Last weekend there was a long weekend in Spain and a friend of mine and I decided to hit Mirabilandia since it’s a short flight away from Barcelona and it has a nice collection of coasters. What was meant to be a coaster/culture trip ended up being a 2-day of coaster riding, which is also good in my books. There’s always time to go back to Bologne to appreciate the area, plus we have both been to Italy many times before.
Upon arriving at Bologne’s airport at 8.20 am, we were greeted by cloudy skies. When we went to the rental car company, they surprised us with an amazing upgrade free of charge: you can never say no to an automatic Volvo. And we were off: what was meant to be a 50-minute drive to hit the park turned into an almost 2-hour drive because of a huge traffic jam. Roads were blocked by cars trying to get to Mirabilandia. It looked like half Italy had decided to join us for the day. Nice xD
All in all, we had two days ahead of us, we had planned to use Flash Pass, so queues inside the park were not something we were really worried about. After queueing for ages to get into the car park, we were more than eager to hit the rides, so we processed our tickets and FP and in we went.
I am not going to review everything chronologically. I find it better to just break down everything into different categories, so if you feel like skipping a long read, go ahead and scroll down to the pictures.
DiVertical: I was really intrigued by this concept since I saw it land at Holiday World. Concept is really neat: you get a simple coaster layout, add some flume sections to it for added capacity, a special feature (elevator) and a splash. Boom: crowd pleaser! However, despite being huge and quite intimidating, it didn’t do much for me. Granted it was a ton of fun and it flies through the course but it lacked some character. The splash got everyone soaked no matter where you sat thanks to the design of the boat. Shame they were just running 2 boats for the entire two days we were there. 6/10
iSpeed: if Xcelerator and Maverick where to have a lovechild, iSpeed would be it. I was really looking forward to it since Maverick is my #3 (after Skyrush and Wicked Cyclone). Having been on many launch coasters I have to admit that I have become sort of numb to the thrill that a launch can provide. However, iSpeed had a good powerful launch despite being an LSM model. The top hat provided just the right amount of airtime and was the last chance to catch your breath for what was to come. After that, the ride had an amazing mix of positive and negative G forces with three inversions thrown into the mix, most notably the first corkscrew over the station building which caught me by surprise. I wonder why iSpeed could get away with their corkscrew and inline taken at some serious speeds (close to 60 mph if I were to guess) yet Maverick couldn’t keep its inline roll. Very solid ride despite a slight Intamin rattle. 9/10
Leprotto Express: the line for this was HUGE. And I mean over an hour-long. I guess being the only kids’ coaster in the park meant it was extremely popular among families. The coaster itself was nothing to write home about but I have to applaud the amazing ride op, whose name was Marina; she was doing the best she could to get the line moving while providing good customer service with a smile on her face the entire time.
Master Thai: now this was an interesting concept. It’s a moebius coaster but since you get to go around the track twice, you ended up riding both sides of the coaster. This one had some nice bits of theming here and there and the track itself was interesting; a bit bumpy at times but it added to the fun, plus the dueling/racing element of it was perfectly achieved by running all trains and syncing them perfectly well at the station. Even though this had VR on, we opted not to use it because the line for it was really long and my friend and I are not too keen on VR anyway. 6/10
Katun: for me this was the park’s showstopper. I must confess I am a sucker for old-school B&M designs and Katun is a perfect example of this. Ever since Katun opened, and having Dragon Khan in my homepark, I was wondering if it would live up to its impressive and daunting looks, with that huge dark twist mess of track. Boy did it not disappoint one bit. From the superbly themed area/station to the gorgeous trains, it was eye-catching no matter where you looked. Heck, even the retractable floor was themed! Once you boarded the trains and went through one of those Stargate-looking ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings, you knew you were in for a treat. The first drop was snappy and had some airtime to it thanks to being mostly straight and awkwardly steep for an inverted coaster. The array of inversions that followed could be described as somewhat formulaic but they work so well and are so big in comparison to other inverted coasters (looking at you Raptor) that they left me breathless: the train ripped through the first loop, which was followed by a really tall and snappy zero G roll. After this the train sort of dived to the right and then dived again slightly to gain some momentum before the cobra roll, which was one of the fastest ones I remember. The MCBR was a nice break from all the intensity. The second half felt a bit weaker and perhaps rougher but the final supertight helix more than made up for it. Despite showing its age in some rough patches, the coaster rides like heaven and it is a must for those who love big B&M multiloopers. By the way, this was my #400 coaster, yay! 10/10
Gold Digger: L&T standard mouse. I guess it must be really popular among guests beacuse it had long queues throughout the day. Smooth track and almost no braking before the sharp turns made for a really scary ride thinking we were going to derail any moment. Good for a laugh with friends. 7/10
Rexplorer: Mack Blauer Enzian clone. Ridden one, ridden them all. This one featured some retro-looking cars which were sort of odd considering it was themed to dinosaurs? It was well themed though. 6/10
Dead Town: new for 2018, as I was told, this used to be a dark ride, which was taken down. Since the space inside the main building (an actual permanent tent) is huge, Mirabilandia decided to install a permanent upcharge horror walk-through attraction. The park sells this as the “biggest walk-through attraction in Europe”; superlatives aside, the attraction is quite family-friendly and if you are a big horror fan, you might be disappointed. Good sets and good length but the scare actors were sparse and scares fairly predictable although there were some nice effects. Auto Splash: I really love flumes with double drops and I was expecting to like this a lot. The boats themed to cars were a nice touch. We got to share a boat with two Italians who were not really impressed with having to get squeezed with two foreign randomers. The amount of wetness this provided was just right and most welcome given the high temperatures on both days of our visit.
Reset - Anno Zero: omnimover shooter dark ride similar to Buzzlight Year at Disney or Atlantis Adventure at Europa Park but with a darker/post-apocalyptic tone to it. The ride is *really* tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sac meaning you really have to want to go there to ride it, hence the short wait times despite being a major attraction. On the way to Reset, there’s DiVertical but I wonder what the idea was when they decided to place the ride where it currently sits. As for the ride itself, it has a very simple 0-shaped layout, it has some large sets and interesting air and water effects but it feels a bit repetitive and generic. By the way, if you get easily dizzy (nice alliteration right there xD) on spinning coasters, this one might not be for you since it features two areas in which cars will spin like crazy for a good 5-10 seconds. The downside of Reset are the targets (or laser guns), which I found not to be working properly, thus detracting from the competition.
Oil Towers: S&S Space Shot/Turbo Drop tower complex which has been recently been themed to the Old West and retrofitted with the newer S&S restraints. Nothing special but nice to look at. Cycle felt a bit weak in comparison to other S&S towers.
Operations: since it was a long weekend in some countries in Europe, we expected some crowds but both days the park seemed to almost be at capacity. We were stuck on the road leading to the car park for a good hour. All car park attendants were on their A-game trying to process as many cars as they could, some of them even attending both sides of a single booth at the same time.
Inside the park lines were very long and anywhere you looked, even small flat rides, had lines spilling on the midway. Operations on the attractions were much better than expected, considering the park is run by Parques Reunidos, with the exception of DiVertical, which had abysmal operations with just 2 boats running and no other boats to be seen on site. As for the rest, iSpeed and Katun were running 2 out of the 3 available trains: on iSpeed, they were sending a train every 50 seconds or so and it broke down just once. Since iSpeed runs 12-seat trains, this means that at best, capacity was around 800 pph, but I have to send big kudos to the team for filling most trains with 12 people even though the ride doesn’t feature any single-rider line.
As for Katun, being a B&M coaster, 2 trains seemed sufficient to manage the crowds and even the regular queue didn’t reach more than 15 minutes all day. On Katun I saw minimal stacking with just two attendants, who were checking restraints, batching guests and dealing with FP in an efficient and courteous way. Great job overall. Minor complain: I would have liked to see a 3-train operation on this monster, but I am aware that having just two attendants on duty are not the right conditions to make this happen.
The rest of the attractions were not understaffed, although you could tell the park was probably not expecting those many guests. Lines for food were long but manageable and most big kiosks and restaurants were open, meaning guests could easily sit down to enjoy a nice break from the crowded park and the Italian sun.
Positive: - Polite employees who dealt with queues rather well in most cases. - The park is well-rounded; there are a ton of rides for everyone scattered in little themed areas and kiddie rides are not just on one side of the park but next to the big rides, meaning families really have something for everyone in every area. - There’s a Flash Pass line for almost any ride, even those you wouldn’t expect to have it. Ride crews also made sure the balance between FP and regular line didn’t affect the regular line too much. - Food was not too overpriced and quality was decent. I liked that there was the option to eat vegetables instead of fries as side dishes. Most places offered fresh fruit and healthier snacks as well. - Some rides/areas well themed, notably the entrance, which is spectacular. In a way, it reminded us both of a scaled-down version of IOA’s Port of Entry. Katun also offered nice interaction and provided some amazing picture opportunities. - To load guests, Mirabilandia had an original and seemingly efficient turnstile system: each attraction merge point had a turnstile fitted with a red and green light to tell guests when they could advance to the loading area and a counter to see how many people could still get on the ride. Simple and Italians seemed to respect it, and since it was all automatic, no grouper was needed.
Room for improvement: - Roads leading to the park were so congested it caused traffic to be easily backed up for many miles around the park. - Park hours could have been longer. Maybe I am used to longer hours at Spanish parks but having the park open from 10 am to 6 pm felt rather short, especially considering that the park was very crowded. - Despite having a good coaster collection, the park should get another wooden coaster (the park’s former wooden coaster Sierra Tonante was torn down to buid iSpeed). Maybe Italy’s first RMC? Even a family GCI could do wonders for them. - The giant wheel, despite being one of the park’s landmarks, didn’t open because of “bad weather”. Granted it was a bit windy and there were some scattered rains, but it’s a shame, because it would have made for some amazing aerial shots of the park. - The monorail was just running one train despite being rather popular with guests. - DiVertical running just two boats and having technical glitches on both days. - It would be nice to have some displays showing wait times at the entrance of the major attractions to help guests plan their visit.
Overall, my friend and I had a wonderful time. We took both days easily and even had time to explore the park while taking short breaks from so much riding and hot weather. Having read recent mixed reviews about the park I am happy to report that it’s a park that I could easily see myself going back to when they install something noteworthy in the future.
Now, onto the pictures! (Some of them might have an accidental glare because my phone camera is partially broken!)
Our ride for both days! The free upgrade was veeery nice!
That skyline was a sign we didn't get directions wrong! YAY!
Katun was teasing us right before we got in!
The theming on some areas was top notch!
It sort of reminds me of Port of Entry at IOA
These little touches were everywhere!
We got our Flash Passes sorted! It was funny seeing those t-shirts on sale AT THE PARK. lol
First ride. DiVertical!
Then we headed for iSpeed! My friend, self-confessed Intamin fanboy, loved it!
These angles are rare to find but the monorail provided good photo opportunities!
You can see the people counter and the lights on the turnstiles. Simple yet effective!
Thank god we had FP because the queue for Master Thai looked WAY too long for a dueling mouse.
Theming on this was scarce but effective.
The moment I was SO waiting for: Katun, the HUGE B&M!
The coaster is so photogenic and looks really imposing!
Trains were fitted with onboard cameras. This train was charging them on the storage track with these little wires.
When we left Mirabilandia, we shot some unusual pics from the backside of the park (it was a public area).
The last helix is on par with Nemesis' as a positive Gs powerhouse!
You just can see how CLOSE you can get to the track.
BTW, Katun was my #400, and what a coaster to celebrate such a milestone!
Next door was a standard mouse. Very fun and a little scary with absolutely no trims before the sharp turns.
New for 2018: Dead Town, which used the former space of a dark ride. Thing was huge but not too intense!
The indoor queue was well-themed and had a nice effect of a collapsing house.
I am told this area was renovated and turned into Far West.
They really did a nice job incorporating new rides into the newly themed area.
I thought the junior replica of this was hilarious xD
To complete the Far West area, they even have a REAL church which I was told holds actual masses on Sunday.
The splash was... well... soaking.
See? We sat it out!
I was hoping we could get on the giant wheel but it was closed because of winds :-(
The monorail fills my quota of control panels.
The rapids ride was nice and not too wet.
STOP.RIGHT.THERE. Is that... is that A PIZZA vending machine? We couldn't believe this but there were many of them throughout the park!
The park was crowded but they did a good at keeping everyone entertained.
More iSpeed... because, Intamin!
I would have liked to go on these but I am told adults are not allowed...
Reset had a very post-apocalyptic feel to it.
We ran into the park's mascots in the gift shop.
It was shocking to see a park selling cigarettes IN THE GIFT SHOP. What is wrong with you!?
Random chopped logs make for an artsy picture.
I didn't want to leave but I guess this jail was not an option.
Mirabilandia was a very nice park! (Shame the guy that took this picture had zero picture-taking skills xD)
Back at the airport we saw a Ferrari store with this impressive replica.
Ah, this is one of my all-time favorite parks. Not because it's a great park, I mean it's good, but nothing spectacular, but for pure nostalgia. I've pretty much grown up in this place and I can say it's got a special place in my heart, despite its many flaws.
I, too would love to see the park invest in another large scale coaster on par or even better than iSpeed or Katun, or some extreme flat rides, since other than their big Two, I think their thrill ride lineup is pretty lackluster. But I guess since they're more focused on milking the already over-saturated Italian family market dry, that isn't gonna happen anytime soon.
Oh well, I guess I won't be riding any coasters any time soon... Within the next 10 minutes anyways. Best: Katun & iSpeed - Mirabilandia, Formula Rossa - Ferrari World, Oblivion - The Black Hole - Gardaland, Stealth - Thorpe Park
Katun is heaven. I was just as smitten with it as you are. It absolutely lived up to my wildest expectations and I still dream about the rides I had on it. It's B&M invert perfection. Thanks for 'taking me back' with this report!
This was one of my favourite parks in the TPR 2010 Europe Tour. And I loved the way that Katun was so spread out, lol! I wish more parks could do this with their similar coasters, but I totally understand that space is at a premium and this can't be done.
But when it can be done..... And then there was iSpeed... I even bought The Button, LOL!
Great report, and so glad you enjoyed the park. Also, I still think that ReSet is one of most WTF located attractions I have ever walked (and walked and walked and WALKED...) to.
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