My original plan for today was to go to Fårup Sommerland, but I decided to switch things around after looking at the weather forecast, which predicted an entire day of heavy rain in the area around the park. The conditions at Djurs Sommerland were not ideal either, but they were better, and I figured that I could slot in a half-day return visit later in the week if anything important was closed. The change allowed me to enjoy a relaxed breakfast at my hotel instead of grabbing something on the road; the charmingly anachronistic Best Western Knudsens Gaard doesn't open its buffet until 8:00am on weekends.
I began my visit with a left turn inside the entrance (as serious world travellers do!) towards Wild Asia, an elaborately themed land that replaced a collection of trampolines at the start of 2017. The main attraction in the new area is a custom inverted coater from Intamin, and I'd have gone directly there were it not for the empty queue in front of Jungle Rally (#2865). A Zierer Force Zero was never going to reorder my top five hundred coasters, but the four-lap cycle was pleasant enough. All seats were available to use and no masks were required, as each car had been retrofitted with a tall plexiglas shield to reduce the risk of virus transmission.
With the obligatory tick complete I joined the queue for DrageKongen (#2866). Staff were selling disposable face masks for 5 DKK (~€0.67) at the entrance, but I confidently breezed past them as I was already wearing a higher quality (and considerably more comfortable) N95 example. Twenty minutes later I was next in line for the front when an operator informed me that my mask was the "wrong shape" and that I'd need to switch to one of the park-supplied examples in order to ride. This seemed a little strange given that the style I was wearing had presented no problems at Tivoli Gardens a few days before, but I decided it wasn't worth arguing; I went to buy one and came back through the exit where I was allowed into the front row of the next train.
The ride starts with a gentle launch out of the station that is quite a surprise if you’re not expecting it. It raises the train no more than ten feet, but the drop that follows goes below ground level, leading to a tight right turn and a gentle descent ahead of a tyre-driven lift hill. At the apex a step descent plummets into a mist-filled tunnel, from where the train enters a series of turns and hills that are forceful without being extreme. There are no stand-out moments, but there are no real dead spots either; the layout has plenty of variety, making it by some margin the best new coaster I’ve ridden this year (faint praise perhaps, but what can you do).
The only slight negative about the on-board experience is that the train suffers from quite a bit of vibration. The shaking was relatively mild today, but it was definitely noticeable, which doesn't bode particularly well for a ride that is only in its fourth season. I found myself thinking about Tornado, a similar if somewhat more extreme Intamin product, which over twelve seasons dropped from being one of the best inverted coasters out there (2007) to once was enough (2011) to you could not have paid me enough to ride a second time (2019). I'd like to think that nearly two decades of additional research and development will allow DrageKongen to avoid its brother's fate, but only time will tell for certain.
Thus far I had been enjoying my day, but I was brought down to earth with a bang when the operators refused to allow me to leave the ride station until I disposed of the facemask that they’d sold me minutes before. I wanted to keep wearing it for my general wellbeing; walking around a busy amusement park with no mask on seemed like a exceptionally bad idea in the current climate. However, I was told unequivocally that this was “the rule”. Subsequent research revealed that this was in fact an instruction from the local authorities, which had decided the day before that a new disposable mask should be worn on each and every ride.
In fairness to the park they published this policy on their web site (reproduced below) as soon as it took effect, and I don’t blame management for complying with local authority. However, it would have been a much better guest experience if the cost of masks had been built into the gate price for the period. The requirement to swipe my credit card continuously throughout the day made the whole visit feel like very poor value, especially when a foreign transaction fee applied each time. I'd also argue that turning untrained ride operators into law enforcement is a recipe for unhappy visitors; clear signage and a bin at the station exit would have been a vastly superior approach.
Der skal bruges fabriksfremstillede engangsmundbind i Piraten, Juvelen, DrageKongen, Skatteøen og Tigeren. Det er et krav fra Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed, at mundbind kun bruges én gang og smides ud efter endt tur. Fra lørdag d. 18. juli må der kun bruges fabriksfremstillede engangsmundbind i Piraten, Skatteøen, Juvelen, DrageKongen og Tigeren, og det skal smides ud, når turen er slut. Genanvendelige mundbind, herunder stofmundbind, støvmasker mv. må derfor ikke længere bruges.
I reinstalled my regular N95 mask for a lap on Vilde Honsejagt (#2867), my twelfth encounter with the Zierer Force Two design. At one point I had the full set of these on my track record, though no longer; these days it feels almost as if my completion percentage goes down every time I ride a new one. As of this writing I’m missing eight examples that would be tough to do in the same year even in normal times; three are on islands in Indonesia, and the other five are in China, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States. Wild Chicken Hunt was standard fare, with the main selling point being a rather unusual fox-and-chicken theme on the lead car that reminded me very much of BonBon-Land.
The ride I’d been looking forward to the most today was Juvelen (#2868), a double-launched family coaster and the direct forebear of the highly regarded Yukon Quad. I'm pleased to report that it did not disappoint. My first lap was in the front, though I wasn’t able to see all that much due to a combination of light rain and hot air from my mask fogging up my glasses. My second lap in the back seat was more enjoyable as I was able to position things in a better way, and I’d have done a few more laps were it not for the fact that each one required additional payment. (As a random aside, I’ve since realised that Djurs Sommerland is the only park in Europe with three Intamin coasters, and that the only manufacturer with more than three coasters at a European park, as of this writing, is Mack Rides.)
I caught a quick lap on Thor’s Hammer (no mask required) and was in the queue for Piraten when it went down with a technical problem. The cause was apparently not straight forward as the ride was still in an advanced state of non-functionality an hour later after I’d enjoyed a leisurely lunch break. Rather than wait around I decided to hang out on DrageKongen for a while, and clocked up two additional laps for 10 DKK (~€1.34) – one in front and one in back. There was little to choose from between locations today; both seats were equally enjoyable, though as noted earlier the experience would have been even better if it had been a little smoother.
I’d seen a train drop over the Piraten lift during my second lap, and while the mobile app indicated that the ride was still closed I figured that I’d go hang out there. My timing was absolutely spot on, as I managed to walk straight onto a back-seat ride that was airtime filled, wickedly intense, thrilling, and just a little bit too much on a nearly full stomach (oops). I attempted to reboot my internals by sitting on a park bench for a while, but after five minutes in situ it became obvious that this would not be as quick a process as it had been when I was in my twenties. It was time to cut my losses; I bought a drink then retired to my rental car for the drive south to Tivoli Friheden.