In mid-September I decided that I'd like to do one more coaster expedition before the end of the year. My initial thought was to try for some parks in France, but research quickly revealed that to be impractical as the vast majority had already closed for the season. After several frustrating hours it became apparent that the only workable option was a return to Germany, and I duly assembled a routing that the more sensible among us would label as credit whoring beyond redemption: a shade under two thousand kilometres of driving that took in five alpine coasters, four butterflies, two bizarre family coasters, two travelling kiddie coasters, and a powered tornado.
For all the silliness, however, we had a wonderful time. Some couples go for romantic weekends away in expensive hotels. Others spend their together time sitting on beaches in the sunshine. Yet others go to art galleries, museums, and perhaps even the opera. Megan and I are quite comfortable spending hours in the car in pursuit of obscure coasters. I'd have it no other way.
29th October 2016
Rügen Park is a small family park located on an island just off the north-eastern coast of Germany. There is a bridge to the mainland, but even still the location is am arsch der welt, making it a challenge to shoehorn into an enthusiast itinerary. The nearest commercial airport is Szczecin-Goleniow, located around three hours away by road on the far side of the Polish border, and the nearest major hubs are closer to four even allowing for segments of derestricted autobahn. We elected to use the old reliable launch point of Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel, and though we left there before 11:00am it was mid afternoon when the chequered flag finally appeared on our GPS screen.
During the drive we'd chatted about the inherent ridiculousness of a travelling such a distance for a park containing a butterfly and a Zamperla 80STD. I joked in a good-natured way about the possibility of one or other being closed, though I'll admit to being slightly less than impressed when we arrived at the main entrance gate to a sign proclaiming die familienachterbahn wartet auf ihr ersatzteil, sie kann daher leider nicht genutzt werden. There was no mobile phone signal available to translate the German, but none was needed; it was evident that the barely worthwhile credit was kaput, leaving us with a small consolation prize that many of the more sensible enthusiasts would have chosen to eschew.
Nevertheless we bought our admission tickets and walked through the gate where were were greeted by a six foot high model of Notre Dame de Paris. This turned out to be one of around a hundred miniature replicas scattered around the park. The majority were from the present day, though they were supplemented by a few pieces from years gone by, including an anchored RMS Titanic guarded by the Colossus of Rhodes. There were only a few other guests in the park, perhaps unsurprising on a cold day at the end of the season, and thus we were able to explore the various sights largely undisturbed.
In due course we wound up at the faulty coaster, which at first glance showed no obvious signs of trouble. On closer inspection however it became apparent that the cover on the lift hill motor was open, making it fairly obvious what was going on. We took a variety of photographs from a number of different angles before reluctantly accepting that this problem wasn't going to be rectified any time soon. There was an opportunity to provide entertainment for the chattering classes though, and with that in mind we posted a picture to Facebook accompanied by a single word caption that the reader is welcome to interpolate for themselves. The responses, as usual, didn't disappoint.
There was a small crowd gathered around the Butterfly (#2301), which was apparently being marathoned by a child of around ten years. He was in the process of reboarding as we approached but spotted us and made way, allowing us to take our seats without any wait. There was no charge for riding, though we did need someone to press the start button on our behalf as it was not accessible through the wire fencing. The ride itself was running well, with no jerk at the start and smooth controlled braking at the end.
The park has two Nautic Jet rides located side by side. One of the pair was very obviously in an advanced state of non-functionality, but the other was fully operational, and once again there was no upcharge. The posted weight limit of seventy-five kilos rendered it off limits to me, but Megan was well within range, and she reported a decent enough ride. She also said nice things about the Luna Loop and the Superrutsche giant slide, a six lane model with a single bump and a total height of perhaps thirty feet.
We decided to finish up our visit with the Train Ride, a one kilometre loop traversed by a diesel-powered locomotive in the shape of a steam engine. The routing passed through the middle of the Kolosseum, followed less than ten seconds later by a portion of the Chinesische Mauer. I found myself trying to work out what the equivalent ground speed would need to be in order to see the same two landmarks in real life, assuming the most direct route, and I concluded that it would require a ground speed in the region of three million kilometers per hour, not allowing for acceleration and deceleration. I've since put the same figures into a calculator and determined that getting to that speed over a period of one second would necessitate a force roughly eighty thousand times that of gravity which would represent instant vaporisation. Yes, I'm a nerd.
29th October 2016
The city of Bergen auf Rügen can be found roughly twenty minutes drive from Rügen Park, and it is well worth making a brief detour to experience one of the world's shortest alpine coasters. Inselrodelbahn Bergen is just 415 metres in length, putting it twelve spots from the bottom among the 220 known installations worldwide, but as readers will know headline statistics have no bearing whatsoever on ride quality. One classic example of this phenomenon is Jungle Storm, a 190 metre long indoor coaster that is one of the most intense rides I've been on.
The ticket price today was a very reasonable €2, though it would be remiss of me not to record that the staff member at the counter was in a distinctly unhelpful mood, flatly refusing to break a €20 note despite an abundance of coinage in clear view on his desk. He was duly rewarded for his intransigence by the smallest change we could find, which he gruffly exchanged for two blue-coloured tokens embossed with the attraction logo.
The Wiegand-built ride operates with a total of twenty-four sleds divided equally between red, yellow, blue, and green. Dispatch was being controlled by a man in his mid-fifties who said nothing but smiled pleasantly and gave me a thumbs up when it was time to go. The course started out very slowly, with a gentle turn to the right on a slope of no more than five degrees, but at the fifteen second mark it picked up dramatically with three consecutive stepped descents. The remainder of the track was made up of alternating turns permeated with intense and powerful lateral forces, though it came to an end far too soon.
29th October 2016
I'd decided against putting an evening fair into today's itinerary on the grounds that I knew we'd be tired after an early morning flight. However, my resolve broke a few days before travel when it became apparent that two of the travelling coasters I'd yet to catch up with would be open in a city less than ten minutes away from the autobahn that we were intending to be on anyway. There were no designated car parks that we could find, but we managed to finagle an on-street spot located no more than one hundred metres away from the nearest ride.
Our first stop was Tornado (Wolters-Domke), a powered kiddie coaster that has been touring smaller fairs for somewhere in the region of two decades. The layout and theming was the same as that of the permanent installation of the same name at Jenkinson's Boardwalk in the United States, though the basic experience was supplemented by a dry ice machine that kicked in on lap two out of six. The cars were clearly designed with adults in mind, and for our ride virtually all of the seats were occupied by middle-aged locals who were clearly having a great time.
The fair was split into two distinct sections. Some of the rides were installed in a pedestrianised town square, while the others had been shunted into a public garden nearby. We wandered over to the second set where we found Speedy (Welte) (#2302), a family coaster and clone of Coco Beach which we rode back in August in Warendorf. This version had a surprisingly good pop of airtime on the first drop, and though the subsequent laps felt a little weaker we nevertheless enjoyed our ride.