The main attraction in a place with a name like Safari Park was bound to be a drive through journey through the plains of Africa. There's a certain element of homogeneity about tours of this nature, even down to the signs warning of the potential dangers of stepping out of your car in the tiger enclosure. Be that as it may it was still an enjoyable way to spend half an hour, and if nothing else I've got some rather nice pictures to use as wallpaper on my office computer. We did wonder how we'd explain a hippopotamus-shaped dent in our rental car, but fortunately this potential issue did not arise.
Next to the safari is a small amusement park featuring a handful of attractions aimed at the younger audience; a pirate ship, a slide, a small spin ride, and our fourth Bruco Mela (#1359) this week. Staff outnumbered guests this morning by at least two to one, perhaps explaining why the ride operator was reading a book under a tree as we approached. We couldn't help but wonder whether it's viable for a park like this to operate on a weekday in school term, especially when the nearest big city is over an hour away by road.
27th May 2009
This park was known as Minitalia Leolandiapark at the time this trip report was written.
Our second park today was another where amusement rides take back seat to the main advertised attraction. Miniature Italy is a boot-shaped artificial island constructed in the middle of a lake, filled with replicas of some of the most famous buildings in the country. One might almost describe the place as Legoland Italy, other than for the complete absence of any of the famous blocks. The north of the island is under reconstruction at the moment, so we didn't see the place at its best, but it was still hard not to be impressed.
Just about every attraction in the attached amusement park has been built by Zamperla Rides, and the name can be seen everywhere; on signage, cars, and even posters on the walls. The park may be a showcase for the manufacturer but there are ways of doing these things More to the point, the rides we tried were not the sort of thing to encourage potential purchasers. Twister Mountain (#1360) is a clone of the successful Reverchon design that slams into corners in a way that frankly hurts. Leocoaster (#1361) is sufficiently violent that it could potentially put small children off coasters for life. The only saving grace was the powered Mine Train which was at least moderately enjoyable, though that could be because it was new this year and hasn't yet had a chance to fall into disrepair. Such a shame.