Gulliver's Milton Keynes

7th July 2019

A small group of club members had already congregated at the entrance to Gulliver's Milton Keynes when I arrived shortly before the appointed time. Martin had apparently briefed people about my hotel shenanigans, as my day began with multiple parallel interrogations on the subject: Did you have a good night's sleep? How was your hotel? Was the Holiday Inn good? Are you properly rested this morning? There are very few adults in coaster clubs.

In due course we were escorted into the park and back to Twist and Joust (#2706), one of eleven worldwide examples of the EOS Rides Crazy Twister. Six of the type can be found in Saudi Arabia, where they are effectively off limits to most enthusiasts as the country does not offer tourist visas. The other four currently operate in Czechia, France, Israel, and Kuwait. The station brakes on this unit were having major issues today; our first group of ten overshot, and a subsequent group of eight had the same issue. The requirement to manually reposition the train after each miss cut our exclusive session to one cycle per person, though that wasn't a particularly big deal; while the ride spun a little and tracked better than I'd expected it wasn't something I felt an overpowering desire to repeat.

Gullivers

My second hit was Crazy Mouse, a figure eight coaster from L&T Systems located inside a barn and one of just three surviving examples of the manufacturer's Mini Coaster 20x10 design. On my last visit to the park back in 2008 the ride was taken in almost complete darkness from start to end. Today the programme was a little different; the first few laps were lit by a number of fluorescent strips that were turned off for one final circuit in the dark. The illumination revealed a thick layer of dust on the theming as well as a grubby concrete floor; the overall experience would have been much better without it.

After a courtesy lap on the Runaway Train we made our way to the Gulliver's Travels dark ride, which used the same style of vehicle seen the previous day on Gilly's Princess Ride. The journey routed past several scenes loosely adapted from the Jonathan Swift book, starting off with a wreck of the Antelope and continuing with the world of Lilliput. We followed this up with the Silver Mine target shooting dark ride. Guns were present in the vehicles (a step forward over the equivalent machine yesterday) but they were out of service today due to technical problems.

 

Billing Aquadrome

7th July 2019

I'd originally planned to spend several hours at Gulliver's Milton Keynes but after little more than ninety minutes I'd seen all that there was to see. I had several hours to kill before my flight home, and decided that I'd use them to mop up a few coaster credits in the general area. My first stop was at Billing Aquadrome, a 235 acre holiday park located just outside Northampton. Day visitors are welcomed for a fee of £5 (~€5.54), rising to £10 (~€11.08) when special events are taking place. The guest car park is located adjacent to a small funfair with four main rides:

  • Giant Wheel, a Helmut Hauser machine that operated at Drayton Manor from 1986-2017. In its previous home the ride wore a multicoloured paint scheme with a mix of red, yellow, and blue; nowadays it is a much more tasteful solid white. The ride is well placed for overhead photographs both of the amusements and of a nearby lake.
  • Mega-Twist, a 1966 De Boer Paratrooper that spent thirty-four years touring the German fair circuit under the ownership of Dietz & Sohn. It was subsequently sold to Schaustellerbetrieb Specht who operated it until 2016. The branding from that period remains in place today.
  • Runaway Train (#2707), my third Cavazza Diego Super Nessi in as many weeks and the only one in the United Kingdom that I had yet to ride. This unit was also acquired second hand; it originally operated at Gulliver's Warrington from 1989-2003, then toured for a decade before being installed in its current home.
  • Twister, an Eli Bridge Scrambler that was imported from the United States in 1978. It spent eighteen years at Funland Amusement Park and was later toured around the United Kingdom before being finding its way to its present home in 2013.
Billing Aquadrome

 

St Nicholas Park

7th July 2019

My first visit to St Nicholas Park took place in October 2017. Though the amusement park was open as expected there was an empty space where the roller coaster was supposed to be. I've since learned that the ride in question is often missing during the winter months; one presumes that it is operated elsewhere, though where that might be is anyone's guess.

Traffic in the vicinity of the park was a complete nightmare today, and given that I wasn't altogether surprised to discover that the parking area was full. The cause turned out to be Pub in the Park, an event promoted by celebrity chef Tom Kerridge that promised "brilliant food, live music and Michelin-starred chefs all served up in a beautiful local park, making for the ultimate pub garden unlike any other." I ended up claiming one of the last available spots in nearby Myton Fields, and I was only just in time; shortly afterwards that gate was shut leaving would-be visitors to fend for themselves.

Runaway Train (#2708) is a standard model SBF Double Coaster, and undistinguished; the three laps I was given today felt like every other example of the genre I've experienced over the years. Admission required one and a half ride credits, which had a net cost of £1.50 (~€1.66). It wasn't possible to purchase half credits, but the vending machine refunded the unused half along with my £1 (~€1.11) deposit when I returned my card after riding.

 

Newport Pagnell Carnival

7th July 2019

I'd intended my last stop prior to the airport to be at Dudley Zoo, but changed plans on the fly after Anita sent me a Facebook message with information about the Newport Pagnell Carnival just three miles away from where I'd begun my day. Though going there required some backtracking a quick check of my GPS revealed that there was enough time for me to spend an hour there while still making it back to the airport with ample time to catch my flight home.

The two day event takes place in a large field with its own parking area. I fat-fingered the postcode while configuring my GPS and ended up missing it entirely, but I found an on-street space at 52.0855, -0.7193 and followed my ears to the target. The short walk took me past a classic car exhibit and The Duck Race; an enthusiastic (and exceptionally silly) commentary was in full flow as I wandered past, reminding me very much of watching sheep races back in 2017.

Runaway Train

Runaway Train (Wheatley) (#2709) is a Schiff family coaster imported from the United States, though the rolling stock was manufactured locally by Supercar. The ticket price today was £2.50 (~€2.77), which entitled me to five laps. It was only after the train was in motion that I spotted a soap bubble generator above the lift hill which was in full flow today; despite my best efforts I finished my ride covered in white foam, making me look even sillier than usual.

The only other attraction of interest to me today was Misery, a horror-themed walkthrough with a handful of generic scenes and low ceilings ready to clobber the unwary. The most memorable feature was an external balcony on the upper level that enabled overhead photographs of the adjacent coaster.