Day eight of our trip began with a very lazy morning to compensate somewhat for a late arrival into Muscat the night before. It was shortly before 2:00pm when we arrived at Fantasia, and it immediately became apparent that our timing was nearly perfect; various arcade games around the facility were in the process of booting up, indicating that the power had been turned on a few minutes before. A big driving simulator game played the Windows XP startup noise as we looked on.
A few minutes later a member of staff turned up at the ticket desk and sold us Roller Coaster tickets for the very reasonable price of 0.60 OMR per person (~€ 1.35). The ride had a low to the ground layout with a lift hill and a continuous descent back to the station with no drops, but despite that it was quite enjoyable; the course was pleasantly themed, with the floor underneath painted in bright colours and a selection of toy animals within the superstructure. A tyre drive close to the end was apparently necessary to return the train to the station, especially with two western adults in the back car, but it made back. We were given four laps.
Sohar Entertainment Centre
18th March 2016
Sohar Entertainment Centre is located roughly two hours drive from Muscat along a motorway currently memorable for a large number of closed off roundabouts. The local authorities are apparently engaged in a project to upgrade the road to highway standard by removing lots of junctions, and while this made our outbound journey faster it caused a bit of a headache when we needed to return to the main road on our way home, as the map data on our GPS was somewhat out of date.
Unfortunately the entire journey was a write-off. We arrived at the park to a sign indicating that all "Electrical Games" were under maintenance, and sure enough the seven visible amusement rides were all closed, including the Dragun Wheel coaster. Our initial thought was that this might have been a temporary situation, but on further inspection we discovered maintenance signs on each ride attached with wire ties that had rusted into place, suggesting no activity for several months at least. There was nothing to be done except swear quietly and return to the car.
18th March 2016
The third stop of the day was a public park on the main road on the way back from Sohar to Muscat. Satellite imagery had revealed the presence of a Big Apple, but it was conspicuously absent from the ride area today. A member of staff was able to tell us that a travelling coaster typically visits Saham Park for a few weeks around Eid, and that we should consider coming back at that point.
18th March 2016
The Schwarzkopf Katapult was a short looping coaster reminiscent of the Ring of Fire rides common on the American fair circuit. A total of five were built, with the last one disappearing in 2004, some time before this writer developed his obsession with tracking coasters around the world. Many enthusiasts thought the rides were scrapped, but then one of them turned up on the travelling fair circuit in Oman. It was installed on a more permanent basis at Marah Land in 2014, but sadly the newly rebranded Death Train was in an advanced state of non-functionality for our visit due to tyre damage.
On the plus side, the magnificent Nissi Coaster was operational, and the missing brake noted in my report five years ago was still absent, resulting in a serious thrill ride. I found myself wondering what the higher speed does to the ride's maintenance bill, as the intense laterals have to take a toll on both the train wheels and track structure. Today our ride consisted of four laps; the station brake was applied on lap three to slow the train slightly, but laps two and four were taken at full power.
We caught a thoroughly unmemorable ride on Typhoon to finish off the night.