You can say many
things about 2006, but you can’t say that it was boring.
was the year that saw many new rides open. And many that didn’t. It
also saw several parks close, British fairs enter something of a
renaissance and more courtroom action than an episode of Judge John
season started with a resolute sense of expectation that we’ve come to
expect. This year, the period of anticipation was long and drawn out;
while we have come to expect the majority of rides to open with parks in
March or April, rides like Black Mamba teased us well into the summer
season, while rides like Vertigo and Vliegende Hollander will, like last
year, feature in our season preview due to year-long delays in opening.
last time somebody built a modestly sized B&M inverted coaster with
just a handful of inversions, digging it down into the ground to keep
the locals happy, nobody really batted an eyelid – not until it
Nemesis opened, many coasters have tried to imitate what makes it such a
unique coaster; rides like Montu at Busch Gardens Africa have the
coaster and pathways below playing with each other like a kitten with a
ball of wool, while the coaster makes use of the terrain, diving in and
through trenches and tunnels.
Mamba had a lot to live up to
element of surprise wasn’t a luxury that Phantasialand were afforded.
They were building a coaster that for all intents and purposes mimicked
Nemesis. All of a sudden, all eyes were on Phantasialand.
had the unassuming stats, but it also was an extraordinary terrain
coaster, using the layout itself to dictate the terrain, as opposed to
the coaster following its native topography.
soon as the first artists’ impressions appeared, eyebrows were raised.
ground disappeared as a maze of tunnels and trenches were dug.
the track appeared, warping into all manner of strange shapes such as
the virtually indistinguishable ‘baby immelman’.
no sooner had it appeared, the track then began to disappear beneath
tunnels and under a village of buildings.
Mamba had the potential to be amazing. But, at the same time, the haze
of anticipation was stifling – it had so much to live up to.
Nemesis, Black Mamba interacts with surrounding scenery
the ride opened, and somehow managed to live up to the sky-high
expectations. It had a certain amount of familiarity to it that we’ve
come to expect from B&M, but by the second half evolves into
something quite different.
dispensed with the showy inversions, Black Mamba shows its true colours
(other than black, that is) with a serpentine, subterranean series of
tight turns and helices.
the obvious similarities with Nemesis, and despite the effortless
ability to live up to expectations, however high, Black Mamba clearly
holds its own. The second half of the ride is unique, the theming is
intricately (and ridiculously) detailed, while the ride continues
Phantasialand’s heritage of quality rides partnered with rich theming.
Speed: No Limits
was a chronic lack of excitement for Speed, perhaps because most people
couldn’t get a word in edgeways with people hysterically salivating
over Stealth at Thorpe Park.
Speed was clearly one of the best-received coasters of 2006, at least in
finished off what B&M started by building Vild-Svinet at
BonBon-Land, a vertical drop coaster which threw an inversion into the
mix, something that it took B&M a further two years to do.
also managed to somehow add another 10-degrees onto the drop angle,
97-degrees, a statistic even B&M’s newest vertical drop coasters
haven’t yet managed with a comparably paltry 90-degrees.
enough people were talking about Speed before it opened
Oakwood got quite the bargain; a ride that did more than the prestige
manufacturer’s offering, for about a fifth of the price. My mother
always told me that you get what you pay for – so was it actually any
everyone seems to think so. As well as the clear novelty of a vertical
lift hill and a (beyond) vertical drop, Speed offers many moments of
madness including a tight helix, a camelback hill, a tightly banked turn
and an inline twist off the mid-course brake run.
seem to be favouring one trick coasters nowadays over ones with a bit of
substance to them. While one trick rides are easily marketable,
there’s no reason why the novelty of a vertical drop ride and a
coaster with a decent layout should be mutually exclusive; Stealth has
the novelty to it, while Black Mamba has the substance – Speed,
though, has both.
as if it was the second coming of Christ, Stealth certainly got tongues
wagging – excessively so. But it did the trick, even when it was
season started off with speculation as to what the name could be. So
many suggestions were made, some great (Johnnie Rocket), some lousy
(Humdinger). In the end, the marketing department couldn’t come up
with anything, so the rode was christened what it was known as all the
one of my non-enthusiast friends noted, it defies the usual definition
of Stealth by virtue of the fact screaming people aren’t quiet and the
205ft hill isn’t inconspicuous.
enthusiasts say about it, the public love Stealth
alright I suppose – it goes fast and it goes high, and it captured the
imagination of the public. But it’s a lazy, lazy coaster. Say what you
want about the Big One, but at least they tried.
like Stealth set an unnerving precedence – why bother doing any more
than the bare minimum when even the bare minimum is enough?
launch, a hill and a brake run, it’s a struggle to comprehend a ride
more basic than Stealth, yet, the crowds came, they queued... and then
they made use of other available attractions when it broke down.
honest, it’s a difficult case to argue, but it’s one that I’ll
argue nevertheless; blow peoples’ socks off, sure, but make sure they
are left with a good ride once the element of surprise ebbs away.
lived up to every expectation – the public loved it, the enthusiasts
were divided, and for much of the season, it was closed due to technical
many other rocket coasters, there were reports of bits falling off,
smoke coming from the launch and then weeks of downtime – towards the
end of the season, Stealth seemed to find its feet, but coming four
years after the prototype, Xcelerator, the total amount of downtime was
frankly shameful. Continues...