Frankisches Wunderland2nd May 2009
During the planning stages for this trip Frankisches Wunderland was thought of as a filler, a place to while away an hour or two rather than a destination park. As it is the place is mostly about wild west shows, none of which take place until late morning and early afternoon; the thrill rides are more of an afterthought. The skyline is dominated by a reverse bungee ride which looks completely out of place among everything else that coincidentally was closed during our visit. Beyond that the only major attractions are an alpine slide we didn't have time for and the Kansas City Express powered coaster. With that ticked off we headed for the gate, having spent a little over an hour in the park.
Belantis2nd May 2009
The main reason for our hurry was the desire to get to our next destination as quickly as possible. Belantis has been on my radar for many years, and I'd likely have visited long before were it not a considerable distance from any airport reachable direct from Dublin. It was only the addition of a new wood coaster in the same area of Germany (see tomorrow's report) that finally made the journey seem worthwhile.
The park presents an impressive appearance as one approaches, with a magnificent towering entrance pavillion. Inside the eye was immediately drawn to a large pyramid set on the side of a clear blue lake housing the Fluch des Pharao, a truly unique water ride. It can be thought of as a three way marriage between a log flume, a rapids ride, and a masseuse. The ride layout comprises an enclosed vertical lift, a giant splash, and a whirlpool section similar to that found on the River Quest at Phantasialand. The course is negotiated by eight seater boats laid out in four rows of two, and these are sufficiently flexible that riders can distinctly feel the action of the lift hill rollers. Even without the novelty value the ride would be worthy of high marks, and its unique design makes it worthy of a ten out of ten.
The same could not be said for Götterflug, the first installation of Gerstlauer's latest spin ride. The design owes much to the flyers of old, albeit without steel cables; in this case, riders control two independent wings, and with a certain amount of practice can cause their seat to perform acrobatics in the air. However, the cycle time isn't long enough for first time passengers to get to grips with the technique, and even after getting the broad idea the experience remains for the most part a dull one. While it was worth trying once it is not an attraction I'd urge other parks to invest in.
We inadvertently rode the Verlies des Grauens haunted swing purely because the queue line looked to be heading for the roller coaster. Martin remarked that it was unusual to come across a coaster with a pre-show, and it only when we stepped into the main ride room that our mistake became clear. As it was this ride was disappointing, largely due to the absence of a stirring soundtrack along the lines of Kassandra. Random jabbering in rapid fire German was not a substitute, and no amount of detailed theming could save the ride.
As expected the star attraction in the park turned out to be the roller coaster. Drachenritt (#1335) was the third custom wild mouse coaster to be built by Gerstlauer, and it owes much to the first two, with a layout working its way around a mock castle. The only slight negative on a great coaster was an extremely harsh brake at the end of the course that felt broadly akin to a car crash. If anyone from the park is reading this I'd encourage a retrofit with magnetic brakes if possible.
Leipziger Kleinmesse2nd May 2009
Belantis is just twenty minutes away from the site of the Leipzig Fair, which on this occasion was the temporary home of the legendary Olympia Looping. Though I've ridden it several times in various locations this was my first opportunity to see it in good weather, with the paintwork positively gleaming in the sun. It's amazing to think that this ride has been travelling the fair circuit for almost twenty years now, as it still looks as good as new.
The only other attraction I decided to try on this occasion was the Crazy Outback, which from the outside looked to be a fun house. Inside, however, it proved to be an enclosed assault course, with numerous obstacles to negotiate. The final section led into a mirror maze, and as I approached I heard a terrific snap followed by a loud wail. Rather than the disembodied zombie I'd anticipated the culprit turned out to be a young boy who'd collided with a wall at sufficient speed to give himself a nose bleed. Had this been America the court case would now be pending, but in this more sensible part of the world the only apparent consequences were advice from the child's mother to be more careful next time. Germany is a wonderful place.
Hannover Fruhlingsfest2nd May 2009
Our decision to visit Hannover, made late yesterday evening, was a fine example of insanity winning over reason. The extra fair resulted in almost six hours of additional driving just to get in a few more coasters. High Explosive (#1336) was the only new credit for me, though Die Wilden 50er was new for Kat and Martin. Beyond these two rides was a selection of spin rides, albeit a rather disappointing set compared to the magnificent collection at Stuttgart. Though we did contemplate shooting some overview photographs from the riesenrad we ended up giving that a miss too in favour of a slightly earlier arrival back at the hotel. This turned out to be the right decision, as the last hour driving proved an absolute nightmare; fatigue had truly set in.