This is going to be a slightly different trip report to normal because this isn't a normal trip. Last week I was in Gardaland. It was a trip I'd been meaning to make since March of last year but had to constantly put on hold due to the ongoing pandemic. As some of you know that I'm part of Merlin's LEGO Production division, and the waterpark at Gardaland has been one of my responsibilities for the last few years. normally I don't get the oportunity to show pictures of the attractions I've been to as they are incomplete and not ready to open. But due to the pandemic the waterpark was actually finished and opened before I could arrive on-site. As I don't think anyone else has been to Gardaland since this opened I get to drop the exclusive pictures of something that I actually helped put together Link to a video of Oblivion and Space Vertigo running Both the Venice and Gardaland sections interact with and can be viewed from the Lazy River. If you get the change to visit I highly recommend it as your eyeline is at the same level as the Minilanders. Tour of some of the other areas in the waterpark: Here's one of the food outlets. They've all been designed to look like they've been made from supersized LEGO: I also went for a walk up Prezzemolo to see the Waterpark from above. The slides in the Waterpark were fairly impressive given the target age group. Regrettably I didn't get chance to try them out. Finally a few pictures at night. Gardaland is open until 11pm for there summer event and although the waterpark is closed the Miniland remains open for part of the night. Bonus Section: Before heading home I had a few hours spare to checkout a few other attractions at Gardaland. Here are my thoughts: I Corsari: An absolutely fantastic hidden gem of a ride that's not to be missed. It's a Pirates of the Caribbean inspired ride done incredibly well for a regional park. Much better than similar rides like Europa Park's Pirates of Batavia (at least the pre-fire version, I can't speak for its replacment). The reason for this is that I Corsari makes a lot of great creative choices that differ from the Disney blueprint. Firstly (and the reason I feel this ride is easy to miss) is that the entire ride is built underground. And I mean "deep" underground. The loading station is at least 2-stories down and the ride keeps descends at least twice that again. Above ground all you can see is a pirate village, similar in style to Mutiny Bay but more complete as a themed environment. Two big ships sit in the middle of the area, one of which contains the entrance to the ride. entering into the ships cabin you make the decent down several flights of stairs all themed to match the interior of the ship until it opens into a cave with the rides boarding station. It's a really good transition. The second point in the rides favour is that rather than using big open scenes each room the boats pass through is well separated and tells a distinct part of the story. In a recent update a lot of the story is told by projection mapping which is probebly a good thing as the ride doesn't have quite as many physical effects as most of these pirate rides (although there are still a lot scattered through the ride). Having said that the absolute standout scene has to be the giant sea serpent with the human head that emerges from the water. It's genuinely freaky! Fuga da Atlantide: Is it a water coaster or is it a flume ride? I have to disagree with RCDB here and call it a water coaster. I can see why they don't count it as there are no uphill sections. However the lift hill (Intamin cable lift) and raised sections of track are quite clearly standard coaster track. It even "coasts" around the turns rather than using a drive mechanisem. It also enters and leaves the water just as any other water coaster does. Maybe a better definition for a water coast should be "Can the train free float in water and have up-stops to engage with a coaster track" The quirkiness of this ride made it interesting but beside that it's just an average (if well themed) water ride. It's a shame it doesn't use the tracked sections to do more than just two near identical standard drops. Prezzemolo Tree and Magic House: Gardaland's signature tree is incredibly distinctive and houses two fairly good attractions. The journey up the tree is one of those hidden (or not so hidden) exploration attractions I love to discover. The Madhouse underneath is also really well done (Like I Corsari it's hidden deep underground, which must have come at a hefty price tag). Unfortunately due to social distancing the two pre-shows (a lift and something before entering the ride) were both not being used so I can't really judge it as a complete experience. Oblivion - The Black Hole What surprised me most about this ride is that I had no idea before visiting that it is built on a hill. Gardaland has a lot of interesting elevation, with area's like the western street being positioned between other rides but still feeling distinct as a valley naturally separates them. This all changes when the Valley opens up and in one bizarre but oddly cool area of the park Space and Western merge together as Oblivion's supports cut down through the wagons and treepies. Unlike Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park I find Gardaland's Oblivion actually deserves to share it's name with Alton's original. The two rides feel like mirror images of each other. Both have the same theme and play on the same concept. Where they differ is that Oblivion with it's dark supports and giant pit tries to intimidate you with the unknown. O-TBH is bright, dominates the skyline and intimidating in its scale. If I didn't know better I'd have said O-TBH is the taller of the two because from ground level it is. I had to keep reminding myself that from my vantage point I was actually below the base of the drop. This is the first Mini Dive Coaster I've been on and I really enjoyed the additional track length and tighter elements. The section with the netting was surprisingly a highlight (something I never thought I'd say) as it creates a nice near miss and plays on the idea of coming close to a black hole. Overall it's a solid, really enjoyable coaster. Raptor I've been looking forward to riding Raptor for a very long time. Air and The Swarm are two of my favourite coasters because they are big and graceful and a lot of fun to ride. B&M's first Wing Coaster has comparatively a tamer looking layout than many of the rides that came later. There's no dive drop or especially high elements. But what it does have is great landscaping and a dense themed environment. Near misses are plenty and as such Raptor feels like the definitive Wing Coaster experience. I can't properly rate Raptor against other similar rides I've ridden as I only had the chance to ride it once and so only on one side. But I did manage to get the back left seat, which I imagine is one of the better seats on the ride. There were two powerful bursts of airtime, first coming off the rides lift hill and again while creating the entrance and the section skimming the water caught me off guard as I could practically reach out and touch it. If I had chance I'd have probebly ridden Raptor many times over. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by Gardaland. Their older rides have an impressive scale to them that made me appreciate why the park is so popular. It's easy to look at a park map and RCDB and dismiss Gardaland for not having many headline rides (as I did). But from what I could see it's a much more well rounded experience than a lot of its UK counterparts. Every market is catered for and there's a lot to discover in terms of shows and smaller rides. Hopefully one day I can find enough time to spare a whole day at the park.