Last summer, during a visit to Six Flags Great America, I rode a coaster by the name of Déjà Vu. This ride was one of three so-called Giant Inverted Boomerang coasters built by Vekoma that year. The layout begins with a backwards climb up a vertical lift hill, with riders facing straight down. It was during this section on my first (and only!) ride that my restraint opened one notch. Needless to say this was not even remotely funny when my full weight was resting on it, and the experience didn't exactly leave me with a huge amount of confidence in Vekoma engineering.
Fast forward to this morning, therefore, and perhaps you can understand my trepidation as I joined in the group takeover of Stunt Fall (#216). Needless to say my restraint was tightened to the point of pain and quadruple checked even before the ride operator came down to look at it. There was no doubt in my mind that it was secure, but reason didn't prevent a quiet curse escaping my lips as the train pulled out of the station. Fortunately I need not have worried; the restraint held firmly, and perhaps consequentially I really enjoyed my ride. In fact, I liked it so much that I immediately went back for a second go at a different location in the train.
The signature coaster at Parque Warner is a B&M floorless coaster, currently the only one in Europe. Superman (#217) should have been an amazing attraction, but for some reason it just wasn't. The course was covered with almost too much grace; riders experienced almost no forces at all. A coaster with seven inversions should not feel like sitting in an easy chair, but this one did. There was also a very odd operating policy in the station where people were expected to stand behind a yellow line located a considerable distance away from the air gates.
In contrast to a somewhat lacklustre Superman, Batman la Fuga (#218) was absolutely fantastic. On paper at least this is a clone of quite a few identical rides in the United States, several of which I have ridden. However although the layout is the same, there was something subtly different about the version here; it seemed to be running significantly more quickly, providing an exhilarating and extremely intense ride, especially in the back seat.
Wild Wild West (#219) is the parks contribution to the world of wooden coasters. Its chief selling point from the perspective of the average enthusiast is the fact that it takes people out of the queue for the other coasters in the park. The train never picked up enough speed to be considered even remotely wild, and the layout wasn't very interesting. On exiting, we decided to try the Rio Bravo log flume, which proved to be far superior. The layout featured some big drops and a number of interesting surprises mid ride. It wouldn't even have been particularly wet if it wasn't for various passengers in the boat reaching into the water and flicking it at people!
Batman Knight Flight is a simulator ride. It also features the most blatant sponsorship I've seen in a park so far. When you enter the first pre-show area, the ride operator tells you to watch the TV screens, which proceed to show a 20 second advertisement. I was so surprised that I forgot to note down what it was advertising. Then the lights came back on, the ride operator said a string of things in incomprehensible Spanish, then the same TVs started showing a pre-show sequence. It was only when we got through the second pre-show area into the main ride room that I realised why the wait had been so long. Although the ride has six separate ride units, only one of them was in use today. Running at one sixth of design capacity, especially when there is a forty minute wait, strikes me as a little too much cost cutting.
Lunch marked my biggest gripe with the park, namely its attention to food safety standards. The photo to the right speaks for itself. Bear in mind that this was taken indoors in one of the park restaurants. Dead flies should not be served up with any meal, not even fast food.
Immediately after a meal is probably not the best time to ride a tower ride. However, Riddler's Revenge beckoned. I entered the queue with quite a bit of trepidation, as I'm not particularly good at coping with tower rides. One hundred meters was considerably larger than anything I'd been on before. Though officially a Combo tower, it was being run today as a Space Shot, shooting riders to the top in about three seconds and letting them fall back down, followed by a few smaller bounces.
The queue for this ride must have been designed with sadists in mind. Most of our group found it very entertaining to watch the faces of riders on the different towers while they were waiting for their launch. We had quite a bit of fun picking out the really scared people, and watching their faces as the ride's air compression system worked. This of course becomes somewhat less funny when you're the person in the seat, and the ride assumes launch position a few feet off the ground. However, I decided to assume the standard enthusiast's riding position (with both arms and legs straight out to maximise airtime). This provided a lot of strange looks from the people still queueing, as the four people on the side I was on were doing the same thing.
As the launch struck and the ground became a small speck below, I realised I wasn't frightened at all. It was a strange experience, but an oddly enriching one at the same time. I was so surprised that I went round for several additional rides. Doing this made me realise that the three towers were not created equal; one of them was relatively speaking weak. The second was apparently about average (I have no reference point, so I can only go on what I've been told). The third one was somewhat more powerful than usual, and provided a huge blast of air time at the top.
My new spin ride for today was Lex Luthor's Invertatron, a Top Spin. The seats were without question the most uncomfortable I've ever sat in on an amusement ride, but if one sets that aside the overall experience was enjoyable. Having said that it wasn't something I'd go out of my way to ride again. One quick credit whore on Tom y Jerry (#220) took us to the Hotel Embrujado, a rather good Haunted Swing ride. Horrendously slow operations made this wait particularly gruelling, but it was worth it in the end. From there we decided to do the Rapids ride, which turned out to be the single best water ride of the trip.
By this stage it had gotten dark, so we took a night time ride on Riddler's Revenge. Unfortunately we got the weak tower, but it still provided a phenomenal view of the rest of the park which you couldn't get from anywhere else. We finished the day with a night ride on Batman la Fuga. If anything it was running even faster than the morning, and we all enjoyed it greatly.