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More bites of more Big Apples: 2020 - Back in Business #2

HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
It’s been a big year for the UK and as I’ve been taking the time to report on all the local Wacky Worms it seems rude not to put something together for the big boys.

Icon


I’d tried to distance myself from the hype surrounding this ride somewhat for the last year or so. In trying not to let it sink in that my favourite ride type was coming to the UK, it eased the expectations and even by the time I was sitting down in the thing, it hadn’t quite hit me.
But here we are in a sexy Mack train, sitting on a launch track, in Blackpool. What.

First impressions were good. Nothing was overwhelming, but it felt like a solid layout that had somewhat more to give... and give it did.

Kept going back to it throughout the course of the day and it only ever got better. I soon came to the selfish realisation that regardless of how well this thing goes down in the country, for the public, for the park, whatever, this ride is exactly what I wanted for the UK.
This isn’t purely down the ride itself, but also the park it’s located in. I’ve already mentioned the easy-going atmosphere, but this place is just well run and packed full of attractions in that you can really get the most out of your day there. Queues don’t get huge, operations are great.
It was a gorgeous weekend, we didn’t even arrive for opening, but had done all the rides bar a couple of breakdowns by lunchtime. Icon never got above 15 minutes, but it can’t physically hold a queue of more than about 20 minutes.


Why does this matter? Because Icon is ridiculously fun and re-rideable. Something that has been missing for me in this country, personally, forever.
I’m very happy to say it’s my new favourite in the country, and that it's gone to somewhere that really lets you make the most of that.
Nemesis had that crown before, and it’s great, but it was never a ride I’d want to do 10 times in a day, even when the UK scene was all I had.
Merlin parks are forever falling out of my favour as the queues and operations get steadily worse. It’s a struggle to turn up to those places on a whim and have either an overall good time or spend some time whoring something you love. Even if they did get something as good as this I just feel it would be harder to enjoy and appreciate. When I do turn up to them, the time investment is rarely worth the return for me, and that’s a much more significant factor when you’re dealing with your ‘local’ parks.


Enough sidetracking. Back seat is where it’s at, all the key air time moments are enhanced by that position and it’s those moments punctuating the other things going on that make this style of ride special for me.
The first hill is crazy good with it’s sharp entrance and exit, separated by a slow drag over the crest.


Many twisty turny bits follow to keep you amused, never too repetitive and always with at least some purpose.


The gentle downhill inversion is glorious, something Mack have always managed to nail for me. Then it gets a little wild and kicks you down into the second launch and you’re soon being dragged through another sexy inversion.


More twisty turny bits including one bit of the ride that stands out with some strong positive force, another tick for variety, keeps you happy all the way into the brakes. I even appreciated the way it hauls arse out of the brake run into the station, coming in hot.

I’ve fallen for the soundtrack now I’ve heard it in person. Found myself singing it quite often throughout the day which is always a good sign. Should be a worthy addition to the playlist.


The entrance and queue is decent. I like the way the pathway follows inside the supports for a while. The fact that Grand Prix is mincing along the fence next to the queue makes me laugh.
Station is decent. Looks like a bit of modern interior design, the phrase ‘those mirrors will just open up the room’ must have been said at least once. They’ve adopted the free-for-all row allocation strategy which I know and love, the staff sometimes got annoyed by this, but I hope it sticks. Bag holders and wall that is built into the transfer track and moved with the train also makes me laugh.
Exit is a bit lacking. The plain black walls are too high to enjoy views as you pass between the two launches, the floor is already collapsing and the stairwell is boring.


Minor ride nitpicks:
Mist in the tunnels was off already.
That wonky hill doesn’t kick as much arse as some of its rivals and is a bit unbalanced in that it’s tailored towards the left half of the train.
I didn’t really feel, appreciate or even notice the interactions and near misses that seemed like they would be a huge part of this experience. Maybe I was wrong earlier and I was overwhelmed, the whole time.

As already mentioned, there was plenty of time to enjoy all the other stuff on park, including time to slither out to the car for some Valhalla preparation and grab a bonus cred on the way!

South Pier


Reverchon Spinner. £4 a pop.


The true highlight of the day.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
Wicker Man

Keep meaning to write something about him, so let's get it out of the way.
In the words of my favourite trip reporter - was it worth it man?
Not particularly.


I'd also tried to distance myself from this, though it was hard to avoid the general air of 'its Merlin and look at the size of it, it's gonna suck', even though GCI have never steered me wrong. Then it opened and I heard some rather superlative reviews, so maybe this distancing thing didn't work so well.

First impressions were awful anyway. Turned up on a whim while I was working in the area, something I've learnt to never do again with Alton (which all links back to what I was talking about with Blackpool above). Park was running like absolute crap, all I did in 5 hours was get 1 lap of Wicker and forced onto Rita with some free fastrack, hated it. Queued 2 hours to find best part of the experience was the pre-show and the coaster was crap.

To give it a fairer shot, went again on the originally planned date for a full day at the park.


It's slightly better in the back at least. From there the first drop and hill do a little something to you. I'd describe the rest of the layout in enthusiastic detail, but I can't find the words, just a few ramblings.
Have some pictures instead, as I'm sure you've not seen any before.


Pre-show was broken by my third go, so there goes the best bit. I do really love all the wording in the story, as well as the moment the face appears out of the darkness. Shame the ride doesn't live up to that.


Oh and what's up with that wasted opportunity of a brake run? Someone phone up Universal and order a roof on fire.


So all a bit underwhelming and a non-event to me. Hopefully I'll learn to like it for what it is over time. Hopefully it's significant for the UK coaster scene or whatever, but selfish thoughts come first: meh. Rather ride Thirteen. Or go to Blackpool.


Did the new Duel to see what the fuss was about. Taking away the old music was an awful decision, but it will forever live on in the playlist. Wasn't particularly bothered by the 'visual' changes.


That visual change bothers me more for instance.

Did actually manage to have a decent day at the park overall, so it can be forgiven for the previous shambles. Bothered to stay the whole day, which is a good sign, and got plenty done with minimal hassle.

Need to find another excuse to return and justify the burdenous season pass, but we'll see about that.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
Had a bit of a crap time at Oakwood, but some stories have to be told anyway.

Work lumbered me with a morning free in the arse end of Wales, so thought it would be rude not to pop in, mostly because I'm far more shameless than I once was and it would be a +3 for me.

Oakwood Theme Park

Turned up bright and early before opening thinking this’ll be a breeze. Staff were arriving later than me and were confused by my presence. Sat it out until a few minutes prior, by which time a crowd of 20-30 people were ready to roll.

Had a completely free run of the place for the first hour and hit all of the smaller creds in this time.

Circus Clown was tested and opened for me, on request. Good start.

Highlight of the day – I broke Crocodile Coaster.
It completed the first lap without a hitch (that’s the +1 sorted), but as it was picking up some speed through the second lap, sparks began to fly and some black smoke wafted up in the vicinity of the trains contact with the power rail. Operator hit the E-stop upon seeing this and ran off to get a manager telling me to stay where I was. I thought to myself, sitting about 2 inches from the floor, 'if I see any more smoke I ain’t staying.'
He returned and had a quick chat about his procedures and what we thought had happened, can’t fault him at all for how the traumatising ordeal was handled. Manager and some engineers arrived shortly afterwards and coaxed it back into the station.
That was fun.

Didn’t know Creepy Crawler (I do admire all this alliteration) had a little themed queue with some fog and an animatronic. That was cool. Ride wasn’t. M&Ds must have given it a hard time.

Even though they were posted as also opening at 10 at the entrance, Speed and Megafobia did not open during this time.

So I sat on a bench for half an hour outside Megafobia and waited. By the time it had opened, a couple of hundred school children had rocked up to the park and after getting my first lap, the queue was instantly up to around an hour, with painfully slow one man operations, half the rows closed off cos they’re broken and 10 minute dispatches.


I’d been told this woodie was on its A game recently, but it was pretty much how I remembered it – meh.

Sucked up one more wait just to prove a point, then got annoyed and sunburnt and promptly left.










Who needs Coasterforce when you can have Castleforce?
This is Pembroke Castle. One for the count.
 

jayjay

Active Member
Now you mention it, I vaguely remember the dog from when we went, unless my mind just fabricated a memory.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
Been putting off Southport for what seems like forever now, which may have been a mistake as they keep removing as much as they gain. They also seem to hardly ever be open, so was in the area and grabbed the opportunity in the end.

Southport Pleasureland

Rain seems to be the bane of my life in this hobby now. The Pinfari looper wasn’t ready first thing because of ‘health and safety stuff’ and ‘the rain’.

Payment system here seems a bit harsh, you have to get a cashless card thing with credit on it to ride anything. This costs £1 which isn’t refundable (unlike most other places with this system), each individual has to pay for their own (unlike most other places with this system) and it only lasts until the ‘end of the season’ (which is in like 2 weeks) rather than for a decent length of time (like most other places with this system).

Did the weird powered thing to start, that should have been an added bonus, as I thought there was only a +2 here.


Walked up to the Wacky Worm that was running. ‘Just gonna do some maintenance now, come back in 10’. Strange, place only opened half an hour ago, but fair enough.

Waited another half an hour, keeping an eye on the other cred in the meantime.
Spite. Not ready yet, gotta go and stick another hour on the car parking.
Sat and watched it from the outside for a while. There goes the Wacky Worm. Back in we go.


+1.

Asked about the looper again. ‘Not quite ready yet, we’re doing maintenance on the dumbos and then we’ll move on to that one.’ K.
Went for some lunch and sat watching from the car again. Parking ran out again. No sign.
Couldn’t be arsed to walk in again, so made a phone call. Got problems with the brakes, probably won’t open today.
Spiteport.


Would have tried here today as well but "Gulliver's World could not be reached for comment" - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-45533601
Ha.


There’s a good little hive of activity going on in North Wales, with 3 ‘parks’ and an (un)healthy +4 all within 5 minutes of each other.
So on to greener pastures.

Knightly's Funfair


Got slightly worried as the cred didn’t seem to be listed on the price sign. Never fear, it just comes under the generic ‘Children’s rides’. Sounds good to me.

£1 deposit on a card that both people can use. Deposit back on return. Card lasts 2 years.


Powered dragon that people can be arsed to run. Sounds good to me.
Actually had the biggest queue of the day, waited a whole trains worth!

Tir Prince Family Funfair

£1 deposit on a card that both people can use. Deposit back on return. Card lasts 2 years.


Another Fabbri spinner for the set. Didn’t notice that the cars tilt last time. I hope they’re supposed to. Quite good fun with the fact they are free spinning on the weird perpendicular lift hills. Got a decent spin throughout.


Another Wacky Worm for the set. How about a picture from the inside for once?

Family Fun Fair

Final place was another worrier as half of it is a construction site with signs saying coming 2019.


You can find it by the massive drop tower in the car park, for decorative purposes only.
Cred is still there though and just about to pack up for the day, but unlike Mack's Amusements, they didn’t turn down token money in hand.


This one’s a Nessi. That’s all the classics covered today.
 

Thekingin64

Well-Known Member
Lucky, Ive been to Knightly's twice now and both times the coasters been down. Since I have Tir Prince, I'm not sure I can be arsed to go back even if do only live 40mins away...
 

HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
Here's a quick update to this old faithful thread. Decided on a leisurely mop up of the south east coast - all those creds that were insultingly close but not yet ticked off.

Dreamland

Did this place before when it reopened with the woodie and some worm. But now they've got a different worm!
Wasn't impressed with the woodie, bit of an insult to its type because they run it like wimps (not drugged up Danes) and therefore it doesn't do anything. Didn't reride.

Encountered some poorly explained rule about a minimum spend on a points card for the rides, which was a bit of a pain for those looking for a quick cred stop. Apparently you could spend the excess on food, but I didn't manage to find a place where that was true. This may just have been because I was rushing for parking reasons.


And for the same reasons, here's a bad shot of the also new spinner. You know what they look like.
The area it's in is a lot nicer than I remember. They've redone all the pathing and got grass and trees in there. All I remember from before was tarmac and 90s flat rides, which didn't fit the vibe the park was going for.
It span very well for the Zamperla edition. They've always struck me as the weaker ones.


First worm of the day, but it's actually a bee. Isn't that something.

Done.


Found a nice picnic spot on route. These cliffs are greener than I expected.


First picture of the sea for the day.

Dymchurch Amusement Park

This place isn't quite what I was expecting. Entrance is literally in the middle of a high street, park at the chemist opposite and stroll in for your cred.


Imagine living in that house, then imagine if it was a decent park. Crazy.


Second worm of the day. Might be the longest I've ever sat in one while it loaded. Isn't that something.


Second picture of the sea.

Next.

Flamingo Park

Ah, the place that I foolishly got spited by on a weekday. Nearly gave up on it again as Hastings was the busiest place in the world just because a bit of sun was out. Almost impossible to park. Ended up in a mall in town and making a bit of a trek.


Best and cheapest worm of the day though. Ride ops were enthusiastic, high-fiving people through the station and getting everyone to hands up on the drop.
See, no shame.


So that was a fun little +4. British summers at their best.
 
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HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
Did you know Clarence Pier got 2 new creds this year? Well they did. Out with the old, in with the new.
So I went to get them.

Clarence Pier


There's a bigger than usual SBF spinner. Got a bit of evil ejector in that single drop with its wacky worm-esque layout.


And an SBF replica of what they had before. Still almost as sketchy with the cars bumping into each other in the station and a man pushing them.

What else is Portsmouth good for? Boaterforce.




Done this one before, many years ago.
So we did the new and improved Mary Rose museum this time. Previously it was just a shed in which they were spraying the wreckage they dragged up with waxy stuff to keep it nice and preserved.


Now you can see it all up close and even breathe in the 500 year old wood. Pretty cool stuff, if you're into your history.


Think I might prefer this one though. World's only passenger hovercraft. Thats a bragging right.

Wait, there wasn't a big apple in this. Ignore me.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
Oh yes, it's great to open up this old thread again.
For my first week of working away from home in forever, I was stuck in Somerset with nothing to do of an evening.
Except creds.

Day 1 - Funland Theme Park

Sadly this park has taken the quirk out of their name - no more fun at the Tropicana to be had. They did however pull out their 2 coasters from 2018 and replace them with a fresh pair for me.


What better way is there to get back in the game than by jumping on a shining Wacky Worm.


It felt so good you can have 2 photos of it.


And what better way to remind me how frustrating this can be. The spinning wild mouse that I had seen running just moments before stepping into the park was now broken. They couldn't give me a time estimate, but from previous experience of them breaking their zyklon, a man was already inside the tracks sorting things out. I gave them a chance and camped out for 15 minutes.

On my return I was told "it ain't gonna be a quick fix, got some serious issues here", so I thanked them and left, with the tokens still rattling in my pocket.

Back at the car I made a phone call to some bloke's personal mobile number who confirmed that 'yes, he was Barry Island Pleasure Park.' He confirmed to me that everything was running and they were planning to keep that going for the next 2 hours.
What better way is there to get back in the game than by making another stupid journey for a +1?


If only I had a jet ski.

Barry Island Pleasure Park

It was a rather pleasant drive that ended in absolute carnage. Upon reaching the traffic lights facing the park, 4 police riot vans came screaming around the corner. There were people here, everywhere, in a mass of chaos. I've forgotten what that's like.
With several feral youths literally being bundled into the vans in front of me and officers running in all directions, I casually found a parking space and got out to find myself ankle deep in fish and chip papers.


I haven't moved this fast in many months either. While wading through the nightmare that surrounded me, the only thought in my mind was how I wanted to be in and out of this place as quick as humanly possible.


After using the self service token machine I walked up to the operator of this beast. He gave a confusing speech about bracing for the final brake run because of how sudden it was.
For a certified mad man it didn't even register, though as I returned to the station he asked "see what I mean?"
"Umm... yeah, I guess."
All I actually noticed was at least 1000 people queueing on top of each other for the train station just outside the park boundary. That ain't going well.


Took a token photo of Beastie from Alton Towers. The poor thing, relegated to such a grim place.

And that was far too much of that. At least I've got a news article to remember the experience by - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-53507193


Day 2 - Funland Theme Park

Oh no, you're not spiting me that easily. After failing to make a phone call and confusing a man at the nearby mini golf, I stubbornly proceeded against the odds, in the pouring rain, to have another attempt at the mouse the following evening.


Things couldn't have looked more different to the previous day as I arrived, but the cred was running.
Something ain't right about this one, the seat was collapsing as I sat down and then the usual spin trigger from these Reverchons kicked in immediately after the lift, locked itself straight again halfway through the turns, then something made an awful crunching sound and it continued to rotate wildly throughout the rest of the layout. I don't think I've ever done the double up with a spin before.

I'd estimate my total time in the park to be under 3 minutes. Still got it.


"But what were the COVID-19 guidelines like?" cry the masses.
Non-existent.
 

Thekingin64

Well-Known Member
He gave a confusing speech about bracing for the final brake run because of how sudden it was.
Rode that ride within first few weeks of operation and didn't expect how harsh the breaks were, Knee went flying into front of car... Knee was fine but left a nice dent I'm fairly certain wasn't there before! Can't remember which car it was but if you saw a dent in front of the front seats, that was likely mine!

Interesting to hear Funland has already replaced their 2 coasters. Looking at RCDB suggests are change of ownership and old owner has taken rides with him, the complete change so suddenly seems very odd though.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
Knee was fine but left a nice dent I'm fairly certain wasn't there before!
A quality build if your knee could do that!


There's no slowing me down now. A quick look at the Coaster Count nearest list highlighted that there was an opportunity for yet another +3 much closer to home. Finally something to do on a weekend.

South Parade Pier


Fortunately the beach at Southsea wasn't full of half a million people desperate for a bit of sunlight.


Brand new for 2020, paint still gleaming, they've got a new Wacky Worm lads. Apparently the token man wanted to take cash rather than contactless, but he was denied - them's the rules.
The ride was deceivingly violent, more so than the Barry Island Galaxi. With no braking at all in the station between laps, it just flew through and had me clear out of my seat on the little despatch dip. I can't remember the last time I sat back row in one of these and the lateral whip into the drop ended up being rather painful, particularly with my reluctance to hold onto anything. Happy Caterpillar might have wormed its way into my top 10 UK coasters. ;)


Cole & Sons Funfair


The other two creds were temporary pop-ups at a fair in neighbouring Southampton. A highly reliable temperature check was administered here before we were allowed to purchase tokens.


First up was ummm... <squints sideways> Runaway Train. It began with calming Reggae music before the official Thomas the Tank engine sponsorship kicked in over the sound system. There wasn't much airtime to be found and an inversion would have been nice, but there was still a surprising amount of fun laterals in the imaginative oval layout.


The Crazy Dragon was an absolute beast. Couldn't understand a word the operator was saying through his face shield, but once the ride was up and running it turned into a professional slew of alternating "yubbagonnagetyahandsupwannahearyagonnamakeyascreeeeeeeeeeeeam" and "noneahereyougonnawannagottaputyourhandsintheyubbaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir" every time the station was navigated, complete with a bubble machine going off in riders' faces.
I enjoyed the shuttle aspect of the ride, with a slight roll backwards out of the station before the intense tyre launch kicked into action, with acceleration that could easily rival Stealth. The larger and even more imaginative oval layout provided a great sensation of speed, with the wind in my face reminding me that I'm well overdue a haircut.

So there we have it, a successul run with no spites on some of the finest creds in the country. I'm inching ever closer to the big 1K and why would I need Voyage when I can make it one of these?
 
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