Driving a car in Madrid is not an experience for the faint of heart. For once I'm not referring to the standard of driving, which, though enthusiastic, is entirely sedate compared to some of the cities I've travelled to. The problem is the maze of underground tunnels which make up the major thoroughfares in the city. I've never seen so many tunnels anywhere before, and the darling satellite navigation unit finds the whole experience even more trying than the person trying to follow its directions. Luddites are unlikely to be spared the misery either; it would probably have been even harder with a map.
Even after we found the approximate location of Parque de Atracciones de Madrid it still took us ten minutes to find the way in, with no thanks to the computer which, it transpired, was leading us to the wrong place. Its route took us through a park filled with ladies of the evening offering their services to passers-by, at two thirty in the afternoon no less. George remarked something about the early bird catching the worm.
Parque de Atracciones de Madrid
11th April 2008
Parque de Atracciones de Madrid was almost completely deserted for our visit today. We'd been in the park for almost ten minutes before we saw someone who wasn't an employee, though it transpired that this was mainly because we'd managed somehow to find the back rather than the main entrance. At any rate, one might assume that a lack of patrons in a park would mean no waits for any rides; in fact the reverse was true. The coasters could not be run without the trains being full, and achieving that in an empty park was a challenge in itself.
It was only on writing this report that I realised it had been almost five years since my previous visit. The changes in that time have been substantial. Two of the coasters, 7 Picos and Cumbres, have passed into history in favour of four new installations. Two of these are strictly for under twelves, but both Turbulencia and Vagones Locos (pictured below) have been beautifully themed to appeal to young and old alike.
Tarantula (#1145) was also given impressive theming, beginning with a massive claw over the entrance and continuing with large spider webs hanging off portions of the ride. The machine itself is a custom designed Maurer Sohne spinning coaster, apparently the fourth installation from the SC 3000 family. Unlike the other versions I've been on this model had a ridiculously fast lift hill, bringing the four seater cars to the apex of the lift hill in less than ten seconds. The layout from there had the potential to be fantastic, other than for one minor detail; there was almost no spinning to speak of. My immediate instinct was that this must have been a fluke, but a second lap gave a repeat performance. A spinning coaster such as this one should manage considerably more than two full revolutions per circuit, and indeed it would have rated much more highly for me if it had.
The ultra-pedantic edition of the corporate rulebook was in use on Tornado today, with a minimum of sixteen passengers required to board. It took nearly three quarters of an hour for a large enough group to be established, and indeed we would likely have missed out on it had a group of French students not needed us to be the final two people in their group. After our ride, there was nobody in the station still, but the operators insisted that we should all walk down the exit and back in the entrance if we wanted to ride again. The layout of this park means that it is (seriously) a five minute walk from the exit of Tornado back to the entrance. What on earth was the point in this? Passengers on Tornado should be aware that keeping ones head against the headrest (as is normal safety practice) will result in considerable ear-bashing. However, one can solve this problem by leaning forward just a little while the train is on course. Doing this results in an altogether more enjoyable experience.
The last stop for the day was on Abismo (#1146), the third so-called X-Car coaster again from Maurer Sohne. The signature element of these rides is a vertical lift hill with an inversion at the top, during which the rider hangs with his or her entire weight upon a rigid and not hugely comfortable lap bar. Previous diaries have mentioned my difficulty with this design, but it bears repeating; the restraint closes further than is comfortable while the ride is out on course, with rider stomachs taking the full pressure. This serves to greatly limit rerideability of what otherwise would be a grade one attraction. Twice was enough for us.