Thrill seekers are in for a treat this summer as three of the UK’s tallest thrill rides take residence at the Liverpool Pier Head Village.
Running from 30th June to 10th September, the Pier Head Village is dubbed as a “summer festival to remember”. Whilst we were naturally drawn in by the rides, the event also boasts live entertainment, food and drink, an urban beach and much more.
The event is beautifully located at the Pier Head, offering some incredible views to those brave enough to take on the tallest rides. These are the UK Power Tower, Around the World and Mach 5. Alongside these are a selection of family rides and inflatables, as well as the brilliant “Das Fun Schiff” pirate ship.
An event that is well worth a visit this summer. Rides are accessed via a token system, with the big rides costing between £5 and £10 a go. More information can be found on the Pier Head Village website.
For the first time in UK fair history, an English showman has purchased a Maurer Power Tower ride. We went over to Liverpool to check it out on its opening day.
Built by German firm Maurer, the Power Tower is somewhat iconic amongst fairground enthusiasts. This is largely thanks to Ewald Schneider of Germany who famously travelled Power Tower 1 and then Power Tower 2, the latter of which has visited the UK in the past for the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
What makes the Maurer towers special is the fact that unlike a ‘true’ free fall tower where the car is released and dropped, the car is instead attached to the pulley system even when it is dropping, allowing the ride to run long sequences with drops from different heights, pauses and fast upward travel.
This is the first time an English showman has ever owned a tower ride of this type. Bought by Peter Sedgwick Jnr, the ride will spend Summer 2017 at the Liverpool Pier Head Village.
Prior to its arrival in the UK, the Power Tower spent its early life in Germany. It was originally built in 1998 for German showman Kinzler, who travelled it under the name Freifall Turm, sporting an all-blue painted tower with yellow lights. In 2003 the ride changed hands and became known as the Action Tower whilst travelling under the ownership of Kipp. This lasted until 2007 when the Tower went back to Maurer, was refurbished, and then put into storage until today.
It has to be said that this really is a fantastic addition to the UK fair scene. The ride really does look big and imposing when stood in front of it – pictures don’t do the 55m height justice! It is also very well presented with a clean and fresh looking paint job. And of course, the ride experience itself is brilliant – riders were being treated to up to 9 drops per-cycle during our visit.
The Liverpool Pier Head Village is open from 30th June – 10th September 2017. Entry is free. More details can be found on their website.
Thrill seekers are in for a treat as Zip World Fforest open the UK’s only Alpine Coaster.
It’s called the Fforest Coaster. And no, that’s not a typo. The one-of-a-kind downhill adventure is located in Wales, where one F just isn’t enough! Lets start by taking a ride.
Just like a traditional roller coaster, the Fforest Coaster starts with a powered lift hill which drags riders to the top of the course. The similarities end when the ‘sleds’ that the passengers sit in reach the peak and begin their downward decent. Unlike a normal rollercoaster where riders have no input, each sled on the Fforest coaster has its own manual braking system. This allows the rider to control the speed of the ride.
The Fforest coaster comes from German firm Wiegand, who’ve been responsible for many Alpine Coasters all over the world. You’ll notice that we’ve (awkwardly) worded the title of this post to state that Zip World’s ride is the UK’s only Alpine Coaster and not the UK’s first. This is because we did used to have a similar Alpine Coaster in Stoke-On-Trent. Located at Stoke Ski Slope, the ride operated between 2003 and 2007 and was around 425 meters long.
Zip World’s new coaster is over twice this length, featuring a 365 m upward lift (split into two sections) and a 710 m downhill slalom through the trees. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty tiny when you compare it to some of the German alpine coasters located on the side of mountains, but it’s still long enough to pick up a bit of speed and feel like you’ve gone on a bit of an adventure. Take a look at the layout shown in the planning document below;
The ride lasts for around 6 minutes, during which riders can reach speeds of up to a limited 25mph.
You read that correctly. The FForest coaster’s top speed is restricted to 25mph. Not gunna lie, this came as a massive disappointment. After all, Alpine Coasters are known specifically for the fact that you can ride them without using the brakes, reaching blistering speeds, all the way down the hill, whilst recording an onride video for YouTube entitled “CRAZY alpine coaster with NO BRAKES! Absolutely INSANE!”, which will then go viral and make the poster thousands in Ad Revenue. Soz Theme Park Review.
Jokes aside, it is 2017 and Health & Safety is definitely “a thing” now, so it doesn’t really come as a surprise. In fact the way in which the speeds are monitored and controlled is actually surprisingly advanced and rather interesting. Allow this diagram to explain;
Named the “Driver’s Assistance system”, it relies on magnetic eddy-current technology working in harmony with electronic sensors and control system. When the sled reaches 25mph the system automatically kicks in to slow it down. As well as limiting speed, the system acts as a spacer and ensures that all of the sleds are at least 25meters apart from each other at all times during the decent. This does unfortunately mean that if the person in front of you is a pansy and braking all the way down your sled will automatically be slowed down too.
There’s no denying that it detracts from the overall ride experience, however the safety benefits probably outweigh the lack of speed. Coupled with this, the cost of maintenance is likely to be less as magnetic brakes are non-contact and require less maintaining than traditional friction brakes.
But lets not get bogged down by the speed, the Fforest coaster is awesome! We really are lucky to have an Alpine Coaster of this length and quality in the UK. The setting couldn’t really be any better, with the track weaving in and out of the trees throughout the ride – the only obvious comment to make is “can we have another one that’s even longer?!”. With Zip World growing as quickly as it is and with multiple sites in Snowdonia, maybe we’ll have an answer to that question in the next few years!
It’s also definitely worth mentioning how friendly and accommodating the Zip World staff were, so thanks!
The Fforest coaster opened on 10th May and is located at Zip World Fforest, LL24 OHA. Riders must be 9 years old and 1.35 m or taller to ride unaccompanied. More details can be found on the official website.
2016 has been an exciting year for new coasters in Europe. And whilst social media has been awash with photos and videos of the latest rides, the chances are that there was one that kept cropping up and catching your eye – TARON.
Located at Phantasialand, Brühl (that’s in Germany), Taron is a multi-launch coaster from Swiss manufacturer Intamin. Unlike the UK-based Intamin launch coasters Rita and Stealth, which are both hydraulically launched, Taron uses an LSM system to propel the trains twice during the ride. And with a maximum speed of 72.7mph, Taron is the world’s fastest multi-launch coaster!
Taron opened on 30th June 2016 as part of a new themed-world named Klugheim. Themed as a rocky basalt landscape with a rustic village at its heart, Klugheim also features a smaller (also new) coaster for the younger adventurers, Raik. This is a Vekoma Family Boomerang and, like everything else in Klugheim, features heavy theming.
Big statement, we know. And you don’t have to agree with it. Although it is hard to justify yourself if you don’t.
Taron is the full package. It’s not hard to find a coaster that is super thrilling and smooth. It’s also not hard to find a coaster with incredibly immersive theming. What is rare is to find one coaster that combines the two of these features into one fully coherent and immersive ride.
The ride experience itself is phantastic (see what we did there?). Intamin have done an incredible job with the layout and build, resulting in a smooth and comfortable ride with bucketloads of force and airtime. The trains are a new design to that of the old Intamin launchers and feature lap-bars and a raised seating position that will feel conveniently familiar to those who’ve previously ridden a MACK Mega Coaster such as Blue Fire or Helix.
Speaking of Helix…
Helix (at Liseberg, Sweden) seems to be the ride that everybody wants to compare to Taron. Whilst they’re both from different manufacturers, they do share the similarities of both being LSM Multi-launch coasters with similar trains and long layouts.
They’re both great rides for different reasons – Helix has the advantage of taking the riders on a real journey through the park as its layout sprawls from one side of Liseberg to the other, but the LSM launches are more gentle nudges than anything else. Conversely, Taron’s launches are really forceful but the ride has a very small footprint so you don’t get that same sense of going on a journey.
Just to confirm though, for us Taron is far superior to Helix. Just look at it!
We’re clearly not the only ones who love Taron. Check out the state of the overflow queue line during our visit.
The good news is it’s really easy to get to Phantasialand. Flights are often £9.99 each way with Ryanair from London Stansted to Cologne, with public transport taking you from the airport to the park in around about 90 minutes at a cost of £10(ish). Already ridden Taron? Let us know how it ranks for you in the comments below!
Ho Ho Ho. Christmas is drawing ever-nearer. With the inevitable stress of deciding which socks to buy for your most-hated loved ones, what better way to escape in to the festive spirit than by visiting Stoke’s new Winter Wonderland?! We’ve been along to take a look for ourselves.
Billed as “The Midlands’ spectacular Christmas destination“, Winter Wonderland Stoke is the first event of its kind to appear at the Birch Terrace car park in Hanley. It promises entertainment for the whole family, with activities including ice skating, spectacular rides, Bavarian food and live music.
On entering the site you’re instantly transported from the bleak familiarities of Stoke into a festive wonderland fit for the big-man himself. The smell of Bavarian sausage wafts up your nostrils, the jingle of Christmas tunes fills the air, and underfoot you are treated to a wooden-decked walkway to help you forget that you’re standing in a carpark in the middle of Winter.
It really is quite impressive. Undeterred by the rain, we were pleased to see a good turnout at the Wonderland, with the ice skating rink proving very popular – even on a week night.
Thrill-seekers are certainly in for a treat. Joining the 60 metre tall Sky Swing are the Airmaxx, No Limit and Super Bowl. For the families there’s the Crazy Mouse rollercoaster, the Sizzler and the Dodgems, amongst others.
Winter Wonderland Stoke is open from 17th November 2016 until 2nd January 2017. Entry is free, with ride tokens sold on-site. It is recommended that you book Ice Skating in advance to guarantee a slot.
Full details can be found on the official website.
Ice skating, live music, Bavarian food and spectacular rides are set to take over Birch Terrace car park, as Winter Wonderland arrives in Stoke-on-Trent.
The event, which runs from 17th November through to 2nd January, is the first of it’s kind to appear at this location and promises to be “The Midlands’ Spectacular Christmas Destination”.
And from what we can tell, it certainly does look to be an exciting event. Rides include the 60m tall “Sky Swing”, the Crazy Mouse roller coaster, No Limit Loopfighter and many others.
Having made multiple visits to the site over the past couple of weeks, it’s safe to say that a great deal of effort is being put in to ensure that this actually is a “Winter Wonderland” and not just a funfair on a carpark at Christmas time. The layout is well thought-out and the addition of timber-decked walkways is already beginning to transform the frankly depressing location into something much more magical.
For more information and tickets, be sure to visit the official website.
Be sure to check back regularly as we update this page with the latest construction galleries. Galleries run in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent at the top.
Do you like funfairs? Would you like to own your own ride? Do you have ridiculous amounts of patience? Then the Faller Power Tower model kit could be just for you!
This 1/87th scale model kit is based on the Maurer Sohne Freefall tower that was travelled by German showman Schneider between 1998 and 2001. The kit includes 427 plastic parts, as well as all of the equipment you need to get it motorised and moving.
How much does it cost?
Depending on where you look, prices for this kit tend to vary between £100 to £160. We recommend searching for “Faller 140325” on Ebay and Amazon, but can also recommend Coastershop.de – who will ship to the UK.
What additional materials/tools do I need?
Whilst the kit contains all of the plastic parts, there are a few essentials that you will need to build it – these are:
Depending on your personal preference or experience, you may find a set of small files useful for cleaning up parts after removing them from the sprues. We started off using files and wet&dry paper, but soon found them to be causing too much visible abrasion on the parts so ended up using a craft knife from there-on in.
You will also need a 12 – 16v AC or DC power supply, as well as a vague understanding of electronics, to wire it all up. It’s fairly simple but you’ll get best results if you know how to solder and buy your own plugs as opposed to using the plastic ones that come with the kit.
This is important!! Pictures make this model appear bigger than it actually is. If you don’t have a steady hand then this kit might not be for you. The ride car is one of the first things that you make (pictured above). Pretty much everything you see in the car is made up of individual pieces. Take your time with the instructions and you’ll be pleased with the results.
This was the first Faller kit we’ve ever built, so it’s certainly possible to go into this without any prior experience and come out with a great working model! Apparently this is one of the more fiddly kits in the Faller range, and we did experience a bit of frustration in getting the model to run at first. Be prepared to go back to the first few steps and file down plastic pulleys and add extra grease to the drive gearing to get the ride functioning.
Probably assembling the tower itself, as it is made up of fairly large pieces.
Threading the string. This was one of the most stressful things I have ever done. After about 12 hours of trying I ended up screwing up the first two attempts and had to buy some extra thread – which I found in HobbyCraft. Funnily enough, the third attempt only took me 10 minutes and worked perfectly – I guess practice makes perfect.
It’s also quite easy to loose focus after building the tower and just play with it. There are still quite a lot of parts to add around the platform after this, some of which seem rather monotonous, but in the end make a great difference to the appearance of the whole model.
Step by step (ish) photos of the build can be found in the gallery below.
Once you’ve got it all built, it’s a fantastic model to sit back and watch. The tower is fitted with read switches at the top and bottom, allowing the provided control box to know where the car is and run an automatic ride cycle. You can easily add a push-to-start button, something that we plan to do shortly.
Make sure you check out the video of the ride running, as well as the photo gallery showing the build.
First things first, let’s start this post about Alton Towers in the traditional way – with a photo of Nemesis.
Nemesis of course now in its 21st year of operation, and still riding like a dream. The question is, though – is it really one of the best coasters out there, or is it just something that UK enthusiasts like to cling to? We’re undecided, it’s definitely an awesome coaster, but for us Black Mamba at Phantasialand is just that bit better… Anyway – more on this debate in a future dedicated post I’m sure.
The plan for this post was initially to take a load of photos around the park and provide you with a rich and varied gallery of images taken on a sunny April afternoon. Unfortunately this didn’t go quite to plan as we spent most of the day taking photos of Nemesis and forgot about the rest of the park – oops. Oh wait – here’s a photo of the Corkscrew!
Towers looks set for another great year, and is still pulling in the crowds despite the reduced opening hours and staggered opening of rides on quieter days. This was also our first chance to see the Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure – a Zamperla kiddies coaster located in Cbeebies land. Described by some as a “glorified wacky worm”, the coaster is a small figure 8, but to be fair it does look really good and they’ve done a pretty decent job of the theme and audio to match.
Now that’s enough of our rambling on – check out the photo gallery below to see a few shots from our day out.
The West Midland Safari Park is one of those places that you can just keep coming back to – it’s got a certain nostalgic value to it and a much more “relaxed” feel than you get when visiting “proper” Theme Parks. We recently visited the park to check out their new attraction; “The Land of the Living Dinosaurs” – billed as the largest animatronic dinosaur display in the UK. Once we got over the disappointment that the dinosaurs weren’t actually “living” at all [who’d have thought it?!], we thought the display was fantastic.
Click on the photo below to open up the full gallery!
Blackpool Pleasure Beach seems to be a bit of a Marmite park – you either love it or hate it. Unfortunately a lot of the people who do love it do seem to struggle to present themselves in a polite manner and as such it won’t take you long to find defensive arguments on coaster-forums of people defending the park as if it’s their only child. That aside, we think it’s great!
Pleasure Beach offers a complete line-up of rides, which – for February – is very unusual for a UK park. We had a fantastic day out, despite the cold. Click on the photo below to open the gallery!
German markets have become quite a sensation here in the UK. Nothing signifies the start of Christmas more than the smell of a burnt sausage infused with mulled wine. These winter markets are scattered all over the country, but one of the bigger ones takes place annually in Birmingham City Centre.
The event is extremely popular and regularly draws in large crowds, so you can be sure that your £6 glass of mulled wine will get knocked from your hand by some arsehole who’s not looking where they’re going.
As well as the “sheds” selling all kinds of tat that you’d never normally dream of buying, the event also features a few attractions. This year we had an Ice Rink, Ferris Wheel and Gallopers carousel.
It’s all rather nice really. We’re all for fairgrounds keeping with the times and disguising themselves as happy, fun, family friendly pieces of machinery. Attached are a few photos of the event.
It’s at this time of year that we always stop and think; “Where the hell has this year gone?!” This is typically followed by a mild spell of depression as we ponder over the things we didn’t manage to achieve throughout the year as well as a frantic realisation that you’d better start your Christmas shopping soon.
Thankfully, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland always shows up to save the day.
The 2014 event is has now kicked off and offers the biggest and best variety of rides and attractions to date. For many UK based enthusiasts, this is the first time they will be able to lay eyes on a KMG XXL in the flesh, and what a treat they are in for. From flat rides to coasters, circuses to bars, Winter Wonderland seems to be the perfect family event.
As much as we’d love to ramble on about how great Winter Wonderland is, we know what you really want to see is some photos and videos. Well, friends, you’ve come to the right place! So turn up your speakers, sit back, and enjoy our exclusive video of this awesome event.