Our second full day in the Ukraine began with an early morning flight from Chernivtsi to Kiev. We landed right on time and promptly headed out of the city in a rental car towards Chernihiv, about two hours drive to the north-east and just over one hundred kilometres from where we'd been earlier in the week. The road wasn't quite to the standard of Belarusian motorways but it was in reasonable condition and the journey went quickly enough. There was no official parking near our destination, but after a few minutes of exploring we found a spot for our car in a nearby residential street.
The various attractions within Mis'kyi Park open at 12:00pm, and as we were a little early we decided to explore. It was immediately evident that most of the rides were inside a gated area targeted at children, and the majority looked to have been there for years. The only really interesting thing among the mix was an Angry Birds game with a large catapult that could be used to knock soft toys off a shelf. There were just two machines for older visitors, both located in a separate section of the park: a locally built Tumble Bug (named Горкц Веселые, loosely translated as Horse Fun) and the coaster.
There was no sign of life at Hoverla (#2344) at noon, so Bruno and Anita went to the main office to find out whether it was going to open today. They came back with tickets and the words five minutes, which in the local patois broadly equates to maybe later. We decided to hang around, and were rewarded at about 12:30pm when an operator materialised. He performed a single test run, then made a few manual adjustments to the station brake before calling us forward. Megan and Anita decided to go to the back, while Bruno and I headed to the front. We had hoped to keep our cameras with us, but we were instructed to leave them on a side table due to the ride having a loop in it.
The lift hill and first drop on the ride were identical in comfort level to the version in Chernivtsi, but the rest of the layout was beyond awful. There was a horrendous snap at the exit of the loop, and assorted slams throughout the rest of the course that seriously hurt. It was an enormous relief when we stopped after just one circuit, and even Megan (who invariably enjoys awful coasters) said that she'd forgo a repeat. I took a photograph of the manufacturer plate on disembarking, and was genuinely stunned to see that it was a 2012 build, six years newer than the one we'd enjoyed. Bruno suggested that Analog coasters might be like wine, getting better with age, but a better explanation is the fact that this unit apparently operates from -10C to +40C, which likely does the steel no favours.
7th July 2017
Two new shopping malls with in-built amusement parks were proposed for Kiev in the early part of the noughties. Respublika was originally supposed to open in late 2014, but construction stopped at some point in 2015 and the entire project has been stalled since. Photographs of the interior taken by urban explorers can be found online, including shots of a custom Vekoma family coaster wrapped in protective plastic. The Lavina Mall has been somewhat more successful, having managed to open in December 2016, but the business is obviously struggling; tonight there were no more than fifty cars in the enormous parking lot and most of the food court was closed, a bit worrying for a Friday evening.
Galaxy is the name of the embedded amusement park, and it certainly looks like a top notch facility, with a large space holding some fifteen different rides and attractions. It felt a little strange to see them labelled with their manufacturer's names, such as Bounce Spin 6, Midi Dance Party, Suspended Family Coaster Mk900, Wind Shear Suspended 22 and so on, but we concluded that the owners thought that they would gain extra respectability with foreign equipment and English language names. The general appearance of the place was excellent, and the only immediate negative was the fact that security guards outnumbered customers by a factor of at least two to one.
The bad news was that the big coaster was down due to a technical fault, and we subsequently learned via the concierge in our hotel that it would not be fixed until after the time of our return flight. We decided to go ahead and buy tickets for the smaller coaster so that we could at least tick that off, and it was at that point that things got ridiculous; before we were given our ride card we were instructed to fill in and sign a legal waiver accepting all responsibility for anything that might happen while using the equipment. This was supplied in English, though the staff disavowed any knowledge of the language and therefore there was no point in politely asking whether we should seek professional advice prior to signing. Anita completed a form on behalf of all of us, which was a shame really; I was ready to fill one in on behalf of a Dr Emmet Brown from Hill Valley, California.
There was even sillier to come; the operator on Spinning Coaster (#2345) insisted that we should remove our glasses, apparently because not doing so on a figure eight spinning coaster in this part of the world constitutes an enormous safety risk. I found myself wondering briefly whether this installation featured a previously unsuspected level of intensity beyond that of the many other versions out there, but I was quickly disabused of that notion as we dispatched and completed a handful of clunky laps at the expected pace with only a modicum of spinning. There was absolutely no chance of glasses being thrown, and I rather suspect that it would have been possible to balance a ping pong ball in an open hand without losing it.
The most interesting attraction of the evening ended up being the Horror House, a unique take on the genre themed as a space ship that had been overrun by aliens. The pre-show scene was a little strange, as we were told to buckle our seat belts while the floor vibrated for a few seconds, but presumably that was a part of the story that might have made more sense if we'd been able to understand the narration. The remaining rooms were very detailed, and featured a selection of animatronics attacking obviously deceased crew members in orange jumpsuits.