Pettitts Animal Adventure Park is a family amusement park and zoo located just outside of Norwich in south-eastern England. I first tried to visit the place thirteen years ago, but a friend and I were refused admission when we were in the area because we had no children with us. I never got the impression that this was an official park policy, as many other enthusiasts made it there both before and after our miss; instead I suspect it to have been an overzealous cashier enforcing her own regulations made up on the spot. Today there were no problems at all; we scoured the web site for any information about an admission policy, and having found none we bought tickets online. These caused minor consternation at the gate only because the staff member on duty today wasn't sure what she was supposed to do with them.
The park has added a number of new attractions to its roster for 2019, including three rides from Turkish manufacturer Güven Lunapark. The collection includes the Bouncing Kangaroo ride, the Little Explorers Balloon Ride, and the Crazy Caterpillar (#2697), a standard layout Wacky Worm with a red and green train. The operators were friendly if somewhat surprised at two slightly insane enthusiasts in their midst, but they acquiesced to our request for just one lap, which we enjoyed. With that done I enjoyed three laps in the front seat of the Rocky Roller Coaster (#2698), becoming enthusiast number seventy-nine to log the proverbial tick on coaster-count.com.
After disembarking we spent a pleasant twenty minutes enjoying a coffee and an ice cream before returning to our car for the thirty minute drive towards our next stop.
22nd June 2019
We arrived at Pleasurewood Hills to a glorious blue sky and a temperature of around 25°C. Despite the conditions however the park was far from busy, with almost all of the major rides having no queue to speak of. There was a definite sense that we were visiting a park that was struggling to keep afloat. Many smaller parks in the United Kingdom have failed over the last decade or so, including American Adventure, Camelot Theme Park, Loudoun Castle, Ocean Beach Amusement Park, and Pleasure Island; it will be very interesting to see whether Pleasurewood Hills manages to buck the trend.
In an ideal world we'd have begun our visit with the classic Schwarzkopf coaster, but it wasn't to be; in mid-March management announced that the much-loved Cannonball Express would be taking an extended break due to maintenance work. Today it was very evident that nothing much was happening; there was no train in sight, a track segment was missing, and the area around the structure was being gradually reclaimed by nature. The various drive mechanisms were exposed to the elements and there was visible rust everywhere. It was tempting to label the ride as being down permanently, though it might not be; the park has previously reopened a coaster after a closure spanning two and a half years, so it is not impossible that it will do so again.
We took a few photographs then made our way across to Marble Madness, the first production example of the Maurer Rides Wilde Maus Classic to feature a right hand side lift hill. This particular model spent the first sixteen years of its career at Flamingo Land before making the move to its new home for the 2014 season. The car bodies were replaced at the time to tie in with the new name, which I suspect to have been influenced at least in part by the computer game of the same name from the early eighties. The experience was as expected, and the comfort level was for the most part fine; the only real problem was the brake prior to the largest drop, which was a dead stop akin to hitting a brick wall; readers are advised to brace to avoid bruising.
Our next stop was at the Rootin Tootin Target Trail, a target shooter that premiered in 2017. The new ride reuses the track and drive system from a highly regarded home-spun horror themed attraction that was retired after four seasons when park management decided to refocus their attention on families. Nowadays visitors are invited to "help old Sam Hobs stop dynamite-wielding mine critters blowing up the gold mine by shooting out the targets", a task that even the youngest can take on without too much difficulty; bright red sights on each gun make hitting the targets straightforward.
Over the years there have been four different versions of the Vekoma Boomerang in the United Kingdom. The first opened at West Midland Safari Park in 1985; that model can be experienced today in the Philippines. The second went to Hafan y Môr Holiday Park in 1987, and onwards to the United States. The fourth went to Pleasure Island in 1993, and is due to reopen later this year at Trans Studio Bali. The only one that hasn't crossed the world is the third, which spent 1998 at the Glasgow Garden Festival before being installed more permanently at American Adventure. It is this version that lives on today as Wipeout, and though the tracking isn't as smooth as some of the newer models it remains a respectable ride. There were no problems with headbanging today from my seat in the back row.
Last and by no means least was Egg-Spress, a large format Zierer Tivoli that was closed part way through the 2016 season due to problems with the track. At the time the ride was reported to be beyond repair, though one suspects that the true cause of the closure was financial given that several other rides from the same family have hadtrackreplaced in recent years. There was no obvious new track today, but I did spot quite a bit of extra support structure not seen on other examples of the type; my guess is that the hardware has been given just enough reinforcement to allow it to operate safely for a few more seasons.
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
22nd June 2019
It was early afternoon when we arrived at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach. Martin was having problems with his shoulder and decided to limit himself to a single ride on the Roller Coaster. After brief contemplation I decided that it was worth spending £18.50 (~€20.66) on an unlimited wristband, as one ride on each of the six attractions on my shopping list would have cost me £16 (~€17.88) and I felt sure that I'd want at least a few repeats.
My first stops were always going to be the two coasters added to the park since my last visit back in 2006. First up was Whirlwind (#2699), a standard model figure eight compact spinning coaster and my fourth encounter with the type so far this year. The design is on course to become the most successful production coaster of all time in the next few years, with an incredible eighteen new examples premiering last year from SBF alone. With that done, I completed an underwhelming lap on Family Star, a Fabbri mouse that I'd last seen in Denmark back in 2011. The ride layout was fine and the car managed some spinning, but overly aggressive trim brakes ensured that it never picked up any speed.
With the obligatory hits out of the way I made my way up to Roller Coaster, the 1932 Scenic Railway that I'd argue to be the finest example of its type anywhere in the world. The ride operates with three car trains, and each car can hold ten passengers. Both of my laps were in the front of the third car, and from that location the experience was pure fun from start to finish while still being gentle enough for more timid visitors to enjoy. I noticed a distinct smell of burning rubber in a few places, but that just added to the charm of a proper classic. With luck this ride will stay exactly as it is indefinitely; it would be a real shame if changing health and safety requirements and/or insurance restrictions led to design changes such as retrofitted automatic braking.
The park's old world culture was visible also on the Monorail, which routed right through the middle of the coaster giving some excellent photo opportunities. There was a pull down lap bar in my car, but the operator told me that it was entirely optional and that I didn't need to use it if I didn't plan to jump out. Martin observed later on that the only thing that would make him jump is someone suggesting he'd have to spend the rest of his life in a seaside "resort" such as Great Yarmouth.
My next stop was at the Haunted Hotel, a 1990s dark ride that went through a significant overhaul at the start of this season. The old theming was stripped out entirely in favour of detailed new scenes, including a number of special effects that would not have been possible when the ride first opened. The experience could have done with being a little longer, but that constitutes a very minor nitpick indeed. I also tried the adjacent Fun Factory, an overhaul of the Fun House mentioned in my old trip report. The 3D glasses from times past were not being offered today, but unusually rapid moving floor effects more than compensated for the loss.
Joyland Children's Fun Park
22nd June 2019
Enthusiasts who don't count coasters might be tempted to skip over Joyland Children's Fun Park while visiting the Great Yarmouth area. To do so would be a serious mistake; the 2200 square metre facility on the seafront is a rare gem that I'd argue to be one of the most interesting parks in Europe England, if not the world. Nine amusement rides and a restaurant are crammed into less than half the space occupied by the Roller Coaster a mile up the road, and the result is simply marvellous. All of the attractions require a single £1.50 (~€1.68) token though there are quantity discounts available.
The park first opened in 1949, and two of its classic attractions date from that time. Our first hit was Snails, a powered coaster designed by Horace Cole with themed cars that can hold one adult and one child. The ride has remained largely unchanged for seventy years; one suspects that a sizeable percentage of those visiting with grandchildren in tow will have experienced it in their youth. (Astute readers may have seen that this ride is not listed on RCDB; as ever with such things the visitor is invited to make their own decision as to whether it is a coaster or not).
The one stand-out attraction in the park is Tyrolean Tubtwist, a miniature Virginia Reel and the only surviving example of its type. The ride is a direct ancestor of the Spinning Mice of today; individual tubs with inward facing seats navigate a series of switchbacks, spinning as they go. At least thirteen full size models were built around the world in the first half of the twentieth century, though they had gradually begun to disappear by the late sixties; the last one was retired from Blackpool Pleasure Beach at the end of 1982. The Joyland installation was surprisingly aggressive (in a good way) given its diminutive size; I was quite dizzy when my lap came to an end.
An orange and green mountain in the middle of the park is home to two rides. The lower level contains Neptune's Kingdom, a surprisingly good dark ride featuring "the fantastic underwater world of pearl divers, mermaids, a giant octopus, a sunken treasure galleon, and King Neptune". The average visitor would never realise that it was relocated from a separate park in nearby Gorleston in the mid-seventies. The upper level contains Spook Express, a family coaster that I'd argue to be a junior equivalent of the High Roller; the layout consists entirely of left turns, but manages to be good fun despite the simplicity.