2021 has been a strange year. Sitting here now, as the year comes to an end, it seems weird to remember where we were at the beginning of the year, with the country under strict COVID restrictions.
It’s definitely been the year of the UK. I think just about everyone was excited for Storm Chaser and Tornado Springs at Paultons, so that was always high on the agenda. Beyond that, it’s been a year of terrible creds, epic drives, amazing friends, a great many laughs, and endless Premier Inns.
Paultons was first up, as soon as restrictions started to ease, and overnight stays in hotels were once again permitted. Thorpe got added on the day before, for a bit of extra fun. There’s a trip report thread
for this one.
I had a few days off work in June, so snuck in a mid-week trip to Blackpool, making use of an unused ticked from the 2020 season. It was fun enough, and a decent way of getting out of the flat for a few hours.
In July, a bunch of us descended upon Lincolnshire, in baking hot weather, to ride the Maurer spinner at Fantasy Island, and mop up a few other creds in the area. Sue got her 1000th with the Fantasy Island wacky worm, Emily got the coveted Jellikins cred, and those of us who made it had an absolutely epic weekend on the East Coast. This one has a trip report thread
For August, Mat planned a fantastic cred run, starting in Southport, and travelling along the north coast of Wales towards Greenwood and Llandudno. There were loads of parks, and a few new creds, none of which would have been worth the trek on their own. With an amazing group once again, it made for another epic road trip weekend. Once again, there’s a trip report thread
to document the madness.
In September, a few of us grabbed some creds along the south coast, along the stretch from Portsmouth to Littlehampton, before grabbing a nice group meal in Brighton. I unfortunately had to bail on the second day, which involved Hastings and Dymchurch, as something upset my stomach overnight, but I managed to make it home on the Sunday, despite the residents of southern England deciding to buy all of the petrol.
October began with a trip to Alton Towers for Scarefest. The park was heaving, but we had an amazing time regardless. The secret was simple; Go with amazing people, take two days so that you’re not under any time pressure, and take your time. It was great to simply hang out with friends for a couple of days, taking in all of the major rides, a good selection of mazes, some lengthy sit-down meals on park, and checking out the gardens when they’re lit up at night.
The end of October meant the first CF Live in nearly two years, at Chessington and Thorpe Park. Again, despite insane crowds, it was great to have the broader group of CFers back together for the first time in ages, see people I’d not seen in ages, and just have a really good laugh. Once again, as an official CF event, there’s a corresponding trip report thread
I was supposed to be going to Belgium in early November, and was all booked up to travel. Unfortunately, illness struck a couple of days beforehand, and despite a negative COVID test, I had to pull the plug at the last minute. There aren’t any words to describe how gutted I was, and still am about missing out on this one, as it really was on track to be one of the best trips of the year.
Which brings us to the finale, in London, for Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. It was busy, it was expensive, it was bitterly cold, and none of that mattered. The year ended with a great bunch of people, a bunch of new creds, a nice selection of quirky coasters and flat rides, topped off with a really nice group meal and drink afterwards. As far as I’m concerned, that’s as good a way to finish off the 2021 season as any.
I was going to try to throw a photo or two in to summarise each trip, but I found I couldn’t really do justice to any given trip with a single picture. It’s been a year full of countless entertaining little moments, rather than big, defining ones. All of my 2021 photo galleries are available at mouseat.co.uk
, so if you’re interested, feel free to browse at your leisure.
On the other hand, if I had to pick one picture to sum up the year, it would probably be this one, taken by a kind stranger on Llandudno Pier:
It’s the group photo from the Southport and North Wales cred run, and goes to show that whilst official CF events had to be put on hold for most of 2021, the community spirit and friendships that underpin CF are still going strong!
Thank you once again to everyone who helped make 2021 fab! You’re wonderful!
Now for the usual categories:
Coaster count at start of 2021:
482, if I've calculated correctly.
Coaster count at end of 2021:
New coasters ridden in 2021:
19. I'd probably have got an extra 5 (2 in Hastings, 3 in Belgium), had I not been spited by illness.
New parks visited in 2021:
Clarence Pier, and a bunch of even more terrible seaside crap. It's been that sort of a year.
Park visits (number of days) in 2021:
I think 14 days involved parks or rides somewhere along the way.
Best new-to-you coaster:
Probably Spinning Racer at Fantasy Island. Most of the other stuff I've ridden this year has been bland, off the shelf stuff, or re-rides of stuff I've already done. Storm Chaser is up there, but was a little underwhelming by comparison. If I'd made it to Belgium, I suspect this would have been a very different discussion.
Best new-to-you non-coaster:
This is a close one. Probably Mixtape, the Smashing Jump that was operating at Alton this year. It's just a ridiculously silly flat ride, that gives silly, bouncy airtime, and made me laugh for the entire ride cycle. Runner up goes to Snowjet at Hyde Park, and whoever decided to try and make the ride invert.
Favourite new-to-you park of 2021:
Probably Clarence Pier. That says a lot about the sorts of new places I've been going to this year.
Best park visit:
Probably Fantasy Island in the summer. I never expected to have such an entertaining or hilarious day there, but somehow everything came together, and it was amazing
! The Alton Towers Scarefest weekend is probably a very close second.
Best seasonal event:
Alton Towers Scarefest. Two chilled days, and four amazing people, getting the absolute best out of the park.
Highlight of 2021:
Probably the Lincolnshire coast trip. So many of the trips this year have been amazing, and are in contention, but I think Lincolnshire just
edges the others out when it comes to moments of sheer hilarity.
Biggest surprise of 2021:
Night rides on Smiler and Wicker Man. I don't usually rate either of them particularly highly, but at Scarefest, both were delivering.
Best individual coaster lap:
The Nemesis front row night ride. It never fails.
Best new for 2021 ride:
Storm Chaser. Spinning Racer wasn't a new build, so it doesn't count.
Proudest accomplishment as an enthusiast:
The amount of trips I've managed under the circumstances in 2021, and finally hitting my 500 coaster milestone at the end of the season.
Best non-park travel moment:
The only non-park trip I've done this year was a day trip to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, near Doncaster. It was a good day out, and a nice excuse to get out of my flat for a while. I highly recommend it, if you're in the area. There have also been plenty of chilled, non-park moments during the coaster trips this year. Some of my favourite moments were on the evenings, having a nice dinner in a pub or restaurant with my fellow goons.
Most surprising coaster:
Tidal Wave, at Clarence Pier. Unexpected sideways airtime. If you know, you know.
Funniest coaster/park/enthusiast moment:
The powered coaster across the road from Fantasy Island. The one that absolutely can make the circuit when it's full of goons... as long as the ride op is willing to help push it up the hill every lap.
Most exciting announcement for 2022:
I don't think there's much I've been paying attention to, and certainly not anything that I expect to ride. Iron Gwazi finally opening may win this one more or less by default.