Our planned itinerary for today did not originally feature Kernie's Familienpark. However, we decided to slot it in after discovering that it was pretty close to Niederrhein Airport, the only airport in northern Germany that is (currently) reachable on an early morning flight from Dublin. Though the park does not have a roller coaster (the powered Achterbahn being the closest equivalent) it is still well worth a visit by any self respecting enthusiast due to its location; it has been built around the cooling tower for a never-completed nuclear power plant.
The most interesting attraction in the park has been constructed inside the tower. The Vertical Swing is a clone of the now common Star Flyer ride, albeit with two major differences. The most obvious alteration is that the entire ride rotates rather than just the vehicle, a change most likely made to get around the patent protection held by Funtime. The clone also adds a second set of seats located on the tower itself for those that prefer not to entrust their lives to a thin set of chains. I didn't have the opportunity to try the inside seats, but the outside ones were surprisingly intense, far more so than the norm. As an aside, the echo inside the tower was pretty impressive. It'd be fun to bring a choir there...
One other feature of note is that the park includes a selection of food and drink with the admission price. The only catch is that the wait times can be fairly lengthy when the person in front of you decides to pick up ice creams for twenty people.
Tier und Freizeitpark Thüle
1st August 2009
Tier und Freizeitpark Thüle is a mid-sized family park buried within a wood. Its major coaster is the Drachen-Achterbahn (#1408), the second of the Zierer Force Two coasters to open to the public. Credit whores are also taken care of by the presence of a large version of the ubiquitous Butterfly, here named the Pendelbahn (#1409). Most of the other rides are family attractions, but there is a substantial Bobkart that for us was definitely the highlight of the park. This version was the first model I've tried that has made me consider backing off full throttle in a few places; not that I did of course!
The chief draw for us tonight was the newly renamed Teststrecke, a classic Schwarzkopf Doppel Looping coaster returning home after a twenty-two year sabbatical in the United States. It was great to see a coaster like this back where it belongs, albeit with one major caveat; the original rolling stock has not made the move, and the replacement train (singular!) fails to do the ride justice. The lack of multiple trains is almost certainly a short term problem, as new owners Meyer & Rosenzweig were clearly losing a fortune in potential business tonight, but the shortcomings of the new cars could well be permanent.
The new train does at least traverse the course without jarring, but that's about the only positive thing that can be said for it. The seats on board assume a certain body shape that not everyone has; to be specific, there simply was not enough room for my thighs to fit into the designed space, and my body weight is if anything below average for my height. A heavy and restrictive lap bar holds riders against the seat with no room for manoeuvre at all. Worst of all, an entirely pointless metal handlebar has been placed in a location where ones knees are almost guaranteed to bash against it. In short, the new design is awful. Herr Schwarzkopf would be turning in his grave.