Freizeit-Land Geiselwind

14th April 2024

Freizeit-Land Geiselwind is a must-visit park for anyone with even the remotest interest in the history of fun fairs in Germany. The reason is simple; the vast majority of its attractions are former traveling machines set up in such a way that only an enthusiast would spot that they are not, in fact, permanent. The result looks absolutely wonderful, not least because the original fair decor has been maintained and in many cases even improved upon.

The park has virtually doubled its physical footprint since my first visit in 2008. Much of this has been overseen by Matthias Mölter, a showman who took charge of the property at the start of 2017. Despite the expansion, however, the place felt immediately familiar to me for some reason. Almost every major ride I remembered from times past was still present and operating; the only really significant loss was the former Marienkäferbahn, which was scrapped at the end of 2008 after reaching the end of its service life.

Horror Lazarett

My schedule today gave me two hours to play with, which would have been okay fifteen years ago but was probably a little too aggressive for the park as it exists today. I was able to tick off most of my shopping list, but there was no time for repeats and I had to skip Dr Lehmann Horror Lazarett, a walkthrough ghost house still proudly wearing the name of the schausteller who toured it from 2013-2017. I also missed out on the Top of the World observation tower due to maintenance; so ist das leben.

My morning began at Taka Waka (#3126), a standard model SBF Cyclon Coaster purchased from Swedish park Kneippbyn, where it operated from 2016-2021 under the name Tiger Ride. The four-seat cars retain their bright orange wraps from that time, and it’s fair to say that these fit in fairly well with the newly-developed jungle theme – anchored by a five meter high stone carving adjacent to the exit. The presentation is excellent, which is good because it’s about the only feature of the ride worthy of that adjective; the majority of the layout is forgettable, with the notable exception of the final brake which is the very antithesis of forgettable.

My next stop was at Fun Street, a particularly physical fun house with obstacles to climb through and around, as well as a substantial water section at the end requiring extreme care. The experience also featured a fake lift with light and sound effects. This ride was sold to the park by Lutz Hofmann in 2021 after twenty-eight years touring it around Germany. I’d actually seen it before, too; I found a photo of it in my archives taken at the Hamburg Summerdom in August 2011.

I made my way across to the western edge of the park for Doggy Dog, a family coaster that I’d last ridden in Mannheim in 2014. The ride was the first SBF MX48/D, a standard layout Wacky Worm upgraded with an elaborate canine figurehead on its lead car. The design remains relatively scarce given how many caterpillar versions exist; as of this writing just six dogs have been produced. I’ve ridden four of them over the years, and don’t expect to do either of the others in the near future as one is in Algeria and the other is in a UK park that doesn’t allow adults to visit without children.

Doggy Dog

I had two more relocated coasters to tick off, but as both had a delayed opening I decided to pass time with a cycle on Silverpony Express, a Mack Blauer Enzian powered coaster originally commissioned by Hans-Jürgen Tiemann in 1977. Despite being older than I am (something I can’t say about many steel coasters these days…) the ride experience today was perfectly respectable, being smooth from start to end. I’m glad to have been able to do it once more, as I can’t imagine it’ll be around for much longer; RCDB indicates that nine of the original fourteen examples of the type have been retired.

My next stop was at Piraten Spinner. The ride formerly known as Drehgondelbahn (literally Revolving Gondola Track) is the only spinning coaster ever built by Zierer. The layout is broadly comparable to the manufacturer’s ubiquitous Force One model: a lift, a descending helix, and an oval-shaped turnaround. The main difference against the standard product is the train, which consists of six free-spinning cars. Sadly the relationship between the rolling stock and the rails is not what it should be, resulting in a ride that is far more bouncy than its diminutive size would suggest. The result isn’t awful by any means, but it also isn’t something worth queuing for unless you count roller coasters.

The coaster I’d been looking forward to most today was Drachen Höhle, the world’s only Zierer Hell Diver. Dating from 1986, the ride is a close relation of the much more common Flitzer, albeit with the majority of its track enclosed within a bright red tent. It is one of a small handful of credits I’ve experienced in three countries – England, Germany, and the Netherlands – and I’m pleased to say that it has lost none of its appeal over the years. The only bad news today was capacity; just one car was being allowed into the tent a time, and no batching was taking place at the load platform, resulting in appallingly slow throughput. I waited almost half an hour with less than twenty people in front of me; with better operations I’d have comfortably gotten in three or four laps in that time.

Last and by all means least was Cobra, the world’s most elaborately themed Interpark Wild Wind. There’s no question that Schausteller Agtsch did a magnificent job on polishing what is fundamentally a grade one turd. The experience today was absolutely fine on the first drop and inversion, but the less said about the rest of it the better – and worse yet, each dispatch gave two laps of the course. I suspect that more forgiving restraints might make this ride bearable, but for now it’s very much in the useful addition to the park category. RCDB suggests that there are four operating examples of the type I’ve yet to ride, located in Colombia, Iraq, Italy, and Tunisia; I’m in no hurry.



Bayern Park

14th April 2024

I arrived at Bayern Park about two hours and twenty minutes after leaving Freizeit-Land Geiselwind, a testament to the wonders of the Autobahn network and a particularly lively rental car. My heavy foot didn’t do a huge amount for fuel economy, though when I converted the figure on the car computer to miles per gallon I was amused to discover that it wasn’t radically different from what I get when driving rental cars at much lower speeds on the American interstate network. It didn’t have the satisfying growl of a proper Yank Tank – in fact the engine noise was remarkably sedate given the speeds I was doing – but I’ll happily trade some fuel efficiency for that.

Today’s visit was all about a new-for-2023 Gerstlauer family coaster that I tracked obsessively throughout its construction process as it looked like pure unadulterated fun. Despite its modest statistics I’m pleased to say that FirleFranz (#3127) did not disappoint; in fact if I had to rank all nineteen new credits scored thus far in 2024 it would easily slot into a comfortable second place (behind Manta).

The ride’s signature feature is a switch track at the front of the station that moves position four times during a cycle. The main portion of layout – an airtime hill, a banked turn, a second airtime hill, a tyre drive booster, a third airtime hill, and a second banked turn – connects to both sides of this switch, thus allowing the train to enter the station facing both forward and backward. The design is completed by a curved stall track at the rear of the station with a piece of artistically torn rail, a cute feature borrowed from Mystic.


A standard dispatch consists of a gentle reverse launch, a forward circuit, a stall, and a reverse circuit. The train always departs the station on the left hand side of the switch before returning on the right, which set me wondering; might it have been possible to have this feature randomized? Looking at my photos I suspect not, though only because the airtime hills are different heights; perhaps this is something for Gerstlauer to consider in future designs. If we’re talking pie in the sky here, perhaps there’s also scope for even more elaborate switching; I can easily visualize a coaster with multiple switches on course to ensure that every dispatch really is different. You saw it here first folks!

I loved FirleFranz. It is thrilling? Not particularly, unless you’re a five year old. Is it fun? Absolutely. Despite having a large park to explore and several hours to play with I found myself rejoining the queue for two further laps just so that I could fully appreciate a ride that successfully uses a relatively new technology to upgrade what would otherwise have been a run-of-the-mill attraction into something truly special. Crucially, the switch feels like a natural ride feature rather than a useless marketing gimmick.

By the time I’d had my fill I’d burned three quarters of my time budget. Rather than waste what little time I had left I decided that it’d be best to reacquaint myself with Freischütz, one of just two operating examples of the Maurer Rides Flying Launch Coaster. I’d ridden this one back in October 2011 before any theming or landscaping was completed, and I was more a little curious to see what it would be like more than a decade later.

The ride has four inversions, a peak height of 24 meters, and an overall length of 483 meters. Despite these statistics, however, it’s remarkably easy to miss; in recent years park management have worked hard to obscure it from view from the midway. There are plenty of photographs online from a decade ago, but the vast majority of these angles are no longer possible as the surrounding trees have filled out. I managed to slip one half-decent photograph from the exit walkway in exchange for being officially grumbled at; I suspect that anything better these days may require a drone.


Access is via a surprisingly lengthy queue that begins in the north-western corner of the layout, with the path zig-zagging across the northern and eastern edges en route to the station. There is no cattle grid here, just a pleasantly landscaped path with high walls and theming. Interestingly there is a wide open paved area at the half way mark that could easily fit a small concession outlet and a half dozen benches, though as of the present at least it just serves as a connection between two distinct sections of walkway.

The ride experience itself was pretty great, if short – lasting just thirty seconds from launch to brakes. In its first season the brevity was mitigated by giving all riders two laps of the course without slowing, but this hasn’t happened for many years both to reduce operational costs and the incidence of pavement pizza. I thought about going for a second lap, but doing so would have come at the expense of my final stop for the weekend, so I decided to give it a miss.


Erlebnispark Voglsam

14th April 2024

Erlebnispark Voglsam is a free admission amusement park located just twenty minutes drive from Bayern Park. It has playground equipment for children as well as a selection of individually priced attractions covering all budgets – and I really mean that. Minigolf costs €3 per person, and if that’s too cheap, hot air balloon experiences are available for the bargain price of €225 per person. I’d have been tempted if I didn’t have to head to Munich Airport for a somewhat less picturesque journey into the skies.

The only real draw for me today was the imaginatively named Bobrodelbahn, a ride that I’ve since discovered to be the very first Wiegand Bobkart. First installed at Pfiff-Erlebnispark in 1994, the ride has been a feature of Erlebnispark Voglsam since the mid-noughties. There was a disconcertingly large queue at the ride entrance, but it was moving steadily, and in due course I was able to hand over €2.50 (cash only) and take my seat for a ride where every single track join could be clearly felt. It was fairly evident that the hardware has seen better days, making me wonder whether Wiegand’s sales team are preparing to push a next-generation CoasterKart to replace it. Only time will tell!