Parque Bicentenario is an enormous park located just outside Querétaro, roughly three hours by car from Mexico City. The walking distance from one end of the facility to the other is almost two kilometres, but astute readers can easily avoid three quarters of this by parking in the secondary car park located only a few minutes on foot from the various rides, almost all of which were supplied by Beijing Shibaolai Amusement Equipment. The disposable income in the area was reflected in the admission fee, an astonishingly cheap 40 pesos, slightly less than three American dollars.
The first coaster we arrived at was Gusano (#2110), a spacious Big Apple design with more than enough space for two adults to sit comfortably in each car. The figurehead on the train clearly borrowed from the typical worm, but was sculpted with vaguely Asian eyes, a frighteningly wide grin, and horizontal dimensions that suggested just a little too much chow mein. There was no problem at all with adults on this ride.
The same could not be said of the much larger Selva del Raton (#2111). Though twice the physical size of the Gusano, adults were only allowed on this coaster when seated with a child. My first thought was that this rule was in place to ensure enough weight in the cars to guarantee completion of the circuit, but then I realised that I'd ridden the same production model coaster in China on twooccasions without issue. A local family came to our rescue, loaning us a number of children so all of us could get the credit.
From ground level the layout looked like a fairly basic Wild Mouse, but to describe it in such terms does a disservice to the many thrilling mice out there. With the exception of one tiny climb the track maintained a continuous descent at about a three degree angle from the top of the lift hill to the brake run, reaching a top speed that barely seemed to break into double figures. It was fairly tedious to ride, though our intrepid assistants seemed to appreciate it even though most of them couldn't see over the front of the car!
The two coasters we'd experienced thus far were located in a large garden with a pavilion on one side and plenty of open space to relax in. The target audience for this section of the park was very clearly young families, with small coasters, a Carrusel, a Frog Hopper, and a child-sized spin ride with fiberglass dinosaurs. The landscaping was immaculate and the area spotlessly clean. A short walk brought us from this section over to a paved area aimed at older visitors, featuring a Rio Rapido, a closed Casona del Terror, a Barco Pirata, and afairlyblatantcopyoftheArrow Loop & Corkscrew.
The single train on Montaña Rusa (#2112) featured standard over the shoulder harnesses as well as bumper car style seatbelt loops that had to be placed under the arms. Though not as rough as the Hebei Zhongye knock-offs, the ride suffered from jackhammering in both the loop and corkscrew elements that made it a once in a lifetime experience. Despite the pain we ended up purchasing our on-ride photograph, taken in the station by an enthusiastic operator who somehow managed to capture both of us smiling, probably because he took it before rather than after our circuit!
With a lengthy drive ahead of us we elected to have a quick meal stop before returning to our car. The park restaurant wasn't serving food yet despite it being after 1:00pm, but a small kiosk was, and the quality of what was provided (with lemon pepper seasoning!) was surprisingly good. The only trick was managing to coax the server away from her mobile phone long enough to sell us something, a task far more difficult than the reader might imagine.
Parque Infantil Miguel Hidalgo
24th April 2015
Parque Infantil Miguel Hidalgo owes its name to Don Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo-Costilla y Gallaga Mandarte Villaseñor, a Catholic priest and one of the leaders of the Mexican War of Independence. The four square kilometre park is one of an enormous number of locations around Mexico dedicated to the man many consider to be the Father of the Nation, and features landscaped gardens, animal exhibits, a basketball court, and a small selection of amusement rides for children.
The station for Montaña Rusa (#2113) was constructed on a trailer, suggesting that it began its career as a travelling coaster, though satellite imagery indicates that it has been parked in its current home for at least a decade. The layout was a simple oval, negotiated by a train with an enormous unlicensed SpongeBob figurehead tall enough to completely block my forward view, indicating that small children wouldn't have a chance. The motor couldn't move the train properly with five adults on board, but the operator was happy to assist, climbing onto the track to give the train a shove each time it went past him.
Feria Nacional de San Marcos
24th April 2015
The Feria Nacional de San Marcos in Aguascalientes is the current home of the legendary Thriller, a Schwarzkopf coaster that once operated on the fair circuit in Germany. I'd been looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with this ride, having ridden it just once over ten years ago, but it wasn't to be; it was obvious from the moment we arrived that the coaster we'd come for was not operational, its brightly coloured track looking slightly forlorn against the darkening sky. Though irritating, there was nothing we could do, so we resolved to rescue our evening by picking up as many credits as possible.
Our first hit was Cyclone (Garcia) (#2114), a beautifully presented Zyklon/Galaxi clone of indeterminate provenance. The four seat cars were decorated with elaborate race car theming, including working front and rear lights and moulded fiberglass tyres. The layout was for the most part standard fare, though there was an impressive headchopper moment at the start of the lift hill as another car went flying past with minimal clearance. Additionally, the final section of the ride wasn't braked in the expected places, meaning that the unbanked turn on the way back to the station was negotiated at close to full speed, delivering excellent laterals.
We moved from there to Speedy (Garcia) (#2115), a Pinfari RC-50 retrofitted with lap bar restraints. Last year it was my misfortune to experience a very similar ride with traditional shoulder harnesses that really hurt, and as such, it wasn't much of a surprise to find this version vastly superior. One turn part way through the layout was still a little jarring, but I was quite happy to accept mild discomfort as an alternative to concussion. It's worth noting that this ride also had working lights on both ends of the train, making me wonder whether the Mexicans know something that showmen in other countries don't.
The only ride of the evening with a lengthy wait, bizarrely, was the Oruga (Garcia) (#2116), a remarkably colourful Big Apple. It was evident as we watched that only children were riding this, but we bought tickets and obtained our credit anyway by the simple expedient of disavowing all knowledge of Spanish.
At this stage we'd completed all the operational coasters in the main section of the fair, but we could see lights in the distance indicating another set of rides. We walked in that direction for a short period but decided to try to get there by car instead, which proved a tactical error; after an unsuccessful hunt for parking we gave up and resolved to return tomorrow for a second attempt.