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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My failure on Galveston Island

I left SeaWorld San Antonio after seeing their One Ocean show, so that I could visit the not so historic Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. I should have informed myself about the opening times before I left the park, as the Pleasure Pier was already closed when I arrived in Galveston. Even if the park would have been opened, I would not have the chance to ride their Iron Shark roller coaster, as the weather on the Gulf of Mexico was quite stormy. Despite that, I would have even avoided a very stupid and viscous traffic jam on my way from San Antonio to Houston, if I stayed at SeaWorld for longer.

Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Beach

Having absolutely failed, I really enjoyed my stay at the Country Inn and Suites Galveston Beach. That was a very nice hotel, even though the breakfast was as bad as every other hotel/motel I have visited on my tour.

Zipper-Dee-Doo-Dah in Cleveland

As I’m currently in Ohio for business, I took the chance to visit the I-X Indoor Amusement Park in Cleveland this Saturday.  Since 30 years, the fair takes place in the International Exposition Center (short I-X Center). The name Amusement Park fits in very well thanks to the one-time admission fee and the additional show program. Nonetheless, the I-X Indoor Amusement Park is a typical American funfair. The highlight of the event is the weather independence of the fair and the interaction of many rides with the hall’s ceiling.

Most rides come from the Baker Bros. Amusement Company. Rockwell Amusements, Swika’s Amusements and Reithoffer Shows each provide a roller coaster. In total, the funfair hosts six roller coasters, three of them for children. However, they were not my reason of visiting. I wanted to finally ride a Zipper.

Like the Tilt-a-Whirl and Sizzler, the classic from Chance Rides is indispensable in any US funfair – the oval with the pulleys at both ends has been sold a good 200 times since 1968. And even in Europe you could find a Zipper in the past; on the downside they are very rare.

The ride itself resembles the one on a top spin: it rocks, swings and sometimes wildly rolls over. Only a nacelle brake does not exist; you leave everything to chance. The speeds during the journey are usually constant: The main arm rotates at seven revolutions per minute, while the steel cables make at least four revolutions. At the turning points, a short acceleration kick follows every time, which – with a bit of luck – puts the gondolas into a proper rotation. Since you are only secured by a comfortable lap bar, holding onto the handrails is definitely a good thing.

The ride in the narrow cages is definitely not for tall people. With shoe size 11 you also have problems placing your feet properly. People with a weak stomach will quickly reach their limits through the whole swinging thing – especially towards the end of the journey. The zipper itself, however, is a masterpiece of engineering of the late 1960s. Even before the great looping fever of the 70s, Chance Rides turned the fairground world overhead. Unluckily, our ride on the Zipper was somehow tame. In the end, we rocked more than we did anything else.

Luckily, there are plenty of other options at the Indoor Amusement Park, but due to the crowd, we concentrated on the Fabbri Kamikaze. This Italian ride offers some longer head-over stays at the top of the ride – in spite of the over the shoulder restraints – and wonderful hang time during the fast looping sequences. You basically lift off from your seat, whilst the stations drive throughs you will be pressed neatly into your seat. What a machine!

In addition to the small Zamperla Spinning Coaster Wild Mouse and the little Pinfari Wild Cat next door, the roller coaster G-Force turn out to be one hell of an adrenaline machine. This small Wing-Coaster-Butterfly from A.R.M. Rides is a lot of fun in a rather small package. After having taken a seat in the 16-passenger train, it raises leisurely up a way too steep straight. Arrived at the top, the train then latches out quickly. In the next second, you fall very fast to the ground. The transition between the much too steep lift and the ascending straight after is the only highlight, as the name of the rollercoaster proves itself. After experiencing the G-Force on your own body, the train swings back and forth and fastly comes to a stop again. If ever Sunkid Heege would produce such a ride 😀 .

The I-X Indoor Amusement Park in Cleveland is a pretty cool funfair. The choice of rides is quite balanced and offers something for every taste. On our visiting day, the indoor amusement park was pretty crowded, but the weather outside was also a mess all day. If it is a bit emptier you can definitely have a lot of fun here, I really liked the fair itself. The mood was great and the gimmick with the hall’s ceiling basically upgrades every ride to a maximum.

 


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