As its name suggests, Zoomarine is a park that concentrates on animals from the sea, and as such the primary draw for most guests is the various shows with performing animals. They also happen to have two roller coasters; a Big Apple clone named Squalotto (#1632) and a relocated Schwarzkopf Looping Star branded as Vertigo. I'm personally of the view that the latter was much better when it was assembled less than a mile from my apartment, but one cannot deny that more people can enjoy it in its current home.
11th June 2011
MagicLand is a brand new amusement park located close to Rome that opened its gates to the public for the first time a fortnight ago. Construction has been underway for almost six years, and to that end it was more than a little surprising to find that quite a few of the attractions were unfinished, including the interactive dark ride, the giant drop, the giant splash, and the mad house. All of these are due to open in about a fortnight, at which point the admission fee will increase by €10 and a charge for parking will be introduced. The park is about three kilometers from the nearest train station, and a shuttle bus will almost certainly be available by the time these words are read.
We began our exploration with Bomborun (#1633), a standard model roller skater that felt much the same as every other member of the family. We followed this with Amerigo (#1634), a slightly extended version of the ubiquitous Big Apple design tucked away at the back of the park and utterly devoid of any theming whatsoever. This made it stick out like a sore thumb in what is otherwise a beautiful park; hopefully something will be done to spruce it up in the near future.
Credit number three was a beautifully themed standard model mine train from Vekoma, here named Olandese Volante (#1635). This was followed by Cagliostro (#1636), a fully enclosed spinning coaster ridden in complete darkness. This ride also felt unfinished; it'd be much more enjoyable with laser effects, flashing lights, or even background music at the minimum. Right now the majority of the experience could be easily replicated by using a hairdryer in a dark room for a minute or so. The only difficult part would be punching yourself in the stomach at the end to simulate the distinctly unsympathetic braking system.
We were not expecting to be able to ride Shock (#1637), having been previously advised that it wasn't due to open until June 24th, and were thus, er, shocked to note people on it as we wandered over to it to take photographs. The staff insisted that all bags and coats must be left on the ground near the ride entrance, including those secured to the body, but fortunately there was no problem with glasses. The ride was absolutely top notch; a powerful launch led into a forceful and intense layout that was perfectly smooth. The only caveat relates to capacity; the six seat trains were going out about once every ninety seconds on average, giving a maximum throughput of two hundred and forty per hour, a fairly poor figure for a signature attraction. Throughput will probably rise a little over time, but there's only so much that can be done.
With the coasters complete, we tried the one operational dark ride. Believix is a suspended dark ride with very high quality theming, almost but not quite as good as what one might expect at Efteling. Though the ride is geared at children it is far too good to skip.
The standard of the theming within MagicLand sets a new benchmark for Italy, and puts the place well up there with the very best theme parks in the world. The park will be fantastic when it is finished; the only shame is that they decided to open their gates before they were fully ready.
11th June 2011
We discovered Fantasiland by accident on the way out of Zoomarine, and though it wasn't open at the time we figured it was worth taking another look in the evening. It had indeed opened by the time we returned, and inside we found two coasters; an Interpark Galaxi clone that was closed for maintenance and Bassotto (#1638), another Big Apple.
11th June 2011
Our final stop was at a small family park in Castel Gandolfo, a few kilometers from Ciampino Airport. Lagolandia opens in the afternoons and evenings only, making it an ideal way to finish a day. We were extremely surprised by the small powered Dragon, whose speed setting had been turned up well beyond anything we had ridden before. We had no idea that a Zamperla Dragon could be quite so intense; enthusiasts in the Rome area should make the effort to visit here just to see what these rides are really capable of.