Movieland Park has been slowly transforming itself over the six years since my last visit. Though the various movie themed attractions are unchanged, the ride complement has been augmented and extended. The most visible change is the Hollywood Tower, a first generation Intamin drop which dominates the skyline of the park. I was tempted to give it a go, as it is the only attraction of its kind in Europe; however, my memory of what the last one did to my back made me resist.
Several other rides have been added at the back of the park, including the powered Bront'O'Ring and a classic Schwarzkopf roller coaster. The ride now called Brontojet (#1638) originally operated in Lightwater Valley in the late 1990s, before being moved to Loudoun Castle. It was disassembled at the end of the 2004 season, and spent six years in pieces in a field. This treatment is probably why the ride lacks the trademark smoothness that Schwarzkopf coasters are known for; much of the experience is violent, and the turn into the brake run frankly hurts. It is good to see a classic coaster resurrected, but it would be nice if it could have been smoothed a bit during reassembly.
I'd have happily repeated any of the movie themed attractions, but not at the cost of waiting half an hour outdoors in 40° heat. Instead, therefore, I decided to relocate to Gardaland.
9th July 2011
Gardaland has never been one of my favourite parks, due both to bad experiences and mediocre coasters. Be that as it may, a new credit is always reason to give a park another try, and in this case I'm pleased to say that my day went very well indeed. The main difference over previous trips was in staff attitude; rides were being operated efficiently and in a friendly manner, with operators making a conscious effort to ensure no seats went out empty.
Raptor (#1639) is the first installation of a Wing Coaster from B&M, a fourth dimension style ride. This design is just as smooth as one has come to expect from the Swiss masters, in sharp contrast to the predecessors built by Arrow Dynamics and Intamin which did their best to kill me. The park has done a very nice job with the theming of a new area, built inside an electric fence style enclosure with barbed wire and flashing lights. The ride itself has a number of near misses with scenery, including several features where the train inverts to clear the obstacles. The effect is good no matter where you sit, but it's positively brilliant with an unobstructed front seat view.
There is one caveat to be aware of; the ride seats twenty-eight passengers, and there is no preferred seating available. Furthermore, the design of the fast pass queue means that the front seats are almost always taken before the regular guests make it to the station, and it is quite tricky for groups to be sure of riding together. In short, if you want to experience a front seat, then buy a fast pass. For my stay at least a back seat was no problem; I ended up there three times!
I also rode the Flying Island, Ortobruco Tour, and Ramses; the latter only as an escape from the heat. In due course, though, I gravitated back to the best ride in the park. It's worth noting that the wait time never exceeded fifteen minutes for my stay, in sharp contrast to the awful SLC which exceeded an hour; this just goes to show that the stupidity of the general public knows no bounds.