Theme park touring wasn't on my radar screen until 2005, or thereabouts. Oh, sure, I'd visit Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Universal, Kings Dominion, and (of course) Busch Gardens Williamsburg from time to time--but nothing outside the United States. I wasn't a member of any coaster- or park-related groups or clubs, either.
Then I came across the trip reports on Theme Park Review, thanks to Robb posting about them on another website, and was immediately intrigued. When Robb and Elissa advertised their first "public" tour of the United Kingdom, I thought, "Well, why not?" I'd done the "cultural" tour of Scotland, London, and Stratford on Avon with my brother the year before. Why not see what theme parks were like outside the USA?
The 2006 TPR UK Trip was excellent, and I was hooked. I've since been around Europe, Japan, China, Australia, and even the US with TPR.
The difficulty of travel today, thanks for COVID-19, has me waxing a bit nostalgic for the trips I'd taken before (with any luck, I'll be hitting the Asia Disney parks with TPR in December). Who would like to join me in a look back at TPR trips past? Here's what we'll be doing: I've decided to post two pictures from each park visited. These photos may be purely scenic--or completely goofy. They may represent "firsts" for me, or just something uniqe about the park in question. Or maybe they're just nice pictures. I'm making this up as I go.
Let's set the Wayback Machine for the summer of 2006 and TPR's wanderings about the UK, Norway, and Sweden. I was intrigued to visit some places I'd actually heard about (such as Alton Towers and Blackpool Pleasure Beach), places with which I was vaguely familiar (such as Liseberg), and places I'd never heard of (such as Lightwater Valley).
OK, we're landing at Heathrow. Be careful getting your stuff out of the overhead compartment.
Now where's that Hotel Hoppa shuttle?
Our first stop wasn't technically part of the trip: Legoland Windsor. Robb and Elissa were going, and there was so much interest on the part of the rest of the group, it became the first TPR "pre-trip" park. This was the first Legoand I'd ever visited, and the only one that can boast a view of the actual Windsor Castle.
My first-ever Miniland--one of a number to come.
Next up was Chessington World of Adventures. Any ride featuring a vampire playing an organ is OK in my book.
Chessington's Vampire was a lot of fun, even if trees did slap you in the face from time to time.
Time for the first TPR "surprise" park of the trip: Coney Beach in Wales, home of the "DEATH RIDE"!
This reminds me of one of the funniest conversations of the trip. The nice old Welshman asked me, "You the Americans that came in on the bus?" "Yes, we are." "Oh, how nice. Ye want any mushy peas with your chips?" "Er, no thank you. "Ah, afraid it'll give ye the wind, eh?"
Speaking of parks in Wales, Oakwood was next. I was glad that I had the chance to ride Brer Rabbit's Burrow, which, unlike Splash Mountain, feature bunnies drinking beer, using the toilet, and gettin' it on. In your face, Disney!
Oakwood's Speed was my first Eurofighter--liked it quite a bit back then.
On to Alton Towers and Nemesis, the best coaster in the UK. The cool monster theming was a plus for this crazy, intense ride--a pit and a "river of blood"! it's still my favorite B&M inverted coaster.
You can see a castle from Legoland, but Alton has its very own authentic castle.
Behold my first Maurer Shone coaster: Drayton Manor's G-Force! It was not good. In fact, boy did it ever suck out loud! (The curved lift was a painful experience.)
But Drayton had some fun stuff, too, such as the "so bad, it's good" Pirate Adventure. Of course, some of the animatronics needed TLC, such as this poor prostitute whose face has been ravaged by an STD (her nipple appears to be showing, too). Or maybe it's the Nature Boy, Ric Flair!
Southport Playland's big attraction was their great, old-school fun house.
It was also a good place to catch a nap around a nice campfire.
Ah, Blackpool Pleasure Beach--emphasis on "pleasure" here. It's a shame that the wooden Wild Mouse is no more.
For me, the dark rides stole the show at Blackpool.
Lightwater Valley thought it could tell me how to behave. Ha! Take that!
Kumali was a very first Vekoma SLC, and I kind of liked it. As for the ones that followed, well . . .
Pleasurewood Hillls' Enigma was a fun old Schewarzkopf coaster.
Their Tales of the Coast boat ride gets bonus points for being based on local folklore.
This photo features two anusing attractions at Grand Yarmouth Pleasure Beach: the very old school Scenic Railway (my first coaster with a brakeman) and the cheesy Snails and Fairy Tales ride.
I know this looks like someone threw up on a baked potato, but this curry chicken jacket was pretty good.
The exquisite horror of Joyland's Spook Express.
Dracula got me at Joyland, too. He likes to suck out blood and brains.
Thorpe Park marked my first-ever ride on one of these crazy Inamin contraptions (Stealth).
However, I preferred Thorpe's Nemesis: Inferno.
Off to Norway! I love the front entrance to Tusenfryd and how it interacts with Speed Monster.
Thunder Coaster was a pleasant surprise.
Liseberg was the last park we visited--and my first chance to sign a roller coaster.
Balder quickly became my favorite coaster then, and it's still in my top 10 today. That's all for now.
Wow, I've never officially traveled with TPR outside of a few bash days several years ago but I think I've been following along with their trips from just around the very beginning so this was a trip down memory lane for sure.
Also what level of Inception is this where I'm reading of a trip report of a trip report that I read 14 years ago? I'm gonna wake up and the world is going to be under quarantine or something......
SharkTums wrote:Love this so much Chuck! Thanks for sharing and being such a great friend over the last 15 years!
Aw, shucks, Ms. Elissa.
Hilltopper39 wrote:Also what level of Inception is this where I'm reading of a trip report of a trip report that I read 14 years ago? I'm gonna wake up and the world is going to be under quarantine or something......
I hope everyone enjoys this thread. I'll probably update it once a week.
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