No coaster trip is complete without at least one stupidly early start, often but not always on the first day of a trip. Many things were on my mind even before the taxi driver rang my mobile phone at quarter to five in the morning, but chief among them was the fact that my younger brother would be joining me on this occasion. In the finest traditions of families everywhere, we'd decided that this trip should be a surprise for him, and consequentially we fed him an elaborate cover story about doing charity work in London. Convincing the little blighter to take part was not entirely easy, but at the end he agreed with us that such an experience would be good for his soul. Always keen to impress, he chose to dye his hair bright green for the occasion.
Chessington World of Adventures
23rd July 2004
We'd decided to book our park tickets ahead of time, as doing so guaranteed us access to five of the major rides with no wait time at all. A relatively quiet day resulted in there being precious little need for this, but we decided to take the opportunity to try out attractions that we might otherwise have skipped. As such we began our day with Tomb Blaster, a target shooting dark ride from Sally Corp. I kept up my fine tradition on these rides by scoring the worst in our car, an utterly pathetic 12,300.
Dragon's Fury (#297) was my first encounter with a Maurer Sohne spinning coaster. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this, as my only previous spinning coasters were the versions of the ubiquitous Reverchon/Zamperla design. The only reference point for me was photographs and the external appearance of the ride, and while the horse shoe element looked interesting I had no idea what it would feel like. The differences became immediately apparent even before we reached the station; rather than have four riders facing the same way, the seating on this coaster was back to back. More to the point, the spinning began from the moment the train disengaged the lift hill, resulting in a completely different experience each time. There didn't appear to be any limit on how fast the cars could spin, and this coupled with the custom layout made for an excellent coaster which all of us liked a lot. Better yet, the ride got faster as the day went on, making the late afternoon rides truly special.
Unfortunately our next target, Professor Burp's Bubbleworks, was down for the day due to technical problems. I'd made the mistake of skipping it on my previous visit, and had been really looking forward to it today. The next best thing was the Vampire coaster, and it was a wonderful surprise to discover it had no queue whatsoever. Better yet, the park was still running all three trains, meaning that those on board could simply switch seats each time the train returned to the station. The ride was running very well, and definitely felt faster then I remembered. The only slight negative was courtesy of the second lift hill, which saw fit to dump a healthy lump of axle grease all over my jeans. Having said that, such accidents are an occupational hazard on any coasters with overhead track!
The final coaster is probably best thought of as an example of how far Maurer Sohne have come over the last few years. Rattlesnake was far too violent for a family park like this one, with lateral forces severe enough to cause considerable pain. Once was more than enough. The same was true also of the powered Runaway Train, albeit for a different reason; in this case the ride was simply too slow to be thrilling. It felt markedly slower than it had on my last visit, making me wonder if it had been toned down; whatever the case, it was not worth the effort today.
The final ride of the day was on the Billy's Whizzer wave swinger, which had been augmented with water spray effects. From the ground it looked like these didn't hit riders, which just goes to show that appearances can be deceptive; there were no dry seats whatsoever. Fortunately I'd brought a spare t-shirt with me, as I finished up utterly drenched.