The Land Of Legends opened its gates in July 2016 as a water park of around one hundred thousand square metres, making it Turkey's largest by some margin. The timing of the launch was far from ideal, coinciding with a downturn in the local tourist industry brought on by terrorist attacks in Istanbul, but the owners have held their nerve and have continued to invest. This year has seen the addition of a dry section, featuring a respectable selection of flat rides, four roller coasters, and a number of new retail outlets. The new area wasn't busy today, meaning that an enthusiast out to credit whore could have been in and out in ninety minutes, but to do that would have been the theme park equivalent of a trip to the Louvre for a single painting; we were given seven hours to enjoy the place, and I'd have been happy staying even longer.
All payments within the park are handled using a RFID wristband, which can be topped up with cash in a few select locations. This makes good sense in a park where most guests will be wearing swimwear (which is allowed throughout, rather than just in the wet areas), and the system works well. The only real nuisance is when you run out of credit part way through the day; in an ideal world I'd have liked to have registered a bank card to my band; one pre-authorisation in the morning of a sensible maximum would have been simpler than having to remember exactly what was left to spend. Another potential improvement would have been the ability to link bands together for couples and families; Megan and I made the mistake of putting credit on both of ours, which caused a minor headache towards the end ot the day when my one ran low.
Our day began with four separate tube slides. Abyss, Rafting Rapids, Starship, and Sea Voyager share the same tower at the western boundary of the park, and though the routings are different the experiences tend to blend together; memorable water slides are few and far between these days. They were decent enough rides, with a few novel touches, not least a set of brightly coloured strips on each that boosted the sensation of speed. That being said, there was a definite sense that the queue had been designed for form over function; guests were required to carry their own tubes to the start point along a sculpted wall that was way too easy to hit by accident. The surface was far from optimal for bare feet, too; small quantities of gravel along the path made the climb more than a little painful. If anyone from the park is reading this I'd strongly recommend investing in a few rubber mats in the interests of guest comfort.
In due course the entire group congregated at the entrance to the park's largest ride for a photograph and an hour long exclusive ride session. The imaginatively named Hyper Coaster (#2511) is the tallest coaster in Turkey, and Mack's third attempt at going beyond two hundred feet, and it's fair to say that they've gotten everything right. The layout starts with a curved full height drop and a loop forceful enough to cause blurred vision, and continues with a perfectly paced sequence of airtime hills, a zero gravity roll, and a series of low to the ground turns. There are no dead spots anywhere, and the tracking is perfectly smooth in all seats, a marked improvement over last year's model. Over the course of the hour I managed six laps in various seats, including both front and back. My favourite seats were towards the rear of the train, in marked contrast to the similar sized coaster I rode a few short weeks ago.
During our session we were allowed to cross the station platform after riding rather than going round through the queue again, a perk that was very much appreciated. It was only later in the day when we went back for a few more laps that we realised just how lucky we'd been. During ordinary operations the ride uses assigned seating and painfully slow loading procedures; there was a definite tendency to wait for a full train prior to dispatch, even if that meant ten minutes of doing nothing. I particularly enjoyed the way everyone was asked to take a step back from the air gates prior to boarding, despite the fact that they opened away from those standing in front of them. I also noticed a sign saying that all seats on the coaster give the same experience, a statement that I'm going to politely describe as an alternative fact.
Coaster number two was Family Coaster (#2512), a Gerstlauer "360" design previously installed at Belantis and Duinrell. We found our way into the back row, which for whatever reason felt somewhat less intense than the other versions. Our lap was absolutely fine, but we didn't feel an overpowering desire to ride more than once. Similarly Race Coaster (#2513) was very much in the "tick-and-never-again" category, being a straight clone of the mediocre SBF design introduced at Gumbuya World last year. It was mildly entertaining to ride with club members, thanks to some synchronised grunting as the train attempted to negotiate a tight right turn, but that was pretty much the highlight of the experience. (Credit whores may weep at the realisation that a third version of this design has materialised at Ferrari Land; one suspects that many more will turn up over the next few years.)
The other major ride in the park is Typhoon Coaster (#2514), an Intamin Water Coaster and the fourth worldwide installation of the type. The ride isn't top ten (or even top thousand) material, though it is a least somewhat better than the larger version at Energylandia. The key improvement is a small dark ride area at the beginning, though it wasn't fully operational for either of our laps. We got to see barely lit shadows of a ship and a ghostly columned facade that looked decent enough, if somewhat more subdued than what the designers intended. That being said, the reduced version reminded me of Vliegende Hollander, and that wasn't a bad thing at all.
The main portion of the layout begins with the standard vertical lift tower prototyped on the now-decommissioned Pilgrim's Plunge, followed by a forty-five degree descent into a drained pool that was presumably supposed to be a splash element. Today boats were cresting the climb-out on the far side with minimal speed to spare, leading me to conclude that the effect had been deactivated to stop boats from getting stuck. The rest of the layout comprises a descending helix, an airtime hill, and a properly wet splashdown. There was a staff member with a professional camera taking on-ride photographs today, and she was doing a great job; the pictures were considerably better than what one tends to get from automatic systems.
The ride is a good fit for the park and the Turkish climate in general, but as ever with this type the implementation leaves quite a bit to be desired. My biggest gripe is that the boats have very limited turning ability despite their articulated design, and this is particularly evident in the helix which is negotiated with all the finesse of a blindfolded rhinoceros on bad acid. Some form of cushioning in the seats would likely help a little, though I can't help but wonder whether a complete redesign of the rolling stock would be a better approach. (That being said, Intamin deserves at least some kudos for getting their water coaster design operational; Interlink's attempt in Malaysia has yet to operate two years and change after it was built, and one suspects it never will).
The group met for a free lunch in Fast & Good, an entirely accurate description, before heading off in separate directions. A number of us went off in search of the Underwater Safari, but decided to abort when it became apparent that it was a 360 lira (~€56.34) up-charge, twice the cost of a regular admission ticket, and an enormous amount of money by local standards. Over the course of the afternoon we heard this and a number of other experiences being promoted in recordings played over the park's PA system in several languages; I tuned out after being told I only had ten minutes left to sign up for something for the third time, and I'm quite sure I wasn't the only one.
In due course we wound up back in the water park, where Megan and I headed to Tower Falls, a partially enclosed slide with upward sections propelled by water jets. I'd expected this to be a Master Blaster, but it was actually a locally built equivalent from Polin Waterparks with the particularly catchy product name of Navigatour Uphill + Rafting Slide + Black Hole Multislide Combo Waterslide (see page fourteen). The course had four uphill sections that were an interesting novelty if not something that I'd make a particular effort to repeat. (Larger readers should be aware that this slide had both minimum and maximum weight restrictions; both of us were weighed before being allowed to enter the queue.)
The park also has a locally built copy of the ProSlide Tornado. Magicone has four person tubes, though these are essentially pointless due to weight restrictions – the four passengers combined cannot exceed 180kg (~400lbs). Worse yet, there is a minimum weight of 150kg (~330lbs) per tube, meaning that an average weight male and an average weight female cannot enjoy the slide together. The staff at the boarding platform were not in a helpful mood today, suggesting that we do a different slide with less restrictive weight limits, but we manage to rearrange ourselves with two males in one and three females in another. (It's worth noting that the slide shares a launch tower several other slides, each of which has their own queue at ground level. Only one was being allowed through at a time today, resulting in hobbled capacity for all as there were not enough guests at the apex to keep things moving efficiently.)
Our last hit was the Wild River, a lazy river described on the park site as an exhilarating white-water combination of adrenaline rush and comfortable boat ride. Though the first part of the description sounds like marketing gone crazy I can report that it proved to be entirely true for us, as we got caught up in an epic (legendary?) water fight with several of the locals.