Skyline Park31st July 2004
My usual policy when visiting any new theme park is to tick off the roller coasters first. Only when those are complete do I try out whatever else might be available. Occasionally, however, exceptions can be made when the star attractions are worth the effort. Skyline Park is one of the only places where the Booster and Reverse Bungee rides are included in the admission price, and having never done one of the latter it was an obvious first stop.
As luck would have it my path brought me first to the Sky Circle, a booster style ride, albeit not one built by Fabbri. One might argue that the manufacturer of the ride is irrelevant to the average punter, but in this case it made a very real difference. While the original restraint design for this ride is very secure, this version was nothing of the kind; riders had a great deal of freedom, and arguably far too much for such an intense ride. There is no doubt that this made for a much more exhilarating experience, but it also resulted in some nasty bruises. Once was more than enough, though having said that once per day is generally enough on attractions of this type.
From there we went to the Sky Shot reverse bungee ride, a modern version featuring a cage of springs as its propulsion rather than the traditional bungee cords. This design is considerably safer than the original, as bungee cords do snap from time to time. At any rate the restraints for this ride are extremely secure; once you are harnessed you can barely move at all. I'll freely admit to feeling a little nervous as the cage rolled backwards ahead of its launch, but once released my fears vanished just like that. The experience was pure exhilaration, and my only regret was that I'd put off riding one of these for so long.
Caripro is best known as the manufacturer of Batflyer coasters, rather uninspired rides that can at best seat one or two guests per train. Sky Rider (#329) is the only coaster they ever built with a larger vehicle, in this case a spinning car that can seat four. While the spinning motion was certainly an improvement the overall experience remained a mostly pointless one. I was rather more taken with the nearby Bob Racing ride, an electrically powered bobsled where riders could control their own speed via a lever on the side of the car. It was possible to attain a fairly impressive speed, only to be limited by slower drivers in front!
The single greatest attraction at Skyline Park proved to be the Sky Fall tower, a ride which simply has to be ridden to be believed. The fifty foot high tower was operating what has to be the strangest programme in the known universe; the car moves up and down gently, tilting backwards and forwards, and abruptly dropping a few feet from time to time. It was as if the whole thing was powered by a random number generator, albeit one wired to the moon. The general consensus from the group said it all; what the heck was that?
The Achterbahn (#330) is an ageing Schwarzkopf wildcat ride which badly needed a new coat of paint. It also sounded like metal fatigue waiting to happen, though oddly enough it remained fairly smooth. Some other group members managed to get stuck in a car at one stage of the day, and the ride operator had to push it to the next drive tire, though no such problems were evident when we rode it.
The final coaster in the park is in fact two side by side coasters, but the park refers to them as one and thus I will do likewise. The Butterflies (#331) were built by Heege Freizeittechnik, and have been duplicated at least fifty times in many other locations in Germany. The layout consists of a V-shaped track holding a single two seater car, which is towed to the top of one side and released to roll back and forth until the car stops again in the middle. The machine is self-operated; the person on board only needs someone outside the ride to press a button to start the ride once everything is locked in place. I took one ride on each of the tracks; the first was shuddering a little but the second was much smoother; perhaps the first had a loose wheel bearing or something?
Legoland Deutschland31st July 2004
Visiting a third Legoland park in a calendar year is more than a little embarrassing for any enthusiast over the age of seven. Be that as it may, this park felt very much like the poor relation in the Lego family; it lacked a certain je ne sais quoi apparent in the other parks in the chain, seeming more like a generic theme park than one from the famous toy company. Perhaps most telling was the general lack of lego models in the place, at least when compared to the rest of the family.
The park is currently home to three coasters, chief among which is Project X - Lego Test Strecke (#332), only the second standard wild mouse ride we've come across this week. The junior Drachenjagd (#333) was well worth the effort required to shoehorn ourselves into the train. The larger Feuerdrache (#334) started out with a dark ride section that was really rather good, though the coaster section was pretty awful thanks to what felt like square wheels.
With the coasters completed it was time to head for my favourite attraction in the Lego family, namely Power Builder. This is a set of ten Kuka Robo Coaster arms which can be programmed to perform a series of manoeuvres which would simply not be possible on any less flexible machinery. The single most impressive opening we saw was for the machine to flip its riders upside down by lifting straight up and over the top of the ride, an experience which felt as amazing as it sounds. Needless to say excessive riding on this attraction would likely result in severe nausea, and it is probably just as well that each ride is limited to about thirty seconds.
After eating several of us headed for the Dschungel X-pedition flume ride. The posted wait of thirty minutes turned out to be nearly an hour in reality, but we passed the time helping some of the Germans in the queue practice their English. Nobody could believe that we had hit so many parks in the last nine days, and to be completely honest it has become a blur to me too at this point; I'm glad I wrote diaries every night as I went along, as I honestly can't remember any of the earlier parks at the moment. The flume itself proved to be well worth the wait thanks to two turntables and a backwards drop. The latter took us completely by surprise, making a thrilling end to the day.