Travel Note

25th August 2019

There are only a handful of international brand hotels in Russia's western oblasts, and none at all in the general vicinity of Belgorod (Белгород). Rather than detour we booked ourselves into a three star local facility operated by AMAKS Hotels & Resorts close to the center of the city. This had the virtue of being very cheap, but that was really the only thing to be said for it. Dinner in the restaurant took over an hour to arrive, loud thumping music from a party in the bar was clearly audible in my room until the small hours of the morning, and the breakfast was barely edible. While there is something to be said for being adventurous, I'd encourage those retracing our steps to look elsewhere.

 

Park Lenina

25th August 2019

Tsentral'nyy Park Kul'tury I Otdykha Imeni V.I. Lenina (Центральный парк культуры и отдыха имени В.И. Ленина) is a sixty acre park in central Belgorod that has been a fixture of the area for more than half a century. It is a place of contrasts; though much of the site is pleasantly landscaped and clean, a sizeable portion has been allowed to fall into disrepair. The operators have been in dispute with the city authorities for some years over the rights to the land, and it is far from clear what will happen next.

Park Lenina

At present the park has two separate ride areas. The newer section on the eastern side of the facility opened in 2018, and features inflatables, flat rides, and a children's train. It is the older section in the north-west corner that is of interest to enthusiasts, as it is here that one finds the Caterpillar (#2784), a standard layout Wacky Worm with an unusually short four car train. We had to wait five minutes before riding just in case any other guests turned up, but when none did we were treated to a solo three lap cycle for ₽260 (~€3.51) apiece.

 

Grinnlandiya Belgorod

25th August 2019

Our second stop was at the first of two planned Grinnlandiya parks, this one located inside the Mega Grinn (Мега Гринн) shopping mall in the northern suburbs of Belgorod. A multi-storey garage adjacent to the main building had signage advertising the various facilities, including a banner for the park on the fourth floor. We took a space on that level, stepped through the entrance door, and found ourselves standing directly beside an IE Park Tea Cup 5/6m ride. Orange coloured track could be seen perhaps fifty metres away which we quickly determined to be for a respectably large family coaster.

Dragon (#2785) is currently the only known example of the Mini Otto 140 (Compact Squirrel), a production model design with a maximum height of twenty-four feet and a top speed of nineteen miles per hour. The ride was large enough to have some excitement to it, but I'm sorry to report there wasn't any; I noticed no airtime at all, and the entire experience felt sluggish. On the plus side the track quality was fine; a few dozen laps would have presented no issues whatsoever. The ticket price today was ₽140 (~€1.89) per person for a three lap cycle, plus an additional ₽50 (~€0.67) for the required smart card. Those visiting on weekdays pay a slightly lower price of ₽120 (~€1.62) per person.

 

1st of May Park

25th August 2019

One curiosity of Russian cities is the fact that many have designated parking areas in what might appear to the uninitiated observer to be the middle of the street. Red Square (Красная Площадь) in downtown Kursk (Курск) has one such location; a roughly triangular space between two junctions at 51.7293, 36.1922 is available for stays of up to three hours. There is no charge for parking on Sundays.

1st May Park

1st of May Park (Парк им. 1 мая) is a forty thousand square metre facility with a statue of Alexander Nevsky (Александр Невский) at its entrance. It takes its name from a date that has been an important one in the Russian calendar for over a century. In Soviet times it was known as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers, and celebrated in style with parades and marches that were mandatory for the proletariat. Since 1992 it has been referred to as Spring and Labor Day, a low-key occasion where people mark the end of winter by buying flowers and ice cream.

The park is home to an eclectic collection of attractions. As ever the primary audience appears to be younger visitors, but there are four large rides in the mix: a portable Fabbri Evolution, a park model Zamperla Power Surge, a twenty car Ferris Wheel of indeterminate provenance, and a double helix Yamasakutalab roller coaster with the improbable name of Super Extreme (#2786). The ride wasn't one of the faster examples of the type, but it was respectable enough to justify the ₽100 (~€1.35) cost for a three lap cycle. We talked briefly with the operator after disembarking, and learned that the hardware is due to be retired at the end of this season. We were unable to glean any information about what if anything might replace it; presumably satellite imagery will answer that question in due time.

 

Play Ventura

25th August 2019

The "Evropa" (Европа) Central Park Mall in downtown Kursk is the largest facility of its type in the region, with two hundred shops, an eight screen cinema, a rooftop garden, and a twenty thousand square metre family entertainment centre on its top floor. Unlike most Russian malls there is a charge for parking, though the price is sufficiently low that one wonders why it exists at all; we paid ₽40 (~€0.54) for a one hour stay.

Play Ventura is anchored by a huge custom Roller Coaster (#2787) that routes around a large portion of the building, passing above some rides and underneath the structure of a custom flume. The ₽250 (~€3.37) ride looks spectacular, and though it loses something for having its entire course lined with netting this is understandable given the obvious dangers posed by flying objects. Unfortunately the experience is not a happy one; while much of the layout is handled with grace there are two extremely violent turns at the back of a performance stage that are negotiated with all the finesse of a brick in a washing machine. The lap bar restraints made the slams marginally less awful than they otherwise might have been, but they were still enough to make me question my life choices. I'd have been considerably happier without the complimentary second lap.

Play Ventura

 

Grinnlandiya Kursk

25th August 2019

We found our second Grinnlandiya park on the top floor of the Mega Grinn (Мега Гринн) mall in Kursk, just two kilometres north of Play Ventura. Information online had led us to expect a powered coaster, and though this machine did not exist we were delighted to discover something even better.

Grand Prix Galaxy (#2788) is as of this writing the only known installation of the JR 30S, a slightly tweaked version of the IE Park knock-off of the Pinfari MM29. The most obvious difference with this version over the standard model is the position of the lift, which is on the left of the station rather than the right. The manufacturer's specifications indicate that the track is a full six metres (~2.6%) longer too, though anyone obsessive enough to notice the additional half second on board should probably seek professional assistance (and a lobotomy).

The ride was my favourite of the day by some margin; the seating was comfortable, the tracking was flawless, and the impressive sensation of speed was amplified by having a large amount of track shoehorned into a compact space. We paid the bargain price of ₽100 (~€1.35) per person for a two lap cycle, plus an additional ₽30 (~€0.40) for the required smart card.

 

Travel Note

25th August 2019

Early revisions of our Russia itinerary included a stop at Detskiy Park in Oryol, chiefly because it was only a few kilometres away from the route that we were already planning to use to get from Kursk to Tula. The visit was cut for several drafts after satellite imagery revealed the demise of the park's Wacky Worm, but we added it back as an optional hit after deciding to spend the night at the nearby Grinn Hotel and Spa. My GPS allowed us to get within fifty metres of where the coaster had once stood, enabling visual confirmation that there was nothing left but rubble.

Grinnlandiya Oryol

 

Grinnlandiya Oryol

25th August 2019

Once settled into our hotel we decided to head into the attached mall for dinner. There was an enclosed footbridge at the end of our bedroom corridor that led directly into a food court, where we immediately spotted a previously undocumented family coaster standing less than fifty feet away. Steam Locomotive (#2789) was small but very sweet indeed; our five lap cycle cost ₽120 (~€1.62) per person plus an additional ₽50 (~€0.67) for the required smart card. Readers should be aware that photographs in this branch of Grinnlandiya were apparently not allowed; fortunately I'd already taken all the shots I wanted by the time I got officially grumbled at.