Slaphead's Liseberg report

Discussion in 'Your Trip Reports and Plans' started by DiogoJ42, 28th May 2014.

  1. DiogoJ42

    DiogoJ42 TowersStreet Member

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    I planned for this to be a nice short trip report. As usual, that didn't happen. But hopefuly there will be some useful information here for anyone planning a visit. Enjoy.

    First impressions of Sweden

    They say that Sweden is one of the happiest nations in the world. I can believe that.
    While I am hardly the most well travelled person around, so far in my life I have visited France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Canada, (briefly passed through) Switzerland, and now Sweden. And I have never encountered a people so universally laid back and chirpy. Everyone we encountered had a smile on their face, and seemed genuinely pleased to meet us. At the risk of sounding clichéd, everyone was stereotypically Scandinavian. The women were all tall, leggy blonds, while the men sported the finest facial hair I have ever seen!

    We were worried about a language barrier, but managed to get by with only “hello / goodbye, please / thank you (the same word), yes / no”. Everyone spoke impeccable English, and most of the time their faces lit up when they realised we were foreign and they would get to practice their skills in another tongue. As usual, they put us Brits to shame in this department.
    It's a very soft language, easy on the ears with a lyrical sing-song lilt to it. Vowels are extended to the point of sounding almost too long to my ears. An example would be the Swedish for hello, “Hej”, is pronounced “haay-ah”. At first we thought it was “hey!”, which sounds almost rude in English. But lengthen the vowels and it becomes much softer.


    It's an “interesting” language, to say the least...

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    (Photo credit to Hils)

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    (Photo credit to Hils)

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    Currency was another area that was confusing at first. With a pint “large metric sized beer” costing anything in the region of 90 SEK, things at first seemed horrifically expensive. But then it clicked, The Krona is not their “pound”, it is their “penny”, or 10p to be more accurate. There is no decimal point in the currency, so if you divide prices by ten, they suddenly make sense! Notes are all nice and easy to tell apart, though the coins get more confusing, with 1 SEK looking like a 10p, 5 SEK being only slightly bigger, and 10 SEK looking like a small £1. But coins are hardly used, as most things are priced at nice round numbers.

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    We had spent all our 500 SEK notes by this point. (Photo credit to Hils)


    One final point that I am sure many members of this forum will be pleased with, is just how LGBT friendly Sweden seems. I don't think I've ever seen so many openly gay / lesbian couples anywhere, not even in Amsterdam. Even some of the ride hosts seemed to be lezzing it up between dispatches on Lisebergbanan, before skipping down the platform together holding hands.

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    The whole city is full of rainbow flags. (Photo credit to Hils)

    [hr]

    So anyway, we decided to go check out this Helix thing that everyone is talking about. Myself, Hils, Dan B, Joelio and Kieron set off from Stansted at the crack of stupid on Saturday morning, and arrived at the second smallest airport I have ever been to an hour and a half later. We were met by a very friendly cab driver, and in no time at all we were at the Liseberg Hotel.

    It's a perfectly nice hotel. Nothing special, but far better than the usual Ibis we end up staying in. My only real issue was the beds were far too soft for me. I like a rock hard, almost Klingon, bed. The others seemed to like it though. Check in was swift, and again, the staff all spoke perfect English with almost no hint of an accent. Dare I say it, they had better English than the staff at Europa hotels, and were able not just to exchange information, but also joke and banter with us.

    The hotel is not next to the park, but it is only a 15-20 minute walk down one road through the city, and it's not hard to miss... Just head towards the 380 foot drop tower on top of the even taller hill!

    [hr]

    Liseberg

    According to Wikipedia, the park's name means “Lisa's Mountain”. They are not wrong. Anyone who thinks parks like Alton or Oakwood are hilly should visit here. The park runs in three main paths laterally along a huge rock outcrop that must be at least 200 feet tall (I have been unable to find the exact height online, feel free to correct me). Thankfully there are several flights of escalators, otherwise I doubt I would have made the climb to Helix without needing oxygen and a team of Sherpas!

    The park really does look like it's been designed in RCT, by the way. :p

    I had no real expectations, but it took a while to “get” this park. Anyone expecting theming will be disappointed, because this is a city centre amusement park. Then it clicked; think of the place as Blackpool Pleasure Beach... if it wasn't a grot hole. Far from it, in fact. The park is immaculately clean, on a par with EP.


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    The only mess we saw was when Hils' ice cream decided it didn't want to be eaten, and made a run for it. (Photo credit to Dan)


    The staff, as already mentioned, are happy and friendly beyond belief. Unlike some parks (Chessington), their amicability does not feel forced, rather, they seem genuinely happy to be there. The same is true of the guests. Everyone we saw was smiling, and children of all ages were quiet and polite. An example of how well behaved everyone is, would be that the queue for Balder did not have a single piece of graffiti in it. Woodies are usually covered in the stuff!
    There was no queue jumping, save for one instance where a group had obviously got separated by us as we entered the queue. But as this was clearly the case I struggle to count it as jumping, especially given how polite he was.

    The park was open till 11pm on Saturday, and 8pm on Sunday. One important thing to note, that we did not realise till too late, is that it is ride close, not queue close as we are used to. So when Helix had a 45 minute wait at the end of Saturday, they closed the queue at 10:15. This meant we missed out on Helix in the dark. We made up for it with a great couple of runs on Balder though.

    There seemed to only be one type of game stall in the whole park, a large spinning wheel. Each one had a different prize, usually a giant box containing 2KG of chocolate. I found this interesting, as under UK law this would be classed as a game of chance, not a game of skill, so would count as gambling. Yet children of all ages were queuing up to play what is basically roulette.

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    That's a lot of chocolate for only 20 SEK. (Photo credit to Kieron)


    The exception to this was a nice variation on the classic “Kentucky Derby” game:

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    (Photo credit to Hils)


    With the exception of Helix, the park doesn't really have any themed music. Instead, the playlist is a mixture of classic rock and commercial dance. Perfectly suited to the vibe of the park.


    Speaking of vibes, the place truly comes alive at night, with very nice lighting throughout.

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    Rainbow wheel. (Photo credit to Dan B)

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    You like light bulbs? Here's 25 of them on one post!


    There is a good selection of food available on park. Those that enjoy eating cardboard can visit Burger King if they like, but we managed to find a couple of nice restaurants. The one under Lisebergbanan's station is worth checking out.

    One thing the park is sorely lacking is good merch. Anyone who collects pin badges is going to come away disappointed and empty handed. No mugs, no T shirts worth buying. All the Helix merch is covered in hash tags and facebook “like” icons. But if you want some green fluffy rabbit ears, there's no finer place on Earth!

    Smokers may like to know that the park operates a “smoking areas only” policy, but they are few and far between. I didn't see a single person using them though. I get the feeling that not many people smoke in Sweden, they all seem far too healthy.

    [hr]

    But enough of this, you want to read about the rides, don't you?

    (My) ride count for both days

    Balder x 6
    Lisebergbanan x 6
    Helix x 7
    Kanonen x 2
    Upswinget x 2
    Jukebox x 2
    Rapids x 2
    Flumeride x 1
    Hanghai x 1
    Sagoslottet x 1
    Rabalder x 1
    Stampbanan x 1
    Mirror maze x 1


    Right then, let's get on with what they are like...

    Stampbanan and Rabalder
    The park's two kiddy coasters are nothing to write home about. Stampbanan in particular is just a tiny thing. Rabalder is an OK layout, with an interesting circular cattle pen queue. One thing to beware of, is that the seats have a nasty lump in them that, for an adult male, is very badly positioned. Not pleasant.


    Sagoslottet
    The only dark ride, or at least, the only one we found. The transit system is a budget version of Peter Pan's Flight at Disney. The ride itself feels like some kind of transportable ghost train that's been rethemed. You pass by a few small scenes with static models of various fairy tales. Oh, and they nicked music from Dream Flight at Efteling.


    Hanghai
    A standard park size Disk-O, the newer design without seatbelts or foot rests. Probably the fastest one I've been on. Other than that, nothing special.


    Flumeride
    I almost didn't go on this, on the basis that “a flume is just a flume”. I'm glad Kieron talked me in to it, as it is one of the more interesting ones I've been on.
    An unusual twin loading station is the start of an unusual ride. It begins with a lift hill up the side of the mountain, seemingly stretching to infinity. As we climbed ever higher, we started to worry. This was seriously tall! From the top of the lift, the trough zig zags along the hillside at a fair pace, at one point passing under the track of Lisebergbanan just as a train thundered over our heads. Had we been stupid enough to, we could easily have reached up and lost fingers to the wheels. If you look to the right on this section, you will see an almost sheer drop of terrifying proportions, and you realise you have a long way to go down sooner or later.

    Except you aren't going down just yet... you still have further to climb! A second lift takes you to the very top of the mountain, and at this point even someone who has no issue with heights would be nervous. A short meander takes you to the precipice of the first drop. It is impossible to judge how high the drops are, because you are several hundred feet above the city stretched out below you. The end of the run off from this drop feeds straight in to another drop, albeit one of only a few feet. A slight left kink leads to the final, biggest drop, and before you know it you are back at the bottom of the hill.

    It is easily the most exciting flume I have been on. From the top of the second lift, it literally feels like you are plummeting down a waterfall on the side of a mountain. Because that's pretty much what you are doing!


    Rapids (the name escapes me)
    Not bad, as rapids go. It starts off very gentle, but gets progressively wilder as it goes on. At one point, the water channel splits in to two parallel routes that rejoin later. One of them is covered in a thick water mist, while the other has several jets that WILL hit you. There seemed to be some kind of boom that could swing out to redirect boats, but it didn't appear to be working, so all boats went down the squirty path.
    There are two or three wave pools where the boats jam up together is such a way that it has to be deliberate. Some boats spent several minutes stuck next to water mortars getting a damn good soaking. :p Thankfully the weather was nice and warm, so this was welcome. I'd probably rate it second of the Intamin rapids I've done, behind Fjord Rafting at EP.


    Jukebox
    A polyp type ride, identical to the one at Nigloland, but run on a better setting. You can get a good spin going if you make sure to pair a heavy person with a light person, or ride on your own. Still not a patch on the ones found at a German / Dutch kermis though.


    Upswinget
    An S&S Screamin' Swing, identical to Rush at Thorpe, but located two thirds of the way up the mountainside. The views are incredible, and the cycle is much longer than Rush's. One thing to beware of for larger riders, is that the restraints seem tighter than it's UK sibling. Thankfully the hosts do not staple you in at all, they pull rather than push to check they are locked. For me, I simply folded the bar down without pulling it towards me at all, and had some amazing air time.


    Kanonen
    The smallest Intamin Accelerator you will ever see, squeezed on to a footprint that would usually contain some crappy Pinfari. The restraints have some good padding on the plastic blades that sit next to your neck, which is a nice touch.
    The launch may be the slowest of all these coasters, but it still manages to pack a nice punch for what it is. Unfortunately it launches straight in to very obvious trims that kill most of the speed, before you climb in to the worlds smallest, most pointless top hat. A nice tight loop follows, then a few turns, a roll, and... that's it.

    It's not a bad ride my any means. It's much more pleasurable than Rita. But it just feels a bit pointless. There are clearly no height restrictions at the park, and this ride could have been so much more. It left me feeling cold. I don't hate it, but I'm in no hurry to ride it again. Joel and Dan loved it though.

    Fans of The Smiler's queueline will like the vast cattlepen directly under the track.


    Lisebergbanan
    Anton Schwartzkopf said this is his greatest achievement. I'm inclined to agree. The oldest surviving coaster in the park is a masterpiece in how to use terrain. Starting at the bottom of the hill, you climb a lift that's almost 200 feet tall, to the very top of the park, before diving in to a helix, followed by some small swooping manoeuvres round the top of the hill.
    Then after a block brake, it's time for the ride's showpiece. A huge curving dive takes you right down the mountain, pulling some serious G at the bottom, before swooping back up to where you began. Then you do it again. And just to be sure you got the message, you do it a third time. Viewed from above on Google Earth, this forms three perfectly circular concentric rings.
    This is followed by more zig-zagging up and down the hillside, including some nice airtime. Finally, the ride finishes with a fast, intense helix round an S&S shot tower, that packs a surprising punch, before you slam in to the brakes. Be warned, you WILL need to brace for these, as they are on a par with Eurosat!

    For me, this is the second best ride in the park. The others seemed less enamoured with it, but everyone is different. For best results, head to the back of the train. This will ensure the best mix of airtime and positive Gs. The front is not only tamer, but also rather rattly.
    It is also a throughput beast, capable of running five trains. Dispatch times are swift, and the queue never stops moving even when it's busy. When we split up at the end of the second day to do our own thing before meeting up to end with Helix, this was my ride of choice. I managed three runs on it, and it was walk on. :D One of those coasters I could gladly spend all day riding.

    [​IMG]
    Helix, Upswinget and 'Banan, making perfect use of the landscape. (Photo credit to Hils)


    Balder
    This is the best ride at Liseberg.

    You read that correctly. The guy who, as a general rule, prefers steel to wood thinks Balder is a better ride than Helix. I shouldn't need to justify my views, but I know I'm going to have to. And besides, isn't that the whole point of a trip report? ;)

    Put simply, Balder is just more fun than Helix. I wouldn't say it's my top woody, that accolade still goes to Troy. I think it sits about third, behind Wodan.
    Being an Intamin prefab, it is very different to a GCI. Rather than the twisty, turny, hopy, flicky... ness... of the American company's designs, this focuses purely on airtime.
    Trains and seats are unusual for a woody, and you can tell they come from the same company as EGF. I made the mistake on my first run of having a tight belt and lap bar, resulting in a rather uncomfortable ride. But a nice loose seatbelt and restraint makes for an absolutely insane couple of minutes of pure, hardcore ejector airtime. On one of our rides, with an especially loose restraint, I suddenly had a moment where I realised exactly how the accident on New Texas Giant happened, and pulled it in a click at the next opportunity! The staff only pull when they check the bars, not push, so you really can get away with some serious air on this. Just make sure you don't take the urine too much if you are on the skinny side, or they will be scraping you off the concrete below and sending you home in a jar. ;)

    My only complaint is that the turns are a bit over banked, the exact opposite of Zeus at Asterix, making them dull spots. But I guess they create a much needed breather in an otherwise extreme ride.

    As with most woodies, it warms up over the course of the day, so that by 11pm it is a real stonker!

    [​IMG]
    Balder in the dark. Possibly the best face I have ever pulled in an ORP. Notice how far out of my seat I have come with a loose restraint, compared to Hils with a tight one. We are near enough the same height!


    And now, the one you have all been waiting for...


    Helix
    Let's get one thing clear, Helix is amazing. Just because it failed to live up to my expectations, does not make it bad.

    The experience begins at the bottom of the hill, when you climb two massive escalators that take you to the top of what feels like Mount Everest. The tunnel they are in is lined with old photos of rides from the park's past, and you suddenly get a sense of just how old this place is. It's almost on a par with BPB for historic rides. Or at least, it would be if any of them were left. :'(

    You realise how culturally important Liseberg is to the city of Gothenburg. It is more than just an amusement park, it is a pleasure garden, an entertainment complex. At one point there was a huge outdoor swimming pool that, according to Wikipedia, had an artificial wave machine as early as 1935. The huge main stage has played host to some of the greatest names in rock over the years. The covered dance floor was built in the 20's, and still has live bands today. We saw many older couples ballroom dancing together, later in the evening there was some more up-tempo rock n roll playing, while slightly less old couples were jiving away like they were teenagers again. Some of them could really move! :p
    Like most old parks, there seems to have been at least one large fire at some point, as photos of several rides ablaze can be found.

    The history lesson ends when you arrive at the peak of the peak of the highest point in the park. A circular building containing a couple of eateries, and a simple choice: Atmosfear left, Helix right. You all know by now that I'm not a drop tower fan, so there was no way in hell I was going to ride that beast. But even I can appreciate that it is obviously an amazing one.

    The entrance to the queue is very understated. Just a plain black door on a black wall, with a rather subtle sign. I'm sure the likes of our Sam, or “Jeremy the Roller Coaster Philosopher” could write several pages about the deeper meaning of this, but to me it just seemed odd. I saw loads of people walk right past it, before realising they had missed their target and turning round.

    [​IMG]
    The queue time was a lie, it was a good 40 minutes. (Photo credit to Dan)


    We have all seen the pictures of the queueline. That fantastic modernist take on MC Escher's Relativity. It's truly amazing, even if the cladding of the walls is clearly unfinished. What you don't see in pictures is the two huge, almost Portaventura style cattlepens tucked out of sight. At least they are nice and narrow, so that in theory they should move quickly, like Eurosat.

    Unfortunately this is the biggest problem with Helix... Throughput. The five car, 20 seat trains are the same as Blue Fire's, a ride notorious for fast dispatch. This could not be further from the truth with Helix. The station operations are nothing short of shocking. Because the park uses a wristband system, the point where the queue reaches the station platform is staffed by both a ride host and a security guard. Yet neither of them batch people to bays. Instead, you have the typical European free for all, with the station packed full of people like a rush hour tube station. Admittedly, being Sweden, there is no pushing and shoving, everyone is very laid back and actually does queue, rather than form a scrum.

    The first of many throughput setbacks comes at the airgates, when people realise that they are not lined up to ride with their friends in the bay next to them. The gates open for only a few short seconds, and before anyone has a chance to turn around and ask the people behind if they want to go in front of them, the gates have closed and it is too late. Every single train we saw left the station with not just empty seats, but whole rows unoccupied. Some were less than two thirds full.

    Having been conditioned by Europa to hurry the hell up, we naturally legged it across the train, dumped our belongings in the bag store, took our seats and had our OTSLRs pulled down within seconds. We needn't have bothered. The other guests (those that manage to make it through the gates before they close) dither about for ages, removing shoes and putting things in the bag store with no sense of urgency at all. Many of them do not even pull down their restraint at all, and wait for the host to do it for them. On several occasions, we saw people chicken out at the last minute, and ask to get off. The staff, being the lovely friendly people that they are, oblige them, only to spend a minute or two chatting with them on the platform to see if there's any way they can be persuaded to change their mind.

    Average dispatch times are 3-4 minutes, with a throughput in the region of 450-700 pph. The third train is utterly pointless, as the ride ends up double stacking on the brakes. They could run two and it would make no difference with such bad operations.

    Roland would no doubt weep if he saw the way Liseberg run his latest baby.

    [hr]

    *Deep breath*

    Aaaanyway, let's get on to the ride itself, shall we?

    The music in the queue is brilliant. It has many different flavours, including what I like to call The Vindaloo part, The Smiler part, The Walk This Way part... there's even one bit where I swear they have lifted three or four chords directly from Blue Fire! :p It's a real shame then, that the trains do not have onboard audio. I feel this would make a huge difference.

    Straight out of the station, into a drop down the mountainside and in to a corkscrew. Great way to start a ride, and I challenge anyone in the back row to not instinctively grab on for this part. Front row has some amazing views, it goes without saying, but it is far too tame. The back is the only place to ride.

    The rolling launches barely count as such, they are so gradual. It is a very gentle acceleration, akin to overtaking on a motorway. On one ride I was looking to the side rather than forwards, and didn't even notice we were speeding up at all.

    Like Lisebergbanan, this ride makes good use of the landscape, though not quite to the same degree as it's older neighbour. The inverted top hat after the second launch being a good example of this: The launch track is on the downhill side, but far above the ground, and you exit uphill, levelling out instantly. I would have flipped this so that you enter the inversion on the uphill side near the ground, then have a longer vertical descent out of the element on the downhill side.

    The inversions are all very gentle, graceful rolls. Far too gentle for my liking. Blue Fire's are much more forceful. Nowhere is this more obvious than the final roll before the brakes, which is utterly bland and forceless compared to the original it was trying to emulate.

    What this ride does excel at is airtime and positive Gs... When it has warmed up. Supposedly there can be as much as 9 seconds difference in ride time between the start and end of the day. I can confirm that for the majority of the day the ride is disappointingly slow and forceless. But by the evening it can redeem itself is several places down near the bottom of the mountain, with some high G turns.

    The official POV that was filmed during testing is far faster than the ride we experienced. I get the feeling the launches have been toned town quite a bit, and this has had a detrimental affect on the whole ride. Speaking of the launches, one thing I did notice was just how much heat comes off them as you whiz along. I've never noticed it on Blufi, but you can really feel the heat blasting up at you.

    I'll say it again, Please don't think I hate this ride, it is amazing. But operations aside, it failed to live up to what it could have been. There is a part of me that wonders – and I know this is sacrilege – what if Intamin had built this same layout? Obviously it would be ruined by trains from hell, but I'm pretty sure it would have that punch that Helix seems to be missing.

    [hr]

    [hr]

    On Sunday evening after park close we ate at a very nice Italian place half way between the hotel and the park. Kieron and I ordered the “el Diablo” pizza. It was soaked in chilli oil and one of the hottest things I have ever eaten, and I'm a guy who likes a good curry! :p Very nice though. Our waitress was, once again, amazingly friendly. We made sure to give a good tip.

    And that's about it. We had a drink in the hotel then hit the hay, exhausted. The flight home was uneventful, save for the usual Ryanair policy of not letting anyone sleep through constant upselling. ::)


    [hr]


    Highlights
    *Balder
    *Lisebergbanan
    *The locals
    *Insane flume
    *Great weather
    *The reactions on facebook when we revealed where we were

    Lowlights
    *Helix throughputs
    *Not getting to ride Helix in the dark, which would no doubt have been awesome
    *Helix not being as insane as I had hoped
    *My phone making it abundantly clear that it's time to upgrade



    Helix group selfie to end on.
    [​IMG]
    (Photo credit to Dan)
     
    LewisNavex and IanB like this.
    Posted 28th May 2014
    #1
  2. Craig

    Craig TS Administrator Team Member

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    Nice report! Looking forward to visiting in a few months :D
     
    DiogoJ42 likes this.
    Posted 28th May 2014
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  3. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Great report, made me want to visit even more now! I'm trying desperately to lower my expectations of Helix for when I do get to ride it though.

    :)
     
    DiogoJ42 likes this.
    Posted 28th May 2014
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  4. Sir Queer Llama

    Sir Queer Llama TowersStreet Member Team Member

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    I'll echo what Craig and Rob have already said, a fantastic trip report!

    However, I now have a problem... You've made me want to visit even more than I already did! So much so that I'm looking at flights. Damn you sir!
     
    DiogoJ42 likes this.
    Posted 28th May 2014
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  5. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Looking at flights for Liseberg is dangerous, they can be so cheap and tempting...

    :)
     
    Posted 28th May 2014
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  6. DiogoJ42

    DiogoJ42 TowersStreet Member

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    Do... Then it will probably be the most amazing thing you have ever been on! :p
     
    Posted 28th May 2014
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  7. Joelio

    Joelio TowersStreet Member

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    Good report D, was a really good holiday :)
     
    DiogoJ42 likes this.
    Posted 29th May 2014
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  8. Laura

    Laura TowersStreet Member

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    Thanks for this, I am going in a few days!
     
    DiogoJ42 likes this.
    Posted 30th May 2014
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  9. Laura

    Laura TowersStreet Member

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    Well I am planning to write a trip report myself, but I pretty much agree with everything you've said about Helix. The lack of ride audio is a big problem as well. Balder is the best ride there IMO and I usually hate woodies.

    Did you go in the scaremaze and ghost bar? They were absolutely amazing. I hate scaremazes but theirs was so good I went in twice! Absolutely wonderful inside as was the ghost bar. I wish we had gone in there for a meal!
     
    DiogoJ42 likes this.
    Posted 10th Jun 2014
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  10. DiogoJ42

    DiogoJ42 TowersStreet Member

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    We had a meal and a drink in the ghost bar. Me and Hils didn't do the maze, but the others did. I'm told it was very good, but for me, I'm only interested in that sort of thing during scare season. I was there for the rides. :)
     
  11. Laura

    Laura TowersStreet Member

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    It's easy to miss the two attractions. Did you see the spinning table in the bar?

    I spoke to the staff in there and they said they wanted to make it like the London Dungeon. It was a million times better. What was the food like in there?
     
    Last edited: 10th Jun 2014
  12. DiogoJ42

    DiogoJ42 TowersStreet Member

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    The food was pretty good. The beer was better ;)
     
    Mattmash likes this.
  13. Tim

    Tim TowersStreet Member

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    Favourite Ride:
    Air / Blue Fire
    Is that the attraction and bar between the rapids and random ship? I remember doing that back in 2006. Didn't think much of it although my memory's a little fuzzy and I'd never done anything like it at the time. Glad to hear it is a lot better now.
     

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