The legacy of Dinocittà

The History of Cinecittà World

The history of Rome as a film location dates back to 1937, when the film city Cinecittà was founded. Equipped with what were then the most modern studios in Europe, a backlot and a copy studio, around 300 films were produced by 1943. Bombed by the Allies and looted by the Nazis, the film production was moved to Venice. After the end of the war, Cinecittà served as a DP camp for two years before the film production site was returned to its original purpose. In the 1950s the Cinecittà Studios experienced a golden age, probably also due to the film funding of the Italian state, and served as the film location for important Hollywood films such as Ben-Hur.

Due to constantly increasing demand and limited studio capacities, the producer Dino de Laurentiis founded Dinocittà, at that time the largest film studio in the world, also in the south of the Italian capital. The studio mainly produced historic and monumental films such as Barabbas (Italy 1961, Richard Fleischer), Waterloo (Italy/USSR 1969, Sergei Bondarchuk) and John Huston’s mammoth work La Bibbia (Italy 1966). However, due to the reduction of subsidies at the beginning of the 1970s, the film studio was not able to survive for long, and so in 1973 the land was sold to the Italian state. From then on Dino de Laurentiis produced in the United States and the Dinocittà remained unused; although not forgotten. Plans in the early 2000s to run the studios under the name Roma Studios were quickly discarded and Cinecittà Holding took over the site.

Originally planned for 2012, the movie park Cinecittà World opened its doors for the first time in the summer of 2014. Unpaid bills and a lack of visitors, despite the surprisingly low target of 1.5 million visitors, quickly left the park in a negative light. Short-notice cancellations of seasonal events and the planned winter opening quickly gave rise to doubts as to whether the park would ever open again. However, after restructuring over the winter months, the park opened punctually at Easter.

Tour of the park

Through an elaborately designed entrance portal, one enters the park directly into Cinecittà Street, the park’s main street, inspired by New York of the 1920s. Although the set is only of generic design, i.e. not based on any film, this area has a lot of charm as long as it does not look like a ghost town due to a lack of visitors. The design is generally of a very high quality and equipped with all kinds of details, so that the first and last impression of the park is inevitably a positive one.


To the left of Main Street the set extends around Aktium, an elaborately designed Super Splash from Mack Rides. It is supposed to depict the naval battle at Actium, in which Octavian, the later Emperor Augustus, asserted himself against Marcus Antonius and the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII, thus securing sole rule in the Roman Empire. As violent as the battle was, the area around the ride is just as impressive and once again you can see that the Cinecittà World is a place where quality is the name of the game.

After you have left the spacious queue behind you, the journey can start right away. Without much foreplay, you go directly up the first lift hill, where you approach the first slope in a rough curve. Similar to various larger Spillwateranter installations, this runs directly down into the water without any great gimmicks. One turn later, the boat climbs up again and also makes a rough left turn. Where the ride showed itself to be quite untypical for this type of roller coaster the true character is revealed in the second shot. With a lot of momentum you pass a valley and take off on the adjacent hill before you get in contact with the water. After a little sailing through the canal you soon reach the station and are bid farewell by the staff to thunderous applause.

Aktium is a nice spillwater replacement, but it shows the limits of this roller coaster and reveals the reason why almost all other rides of this type use turntables instead of curves for the turning manoeuvres. Apart from the angular curves the ride runs without any other problems, although the level of wetness could have been a bit higher.

Studio 1

Across the Piazza Dino de Laurentiis with all its fountains and fountains we now enter Studio 1, where a magic show took place. Except for the time-consuming mind-reading number (which was only presented in Italian), the show was very professionally staged, but unfortunately not as worth seeing as the comparable show at Movieland Park.

Altair CCW-0204

Directly behind it is Altair CCW-0204, a roller coaster that many people are probably already familiar with from the English amusement park Thorpe Park near London. Unlike the former record-breaker, however, the ride takes passengers up to the starting height of 33m a little faster and without a failure-prone chain lift. After an exciting start, the passengers are then thrown through the rollover elements in trains without shoulder restraints. A massive spaceship serves as an oversized station building, in which mankind returns to earth after more than four millennia and has to ask the question who is the alien, the creatures that developed here, or we who left them in the 22nd century?

While the background story of Altair offers plenty of room for philosophical discussions, the train, whose restraint system is very similar to that of the Divertical water rollercoaster at Mirabilandia, ascends the lift hill directly. At the top, you pass the top of the hill quite leisurely and immediately drop down to the ground. With a high speed and a high pressure you go through a steep left turn before you shoot up the first inversion, a loop. This is traversed with the usual intensity, followed by a small hill with some airtime. In the valley below, the Cobra Roll is initiated, which is crossed just as confidently. After three rollovers, the half time of the ride is rung in with two corkscrews.  After another left turn above the first downhill run, the quadruple heartline roll in the back of the ride is initiated. Because of the freer sitting position, you can complete this with a slight lateral overhang and thus the feeling of always being able to fall out. The train then passes through a last left turn and then the final inversion, a right leading heartline roll towards the brakes. In contrast to Colossus in Thorpe Park, this roll is a bit disappointing, as it is identical to the previous rolls and therefore offers no more surprises.

Altair is a great roller coaster with excellent ride characteristics and a significantly improved seating position compared to the original. However, Colossus also has its strengths, which are mainly reflected in the grandiose final roll and the better integration into the terrain; it is simply more photogenic, although Altair is by no means photo-shy either. The modified first drop is a great experience and the lack of vibrations in looping and the subsequent cobra roll, as well as the absence of a queue to our visit point, make the ride a guarantee for repeat rides.


Through the pretty western town of Ennio’s Creek, named after Ennio Morricone, the composer of numerous Italo western scores, where a scary walkthrough is to educate during the season, and past Studios 3,4 and 5 (with a 4D cinema in Studio 4 and a children’s playground in Studio 3), we head towards the most impressive ride in Cinecittà World, the Erawan Freefall Tower. This visual treat includes four lanes, two of which offer pure falling pleasure while standing, while the other two lanes entertain their passengers while seated. All gondolas are tilted forward before the fall, which generally ensures a great and outstanding ride experience. But even apart from the special features Erawan is a magnificent tower. The pure fall reaches similar qualities as Apocalypse from the English amusement park Drayton Manor, which is in my opinion the best freefall tower in Europe. The only difference is that you are one experience poorer due to the absence of the hilarious standing gondola with corridor. Erawan is undoubtedly the best designed giant drop far and wide and also offers a great ride that you should not miss.


Just a few metres from Erawan is the entrance to Darkmare, the family rollercoaster of Cinecittà World featuring a very dark story. Thematically one takes up Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, which was to be filmed in the 50s in Studio Hall 2. However, there were numerous strange accidents and finally a fire, whereupon the shooting was stopped and nothing happened afterwards.

After years of standstill we venture into the hall and experience a wild ride through hell, which begins with a short descent in a right turn, into the lift hill of the lift. You pass a mirror, which is admittedly a really great effect. Passing numerous, artistically valuable projections, all of which make Van Helsing’s Factory from Movie Park Germany look old, you quickly reach the ceiling of the hall, whereupon the train immediately plunges to the ground in a steep left-hand bend. Regardless of losses, the first valley is crossed with outstanding intensity, whereupon the train soon gains altitude. After a curve change, the train passes through a narrow downward helix and winds its way to the other end of the hall in a zigzag curve combination. After a short ascent you reach the freefall segment, where a demon now shows itself and puts its wings around us. Shortly afterwards we are already one level lower and leave the segment very quickly. Now follows a narrow left turn, which is immediately joined by the final turn to the right. Shortly afterwards we reach the station and are once again bid an enthusiastic farewell.

Darkmare is really, really, really damn good! In contrast to the prototype Th13teen of the English amusement park Alton Towers, the ride has no funny backward part after the drop segment, but the rest of the track is much better. In addition, the general design of the ride in its dark comic style is really outstanding and the projections are just perfect. The large and demonically well darkened hall makes the compact ride look three times as big as it actually is and extends the ride in equal measure. The free fall is also quite ok, but can be a bit too much for first-time riders, after all the ride is not lacking in power anyways. But you shouldn’t take such a gloomy view, because Darkmare is definitely the best roller coaster of the park and one of the best roller coasters in the country; so it’s a great ride with a very high repetition urge.

Aquila IV

Opposite Teatro 2 is the submarine Aquila IV, which was used in a German submarine film and a music video by the band Bon Jovi. Of course it is not Das Boot, because it is still located in the Bavaria Filmstadt not far from Munich, but the U-900 from the film of the same name with Atze Schröder in the leading role. Admittedly, the scenery builders did a good job, but we couldn’t explain to ourselves what the meaningless tour was supposed to be in Italian. Without language skills you should avoid Aquila IV and even with language skills you really shouldn’t expect too much, especially since the waiting time is very long. On the other hand, a visit in a real submarine is really recommendable; we at least wished to return to the U-571 of Movieland Studios.


In addition to the SpacExpress, an immersive tunnel of Simworx, which however was not yet in operation at the time of our visit, the children’s kart track Velocità Luce and the entrance to the children’s land Sognolabio are also located in this area. This area is very colourful and offers some nice rides for children made in Italy, as well as a very annoying soundtrack and a nice splash battle.

Pictures Cinecittà World

Conclusion Cinecittà World

Cinecittà World is a good amusement park that has made quality its top priority; here neither the design nor the rides are of inferior quality. Unfortunately, sometimes the quantity is still missing, because you can only manage a whole day in the park if you actually watch every single show, eat comfortably in one of the restaurants and take multiple rides. The Movieland Park shows how it’s done, but at the Cinecittà World their own professionalism still stands in the way. In no other Italian park you could meet as much staff as here, neither in the shows nor in the attractions. Although this creates a good image, it is known to be somewhat more expensive than the one-person operation of the Mirabilandia. In addition, Cinecittà World is based on something you know and which is also used in numerous film parks or film studios with guided tours, but it is questionable whether they are on the right track; because sometimes they only show larger generic sets without any actual film reference with suitably embedded attractions. A larger reference to own productions would therefore be advisable, but one does not necessarily have to give up the intended concept. I’m curious how the Cinecittà World will develop in the next few years, because the park has potential and already offers a lot of quality; a condition that one would wish for other parks around Rome.

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Upside down on Hayling Island

Funland Amusement Park

The Funland Amusement Park is located on the beach of Hayling Island and offers a small but fine selection of rides, as well as the typical range of amusement arcades and snack bars. Admission to the park is free, the attractions are paid for according to the Tivoli principle by a certain number of tokens or by a wristband. Especially the second option is ideal during the evening hours, as the wristbands are offered virtually for free. However, people with a weaker stomach, who only visit the park for the three roller coasters, should use the tokens.

Super Dragon

Next to a typical English Helter Skelter slide, which unfortunately does not have a Rct look in this park, you can find a Pinfari roller coaster in the children’s area of the small park. The Super Dragon can be best compared to a Big Apple roller coaster, as both installations share approximately the same height and surface area. But the ride is much more exciting, even if not very spectacular. After climbing the lifthill there is a curve which leads into the first of two drops. After passing under the lifthill, the ride goes up again and after another curve, it enters into the rapid finale of the course. Here, after the drop, a small hill follows, which brings a smile to your face. But some rounds later, one is glad to get out of the former ride of the Drayton Manor Theme Park.

Klondike Gold Mine

At the other end of the park is another ride from Drayton Bassett, the Klondike Gold Mine or Klondike Looping Rollercoaster. The beautifully designed ZL42 from Pinfari has often been described as a physical injury, just like other rides of the same type. Except for the daredevil transitions into the curves, the layout runs very well. The compactness of the layout makes the ascents and descents quite steep, which could have been improved by adding a few more metres to the width of the layout, thus giving a softer ride. The looping is unfortunately not as intensive as comparable Intamin installations do, but it was a nice element during the ride. In general, the Klondike Gold Mine is a real gem, at least when it comes to the overall design of the layout. The ride itself is quite nice and not at all to be rated as most roller coaster fans do.

Woody Rollercoaster

Next to the gold mine roller coaster you can find another children’s roller coaster at Funland Amusement Park. The Woody Rollercoaster actually doesn’t offer any special features apart from its tree-trunk shaped cars, especially since the layout only consists of right turns and can have a helix as the only downhill run. As with the Super Dragon, several laps are made here.

Speed Flip

On the other hand, the Speed Flip is a real highlight in the park, because the rides built by Moser Rides are unfortunately very rare. The ride in the roll-over gondolas, which are mounted on a cantilever that is brought from the horizontal to the vertical, is simply indescribably good and above all very fast. The ride looks quite bizarre from the outside and some of the gondolas only seem to roll over, but inside the machine the ride is well balanced, even if it is quite intense.

Drop Ride

A little inconspicuous is the 30 meter high freefall tower called Drop Ride. The installation once came from the Trocadero Center in London and was equipped there with a two-storied gondola. As the fall lane was anchored to the building at that time, a new tower structure had to be built in the Funland Amusement Park that was simply made as a timbered construction. The fall in this small ride is simply overwhelming, even the slightly higher Fabbri drop towers with their launch downwards do not come close to the distinctive airtime. In addition, the ride offers probably the most intensive braking of all free fall towers, which is probably due to the fact that the weight of the second gondola is missing. The Drop Ride is like Drayton Manors Apocalypse or La Lanzandera from the Parque de Atracciones de Madrid one of the best freefall towers in Europe and shows again that height is a rather negligible factor.

Furthermore, you can get a little soaked with a small log flume and get dry again in the Break Dance, a Magic Dance from Top Fun, if necessary. Outside of the actual park area there is also the Seaside Train, which probably offers some stations along the beach.

Pictures Funland Amusement Park


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Stand up when you get to Drayton Manor!

Drayton Manor Theme Park

Close to the English town of Tamworth, in a small town called Drayton Bassett, is the Drayton Manor Theme Park. The animal and amusement park offers some interesting and rare rides and can almost be called a showcase for the Liechtenstein company Intamin due to its impressive number of rides by the company.

When you enter the park through the main entrance you will immediately see the flagship of the park on your left. The Thomas Land consists of several smaller attractions and has been designed to match the children’s series Thomas and friends. The park was one of the first in the country to use a well-known IP – an unparalleled success, even though the amusement park is now often reduced to the Thomas Land.

Thomas Land

Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster

Among the larger rides in the Thomas Land area is a suitably designed train ride which has its second stop in the zoo area of the park, as well as the small Gerstlauer roller coaster Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster. The ride itself starts with some curve changes before you climb up the lift hill to start the fast paced ride, which has a very funny turn around. For children this junior coaster is simply fantastic, furthermore the Troublesome Trucks Runaway offers an excellent smooth ride.


Opposite the Thomas Land is the visually very appealing Intamin Gyro Swing called Maelstrom. Compared to swings of various manufacturers, a ride on the Gyro Swing is surprisingly brute and absolutely brilliant. The airtime, as well as the acceleration are simply breathtaking. A great fun!


Interestingly, there is another swing in the park, but it was not until a few years after Maelstrom that it found its way into the park. We are talking about the boat swing of the park, which again comes from the manufacturer Intamin. The ride called Bounty also accelerates very fast, but it has a much more family-friendly ride program.

Beside a typical English horse carousel you can take a quite interesting round trip with the well established Chance Rides C.P. Huntington trains. During the ride you will not only get good impressions of the main attractions Shockwave, Stormforce 10, Splash Canyon and G-Force, but you will also learn that the park used to be operated according to the Tivoli system.

Stormforce 10

The last attraction of the themed area known as Fisherman’s Wharf, which could also include Maelstrom, Shockwave and the rafting facility Splash Canyon below, is the Stormforce 10 whitewater ride.

After you have taken a seat in the boats the journey can immediately begin. Joyfully approaching the first shot, you are stopped shortly before and a gate closes behind you. The following effect is absolutely unexpected and surprising and ends as expected in cool water. Passing waterfalls we head towards the first drive up, where a turntable is waiting at the end to start the short and rather nasty backward ride. The problem of this is not the level of wetness, but the force with which the boat is braked, so the ride is definitely not for someone with a weak back. After you have turned around once again and passed under the station, you’ll be heading out into the lofty heights again and eventually reach the final shot at a snail’s pace, which will bring the ride closer to its end with a double drop.

The ride built by Bear Rides is not only unbelievably photogenic, but also simply unique due to the built-in effects, which is why you should not miss it.

Splash Canyon

Meanwhile, the rapids ride Splash Canyon offers a dry ride, which amusingly is declared to the passengers as a soaking wet one. The rapid ride itself is nicely designed and has, similar to Thorpe Parks Rumba Rapids, a very active wave pool. If one is lucky enough to be wetted by one of the numerous rapids, one can surely also be happy about the water jet shower at the end of the ride, if it catches one at all.


A few meters above the turntable of the rapid ride is the station of the only Intamin Stand-Up Coaster in Europe. After you have left the beautifully designed queue to Shockwave with all its stairs behind you and a train is waiting for you, you can try to get on your seat in some way, which is quite funny to watch, especially with small children. After the seat has been lowered slowly so that you are standing on your feet again and the two split bars, as well as the standing row, are locked, you slowly move towards the lift.

The rather strange first drop ends in a wonderfully intense loop, whereupon one tries to pull the ground from under one’s feet in a zero-g roll. The feeling to roll over the Splash Canyon is simply ingenious, especially as it increases the fear of losing something from your pockets during the ride. The two corkscrews that follow are the crowning glory of an all-round balanced ride, which in the end should not be any longer. The ride feeling is really something different and so it is a pity that there is only one ride of this kind in Europe. Due to the empty queues during the visit, the rides on Shockwave were unfortunately only held in the first row, so the ride sensation of the other rows could not be included in this review.


In the direct vicinity there is a roller coaster of German production, which unfortunately doesn’t form a unit with the surrounding attractions. Rather, it represents something completely different and thus formed the basis for the theme area Action Park at Drayton Manor Theme Park. The musical background in the queue to G-Force, which takes the floor level of the station building, is outstanding and creates a great unity with the roller coaster. As soon as you have left the stairs behind you can take a seat in the Maurer Söhne X-Cars and wait for your passengers for a few minutes if necessary.

After leaving the first downhill run behind you, you go up the strangely shaped lift to do an even stranger but ingenious downhill run. On the following hill you can experience a lot of airtime before the Cuban Eight completes the ride. Contrary to the Sky Wheel from Skyline Park or Abismo from Parque de Atracciones de Madrid, G-Force offers a completely satisfying ride, which also has a very smooth ride. Unfortunately, there is also the problem with the bars, which from time to time adapt to the human body in a rather unpleasant way and thus spoil the ride, as one hardly gets any air.

Pirates Adventure

A little bit off the beaten track is the Pirates Adventure boat theme ride from Mack Rides at Drayton Manor Theme Park. The ride itself is beautifully designed, but – like most pirate themed dark rides – it lacks that certain something that only Disney can do. Unfortunately, the effects are rather sparsely set, the lighting is too dark in some places and the background music is as little dominant as the undisguised hall ceiling.

Ben10 Ultimate Mission

The newest roller coaster of Drayton Manor Theme Park is the smallest Boomerang variation by Vekoma, which is completely dedicated to the cartoon network series Ben10 Alien Force. Why they decided to go for the second, much weaker series remains a mystery to me, but the roller coaster Ben10 Ultimate Mission can convince from the beginning of the cue. The ride is fast-paced and especially during the forward ride quite intense. The backward part is unfortunately rather gentle, but if you consider for whom this roller coaster was created, this is absolutely acceptable.

The Haunting

Passing the 4D cinema of the park, where this year a film about the little prince is shown, we take a small path to a small mansion, where a research team is already waiting for us, so that we can watch the paranormal activities of the house a little bit closer. The story of The Haunting is brought closer to you through video recordings in a container in front of the mansion, but the other pre-show rooms also contribute well to the story. The main room seems to be quite small compared to other Vekoma installations, but is designed very well. Unfortunately the music during the ride is slightly monotonous but full of atmosphere. The compressed air effect simulating bats flying around did not work everywhere and the effect at the end of the ride is just unnecessary. All in all The Haunting is a really good Mad House by Vekoma, but unfortunately it can’t match the Hotel Embrujado from the Spanish Parque Warner, which is the closest comparison.

Wild West Shoot Out and Drunken Barrels

If you slowly climb the neighbouring hill you will find the interactive theme ride Wild West Shoot Out next to the beautifully designed Intamin Drunken Barrels, which unfortunately were broken at the time of the visit. This small dark ride, manufactured by Zamperla, offers an absolutely worthwhile ride, which is not only beautifully designed, but also has some funny effects.

At the top of the hill there is a restaurant, the Grill Inn, which is not only open to park guests and will probably not be very popular until some time after the park closes. Also the beautiful, although from the outside rather plain, park owned hotel can be found here. If the cable car would be running, one could play a round of mini golf at this place.


At about half height of the small ascent is the entrance to Apocalypse, one of the best free fall towers in Europe. The 54m heighted tower offers five lanes, two of which each have the normal gondolas and the stand-up gondolas with corridor. The last gondola is a stand-up gondola without corridor. For the real freefall tower lovers, of course, only the stand-up gondolas are suitable, as they enhance the experience. But it should be said that also the normal gondolas are completely convincing. While the stand-up gondola without corridor is simply outstanding, the stand-up gondolas with corridor are a little strangely designed. After closing the bar, one has to move upwards here, so that at some time, one stands in the right position that was also approved by the personnel.

Apocalypse is similar to the freefall tower La Lanzandera from the Parque de Atracciones de Madrid and in contrast to the bigger versions like Huracan Condor from the Port Aventura Park it is simply convincing. The fall is breathtaking and intense, but unfortunately, the gondola on the Intamin Giant Drop is brought to the tilt position quite early during the ascent.


One level lower, next to the Ferris wheel, is the Fabbri Pandemonium, named Pandemonium. This is basically a beautifully designed and much larger version of a Cataclysm ride made by the same company. Like the Flying Oil Pump from the Zoo Safari- and Hollywoodpark Stukenbrock, the degree of freedom of this upside-down swing is simply high, which guarantees a fun ride with a lot of hang time. By the way, during the ride you have to be very careful not to scream, as the park does not want to make itself unpopular with its neighbours and points this out quite clearly.

Flying Dutchman

The latest Intamin ride at Drayton Manor Theme Park is a flying swing variation called Flying Dutchman. Here you fly through the air in small boats attached to steel cables, which is very relaxing due to the inclination of the seats.

Buffalo Coaster

The last roller coaster at Drayton Manor Theme Park is the Zamperla Powered Coaster Buffalo Coaster. The ride itself isn’t that spectacular, but it’s quite satisfying, because the ride is not as slow as it looks on video. But the track is very unconventional and can show some bizarre peculiarities.

Drayton Manor Zoo

The zoo area in Drayton Manor Theme Park is quite large and is located away from the park’s rides. Here, one can discover not only game animals, as one often finds in theme parks with animal enclosures, but also more exotic animals. Remarkable is, besides the large number of owls, the enclosure of the meerkats and the lemurs. Both animal species were quite astonished about what the other animals were doing in their environment. The zoo itself is well comparable with the zoological gardens from the Tier- und Freizeitpark Thüle, but also with the one from Chessington – World of Adventures.

In the back part of the zoo you can find a Thomas Museum, which is basically just a bigger model railway, as well as some attractions that fit the theme, but also Drayton Manor’s version of Cedar Fair’s Dinosaur Alive can be admired here. Although the animatronics idea has been left out from the beginning and there is no upcharge fee, the little tour with all its presentations is worth the time and is even more impressive than Nigloland’s Dinosaurs Aventure, which can score with animatronics.

Pictures Drayton Manor Theme Park

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Conclusion Drayton Manor Theme Park

Drayton Manor Theme Park itself is a good theme park with, at least in Europe, quite unique attractions. The smoothness of all attractions is comparatively high, and with minor exceptions, every ride is a sight to behold. It would be nice to see how the park will develop in the next few years, because there is clearly still a lot of potential. So I will definitely come back someday!


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