Neil's 2014 theme park recap

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Neil's 2014 theme park recap

Postby rctneil » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:32 pm

Hey all!

I thought I would do a quick post to outline all the theme parks and places of a similar nature that I have visited this year as an overview. First of all, it's been an amazing year, i've visited a ton of new parks, several ones i've visited previously, met up with old friends and new, participated in a variety of weird and wacky things and overall just had an amazing time.

So first off, when the theme park season began (sort of, in February), I headed off for an early year visit to Alton Towers!

Arrived and ready

Ready for first coaster of the year, same as always, Nemesis!

It's Fright Time

The towers of Alton


Vertical panorama of the flying machine in the Alton Towers Hotel

At the beginning of March, I visited Thorpe Park for their Annual Pass preview day which turned out to be a very quiet day which was great for several rerides.

Going down



Bypassed this. Too cold for water rides


I think the ambulance needs a helping hand

A few short weeks later we arrived at the season opening week for Alton Towers so I spent a day there getting to ride for the first time this year the rides that had not been a part of the February Half Term event.



I also got to meet the designer of Nemesis, John Wardley!

The designer of Nemesis

The next park for the year was Oakwood Theme Park in Pebrokeshire, Wales. The main attractions here are Megafobia and Speed. Megafobia was running absolutely insane this day for an event and we rode it for an hours ERT session in the evening where, we were told that the trim brakes were closing behind the train. This ride really does surprise you and is 100% the best woodie we have here in the UK.

Speed the Ride was my first brand new coaster of the year. This was due to the top of the lift having been struck by lightning a week before my previous visit therefore being closed whilst a replacement part was on order. It was a shame they were only running one train as I would have liked to have ridden it more than once but I was happy to ride Megafobia instead! The teatray waterfall ride is also a fun highlight here too.



Such an amazing little wooden coaster. Hidden away in Wales. Wish more people would travel to Oakwood to try it out.

As part of the trip to Oakwood, myself and Jason (mousch) opted to visit the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff the following day on our journey back.

Delete, Delete, DELETE!

Several weeks later I decided to head over to Southport to see what was left of the former Southport Pleasureland site. The site is still home to a fairground and is slowly being regenerated. The old Wildcat is still running and lots of fairground rides seem to come and go throughout the year.

Not terrible but not great. The ride op had to climb up to the hill after the first drop to push the car to ensure it didn't roll back and stall!

This is one of those really fast Fabbri spinners.

Also sat at Southport was the train from Camelot's Dragon Flyer (a diesel powered coaster).


After a visit to the Pleasureland, I drove a short distance to Knowsley Safari Park as I had not visited in many years.


In June it was time for the TPR Scandinavia trip so a pretrip visit to both Thorpe Park and Alton Towers were called for. Jason and I picked up Chris and Brooke (who had just arrived from Sydney) from Heathrow airport a few days before the Scandi trip and headed directly to Thorpe. A couple of coaster rides later we headed back and two days later I met up with them for a day at Alton (they seemed much more awake that day!). I also got to see the new CBeebies Land that had recently opened too!

Hello new Postman Pat ride

The tour begins! The arrival day consisted of a walk up to see the Little Mermaid statue and a nice evening meal catching up with old friends.

The Little Mermaid

The add on day consisted of a trip to Sommerland Sjaelland in Denmark. A lovely family run park with some very unique attractions. The passions that the owner had for the park was amazing. He gave a great talk about how the park had started and where it was headed for the future.

Get outta the photo!


The official first day was at Bakken (the worlds oldest amusement park). We got to ride Rutschebanen (a scenic railway that had been recently converted to use no brakeman) and the very unique Intamin spinner (Tornado). What a ride that was! The super fast lift and the tight turns gave a very crazy and intense ride!

This was such a fun ride. The lifthill takes you by surprise

That evening we all headed to Urban Ranger Camp for some indoor obstacle courses. Excellent fun was had participating in a variety of activities.

All ready to do some obstacle courses!

Day 2 was at Tivoli Gardens, a short walk from the group hotel. This park was home to another Scenic Railway (my favourite one) and a B&M Floorless (Daemonen). The park is stunning and the selection fo rides is great. I think most people spent the majority of their day in the park as we could come and go whenever we liked.


Jacob the brakeman gave us a fantastic tour inside and out of Rutschebanen which concluded with a half cycle down from the top back to the station.


What a pretty park.

We also got to ride a very highly anticipated ride (Vertigo) or as it got called by many of us (Plane on a stick). This has to be one of the most (if not the most) intense ride I have ever ridden! I rode it several times that day both forwards and backwards. Watch this video to see what I mean:


Small compact coaster but really fun ride.

Day 3 was at Bon Bon Land. A very odd park with a selection of weird characters including the infamous farting dog (Henry). The park was home to the worlds first Eurofighter, a pretty crazy spinning coaster, a clever tilting drop tower and the best frisbee I have ever ridden!

Henry the farting dog

The worlds first Eurofighter

A very strange boat ride

Reactions as the top of the tilting drop tower, errrm, tilts

You can never buy enough dog fart woopie cushions!

Day 4 was down in the North of Germany to visit Hansa Park. The star attraction was Fluch von Novgorod, a dark launched Eurofighter which was just brilliant. The Bell ride was also odd but pretty cool. I loved their small kiddie coaster over the lake and behind a waterfall.

The odd Bell ride

Great fun and highly themed kiddie coaster!


Legoland Billund was up next. I've always liked the Legoland parks and this was the best one i've visited. It had a ton of attractions and a great miniland area. Overall a great day. Polar Xplorer was a highlight and turned out to be a great family ride with a nice surprise half way through!


We also got to see Legoland's new for 2014 attraction: Ghost. It's a simple walk through attraction past spooky lego scenes, a mirror maze and then a sort of large frog hopper type attraction. Nicely done.

We got to ride the new Ghost attraction


Two peoples birthday on the same day so they picked up their birthday badges!

Next up was the coaster a lot of people had been waiting for. Piraten! An Intamin Mega-Lite, and just like the other three, did not disappoint. Great moments of airtime, tight turns and amazingly good fun. Robb had managed to organised a massive amount of ERT on it so big big thanks there!


We also got to experience Djurs Sommerland's new for 2014 attraction: Juvelen, this family coaster was also excellent fun and really glad I got to ride one of these.

This was a really fun non stop ride.

Aaron takes his throne as Thor

In the afternoon on this day we headed to Tivoli Friheden where a large metal structure loomed overhead. It was time for the SCAD Tower! This is one thing I had been very very excited to try out and was a highlight of my year. I managed to do it twice during the evening and it's a fantastic experience but rather nervewracking hanging from a rope and not knowing when you were about to be let go.

Very very intimidating

The following day was at another park I really enjoyed, Faarup Sommerland. The park was quite wooded and contained a nice selection of rides:- Orkanen, Falken and Lynet were the main coasters and all were great fun apart from Falken around the turns.

Orkanen was a big highlight as a family coaster it really was a great ride. Lynet was fun and one of my favourite Gerstlauer launching coasters.

I really enjoyed Orkanen and it's overbanked turn out of the tunnel.



Faarup Sommerland also had a really great obstacle course. I thank everyone for laughing as I smashed my head against a solid metal bar at the top of a climbing rope but also real thanks to all those there who asked if I was ok once they realised how hard I had hit it!

I think this is the last photo of the sunglasses....

That evening we had a 4 hour ferry to Sweden. The ferry was also our evening restaurant too and made a great way to hang out during the journey.

Beautiful views from the ferry

After entering Sweden one day, we left it to head to Norway to visit Tusenfryd! Tusenfryd has a really nice Intamin Accelerator with a pretty cool layout including a Norwegian Loop (In Norway!).

Norwegian loop in Norway!

Steve enjoying the launch of Speed Monster

The park also had a wooden coaster called Thunder Coaster which really surprised me with how good it was!


What can I say?


Back into Sweden, we all finally got to visit Liseberg! This has to be one of my favourite new parks. Balder was insane!!!! and Helix is another great addition to the park. Lisebergbanen also was very speedy and a great ride. How strange when the 4th best coaster in a park is an Intamin Accelerator (Kanonen).


We got to hammer nails into Balder and write our names which was great to be able to do after hearing about people doing this for many years.

I did this.

Robb did that.

Helix was a great ride too, however a little rattly



Drinks are good

This year has also been packed to the brim of haunted houses, horror walkthroughs and creepy rides and i've managed to get through them thanks to various people. Big thanks to Michael here!

Oh no

The next park, Skara Sommarland, had a ride i'd seen quite a while ago and also thought it seemed interesting. Tranan is an S&S Free Fly coaster. It's not intense or fast in anyway but gives a light floaty ride experience. Good fun really.


After the morning at Skara, we had a drive to Grona Lund where we spent the evening. Our hosts were amazing here and gave us a great arrival meal, evening drinks and pizza and a ton of ERT that night and the following morning. The park had a great carnival/boardwalk style atmosphere and the rides were great. Enjoyed Insane and Twister the most. Our small Insane water challenge also managed to win so YAY!

The following day also included one of the craziest amusement park experiences ever. A group of us got to climb Eclipse, a 400ft Star Flyer. This was a fantastic experience. Being able to ride up on the outside of the tower and then to climb on the very top was exhilarating! Big thanks to Robb/Elissa and Grona Lund for organising this!

I'll be up there shortly

Twisty on Twister


I told you so

We made it!

That night was spent on the overnight ferry heading to Finland.

The main deck on the overnight ferry

We were heading up to the North of Finland to Power Park but we had a quick stop at Fun Park as a credit stop.


At Power Park we had the rest of the evening to ride the rides. The parks boomerang has to be the best and smoothest I have ridden but I have to agree with Elissa's comments about the odd feeling when the magnetic breaks slow you to a halt once the ride ends. Our evening also included two hours! of ERT on Thunderbird (GCI woodie) where we tried to break the speed record. We tried but were not quite quick enough.


Didn't quite break the speed record

The following morning (not that it got remotely dark!) we took part in the TPR Grand Prix! This is the best Go Kart track i've raced on, the karts were very fast and provided a great time to race all the other trip participants.


The penultimate day was at Sarkanniemmi. A strange park but a good collection of rides. The Angry Birds area was really nice. I really enjoyed Tornado, got forced on the horrible spinning ride, tortured by a Volare, watched a dolphin show, caused havoc on the family boat ride (Our group of five were too heavy and we grounded it in the channel!) and saw a Doctor Who reference in the planetarium (before we spent the rest of the tap to take a quick nap!)


Did not like this.

Torture contraption

Watch out Michael!

and the final day of the TPR 2014 Scandinavia Tour was at Linnanmaki! This park had some good coasters and flat rides too. The spinner was really enjoyable. I rode the ZacSpin with myself and Jim on one side and the otherside being totally empty and what a crazy ride cycle that was!

Kieppi was yet another insane flat ride that I had to experience, and amazingly I managed to survive this one ok. Could be due to the fact that my not-getting-sick tactic of teribbly singing bad songs actually seemed to work this time!



10 green bottles hanging on the wall....


So, that's the conclusion of the TPR 2014 Scandinavia Tour. It was a trip filled with excellent fun.

Several weeks later, it was about time to visit some places I had not been to in the UK before so a weekend visit was made to Wicksteed Park, Paulton's Park, Clarence Pier and Funland at Hayling Island.

Wicksteed Park looked like a fantastic park to spend an afternoon out for families. We rode the few coasters and wandered around for a bit.

Roller Coaster at Wicksteed Park


Paulton's Park was a pretty long trek but a lovely little park greeted us. Beautiful gardens and some coasters. Cobra was great and the recent Peppa Pig land was packed with families. The park was rather expensive though.


Cobra on an airtime hill


Clarence pier was home to two coasters. The main one being Skyways which is the only Galaxi outside of the US from what I was told! It was super smoothly too!

Really smooth Galaxi coaster at Clarence Pier


Funland at Hayling Island looked very run down to be honest. It did have this Intamin drop tower and Klondike Gold Mine from Drayton Manor has been relocated to there. It still runs as bad as it used to do as well!



Another weekend visit to Alton was in need and it looked it they were preparing for the years Scarefest event!


Ok, At the start of September, Jason and I organised a long weekend to visit three of Germany's theme parks:- Holiday Park, Europa Park and Tripsdrill!

A very early morning made me arrive at Frankfurt on time and we picked up our car and headed for Holiday Park to ride Expedition Geforce. This is an outstanding ride with airtime aplenty! Get there and ride it!


The whole park was really nice. The day was quiet so very short lines for everything. The new for 2014 ride was Sky Scream. Excellent ride too, apart from the transition after the big launch was extremely sudden and took me by surprise.

Last edited by robbalvey on Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:05 pm.
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part 2

Postby rctneil » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:33 pm

So, after Holiday Park we headed down to Rust and spent the next two days at Europa Park. I have to say that Europa Park is my second favourite theme park. The park is stunning, has a HUGE variety of coasters and rides and everything is maintained perfectly.






Wodan is another fantastic woodie and has the best themed queue of ANY wooden coaster.

After Europa Park, we visited Tripsdrill in Cleebronn. The park last year opened Karacho, a Gerstlauer launched Infinity Coaster. I enjoyed it, best parts were the launch, lapbar only seating and the dive loop into the tunnel!


Mammut wins the award this year for quietest wooden coaster! It sort of bounces along the track and gives a decent ride. The dark ride part at the beginning was cool too.


Ok, so after the Germany trip, it was time to FINALLY head over to Fantasy Island in Skegness. After a very very early start I get to Skegness to find it cold, pretty windy and raining slightly so my chances of riding Jubileee Odyssey looked very slim indeed.

Thankfully Odyssey did open and I rode it several times. It's not actually that bad apart from one rough spot. Pretty much EVERYTHING else in the park was totally closed. so only managed to ride one coaster, the Top Scan and the shot tower. I ahve to say I was very disappointed by Fantasy Island in general.

Fantasy Island


Jubilee Oddessey


Halloween begins!

Being a Merlin Annual Pass holder has it's benefits as I was invited to the Annual Pass preview event for Fright Nights at Thorpe Park. I spent the whole day there and then Fright Nights began at 6pm. I visited all 5 mazes: Studio 13 which was new for 2014, Cabin in the Woods, Blair Witch Project, My Bloody Valentine and Saw Alive. All of them were good fun but not too scary. I enjoyed getting split up from my group in My Bloody Valentine where I went alone and rejoined them later.

The director is ready....

A few in the dark rides including the Swarm ended the evening.

Night rides on the Swarm

October also saw me getting to use my birthday present of a 100mph zip line. This took place at a quarry in Wales and saw people flying over the quarry lake at blistering speeds:


In the afternoon I paid a visit to little known, GreenWood Forest Park. This is a nature park focusing on education. It is also home to the worlds only people powered roller coaster.

Learning about potential and kinetic energy conversions.

Then mid October was time for the yearly visit to Scarefest at Alton Towers. This year they had two mazes on offer, Terror of the Towers and The Sanctuary. Both were excellent and I preferred them both to the mazes at Thorpe Park. Alton also had two scare zones: ZOMBIES Scare Zone and Scary Tales.

Ready to be marmalised in the Sanctuary

On the 1st of November I took part in Zombie Earth with Holger, Bjorn and James in Birmingham. This took place at and around the Custard Factory. We were given a briefing and a map and had to run through zombie infested areas to locate coordinates to allow us to continue. Zombies were one of three types (Fast moving, Slow moving and sound activated.) It was a great event and very well set up. A couple of injuries happened but we all survived (just).


Then, finally, this past weekend I visited Alton Towers for the final time to see the Ultimate Fireworks event. It was spectacular show (Video coming tommorrow) and a fantastic end to the theme park season.

Don't Look Down
Last rides on Nemesis for the year! and thanks for reading.

So I just want thank everyone who has come along to some of these parks with me and to those who have organised the events I ahve participated in. It's been a fun packed year and I hope to see some of you next year!

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Re: Neil's 2014 theme park recap

Postby coasternate » Tue Nov 11, 2014 7:29 pm

Awesome trips. You traveled a LOT. I wish I could do that
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Re: Neil's 2014 theme park recap

Postby mattguyver » Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:25 am

You had an amazing year! Glad we got to do Scandi together! Here's hoping 2015 is even more amazing!

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Re: Neil's 2014 theme park recap

Postby PKI Jizzman » Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:34 am

I don't think I've ever seen that standalone one sided intamin Drop Tower before... how strange! Too funny to see it like that. Thanks for the photos, looks like a year that will be hard to follow up!
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Re: Neil's 2014 theme park recap

Postby mousch » Thu Nov 13, 2014 2:08 pm

Great Recap Neil, it was a pleasure to be able to share a lot of your theme park adventures with you, with plenty more in 2015 hopefully!!

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Re: Neil's 2014 theme park recap

Postby cfc » Sat Nov 15, 2014 3:34 pm

A walk-through haunt with Robb as a monster has to be your worst nightmare, Neil. ;)


Looks like you had a more interesting year than I did.

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Re: Neil's 2014 theme park recap

Postby rctneil » Sat Nov 15, 2014 5:12 pm

cfc wrote:A walk-through haunt with Robb as a monster has to be your worst nightmare, Neil. ;)


Looks like you had a more interesting year than I did.

Yep. It certainly was! I managed quite a few scary attractions this year. The mazes at the Merlin attractions are ok normally as I know what style of scares to expect so it's the new stuff that gets me.

One that also stands out was the ghost train at Bakken which I rode with Martin and as usual I had my head down and tried not to look at what was coming. Martin meanwhile was laughing and enjoying the ride as any person should be doing. Half way through the ride there was a ride op sat in a seat to the right hand side of the track who jumped out. He didn't seem to be wearing a costume, just standard clothes but boy did Martin shout out when he jumped out at us as we passed! It was hilarious!
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Re: Neil's 2014 theme park recap

Postby SharkTums » Sat Nov 15, 2014 5:50 pm

Very cool report! Can't wait to hang out with my bestie again!

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Re: Neil's 2014 theme park recap

Postby azza29 » Sat Nov 15, 2014 9:21 pm

An enjoyable read, and some great pics, Neil. I didn't realise there was any photographic evidence of my riding that tiny kiddie coaster in Norway!


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