My friend Ben and I have done some fairly crazy coaster trips in our time, but this was one of our most ambitious so far: 6 parks and 1 fair in 2 countries over 3 days covering almost 1000km starting at Hamburg and ending in Dusseldorf.
There wasn't a lot of room for things going wrong if we were going to get everywhere we wanted to go!
Friday 23rd August 2019
Having stayed overnight in a hotel next to Hamburg Airport, we were up early for the hour drive to Hansa Park
The park band played us in
Hansa Park serves a wonderful breakfast
Schwur des Kärnan (Oath of Kärnan) is one of Hansa's largest coasters
The ride contains a few nice surprises in its tower, although the rest of the ride is a bit bumpy
Hansa Park has a stupid policy of not allowing glasses to be worn, even when secured with a strap, which put a big dampener on my ride as I couldn't see anything
We went to see the park's very impressive laser show
No, this isn't Kärnan, although you could be forgiven for thinking that: this is Fluch von Novgorod, a rollercoaster which looks very similar to Kärnan - it was even built by Gerstlaurer, the same manufacturer
Again there's a stupid no glasses even with a strap rule, which ruined this ride for me too
The setting for Hansa Park's children's boat ride is beautiful with masses of colourful flowers on show
There are some nice views of Hansa Park's coastal location from the top of the observation tower ...
... although there's also some butt ugly high rise buildings on show
The park's log flume was good fun ...
... but similar to Kärnan and Fluch von Novgorod, they went and built a very similar Super Splash ride right next door to it!
There's a nice little afternoon parade
The Bell is Hansa Park's most unusual ride - a bit like a gyro swing but inside a bell. It's fun but again no glasses allowed ... arrrghhhh!!
Thorpe Park take note: this is how to make a spinning raft ride look stunning, rather than a leaking mess
After a few re-rides and some photo taking, it was time to head out of the park and back to Hamburg
We had deliberately booked a hotel close to Hamburg Dom, one of Germany's largest fairs, so after checking in we walked down the road to the main entrance
Our first ride was on Crazy Mouse, a very spinny wild mouse!
Ever been to a mouse circus? No, neither had I. It turns out it's 300 mice running around a large cage with various circus themed props. Kinda what you might expect really. At €3 entrance, that works out as 1 cent per mouse. Not sure it was quite worth that much though!
Next up was a ride on Geister Fabrik, an interactive ghost train
The ride was great - almost like a rollercoaster in parts, together with lots of effects and even some live actors!
Currywurst - typically German fair food, typically tasty
Highlight of the night was Dr Archibald: Master of Time, a virtual reality dark ride. Usually VR is pretty shoddy, but this was brilliantly done.
Rock & Roller Coaster was another highlight
It's a portable Schwarzkopf coaster with really nice themed cars
There aren't many fairs which have a fireworks display every Friday night
Last ride of the night (for me at least) was Spuk, another superbly themed ghost train
Saturday 24th August 2019
Saturday was by far the most ambitious day of the trip, beginning with a three and a half hour drive from Hamburg into The Netherlands.
We planned to visit three theme parks before 6pm that evening, none of which either of us had been to before.
However, our plans were almost scuppered before they had begun: We had stopped at a service station for a lovely breakfast overlooking the motorway. Suddenly a huge cloud of smoke appeared on one side of the road as a car caught fire. Thankfully the occupants had all managed to jump out quickly.
We raced back to our car and were able to make it out of the services before the police shut the road, and continued our journey towards the first park of the day, De Waarbeek.
We parked our hire car in the car park, which didn't really leave the greatest impression (arguably neither the cheapo car nor the car park)
De Waarbeek is a charming, small but well kept children's park in the Dutch countryside
We had visited principally to ride Rodelbaan, the park's steel rollercoaster
The ride was built in 1930, making it the world's oldest surviving steel coaster
Rodelbaan is a really fun ride, very smooth with some lovely moments
We left De Waarbeek and drove the thirty minutes northwest to Hellendoorn, another Netherlands park set in the countryside
We started with a ride on Donderstenen, Hellendoorn's Zierer Force Two family coaster.
The sun was shining and unsurprisingly the park was full of people, so the queue for the indoor rollercoaster was very long
The coaster was reminiscent of the old Sewer Rat at Lightwater Valley, although the ride hardware at Hellendoorn is a lot newer and doesn't require sandbags in the trains!
Tornado was one of the most painful Vekoma rollercoasters I've ever had the misfortune of riding, with multiple uncomfortable shunts and bangs throughout the ride
The log flume provided a welcome cool down
It was just after 1pm and we'd managed to ride everything we wanted to at the second park of the day - we were doing well! After a spot of lunch it was time to get back in the car to travel another 45 minutes north ...
Slagharen's entrance betrays the Wild Western theme that lies beyond and encompasses much of the park
The park's major attraction is Gold Rush, a launched Gerstlauer Infinity coaster
The ride is lots of fun, although the launch isn't spectacularly forceful
The only real disappointment with Gold Rush was that, yet again, glasses with straps were not allowed on the ride. That was less of a problem than at Hansa Park though, as Gold Rush does not feature any dark ride elements like Kärnan.
Slagharen is laid out with two main park sections at either end of a long (and overcrowded) Main Street
We queued for a lot longer than we thought we would for the park's chairlift, which gives an alternative to walking between the two sides
The chairlift does at least give some nice views over Main Street
Slagharen's other coaster is a Vekoma mine train. Unfortunately by the time we rode it, the weather was hot and humid so I wasn't concentrating very much to remember much about it.
We decided to go for a cool down in the 4D cinema, which was showing the Yogi Bear 4D Experience
Slagharen's cinema is really nicely decorated ... and air conditioned. I found it the perfect place for a nap while the film was on (it's OK, I've seen it before at Drayton Manor)!
We were intrigued by Wild West Adventure, which had been described as an "indoor rapids ride"
It turned out to be a pleasant wild west themed indoor boat ride, using rapids style boats
Slagharen was open until 6pm, but unlike at other parks everything shut at exactly 6pm. Even the shops! It was bizarre, not least because on such a hot day there were many park guests who would have gladly bought a cold drink on their way out. It seems that Slagharen is just throwing away the chance to make some easy extra money.
Booting everyone out at exactly the same time caused chaos in the car park, meaning it took almost half an hour to get out. Proving how hot the day had been, even at close to 6:45pm it was still 30°C!
We stopped for dinner at Roadhouse, an American themed steakhouse
The food was fantastic
Sunday 25th August 2019
A surprise to start the day - a marching band in the middle of the road!
Toverland has changed a lot since we were last here: you no longer enter the park through a big metal shed ...
The park has a spectacular new entrance
Part of Toverland's major expansion has been the amazingly beautiful Avalon area which opened last year
The land is themed around the Legend of King Arthur, and features gentle grassy slopes and stonework surrounding a large lake
Avalon's largest attraction is Fenix, Toverland's new B&M Wing Coaster
I really like B&M Wing Coasters, and Fenix is one of the best
Avalon also features a new restaurant and a boat ride
I hadn't realised before we rode it that at one point Merlin's Quest floats into a cave for a colourful mystical dark ride section
After exploring Avalon, we headed into Magische Vallei
They decided to add the second train while we were queuing. It's interesting to watch: the train rises from the maintenance shed underneath and up into the station. It's pretty slow though - it takes almost five minutes for the train to be transferred, and then the lift mechanism has to lower back down.
We found these two lurking in the new Port Laguna area
Our lunch options were restricted as Toverland's main resturant had been closed for a special event, but this pulled pork and chips was acceptably tasty
There's some exciting moments in the new dive show!
No visit to Toverland would be complete without a ride on Troy. I'm not a big fan of the new music though ... for me Troy will always be "de sensatie"!
Movie Park Germany
Our day was not over - there was just time to fit in one more theme park. On the way though, I let my immature thirteen year old out for a bit to enjoy this road sign.
Ben and I had visited Movie Park Germany only two years ago, but the new Star Trek: Operation Enterprise was delayed and we missed it by a matter of weeks. With the park only 30 minutes away from Dusseldorf Airport, it seemed silly not to pop in on the way home to try out the new rollercoaster!
We headed straight over to Star Trek
Even though the park was very busy, the queue for the new rollercoaster was only five minutes long
There's a lot of faff before boarding the ride, with numerous overly-long preshows to endure (especially painful if, like me, you're not a Star Trek fan who understands who all the characters are)
The coaster itself is not bad although there's a noticable rattle that is surprising given it's young age. I preferred Slagharen's Gold Rush from the previous day, which had a more refined layout and was definitely smoother.
Due to the construction of Star Trek, the southern entrance to the Santa Monica Pier section was closed on our last visit
Two years ago the saloon was home to the Western Lightning show - it doesn't look like that is running any more
The Looney Tunes 4D movie is perfectly pitched, with some classic cartoon style comedy moments and nice use of the 4D effects
The old Bermuda Triangle: Alien Encounter has been rethemed into Area 51: Top Secret
The ride is currently on soft opening. Unfortunately the queue was too long for us to ride, but the queueline and station theming look good.
Movie Park Germany's rapids ride got a retheme last year. Given the sunny weather, it wasn't surprising the queue for it was massive, so sadly we weren't able to ride it either - it seems there are some more reasons to visit the park again in the future!
We needed to leave at about 6pm to get to the airport, so there wasn't much time left in the park
Star Trek: Operation Enterprise was still almost walk-on, so we made that our final ride
A little surprise on my plane home: the day marked the 100th anniversary of British Airways, so every passenger was given a small chocolate to celebrate
More about the Parks