Coaster Kingdom


As what feels like the longest month ever draws to a close, we look forward to the 2005 season. There’s just over a month to go, and we can look forward to one of the most exciting years in Europe for a long time.

There are three launched coasters planned, two X-Car coasters, as well as numerous other exciting rides. 2005 also heralds several classic rides closing, ride relocations, and several notable anniversaries.

It’s a mixed bag, although we plan to bring some order to this chaos with our alphabetical preview, from a all the way through to z.

A is for... Arachnid Anarchy
Tarantula, Parque De Atracciones Madrid

We start our preview with a ride from a manufacturer that was virtually unknown a few years ago. Their rise from obscurity has yielded many excellent rides such as Dragon’s Fury and their line of standard Wild Mice (such as those at Chessington World of Adventures and Flamingoland), yet as we look forward to 2005, their name appears no less than three times.

Tarantula is probably the most subdued of their 2005 installations (the others being X Car coasters), yet nevertheless, this agile arachnid spins itself over 2000ft of track (compared to Fury’s 1771ft) and blows the cobwebs off by spinning you through an immelman, banked turn entangled with the immelman, a 51-degree drop and a series of wild mouse-style turns.

Maurer rose to the challenge of fitting the coaster into the park, with the many legs of this spider tip-toeing over and under existing attractions, with the track plunging through tunnels and buildings.

Unlike Winja’s, and like most other Maurer spinners, Tarantula focuses on an exciting layout and passes up the opportunity to use see saw elements and trick track, and, even with space constraints, uses a standard chain lift as opposed to a vertical elevator.

B is for... Bye Bye Bullet, Bonjour Booster Bike
Velocity, Flamingoland

In what can best be described as a gamble, Flamingoland put two of their best coasters on sale to finance their ambitious masterplan of investment over the next few years.

Toverland's Booster Bike

Booster Bike gives us a good idea of what to expect from Flamingoland's version. Picture: Coasters and More

Whilst a wooden coaster and a semi-custom Vekoma SLC are on the cards, 2005 will see the unveiling of Vekoma’s second Booster Bike, Velocity, a ride which won the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions’ prestigious “Best New Product” award for the hydraulically-launched family coaster design that has riders on the back of a train of miniature motorcycles.

While Velocity will be of a similar layout to Toverland’s, Flamingoland’s promises to be larger, with a greater launch speed and a longer circuit.

Bullet’s fate, meanwhile, is currently unknown. The ride was placed for sale in industry publications last year, and it is heavily rumoured it will be moving elsewhere in the country. Reassuringly, Magnum Force is still featured in park literature, although is rumoured to be going back home to Germany in it’s native environment; the German fair.

C is for... Cowed Comeback
Hydro re-opens at Oakwood

Months after Hayley Williams fell from Hydro, the circumstances leading to her death are still unclear. Since the ride closed in April, William MacNamara has kept the ride closed to accommodate the joint investigations by police and Health and Safety.

The investigation has been anything but transparent, and from the earliest days it was warned it could take months. Nearly a year after the accident that closed the ride, nothing has yet been announced, either in terms of how the accident happened or whether any charges will be filed against either Oakwood or the manufacturer, Intamin.

Nevertheless, the ride is expected to reopen in 2005 with the single boat retrofitted with new restraints. Overhead restraints are the most likely alternative to the T-shaped lapbars that the ride currently has, although it cannot be ruled out that overhead seatbelts like that on Perilous Plunge or Magnum Force are a consideration, despite the obvious inefficiency with regards to the already dreadful capacity of the ride.

D is for... Dawn of the Dodo
El Volador, Bellewaerde  

Little is known about the Dodo, and whilst Coaster Kingdom isn’t going to foray into ornithology, we can exclusively reveal that one of two remaining Dodos can be found in Ieper, Belgium.

Contrary to popular opinion, as well as taxes and death, one thing you can be certain of is finding a bloody big bird at Bellewaerde.

For those not up on creatures great and small, this one most certainly falls under the category of ‘great’. El Volador weighs in at a hefty 213 tons, is 60 feet tall and has a 40ft deep nest.

Visitors taller than 1.2m can enjoy the Dodo-themed El Volador as the 40-person gondola rises to 60ft, and the entire tower that it is on can sway back and forth by 60-degrees as the entire ride rotates with a Top Spin favourite also forming part of the entourage of fun; fountains.

El Volador is essentially an upside-down Frisbee, using the same-style gondola at the top of a tower that rocks in a similar nature to a metronome. What is interesting, though, is that the ride is marketed as a family spin ride, so white knuckle purists shouldn’t visit Bellewaerde expecting the new messiah of spin rides.  

E is for... Everything Must Go
Blackpool Pleasure Beach Removals

Touching either the historical Whip or Turtle Chase verges on blasphemy at the cathedral of historic amusement rides, Blackpool, yet in a quite remarkable move, both Whip and Turtle Chase are being removed from Pleasure Beach Blackpool’s 2005 line-up, apparently along with Vikinger and Black Hole.

The Whip

The Whip has been on borrowed time for a few years now

Black Hole, the enclosed Waltzer ride near Big Dipper’s entrance, has been flagged for removal ever since the Beach have been pursuing the idea of a launched coaster across the Golden Mile, and Vikinger has long been on borrowed time, but the prospect of Whip and Turtle Chase is quite a miserable one.

Whip opened in the park in 1914 and was relocated from near the Captive Flying Machines to be tidily tucked in underneath Revolution’s first drop. Turtle Chase’s heritage dates back to 1935 when it opened as Tumble Bug, again in the vicinity of the Flying Machines.

Again, it was relocated onto a landscaped pasture on the banks of Tom Sawyer Lake with the Big Dipper and Big One’s lift hill forming a picturesque backdrop.

Turtle Chase fans need not despair – not that much, anyway. The chase continues at Southport, where the ride will be back on stilts due to problems that the ride had with the landscaped terrain in the current location.

As for Whip fans, well, there’s nothing to console you, sadly. Whip will be going into storage to be replaced by the Alpine Dodgems, relocated from elsewhere in the park.

Blackpool is one of the smallest parks in the country in terms of acreage, yet has the most rides. There is often a price to be paid for the parks’ expansion, but its rich heritage is normally spared.

F is for... Family Fun
Legoland Windsor's three new rides

Riding on Jungle Coaster’s wave of success, Legoland have announced that they’re installing three new family rides for 2005.

Firstly, Fire Academy will have four fire crews, four fire engines and a terrace of burning buildings. Firemen and Fireboys alike can join their female counterparts as they provide the necessary muscle power to get the four-person fire engines across to the buildings, put out the fire and get back to base pronto.

Budding archaeologists are cordially invited, meanwhile, to enjoy Dino Dippers (an infant round ride) and Dino Safari, a journey from a Lego base camp around various scenes created from another export so good, the Danes hate to see it leave – Lego.

Like most of Legoland, the rides are a mix of overlaid humdrum (Dino Dippers and Dino Safari) and inspiring and interactive fun (Fire Academy), yet all three share the same park-wide problem: capacity.

And, at a park like Legoland, this is a problem as big as the queues they form. Children have annoyingly short attention spans, and queues simply do not help. It is a sad fact that most of Legoland’s family rides simply are not up to the job with dealing with the amount of visitors the park gets.

G is for... Goodbye...?
Rumoured last seasons for... 

There are always casualties in war, and the theme park business is as big a battle as any. As new warriors rise, old comrades fall, and as the new season starts, so too does the rumour mill as the fate of many rides is speculated upon.

Consequently, 2005 could be your last chance to enjoy the following attractions.

El Diablo

El Diablo, always an unpopular ride, is rumoured to be on the verge of a much needed revamp

Magnum Force, Flamingoland: Despite persistent rumours that Magnum Force is going back to the German Fair circuit, it seems the Force is still very much part of the park’s lineup in 2005. Nevertheless, the ride has been on sale for a year now, and its removal does seem inevitable. 2005 could well be Magnum Force’s last operating season, as the ride will no doubt hinder Flamingoland’s bid to become more of an ‘adventure park’

El Diablo & Silver River Flume, Port Aventura: A popular ride since opening, the Mack flume Silver River has reportedly become an endangered species. While a no-frills ride, our sources report that 2005 could be the last season for the ride.

El Diablo, meanwhile, is back to running forwards after the backwards cars were chronically unpopular. The ride is apparently going to be closed for a major retheme in the forthcoming season, so it might be worth getting your last rides in, even if only for prosperity reasons.

The Beast, Fantasy Island: Another popular, yet unfounded rumour is that Beast, the Mondial Top Scan, is leaving the park to be replaced by either a new version of Mondial’s floorless Inferno or even a double-ended Top Scan.

H is for... Happy Birthday to...
Fårup Sommerland, Djurs Sommerland and the River Caves

Fårup Sommerland: Known principally for their newest coaster, Falken, Fårup Sommerland celebrate their 30th Anniversary this season.

Fårup Sommerland’s heritage is quite a unique one for a theme park. The history dates back to when the Kragelund Family operated a wholesale business. By the 1970s, the Kragelund Family had to adapt their strategy as the supermarket business took off, and so did their competitors.

A niche they identified was that families now had more leisure time, and so Fårup was chosen as a site for Fårup Sommerland, a recreational park with trampolines, canoes, horse trails and sand pits which opened on 21 June 1975.

Since then, a water park has been added, a spinning roller coaster, river rapids, log flume and their most successful ever addition, Falken, which helped the park with record attendance of over half-a-million visitors.

Wild West Carousel, Djurs Sommerland

Wild West Carousel is one of two attractions for Sommerland's 25th birthday. Picture: Djurs Sommerland

Djurs Sommerland, also in Denmark, celebrates its silver anniversary at 25 years old. For 2005, the park plans to add two Wild West themed rides; a Pony Trek where children go on a trail on a fibreglass stead, and also Wild West Carousel, a heavily themed Wave Swinger.

The River Caves: Following on from the subdued celebrations of Sir Hirim Maxim’s Flying Machines at Pleasure Beach Blackpool, the historic River Caves are a century old this season. The park have a similar predicament as they did with the Flying Machines in that the obvious celebration of restoring the ride to its former glory is a moot point owing to the fact that, much to the park’s credit, the ride is in pristine condition anyway.

I is for... Into Oblivion
Black Hole closes

All credit to Alton Towers’ marketing department. Who else could make good news of their ailing ride count and the forthcoming closure of the park’s last classic Schwarzkopf by inviting you to “enjoy one last ride on the famous coaster [...] from £29.50 per person”?

The closure of the Black Hole unfortunately broadens the gap between accessible family rides and thrill rides, and although the Black Hole was low capacity, and while it did attract queues as a consequence, it was still vital in bolstering the park’s ride count.

Whilst I appreciate why the Black Hole is closing, it’s interesting to compare two very similar rides: Black Hole and Space Invader.

Both opened in the same year, both – for the sake of argument – are similarly proportioned. As soon as Space Invader nears the end of its useful life, Kumbak are employed to give a new lease of life. Yet, as the Black Hole nears the end of its useful life, it is removed.

The biggest complaint here really is the lack of replacement at a time where the park really needs to have a broad choice of rides to maintain its image as a ‘resort’. Spinball is not a replacement, as it is a headliner ride at the park, as will be Rita. The park needs more high capacity, good quality rides to replace the admittedly aging rides that are constantly being removed.

Alton Towers is clearly going through a tide of change. A new management structure could herald many positive changes. It could, however, not. Whatever the case, Alton needs to research viable alternatives to the rides it removes from their lineup instead of opting for crowd-pullers that go hand in hand with long queues. Continues...

Coaster Kingdom Magazine
Issue 03: Feb 2005

Issue 03
A-Z of 2005
What can we expect to see in 2005?