Coaster Kingdom

Daemonen, Tivoli Gardens
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

There's always room in hell for a badly behaved person, just as there's always room in the mire of mediocrity for another run of the mill coaster. Daemonen goes to show that if you build it they will come; and if they come it doesn't necessarily mean that you've built a good coaster.

That said, Daemonen is definitely better than nothing, and certainly better than what came before it, Slangen, a Zierer coaster that was a living, breathing example of average personified.

It seems an unlikely undertaking to replace a tiny, non-descript family coaster with the notoriously lumbering steelwork of a B&M coaster, yet Tivoli Gardens have somehow managed the impossible and crammed a thrice-looping floorless coaster into what was a tight fit for even a small family coaster.

Daemonen is up there with the likes of The Big One and Nemesis in terms of coasters that are that shouldn't be - rides that are built in the face of adversity, using awkward situations to bring out the best in their respective designers.

A few manufacturers were invited to put a square block through a round hole in fitting the largest coaster in Denmark into an unfeasibly small plot of land with Intamin and Maurer Sohne both vying for Tivoli's money, but Tivoli Gardens eventually choosing the expertise of the notoriously prestige manufacturer, Bolliger and Mabillard.

Notorious not only for build quality, B&M have also earned a reputation for a softly-softly approach to ride design. While Intamin push the envelope so far that it drops off the edge never to be seen again, B&M get nervous sticking a stamp on it.

In a park bathed in maroon hues and trimmed with gold, a B&M somehow seemed the obvious choice for manufacturer. Classy, elegant and at the same time graceful, Daemonen's deep red track threads its way through the various lakeside pagodas that litter the back end of the park.

Daemonen is tiny. B&M have never been known for enormous coasters, but at just over 90-feet tall, it is their smallest coaster yet. Less Beelzebub, and more a little baby, it is hard to resist the temptation of grabbing Daemonen by the cheeks, craning your head towards it and speaking gibberish as you wave a rattle in his face.

A pint-sized coaster calls for pint-sized rolling stock, with Daemonen offering two six-car trains, at least two cars less than most similar coasters, yet still seating a decent 24 people per ride.

Daemonen's queue is little more than a staircase that climbs up between the ride's final brake-run and the track returning to the station. Recorded announcements in both Danish and English take the provision of not only taunting you with choice ride stats, but going through basic safety information, as well as reminding people how to unclip their seatbelts upon their return.

The station is uncharacteristically dull for Tivoli in the form of an open-sided building with a corrugated roof. The roof is gold, though, so it's classy as tin roofs go. I suppose.

Loading is supremely straightforward considering the ride has no floor. The golden train confidently enters the station, briefly slows to a nervous crawl before stopping, and a metal floor swoops from under the station platform, neatly flattening out underneath riders' suspended feet before the overhead restraints unlock.

Once seated, the process reverses, with the floor parting and receding like the Red Sea before the train is advanced onto a particularly steep lift hill.

Not a moment later, you're looking down on traffic, albeit from the moderate height of 92-feet, before peeling into a left-hand 180-degree bend, swooping suddenly to the right into an elevated carousel turn.

360-degrees later, the preamble ends as 48 dangling legs and accompanying torsos are pulled groundwards as the train drops 80-feet down a straight drop and into the first of three inversions; a vertical loop, briefly dipping below ground before swooping up through this moderately-sized loop.

Not wasting a second, the train drops out of this, and climbs immediately into an absolutely miniscule immelman, starting with a half-loop, swooping out to the side as it exits and curling around the front of the vertical loop at the front of the ride in a particularly serpentine fashion.

No time to regain your composure as the train fights against gravity, soaring skywards and elegantly rolling through an inline twist, probably the smallest camelback inline twist ever forged from steel.

Smooth and surprisingly forceful for Daemonen, you are pulled to the side, before exiting into a swooping turn that briefly follows the line of the lift, before breaking away into an anti-clockwise turn, swooping through a vague s-turn between a forest of supports.

The final turn dips and abruptly climbs onto the brakes, giving a few riders a neat little pop of airtime, before the train stops and makes its final advance into the station.

So is Daemonen heaven or hell? Well, truth be told; neither.

Excuse me as I reach for my thesaurus, but I need more synonyms for the word 'average'. Daemonen is nowhere near a bad ride, definitely not, but it hardly sets the world alight.

One of the biggest problems seems to now be a perennial one with B&M - it is utterly forceless.

Nemesis goes to show that you don't need to be battered black and blue to have a forceful ride, but B&M's aforementioned softly-softly approach is becoming softer and softer.

The argument of course is that for that people don't want to have blood rushing to the head/legs, then this makes a thrilling coaster more accessible, but by having a smooth and forceless ride, you remove any form of character and feeling of speed and aggression that should be associated with such a large ride.

This isn't to say there are absolutely no forces. The first drop is actually fairly decent, and the inline twist is good, even if not up to B&M's normal standards.

Elsewhere, though, there are plenty of elements that look to be a riot, but unfortunately are just a peaceful protest.

The vertical loop, for example, is terrible. This is the one area I thought the ride would deliver, offering a negative-to-positive-g contrast as it plunges from the straight drop into a small loop.

But in fact, the pacing is comparably pedestrian. No real hang time, but at the same time, no real bout of Gs, either at the top or bottom.

The immelman is equally disappointing. At the size of a croquet hoop and a suitably skewed looking exit, it had the potential really disorientate riders, but in actuality it feels so calculated and smooth that I can't understand how such a small element doesn't feel commanding in any way.

Daemonen also has bizarre pacing in the form of a slow start, three inversions back-to-back and then a slow ending.

The back seat seems to wake a few of the earlier and later turns up from their slumber - the swoop into the carousel turn is a good example, and the final slalom into the brakes at the end of the ride.

But despite this, the niggles remain. The beginning especially is disproportionately dull, and although this could be put down to showmanship, there really is no excuse for the fairly flat finale to follow the three inversions.

Riding Daemonen, you get the awkward feeling that the inversions were a must, even if it meant getting to and from them meant needless meandering. While the inversions are undoubtedly the ride's highlight, you cannot escape the uncomfortable feeling that everything before and after serves only to pad out and already short ride.

While we pick holes, it is important to remember just how much of a difference Daemonen has made to Tivoli Gardens. The coaster helped Tivoli achieve record attendance in 2004, and despite being, well, boring, seems to be a popular coaster nevertheless.

So, is it worth making any graven images or taking the lord's name in vain to afford yourself the opportunity to shake the hand of this Danish Demon? Absolutely not. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you need to live life as a pillar of virtue, as Daemonen is a fairly good coaster.

But, if you do love thy neighbour, at least you can carry on safe in the knowledge that there are far better compact roller coasters for you to enjoy without having to visit Copenhagen for Daemonen.

Good points:

  • A quality ride in a quality park
  • Nice and smooth, and not too terrifying
  • Interesting layout with original start

Bad points:

  • Slow beginning
  • Slow ending
  • Not particularly fast middle
  • Terribly forceless

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