Last year I decided not to travel to London for Hyde Park Winter Wonderland despite the presence of a new family coaster. Though tempting, it was impossible to justify paying the roughly three hundred euro it'd have cost me for two sets of flights and train tickets when I could ride the major coaster for considerably less money on the continent. I'd have passed on the event this year too but for a business meeting in Croydon, which I decided to link with an overnight hotel and tickets for The Book of Mormon. (Readers who have yet to see the show are encouraged to buy tickets; it's excellent).
The Southern Rail service from Croydon was running on schedule, despite all expectations, and I duly arrived into London Victoria shortly after half past five. Megan was waiting in the lobby of our hotel, and having dropped bags we walked briskly across to the fairground. Our first stop ended up being at the indoor Ice Mountain coaster, which this year featured the Mellors Group spinning mouse instead of the Matthews & White unit that I rode back in 2014. My trip report from that day made fun of the fact that building interior looked utterly plain when compared to the impressive exterior, but in the intervening years a lot of improvements have been made. The experience is still that of a cookie cutter attraction that feels overpriced at £6, but it was doing a good trade tonight, indicating that the owners are doing something right.
With that done we cast shame aside and took the front seats of Racing Coaster (Manning) (#2308), a SBF Visa F1 Vortex Coaster. The layout was new to us, as we'd been unable to ride the only other version we'd seen up close back in May. The experience was unsurprisingly forceless, but the tracking was smooth, making a nice change when compared against the other rides from the same manufacturer. The operator seemed entertained by the fact that his only two customers were old enough to know better, perhaps explaining why he sent us round for ten laps.
The real draw was always going to be Olympia Looping, making its English premiere after twenty-seven years of touring around Europe. Only a single five car train was in use tonight, but despite that the usual German efficiency was very much in evidence, with just twenty seconds passing between arrival and dispatch. We took our favourite seat in the back row, from where we were treated to a thrilling and enjoyable ride. We followed it with Wilde Maus XXL, and though our ride was okay it's worth noting that trim brakes were in use, rendering the experience far less thrilling than it had been in Nürnberg.