There are a small number of amusement parks in this world that feature what is sometimes unkindly referred to as the paedophile rule; namely, that adults are only admitted in the company of a child. The thinking behind this rule is as obvious; the park wishes to keep out those who might present a danger to their younger guests. The primary objective in any rule of this sort must always be the protection of young children; however, sometimes well intentioned rules are not effective and can discriminate unfairly against completely innocent people. I'm of the view that this rule is flawed on two grounds; first, many abuse cases involve close relatives of children rather than strangers; second and more seriously, advertising a rule of this nature leads to a false sense of security. There is absolutely no substitute for parents keeping a close watch on their children.
At any rate, this situation presents quite a challenge to those of us striving to ride all the roller coasters in this world. The best way to visit is to wait until an enthusiast friend is visiting with his or her family, and tag along. Martin does not have children of his own, but his younger brother has two, and Dom and Lara are quite happy to let their uncle treat them to a day out. They know that the trip will be well worth their while; not only will they get to ride roller coasters, but they'll get away with a lot of things their mother would never put up with, starting with chocolate cake for breakfast.
Gulliver's Milton Keynes
17th August 2008
We passed through the gate of my second Gulliver's park to be greeted by a cordon blocking off all but a tiny area at the front of the park. Gully Mouse was in the midst of covering some ABBA music, and we had little choice but to talk as loudly as possible while shielding our ears. The conversation covered the stupid driving distances George had gone through to join us today, mostly equivalent to the distance I'd travelled (by air) between Dublin and London. Fortunately the acoustic assault came to a rapid conclusion even before the banal conversation, and the barrier went down. Two minutes later, we had approached our first coaster. It was closed.
The park operates a staggered opening system, with some of its attractions opening half an hour after the main entrance. Additionally, the larger rides operate on a rotating schedule, with ride operators moving between them on a half hourly basis. As such the first ride we were able to try was the Log Flume, a mid-sized affair with two moderate drops. The operator insisted that Lara ride in the front of the boat, ensuring neatly that she would take the brunt of the two splashes. My waterproof proved entirely unnecessary, with barely a sprinkle hitting me.
The first coaster ride of the day was on the Runaway Train (#1237), which is one of the most difficult coasters to photograph on this planet. Thick bushes all around it have grown to the point that there is realistically only one possible photo spot, and even then one needs a certain amount of acrobatic skill to make the most of it. Though small, it was actually taller than the indoor coaster, variously called Cheese Factory or Crazy Mouse (#1238). The theming consists of very large chairs and a fireplace that must been twenty feet high, designed presumably to give the impression of what a normal living room might look like to a friendly rodent. One doubts that at these accoutrements would have much place in a dairy. The final coaster. Python (#1239), was the only one of the three Pinfari mighty mini mega rides that I'd not been on.
The children wanted to ride the Crazy Barrel Ride, a slight variation on the usual tea-cup attraction. This seemed like an ideal candidate to test whether the healthy meal earlier could be resurrected. As such, I set out to spin our car as fast as humanly possible, and it was only a mild disappointment that they tried to make me move the car even faster. It seemed for a while like it'd be my breakfast that came back to visit, but fortunately the ride began to slow before I had to put the brakes on myself!
After a quick Free Fall we elected to try the two dark rides. Silver Mine is not a roller coaster despite certain enthusiasts remarking to the contrary; rather, it is a shooting dark ride with specially detuned targets that are very easy to hit, demonstrating the target audience for the ride. There was no scoring but I'd have managed a one hundred percent hit rate had I not chosen to point the gun at the vehicle behind me for a while! Gulliver's Travels The Ride was a more traditional affair, which could best be summarised as not Efteling.
17th August 2008
It was mid afternoon when we arrived at Twinlakes Park. The cheery staff member at the gate advised us to wait the ten minutes until half past three, as we'd be able to enter at half price if we did. This seemed like a fair bargain to us; after all a ten minute wait for the Mercury Mini Coaster (#1240) was hardly going to stress us that much. Even still we were on the last train before the ride broke down on the lift hill, though it was quickly fixed by a staff member walking up the ten feet or so to give it a push. The big apple and the former American Adventure powered coaster, Buffalo Stampede, were the only two rides we braved, though the children enjoyed themselves thoroughly in the indoor play area.