Parque Quiqueland can be found roughly fifteen kilometres northwest of the city of San Luis Potosí, or as we renamed it (with sincere apologies to Mexican readers), Saint Louis Potato. The drive from our base in Aguascalientes took almost three hours on secondary roads, but the scenery was pleasant enough and the time passed quickly. Our GPS brought us to a point on a dual carriageway directly parallel to the park, albeit with no suitable exit; the journey from there to the actual location involved ten minutes, patience, and a series of colourful metaphors addressed at the technology.
The park came to enthusiast notice roughly two years ago when a friend of mine randomly found it on Google. Her interest was piqued by Montaña Rusa Ala Delta, a home-made inverted coaster circling the entire facility, which sadly has been closed for some time. The various staff members on duty today had a variety of stories about the provenance and demise of the ride, with the only common feature being that the lift hill motor had burned out at some point in the past. While it was a shame to miss out on such a unique attraction it was impossible not to feel a slight sense of relief given what happened the last time I tried a decidedly suspect credit!
The cars on Gusanito (#2121) tilted to the side as the five of us climbed on board, but the operators' demeanour indicated that this was entirely normal and that we should not worry. They started the motor, there being no restraints to check, and pushed the train a little way back from the station so that they could give it a running start. Their efforts created just enough momentum for the train to make it to the apex before getting stuck, and we were on the verge of a rollback when one final enthusiastic push (accompanied by a Mexican-accented grunt) sent it trundling around the course. The ride quality was best described as not good, due to individual track segments being marginally out of alignment, but the train made it back to the station in one piece, allowing us to tick off our obscure credit.
An oval-shaped ride with a height differential of about five feet is never going to top any enthusiast polls, especially when it clatters around violently enough to dislocate fillings. Nevertheless, the seven laps we had on Gusanito were, in a word, fun. Coaster enthusiasm is a silly hobby at the best of times, but it really doesn't get much sillier than five adults with a cumulative coaster count in excess of nine thousand enjoying a decidedly ramshackle kiddie coaster in the middle of nowhere. Every clunk and rattle made by the train just added to the humour of the event.
The only other attraction in the park visible above the tree line was a small zip line, whose launch platform provided an excellent vantage point for overview photographs. We decided to partake of this individually, as the structure looked like it might not survive a safety inspection (or for that matter a strong gust of wind), its steps buckling slightly as people climbed. None of us were brave enough to try the line itself, though we did see one or two small children on it subsequently, their smiles and excited squeaks indicating that we were definitely missing out.
Our wanderings brought us to a dining room and arcade with a selection of vintage titles including Exhaust Note, Off Road, Super Hang-On, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tekken, and a sixth whose marquee had faded to the point that it was no longer recognisable. The machines were powered off, but the area was clean and in good repair, indicating that it had been used in the relatively recent past. The souvenir shop next door was clearly history, however, having been repurposed as a maintenance bay, complete with an impressive array of power tools, garden implements, and empty paint cans.
We very much enjoyed our visit to Parque Quiqueland and I'd like to return if the big coaster ever reopens, but the chances of that seem minimal. There were no more than a dozen other guests wandering around on a pleasant Saturday afternoon, and their fifty peso admission fees combined wouldn't have covered the wages of the two roving ride operators, let alone a new lift hill motor. The general level of dilapidation made it feel almost as if we were urban explorers taking interesting if illicit photographs of a long-abandoned site. Unless business picks up dramatically it seems unlikely that the park will be open for much longer; enthusiasts should make an effort to visit before it's too late.