After our more or less racy toboggan ride on the Pradaschier, we headed back downhill to Chur, where we took a lunch and discount-finding break in a pyramid-shaped Mc-Donald’s-Ibis hotel combination on the way to our next destination, the Alpamare Pfäffikon. Interestingly, the discount on the voucher on the back of the receipt was less than the discount on the website of the water park itself. Strengthened and equipped with e-tickets, we went directly to the bath, where we immediately received the chip wristbands for the lockers at the cash desk.
In 1970, the wave pool and later Alpamare water park in Bad Tölz, Bavaria, celebrated its premiere and quickly developed into a nationwide crowd puller. This was followed in 1977 by the sister park in Pfäffikon, Switzerland, as an additional leisure facility to the Seedamm-Center next door, which was built in 1974. As in Bad Tölz, the bath initially consisted of a wave pool, wellness area and two thermal pools, before it was continuously expanded from 1985 onwards and the first larger slides were added to the swimming pool.
Funnily enough, the Alpamare has practically developed downhill over the years: Three of the eleven water slides are located in the upper area near the Rio Mare river pool – Alpabob, Wildwasser and Mini Canyon. Most of these slides are located in a hall – sometimes they lead out of the building, but then they are completely covered, so that on these three slides you never actually get outside. They end on a level about ten metres below. From there, the starting point of seven further slides that overcome a height difference of approximately 17 m is located, the Alpa Canyons. These slides run over a hill and are partly open. Thus, one gets some fresh air even in the winter time. The longest slide, Balla Balla, overcomes the biggest difference in height: it starts on the top level and ends where the drop-offs of the Alpa Canyons are. These differences in height, which are quite remarkable in relation to the length of the slides, allow for exceptionally fast and wild runs with one drop after the other. What makes the slides generally very violent but also demands top physical performance from the swimmers: the many stairs.
It all started with the Alpabob in 1986, a Crazy River slide by the manufacturer Klarer, which runs over several levels with intermediate pools and offers some nice slide sections. The blue main slide was (at that time) joined by three more slide starts, the Mini Canyon and whitewater.
The Bodyslide Mini Canyon has always been known only as a depot slide, as it leads directly to the final pool of the Alpabob, where the slide tubes are stored. The 72m long slide is not very spectacular, but the numerous S-curves and jumps make the whole thing a surprisingly swinging experience with the right sliding technique.
The neighbouring Wildwasser slide offers an interesting and historically significant alternative possibility to slide into the Alpabob: in the past it consisted of two separate and parallel tracks, which merged in a rather idiosyncratic plop run-up manoeuvre directly onto a narrowing Crazy River slide. According to Daniel’s tales, this unhealthy combination of hops and subsequent pinball check only survived the fewest without bruises. What at that time incited to numerous repetitive rides has nowadays lost a lot of its attraction, because the initial white half-shell slide profile has meanwhile been extended by a few meters, so that one now slides relatively unspectacularly into the arcane intermediate pool or rather into the secret love grotto. This hidden corner in the Alpamare is actually the biggest attraction of the otherwise very boring slide due to the tubes in bodyslide width – because very few swimmers ever find it. After a short shot, the track leads over a very slow stream section finally into the second last intermediate pool of the Alpamare.
Via the former access of the right whitewater lane you enter the wonderfully wacky Proslide Balla Balla since 1999. The slide can be used either head first or in a conservative supine position. For the time being the slide leads you down the slope parallel to the whitewater slide. On a somewhat steeper straight, you now increase your speed quickly before you swing up in several consecutive S-curves. After 111m you leave the closed tube section and are immediately confronted with the cold ambient air. While constantly shouting out the outside temperature, “Cold, cold, cold!”, you pass a downward helix, where in former times balls were said to have flown around your ears. Through a car wash portal, one makes a short change of direction, which is also followed by a curve through an oversized water tap. A short right bend follows with a subsequent jump, which leads into a wrongly signposted left helix. After a rather abrupt swerve, you end up in the run-out pool of this 261m long themed water slide. The biggest disadvantage of this grandiose slide are the steps and the rather unpredictable waiting times due to the slow traffic light switching time and the remote start, if you want to use a slide mat.
The legendary tube slide Cobra is probably without exaggeration one of the most thrilling thrill slides in Switzerland, and is definitely one of the most extreme water slides in the classic non-turboslide profile, so to speak the Bakken Tornado among slides. It starts quite harmlessly and quickly develops into absolute madness, as you almost lie down in a racy S-curve before descending a borderline violent steep helix, which presses you into the sliding surface with tremendous pressure and accelerates you to an almost inhuman speed. With this speed you fly over the following jump, which is about five meters high and also quite steep, whereby the speed rush increases even more into insane spheres. With this now truly beyond good and bad speed, you now shoot through an extremely dangerous S-curve combination, in which you swing out so violently that you almost end up lying on your face. Absolutely nothing for weak nerves or douchbags! The last little jump before the run-out pool is guaranteed to be done in RMC style – with airtime in a full 90 degree lateral angle. Accordingly painful you rush into the run where you can hardly believe what this beast has just done to you.
The Alpamare is well aware of the cult status of its Cobra, as the new construction, also by Klarer in 2013, not only retained the very heavy layout 1:1, but even returned to the original plans from 1990: Over the years, the old, blue Cobra has been given some defusing tube segments in a slightly darker blue, which softened excessive rocking movements in the last part and also flattened the last jump. What is considered aggravation by Tuberides is in fact only a return to the original state from the opening year. Whether this is a good or a bad move, it remains to be seen – Daniel even prefers the variant with the changed blue segments due to a rounder speed retention and less risk of injury – but you definitely have to admit that a different water park might have presented a completely different layout. In this respect, the Alpamare can in any case be credited with fidelity to its history and courage to be fierce.
Daniel likes to refer to the tube slide Cresta Canyon, built in 1990, as the airtime slide of the Alpamares; no wonder considering that the slide provides certain moments of weightlessness right at the beginning of the slide. After the start of the slide, the track leads directly into the first jump, which after a minimalist left bend immediately leads into a surprisingly high drop. This is followed by a terribly tight helix, which is driven through with a lot of pressure and gives you fear and anxiety during the drop. An abrupt change of direction lets you swing up in the following helix before you go down the third jump. After another bend you reach the run-out pool.
The Black Hole called Thriller, built by Proslide in 1998, may be ridden using double or triple tubes and replaced the red Bodyslide Grand Canyon, which had been here until then and was almost even more violent than the Cobra. It caused many an accident, especially with a 7-meter fall directly into a super narrow right helix with a separately edged splash water rim. Today’s thriller slide is a lot safer, but in its own way quite untamed in terms of layout. Right at the beginning there are some very tight changes of direction in more or less complete darkness – you don’t see them coming at all and are thrown wildly from one to the other sloping position accordingly. After a somewhat calmer middle part with water curtains and a little bit wider curves, the final is a huge drop, which lets you surf over the water surface of the drop-off pool. This pool should not be shorter in any case, as you get so fast that you can regularly watch how the sliders roll almost over the edge behind it.
The Ice Express, opened in 2008, is a 158m long bodyslide on which you can also slide head first with a mat. It essentially retains the course of its predecessor Niagara Canyon, which was here at the time, with the main difference that, unlike its alternating open and closed predecessor, it now runs almost continuously as a closed tube. But not quite: After the first helix, the slide has always been buried underground in the slope – the Ice Express adapted this very well to its theme, so that one rushes through a veritable ice cave with penguin figures and purple strobe flashes. More jumps and tight helices complete the layout – especially on the mat in prone position an intense pleasure. The unbelievably tight final curve before the last jump sends the sliders up to the edge once more by force – this shows an advantage of having designed the slide as a classic tubular slide for the new construction, as the old version, which had the tunnel roof mounted just beyond the edge of the half shell, offered a not to be despised accident potential. Daniel would actually have liked it best if the slide had been provided with the now existing classic continuous splash water rim at such places during the new construction, but still kept the open sections. But even here you can be happy, as the original and great layout has not been changed. My personal favourite in the Alpamare.
The Alpamare manages like no other water park to make existing slides look like an absolute insider tip by clever positioning. The Crazy River slide Double Bob Splash Pipe, built in 1991, which you can rush down in double tyres is such a slide. In general one hopes for a good steering skill of the pilot to have a smooth ride; but this is anything but easy. After the start, the boat leads you down approximately a straight line in alternating contact between the two bands. After a fast turn, the first jump follows, whereupon a helix combination in form of a figure of eight is added, in which the contact with the side-bands is also not missing. After a short curve over a triple-down at full speed, an ultimate laughing flash hits you. This is followed by a turn and a short right/left turn, just before you find your way back into the bath via a final helix. If Lightwater Valley’s roller coaster The Ultimate was a water slide, it would be the Double Bob Splash Pipe – or in other words, the mad hatter’s wet dream. The 175m slide length guarantees in every respect an extra-long and extremely rugged sliding experience.
The latest full-value slide in the Alpamare is the 2012 retrofitted King Cone, a Cone Slide by Klarer. The 153m long track is designed in the Magic Tube profile and offers a total of three sloping mini cones, in which you swing around quite considerably and turn backwards, before you are released into the next slide sections by quite idiosyncratically constructed steering measures. The special feature: Apart from the use with single or double tubes, which is usually allowed on similar installations, you can also slide head first on a speed mat, which gives the rocking experience in the cones a unique and peculiar gain. It gets really weird when you exit the last cone backwards and the mat rolls away underneath you after the last fall into the run-out.
On the same side of the slope is the super-crater slide called Tornado, built in 2004 by the manufacturer Van Edgom. You build up a considerable speed on a very long straight line before you are led over a rather narrow curve into the large funnel, where you now make your rounds before you reach the tunnel entrance in the middle of the oversized bowl. As all slides in the Alpamare are also operated in winter, the outdoor fun can be a real test of courage; at least we were lucky, the temperature was only slightly negative. A short shot through two waterfalls leads you into the run-out pool of the slide.
When the endless climbing of stairs and the sliding marathon in the Alpamare, which is generally quite exhausting when there is absolutely no crowd, push you to the limits, it is best to go to the Beckenwelt on the entrance level. In the wave pool you can let off steam in pleasantly oldschoolish and thus powerful waves. The Alpa-Therme next door invites you to enjoy all kinds of bubbling pleasures or a Kneipp-style contrast bath in the cold water pool. The iodine-brine thermal spring, which is unique in Switzerland, with its strange greenish-yellowish-brownish-reddish shimmering foaming bath water in the evening hours, offers a similarly relaxing bathing pleasure, although at 36 degrees, the temperature is much warmer; extremely beneficial for skin and nose. In addition, the Rio Mare flow pool is open every half hour to play driftwood through the 100-metre-long stream channel. The intensity of the water jets on the level “strong”, which are run at :45, is known nationwide – in this respect sensitive body parts such as ears or shoulders should be kept as far away from the pool edge as possible.
As the first bath of its kind, the Alpamare is synonymous with every water park in Switzerland. It is a bath steeped in history, and a number of changes have been made to it over the years, whether through the addition of new slides or structural changes to the existing structure. In general, like hardly any other swimming pool, the people here have always shown courage for new things and tried out a lot. You can see this in the slides, which is why Pfäffikon is home to one of the most interesting public baths in Europe, which also stands out internationally. One could criticize the horrendous entrance fee, but we are here in Switzerland – it is normal – and if you are honest, it is worth paying for.
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