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Sweden 2020 Trip Report - Kolmarden

Benenen

Member
As we can all attest to 2020 has been the year for wrecked trips but here's one I managed to resurrect. Last November I booked flights to spend a weekend at Lisebergs halloween event but unfortunately the park announced they would be closed all season. So as not to waste the flight I came up with a plan B. Despite all theme parks in Sweden being closed this year, Kolmarden Zoo remained open including Wildfire so it seemed too good to miss. I last minute booked an Airbnb and rental car after the goverment gave the all clear for Sweden on Thursday and I was off abroad for some RMC action.

Gothenburg to Kolmarden is quite the trek (around 3.5 hours drive). The park is much closer to Stockholm but due to my flights I made an afternoons drive of it and had a blast. The route up to Kolmarden is gorgeous, there's forests, lakes and cliffs and the landscape feels constantly dramatic. I arrived in the town of Norsholm (40 mins from Kolmarden), unpacked my bag and went for a walk through the forest and down by the lake.

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Next I hit the supermarket for a beer run where I learned Sweden has tight regulations on how it sells alcohol. It turns out you can only buy up to 3.5% strength in a normal shop and anything stronger has to be purchased at a state run store with limited opening hours. As I was in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere I made do with my weak lager and headed back to my room. The supermarket was really pretty, looked straight out of the Scandi section of Europa what with the distinctive shade of yellow.

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For the rest of the evening I ordered a pizza and watched the sun go down over the lake. My accommodation was an attic overlooking the water and felt really cosy and secluded.

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Next up: Kolmdarden and Wildfire
 

Howie

Active Member
Yeah it is gorgeous isn't it? Hardly any traffic and tarmac as smooth as a snooker table too, one of my favourite ever scenic drives. 👍
 

Benenen

Member
Yeah it is gorgeous isn't it? Hardly any traffic and tarmac as smooth as a snooker table too, one of my favourite ever scenic drives. 👍
Absolutely, the drive felt like a days activity in itself rather than just travel faff. Made my M25 commute to work today feel extra bleak in comparison.

Sunday 11th October - Kolmarden
Another lovely drive in the morning until the fog dramatically made its appearance halfway there. It was like a switch had been turned and suddenly I could barely see the car in front of me, really spooky stuff. I pulled up to a very empty car park and made my way into the zoo.

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It takes around 20 minutes to walk from the turnstiles to Wildfire which is located in the far end of the park. As you crest over a hill the lift hill structure starts looming in the distance and it looks incredible.

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After walking through the queue I was greeted with an empty station so my first ride was taken in the front. Due to how foggy it was I couldn't see a thing from the turnaround at the top of the lift. And when going over the drop I could only see halfway down so it felt like the drop was going to go on forever. Not being able to see the ground from the top made it feel like I was in some infinitely tall cloud, it was a really special and surreal moment.

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The first half is outstanding. The drop feels like you're stood up out your seat the whole way down and it goes straight into the zero-g stall, arguably RMCs finest work. For the time spent upside down it feels like you're floating as there's no hangtime or positive G's, you just float through it. There's also an intense snap on the transitions in and out. The next bit of the ride goes as a blur, you have a very tall outward banked hill followed by a twisted speed hill and a straight ejector speed hill. These two hills are my favourite part of the ride and deliver two strong pops of air without giving you time to breathe inbetween. However after this the pacing starts to fall apart, the coaster loses a lot of speed after the second inversion then spends the rest of the layout ambling through various overbanks, small drops and a beautifully profiled zero-g roll. None of the second half is poor but it's unexciting compared to the opening sequence of elements.

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The first hour of the day was dead at Wildfire, I managed 4 laps in a row first thing without leaving the train then from midday the queue varied from walk on to a two train wait. Not bad at all though considering every other row was closed due to Covid so most trains went out with around 10 people on.

Next up I went on the cable car safari which I regretted once it got going as I could barely see anything due to the fog. I saw a couple of animals and snapped some nice pics of Wildfire but ultimately it felt like a waste of half an hour.

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After a few more goes on Wildfire I went for a wander round the rest of the zoo. Highlight was the baby elephant, it was absolutely adorable and I spent a while watching it try and roll over a log with its head.

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The zoo is large, spacious and well presented. I didn't spend a huge amount of time seeing the animals so only scratched the surface but what I saw was really nice.

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Back to Wildfire then for some more laps. The sun was out now and the fog had cleared so I was able to take the more standard shots of the ride.

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With the clearer weather I had another ride on the cable car and really enjoyed it. Saw a lot of animals and found it very relaxing silently moving through the forest. The views across the bay you get from the cable car is also what you see from Wildfires lift hill, the park is in a stunning location.

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Over the day I had around 15 rides on Wildfire and grew to really love it. I think out of the 3 European RMCs it is the weakest overall but the elements between the drop and second inversion is possibly my favourite sequence on any coaster. Ultimately the contrast between the first and second half of Wildfire do let it down but the second half is still amazing compared to most other coasters. Compared to the other RMCs Wildfire is the most beautiful and has the most character both due to the location itself and the way the coaster is integrated into it. Seeing overbanks and drops following the curvature and shape of the natural cliff face is incredible and I can't think of another coaster that is so well built into its environment.

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Kolmarden is a great park, in terms of rides there isn't a lot to do but Wildfire is so good that endlessly re-riding it can absolutely fill up a whole day. Under normal non Covid circumstances I don't think it's wise to visit Sweden just for Kolmarden but seeing as both its nearest airports have a major city park I would really recommend hiring a car and doing a day here if visiting one of those parks.
 

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Howie

Active Member
Oh man, those foggy shots of Wildfire are spec-tac-u-larrrr! 😮
Must have been so surreal riding in that. Did you have the coaster to yourself on those first few laps?
 

Benenen

Member
Oh man, those foggy shots of Wildfire are spec-tac-u-larrrr!
Must have been so surreal riding in that. Did you have the coaster to yourself on those first few laps?
Unfortunately not! I was sat in the front for about a minute getting ready for my zen ride then at the last moment two kids came in and jumped on the back! So for the four rides there were just three of us on the train swapping between rows.

It really was such a super ride to do in the fog. These last few days my mind keeps going back to how spooky the crows nest turnaround in zero visibility was.
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
Yeah, Wildfire in the fog must have been something exceptionally special. How lucky!

And even better that it cleared up throughout the day, as it's an equally great ride when you can see the enormity of the landscape it sits in.

Very jealous. :)
 
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