Enjoying the Smoky Mountains at Dollywood

Dollywood

Timber Canyon

The Timber Canyon themed area is home to two of the theme park’s largest roller coasters, as well as the small children’s roller coaster Whistle Punk Chaser.

Thunderhead

The largest roller coaster in the Timber Canyon themed area is Thunderhead, a wooden roller coaster built by GCI in 2004.

The ride on Thunderhead starts with a short pre-lift section consisting of a right turn and a small left turn. Shortly afterwards we enter the lift hill which takes us up to the starting height. With the best views over the Wildwood Grove themed area, we then descend in a steep turn. While climbing a hill, we first turn left and then right. We then cross the next valley and immediately climb another hill. A wide right-hand bend takes us over several hills and through the station. We then ride over hill and dale to the other side of the track, where we enter a sweeping helix. After two more turns we reach the final brake of the ride.

Like Troy at Toverland, Thunderhead is a really good wooden coaster. The GCI coaster is a merciless fun machine, especially in the rain, giving the layout an even wilder feel due to the limited visibility. In short, a truly great coaster!

Drop Line

Due to an incident on a similar tower from the same manufacturer, the Drop Line freefall tower was unfortunately closed during my visit.

Mystery Mine

Mystery Mine is one of the first Eurofighter coasters from Gerstlauer. The ride has a very impressive setting and is designed to simulate a ride through an abandoned mine.

The ride on Mystery Mine starts with a small drop out of the station. The ride then goes up to the first vertical lift. Interestingly, the ride doesn’t go straight down, but through a series of small drops. Where before there was a big drop followed by an Immelmann turn, now there is a left turn. This is followed by a fairly steep descent and the steep bend that leads to the block brake. After a Bayernkurve we return to the building where we enter the second vertical lift. At the top, we narrowly avoid an explosion by plunging into an overhanging and twisting drop. Back in daylight, we ride through a 1. 5-fold roll and finally into the final half loop. Shortly after we reach the brakes.

Mystery Mine is an interesting mix of roller coaster and dark ride. All the turns are extremely tight and make full use of the Eurofighter car’s capabilities, to the regret of the passengers, as the ride characteristics are not the best on this ride. However, the high-speed finale of the ride makes up for all the effort. All in all, a fun rollercoaster.

Wildwood Grove

Wildwood Grove is a very nice themed area. In addition to the large suspended family coaster Dragonflier, there is the ship swing Giant Tree Swing and the flying scooter Mad Mockingbird, where you can control your own flight. 

Dragonflier

When the Orkanen roller coaster opened at Fårup Sommerland in Denmark, it was met with great amazement. The layout, which was specially designed for the park, was built on a lake and dives into a tunnel immediately after the first drop, while the rest of the track runs largely at ground level over the lake. When Dollywood then built a ride with the same layout, a tunnel was also included. After the first drop, the track leads us very smoothly through an overbanked turn and over a small speed bump into a wide helix. We immediately cross the station building to land in another helix on the other side. A compact right-hand bend leads us into a small depression. After another bend, we enter the station building and our very entertaining ride unfortunately comes to an end.

Wilderness Pass

FireChaser Express

Firefighters are considered heroes in America. So it’s no surprise that Herschend Family Entertainment’s two major theme parks have a roller coaster and even an entire themed area dedicated to them. Dollywood is home to the FireChaser Express family roller coaster.

The ride on the FireChaser Express begins with a launch out of the station. After two sweeping turns, we reach the coaster’s lift hill. Once at the top, the track first takes us through a right turn and a dip. After a left turn, there is a larger drop, which then turns into a steep turn. We then go over two hills at some speed. We then cross another dip and climb a slope.  After passing a block brake, the track takes us through another left-hand bend, which again drops off quite steeply. Now it’s over hill and dale to the other side of the track. After a fun ride around a bend, we ride over a switch to the next block brake. Here we are treated to a little show. As the fireworks go off, we back out of the area, then ride over a short hill and through a Bayernkurve. After a steep descent we reach the final braking section. Shortly afterwards we reverse into the station.

FireChaser Express is the perfect family rollercoaster. The impressive height and the great location in the park make the ride even more interesting and the backwards final is a real highlight.

Wild Eagle

One of the most impressive roller coasters at Dollywood is the B&M Wing Coaster Wild Eagle. The ride looks even more impressive from a distance thanks to the track layout on a mountain ridge. But before the ride begins, passengers can expect a Dolly Parton song on a loop and really bad jokes from the staff.

After a left turn we reach the lift hill. Once at the top, the descent is unusually straight for this type of coaster. After a steep descent we enter a huge loop. A short left turn then leads us into a zero-G roll. With a lot of momentum we enter the classic Immelmann and then a long corkscrew. Finally, the ride takes us over an airtime hill into the double helix finale of the ride, before coming to a stop in the coaster’s braking section.

The Wild Eagle Wing Coaster is particularly impressive due to its breathtaking location. The layout has some great elements, but at the end it seems a little too long due to the double helix finale. All in all, Wild Eagle is a very solid coaster.

Craftman’s Valley

Craftman’s Valley is the most beautiful part of Dollywood. As in its sister park Silver Dollar CIty, numerous artisans showcase their skills in this area. In addition to many already manufactured goods, you can also buy individual products and watch them being made.

Tennessee Tornado

Tennessee Tornado is Arrow’s latest looping coaster. It is also the only looping coaster from the manufacturer that was developed with a different design philosophy – so there are no copy & paste elements like on their previous rides.

After a ride through the coaster’s maintenance hall, we immediately climb the coaster’s lift hill. Once at the top, we enter a very tight turn before plunging down into a large tunnel. Back in daylight, we immediately enter an oversized loop that is slightly tilted to one side. After a steep turn we enter the second, more classic loop. Finally there is a quick change of direction in a sidewinder. Our path then takes us through a very sweeping turn, before the final climb towards the brakes. The transition is very abrupt, which makes for some great airtime, especially in the front of the train.

Tennessee Tornado is a really nice looping coaster with unusually sized loops. While the airtime is very pronounced as you enter the braking section at the front of the train, the drop at the back of the train is much more of a pull. All in all, a great ride!

Blazing Fury

The Blazing Fury indoor roller coaster is based on the Fire in the Hole dark ride from its sister park Silver Dollar CIty. Passing various scenes, the ride continues uphill in a large oval. We watch as the residents try to extinguish their village before we cross a collapsing bridge, giving the ride a rollercoaster feel. A second descent follows when we have to dodge an oncoming train. Shouting “Fire in the Hole”, we crash into a dynamite store, which fortunately can be extinguished. Shortly afterwards, the train slows down and the lovely dark ride comes to an end.

Daredevil Falls

The Daredevil Falls log flume is a beautifully slatted super flume by O.D. Hopkins. The ride has a single drop with additional water fountains that set the scene nicely. However, you won’t get particularly wet on the ride.

Owens Farm

Owens Farm is home to the big Barnstormer Swing. Made by S&S, the Screamin’ Swing is one of the most beautiful flat rides in the park and offers a terrific ride.

The Village and Country Fair

The Village and Country Fair themed areas are located close to each other. Most of the theme park’s family attractions are located in these areas, including the Waltzing Swinger wave swinger, the Lemon Twist tea cups ride and the Aviator Sky Rider, where you can control the flight of your own car. The main attraction in this area is the film Heartsong, which is shown in the Heartsong Theatre and features a flight over the Smoky Mountains and several scenes with the young Dolly Parton. Basically, Dolly hasn’t changed in all these years, but the film technology has, which is why the film looks a bit old-fashioned today despite the many special effects. The fantastic flying scene at the beginning of the film would really come into its own in a flying theatre – an attraction that unfortunately does not yet exist here in Dollywood. In any case, you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Heartsong Theatre.

Dollywood Express

The Dollywood Express takes us on a longer tour of the park. Unlike the train ride at its sister park, Silver Dollar City, the train does not stop for a comedy show in which the train is robbed. However, the views of the park and the Smoky Mountains are well worth the ride.

Rivertown Junction

The Rivertown Junction themed area is home to the Smoky Mountain River Rampage rapids ride. Here you go through a neatly designed canal with all kinds of obstacles. Fortunately, the ride wasn’t too wet on the day I visited, as the water here was quite cold.

Jukebox Junction

The Jukebox Junction themed area takes you back to the 1950s. In addition to the main attraction Lightning Rod, you can also take a ride on the beautifully designed vintage car ride Rockin’ Roadway.

Lightning Rod

Like Silver Dollar City, Dollywood is home to one of RMC’s masterpieces. As the first wooden coaster with a launch, Lightning Rod takes its passengers up the mountain and then back down over a series of wild elements.

Even before I could take my first ride on Lightning Rod, the ride came down for several minutes. While waiting, I struck up a conversation with another rollercoaster fan, with whom I quickly became friends. As a big fan of the Kangaroo Chronicles, I was delighted to meet a variety artist who travels around America’s stages as Showtime Steve. In this sense, I am the kangaroo. His act of balancing two ladders on his chin is pretty crazy.

After a bend, we immediately enter the launch section of the track, which takes us up the hill quite quickly. However, the following crest is crossed at a more leisurely pace. After another hill, we start to descend relentlessly. We then shoot up a hill, where we experience the greatest airtime when tilted 90° to the side. Following the terrain, we then enter a wide right-hand turn, at the top of which we briefly turn in the opposite direction. Back in the valley, the track climbs up over several hills. This is followed by the quadruple down, visible from the park, where we find our way back into the valley over four airtime hills and are mercilessly lifted out of our seats. Finally, we climb a steep turn. After another descent we finally reach the braking section of the coaster.

The Lightning Rod is a world class ride. The launch up the hill is pretty awesome. The rest of the layout is also very impressive and fits perfectly into the topography. The quadruple drop towards the end of the ride is awesome. Unfortunately the last turn ends with a drop that is a bit too high.

Pictures Dollywood

Conclusion Dollywood

Like Silver Dollar City, Dollywood is an amusement park that is second to none. What Dolly Parton has created together with Herschend Family Entertainment since 1986 is impressive. The park has its very own charm, which is not only due to its location in the Smoky Mountains, the great atmosphere and the remarkable attractions, but above all to the people who work here. You simply feel at home. I for one can hardly wait to go back to the Smoky Mountains.


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The happiest place on Earth

Adventureland

Jingle Cruise

Thanks to the recent screen adaptation starring Dwayne Johnson as the skipper, Jungle Cruise was by far the most visited attraction during my visits to the Magic Kingdom. The Jingle Cruise Holiday Overlay certainly helped make even more people want to visit the attraction, yet it is a very nice addition to the overall great attraction. The boat trip through the waters of the world is definitely a highlight of the park, not least thanks to the wacky jokes that are told along the way and the eighth wonder of the world.  

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the classic Disneyland dark rides that everyone wants to experience, but when the Magic Kingdom opened, it was nowhere to be found. As the Caribbean is so close to Florida, it was thought that a pirate attraction would not be as popular, instead a large Western dark ride was already in the making. It didn’t take long, and plans changed to install Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom as well. A good decision, as the ride is just a splendid experience. All of the scenes are great and the loose story line of Blackbeard’s pirates overrunning a village in search of treasure is overall very well staged. 

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

The Enchanted Tiki Room is the archetype of all animatronic based shows worldwide and interestingly one of the only remaining ones. While the attraction did not age well in any other theme park around the globe and even the few remaining shows are cringe pure, the Enchanted Tiki Room is just great. The show has a great humour, a well thought out story arc and the music is just wonderful; especially when the tiki totem poles get into the action. I just love it!

Frontierland

Country Bear Jamboree

While the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland is just an awesome experience, I cannot say the same for the adjacent Country Bear Jamboree. The show is a country music revue and fine for what it is; however, it is nothing special and a bit boring. No surprise, there is a new version of the show already in the making.

Tom Sawyer Island

One of the smaller attractions in Frontierland is Tom Sawyer Island, which can only be reached by rafts. The island itself is lacking a bit of attractions. There is a windmill, a fort, a rarely opened restaurant and plenty of great photo opportunities towards the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but that’s about it. 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Sometime in the late 1800s, gold was discovered on Big Thunder Mountain. Overnight, the small mining town of Tumbleweed became thriving under the thumb of the greedy mining company owner Barnabas T. Bullion. Mining was prosperous, and an extensive line of mine trains was set up to transport the ore. The land was sacred and hence the desecration of the mountain by the settlers soon led to a great tragedy. After a flash flood struck the mines and the town, the village was abandoned. Interestingly, the locomotives were found to be racing around the mountain on their own, without engineers or a crew giving us the opportunity to take a ride on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

We start our journey by entering the mine. After a short turn to the left and a turn to the right, we reach the first lift hill. Arrived on top, we quickly get some speed in a descending turn to the left. We then race through a rock formation before a turnaround followed by a very sudden dip leads us into a tight helix. We then pass the village on a very fun and janky track section, before diving a second time into the mine. After a left turn, we then reach the second lift hill. Once again, we gain some speed in fast descending turn. Then we climb up a hill and enter another helix at the top. With speed, we then take some hills with very sharp transitions, throwing us out of our seats, before entering the third and final lift hill. Now on top of the mountain, we first head over dip and dale, before gaining more and more speed. A long curve to the left is followed by one to the right, while we leave Big Thunder Mountain behind us. Passing a dinosaur skeleton, we then take the final turn of the ride leading us directly into the brake section. 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the perfect mine train style roller coaster. While aesthetically, the version in Paris is overall more stunning, it is also far gentler, albeit the very similar layout. The Floridian version has far more janky moments which underline the out-of-control sensation, we should expect from a ride on a runaway ghost train. In short, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the perfect family roller coaster.

Splash Mountain

Initially, Splash Mountain was set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the movie Song of the South, where for the first time, Disney managed to merge animation with live actors. The movie is famous for its animation, yet very controversial in its portrayal of the time period it is supposed to be set in. After its final theatrical release in 1984, the film never got a home release in America, nor was ever intended to be released on the streaming service Disney+, which to be honest is a shame and an early example of cancel culture. It would be best, if one day, a narrated version will be published.

Now that we have that out of the way, we can focus on Splash Mountain following the adventures of Br’er Rabbit. The ride starts with our log approaching the first lift hill after which we make a scenic tour around the ride’s final chute, before entering the second lift hill. On top, we bob our way through the channel before plunging down the first chute. A bit moist, we now enter a large-scale dark ride section which is accompanied by the song “How Do You Do?”.  After turning a corner, we see that Br’er Bear is caught in a trap, while Br’er Fox says to him: “We gotta catch that Br’er Rabbit!”.

Meanwhile, Br’er Rabbit has left home in search of adventure and is on his way to his Laughin’ Place. Br’er Bear follows him, but the “Laughin’ Place” is just a trick, and Br’er Bear is attacked by bees, while Br’er Rabbit laughs at the sight, which led Br’er Fox to catch him. While taking the third lift hill, we see that Br’er Rabbit in Br’er Fox’s Liar about to be eaten. Fortunately, Br’er Rabbit outsmarts Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear by tricking them into throwing him into the briar patch (where he was born and raised), whereupon we take the ride’s final drop. Soaked, we then approach the ride’s final show scene, celebrating a “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” day and the homecoming of Br’er Rabbit.

Splash Mountain is a fantastic log flume, but it does show its age. While technically, the ride still is top notch, the animatronics were a bit outdated and not all of them were in a good shape. About a year after my visit, extensive renovations started making way for a princess and the frog attractions, which for sure will be a perfect theme for this great water ride.  

Liberty Square

The Haunted Mansion

Passing the Liberty Bell Riverboat, we now enter the queue for the Haunted Mansion. This attraction is the reinvention of the classic ghost train and focuses on a coherent story line throughout the ride, while others focus on cheap scares or an overload of animatronics. The dark ride has so many noticeable characters and is just a very fun one to experience.

Hall of Presidents

Probably the most unique attraction within the Magic Kingdom is the Hall of Presidents. The show that features all past (and present) presidents is quite iconic and even for non-Americans quite interesting to watch.

Fantasyland

It’s a small World

The happiest place on earth is also home to the happiest cruise on Earth: It’s a small World. The cruise takes us on a world tour while portraying the culture of every country through the innocent view of the children. It’s a very nice dark ride, with a distinctive style, cute puppets, and a very catchy tune. It’s one of the must-do rides at the Magic Kingdom.

Peter Pan’s Flight

Peter Pan’s Flight is always one of the most popular dark rides at any of the main Disneyland Parks and therefore usually has a very long queue. It is one of the classic dark rides, yet it is a rather short, and in my opinion quite underwhelming, experience:

After leaving the darling’s children’s room, the ride takes us on a flight above London, before reaching Neverland. Here the kids get kidnapped by Captain Hook. Shortly thereafter, there is a short fight scene between Pan and Hook. After defeating Hook, the kids take over the ship and Hook has to deal with the crocodile. The End.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Located right next to Peter Pan’s Flight you can find the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The ride through the Hundred Acre Wood starts with the story of Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, where everyone is having some troubles facing the storm. After finding shelter in Owl’s house, we then meet Tigger, who tells us about Heffalumps and Woozies, which lead to a very wacky dream sequence. The storm got worse and not everyone is safe. Awake by the increased water, Pooh gets gone with the wind, while Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Tigger, and Owl attempt to save Piglet from floating away. Fortunately, Pooh finds himself stuck in a tree with lots of honey and in the final scene, everybody is celebrating that the storm is gone.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic

One of the few attractions at the Magic Kingdom to feature the world-famous Mouse and his friends is Mickey’s PhilharMagic. The attraction takes you on a magical voyage through the famous movie scenes and their tunes, but Mickey is nowhere to be found. The star of the attraction is actually Donald Duck, who curiously took over Mickey’s role of conducting the orchestra and experiences the famous animated scenes himself, which leads to all kind of clumsy situations. The movie itself is well animated and a lot of fun.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Currently, the most popular roller coaster at the Magic Kingdom is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Based on Snow White and the seven Dwarfs, the ride puts us in a swinging mine cart which the seven Dwarfs use for their work.

After leaving the station, the ride directly starts with a turn to the right, giving the mine carts a first swing. A turn to the left then leads us into the first lift hill. The route now follows an undulating pattern over hill and dale, constantly changing direction, while approaching the mine. Here we see the seven dwarfs, working and chanting. While climbing the ride’s second lift, the dwarfs tune in their famous tune. After a small dip, we then take the ride’s largest drop, which releases us in large helix. After passing a bridge, we then make our way through some tight alternating bends leading us into the brakes.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the most family-friendly roller coaster at the Magic Kingdom. Despite being innovative in its ride system, it barely uses it to its advantage. The dark ride scene is great, and the coaster sections are fun, but the ride is not worth the current wait times.   

The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

The little Mermaid dark ride gives us the opportunity to voyage under the sea. The ride is home to some of the best animatronics to be found anywhere in the world, especially the one of Ursula is seriously impressive. The ride itself is entertaining and great if you just need some minutes of rest, as the wait times are normally pretty low due to the high capacity of the ride.

Storybook Circus

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

The carousel where you control the flight of your elephant is one of the most popular and most iconic rides at the Magic Kingdom. The first version of this ride opened in 1971 with a capacity of 10 cars. In 1993, a 16-elephant version opened. When creating the Storybook Circus area in 2012, the ride capacity got doubled – now two Dumbo the Flying Elephant carousels exists right next to each other, flying in opposite directions.

The Barnstormer

The Barnstormer is the smallest family coaster of the Magic Kingdom. The ride features a classic junior coaster layout by Vekoma, yet it got varied a bit to feature a second train. Starting with the lift, the train immediately goes into a steep curve leading us to the ground, followed by a curve surrounding the lift hill. After a small dip, a righthand curve then leads us into a helix. Shortly thereafter, we hit the brakes, and the ride comes to an end.

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland Speedway

One of the least futuristic attractions at Tomorrowland is its old-style car ride Tomorrowland Speedway. The ride is based on Disneyland’s Autopia, yet it does not feature the same premise; instead of a scenic voyage, you are driving along a four-lane racetrack. Overall, the experience is rather short and underwhelming.

Space Mountain

After the success of Matterhorn Bobsleds roller coaster, Walt Disney approached designer John Hench for a new attraction that would be a focal point of Disneyland’s renovated Tomorrowland planned for 1967. Plans changed, but the ride itself got into fruition as the headlight attraction to the Magic Kingdom in 1975. The ride consists of two tracks, which layouts are exactly mirrored. Nowadays, one of the tracks is reserved for Genie+ customers.

The ride on Space Mountain starts slow but feels incredibly fast due to the lighting effect used on the otherwise very straight section. After a short curve, we reach the ride’s lifthill. Once at the top, we start our decent by entering a curve. After passing a block brake, we enter a gentle slope and soon after pick up some speed in a 270° helix. This is followed by a surprisingly steep ascent. After passing another block brake, we then hit a downward helix leading us into a very long curve followed by a jump into the next block brake. Here, we enter a very tight curve after which we take a large drop. We then make our way through a bunch of curves, before hitting another block brake parallel to the ride’s lift hill. The ride now gets progressively faster, as we rage through a series of drops interrupted by some curves. The largest of them then leads us into an upward helix. After another block brake, we continue our way downwards through a helix and some turns before we enter the final brake sections underlined by a visually pleasing light effect.

Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain is a very wild ride, although it only consists of a bunch of tight turns, helices and drops. However, due to the very rapid transitions, this ride fells out-of-control, which is especially underlined by being an indoor coaster mostly travelling through a low light environment. This ride is just insane.

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

The Carousel of Progress is a nice attraction showing the advancements of technology through time. While some scenes nowadays are a bit dated – especially the fourth act representing the 21st century –, the ride itself has a very nice leitmotiv showcasing a great, big, beautiful tomorrow. Overall, the Carousel of Progress is an entertaining show, which should not be missed.  

Astro Orbiter and The Peoplemover

Sitting above the structure that houses the station of the Peoplemover scenic ride, is the Astro Orbiter. The ride itself is very similar to Dumbo the Flying Elephant, yet with a different seating arrangement, and just as popular. While there are always people waiting in line for the lift leading to the ride, the Peoplemover hardly ever sees a queue.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

The interactive dark ride Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger is one of the smaller attractions at Tomorrowland, yet it is still a pretty funny one as you can control the rotation of the vehicle by yourself while aiming for the highest score. It is a very solid interactive dark ride, and one you should give a chance when the wait times are low.  

Monster Inc. Laugh Floor

The story of Monster Inc. Laugh Floor takes place after the movie; therefore, laughter is the new form of energy to power the monster’s world and we are invited to laugh at the headquarters of Monster Inc. The show is a fine one for native English speakers, as it is basically just a stand-up comedy show, but if you are not fluent, the show is a waste of time. Overall, most of the jokes are about the visitors to the theater, so if you don’t like that, the show is not at all for you.

Pictures Magic Kingdom

Conclusion Magic Kingdom

Overall, I had a great time visiting the Magic Kingdom. The park has a bunch of truly great attractions and some very cool shows. With the next roller coaster already in the making, I will not hesitate to come back one day. Albeit there is one thing I did not enjoyed at all: The food. Somehow, the offering at the Magic Kingdom differs a lot from the other parks at Walt Disney World and the quality is not that great. 

 

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The adventure island in Southend-on-sea

Going to Adventure Island

From London’s probably smallest terminus station, Fenchurch Street Station – which Douglas Adams fans may well be familiar with, after all Fenny aka Fenchurch was conceived there in the queue in front of the ticket counter – there is the only direct train connection to Southend Central. Arriving in Southend-on-sea, it’s only a few meters to the amusement park Adventure Island, which is located on both sides of the Southend Pier. Contrary to most opinions about Southend, this path is quite nice, at no time does it give you the feeling of being in the filthy gambler’s paradise of Blackpool, to which the city is often compared.

If you previously bought your Adventure Island ticket at one of the ticket counters of the c2c railway company, you can now exchange your travel ticket for a whristband, which means that the train ride to the park is free. However, with some crowds it can take a little longer until it is finally your turn to have your wristband put on. In this case it should be mentioned that there are also cash desks on the left side of the park.

Tour of the park

The right and smaller part of the park consists mainly of children’s rides, like the little dark ride Devil’s Mine Train, a Helter-Skelter slide decorated with colorful stars, a Fabbri skateboard, a really crooked Crooked House with a pretty weird interior and much, much more. In addition to a Zamperla Disk’o, a Tivoli Scorpion, a KMG Move It! 24, as well as a Twister in Pharaoh design join the rides in this area as somewhat wilder rides.

Scorpion

A Tivoli Scorpion is basically a HUSS Troika like ride, but it differs in some features. The most obvious feature is the much more compact design, because a HUSS Troika would need at least three times the space needed. Therefore, the forces are much higher, which, in combination with the noticeably higher speed, results in large swings, which of course are transferred unbuffered to the passengers. The gondola bearings are also very smooth-running, which makes a Scorpion an all-round intensive ride pleasure.

The Claw

If you want to feel really miserable afterwards, you should not miss a trip on The Claw. While a ride in a Move It! 18 can be a lot of fun and the big equivalent of Soriani & Moser brings a big grin to your face, the local Move It! 24 is just unpleasant to ride and quite repetitive. After you have been turned slowly upside down, you are accelerated very fast, which can lead to headaches and discomfort. The fact that a Move It has the biggest potential if the ride doesn’t go full throttle appears to be rather unknown to the park. A strange ride, which somehow doesn’t fit to the actual target group of the park.

Kiddi Koasta

However, since last year there is the Kiddi Koasta – a children’s roller coaster made by Zamperla. This compact ride is characterised above all by waves lying on the ground, over which you ride after a sleek downward helix. At least theoretically, as the very unpleasantly run-in lift and the jerky start spoil the experience a bit.

Mighty Mini Mega

The Mighty Mini Mega Coaster from Pinfari is located on the roof of a game hall built in 2010. This layout shows impressively that you can build a lot of track on as little space as possible, especially since the space used for this is hardly larger than that of the Kiddi Koasta one level below. The ride is also very smooth, which is hard to believe, especially because of the strangely shaped curves and the – for an adult body – much too narrow seats. Just like the braking track of the layout whose braking effect is generated solely by a plate mounted on the track.  The friction wheels then torture the train at a snail’s pace back to the station. Afterwards one can say goodbye to the ride operator with a high five; at least if one has found the ride mighty mega.

Barnstormer

Only separated from a ferris wheel, which is tightly squeezed into a suitable gap, we immediately find the next roller coaster in the park. Also with the Barnstormer a part of the ride runs over the roofs of the park buildings before it goes rapidly into a helix down to the ground, whereupon the ride ends. The Barnstormer offers a smooth and satisfying ride on a very untypical track. The only thing you can and may argue about is the color scheme of this roller coaster.

Green Scream

In the right part of the park, there are mostly full-grown attractions, at least as far as their ride length is concerned. A good example is the Green Scream – one of the rare New-Tivoli roller coasters made by Zierer. Compared to the one year younger Barnstormer, the ride is rather rugged, but the ride length and the length of the train are quite convincing. Especially positive is the fitting tape announcement, which almost deprives the Flying Fish at Thorpe Park of its coolness.

Time Machine

On the former site of the Dragon ride, and thus in the immediate vicinity of the turtle-looking wave swinger called Archelon, which can also be found at the danish theme part BonBon-Land, stands the Time Machine. Like other rides in the park, this ride is a self-construction. It’s just too bad that this attraction, originally planned for the 2011 season, simply isn’t spared from children’s illnesses even towards the end of the 2012 season, which is why a ride on the Enterprise-like carousel unfortunately couldn’t take place.

Rage

The last roller coaster at Adventure Island is called Rage and is a Eurofighter 320+ from Gerstlauer. The highest roller coaster of the park combines all important elements of a Eurofighter and adds a pinch of strange peculiarities. While the start remains the same, you can feel a strange lateral offset during the looping . This is followed by a rather bizarre turn, similar to a cutback, whereupon you see yourself head over heels again in a heartlineroll after an upward curve. A helix then rounds off the offering. While the ride can be compared to Vildsvinet from the Danish BonBon-Land and therefore can’t show any significant unrest, it still doesn’t give a perfect sensation, which is why I refrained from multiple repetitions.

Sky Drop

Situated in a strange cul-de-sac is the Zamperla tower Sky Drop. Unfortunately, the system can’t generate any negative forces during the drop, but as soon as it starts to rise again, the positive forces are quite strong and provide a very odd ride experience. Unfortunately the ride becomes monotonous very quickly. The ride experience could be a little bit better with less riding time.

Orbiter

Somewhat squeezed between the Tidal Wave dinghy slides and the dark ride Over the Hill there is another ride from Tivoli. The Orbiter runs in circles until at some point an inclination of 90° is reached. Without shoulder restraints and at a constant high speed, the ride is an exciting experience.

Over the Hill

The main attraction of Adventure Island is the ghost train Over the Hill, which comes with an eerie comic style. During the pitch-black ride over the hill animated scenes alternate with animatronics. Funnily enough, the ride is actually quite frightening, as there are a lot of things that are quite different from what you think. Over the hill is one of the most atmospheric ghost trains I’ve seen so far and therefore one of the reasons why you should definitely go to Southend-on-Sea.

Pictures Adventure Island

Conclusion Adventure Island

Adventure Island is a very remarkable amusement park on the English North Sea coast, which above all has a terrific staff that is absolutely outstanding. The dense development of the amusement park and the numerous self-constructions provide a lot of charm, which you should not miss in connection with a visit to the longest Pleasure Pier – where even a railway line connects both ends of the pier!

 

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