We arrived for our second visit to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland right at the posted opening time, but things were apparently running behind schedule. We ended up having to wait around ten minutes, and we divided the time between people watching and shivering as the outside temperature wasn't much above freezing. When the all clear came over the radio we headed directly for Olympia Looping, reasoning correctly that we'd be able to get a front seat ride if we beat the crowds. This turned out to be absolutely spot on, though it'd be remiss of me not to record that attendance was still light by the time we had to leave some two hours later, indicating that weekday mornings are an excellent choice for a more relaxed visit to the fair.
The ride experience in the front was intense and thrilling. For all that, however, the fiendishly cold temperatures took their toll. My decision to put my hat into a zipped pocket suddenly seemed like an exceptionally poor life choice as the biting wind attacked my ears with no mercy whatsoever. The experience reminded me very much of an evening thirteen years ago when I found myself riding Dragon Kahn during a thunderstorm, and while being cold was preferable to being soaked it's fair to say that I wasn't in any hurry to take pole position a second time.
We decided to warm up with the Giant Wheel, operated by Mellors Group and configured with a lengthy set of switchbacks that could hold at least five hundred people. There was a food and drink stall embedded within the queuing area, and though we didn't partake the prices were actually quite reasonable. There were plenty of good photographs to be had from the apex, though the shot that I really wanted turned out to be impossible thanks to a badly positioned Star Flyer.
Megan's eye was caught by Haunted Mansion (Hinzen), a suspended dark ride that today was playing the Fata Morgana soundtrack from Efteling on loop. I found myself wondering how many of those in Hyde Park would recognise the tune, and concluded that the majority of the showmen likely would even if the regular denizens of London would be oblivious. The ride was surprisingly good, with the interior presentation being well beyond the norm for a fairground. There were also a few actors to liven things up further.
We concluded our visit with another back seat ride on Olympia Looping which was far more enjoyable than the front had been. I made a mental note to leave my front seat rides for the summer months in future.