Salitre Magico18th January 2012
Salitre Magico is one of two parks in Bogotá, and the one with the largest roller coasters. It is also unashamedly corporate, filled with warning signs, neurotic rules, and irritating recorded announcements. The entrance area had an awful loop lasting about sixty seconds covering essential park rules that we must have heard twenty times before getting to a cash desk, and we only managed to get in that quickly because we were among the first to spot that two additional lanes had been opened. I'll never understand how it can take so long to purchase tickets, especially when there's a massive sign with prices that everyone has ample time to read.
The ride operators would not allow me to wear my secured glasses on Montaña Rusa (#1710), an Arrow Corkscrew that spent much of its career at the Myrtle Beach Pavillion. In a particularly bizarre interpretation of the rules, I was told that I should hold them in my hand for the ride, thus generating a potential loose object that could go flying. A nasty jolt mid-course caused them to smash against the restraint and break, something that would never have happened if I'd been wearing them as intended.
The best coaster in the park was Tornado (#1711), a classic Schwarzkopf Jet Star 3 that was originally built for Alton Towers in 1988. It was exported to Mexico a decade later, before being moved to Colombia in 2010. The experience was exactly as would be expected for a ride of this type, and we'd have happily tried it more than once if the loading procedure had been a little faster; it really shouldn't take several minutes to fill and check a six seat car.
The classic photograph for this park is generally a shot of Doble Loop (#1712) with an Avianca-branded aircraft parked in front of it to remind visitors that they are in Colombia. Originally built for French showman Henry Vancraeyenest, this ride toured France for a decade before being sold to Seabreeze in 1994. Ten years after that it was sold again, this time to Salitre Magico. It now operates with a four-point seatbelt to augment the original overhead restraint, which results in another painfully slow loading procedure. Nevertheless it remains a good ride once on board, and one that would have been worth a second run.
The Avion 727 is a preserved aircraft that guests are able to walk through. For the most part it remains as it would have been in its flying career, apart from a fifty inch flat screen television that has been added to business class; one doubts these would have been widely available even in the early 1980s when the last of this family were built. The cockpit was charmingly anachronistic, complete with a flight engineer station augmenting the two pilots. Unfortunately interior photographs were strictly forbidden, so this description will need to suffice.
With the Gusano Loco off limits to those over 150cm in height, we went over to the Rueda Millenium, a massive ferris wheel adorned with a large Samsung logo across its centre. This was ideally placed for photographing the park, located almost exactly in the middle with a clear view of everything.
The last attraction we tried was the Monstruos Marinos walkthrough, a guided walkthrough past several mediocre animatronic sea monsters. This might have been worthwhile as a tracked dark ride, but as a walkthrough it was missable, especially for those without a good grasp of Spanish. We did consider trying the Castillo del Terror but elected to skip it after seeing how long the queue was.
Mundo Aventura18th January 2012
Mundo Aventura is a large park geared primarily at families. There is not a huge amount there for adult visitors or coaster enthusiasts. Those looking at the map could be forgiven for thinking that the only coaster is Montañita Rusa, an Interpark Tropical Track that is strictly off limits to those over 160cm in height. This restriction is a shame really, as the coaster is easily large enough for the whole family to enjoy, and indeed I've ridden these in other places without issue.
Hiding within an enclosed artificial mountain is the imaginatively named Dark Ride (#1713), best described as a local approximation to Space Mountain. The ride machinery looks and feels like a member of the Pinfari Zyklon family, but it has been spruced up with stars, planets, and track side lighting. I particularly liked a lit area clearly showing some broken track at the top of the first drop leading in a different direction to travel. There is also a nice surprise at the end of the course that I'm not about to spoil. Despite the previous park having a Schwarzkopf I'm still inclined to rate this as the best coaster in Bogotá; it's definitely the most surprising!
On visiting Colombia18th January 2012
My overall impression of Colombia is of a very pleasant country that I'd be happy to return to. Taxis are extremely cheap by western standards, and easily affordable for a group; the journey from Bogotáa airport to our city hotel, a thirty minute drive, came in at 20,000 COP (~$11). The people are extremely friendly, if very inefficient; hotel check-ins were almost as slow as those in India. The south-american attitude of mañana most definitely applies. Those planning future trips should allow plenty of slack time in the itinerary, especially when it comes to Avianca flights!