Battle of the Giants

Large wooden roller coasters have always been associated with problems. While they were still doing very well in their premiere year, after a few years of operation at the latest, there was nothing left of them. With Colossos, however, it was different. For far more than a decade, the giant of the Lüneburg Heath was able to pull its passengers out of their seats; thanks to the elaborate track construction. It’s just unfortunate if at some point the rail no longer has the condition necessary for operation and has to be completely replaced. However, it has to be mentioned that Colossos is the first wooden roller coaster that was equipped with this track and even the TÜV – which is a worldwide inspectorate for roller coasters – had no experience with this type of track and therefore tested the ride again and again out of line. Now, engineers are working with safeties that are many times higher than the actual load case to guarantee fatigue strength or the longest possible life span – so a ride over the track would have been safe. The park management, however, understandably considered the risk too high and the ride was taken out of service.

Colossos • Intamin Wooden Coaster • Heide Park

For the Heide Park, this was of course the worst case scenario. Even though the park is well positioned, Colossos was and is the main attraction of the amusement park. Interestingly enough, the management of Merlin Entertainments had to acknowledge this themselves first, because an immediate mise-en-budget of the wooden roller coaster was not planned. Lately, the group has not been known to repair problematic rides immediately. It’s better to put a fence around a ride and let it vegetate. Examples are the Slammer and the Logger’s Leap log flume at Thorpe Park or almost the whole Maya-Tal area here at Heide Park. But Colossos is hard to hide despite the fence. I don’t want to know how many visitors inquired about the big wooden roller coaster; but the reduction of the ride offer will not have pleased every visitor. Personally, I also did not like the fact that one of my favourite roller coasters did not run anymore, so I did not visit the park for the time being.

At some point at least, the top management gave the green light and Colossos was allowed to be rescued. To be honest, I don’t even want to imagine the damage to their image if the ride had simply been torn down. Even on a rather rough wooden roller coaster you would be happy to go different ways nowadays, but as I said before, Colossos had no incentive to do so. There was speculation in the fan forums about a RMC conversion, but the probability of that was rather low. Meanwhile, the wooden roller coaster Wicker Man opened in the sister park Alton Towers.

At the beginning of 2019, it was clear to everyone that Heide Park would breathe new life into its old wooden roller coaster. At least the publicity drum was stirred well and there were some documentaries. But there was a little bit of secrecy around one feature: The Wicker Man 2.0 or as Heide Park prefers to call it, the giant. Instead of the burning Wicker Man, which actually never burned outside of the premiere party, there is a huge concrete sculpture in the Heide Park that, in keeping with the dramaturgy of the ride, throws fire bales into the air. And yes, that is impressive. The whole make-over is impressive. Colossos suddenly has Theming.

Although I am familiar with the design with the tree-people, which was created a few years ago as a remnant utilisation around the remnants of Miss Liberty, one could hardly take it seriously. But now Colossos is absolutely immersive from the beginning of the queue to the end of the ride. In this respect, the new station just knocked my socks off.

In the station, you board the new trains, which now correspond to those of the later installations of El Toro and T-Express. This is a bit unusual, but on the other hand they are really comfortable and have some features that should make working on the ride a bit easier in the future. For the passenger it is definitely an advantage that it is no longer necessary to press down the bars. So you have some space.

After you have reached the starting height of 50m and have enjoyed the view in a wide right-hand bend, the lively interplay of very high positive and distinct negative forces can start immediately. So we skilfully plunge into the depths before we plunge through the valley and are then lifted out of our seats on the first hill. After the next valley we repeat the game again, before we turn to the back turn of the Out & Back Coaster. Here we first climb a hill after the top of which we lean to the side more and more. In a beautiful steep turn we descend rapidly before we straighten up again in a small S-curve turn and climb a hill. Directly next to the layout we just completed, we plunge down another time, whereupon we hit a speed hump – i.e. a relatively flat hill – and take off a little bit from our seat once more. After a short ascent, a longer straight line awaits us, followed by a downward helix to the left. We approach the ground faster and faster, whereupon the rapid finale of the ride begins. Here we cross a series of parabolic hills, the last one being taken by the fire giant. With airtime and underscored by numerous effects we are heading for our doom directly into the giant’s gorge. But somehow we seem to get away and then we board a rather flat turning curve back to the station, where we come to a halt in the braking section.

 
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Colossos – Kampf der Giganten is still a great roller coaster with outstanding ride characteristics.  It rides the same way as before, but now – apart from its impressive structure – it looks simply fantastic. I honestly don’t know if you should mourn a RMC conversion now, because although these coasters are without a doubt sublime, they are no roller coasters that you should and can ride permanently – but with Colossos it’s different: It has always been sublime and gets better and better from ride to ride.

 

What is your opinion about the make-over of the wooden coaster Colossos? Just write it in the comment field below the report or on our social media channels:

 

          


Heide Park (2020)

You can see that Merlin Entertainments is a little more professional than the medium-sized company nearby. It is therefore less surprising that the Heide Park Resort is also making exemplary progress in its implementation of the Corona measures. The entrance including instructions on how to wear your mask in the park simply works smoothly. In the park itself this is a different game, as many visitors do not want to follow the rules. Masks can be worn at will, often they only cover the mouth and not the nose. Also keeping distance is often an unsolvable task during the course of the day despite existing and clearly visible ground markings. Only in the attractions themselves the rules are respected. This is a pity and only ensures a large number of announcements.

Despite maximum capacity, the Corona measures taken result in longer queues at each attraction. The staff is visibly trying to keep the operation running at its best despite the measures taken. In this respect I would like to thank all the ride ops in the park; you guys are really great!

But as the queues were partly too exhausting for myself, I enjoyed the day with only a few rides. Especially because of that it was a quite relaxed day all in all, where a lot of videos but also some photos were taken:

 

 

Colossos Kampf der Giganten • Intamin Wooden Coaster • Offride

 


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Big Loop • Vekoma Looping Coaster • Offride

 


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Limit • Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster • Offride

 


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Krake • B&M Dive Coaster • Offride

 


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Flug der Dämonen • B&M Wing Coaster • Offride

 


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Desert Race • Intamin Accelerator Coaster • Offride

 


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Indy-Blitz • Zierer Force One • Offride

 


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Panoramabahn • Mack Rides Monorail • Onride

 


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Käptn’s Törn Onride • Mack Rides Round Boat Ride • Onride

 


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What is your opinion about the Corona measures at Heide Park?  Just write it in the comment field below the report or visit our social media channels:

 

          


A wild and untamed beast

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.

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.

 

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