Alright, let's get to the first park of the trip! As foreshadowed in the last report...Day 1 -- La Feria Chapultepec MágicoSunday, March 22, 2015Scorecard:
Montaña Rusa (Right Lift)
Montaña Rusa (Left Lift)
Montaña Rusa (Right Lift)
Montaña Rusa (Left Lift)
Nao de China
The Jules Verne Orbinaut-- Lunch --
Cascabel [Front]The Report:
The first park day of the trip required no lengthy travel. La Feria Chapultepec, located within the large Bosque de Chapultepec city park, was not even a mile from our hotel.
After partaking in our hotel's friggin' awesome
breakfast buffet, we headed off to the park just after 9 AM. The first disappointment of the day came right when we walked up to the gate -- Montaña Triple Loop, the park's triple-looping Schwarzkopf, was in the middle of a painting/refurbishing job and clearly not soon to return to service. That didn't start things off on the best of notes. Figuring out how the morning was going to transpire was a little bit of an adventure, but we ended up getting into the park a little early, and opening our day with a guided tour of the property -- while it was still closed and the rides weren't yet operating. This makes sense, really. After that, we headed to Montaña Rusa
for some early rides, and given how that ride was operated later in the day, we're very glad we got on as early as we did. We were all able to take multiple laps
, earning the necessary credit for the entire mobius track. We went across the park to Cascabel next, before splitting off and tackling the rest of the park's attractions. The only other coaster, Ratón Loco, did experience some downtime during the day. However, we got on as soon as we saw it had re-opened. We also made a trip through the park's herpetarium (reptile exhibit), which included an opportunity to get pictures while holding a gigantic owl. There's something you don't see everywhere.
After riding (and filming) an assortment of classic / unique / ancient flat rides, we broke for lunch. I have gained a new appreciation for the difficulty and complexity of serving a handful of cut-rate burgers and frozen pizzas to a group of barely over a dozen people. Next time we'll call in some experts with PhDs and chef's hats to ensure the process goes a little more smoothly. Wait times aside, this was one unfortunate theme that popped up a few times on the trip -- in parks serving up plenty of interesting, great-smelling local cuisine, they insisted on feeding us burgers and pizza. Really, this group's adventurous enough for some tacos! Thankfully, I think we all ate very
well outside of the parks, so these complaints should be taken with an appropriate level of snark.
After lunch, I split from the group to do some photography around the park, and I think I'm contractually obligated to make sure everyone knows I bailed on the haunted house because I'm a wimp. Once we re-united, we dodged a brief downpour near the park's train station, and indulged in some tequesitos. I don't have a picture of these high-class delicacies, so here's their Twitter account
, so you can see them in all their fried-cheese-wrapped-in-dough glory. These shouldn't be good, but they are. They need to be in every US park as soon as possible.
Wrapping up our day at La Feria with a front-row ride on Cascabel, we headed out at about 5 PM, making the short trek back to our hotel before a little more fun in Bosque de Chapultepec in the evening.Overall Impressions:
La Feria is known as a small, classic urban park -- one with elements of culture and charm amidst the giant metropolis surrounding it. Did the park live up to these expectations? Not quite -- in fact, the place probably leans more toward outmoded and old fashioned, as opposed to quaint and historic. The park's ride lineup is obviously a weak point, though to some degree, that's something that can be excused/expected for a park of this type. It's a strange mix of flats that range from legitimate classics to outdated curiosities. The coaster collection is small, with two
relocated Schwarzkopfs and a giant woodie in need of some work. Cascabel is good for multiple rides, as I'd presume the other Schwarzkopf is as well, and Montaña Rusa's got the historic aspect going for it. Outside of those, there really aren't any other can't-miss attractions.
Unfortunately, getting through a handful of rides was a slow process due to the park's rather poor operations. We even had trouble with finalizing the arrangements for our group -- the initial plans didn't get to Robb until just a couple days before, and details were still being firmed up on the drive from the hotel. Dispatch / cycle times across the park ranged from acceptable-ish to slow, with the exception of Montaña Rusa, whose operations were hilariously awful. Here's a dual-station mobius-track coaster, which should be eating people like there's no tomorrow, and the park is running one train
with a full queue. This is why I'm glad we got some early-morning pseudo-ERT-ish rides, because the wait was easily an hour long throughout most of the rest of the day. Had to skip a couple minor attractions in the interest of time, despite being at this relatively small park for almost eight hours. Also had to miss the Dolphin show (Exhibición de Delfines) but I figured since every Mexican park has dolphins, I'd catch a show at another park later in the trip. Oops -- never made it to a Dolphin show until Kolmarden in July 2016.
Would I return to La Feria? I'd love to spend more time in Mexico City in the future, including taking some time to explore the rest of Bosque de Chapultepec. If I did that, I'd probably stop in for a couple hours and ride the fun stuff, and maybe one or two of the attractions I missed. I don't think I'd plan a whole day here on my own -- if not for the operations, a quick run through the must-ride attractions might not take that long to complete. Contrary to some reports I'd read, I didn't find the park to be dirty or aesthetically unpleasant. It's not as well up-kept as it could be, and maybe some fresh paint or cohesive design elements wouldn't hurt the haphazard visual "theming," but it's not an ugly park. It does have some charm, but it would be selling the place way too high to put it in a class with other classic / urban parks in the US and Europe. So, that said, my usual disclaimer on a mixed review: any day at a park is a good day. Especially true while visiting a foreign country and experiencing everything that comes along with that!The Attractions:Montaña Rusa:
When La Feria opened in 1964, Montaña Rusa was the park's star attraction, and in a lot of ways it still is. It's an iconic structure, a rare mobius woodie, and far and away Mexico's most historically important amusement park attraction. Unfortunately, even aside from my thoughts about the ride's operations, it was a little too rough to be enjoyable. Definitely not on a Hades / Son of Beast / Bandit level, and not rough all the way through, but with several very
jerky potholes at various spots along the way -- particularly at the bottom of the larger hills. There isn't anything particularly interesting about the layout, either. I will say that I absolutely love the views over Mexico City from the slow curves at the top of the structure. It's definitely worth riding for that reason alone. Oh, and what's the meaning of the name? Montaña Rusa's literal translation is "Russian Mountain," but in Spanish, it's an idiom that means the same thing as "Roller Coaster" in English.Montaña Infinitum / Montaña Triple Loop / Quimera:
This ride, since moving to Mexico after stops in three different countries (Germany, Malaysia, UK), has been through three names in a decade. It also literally had a guy on a platform in one of the loops doing a paint job. A pretty clear sign that it wouldn't be opening. That's a shame, as it's a classic, and supposedly a pretty good coaster.Cascabel:
Thankfully, the park's other Schwarzkopf was running very nicely for us! Cascabel (or Cascabel 2.0) was clearly the best ride operating at La Feria for our visit. I'd bet most people on this board had their first shuttle loop experience at Knott's (Montezooma's Revenge), or maybe even Kentucky Kingdom (Greezed Lightnin'). Here's a fun fact: if you rode Laser Loop at Kennywood, then you've been on Cascabel -- the ride was moved from West Mifflin to Mexico City in the early 90s. See here
for Robb's video of Cascabel in action.Ratón Loco:
This is a pretty standard Reverchon spinning mouse -- to keep the Kennywood connection going, it's the same model as Exterminator at that park. A decent ride, but we've all been on these before. Good for a spin.Power Tower:
This may be the only ride on the planet that's actually been themed to both Coke and Pepsi. To the chagrin of the owners of this website, I'm sure, La Feria seems to have settled on Pepsi. A rare example of one of these rides made by Maurer Sohne, it's not simply a drop ride -- they run a program with two or three cycles up and down the tower. Nice views from up top.Los Troncos:
I'm a sucker for classic log flumes, so I braved getting a little wet, even in Mexico City. This one is on the small side, and I won't say it's among the world's most aesthetically pleasing flumes, but it was fun. Also, I didn't get injured while riding it, so there's that. I'll never get down on a park for keeping one of these around.The Jules Verne Orbinaut:
Quite simply the most advanced motion simulator ride I've ever been on. This is a pioneering landmark in ride engineering. Universal and Disney have nothing on Julio Verne
. From the life-like rocket we all boarded, to the advanced CGI on our trek through a land filled with dinosaurs and exotic creatures, it's truly an experience unlike any other.El Martillo:
Oh boy. A classic Loop-o-Plane, this was every bit as uncomfortable and headache-inducing as I'd feared. Laugh really hard while you're on it, then swear to never ride again when you get off. Robb's got a great video from riding this thing
, but you may want to pop some nausea medication before you watch.Nao de China:
After El Martillo, I was expecting to hate this, especially as I'm no fan of hangtime. Thankfully, this Weber Traumboot -- a ride type I'm not sure exists in the US -- was actually pretty fun. Robb has video of this one also
. I'm sure the ker-chunk
at 0:47 in the video is absolutely nothing to be concerned about at all.Cabaña Chueca:
I think there is a requirement that every theme park in Mexico must have three things. One: a herpetarium. Two: a dolphin show. Three: a wacky shack. They go under several names, but the concept is always the same -- a decrepit old house carefully constructed for maximum optical illusory confusion. The challenge with visiting one of these in Mexico is that they're guided, extremely fast-paced, and narrated entirely in Spanish. I'm not sure we had a clue what was going on, but Nozzy was selected to participate in doing the toughest sit-ups of his life, so I guess at least somebody got some exercise out of it.