Calaway Park is a superb little park aimed at families with young children. There isn't much there for coaster enthusiasts, but then its location is just perfect for a stop while driving to and from Edmonton, and Vortex (#1046) can be seen as a bonus (or otherwise). Riders should be aware that you do get two circuits for the price of one, which isn't necessarily an advantage on a twenty five year old Arrow Corkscrew, but the locals do appear to enjoy the tallest, fastest, and steepest roller coaster in Calgary.
Galaxyland Amusement Park
15th August 2007
Galaxyland Amusement Park is located in the heart of the West Edmonton Mall, which was for twenty three years the biggest shopping mall in the world. The facility is quite simply obscene, with some eight hundred shops, an indoor water park, an amusement park, an indoor ice hockey rink, and numerous other essentials for your everyday urban shopping centre. In a fine example of efficient urban transport planning, it also includes some 20,000 parking spaces.
The park is most famous for Mindbender (#1047), the largest indoor roller coaster in the world. Though I'd seen pictures of the ride ahead of time I wasn't prepared for just how big it was in the flesh, its huge lift hill disappearing into the rafters of a special annex built to hold it. For purposes of comparison, the ride is taller than someseriouslybigcoasters yet the whole thing is indoors. From the front seat the ride is top notch, but sadly that's the only place where it is. The problem is the shoulder restraints on the train; there are some pretty severe changes of direction in the track, and riders necks are thrown sideways into the hard and unforgiving bars. The end result is painful and seriously limits rerideability of what might otherwise have been a top ten coaster.
New this year is a Gerstlauer spinning coaster, Galaxy Orbiter (#1048). This is also a pretty bumpy experience, though not a painful one as riders are restrained by lap bars. The entire track shakes visibly as trains pass over it which is just a little disconcerting, though presumably the engineers knew what they were doing. None of my three rides generated much spinning but as always with these rides it is a matter of balancing the cars properly, so I'm not sure I can blame the layout for that. The track winds its way into the midst of Mindbender's superstructure, which makes for some cool near misses. One casualty of the new ride is the old Dragon Wagon coaster, which has had a piece of track removed to accomodate the lift hill of the new ride. Time will tell if it is reopened in a new location.
Last but by no means least is the obligatory scenic tour of the park coaster, Autosled (#1049). Though the ride layouts are different, the experience is practically identical to that of New Roller Coaster, which is a major point in its favour. In all honesty this coaster is probably the best in the park in terms of rerideability; I'd happily have ridden this one all afternoon.
With unlimited ride wristbands we decided to try out some of the other attractions in the park. The tallest indoor free fall in the world (apparently) is Space Shot, and while it isn't a free fall it does give two generous pops of airtime at the top, a major point in its favour. The Galaxyland Express train has a bit of cheap-and-cheerful dark ride in it; nothing unmissable, but interesting at the same time. Last and by no means least, the Quirks in the Works target shooter was a pretty high quality attraction, with guns that (unusually) actually hit the targets they were aimed at.