Albatross is a hotel and entertainment complex in Arkhipo-Osipovka (Архипо-Осиповка), a resort town named after a Russian soldier who sacrificed his life to save his comrades from the onslaught of the Circassians in 1840. His valour was commemorated in song, though it must be said that the composition lacks the infectious enthusiasm of other Soviet-era gems like Korobeiniki and Polyushko-polye, both of which will be familiar to anyone who's ever played Tetris.
It isn't necessary to stay in the hotel to access the amusement rides; just follow the path at 44.3604, 38.5352 all the way to the beach. We were unable to find a ticket office, which turned out to be because there wasn't one; unlike most if not all parks in Russia the operators take payment directly. Caterpillar (#2777) cost us ₽100 (~€1.37) per person for a two lap cycle that took as long as three laps on a more typical example of the type, due to a combination of a slow lift and aggressive braking both on the drop and in the station. This was particularly evident at the end of our ride as the back car stopped beyond the platform, requiring some acrobatics to escape.
22nd August 2019
There were two small funfairs in the vicinity of Albatross. One of them consisted only of flat rides, but the second included an oval roller coaster built up around that most Russian of theme elements: a Lada. Unfortunately signage at the entrance to Dragon Round indicated that it would operate from 5:00pm to midnight, and waiting around for six hours and change wasn't a realistic option. Though it was a pity to skip a coaster we're unlikely to ever get back to it wasn't the first time, nor was it likely to be the last; we took a comprehensive set of photographs for our archives before returning to our car.
22nd August 2019
We spotted a small funfair from the road while driving south through the town of Dzhubga, and decided it was worth stopping for a few minutes to investigate. The ground at 44.3140, 38.7010 had five mechanical rides: Bumper Cars, an Enterprise, a Miami, Swans, and DTM Racing (#2778), a particularly fast oval coaster. A member of staff was painting the station fascia when we approached, but after brief discussion the work was halted long enough for us to enjoy a lively ₽200 (~€2.74) cycle.
22nd August 2019
Our itinerary included a planned stop at a fairground in the town of Vostok, which we'd be driving through anyway on the way to our overnight hotel in Sochi. The coordinates we had were inside a gated beach area, but we could see bright green track through the trees, which we figured was enough to justify paying the ₽260 (~€3.56) per person admission fee. It turned out that we'd found Formule 1, a travelling oval coaster decorated with race cars and manufacturer logos. Unfortunately the entire ride area was closed, and though there was no signage to indicate operating hours we figured it was almost certainly an evening-only place.
Ninety minutes later we arrived at Tuapse Park, where it was obvious from a distance that the Tornado was in an advanced state of non-functionality. Closer inspection revealed rusty track, damaged tyres, and cobwebs in the train; definite indications of a ride that hadn't operated in months if not longer. Signage on the Kacca indicated that four of the ten attractions were theoretically serviceable, though that was a questionable assertion at best given the state that they were in. There were no staff present to ask despite the fact that we were visiting in the middle of the advertised opening hours.
22nd August 2019
Lazarevskoye (Лазаревское) is generally referred to as a microdistrict of Sochi, despite being almost seventy kilometres north of its parent city. It is home to two water parks, a dolphinarium, and a five kilometre stretch of beach that is exceptionally popular during the summer months. Today it was stupidly busy; we arrived into the area shortly after 4:00pm, and ended up burning almost an hour in the hunt for somewhere to leave the car. When we finally found a paid lot we were charged a foreigner rate of ₽500 (~€6.85) for one hour, which left us feeling distinctly unimpressed with the place.
The reason for our visit was a relocated Schwarzkopf Jet Star that operated for thirty-five years in the United States, first at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and subsequently at Thrill-Ville USA where I caught up with it in 2007. Sadly the ride was out of service due to earlier rain, its brakes covered in plastic sheeting. The operators told us that their ride should open at 8:00pm if weather permitted, but that was a fifty/fifty prospect at best given the forecast. It was tempting to wait around, but with a further two hours of driving ahead of us we decided against rolling the proverbial dice.
22nd August 2019
Riviera Park (Парк Ривьера) is a thirty-six acre facility close to the northern bank of the Sochi River. Its history dates back to the final years of the nineteenth century, when a famous Muscovite merchant named Vasily Alexeyevich Khludov built an estate and summer house in the area. When he fell into financial difficulty in the early 1900s the land was sold to the city treasury and reimagined as a public park. There are a wide range of amusement rides available, though they have never been the focus of the place; key attractions include the Alley of the Cosmonauts, a Dolphinarium, a Museum of Aliens, and over 240 different species of plant.
The official parking area is at the northern end of the site, a brisk ten minute walk from the Roller Coaster (#2779). The machine in question turned out to be a standard model Interpark Cyclon priced at ₽250 (~€3.43) per person, and for the most part it was a decent ride. The trim brake towards the end of the layout was not in use today, which was both good and bad; the final drop delivered powerful airtime, but the brief moment of elation was hamstrung by a brutally hard landing that cannot have done the hardware any favours. (As an aside, there was a Zamperla badge on the ride control box; perhaps that manufacturer was involved in the commissioning of the electrical systems?)
The highlight of the evening was the Castle of Horror (Замок Ужасов), a Zamperla-built dark ride. Every inch of the interior was filled out with an unusually detailed collection of cobwebs, skeletons, and miscellaneous horrors, and there was plenty of time to appreciate everything thanks to constant low-level illumination. The four-seat vehicles were enclosed with cages, but the gaps between the bars were more than adequate for capturing still photographs.
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