After leaving SkyParkyesterday we drove around four hours east to an overnight hotel on the waterfront in Burgas. Virtually the entire journey was on the A1 motorway, a good quality road with a speed limit of 140km/h and regular service areas featuring western fast food brands. We contemplated breaking the drive with a stop in Plovdiv but decided against it on the grounds that we didn't want to reach our destination after nightfall. This was definitely the right decision; though the standard of driving in Bulgaria is fairly good there are some road junctions that are best described as challenging, and it would not have been fun to negotiate those in the dark.
4th June 2017
We left our hotel shortly after ten, a remarkably civilised time for any enthusiast expedition, albeit a necessity given the operating hours of the parks we were planning to visit. The drive to the Varna area was across a winding mountain route, and much to our annoyance we got caught behind a driver who insisted on slowing to twenty kilometres per hour for each corner. When we eventually arrived at the parking lot for Playground Varna we found no official spaces available, so we followed the local approach and parallel-parked next to the access road.
It quickly became apparent that our visit was going to be a write off; despite a busy park the Dragon Coaster stood idle. There was a printed sign attached to the station that Google Translate thoughtfully converted to Facility In Prophylaxis, and that was that. We spent a few minutes exploring the surrounding area just to make sure that we hadn't missed anything important, and having confirmed that we returned to our car and headed up the road for some more traditional tourism.
4th June 2017
We had a large window of time in the middle of our day, as research had revealed that all three of the amusement parks in the Sunny Beach area typically operate from 5:00pm to 5:00am every day. The best option available to us seemed to be the Aladza Monastery, a medieval site selected primarily for that fact that we wouldn't have to go hunting for city centre parking. We spent about an hour exploring before reverting to type and heading towards more coasters.
There are limited options for car parking in the Sunny Beach area for those not staying at nearby hotels, and the local authorities are extremely efficient at removing vehicles from roadside locations. Enthusiasts retracing our steps would be well advised to use the lot at 42.7074, 27.7219, which costs three leva per hour with payment due on departure. The three parks in the area are all walking distance from this spot, and one can comfortably visit them all and return in about two hours at a moderate walking pace. It might be necessary to allow longer during peak season in order to navigate around large numbers of intoxicated pedestrians.
Luna Park Sunny Beach
4th June 2017
Our first stop was originally going to be Fun Park Sunny Beach but there was no operator at the coaster. As it was on the way back to our car we decided that we'd come back to it later, and thus relocated to Luna Park Sunny Beach instead. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the striking paint scheme on Loop Max Adrenaline, a Pinfari ZL42 with a large number of previous homes, including Camelot Theme Park, Dreamland, and Playground Varna. The somewhat drab colour scheme from its time at Pleasureland Southport was gone in favour of a glorious alternating pattern that looked fabulous, and the single train positively gleamed in a fresh mix of white, red, and black. The standalone load platform usually found on this style of ride was fenced off, with boarding taking place at what is normally the unload platform.
We were the first guests of the day, and duly exchanged our eight leva tickets for the front row seats. The boarding process was remarkably efficient; the operator made a cursory check of the restraint before hitting the dispatch button. There was a seagull sitting on a post at the apex on the lift hill, and I was on the verge of describing it as remarkably lifelike theming when it flew away, eschewing a wonderful opportunity to squawk at the unfortunates dumb enough to subject themselves to a three decade old Pinfari. The ride itself was everything that we would have expected, being a truly memorable experience accompanied by a selection of complimentary bruises.
Our next stop was at Horrorwood Extreme, a walkthrough haunted house (also eight leva) that proved to be an unexpected gem. There were a wide variety of scenes inside that were presented to a very high standard, certainly one far better than the unassuming exterior might have suggested. The sole operator was obviously double-jobbing as a scare actor, and appeared about half way through wearing an evil looking face mask. There were also a few areas of absolute darkness (labelled "Adults Only") that one had to navigate by feeling along the walls.
The third and final ride for us was the powered Dragon Coaster, a single spiral Zamperla machine that was one of the fastest versions of the type I've ever encountered, with the train barely losing any speed on the brief ascent and strong lateral forces in the descent. I lost count of the number of laps we were given, but it was enough to cement the non-credit as our favourite ride of the day.
Sunny Beach Park
4th June 2017
It looked very much like Sunny Beach Park was closed when we approached. The blinds were down on the cash booth, and there were no guests in sight. The only people anywhere nearby were two men performing maintenance on the bumper cars and an elderly gentleman sitting in a beach chair nearby. Megan asked him if the rides were open, and much to our surprise it turned out that they were. Seconds later we were ensconced in the Roller Coaster (#2332), a rusty Wacky Worm of indeterminate provenance. The most memorable portion of our six laps (for five leva) was at the top of the lift on lap four when a chain dog seemed to slip, causing an inordinate thump; aside from that, the experience was pure vanilla from start to end.
Fun Park Sunny Beach
4th June 2017
The last stop of the night was at Fun Park Sunny Beach, home to a variety of flat rides and the Galaxy Coaster (#2333). This ride, also charged at eight leva, could have been any other carnival coaster but for the fact that the station was about ten feet in the air, accessed by a wide staircase. The tracking was comfortable enough despite the four seat car having heavy over-the-shoulder restraints that were released in the station using an air hose. We decided to do a second lap on the grounds that neither of us expect to be back in the area in the near future.