Ring Racer, the long delayed roller coaster at the Nurburgring, finally opened towards the end of last year. Many coaster enthusiasts made a last minute pilgrimage, and I'd have done the same thing were it not for the fact that the only available flights would have cost me over six hundred euro. Instead, I made plans to visit this weekend, and booked my trip a few days before the new owners of the ring announced that their ride would not be reopening this year due to the "not given economic viability". You win some, you lose some.
4th May 2014
The untimely demise of Ring Racer left me with a spare day in a trip itinerary that I needed to fill somehow. Holiday Park probably wasn't the most sensible alternative, given that it was almost five hundred kilometres from my overnight hotel, but it was home to a brand new coaster that I very much wanted to ride, and no other justification was necessary.
Sky Scream (#2041) is a launched coaster from Premier Rides, and a clone of a design that made its debut two years ago at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in California. The layout can be thought of as an enhanced version of the Maurer Skyloop coasters (Clouds of Fairyland, Sky Wheel, Ukko, X Coaster, et al) with a launch mechanism that shoots the train forwards, backwards, and then forwards again with enough energy to make it through the entire course. Riders are treated to a healthy amount of airtime, followed by some fairly frightening hang time thanks to a slow inversion at the apex. The ride is brilliant, if a little cramped for taller riders who don't have a lot of space to put their feet. On the plus side, though, there is no headbanging as the restraint is a simple lap bar that is snug without being uncomfortable in any way.
A trip report from Holiday Park wouldn't be complete without commenting on an operational quirk. The loading station for Sky Scream has a line painted on the ground about three feet in front of the station air gates, and guests are not allowed to cross it until the gates are open. On more than one occasion I saw the operators refuse to open the gates – which opened away from the queue line – until everyone had stepped behind this line. Why not just move the gates?
The Intamin Mega Coaster plates have been removed from the side of the Expedition GeForce train, which today was dispatching one train every five minutes. The staff would only open the air gates after all exiting riders had left the station platform, and insisted on performing two separate passes to check seat belts and then lap bars. This is all forgotten once the train is dispatched, thanks to a ride experience that is still one of the very best in Europe, but it is worth noting that the vibration I mentioned in my last report seems to have increased significantly.
The mid-course brakes had been turned off on Holly's Wilde Autofahrt and the result was brilliantly intense, with riders being thrown into the side of the car on each hairpin bend. A little more padding would aid rerideability, but having said that, I'm not about to object to a mouse coaster being run properly!
I finished my visit with a visit to Burg Falkenstein, followed by a front seat on Sky Scream while a television crew filmed from the station platform; I'll have to watch out for myself in the park's advertising footage.
4th May 2014
My first German fair this year was a little less than half an hour from Holiday Park. Doggy Dog (Zinnecker) (#2042) was easily the best looking Big Apple I've seen on the fair circuit, thanks to a superbly ornate train with a huge figurehead. Two adults managed to shoehorn themselves into the same row of the car in front of me, a remarkable achievement made all the more impressive when they managed to get out again afterwards!
4th May 2014
One of my favourite features of Germany is the autobahn network, and in particular, the ability to cover lengthy distances at speed. There was enough slack in my day to drive in a sedate manner, but I decided to trade a bit of fuel economy for an earlier night. As such, I put my foot down and covered the 265 mile journey from Mannheim to Hannover in just under three and a half hours, including a stop to stretch and refuel at the half way point.
Crazy Jungle (Luxem) (#2043) was a new Big Apple making its debut at the Fruhlingsfest. It had shiny new paint, unique lighting, colourful signage, and a fiberglass monkey attached to the back of the striking orange train. Despite all this it somehow managed to look quite plain, especially in comparison to the superb ride at Mannheim. Perhaps it'll be spruced up ahead of its next show. With that out of the way I took a lap on the Euro Coaster (Buwalda), otherwise known as Christmas Coaster. Ticket prices were less than half what they were in London, and better yet, the ride didn't hurt me on this occasion.
4th May 2014
My last stop of the day was at Minden, where a medium sized fair had been set up along the side of the River Weser. The official parking area was full, but I found a spot in the town, leaving me with a short but picturesque walk that took me across a pedestrianised suspension bridge with at least five hundred padlocks attached, presumably left there over a period of years by many happy couples.
Katz & Maus (Klünder) (#2044) is a Maurer Sohne mouse that felt like it was on borrowed time. German fair rides usually convey a sense of solid engineering, but the cars on this one were shuddering badly as they moved around the course, slamming into each corner with a nasty thump. This made the ride considerably slower than the outwardly identical one that I'd ridden earlier in the day, though this was probably just as well given the condition it seemed to be in.