Having a blast on Dynamite

The last time, I have visited Freizeitpark Plohn, I was not at all impressed by its missing professionalism in some points. I had never issues paying with my Girocard (a German Debit Card) before and since there was not an ATM nearby, I had to drive to the nearby town of Lengenfeld just to get some cash and stand one more time in the queue before finally being able to pay my entrance ticket. This time, I tried to pay online and due to the system in use, it was not at all easy to do so on the phone. It took me several attempts – yet at the end, it worked.

With a good mood, I started my day at the new entrance area to the park, which is now situated right next to the water ride Fluch des Teutates. The Rafting by abc rides gets a good crowd during the first hours of operation, while the area close to the original entrance stays deserted for the most part of the day.

Here we find the small SBF Visa spinning coaster Drachenwirbel. Like most of the installations in Germany, this also comes in the three-loop design, whereby upwards leading righthand curves always change into a downwards leading lefthand curve. Due to the change of direction, the cars quickly get into a rotation. After several laps the ride on the Drachenwirbel comes to an stop and we can exit the ride.

The second and largest addition to the park Freizeitpark Plohn in recent years is the Mack Rides Big Dipper Coaster Dynamite. The ride is situated for most part on the land of the former Silver Mine roller coaster and reuses parts of the queue. The coaster itself is a lot bigger and offers an interesting layout.

After climbing the ride’s lift, the coaster starts with a Dive Drop, whereby the car is slowly rotated around its own axis before it plunges to the ground. At full speed we now pass through a building which gives a great near miss and race over a bunny hop shortly thereafter. A steep curve now leads us upwards. After a more conventional drop, we then enter a righthand curve close to the ground. On a small hill we rapidly change direction before entering Dynamite’s loop. We then pass the ride’s entrance in a Zero-G Roll. Finally, we now circle around the HUSS Break Dance Westernrodeo before hitting the brakes.

Dynamite is a nice addition to the park. The Big Dipper offers a great, albeit short layout which offers a well-defined play of forces. There is only one issue: It does not have a good capacity. With a total of just two cars for up to eight people, the queue can get quite long. Especially, when only one of them is in operation and can only be loaded by a maximum of 4 people due to the Covid-19 regulations. Therefore, I only rode this Mack product once.

As the Saxonians did not really care about Covid and only a few respected the rules, I left the park early. Overall, I had a good visit to Freizeitpark Plohn. Yet, I was not overly impressed on how El Toro developed in recent years. This coaster is by far one of the roughest wooden coasters, I have been on and to my luck, I had to ride it twice in a row as the ride operation gave an encore. Apart of that, the park’s operations were good, and I am willing to come back once everything is back to normal.


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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.


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Winsen (Luhe) (2020)

I now worked in Winsen (Luhe) for more than a year, but never had any view onto the castle of the city nor did I know where it is located. As my friend and colleague Jikang lives in the centre of the city, he took the time to show me around. We had a great walk through the city centre, as well as the three parks Luhe Gärten, Eckermann Park and Luhe Park.


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