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United Kredding - Part 50: Burger King Speedway

Rob Coasters

Hyper Poster
Part 45: Pavilion Fun Park & Clacton Pier
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We'd snagged an uber cheap caravan in Clacton for five days in Point Clear as a surprise, so on day four of the trip we took a ride on an open top bus to Clacton-on-Sea for just one add to the count.

So at Pavilion Fun Park...

#201 Shark Coaster. Wacky worm number twenty-six.
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I did their Pirate Ship too.
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And so began our walk down to the pier, where after setting a record on Piano Keys (plus a couple rounds of Dance Dance Revolution 4) it was time for Dodgems...
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...and after crashing round on those, time to find out what replaced the old aquarium which was Jurassic Pier 4D Encounter.
It's a quirky and very very short walkthrough (as in you're there for one minute before people seem ready to go) that leads up to an admittedly quite fun 4D cinema. Definitely prefer the aquarium over this, this felt very one-and-done unlike fish world.
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Go Karts was next, they're great fun but I've been spoiled far too much by the bullet karts back in Dawlish Warren.
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I fancied a token lap of Looping Star, and after a quite long time of rounding up enough people to send it in the windy conditions (8 people required) I managed to snag the front row...
...big mistake. The whole ride is utterly ruined by perhaps the most aggressive sideways jolt I've ever experienced, which was at the top of the apex after the loop which I fondly remember talking about when we were here last time. That alone plus some other trackwork imperfections caused me to drop this ride down considerably, below Stella's Revenge which is what this ride replaced. The rest of this coaster is... barely serviceable, but brought down so far by one horrible bit.
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Coming into the brake run, op asks how it was. I was open about the jolt, he agreed with me and said that the whole ride was awful. Says he prefers Olympia Looping. I agree.
I undo my seatbelt and get out. How did I ever write three paragraphs about unbuckling my restraint last time?

Didn't want to end it on that note. Can the Twister save the day?
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Yes.
The twister operated perhaps one of the fastest sizzler cycles I've ever experienced, as I fought the forces from slamming into and flattening my parents. I failed miserably but in a hilarious way.
It slowed down.
Suddenly it went back up to 11, which ended up with us all in hysterics.

I called the day there, opting to have a rest while my parents did a round of the pier's indoor golf course as the combined rides & pedal bikes had worn me out like hell. And when that was done, we headed home in a taxi as only one bus to Point Clear ran past 6pm and we had a wait of over an hour and a half.
The whole place was oddly completely deserted at barely 6pm, it was strange.

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Part 45.5: Walton Pier
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Our final day had a breakfast waiter have a long conversation with us as we were lost on what to do to end out our holiday. She recommended Walton Pier to us, and with nothing else to do in the rain, that's what we did.

Walton Pier is an odd little thing, an arcade stretching out for what looked like miles with a couple fairground flats plonked at the end of the indoor bit as a nice surprise. I set another record on Piano Keys before heading towards the end.

To my surprise, I clocked a Virtual Reality robotic arm thing called Hurricane, and after getting confirmation that it was operational, we hopped on.
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We'd started our voyage, with the arm movement reflecting what our headsets displayed, and exactly 75% through our first inversion, we abruptly stopped sideways. The WiFi of the machine had cut out due to the rain and our ride was halted.
The operator told us to find something else to do while the engineers addressed the situation, which is what we were going to do anyway, so we headed towards the end of the pier.
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And then we were done with that, so back on Hurricane we went.
We went up into the starting position.
The VR failed.
We came back down.

Operator checks what's going on. Wifi playing up because it's wet outside.
We went up into the starting position.
The VR failed.
We came back down.

Operator checks what's going on. Headsets had faulted.
We went up into the starting position...
...
...and it worked perfectly.

This robot arm ride was actually great fun with its shaking about and its smooth flips, seems like a great addition for other family entertainment centres. Would quite like to see a couple more pop up. My parents loved it too.

After that was done, we ended out the day on the Dodgems
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before returning home.
 

Graeme

Roller Poster
I enjoyed the TR, but I'm sorry about the jolt on Looping Star. Those ZL42s are awful, truly awful. From watching it myself, it appeared the pier had trimmed that bit of the ride, but obviously not enough.
 

Rob Coasters

Hyper Poster
Part 46: Chessington World of Adventures

Righty then. Been putting this off for a while due to the Mandrill Mayhem reservation system but here we go.
Last time, I took the Underground train down to Waterloo for a journey down to Chessington South... but this time I tried a different route. I hopped on a Thameslink service from my home town, then changed at Wimbledon for my train.

I had concerns about the Mandrill Mayhem slot booking so tried getting my slot on the final leg of the train route, only to fail. My booking failed from there, through the walk to the park (which turned into a quick jog as the failure might have been due to my phone's location not being the park).

After getting to the park and entering the security queue at a point where it was within the park boundary 'enough' to connect to the onsite WiFi I tried to book my slot, yet again to no avail. I ask a staff member what's going on, who says "slots open every 15 minutes mate try again at 10.15". Sure.

I enter and make my way over to World of Jumanji as I see the area for the first time. It's… weird. Slightly unimpressed with the area's presentation with its vegetation feeling completely un-junglelike and lack of shade literally anywhere, I've trundled towards the entrance with about 50 people crowding around staff with probably the same question as me. Finally I get to one, "log out and log back into your account mate", and finally that seems to work and my timeslot is booked for in two hours' time. A faff that never would have happened if the park had a think about the embarrassing capacity capabilities of the ride they were buying.

Completely uninterested in the FEC-grade flat rides in this so-called "world class area", I trotted onwards elsewhere.

This really silly day actually started off with a token lap of Tiger Rock. Better than I remember, but I still think I prefer the original Dragon Falls.
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Love a lot of Lorikeet Lagoon. Need to feed them next time though.
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I decided from here that this day would consist of ticking off rides that I still haven't done yet. Starting off with Tuk Tuk Turmoil, I've been doing every Dodgems I can find after discovering that you can absolutely send a rival crash coursing sideways off course if you clip the back of their car. It's so, so fun doing this.
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Jungle Bus. What did I expect?
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The newly refreshed Dragons Fury lost its breath, so why not follow the sign that says 'Griffin's Galleon This Way'?
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Served its purpose.

What about a round of Elmer's Flying Elephants?
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Alright, I actually have something of note to say about a ride. By rapidly tapping & releasing the fly button while low down (but still a little elevated), you can almost exactly mimic the movement of a Techno Jump ride, or a similar ostrich themed stampede. Interesting.

Maybe a bit of Adventure Tree follows? I skipped boarding three times in a row because the spinny cars kept getting taken by people who were fast-tracking this literal merry-go-round (which was a one cycle wait, mind you) but eventually I found an opening and sniped it. Sorry.
I think I span it literally as fast as it could go for the whole ride, and by putting your phone in the middle and recording a video, you get some great results.
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Oh look, my Mandrill Mayhem reservation is finally ready.

Coming back into the area, I showed them my QR code and entered the queue. It felt so… rushed and unready. A completely black, out of place tarmac colour codes the queues from the paths with the queue itself completely unshaded without a second of thought put into how this might be like on a hot day. In a world where record-breaking temperatures are quickly becoming the norm, this sort of shadeless arrangement is just not good enough any more.
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Something that slows down operations even more is the fact that "because the train launches through the station at high speed", guests are unable to stand behind the airgates until every guest from the previous train has completed their ride and disembarked. This extra walk between our holding position and the airgates grows on precious seconds. A solution to a problem that doesn't exist, the park has a powered coaster that flies through the station where riders stand behind airgates next to the ride. Or, maybe, make the airgates taller.
I guess this ride is overdue a compliment. The launch audio says "Go, go go!" as the train launches backwards, which results in a "...not THAT way!" which is actually pretty amusing. I laughed.

The operators really do have the worst hand of cards possible with the already awful capacity doubled on with the fact that it's a wing coaster, meaning that operators have to walk into the rows of the cars to check restraints. Ugh.

Wonder why I didn't put a number when I mentioned this ride's name?

I sit awaiting my ride really wanting to enjoy it, trying to silence the loud doubts. The audio plays "Go go go!"... to absolutely nothing happening. The audio plays and the lights excitedly flicker as the train sits completely stationary as excited music blares out. Soon after, an announcement comes telling us that the ride has ceased operation and that we will be escorted off the ride shortly. We're told to go through the exit with no word on how to get back on to compensate our lost ride. That was up to us to figure out.

In fact it was as easy as just asking the people who manned the queue as they let me through the fast-track entrance when I stated my situation, and about 20 minutes later, finally, #202 Mandrill Mayhem was back open.

Doesn't end here though. Despite me seeing empty seats every so often, the operators seemed oddly insistent on filling in all of the seats for this train. I was a single rider, with a group of two sat behind me. In an event that left me completely, utterly & entirely lost for words they separated the group of two to fill the seats. They didn't move me to sit with another solo-goer, be it another fellow single rider or a third wheeler. They separated a group of two from riding with each other. This baffling decision left me a bit dumbfounded, but they and I silently accepted it.

Nothing I dislike more than missed potential, the last thing I wanted was to come off disappointed. I went in thinking "this'll be quite fun, my doubts will be wrong, too many people are calling it a fantastic ride for me to dislike it". Off we went then, to absolutely zero dispatch audio. Me sat in row six, the backwards launch was unremarkable but the backwards spike that kicked things off was… great! I really enjoyed this bit, nice surprise. Going back down and hitting the big forwards launch, I was thinking "oh this is going to be really good…!" as I hit the forwards launch far happier.
Until it wasn't.

The turn out of the second launch until the end of the spiral spike was met with a shuddery shaky mess, a B&M wing bounce that is simply all too familiar to me. The roll existed before a lot of strange & discomforting turning around before another launch into the ride's big signature element, a rattly spiral spike as the train slowed to a crawl. A strange feeling the hangtime was, but not in a good way, at least the view of trees from it as we stopped was cool but I had no feelings towards it rather than "why am I sideways?".
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As we rolled backwards the bumpiness continued and as we did our final launch into the backwards roll the ride actually got decently rough as it terribly traversed the element. We came to a stop in the station, I had a headache, disappointed, the last thing I wanted to happen.

I wanted to like this ride. I really did. But this whole ride (and the area in general which feels rushed & low budget) simply failed to deliver on most fronts. The area loop is one melody, with a few minor variations to it, that's repeated hundreds of times through the day. There's a real lack of general public conveniences (such as benches and bins). There is no shade ANYWHERE. It took me a good while to find where they sold drinks in the area. The coaster isn't very good. The vegetation, while this is obviously a new area and it needs time to grow in, does not give off "jungle" at all. It feels like a garden centre in some parts. It's just not a very nice area to just "exist" in for me. The flat rides feel like they could've done with a bit more thought into the models.
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I hate to be so relentlessly critical, but I struggle with World of Jumanji. They have a very long way to go with this area. The lack of shade is one of the primary reasons why I didn't return to this area to try out the flat rides at all, instead prioritising other things. It's just not pleasant. And with Chessington's final undeveloped piece of land now having something on it, I wish they went a little more all-out with it.
The thing is is that most issues are fixable. Add canopies & shade. Add benches. Add bins. Put a bit more music in. Bring the trees up a bit more, flood the whole damn area with every tree shrub and bush you could ever find.
And then there's the issues that aren't as easy to fix. The coaster has big glaring flaws. Capacity, everything outside of the backwards spike at the start of the ride. The decisions for the flat rides.

Here's the good bits. The bits that I liked, that I enjoyed, that I thought were good about the area:
The coaster LOOKS good, the statue looks good. I really like the train design with the mandrills, the inside of the station I quite enjoyed being in. The "No, not that way!" thing is a nice little touch. Track from this manufacturer just.. is attractive and pleasant to look at. Watching the coaster is cool. While the decision for the hardware is questionable, the theme of the flat rides are creative and the creative team worked well with what they had. Outside of the 'separated group of two' blip, the operators worked tremendously well with the cards they were played. Every staff member was kind and happy to help with any virtual queue woes that I had.

Unfortunately though my lows with the area far outweigh the highs, and I can't say I'm rushing to get back in line anytime soon. I admittedly did check the virtual queue later in the day in the hopes of finding a last minute bookable slot, but failed.

Dragons Fury at 120 minutes and a stomach full of hot dog, it was time for more rides. I started with the physically exhausting Barrel Bail Out, which has potential but the guns were a little difficult to aim. A few splashes in the face got me quite happy though.
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Seastorm followed, a very fun music express style ride with the added touch of the backwards portion being very fun. A little on the short side, but perfectly enjoyable for what it is.
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Croc Drop was ignored, as it was closed all day. The late Rameses is rolling in his grave.

So back to Fury then, whose queue dipped down to (apparently) 60 minutes. 90 minutes later I'm on, and the experience was definitely not as smooth as I'd remembered it being with a couple punches. Still a fantastic ride in there. Forgot about that airtime hill though, nice surprise.
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Vampire next then, whose queue stood at a hefty (apparently) 90 minutes. 10 minutes later I'm on, and this gained the award for my favourite ride of the day. A smooth and graceful experience led me to have a bucketload of fun on the ride, and I'm glad to know that when other coasters fall short over the years, this ride continues to deliver for me.
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So nice I rode it twice, before the queue skyrocketed up again out of nowhere which is where I continued onwards towards other rides.

Getting close to the day's end now, next was Trawler Trouble, the second Rockin' Tug style ride of the day.
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And finished the day on Blue Barnacle, where strategic movements heavily entertained the opposite side into thinking I was getting standing ejector which put a great smile on my face.
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It was then time to leave. Despite the lows of Jumanjilandia and the obvious lack of quality rides done, I very much enjoyed my day here at Chessington. Filled with funny short conversations with some of the staff too, including a full-on conversation with a stall member only cut short by others behind me. The social aspects of a theme park trip is something I need to take advantage of far more.

Time to go to Norway.
 

Rob Coasters

Hyper Poster
Part 47: Alton Towers

I'd been inclined to believe that getting to Alton Towers was impossible, or rather just far too inconvenient to ever even bother. I'd heard the train from London to the station cost five hundred quid, the bus only ran once per day and arrived after opening and before close.
Turns out that the train from London to Stafford was rather cheap, the bus arrived for bang-on opening and left half an hour before close so all seemed doable. Concerned about any delays that might ever happen, I got a train that arrived in Stafford 40 minutes before the bus rather than 10 minutes. The delays never happened, at least on the way there.
So as long as you can get on the bus, it's completely fine. But they really should run steadily throughout the whole day, like with Thorpe.

Not having visited since 2018, it would be nice to get a refresh on the rides and catch in some new ones too. So the day was started with Galactica, in the front row.
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It's better than I remember, but I was quick to notice that I couldn't find a comfortable spot to put my head. Looking down wasn't amazing, and trying to look forward didn't really help either. The rolls and the lie-down section were by far my favourite parts of the ride as trying to exist on the ride put my neck & head in a little less discomfort. This factor has slightly dialed down my hype for future flying coasters I might ride in the future, but I don't deny that I could magically find a fix to this issue I took with the ride experience. I fail to remember this ever happening in 2018. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it quite a bit and even bumped it up the rankings a bit but I wish I could move it up slightly more.
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The observation platform had some awkward audio playing but gave great views of the reconstruction of Nemesis.
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With Nemesis being closed for renovations they quickly had to find reason for anyone to be this side of the park, so they reopened Nemesis Sub-Terra. Heard mixed reviews at best about this ride, but had no idea what was in there other than "Nemesis sub-plot" and (click to reveal spoilers) "indoor drop tower".
The preshow area introduces the story about the Nemesis egg and I forgot most of it, distracted by the discovery that my Helix t-shirt glowed in the dark. We were sent into a lift that had a very convincing vibrating floor effect that gave off the idea that we were moving downwards, but I wish I didn't catch on to these "secrets" like that as I wanted to immerse myself into the story of the ride they were trying to tell.

There was a walkway into a room with four rows of seats with a Nemesis egg in the center. Our bars lower and they start talking about it, when suddenly everything goes wrong the floor lowers and BAM we drop. It's a very short drop, but a sudden one at that, that comes as a surprise to everyone. Turns out that underground there are loads of eggs, everyone freaks out over the leg ticklers, and... I was expecting a second drop, and I'm not alone in this, but the ride goes back up and amidst all the chaos the central Nemesis egg at the top has broken apart and the monster is free! We're told to immediately evacuate the building into the lift that goes back up, when suddenly all breaks again. The lift starts shaking as the lights go out and loud shuffling happens to simulate a freefall, before the doors open back up and it just... ends.

The effects are very impressive, and I admittedly don't know how a few of them are done (though it may be simplier than I think). The ending with the lift sequence is hilarious to see everyone freaking out, but the whole experience does end quite suddenly.

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Overall I really enjoyed Nemesis Sub-Terra and would happily ride it again.

We're not done with new dark rides yet, for we have The Curse at Alton Manor to do. Again, don't know much outside of "tracked horror ride about a dead girl who was treated badly in the late 1800s that's really, really good".

And it is. Merlin, after all this time, have built a highly impressive and awesome quality dark ride. The stuff at Thorpe were always fun but never really something I was dying to get on again, but I could honestly sit on this ride all day. The number of effects on this thing is simply insane, with an unmatched atmosphere that does a fantastic job at instilling pure fear into the riders. On both times I rode this the people behind/in front of us really were terrified of what was going on, whereas I just took in the opportunity to take in just how cool all of the sets were. It's all alive, it's all moving, the smells are cool, all of the effects are so imposing and the job they did with the sound was, wow. It has so much going on that I just dropped everything and went round for a second ride in an instant where it was just as good as the first.
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And get this. A ride like Phantom Manor at Disneyland is one of my all time favourites, and even that started to feel a little repetitive if you rode it twice consecutively. But I got none of that with Curse. Merlin has, finally, knocked it out of the park with a dark ride and I can't wait to get back on.
Another key difference between Phantom Manor and Alton Manor is that Phantom Manor's style is "feelgood horror" with dancing skeletons and zombies playing guitar, and ghosts dancing with each other. Alton Manor's style is simple adrenaline horror designed to scare the living s##t out of you and succeeding.

If I had to say, there is one dead spot and one part I'm not too convinced by and it's the (click to reveal) rotating tunnel bit. I'm not awfully sure on what it's supposed to represent but at least it's only a short part of the ride.
I also did not notice that the indoor queue section was actually a preshow, and I needed someone to point that out for me to notice after my visit. I think it would have been good if it was communicated a bit more clearly that it should be an option to just stand here for a bit for a little more context on the storyline.
Curse at Alton Manor flies straight into my top 5 dark rides of all time, and at a very high position there too. But is it better than Phantom Manor...?
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A 75 minute queue for Wicker Man followed after a not-very-good cheeseburger (tell me how you mess up a cheeseburger) and after that slog of a queue we were seated in around the middle to front part of the train. The ride was not as forceful as I once remembered it being, which surprised me quite a bit, but still good fun.
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Smiler's single rider line proved to be a godsend, getting two rides in an acceptable amount of time for the crowds this park was having today. The ride is thankfully still as good as what my memory served, and it still holds the crown of being my favourite roller coaster in England.
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I was debating whether to ride one of the Dark Forest coasters, but decided on Oblivion instead as I wanted to see how it stacked up to Valkyria. I still think I prefer Valkyria due to the longer layout, but Oblivion's drop remains far superior in most ways.
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The final ride of the day was #217 Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure which had me thinking about why I'm here as I stood in the 50 minute queue for this ride when I could be lapping Smiler instead. But thankfully I don't have to ride this again now.
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And that was it for my day at Alton Towers where the bus was due to arrive in around twenty minutes. This park isn't open for long enough with the size of it and the crowds it gets, and being spoiled by the opening times of Liseberg didn't really do this park any favours. Not having gotten everything I wanted was certainly not great, it gives me an excuse to go back and lap Curse, but part of me wishes that didn't have to be the case and that the park was simply open longer.

The train back home was an unbelievable faff due to a minor derailment with no injuries combined with a broken train parked in the station which cancelled almost all trains in and out of Stafford, but soon enough we were on our way back home.
 

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Rob Coasters

Hyper Poster
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Part 48: The Honourable Final 2023

The ending of the 2023 year is among us now, and what a roller coඞster of a year it has been. Northernmost the Norway hydraulic launch coaster, easternmost the Sweden prefabricated wooden coaster, southernmost the French son of the dragon, westernmost a wacky worm which was my 200th coaster.
Anyway, I've had a pattern with my final trips of the year in that they bring some unprecedented chaos to them. 2021 most of my trains back home were fully cancelled and I was in danger of not having a smooth route home. 2022 was a race with trying to get rides open before I had to leave. 2023 I'm visiting three parks in one day for the first ever time.

I used to think that Hyde Park Winter Wonderland was one of my favourite places ever but over time I've grown incredibly tired of it due to expense, crowds, and simply knowing better rides. I can't believe the concept of having one of the world's largest funfairs basically at my doorstep and just... not caring, but this has become the case nowadays. Four days before the end of the month-and-a-half long event, I'm making my first visit to this year's lineup when in the past by this point I would've already gone three times.

It doesn't help that the entire arrival process was a headache from the very start. You see, in 2021 Winter Wonderland introduced timed entry tickets. You need to prebook online and arrive within the two-hour timeslot that you stated. I f**king hate timed entry windows. They are the bane of my existence and I would kill the concept with hammers if my chance to do that came.

Anyway, due to oversleeping I scheduled myself to arrive at 1pm. Unfortunately, it all went wrong from the very start. My bus that comes every 15 minutes took over forty to arrive, and my train to Kings Cross after that was listed as delayed, but came quickly after my arrival. This whole time spent stressing over the timeslot until I was finally there, scheduled to get through the gates at 1.45pm. The cutoff time for my ticket was 2pm, and even though there was a f**k-off massive queue for entry I'd settled down far more as I could just guilt my way through with how bad public transport's been and how there's a huge wait to enter. No problem there then.

At 2:15pm, fifteen minutes past the entry window, my ticket was scanned and I was allowed through supremely efficiently without even so a wink from the scanner. But so much stressing over nothing. Not happy. Anyway, coasters.

#244 Wilde Maus. Really feeling the non-presence of XXL, this thing did not hit in the slightest. This is a very 'not me' thing but the lateral turns became something to endure rather than something to enjoy. I get that the ride tries to be good with not trimming that much, but maybe this is a model that I'm quickly growing tired of (this is not good news for the future).
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One of the other new for 2023 rides is the world debut of Energizer, which replaced Atmosfear who's gone south. I think I prefer Atmosfear, but only because this ride takes so long to get to the good bit. When it's running full speed right at the end, it is awesome and if that lasted the whole ride it would thrash Atmosfear, but sadly its first half is a little too much 'slow' for me. I'd happily have a shorter ride cycle that has more 'fast' in it.
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München Looping, oh how I used to fanboy so hard over you. Used to be my favourite roller coaster in the whole wide world back in the first half of 2022 until Megafobia threw it out, then ever since it's been dropping like a fly.

Well unfortunately I've just had one of my worst ever rides on it. The smoothness, or lack thereof, was pretty prominent even outside of a wheel seat and that combined with the accordion restraints makes for a remarkably uncomfortable experience. The loops felt more forceful than they'd ever been, but this almost worked against the ride's favour as I simply was not having fun on it. Hit the brakes wholly unsatisfied... the Olympia fanboying arc is done.
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£11 for a negative review.

Anyway, with that sore disappointment out of the way, let's see if yet another reride on Airborne can do any favours. And this kind of didn't hit either. As we were doing forwards rotation I realised that I kind of missed having that 'wind in my face' feeling that backwards rotation does, and that... detracted from the ride experience a bit. Forwards has almost none of that, outside of the brief moment at the top when the gondola flips over. This feels oddly specific and I've never had this specific quibble regarding this ride before.
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And with that I got food and walked out. It would have been nice to try out Superstarke Troika, the other new for 2023 ride, but felt... satisfied... with the ride haul and wanted to get going.
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And get going I did, to ExCeL London for two extra additions to the count. I took the northern exit towards Marble Arch to then change at the Elizabeth line towards Custom house, but that was easier said than done. I walked down to the Marble Arch station only to find the gate closed, and that the entire station was shut down because the escalators were broken. We were told "walk ten minutes down the road to Bond street" which worked out as I could get on a direct train to the elizabeth line from there.

So this was my view for a good while as I walked down. Which felt a lot longer than ten minutes.
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Got to the station. I've always had nightmares with my elizabeth line experiences with countless red signals but this run was flawless. Redemption arc? Nice.
And at Custom house I found my way to ExCeL London which was a really, really weird walk down possibly the most horizontal shopping centre I've ever been in before approaching Kingdom of Winter, thirty minutes before last entry.

#245 Reindeer Run.
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#246 Alpine Runaway Train.
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The rest of the flats you can find at any fair that pops up in this country so wasn't pressed on getting on them, maybe another time, so wandered out.

Backtracking through the elizabeth line to change at Paddington, for a GWR train to Reading for the final destination of the day, Reading Winter Wonderland.

#247 Santa's Sleigh Coaster. What a way to end the year, on wacky worm number twenty nine.
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Then I found an old friend I haven't come across in years, New York New York which is the actual end to the year. Ironically pretty much the same ride as lovely Superstarke Troika, I guess the folks at Reading really wanted me to ride a musik express today so I obliged. I loved this ride back when it was in Watford, does it still hold up?
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No. It was rattling like Hellraiser at Barry, felt like a shell of its former self and definitely needed some spicing up. It did get some good speed going nearer the end of the cycle, but its smoothness, or lack thereof, was pretty prominent. Its presentation is still great, but more of a looker these days. Just like Olympia. Just like Wilde Maus. Just like Airborne on forwards rotation. Just like the first 50% of Energizer before it gets good. I guess maybe I really do need to come back for friendly man Superstarke back in London.

Been a little downbeat due to a couple of underwhelms, but well I did it, I visited three roller coaster establishments in one day. And that's a way and a half to end the year. How do I beat this next year?
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Graeme

Roller Poster
Nothing I dislike more than missed potential, the last thing I wanted was to come off disappointed. I went in thinking "this'll be quite fun, my doubts will be wrong, too many people are calling it a fantastic ride for me to dislike it". Off we went then, to absolutely zero dispatch audio. Me sat in row six, the backwards launch was unremarkable but the backwards spike that kicked things off was… great! I really enjoyed this bit, nice surprise. Going back down and hitting the big forwards launch, I was thinking "oh this is going to be really good…!" as I hit the forwards launch far happier.
Until it wasn't.

The turn out of the second launch until the end of the spiral spike was met with a shuddery shaky mess, a B&M wing bounce that is simply all too familiar to me. The roll existed before a lot of strange & discomforting turning around before another launch into the ride's big signature element, a rattly spiral spike as the train slowed to a crawl. A strange feeling the hangtime was, but not in a good way, at least the view of trees from it as we stopped was cool but I had no feelings towards it rather than "why am I sideways?".

I wanted to like this ride. I really did. But this whole ride (and the area in general which feels rushed & low budget) simply failed to deliver on most fronts. The area loop is one melody, with a few minor variations to it, that's repeated hundreds of times through the day. There's a real lack of general public conveniences (such as benches and bins). There is no shade ANYWHERE. It took me a good while to find where they sold drinks in the area. The coaster isn't very good. The vegetation, while this is obviously a new area and it needs time to grow in, does not give off "jungle" at all. It feels like a garden centre in some parts. It's just not a very nice area to just "exist" in for me. The flat rides feel like they could've done with a bit more thought into the models.

Sorry I'm late, but that's the best description of the coaster and area I've seen. No one wants to be critical for the sake of it (not many, anyway), but it's frustrating when something isn't as good as it could be, especially when it comes to capacity. Personally, at Alton, Thorpe or Chessington, I think a full-circuit ride that runs at least two trains should be the bare minimum.
 

Rob Coasters

Hyper Poster
Part 49: Thorpe Park

It's 2024 and we continue, and I understand your tremendous disappointment and fury as the UK's biggest thing in thirty years isn't involved in the milestone that is part five-zero in my endless homeland series. A short break due to me going international more often than ever later, and UK travel is kicked back into gear.
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I have... a lot to say about Hyperia, and it's unfortunate to see Merlin continuing to open rides in an unfinished state - Nemesis Reborn, Minifigure Speedway, apparently Damonen Gruft didn't fare too well in that aspect either, and World of Jumanj too with lacking extremely basic theme park amenities such as "bins" and "places to sit down". I also have never been the biggest fan of when the new addition to the park can be obviously deciphered as "the new thing" and doesn't fit seamlessly into the park like how an actually complete ride should, and I wish that was something that parks considered a little more when investing. Obviously this can be an exception when the new thing involves a major change in direction for the park that's for the better. But enough rambling for now, it's time to queue four hours for a roller coaster, again.

Also - I am still very upset by the decision to cancel the splash plaza. I desparately hope it gets brought back up in the near future.

So this whole time I've realised that I should take advantage of the fact that I qualify for the Ride Access Pass, and after realising that you had to prebook dates for when you'd use it, that was out the window, so it was time to regrettably suck up a stupid line. It took about an hour to get through security in what is the worst theme park entrance experience in the world. Unfortunately this is a necessary procedure as someone was stabbed on park in 2020 but I wish they had a better way of handling the line or making it less horribly awful to wait in. At 10:30 I arrived in the security queue, and by 12pm we were in the pre-queue for Hyperia as surprise surprise the unreliable thing had yet to open all day. During security hell zone it was stuck at its second home on the top of the lift, but soon tested.

The ride soon opened, and we queued 40 minutes in main queue ready to dread 3 hours of this nonsense but soon realised single rider queue was comparatively empty. We realised we wasted almost an hour for no reason, and entered the single rider line, and just 30 minutes later I rode my new tallest and fastest rollercoaster, #293 Hyperia, in row 2. So how was it? It was great as expected, but not quite where I wanted it to be.
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The lift audio is a great touch, and you feel so exposed with just your lap bar, and in the front car you get a great hang over the top of the lift before plummeting down that massive 180 degree drop. Argued by some to be the greatest first drop in the world, it was awesome.
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The immelmann involves what unexpectedly ended up being one of my favourite moments of the entire ride - going up it. You experience about five sequential near-misses with the dive loop & support structure as you soar & twist into the air, which is a spectacular moment of the ride. The airtime going down it was fun but not as strong as I'd hoped, but up next was what everyone wanted to know about, the outerbank.
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This outerbank was unlike any other outerbank, most outerbanks never really went past 45 degrees but this one decided to do the full 90 degrees of banking right while turning left. I have little experience with these elements; the one on Untamed was fantastic but brief but the Kondaa one I wasn't too big a fan of but got a little used to it over time. But this one was different - is it good? Well half of it.
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The transition into the outerbank had my life flash before my eyes - the coasters that have done that have just increased from two to three, out of 293. It cannot be put into words how much I just... did not process the transition into it - the whip, the surprise, the everything about it. The rest of the element didn't hit as hard, it was a lot of "we're sideways" and the roll out of it wasn't as incredible as it looked from offride. Overall the outerbank wasn't the world-beater that people claimed it to be, but it was still a great part of the ride with a phenomenal entry into it.
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The madness continues with a dive loop that stalls you upside down for a very extended period of time before splashing back down to the construction site-type mud pit that this ride is situated on, and it's a superb way to... end the ride, oh it's already pretty much over. The splashdown significantly slows you down into a fun off-axis hill, aww it's over.
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An incredible, but far too short ride. I used to think that the short length would've been fine if all the elements hit like a train, but they did on this ride (even though a couple were victims of high expectation), and I still came off thinking "it could've done a little more". It's fine when the 200ft launch coaster is over in twenty seconds, but a 200ft lift hill coaster also being over in twenty seconds doesn't quite hit the same.
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I also noted a minor shimmy in the valleys, not awful but definitely noticeable. It's not great to see a rattle in its developing phase on a brand new ride, but I guess "teething" and all that.
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Hyperia is a very obvious entry into the top 10 - a spot lower than I would've liked, but still in my top 5% of coasters I've ridden. I'll come back later.
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Next, we decided to check out the other stuff. I hadn't gotten a front row ride on Colossus since 2019, so opted to go for it again, and wow what a nothing ride this has become. Not an inch of noteworthy track on a ride I cried of joy over in 2018. Times change I guess, comes at you quickly. What used to be of great sentimental value to me has just become "a ride in Thorpe Park".
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We went back to Hyperia for another ride, and the queue had built up a lot by this point but we were undeterred and two hours later we were on, this time in row 8. Some of the most notable differences included the first drop having a lot more pull to it (why would it not), it was much better but lacked the laterals I was expecting it to have. So far I'm unsure on whether this is my favourite first drop, I need a few more rides to develop a proper opinion.
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The next substantial difference was with the outerbank. As we weren't in the front, the snap into it no longer existed, and the whole thing was just a little underwhelming. I floated through the whole thing, I was out of my seat the entire time, but something wasn't clicking to the point where I decided there and then that the front was better and I was willing to lose the yank of the first drop in order to gain the yank into the outerbank. I have no idea how I can look at the outerbank and think to myself "yeah that's one of the weaker bits" but here I am.
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The next substantial difference was the valley of the outerbank where the train started to vibrate and shuffle to the point of vocal reaction - it was an extremely unpleasant moment that felt like the wheel below me was about to explode. That insane shake only lasted a couple of seconds but put a huge damper onto this lap. Coming out of the off-axis hill the clattering returned in full force and by this point I was forgiving the ride's short length as we hit the brakes.
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I'm willing to believe that the "wheel on the verge of exploding" theory is true as I heavily doubt this is consistent, but it's not a good look at all for a ride that's been publicly operational for about ten days now. For now it remains in the top ten despite these concerns, but I'm betting it all on how future rides go.
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Saw - The Ride had finally reopened after a long period of downtime, and the station was a hectic and VERY stressful experience which involved shouting, uncooperative guests and people literally running to their seats as they were loading slower than intended - for example, car 2 being literally empty by the time both should've dispatched. That was a very negative experience with chaos levels rivalling that of Vampire, and I can only hope this doesn't happen again as it's never been like that before ever.
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The ride was bad, the pothole was the worst it's ever been, and just a generally uncomfortable lap. I didn't see the light in Saw today, and what's usually the star of the show at this park... wasn't. I guess I'm happy the restraint didn't suffocate my thighs today though.

Then... Flying Fish, haven't ridden this since 2019 and one of the three people who have a night ride on this. We got 5 laps, it was a fun powered coaster considering its small size.
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A back row ride on Stealth followed, good as always. However it felt like Colossus in the way that I'm getting a little too used to this ride. I remember the days as recent as this time last year where that launch was still the most powerful thing I'd ever felt on a coaster, but unfortunately as I rode better things this began to take a seat further back. One day I rode this a few too many times in too short a period then suddenly this ride hasn't felt the same ever since. I'll miss when the launch sent my soul out of my body. I really will.
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And ended it with a ride on Nemesis Inferno which I have the exact same stance on as the previous as well. It used to be by far my favourite ride in the park, but these days it doesn't hit the way it did a few years ago. Today especially it simply lacked the forces it always had up until recently, and it's a disappointing feeling to see a ride you used to be unable to live without start to fall back further than it ever has. I don't say this with a happy face, I found out three separate times today that while riding the new hottest coasters in the world is an awesome feeling, the rides that used to impress you don't anymore as a very direct result.

Some people will be sad that they only have 20 credits or whatever and wish they were like the big boys with 300, 400, 500, but thing is - cherish the moments you have with your low count, where everything you ever do is a 'first' of its kind. Where expectations are nonexistent. I don't raise my expectations on purpose, they get raised kind of... automatically whenever I ride something that's more subtstantial. And that's something that nobody can avoid. I grew up thinking "I'm different. I'll have 500 coasters and I'll still love Colossus or whatever as much as I first did" and here I am at nearly 300 and just shrugging it off these days.

I guess these rides played their part in getting me up to where I am. They may not stack up to the big ones anymore, but without them I probably wouldn't be where I am.
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But who knows? Maybe I'll come back and think differently and all of these words can be voided, but is that going to be what really happens?

Anyway, 'twas a good visit to Thorpe Park. I'm still not overly sure on my thoughts on Hyperia considering the differences between my two rides, but as my local park it's easy to go back anyway. See you soon.
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Rob Coasters

Hyper Poster
^ I felt like I was far too brief in my Stealth and Nemesis Inferno reviews, so I've just made a quick edit to expand quite a lot on what I thought of them. I'll just say not your usual review.
 

Rob Coasters

Hyper Poster
I understand your tremendous disappointment and fury as the UK's biggest thing in thirty years isn't involved in the milestone that is part five-zero in my endless homeland series.
Uhhhh....

Part 50: Legoland Windsor & Thorpe Park

I have... a lot to say about Minifigure Speedway, and it's unfortunate to see Merlin continuing to open rides in an unfinished state - Nemesis Reborn, Hyperia, apparently Damonen Gruft didn't fare too well in that aspect either, and World of Jumanj too with lacking extremely basic theme park amenities such as "bins" and "places to sit down" (Fearless Valley too). I also have never been the biggest fan of when the new addition to the park can be obviously deciphered as "the new thing" and doesn't fit seamlessly into the park like how an actually complete ride should, and I wish that was something that parks considered a little more when investing. Obviously this can be an exception when the new thing involves a major change in direction for the park that's for the better. But enough rambling for now, it's time to queue for the same ride twice.
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Because I didn't fancy sitting on the northern line for 40 minutes to Waterloo I decided to take the more complicated route which was Thameslink to Farringdon to Slough to Windsor & Eton Central. However, the elizabeth line failed me again as the train stopped dead in its track for 10 minutes like how it does all day every time I try to use it. Frustrating.

Bus got me to the park, and before me was the new coaster which was presented horribly. The queue was a nonsensical blue upwards unshaded cattlepen with no lego models, theming, effort or passion put into it and it was bad. Literally the only thing the queue had was some posters with some admittedly clever puns, flag bunting and very loud audio of "Roxie Racer" explaining how the ride is 'full of surprises'. When she gets excited you can hear the mic quality very briefly dropping which I found incredibly amusing.
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At some point the queue splits into two before you enter a holding point (as I'm assuming insurance won't let you in the station while the ride's running). But it was our time to go, and wow the presentation dropped further than it ever had. When it's your turn to ride, you walk through an actual prison which is honestly the worst part of any Legoland I'd ever been to, then immediately upon unloading the ride broke. Everyone was ordered back to the holding point. We were given a priority pass for our troubles but were allowed to stay put if we liked.
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Five minutes later, no exaggeration, I'm the only person left in the holding point, then after ten total minutes of downtime practically the entire queue was gone - it then reopened. With the perfect opportunity to instantly snag a front row ride, I went for the back of #294 Minifigure Speedway (Team Legends).
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Well I'm not sure why they themed a roller coaster that goes backwards to racing, but here we are. It's definitely by far the most intense ride here, but not the best. It's oddly forceful and you have two nice interactions with the other train during the gravity section, but its theming is absolutely sub-par and not it for a park like Legoland.
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Went back round for #295 Minifigure Speedway (Team All Stars) and realised that the way they decide who wins the race is slightly amusing - the side who wins gets released into the layout very slightly earlier than the other. Because the ride is a perfect mirror layout and both sides do the exact same thing just in different directions, it'd be a case of pretty much a two-way finish every single time with an undetermined winner. It's a cheap way of doing it, but if it works it works.
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Overall Minifigure Speedway is very flawed in its looks and presentation, and felt like a very last-minute addition to the park, but it's still a pretty fun ride that's oddly forceful in some brief moments.
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Enough blabbering. I used my priority pass to skip the line of Flight of the Sky Lion and was quickly reminded of how it's one of my favourite ever dark rides. This time all of the effects were working, got a middle seat and felt stuff I never felt before. I have no clue what it is with this ride, but it makes me feel something. just like with Droomvlucht, I came off it feeling... emotions. I get why it happens on Droomvlucht... but why on this? I'm not sure, but I welcome it.
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Well that was it for Legoland. It was about 2pm, and with no desire left to stay here, I saw that Thorpe Park was just a 20 minute cab away (while being two hours by public transport). I walked out the exit, saw Fortnite, then spotted a cab who took me to Thorpe.
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Here's to more Hyperia.
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Over my four rides I found that the outerbank was much better than what I remembered and the whole element in general felt much better. However, getting used to the ride I feel that the first drop definitely isn't a contender for the best in the world. Despite the chaotic nature of the 180 degree twisting beyond vertical track, unfortunately the side bracing on the seats doesn't allow you to move much at all during it. Being 100% truthful, I think I still prefer Big One's drop due to this but it's still one of my favourites.
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I never got a wheel seat on any of my four rides which were all in the back half of the train today, but I still noted a rattle especially nearer the second half of the ride which is... not very good for a brand new ride. I'm also not keen on its ending - the turn and the pop into the brakes after the off-axis hill are pretty weak and kind of end a ride of extremely powerful elements on a bit of a whimper, but no worries it's not horrible just a notable step down from the insanity of everything previous.
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Still by far the best ride here, but doesn't move from its current position in my rankings. After four rides the single rider queue had grown to over 60 minutes, so called it, ate a burger and went home.
 
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