Getting to Movie Park Germany for opening would have required that we skip breakfast in our hotel, and that didn’t seem like a particularly good idea. As such it was shortly before 11:00am when we arrived at the start of the traffic jam in the immediate vicinity of the park. It was scarcely a surprise to find another long queue at the entrance, as each guest was required to present both a Covid pass and a matching photo ID which was scrupulously checked to ensure everything was in ordnung. Local regulations required face masks to be worn at all times – and the only acceptable options were medical and/or KN95 masks. Fabric masks and anything with a filter were explicitly forbidden.
We’d hoped to enjoy a relaxed day and a number of different coasters, but the sheer number of guests made that a practical impossibility as the wait times were through the roof. In an ideal world we’d have picked up a pair of Speedy Passes, but the park has decided not to offer these for the duration of the pandemic “due to the reduced visitor capacity and modified queue routes at our attractions”. As it was we decided the best plan was to focus efforts on the three coasters we cared about the most, scoring one lap on each over a five hour period.
The first stop was at Star Trek: Operation Enterprise, which featured an entirely unnecessary hour-long wait caused by single train operation. A special queuing area had been created outside the ride building, though this was in addition to rather than instead of the indoor area – most of which remained open. Neither pre-show was being operated today; the beam-me-up section presumably because there’d be no way to maintain social distancing in that space, and the main bridge section for reasons unclear. Instead we were able to walk straight across the faux Enterprise into the last part of the queue. The ride itself was much as I remembered it; a gentle launch forwards, an aggressive launch backwards, and a slight boost to give the train a sufficient kick for it to complete the circuit. There was some rattling on course today, but nothing significant enough to impact enjoyment; I’d have happily ridden a second time if the wait had been a little shorter.
Stop two was at Van Helsing’s Factory, which ten years after its debut remains my favourite coaster in the park and a strong contender for any list of the world’s best enclosed coasters. The experience is made by four things: comfortable tracking, a thrilling layout, quality theming throughout the ride experience, and a rousing soundtrack. There are very few indoor coasters that manage all of these at the same time; as I type this the only other examples that spring to mind are BoBoiBoy Cattus Coaster, Laff Trakk, Revenge of the Mummy, Spin Runway, and TRON Lightcycle Power Run.
With that done, we made our way across to Studio Tour (#2979), an exceptionally well-themed family coaster that opened earlier this year in a building previously used for the Ice Age Adventure dark ride. In normal times the experience begins with a pre-show, though this was not in use today; I’ve since made a point of watching a video of it on YouTube. Once it is complete, guests walk through a queuing area with a wardrobe and set design facility on one side, and animated shadows on the other. Those looking closely can see scale models of Van Helsing’s Factory and the former Bermuda Dreieck, an Intamin flume that has since rematerialised as Area 51 Top Secret. From there guests climb upstairs to a boarding platform.
The ride itself begins with a left turn into a room full of old film stock. An electrical issue dims the lights briefly as the train diverts off the marked route into a room labelled “Hot Set, Do Not Enter”. Videos of bad weather play in front and above the train, which launches backwards and around a corner, coming to a halt in a room filled with assorted props, many of which refer back to previous park attractions. At this point the train rotates 270 degrees on a turntable then rolls forward into a set vaguely reminiscent of New York. A launch takes the train up to its top speed of sixty kilometres per hour, after which riders enjoy a brief outdoor section followed by an indoor helix. The final scene is a recording studio, lined with instruments of all kinds. The experience is excellent all round, though I honestly don't see the average enthusiast wanting to queue for it more than once. I’d have loved to have ridden a second or even a third time, but I wasn’t about to wait 90 minutes for the privilege.