We were greeted on arrival at Fårup by the park boss, Søren. He insisted on shaking the hand of absolutely everybody present, much to the amusement of our intrepid chairman, who developed a wide grin that was still with him much later in the morning. Søren told us that his brand new wooden coaster had been in the planning stages for more than a decade, and that it was an Intamin project until very late in the day, until S&S won the final contract. He also announced that everyone would be receiving free on-ride photographs and free commemorative t-shirts, which brought on some very loud cheers.
It was a rare privilege to be in the back seat for the first ever public ride of Falken (#242). The only people who'd been on it before were engineering staff. As we climbed the lift hill it was impossible not to feel a small sense of apprehension for the park management team; they'd pinned their future on a wooden roller coaster, and now a train load of enthusiasts was here to give it the ultimate review. There are some enthusiasts who will write positively about a ride no matter whether it is good or bad, but not me; if a ride is poor, I'll say so, and in this case a negative review would have been dreadful payback for such amazing hospitality.
Fortunately I need not have worried. While Europe's newest wooden coaster will never be a top ten ride, it's certainly a good all round attraction. Over the course of the day I clocked up a total of thirty-six circuits, which says more than any text can about the quality of the design. Nothing is ever completely perfect, mind you; there was one substantial construction error about two thirds of the way through the ride, just after the train turns a corner to head back towards the station. It looked to me like the builders had been working from both ends, and got to the join only to find the two segments didn't quite meet. They managed to put together a fix that the train can negotiate, but it's a pretty jarring bump which will likely need regular maintenance to keep it up to scratch.
Flagermusen (#243) is a bog standard spinning mouse that has been improved by burying it within the bounds of some trees. This makes it nigh on impossible to photograph well, but on the other hand the near misses add no end to the experience. The best bit of all, however, was the ride suffering a breakdown while we were on it, giving us a whole ten minutes sitting in a block brake right before the big drop. This was only the second time I've gotten stuck on a coaster, the first time being the Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris. Unfortunately the emergency stop totally destroyed the speed of the second half of the ride, and I didn't get a chance to go back for a second try.
From there I made my way to Mine Expressen (#244), another off-the-shelf coaster improved by its proximity to lush scenery. This model was running very well for the most part, but it was marred by a stop akin to a car crash at the end of the ride. The operator mistook our gesticulation for enthusiasm and proceeded to dispatch the train a second time, during which I remembered to brace for impact!
Having ticked off the coasters I wandered back across to Falken, where the official opening ceremony was just getting underway. Most of it was in Danish, and my single word of that language is entirely inappropriate for a family web page, so I nodded politely and timed my laughter to match with the rest of the crowd. Denise Dinn from S&S gave her speech in English, so I could follow that one okay, but I've no idea what anyone else said. From there I positioned myself to just outside the station, just in time to catch a photo of the ribbon being cut for the first official ride. Watching people wearing suits on roller coasters always amuses me, but Søren seemed to take it in his stride!
The parks hospitality concluded with a positively superb buffet lunch, once again absolutely free. After the last few days of hot dogs it was refreshing to get some proper food, leaving us with a fine memory of what has to have been the most amazing morning in a park I've ever had.