Testing the Sky Dragster at Skyline Park

It has been a while since I visited Bad Wörishofen and their local amusement park the last time. Back then, I did a small internship at Gerstlauer Amusement Rides in nearby Münsterhausen and stayed at a friend’s house for quite some time. Since then, Skyline Park nearly doubled in size and some interesting rides came and go.

As Skyline Park is one of the few theme parks, where a ride on a Funtime Slingshot is included in the entrance fee, I started my day in this area of the park. However, due to strong winds, the Sky Shot would not open on the day of my visit.

Also, the nearby Caripro Gyroflyer Sky Rider had some issues during its test run and had to be towed back to the station. The unique suspended spinning coaster did not run at all for the remaining time of my visit.

As the queue for the Wiegang Bobkartbahn Bob Racing hardly moved at all, we continue our way to the spinning coaster Sky Spin. I rode this Maurer SC2000 twice on my only visit to the Oktoberfest in Munich so far. Back then the ride was still known as Cyber Space and was operated by the Kaiser family. Between 2003 and 2012, the ride was known as Whirlwind in the English Camelot Theme Park. After the park’s closure, the ride moved to Skyline Park in 2013 and continued to entertain its riders ever since. Unfortunately, the ride became quite jerky over time, which is a bit of a surprise when compared it to other installations of its kind.

Passing the Schwarzkopf Wild Cat Nostalgische Achterbahn, which I was not allowed to ride as a single rider (probably because of the Covid-19 rules), we now encounter another roller coaster made by Maurer. Skyline Park has a good connection to the Munich based manufacturer, which is why you can find two of their prototype coasters within the park. The first one was the SkyWheel and the second one is the Spike Coaster Sky Dragster.

The Sky Dragster is currently the only Spike Coaster in operation. Its design is a mixture between the classic Steeplechase coaster and a powered coaster, although the position of the rider is quite close to the rail. The cars are directly driven by a cogwheel which runs along a gear rack attached to the side of the track. Due to this configuration, a rollback is not possible, thereby the track can be bend in all different kind of crazy manoeuvres – it is even possible to accelerate the vehicle along a vertical stretch of track, which is otherwise quite complex to achieve on conventional track designs. Like a Bobkartbahn by Wiegand, the rider can control the speed of the vehicle and a control system adjusts the distance between the cars when needed.  Moreover, everything is surveyed by the system, which on the one hand gives you a remarkably high security, but on the other hand led to a lot of issues during the first seasons of the coaster.

On the day of my visit, the coaster was running without issues. The track at Skyline Park features a long straight just after the station before you enter a horseshoe turn. This is directly followed by a 360° righthand curve. Two hills in a double-up fashion join immediately after. On the other side of the layout, you then enter a strangely banked upwards leading spiral. After a descend back to the station level, you then run through a very tight s-bend, before reaching the station. A second lap follows.

I really like the acceleration of the Spike Coaster. Compared to conventional powered coasters, the system is far less inert. The only thing I did not liked too much is the slow pacing on most of the elements on the Sky Dragster. I know that this is to limit the forces on the rider, yet it is kind of hilarious to allow a system to have a high degree of flexibility on the track design when you must regulate it massively to do so. However, if your design for the most part consists of straight sections, then this system is fine. Therefore, it does not surprise me, that the Spike Coaster will be most likely to be found exclusively on Cruise Ships like the Carnaval Mardi Gras. For a theme park, the low capacity of the ride is not at all justifiable, unless you are Mirabilandia and want to gain some extra revenue due to your fast pass system.

In the same corner as the Sky Dragster, you can find the Zamperla Turbo Force Sky Circle, as well as the large transportable log flume Wildwasser 3 by Mack Rides. It is the second transportable log flume of the park owner who found its way to Skyline Park. The first one was the Pirateninsel, which now have found a new home at Eiffelpark in Rhineland-Palatinate. The Wildwasser 3 was the largest log flume to be found on the German fair circuit and therefore features three shot rides, whereby the first one is being done backwards.

Close to the Wildwasser 3, you can find the world’s largest Star Flyer. The chain swing Allgäuflieger offers a wide view onto open fields, the mountains and of course the Skyline Park just underneath. Due to strong winds, I had to give the ride a miss.

A ride which I gave voluntarily a miss is the large inverting pendulum ride High Fly by SBF Visa, as I was already punctured by their restraints the day before on the Papageienflug at Tatzmania Löffingen and I did not want to risk it again. The High Fly is currently the largest inverting pendulum ride in Germany, but that record could be broken easily if a park is interested in doing so.

The next ride on our path through the park is Sky Rafting, formally known as Wild ‘n Wet. The transportable water ride by ART Engineering starts off with a vertical lift. Once at the top, a long slide section is initiated. Due to the curvy layout, the boats start to rotate heavily. A short drop nearby the end of the slide section comes a bit by surprise, as nobody in the boat knows who will get wet.

Not as unpredictable, yet kind of spiny is the small spinning coaster Kids Spin. The small coaster by SBF Visa comes in the proven 3 loop layout, whereby upward leading curves to the right always lead into a downwards leading curve to the left. Due to the constant change in curvature, the cars can get a good spin. After several round, the train then comes to a stop in the station and the cars must be manually turned back into position before you can exit the ride.

Passing the large thrill coaster SkyWheel, we now have a look onto the ghost train Geisterschlange. The old ride by the showman Lehmann has found its retirement home at Skyline Park. The ride is simply a beauty of a ghost train and it is nice to see that it gets preserved for the future in an amusement park like Skyline Park.

As the weather during my visit got worse and worse and heavy rain started to fall around lunch, let us now have a look into the only indoor attraction at Skyline Park. The hall opposite of the cute Baustellenfahrt once offered a motion simulator. It is now home to the Rotor Zero Gravity by SBF Visa. The Italian company gave the famous ride concept a new life by introducing translucent walls to the ride, where traditional rides feature a wooden barrel. To further increase the friction, the walls are also angled and feature a rather rough surface. The ride could therefore run slightly slower, but it does not. For minutes you are now pressed onto the wall, which becomes more and more exhausting over time. The light show is a plus, nevertheless, I was quite happy when the ride finally came to a stop.

It was nice to get back to Skyline Park after so many years. Unfortunately, due to the weather and because of the Covid-19 guidelines, I could not give every attraction I wanted a try. Nevertheless, I was quite happy to have tested the new Sky Dragster roller coaster and spend some time with some classic rides before I moved on earlier than expected.

 

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Rushing through the Black Forest

The history of the Tatzmania Löffingen animal and amusement park began in 2017, when the former Schwarzwaldpark was taken over by the Braun family. In order to separate it from the Steinwasen Park, which also belonged to the Braun family, it was decided to operate the park as a zoo instead of a wildlife park from now on. Both parks have a small selection of rides in common.

While Steinwasen Park offers a small selection of exquisite rides, Tatzmania focuses on quantity from SBF Visa. The focus here is mainly on rides for smaller children, including the park’s first roller coaster: the African Spin.

The compact spinning coaster has a layout with three loops that merge into one another, so you are constantly alternating between upwards leading right turns and downwards leading left turns. The cars are spinning quite well – but the ride is not too wild. Rather, it becomes more tedious lap by lap, so that after the seventh lap at the latest, you really want to get off.

Fortunately, there is also a bobsled coaster from Gerstlauer at Tatzmania Löffingen. The compact roller coaster Gold Rusher is a fair bit wilder and can boast a multitude of drops and tight curves.

The ride on Gold Rusher begins quite leisurely. After the bar – for whatever reason – has been pressed down far too hard, we immediately enter a bend and then a small dip. After passing the maintenance hut, we approach the lift hill of the ride in a short right turn. Having barely reached the starting height of 16m, we immediately plunge down into a steep turn towards the ground. Far above it, however, we soon climb up again. After a short block brake, we go through two hairpin bends before a wide curve takes us into the next braking area. In another downhill helix we now come very close to the ground. We then gain height quite smoothly in a right-hand bend before we speed through a depression. Shortly afterwards, we pass through the next braking area. Now it’s over hill and dale, once across the ride. We first race through a left-hand bend before we are lifted out of our seats a little in a series of camelbacks. A final right turn leads us into the final brakes of the roller coaster.

The Gold Rusher is a really nice family coaster that seems tailor-made for the park. The ride is not too big and not too small either, which allows it to successfully entertain a large part of the family audience at Tatzmania Löffingen.

Something I can’t think of on the next ride. The Papageienflug, formerly Eagle Fly, is – at least in theory – an interactive rollover carousel from SBF Visa, in which two smaller gondola arms whirl around a large boom. These are raised hydraulically at the start of the ride, which means that the ride is always at a very steep angle. Now, however, the riding position is – if you do nothing – very uncomfortable. So you use the small joystick, but it takes some time before the motor reacts. Now the gondola turns very slowly, which, superimposed on the ride’s motion, results in a very uncomfortable ride.

For several reasons, I highly doubt whether this ride is a joy to behold. On the one hand, the ride is hardly compatible with the family audience of the amusement park. On the other hand, at the time of its opening, the ride looked like two swastikas rotating in the air. Thanks to the modification, in which half of the gondolas were dismantled, this is no longer apparent today, but the negative publicity remains.

As an engineer, I also find it very hard to believe that none of the people in charge at SBF Visa were aware of this during the design of the ride. I also find it hard to believe that the distributor did not see this. I hope, narrow-mindedly at least, that some heads rolled and that the park operator got out of it with a good deal without any major damage.

None of this would have happened if they had relied on the tried and tested products from Gerstlauer. If they had, they would have a ride that was equally well received by every member of the family. Now you have a ride in the park that visitors ride – if at all – only once. Yay!

Tatzmania Löffingen, you have potential. As a zoo, I actually liked you quite a bit, even if you still remind me very strongly of the former game park. The redesigned enclosures near the entrance are at least pretty well done. If you were to focus on quality instead of quantity in your amusement park section and could keep your monkeys in the enclosure, then there would be a reason to visit you more often.

 

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Following Snorri to Rulantica

It is very refreshing to see a stand-alone water park in Germany as well. Water slides are by no means a rare sight in Germany and some slide towers are a wet dream for water slide fetishists; but there hasn’t been a real water park in this country yet. Instead, we have a lot of thermal spas, i.e. wellness oases with mostly quite expensive entrance fees. Interestingly, the Europa Park with its water park Rulantica is already positioning itself above the long-established competition close to the border due to its very high entrance fee, and is also clearly outdoing the nearby Schwarzwaldtherme with its slide paradise Galaxy Schwarzwald. Yes, the park is a Mack product, but that really doesn’t justify everything.

Passing the new bed stronghold of Krønasår, we reach the Rulantica water park, where we pick up our wristbands at the ticket office. Shortly afterwards we enter the hansgrohe world of experience.

We start our discovery tour through Rulantica with Snorri’s Saga. The 250m long Lazy River winds once through the water park and tries to tell a story to the floating visitors by means of several projections. The whole thing is quite respectable, which definitely benefits the – in the nature of things – lazy flow channel.

Directly opposite is the entrance to the tube slides Hugin and Mugin, as well as the drop duo Dugdrop and Vildvål. While Hugin and Mugin offer an exceptionally wild race characterised by numerous jumps and tight curves, visitors can expect a breathtaking tour de force on Dugdrop and Vildvål. The two AquaRockets from Aquarena are among the most intense water slides far and wide. The rather long slide also requires a lot of endurance, because there is no time to breathe until you reach the landing area of the turbo slides.

Fortunately, the entrance to the wild river Vildstrøm is right next door. The long slide through the wild river by the manufacturer API Waterfun is characterised by numerous faster slide sections, rapids and only a few intermediate pools. Thanks to the wider cross-section of the canal, you rarely bump into the canal wall, which gives visitors a very pleasant slide over a total of two lanes.

After so much sliding, you’re almost dying of thirst. Luckily, there are three bars in Rulantica, and you don’t even have to leave the pool at two of them. Above the hustle and bustle, you can relax a little in the sports bar Skål Bar, while the kids have a good romp in nearby Trølldal. The Skogbar, on the other hand, is a bit busier, and after buying a drink, you have to be careful that it doesn’t become one with the water around it. In the outdoor area of the water park, meanwhile, the Tempel Krog offers a pleasant ambience for a drink or two, especially in the evening.

A little tipsy and passing the three children’s slides Översnurra, Överstor and Översnabb, we now move on to the larger slides of the Vinterhal theme area. The icebreaker for us is the short, but quite crisp Isbrekker slide, where you plop down into the water from a height of several metres after a short slide. Splendid fun!

We continue with the tube slides Två Fall and Stormwind. While Två Fall stands out positively due to its swinging course and the quick jumps, Stormwind is convincing due to its extremely fast ride into the large funnel.

Things get really interesting on Svalgur Rytt and Vinter Rytt, both of which start from the highest point in the bath. While Svalgur Rytt is a surprisingly fast family raft slide that offers some really fun jumps on its 200m long track, Vinter Rytt is particularly convincing with its Tornado Wave, which you slide up in the usual Proslide manner. But even before the defining element, the Vinter Rytt convinces with its surprisingly strong airtime during the transition into the shooting ride of the water slide. Without question, both slides are the highlight of the Rulantica water park.

A visit to Rulantica is a very expensive one. However, if you see the park not as a water park but as a kind of night club, which interestingly has some of the best water slides in Europe, then the visit is quite something. In a cocktail mood, the slides are twice as much fun, and if you haven’t brought your own car, you can get drunk here at reasonable prices. I like it.

 

 

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