Anyway... On Tuesday, June 19th, I went to Heide Park in Soltau, Germany. As some of you may know I'm doing an exchange program where, in October, 16 German Students come to Austin, stay with us, go to school, experience a typical "American" lifestyle. And in return, 16 American Students go to Germany and experience a typical "German" lifestyle. It's wrapping up to an end for me right now, only 4 days left. My host family heard that I was interested in Amusement Parks, so they decided to take me to Heide Park. So that's the story on how I got there, now, here is what happened.
We arrive at the park, and instantly I noticed something different, the parking lot had no defined spots, it was more of "If your car fits, go for it" style. Also parking was cheap, considering how expensive it can be in America. I believe it was only 5 Euros. And we park the car, and begin to walk to the gate. Here's another thing I noticed, there is only a certain part that is fully paved, the rest was just rows of paved roads with stripes of grass in between, which I had seen on pictures of Europa Park.
The ticket line was rather long, and took maybe 20 minutes to get the tickets. While standing in line for tickets I noticed a sign that had all the height requirements. Not only did you have to be a certain height to ride, you needed to be a certain age. And for all the rides you had to be under the same height, which was about 6 1/2 feet, I believe. I don't remember the height in centimeters, I'm sure one could look it up.
We step foot into the park, and it looks relatively normal. Nothing unusual, except maybe the front enterance architechure which was sterotypical German. It was nicely landscaped, a few shops, and food stands. Instantly we start walking, to who knows where, and we come upon a swinging ship ride. And my host partner wanted to ride it, so my host partner, his brother, his mother, and I all climb aboard. It was funny to notice that only one person was running the ride, and was sitting inside a booth, with heavily darkened windows. The ride was neither intense, or slow; it was fun, however.
Next I convince them to start walking towards the new ride Desert Race, an Intamin Accelerator. We get to it, and noted that the blue train was being put back into the garage; so my host partner tells me to come back another time. So instead, we go to Colossos, the Intamin Pre-Fab Wooden. What was weird about the line was that the final group of zig-zags where placed on a mild slop, you were on ground level on the first one, but station level by the last one, they weren't steps, just a flat, sloped surface. The line was short, only 15 minutes, we get into the station, and I made some notes.
I had never seen the train for an Intamin Woodie, and surprisingly the seats, and belts are exactly the same as other newer lap-bar Intamins. Which made me worried, because at Cedar Point I had some problems with the belts on Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster. While wating in the row lines, I noticed something different here too. There were only 3 ops, one in the control booth, and one on each side of the train. And when the train was loaded, the 2 ops pulled on everyone's belts, pushed the lap bar, pressed a button and waited. Then a few seconds later, the train rolled out. No thumbs up, which was strange to me. Also, while the train wasn't in the station the ops freely crossed the track at their own will, with no attention to signals to the control booth.
We get on the ride, and climb the hill. And all that is going on in my mind is what should I be expecting? We get higher, then reach the top, turn, and then.... a long way down. I can't describe the whole ride, but it was great! Full of speed, hills, and airtime, and very smooth for a woodie. It was also my host mother's first roller coaster, and what a big first step she took.
Next we walk to a section of the park full of flat rides, and they were all green and white. I was interested in all of them, but my partner only really wanted to ride on the Huss Top Spin, appropriately named, Top Spin. Loading on this ride was different than at SFFT, because they didn't force you to fill in every available seat, and to being loaded the back row. It was sit where you want to sit, and that's odd to me. But that ride was the most intense top spin I had ever ridden. It went forward and locked, then the whole thing went around twice while still locked, and then back up to the top, it unlocked, and then it went down and spun. Then it went to the top and locked, slowly fell forward, and then just when we're about to be horizontal, it unlocks and finishes. Very intense.
Next we continue in this section of the park, but now there are roller coasters, all still green and white. They pass by Limit, the Vekoma SLC, and my partner says the lines are too long even though it was just out of the station. So instead we ride the bobsleds. The seating was different, but the ride itself was fun. It was my first train bobsled, and it was very good. Just uncomfortable to sit with another fully-grown teenager.
After that we decided to ride Big Loop, a Vekoma looper. I noticed here that there was only one op, and he was rather mean- yelling at kids for sitting on the railings. The ride itself was fun... a little rough, but fun.
Then we revisit Limit, and the line is still about the same, so we get on. I knew this was going to hurt. "It's a Vekoma" I said to myself. It was fun though, just rough.
After this we go to another section of the park, where Scream, the Intamin Freefall Tower was. We get in line, and I watched the ride a few times. I fell in love with the noise the ride made when it began to brake. It was a combination of air pressure and the braking noise, and it made a loud "FFOowowowsssh". Then a few seconds later a huge gust of wind came down into the loading platform. We all climbed aboard. We lifted, and began to rotate, and we got higher and higher. We get to the top, and stop spinning. I thought I was going to be nervous, like on the Power Tower at Cedar Point when it stops at the top, on the drop side, but I wasn't. It was beautiful view of the park and the landcape though. A few seconds later, we begin to fall, my legs lift up due to the speed, and we get faster, and faster, then "FFOowowowssh", we slow down, and lower back into the station. Amazing ride!
Next we begin to walk around the park, and find the Wildwasser Bahn (Wild Water Ride), or whatever it was called. It was a log flume ride. The line went through a "mining shaft" and there were animatronic characters that were talking to each other about mining. It was very crude though. And then the line gets to a part where there is a stalagmite looking thing, and it has water pouring out of the top, and it was flooding the little plaza it was in, and we were forced to walk through the water. It was only a few inches at most. But then there are more animatronics, and we get to the station with the revolving platform. Two ops here, one in the booth, and one telling people where to load. The op on the platform directed people to the correct log to load on, and this one girl makes a mistake and walks with another group, and the ops puts out his arm, grabs the girl, and pulls her back to the line. That was just uncalled for, at least to me. No verbal instruction given to the girl, he just pulled her back. However the ride itself was good. It went through mine shafts with more animatronics, and lights. The only drop of the ride was ok, but it lacked in getting people wet.
After that we walked around more, and found Grottenblitz, the Mack powered coaster. The line was non-existent, we we boarded, and it began. It was fun little coaster, there was this one part where it circled in a building and there were two animatronic horses fighting, and it was kinda cool.
Ok, now I'm getting pressed for time... So I'm going to wrap this up quickly, sorry..
After that my partner wants to play air hockey with his brother, so we go to the arcade back in the world of Green and White, and inside I find random flags hanging on the ceiling, and there was a Texas flag.... I was shocked to find that Texas flag. I wondered why there would be a state flag, instead of country flags. Seeing as I live in Texas, it became a bit more strange. My partner beat his brother. So then I wanted to give it a try. It was a steady race, back and forth, between winners. Then it was 5 to 4, my partner in the lead. In the last few seconds I tried to get that puck in, without sucess, then in the last second.... BOOM! Right in the goal. It was tie.
After that we went to go ride the Intamin River Rapid. I don't remember the name of it. The ride was conducted the same as in America, nothing unusal. I was surprised to learn though that none of the waterfalls went right on to the riders. instead the waterfalls were just off the course, and you got wet from the mist. There were some rapids, but nothing incredible. Overall it was a very mild ride, not much excitment, but still fun.
I believe it was after that we decided to go back to Desert Race. The line was just coming out of the station, and they were running one train, the red one. They were launching about every minute, or less. The station was designed to have a loading/launch section, and an unloading section. This would be helpful when there were two trains, load while unloading, and launch while pulling the unloaded train into loading. With one train it seemed to be a bit slow, but it still reatively quick. The ride length itself was pretty short, but I could tell it was exciting. One interesting note was that there was a helicopter sitting just out of the station, aabove the track, and that was the contorl booth. I thought it was neat. On the side it said "Race Control".
We wait in line,, and about 15 minutes later, where about to get on. And while in line I watchewd the process of launching the train. It was the exact same as on Top Thrill Dragster. Load the train, then the magnetic brakes would go down, the train would roll backwards a bit, then a click. 3...2...1... LAUNCH.
So we boarded onto the train, and I figured out how to put on the new OTSR Intamin introduced a few years ago. They were plenty large, and I had no problem getting in it. The one thing I noticed, and that other people have mentioned, was that the part that goes over your shoulder is a little thin, making it sharp to hit with the side of your neck, I could see what they were talking about.
The brakes go down, we roll back, the click engages, and 3, 2, 1 We're out! Awesome launch, very quick. Then we turn right, and up a S curve, and turns left and right, another S curve. Then we up and over a hill, where we slow down, and make our way back into the station, around the storage garage. Awesome ride! The launch was comparable to Top Thrill Dragster. The ride itself was action-packed, and quick. Even though I have yet to be on Maverick, it reminded me of it. And then I noticed what the others had mention, about the restraints, the side of the restraint hit me several times in the neck, and it kinda hurt, being so thin. But it wasn't uncomfortable.
After that we rode Colosos again. The line was much shorter now. And then we rode Scream (Intamin Drop Tower) one more time, and then the Wildwasser Bahn once more. On our way out we stopped by a Round-Up. It looked like it belonged in a carnivale, not an amusement park. It was a little ricked, and old. But it still fun. It was getting close to closing, and it was only my partner and I riding. I thought it was interesting that when the park is almost ready to close, people disapear like crazy. It was about 45 mintues before they closed, and there was almost no one in the park.
And right next to the exit, there were teacups. I love riding on the teacups, so I asked if we could ride them. So it was my parnter, his brother, and I all alone on the teacups, riding it. I thought it was going to be like the Hustler at SFFT where spining is very easy. But it was rather difficult, and we didn't get much spin. Instead we just let the ride spin us. It was fun nonetheless, but not as great as I thought it would be. Then we all walked out together, and found the car, and left. I also grabbed another, fresh, park map on my way out.
All in all, a great day at Heide Park. I really enjoyed it, and I thank my host family for taking me. This ment alot to me. It was also very interesting to find the differences in American and German Amusement Parks. If any of you are going out of the country, try to take a visit to an amusement park, and note the differences, it quite fasinating.
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