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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The Flight of the Fēnix

I haven’t been to Toverland for a long time. A lot has changed in the time since my last visit. There is now a new themed area with roller coaster and boat ride, and a brand new entrance area called Port Laguna. This connects the themed areas to each other and serves as a sympathetic hub to return to in the afternoon for the cliff diving show. It’s a very quiet area, which is very much in keeping with all the hustle and bustle in the rest of Toverland.

This also eases the situation in the first hall – the former entrance area – which a full-grown amusement park fan doesn’t really get to see any more, unless he or she really wants to ride the Toos Express (formerly Boomerang) or the dinghy slide. So this is an opportunity for Toverland to transform the hall even more into a toddler’s paradise in the future.

Meanwhile, the second hall also saw some thematic changes. The log flume became Expedition Zork (although nothing has really changed here) and the Woudracer Bobkart ride was redesigned as the new Maximus-Blitz-Bahn and made weatherproof by adding a roof over the outdoor track. In addition, the ride has been given a new queue, which is now themed after an Austrian inventor. Fittingly, there is now also a beer garden, which, however, mainly serves local beers.

In the outdoor area, the new roller coaster Fēnix is hard to miss. Together with the quiet (yet impressive due to its indoor part) water ride Merlin’s Quest, it forms the Celtic-like themed area Avalon.

Once you have left the queue, which is well worth seeing, behind you and decided which side to take, the ride on the Fēnix wing coaster can start straight away. In a right-hand bend, the Firebird first leads us through a dark hall, which also houses the roller coaster’s maintenance track. Above this, an ice dragon gives us a nasty look and fogs us up a bit. Shortly afterwards we climb the ride’s lift.

Having reached a height of 40m, we can enjoy the view for a while, because unlike other wing coasters, we don’t immediately turn around our own axis, but first ride through a wide right turn. However, it happens here too, as it does on most wing coasters, and we tackle the dive drop. Here we first turn upside down before we plunge to the ground. We now pass the first valley with full force and immediately fly over an airtime hill. After a second valley with a lot of pressure we turn direction in a quite high Immelmann, whereupon we make a right turn and enter a curve close to the ground. We then remain there for a few seconds, with a fair amount of blood pumping into our legs. But far before we reach the critical values, we already climb a zero-G roll and are turned very smoothly around our own axis. Back on the ground, we quickly pass under a footpath before gaining some height in a left turn. We immediately lose this height in a right turn before we reach the starting height for the braking section in a gentle bend. Shortly afterwards, we enter the large station hall again.

Fēnix is an extremely entertaining wing coaster that knows how to surprise with its close-to-the-ground manoeuvres. It is a little different from other roller coasters of its kind, but that is by no means a mistake. Instead of long, drawn-out inversions, you mainly go through curves close to the ground, which leads to a lot of pressure in your feet. However, you are still far away from grey out and other discomforts, which is one of the main criticisms of the ride.

Another point of criticism – and here I agree with each of the critics – are the incredibly steep stairs on the ride, which is especially evident in the exit area of the ride. For sure they were designed according to the current standard, but it turns out that Dutch stairs are basically ladders deep down. Apart from that, Fēnix is of course a great addition to Toverland.

 

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Inselberg Funpark (2020)

The Inselberg Funpark not so far away from the Ski- und Rodelarena Wasserkuppe, is a Wiegand Erlebnisberg – a small showcase amusement park of the manufacturer Wiegand. Here you can find besides a classical luge, a Luna Loop and Nautic Jet by Heege, as well as the prototype of the Wie-Flyer Suspended Powered Coaster.

For many years, I wanted to give the Wie-Flyer a try, but sadly never found my way to this corner of Thuringia. Therefore, I missed to ride the ride with its original encaged vehicles. Nowadays, the cars are far more open and provide a ride experience very similar to that of a suspended coaster. As you can also control the speed of the vehicles, you can influence your experience similar to a Bobkart ride by the same manufacturer – a ride which can be found in amusement parks all over the world.

The ride starts with a right-hand bend, which goes over in a large downhill helix to the left. In two serpentine curves we then gain a bit of altitude. This is followed by a long wavy stretch of track, which makes it passengers giggle like crazy. After a left-hand bend this section is repeated. In the courtyard of the first helix, we take an upward leading spiral back to the starting height of the ride. After a longer straight and a left-hand curve, we reach the end of this surprisingly funny ride.

 

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