Day six of my trip began at Tier-und Freizeitpark Thüle in the north-western corner of Germany. The park looked virtually identical to how it did for my first visit back in 2009; though there have been minor alterations over the years the only change to impact the skyline is the Rutschenanlage, an eighteen metre high waterslide tower located across a footbridge from the rest of the facilities. The new area was blocked off today, which was a shame; though I probably wouldn't have ridden it would have been nice to capture some photographs from the heights.
Instead my first hit became Schmetterling (#2888), a new-generation Butterfly installed last year to replace the end-of-life Pendelbahn. The ride has been given some basic theming, elevating it above other examples of the type; the front side of the track is obscured behind metre-high artificial flowers, and a smiling fiberglass bumblebee rests on top of the entrance archway. There were no other guests nearby, but that was no problem: the usual self-start technique worked without issue.
Next I headed to the Bobkart, which I'm sorry to say is now a shadow of its former self. The fantastic ride of times past has been throttled to a lower maximum speed, and the result is soporific. Worse yet, the already limited power is cut back to almost nothing prior to the final turn, giving riders a thirty second crawl back to the unload platform. My first thought was that I'd found myself in a faulty vehicle, but a second lap in a different one confirmed that the experience has been emasculated. The difference between this flaccid installation and the superb ride at Schwaben Park could not have been more pronounced.
The park added an additional roller coaster for the 2017 season, though sadly it is one that I will never be able to ride. Hilly-Billy-Race is a standard Gerstlauer Kiddy Racer with the usual soap-box car and a maximum passenger weight of forty kilograms. I found myself wondering what the hard limit for the design actually is, given that coasters are invariably engineered with a safety margin. My guess is that the weak point is the lift hill motor; the 0.75kW power draw quoted by the manufacturer is broadly comparable to that of a typical kettle, and a tiny fraction of what is needed for full size coasters.
I spent a very pleasant half hour walking around the park. Much of this time was spent admiring the animals; while the selection was far from comprehensive it was quite varied, including camels, flamingos, and even a small number of zebras. With that done I wrapped up my visit with a two-lap cycle on the Drachen-Achterbahn.
23rd September 2020
Over the years a number of the best-known showmen families in Germany have opened their own amusement parks. Oscar Bruch's attempt was short-lived, but others have been more successful, including Otto Barth, Alexander Goetzke, Gottlieb Löffelhardt, and Joachim Löwenthal. The newest addition to the proverbial roster is LandErlebnis, a small family park and restaurant launched by the Janßen family at the end of 2016.
I arrived about an hour after the posted opening time to discover only one other vehicle in the car park, but a German-language version of The Wild Rover (!!) was playing over the PA system, and I took that as my cue to run lke hell head for the entrance. The cash register was unattended, but my arrival had apparently rung a bell somewhere as a member of staff materialised to accept my admission fee. The lock on the gate was disengaged, and I made my way inside.
The park is not large, covering a land area of around 12,000 square metres (roughly three acres). Much of it is devoted to playground equipment, but there are three mechanical rides in the mix:
Traktorfahrt, a full scale tractor ride with a themed queue and a track length of 190 metres. I had no problem getting on this as a member of staff saw me making my way into the entrance. My new friend thoughtfully dispatched a few empty cars after mine before disappearing, ensuring that I could disembark in the station.
Willi der Wurm (#2889), the first Güven Rides Big Apple in Germany. Ticking this off proved to be a major challenge, as its location in the back of the park is largely obscured by trees. In the end I managed to persuade an operator to head over that way with me; after a brief amused glance he removed a stopper from underneath the train and ran a two lap test before allowing me to board.
The one other feature of interest in the park is a small märchenwald, albeit one that is for now at least entirely devoid of trees. Five labelled dioramas have been constructed inside weatherproof wooden huts, covering Schneeweisschen Rosenrot, Hänsel & Gretel, Froschkönig, Schneewittchen, and Ali Baba. Each has an audio system, though as of this writing at least the soundtracks are only available in German.
23rd September 2020
My visit to Serengeti Park began with a three quarter hour expedition through its drive-through safari. This happened entirely by accident; I missed the turn-off for the car park on the access road, and before I realised what I'd done I was in the middle of a chain of vehicles touring the African plains. The seven-kilometre journey was enjoyable enough, and presented plenty of good photo opportunities. The highlight was an exceptionally close encounter with a curious zebra, who decided to wipe her nose on the passenger door of my rental. A considerable quantity of residue was still present when I dropped the vehicle off at Hamburg Airport a few days later, which I'm sure resulted in more than one raised eyebrow among the cleaning staff.
The ride area is surrounded by parking. I took the first available spot, which turned out to be virtually adjacent to my first target. Safari-Blitz-Kids (#2890) is the fifth SBF figure eight spinner in Germany. This version had faux wood theming on the cars, but was otherwise no different to the many other examples around the world. (A quick check on RCDB indicates over one hundred active installations now, and some of them are in particularly inaccessible locations, presenting a conundrum for coaster counters. My personal favourite right now is the machine in Nyagan: as of this writing the local airport (NYA) is only reachable by connecting flights through Beloyarsk (EYK) or Khanty-Mansijsk (HMA); failing that the best option is a seven hour drive from Surgut.)
For the last two seasons the park has been home to Höllenblitz, the legendary portable coaster operating with all of its usual special effects and trimmings. A small unobtrusive flagpole out front refers to it as Safari Blitz, but this is the only hint of rebranding; the regular name remains in situ on the trains, the control box, and the top of the facade. The ride was running fairly well today, though a number of significant bumps meant that it wasn't something to be marathoned by anyone other than the truly masochistic. I did one lap at each end of the train before moving on.
At the end of 2019 the park retired Chura Racer, a large Zierer Tivoli that had reached the end of its service life after thirty-seven years of operation. Its spot has been taken by Batukai-Racer, the world premiere of the so-called Gold Mine Coaster from Italian manufacturer Technical Park. The new ride missed the peak summer season due to construction delays, but opened to the public on 5th September a scant two and a half weeks before my visit. Unfortunately it was in an advanced state of non-functionality today; over the course of the afternoon I saw engineers fitting a replacement lift chain, and while the work was apparently finished by 4:00pm the ride never opened. (On the plus side, it wasn't a near miss; a friend who visited the park a day after I did told me that it wasn't open for him either. Presumably I'll get there again at some point.)
There were two other rides of interest to me today. The first was Puto Moto, a forty metre Ferris wheel from Nauta Bussink. The sun wasn't in the right place for photographs, but the vantage point revealed the other must-do: Splash-Safari, a powerboat ride that brought back memories of the late and much lamented Wetracer at Farup Sommerland. The operators on duty today were throwing their boats around in a manner guaranteed to thrill, and I very much enjoyed my three minute experience.
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