Day 6 – Hansa Park
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP…
After getting about 4 hours of sleep, my phone’s alarm going off was pretty much the worst thing I’d ever heard. I forced myself to get up, even though the better idea would’ve been to just find a way to curl up in a ball and die. I’m pretty sure that I was still intoxicated that morning, making it all the more difficult to wake up, shower, pack and get to the bus by 7:45 am. Luckily I’d set my alarm for 6:30, because I’d need every single minute of that to get ready. When I turned my phone’s alarm off, I noticed for the first time that I’d cracked my iPhone’s screen. Great start to the day. I could vaguely remember dropping it on the gravel walkway the night before. Pro tip – If your doctor tells you to avoid alcohol with your new medication, you should probably listen to them.
I won’t bore you with how many times I almost threw up that morning. Somehow my body didn’t give in. Thanks, body! Eventually, I was able to shower, brush my teeth, dress and pack in the allotted time. I started walking with my luggage towards the front of the hotel at about 7:30. The bus was leaving at 7:45. On my way to the bus, I ran into Ross, who had been sent by people to check to see if I was going to make it. I must have been pretty bad the night before if there was genuine concern for me missing the bus. I’m not a morning person, and I usually get to the bus about 5 minutes before we take off, sometimes cutting it a bit too close. My friends know this, and don’t usually worry about me. I guess it was nice to feel loved that day, because the only thing I could feel at that point was pain.
The seating was kind of screwed up on the bus that day, but I didn’t care. I plopped down next to Alan, who I’d only really spoken to a few times by that point. Poor guy. I was a train wreck. Steve, Priscilla, and Joe were all in the same boat. I won’t say who was hurting the most, but Steve told me he threw up three times that morning. Oh, I guess it was Steve. Maybe we’re getting too old to party like that, who knows? With three loudmouths (Priscilla is quiet) out of commission, the bus was pretty quiet that morning. Luckily, it was only about a 15 minute drive to the park. Well, in theory. Apparently the road was closed for construction, and all of the traffic was being funneled through one small town. This made for a VERY long drive. Honestly, I’m not sure how long it actually took, but it seemed like I was on that bus for about 6 hours. Someone that was actually alive will have to fill in the details. I remember waking up and noticing that the bus wasn’t moving. I thought that we were at the park, so I closed my eyes again. When I woke up again, we were still in the same spot. That’s when I noticed we were stuck in a traffic jam. Gross. I looked over and saw a playground, and wondered again if we were at the park. Luckily, Joe asked, “Is this the park?” Everyone berated him for asking such a stupid question. “Yeah, Joe. The park is just a slide and some swings.” Thanks for asking before I did, Joe!
The ride continued, and Steve, Joe and I were all worried that we might have an… incident. I honestly believe that if the bus ride were about 10 minutes longer, there would’ve been a lot of vomiting taking place. Since that didn’t happen, I’m sure the rest of the bus was very thankful, even if they didn’t know it at the time. I was told that afternoon that I’d actually fallen asleep on Alan’s shoulder at one point. He was so afraid to do anything that he just sat there and let me sleep. Worst. Bus. Ride. Ever. That’s all that can be said.
Who knows how much more time passed before we arrived at Hansa Park? All I know is that I woke up and we were in the parking lot. The front entrance was beautiful, looking more like an old German village than the gateway to an amusement park. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really in the mood for a ton of pictures at that time. The park was ready and waiting for us, and had us get into a line so we could get all of our goodies for the day. We were given a park ticket, a button for ERT on Fluch von Novgorod that morning, a lunch voucher, and a Hansa Park hat. Very nice! I got in line and noticed a very pretty blonde girl working at the front of the line. Time to put on the charm! Before I got up there, I said something to Shawn, and the look on his face told me that my breath smelled like a liquor cabinet. Hmmmm. Maybe I should just get in line and not worry about flirting with the girl. That sounds like a better idea.
While we waited for everyone to get their things, I tried to keep it together. Folks, I’m not going to lie. I was struggling. I’ve been hungover before, but I’d never had to go and ride rides all day after waking up with one. I was starting to get a little worried about how the day was going to go. Hansa does things a little differently. They open the park about an hour before the rides start running, so there were already other guests waiting to get in with us. The park is absolutely gorgeous, so I can understand why people get there early. It’s worth walking around and checking everything out. The first thing you see when you walk in the park is a beautiful floral clock. They even change the flowers every day to show the correct date. Mind you, this is something I didn’t notice until I was looking through my pictures that night, so it shows how observant I was that morning. The park mascots were out to greet us, and take pictures if that’s your thing. I wish I would’ve taken one, because they’re an interesting group of characters. There’s a dolphin, an orca, and a seal. Awww. They’re so cute! The group was getting led back to the parks launched Euro-Fighter, Fluch von Novgorod (Curse of Novgorod).
Now, I can’t even begin to describe the storyline behind this ride, because of a few things:
1. The ride is in Russian.
2. I don’t speak Russian.
Now, I know you’re thinking, “Wait a minute, Thad! The park is in Germany. Why would they speak Russian?” Well, faithful reader, here’s why. Hansa Park is apparently based on something called the European Hanseatic League. If you want to read about it, here’s the description on their website: http://www.hanse-in-europa.de/en/
So… There you have it. The park has actually done a wonderful job theming the areas in the park to look like each of these countries. They’re so detailed, that they even use some of the languages found in those countries. ***WARNING*** The previous information was given to me by my friend, EB. So, if it’s not true, then EB is a liar. I hope he’s not a liar! ***END OF WARNING***
If you don’t know much about the ride, it’s an incredibly well themed Euro-Fighter. Hansa likes to install big rides over the course of two years. The first year, they’ll build the actual ride. In year two, they go through and add theming to the ride, making it more than just a coaster. The theming was almost on par with Disney and Universal. It’s better than any other amusement park I’ve ever seen, but it’s not quite on the level of the big boys. Still, I was really impressed. The walkway to the entrance went from being lined with flowers and inviting, to being littered with creepy scarecrows and small little huts. The scarecrow was telling a story in German, so I have no idea what he was saying. Hopefully he wasn’t telling me to drink more beer… As usual, our group was bringing up the rear of the ERT line. This was actually nice, because it gave us time to check out the theming in the queue, and it also gave us a little more time to get over feeling like crap.
There was a stained glass window that would put on a show every few minutes, explaining the curse that the village was under. After that, you made your way through some very small hallways. Seriously, they could’ve made these a little bigger. During the day when they’re completely full, it’s a little too tight for my liking. They had three lines, two normal lines and a single rider (Hey Steve, we’ve got a couple of single riders over here!) all in that space. In one of the hallways there was a man’s head, displayed about 10 feet above the people in line. They projected a face onto it, and he was saying something. Once again, no clue what it was, but it was pretty cool, and the entire queue line gave off a very spooky vibe. They really outdid themselves. This hall reminded me of the 1984 Apple commercial a little bit, if you know what I’m talking about. There were several little tricks installed throughout the queue, and I won’t ruin any of them here. We eventually reached the loading station, and even this was really well themed. Lights would flicker and music would play. Our group climbed in, 2 rows of 4 across seating, like most other Euro-Fighters. Once we were ready, the doors flung open, the music played and we were on our way!
In the first room there was an opera singing ghost. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. It was definitely weird, but the effect was well done. Once the opera had ended, we moved into another room with an animatronic figure standing over a cauldron. They did a lot of facial projections on this ride, and they worked pretty well. After he was done speaking, it was time to get this ride going. The train dropped out of the room and hit the launch area, sending you outside into an airtime hill. The train whipped around a couple of overbanked turns, then some sort of inversion. After the inversion, the brakes kick in, and the train heads into another building. This is where the 97 degree lift hill and drop is located. It’s in complete darkness, with a storm approaching. As you slowly make your way up the hill, the rain starts, and you come across another animatronic figure speaking gibberish. My only complaint about this part is that he’s pretty hard to see if you’re not in the correct seat. I completely missed out on him the first time we rode, not knowing that he was even there. Oh well, that’s about the only complaint I had about the ride, except for a little rattle in the outdoor portion.
The train moves faster up the lift hill after that scene, and before you know it, your train is plunging down the very steep drop. I can’t really remember what happens after that, but I know you dart around in the dark for a bit before getting back to the station. There’s another surprise in store for you here, but I won’t ruin that either. All in all, this was a great ride. The coaster portion itself isn’t all that amazing, but when it’s paired with the outstanding theming, it really was one of the best rides that we experienced. I’m really looking forward to their new ride for next year. It looks like it might be pretty interesting!
So how was I feeling at this point? Well, I was actually feeling a LOT better. We walked out of the station, and it gets kind of weird from this point on. You could either take a slide or stairs to get down to the next level, so I of course chose the slide. No point in wasting precious steps on a TPR trip! Once you get downstairs, it essentially becomes a maze. There are 2 paths that you can take, one leading to a dead end, the other leads to the exit. I kept thinking there were going to be actors down there, but there weren’t. I’m not sure I that I could’ve handled it that morning. When we finally got back outside, we had no idea where the hell we were. The exit is nowhere near the entrance to the ride. We actually had to ask an employee how to get back, and it took us about 5 minutes to walk over there. I’m still not sure how you end up so far away!
When we got back to the entrance there was still some time left for the group, so a few of us rode again. After my second ride, I felt completely normal! There you have it. Roller Coasters = Hangover Cure! Someone from TPR wasn’t so lucky, as there was a protein spill in the exit this time around. We made sure to walk around the pile of toilet paper on the ground once we noticed it. After another fun ride, we had to meet up with the rest of the tour group before we could head into the park. Most of the group was going to get a backstage tour of the new coaster being built for 2015, but we didn’t really have much interest in that. We decided to hit up all of the credits before the park got too busy.
On our way to the front of the park, we passed by El Paso Express, the parks Bayern Curve. I hadn’t ridden one of these since I was a kid (Kennywood’s was closed last year!), and I remembered really liking them. Hansa has an interesting variation of the ride, as it has two loops instead of just the normal one. We decided to give it a ride since we were in the area, and we wanted to taunt our friend RD back home, the biggest Anton lover of them all. We took a spin, and it wasn’t nearly as much fun as I’d hoped it was going to be. It was still a good ride, but not as great as I remembered. The ride actually vallied later in the day, but I’m not sure how often that happens. Oh well, off to the next ride!
One of Hansa’s main attractions is the old Schwarzkopf looper, Nessie. It’s one of the first rides you see when you enter the park, because you can’t miss the vertical loop with the park name proudly displayed on it. We made our way through the giant queue that didn’t have another soul in it. The station was pretty much empty, as well. The train pulled into the station and I hopped in the back row with Steve. Yes, this still had a lap bar for the restraint! I love it when parks leave things alone, do you hear me Magic Mountain? The ride was pretty fun, but not mind blowing. There were a few pops of air in the last row, and the loop with the park’s family coaster passing through it pretty cool as well. The ride ends by diving into a monster’s mouth. Well, Nessie to be precise. Once inside, you slam into the brakes at full speed, which seems a little odd. Anton could’ve done a little more at the end, but all in all it’s a good ride. Since we were right there, we rode Rasender Roland (Rushing Roland), which was pretty much a Vekoma family coaster, but it seemed like it was custom built to me. I could be wrong. Not much to say about it, it’s a credit, right?
Even though I was feeling a lot better, it was time to hydrate. We caught a vendor completely off guard because all of us ordered water. He actually ran out and had to get some more for all of us. Sorry, man! We were a little dehydrated that day! The water tasted so good. I’d only need about 30 more of them before the day had ended. Now that the group was starting to look human again, we wandered around looking for the other coasters in the park. We kept running into people from TPR, and all of them said that the wild mouse was one of the worst they’d ever been on. Great! I can’t stand most of them to begin with and now I’m going to ride one of the worst?
Crazy Mine was the park’s wild mouse coaster. The warnings that we’d received were all justified. This thing was pretty terrible. Sadly, all of the great theming is completely ruined by one of the most painful rides I’ve ever experienced. I’m normally not too big of a fan of wild mouse rides because they beat me up, but this thing was ridiculous. There were a couple of brakes throughout the ride that would cause the train to slam to a nearly complete stop. I couldn’t wait to get off this death trap. I limped away from the exit and never looked at the ride again. I don’t even have a picture of the stupid ride. Moving on!
The park’s final coaster was dangerously close to being considered a kiddie coaster, but, as the rule states… Anything taller than Grover at BGW is acceptable. Die Schlange von Midgard (The Midgard Serpent) was another very well themed ride. The entire lift hill is enclosed (surprise), containing a few animatronics. There’s some story about two kids sneaking onto a ship that they’re not supposed to be on, and they come face to face with some mythical snake creature in the sea. I’d heard that there’s supposed to be an animatronic near the end of the ride, but I guess it wasn’t working when we were there. I probably just completely missed it, though. The ride was fun for what it was, and once again, it had top notch theming. I can’t believe how much trouble they went through for this little coaster!
With all of the coasters taken care of, we wanted to see what the rest of Hansa Park had to offer. Hansa offers one of the largest raft ride slides that I’ve ever seen, Rio Dorado. My home park, Adventureland, has a smaller version of this and it’s a pretty fun ride. Bigger is always better, right? Our group trudged through the enormous queue area, stopping to watch rafts go by, hoping they’d get hit with some of the water cannons. This is when Priscilla almost fought a teenager. These little bastards were running through the line, cutting past everyone, and she decided that they weren’t going to get past her. This wouldn’t be the last time that she had a run in with a rude child. We’d always look to her to take care of little pests like these, and she was pretty great at doing it!
After walking about 10 miles, we climbed into our empty raft, and waited to exit the station. Up the giant lift hill we went, holding on. The rafts aren’t exactly the sturdiest things to sit in while going up a hill. At the top, we were dumped out into the slide, and the disappointment began. Any time you’d get any speed going they had rubber squares on the ride to slow your raft down. I’m sure this is done for safety, but I’m guessing they could’ve let it run a little bit faster. I’m not an engineering student like everyone else on TPR, so I can’t tell you for certain why they do it. At the bottom of the slide, there’s a bit of a splash, but not too bad. I didn’t really want to get wet, so I was happy about that. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten about the cannons. We got drilled by almost all of them. Luckily, we didn’t get too wet, and it was pretty warm that day. It actually felt pretty refreshing.
Die Glocke wasn’t too far of a walk, so we went over to see how bad the line was. The Bell Ride, as we called it, is a flat ride that I’ve never seen anywhere else. The ride swings on a pendulum, inside of a giant bell that goes back and forth. It only seats about 6-8 people, so the line was pretty long. None of us were that interested in spinning around, so we all opted out. I’ll probably regret not riding it someday, but I don’t regret my decision as of this writing. It’s definitely an interesting looking ride, though.
It was about time to find some food. None of us had really eaten breakfast, for obvious reasons, and it was getting hot. We started looking for a place to eat, and stumbled upon a steakhouse in the Wild West themed area. Yep. Another Wild West area!!! Just like home! The restaurant was kind of inefficient. You had a waitress that came around to your table like a normal restaurant. She brought out the food and drinks, just like you’d expect. At the end of the meal, everyone had to go up to the front of the restaurant and pay her individually. It might have just been weird because we had so many people, but we were blocking all of the employees and other guests from being able to move around. It was really annoying. As for the meal, my steak was pretty decent for an amusement park. It seemed like everyone was pretty happy with their meals, and we sat there for awhile to rest and just talk to each other. Down time is always so nice on these trips. There’s not much of it, so if you have a chance to take an easy day at a park, you should do it! Some people wanted to ride the train, so we left after paying and tried to find the station.
We followed the map to an area that looked an awful lot like a train station, and we grabbed a bench to wait. Some people chose to do the huge slides that were right behind us, but the hungover people didn’t think that was a great idea. We waited a really long time for the train. At one point, we decided to just give up and leave, but the train showed up right as we were walking away. They must only run one train, because I think we sat there for about 30 minutes. No big deal, we weren’t in any hurry.
We took the train to the front of the park, because some of the group wanted to do a couple of the water rides near there. As luck would have it, the station was right next to the park’s observation tower. I’ve always been a fan of these because I love getting an aerial view of the park. Hansa’s tower isn’t huge, but it gave you plenty of time at the top of the tower to take in the view. I didn’t know that Hansa was that close to the Baltic Sea! The tower really offered some great views of the area!
Our group went back to the original plan of riding the water rides in that corner of the park. Priscilla, Jere and I chose not to ride. I’m just past the point in my life where getting soaked is considered fun. We opted to get something to drink and sit in the shade for a bit. It was around this time where I found a flower sitting on the ground, so I presented it to Priscilla. She decided that it would be funny if she swatted it out of my hand. When she did, the flower basically exploded, sending petals flying everywhere. She thought it was hilarious, but I thought it was just rude. My friends don’t even like me when I’m being nice! Oh, and this was when Priscilla also fell in love with Cactus Pops. They were some sort of popsicle, and she had so many of them that I lost count around 10. She REALLY liked these for some reason.
It didn’t take long for the rest of the group to finish riding both of the water rides, so our break was pretty short. We still had a couple of hours before the bus was going to leave, so we looked at the map to try and figure out if we’d missed anything. Oh yeah, Space Race! No one really had any idea what it was, but we’d heard from more than a few people that it was definitely worth checking out. It was on the other end of the park, so we headed towards the ride. Space Race is inside of a pretty large building, with really no hint of what goes on inside. There was a bumper car test seat near the entrance, and it looked like it was going to be a really tight fit. Since there wasn’t much leg room, I wanted to try it out to see how uncomfortable it was going to be. The test seat was tiny! I could barely get in the stupid thing, and after I slid in behind the wheel, it must have looked pretty ridiculous. Get ready for a little too much detail… The wheel was basically pressed up against my groin region. I could actually turn the wheel by moving my hips. Oh, yeah! All the ladies are loving that mental image!
We made our way into the building, and the first half was a mix between a funhouse, a queue, and a space station. There didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to it, but it was kind of cool. It was very futuristic. I stopped to watch the tutorial video, and kind of figured out that you’re supposed to drive your car around and shoot the planet door that’s lit up. If you get all of the planets before time runs out, I guess you’re the winner. I’m not really sure about all of that. It seemed like most people were just driving around smashing into one another. I took that opportunity to go and rack up as many planets as I could, falling two short of completing the mission. I have no idea if that’s good or not, but I did see that some kid that rode in our group had all but one. He probably cheated… All in all, it was a fun twist on bumper cars. It was nice that the shooting mechanic actually worked after seeing it fail at Tivoli Gardens.
With time to kill, we all decided to take one more ride on Fluch von Novgorod before it was time to leave. There was about a 15 minute wait for it, which wasn’t bad, but it was one of the few lines we encountered that day. Once again, the ride delivered. I thought for sure that during normal park hours there would be a scare actor in the maze, but once again, there was nothing. I still don’t really “get” what the point of the maze is. I’ll stop complaining about it. Upon exiting the ride, we ran right into an afternoon parade that was going around the park. It was cute, and pretty well done for a park of this size, but it’s nothing I’d tell you to make time for.
It was time to start making our way to the bus. We still had about 45 minutes, but you don’t mess with being late on a TPR trip! Especially since we were going to a completely different country that night! I took some time to take a few more pictures of the park and its landscaping on my way out, followed by a stop at the gift shop to find a magnet. I grabbed a couple of waters for the bus trip, and unfortunately had my first carbonated water of the trip. I’d forgotten that a lot of countries like to drink this crap, and didn’t pay attention when I grabbed it out of the cooler. It’s so disgusting! I’m not sure how people can drink it!
We had a few hours to waste on the bus, so I chatted with Alan and watched him cheat at crossword puzzles. I can’t remember if this was when Ross got to ask random people questions, but if it was, it was one of the more entertaining bus rides of the trip. It was a nice twist on the standard “Ask Robb a Question” game. I think we all learned where we came from that afternoon! Does anyone remember the answer? Ross also decided to welcome Ryan to the back of the bus. We passed by some sort of doggie wash place, and Ross kept asking Ryan to “Woof like a doggie. Woof. Woof.” for him, but was in the creepiest voice you’ve ever heard. We were all uncomfortable, but poor Ryan had nowhere to run! We finally made it to the city of Aarhus, which would be our base camp for the next few days.
The hotel we stayed at was going under some renovations at the time, so only 1 elevator was available for the entire place. This elevator could only fit about 3 or 4 people with luggage, so you can imagine how horrible it was to try and get 95 people into their rooms. For once, I was one of the first people to get my room key, so I was on the first elevator! Awesome! The rooms were really nice, I thought. Lots of exposed brick, and you could tell that they’d been recently remodeled. A few of us made plans to grab some dinner, just grabbing something quick at McDonald’s or Burger King because it had been such a long day. McDonald’s was packed with TPR people, so we walked down the street to BK. This place was a complete joke. They were out of all kinds of soda, and it took forever to order and receive your food. But hey, food is food, so we were just happy to be eating. Some people hung out in the hotel lobby that night, but most of us called it an early night since we were going to get up somewhat early the next morning.
I think most of the trip participants were big fans of Hansa. It was one of the more surprising parks of the trip for me. I was completely blown away by the theming and landscaping all throughout the park. It was really well done! The new coaster that they’re building for 2015 should help make this one of the better parks in Europe. I can’t wait to see what this park has up its sleeve in the future!