Our trip planners allocated three and a half hours for our visit to Fiabilandia, which would have been just about right. However, the provided schedule put us at the park at 9:00am, when even a cursory check of the official web site would have revealed the actual gate time to be 10:00am. This blunder left us with a shade over two hours to play with, and while we did get through the major attractions we were nevertheless forced to rush in places; there was a western town in the back right hand corner of the park that we barely glanced at, and it'd have been nice to try the train ride.
As I noted in my report from Astoria Village on Tuesday, the team behind the European Coaster Club are volunteers, and I'd really prefer not to criticise those who give of their time without reward. That being said, when a group of over forty people has paid over €2000 apiece for a two week holiday it is surely reasonable to assume that the itinerary has been checked thoroughly, and the number of schoolboy errors made on the Italy trip would tend to suggest that this didn't happen. I've volunteered to assist the club with trip planning on more than one occasion but it hasn't been followed up, and a discussion on the club Facebook page about this would suggest that others have had similar experiences.
At any rate, we began our visit with Valle degli Gnomi, a Pinfari-built terrain family coaster that takes a slow journey around some colourful landscaped gardens decorated with three fiberglass apples, animatronic dwarves, brightly coloured flowers, and an oversized turtle. The ride can be described succinctly as a really Big Apple and this is entirely appropriate given that it was the inspiration for the portable Big Apple MB28 that premiered in Sweden in 1977, a layout since copied by at least a dozen different manufacturers and duplicated several hundred times.
Fiabilandia staggers its ride opening times, and as neither of the other coasters was open at this stage we decided to queue for Castello di Mago Merlino, a track-based ride that begins with a sluggish twenty-five second climb to the second floor of a castle structure with an enormous wizard on its roof. A short section of dark ride can be found at the apex, comprising about ten seconds of top notch scenery that is the highlight (and to be honest the only really worthwhile portion) of the experience. This is followed a long tedious outdoor descent that takes almost a minute to bring the car back to the ground, where a pitch black enclosed area concludes with an enormous gong whose volume level is, alas, a small fraction of what it used to be in years past.
The tallest coaster in the park is a Fabbri Power Mouse, a type generally unloved by the enthusiast community due to it being somewhat less refined than the more common Reverchon design. Today Space Mouse was delivering a decent if not particularly memorable ride with some good spinning, helped along by the fact that the mechanism was unlocked even before the cars engaged the lift hill. That left Miniera d'Oro Del West as the final coaster, an excellent mine train described by Megan as the best thing Pinfari has ever done. It's a shame the only other example of the genre at Luneur has been idle for almost a decade, unlikely to operate again.
It was approaching our scheduled departure by this stage, but there was just about enough time for Lago del Sogno, the remarkably silly powered boat ride that takes riders into the inside of a dragon. There was a child in the boat in front of us that screamed almost continuously for the entire ride, presumably terrified at the prospect of imminent digestion, though he quickly calmed down after the sculpted stomach lining gave way to a room decorated with drawings of flowers and a large tree covered in Christmas lights.