It can be tricky for coaster enthusiasts to visit the three Gulliver's parks, as adults are normally admitted only when accompanied by children. Though I'd managed to get to the other two a few years ago, this one had eluded me, and thus I jumped at the chance to visit with a group from the European Coaster Club. The rare opportunity to enter the Matlock Bath park without a child resulted in quite a few club members travelling over from the European Mainland, and there was even one member who flew in specially from California for the long weekend.
The park is built on the side of a mountain, and has an unusual layout as a result. A zig-zag path runs from the car park most of the way to the peak, and rides are placed on either side of it at strategic locations. A chairlift is located next to the entrance, taking incoming visitors up to one of the higher levels, though a steep climb (or, for preference, a moving walkway) is required to get to the top from that point. The view from most of the rides is spectacular and does more for the overall visual impact of the park than any theming could.
Various members of the group began their day with small rides at the top of the chairlift. I elected to start with the imaginatively named Drop Tower, a Moser Rides model that was far more lively than its outward appearance would suggest. Each drop cycle (and there were several) felt like proper free fall rather than a controlled descent.
The group had a half hour exclusive session on Switchback (#2038), a coaster from IE Park that is a close copy of the Pinfari-built Python found at the Milton Keynes park. The ride was squeaking a bit, suggesting a little more grease was required, but the train handled the rails smoothly enough. I managed a total of six laps in various seats, and while the coaster wasn't particularly memorable anywhere it was nevertheless perfect for its target audience. Once the session ended, I took a lap on the Log Coaster (#2039), yet another example of the Cavazza Diego Super Nessi.
I took a circuit on the Cycle Monorail for some overhead photographs before climbing all the way to the top of the park for the Silver Mine Shootout, a fairly respectable target shooting dark ride, albeit one without scoring. Next to it was the Musical Animal Barn, a small (and bizarre) walkthrough with singing animatronics.
The activities of the day finished with a buffet lunch and a short presentation from park management about the history of Gulliver's, followed by an interesting and informative question and answer session. It was interesting to hear the official reasoning behind the admissions policy, especially when it was made clear that club groups would be welcome again in the future.