Yerevan Park is the newest and (as of this writing) the only international standard theme park in Armenia. It is nominally within the bounds of the capital city, but it isn’t on public transit routes and it’s a bit too far out to reasonably walk. We decided to get there using gg, a local equivalent of Uber that is remarkably cheap, if not quite as robust as its western rival. Our driver followed the recommended route and ended up on a dirt track that was definitely not the right way to go – and was so embarrassed that he turned off the billing even though we were still ten minutes away. Fortunately we’d seen what had happened, and as it wasn’t his fault we left him a generous tip. The total price including gratuity was still less than a quarter of what we’d have paid for a similar length of journey at home.
We were spotted as tourists at the entrance to the park, where a member of staff explained in passable English that all attractions were included in the admission price, but that two outside attractions were not working today. The first was the Yerevan Wheel, but she wasn’t able to tell us what the other one was. We later determined it to be the Musik Express, which was under obvious maintenance. The wheel was apparently down for cleaning; I went over to investigate after I saw it being rotated, and discovered that each car was getting a thorough scrub lasting several minutes. It may well have opened in the evening, but we decided it was too hot to hang around on the off chance.
The park is very reminiscent of the Majaland and Plopsa Indoor parks. It comprises a substantial indoor hall (open year round) with a pleasantly landscaped outdoor area for the summer months. The overall theme is centred around two main characters, Yan and Ana, who reminded me very much of Aladdin and Jasmine from the Disney films. They are backed up by four guardians: Zor (braveness), Pinchu (curiosity), Noonj (calmness), and Looys (Joy). Models can be found throughout the park, and those wanting to learn more can read their full backstories on the official website. The overall standard of presentation is top notch and impossible to fault. There’s even a good selection of merchandise, including adult T-shirts, though the best designs were only available in children’s sizes today.
Our visit began with Zor’s Coaster (#3095), my fifth Zierer ESC 535. This was a solid ride, and a it was running well today with only a slight shake in the tracking. The highlight for me was the view from the top of the lift, which was spectacular. As ever with this layout there was a trim brake right before the end, though unlike previous models it engaged smoothly rather than aggressively. I suspect that it only exists to reduce wear and tear on the main brake run, which makes financial sense even if it hurts the pacing a bit. We were given a second lap without unloading as there was nobody in the queue.
My partner decided to go sit in the air conditioning while I ticked off Happy Coaster (#3096), a three “loop” SBF spinner. I sat in the left hand side of a car, only to have the operator ask me to move to the right. I have no idea why, though it happened twice more on the other two coasters; it seems that the park has a policy to leave all empty seats on one side of the train, with the exact side determined by where the various turns are. I'd have thought that this would lead to uneven wear on the wheels over time, but what do I know?
Credit number three became Boomerang (#3097), my fifth “Rebound” family boomerang. As expected the ride was excellent; I had two laps, both in the back seat. One nice feature of this installation was blast-through effects on both ends of the building; it’s nice to see a park going above and beyond to make a ride look as good as possible. (As a fun aside, the twentieth version of this off-the-shelf design is expected to open next year; if current plans come to fruition, there will be twelve copies in China with one each in Armenia, England, Poland, Qatar, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Vietnam.)
Though it wasn’t deliberate on my part, it turned out that I’d saved the best for last. Yan Coaster (#3098) is a 247m Vekoma Junior Coaster that wraps in and around variety of other attractions, providing lots of interactivity and near miss moments – and these make the experience far better than that of the nominally identical outdoor version at Energylandia. The ride had the longest queue in the park by several orders of magnitude with good reason. I enjoyed two laps, one in the back and the other in row two, and can say with conviction that the back was the place to be.
My final hit was Free Fall, a Zierer tower with a lighthouse theme identical to that found in the Plopsa parks. The ride was installed in close proximity to a building support, which I could comfortably touch with my feet mid-ride; I am taller than most Armenians, but even still it was a bit surprising not to see a larger clearance envelope. The ride was great, running a mixed program consisting of stops at the top and drops as well as surprise drops mid-climb. I found myself thinking back to Power Tower 2, a favourite of mine retired from the European fair circuit in 2019 due to its high power requirements. I gather it’s now in Saudi Arabia; perhaps I’ll catch up with it again some day.