Regular readers will know that the United Kingdom has a number of parks that are off limits to adults without children in tow. Bendalls Leisure Ltd is a family-run business that operates three such parks: Twinlakes Park, Wheelgate Adventure Park, and Woodlands Family Theme Park. George was able to arrange escorted access to the two with roller coasters, and I decided that I'd travel to England for the day to knock them off my list.
12th October 2019
The morning began with an early morning flight to East Midlands Airport, followed by a twenty-five mile drive east to Twinlakes Park. We were met at the entrance by a very friendly member of staff who was more than willing to spend an hour with us. I asked if we were his first group of coaster enthusiasts, and learned that our request was not even remotely unusual; a group from Thrill Nation had visited only a few days before. He presented us a few park souvenirs and a free coffee, the latter being particularly welcome a few hours after a 5:30am start.
Our primary target was Rum Runner (#2843), the third permanently installed SBF compact spinning coaster in the United Kingdom, coming three years after the version at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach and four years after the original at Cannon Hill Park. The ride is located outdoors as of this writing, though our contact told us that there are plans to extend the adjacent building to cover it so that can be operated in all weather conditions. We enjoyed two cycles.
We also took a ride on Buffalo Stampede, a Zamperla powered coaster that once operated at the now-defunct American Adventure. The thirty-one year old hardware was given a comprehensive overhaul for this season to allow it to continue to operate for a few more years, and while the speed felt a little slower than I'd have expected one has to remember that the park is geared primarily at children. I particularly liked the way that the track routes through trees on both sides; the average visitor would never know that the hardware wasn't specially designed for the space.
Our third and final hit of the morning was Excalibur, a twelve metre high Swing Tower from SBF Visa. The on board experience was surprisingly thrilling given the ride's diminuitive height, especially once the rotation reached full speed. We'd happily have gone back for a second round, but decided that it would be better not to overstay our welcome.
Wheelgate Adventure Park
12th October 2019
Wheelgate Adventure Park, formerly Wonderland Pleasure Park, is a family park located roughly ten miles north of Nottingham. In its first years it was home to a tiny children's coaster called Bug Run, though that ride was disassembled and repurposed as theming at some point in the early noughties. Its replacement was High Hazel Mini Mine Coaster (#2844), a curiosity from L&T Systems that was acquired from the defunct Funland Park in Folkestone. (I saw it there back in 2002, though it was closed for maintenance at the time; I never dreamed that I'd get another shot at the proverbial tick seventeen years later.)
Once again we were met at the park entrance and brought directly to our target ride. From a distance the design looked like any other single helix machine, though up close I noticed that the track at the apex of the lift hill had been augmented with a series of undulations similar to those found on a Big Apple. There was also a gentle double-up moment adding further interest to the experience. We enjoyed a pleasant three lap cycle, took a few photographs, then made our way to the exit.