Coaster Kingdom

Power Tower 2, German Fairs
Saturday, February 24, 2007

Going to a German fair and want somewhere to stay? Before you scour the worldwide web in vain for an appropriate abode, may I be the first to recommend Ewald Schneider's Grand Hotel, an illustrious 13-story tower that can be found in the cities of all great German fairs such as Dusseldorf, Hanover and Stuttgart.

This hotel is as prestigious as it is distinguished, and is the place to be seen for society's very most elite. Indeed, this hotel's guestbook must sound more like a rolecall from a film premiere with guests such as Marylyn Monroe and David Beckham having chosen The Grand as their residence of choice.

Such repute is further enforced by the fact that you're guaranteed a spectacular view of the vast German fair 200ft, and let's be honest, who could turn their nose up at that?

I see I have a question from the sceptical young man on the back row... "What's the catch?". Well, the catch is that this hotel has no rooms at all, just a 66 meter high-speed elevator to - well, nowhere.

Now, before you pack your holdall and two suitcases with towels and tuxedos, I should perhaps use this opportunity to admit now that perhaps calling The Grand a hotel is glossing over the truth somewhat.

Indeed, the Grand Hotel, is infact an intricate overlay for Ewald Schneider's Maurer Sohne Power Tower, his second from the German manufacturers ingeniously named... Power Tower 2.

If you're looking for a luxurious night's accommodation, Power Tower 2 will disappoint. But if you're looking for the world's tallest transportable freefall ride, congratulations, you're at the right place.

If you want people to notice your ride, historically the best way to go about this is to change the skyline dramatically. With a slender silver-grey latticework tower reflecting the sunlight like a 200ft long florescent lightbulb, Power Tower 2 certainly wants to be noticed, and just to remove any doubt of this, 10,000 lights on a 20ft sign alone broadcast ride stats and generally begs for your attention.

Should you resist the allure of Power Tower 2 by daylight, it is hard to ignore its call after sundown. The entire tower is spectacularly lit with a rainbow of lights stretching to the very peak, with the 32-seat florescent yellow gondola lit by searchlight that follows its merry jaunt up and - inevitably - down.

Checking into Power Tower 2 is fairly painless. The lobby area is decorated with tubs of ferns, hanging baskets and all the other accessories that you'd associate with a stay in an upmarket hotel. Yes, there is even a bellhop, even though he is distracted by teasing the female passenger in his lift on a colourful mural at the foot of the tower.

Having paid, token in hand you climb a set of stairs to the foot of the tower, either side of which the queue zig-zags the length of the platform. Queuing gives you an opportunity to appreciate the attention to detail with regards to the presentation of Power Tower 2. Bearing in mind that a backflash on a 200ft tower ride seems a fairly academic decoration, it is nice to see that Power Tower's is one of the best I've ever seen. Whilst many backflashes are a random melee of random butch/buxom characters doing things that butch and buxom people do, it is nice to see Power Tower's backflash skims the line between classy and boisterous, with the ornate backdrop of the hotel with famous guests such as former President Clinton and Hugh Grant enjoying the stay as boisterous characters honour the time-honoured tradition of a colourful and lively backdrop.

As expected from a German fair, the loading of Power Tower is absolutely faultless. Each length of queue either side of the tower holds 16 people behind a chain. The moment the ride ends, instead of filtering down the queue through a gate, the entire side of the queue drops down so that everyone can follow a line on the floor to their seat. The result? A 32 seater ride loaded in little over 20 seconds. Yes, this is an express elevator in every conceivable way.

The gondola is a 32-seater octagon surrounding the tower. Each seat is a deep, comfortable and fairly standard affair with a chunky overhead restraint without the unnecessary seatbelt.

Once comfortable, with the sound of some sonic lift call bell, you smoothly and briskly ascend the tower before smoothly stopping over sixty metres in the air. Suddenly, the hustle and bustle of the fair is suddenly viewed from a completely different perspective. Giving enough time for the realisation that there is no corridor lined with comfortable en-suite bedrooms at the peak of this hotel, there's obviously one way down.

Yep, you guessed it... down.

Four seconds later, you're at the bottom of the tower having dropped at around 46ft a second before immediately bouncing all the way up the tower and back down again. After some pitter-patter on the microphone, once again the sonic call bell accompanies a brisk climb up to the peak of the tower.

190 feet up again, a long pause leads into yet more high speed bounces up and down the length of the tower, before again you settle just feet in front of the queueline of waiting passengers below.

"More?!" harks the excitable operator. Passengers answer to the positive, and are cheekily booed by waiting passengers as the ride culminates with yet another 190ft bunnyhop before settling back on terra firma, restraints popping up and being promptly ushered off the ride.

In as many ways as the 'Grand Hotel' fails as a hotel, Power Tower 2 fails as a freefall, just not as spectacularly.

With the surprise of launches, the suspense of being held at the top and 190ft drops, Power Tower 2 really has the hallmarks of a great ride. But whilst most tower rides excel in either the launch or the drop, Power Tower 2 just sits somewhere in between, with neither the climb or the fall making that much of an impression.

But, my short-tempered friend, before you go trashing hotel rooms in a blind rage, Power Tower 2 does have many strings to its bow. The presentation of this ride is just about the best I've seen with a beautiful backflash, excellent lighting, a great sound system (even from 190ft up) and brilliant themed jingles.

In this respect, like even the worst German fair ride, Power Tower 2 has a solid bedrock of 'fun' on which the ride should build upon. It does, but if you're dealing with the currency of fun, you'll get more for your pound on other rides. Again, Power

Tower 2 sits awkwardly between the town of Extreme and Fun; the kind of place you drive through to get to the other.

Stay in the Grand Hotel, take advantage of the mini bar and pinch the coat hangers, but don't expect to be tipping the porters and sending postcards complimenting the stay. Power Tower 2 is simply a fairly good freefall with a fairly fun atmosphere. Certainly suitable for the odd visit, but not something to plan your holidays around.

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:

  • At 200ft tall, it is a tall ride by any standards, let along for a transportable ride
  • Power Tower is a superbly presented ride with excellent jingles and dialogue
  • Good capacity, and a good ride time

Bad points:

  • Let down by lack of forces - it has neither a particularly forceful drop or powerful launch, but is still a fun ride

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