We’ve all had those moments where we get out of a ride and say “I’ll never do that again”. There are all sorts of reasons for this, perhaps you don’t like heights and were dared to try ‘Tall ride 001’ out, perhaps you’re scared of rides in general, or maybe the ride in question has just made you feel a bit sick. The point I am trying to make, however, is that it’s rare to come off a ride with a genuine hatred for it. As an enthusiast who’ll ride even the roughest of coasters over and over (The Ultimate, anybody?), I think I have finally found the one to avoid.
Tornado at M&D’s Scotland Theme Park is the worst rollercoaster I have ever ridden.
Standing at just under 80ft tall, at first glance Tornado is a visually impressive twisting mess of track. Manufactured by Pinfari, the ride is capable of being packed onto lorries and travelled to different locations. In reality though, it’s a huge piece of kit which isn’t ideally suited for the UK fun fair scene, and hence it has been in M&D’s Scotland Theme Park since 1998.
As an aside, then, I’ll set the scene. M&D’s Scotland Theme Park falls into the Static funfair/Amusement park category, whereby it’s essentially a carpark with travelling rides plonked on which stay there permanently. Whilst this does mean that it isn’t really a theme park at all, as an amusement park it is pretty decent. It’s free entry, so Grandma Dorris doesn’t have to pay to come in and watch her grandchildren having fun on the rides (although she will have to pay £16.85 each for them to do so). There’s also little to no queuing and a good selection of rides to try.
Anyway, back to Tornado. We saved riding this one ’til last, as it was the biggest and assumed best coaster in the park. As we approached the ride a friendly scottish bloke said some stuff which was hard to understand and we nodded and laughed politely, although what we did pick out is that we couldn’t ride in the pink train because it was broken. At this point the pink train was sitting in the loading station, and he proceeded to send it out around the track empty. Watching it judder around the course proved great fun as we made typical coaster enthusiast jokes about how shit pinfari are. At this point we were loaded into the green train and we lowered the comically small over the shoulder restraints, which were then double secured with a seatbelt to the floor by the happy Scottish man who was desperately trying to avoid brushing our penises whilst performing the fiddly task.
These trains really are hilarious, and testament to Pinfari’s “we make our rides as uncomfortable as possible” ethos. Wave goodbye to legroom and say hello to a neck-chopping harness and the end of your fertility.
So anyway, after having our bars checked we were dispatched from the station and beginning the climb up the lift hill. The layout was looking more and more impressive as we began to view it from above, with the added bonus of stunning views of the surroundings. The thought of a coaster of this size travelling the UK was pretty exciting at this point, with a smell of oil wafting up from the lift chain not too dissimilar from that of the general smell of being at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
We rolled slowly over the crest of the lift hill and into the first drop which sweeps down to the right. Whilst it was pretty rough, there’s no escaping the fact that it’s a good drop which gives adequate tingly ball feeling. The track then makes it’s way back up through the centre of the layout before sweeping down to the left picking up great speed as is throws you into two consecutive vertical loops of pain, both of which providing a mouthful of oily water to the riders.
Up until this point it’s still an acceptable ride, we were just being picky coaster geeks about the roughness. This, however, all changes as soon as you leave the second loop. A seemingly straight piece of track jolts you violently sideways launching the left side of your neck straight into the already uncomfortable harnesses. Screams of pain echoed throughout the train and even us enthusiasts exchanged our jovial laughter for serious concern. The coaster ploughed on through the circuit, which seemed to last for an eternity. We were desperately waiting for the final brake run, but instead the cruel beast insisted on throwing us into a plethora of inappropriately banked corners and hops.
When we eventually did hurtle into the brake run it was a relief to be freed. A headache was to follow imminently, with a stiff neck developing later in the day. It’s a shame really, cos it’s a promising layout poorly executed. It could be argued though that that is indeed Pinfari’s slogan.
Don’t let this put you off the place though, the rest of the day was great, with plenty of queue-free rides around the park and the most interesting take on a cornetto soft I’ve ever seen. Tsunami, another Pinfari coaster in the park, is surprisingly good for what it is, and of course there’s the kiddies Caterpillar coaster for all those of you wanting to boost your coaster count!