Coaster Kingdom

Batman: La Fuga, Parque Warner
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"No policeman's going to give the Batmobile a ticket."
"This money goes to building better roads. We all must do our part."

These are words of wisdom from the mouth of Batman, a superhero quite unlike any other. Batman has always been famous for his lack of super-powers and his inability to fly. He has made it fashionable to go to the scenes of crime in a Batmobile, lecture robin about the use of English ("good grammar is essential, Robin") and to use his quick wit and bare fists to fight crime.

The same can be said of La Fuga. Whilst other rides use new technology and gimmicks to their advantage, Batman: La Fuga uses a tried and tested layout on a tried and tested design and delivers as much, if not more that the less contemporary 21st century gimmick coasters.

We pick up the story at Arkham, the fortified home for the criminally insane. Crime scene tape is wrapped around the entrance arch as you go through a small garden outside the large asylum.

As soon as you walk through the doors of Arkham, you can feel that something is wrong. Arkham was home to some of Gotham City's most colourful crooks such as Catwoman, Riddler and Joker, all equally hell-bent on escaping - all equally sucessful.

Walking through the dank corridors of Arkham, this ‘home for the criminally insane' is clearly a prison with knobs on. Every corridor is patrolled by CCTV cameras, walls are grey breezeblocks and urine soaked cells hardly give the Hilton Hotel a run for their money.

An infestation of ivy follows crawls the length of the corridor, and graffiti with such unsettling comments like "So long, losers!" ring alarm bells that you duly ignore.

You pass the lockers with such tongue in cheek contents such as cattle prods and chain and balls before entering a social room. Chairs and tables are overturned on the floor, and a guard has been frozen to death behind his unfinished game of chequers.

The trains are shorter than standard with seven cars of four as opposed to eight. Many of B&M's smaller, more forceful rides of late are a car short much like Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park.

You take your seat in a normal B&M inverter train upholstered with dark blue seats and striking yellow restraints before bars are checked and the floor silently drops away as the train advances onto the short 100ft lift.

If swooping drops don't go to extremes, they are normally something I don't really care for. Batman's offers a nice sensation, not dissimilar to toothpase going down a plughole. It is a steep drop, but the banking is what makes it feel so special.

Without due hesitation, a tight climb sends you into a small vertical loop offering an absolutely impeccable mixture of forces and visuals even at the top.

If you were worried about your feet hitting the shrubbery below, the train tears away from the ground, cavorting towards the stained masonry and tiled roof of Arkham before rolling clockwise through an inline twist.

The inline twist goes to show that you can have a forceful element that pins your head to the side without going anywhere near the town of Rough.

Completing this remorseless hat-trick of inversions and perfectly complimenting the first, a vertical loop.

This string of three inversions represents one of the best starts to any coaster I've ridden. It isn't a one-trick first drop, but three well timed inversions which hit you unremittingly one after the other.

No rest for the peacekeeping superhero as the 28 riders are dragged kicking and screaming into a tight anti-clockwise helix. This spiral follows the line of the final turn into the brakes. As every support you pass gets closer and closer, instinct insists you pull your legs up, but the powerful G-forces never afford you this opportunity.

As the helix ends, you gracefully swoop around a 180-degree bend before dropping into an abrupt corkscrew, another perfect blend of forces, never compromising your comfort before a tight turn pulls you away from a pair of gargoyles and the wall of Arkham Asylum before you are forced down into a trench, sharply yanking your legs away from the concrete sides before you explode into a final corkscrew, finishing by making a final 180-degree turn onto the sharp brakes.

I'll start off with my complaints about Batman: It's quite a short ride.

Now that my complaints are out of the way, baton down the hatches Gotham City, as here comes a tidal wave - a veritable tsunami of praise. Actually, having ‘complained' about the length of the ride, the faultless pacing and merciless consistency of intensity is probably down to the undiluted length of Batman - a ride's intensity can become watered down by length.

Batman is a good ride because the start doesn't outshine the rest, and the beginning isn't just track leading into the spectacular finale. It is consistently fast, persistently intense and simply doesn't let up until the brakes say so.

Overlooking the intensity of the ride, there's no shortage of stand-out moments. Like Nemesis, it performs well to the spectator, and at one point shadows the pathway below (inline twist). Meanwhile, on the ride the structure plays an important roll in the illusion of foot-choppers, and going beyond what the original Batmen offer, the buildings are also used at least twice to fool you into thinking that you'll be going through one of the windows.

The theming is the icing on an utterly delicious cake. The ride never relies on the theme, but the theming fuses so well and really sets off the whole attraction. Never are you brainwashed by tedious pre-shows and videos that you miss when there is no queue. Everything is real, and makes what would be an otherwise uneventful walk into part of the attraction. Going against what seems to be an unwritten decree, the theme is also carried through right until the end, and isn't forgotten as soon as the train hits the brakes.

Batman: La Fuga is a true thoroughbred coaster. Many rides use advances in technology to their advantage, but Batman relies solely on a dynamic layout and tremendous pacing to thrill.

Looking at the layout alone, Batman is hard to beat, but the theming just prolongs the enjoyment of an already faultless coaster.

Please, do not use our ratings to compare rides head-to-head. They rate only how well this ride meets its own objectives using criteria that may not necessarily be relevant with similar reviews.

Good points:

  • A highly imaginative theme centred around the Arkham Asylum and a incredibly intense inverted coaster
  • Although a clone, it is unique to Europe and offers a well paced and punchy ride
  • The ride quality is easily of the same standard as Nemesis

Bad points:

  • Despite the excellent theming, the station theming is quite bland, and some of the area that the ride takes place in is also plain
  • Some might argue that it is too short. But they're wrong

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