Hood, Walibi World
owners of a admirable collection of parks in the United States, in a
surprise move pounced on Six Flags in the late 1990s, buying them out,
making it one of the worlds single largest entertainers. At the time,
Walibi was one of Europe's largest theme park chains, and also
surrendered to Premier Parks and from there we knew that it could only
have a habit of transforming modestly sized theme parks into bulging
behemoths. They add an outrageous number of rides in the first year,
watch the crowds pour in, and continue to invest from there. Its a great
idea, and seems to be working well for both Premier, and of course, you
Flevo in Holland was the first park in Europe to become a Six Flags
park, meaning practically the whole park was bulldozed, rebuilt, and
opened within the course of six months. Tenders for rides of all shapes
and sizes were put in, with Vekoma and Huss being victorious in
virtually all their respective categories.
success story to another: Vekoma. No coaster manufacturer in the world
is as busy as Vekoma of Holland. Every year, they turn out tens of
rides, and in their seventy five year history, have been responsible for
hundreds of leading, and innovative rides and attractions.
first ride was a Giant Wheel, four more have been made since, but they
are most famed for their coasters, in particular the equally cursed and
blessed Boomerang coaster, which made many parks’ dreams of a multi
looping coaster reality.
year has seen Vekoma innovate more than ever, with prototypes already
opening (Stealth for example) and more in various stages of origination
(Hammerhead Stall for example). However, whilst one of their newest
rides this year is certainly an innovation for Vekoma themselves, the
wooden coaster is certainly not a new concept.
unwritten rule that steel coasters are smoother than their wooden
counterparts. Vekoma have a reputation of building rough steel coasters,
so it would always have been interesting to see just how well their
first attempt at a wooden coaster would be pulled off.
appears modestly sized despite being Europe's tallest, and the circuit
is a variation on the out and back style coaster, which concentrates on
dips and drops as opposed to turns. These
are what wooden coasters are
all about, focusing on the stomach in the mouth feeling that throws you
from your seat.
is towards the back of the park in the Sherwood Forest area, home to
stereotypically quaint buildings built around a lake with a
charactoristic Robin Hood flavour to them. The station looks great, with
two flights of stairs leading up to the well themed building, adorned
with wooden tiled roof and turrets.
hill and subsequent ride stretch off to the left hand side over a lake,
with a high level turnaround section in front of that. It looks
stunning, the park have done well, and with regards to first
impressions, this ride gets full marks all round.
nothing special. It weaves around between the aforementioned turnaround
and the station, ending in a steep staircase up the front of the station
going up onto the station platform. Here you will find no separate
queues for the front or back of the train, but should you wish to make
use of these vantage points, queue a bit longer and you’ll be in luck.
look great. Each train is four cars long, each seating six. They’re
painted so that they look like old untreated wood, are trimmed with
brown seats, and each car is fronted by a fence style barrier, fronted
by a crest on a shield on the very front car.
To sit in,
the trains are even better. The T shaped lap bars are comfortable and
un-intrusive, and you have a rail to hold onto on the back of the seat
in front, that is of course if you wish to use it.
are probably the most comfortable you could ask for, they’re
outrageously squishy, a feature that is continued around your sides on
the inside edge of the car. The seat is also really wide, giving you
plenty of room, and with the great design of the bars, you have more
than enough leg room.
you’re indulging in the creature comforts of the train, your bar will
be checked by the efficient ride operators, before being dispatched. The
train swoops gently out of the station, turning 180 degrees to the left
before engaging on the lift.
isn’t done smoothly, so make sure at this point you hold the bar up or
it will click down and really bug you throughout the ride. The lift is
really slow, just like all Vekoma lifts used to be, but before long, you
have reached the top, where it levels out and drops into the first,
is fast, and although it doesn’t drop anywhere near to the ground, you
can feel it really trying to give you some airtime. It fails, but what
will take your breath away is how smoothly its executed. It is
smoothness personified, and I don’t think I have ever, ever
experienced an element on any wooden coaster so flawlessly smooth.
out, the train begins a climb curving off to the left hand side, riders
on the left will experience at close quarters the handrails of the
returning stretch of track, riders all around will experience the less
than rounded nature of this curve, pushing you around no less than three
you continue to turn, before heading back in the opposite direction. You
drop, and halfway through the drop, it significantly steepens, providing
back seat riders with a surprise dose of airtime, before the front of
the train is blasted over a bunny hop, climbing, and losing a lot of
speed to the high level turnaround.
turnaround is subtly banked and provides a nice break from the chaos of
the first half. The train then accelerates riders into another steep,
long drop, climbing over a bunny hop, before rising and curling over the
top of yet another drop and diving headlong into the main turn of the
out of here, over another dip, climbing and bursting straight into a
tunnel of wood created by the rides first hills at first surprising you
with a superb head chopper effect. There is a subtle turn to the right
before you hit the brakes and return to the station.
wooden coasters don’t push the envelope with regards to cutting edge
technology, there is a lot of things rides like this can get right, and
a lot more they can get wrong. Trains can often make or break a ride,
and with Vekoma's trains normally being the most basic out there, the
first of many surprises was to find what are essentially sofas on
the surprises don’t let up. The first drop is more an exhilarating
descent as to get speed up, as opposed to a tool to throw you skyward,
but it is done with such grace, such smoothness that it will leave you
the mix of laterals and airtime is perfection. Every element is stupidly
smooth, and perfectly banked enough to give you a great ride. Half way
around the ride, you climb, slow and turn. As much height as possible is
regained here at this point, and because of this, the second half is
just as good as the first.
in the back is fun, but for the real surprise, head for the front. On
this ride, not only do you have the quirk of great visuals, but also
airtime all over the place. Its great, and all because of the bunny
hops, the back does well to push the front over the next hop, skip or
seems after a history of building only average rides, Vekoma have
finally built a ride which is getting universal praise. Praise well
deserved mind you, and of date, this is Vekoma's finest ride, no
questions asked, full stop. I would really be hard pushed to think of
any sensible suggestions on how to improve the ride, it's great fun,
fast, and packs a punch. It's everything I expect a wooden coaster to
A nice smooth ride
▪ A beautiful location
on the side of a lake
▪ Nice simple but
▪ Quite often a sluggish
ride, often devoid of airtime