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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A visit to the original Movie World

Warner Bros. Movie World is one of the best-known theme parks in Germany and one of the most influential movie parks in the world.  The park was founded in 1991 by the film studio Village Roadshow, which belongs to WarnerMedia, and is the model for our local Movie Park Germany. From 1996 to 2004, the film park was also known as Warner Bros. Movie World. The Spanish theme park Parque Warner Madrid is also based on the park on the Gold Coast and continues to use the licences of WarnerMedia.

While Parque Warner Madrid is a huge park and Movie Park Germany is also of respectable size, Warner Bros Movie World is rather small. Apart from the Main Street, which is well-known to visitors of Movie Park Germany, the park only consists of a small children’s area, the log flume Wild West Falls and a DC Heroes themed area, where almost all attractions of the amusement park are located.

This area is located directly at the entrance of the amusement park, but is not a dead end due to the clever integration of the roller coaster Arkham Asylum. Right at the beginning we come across the Green Lantern Coaster, an El Loco from S&S.

Climbing the steep and fast lift, it quickly goes into a combination of curves without any cross slope, which shortly afterwards leads into a steep 120.5° drop. The associated world record was short-lived, as Takabisha opened in Fuji-Q Highland just a few months later. With a small sideways turn, it immediately goes up to the first block brake.

This is followed by a curve that could be used more often in various roller coasters, as the outwardly inclined section of the track is quite impressive. Unfortunately, this part is completed soon after and a seemingly conventional curve follows, which, however, becomes more and more inclined towards the end and quickly puts you in an overhead position. The hangtime is very pronounced and you are quite happy to fall towards the ground in a half loop shortly afterwards. However, the ride is not over yet and another incline with a subsequent barely regulating block brake follows. The last traditional curve comes next, which ends in a downhill heartline roll – actually the most interesting element of the ride. A trivial turnaround in the form of an Immelmann turn follows, after which the ride ends abruptly.

Thanks to the wider cars and the increased ride comfort due to the lack of shoulder claws, the ride on the Green Lantern Coaster is much more fun compared to other (almost) identical rides. The ride is exciting and bizarre – basically a bit Loco.

Directly opposite is the Batwing Spaceshot, a vertical drop ride by S&S, which takes you up to a height of 61m at high speed. Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll get a good dose of airtime and a big grin in your face.

The entrance to the dark ride Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D is located in a hall behind it. Previously, the simulator Batman: The Ride was located here. The dark ride, developed by the Sally Corporation, combines large plastic scenes with 3D screens where you have to fight off the aliens of the villain Starro before they take control of all mankind. It’ s the kind of delightful fun you’d expect from Sally. The ride itself was later the inspiration for Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, which can be found in various Six Flags parks.

One of the reasons to visit Warner Bros Movie World is the DC Rivals HyperCoaster. The roller coaster by Mack Rides has a breathtaking out & back layout including a highly twisted first drop, a 40m tall non-inverted loop, as well as a multitude of breathtaking turns and airtime hills and the possibility to experience it backwards for a small extra charge. It’s just a shame that the roller coaster was closed during my visit.

The DC Rivals HyperCoaster was not all that was closed on the day I visited. Actually, the Village Roadshow Theme Parks allow quite easy planning of the visit, because there is a maintenance calendar for each individual park, but they don’t plan these periods very well, so that the individual attractions usually have a longer maintenance period. At the same time, however, visitors are not informed about this, so that they are first confronted with it on site. Other amusement parks that are open all year round, such as the Disneyland Parks or Efteling, show how it could be done better, and the nearby Dreamworld amusement park does it better without question.

Thus, once past the closed Roxy Theatre, we were drawn to the children’s area on the right-hand side of the main street. Some time ago, this was where the Looney Tunes River Ride used to be, but it was replaced by a covered money printing machine, the Junior Driving School. The Road Runner Roller Coaster, the theme park’s first roller coaster, has been located in the outdoor area in front of it since the year 2000.

Interestingly, the children’s roller coaster Coyote’s und Roadrunner’s Achterbahn from the German branch of Warner Bros. Movie World was used as a model for this roller coaster, but the elaborate rock structure of the roller coaster was not used on the Gold Coast. The coaster does, however, have a second train, which means that you only do one lap at a time through the tried-and-tested roller skater layout of the manufacturer Vekoma.

Past the small collection of children’s rides, we are now drawn to the theme park’s big stunt show. Hollywood Stunt Driver 2 offers a similar spectacle to Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular from the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris and thus a very strong focus on filming with a few selected performers. We can be glad that Movie Park Germany continues to focus on a jam-packed stunt show like the original Police Academy Stunt Show with Crazy Cops New York. Unfortunately, the show over here was no good.

A roller coaster has moved into the former Gremlins dark ride building at both Warner Bros. Movie World theme parks over the years. Here on the Gold Coast, the Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster was created in 2002 and is based on the Scooby Doo live-action film of the same year.

The ride begins with the familiar ghost train ride from the film. The whole thing is peppered with a few small drops, swinging axes and animatronics worth seeing. Basically, the Spooky Doo Spooky Coaster is a dark ride well worth seeing, but then we enter the ride’s vertical lift. Accompanied by a scene in which Scrappy Doo mutates into a monster, we leave it facing backwards. Shortly afterwards we plunge down a 7m drop. On the other side of the ride we change direction again on a turntable. Accompanied by the song Scooby Doo, Where are you? we now go through the well-known course of a classic wild mouse. Where we would normally expect a double shot, we drive straight into a brake after only one shot. Shortly afterwards, we leave the Sound Stage, where a large part of the roller coaster is located. After a short interlude, another 3m high drop awaits us and soon the exit station of the ride.

Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster is a great roller coaster, but thanks to its limited capacity it often has a longer queue. However, the ride in the extended Wild Mouse is quite something and makes you leave the ride in a good mood – although the actual roller coaster ride mainly takes place in a dark hall with a light show.

Passing the Doomsday Destroyer – a suspended version of the popular Kamikaze ride built by Intamin – which offered a very solid ride, we now approach the western area of the theme park. The only attraction in the area is the log flume Wild West Falls, the only remaining attraction based on the film Wild Wild West. Originally, however, the ride was supposed to be based on the film Rio Bravo, which is also reflected in the existing theming of the ride.

After crossing the rather long queue, you can immediately take a seat in one of the boats. Shortly afterwards, the boat bobs past the maintenance hall of the ride towards the first lift hill. Once you have reached the top, you drive into the huge mountain massif where the first turntable is waiting for you. This then releases the boat into the first shot, which is completed backwards. This is followed by a small hill. Shortly afterwards, the descent into the cool water starts, whereby the level of wetness is still very manageable. After a bend, you reach another turning point, whereupon the boat moves forward again. The river now takes you unspectacularly through a canyon, an Indian village and the western town of Dogde City before entering the mine again. Once you reach the highest point of the ride, you are brought into position again via a turntable, whereupon the second and final shot is initiated. When you reach the bottom, you are pleasantly moistened. This is followed by the return journey to the station.

I love water rides from Hopkins and Wild West Falls is an all-round successful water ride with a great setting and two breathtaking drops. However, compared to the log flume Rio Bravo from Parque Warner Madrid, it is in many ways the weaker ride. The revision of Wild West Falls, built by Intamin, scores mainly with its airtime, which is unfortunately completely missing here on the Gold Coast. The ride in Spain also seems to be in a slightly better state. Nevertheless, the log flume Wild West Falls is not to be missed.

On the way to the next attraction, we stopped by the WB Studio Showcase, where some props from recent WB productions, including The Great Gatsby, Shazam!, Suicide Squad and Mad Max, were on display during our visit. Unfortunately, this was also the only attraction that took up the original idea of the movie park. I would have liked to see more of this.

The Vekoma Suspended Coaster Arkham Asylum – Shock Therapy should have been open on the day we visited. On a later day, the ride was also closed until further notice. In fact, the coaster has not been operated since then and will probably disappear from the park soon. I would have loved to do a lap on the SLC with its bonus helix, as the ride also featured the VR film known from Parque Warner.

The last attraction on our tour is the Superman Escape roller coaster. The queue for the roller coaster is rather inconspicuous and ends in front of automated doors behind which the MRT (Metropolis Rapid Transit) underground can be boarded.

The journey begins quite leisurely. However, it soon becomes clear that our situation is a little more tricky. Warnings of earthquakes ensure that we do not stop at the next stations. Burst gas pipes, which led to the blowing up of a pumping station, cause the railway tunnel to flood and suddenly police cars also crash into the tunnels. Although the situation seems hopeless, Superman comes to our rescue at the last moment. What follows is a breathtaking rollercoaster ride, starting with an insanely good hydraulic launch.

At a good 100 km/h we immediately climb a 40m high top hat, which we enter straight and leave to the side. After a high-pressure right turn along the ground, we immediately enter an airtime-rich camelback. This is followed by a left turn where we drive through a hall. After another turn, the path leads us through a further right turn close to the ground before we change direction again on the following hill and soon find ourselves in the braking section of the ride.

Superman Escape is a mercilessly good roller coaster. The ride through the compact layout is extremely tough and convinces with its fast turns and great airtime. Unfortunately, however, the roller coaster is only located at Warner Bros Movie World and not here at Movie Park Germany, which in turn reveals some weaknesses. The low capacity of the ride in a a one train operation is exacerbated by the high number of fast pass users, so that unfortunately you have to queue for a very long time at this ride. Movie Park Germany now has the immersive tunnel The Lost Temple and the roller coaster Star Trek Operation Enterprise in the same place, but I really wish they had taken another inspiration from the park on the Gold Coast.

Warner Bros. Movie World, you must have been a really good theme park once. In the early 90s you surprised everyone with your concept, but now there’s almost none of that magic left. You’re more like a classic theme park these days, but your roller coasters can hardly hide your lack of attractions and shows. To be honest, I really wonder how one is supposed to spend a whole day here. A question that, interestingly enough, you would never ask at your younger sister in Bottrop.


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Wild Mouse Galore

Luna Park Milsons Point is probably the theme park with the most breathtaking view of all. Located right next to the world-famous Harbour Bridge and within sight of the Sydney Opera House, the classic Tivoli amusement park offers some of the best entertainment in Australia.

Interestingly, the history of the theme park begins in Adelaide. From 1930 to 1934, there was the Luna Park Glenelg. Due to political decisions in South Australia that made the operation of the park no longer profitable, the Philipps Brothers looked for a new location in Sydney. At the same time, the use of the former Dorman Long site for people’s amusements was put out to tender. The Phillips Brothers won the tender and moved the rides to the new site at Milsons Point shortly afterwards. One year later, Luna Park was opened.

In the 1950s, David Atkins and Ted Hopkins, among others, took over the park from the Philipps Brothers. In 1969, when Hopkins retired, the lease was taken over by the World Trade Centre Pty Ltd. As a first measure, the consortium closed many of the old rides and replaced them with new American thrill rides. A new operations schedule, a new slogan and even a mascot were introduced to make the park more popular – even though the lease expired in 1975. Although Luna Park was allowed to continue operating, its continued existence was not assured. After two incidents in 1979, the New South Wales government put the park out to tender again.

Australian Amusements Associates won the tender in September 1980 and took over management of the site in early June 1981. Luna Park continued to operate as Harbourside Amusement Park between 1982 and 1988. After two independent engineers determined that several rides in the park needed to be shut down for renovations and repairs, the park was closed on 10 April. In November, the lease was transferred to Luna Park Investments Pty Ltd – and the chaos took its course. After several applications to replace most or all of Luna Park with appartment blocks and hotels, and with no apparent interest in the amusement park, the New South Wales government gave the company an ultimatum to open Luna Park by 1 June 1990. Shortly after, rides were moved, repainted and renamed to give the appearance of preparing the site for operation. The directors kept making excuses to get a postponement, but shortly after the ultimatum, the lease was terminated and the Luna Park Reserve Trust was formed. Shortly afterwards, the National Heritage Trust added several buildings on the site to its list of protected structures.

From 1991 to 1995, the park received a major refurbishment, which led to the installation of the Big Dipper roller coaster by Arrow Dynamics. Due to noise complaints from the new ride, the park had to reduce the operating hours of the ride, which led to a decline in visitor numbers and eventually to the closure of the park in 1996. In June 1997, the New South Wales Government presented four development proposals to the public. In February 1998, the NSW Department of Public Works and Services called for proposals for the redevelopment of Luna Park. Metro Edgley Group won the tender. Their proposal called for most of the rides to remain, but requested that the Big Dipper be replaced with a multi-purpose concert hall and asked that the Crystal Palace be redeveloped as an events centre. During the long decision-making and approval process, Luna Park was allowed to operate in late 2000, early 2001 during the Olympic Games and the summer season.

The redevelopment and restoration of Luna Park was carried out over 14 months. Since 2004, the amusement park has been continuously operating again.

If you enter the amusement park through the iconic entrance portal with its smiling face, you will immediately find one of the amusement park’s smash attractions to your right: a Rotor. The ride, patented by W. Ernst Hoffmeister, makes its passengers stick to the wooden wall just by the centrifugal force of the rotating cylinder and the friction between the passenger and the wall. A delightful fun ride, but one that can easily lead to dizziness.

The Volare wave swinger and the Tango Train musik express are less wild. The beautiful and quite new musik express offers two ride programmes: Mild and Wild. The wilder ride is especially recommended, as it takes place both forwards and backwards.

Directly opposite, you can enjoy the view on the Ferris Wheel or take a ride on the Hair Raiser. The small free-fall tower from Larson & ARM Rides is a real challenge due to its design, because thanks to the panels mounted above the passenger, you never know when you will reach the top of the tower and when you will fall straight down. The very short braking distance also makes for a very intense drop experience.

Above the Dodgem City bumper car was once the station of the Big Dipper roller coaster and in the future the entrance to the New Big Dipper roller coaster – a single rail coaster by Intamin. At the time of my visit, nothing was known about this and so I only enjoyed a ride on the HUSS Troika Tumble Bug, which has since left the park.

On the other side of Main Street is the entrance to the Wild Mouse wooden roller coaster. Unfortunately, the wooden Wild Mouse belongs to a dying species and since the removal of the Wild Mouse from Blackpool Pleasure Beach in England, you can only experience this type of roller coaster here or in Indonesia. Yet wooden Wild Mice are one thing above all: bloody good roller coasters!

The ride on the Wild Mouse begins after a right turn with the ascent of the lift hill. Once at the top, we race through a series of tight hairpin bends before whizzing down a level in a wide curve. After two long straights, we then approach the first big shot and are immediately lifted off the seat. After coming back into contact with the seat in the valley, we immediately go over another hill accompanied by finest airtime. After a climb, we now cross the entrance area of the roller coaster, slightly pressed into the side wall of the car. After a crisp S-curve, we plunge to the ground once more. Here, too, we experience airtime par excellence. After a final hill and two fast straights, we approach the exit area of the ride.

The Wild Mouse is a blast of a roller coaster and I hope it stays at Luna Park for a long time. It is certainly one of the best wooden roller coasters in the world, making it one of the top sights in Sydney for any roller coaster fan.

Another sight for every theme park fan is the large Fun House Coney Island, which offers a variety of attractions. In addition to classic cake-walk elements, you will also find a devil’s wheel, a mirror maze, a variety of very steep slides and an extremely remarkable collection of old pinball machines.

Directly behind the Fun House is a larger outdoor area, which, however, is less charming and offers a few rides. The Break Dance Spider and the Moon Ranger were located here. The latter was one of the reasons why I really wanted to visit Luna Park Sydney, because a HUSS Ranger is a fun machine that has unfortunately become very rare. Now the area has been redesigned and will soon have two new roller coasters: Little Nipper and Boomerang. There will also be a collection of new family rides from Zamperla, as well as the large Sledgehammer flat ride.

I really enjoyed Luna Park Sydney. Unfortunately, I only had about 2 ½ hours in the park, but I loved every minute of it. The charm of the old amusement park, the breathtaking location and the extremely good selection of attractions characterise Luna Park like hardly any other park in Australia..

 

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