During our trip to Turkey a few short weeks ago I mentioned to Midas that it was quite easy to do Tayto Park as a day trip from almost anywhere in Europe. Dublin Airport has multiple daily flights in each direction from important hubs such as Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Munich, and Paris – as well as double-daily services from many other locations. Soon afterwards he booked a trip with a one night stay, as the evening flight home was prohibitively expensive. This gave him the opportunity to sample some Traditional Irish Cuisine.
Separately a friend of mine from a previous job contacted me on Facebook to say that he'd recently realised just how much fun roller coasters could be, and that he wanted to do some more. I told him about our plans, and he decided to join us for the day.
13th October 2018
The disadvantage of planning a trip to Ireland (at any time of year) is the severe risk of inclement weather. Today was a typical autumn day, with a predicted high of just seven degrees, and the forecast gave a one hundred percent chance of rain until late afternoon. This was both good and bad; on the positive side, Tayto Park was almost completely deserted; on the negative side, there were a number of attractions closed for the day, including the Factory Tour and the Viking Voyage flume. I'd been looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with the latter, given that it was still a little rough around the edges on media day; with luck it'll be operational for my next visit.
Cú Chulainn was being loaded from the front, and with minimal numbers in the park today there was no prospect of getting a lap in the back row. This wasn't ideal, but it was understandable; the train was running quite slowly today due to a combination of low temperatures and lots of empty seats, and too much weight at the back could easily result in a stall. The experience was still very good despite the reduced speed, with the only potholes being the usual ones in the over-banked turn. I didn't see any obvious signs of replacement track, though I'm guessing that there must have been at least some new wood given that the ride has now been in service for four seasons. The comfort level today bodes very well for the future; it seems that the team tasked with maintaining the hardware know their business. We went back for two additional laps later in the day that were just as good.
Our second stop was at the 5D Cinema, which today was showing Happy Family 4D by MackMedia. The film featured a family who take their seats in a ghost train, only to be transformed into monsters by a real life witch, who sends them on a thrilling journey. The car quickly goes out of control, eventually finding its way onto roller coaster track, which then goes over a cliff, and... the reader is invite to interpolate the rest. At the exit everyone remarkably turns back to normal, the big sister makes it clear that she never wants to do a ride like that again, and everyone lives happily ever after. The rest of our group also partook of the Air Race, a ride that I unfortunately don't have the stomach for.
The park has added two new attractions for 2018. The first of these is the Nissan Driving School, a collection of battery operated cars that small children can drive around a miniature road network. Enthusiasts will be rather more interested (if not altogether excited) by Ladybird Loop (#2545), a figure eight spinning coaster from SBF Visa that has been installed on the spot that in previous years held the Air Jumpers and Gold Panning. The ride experience was standard, though it'd be remiss of me not to mention the elaborate theming, which featured oversized mushrooms and flowers. There was also a structure around part of the track that may be designed to support a tunnel at some stage.
We had a very pleasant chat with the operators at the Grand Carousel, who asked us how we were coping with the weather. I said that I was surprised that the park was open, earning a few nods and a wry smile; one of them admitted that she'd been hoping for a duvet day. She made a point of telling us that mobile phones were not allowed on board, which seemed like a strange restriction on a ride that barely exceeds walking pace; one regularly sees people taking selfies on similar rides in Ireland and further afield without problems. The only sounds during our ride were mechanical noises from the rotation mechanism, and the experience really suffered as a result; two years ago I described it as disappointing, and I stand over that assessment.
The staff made a valiant and mostly successful attempt to dry off the Shot Tower seats for us, a gesture that was very much appreciated. We also did a quick lap on the Steam Train Express in the interests of completeness. I'd have happily ridden more, but it was evident that the weather had worn down my companions, and as such we took refuge in the warmth of the park restaurant to plot out our afternoon.
Fun Zone Bray
13th October 2018
Once it became evident that we wouldn't need the whole day at Tayto Park Midas asked me whether it might be possible to do any other coasters in the area. I knew from experience that the rooftop rides at Funtasia would have been taken down for the winter, but there was a fighting chance of a bonus tick at Fun Zone Bray. It seemed like a long shot given the weather conditions, but we had the time to spare so we figured that we might as well give it a shot.
There were no guests in sight when we arrived at the park, but the lights on the rides were on and two bored-looking operators were doing their best to keep warm next to a coffee stand. We quickly bought a few tickets for the Family Coaster, which had been repainted for this year into a fluorescent green. My eye was immediately drawn to the lead car, whose Pinocchio figurehead of previous years was conspicuously absent. I asked where it had gone, and was told that it had been present when the ride was taken out of storage in March, but had disappeared by the time the staff were ready to physically attach it; the assumption is that some local reprobate has repurposed it as a lawn ornament.