La Feria Chapultepec Magico is arguably the best known amusement park in Mexico, having been brought to worldwide attention in the late nineties by its appearance in one of the first amusement park documentaries. In recent years, however, it has been in obvious decline, with negative trip reports far outweighing the positive. We arrived at the park to discover that both the Montaña Rusa and the Montaña Triple Loop would not be operating today, and that was just the start of a visit that can only be described as embarrassingly bad.
Megan was two credits short of seven hundred, and decided that a shuttle loop made for a better milestone than a spinning mouse. By her request we headed to Raton Loco, and found all six cars parked between the station and lift hill with two maintenance engineers working on the first. It was abundantly clear that we would need to come back later, so we headed instead to Cascabel, only to find that it wouldn't be opening until 13:00 mas o menos.
A quick walk around revealed that all seventeen of the rides classified by the park as adolescentes or extremo were not ready to operate by noon, a full hour into the seven hour operating day.
We decided to ride the double deck Carrousel Musical to pass time. The upper section was blocked off with a rusty gate and padlock and the paintwork on the horses was decidedly shabby, but otherwise the ride seemed in reasonable condition. The barrel organ was playing a particularly jaunty tune as we boarded, and Megan elected to use it as accompaniment for an enthusiastic middle finger dance that we caught on video for posterity. We spent the rest of the ride talking to a friendly local who seemed delighted at the opportunity to use his few words of English.
We would have tried the Casona del Terror but it was not included in our wristbands and none of us felt like handing over more money. Instead, therefore, we parked ourselves next to the Raton Loco and began to wait. I used my phone to record the highlights of the next hour:
- 12:30: The mechanics begin to cycle cars, sending all six out onto course simultaneously.
- 12:35: The test runs apparently pass muster, allowing the mechanics to pack up their tools and leave. Lisa asks one of them when the ride will open, and is told that it is now ready.
- 12:40: Two ride operators appear, one male and one female, and run a few more test cars of their own.
- 12:45: The lift hill is stopped. The female operator produces a clipboard and begins to do paperwork, while the male is assigned to clean each car individually, taking the time required to do a good job.
- 12:50: George begins to narrate the pantomime that we are watching in a decidedly suspect Indian accent. And now we will play musical chairs, you sit there and I sit here.
- 12:55: The female operator reaches the end of her first piece of paper, then turns it over to start another.
- 13:00: The paperwork appears complete, but at this very moment, a maintenance man arrives and gives the female a kiss on the cheek. The two of them walk off together while the frustrated guests in the queue test the limits of their patience.
- 13:15: The female rematerialises without her companion. Those of us afflicted/blessed with dirty minds speculate enthusiastically about what she has been up to.
- 13:20: The ride finally opens.
We climbed the steps to the station and were immediately instructed not to unbalance the cars in the fashion so beloved of enthusiasts around the world. Despite this, however, the ride delivered the most intense spinning I've ever experienced on a Reverchon Mouse, producing forces an order of magnitude more powerful than the norm. It was tempting to rejoin the queue for a second lap, but a significant wait had built up so we decided to give it a miss.
We'd heard a test train launch on Cascabel earlier in the day, but when we arrived back there there was no sign of activity at all. Lisa dutifully found an operator who told us that he wasn't sure what was going on, but thought that maintenance were checking the brakes and that the ride might open after 14:00. The decision on whether to wait was left to Megan, as the only member of our group who needed the credit, and she decided in the negative using a particularly emphatic colourful metaphor.