PowerLand

7th June 2019

It took three and a half hours to drive to PowerLand from my overnight hotel in Oulu. I made a five minute stop along the way to replenish my water bottle, but otherwise went straight through. The journey was unusually tiring; much of the route was single lane highway limited to 100km/h, but every single junction dropped that to 80km/h for a few hundred metres and the changes were ruthlessly enforced by speed cameras located adjacent to the signage. It was tempting to set the cruise control to the lower speed and leave it there, but that would have really upset the motorists behind me. If anyone from Väylä is reading this it would be really nice if you could agree on constant speeds for major trunk routes rather than constantly changing up and down.

The park has a paid parking option, but a free alternative is available just three hundred metres from the gate making it the obvious choice for all but the terminally lazy. The walking route has some excellent photo opportunities, and though I took full advantage of them I discovered a few hours later that my shots were useless as my camera had been inadvertently switched into low resolution mode. I've never understood why the designers at Canon believe that people might want to photograph at anything less than the maximum possible resolution, especially when the SD card in use has the capacity for more than ten thousand shots. This exceptionally stupid feature has caught me out on a few occasions over the years.

Neo's Twister

My day began at Neo's Twister (#2683), a Fabbri Power Mouse with a cartoon steampunk theme. The ride is one of five operating examples of the "Midi" layout, and as with its brethren it is an uninspired machine that can be safely skipped by more sensible readers who choose not to count their roller coasters. Having said that the comfort level today was for the most part fine; the only minor embuggerance was a particularly harsh series of brakes towards the end. The straightening device in the station completed its task without even the faintest hint of a bump. (A sixth identical machine at Castle Amusement Park in California has been closed since 2014 due to structural problems, and as of this writing it seems unlikely that it will operate again.)

The main draw for the day and the reason for my visit was Junker (#2684), my second new Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster in less than a week. The ride uses a bank of Linear Synchronous Motors to accelerate passengers to a top speed of 104.4km/h in just under two seconds, and though this isn't quite as forceful as rides like Do-Dodonpa and Hypersonic XLC it is nevertheless at the upper end of what one typically sees from launched coasters; for purposes of comparison the acceleration is around ten percent quicker than that found on both Formula Rossa and Top Thrill Dragster. The trains are virtually identical to those found on Karacho; they feature two rows of four seats, comfortable lap bar restraints, and an aircraft theme with illuminated "engines" at the rear.

The ride layout is excellent. A descending left turn out of the station leads onto the launch track, which is engaged with a rolling start. A forty metre top hat delivers a pleasant pop of airtime, which is followed in short order by another on the next hill. This leads to the highlight of the layout: a horizontally stretched loop that delivers something like three seconds of hangtime at its apex. A climbing turn then leads into a block brake, though there was no slowdown there today, allowing an over-banked curve, dive loop, and corkscrew to be enjoyed in full. I managed four laps in total, three in the front row, and one in the back. The latter had some very slight vibration in places, but it wasn't sufficient to impact my overall enjoyment.

My next hit was Thunderbird, a fourteen year old wood coaster from Great Coasters International. There was a partially loaded train in the station, and rather than wait a cycle I decided to jump into the third row, from where the comfort level was flawless. I made a mental note to return for a back seat ride later in the day after exploring the rest of the park, though sadly that plan had to be written off when the weather unexpectedly broke.

Fun House

At this point I'd ticked off everything on my must-do list, so I decided to see what else might be of interest. I wound up at the Fun House walkthrough, which was located at the northern end of a seven thousand square metre former warehouse that has been disguised from within park boundaries by a number of Italian-style shopfronts. The experience wasn't radically different to a travelling unit, with a mundane series of standard effects (moving floors, a rotating barrel, and a moving staircase) with little to no adornment. The comparison against the magnificent installations at MOI Park and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi could not have been more pronounced.

A quick spin on the Giant Wheel revealed a sign for Joyride VR, which I soon discovered to be an €2 up-charge option for the park's L&T Systems coaster. The sign pointed to a dedicated queue which led to the back car of the ride, which is now reserved for those wearing Samsung Gear VR headsets. The footage today placed me in the pilots seat of an airplane flying around a canyon, and it worked pretty well; the frame rate could have done with being a little higher, but I suspect that the developers chose to prioritise image quality. Perhaps in a few years time the hardware will have developed to the point where trade-offs of this type are no longer necessary.

My next stop was at the Devil's Mine Hotel, an elaborately themed target shooting dark ride manufactured by Gosetto. The guns had a feature that I'd never seen before: each was limited to a maximum of 250 shots per game, with a descending count appearing beside the current score on a LED display. Many of the targets caused things to light up or move when hit, and I suspect that those that didn't were broken; there were a few close enough to be physically touched that failed to register when I shot at them. I decided to do a second ride in order to photograph some of the sets.

My route took me past the Mine Train, and though I didn't need the tick I figured that it would be rude not to occupy an empty seat. The ride had a few moderate clunks along its journey, as is expected from older examples of the type, though they were not particularly problematic. I followed this up with a back seat on Cobra, the only Vekoma Boomerang to operate with MK-1211 rolling stock. The harnesses today were a little tighter than I'd have preferred, but the experience was comfortable and there was no headbanging whatsoever. (I suspect that more versions with these trains would exist had there been customers for the genre in the late noughties; there was a seven year gap prior to the next model, by which stage soft vest restraints were in vogue.)

It turned out that I'd enjoyed my last ride; I stepped into a restaurant for a lunch break, and by the time I emerged back into daylight the heavens had opened in spectacular fashion. The forecast on my phone indicated that the downpour was expected to last for around two hours, and as I had a three hour drive ahead of me I decided that it was best to hit the road.

Devil's Mine

 

Särkänniemi

7th June 2019

My early departure from PowerLand resulted in my arriving in Tampere just before 5:00pm. I'd not planned to call into Särkänniemi until the next morning, but after brief contemplation I decided to take advantage of a €29 evening wristband deal. The headline figure was made somewhat less palatable after I tacked on the additional €15 required for car parking, but my visit still cost less than I'd have had to pay if I'd stayed with my original itinerary. There was enough time to do seven rides without rushing, and that was perfectly adequate for my purposes.

The newest coaster at the park is Hype (#2685), one of nine operating examples of the Premier Rides Sky Rocket II. Recent stateside installations have been fitted with the inaccurately named "comfort collars", but this version had no such affliction. Unfortunately any bonus points the better restraints might have earned were wiped out when the operators made it clear that I was not permitted to wear my glasses even though they were secured with a safety strap. This unfriendly operational policy bothers me less than it once did, given that it is commonplace across Asia, but it hit hard today probably because I was tired, grouchy, and hungry. The back seat was thrilling, if not actually that comfortable as my lap bar was a little too tight. A second ride in the front was considerably better, and I'd probably have done a third if I'd been able to protect my eyes from the wind.

My next stop was in the second row of the yellow train on Tornado. I had positive memories of the ride in my head that turned out to be utterly misplaced, a timely reminder that I should really read my own trip reports before returning to parks that I've been to before. On my first visit to the park back in 2007 I described the ride as a truly excellent coaster, though sadly it did not age well; by 2011 it had degenerated to the point that once was enough. The experience today started out well, but the train began to shake on the exit of the vertical loop, and the oscillations became more and more unpleasant over the rest of the layout. The inline twist towards the end suffered from severe headbanging which hurt more than a prototype SLC on a bad day. You could have not have paid me enough to ride a second time.

MotoGee

The most enjoyable coaster of the evening was MotoGee, a standard layout Zamperla Moto Coaster with a flywheel launch. The ride was operating two trains today, keeping throughput high. I particularly liked the loose item bins in the station, which had a physical barrier that moved into place automatically as each train dispatched in order to prevent pilfering. I followed this up with a courtesy ride on the Half Pipe, which was running an unusually long programme that left me slightly dizzy by the time the train came to a halt.

My only other hit, and arguably the only other worthwhile attraction in the park at present, was Boom, a sixty-eight metre high rotating tower ride from Zamperla with both upward and downward launches. The design delivers good airtime on the upward launches, and the drop sequence begins without any halt to rotation which makes for an interesting novelty. My first ride was interrupted part way through to disembark a terrified child, and as such I decided to go back for a second. I'd have finished my day off with a third, but the operator had apparently identified the last person in the queue at precisely 7:00pm, and demonstrated her customer service skills by turning me and two others away despite the fact that there were five empty seats in the ride vehicle for the last dispatch of the evening.