Tolk Schau

26th September 2020

Tolk Schau is a family park located in the far north of Germany, just thirty-five kilometres from the Danish border. Its location is just a little too remote to realistically pair with a late-morning arrival into Hamburg Airport, which is why I'd never visited before today. There's a famous saying about good things coming to those who wait, though, and it definitely applied: the few hours I spent at the park were an absolute and unequivocal joy.

Tolk Schau

The Show occupies almost 300,000 square metres of space, divided broadly into three sections. The area nearest the entrance contains the majority of the rides, along with a model train exhibit housed inside the carriages of a retired series 50 locomotive. The next area is Tal der Dinosaurier (Valley of the Dinosaurs), containing a wide selection of static models, barbecue huts, and a few rides. The final area contains a respectably lengthy Sommerrodelbahn, oversized model insects, green areas for picnics and relaxation, and a field railway museum.

The park is home to a fairly complete set of Sunkid Heege products, most of which have been installed in duplicate to provide additional capacity. Coaster counters are well catered for by a pair of papiliones: Butterfly (1997) (#2896) and Butterfly (1989) (#2897). The newer unit was noticeably more lively than its brother, which is the oldest example of the type still in operation at its original home; it wouldn't surprise me at all if it is retired and/or replaced in the near future. Solo travellers will be relieved to know that both can be easily self-started when necessary.

One of the other major suppliers to the park is Metalbau Emmeln, who are responsible for three rides. I opted out of the Russian roulette that is the Bootsrutsche waterslide, but the other two machines were worth the time. The first was the Pferdchenbahn, a self-operated pony rail with respectably lengthy two minute ride time. Larger readers should be aware that this machine has a 90kg weight limit. The second was Treckerbahn, a wobbly-but-functional antique car attraction with themed vehicles. There was no operator on the platform, but I'm fairly sure that the dispatches were being controlled remotely: a staff member could be seen in an adjacent booth laden with illuminated buttons and screens.

Another ride that shouldn't be missed is the Kanalfahrt durch das Zwergenland (Canal trip through the Dwarf country), a slow-moving boat journey that morphs into a dark ride about two minutes in. The indoor section has animatronic miners that are quite dated by today's standards, but that doesn't detract from their charm. I've not been able to find reliable information about how old the installation is, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if it dated from close to the park's opening in 1963.

The park's largest coaster is Familien-Achterbahn (#2898), a Zierer Force One with the standard dragon-themed train. The ride was perfectly respectable, not least because I had it to myself for a three lap cycle in the front seat, followed in short order by another in the back. (I'd been under the impression that this was the last example that I needed to complete the set, but a quick check of RCDB indicates that the goalposts have been moved with a new-for-2020 installation at Furuvik in Sweden; hopefully I'll get there in the next few years.)

I also enjoyed the Seilbahnen, a pair of self-operated Heege Skydive rides programmed to complete two journeys in each direction. Enthusiasts should be aware that starting these rides requires pressing the go button three times in short succession, rather than once with determination; presumably this feature was developed as a way of making patrons read the instructions properly (and yes, guilty as charged. My thanks to the local who did the honours on my behalf.)

Rodelbahn

The star attraction in the park is the Rodelbahn, a 440 metre long Wiegand creation that has been at the park since the turn of the millennium. The design includes a lift hill, but the park has elected not to allow guests to use it; instead, riders are expected to hike to the summit themselves. This is an interesting way to manage capacity of what is a fairly low-throughput attraction; though I was greatly enjoying myself I decided to bow out after three laps because climbing back to the start point was altogether too much effort! There was a pleasing whirring noise throughout the rapid descent, which I was able to complete without any braking at all.

 

Hansa Park

26th September 2020

I'd planned to begin my afternoon at Hansa Park with a lap on the new-for-2017 kiddie coaster, but the restraint release system failed when I was next in line, and after unlocking each car manually the operator emptied the queue. I took the opportunity to kick myself for wasting time taking photographs on the way in; getting to the entrance a few minutes earlier would have made all the difference.

>Instead of hanging around (and looking even more stupid than usual) I made my way across to Schwur des Kärnan, a Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster that has for six years held the distinction of being almost thirty metres taller than any other coaster produced by the Münsterhausen-based company. I'd been singularly unimpressed with the ride experience on my last visit to the park back in 2015, but decided that it was worth giving it a second chance after reading a number of positive reviews from other enthusiasts. This was a serious tactical error.

In retrospect I should have known that I was in trouble when the asinine randomised loading procedure (sadly still in use) put me in an outside seat of the back row, a location I would never have selected of my own free will. The ride started out well with a superb reverse freefall element on the lift hill, but unfortunately that was the sole redeeming feature of an experience that was memorable for all the wrong reasons. The base of the initial drop featured a spine-crunching impact that was but the opening act for a minute or so of full-on assault. Coasters without overhead restraints don't generally suffer from head banging issues, but I'm sorry to say that Scheiße des Kärnan is the exception to the rule; I disembarked with a throbbing brain, and decided on the spot to skip Fluch von Novgorod as I didn't want to risk making it worse.

Nessie Station

Instead I wandered slowly in the direction of a new themed area created last year, centered around two of the park's most iconic coasters. Beautiful Britain (just in time for Brexit) includes three rides:

  • Highlander, a Funtime Gyro Drop with tilting seats and a maximum height of 120m, making it the tallest attraction of its type in the world. I decided against riding this today because the queue length was ridiculous; perhaps I'll do it next time.

  • Royal Scotsman, formerly Rasender Roland, a custom Vekoma family coaster. The ten car train has an old design of lap bar that is really only secure when both seats are occupied; I'm fairly sure I could have wiggled out sideways if I'd wanted to.

  • Nessie, a forty-year-old classic Schwarzkopf recently upgraded with a castle-themed station building and enclosed brake run. The new station elevates what was already a top notch ride yet further, cementing its position as the best coaster in the park. I was lucky enough to score a front seat that was excellent, other than for a slight thump at the highest point of the loop which I hope to have been a once-off.

At this stage I'd completed everything on my shopping list apart from the new credit, so I made my way back there and was relieved to find it open. Kleine Zar (#2899) is the second "Mine Vagon" (not a typo) from Preston & Barbieri, opening five years after the first version premiered at Liseberg. The ride consists of a tyre drive lift and a single helix descent, and is little different in execution to similar designs from other manufacturers. My four lap cycle in the back seat was pleasant but entirely forgettable; I won't be going out of my way to do it again.

 

LaOLa Der Oldenburger Freizeitspaß

26th September 2020

Virtually all of the funfairs planned for Germany this year were cancelled as a consequence of the COVID pandemic. This had a disproportionately large impact when compared to other countries due to the sheer number of locally-based Schausteller, resulting in a number of large scale protests. One curiosity of the law, however, was that temporary amusement parks were allowed to build up on lands that would ordinarily be used for Kirmes. The event in Oldenburg was open for four weeks, operating from Thursday to Sunday from 14:00-22:00 each day, and featured a wide selection of machines, food and beverage offerings, and an exhibit of antique fairground organs. There was no admission fee, or indeed any other formality required for entrance. No, I'm not sure what the difference was either.

It was just before 18:00 when I arrived at the definitely-not-a-fair, and it was busy. There were arrows painted on the ground to indicate a one-way system, but these were being widely ignored. Similarly, masks were being put on to board rides only to be removed again afterwards and/or wedged under the chin. I kept mine on throughout my short stay, but I was in a minority that could be counted on one hand with at least one amputated finger.

Alpen Coaster

The only attraction on my shopping list was Alpen Coaster, a Schwarzkopf Wildcat that originally operated at Schwaben Park. The €5 ride did not disappoint: it was smooth, fast, thrilling, and a definite contender for the only best travelling coaster I've ridden this year. The hardware was comprehensively refurbished before going out on the fair circuit, and the cars now have striking figureheads that serve to remind riders of what country they're in! The only slight negative was a very violent final brake, but that constitutes a very slight nitpick in the grand scheme of things; I rode twice, and only stopped at that point because I was hungry.