Raging through the Helices

It’s the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic and things are getting a bit back to normal as the numbers are currently dropping in Germany and more and more people are getting their vaccinations. Previously excisting restrictions are dropped and a visit to a theme park feels great once more – even though we are all wearing masks once we cannot avoid getting too close to people and of course on the rides.

Since my last year’s visit was not the best, as Serengeti Park was crowded and the capacity of the rides was restricted to a minimum, I took a day off and visited the park on a very quiet Friday. This of course had the advantage of experiencing the awesome Serengeti Safari – one of the few drive-through safaris you can experience in an animal park – at my own pace and without being too restricted by the other cars. I was also right in time for the feeding of the lions, which led to some awesome pictures.

After driving through the Serengeti Safari it was time to experience the theme park. Here, I mainly focused on the other “safari” experiences, which are mainly rather unique attractions and for the most part don’t feature any animals. I especially enjoyed the Splash Safari and Black Mamba Jetboat experiences, as both of them were extraordinary good in keeping you cool on a very hot summers day. While the Splash Safari offers a nice RIB speedboat ride on the park’s central lake, the Black Mamba jetboat safari just got you drenched the second the ride started – not to any surprise: It was the most popular ride on the day of visit.

The most recent addition to Serengeti Park is the roller coaster Batukai Racer by Technical Park which replaced the aging Chura Racer – a large Tivoli coaster made by Zierer. The layout of the 13m high family coaster basically only consists of a steep drop followed by three helices one after the other. The first of them is of special interest, as its curvature gets smaller when approaching the ground, which results in some very high G-forces and a rather awkward inclination. The second one acts like a small break in between as you get some more altitude before the final helix hits the ground. The ride itself is a bit jerky, yet not uncomfortable and a rather thrilling experience.

So thrilling, that shortly after my first round, I wanted to do a second. I was a bit distracted taking photos with my camera so that I did not realised that I let my phone on one of the benches nearby before queuing up for the second ride. After the ride, my phone was gone and I started to panic a bit. I asked the ride operator if he saw anything, but that did not help. He gave me the information that it might end up at the service centre nearby the park’s main ticket booths at the end of the day. I waited some time and decided to give it a try and walked all the way to service centre, but they did not yet got anything. They asked me to come back shortly before their closure or write an email after my visit. So I went back around 5pm and to my own surprise they actually found it!

Even though I had to worry a bit about the phone, I had an extraordinary day at the park and enjoyed it quite a lot. The drive through the empty Serengeti Safari, the rides on the park’s roller coaster Safari Blitz and Batukai Racer, as well as the refreshing and drenching boat experiences on the Splash Safari and Black Mamba made my day.


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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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Full Steam ahead on Hals-über-Kopf

Erlebnispark Tripsdrill has once again built something new and presented it to the public half-finished – and thus not made with love at all. In the German amusement park scene, we only know this kind of behaviour from Hansa Park, but there they have to cover up a big tower every time. To be honest, I didn’t really understand why they had to open their two roller coasters, Volldampf and Hals-über-Kopf, during the Covid-19 pandemic; after all, they could have marketed the whole thing all the bigger when the pandemic was coming to an end.

Well, now the two roller coasters are here and can be tested. The smaller of the two Vekoma rides is the Family Boomerang Volldampf, which is already very impressive. Admittedly, the ride is basically finished; the only thing missing is the decoration at the reversal point of the ride.  Apart from the beautiful station, the cute and macabre train design, the foreign visitor gets acquainted with Swabian folk songs and before the ride starts, one sings along with Trulla-trulla-trullala of the song Auf de schwäbsche Eisebahne after the coaster has been designed.

The ride begins with the backward incline of the friction wheel lift. Once you have reached the top of the lift, you are first held in position while the friction wheels are pushed apart, thus clearing the way. Immediately the brakes are released and the descent begins. With momentum we now drive through the station and over a small hill to the right. Here we also avoid the threateningly close rail of Hals-über-Kopf. Close to the ground, we now whiz through a wide left turn before we cross a path on a hill. Now we make our way across the inside of the Suspended Thrill Coaster. After a slight turn to the right, a turn to the left follows. With momentum we then go through another right turn, whereupon we enter the station building of Hals-über-Kopf and change our direction above the station. A little more leisurely than before, we now go backwards through the already completed stretch.

Volldampf is fun! The ride across the big sister ride convinces with its curves close to the ground, the constant changes of direction and the mutual interaction. The long stretch of track also gives the passengers a lot to enjoy.

Less is offered to park guests – at least in terms of design – on the Suspended Thrill Coaster Hals-über-Kopf. This is an iteration of the very common suspended looping coaster. The track profile, however, is based on that of the manufacturer’s new looping roller coasters.

The ride on the Hals-über-Kopf begins immediately with a short right turn, which soon leads us into the ride’s lift. Having reached a height of 30m, we immediately plunge straight down to the ground. Just above the roller coaster Volldampf we turn right. With momentum we now go through the first valley and immediately into the first inversion. We cross the station building of the family roller coaster in a long zero-G roll. Shortly afterwards, we turn around in an Immelmann Jr. Far above a pavement we now whiz over an airtime hill. After a short bend to the left, we plunge to the ground once more and immediately turn to the right and, poof, we see the world upside down a second time. Immediately we plunge into a 270° helix close to the ground and full of pressure, before we take off a little on a small hill. Another strongly inclined turn follows. Very close to the ground, there is a short bend to the right before we enter a dip to the left. This is followed by the last and final inversion of the ride. Shortly afterwards, we already hit the final brake.

Hals-über-Kopf is an extremely solid family roller coaster with a beautiful track layout and great pacing. The ride is only slightly stressful, which means that every member of the family should get their money’s worth. For us roller coaster fans, there is now an extremely exciting roller coaster in the Erlebnispark Tripsdrill that you could confidently ride for several hours at a time and that is an extremely nice thing per se.

With the new roller coaster duo, Erlebnispark Tripsdrill has done a lot right. The new coasters enhance the front section of the park and, due to their location alone, ensure a better overall distribution of visitors in the park, who would otherwise mostly romp around in the back part of the park. Now there is something for the whole family in every area of the park and that is a very nice development for a family theme park like Erlebnispark Tripsdrill.


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