Jurapark is a relatively new park operator that opened its first outlet in the Polish city of Bałtów in 2004 with a collection of animatronic dinosaurs augmented by a small number of amusement rides. The business model was apparently successful, as a second branch opened in Solec in 2008, followed by a third in Krasiejów in 2010. The most recent expansion as of this writing has been to the United States, and while that park has yet to add rides it is probably only a matter of time.
The car park was practically empty when we arrived roughly ten minutes after the advertised opening time. The reason for this became apparent almost immediately as we were hit by a wall of cold air, several degrees below what we'd encountered outside our hotel in Kraków. My precautionary packing of a hat and gloves that had been thoroughly mocked by Megan suddenly seemed like an inspired idea, and I demonstrated my chivalry and understanding by slowly and methodically putting them on. George picked up three admission tickets and we walked into the park together.
The gate led into a shopping area anchored by a restaurant, a 5D Cinema and Oceanarium. We walked to the right towards a viewing area looking out over a lake and spotted four rides in the distance; two sets of Swings, a Pirate Ship, and Family Coaster (#2231). There was no sign of activity from our vantage point, but when we approached two ride operators materialised from a nearby hut where they were apparently sheltering from the weather. Moments later we'd had three laps of the first Wacky Worm of the day, a thoroughly unmemorable SBF model but nevertheless another entry on the coaster count.
During our ride our attention had been caught by a large number of track pieces stacked up in an open space nearby, and upon further investigation it became abundantly clear that we'd found an undocumented coaster, albeit one that was not likely to operate any time soon. A manufacturing plate revealed the pieces to have come from the Ukrainian company Analog, though facts beyond that are up in the air, as the production date of September 2010 doesn't match any ride known by the community at this time.
We spent a very pleasant half hour walking through the extended dinosaur exhibit, which followed a lengthy outdoor footpath through open plains reminiscent of the movie Jurassic Park with models widely spaced. There was also an indoor Pawilon Paleontologoczny that contained an excavation site that could be examined up close. The signage within did have some English, albeit in abbreviated form, with upwards of one hundred words of the local patois condensed into single sentences.
Śląskie Wesołe Miasteczko
14th May 2016
For many years Śląskie Wesołe Miasteczko was the largest amusement park in Poland. On my first visit almost eight years ago it was home to five roller coasters and a smorgasbord of interesting if not outstanding rides. The advent of better funded competition could have been the death knell for a declining business, but management is making a spirited attempt to arrest the slide by investing heavily. Large areas of the grounds were under obvious construction today, suggesting that things will look quite different in the not too distant future.
We found the first attraction on our hit list just to the left of the main entrance gate. Himalaya was relocated from the now defunct Sommerland Syd, and as part of the move it was given a new coat of paint and upgraded with a backflash. There were six cars on track today, double the number in its previous home, though there didn't appear to be enough blocking segments to run them all at once. Regardless the ride experience was entirely typical of a carnival Zyklon equivalent, with the only memorable feature being a distinctive crunch at the base of the first drop. We followed this up with Cyclon, a very similar ride albeit one whose vehicles were just a little bit too small for Megan and I to fit in the same row. The tracking on this model felt a little smoother than its brother, though that could have been my imagination.
As we disembarked I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket with news that was to abruptly rearrange what up until this point had been a relaxed day. An enthusiast following our travels had sent me a Facebook message through ThemeParks.ie giving me coordinates for six parks he'd found in Poland that were (at that stage) not listed in RCDB. Some rapid searching on the phone revealed that two of the locations were within realistic driving distance, and we decided it would be worth investigating further both for the sake of our own counts and the wider enthusiast community.
The change of plan meant that we were suddenly on a tight schedule, but despite that we just couldn't miss the Flying Machine, one of the few rides of its type still in operation. We found our way into an exceptionally masculine pink plane with seats for eight people, and in due course the support tower slowly began to rotate. Over a period of ninety seconds the motion became faster, eventually reaching a point where the planes were about fifteen feet from the edge of the boarding platform.
Our last stop was at Tornado, the relatively rare example of a Soquet looping coaster that once held Tic-Tac sponsorship. The ride layout feels very much like the offspring of a Schwarzkopf and a Japanese jet coaster, insofar as it starts with two extremely forceful loops that lead into a gentle meander that does less than the average Roller Skater. That being said, both of my laps (in row five and row one) were enjoyable, and while the tracking wasn't the smoothest the bumps didn't impact the experience all that much.
Today the operators were only loading the first three cars on the train, and while there was no queue it was a bit surprising not to have a free choice of seat. The War Department went back for a third lap and asked for permission to ride in the back car with face-to-face seating. This request apparently caused some consternation, but a supervisor was sought and permission granted, albeit only in the forward facing seats due to the ride being "too intense". She subsequently reported that the forces caused her to grey out in the loops, which probably explains the restriction.
14th May 2016
It took us the better part of an hour to drive to the first of our impromptu stops, a small family park with old west theming and two porkers for a mascot. The gate at Twinpigs was wide open when we arrived, so we wandered inside and quickly came across a scene that looked like it could have been lifted straight out of a Roller Coaster Tycoon scenario. The brilliantly named spinning barrel ride, Karuzela Whisky, was rotating at full speed in front of a giant wheel with wagons instead of cars, and the people in sight were dressed in differing bright colours.
Moments later we found the coaster hidden behind an elaborate stone archway. I found a shaded location to research our next planned stop while my companions went in search of tickets, and in due course they returned with the news that individual tokens were not available and that they'd had no choice but to buy unlimited wristbands. Fortunately we'd turned up on a special offer day, reducing the cost to a manageable 26 zł (~€6).
Family Coaster (#2232) was yet another SBF Visa Wacky Worm being operated by a teenager in a cowboy hat. The brightly coloured worm train didn't exactly fit in with the surrounding theming, but the punters clearly didn't mind given that there was a ten minute queue to board. The ride was largely as expected, though it was a nice surprise to find that the brake on the main drop was not in use, resulting in respectable laterals in the final turn. We decided not to wait for what appeared to be a simulator when it became obvious that the queue was barely moving, but there was enough time to wander through Nawiedzona Sztolnia, a short haunted walkthrough memorable mainly for the omnipresent smell of fresh plywood. The interior had static models rather than animatronics, though there were a few air blasts to keep things interesting.
Rodzinny Park Atrakcji
14th May 2016
Polish people apparently have a thing for dinosaurs. The realisation of this struck us as we encountered our third collection of replicas in just twenty-four hours. The dozen or so models at Rodzinny Park Atrakcji were similar in scale to those seen at Jurapark Krasiejów or Zatorland, with the Tyrannosaur towering at least twenty feet into the air. The animals were juxtaposed with an elaborately decorated gingerbread house that contained a radio, a sewing machine and a typewriter, none of which I'd generally associate with a stereotypical wicked witch.
As we approached the powered Kolejka Dragon it quickly became apparent that the ride hadn't moved in several years. The train was parked at the lowest level of track, opposite the station platform, and a brightly coloured canvas cover had sunk into a car, forming a pool full of rainwater. Grass had grown up through the rails too, neatly camouflaging some of the green track. A member of staff was able to confirm the blindingly obvious in official fashion, informing us that the ride had been closed for three years.