Today marked the last day of the UK leg of this trip, and my last day with this group. Four of the coaches had to catch a ferry crossing this evening, which left them very short of time in both parks today. Our coach, however, had ample time to enjoy two very pleasant parks loaded with historical rides. Before doing that, however, we had a five hour drive from Cardiff to Kent.
Our intrepid coach captain had asked us to give priority to those who had to leave the park sooner. With that in mind, I decided to get the lesser coasters out of the way first. The Blue Coaster (#82) was the first of these, followed in short order by the Looping Star (#83). Some of the walking encyclopaedias on the trip were quite agitated by this ride, since it was built by Schwarzkopf but apparently isn't a Looping Star; rather, it is apparently a Silverarrow with the wrong sign. Labels aside, however, nobody could deny that it was a fantastic little coaster.
The truly classic ride of the day and the oldest of the trip was Scenic Railway (#84), my first encounter with a coaster featuring a brake man at the back of the train. This person has to have one of the best jobs in the world albeit one which would likely become boring after a while; he gets to ride the coaster over and over again, operating the brakes to ensure it doesn't run too fast. Apparently there is nothing preventing a derailment if he doesn't brake hard enough, which means one probably shouldn't give this job to a coaster enthusiast!
The last coaster here was the Wild Mouse (#85), which didn't do much for me. Perhaps a whole week of coasters has left me jaded.
20th July 2002
The Magic Mouse (#86) at Rotunda was experiencing a software problem on our visit that meant only one car could be on course at a time. Fortunately most of the group had departed for the ferry by the time we got there, which made the queue much more manageable. The Runaway Coaster (#87) was also only running one car, but this was at least understandable for a ride that has to have been almost a hundred years old. The park owner apparently found the pieces in a field somewhere and decided to reconstruct it. While preserving history is all very well, a little more maintenance probably wouldn't have hurt. The ride was seriously rough, though it was still a lot of fun.
20th July 2002
One might have thought that after a week in amusement parks our group would choose to do something more high brow on the final night of the trip. The reality was somewhat different; we all made our way to the London Eye, a massive ferris wheel located in the city centre. This was quite expensive, at £10 for a single rotation, but one couldn't argue with the seriously impressive view.
From there, we walked around the corner to the Namco Station, home to a rather impressive set of dodgems that were marked as being suitable for children of all ages. These were quite frighteningly fast, making for some seriously impressive impacts!
This trip has been a real eye opener for me. I've really enjoyed myself, and will definitely do this again. However, my stamina is beginning to give out and I'm plastered with bruises all over. Consequentially I'm glad this is it for now; even the thought of another coaster in the next day or two makes the bruises hurt. Fortunately I've got over a month before my next coaster ride, so there's plenty of time to recover!