Julianatoren is a family park aimed squarely at those with young children. As such, it is a home to a cornucopia of self-operated rides such as those from Heege Freizeitechnik et al. Many of these rides are great fun, but are rarely seen due to their abysmal capacity of fewer than one hundred passengers per hour.
Though the park nominally opens at ten, the only section available at this time is the gift shop and restaurant. The latter does serve complimentary tea and coffee, which was particularly beneficial for me due to somewhat interrupted sleep the night before. We found an indoor table giving us a clear view of the ride area entrance, allowing us to remain seated until the rest of the park was opened.
The first of the two coasters in the park is one of the aforementioned self operated rides. Two passengers board the vehicle on Butterfly (#483). When the lap bar has been closed, one must press a start button to indicate that they are ready to go. The next guest in line then pushes another button outside the gate which starts up the ride. The track itself has a simple V-shaped layout. The car is towed to one end by a chain lift and released to roll back and forth a few times until its energy has been spent. This takes just over a minute to do, a surprisingly long time given that the ride is only twenty feet tall. That is not to say, though, that the experience is boring; far from it. Butterfly is surprisingly good fun, and if nothing else certainly has novelty value.
The only other coaster, Super Achtbaan (#484) was the standard 207 metre model, though with unusual theming. The final helix on the ride circles round a fountain, whose jets have been carefully angled to get very close to (but miss) the train. Water bursts were being shot into the air roughly in time with the music playing over the speakers, though there was about a half second lag. Might this system have been running live on the music rather than being preprogrammed?
I have a soft spot for Nautic Jet rides. These are single seater splash rides which launch the boat completely into the air before splashing down. For obvious reasons these have strict weight limits. I was a little under the 75kg weight limit here, allowing me to ride, though both George and Tom had to pass. Judging by the size of the splash produced by my boat anyone even slightly over the limit would get very wet indeed.
The obligatory ride on the Ferris Wheel was followed by the Spookslot dark ride. The latter was running with a single train seating about thirty. Unfortunately, the operator was sending out trains at the rate of about one every ten minutes. As ghost train rides go it was not the worst, but it was certainly not worth the twenty minutes we waited.
29th May 2005
Tivoli is not a park we would normally have bothered with. However, my mapping software put it at less than a mile off the direct route between Julianatoren and Toverland. As such, it was ideal for a five minute stop en route. Its single coaster, Achtbaan (#485), was nothing we hadn't seen before, but nevertheless counted as another credit. We also tried out the rather strange Griezelbos dark ride, which played the Jurassic Park theme as we passed through a perfectly ordinary (if very short) ghost train.
29th May 2005
Toverland could be described more as a family entertainment centre than a park. It consists of two large interconnected warehouses with a few rides located within. The park refused to accept our international credit cards, but fortunately I had enough cash to cover three admission fees. The first major ride you see on entering the complex is the Vekoma-built Boomerang (#486), which is not, in fact, a Vekoma Boomerang. Part of me thinks that this coaster was named this way just to confuse coaster enthusiasts. Either way, the ride is a custom designed junior coaster using the same track system as Roller Coaster. It does not track quite as smoothly as its cousin in Johannesburg, with some very noticeable vibration, but it could not be described as rough, at least not yet. It will be interesting to see how this is running in a few years time.
The ride that brought us to Toverland in the first place, though, was Booster Bike (#487). This is the first and at the time of writing only operating Vekoma Motorbike coaster. The second is under construction in Flamingoland at the moment and will open later this year. The premise of this ride is simple; take a relatively low height launched coaster and fit it with trains looking like small motorcycles. The concept works, and brilliantly, with the launch section in particular being great fun. However, there is a caveat and it is a major one; the restraints are not terribly comfortable, which seriously limits rerideability. They apply pressure in all the wrong places, making a break between each ride an absolute must. Earlier this year some brave souls managed a twenty four hour marathon on Booster Bike. I bow before their greatness; twenty four minutes consecutive riding would be a serious challenge for me.
The Woudracer ride is a Wiegand Bobkart and a rather long one at that, starting inside the building but covering a long and winding outdoor course. While the ride itself was fun, the overall experience was hurt badly by an extremely irritating tune in the queue line which was playing on loop. The worst bit about it was its length, a total of eight seconds. After hearing it more than five times in less than a minute I was ready to inflict some horrible torture on its composer. Unfortunately, there were still over one hundred repetitions to go before we got to the front of the line. My heart goes out to the ride operator, who must hear those irritating notes more than three thousand times per day. We think that it is annoying enough to work as a suitable replacement for the "Crazy Frog" ring tone that is all the rage at the moment. Speaking of the crazy frog, we had an idea for the coaster enthusiast edition; the SLC remix. B-bang bang bang bang bang OWWWWWW! bang b-bang!
After a food break, we tried out the Back Stroke log flume. We had expected this ride to be closed following an accident a few weeks earlier, though it seems that whatever was wrong has been rectified, and a prominent new safety certificate was on display. Built by the Mack company, it has one unique feature seen nowhere else, namely a turntable in the middle of the main lift hill. This of course means that it has both forward and backward sections, each of which has a significant drop.
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