We'd hoped to enjoy a relaxed morning for the final day of our trip, but our planned lie-in had to be scrapped when it became apparent that the roads near our hotel would be closing for the Kraków Marathon. Rather than get stuck we decided to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a truly spectacular attraction located under the south of the city. Our guided tour lasted almost three hours, and I'd highly recommend it, not least due to the presence of the magnificent (and enormous) Chapel of St Kinga located one hundred and one metres below the surface.
15th May 2016
Rabkoland is still recognisable as the park that I visited six years ago, but only just. Almost half of the land has been blocked off behind a brightly coloured wall that shrouds a few attractions, notably a paratrooper, slides, and the remnants of the old Lux Torpeda coaster. At the same time the remaining space has been jammed full of small animatronic sideshows that give something to discover around every corner. Toilets have been added, perhaps driven by the somewhat caustic comments in my old trip report, and the pay-per-ride model has been scrapped in favour of gated admission that costs a very reasonable 29 zł (~€6.50). The changes transform the place into what is quite possibly the nicest family park I've been to in my travels.
Many of my trip reports describe roller coasters as the star attractions in their respective parks, though it'd be hard to give that accolade to Rabka Express (#2233), an installation of the DPV Rides Junior Coaster with a stacked oval layout that doesn't do a whole lot. Guests board and exit via the same set of steps and there is no queuing area at all, suggesting a ride that never has much of a wait. The train rolled backwards off the lift as we approached, but this wasn't a big deal; one adult disembarked allowing a successful dispatch. There were no problems at all for our three laps, though the Pinfari heritage was clearly evident from the build quality.
It was impossible not to be impressed by the Haunted House, which looked like it had begun life on a fair circuit somewhere but which featured far superior theming to anything I've seen travelling. The course was also surprisingly lengthy, and featured a small uphill section followed by a controlled descent. We also found a second high calibre dark ride that owed much to "It's a small world"; Cyrk Wielki occupied a tent and featured a variety of animatronic circus performers and half a dozen elephants for good measure.
We took our usual overview photographs from the Giant Wheel before wandering into an animatronic walkthrough version of Old McDonald's Farm. A sprightly version of the well-known song was playing in the background as we walked in with slightly modified lyrics sung in English ("and on that farm he had lots of animals"). Each pen had a control switch that, when pressed, caused its residents to join the chorus in their own inimitable fashion. We started off all the creatures in the space of about fifteen seconds, resulting in a thoroughly amusing cacophony.
We also worked our way through an interesting variant of the traditional crooked house attraction. Crazy House had been built upside down, apparently resting on its slanted roof. Various pieces of furniture were stuck to the ceiling, including an occupied bed, a carpet, and even a shower. The ground floor also had a bicycle with stabilisers whose proportions relative to everything else suggested it might belong to a local giant.
Our last stop was at a small museum that was largely incomprehensible for those who don't read Polish, but our effort was rewarded by the sight of a fully illuminated and operational model amusement park built from Faller Kits, including a Break Dance, a Ferris Wheel, a Fun Schiff, a Pirate Island Flume, a Power Tower, a Wilde Maus, and quite a few more. The amount of effort that must have gone into producing this exhibit was enormous, and we passed several minutes admiring it.
15th May 2016
We arrived at Jura Centrum and parked our car in front of a building that looked to have been out of use for some time. A missing letter on the sign suggested the place might have been abandoned, but countering that was a temporary canvas poster located on the gate. We decided to investigate, and walked down the side of the building to see what we might find. Much to our surprise there were two members of staff there, and one of them was quite happy to sell us tickets to ride the coaster. He pointed us in the direction that it was in and told us that he'd follow us there, which he did a few minutes later on a bicycle.
Dragon (#2234) has a maximum height of no more than fifteen feet, but despite that features just shy of nine hundred feet of track spread out over an enormous eleven thousand square feet of land. The twenty-four seat train is propelled around the course by strategically placed tyre drive motors that give the train enough power to coast around the other sections, making it a genuine credit and a truly unique one; I can't think of any other coaster with such limited height that covers as big an area.
Though the park was empty today it was evident that a lot of effort had gone into its landscaping, suggesting that it does see regular clientele. The only major attraction other than the coaster was a miniature train that went all the way around the grounds, including a wooden bridge across a lake marked by redbrick archways at either end. Beyond that there were three small children's rides and a climbing structure, and as none of those appealed to us we decided to bring forward our planned departure for a last minute addition to the trip.
15th May 2016
After returning to our hotel room yesterday evening Megan joked about the presence of an entirely fictional fair visible from the window with the aim of making me get out of bed. Little did either of us know that there was in fact a small funfair set up less than a mile from where we were staying in the shadow of Plaża Kraków, a beach club with restaurant, café, and pool. We'd have missed it entirely had we not driven past it on our way out of the hotel earlier in the day, but quick work with the GPS allowed us to call in on the way back to the airport.
We learned subsequently that the fair had been due to conclude the week before, but a few of the rides had been left in place for extra days due to the crowds attending the marathon. One of these was Smok (#2235), a reasonably sized family coaster with a single helix design traversed by a bright green six car train. It's fair to say that the ride wouldn't top any favourites list, but a bonus credit marked a great way to wrap up a highly enjoyable nine day trip to the continent.