Cornwall / Devon UK – Milky Way Adventure Park

The next park we visited during our Cornwall / Devon weekend was the Milky Way Adventure Park. This has been a park I’ve been wanting to visit for quite a while, mainly due to their pretty unique roller coaster called Clone Zone (which I’ll come back to shortly). The Milky Way is located in Bideford in North Devon. It’s a pretty low key looking place as you near it but you’ll soon discover one of the biggest indoor areas of family run theme park that you’ve ever seen!

The majority of this park is indoors in a series of interconnected buildings. After entering you pass the gift shop and are presented immediately faced with a huge sign saying “Clone Zone”, Perfect, exactly what I wanted to experience. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite ready to open so I wandered off to see what else the park had to offer.

What I encountered around the next corner was one of the strangest yet really pretty awesome attractions ever. An absolutely massive room containing Science-Fiction Memorabilia! Mainly from Doctor Who and Star Wars. As a huge Doctor Who fan, I was quite happy to see all this. They had a number of life size Daleks, an Ood, a Weeping Angel and a Silent. The Star Wars room was on another level. Figures lined up the length of both walls, full scenes mocked up in booths at the far end and a whole collection of minifigures, comics and action figures in the centre.

After a browse of all this memorabilia, I continued venturing the buildings and discovered some indoor dodgems called Droid Dodgems. It was really dark in here with loud music and disco lights. The dodgems themselves were pretty decent and got some decent jolts and bumps from other people.

After a ride on the dodgems, I managed to find the outdoors and spotted a roller coaster!  Unfortunately the weather from overnight was still looming, therefore it wasn’t running at the time. Back to Clone Zone it was.

Clone Zone had opened so I made my way into the line and we were invited inside to be told that we were to be beamed up to an alien mothership and if we saw any aliens then screaming would have them running away! Good to know!  We wandered through metal ducts in the spaceship and then through a series of caves which led to the Freezer Room. We were warned that there was a sleeping alien inside and we’d best be careful not to wake it.  Unfortunately a child in our group (well, I’m going to blame it on them!) woke it up!   We quickly ran past, over the stepping stones and hopped on our escape bike.  The bike zoomed us around the galaxy, nearing a quick attack from an alien and then we landed. A quick escape down a slide and we were out! Phew!  The coaster itself is a Caripro BatFlyer. Not many of these has existed but this one has been operating since 1997 and it’s a super fun little ride! You do get quite a bit of speed and I’m very glad to finally get to have ridden it. The story led queue is also a very cool idea and is amazing for kids, they all seem just scared enough. Being told that all they needed to do to scare the aliens off, seemed to reassure them though.

At this point, I decided to wander around the outdoor areas as the rain was slowly stopping. The Milky Way has a rather large Maze out the back of the park which I decided to visit.  The ride operators waiting to run the coasters did laugh when I said I was going in the maze as they had seen people enter and then the rain throw it down and see people panicking running back and forth trying to get out.  I decided to brave it and made my way in.  It’s not a terribly difficult maze but took me around 10-15 minutes. Thankfully the rain stayed away.

Finally the coasters did their morning checks and soon enough I hopped onto Cosmic Typhoon. This is an Interpark Galaxi layout coaster which opened in 2007. It’s currently undergoing a paint job into a brand new orange colour. The ride was reasonably smooth and ran really nicely. I took a couple of laps before a quick ride on the park’s Wacky Worm: Cosmic Caterpillar.

Due to time commitments, I had to leave at this point. The Milky Way Adventure Park is a very very unique and interesting park to visit and would recommend it to families with younger children. Clone Zone was by far the best attraction to me at the park and I really do hope they keep it running for as long as is possible!

Cornwall / Devon UK – Crealy Adventure Park

So, last weekend, we did a short trip to visit a number of the amusement parks in Cornwall / Devon in the UK. It’s an area of the UK that really doesn’t get much of a mention in the amusement park area but there are quite a number of smaller family style attractions that are well worth visiting. In all, we visited Crealy Adventure Park, The Milky Way Adventure Park, The Big Sheep and then just up the coast a visit to Funland at the Tropicana and Break Theme Park. Today I’ll write about my visit to Crealy.

Crealy is the South West’s largest theme park for families and is located in Exeter.  They have 60 rides and attractions as well as lodging, camping, entertainment/sports and leisure facilities.

Being Coaster insane, we headed straight for the largest coaster they have: Twister! Twister is an SBF spinning coaster, but not one of those small figure 8 ones. This is a full-scale large version. Unfortunately, it did start raining as I entered the queue but a few minutes of rains came and went and after a couple of test runs it was back in action. Twister opened in 2015 and due to how new it is, it rode really nicely. I thoroughly enjoyed the views from the top over the rest of the park and the surrounding countryside.

After Twister, I ventured into the Lost Word of Atlantis. This is an indoor area of the park with a number of smaller rides (frog hopper and other spinning attractions. The main ride in here is a figure 8 coaster also by SBF (not spinning though) called Shark Bay). The area is really well themed and also has a matching soundtrack playing in the background.

We had a bit of a wander around the rest of the park to see what they offered and noticed Dino Jeeps. This is a Zamperla car ride where families can take an expedition around a number of dinosaurs. Just be careful with indoors, you may not be as safe as you think!!  We did like the idea of the Velociraptor guarding a time capsule that was buried in 2014 at the time Dino Jeeps opened. It’s going to be excavated in 2039. Now that will be interesting!

Crealy seems to have a pretty good 50/50 split on rides and play structures around the park. Some of the play areas were huge and loads of children were having a terrific time exploring them all. The park is also home to a Legoland-esque driving school attraction, bumper boats (with very powerful water squirters on the front!) and also a Log Flume.

At this point, we took a look at the animals. Who knew that Crealy practically had an entire zoo onsite too?  And it’s all included in your one ticket entry cost as well.  We loved the Meerkats and Marmosets and also saw Monkeys, Crocodiles and has an entire barn (near to Atlantis) dedicated to farm animals.

Before, heading off we went to ride the parks third and final roller coaster. This time it’s Maximus and it’s a Vekoma Junior Coaster. Yes, it is the standard layout but quite uniquely it’s Roman-themed. The first drop in a tunnel is fun and had a very full queue all day during our visit.

This is unfortunately where our adventure at Crealy ended.  It’s a great family park with a large selection of rides, attractions, play areas and animals. Well worth visiting if you are around the Exeter area!

Efteling July trip report

In July 2016 we began a mini European trip consisting of Efteling, Movie Park Germany, Dusseldorf Rheinkirmes, Phantasialand, Walibi Holland and Toverland!

First on our list of travels was Efteling in the Netherlands! We drove to Efteling from Eindhoven, it was about a 30 – 40 minute drive to the park which greets you with this amazing entrance structure!

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Inside this thatched set of three spires is the park’s main entrance, ticket kiosks, and other miscellaneous services. We picked up our tickets and made our way inside the park. (Efteling also has one of the most intricately themed ATM’s i’ve ever seen!)

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Efteling is described as a fantasy themed amusement park and the attractions are based on elements from ancient myths, legends, fairy tales, fables, and folklore. The whole park follows this consistent background theme but also splits off into separate areas. From the entrance, the park has a large central pathway that leads into the centre of the park. on the left-hand side is the Marerijk area which consists of a winding labyrinth of paths with models of famous folklore tales, with several of them being animated.

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We continued to the end and turned right which led us past a lake home to a scenic two boat ride and found ourselves at the park’s newest thrill machine: Baron 1898, which would be our first ride of the day!

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Baron 1898 is a Bolliger & Mabillard Dive Coaster that opened in 2015 at a cost of 18,000,000 EUR. The ride’s backstory is as follows (Thanks to Wikipedia):

 

In 1898, the wealthy baron Gustave Hooghmoed (whose last name is a variation on the Dutch word Hoogmoed, which loosely translated means haughty or overconfident) is led to discover a nearby cave that is rich in gold deposits by a spirit known as the Witte Wieven (“Wise women”, “Dames Blanches” or “White ladies”); however, this spirit gives Hooghmoed the admonition that if he disturbs the gold in any way, he will suffer terrible consequences for the remainder of his life. In an attempt to circumvent the spirit’s threat, Hoogmoed presses the destitute locals into working in his newly opened gold mine, where many of the workers suffer catastrophic accidents or are chased out of the cave by the “Witte Wieven” and her supernatural cohorts.

After the Baron is called out of his office to tend to an emergency in the mine shaft, mine overseer Laars will help guests into his specially designed mine elevator vehicles that are capable of traveling both vertically and horizontally. After the guests board the special mine cars, Laars and the machine shop are suddenly attacked by vengeful spirits of miners who have previously vanished under the influence of the “Witte Wieven”. Before Laars’s office apparently explodes, he sends the miners out of the mine; as the car ascends, a giant fireball bursts from the opening of the machine shop and almost reaches the rear car of the train. As the train is about to leave the mine, it stops as the “Witte Wieven” can be heard singing from the pit, from which smoke pours and lights can be seen. After a few seconds, the “Witte Wieven” scream, “You shall not evade my curse! Prepare to forfeit your lives!” as the miners plunge down the exit of the mine.[10]

 

We queued around 45 minutes to 1 hour and finally entered the main building in order to experience the first of several preshow rooms. I won’t spoil what happens but it does contain some pretty clever projection techniques. The coaster’s layout is rather simple by way of the lift, vertical drop, Immelman, inline twist, helix and finally into the break run. It’s a very fun ride but unfortunately very short. Fun fact: This is the only B&M Dive coaster that does not turn at the top of the lift before the drop.

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A short walk from Baron is De Vliegender Hollander (translates to The Flying Dutchman). This actually ended up being my favourite ride at the park. It is a water coaster built by KumBak Coasters. It’s also my favourite type of water coaster, one that you don’t get wet on!

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The rides queue starts outside and on this day took about 45 minutes. You make your way into the front of the building and through a series of intricately themed queue rooms all leading up to the main station area. The stations theming is stunning. It’s one of my favourite themed stations i’ve ever seen. From the soundtrack to the faux night sky above, the atmosphere and style are just perfected.

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You board your boat which seats up to 14 people per boat and away you go. The ride has a sort of “Pirates of the Caribbean” vibe to start but then turns rather dark. Before you know it a huge ghost ship looms over you and you climb the lift. A couple of surprises later and you find yourself crusing the outdoor coaster part of the circuit before heading to the final splashdown into the lake for all to see. I really enjoyed this ride and highly highly reccommend it!efteling-neil-35

Up next we decided to check out the two racing GCI (Great Coasters International) wooden coasters – Joris en de Draak (George and the Dragon). This ride opened in 2010 and replaced the aging Pegasus wooden roller coaster that occupied the same spot. To me, this ride felt slightly underwhelming compared to other GCI coasters I have ridden. This is not to say the ride is bad by any means as it was very fun, just that you should treat it as a smaller woodie that the whole family can enjoy together. The highlight of it was the racing aspect. It’s always run as a racing coaster and they make a competition out of it by cheering on the winners and booing the loosers as the trains reenter the station after each ride. The winners station also has winning flags dropped down at this point as well. It’s a really nice touch!

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In the centre of the ride stands the mighty dragon. It’s an audio animatronic that breathes fire and also slaps its tail in the water sending up a fountain of water that it timed to wet the riders on the “Water” side of the coaster. Talking of side, the sides are named “Fire” and “Water” and you get to choose what side you wish to ride just before you climb the stairs to the platforms. I personally preferred the Fire side. It’s full of typical GCI airtime goodness and is a very very fun ride to ride. Riding three times I thought I would have had a good chance of being on the winning train at least once but luck wasn’t on my side this trip as we lost all three times!

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Next to try out was Python. Python is a Vekoma corkscrew coaster with two loops and two corkscrews. The wait was a long one due to single train operation on that day. It was nice to see it was running new trains with Vekoma’s new vest style restraint but it did not seem to help the ride experience. It was pretty rough in parts but on a positive side the ride visually looks great nestled in with De Vliegender Hollander and Joris en de Draak.efteling-neil-43 efteling-neil-44 efteling-neil-45

After a coffee and a snack from a nearby outlet we continued our exploration around the park, taking in some of the sights and the superbly landscaped gardens.

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We found ourselves facing Vogel Rok. I had no clue what type of ride it was, apart from knowing it was a roller coaster of some sort. The queue looked very inconspicuous from the outside but once inside you get to the top of a set of stairs and “Wow! that’s a lot of people!”.

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The ride is a non inverting indoor coaster that simulates the flight of the Vogel bird. It was a nice fun family ride and rode silky smooth as well. After Vogel Rok we located Villa Volta. Villa Volta had always intregued me so I was excited to finally get to try it. The preshow seemed to go on for ages but that might have been due to not knowing the language! What surprised me here was how light it was inside the main ride. Most of these “Mad-house” style rides are pretty dark and dingy but this was was bright and well lit. It made for a nice variation but other than that was a standard mad house affair.

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We made our way through some lovely landscaped areas around this side of the park which housed many childrens rides, over to our next ride: Droomvlucht. This is the parks signature dark ride. You can tell that it is one of the park’s older rides but it’s still very well done. The name translates to Dreamflight and it describes the experience pretty well. It opened in 1993 after failing to open in the same year as Disneyland Paris in 1992. The ride vehicles are pretty basic theme wise but can be described as suspended versions of Disney’s Haunted Mansion Doom Buggies.

The ride takes you past various scenes of fairies, castles, forests and other fairy-tale creatures with a backdrop of fairytale music. The ride’s finale is a huge downward spiral around the edge of a forest. You do seem to pretty much coast the entire way, but no, it’s not a coaster!

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After riding Droomvlucht we continued our tour around the edge of the park by ending up in the centre pretty much back where we started. This area will be the site of next years brand new dark ride: Symbolica. Not much is know about it but I can be pretty much sure it will be a ride not to be missed!

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We knew that we still had the final remaining coaster to ride so we headed off to locate it in a wooded area. Bob is an Intamin Bobsled and one of the older coasters that Efteling has. This ride, like other Intamin bobsleds has the weird drifting sensation as you speed round the corners. It can make you feel a bit nervous when the back end of the car drifts out when your not expecting it, especially if you’ve ridden any of the Mack bobsleds as those do not do that.

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To the right hand side of the park entrance is Fata Morgana. This is a tow boat ride based around 1001 Arabian Nights. It’s quite a long ride, coming in at 8 minutes long. It’s home to a wide variety of animatronic figures and I enjoyed the use of opening and closing curtains over the boats course to hide the upcoming scenes. The ride has a pretty cool musical soundtrack too.

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After Fata Morgana, we headed back into the heart of the park and came across Efteling’s Spooky Castle called Spookslot. I had entirely no idea what this was and by the end there was no way I could have even guessed! It was weird but strangely fun. I think the best thing to do is just watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9KGLtcUa2Y

After the quirkiness of Spookslot we just wandered around the park and decided to ride Pagode. This is a type of ride called a Flying Island, it’s made by Intamin and there are not a huge number of them around so they are fun to ride when you get the chance. The overall experience is pretty similar to a normal observation tower apart from this one as the cabin mounted on one end of a giant arm which rotates up taking you with it. Also, you are not stuck behind a sheet of plexi-glass either! From up the top you get some stunning vies of Efteling and the surrounding area, plus a small sneak peak of the awaiting parts of Symbolica.

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A wander back over to the main coaster area of Efteling and a few more rides on De Vliegende Hollander and Joris en de Draak before we made our way to the main entrance as it was nearing the parks 8pm closing time.

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The park did have an amazing music, fountain and fire display over the lake which put a nice finale to everyone’s day. After the show we made our way out to return to our hotel and off for more fun at Movie Park Germany which is coming up next time!efteling-neil-93