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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Nessie and the Highlander

The Superrollercoaster Nessie is one of the most famous roller coasters in Germany. This Schwarzkopf looping coaster was the first stationary roller coaster featuring a vertical loop and is more or less a product of its time. Once the definition of a thrill coaster, it later became a beloved family coaster and the first roller coaster to go upside down for many growing up nearby the Baltic sea. It has been a very fine roller coaster for the past 38 years, but starting from this year it just got better.

During the past decade Hansa Park was working hard to get rid of its late 70s look and became a very Hanseatic theme park. After most of the facades were finally transformed, the park decided to expand its overall theme and added Britain as the first trade partner to the park. Hence, Nessie got a theme and moved back to its home in Scotland. The new station building looks amazing and due to the location of the new entrance, the ride regained a lot of its former popularity. Well done, Hansa Park!

Another addition for this year is the drop tower Highlander, the tallest one of its kind. Built by the Austrian company Funtime, the ride offers a new way to enjoy the view onto the Baltic Sea and the surroundings, as well as the already proven drop experiences known from various German funfairs and other theme parks worldwide – currently, there are two options: a non-tilting one in the morning and a tilting one in the afternoon. I don’t particularly understand why they wanted to introduce two options, as the drop in the tilted position just enhances the overall experience without increasing the fear factor. Many visitors would not even notice it when looking at the ride. Needless to say, the Highlander became a hit among visitors during its first year of operation.

Personally, I don’t rank the Highlander as high as others. Compared to other installations of the manufacturer, it has some flaws. Yes, it might be the tallest one of its kind, but it lacks the thrills and the capacity of Donjon de l’Extrême at Nigloland. At least, the ride is far better than the Power Tower Montezuma, which used to stand at the park till the year 2012.


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A short visit to a beautiful Tivoli

The story of Linnanmäki begins in 1907. Children’s Day events were organised across Finland in order to collect funds for child welfare. At first, the events were arranged on a non-regular basis but in 1945 Children’s Day became a regular annual event. In 1950 six child welfare organisations joined forces in the Children’s Day Foundation and opened the amusement park Linnanmäki.

When you approach Linnanmäki one of the first rides you see is the roller coaster Ukko – a Maurer Sky Wheel towering the entrance area of the park. This ride features a vertical lift which goes over into the sky loop element.

The Sky Wheel itself is a roller coaster experience that is quite difficult to describe. In the moment before you are relieved from the elevator upside down, there is a strange feeling in your stomach, which returns to normal within the first roll. This is followed by a descent with high centrifugal forces in the valley before you rush backwards through the valley again shortly afterwards in order to partially climb the sky loop element. After another pass through the station, the vehicle comes to an abrupt stop on the ride’s lift and is then lowered to the station again.

To be honest, I am not a big fan of Maurer’s Sky Wheels. The sensation is good, do not get me wrong, but they are not my kind of ride. The feeling of hanging upside down in 46m only hold by a lap bar is weird and not very enjoyable and the rest of the ride is just okay.

Past the great S&S Space Shot drop tower Raketi, we now head towards the oldest roller coaster of Linnanmäki: Vuoristorata. The name translates to or better said defines the term roller coaster in Finnish. It is the last of the four scenic railways by Valdemar Lebesch, who also built the two Rutschebanen of Bakken and Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.

Vuoristorata starts with a long curve leading to the left before the train engages with the cable lift. With a great view onto the roller coaster Ukko just in front, we quickly rise to the top to the lift. Another left curve follows before we dive towards the ground in a large drop. Now, we transverse the Figure-8 ride diagonally and climb a hill while doing so. On the front end of the ride, we now turn around in a curve leading to the right. We take off a bit on the double down, before racing over a large camelback. On the other side of the ride, we now take a left turn. This is followed by another double down leading into one more camelback. On the next hill we gently take another turn around. Parallel to the lift we now initiate the grand finale. Hereby we dive into a tunnel after another camelback. In darkness, we now pass the last curve before we reach the station of the ride and come to a halt.

Vuoristorata is a nice wooden roller coaster which offers a good amount of airtime, speed, and forces during its two-and-a-half-minute long ride. The scenic railway built in 1951 sure offers a great experience and should not be missed when visiting Helsinki.

One of the most interesting coasters of Linnanmäki is Kirnu. This Intamin Zac Spin is one of the earliest examples of a 4D coaster and resembles a large marble run. After the lift, the ride vehicle races towards the edge, plunges down, hits a high forced valley, and turns around on the next crest while the gondola can freely rotate around its own axis. Normally, a roll over is inescapable on the last hill of the ride.

Kirnu might just be a short ride, but also a very unpredictable and powerful one too, so you better not underestimate it.

In the large water tower, situated right in the middle of the park, you can ride the Zierer family coaster Linnunrata eXtra which opened in the year 2000 as Space Express. Nowadays, the ride is not only named after the Finnish word for Milky Way, but also offers VR goggles, which makes it eXtra special. I rode the ride without the glasses, which I immediately regretted. The theme inside is dark and not longer visible. The ride itself is very gentle and therefore without any surprises. Unfortunately, I did not have     the time to test the ride with the glasses, as it started to have a queue shortly after my ride.

Back to the light, we quickly encounter the HUSS Top Spin Kieputin, which offered a short, but quite intense ride cycle. In the same corner of Linnanmäki, you can ride the dark ride Taikacircus, have a walk through the nearby funhouse or encounter a well-hidden Schwarzkopf ride called Mustekala at the end of a cul-de-sac.

The 75m high drop tower Kingi does not have the best reputation among theme park enthusiasts. Albeit the ride on the Italian made ride offers a very intense drop, the experience itself sits on the uncomfortable side. The restraints by Moser Rides are very tight and the seats themselves are not made for Northern Europeans as they are simply not wide enough. Therefore, if you do not want to squeeze yourself into the seats for a rather long period of time, you should be either very slim and short or still a kid.

Passing the equally high observation tower, we now step down to another level where another Italian made ride awaits us. Here, however, we find ourselves in seats with a little bit too much room. The Technical Park fying pen Magia offers some heavy rotation and huge forces. It is a fun ride, which does not create a dizzy aftertaste.

The spinning coaster Salama at Linnanmäki is a great example for an efficient use of space as it is located right on top of the rapid river Hurjakuru. As one of the latest spinning coasters built in Europe, it still offers the excitement of previous Maurer installations like Tarantula at Parque de Atracciones de Madrid or Spinball Whizzer at Alton Towers.

Salama begins with a short curve into the lift. Once at the top, the descents start with a tight turn leading into a curvy drop. With a good spin, we now cross the first valley and enter the large Immelmann turn, the track’s main element. Shortly thereafter, we climb a hill and find ourselves in the first block section of the ride. Another drop follows, whereupon we swirl over an inclined hill. After another upwards leading curve, we enter the second block brake. From here on, the hills get a little bit gentler. In a zigzaggy style, we now make our way towards the next block section. The finale of the ride consists of a downwards leading curve, a small hill and curve with a dip leading into the last brake section of the ride.

Salama is a great spinning coaster with an excellent spin. The ride offers a cool layout and a great pacing. Although the ride is quite short, it gives you a good repeatability factor.

Something you could also say about Hurjakuru. The compact rapid river by Intamin offers a refreshing ride through a well themed tunnel, various rapids, and along numerous water effects. Moreover, it also gives you an excellent view onto the spinning coaster above the ride.

Another ride which is located above the rapid river is the powered coaster Pikajuna by Mack Rides. Like many of the old-style powered coasters, the ride features a bunch of helices and curved sections in a rather compact layout. Unfortunately, the ride is quite slow.

The exit of the ride leads us directly to Tulireki; a Mack Rides E-Motion Coaster. The prototype coaster is a rocking sensation, as the ride vehicle can rock forwards and backwards, as well as sideways. Nowadays, only the sideways rocking remains.

The ride starts immediately after a short curve with the incline of the very steep lift. At the top, we can enjoy the view onto Helsinki during our race through the gentle serpentine curves. After the first block brake we quickly head downwards in the largest drop of the ride. The following incline leads us into a spiral before we change direction at a lofty height. A downward leading curve to the left quickly goes over into a curve to the right and then into the second brake section of the ride. We continue our journey on Tulireki with a shallow downward leading curve to the left into a upwards leading curve to the right. Shortly thereafter we find ourselves in the final brake of the ride.

Tulireki is a fun little coaster when you are sitting in the front row on the vehicle, otherwise the ride can be very bumpy and not as satisfying. The ride system was a good trial, but it did not work out as expected.

Right next door, you could ride the water coaster Vonkaputous by Premier Rides till the end of the 2017 season. Nowadays, this space is used for Taiga, the large Intamin LSM launch coaster which dominates Linnanmäki since June 2019.

The ride on Taiga starts with a launch into the first inversion. This is basically an oversized corkscrew, whereby the entrance to the element is initiated by a twist to the right while climbing a hill. According to the roller coaster database (rcdb.com) this element is a Zero-G Winder. With a lot of momentum, we now race through the valley and swivel over hill and dale in a large curve to the right. On the crest of a hill, we quickly change direction and race along the ground. After another change of direction, the second launch section is reached, and we accelerate towards the next element: a 52m Top Hat.

With an awesome view onto the city of Helsinki we now dive down towards the powered coaster Pikajuna. In an inverted airtime hill, we now cross the roller coaster Tulireki and experience a moment of pure joy before turning towards the ground again. In the next valley, we reach our top speed of 106 kph. After flying over a bunny hop, we head upwards and change direction in an Immelmann. Hereafter, we climb a left-hand bend into an s-hill followed by a right-hand turn. At a lower speed, we now swivel a bit from left to right, before plunging down to the ground for one more time. In an airtime hill, we enter an inclining left-hand curve, which releases us into the final inversion of the ride: a heartline roll. One last right-hand bend then leads us into the brakes and shortly thereafter the ride comes to an end.

Taiga is awesome. This coaster is simply terrific, and the layout is just perfect. Intamin did an incredibly good job by giving its masterpiece from Phantasialand some new elements and include a bunch of outstanding inversion.

Linnanmäki is a great amusement park and one of the best Tivoli, I visited so far. The atmosphere within the park is great and the attractions are amazing. You simply cannot have a better day in an amusement park while supporting a large child welfare foundation at the same time. You are doing something good while having fun and that is something you will not find that often.


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