Bayern Park: 350th coaster and Bavarian beauty

Bayern Park: 350th coaster and Bavarian beauty

On Monday 10th June 2019, Jared and I started off our German road trip with a visit to Bayern Park. Whilst trip planning, we wanted to tackle the southern German parks with the help of Coast2Coaster. I didn’t do much research into the park itself and to be honest, I’m glad I didn’t. Bayern Park has a lot of German beauty that makes this a quiant place to visit when in the Bavaria area.

First impressions

As we drove towards the park from our hotel in Munich, the entrance is very understated. First impressions for me were: ‘Hmmm, I’m not sure I’m going to like this park.’ Little did I know that there was a lot more beauty to the park once you set foot inside. Sometimes the phrase, don’t judge a book by its cover runs very true. A park with a understated entrance doesn’t mean this is going to be a ‘disappointing’ park.

As you walk inside, the entrance area has your typical shops – perfect for nabbing guests to spend more money on gifts and merchandise before they leave or enter the park. Great sales ploy. Anyway, onwards to the park.

The park overall in terms of beauty & landscaping, it’s up there as one of the most beautiful parks that uses the natural landscape so well. It looks understated but honestly, the rides work so well within the trees/fauna. It’s nice to step away from a park that uses themed buildings to create a more closed in atmosphere. And let’s not forget about how beautiful German architecture is.

First stop for us was to grab the creds. The park is currently home to 5 creds – depending on what you class as a cred. There are 2 Butterfly creds, 2 Zierer Tivoli coasters and a Maurer Launch coaster. Since I was going to be getting my 350th coaster here in the park, I wanted this to be Freischütz. Okay, sometimes it’s fun to let your key ‘milestones’ be random but not for me. Besides, 350 isn’t a big milestone but I’ll still shout about it.

Cred grabbing

Butterfly coasters are renowned in European theme parks. I don’t really see the appeal other than to tick them off as a +1 for my count. These are self operated by simply closing the gates, sitting inside the ride, pulling down the bar & pressing the start button on the ride itself. You go back and forth until the ride comes to a stop. Simple & easy creds to grab without queuing too long. Yes, Jared and I did get some strange looks from the locals but we didn’t care.

Why the park needed two Butterfly coasters? I’ll never know. One is big model & the other is your traditional small model that you’ll see in other parks around Europe. The big model was located inside a building, ‘themed’ to space so I guess it had that going for it. And aptly named ‘Star-Shuttle’. Otherwise, it was two creds to easily grab within the first 30 mins. You’ll also be pleased to know that these are located towards the front end of the park.

Next up was to tick off the two Zierer Tivoli coasters. Again, the park seems to like having a ‘big’ version & ‘small’ version of the same manufacturer. The small version, called ‘Froschbarn’, is a standard layout that’s perfect for young kids. If you’ve been to Paultons Park, the ‘Dino Chase’ coaster is the exact same layout. Short but sweet little cred that’s hidden in the trees. Must admit, the natural vibes of this park were very welcome.

One thing to note about Bayern Park, it’s hilly in places. As you travel downwards, you’ll find the second Zierer Tivoli coaster. Again, the ride blends in well with the natural landscape. I don’t know if it’s just me but I love being surrounded by trees & natural fauna when visiting a theme park. Don’t get me wrong, buildings can work well to disguise open spaces but I love a natural landscape. You can guess that I was the player of RCT that liked planting bushes and trees wherever I could.

The imaginative name of ‘Achterbahn’, the ride layout is a fun layout winding through the trees. The perfect next step up for young kids/thrillseekers. Zierer Tivoli coaster may not be my most favourite coasters but I have a small soft spot for them. I grew up with riding The Stinger/Cat-O-Pillar coaster at Paultons Park so Zierer Tivoli’s were a huge part of my young coaster enthusiasm.

Last but not least, my 350th coaster cred was… Freischütz. Surprisingly, this Maurer X-Car Flying Launch coaster was very enjoyable. The launch packs quite a punch, especially when sat in the back row. Not gonna lie, I don’t like the actual cars/seats themselves as they are ridiculously big and the restraints are super heavy to pull down yourself. I saw many people struggle to pull down their restraint so don’t feel embarrassed. The ride staff will help you out.

The music in the station was funky as hell. If there was one thing I could take away from the ride, it would be the music choice in the station. Random, I know. This park is very pretty yet it doesn’t have any true ‘stand out’ coasters in the park. Freischütz is fun with a great launch but nothing to shout about. Before I forget, the ride entrance is very well hidden. More so if you are located at the bottom end of the park near Achterbahn.

The park is almost split into 3 sections. Upper, Mid & Lower sections. The upper section houses the 2 Butterfly creds and a couple of flat rides including a beautifully decorated chairswing. The mid-section houses Freischütz (this is where the ride entrance is) & Froschbarn. Finally, the lower section houses several rides and attractions including Achterbahn, a Wiegand powered coaster (something we missed entirely!), log flume, rapids and more.

Noteable mentions

Considering we weren’t planning to spend all day at Bayern Park, I’m glad we did. Despite the humidity being ridiculous, we had a great day with some funny moments. One particular moment was riding the log flume. This was your standard travelling log flume layout that takes on the same style as Raging River Ride at Paultons Park or what you may commonly find at funfairs. The ride was not overly wet but as we plunged down the final drop of the ride, we almost capsized!

And with this, both Jared & I got more than we bargained for. More so for Jared who ended up getting soaked on his left side. Yes, I was wetting myself laughing. It happened so quickly that we didn’t know why it happened. Either we put too much weight on one side of the boat or the run off from the final drop was shorter than anticipated. Who knows? It was hilarious.

Next up was the Rapids ride. Again, another travelling style water ride that picks up a fair amount of speed as you travel along the trough. Fun with a few splashes here and there. Not a soaker even though on this particular day, we’d love a splash of water to cool down. Plus, in the station area, your bags are put onto a conveyor belt so as you exit the ride on the other side of the station, your bags will be there ready for you. I think this is a genius idea and more parks should use this for bag storage.

Granted we didn’t really explore the park to its whole extent. The lower part of Bayern Park doesn’t just have rides. There are animals too. From lynx, deer, pygmy goats & so much more. Gutted would be an understatement but this proves that some research may have helped. This would’ve helped us to understand more of the layout of the park too. Planned out what rides we wanted to do etc. Obviously our original intention was to grab the coaster creds, who can blame us right?

Aside from missing out a fair chunk of the park, we had a lovely day out at Bayern Park. Would we visit again? Probably not unless they build another coaster to a similar scale of Freischütz. The park may not be large in size but it’s a great park to include as part of a large road trip within the Bavaria area of Germany. This is how we did it and we don’t have any regrets going. Overall the park is beautiful and has some fun rides within.

Have you visited Bayern Park?

What are your favourite rides/coasters at the park?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Life in Lockdown: After Lockdown Bucket List

Life in Lockdown: After Lockdown Bucket List

The original idea for this post was inspired by Alice Spake, check out her post here: After Lockdown Bucket List. It made me think about what I want to do when we return to some sort of normality. Granted we don’t know when ‘normality’ may return in the UK, 2020 has certainly turned into a topsy-turvy kinda year.

Okay, it’s not exactly a bucket list we’d all want to be writing at the moment. However, it’s certainly given me some excitement & hope during this lull of a lockdown. These little things in life that I may have taken for granted before lockdown began, I can’t wait to have back in my life again.

alton towers scarefest 2019 review

My After Lockdown Bucket List

(not specifically in order!)

  • See my boyfriend Jared – long-distance relationships are hard and I want cuddles
  • See my friends
  • Work back in the office & see my work colleagues
  • Go out for lunch/dinner with my family
  • Visit some country parks to enjoy the beautiful spaces we have in the UK
  • Go to the cinema
  • Have a proper date night with Jared
  • Go food shopping without having to queue to get in
  • Visit a Go Ape course
  • Drive down to Southsea and walk along the seafront
  • Visit various UK theme parks including Thorpe Park, Alton Towers & Chessington
  • Go on a UK cred trip – cause it’s tradition to grab some new creds each year, right?
  • Visit Center Parcs Longleat with Jared – booked our week holiday last year and in the process of moving it to September
  • Go to Nando’s – just can’t beat a cheeky Nando’s!
  • Be able to comfortably run 5k
  • Have a weekend away somewhere in the UK
  • Travel to a European theme park – provided that the COVID-19 situation is under control!
  • The freedom to drive to wherever I want even if it’s to a local business or open space near my house
  • Be confident enough to experiment with my make-up & potentially share on Twitter/Instagram
  • Book Florida 2021 – it’s mine and Jared’s 30th birthday next year so we would like to be able to get our joint birthday celebration holiday booked at some point

It’s not a massive list by any means but it’s enough to keep me going. I hope you are all staying safe & keeping well during the lockdown. Sending all my love to you all. xoxo

What would be on your After Lockdown Bucket List?

What are you missing most during this lockdown?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

 

Chessington VIP Photography Experience Review

Chessington VIP Photography Experience Review

When Chessington World of Adventures announced their brand new VIP Photography experience, I couldn’t resist buying this for myself and my partner. Last Sunday (1st March), we thoroughly enjoyed the whole day and are now even more keen to get out there and take photos using our SLR cameras.

After 3 sessions so far, we were in the trial phase. The whole experience is still being firmed down and finalised before an official release later on this year. Due to half the theme park being shut, we weren’t able to go down to Land of the Tigers to see the Amur Tigers or head into Lorikeet Lagoon. Whilst this was disappointing for us, it’s clear that this will be included later on this year when the park is fully open.

chessington VIP photography experience owlchessington world of adventures goatchessington VIP photography experience penguinchessington world of adventures capybarachessington world of adventures otters

SO, WHAT DID YOU DO?

The Chessington VIP Photography experience was split into a fun & jam-packed itinerary. First up was an hour brief with Sally Beard, professional photographer at The Photography Boutique, teaching us about the basics of photography and how to take professional photos of animals. This was perfect for me since it’s been well over 10 years since I was taught how to use SLR cameras at college.

Afterwards, we headed into Amazu & Penguin Cove to get ourselves used to Manual mode. This was almost a good starting point to adjust the settings for ISO, aperture and shutter speed. We had front row seats to the Animal Antics show & enjoyed spending an hour on a Safari truck, taking photos of the Giraffes & Zebras in their paddock. Definitely worth adding to the bucket list!

You’re given an hour for lunch. Don’t worry about preparing any lunch as you’ll be given a VIP lunch voucher. This entitled us to a standard meal deal at any of the available food and drink outlets at Chessington. This is great for fussy eaters who can choose their favourite F&B outlet in the park – we opted for Captain’s Fish & Chips because it was quiet.

The afternoon session was pretty much flexible with the whole group. We enjoyed walking through the Trail of the Kings, front-row view of the Sea Lion Show & grabbing some cool shots of the Otters & Reindeer. This added flexibility was great as we could take as many photos as we wanted of the animals we cared the most about. Especially when feeding time came around for the Lions & Gorillas.

chessington VIP photography experience giraffechessington world of adventures zebrachessington VIP photography experience rhinochessington world of adventures monkeychessington world of adventures sea lions

So what exactly did I learn from this VIP experience?

MANUAL MODE ISN’T SCARY TO USE

That’s right. Once you know the basics of ISO, aperture & shutter speed, the rest is pretty much simple to follow. It’s so easy to let the camera automatically adjust the settings for you. Sometimes that perfect shot can look overexposed or underexposed. With manual mode, you have complete control over how the photo looks. I’m now a changed woman and will opt for manual mode – it’s a lot easier to adjust than you think!

ANIMALS CAN BE FUNNY CHARACTERS

You’ll learn throughout this course that observing the animals can showcase their personalities. When I’ve visited the zoo at Chessington, I don’t really spend a lot of time observing the animals. Sometimes it’s a quick wander around and looking into the enclosures. Then it’s time to move on and see the next animal. Having my camera out made me think about the different angles and compositions of the photo I wanted to take. And you really see how funny the animals are, from headbutting each other to refusing to stay still!

NO PRESSURE TO TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS

When you’re in Auto mode, it’s easy to get trigger happy and take 1000s of photos. In manual mode, you don’t take nearly as many photos. Why? Because you’ll be spending more time focusing on getting the settings right for that perfect shot. After taking each photo, I was always checking over what I took to see if the exposure was correct, my depth of field was looking sharp etc. It might take a bit more work but the finished results were amazing!

PERFECT FOR BEGINNERS, AMATEURS & EXPERTS

This course is perfect for anyone with an interest in photography. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never worked with manual mode on an SLR or you’ve taken so many professional photos that you want to branch out into animal photography, this course is designed for everyone. I would say I’m a beginner with an interest and passion for photography. Yes, there were 3 other photographers with way more experience than me (my partner included) but that didn’t stop me from doing this course.

To conclude, I’d highly recommend doing this VIP Photography experience from Chessington. It was priced at £100 per person (during the trial period) which I feel was pretty reasonable. Considering you get at least 5 hours of photography, 1-hour editing workshop & lunch included. Of course, the price & course structure will be different when the course launches later this year. Would I do it again? Almost definitely. Even if just to get some fab close up shots of the Amur tigers!

chessington VIP photography experience foxchessington VIP photography experience zebrachessington world of adventures giraffechessington world of adventures reindeerchessington world of adventures ostrich

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS

 

Theme Park Favourites

Theme Park Favourites

Let’s share a bit of love in this Valentine’s inspired theme park blog post today. Valentine’s, Galentine’s, whatever you want to call it, we should all have the chance to feel the love. No matter what makes us happy, we should do it because we want to do it. Not because someone says it’s the right thing to do. Heck, who cares if someone doesn’t enjoy the same things. We’re all individuals at the end of the day with an opinion, a voice, a personality. Don’t stop being YOU. Even when it comes to your theme park favourites. I may not be as well travelled as some people I follow on Twitter/Instagram. However, it only spurs me on to get out there and travel further than ever before.

So, let’s crack on with my theme park favourites:

theme park favourites phantasialand

Favourite Theme Park: Phantasialand

Possibly the biggest favourite among the theme park community. Phantasialand was a park that I deeply fell in love from my first visit in 2013. There is that slight air of grace and beauty about the park. From the ornate details in the Berlin area to the wildly intense rockwork in Klugheim. To me, it is like a work of art and the park has all the qualities that I like in a park. Theming. A good coaster line-up. A sizeable theme park. What’s not to love? I can’t wait to visit Phantasialand this year to ride F.L.Y. It’s been 4 years and I’m ready to return to the park that I so love.

zadra energylandia

Favourite Rollercoaster: Zadra, Energylandia

Zadra is my current number one coaster, and a firm favourite for me. I seem to have taken a fancy to RMC’s over the last few years. Ever since my first ride on Wildfire at Kolmarden Zoo in Sweden, I’ve grown a real fascination for them. They may be overrated for some enthusiasts. To be honest, I can see why. But I can’t help enjoying the ride experience on them. Zadra was intense but in a good way. The sheer speed of the ride as it twists and turns was incredible. I’d be keen to find out if there is a coaster out there that will beat it!

theme park favourites

Favourite Dark Ride: Dreamflight, Efteling

Dreamflight at Efteling is a dark ride that fills me joy every time I think about it. The first time I visited the park in 2013, this ride was shut. It was down for refurbishment at the time and I was truly gutted. Thankfully, I returned in 2016 and it was open. Hurrah! The ride is beautifully themed. You’d pretty much compare it to the likes of Disney dark rides. Add in the mix of music & lights, you’ve got yourself a dark ride to be proud of. No wonder it’s so popular with guests. Might not be the highest throughput ride at the park but it’s so worth it.

theme park favourites chiapas

Favourite Water Ride: Chiapas, Phantasialand

Okay, anybody have the Templo De Fiesta song in their head right now? Just me then. Honestly, this ride is a true representation of what Phantasialand can do. No matter what ride type it is, they will go crazy with the theming. And it really does make a difference. Chiapas as a ride itself is incredibly fun with some very cool transitions and interactive elements. Add in the theming and the fantastic feel-good soundtrack by IMAScore, it’s transformed into an experience. No matter what the weather is like, there’s always a good time to ride Chiapas. Now don’t mind me, I’m off to listen to the soundtrack for the millionth time.

theme park favourites the beast

Favourite Flat Ride: The Beast, Fantasy Island

The Beast may no longer reside at Fantasy Island but it’s still up there as my all-time favourite. Of all the flat rides I’ve ever been on, Mondial Top Scans are impressively fun. Whilst Samurai at Thorpe Park may never get back to the glory days when it was at Chessington, The Beast was always that one flat ride at Fantasy Island that I needed to get my fix on. I’ve never vommed on or off the ride but I’ve experienced those ‘greying-out’ moments due to the intensity. The operator always knew how to flip the spins on each gondola. It was amazing and I wish it was still here in the UK!

theme park favourites

Favourite Ride Manufacturer: B&M

Of all the amazing ride manufacturers out there, B&M (Bolliger & Mabillard) is still a firm favourite of mine. Yes, they don’t take as many risks compared to the likes of Intamin or RMC. But they sure as hell create some solid coasters that are liked among a variety of people. B&M provides an all-round fun experience that is smooth and sometimes thrilling. If you’re looking at the right cred, that is. I’m always checking up on their latest investments and love seeing what else is coming up from them. I will always have a soft spot for them, and my heart fills with joy whenever I’m at a new theme park and a B&M is there waiting for me to ride it.

Do you agree with my theme park favourites?

What are some of your theme park favourites?

Do you love theme parks?

Let me know in the comments below.

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS

My top tips for visiting Energylandia

My top tips for visiting Energylandia

Energylandia is a theme park near Zator in Poland and is the next major park on all theme park enthusiasts hitlist. This includes the exciting Aqualantis area coming to the park featuring Abyssus. With Zadra opening last year (2019), it’s no surprise that everyone wants a piece of this RMC. It’s amazing and you should definitely ride it! Energylandia is a fairly easy park to deal with from my experience. So I’d thought I’d compile my top tips for visiting Energylandia. I hope that this will help any of you who has an upcoming trip planned.

So without further ado, here are my top tips for visiting Energylandia.

My top tips for visiting Energylandiaracing rollercoaster on red trackwooden rollercoaster with pumpkin at energylandiaMy top tips for visiting energylandia

Top tip #1: Locker System

There is a very clever locker system that is in place at Energylandia. Not only is it inexpensive but it’s super easy to deal with. If I remember correctly, they cost around 5 PLN which is the equivalent of around £2, making it super affordable. You receive a wristband which has a barcode you scan, and the computer system assigns a locker number for you. These lockers are placed within the queue lines of certain coasters including Zadra, Hyperion, Formula etc.

It’s a simple concept. You get a locker, place your belongings inside and then collect your items once you have ridden the rides. Easy to follow which means taking bags with you on park won’t cause too much faff. I’m an anti-faff kinda person so this was ideal! And for anyone wondering, you can change the language to English. No need to worry about working out the Polish translation when claiming your locker number.

Pro tip: Beware that you will need to ensure you collect all items after you’ve ridden the rides as you won’t be able to collect them again once the locker doors are shut. And no, there is no guarantee you will get the same locker number again once you’ve scanned the wristband.

Top tip #2: English Language Barrier

Trust me when I say this, every staff member we came across on our trip spoke great English. Yes, some members of staff might have broken English but you can still make small conversation with them. At all the shops, food outlets, even the Entertainment staff spoke fantastic English. Of course, learning the basic Polish will get you far but don’t fear if you haven’t managed to cram in a late night Polish lesson via Duolingo. You’ll be fine and the staff are extremely helpful too.

Top tip #3: Plan your route

Energylandia is a very big park. You don’t really appreciate the size of it until you are actually there. You’ll soon realise that whilst Hyperion is right next door to the entrance to the park, Zadra is a good 10 minute walk to the back of the park. It’s definitely worth understanding the layout of the park and working out a route of attack in order to tick of the creds. Pro tip: Almost all kiddie creds are located in the central area of the park and worth ticking of in one go!

Top tip #4: Food prices

You will find that Poland is incredibly cheap. This is perfect for anyone on a budget as you won’t need to scrimp and save too much. If you’re worried about the cost of food in Energylandia, don’t fret. For 2 people, we bought 2 meals plus drinks for the equivalent of around £10 – bargain I say! The portion sizes are generous and great value for money in my opinion. Pro tip: Don’t worry about getting any cash out in Poland as most places in Energylandia took card – and contactless worked a treat over there!

Top tip #5: Use the park map

Following on from point 3, make sure you grab a park map. I know some people love to collect maps and there’s nothing wrong with that, but Energylandia can be a little bit of maze unless you’ve travelled to the park before. The park map is the best way to figure out the pathways you need to find the ride entrances. One particular case was with the Viking Roller Coaster entrance – we found the station but had trouble trying to find the entrance to the queue. Pro tip: Before you start making your way to a particular cred that is in your sightline, study the park map for your route to the queue line entrances. Some are pretty concealed and not where you expect them to be!

Top tip #6: Plan order of coasters

Last but certainly not least, you will need to PLAN the order of which creds you’ll get first. Why do I say this? Well, it is commonplace in Energylandia for ride staff to wait until they have filled an entire train of people. If you’re planning to visit on a quiet day like we did, you will soon learn that you may be waiting around a while. Of course, they don’t wait until every seat is filled as you would end up with some very grumpy guests. But be prepared for a slight wait before you get on the ride.

Pro tip: Whilst the temptation to get on Zadra, or the brand new Abyssus for 2020, is extremely high. Just a reminder that these are located at the back of the park. Trust me when I say you’ll be waiting a long time until more people actually reach the area to get on the rides with you. Be wary of what I said above about how it’s a good 10 min walk from entrance to Zadra… Start near the front of the park and work your way around since they don’t like sending half empty trains!

I hope my top tips for visiting Energylandia has given you some insight into how the park works. The park can be overwhelming but it is simple to navigate. Hopefully this post will help you to have a stress free experience on your travels. Of course, if you have already visited Energylandia before, and there’s some tips I have missed, feel free to write them down in the comments below.

Already visited Energylandia, what is your favourite ride/coaster here?

Planning your first visit, what is your most anticipated ride/coaster?

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Europa Park Magical Winter | Favourite Moments

Europa Park Magical Winter | Favourite Moments

I’ve seen many photos and videos from my friends who have visited the Europa Park Magical Winter event. They’ve all told me their Europa Park Magical Winter favourite moments, and I’ve been very envious of them. In 2019, I finally made the trip over to Europa Park for their winter season – and in particular for New Year. Plus, it gave me a good rollercoaster fix during the closed season! Europa Park Magical Winter is open daily from 23rd November 2019 to 6th January 2020, with park hours open from 11am till at least 7pm (the park does extend their hours during busier periods – latest close we had was 8.30pm!)

I highly recommend everyone planning a trip to Europa Park during the winter months. It may be cold and selected rides are closed but with so many rides and attractions at the park, you will still be able to fill up your time – especially with Rulantica, the brand new, immersive water park next to Hotel Krønasår. As I am writing this, I’m already wanting to get myself back to the park as it was a wonderful way to end 2019. So, here are my Europa Park Magical Winter favourite moments.

europa park favourite moment christmas tree lights

Favourite Moment #1: Christmas Tree Lights Switch On Show

One of the best ways to end an incredibly cold day at Europa Park is the Christmas Tree Light On show. This ran from around 6.30pm each day and is located near Historama and Euro-Mir in Russia/Luxembourg. I loved watching this show and seeing all the park mascots in their winter outfits.

europa park favourite moment bellevue big wheel

Favourite Moment #2: Bellevue Wheel

So, what do you do when the weather is freezing cold and incredibly misty/foggy? Why, you go on a Big Wheel right? There were blankets available which were very much needed as we travelled upwards towards the top. The views were… invisible however it was highly amusing hearing the sound of Wodan going round the track and you couldn’t see anything.

europa park favourite moment ice sculptures

Favourite Moment #3: Batavia in Ice

I was stunned at the sheer beauty of the ice sculptures. They were all themed to the new Piraten in Batavia ride which will be opening this year. My favourite sculpture of the entire set was of the ride logo (as shown above). There are some incredibly talented people in this world who are able to make art from ice. It’s incredible how they have the ability to craft out the key details without any mistakes. I would love to have the creative talent to do that myself!

europa park favourite moment rollercoasters in the fog

Favourite Moment #4: Rollercoasters in the Fog!

Am I the only one who enjoys the delights of rollercoasters in adverse weather? There’s always a strange new atmosphere in theme parks when the weather is not sunny. Whether it’s raining, snowing, misty, it can be a right laugh! One of my favourite rollercoaster moments on this trip was riding Silver Star in the fog. Baring in mind, we all decided to get a front row ride. There’s nothing more ‘scary’ than the coaster track disappearing over each airtime hill. By the end of the ride, my face was frozen, my bum was cold AF but I came off cry laughing.

europa park favourite moment log fires

Favourite Moment #5: Log Fires

Have you ever been to a visitor attraction, scare event or theme park, and they have open log fires burning away? Whilst you may be wandering around in the cold, nothing beats the feeling of walking up to an open fire to keep warm. It was particularly noticeable in Gardaland and Europa Park that you were able to add logs to the fire if they were dying out – something that you wouldn’t get here in the UK! It’s pretty much a staple part of the winter season.

Are you planning a trip to Europa Park in 2020 to experience Rulantica and Piraten in Batavia?

What are your favourite moments at Europa Park Magical Winter?

Have you ever visited Europa Park for their Magical Winter event?

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS

2019 Review | My Highs and Lows

2019 Review | My Highs and Lows

Christmas is fast approaching, and 2020 not far behind. It’s a good time for me to write up a 2019 review, highlighting the highs and lows. It’s been a rollercoaster year for me. I’m hoping for a more positive year in 2020. Fingers crossed I can make that happen!

Like a rollercoaster, the beginning of the year started off with hope and positivity through my work and general life. I felt ready to take on the year head first. First of all I wanted to continue to gain more experience within Marketing. Secondly I had some great holidays booked to Europe which always gives you motivation to go to work, right? It was shaping up to be a great year from start to finish. Then Summer came around and I lost my motivation. Through my job, my life and I felt rather helpless over my general health. This left me neglecting my blog, the people who’ve stood by me all the way and who I am as a person. This probably explains why I ended up very ill between October and November. Crazy how stress & general illness can get to you.

I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I wondered where I was heading from a 27 year old to a 28 year old. It’s so easy to get scooped up into other people’s lives and think, why am I not where they are: moved out of the parents house, married with my soul mate, enjoying lots of holidays, earning a reasonable salary based on my age & gaining more work experience? Consequently I’m now ending the year taking on the mistakes I have made. I’m learning from them and trying to fight my way back to where I was at the start of 2019. I’m ready for whatever 2020 throws at me and to embrace a better version of me (with the addition of hearing aids!).

Aside from my self reflection & low points, there’s been some key memories from 2019 that has made this year a jolly good one…

2019 review highs and lows heide park horizon

Favourite Theme Park: There’s been a lot of theme parks I have stumbled into this year, both revisited and brand new for me. It’s been one hell of an adventure and I’d love to hope that 2020 will be in a similar vein – even if its one major trip abroad, I will be happy. So which theme park was my favourite from this year? It has to be Heide Park. The park is certainly one of the prettiest parks I have visited under the Merlin portfolio, a lot of beautiful scenery around and the lake gives some great views of a coaster horizon. Plus, there’s Colossos & Flug Der Damonen which were fab in my eyes. If you are heading to Hamburg, make sure to tag on a day trip or two to Heide Park.

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Favourite Rollercoaster: Well… I’ve gained well over 100 new creds this year, and a few have been some pretty solid coasters. So which one was my all time favourite? Zadra. It has to be Zadra for me. There is not a single ride I have ridden that compares to it. It was phenomenal to ride. The airtime wasn’t painful compared to Untamed. The sheer speed from start to finish was pretty damn impressive – and it maintained this throughout the day, even to the point it was incredibly fast. Anybody who is going to Energylandia in 2020 are in for a treat.

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Favourite Visitor Attraction: Away from theme parks, I’m an avid traveller so I enjoy exploring an array of visitor attractions around the UK. From Moors Valley Country Park to Longleat Safari Park, I’ve explored some pretty cool places. I’m hoping to go exploring even more in 2020. So my favourite place to visit was Longleat for their Festival of Light event. It was a magical experience to see all the lanterns and explore the Safari Park – always a plus when you’ve get the chance to see Amur Tigers, Lions, Wolves & more.

2019 review highs and lows meeting john wardley

Favourite Memory: Meeting John Wardley will forever be my absolute favourite memory from this year. I fangirled a lot. I can now tick this moment off my lifetime bucket list. You know that list of celebrities you’d love to meet. It was a fantastic opportunity to have chat with him about his passion for rollercoasters. He was a truly humble and inspirational guy to so many people in the theme park community.

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Favourite Musical: Rock of Ages was a true delight to watch. The film has always been a guilty pleasure of mine so as soon as I saw it was heading to the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, I had to buy tickets. It had the jokes & gags to get me belly laughing. Likewise the actors & actresses singing ability were incredible. If it comes back on tour, I’d happily watch it again, and I think you should too.

What have been your highs and lows of 2019?

What has been your favourite memory from this year?

Any new theme parks or rollercoasters you’ve ridden that’s been a tick of the bucket list?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

 

Alton Towers Scarefest 2019 | Review

Alton Towers Scarefest 2019 | Review

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Every year I always make sure to plan a visit to Alton Towers for Scarefest. This year was no exception. You can read my 2017 review here. Scarefest is one of my favourite Halloween events from the Merlin theme parks (excluding Legoland). I love that as soon as you walk through the turnstiles, the view of Towers Street is beautiful. As you gaze below with the Towers straight ahead across the lake. You don’t get a better view than that. Read on for my full Alton Towers Scarefest 2019 review.

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Alton Towers Scarefest as a whole…

Each year, Towers Street is adorned with pumpkins and fantastic photo opportunities. I loved it all. Add in the mix of music and you’re taken away from reality and into the world of Scarefest. When they added in the Scarefest sign at the bottom of Towers Street, I knew this was going to become an ideal spot for photos. But the best new addition? The rollercoaster themed pumpkin heads. My particular faves were Thirteen, Wicker Man and Nemesis.

I could tell there was some effort for the ‘spooky theming’ within Fountain Square by Hex. There was black and white bunting dotted around this area. Plus you had your usual Pumpkin photo spots near X-Sector and Mutiny Bay – ideal for kids. And the famous skeletons in one of gondolas on the Skyride – if you manage to spot it! As for the rest of the park, there was little to no spooky theming at all. Even if you include the lighting around the coasters after dark. Okay, Alton Towers does cover a large amount of space and it would take time to decorate all possible areas. But with a lack of Halloween atmosphere around the park, it can really feel like Scarefest starts and ends on Towers Street. This is a shame!

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I’ve always enjoyed Alton Towers’ scare mazes. Purely because they can be beautifully themed and have the added bonus of using the Towers as space to house 3 of them this year. You’ve got to the pay for the mazes which is a bit of a bummer. Honestly, I don’t think the main 3 scare maze ticket bundle was worth the price. Yes, it wouldn’t be Scarefest without the mazes but the price is expensive – not great if you’re on a budget. Even then, you don’t want to fork out more money to have a re-run in your favourite maze. Hopefully, they can work on this for next season!

Note: there may be some scare maze spoilers from this point.

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ALTONVILLE MINE TOURS

Altonville Mine Tours hasn’t always been my favourite maze at Towers. This year has changed my opinion. I don’t know how I ended up at the front of the group when I exited the maze. During the batching process, I started off towards the back of the group. I guess that’s what makes it more fun. There were so many moments with actors coming at me in all directions. I was stroked and they enjoyed pulling my hair. In such a confined space, who wouldn’t feel exposed and vulnerable. I loved it!

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SUB SPECIES

Sub Species used to be terrifying and I’ve always wondered whether I would come out alive. The last couple of years, it has lost its touch and become tamer than when it first opened in 2015. This year, it seemed to be filled with more dead ends and actors constantly making you go round in circles. This may not be for the faint-hearted but honestly, getting lost adds to the fun. Am I right? The scares might still be lacking but it was still enjoyable. Definitely feel like Sub Species has run its course and could do with being replaced with another maze for next year.

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PROJECT 42

Project 42, I have no words to be honest. Last year, I had a fantastic run through when I was at the back of the group. Actors grabbing me from different angles and giving me some good jump scares. The story didn’t really make much sense in my eyes. It still doesn’t to be fair. The maze felt disjointed and there were no real scares coming from the actors. Whilst zombies are a common scare maze theme, Project 42 just didn’t offer anything at all. Plus it is still VERY loud in the finale. This is coming from a girl who has a hearing disability and I still found it deafening! Project 42 shouldn’t come back next year, even if it is nice to walk through the Nemesis Sub Terra building.

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DARKEST DEPTHS

Darkest Depths was spooky, fun and beautifully themed. You wouldn’t think this whole maze is pretty much set up in shipping containers. I wish I had the chance to experience this maze when it was dark outside. There were a couple of moments where actors popped in and out through the containers, in turn letting the light outside draw in. This ruined the experience for me. I know that couldn’t be helped! Away from that, you truly felt immersed in the story. From smell pods making you feel like you were on the Mutiny ship to the water effects of the Kraken winding its way through the ship. It’s great for a family scare maze and a fantastic new addition to the Scarefest line-up.

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THE ATTIC: TERROR OF THE TOWERS

This was the surprise of the weekend. If I wasn’t pressed for time on Sunday, I would have easily bought another ticket. It was so good. Alton Towers have returned to using the conservatory as space for The Attic queue line. This gave me nostalgic vibes of The Sanctuary back in 2012-2014. The theming of this maze was pretty grand if you ask me. Lots of Victorian vibes from the queue and first scene. It almost felt like we were on a ghostly tour to find the Governess. And you did honestly feel like you were going up into the Attic after the 3/4 flights of stairs.

Jump scares came at me from all angles. Especially considering I was at the back of the group. Actors were running between rooms which freaked me out. You didn’t know where they would be lurking as soon as you turned the corner. The storyline was a little hard to follow within the maze. However, you understood the main jist with the children and the Governess. I don’t know why but scare mazes with ghostly children can be particularly creepy. Do not miss out on this maze when you make a visit to Scarefest this year.

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So if you haven’t already made plans to visit Scarefest this year, don’t wait any longer! Alton Towers Scarefest will be back from 18th October to 3rd November, so grab your maze tickets and experience this spooktacular event for yourself.

What is your favourite maze at Alton Towers Scarefest 2019?

Do you think more could be done for Alton Towers Scarefest?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

Creek Freak Massacre | Best maze at Thorpe Park?

Creek Freak Massacre | Best maze at Thorpe Park?
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Disclaimer: There will be spoilers in this blog post.

Thorpe Park Fright Nights 2019 looks set to to be packed with scary lumberjacks, spooky vampires and terrifying walkers. After visiting on Saturday 28th September for the first day of the event, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with excitement. It felt like one of my first ever visits to Fright Night back in 2004/2005. However I’m not here to talk about the whole event. I’m here to talk about the one standout attraction. The one that has set the bar high for how frigging GOOD scare mazes are. It’s all about Creek Freak Massacre at Thorpe Park.

‘How much wood would a wood chop chop if a wood chop could chop YOU?’Thorpe Park

Creek Freak Massacre. You beauty. You beast. Everyone’s been talking about it since the media event. Even when it was first announced, I knew I had to experience this. I live an hour away so couldn’t resist. There was a lot of hype surrounding this attraction. I wasn’t expecting it to exceed my expectations. Creek Freak Massacre at Thorpe Park has a lot of highlights. Be warned. If you haven’t been inside, there will be some spoilers in this post! I can still smell the chainsaws now…

CREEK WOOD SAWMILL BUILDING

You don’t quite realise how big the Loggers Leap station building is until you take a good look at it from all angles. This was an ingenious use of space. You can tell there has been a lot of thought and planning into the story. From the main sign on the front of the building to the posters and warning signs at the entrance. Welcome to the Creek Wood Saw Mill. You’re all new recruits to join the family in their business. Only… you might not just be chopping up wood. Or so I’ve heard.

Before you enter the building, you get a sense for the general atmosphere of the area. With the awesome soundtrack booming away, composed by Serena Cherry, I was already eager to get inside! There is a lot of detail within the maze itself. From saws hanging on the walls to missing people posters dotted around. Body bags hanging from the ceiling to blood splatters on the walls and floor. It is almost impossible on your first run to take everything in. Even after 4 goes, there’s still so much for me to see!

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CHAINSAWS, SO MANY CHAINSAWS…

If you have a fear of chainsaws, you’ll need to get over that pretty damn fast. In here, you’ll be inundated with them. They may not scare me but having one launched right up towards your face is truly terrifying. Whilst scare mazes don’t have to have chainsaws in them, for Creek Freak Massacre, it works so well. Plus you know for a fact, it ramps up the intensity. I love walking past a scare maze and you hear the faint sound of the chainsaw whirring away. Even better when you see people running out of the exit.

You may believe that the chainsaw is only in the finale corridor… you’re very much mistaken. Last year, Dead Creek Woods and TWD: Do or Die had chainsaws within the maze but more focused towards the middle. Creek Freak Massacre has taken this idea and made it into a more terrifying experience. Imagine a standard corridor that is pretty narrow. Before you reach the middle, a crazy lumberjack appears around the corner and lunges towards you. Chainsaw in tow and you’ve nowhere to hide. And it doesn’t stop there. Enter the strobe maze and you’ll find yourself face to face with yet another bloodthirsty lumberjack with a chainsaw. Only this time the strobes make your route even more disorientating. Finding the way out is even harder.

Oh, and there are dead ends too – all part of the fun right?

THE LUNATIC LUMBERJACK’S

The team for this maze were on fire! I have never known a Thorpe Park scare maze to have contained that many actors. They maintained the energy and enthusiasm throughout the evening. I loved the way the cast interacted with all guests. When you do so many re-runs within the maze, they’ll soon get to know who you are. Towards the final section of the strobe maze on my last run-through of the night, I was forced in the corner. Asked to get on my knees and bark like a dog. I honestly felt like I was doing an EXTREME version of this maze. The team deserve all the credit they can get. I bloody loved them all, and I’ll be back for more.

BRAVING THE MAZE ALONE

In a similar style to Sub Species, you will get split up. Even at the very beginning, the first inhabitant you meet will pick and choose the ‘rotten wood’ of your group. There’s no hiding in the back either! If you are chosen, you’ll face your first challenge, a crawl tunnel. Everyone else in the ‘good wood’ gets to walk through the first corridor. I find splitting up from your group is a perfect opportunity to really enhance your experience in a scare maze. Simply because there’s nowhere to hide. You feel more exposed and have to trust your own instincts when it comes to working through the maze.

If you think you got lucky and are still with your friends, think again. There’s plenty of opportunities to be split up from your friends. Whether that is during the strobe maze section where you are either ‘good wood’ or ‘bad wood’. Every time I was ‘good wood’ so I wonder what it would take for me to be ‘bad wood’? There’s also a secret platform area just after the first section of the maze. Only one person in your group gets chosen. After having 4 run-throughs, I was only chosen once and it doesn’t matter whether you are at the front or back of the group. This platform is a dead end and whilst I didn’t know what was going to happen. I honestly didn’t expect 3/4 actors to get right in my face. You have nowhere to run and escape.

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THORPE’S BEST EVER MAZE: VERDICT?

It’s almost like Sub Species, Chop Shop and Asylum had a baby and Creek Freak Massacre was born. All the best features from the 3 mazes are conjoined into one and fit nicely in Loggers Leap station. So, what’s my verdict? I LOVED IT. It gets a 6 pumpkin rating from me. Each time I went through, it got better and better. I’ve never experienced anything like it. From chainsaws in my face to actors forcing me to bark like a dog. The theming and music inside this attraction worked so well together. The scare factor is off the charts. I wouldn’t deem it Thorpe’s most intense maze. However, if you don’t like being split up from your friends or chased by chainsaws, you’ll find this maze incredibly scary. It gets a 10/10 from me and I look forward to getting back inside the Creek Wood Saw Mill soon.

You can visit Thorpe Park Fright Nights on 3rd to 6th Oct/10th to 13th Oct/17th Oct to 3rd Nov. For more information or to book tickets, please visit their website.

Whilst I would highly recommend this maze if you are planning to visit Fright Nights, still hesitant to try out scare mazes in general or this very maze, feel free to check out my top tips on how to tackle scare mazes.

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

What’s in my bag | Theme Park Edition

What’s in my bag | Theme Park Edition

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When it comes to visiting a theme park, Mary Poppins style pockets that can hold everything would be ideal! Imagine never having to bag faff ever again?? One can only dream! I’d like to think I am pretty savvy when it comes to packing my theme park bag. I always try to bring stuff that I know I’ll need. Even though we can’t predict what will happen on the day. So read on to find out what’s in my bag, theme park edition.

When it comes to Autumn/Winter, I generally shove as much as I can in my Superdry jacket pockets. This does make my coat bulge out in all sorts of places. Not a good look! One pro of a Superdry coat though is zipped pockets. This is great because you can avoid taking a bag. However, during those Spring/Summer months when it feels tropical (like the long heatwave in the UK last year!) or if I’m visiting a park abroad and the weather is too warm for a coat, a bag is a necessity. So here’s a little break down of what’s in my bag, theme park edition.

1. Park Tickets/Annual Pass(es)

Basically, I try to save money where I can so pre-booking tickets can be extremely helpful. Not only to avoid the long queues at the park but it can be a great way to feel prepared for any trip. Highly ideal if parks have a wristband system like Blackpool Pleasure Beach. There might be times I’ll invest in an annual pass. Again ideal for those long trips abroad where you can get the benefit of saving lots of money with a variety of parks. So I’ll always have my Merlin Annual Pass in my cardholder for those spontaneous trips.

2. My phone

Not only for updating my social media feed. It can be a great tool for those long wait time in queues. Download a bunch of games and time will quickly turn to nothing. Next thing you know, you’ll be ready to embark on your ride. Plus my phone is perfect for taking those much-needed photos. Given how advanced smartphones have become, these can be the perfect partner in crime.

3. Purse/Card Holder

This is self-explanatory. I don’t own a purse purely because they can be really bulky. So a cardholder is a fantastic alternative. I barely carry cash with me but if I need to, I’ll also have a small coin purse with me. You could kill two birds with one stone by using a coin purse to carry your cash and cards together. There’s nothing worse than having to lug a big purse with you. Just take your debit/credit card, Driving License & Annual Passes/Tickets and you’ll be sorted.

4. Sunglasses

Even when it’s Autumn/Winter, it’s always handy to have some sunnies with you. You never know when the sun will make an appearance, regardless of the season. Believe me, the last thing you want is to spend the entire day squinting at the sun. It’s also worth keeping a glasses case handy. If you’re like me, you may need glasses to see. I tend to wear contact lenses to theme park however it can be handy to take my glasses with me. Just in case. You never what may get caught in your eye which may require you to remove your contacts. If necessary, pack a spare pair of contacts for this!

5.Paracetamol/Ibuprofen

Ever had those moments where a headache appears out of nowhere? Then you end up wishing you had some meds with you? It’s always best to be prepared for any eventuality. Even us well-seasoned coaster enthusiasts can suffer from those post-ride headaches. Hello Gerstache.

6. Clear Plastic Bag

If you’re going on a water ride, chances are your main bag isn’t going to be 100% waterproof. It doesn’t hurt to have a couple of clear plastic bags shoved in your bag to protect your valuables including mobile phones! Hint: the plastic bags you keep your liquids in for any flights abroad are perfect.

7. Deodorant/Body Mist

Depending on what I have to hand, I will make sure to take a deodorant or body mist spray with me. I hate sweating. Especially on a hot day. That’s just my OCD as I’m always conscious of smelling like B.O. A quick spritz will make me feel confident I can walk about the park without any worry on me being smelly. Something I wish more people took into consideration.

8. Portable Charger & Phone Lead

I don’t think I could last a whole day at a theme park without one of these. The Anker portable chargers are honestly, the BEST thing you can own. My phone is my main item to take photos with – and the occasional Instagram post! – which can drain my battery quickly. So having a portable charger helps me to feel confident I won’t have that 10% phone battery panic.

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So in a nutshell, this is what’s in my bag, theme park edition. These are the go-to items that I need to take with me on my theme park trips. Of course, there are certain things I take with me when it’s a wet day. And vice versa on a hot day. However, I always try to have as little as possible with me. No one wants a heavy bag for a long day of theme parking.

What do you pack in your theme park bag?

Any key items that I have missed?

Do you always take a bag with you when going to theme parks?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo