My morning began with a two hour drive south from my hotel to Daftöland, a pirate-themed children's park located on the west coast of Sweden, roughly fifteen kilometres from the Norwegian border. The park was first opened in 2011 as an extension of the adjacent campground, and it has expanded steadily over the intervening years; as of this writing the fifteen thousand square metre site is home to eleven rides as well as a variety of different shops, restaurants, and shows.
Once inside the gate I made my way to Skutan (#2729), a Preston & Barbieri family coaster added to the park last year. The ride was being operated with military efficiency; I took the front seat and closed my lap bar, and less than five seconds later I was dispatched on an enjoyable three lap cycle. A second dispatch in the back seat was arguably better as there was a pleasant pull off the apex of the lift hill. I'd thought the ride to be the last one I needed to complete the 30x14 set, but apparently not; a further two have opened this year at Energylandia and Fiabilandia, and one suspects that this target will continue to be a moving one for the foreseeable future.
I'd planned my second stop to be the Spökkällaren (Haunted Cellar) but it was being operated every two hours today and I narrowly missed the cut off. As I continued to wander the park I found myself wishing that I'd visited with the group from the European Coaster Club in June 2018; there were plenty of things to do for a solo traveller, but they would have been considerably more fun with a coach load of like-minded enthusiasts. In due course it became evident that I'd seen all that there was to see, so I took some last photographs and headed for the exit.
28th July 2019
Light rain was falling when I arrived at Liseberg, but despite the less than ideal conditions the parking lot was completely full. A few hopeful vehicles were weaving back and forth in the hope of finding a vacated space, but after five minutes in their company I was forced to concede defeat. Plan B turned out to be a multi-storey garage on Södra Vägen, which was convenient for the park but decidedly suboptimal from a financial perspective; in addition to an hourly fee it was necessary to pay up front, forcing me to guess the length of my visit. Why it wasn't possible to pay on exit like every other similar facility worldwide is anyone's guess.
I'd been planning to buy my admission at the gate, but a fellow enthusiast made me aware that online purchases include a complimentary fast track ticket giving timed access slots for four rides. This deal was only available on the Swedish language website for some reason, but judicious use of Google Translate got me over that hurdle. I booked myself late afternoon slots for the four major coasters, and the time savings worked well; despite the crowds I managed eight rides in a little over four hours without rushing. In an ideal world I'd have stayed longer and done more, but the drive back to my hotel was three and a half hours and I wanted to arrive before my personal battery ran out.
The park's newest coaster is Vakyria (#2730), a custom layout B&M Dive Machine whose station and brake run occupy the building roof that for twelve seasons was home to Kanonen. The ride has three trains, each of which holds eighteen passengers using the soft vests introduced two years ago on Valravn. The experience begins with a climb to the heights, followed by a fifty metre drop into an underground trench where the Wave Swinger once stood. The climb that follows leads to an Immelmann inversion, followed in short order by a zero-gravity roll and a turnaround on the site of the former Sagoslottet dark ride. The short layout concludes with an unusually slow heart line roll that features excellent hangtime. I managed four rides, three in the front row and one in the back, and there was no question in my mind that the front was the place to be; the view over the park from the holding brake at the top of the lift hill was truly spectacular. (In a random aside that matters to nobody at all, the ride was my 100th B&M; I wonder if I'll make it to two hundred in this lifetime.)
My second stop was in the front row of Balder, a prefabricated wooden coaster that was a consistent entry at the top of coaster enthusiast polls in its first few years. The ride has slid down the rankings since, though it claimed thirteenth place last year, a more than respectable showing for a sixteen year old machine. Today the ride was running well, and though it lacked the inherent craziness of yore I suspect that the story would have been quite different if I'd gone for the back row near closing time. There was some very slight shuffling in the turns, but nothing major, and there was no jarring whatsoever in the straight portions.
A short walk across the park took me to Lisebergbanan, a classic Schwarzkopf coaster that has thrilled guests for over three decades. Park management decided to give the elderly ride an overhaul for this season, introducing a new themed facade and a fleet of five shiny new trains. The changed rolling stock is virtually indistinguishable from the old; crucially the comfortable lap bars have been left as they were. The track could have done with some fresh paint, and the brakes could have been a little less violent, but both were relatively minor complaints for what remains one of my favourite rides in the park.
The last coaster on my shopping list was Helix, where I was pleased to see my inscription still visible on the wall. There was a short wait for the front row after the fast pass merge point, and I decided that I might as well join it. This was the right call; from that location the ride was excellent, though as with my last trip there was some distinct vibration that triggered minor nausea issues, particularly in the final inversion. I decided against going back for a second ride, but instead made my way outside in search of a few photographs. There were no trains cycling, and moments later I discovered why; one had come to an undignified halt on the second launch track and staff were beginning the evacuation process. A large crowd had formed to watch; I decided that I didn't need to join them.
Instead I made my way to Hotel Gasten, a haunted walkthrough with live actors themed to look like an upmarket hotel. I was grouped with four others and told to place my hands on the shoulders of the person in front of me. The people I was with were evidently in an enormous hurry, which was disappointing; I'd have happily worked my way through the various scenes at half the pace so as to take in the superb theming in full. As it was the only scene that really stuck with me was a wine cellar with cobweb-covered bottles on both sides. Maybe next time I'll get a more patient group!
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