Coaster Kingdom

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Move It (32), British Fairs

Whatever you might think about KMG, you have to admit that they know how to make the most of an idea. Rather than offering a single version of their rides, they have developed a habit of providing budget, standard, and king size versions for different markets, and rides don't come more king size than the huge 32-seat version of Move It.

Only one "Move It 32" (as it's often known) exists, and was brought to Britain in 2003 by showman James Cox, after several years touring Europe under other owners. By any standards, the ride is an impressive sight, but for anyone more used to the later 18 or 24 seat Move It rides, it is positively overwhelming. Presentation is exceptional, and is easily one of the best-looking rides on the UK circuit. The huge backflash is a wild collage of scenes and symbols from popular culture, and is littered with countless lights, screaming out the ride name, along with other key words like "ACTION!" and "POWER!". The overwhelming impression is of a ride that does not cut any corners in the quest to seize the attention of passers-by.

After a quick trip to the pay box, riders are directed to a gondola identical to Thorpe Park's Vortex (itself a 32 seat KMG Afterburner), albeit utterly caked in blue and purple lights. Seating consists of 8 pods, each seating 4 riders, and looking like a severely stripped down version of a B&M inverter car. This gondola is held from above, supported by two folded hydraulic legs, which serve to make the whole ride look like some giant demented insect, ready to pounce on its pray.

Having taken your seat, the loud music is interrupted by an even louder hooter, and the restraints lower. KMG has always been notorious for their poor restraints, and as one of their earlier rides, Move It 32 is no exception. The ride has a particular grudge against larger riders, and this can lead to the restraints having to tighten to uncomfortable levels. You have been warned.

With everyone safely in place, the ride can begin. It is worth pointing out at this point that the whole ride structure is built onto a circular platform. “So what”, you may ask. Well, what riders may not have noticed is that, hidden by the bombardment of lights and sound, this platform has slowly begun to spin, causing the entire structure to start twirling around on the spot. Meanwhile, the gondola begins to spin also, and the two great legs begin the process of raising the gondola slightly into the air, ready for the fairground equivalent of a pre-show.

With the whole ride at a slight angle, the gondola starts to spin in the opposite direction to the platform, the two movements cancelling each other out and giving a very gentle up-and-down movement, almost simulating a life on the ocean wave. "Ah", thinks Mr First-Time-Rider, "what a nice placid little ride this is". Well, need I tell you this is merely the calm before the storm, as the gondola changes direction, and with the two movements now joining forces, riders are pinned to the seat by a sudden surge of G-force. For riders and onlookers alike, the sensation of speed, not to mention acceleration, is incredible.

The pre-amble over, the gondola reverts to its original direction as the legs slowly hoist everyone further into the air until soon they find themselves being spun vertically through the air. And now, ladies and gentlemen, it's time to milk the drama a little. The gondola is levelled out and apparently comes to a halt. Although you are not moving at this point, the machine is still working flat out, the gondola and platform spinning at equal speeds in opposite directions. After a few well-chosen words from the ride operator over the microphone, it's time for Move It to do what Move It does best. As more light and sound effects burst into life, riders exchange worried looks as to what they've let themselves in for.

The gondola tilts slightly, and is soon flicked onto its back. While the gondola is upside down, the two spinning motions again combine to create a massive surge of acceleration and G-force, pinning riders to the seat. This is a fantastic moment, not just for the physical effect, but for the atmosphere generated as you look around at the faces of other riders, few of whom will have been prepared for such a sudden burst of intensity. When the gondola rights itself, and is again stationary, the shock and delight on riders' faces is a joy to behold. More than any other spin ride, Move It takes on a sense of shared experience and party atmosphere, particularly as there is no ride structure obscuring your view of the other riders.

As 32 people come to terms with what they've got themselves into, the ride bursts back into life and again flips over, inflicting another sudden and colossal burst of G-force. The pause before the flip allows riders a crucial moment to take in the previous flip, and to anticipate the next, and helps to get the adrenaline pumping like few other rides can ever hope to manage. For spin-ride fans, this is true utopia.

After a couple of flips, you may find yourself pondering in the dark recesses of your mind whether Move It might be a one trick pony. If so, sit back and relax, because it's time to shatter such concerns. The gondola rights itself, and riders again sit effectively motionless, albeit with the structure still whirling around them. As the platform keeps spinning, the gondola switches direction, and creates another burst of powerful acceleration. For onlookers, this is a spectacular sight, with the entire structure spinning relatively slowly, and the gondola whirling around at break-neck speed. The whole thing might look like a crazed crane-fly in its death throes, but the ride is still alive and kicking. You know what's coming next, don't you?

That's right, another flip, except that this is suddenly a very different proposition to what went before. The gondola truly hurls itself into the flip, and riders undergo a lightning-fast transition from spinning wildly, to hanging motionless upside down; from G-force pinning you to the seat, to hanging in the restraints, blood rushing to the head, and back. The sequence of "anticipation-intensity-recovery" is therefore replaced with "intensity-intensity-intensity". If you thought the first section of the ride was wild, this section redefines the word completely.

As the pace of the ride moves up a notch, the atmosphere does likewise, and the ability to look around and take in the often-extraordinary reactions of other riders, combined with the relentless pounding of the music and sound effects (all very noticeable throughout the ride, thanks to a highly impressive speaker system), makes Move It a truly joyous experience. As a spin ride fan, I often say that there are two types of great spin rides. There are "power rides", which blow you away with extreme G-force; and there are "party rides", on which you enjoy the moment with the other riders. There are few rides out there that manage both at the same time, but Move It does it with ease.

As for the remainder of the ride, well that depends on the operator's whim. You may be turned upside down and left there for a while, either hanging motionless or spinning wildly. The gondola may be held spinning vertically as the platform continues to spin. Whatever you get, it is worth savouring every moment.

So, it's a tremendous ride, but if you're as miserly as my good self, you'll be wanting to know how Move It compares in terms of value for money. Well, prices are generally reasonable, and ride times are very generous. Given the  quality of the ride on offer, and the standard of presentation, it would be a real scrooge who complains about shelling out £3-or-so for a ride.

I have no hesitation whatsoever in declaring Move It 32 to be easily one of the best spin rides you could ever hope to find. Whether you are looking for intense thrills, or plain old fun, Move It has plenty on offer. Even those watching from the sidelines will find that the ride's peculiar looks and movements, coupled with the sheer razzamatazz of the presentation, can't fail to stir the adrenalin. Without a doubt, Move It 32 deserves a place among the upper echelons of the UK fairground scene, and not even the numerous smaller Move It rides can match it for outright exhilaration and drama. The sheer size of the ride gives it an imposing aura that commands the attention of both riders and bystanders, while the general presentation is a masterpiece of OTT glitz and showmanship, even by fairground standards. It is sheer, untamed, bliss.

I'm sure we've all had people ask us what we find so appealing about thrill rides. To put it simply, if those people had ever ridden Move It with a full complement of co-riders, you'd never need to ask the question. The combination of the lights, the music, the atmosphere, and the sheer intensity of the ride combine to make it possibly the most enjoyable ride I have ever encountered. Even the mighty Top Scan, usually the yardstick against which all spin rides are measured, cannot match the sense of communal enjoyment you get as you sit and take in the moment with 31 other riders, while a manic ride-operator taunts you over the microphone. Sheer magic. Suffice to say, if this ride comes to your town, you should make it your number 1 priority to go and give it a try before they... er... move it.  


MS 26 May 2004

Good points:

Intense and varied ride
Impeccable presentation creating a great atmosphere
Offers long rides at a reasonable price

Bad points:

Very awkward restraints, particularly for larger riders 

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