Zamperla is one of the largest ride manufacturers in the world with facilities in six countries all managed from a head office located just outside Vicenza. The small back road parallel to the A4 motorway clearly wasn't designed with a coach in mind, but our driver got us there, clearly bemused at the large number of people running to photograph the sign at the gate. My wonderful girlfriend, apparently determined to out-nerd everyone, took a close-up photograph of the door mat.
Our visit began with three back to back presentations. The first was by far the most interesting, detailing the history of Zamperla alongside photographs of their lesser known attractions, including a number of custom designs produced for Disney and Universal. The second covered roller coasters and included quite a bit of obscure video footage, albeit nothing that we couldn't have watched ourselves on YouTube. The third was a heavy technical talk about how coasters are designed that would not have been out of place in a degree-level engineering course, and to be honest it wasn't a good fit for our group. I did my best to follow along but after a while found myself in an oblivious stupor not experienced since my time as an undergraduate.
The latter two presentations were delivered by Alberto Ferri, the chief engineer from Zamperla's Roller Coaster department. Much of what he said went in one ear and out the other, though there was one moment of unbridled hilarity when he described the Volare as a "big mistake"; apparently the complexity of the track design renders it difficult to manufacture accurately, causing what is perhaps best described as the inconsistent comfort level inherent to these rides. Later on in the day I caught up with Signor Ferri, and asked him if there was any reason why the installation in North Korea rides so much better than the others, and he told me that the team manufacturing the track must have had a particularly lucky day.
When the talks came to an end we were able to take a walk through the factory and an associated boneyard area whose contents appeared to have accumulated over decades. There were parts that were easy to recognise, such as mouse coaster track, Disk-O seats, Carousel horses, and an unpainted body from a Dragon train. There were also lots of other bits and pieces that were impossible to place. A mostly complete set of Tea Cups and an undecorated Air Race were the only fully assembled attractions, but someone with engineering know-how and a bit of patience could probably have assembled at least a few more from the pieces in storage.