Day eight of our trip began with a morning flight to Voronezh (Воронеж), a city of one million located roughly two hours flying time from our start point in Sochi. Our landing was watched by several thousand people attending an airport open day, which was quite a surprise; though small scale airport tours happen all the time one doesn't generally see thousands of visitors on the apron of a commercial airport during routine operations.
The Avis desk was unattended for our arrival, and we were unable to call the displayed number ourselves as neither of our phones could gain service on the local network. Fortunately we found a member of airport staff willing to make a call on our behalf. The person at the other end of the line spoke passable English, and told us that he was stuck in heavy traffic but that he should arrive "soon". His definition of the word was apparently somewhat different to ours, as it was almost three quarters of an hour later when he finally showed up, having been caught out by the fact that many of the roads in the vicinity of the airport were closed. Fortunately we had enough slack in our schedule to accommodate the delay.
Park Attraktsionov Voronezh
24th August 2019
When I first began researching Russia in the early tens there were only a handful of amusement parks known to the enthusiast community with more than two roller coasters. All but one were in Moscow and Saint Petersburg; the exception was at a shopping mall located close to the airport in the northern suburbs of Voronezh. The coasters within were nothing special, but despite that the place claimed a spot on my must-do-some-day list.
City Park Grad has just shy of one hundred thousand square metres of retail space, anchored by a flagship Auchan (Ашан) store that occupies roughly one fifth of the site. Other facilities include a nine screen cinema, a bowling alley, a video game arcade, an oceanarium, a concert hall, and an indoor amusement park that is one of the largest facilities of its kind in Europe. Park Attraktsionov (Парк Аттракционов) features thirty separate rides and attractions, most if not all of which have been imported from Italy; suppliers listed on the official web site include C&S, Cosmont, Gosetto, Moser Rides, Preston & Barbieri, SBF, and Zamperla.
The park operates a two-tier pricing scheme. Each ride has a standard price and a "discount" price, which is generally around ₽100 (~€1.35) less. The cheaper tickets are officially only available to those holding special loyalty cards, though we found the regulations to be malleable; the cashier wanted ₽1440 (~€19.52) for a smart card with enough credit for us both to ride the three coasters, which was quite a bit less than the ₽2000 (~€27.10) figure we'd expected from reading the price list.
Our visit began with the Wild Mouse (#2781), a compact version of the ubiquitous design that felt no different to the dozens of other versions I've ridden over the years. There were three cars on track today, and the body parts for two more could be seen in pieces in the middle of the ride area. There was no theming at all, though the track had been lined with a red-coloured LED strip that made the hardware look considerably better than it otherwise would have. The same lighting was also present on the Caterpillar (#2782), a standard Wacky Worm running a three lap cycle.
The one unique ride in the park was Formula 1, a large powered coaster that made two laps around the edge of the facility. The design included a descending helix and a series of curved airtime bumps that were a definite novelty, if not something likely to rewrite enthusiast top ten lists. The experience was definitely geared towards families rather than thrill-seekers; the twelve seat train accelerated very gently, and the overall top speed was quite a way short of what thebest powered coasters are capable of. For all that, the ride was obviously popular; it had a fifteen minute queue today when all the other attractions were walk-on.
Chudo Yudo Grad
24th August 2019
Gubkin (Губкин) is a town of ninety thousand located roughly half way between Voronezh and Belgorod. It was named for Ivan Mikhaylovich Gubkin, a local geologist and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences from 1929 through to his death in 1939.
Chudo Yudo Grad is a family park located in the centre of the town that features a coffee shop, a go-kart track, and a dozen separate amusement rides, all of which are aimed squarely at younger visitors. Our sole target was Nessi (#2783), currently the only known example of a Cavazza Diego Super Nessi in Russia. The ride was running well today, delivering all the expected sensations over a five lap cycle that cost ₽120 (~€1.63) apiece plus a further ₽50 (~€0.68) for the required smart card. (The train had the remains of a label with an address in Casale di Scodosia that I've since realised to be the head office of SBF; how they are connected with the installation is unknown at this time.)