Dutch Wonderland

3rd September 2021

Before setting out from my hotel this morning I bought both admission and parking for Dutch Wonderland via the official website. This took me a bit longer than expected, and as a result I didn't quite make it to the park in time for the 10:00am opening. This was a mistake, as the place gets busy very quickly; readers planning their own visits would do well to give themselves a safety margin. There were moderate waits for most rides by 10:15am, and these had ballooned to at least an hour by 11:30am. I’d almost certainly have left at that point but for the fact that Kingdom Coaster didn’t operate until noon. (As an aside, the Exploration Island section of the park was closed throughout my visit, impacting the Turnpike ride, the Gondola Cruise, and a collection of animatronic dinosaurs; my guess is that this was due to staffing constraints.)

Merlin's Mayhem

I began my day with Merlin’s Mayhem (#2967), a family-friendly inverted coaster from S&S Sansei that premiered in 2018. The ride is broadly similar in scale to the 395m Vekoma SFC, though it has been differentiated from the competition with the addition of onboard music and sound. This worked well enough on the lift hill, though I found that I couldn’t really hear anything once the ride got up to speed as the wheel mechanisms were actively noisy. The tracking quality was significantly better than 342m Vekoma SFC, but not up to the standard set by more recent models like Phoenix, and this was particularly obvious in the corners. I can also report that the lap bars were not enormously comfortable; perhaps the hardware will be reimagined if or when a second version is sold. Despite the negatives, though, I’d have liked to have done a second lap; the only reason I didn’t was that the loading speed was awful; a twenty seat train was going out no more than once every six or seven minutes.

I hadn’t intended to ride Joust today, but I found myself in the vicinity ahead of the multitudes, and figured that I might as well give it a try. The ride is the oldest of four standard-layout Chance Big Dippers, and while it doesn’t do an enormous amount it remains a respectable family coaster; I was much too critical of it in my old report back in 2006. It features a curved tyre drive lift hill with an interesting feature; the tyres on the left are smaller than the tyres on the right. If anyone knows why this might be, please do tell. I was given a two lap cycle.

My third stop was at Dragon’s Lair, a boat ride that looked from the midway like it might feature some dark ride elements. It didn’t, but it remains a pleasant enough way to pass a few minutes. The route travels around a lagoon with some pretty dank looking water; I thought that this might have been a temporary situation due to recent weather, but a quick trawl through YouTube suggests that the greenish-brown colour is entirely normal. The layout includes small theme elements for children to spot, along with signage telling them what to look for.

With everything else on my radar complete I decided to camp out in front of Kingdom Coaster, as I could see that morning checks were underway. I was on the second train after the ride opened, albeit in a middle seat as there was no opportunity to wait for something better. Sadly the ride was not in good condition today. Many areas of track were in serious need of replacement, resulting in a ride that was far more violent than a 55 foot high wood coaster should ever be. The buzz bar restraints meant that the experience wasn't uncomfortable, but it was seriously shaky; with luck a proper refurbishment will be completed in the not too distant future.



3rd September 2021

I arrived at Hersheypark in the early part of the afternoon to find a wide variety of attractions closed, apparently due to the ongoing staffing apocalypse. Several major rides were impacted, including Fahrenheit, Sidewinder, and Skyrush – as well as a whole bunch of secondary attractions. Fortunately the coaster at the top of my shopping list was fully operational.

Candymonium (#2968) is the eighteenth and newest member of the B&M Hyper Coaster family, having opened just one day after number seventeen made its debut at Kings Island. Today it was operating three trains, though not for any obvious reason; the crew were double-stacking after every single lap, and not by a small amount either. The air gates were being opened to admit oncoming guests about 40 seconds after the previous train parked, which is about when it should have been ready to dispatch under normal circumstances. A counter in the station showed the number of seconds in situ, but stopped at 120 – and at no time did I see the train get out before that number was reached. There were one or two delays caused by trying to secure outsized guests, but for the most part the cause was a total lack of urgency.


Having said that, the ride was very good indeed. It’s fair to say that it doesn’t break any new ground, as one has come to expect from a major B&M, but it does what it sets out to do very well. I’d expected the ride to feel short, but can report that it doesn’t – it’s just shy of a minute from the top of the lift to brakes, which is respectable and definitely better than one might have expected given the published track length of 4636 feet. I enjoyed three laps: row 4, a back seat, and a front seat.

With the new tick out of the way I headed to the classic Schwarzkopf-built Sooperdooperlooper. Today only one train was in use, resulting in a one hour queue. I’d probably have given the ride a miss if I’d known how long the wait was, but I’d been in situ for quite a while by the time I realised that there was a hidden cattle grid, and figured that I was committed. The experience was fine, though, and has really stood the test of time. It’s crazy to think that the 1977-built ride is now among the fifty oldest operating steel coasters worldwide, and the fourth-oldest extant Schwarzkopf; a whole bunch of the company's earlier rides have gone to the great midway in the sky in recent years, and it can only be a matter of time before this one follows them.

The final ride of the day was on Great Bear, which had a 20 minute wait with two train operation. I wound up in the back seat, and was very surprised at just how good the ride was. My old trip report remarked that the duration was a bit on the short side, and I can still see that, but the experience is great and well up there with the better B&M inverts. I just wish it did a little more at the end rather than concluding with a more or less straight and level section heading towards the brake.