Coaster Kingdom

Goudurix (Parc Asterix)

When Parc Asterix opened, many were disappointed that a wooden coaster similar to that depicted many times in Asterix's adventures wouldn't be making an appearance. The whim at that point was looping coasters, and that race was to add as many inversions as possible. Not many parks managed to pull off good rides, even at that time they weren't subject to great applause, and the only manufacturers of loopers then were (mostly) Arrow and Vekoma.

Parc Asterix is a beautiful park. It is built around a large lake, the wooden coaster Tonnerre De Zeus on the left, Gouderix, actually on the lake on the right hand side. I never thought it possible to make a Vekoma coaster look nice, but the park have managed to pull this off, no doubt.

Other than these two behemoths the rest of the park is very quaint. The humour is very evident, lingerie shops selling vine leaves for instance, and this is very much the trend through the whole park. The park has spent a lot of money on upgrading the theming, of which the investment has yet to make it to Gouderix other than in the shape of the new style Vekoma cars.

The queue starts off in a garden over which the ride loops. This provides some superb photo opportunities, before the queue goes off around the back between the station and the brake run. The station is raised, so the last part of the queue climbs a flight of stairs.

The theming of the station is simple. No roof, nothing. It is merely a patio (a small one at that) with the track running through the middle. The controls reside inside a garden shed like booth in the back corner. As riders leave the train, its your turn to ride, and you clamber inside the train and pull down the small overhead restraints.

This ride is famous for two things. It's the only seven looper without a mid-course brake run, and its famed for its none too graceful curves. In fact, many people call this the roughest ride on the planet. Ironically, it started off like many Vekoma coasters did, smooth. However, as its aged, its become extremely rough.

The train leaves the station and dips before engaging the lift. The lift is not particularly fast, although with the new trains its quieter (the old ones' rollbacks could be heard from the other side of the park).

At the top, you dip and turn to the left. The pace quickens as you encounter the first, straight drop. At first you think it will be packed with airtime. None. At the bottom, as you're getting faster, you jump off dry land as much of the remainder will take place over water.

You climb into what can only be described as a contorted cobra roll. The exit though is in the opposite direction to where you enter, you instead of being turned around, you continue in the same direction. The first half is rough, the exit is unbearable as you're head is rallied between the overhead restraint.

Soon after this, a butterfly element. You have lost little speed from the last inversion, and you climb, flip over and dive out before doing the same in reverse. Think of Bolliger and Mabillards batwing here, just rougher. The exit again is fast and unforgivably rough.

Following this, the pace slows. You go through a vertical loop, climb, dip and through a turnaround, and hit two consecutive corkscrews, both rough, but a welcome relief from the first four inversions. Seven inversions later, you have slowed and hit the brakes at a less than reasonable pace.

I could here just dismiss the ride as being a waste of space, money and time, but whilst I agree with that sentiment, I should really explain why. It takes no Einstein to design a looper. The general rule is you go up, go down and go through a series of inversions, most smaller than the one before.

Normally though, an effort to be original is made. There are a few helixes thrown in for variation, perhaps a dip or two. If you're really lucky you'll get a tunnel or something. On Gouderix however, you get a drop and some loops. Nothing more, nothing less.

The roughness is unforgivable. It kills any sensation of speed that you may have, and you spend the whole ride with your neck craned and face grimaced. The inversions are great to look at, however when you ride them, they exert no abnormal forces on you, you get no weightlessness, don't pull high Gs and don't at all feel vulnerable.

Gouderix used to attract long queues. I've queued ten minutes for it, and that's on a busy day. It is now bit of a white elephant doing nothing new, and doing what it does with about as much grace as Bjork. You just have to look at the unimpressed expressions of the riders before you to see that.

1/5 Marcus Sheen