Expedition Ge-Force (Holiday Park)
regard record-breaking statistics as a marketing tool, and not necessarily
representative of the ride to be had. A good example is Blackpool Pleasure
Beach’s Big One. At little over 200ft, it is still sold to us as being the
Worlds’ tallest, fastest and steepest roller coaster. What they don’t
mention is that this record was lost over five years ago, moreover the middling
ride to be had at the end of it.
not into statistics. I don’t know in terms of feet how long a ride is, I am
not entirely sure how many coasters I have ridden and how many times I have
ridden them. I’m in it for the adrenaline. I enjoy the feeling of impending
doom when roller coasters are as safe as houses.
XL200 was the first 200ft-tall roller coaster to be built. Since then, so-called
hyper coasters have spread like fungi throughout the world. The textbook term of
hyper coaster is an out and back roller coaster to go over 200ft. This term
has been hazed somewhat by rides like X (which includes loops) and Steel
Eel (has all the credentials but stands at only 150ft). This proves my point
that this whole culture of statistics is flawed.
claim the tallest now is becoming a feat in itself. At nearly 350ft, Steel
Dragon is currently the tallest, and few parks have the financial clout let
alone the space to build such a behemoth. As such, we’re enjoying more
coasters around the 200-250ft mark like Superman, Raging Bull and more recently,
Ge-Force is in this field of ambiguity at 175ft tall. It isn’t the tallest,
nor the longest, but it is the perfect example of how the term ‘worlds
tallest’ is merely something to put on the front of the park map, not a
benchmark in thrills.
Park is a bit like Oakwood. It was unheard of until recently, and as far as Joe
Public goes, it remains so. The skyline has always been broken by the 200ft
Intamin Freefall Tower, and has since been re-drawn again by the vivid track of
woodland area towards the back of the park has been cleared for a colonial
expedition camp base. Supplies are stacked up, tents congregate around the base
of the drop and jeeps are parked up where the gravel roadway meets the dense
tents are open for supplies such as doughnuts and drinks, there is also the Pi
Pi Station, a place to relieve yourself before you enjoy the expedition itself.
this camp, the vivid orange crosshatch track of Expedition Ge-Force. The
supports are a musty green-brown colour and support the insane direction changes
of Intamin’s latest contribution to the world of coasters.
element of Expedition Ge-Force is completely over-exaggerated. The first drop is
not far off vertical, flicking you 95-degrees to the right before swooping off
into a parabolic hill. Not too long after disappearing into the trees behind,
the track does a dramatic overbanked turn above the pathway.
diving behind the campsite, an undulating series of bunnyhops takes you into the
final brake run with a 180-degree turn taking you into the station.
you ride, you can check your dimensions in a mock up seat and restraint set up
at the entrance to the ride. If you pass this ‘test’, let the expedition
begin. You pass under a corrugated Expedition Ge-Force sign before the queue
veers off to the left.
lift hill that you queue beneath has quite a minimalist structure – no more
than Thorpe Parks’ Colossus. The similarities here end, though. Following
on from the complex but necessary cable lift from Millennium Force,
Expedition Ge-Force makes use of a similar, more refined system. The queue
weaves under the taught return of this cable, with makeshift scaffolding arching
above your head.
you approach the station, the queue forks into two for people who wish to queue
for the front, and for those who wish to queue elsewhere. A corrugated tunnel
takes those who have lost the will to ride beneath the lift back to safety,
before those who are hardy enough climb the stairs to the station.
station is large and minimalist. It features little more than a small building
for the operators, a corrugated ‘shelter’ for storing those valuables that
you’ll lose on the ride and the automatic gates for you to queue behind with a
barrier further separating the back seats for your enjoyment.
trains come in a brighter shade of bright and brighter still. The orange one is
the most tasteful, yet still bright enough to make a road cone seem
inconspicuous. Most worrying of all is the day-glow fluorescent yellow train,
bright enough to burn itself onto the back of your retinas.
minimalism prevails, meaning most of the train is the relatively dull emerald
green, not the almost insulting shades fore mentioned.
trains follow a popular trend of being little more than seats on wheels. The
train makes use of tiered seating, meaning the second row of each car is higher
than the first meaning your view of the twisted track ahead is unrestricted.
are no sides to the train, just a snug lap bar and seat belt to hold you in. The
lap bar is strongly enforced, pushed down as far as it will go by members of
staff. Having ridden Expedition Ge-Force, it is a wise move not to take
liberties or you could easily be regretting it.
loading of the train is slow. Seat belts are fastened by members of the public,
checked and tightened by members of staff before lap bars are lowered and pushed
down as they’re checked. The ride is quite short, so halfway through these
proceedings, the other train sits in wait on the brake run.
you’re in, the train smoothly, silently and swiftly starts the climb on the
lift. With a single clunk of anti-rollbacks, complete silence accompanies your
accelerated jaunt up this lift. As you climb, there is ample opportunity to pan
right and look at the glorious layout of this sprawling giant.
approach the mast at the top of the lift, and without pausing, without even
slowing, the train drops from beneath you.
you can even breathe, you pitch impossibly to the right, cavorting towards the
ground in a literal second of perfectly engineered madness. Despite being almost
vertical, despite plunging beyond the natural angle of descent, the drop is
fluid with the train almost floating down.
bottom out, pulling unnatural amounts of Gs before you are peeled away from the
ground into a near-parabolic hill. Before you even hit the top, you rise from
your seat and are pulled by the restraints on your legs as the train drops back
towards the ground.
you can even get there, once again in a flurry of G-forces, the train turns and
banks to the right, tilting beyond the normal 90-degrees into a particularly
exposed moment in an overbanked turn.
out once again delivers generous amounts of Gs before you are plunged over
another enormous bunny hop. You soon realise that as you jump over each drop,
the wheels lift from the track and are complete silence until the bottom.
overbanked turn takes place towards the station and the pathway in front before
you slalom over a lake essentially forming an over-sized figure-eight. Another
turn towards the back of the ride takes you through the first of two magnetic
trim-brakes, both of which are noticeable, neither of which succeed in taking
the bite out of the remainder of the ride.
soon clock a twist in the track approaching. As you brace your legs for what
seems inevitable, the train is spectacularly flicked from a right-hand curve
into a left-hand stance in the matter of feet with unparalleled elegance.
in the shadow of the first overbanked turn, a sweeping curve takes you into
another bunny-hop, shrouded in the supports from the second hill offering some
of the most sustained and cranium scraping head choppers ever experienced just
as you raise from your seat in another unrelenting moment of airtime.
climb before a relatively shallow drop, unfortunately crowned by another trim,
turning behind the beige tents that form the campsite, now running parallel in
the opposite direction to the lift throwing you up once, twice in two instances
of airtime on the final bunny hops forming the return stretch, before a flash of
cameras as you are swiftly brought to a halt by the magnetic brakes.
you slowly advance into the station, you have an opportunity to fumble around
with your seatbelt before a member of staff does the honours for you. Most
seatbelts are unfastened by the time the restraint unlocks leaving you to jump
from the train.
one thing that strikes me about Expedition Ge-Force are the many directions in
which the train is turned on the first drop, the overstated angles of the
overbanked turns and the sharp twist to the left mid-course. Yet every one feels
so natural, so fluid and so normal.
train executes each insanely rough-looking element with unrivalled grace. The
ride also gets the mix of sensations just right. The overbanked turns are a
novel addition in comparison to many hyper coasters, but whilst the aim of these
is to emphasise the feeling of speed, the drops and bunny-hops take care of
airtime, leaving your toes curling as your seat is pulled from beneath.
brakes are normally as welcome on a ride as Britney Spears at an Eminem concert,
yet whilst these are clearly felt as you pass them, the rest of the ride is as
powerful as when it starts, and isn’t spent going down steep hills slowly,
thinking what a waste the end is.
well as the track being perfectly manufactured perfection, the trains completely
show up the wheeled buckets of the Big One. The feeling of vulnerability is
strongly exaggerated, something which helps no end in my enthusiasm towards the
ride a coaster with high expectations and to have them met is always a pleasure.
To have them exceeded is just heavenly.
5*/5 Marcus Sheen