I was a bit sceptic to visit SFH during the peak of high-season, but I never had the chance to ride Goliath on my last visit. So it had to be done, sooner or later. The weather was finally sunny and hot after weeks of rain.
When you consider that the park is a convenient two hour plus drive from Cologne, you just wonder why on earth Six Flags never ever promoted their european parks in neighboring countries. SFBelgium is even closer to me and about the same distance as the ugly Movie World (which is the only park they advertise in germany). With the advent of the Euro it should be easy to lure guests to the close parks. Especially SFH sits in a very beautiful vacation area, full of nice landscapes, connected lakes and picturesque canals.
We arrived an hour after park opening (operating hours 10-21) to find the parking lot conveniently filled.
This is what you see from the parking lot:
The first thing we noticed that 153 ft. are not exactly impressive anymore these days. AND the rides colors have faded to pastels after just two years. Anyway, our lust to bash SF before we even sat foot into the park was quickly dying when we noticed that the coaster was runnng two trains! At eleven o´clock in the morning!
We quickly got in, no queue at the gates (parking 7€, admission 24,50€).
We decided to ride Goliath first before it could pull an Intamin on us. Plus you just cannot start your day with a Vekoma. (Superman and a Boomerang are close to the entrance).
While walking to the back we noticed that the park was in excellent shape. Everything was clean and the landscaping was lush and beautiful. Even the restrooms were clean the whole day long.
We passed numerous flat rides which were all operating.
We passed Robin Hood (Vekoma Woodie) to find that there was no queue.
We decided to hop on. This coaster proved to be the surprise of the day. It has everything from great drops, floating and ejector air and insane laterals.
It was running two of those bathtub Vekoma trains that are so comfortable.
We did two laps in the back and the front. If only all Vekomas could be like this!
On to Goliath. With two train operation the wait for the frontseat took about 15 minutes.
It is definitely a frontseat coaster. While the first drop is lacking the exitement of a Intamin Mega, the second hill is a real surprise. Its ascent is far steeper than the typical parabola hills found on the other Intamins.
Instead of getting airtime on the ascent, this hill feels like you are vertically shooting up. The airtime on the top is short and sudden, not floaty. It seems that Intamin have put physics out of order on this hill. It looks as tall as the first drop, you just wonder where all the speed is coming from.
Then its up into the Stengel Dive.
This is a somewhat hit or miss element. On some seats its orgasmic on some its just underwhelming and you wish it would flip you all the way around.
I liked it in the front seat- right side. There you would get a nice floating jolt and the visuals are wonderful.
Towards the back it felt like a disabled zero-g roll.
The two helices are proof that this coaster is more about sustained positve gs than airtime. It seems that the "Goliath" name is the concept here.
I felt that the layout was a bit repetitive and the great corkscrew hills (unbeatable on EGF) are lacking speed and oomph on Goliath.
Later in the afternoon the ride was cut down to one train operation. (The only ride in the park).
But even with only two operators they managed to load/unload a train within ONE minute. The speed and efficiency was amazing and the ops were dedicated and friendly.
When it started to rain, the sled refused to return to the station and the train could not enter the station. After an announcement was made, a technician was arriving within three minutes and got the ride back in operation very quickly. A few turns later it happened again (this time with us on the train) and again the delay didn´t take long.
Now it was time to get the Vekomas done!
Superman, the outdoor Rock´n Roller Coaster was also running full capacity. It is an enjyable ride.
Launches, no matter how fast, are always a blast.
Its especially interesting that the SeaSerpent/Roll Over element is very smooth despite the high speeds. The only rough spot is the corkscrew.
I liked the queue area. Yes, it is a tacky and cheap mock up of the Daily Planet office, but after I saw a re-run of Superman the other week on tv, I thought "tacky" was exactly what it was. The station is outside next to a building which must still be left from Walibis opening days. They have repainted the whole building in Superman blue and now it looks very USA 50s with high glass panels and asymetric wall pieces. Dispatch was quick and efficient. As soon as one train rolled into the launch tunnel, the other arrived and so on.
The Bangerang (La Via Volta)
(you don´t want to see this)
was only frequented by some 12-14 year olds and a small group of black girls who marathoned the ride. Very strange! It was not too rough, but still: How can you enjoy this device?!
The theming is in parts very good for a SF park. Its not over the top and not too original, but it works very well. Especially the "Sherwood Forest" area is very well done. The "Merlins Castle" Mad House is one of the best around (they have to compete with the one in De Efteling, which is still better), but the location on an island in a beautiful lake is very nice.
All the Flats were running and helped to distribute the masses throughout the park. The only one that didn´t work was the Frisbee clone, but this seems to be a lost case anyway.
The Chance Chaos was in a sad state: only eight out of eighteen cars were accessible. The others were closed. What is this all about?!
We noticed a small group of "suits" wandering from ride to ride, discussing things in english. Possibly a delegation of new owners?! They seemed to be quite happy and maybe the outstanding appearance of the park had something to do with their presence?
When the Huss TopSpin broke down (restraints wouldn´t open), there were five technicians at hand immediately and a "first aid" attendant was providing water to the passengers who were trapt. I couldn´t believe my eyes! ;)
After the Mack Wild Mouse, the Zierer Roadrunner Express, the water rides, the S&S Tower and countless flats (some even custom themed for the park!) it was time to get IT out of the way:
EL CONDOR, the legendary SLC prototype.
It is nicely sitting inbetween lush vegetation and the queue winds through the whole coaster.
It was freshly painted and was running two trains, which are only seating sixteen people. There is as well a third train, but I don´t see how this could run three trains, with such a slow lift.
I was surprised that the wait turned out to be the longest of the day! We came to the conclusion that this ride was more popular than the woodie and even Goliath. I hope the big wigs from London didn´t notice this! :)
While I will not tell anybody that I was waiting for an hour to ride an SLC, this ride has definitey something that the others dont have. Even with shortened trains, the speed is ridiculously high in some areas. The sidewinder and the corkscrews are taken at breakneck speed. You have to admire it in all its crappiness. The strange thing is that I have had more headbanging on some of their second and third generation installments than on this notorious prototype. I would go so far to say that it is a much more thrilling and fierce ride than the later incarnations.
In this picture you can see the different sidewinder and the steeper drops:
After the weather turned from hot and sunny to hot and humid, it finally started to rain at six o´clock. By this time the wooden coaster was in a shape beyond insanity. We marathoned the ride for two hours in slight rain! The thing was flying, slamming and sparks were coming from the wheels.
Robin Hood is #49 in the wooden coaster poll, but when its wet its top ten material!
I just wonder if the ride would be so wild AND enjoyable if it was running PTC trains. The heavy cushioning seems to prevent any washboarding and even the most violent laterals and whopping triple downs are painless.
Go figure: many lost cases could be saved by Vekoma rolling stock. This would make the headlines.
On this picture you can see one of the best drops of the ride.
It gets steeper three times. When your behind is already flying over the seat, the track gets even steeper and the seat will give your butt a final slap. Also note the unbanked turn which is taken at high speeds.
I clocked the ride with seventy seconds (top of lift to brakes) in the afternoon. It was down to sixty seconds when it was wet in the evening! What a great ride.
A strange thing happened when the crew tried to get one train into storage: Due to the wet wood and a possible disfunction of the pusher wheels, the three kids couldn´t get the train into the shed.
So after a few minutes some guests left the queue and went onto the storage track to help to push the train into storage! They just wanted to help and RIDE!
I don´t think this would have been possible anywhere else and its certainly not allowed in Holland either, but it was a nice (yet dangerous) occurence.
Oh my, this ha gotten really long now and I apologize.
Bottom Line: Six Flags just didn´t understand that they had a beautiful park with lots of potential. With proper marketing this park could have been a major european player.
I also don´t understand the dutch who are visiting the ugly Movie World in germany in droves, when they have such a superior park at their doorstep.
It will be interesting to see what Starbucks, erm... Starparks will do to all the parks.
Goliath HAS my attention, and I would LOVE to try out a Vekoma woodie....to say nothing about the RnRC-ish Superman. Wonder when I'm gonna get to Europe....and how I'll EVER get out of Holland...;)
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