On Saturday 5th December, I took a trip to Chessington World of Adventures for their Winter’s Tail event. With the UK currently in a tier system, I was fortunate to be able to travel up and experience what was going to be my final theme park fix of 2020. Considering this year has turned into a real topsy turvy year, I’m glad I’ve managed to get my theme park fix throughout the final 6 months of the year. Very grateful for that!
I’ve visited Chessington’s winter event over the last few years and it’s been the perfect excuse to get into the festive spirit. The park itself is adorned with Christmas decorations and lights, it’s a truly magical experience for everyone. Arriving around 1.30pm, it was obvious that I wanted to have a little peek of the construction of both Blue Barnacle and ‘Croc Drop’. There’s been plenty of changes over the last 4 weeks or so since I was last at the park for their Halloween season. You can check out the latest updates on Chessington Buzz and Theme Park Guide.
As I was wandering around the park, I have noticed a number of photo spots this year including the giant Nutcracker prince located at the entrance to Wild Asia. Perfect for Instagrammers wanting to get that shot for the ‘gram! There are a number of rides open throughout Winter’s Tail including Vampire, The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, SeaStorm, ‘Jingle’ Bus and so much more. There’s a lot to keep families and enthusiasts entertained. It was a given that I would get a ride on Vampire at night – well, two rides as it was freezing cold!
I took a stroll into the Magical Christmas Kitchen, located in Wild Asia (former spots for Halloween scare mazes Spyders, Curse of the Lost Tomb & The Krypt). This was a really cute interactive walkthrough with several decorations. So many photo opportunities can be had within here. With the current COVID restrictions, you are required to wear a mask when inside this attraction as well as using the hand sanitisers when you first enter. Also, children will be able to claim a free cookie at the end of this walkthrough. Fear not adults as you can collect a hot drink and snack from Vegan Street Dogs outlet in Mexicana. The hot chocolate was perfect for warming up my cold fingers!
You can also walk through the Father Christmas Grottos and meet the main man himself. You may even bump into an array of Elves too. Once you’ve met Father Christmas/Santa, you’ll then receive a golden ticket which gives children the chance to pick out a toy, a reindeer or polar bear, within the Toy Workshop. A truly exciting opportunity for the kids to get into the Christmas spirit.
I also couldn’t forget the new ‘The Wild Christmas Panto’. A pantomime with a twist when you’ve got the Gruffalo involved. Located on the Mane Stage, it’s a great way to split up your day whilst you take in all the Christmas goodness around the park. The pantomime itself may not have been made for me but I couldn’t help but join in with all the actions and saying ‘Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is!’ Alongside this, there are several areas where festive singers are around the park singing your favourite Christmas songs. Perfect way to build up the atmosphere around the park plus the singers were fantastic, highly talented cast this year!
All in all, it was a truly wonderful, festive day at Chessington World of Adventures. If you’re looking for a festive day out in the Surrey, then Chessington is the perfect place to go to.
The final full day at Center Parcs has arrived. It’s definitely a bittersweet day. On the one hand, you still have one more day to enjoy the many activities and restaurants the village has to offer. On the other hand, check out day is fast approaching! I’ve said this in pretty all my blog posts but you just cannot beat waking up in the forest – bit of a broken record but it’s so true.
Thursday = Running Mk.2, Bowling, High Ropes & Swimming
Started off the day running again, didn’t I? Since it was technically our last full day to enjoy as many activities as possible, I had to get one more run in. This time I wanted to do a different route which went past some lodges I’ve previously stayed in within the Maple area. I think some people would try to plan a route, whereas I just went for a jog around the area without knowing where each road/pathway would take me. All part of the adventure though!
I took this opportunity to take some early morning photos too. It’s quite eerie being outside when there’s only a handful of people out and about, especially during these unprecedented times. Granted the sun was still shining so it made for a fun run around the lake, the Plaza and the Village Square. One thing I did enjoy was waving to fellow runners and cyclists alike. Yes, it may be strange times but this felt like a bit of normality has restored for us all.
After relaxing from my morning run, it was time to enjoy a game or two of Bowling. A 45 minute session is more than enough for 2 people but if you’re a family of 4 or more, I would recommend booking the 1 hour slot so you can get at least 2 games in. The main Bowling area is within the Plaza, on the lower level right next to the entrance to the Subtropical Swimming Paradise waterpark. Whilst this is dimly lit with UV lighting, it has a nice ambiance to the area.
There are 8 lanes, with 4 lanes out of action to allow for social distancing between household groups. These lanes are in between set lanes so make sure you note down what lane is given to you on your booking. Before entering, you’ll need to wear a face mask until you have reached your designated area – I’m not 100% sure if this has changed and if you’ll need to wear a mask at all times, please check with Center Parcs! You can order bar snacks and drinks to your table via a QR code which will be served to you by a member of staff.
I never feel like I am good at Bowling because it’s been a very long time since I last played. However I won the 2 games we played so I must have some skill – or that competitive side of me couldn’t bear losing haha!
I’ve done a few Go Ape courses over the last few years so of course, had to book the Aerial Adventure High Ropes activity. Whilst this course isn’t the most difficult of courses to get through, you still need to be energetic and have a good amount of strength in your arms and legs. For me, I was a little concerned as the last time I did a Go Ape course, I had to get help from an instructor to pull me up from a Tarzan Swing net. Given I have spent the last 9 months or so working on my resistance training with dumbbells, I thought this would have helped me.
Thankfully, I noticed a big difference in my strength. Yes, my core balance is not where I would like it to be, but I managed to climb the ropes and work my way through the course without needing the help of an instructor. Some elements were trickier than others and it may not be the longest of courses. The finale zip wire is probably the main event as you fly above the lake – with many spectators watching you. Definitely a highlight for any thrillseekers.
As we made our way back to the lodge, we had a bit of time to make a spot of dinner before enjoying our final session in the waterpark. Again, we did an evening session purely because it’s way more fun to enjoy a waterpark in the dark!
Check-Out Day & Final Overview
As our final day drew to a close, it meant we only had a few hours left in our lodge. Check-out day did begin with an early start as you need to leave your lodge by 9am – an hour earlier from pre-COVID times. Once we packed up our bits in our car and headed back to the car park, we enjoyed a short stroll through the village towards the Sports Cafe for a bit of breakfast. As with all the new restrictions in place, you will need to leave the village by 1pm on check-out day.
Overall, the staycation has been extremely pleasant and I didn’t once feel unsafe. All staff members made you feel welcome and were always happy to help. One-way systems and signage stating COVID measures were clear and easy to understand. Honestly, Center Parcs has done a great job of making their villages safe and secure in 2020. I won’t hesitate to make a return trip over the next year or so with my family again – Longleat holds a lot of sentimental value to me. Until next time Center Parcs.
Which village is your absolute favourite to visit?
What other activities are an absolute must-do?
Who is planning a trip to Center Parcs over the next few months?
After starting off the day on Tuesday with a run, I wanted to have a chill morning since I was on holiday. Whenever I reach that midway point of a holiday, I always want to make the most of my time because time flies when you are having fun. The Center Parcs lodges are the perfect way to enjoy a cosy break away from the bustle of activities. As always, the beautiful sunshine meant I spent a bit of time enjoying the outdoor area of our lodge – listening to the birds and peaceful breeze through the trees.
Wednesday = Falconry, Mini-Golf & Bella Italia Dinner
I was so excited to have this booked. It’s been on the bucket list and I was a little concerned that COVID was going to ruin my original plan. Thankfully, with the new COVID measures in place, they were able to continue the Falconry. Before the session started, you had to sanitize your hands and there was a total of 7 people in our group. It was the perfect size as we were all able to be included in the experience without feeling concerned about social distancing.
The session lasts for 1 hour and includes a brief introduction to Falconry followed by at least 45 minutes holding a variety of birds. I couldn’t wait as I’ve always been fascinated by birds, especially birds of prey and owls. We were all given an official Falconry glove to wear and had the opportunity to take photos – be mindful that some of the birds do fidget a lot and burst mode can be your best friend!
As a group, we held a Kestrel, a hawk and Laughing Kookaburra. There was also the opportunity to see a Vulture up close too but learning about their personalities, this guy in particular was named Scratch and enjoyed nipping people’s ankles when standing up, so we were asked by the instructor to sit down.
Honestly, the activity is pretty pricey (£45 per person) depending on what your budget is however, I think it’s worth it. It was truly fascinating and something unique to add to your Center Parcs break.
After Falconry we decided to head on over to the Sports Cafe in the Sports Plaza for some lunch – well, I already had a spot of lunch at the lodge but that didn’t stop me from consuming an ice-cream sundae and cheeky cocktail. As with most restaurants around the village, you will need to book a slot for a table – make sure to keep your email confirmation if booking on the same day! Once seated at a table, you can scan a QR code and order your food & drinks via your phone. Not gonna lie, I really hope this becomes the norm once COVID settles down.
After filling our faces, we headed over to our next activity for the day, Adventure Mini-Golf. Mini-golf is the perfect pastime for families, couples and friends. The mini-golf at Center Parcs is a good way to spend some time outside that isn’t too strenuous, especially when the weather is nice. Located right near the lake, you have a really nice view. The course is split into two 9 hole courses and we decided to pay for 18 holes so you have the chance to play both courses. There are 2 themes based around fantasy which is great for the kids to get involved – they even have small golf clubs for them which was so sweet.
Last time I was at Center Parcs Longleat, the main Italian restaurant was Strada. It seems like the contracts have changed over to Bella Italia since my last visit. I wasn’t complaining since I do enjoy a good Pizza. In the similar way to Huck’s, you will be shown to your table once your time slot has passed. You will need to keep a mask on as you walk through the restaurant, which can then be taken off once seated. One thing I did notice was how the staff asked if we preferred our waitress to wear a mask or not. In our case we said the waitress didn’t need to wear a mask but it was nice of the team to ask.
My standard order at any Bella Italia is pretty plain and simple. One Margherita pizza followed by Tiramisu for dessert. Honestly, it was the perfect meal and we didn’t feel rushed at all. The food was cooked to perfection and came in good time, probably waited around 20 minutes if that after placing our order. There was a little issue with the card machines – who else remembers back in the 90s having to impress a debit/credit card onto a cheque like system and fill in your details/sign the paper so that a card payment can be made. It was surreal but the waitress was very apologetic, fantastic customer service from the whole team!
With Bella Italia being near the main pathway out of the Plaza, we enjoyed a slow stroll back to our lodge. With the warm weather, this meant the evenings were clear and you could see the stars in the sky. And it’s not every day you can wander through the forest, staring at the stars above you. A truly magical moment that you can’t find anywhere else.
Is anyone planning a trip to Center Parcs in the next few months?
Are staycations the way forward for the time being?
There’s nothing quite like waking up in the forest. The one thing that I can never get over when having a stay at a Center Parcs village is opening the curtains and staring into the quiet bliss of the forest around you. With the weather being glorious, I couldn’t help but open the patio door and embrace the cool September breeze – yes, it may have reached 26 degrees during the day, it was still cold in the mornings. I do miss that feeling each day but hey ho, I’ll be back real soon!
Tuesday = Running, Badminton & Waterpark
2020 has pretty much changed the way I view health and fitness. I started off the year regretting all my food and fitness decisions from 2019 and I wanted to change. Lockdown happened which exposed me to finding more motivation to exercise including starting to run. Honestly, I didn’t think I would ever be interested in running as a hobby but never say never.
I knew before this staycation that I wanted to get at least 2 runs in. You may be thinking, ‘you’re on holiday? What the hell?’ Center Parcs is your own holiday. You can make your break as chilled or as exciting as you want it to be. I enjoy exercising and sometimes I feel a little sad when I don’t get my exercise fix in each day. Since I normally do strength/resistance workouts at home, I wasn’t going to continue this on my holiday. This is where running comes in.
The sunny weather was the best excuse to get out of the lodge first thing in the morning. Now I’m in no way saying I ran a 5k – that is a far off goal that I may not ever achieve. I did manage to reach near 4k but I was focused on doing run/walk intervals. Longleat Forest is very hilly in places so at times, I had to walk a bit longer up the hills. This didn’t stop me from running to the Sports Plaza area which includes a massive lake. The views around the forest and is one way to really see the whole village.
After my morning run and spending a fair bit of time chilling out in the lodge, it was time to start off our staycation with a bit of Badminton. For me, it wouldn’t be a Center Parcs holiday without a Badminton session. With the current COVID situation, you had to wear a mask as you walked into the Sports Plaza. All equipment is loaned out to you for your session, located in a quiet corner where you won’t cross paths of other guests. You didn’t need to wear a mask as part of your session.
As I am writing this post now, you will be required to wear a mask during your activity – so please do read up on the rules before your session!
Badminton sessions are booked for 1 hour however 45 mins of play and then 15 mins required for essential cleaning. I did notice some other guests continued their activity past the 45 mins which was a bit disappointing to see. Badminton may not be everyone’s cup of tea however this does take me back to my PE lessons at secondary school. I’ve always been fairly good at playing at Badminton even if sometimes my coordination is out of place.
Subtropical Swimming Paradise
With the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, you will be required to book your 2-hour slots. I stayed for the midweek break (Monday to Friday) therefore I was able to book 2x 2-hour slots. I opted for the later sessions in the evening as I hoped it would be quieter and more opportunity to enjoy the night in the outdoor area. Nighttime does seem to transform the waterpark into a new experience. The darkness adds to the atmosphere and transform the slides/flumes into a thrilling experience.
The outdoor rapids as part of the waterpark are a highlight. I remember the ones at Longleat Forest being particularly fun and exhilarating. Again, another change that was implemented as part of COVID is the lifeguard will be in control of separating groups at the start of the rapids. Generally, you would be able to go in regardless of how many people are about in the area. Whilst I do miss seeing other people’s reactions and experience in the rapids, it was nice to have the Rapids to yourself as you could pretty much take over the whole space without worrying about bashing into someone.
A new experience for me was experience the 2 new slides, Typhoon (double raft slide) and Tropical Cyclone (the family raft slide). I thoroughly enjoy both, especially when you are able to pick your theme for the slide. The lighting package is fun but maybe I was expecting a bit more – guess looking at pro-slide POVs are spoiling me. They are both incredibly fun and certainly give you plenty of opportunities for water to rush into your face – still wonder how my contact lenses stayed in place! Overall, it was a really good first session and couldn’t wait to go again on the Thursday evening.
It’s been long awaited but I finally went to Center Parcs in Longleat Forest. Originally I was meant to go in May 2020 but COVID-19 had other ideas so I was gutted. Especially when the weather decided to be heatwave weather back then. I didn’t have any issue this time round as the weather gods answered my prayers and gave me lovely weather for my staycation break.
Center Parcs has a lot of sentimental value to me as it was always a big holiday for my family when I was growing up. And Longleat Forest is only around an hour and a half away from my house so it’s my local Center Parcs. I couldn’t wait to get back and explore the village, see how it’s grown and expanded since my last visit in 2012 for my 21st birthday.
Monday = Check-in Day
Like a big kid, I was very excited to get on the road and head on over to Longleat Forest. Check-in time was 2pm which was painless for us however I do miss having the opportunity to arrive at Center Parcs early and explore the village on the first day of your stay. Understandable given they need to monitor numbers of people within the village.
Quick and easy, you’ll drive towards the Arrivals Lodge and meet your first friendly member of staff. Simply tell them your booking number and they hand you over your wristbands for your stay and a Village map. Then it’s the drive to the car park to park up and depending on what time you arrive, wait until the barriers are open for you to drive up to your lodge or park up and walk into the village to have an explore.
Check-in time for the lodge was 4pm. As expected with pretty much every Center Parcs stay I have had, there’s always a busy queue to get into the village. We may have waited 10 minutes but security were very efficient in getting us through the barrier to drive to our lodge. As we were located right near the Plaza area in Longleat, this was a quick 2 min drive therefore we were all unpacked quickly.
Once unpacked, we did pop into the ParcMarket in the Plaza to get some more food bits, mainly frozen and chilled food. We went to Morrisons in Warminster prior to arriving at Center Parcs for the bulk of our shopping. Lodges are self-catering so it’s a great way to save some money if you don’t want to eat out all the time at Center Parcs.
1 Bedroom Executive Lodge Tour
So, originally our booking was to stay in the Redwood Apartments. However with COVID closing Center Parcs, we had to move our booking to a later date and they gave us an extra £100 towards our booking. This extra money meant we were able to upgrade our stay to a 1 bedroom lodge. And boy was it the best decision we made.
For a couple, this lodge was the perfect size for us. From the pictures below, you can see that we had plenty of space in the kitchen and lounge, a nice outdoor seating area and the bedroom was very sizeable! It really felt like having a little house in the forest. Perfect.
We’re not real party animals but we did book to eat dinner at Huck’s, located in the lower section of the Plaza. Serving all kinds of American food like burgers, ribs and chicken. There’s something for any fast food fanatic. As with most restaurants in the current COVID situation, the menu was limited but for what they had on offer, it was perfect for everybody.
Staff were very friendly and accommodating. You do have to book your restaurant reservations so there are no walk-ins. One thing we did find is that they were strict with their timings so if you arrive early for your booking, you will have to loiter around the Plaza area until your time slot is available. This may be an annoyance to some people but it was understandable given the current situation.
Another thing to remember is that within any indoor areas, you are required to wear a face mask (unless exempt or under the age of 11 I believe this was at the time we went). Plus there are one way systems in place both outdoors and indoors, depending on how wide the pathways are. From what we found, most people were compliant without any issues which was great to see.
After stuffing our faces in Huck’s, we decided to take a slow stroll back to our lodge and checked out the Rapids in the waterpark. Longleat has a walkway out of the Plaza which runs alongside the Rapids – the recognisable sound of the water flowing through really bought back a lot of memories for me. I was very happy to be back!
Since travelling abroad has become a somewhat far distant reality for me (and many others) at the moment, I can’t help myself from pining for new theme parks to explore. From staring at Coast2Coaster looking at the next cluster of parks I want to travel to, there’s always a bucket list of coasters that I want to add to my coaster count.
So guess who thought it would be good to write up a little series on my blog about my 5 most anticipated coasters – segmented by coaster manufacturer? Yep, that’s me. My blog has slowed right down at the moment due to no real travel plans, so it felt right with my 100th post to start up a little series of blog posts.
B&M has to be the first manufacturer since I’m a sucker for their coasters. They’re smooth, fun and photogenic – I could spend a long time taking photos of stunning B&M coasters, hello Fenix! Not only that but I’ve always had a big infatuation with their rides since I was a kid. Nemesis at Alton Towers has always played a big part in my journey to hitting up the ‘big boy’ coasters.
There are also some great hidden gems in the B&M world which provide a punch. No matter what, I’ll always have a soft spot for B&M and nothing will change that.
So, which B&M coasters are my most anticipated?
Note: this list is in no particular order.
Alpengeist, Busch Gardens Williamsburg
This B&M invert has been on my mind ever since I discovered B&M inverts existed so effectively after I rode Nemesis for the first time. I’ve seen a lot of good reviews of Alpengeist and can’t help myself from swooning over this coaster. Not only does the layout look exhilarating but the colour scheme is great for the theme of this coaster. Hopefully I’ll have a US road trip booked so I can head on over to Busch Gardens Williamsburg over the next couple of years.
Daemonen, Tivoli Gardens
Now I wouldn’t normally go for a Floorless B&M as one of my most anticipated coasters but this one in particular intrigues me. Not only is Daemonen located at Tivoli Gardens, my most anticipated park that I want to travel to in Europe. It also has some stunning photo opportunities that make me want to get my Canon camera out and spend so much time photographing the coaster.
Mako, Seaworld Orlando
As soon as Mako was announced I wanted to head back to Orlando in a hurry – obviously I decided to hold fire since there’s been so many fantastic new additions within the Orlando parks. I loved Shambhala at PortAventura so it’s no surprise that I eagerly anticipate this to be the same or better. Roll on next year when I should have the chance to ride Mako (provided the COVID-19 situation improves!)
Thunderbird, Holiday World
So who else in 2015 was curious when B&M announced a launched Wing coaster? Cause I certainly was. The colour scheme is so cool – that orange track is the perfect contrast against the teal-style blue & yellow train. Again another coaster located in the US that is on the bucket list so no surprise that I’ve included this coaster on my most anticipated B&M coasters list. Plus the way Thunderbird winds through the landscape, it’s only made me more excited to see how this rides.
Finally, Katun has certainly been on my list for a fair few years. The Italian parks have always been on my radar when looking at cred road trips, just a shame they are all far from each other so takes some extra planning. I’ve read reviews from people saying Katun is intense and a pretty cool B&M invert. Since this type of B&M coaster is my favourite, I really hope to see how well it rides when I get the chance to head over to Mirabilandia over the next couple of years.
Skyline Park was a park that presented itself as something that could’ve been built in RCT. It was spacious. There were 7 creds to grab plus some other flat rides to explore. This was the next park on our German road trip in June 2019. I didn’t have high expectations but after visiting Bayern Park, I was expecting something on the same level. I was very wrong. Sometimes a little research does help!
Before I begin this post, when I say interesting rides, I mean memorable but maybe not for the right reasons.
Overall park expectations
As I said above, the park layout reminded me very much of a RCT park. The rides and coasters are all spread out across a big space. Our plan of attack was to head towards the back end of the park where Sky Dragster was and work our way back to the park entrance. This definitely worked well for us as the longest queue of the day was for Sky Dragster – low throughputs so it was a painful wait.
The park is split into different sections with a small cluster of rides but generally, there were no trees/fauna dotted about the park. When you’ve travelled to Bayern Park first, it can feel a bit like a downgrade. Unique creds and rides can be a good way for a park to bring in the guests but if you leave out theming and landscaping, they may be left disappointed, in my eyes.
Whilst I am all for parks having their unique style, open plan theme parks can look a tad bland. Adding a bit of theming can bring some atmosphere to an area. I view theme parks as a place for escaping reality and placing a bunch of coasters/rides into a open plan space will only do so much. Skyline Park has more potential with the unique creds it has in the area. And here are five in particular that I remember well.
This was a popular ride that would feature in my RCT creations as a kid. Why? Because it’s rare and unique. Caripro coasters are few and far between. The only other Caripro coaster I’ve ridden is a BatFlyer at Plopsaland De Panne in 2013. It’s been a while but I remember Vleermuis being fun and somewhat awkward to get in and out of the ride.
Sky Rider is a fun experience where you sit on the ride inwards. Not sure why but I’m not a huge fan of this seating arrangement. Yes, it’s a rarity but I don’t feel there is any real benefit to the ride experience. Caripro are renowned for their unique style of coasters but I wish they thought more about the logistics of riders getting in and out of the ride train.
The Ghost Train. Oh boy. Where do I start? I’ve ridden a fair few ghost trains over the last few years. Some have been good. Others, not so much. This one on the outside, had a lot going for it. It looked big and a little daunting. So you’d be right that I was a little bit nervous as I stepped aboard the ride vehicle.
Well… it wasn’t scary. It wasn’t thrilling. It was disappointing to say the least. It was coming to the end of our day at Skyline Park so I was hoping this ghost train would give us a good final farewell. Sadly, that wasn’t meant to be. For a large ghost train, I was expecting more to it including some actual jump scares. Disappointment galore.
Following on the list of ‘unique’ creds at Skyline Park, we’ve got Sky Dragster. This Maurer Spike Dragster coaster is the only one of its kind in the world – although I believe one is being planned (or built) on a cruise ship. Do correct me if I’m wrong. Since there’s not much talk about this coaster, I had no idea what to expect.
First off, it has VERY slow throughputs. It says a lot that this was the first ride of the day and we queued for around an hour if I remember correctly. It may have been less but effectively, the park was dead and pretty much all rides were walk on… apart from Sky Dragster. I wouldn’t say I came off the ride feeling anything other than, ‘well, that’s different’. It’s okay and definitely a rare cred to have on your coaster count.
My first view of this coaster was dread. When I see a coaster that not only looks different from your traditional style coasters, I can’t help but find myself thinking the worst. I had no idea how this was going to ride or whether I would enjoy it. Safe to say, I did not enjoy it. I’ve never ridden a Maurer SkyLoop before so I had no idea what to expect.
The ride effectively starts by ascending up towards the first ‘corner’ – say hello to major hangtime which I despise! – and then gravity takes hold as it winds along the track back towards the station. Sometimes it does go through twice – depends on which SkyLoop you ride, there’s 10 to choose from (according to RCDB) including Sky Wheel.
Wherever I go travelling, I’ll always make sure to give any local log flumes a go. They’re becoming a dying breed in the UK, especially with the loss of Loggers Leap at Thorpe Park and The Flume at Alton Towers. This Wildwasserbahn was impressively long and a fun experience.
I believe this is a travelling model (correct me if I’m wrong.) The experience as a whole was fun. Plenty of lifthills and drops to keep you feeling the anticipation of getting soaked. Located next to Sky Dragster at the top end of the park, I’d certainly recommend giving this a go when visiting Skyline Park. It’ll be one of the only ‘good’ rides at the park.
Have you visited Skyline Park before?
What rides & attractions are you wanting to try out?
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.
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.
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.
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?
In October last year, I boarded my flight to Krakow in search of coaster creds in Poland. I had to get a trip booked in after the announcement of Zadra’s opening date. Flights were going cheap for late October so had to get them booked, didn’t I? Visiting Energylandia for the first time was a bizarre experience for me. I had previously watched Jordan’s vlogs from her trip in April and knew it was a park I wanted to visit. Just not as soon as I did. I was very eager to tick off the 15 creds and there were at least 5 coasters at Energylandia that I couldn’t miss.
Cred anxiety is a known thing. Were we were going to get spited by a major coaster? Was the weather going to take a turn for the worst? Thankfully it was like a UK summer heatwave all over again! Energylandia as a park reminded me of a RCT (Roller Coaster Tycoon) park. Coasters dotted all over the place, with the odd bits of theming added in. The layout made no sense without the help of a park map. It was somewhat confusing but once you get your bearings, you know exactly where to go.
With 15 creds to grab, it seemed fitting to pick out my top 5 coasters at the park. There’s a lot of kiddie creds and that’s not an understatement. I know some people aren’t hardcore ‘cred whores’ but there are some solid coasters in the line up. Aside from the obvious reason for my trip in the first place. Can you hazard a guess as to which coaster? Anyway let’s crack on with my top 5 coasters at Energylandia you can’t miss!
Coaster #1: Zadra
It was obvious that this would be number one for me. I loved Zadra, a LOT. From the moment you leave the ride station, you knew this ride was going to pull out all the stops to be an incredible ride. It had the speed, the forces, the inversions, the whole package in my eyes for a world class coaster. I’d love to be inside the mind of Alan Schilke when he comes up with the concepts for his coasters. Zadra is a force to be reckoned with. The whole area around the ride is stunning – just be prepared to walk in the ridiculously long queue line to get to the station!
Coaster #2: Formula
I’m gonna just put it out here now and say that I didn’t think I was going to love Formula as much as I did. For a compact layout, it packs a punch even with the launch at the beginning of the ride. It’s a fun ride that is pretty intense in places (not as much as Lech coaster in Legendia though.) I cannot wait to see what else Vekoma is going to come up with in the future as I’ve been very impressed with Formula and Lech Coaster in Poland.
Coaster #3: Hyperion
Now, I know some people who’ve ridden Hyperion are going to wonder why I’ve put it beneath Formula. Hear me out. Overall, Hyperion is a good coaster as it packs in some cool airtime moments and whips you round the ‘Dive Drop’ element after the first airtime hill. Yes, I rode Zadra first and probably got completely spoilt by how amazing it rode. BUT I just felt like there was something missing from the whole ride experience – even after 4 rides, I still came off Hyperion feeling flat and unimpressed.
There’s not a lot to say about this coaster other than it is fun. I have a huge soft spot for these new style Vekoma suspended coasters. Flight of the Pterosaur at Paultons Park, Orkanen at Farup Sommerland & the list goes on. I believe this is the same layout as Orkanen at Farup Sommerland – don’t quote me on that. They incorporate the water element to the ride really well. The dragon head was beautiful to look at and worked so well as a near miss element. It’s a basic suspended coaster that is fun for the whole family, cool ride layout with some fun turns and something I consider to be re-rideable – if you need to waste some spare moments on a quiet day.
Coaster #5: Roller Coaster Mayan
Say what? A Vekoma SLC is in this list? Oh yes, people. This SLC has the new trains and restraints from Vekoma and blimey, you can tell the difference. As with any SLC, it isn’t what I call silky smooth. However our first ride on Mayan was very good. Baring in mind the temperature reached highs of 25 degrees so the ride had plenty of time to warm up. This is where the painful reminder of SLCs came back in focus. The new restraints didn’t give me too much of a headache, thankfully! I did still felt sore and battered after my second ride later in the day. Whilst this is my favourite of all SLCs I have ridden so far, it still provides with that raw old school Vekoma roughness that we all know and ‘love’…
I can’t wait to return to the park over the next few years. I’d love to see how the park develops, plus I’m intrigued by the new Vekoma Shockwave, Abyssus, opening in 2020.
Are you planning a trip to Energylandia this year?
Visited Energylandia, which rides are your favourites?
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.
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?