Ohio – Kings Island and Cedar Point

I have been wanting to go to Cedar Point for a while and, while there are plenty of organised trips which include the park, they are all about 2 weeks long and it’s day after day of travelling and parks. I wanted something a bit more relaxed so decided to take a solo trip for 6 days – 2 days at Kings Island, 2 days at Cedar Point, and 2 full days for travel to/from Sandusky – and starting/ending at Cincinnati airport.

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Nemesis Reborn

I had a trip to Alton Towers recently to check out the newly retracked Nemesis Reborn. I went on a week day to avoid the huge queues – on its first day it had a queue of 4h35 at one point. Unfortunately it was having some issues on the day I went so opened late, however the queues were okay at about 30-40 minutes.

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Trip Plans – 2024

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I was planning my trips for 2023! I got on 98 new coasters in 2023, would have been over 100 if it wasn’t for a couple which were closed on my visit, a couple where it was too busy to fit them in and one where I wasn’t willing to put myself through the ride (Stampida Red – having already been on the Blue side, those KumbaK trains are awful).

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Port Aventura and Parque Warner Madrid at Christmas

I recently went to the Christmas events at Port Aventura and Parque Warner Madrid, for my first visit to these two Spanish parks. A nice break from the cold weather, and it was very nice to get on some coasters while all the parks closer to home are closed for winter.

Port Aventura

I found Port Aventura to be a nice park – very big but all the various areas really well themed. It was really busy on both days at the park although I had fast track/express lane tickets for the first day which made things a lot more bearable. Some of the coasters also had single rider queues which were useful.

The highlight of the park for me was Shambhala. This was my first B&M hyper coaster and it did not disappoint. So much airtime! Following this there’s Dragon Khan which was a good B&M sit-down coaster (although not ageing that well). I also enjoyed El Diablo, an Arrow mine train from 1995. This just reminded me of the Big One so much – basically the same trains (Arrow hypercoasters basically just use the same train design as their mine trains), just listening to the train come in and park in the station sounded the same. Very odd layout though with 3 lift hills.

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Parc Astérix

I decided on a short break in France around my birthday – because who wants to work on their birthday, right? My plan was a day at Parc Astérix and a day at Parc St Paul, then a flight back home. Unfortunately I messed up Parc St Paul and turned up to locked gates – it was open on the day I had originally planned but not on the actual day (I moved everything back a day to get an early enough flight to be able to collect a hire car….)

Anyway on to Parc Astérix. I went for the Filotomatix Illimité, which is their unlimited fast track, unsure as to how busy it would actually be – but this was my first ever visit to Parc Astérix and as I was going on my own, I didn’t want to be spending any time stood in queues. It turned out to be a good call as the park was rather busy, queues for some of the larger coasters consistently at 1-2 hours for most of the day.

Unfortunately I seem to have lost all the photos and videos I took after 2:30pm, not sure how as they aren’t in the recently deleted folder, but we’ll just go with what I have still got.

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Sweden – Gröna Lund and Liseberg

At the beginning of June 2023 I went to Sweden for a few days, flying in to Gothenburg. The main reason for this trip was an 11am-10pm day at Liseberg, although I managed to get a few hours in Stockholm too.

On the Friday I took the express train to Stockholm, and went to Gröna Lund. The park was open 4pm-10pm but I had to leave around 7:30pm in order to get back to the hotel near Gothenburg. I was still able to get on all of the coasters except for the really small kids creds, and one of them twice.

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Walk The Big One XL

Back in 2013 Blackpool Pleasure Beach started offering an experience called “Walk the Big One” – an escorted walk to the top of the lift hill, and back down again. I did this on one of the first dates available (picking Friday the 13th, in September 2013) and it was a great experience, especially with it being dark by the time we walked up and with the illuminations switched on it was a brilliant view.

Recently the park has offered a new version of this experience, “Walk the Big One XL”. Similar to the original experience (which is still running), the XL version includes visiting various points around the ride such as the station brakes, evacuation platform at dip 2, and the mid-course brake run platform. So on 26th May it was my turn!

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Europe Trip – Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands

Taron, Phantasialand

On the 28th April I went on a European coaster tour covering seven parks, with Coaster Breaks. This was a thoroughly enjoyable trip, with a tour consisting of 7 people plus the tour guide, with all transport, hotels, breakfast and park tickets taken care of.

I’ve been trying to plan a Europe park trip for a while, but I went for Coaster Breaks instead as it was not an easy thing to try to plan, especially only using public transport, and I’d rather experience new parks as part of a small group rather than on my own. The other advantage of going as a group, guided by somebody who has visited the parks numerous times before, is that they know what order to do things to maximise the day and stay ahead of the crowds.

I’ve never visited any of the parks on this trip before, so all the coasters and parks are new to me. I’ll go through each park briefly with what I liked/disliked – I’m not going to cover every coaster as I’d be here forever.

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Unexpected America Trip!

Classic Coaster at the State Fair, Puyallup, WA, USA. This is a classic wooden coaster (1935)

Last week I attended the Microsoft MVP Summit in person, at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond (near Seattle, Washington, USA). It was my first visit to America (and the furthest I’ve ever travelled). An 8 hour time difference meant jet lag hit me hard. My default mode is “sleepy, need sleep” so a 10 hour flight and 8 hour time difference made this even worse. I flew out on Monday, and returned on Friday evening. I had a conference on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday which left all of Friday morning and a little of the afternoon to go explore.

While everyone was saying I should check out the Space Needle or other things in Seattle, instead I opened Coaster-Count and looked at the map. A couple of parks in reasonable distance, unfortunately the larger park was closed however Washington State Fair in Puyallup was open! Obviously I chose this over looking at some buildings.

I didn’t have a car (I don’t want to even attempt to drive over there, wrong side of the road but also some right turns are allowed even when the lights are on red… confusing) but after a little research, I could reach Puyallup in just over an hour by taking two buses from the Seattle-Tacoma airport, for about $5.25 (or I could get an Uber there for over $100). So I set off to the fair and arrived about 9:50am, just before it opened.

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Thorpe Park and Adventure Island

Thorpe Park started their 2023 season on Friday 24th March and I took the long trip down there. As usual for me at Thorpe, it was a mixed day – long queues on some rides, poor availability on others (Nemesis Inferno seemed to be down for most of the day). I don’t really like the operations all that much these days – coasters that have operated fine in the rain for well over a decade now close when there’s the slightest bit of water in the air.

Highlights of the trip were getting on The Swarm (twice) – running on two trains which made the queue move quickly. I think it’s an under-rated coaster, I quite like it, and as it’s usually closed, or running on a single train with a huge queue, on my visits it was great to have two goes. Multiple rides were also taken on SAW by way of the single rider queue – they need to bring these back on more rides. I really like SAW although I think this is more to do with the theme rather than the coaster itself – I’ve found back row is fine, front row I end up with a headache.

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