Poland trip 19th to 22nd September 2020.
Prior Warning: this trip report could go on for a quite a while.
Last year, my wife and I booked a deal at the Big Blue Hotel at Blackpool Pleasure Beach which included a room with a balcony view of the rollercoasters, meals and park tickets. Hotel guests were admitted to the park before the general public and we quickly made our way to Icon, the new multi-launched coaster by Mack Rides. This was the first roller coaster I had been on in over 30 years. It was superb and I was immediately hooked. We returned to BPB a number of times over the next few months.
This year we were spreading our wings and had bookings to Alton Towers and our first theme park trip outside of the UK to Poland. The COVID-19 situation put paid to these plans. As soon as the COVID restrictions were relaxed we quickly booked again for Poland.
For those who may be considering a trip to Energylandia in Poland I will, hopefully, provide as much information on this trip as possible including costs, reviews and recommendations from a complete newbie to this rollercoaster lark.
From the outset: Poland is extremely good value for money for any type of trip, It has beautiful cities and the locals are friendly. We have previously visited Krakow, Gdansk and now Katowice.
Firstly, you will have a choice to make as to which city you decide to be based. Krakow and Katovice are virtually equidistant from Energylandia and are served with their own airports for flights from the UK. Krakow tends to be the more expensive option but it has a stunning medieval old town which is a World Heritage Site. Stay in Katowice and you may have the bonus of visiting Legendia theme park with its highly rated Lech Coaster, a Vekoma Bermuda Blitz model. Unfortunately, we were unable to add Legendia to our itinery as, along with Energylandia, the parks were operating on limited openings due to COVID-19.
Your choice will also need to take account of convenient UK airports and airlines.
As we had visited Krakow previously, we decided on Katowice and booked return flights with Ryanair from Manchester. A family member kindly provided us with transport to and from the airport.
Flight costs = £90.00 (for two) including additional luggage option.
Upon arrival at Katowice Airport we opted to take the cheap transfer option to the city centre which is a shuttle bus. You basically walk out of the arrivals hall and there are bus stops straight across the road. I think that it is stop number 2 that goes to Katowice centre. You will need to purchase tickets from one of the numerous machines nearby. You can choose an English language option and you can pay by contactless / debit card. Choose the cheapest adult ticket (14 Zlotys which is about £3.00). Make sure you register your ticket at the on board machine once on the bus, otherwise you may end up with a fine.
Our hotel was booked via Booking.Com. The Q Plus is a 4* Hotel within a 5 minute walk of the City centre. Modern, clean with excellent staff.
3 nights (Sat, Sun & Mon) = £140.00.
2 course meal at a nice Polish restaurant including beers and cocktails = £45.00 (for 2).
Following day (20 September):
The day got off to a particularly good start despite having to get up at dawn for the Energylandia trip. It was my birthday and my wife had got me a present of a Merlin Platinum Pass and also a Blackpool Pleasure Beach Pass for next year. Bonus !
Very easy on their website.
Theme Park Tickets = £50.00 (for 2).
Travel: Return shuttle coaches go from Katowice and Krakow = £12.00 for two at 8:25am. The Katowice coach departed from a station which was a bit difficult to locate but the tickets gave the address and stand number (I think it was stand number 8). The travel was booked via the Energylandia website along with the park tickets. No problems encountered.
Now down to business – Views of our day (Sunday):
The coach arrived and departed on time. You will have no problems in getting on the right coach as it is plastered with the Energylandia logos. We spotted a couple of lads who were sporting 'ICON – Dare to Ride' backsacks and Blackpool Pleasure Beach T-shirts.
After a 60 minute journey we entered the huge car parks. Immediately, all eyes turned towards the Intamin Steel Hyper Coaster, Hyperion. Supertall, sleek and elegant, Hyperion makes an incredible statement before guests have even got through the entrance turnstiles.
We had no intention of completing a huge number of rides / creds but would aim to make sure that we had the opportunity to take in the park and go on the best attractions that EL had to offer.
Entrance was easy enough with our smart phone tickets being scanned quickly. It appeared fairly quiet in terms of guest numbers, although these increased as the day went on. As anticipated, the majority headed straight towards the nearby Hyperion and, therefore, we moved smartly towards the far end of the park. We took a number of false routes, despite having a park map. This was due to a combination of the poor layout of the park and rather confusing signage.
Eventually, a road underpass took us out into the new Dragon Zone. The first thing that hits you is the unforgettable vision of:
Zadra, the 2019 RMC Hybrid Coaster.
Looks-wise this monstrous beast is the antithesis of Hyperion. Words fail you when you see this thing in person. It is massive, imposing and immediately caused me concerns about my continence. My wife, who has no interest in roller coasters looked at me and finally said "OMG, you're going on that ! Are you having a laugh you daft ****** ?".
No worries then.
Despite my increasing fears I decided to embark on the epic journey which is Zadra's queue line (this was a recurring theme during the day). It goes on forever and scarily I saw no other punters anywhere nearby. I finally arrived at the station to find it was a walk on. Zadra has this strange batching system to load the trains which I couldn't get my head around but one of the lines seemed to indicate that there was a place on the front row.
I went into the gate and, yes, I would be on the first row with a fellow who appeared that he was also a 'fish out of water'. I think he spoke to me but in the midst of a panic attack I was unable to respond.
When the train arrived in the station I was completely 'Bricking It'. Bailing out was a definite consideration. I reluctantly got into my seat and pulled down the lap bar restraint. The point of no return had arrived.
The lift hill was positively uneventful and provided a good view of the construction of the Vekoma Abyssus coaster nearby. The bright blue trackwork is completed and I believe that trains are being tested but the theming, stations, queue lines, retail outlets, additional rides etc. are a long way from being finished.
Just moments later I was experiencing something far more intense than anything I have ever had in my life (except for being seriously injured in a car crash in 1988).
The first drop is just out of the seat vertically insane mental stuff. You can't make out the track below you (or even if one exists). Then there's this nice, pretty little airtime bump at the bottom before it hauls you up and through the seriously intense turnaround / airtime section / wobbly drop, where your face may come off.
Next up is the Zero G Stall. Things like that shouldn't be able to physically happen. Hell's Bell's you don't know where to look or do. It goes horizontally upside down for the length of a football pitch at over 150 feet high. This with only a Lapbar in place.
You have little opportunity to be scared as your brain is so scrambled trying to think about what you have just experienced before the ride again provides another incredible element.
There is no let up as the train hurtles around the course with more intense turns, airtime hills and two more inversions in the support structure. Beware that when entering the brake run that it stops very quickly. Shaking like a leaf, it took me another 10 minute stagger to meet up with my wife.
My very limited coaster count means that I can't really compare Zadra with anything else I have ridden but I know that many coaster enthusiasts put Zadra in their world top ten and I can see exactly why.
Frida: A Vekoma Junior Coaster. Does what it says on the tin although it scared the life out of my wife.
There is also a gentle Monorail ride nearby which you can pedal.
We then headed back towards the main area of the park and queued for about 10 minutes for a Ghost Train type thing. What a pile of crap. Just some poorly lit plastic aliens. Don't waste your time on this.
Next up was a 7D theatre experience housed in an Egyptian styled pyramid shaped building. However, the film was centred around an underwater Shark Island. The image quality was rank bad and I think that it must have lost some of its 'D's at some point. It had seats which moved around a bit and that was it.
Dragon Roller Coaster: An inverted Vekoma family coaster. Nice and smooth. A solid addition for any park.
A 30 minute queue time was being advertised for Formula, the Vekoma Launched Coaster. This turned out to be a 10 minute wait. This is a great coaster and would suit any of the theme parks in the UK (with the exception of BPB as Icon would be possibly too similar). The launch was quite intense, the coaster was smooth as silk with well paced elements. My only criticism was that it was a bit too short in length and had vest restraints.
And so, it was time for lunch. EL has many food and drink options. We opted for a pizza and shared a large ham & mushroom which was freshly made. This, along with 2 beers, came to less than £10.00.
I can't really see the attraction of water rides, grown people screaming because they have a couple of splashes. (Valhalla at BPB being an exception to the rule). The Rapids at EL are certainly not rapid and the flume rides are plainly boring. Speed is the best of a bad bunch but only because of its height and unusual lift system.
EL has a number of flat rides. These are certainly not my cup of tea. There was a Booster thingy, some boats that went upside down, a pendulum job and one of those towers. The waiting times were far longer than any of the main coasters on the park but I assume that this is down to a low rider throughput.
Next up: Hyperion.
The information boards indicated that Hyperion had a 10–20 minute queue so we decided to head that way. We arrived to find that the waiting time had gone down to zero. Bonus.
Hyperion is a stunning machine and the theming on the (far too long) queue line is well executed. It is based on a mission to Hyperion, one of Saturn's moons.
My first ride was on the middle of the train on a middle seat. The lift hill seems never ending. After reaching the top, the train then drops 269 feet at an angle of 85 degrees into a tunnel reaching a speed of 88 mph. It literally takes your breath away. A large airtime hill follows and then there is this inverting dive drop turnaround. Speed and airtime hills follow and it also includes a Stengel Dive element.
As it was still a walk on I went round for another bash. This time I was near the back on the right hand side. There have been reports that the rear wing seats are becoming a bit rough. I must admit that there was a rattle but this was offset by a more intense ride experience.
I forgot to mention that we had great weather that day. Sunny and around 25 degrees. I had developed a raging thirst following my coaster exertions so we headed to a nearby bar and sat on a roof terrace overlooking many of the rides.
Mojito in hand, I reflected on my Hyperion experience. It is without a doubt a world class rollercoaster but it didn't blow me away (unlike Zadra). It just seemed to be missing something that I can't put my finger on.
Anyway, the drinks were good and we were having a proper nice day out:
Drinks = 2 x Mojito's and 2 x fruit ciders = £15.00.
We then moved to an area we were yet to visit and our first ride was on Viking, a spinning wild mouse coaster. Hell's teeth, this needs tearing down with immediate effect. Its brutality is astonishing. The cocktails did nothing to alleviate the immense pain induced on my body. At one point I thought that my hips would be forced into my abdomen. As I left the ride there seemed to be families actually enjoying the experience. I rode the Wild Mouse at Blackpool regularly during the 1970's and Viking was up there in terms of sheer unadulterated violence.
Trying to recover from our major injuries my wife kindly pointed to a roller coaster that I had not been on. It was a big red thing with multiple inversions called Mayan. I had been trying to avoid this one all day as I have ridden the same Vekoma SLC at BPB which is called Infusion. It should be a coaster that you ride only once in a lifetime.
Feeling a fair bit sick I joined the queue. Yes, there was a queue to ride this bag of crap. Immediately evident was that the seats had different restraints to those used on Infusion. To be fair, the fact that the ride is quite new and the restraints are better meant that the experience was not all completely dreadful, just dreadful in most parts.
I then did re-rides on Zadra, Formula & Hyperion, finally chilling with a Slushie drink near the main exit.
General thoughts on Energylandia:
Staff were very friendly and appeared to be enjoying their job.
A reasonably quiet day meant that queue times never exceeded 20 minutes.
It can be seen that the new additions to the park are much better themed and laid out which bodes well for the future.
Zadra and Hyperion are world class attractions. There are a few decent additions but also there are a good number of rides which are complete dross.
Food & Drink are of good quality and very reasonably priced for a theme park.
Merchandise was a bit sketchy. The shop for Zadra had no caps or badges. There was one T-Shirt available which had a generic wooden coaster on the front. I ended up purchasing a Gym Sack with the Zadra logo - £6.00. Even stranger was the Hyperion gift shop. It had everything you would expect from a prestigious ride like this. The problem was that none of the merch had the Hyperion logo on it. Everything had NASA on it - Hats, T Shirts and Hoodies included (Can anyone explain the reason for this ?)
Coach arrived on time, we got on, fell asleep.
Upon arrival back in Katowice we stopped off at one of our favourite Polish haunts which is one of a chain of very cheap vodka bars. I can't spell the name of these but there is usually a number of these in all Polish cities. There's one in Katowice which is on the main bar street with plenty of outside seating.
Typical prices are:
Small beer = £0.80
Polish Vodka (30 ml) = £0.80
4 shots (huge range) = £3.00
Cocktails - £3.00
Snacks - £2.00
We followed this with a meal at a Thai restaurant (also on the main street) where the food and drinks came to £30.00.
A return visit to the Vodka bar afterwards got a lot messy.
As we had another sunny day we got a taxi (£4.00) to Silesia Park (one of the largest public parks in Europe). It contains a Theme Park (Legendia), a Zoo, a Cable Car, a Planetarium and a modern 55,000 seat stadium. We had a wander around the Zoo (£4.00 each) for a couple of hours and returned to the city centre to get wrecked in the bars on Mariacki Street and eat some dubious Kebabs.
We pushed the boat out when travelling back to the airport the next day, getting a taxi ordered by the hotel which was about £25.00 including tip.
And that finally wraps things up.