An epic Musical and a Space Shot

Movieland Park is one of my favourite theme parks. The small park sure does surprise everyone on regular intervals when they announce their novelties of the season. However, this year’s visit was a bit too soon as the highly immersive Gravitron style ride Antares was not due to open until the Halloween season.

Space Mission Orbit

The first addition in the space travel themed area of Movieland Park was the S&S Space Shot Space Mission Orbit back in 2020. Unlike many other Space Shot type rides, this drop tower is actually a blast as after an awesome launch, great airtime follows.


Right next to the Diabolik Invertigo roller coaster is the entrance to the 2016 novelty Pangea. The ride is extremely unique as it lets you drive your own 4×4 car in a very uneven terrain to explore the mythical world of Pangea where dinosaurs are still alive. The adventurous drive is controlled by sensors so that you cannot do whatever you want, yet you still can get stuck on your way. Due to this and the low throughput, the wait time for Pangea can be rather long. Overall, the experience is totally worth the wait and should not be missed. 

Medusa Epic Show

Also in 2020, the old Tomb Raider ride was replaced by the Medusa Epic Show. The stage for the show is located right next to the park’s entrance. The sets used for the ride have been preserved, but some remains of a temple and a large scene on a turntable have been added to give the show new facets and an antique flair.

The show itself is a musical masterpiece featuring a grand cast, great choreographies, awesome acrobatics and an exciting story. Hence the show is very entertaining and should not be missed on your visit to Movieland Park.

Pictures Movieland Park

Conclusion Movieland Park

Movieland Park still keeps on surprising everyone. The novelties of the past years sure speak for themselves and new additions are already in the making. We therefore look forward to come back for another visit anytime soon. For sure, I will not wait another seven years.

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Hollywood’s Backdrop

The History of the Universal Studios Japan

When 30,000 visitors means a less crowded day, and every local visitor seems to be wearing yellow T-shirts and blue overalls, then – and only then – you are in Universal Studios Japan and the Minions have found their way into the park.

When it comes to Universal Studios Japan, it is important to understand how successful this park is and that 30,000 visitors is not an everyday number for any major park in Europe, nor would it be a desirable starting point for the visitors; but how did it come about that the fourth most visited theme park is located in Osaka, Japan?

To answer the question, you have to go back in time a little, to the 1980s to be precise, when the group’s only theme park to date was located in Hollywood and offered little apart from a studio tour and a few shows. Plans to build a similar attraction in Florida were always on the cards, but it wasn’t until after the huge success of the King Kong expansion of the studio tour in 1986 that these plans were realised. At the same time, sites for another park in Japan were also considered – including Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NSSMC) sites in Kitakyūshū and Sakai. While the Space World theme park was built in Kitakyūshū, the Sakai site was abandoned in favour of an urban development project in Osaka. At the end of 1994, Osaka Universal Planning Inc. was founded and two years later renamed USJ Co., Ltd. Arnold Schwarzenegger broke ground in October 1998 and Universal Studios Japan opened in March 2001.

In the first year alone, more than 11 million visitors came to the park, an unparalleled success – because unlike most other theme park projects, the park did not miss its target number of visitors by miles, but topped it many times over. However, the number of visitors dropped to 8 million in the second year and stabilised at this level until 2011. With the construction of the children’s area Universal Wonderland in 2012, the average number of visitors changed to 10 million. In 2014, the inauguration of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme area was followed by a jump in visitor numbers to 12.7 million visitors and 13.9 million visitors the following year. Another boost came in 2016 with the opening of The Flying Dinosaur roller coaster, which, however, also led to waiting times of up to 750 minutes at the roller coaster.

Tour of the park

It’ s therefore no wonder that we have included the Universal Express Pass 4 – The Flying Dinosaur in our planning for the tour. Other fast passes are available, but the Express Pass 4 was the most reasonable because of the Flying Coaster. But before we reach it, we first have to walk around the central lake of the Universal Studios Japan theme park.

Space Fantasy – The Ride

We therefore start on the covered Main Street in the Hollywood themed area and disregard the highlight on the right side of this; instead, we continue straight ahead, where several studio buildings smile at us on the left, including the one of the indoor roller coaster Space Fantasy – The Ride.

The ride on the most Japanese of all spinning coasters from Mack Rides begins with a small right turn, which soon leads us into the first lift hill. To the sounds of the band Dreams Comes True, we now throw ourselves into a steep left turn that quickly turns into a 270° upward helix. After a short straight, we head towards the floor again in a similar manoeuvre and, after a crisp right-hand bend, into the first braking section. With reduced speed, we now tackle the path towards the second lift hill and have plenty of time to let the J-Pop sounds and grandiose design take effect on us.

At some point, the ceiling of the hall is reached again and a wonderfully jagged downhill helix follows. A short bend to the right in the valley then leads us onto a short ramp, whereupon we cross the track of the first section. Two serpentine curves follow, leading us directly into the third and last lift hill of the ride.

The finale of the spinning coaster then begins quite brilliantly with a steep curve down to the hall floor, followed by another steep curve to transport the train back towards the ceiling of the hall. After a short straight section, the train enters a 180° downward helix in which, visually very convincing, a supernova is ignited on the passengers. This is followed by a short bunny hop and after a small turn you soon find yourself in the final brake of the ride and shortly afterwards in the station.

Space Fantasy – The ride is completely convincing despite its low altitude and speed. The space ride has a great flow and a simply wonderful design, and the comparatively idiosyncratic layout with its many straights and rather leisurely gradients fits perfectly to this country – a true Japanese coaster and thus a great product out of the Black Forest.

Terminator 2 3D

Equally brilliant innovations can be admired at the Cyberdyne Corporation in the building next door. Accompanied by a hostess, we are guided through the annual Cyberdyne Expo, which includes an image film and a product presentation in the theatre next door. But one thing in advance, the lady is hilarious and so the audience is first made fun of in a bitterly nasty way – of course only in Japanese, but still (especially thanks to the lady’s over-acting) uproariously funny. The image film itself is interrupted by an announcement from John and Sarah Connor, and Cyberdyne’s employees do their best to somehow cachet the situation.

In the theatre, we then experience the presentation of the first Terminators and, more importantly, the Skynet. Sarah and John Connor break into the auditorium. The situation seems to be under control, but a T-1000 appears and pursues the two. But first he quickly gets rid of the hostess. A second Terminator then comes through a time portal on a motorbike and immediately appears on stage. He then grabs John and flees with him through another portal. A wild chase ensues between our hero duo and the T-1000, as well as other adversaries on the way towards Skynet. Once there, the aim is to destroy the central core of the system – yet the T-1000000 is waiting here as the final enemy. Briefly stopping the T-1000000, the T-800 manages to make the necessary preparations to send John back in time and destroy Skynet. During the ensuing explosion, the visitors’ seats abruptly lower.

It was not really our priority to see rides and shows that still exist in the other Universal Studios parks and can be marvelled over there with a shorter waiting time. Interestingly, shortly after our visit, it turned out that Terminator 2 3D is to be discontinued at Universal Studios Orlando. We were lucky, because the show itself is just fantastic, albeit a little tough in the middle part of the 3D film. The interaction of stage and screen is exceptionally well done and the finale is beyond surprising, likewise the special effects in the auditorium are all worth seeing. Awesome!

The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man – The Ride

Another extremely well-attended attraction at the studios, at least as long as a raving Elmo isn’t setting the mood on the big stage and most of the Japanese are attending the concert at Universal Studios Japan, is the dark ride The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man – The Ride, in true 4K3D style.

There’ s a lot of things one has heard about the Spider Man ride in advance. Statements like “The best darkride in the world” were definitely true, especially after the update of the video quality, but I was still extremely sceptical, after all, one should keep one’s expectations low in order to be all the more amazed by the system in the end.  Perfectly coordinated movements interact with the video projections in the most ingenious way, so that in the end you leave the ride vehicle speechless and amazed and would like to queue up again. Particularly noteworthy is the electric shock scene, triggered by the villain Electro, and the scene with the anti-gravity gun; otherwise it is difficult for me to describe this dark ride, as it really is simply overwhelming.

Despicable Me Minion Mayham and Backdraft

Past the Minion Park and the dark ride Despicable Me Minion Mayham, which was characterised by horrendously long waiting times, as well as the fire effect show Backdraft – whose last show we unfortunately missed by just a few minutes – the path leads us directly to Jurassic Park. But not to the world-famous water ride Jurassic Parc – the Ride, which everyone knows anyway, but to the good new stuff that makes you fly. But don’t worry about the water ride, it’s still extremely exhilarating, just to say that in advance.

Flying Dinosaur

In fact, the ride on the Flying Dinosaur was our first of the day, after all, our Express Pass had a time slot that we were keen to heed – but that was still a little way off, so we dutifully joined the regular queue. Faster than expected, we made our way through the half-empty waiting area, which gave us a first glimpse of the immense willingness of the Japanese to wait, only to find ourselves 40 minutes later in the double loading station of the ride, standing in the front row.

After you have dutifully stowed your luggage, it doesn’t take long before the restraint is checked and you are waiting in the flying position for take-off. It is interesting, especially during boarding in the first row, how the staff in charge protectively stand in front of the wings of our chosen aircraft, knowing very well that some people have already bumped their heads. Via a switch we immediately reach the lift hill, which takes us up to an altitude of 38 metres. The first drop follows, which is extremely steep. In the first valley, we fly over the astonished passers-by at a lofty height that is nevertheless quite close to the ground, before we skilfully spiral upwards in an in-line twist. In doing so, we almost experience the crest again in flight position, but in the exit of the roll another half-twist is waiting for us to be pressed extremely brutally into the back cushions in the next valley. In the following inside raven turn, a kind of immelmann loop without a headstand, the dinosaur does not refrain from reducing the pressure in any way, which is why we only get to breathe again at a distant altitude.

But the next element is already approaching and after a short right/left turn far above the heads of the potentially riders at Universal Studios Japan, we reach it.  With a lot of momentum, we plunge into the Pretzel Loop, a ride manoeuvre in the shape of a pretzel, the valley of which we ride through in a lying position. With breathtaking speed and insane pressure on the ribs, we shoot through a short tunnel, just before we find ourselves again in lofty heights and lead our way from now on relatively close to the ground along the central lake. In a wide right turn we take momentum to be turned around our own axis once more in another in-line twist. This then turns into a beautiful and powerful 360° helix, which releases us parallel to the lift hill. A short dip later, we cross the last of the three in-line rollers before we soon find ourselves in the final brake of the ride.

The Flying Dinosaur is an insanely intense roller coaster that likes to use its high forces very often on its passengers. In fact, I would go so far as to call it the most intense roller coaster I have ridden (up to the time of my visit), and that includes calibres like the spinning coaster Tornado from the Danish amusement park Bakken, but with the fundamental difference that the Flying Dinosaur is also fun. Whether it’s the brutal in-line-twist-fly-to-lie combo and its subsequent breathtaking valley or the Pretzel Loop that is ridden through way too quickly – the flying dinosaur simply knows how to convince. Even the slow passages, which do exist, fit absolutely harmoniously into the overall picture and make The Flying Dinosaur one of the best rides of its kind.

Jurassic Park – The Ride

Another of the best rides of its kind is the Shoot-the-Chutes Jurassic Park – The Ride. The ride through the time-honoured dinosaur park is certainly one of the best-known rides in the world; so it’s all the nicer when the posted waiting times go by much faster than initially thought.

Since the ride is thankfully based on the first film, we are looking forward to an adventurous ride without divorce drama and genetically manipulated hyperdinos on the island of Isla Nublar. After leaving the station, a short lift hill takes us to an intermediate level, where we first bob through the channel for a few metres before approaching the significant gate from the film.  The gate opens, the music plays and you feel like you’re back in your childhood again, so my primary school self was addressed, and so the path leads us quite leisurely through the Ultrasaurus and Stegosaurus enclosures. In the hadrasaur enclosure we get a warning that the raptors have escaped. Meanwhile, two dilophosaurs fight over the remaining coat of a park employee, enough distraction to worry about our own escape. As we approach a building, a small container almost falls on our heads. In the building itself we use the transport device inside to get to the power station. On the now very long lift hill we gain some height and are attacked by velociraptors from both sides.  Once on the power station level we are attacked by more dinosaurs as we approach the evacuation path in a wide curve. A short lift hill brings us to the aforementioned shot, so that we can only very narrowly escape from a T-Rex that has just appeared. We now descend a good 26m, after which the obligatory splashdown takes place at the end.

This is also quite effective and can soak you wonderfully, although on the first trip we wondered when this would take place, before (quite untypically) it simply caught us ice-cold with a wave generated from behind. Although the subsequent trips used the more traditional method, you could observe it quite well on some boats. But before I digress too much, let me say that Jurassic Park – The Ride is a water ride that is absolutely worth seeing and should not be missed.


Certainly worth seeing, but unfortunately only once a day, is the water stunt show Water World, which we actually wanted to watch – but which absolutely did not fit in with the time schedule. Instead, we now focus on the fishing village of Amity and its famous harbour tour in Jaws, which visits the sites of the shark attacks from the summer of 1974.

Passing numerous well-known buildings and locations from Jaws, we leisurely sail through the harbour of the coastal town before a distress call reaches us. A short time later we only hear screams and then a torn boat and the fin of a shark. The shark now passes under our boat, which is then shaken back and forth a little.  Our skipper grabs a gun and fires two shots at the shark, but both miss their target. Meanwhile, we drive into a nearby boathouse to wait for Chief Brody. But the inevitable happens and the great white shark attacks us here as well.

We flee, but the shark is always on our trail. Armed again, our boatwoman shoots the grenade launcher once more, but now hits a gas tank, whereupon it ignites. Again, we only just manage to escape. On a nearby pier the boat is now to be evacuated. The great white shark attacks again, but bites into a conveniently placed underwater cable of a nearby electricity platform and thus roasts itself. After this stroke of luck, we reach the saving harbour and a truly adventurous harbour tour comes to an end.

Jaws is simply sheer cult, but the ride itself varies greatly due to the performance of the ship’s captain. The ride itself is solid and visually convincing, but it’s only really fun when the staff are excited and slightly panicked, and some are much better at that than others. Nevertheless, you should by no means miss out on the fun at Universal Studios Japan, because solid as the first film is, it certainly is.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, on the other hand, has led to a solid increase in the number of visitors to Universal Studios Japan, and today we can even enter the themed area without a time ticket. But before we stand in front of Dumbledore’s office entrance at Hogwarts, we have to explore the village of Hogsmeade and get a wand from Ollivander’s branch. Admittedly, the service is terrific and having a Japanese woman recite the spells from the Harry Potter universe was an extremely entertaining choice by the old man.

Flight of the Hippogriff

Since we were already close to Hagrid’s hut, we didn’t miss the chance to pay him a visit and take a flight on the Hippogriff. Flight of the Hippogriff is the standard model of a Vekoma Roller Skater with a little special feature, namely two trains.  Accordingly, the ride begins with a short curve out of the station and the subsequent lift hill. Immediately, you complete a left-leading steep turn with a subsequent upward helix, cross a short valley and a wide right turn near the station. Over a hill you cross the course you have just covered, whereupon you lose some altitude in another helix. A left turn follows, and soon the braking section is waiting. Here you wait a little until the train has been dispatched at the station and you can enter it.

Harry Potter and the forbidden Journey

Inspired, we joined the guided tour of Hogwarts, after all, we wanted to see what the castle looked like inside and we did not planned to experience the normal queue with its length of 120 minutes on this day. With our express pass in hand, going through the express queue at Harry Potter and the forbidden Journey was also of an enjoyable nature, even though we had no further rights after checking in our hand luggage and had to wait there for a few minutes.

But that was also only of short duration, so that a short time later we could take a seat on one of the four-seater gondolas. The wild ride through the old walls begins with Hermione’s generous use of flea powder, on which we are soon to find ourselves in the observatory. Slight tilting effects to the side provide initial excitement during the transport, because all movements are absolutely smooth – which is quite unexpected, given the otherwise very rough movement profiles of the stationary robo-coasters. In the observatory itself, we join Harry and Ron and experience a fabulous ride over the rooftops of Hogwarts towards the Quidditch game. Meanwhile, we encounter Hagrid, who confronts us asking if we’ve seen the dragon, only to encounter said dragon moments later. Pushed by the dragon, our path leads us into a bridge, where it then waits for us as an animatronic, but we manage to escape.

Shortly afterwards we find ourselves in the forbidden forest, where we immediately encounter Aragog. Hermione rushes to help and chases him away, while we continue our escape. More spiders get in our way, but we manage to leave the forest. In the clearing, the whipping willow awaits us, although we are able to avoid it quite well, it eventually catches us and we are thrown into the Quidditch stadium. So far so good, after all it was our goal and we are live in the action – which is much cooler than the trendy sport of the Muggles in Europe.

When Slytherin unfortunately scores a goal against Gryffindor, Dementors enter the arena, and since evil plus evil always results in evil, Harry immediately escorts us out of the arena. In the process, we get separated from Harry and soon find ourselves in the Chamber of Secrets. Another Dementor chases after us and even Lord Voldemort gives in. We manage to escape, but a horde of Dementors is already waiting for us. It is getting cold, the movements of the gondola carrier noticeably slow down and a heartbeat sounds from the subwoofers of the gondola is played. At the last possible moment, Harry chases the Dementors away and we follow him through the collapsing entrance towards Hogwarts. In the main hall leading to the grand staircase, we meet all kinds of students and teachers and, last but not least, Albus Dumbledore, who uses flea powder to transport us to the Room of Requirement, i.e. the station of the ride.

I was flabbergasted. I would never have thought that the Kuka robots could make such a journey. I was also simply overwhelmed by the scale of the decorations and screens. The whipping willow in particular thrilled me so much that I could only respond to the rest of the ride with a broad permanent grin. The symbiosis between projection and real scenery works just perfectly and the ride system supports this in the best way. The great freedom of movement of the robots in particular brings an incredible dynamic to the ride, which is also used perfectly and thus ultimately offers an absolutely wild but extremely harmonious ride through the Harry Potter universe. I’d love to see more of it!


I’m at least looking forward to returning to Hogwarts at some point and taking another ride on the magical benches, but before that I’m heading to see Harry Potter And The Cursed Child in London and for you now to the Wonderland themed area, where characters from Snoopy, Sesame Street and Hello Kitty can be found.

There are all kinds of children’s rides here, such as a horse carousel, a Kontiki, a children’s driving school and much more. In one of the halls of Snoopy Studios there is another children’s roller coaster, which unfortunately had horrendous waiting times during the day, but luckily in the evening you could get on directly, which is why I didn’t miss out on a ride – especially as it is a Japanese ride from the manufacturer Senyo.

Snoopy’s Great Race

The ride in the soapboxes of Snoopy’s Great Race begins with a small right turn out of the station. The friction wheel lift quickly transports the train up to the ceiling of the hall, whereupon it quickly picks up speed on a short straight. In a left turn in Bavarian curve style, the train leads over hill and dale before it dives under the lift hill. In a wide right-hand bend, the train breaks through a large billboard and shortly afterwards gains height on the rear wall of the hall. A short dip to the right leads the train into the rapid finale of the ride.  After a short uphill section, a wonderful left-hand helix follows, whereupon the braking section and station are soon reached and the ride on this wonderful family roller coaster comes to an end.

Hollywood Dream – The Ride

Passing the show theatre of the Universal Monsters Live Rock and Roll show, which we once again just missed, we head for the last roller coaster at Universal Studios Japan: Hollywood Dream – The Ride. Universal wouldn’t be Universal if the B&M Hyper Coaster didn’t have one or two special features – so it’s no wonder that in addition to a selection of different songs, there’s also the option to ride the ride backwards in the backdrop train.

Since the waiting times for both options differed only minimally, we naturally chose the backdrop option for our first ride, as we wanted to be surprised by the track layout. Since three of the four trains are forward-facing, the queue was always pushed forward, but with the handling here at Universal Studios Japan, even this circumstance hardly mattered, so that we were able to board the train quite quickly.

Once dispatched, the train leaves the station via a switch and then takes a wide left turn with a straight intermediate segment before reaching the lift. For us at this moment, of course, everything happens the wrong way round, which is why a short time later we are hanging in the clamshell bars. To the sound of Justin’s Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling in a rendition by the in-house music band R&B The Voice, we climb the 44m-high lift hill and immediately plunge down to the loud cries of jubilation of the first shot. With the flow of the music, we pass the first slightly transverse valley, whereupon we shoot up a camelback and immediately lose contact with the seat. Landing on the seat again, we are immediately torn back and forth in a wild S-curve manoeuvre, very similar to the finale of the Silver Star roller coaster from Europa Park, only to then tackle the front turn of the layout. This is shaped like a classic horse-shoe element and is driven through with a lot of pressure. The exit of this element is much lower than the entrance, because the next metres of the track we now complete directly below or slightly parallel to the track we have just completed. In the process, we cross two more wonderful camelbacks before the train takes a new path. Another camelback follows after a short curve, just before the intermediate brake of the ride is reached.

We pass through it at a good speed and immediately plunge down again a few metres. We throw ourselves into a transversely inclined hill and plunge towards the ground. With insane pressure we now cross a 540° helix close to the ground before we take the way back just below the route we just completed. In the process, we cross a small hill, pass through a house façade and end up in the final brake after a small S-curve swerve. The band says goodbye and wishes us another wonderful day at Universal Studios Japan, whereupon we reach the station.

We leave the ride full of enthusiasm and immediately agree that Hollywood – The Ride Backdrop is the best roller coaster at Universal Studios Japan and one of the surprises of the entire tour. Everything is just right here, so of course we didn’t miss the chance to do a little marathon on the ride; after all, the waiting time in the single rider line flew by despite the waiting time indicated. Unfortunately, there are deductions in the B grade for the forward ride, as you can already see the track in front of you and there are no surprises. On a positive note, however, even in this case the ride is outstandingly good and makes all European rides of this kind look so old. To be fair, however, it should be mentioned that I generally find the smaller rides from the manufacturer B&M much better than the large representatives.

Pictures Universal Studios Japan

Conclusion Universal Studios Japan

We ended the day at the nearby Hard Rock Café, because apart from its catering prices, Universal Studios Japan is the best amusement park I have visited so far. Despite the crowds, we were able to ride all the roller coasters more than once and probably got our money’s worth thanks to the Express Pass. Of course, the question is whether we would have needed it, but the answer is definitely no – it was just nice to have it because it allowed us to do more. Since we still didn’t see any of the shows and even did without a ride on the Minions, we definitely recommend a longer stay at the studios, because Universal Studios Japan is simply not doable in one day – it’s hard to imagine what it would be like if the park is actually full (which is often the case) and you can’t even get into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or take a ride on The Flying Dinosaur.


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Click here for the next report of the Titanic Max Tour

A not so great visit


After our day’s start in Fiabilandia we reached the car park of the amusement park Mirabilandia at late noon. Although our visiting day fell on Easter Sunday, the general rush of visitors was limited, but not the waiting times and the eagerness of the tourists/residents to jump the queue. Yes, it was not a pleasant visit to Mirabilandia, although the attractions are first class, but more about that later.

The History of Mirabilandia

We start the review with a look at the history of the amusement park, which opened in 1992. The park was founded as a project of a group of investors consisting of Situr-Finbrescia (46%), San Paolo Finance (44%) and Publitalia 80 (10%) who, with the simple formula “tourist resort + amusement park = cash cow”, completely failed in their exaggerated expectations and were unable to attract even a third of the two million visitors they had hoped for. As the operating company was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1996, they sold the park in late autumn of the year to the Löffelhardt-Casoli Group, a joint venture between Phantasialand co-founder Gottlieb Löffelhardt and Giancarlo Casoli, one of the owners of the former Italian amusement ride manufacturer S.D.C., who massively expanded the park in the following years. As a result, the number of visitors also grew to over 1.5 million. After a few years Löffelhardt withdrew from the business and Casoli took over the patronage, before Mirabilandia was sold to the Spanish group Parques Reunidos in 2006.

Tour of the park

After leaving the ticket offices behind, you enter the park over a bridge, similar to the English amusement park Thorpe Park near London. The skyline here is discreetly restrained, but with the perfectly placed Cobra Roll of the inverter Katun to the right of the bridge it is already very impressive. From here there is a path leading into the Far West Valley, which was still largely under construction, and the actual entrance area of Mirabilandia. This turns out to be a pirate’s nest full of details and accommodates some shops, where you can get fast passes, which were almost a necessary treat to be able to ride anything in this park.

To my own confusion, Mirabilandia had arbitrary opening and closing times of the rides, which meant that many attractions didn’t open until noon or even later, or closed much earlier. This in turn resulted in long waiting times throughout the park. On the one hand, I can understand that some smaller parks only gradually put their rides into operation or sometimes even open certain themed areas after a certain time, but I have never seen such a measure in a large amusement park before. It also explains why Gardaland, in return, advertises to close the queue of rides at the end of its opening hours.


Passing the Pepsi Theatre, where, how could it be otherwise, a magic show is shown, and the musical stage in front of it, we head towards the Divertical water coaster, which already looks very striking from afar. By now at the latest, one becomes aware of how high the ride is and how wasteful it is with the space it has been placed on; however, this does not make the ride look aesthetic at all, which is mainly due to the sparingly placed decoration. On the other hand, the rear part of the ride adorns the insanely long access path to the completely out of place interactive dark ride Reset, which is quite positive and probably attracts more people than ever before to this corner of Mirabilandia.

After you have been asked to come up to the station and get into the speedboat, the trip on Divertical can start immediately. As the vertical lift of the ride is still a long way off, you bob a bit through the canal, which interestingly enough creates a good whitewater feeling. After all, the waves almost hit the boat again and again and make you jump away by the whirled up water drops. As soon as the lift is reached, you quickly rise to the starting height of 60m, whereby the curvature of the lift is interestingly hardly noticeable at all. As the view from up here is not very interesting, you are soon pushed over the top of the hill. On the following 45° slope you have enough time to notice how fast this ride actually is. The spray refreshes you and soon after you race through the first pool only to drive over a hill without slowing down. Here you take off a little bit before you throw yourself into a brisk curve. Hoping to slow down a little bit by the following block area, you drive through it without any braking effect and are then released into a right turn. A quick downward helix follows. However, it then goes over into a hill, which initiates the final shot of the ride. Well soaked, you are released back into the channel and reach the station shortly afterwards.

Contrary to my expectations, Divertical is a really awesome water coaster, which gives a feeling of speed like no other ride before. The ride is just fast, which I personally only noticed while crossing the first pool. Considering the starting height of the world’s largest water roller coaster, this is actually in the nature of the ride; at least I have rarely experienced such a speed rush. Moreover, the ride is made with a perfect finish, which means that the friction losses are not really significant, which in turn benefits the speed.


Also addressing the central theme of speed is the Blitz Coaster iSpeed from Intamin, a catapult launch coaster with LSM modules, which replaces the aging wooden coaster Sierra Tonante. The Spanish company’s first project was the self-titled “Il Rollercoaster #1”, a thoroughly fast roller coaster with a more than modest capacity.

Whilst at Divertical we had to queue for a short time, our less wasteful and self-horny lifestyle took revenge by not buying a fast pass. Now we were allowed to wait here for more than an hour in the desolate waiting area of the roller coaster, only to be constantly passed over by some brats of the thoroughly anti-social tourists of the Italian Adriatic. While in the other Italian parks nobody pushed in front of us and even let one of us pass by voluntarily to keep groups together, here it was simply a plague without equal. If you want to be reasonable in Mirabilandia, you better practice becoming a narcissist in advance by creating selfies en masse and treat yourself to a fast pass! In theory it’s not that expensive anyway, especially if you have bought an annual ticket for one of the other Parques Reunidos parks (e.g. Movie Park Germany, Attractiepark Slagharen, …) and didn’t pay any entrance fee anyway; at least you save yourself the wait with the disgustingly anti-social tourists, while in other parks you become a disgustingly anti-social tourist just by buying a fast pass.

But now let’s get to the ride description of the LSM roller coaster iSpeed, because as soon as you finally reach the stairs to the station it’s going quite fast. Once you sit down in the train and close the safety bars, the train is pushed forward slightly before the impulse is taken up and the train accelerates more and more. Now the train climbs up the top hat vertically before you cross it with a great view of the log flume Autosplash. Now you plunge vertically towards the ground, make a short turn to the right and pass the first valley with a lot of pressure. Parallel to the station you cross a hill, where you are lifted out of your seat. Another S-curve is now made with a lot of momentum, which merges into a tight right turn. On the following hill a leisurely turn follows, which releases you into a slight left turn above the station. All of a sudden a corkscrew is introduced, which throws you around with an incredible intensity. On a further hill you cross the launch track, whereupon you can take a deep breath again in the following steep turn. Rather leisurely the train shoots through a wide right turn, which shortly afterwards changes into the heartline roll, which can be seen from the outside. After another steep turn follows a short block brake. You leave it in an equally steep left turn, followed by a small hill and the final left turn towards the station.

Even though the initial acceleration of the launch is rather lax and hardly comparable to the manufacturer’s hydraulic and friction wheel drives, the ride offers a hodgepodge of exciting elements paired with really high pressure and speed. Especially the corkscrew, which can hardly be seen from the outside, simply surprised me during the ride and also the part of the track after the block brake, which always seemed insignificant on videos, has its moments and fits perfectly into the overall experience of the ride. The roller coaster itself, on the other hand, is unfortunately not as convincing as the actual ride itself, thanks to its lean design and low capacity.

Leprotto Express

Directly opposite, in the children’s land of Bimbopoli, you will find Mirabilandia’s next roller coaster, the Leprotto Express. This is a simple children’s roller coaster by the manufacturer L&T Systems, whose layout describes a simple figure eight in a constant alternation of up and down movements. Due to the crowd, the ride only went one lap.


Via the island with the Acapulco cliff divers show you reach the Dinoland area, which was redesigned in 2014. Apart from the transformation of existing rides, e.g. the telecombat ride featuring an inclined ride or the popular children’s monorail, a money printing machine, I meaning a children’s driving school, and a Magic Bike by Zamperla also found their way into the themed area. But the most important destination for us was the oldest roller coaster of Mirabilandia, the Powered Coaster Rexplorer.

The journey begins with a wide bend to the left, followed by a leisurely climb past some artificial rocks. At the top, the train goes through a downward helix through the rock formation before climbing up a steeper straight. Now the train goes through a wide downward right-hand bend, passes under the track it has just passed and surrounds the first downward helix in a left-hand bend. With much more momentum you cross the station and complete another lap through the course.

Theoretically, the ride on the Rexplorer would have been quickly dealt with, because unlike many other rides at Mirabilandia, this ride has a slightly higher capacity by nature and the queue itself was manageable. However, Mirabilandia would not be Mirabilandia if they did not mess up this ride as well. The dispatching was a mess and was further protracted by the lack of numerical knowledge of the staff. After waiting until all passengers of the newly arrived train had left the station area, about half of the train was filled with Fast Pass people, but they all had to be counted and checked individually. Of course, the staff constantly miscounted, which was particularly noticeable after a change of staff. Only after each of the Fast Pass owners had taken their seat the normal waiting people were let in. The checking of the restraints and the ride itself, on the other hand, was quickly completed. However, the one-man operation at the ride almost always took 5 or more minutes during loading for one cycle.

El Dorado Falls and Gold Digger

As the construction work in Mirabilandia’s new themed area Far West Valley was still in full swing during the visit, the only remaining attractions in operation were the Spillwater El Dorado Falls of the water rides pioneer O.D. Hopkins – which, however, struggled with constant failures and did not make good form due to the one-boat operation – and the Wild Mouse Gold Digger, formerly known as Pakal. Since 50% of the cars were also equipped with Fast Passers, we unfortunately had enough time to experience every corner of the small, quite desolate, queue and thus invested almost an hour for the Italian-style Wild Mouse.

The ride is actually quite entertaining, because after you have made the hairpin bends in the upper level, seven in all, you go down one level, where a big drop is followed by another serpentine curve. This is also followed by a steeper gradient and a hairpin bend. As is well known, the two successive slopes are the most fun for wild mice and therefore we will not do without them here either. A last narrow bend and a small dip follow before you are led back to the station.


Through a spacious temple complex you can reach the Inverted Coaster Katun, which has been turning its passengers upside down several times since the millennium. With a height of 50m and a length of 1200m Katun has always been the largest ride of its kind in Europe and is fortunately scary enough to keep the waiting time low despite the one-train operation. Interestingly enough, the second train was actually sent on its way towards the end of the day, but probably only to finish on time.

The ride begins with a short left turn out of the station and into the ride’s lift. As soon as the train has reached its initial height, it turns to the left and at the same time makes a rather steep descent. You cross the first valley with a lot of pressure before you are turned upside down for the first time in the huge loop. Once back on ground level, the train shoots up again and turns on its own axis in a zero-g roll. To enable the ingenious placement of the Cobra Roll at the lake on the right side of the entrance, there are now a few meters of track missing, which were solved by a steep curve close to the ground and leading to the right. In the following inversion figure you shoot up half a loop, then turn to the side and do the same again in reverse order. Of course with extremely positive centrifugal forces, which should not be underestimated in the following valley. Also with a lot of pressure one turns a round in a wide upward helix at the end of which the block brake of the ride is reached. This is passed without any reduction of the momentary speed, which leads to an immediate plunge into the abyss. Almost straight ahead the first corkscrew is introduced, which whirls you with full force to the right into a tunnel. You then leave this tunnel into another corkscrew, but this time in the opposite direction. A short hill releases you into the final downward helix of the ride, whereupon the station is reached immediately.

Katun is a great Inverted Coaster of the bigger type, which plays many huge and well coordinated inversion figures in a layout worth experiencing, at a decent speed. The play of forces should not be underestimated yet it is still quite smooth compared to the smaller European versions of this roller coaster type.

Max Adventures Master Thai, Eurowheel and Hot Wheels Stunt Show

While waiting in the queue of the Katun roller coaster we could already observe that the neighbouring Max Adventures Master Thai roller coaster had a technical defect and was evacuated accordingly. Even one hour later there was no sign of a reopening of the ride, so we headed towards the prominent landmark of Mirabilandia. Also at the 90m high Eurowheel a long and tough queue was waiting for us. But we didn’t want to miss a ride on what used to be the highest Ferris wheel in Europe because we were so tired of waiting somewhere else. As expected, only half of the gondolas of the Ferris Wheel were equipped, which gave us plenty of time to take a closer look at the unconventional supporting structure of the Ferris Wheel. During the ride we could watch the Hot Wheels Stunt Show from above, the finale of which was the passage of a huge looping.

Pictures Mirabilandia

Closing Words

Also from above we could watch some test rides on Max Adventures Master Thai, so we immediately walked back to the ride, only to find the doors closed again. We still had half an hour left, so we decided to go on another ride on Katun. We couldn’t foresee that we wouldn’t be able to go on another ride after that, so we could only ride six of the seven roller coasters and the Ferris wheel. A disgrace beyond compare, which made the actually brilliant amusement park Mirabilandia the last flop. It is obvious why Gardaland is the most successful amusement park in Italy and why Parques Reunidos should reconsider their strategy.

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