A ride on the Manhattan Express

Las Vegas

I would never have thought that I would like Las Vegas so much. Not only is the city really clean by American standards, it also has a really pleasant nightlife. Although everything here actually takes place in the big casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, there is an amazing variety on offer – although I really wonder who would want to get a tattoo in a glass tattoo parlour late at night or why a studio where everything is visible from the outside would be a good idea. Basically, the high alcohol level of the tourists here in the city explains everything, but a visit to the city is downright smooth – and even the drunken Americans on the monorail are surprisingly entertaining as soon as they catch sight of the MGM Sphere for the first time.

New York, New York

The main reason for my visit to the Las Vegas Strip is the Hotel New York, New York; an MGM Casino Resort around which the Manhattan Express, aka the Big Apple Coaster, winds. I really like the interior of the casino itself and I highly recommend a visit to Hershey Chocolate World.

Big Apple Coaster

The Big Apple Coaster is considered one of the worst rollercoasters in the world, although many tourists wouldn’t even call it that. The location of the ride is good, so a train leaves the station every few minutes, despite a ticket price of 25 dollars for a single ride.

At the beginning of the ride, we first take a leisurely ride past the ride’s maintenance hall before reaching the roller coaster’s lift hill after a short bend. This takes us to a height of around 62 metres. Once at the top, the path leads us along a short straight section before we enter the first drop. On this, however, we don’t go all the way down to the ground, but only to the same height as the neighbouring multi-storey car park. After a short climb with the best view of the neighbouring Excalibur Casino Resort, the path leads us through a long bend before we move on to the second and significantly larger drop. While the ride has so far been more like a hyper coaster with its long and large descents, the ride changes significantly after the next ascent – because now a very compact looping coaster follows, which dominates the roof of the casino building. After another curve at a lofty height, we gain enough momentum on the subsequent descent to ride the looping ride with gusto. This is followed by a rather interesting incline, which initially puts us upside down before we transition into a dive loop after a while. After a short bend in the valley, we then shoot up a larger incline, whereupon a block brake awaits us. Unfortunately, the ride up to this point was anything but pleasant thanks to the existing comfort collars – rather hard rubber bars that are designed to loosely simulate the impression of shoulder bars – as I, at least, kept bumping my head on them. However, the track itself was relatively smooth.

The second part of the ride begins with a turning curve before we continue to ride over a series of airtime hills, which are interrupted by more turns and a rather intense helix. The ride on this section is surprisingly good and really entertaining thanks to the numerous airtime moments. Unfortunately, this section of the ride is over quite quickly and the overall impression is rather mixed, as the Big Apple Coaster is basically a really, really good ride, but unfortunately you are downright beaten up on the roller coaster by the “comfort collars” of the trains. I don’t know what Premier Rides was thinking here and I’m not sure why every park in America wants to have these strange rubber belts. Sure, these trains as a whole may be better than the previous Premier Rides trains, but neither of them can match the original hardware from Japan. Togo roller coasters are generally really fine roller coasters with great ride characteristics; only here in America they unfortunately use the wrong trains, which makes the ride lose some of its appeal.

The Strat

The Strat is the former Strastophere, a large casino resort at the end of the Las Vegas Strip, which is best known for the Stratosphere Tower – now just The Tower. At the top of the tower is a collection of thrill rides, the most famous of which is no longer in operation. What remains is the ride on the oversized seesaw X-Scream, as well as a ride on the S&S drop tower Big Shot – provided it’s not too windy.

Pictures Las Vegas

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A wild and untamed beast

The Wilderness of Walibi Holland

Up to now, Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC for short) has usually created new life for older wooden coasters with a bad reputation, but that it would also affect very solid and absolutely great wooden coasters, was new. Robin Hood has been one of my favourite coasters since my first ride in 2009, at times due to the uncertain future of the wooden roller coaster Colossos from Heide Park in Soltau, it was even on the first place of my wooden roller coaster favourites – so why rebuild it? Don’t get me wrong, I am on your side. For the park, the modification has advantages that shouldn’t be denied, be it the lower maintenance effort or the great advertising effect of such a roller coaster. Untamed is on everyone’s lips and that has its reasons.

Blast and Merlin’s Magic Castle

With the arrival of Untamed, the theme area Sherwood Forest has also undergone fundamental changes and has thus adapted to previous adjustments in this area. The theme area Wilderness picks up the festival theme of the amusement park and complements it with new, hip planting and colourful painted rides. The slick top Spin Excalibur has become Blast, and the formerly discreet looking castle of Merlin’s Magic Castle now looks like it’s out of a drug trip due to its wall art. Apart from these adjustments there are no other changes, which is a little bit strange, especially when riding on the Vekoma Mad House.


Nevertheless, let us now come to a ride on the new roller coaster Untamed. After you have left the now beautifully designed queue behind you, or after you have waited a little bit on the stairs in front of the station as a single rider, you are assigned a seat. Shortly after that, the employees expertly close your bar, whereupon the ride starts effectively. After the station there is a turn tilted to the wrong side, whereupon the lift hill of the roller coaster is reached. This takes you up to the starting height of 36,5m and thus 4m higher than it was before.

With a maximum inclination of 80° we immediately fall to the ground. Here we race over a very tiny speed bump before we skilfully screw ourselves up into the air. Very similar to a banana roll we experience the 270° Double Inverting Stall, in which we roll away first in one direction and then in the other direction and in between we also experience some lateral airtime. Back on the ground we immediately witness a double-up element rich in airtime, whereby we merge into a left turn. Two more hills later we turn upside down once more as we approach the turning point of the ride, which is the front turning point from the visitor’s point of view. After a pressure-packed turning manoeuvre, we dedicate ourselves to the way back, whereby we now go over numerous hills with a good pinch of ejector airtime. Here we hit the bar again and again, which efficiently prevents us from falling out of the train. Over a twisted hill the final part of the ride is initiated. Now, the ride goes over hill and dale in an ever faster and faster pace, before another roll (just above the ground) is introduced. After this fulminant orgy the train drops down again quite suddenly, before the braking section of the layout is reached.

Untamed is a dignified successor of the wooden roller coaster Robin Hood. The ride is simply breathtaking and has many unique elements, which are just wicked and absolutely great. Accordingly, Untamed did everything right. I would have liked to ride it more often than just two laps, but I’m sure this will come true, if the first rush will have settled down sometime. Until then I remain curious about my next ride and, as always, I am looking forward to another visit to Walibi Holland.

Pictures Walibi Holland


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