Travel Note

15th July 2013

Even unapologetic credit whores can occasionally be found at major tourist sites. Our group spent a morning and part of an afternoon visiting St Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin, before catching a high-speed Sapsan train from Moscow to St Petersburg that made the 650 kilometer journey in just over four hours. The train arrived in the former Leningrad to the accompaniment of some suitably patriotic music, perhaps a throwback to old Soviet times.

Sapsan Train

 

Wonder Island

15th July 2013

Our trip was planned around one evening and one full day in St Petersburg, which we felt would be time enough to visit The State Hermitage Museum as well as the two known coaster parks. In an ideal world we'd have spent around half of that time at Wonder Island, but flight schedules and opening hours conspired against us. Instead, we were left with little option other than a hit-and-run credit whoring expedition to a park that was deserving of several hours at minimum. It was moderately upsetting to arrive at Krestovsky Ostrov metro station, directly across the road from the park, just over ninety minutes prior to closing.

Our first stop was at the Screaming Squirrel (#1939), a thoroughly pointless attraction that barely deserves the "roller coaster" moniker. The ride has a track length of no more than five hundred feet, and a good portion of that is the lift hill, which leads directly into to two back-to-back S-shaped drops. Both of these are heavily braked, yet despite that, the time from the top of the lift to the end of the course was just ten seconds. The only positive thing to be said was that the cars at least negotiated the rails smoothly, unlike the other two installations.

The star attraction in the park is a classic Schwarzkopf design that originally operated in Kure Portopialand in Japan. Big Roller Coaster (#1940) is a remarkable looking ride, not least because a portion of its track, very close to ground level, is protected only by a foot-high fence that anyone could step over. The station is similar, with no air gates (or indeed markers of any kind) between the track and the boarding platform.

Big Safety

The ride had the potential to be fantastic, as it had a layout not dissimilar to BMR-X and Jetline. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that the awful accordion restraints on the train were positioned in just the right location to inflict major bruises, meaning that after the first few corners I began to concentrate on self-preservation rather than enjoying my ride. It was a relief when the train hit the final brake run.

Most of the rides were closing by the time we disembarked from the Whirlwind Looping Coaster (#1941), arguably the best coaster in the park, but a few were still open for business, including the Funtime Rocket. This ride features a ten seater vehicle suspended from cables that is lifted to the heights and rotated around a tower. Once up to speed, the individual seats begin to rotate horizontally, inverting riders. The experience wasn't particularly frightening, even with the knowledge of what can go wrong, but it was extremely cold up there.

One small warning for those attempting to repeat this trip; while some rides at Wonder Island remain open past the posted closing time, the Metro system closes down shortly after midnight. We left the park at 11:40pm, and only just made our connecting train.

2013


Wonder Island

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