us in the eye, tried to withhold all judgment and avoid laughing, but they couldn’t. They started laughing and we couldn’t stop either with the absurdity of what we were riding.

 

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This park has a thing for creepy clowns.

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It's called the Elf Boat, but I really think it was about magic mushrooms.

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This was their attempt to somewhat clone the Jungle Cruise.

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So there's the monorail, but I know that's not what anyone is looking at. Does anyone know what position that is?

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Circus Parade was so stupid it was amazing.

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A creepy decapitated clown.

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Ok these are the really creepy clowns.

I also feel it’s criminal that I haven’t started discussing the food yet. I tried a ton of random things at the park- a fish sandwich, a gyro, donuts, poffertjes (mini pancakes), and so much more. It was all delicious and reasonably priced too. The hotels also had some great food. My personal favorite were the meat skewers at the Don Quixote restaurant.

 

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Usually I don't like cold fish, but here it worked.

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I'm not a sugar fan so I got them plain (sacrilegious I know) but as pancakes, they were delicious.

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One of the best gyros I've ever had.

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Even the donuts were great.

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Seeing those meat skewers again is making my mouth water.

Europa Park is simply astounding. It has everything a theme park enthusiast could want. Major thrill rides, water rides, dark rides, immersive theming, delicious food, and I could keep going. Despite having part/all of 3 days at the resort, we could have easily spent more time. As many things as I experienced, I know there is a ton that I missed out on as a first-timer. If you’re on the fence about going to Europa, just go already and you won’t be disappointed. Well you may that it isn’t your home park, but that’s an entirely different issue.

 

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And here's a picture of angry Mr. Corn because why not.

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Fun fact - The "new for 2017" log flume that wasn't at Skyline was the one you loved at Oktoberfest!!!! They put it there to make more money! I think they had another ride at Oktoberfest from Skyline as well.

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