The Flamingo Land Zoo and Amusement Park in Yorkshire, England is one of the most interesting amusement parks in the United Kingdom. It has long been on the must-do list of many amusement park enthusiasts with its main attractions, most notably the suspended looping coaster Kumali, but is the amusement park the most interesting part of the park?
In fact, Flamingo Land is a very strange park with a really bizarre charm. Its choice of attractions in the past has always been interesting, among others there were rides like the infamous Flight Trainer by Intamin, a Waikiki Wave by Vekoma or the transportable Shuttle Loop by Schwarzkopf. Since then, the rides have always changed, but the atmosphere of Flamingo Land has always remained the same.
Now, however, it seems to have been recognized that this approach was not always the best one, so they have now started to expand their theme areas and make them more compact. The newly built Dino Stone Park, which was still under construction at the time of the visit, is definitely a step in the right direction. Here you can find two of this year’s three novelties, of which the Magic Bikes by Zamperla have already opened. The Junior Twister Coaster Twistosaurus, made by the same manufacturer, was not yet built. However, it was intended to extend the range of children’s coasters in the park in a logical way.
In the neighbouring Splosh! theme area, the focus is entirely on the wet element and the theme of flying. The main attraction in this area is the Splash Battle from Preston & Barbieri, which can also be found in the Dutch theme park Walibi Holland and the French park Walibi Sud Ouest. As always, the cannons are more or less useless as they don’t work. If you didn’t get wet enough by all the water effects, the huge water playground right next door can help.
If you are looking for a way to dry out, the best place to do so is definitely the Fabbri Top Swing Flip Flop. Even though it hardly differs externally from similar installations from various other manufacturers, the ride is definitely something special. With an incredible acceleration the gondola swings up and tries to catapult its passengers out of their seats in the best possible way. You won’t find so much airtime anywhere else, which is why one or two rides are absolutely inevitable for every amusement park enthusiast!
Dry spun you can now board three flying machines, of which the blue painted Zooom stands out the most, because it blocks the view of the truly beautiful Sky Flyer. The ride characteristics of this roller coaster are certainly not good and unfortunately reflect the competence of the manufacturer Zamperla in the manufacture of children’s roller coasters. The swing during the ride is not worth mentioning, which is why the ride is not convincing compared to Turbulencia of the Parque de Atracciones de Madrid. The rather ugly appearance of this layout is not a benefit for the whole thing and a ride duration of 4 laps is even less.
On the other hand, the trip on the Sky Flyer could actually take a little longer, as the former ride from the Drayton Manor Theme Park in Tamworth is definitely worth it. The ride itself is great fun and offers a really balanced ride sequence.
The Lost Kingdom themed area in Flamingo Land can be considered the most interesting theme area of the park, as it leads over to the zoo and features two roller coasters, Mumbo Jumbo and Kumali, as well as the Lost River Ride.
Since the construction of Kumali at the latest, the eyes are directed towards Yorkshire, because this Suspended Looping Coaster by Vekoma was only the second installation of this type with a different layout within Europe, apart from the two installations located in Isla Magica in Spain and Gardaland in Italy featuring a bonus helix to the otherwise standard layout.
The ride on Kumali begins with the climbing of the lifthill, whereupon a downward sloping curve initiates the first descent of the ride. Where this part of the track is still quite close to a standard SLC, everything following is different. After a longer curve, the first ascent follows immediately and at the same time the first inversion of the layout, a loop. This loop is then run through in exactly the way it should be, i.e. with a good amount of pressure and at high speed. After its curvy exit a Cobra Roll follows, which is quite nice to ride. Shortly thereafter you are thrown around in a ZeroG roll in a very interesting way, whereupon a steep turn follows, which leads you into the braking section of the layout.
Kumali is an interesting roller coaster whose ride comfort leaves little room for complaints. So, it rides quite well, but to be honest the ride is not very exciting. Due to the rather rare rides on the day of visit, the ride might not have shown its full potential, which is why even the standard layout is more convincing to me, as long as the ride performs as good as for example Infusion at Pleasure Beach Blackpool.
The neighboring roller coaster Mumbo Jumbo is literally a bit strange. Climbing the steep and fast lift, it goes much too fast into a curve combination without any cross slope. Shortly after that, it changes into a rather steep 112° drop, which set a world record until the 1° steeper El Loco Coaster from Fraispertuis City opened. This drop, as impressive as the facts may sound, is disappointing all along the line. As soon as the drop is initiated, it is already over. The sensation it gives is not comparable to that of a Gerstlauer Eurofighter, all of which show more pronounced forces and come out much higher. With a small sideways turn the ride continues immediately up to the first block brake.
A curve follows, which should be used in many roller coasters, as the outwardly sloping track section is quite impressive on wooden coasters made by GCI as well as on this one. Unfortunately, this part of the track is quickly over and a seemingly conventional curve follows which gets more and more sloped towards the end and turns into an upside-down section. The hangtime feeling is very distinct and you are more than happy to fall towards the ground in a half loop shortly after, where you reach the lowest point of the ride for the first time. However, the ride is not over yet and a further ascent with a hardly regulating block brake follows. This is followed by the last traditional curve, which ends in a downhill heartlineroll – actually the most interesting element of the ride. A trivial U-turn in the form of an Immelmann turn follows, whereupon the ride soon ends.
Although the ride looks interesting from the outside and is undoubtedly interesting from the inside, this type of coaster is not what many people praise it for. Compared to its predecessor, the Screaming Squirrels, the El Loco series by S&S is hitting the nerve of the time and has been established quite a few times, but in my opinion the ride itself could be a little crazier or wilder. There were no repeat rides worth mentioning – but this was also due to the long waiting time thanks to the single car operation.
With warm temperatures, which were really not available on the day of the visit, the Lost River Ride is certainly one of the most interesting rides of the Flamingo Land theme park. Like the Zambezi boat ride at the Erlebnis-Zoo Hannover or the Jungle Mission in the Belgian Bellewaerde Park, the ride passes some enclosures, yet offers a longer stop in the block brake at the very generous savannah, where you might even see a giraffe running after an ostrich.
Shortly after that the boat climbs up by cable lift, which is quite unusual. After a rather boring straight line in a building – where I was actually surprised not to drive through an aviary – the big drop follows, which is quite striking from the outside. Although I have ridden every spillwater – or Shoot the Chutes – that I have come across, it has never happened to me to get completely soaked on one side and then again on the other side shortly afterwards.
Dripping wet it is now time to go to the zoo area of the amusement park, which I can really recommend to everybody. All animals have a lot of space here, also the visibility of the enclosures is mostly only possible from above or by passing them in a boat, for example the lions’ enclosure within the Lost River Ride. Days before I thought the enclosures in Bellewaerde Park were bigger than all the ones I had seen so far, but I was taught better. If a friend of the amusement park culture would not always be drawn to the other areas, one could easily spend the whole day here. On the other hand, a cable car and the Peoplemoover, a monorail with a cow train, connect the two ends of the park.
The Muddy Duck Farm, like the Children’s Planet area, are two smaller areas in Flamingo Land that are dedicated primarily to younger children. They are the only ones who can have fun on the Go Gator, or enjoy the original and beautifully designed theme ride Mischief Mansion, and the accompanying interactive walkthrough Little Monsters Exploratorium.
In the beautifully designed Seaside Adventure themed area, on the other side of Flamingo Land theme park, you can take a ride on the S&S Combo Tower Cliff Hanger in addition to several children’s rides. Since I only had the honour to ride some space shots, which were rather meagre, my expectations for the ride on the Cliff Hanger were really low; the abnormally pronounced airtime at the shot up as well as at the shot down could convince me of the opposite pretty fast. An absolutely ingenious tower!
The last themed area of the park and the area around the entrance is called Metropolis. The area around the Launched Coaster Velocity is quite uniformly designed, but there is still enough demand for one or two makeovers in the rest of the area. So the area with the bicycle track, the baloon race and the small children’s roller coaster Runaway Train is really not a beauty.
In order to upgrade the rear area Metropolis a little bit, the Volare Hero has been chosen as the third novelty this year. It remains to be seen whether it was right to charge the mouse from Maurer Söhne. In England the planned system is at least a novelty, which may well cause a stir.
The last roller coaster and at the same time the best of the Flamingo Land amusement park is the motorcycle roller coaster Velocity by Vekoma, which outshines the prototype from the Dutch theme park Toverland in fact every point with ease. The ride characteristics of this ride are simply outstanding. The launch pulls neatly and the following curves are ridden with just the right amount of speed, resulting in quite pronounced forces, which are also noticeable on the hill towards the end of the ride even in the negative range.
Whoever has ridden Velocity must actually be surprised that there are still very few motorbike coasters out there. The riding characteristics of the English model are sublime in every respect, and the ride through the winding track is rather nice, so that one could only wish to find a copy of this design more often in Europe.
The Flamingo Land is a great animal and leisure park. Unfortunately the park tends to not present its numerous and actually good rides very well. One can only hope that in the future a good presentation will be part of the amusement park’s standard – in some places the park is already surprisingly well presented. With the park’s spacious zoo you have at least one good reason to visit the park, which is greatly rounded off by the amusement park visit.
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