Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

5th January 2014

Perhaps it's blasphemous to say this, but I'm really not a big fan of London. The city is crowded, the prices are obscene, and manners are often conspicuous by their absence. I'd avoid the place entirely were it not for it being home to what is arguably the most elaborate seasonal fairground anywhere in the world. I'd planned to give the Winter Wonderland event a miss this year, but changed plans after it became obvious that there would be a new roller coaster credit that probably wouldn't operate anywhere else in the near future.

That ride was Alpine Thriller (#1989), a Pinfari RC-50 model originally manufactured in 1992 and operated on the Italian fair circuit for many years under the ownership of Eredi Viviani SA. It was sold to Joseph Manning and William Thurston earlier this year, who refurbished it with a new theming package in order to present it in London. The physical hardware is somewhat unusual, in that it uses a cable lift mechanism rather than the ubiquitous chain lift, but otherwise the experience is entirely typical for a painfari product of this vintage. The ride quality wasn't awful, but it certainly wasn't something that I needed to do more than once. Taller riders should also be aware that the trains have minimal leg room; those taller than my 6'2" might not fit on board.

Overview

A perennial curse of fairgrounds is the attraction that looks fantastic from the outside but turns out to be somewhat less impressive inside. This year The Mellors Group elected to take this to extremes with the frankly embarrassing Ice Mountain, an elaborate facade built to house the Reverchon Spinning Coaster owned by Matthews & White. Inside the building, it was immediately obvious that we were on a standard model ride, and one which hadn't been repainted in several years; the track was a grubby yellow colour, and it was almost as bright as the outdoors thanks to lots of holes in the structure. There were simulated clouds hanging from the ceiling that might have worked in darkness, but in the near daylight they simply looked silly.

The best coaster of the day, and the only one worth riding at all, was Wilde Maus XXL. I'd have this several times over but not at London prices; I'll wait until the next time I see it in Germany.