Sometimes you can add two and two
and make three. Sometimes you can take the most mouth-watering
ingredients and somehow end up with something that tastes like
The good folk of Austria’s Funtime Group obviously saw the
universal popularity of the Zierer Wave Swinger, and then the enormous
success of the myriad of tower rides littering the world’s parks and
fairs. They then whipped out their pencils and sketched out a ride that
would neatly combine the two. Before you could say “These are a few of
my favourite things”, the Star Flyer was born.
The travelling Star Flyer, like
any travelling tower ride, looks mightily impressive. With a dazzling
set of patterned lighting running the length of the tower, it functions
as a beacon for fair-goers, and a perfect advertisement for whatever
event it visits. The brightly coloured seats and star-shaped structure
combine with the strategically placed floodlights to make quite a
majestic sight when the ride is in motion.
Getting closer, the standard of
presentation is high. The huge number of flashing signs ensures that the
ride’s name remains burned into your retinas, as does the huge
backflash that sits atop a parked lorry at the rear of the platform.
Everything looks set for a truly extraordinary ride.
So, having exchanged your cash
for a token, you head to your seat and prepare to do battle with the
spider’s web of seatbelts, chains, and restraints. Those of us who can
remember when even theme park Wave Swingers relied on nothing more than
a bar to separate you from a messy doom will be amazed at the rigour
with which you are held in your seat, to the extent of an electronically
locked belt to hold the lap bar in place. Unlike most Wave Swingers,
Star Flyer offers all double-seats so that your flight needn’t be
And we have lift-off. OK, I use
“launch” more in the Detonator sense than Power Tower, but as we
move up the tower, the star begins to turn and the seats begin to fan
out into a wide circle. Time to see what this supersized Chair-O-Plane
can really do.
Up and up, and round and round,
and up and up, and round and round we go.
Then down and down, and round and
Then up and up, and round and
I’m sorry if this doesn’t
sound like the most exciting piece of prose you have ever read, but
let’s be completely honest, there’s nothing else to be said. If Star
Flyer was designed as a combination of a Wave Swinger and a Shot ‘n’
Drop, then there’s two things that were left out at the planning
1: The Wave Swinger is a fun ride
because of the wave element. 2: The Shot ‘n’ Drop is a fun ride
because you can feel the shot, and feel the drop.
What we’re left with is a ride
that, in all honesty, is little more than an observation tower that
looks like a thrill ride. As such, it is difficult to know what to make
of it. If you buy your token expecting a thrill ride, you will be left
feeling let down, whereas anyone looking for an observation ride will
almost certainly find a Ferris Wheel nearby to do the job far better.
Sure it’s a nice novelty, but
it soon wears thin. The frustrating thing is that it would not take much
to turn Star Flyer into a highly enjoyable ride. Make the climbs and
drops a little sharper so that riders notice them.
Turn half the seats
backwards so that riders can see each other, and run the ride in both
directions. Install some speakers in the tower and let riders listen to
the same music as the spectators. As it is, Star Flyer relies on nothing
but its height to excite riders, and that’s a novelty that is never
going to last long.
Even the length of the ride is a
dichotomy. On the one hand, it is far too short, particularly for a
fairground ride, where neighbouring competitors are likely to be
charging less money for significantly longer rides.
On the other, the
ride is so repetitive that you are hardly likely to be left wanting
more. It is certainly difficult to imagine anybody leaping from their
seat and reaching for their wallet to go and buy another token, that’s
I truly wanted to like Star
Flyer. I loved the idea of a gigantic Wave Swinger, but Star Flyer
simply isn’t the ride I’d been hoping for. I hate to say it, but
this is one to consign to the “All mouth and no trousers” category.
Still, maybe we should just accept that, like Big Ben and perhaps even
Power Tower 2, Star Flyer functions best as a way of attracting punters
to the fair. Once they’ve been lured in, they’ll hopefully find
something a bit more substantial to keep them happy.
of the show? Nope, just a flight of fancy. Disappointing.
16 January 2005
▪ Highly attractive
▪ Well presented
short, yet repetitive ride
of atmosphere during ride
waste of a potentially brilliant idea