After staying in Rainbow Magicland near the Italian capital for almost too long, we reached the Tuscan amusement park Cavallino Matto at 4 pm on time. To my own surprise, the visit was a little cheaper thanks to the afternoon ticket and free parking.
In a good mood we went straight to the park of the Manfredi family, who have owned the Crazy Horse, Cavallino Matto, since 2006. However, the park was founded as Parco Gulliver as early as 1967, and was more a playground with pony rides and mini-golf than a leisure park. In the 1990s, more and more larger rides, such as the Colorado Boats log flume, moved into the park. However, the park didn’t gain in attraction until the Manfredi family took over and expanded it.
I did not become aware of Cavallino Matto until 2012, and thus certainly earlier than most amusement park fans, when the Swedish amusement park Liseberg had its old Rock ‘n’ Roll monster from Schwarzkopf replaced by a brand new one from Gerstlauer, which in turn moved the old one to Tuscany. Here it was given a new environment, whereby the old theme is still used musically. In contrast to the comparable ride in the French Nigloland, the ride here is also very easy to turn thanks to the lack of partitions between the seats, which in combination with the general duration of the ride made for an all-round successful ride.
Opposite it is the children’s roller coaster Topo Zorro, a rather rare variation of the Italian long runner Brucomela with a helix instead of a straight downhill run. In contrast to the C&S-built ride Tren de Potosi from the Spanish Isla Magica near Sevilla, the waves in the upper part of the ride are quite round, which unfortunately makes the ride a bit less exciting.
Just a few metres further on, the first end of the Cavallino Matto amusement park is reached, where two rides venture beyond the ever-present treetops in a larger square. While the 55m high Shocking Tower from Soriani & Moser easily manages this, the gondola carrier of the Technical Park Typhoon Yucatan only reaches beyond the treetops in full swing. This makes the otherwise rather tame ride a very exciting experience.
Passing a children’s driving school, as well as the Baia dei Bucanieri – a splash battle of SBF Visa – in whose courtyard the ship swing Nave Pirata is located, we went to the formerly largest roller coaster of the park: the L&T Systems ride Project 1. Here we also came across the exemplary handling of the park for the first time, according to which the train is sent onto the track immediately with enough passengers or after a certain time interval with only a few willing passengers. Especially on empty days this ensures sufficient rides on all relevant rides without having to pay attention to eventual closing and opening times.
The ride begins with a right turn towards the lift hill, which takes you up to the maximum height of 16m at a fairly leisurely pace. In a shallow right turn above the tree tops, you slowly but surely head towards the ground. Here you immediately pass through a long valley, after which you make your way to the sky with a similar gradient as you did on the descent. This also happens in a right turn, but the tree tops can only be seen from below. A smaller slope takes you to the other side of the ride, but there is now an uphill bend to the left. Parallel to the lift hill there is now another drop, whereupon the station is crossed in another left turn. This is followed by the last descent and a final bend, until the nice, but not necessarily exciting, ride in Cavallino Matto ends.
Also from here it is only a few steps to the next bigger attraction, which for us was not the nicely designed dark ride Safari Adventures, but the wild mouse Wild Mine, also from L&T Systems. The ride is similar to its counterpart from Mirabilandia, but a bit smaller and has two hairpin bends less. Thus, the upper part of the ride goes through only five serpentine curves just before the funny interplay between steeper gradients and further hairpin bends starts one level below. Due to lack of space, the two successive gradients are slightly smaller, but this doesn’t hurt the funny mouse, especially since we didn’t have to wait an hour or rather a second for the ride this time.
Directly next door is the small roller coaster Speedy Gonzales, which we also knew from Mirabilandia. However, it seemed to be bigger there. Instead of just one lap through the layout of a simple figure of eight, the train set made its guided way over the track twice.
In addition to an electric horse-riding track and a 4D cinema, this area of Cavallino Matto also features the large, apparently home-made, Colorado Boats log flume. After leaving the station, you can take a little boat ride through the canal before you reach the first conveyor belt which takes you up to the top. Shortly after that the first shot is taken, whereupon the contact with the cool water is immediately established. Although the run-out area is very short, the boat glides very smoothly into the next curve whereby the speed is somewhat slow. No wonder that it is forbidden to change the natural speed of the boat. Of course we followed this advice written in German with pleasure and so we bobbed with the boat through the further course of the channel. A short time later we reached the second lift and thus the second and also biggest shot of the ride. Now the return to the station could be done properly moistened, but since no photo of the ride has been taken yet and this should best be taken during a descent, we climbed a hill a third time, but this time a remarkably small one. Fortunately, this hill is quite harmless and the boat trip through the forest ends shortly afterwards with a sufficiently pronounced degree of wetness.
On a brand new site, separated by a small public road, the newest and largest roller coaster of the Cavallino Matto amusement park rises to the sky. Although the Freestyle roller coaster is considerably older than any other ride in the park, the former Sky Rider from Canada’s Wonderland has attracted the park’s attention in all the forums. Almost like in 1985, the construction of the Stand-Up Coaster was eagerly awaited, which is the second ride of this type in Europe next to the Shockwave of the English amusement park Drayton Manor. Moreover, it is the only larger roller coaster of the Japanese manufacturer Togo in Europe, which is all the more reason to make a pilgrimage to the small, friendly amusement park in Tuscany.
While on most roller coasters the experience starts with the ascent of the lift hill, the access to Freestyle is already quite adventurous. Admittedly I didn’t understand the whole procedure at the first run, especially as the shoulder bar waistcoat couldn’t be opened completely, but this improved steadily from ride to ride. And actually it’s quite simple, because you only have to pull the nipple through the flap and turn the small crank to the top, then you see an arrow and press on it and it opens or closes. Actually you only have to push the loose harness forwards. But hopefully the person to your right doesn’t do the same at the same moment (which is very likely). When the harness is opened, place yourself onto the seat, close the harness and adjust the height of your seat. The seat is then locked in position and if necessary readjusted by the staff. The staff must be praised for their quick reactions and for allowing even a mentally handicapped and partially paralysed boy to ride in the course of the day.
As soon as the train has been cleared, you can take the lift up to a height of 27m at a leisurely pace. Up there, you take a turn above the green of the forest. In a curve you pick up more and more speed before you plunge down to the ground without hesitation. With extraordinary strong pressure you pass the first valley and immediately afterwards in a similar manic way the loop of the ride. After that you pass the following valley without any regard to losses before the train rushes up a camelback. Here you take off the floor in the front part of the train. However, with the best will in the world, the madness is not over, because the train now pushes through a narrow downhill helix, which is equipped with immensely high pressure. The now compressed legs are brought back into shape on the following hill by the negative forces; but the madness still continues. On a supposed straight line the train is now tilted to the left before it uses a right turn as a turning manoeuvre. Two and a half small hills, which get bigger and bigger towards their end, are the finale of this exciting ride. With the last hilltop the braking distance is reached and after another curve also the station, where you immediately feel the urge for another round.
The Stand-Up Coaster Freestyle is certainly one of the most intense roller coasters in Italy and also in Europe. The way the roller coaster stresses you in the helix is insane and almost uncomfortable, but in combination with the airtime moments during the ride it is extremely worth experiencing. If you can thankfully do without taking off on the first drop, then a ride in the front part of the train is recommended. Unfortunately, the ride characteristics are not the best, but the safety bars are almost negligible because they hardly touch your body; that’s why Dominik, who was rather displeased with the excellent Invertigo from Movieland Park, wanted to take one lap after the other, while one or two laps less would have been enough for me. But one can also be infected by such a passion.
Cavallino Matto was the most sympathetic amusement park on the tour, so despite only two hours in the park we really had a lot of fun here. All in all, we had quite a few repeat rides on Freestyle and were able to ride everything without any problems due to the good waiting time management; only the strict approach to the Yucatan swing prevented a final ride on the stand-up coaster, which we had grown to love until then. So the ride just above the tree tops was the crowning glory of the tour through beautiful Italy.
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