UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
Owen
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2017 - A Year In Theme Parks

Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:10 pm

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Hello once again, and a happy New Year’s Eve to you all. Another year gone and another year to look back on! 2017 has been a fantastic year for theme parks with loads of new attractions and changes across the year from the smallest to the largest of theme parks. So once again, I invite you to look back at 2017 and all the awesomeness it has given…
 
 
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January was an extremely slow month this year, with not many major attractions opening at all. However, there were some little things through the month starting on the 3rd of January with the announcement of SeaWorld San Diego’s Electric Eel coaster, a premier rides Sky Rocket II based on electric eels! Along with this, Motiongate Dubai finally debuted their family coaster “Smurf Village Express” on the 9th of January.  The attraction, created by Gerstlauer, is a custom junior coaster based on the fifth volume of the franchise titled “The Smurfs and the Howlibird” and it takes its guests on a crazy ride on The Smurf Village Express! Another attraction that debuted in January was “Queen Cobra”, a Vekoma SLC at Sun World Danage Wonders in Vietnam which opened on the 27th January. Other than this not much else opened in this month…
 
 
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February was fairly like January this year, however, UK enthusiasts waited as the UK theme park season was about to start with Blackpool Pleasure Beach kicking things off on the 11th! The park was seeing some significant changes, including the rerouting of a bridge, hinting that something big was coming… In terms of new attraction though, only a single attraction opened. This was an Vekoma junior coaster known as “Crazy Cab Coaster” at an Indonesian park known as Trans Studio Mini on the 24th of February.
 
 
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Finally, we hit the time of year that normally sees the most action for the UK! The month started with Nagashima Spa Land opening their brand-new S&S 4D Free Spin coaster ‘Arashi’ on the 10th, adding to the 12 rollercoasters already at the park. However, in the UK the season was about to really kick off with Chessington World of Adventures opening on the 17th, but it was on the 18th that most were looking to. This marked the opening day of the ‘Gruffalo River Ride Adventure’ attraction which had replaced the beloved Bubbleworks attraction. The ride was met with positive reviews for the technology utilised and the quality of the theming. Although this wasn’t the only new attraction opening on the 18th, as this day also saw Fantasy Island debut their ‘Fantasy Mouse’ attraction – a standard travelling wild mouse coaster. Moving on to the 23rd, it was time for Thorpe Park to open its gates once again, although it’s new experience was yet to open. This meant that to tide enthusiasts over, we saw the opening of Alton Towers and the brand new Cbeebies Land attractions! The addition of The Go Jetters and Furchester Hotel attractions were well received well by little ones and improved the already great area. Moving away from the UK for a moment, the 29th saw a brand-new attraction open at Ferrari World in Dubai – Turbo Track! The new ride and concept saw a train of people get fired over an airtime hill and up a spike through the roof of the indoor park, and whilst it looked interesting the ride seemed to underwhelm some fans. However, something that didn’t underwhelm fans so much was the new experience, or rather destination, opening on the 31st, Thorpe Park’s ‘reimagined reimagined’ Ghost Train – “Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of The Demon”. This added onto the 2016 attraction, building on critiques from the original to create a very good experience with some very interesting additions… but remember, shhh - it’s a secret!
 
 
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April was a very busy month for 2017. It started on the 1st with a brand new Legoland park opening – Legoland Japan. This new park opened with the iconic dragon coasters – The Dragon and The Dragon’s Apprentice. However, over at Plopsaland they were getting ready to open their new GCI Woodie ‘Heidi The Ride’ (at last). The ride finally opened on the 2nd and was well received by riders for its fun layout and theming. Something that wasn’t praised so much was Tivoli Gardens decision to add paid virtual reality to their B&M floorless coaster ‘Dæmonen’ on the 6th. The new experience was described as ‘clunky and pointless’ however, as with all VR, some like it and some hate it! Although, also opening on the 6th, Universal Orlando’s surprise hit ‘Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon’ was praised for its in-depth theming and smooth ride system. Like with the 6th, the 7th also brought two major additions into 2017, this time to Virginia and Salou which were both very well received. The first, InvadR at Bush Gardens Williamsburg, is a GCI Woodie that was praised for it’s fun ground hugging layout and also for re-using the ‘SBNO’ Gwazi’s trains. However, what really got attention on this day was the grand opening of Port Aventura World’s third park and second dry park, Ferrari Land. This new park not only features various attractions for the whole family, but also Europe’s tallest rollercoaster ‘Red Force’. This 367ft rollercoaster featured a new look for a classic, using a magnetic launch and a new track design earning it the title of Europe’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster. After all this excitement, Hershey Park’s new addition seemed slightly underwhelming. On the 8th Hershey Park opened their new group of attractions, ‘The Triple Tower’, three differently sized shot towers named after Hershey chocolate. The Kisses Tower stands at 80 feet, the Reece’s Tower at 131 feet – both act like standard shot towers. The third tower, the Hershey’s Tower, not only stands at 189 feet but also features a two-experience design beginning with ‘SPACE SHOT’ firing riders high followed by a brief free all, and ending with ‘TURBO DROP’ where riders are slowly raised to the attraction’s peak, before being pushed faster than a free fall down the full 189ft tower. Also opening on the 8th was Freizeit-Land Geiselwind’s new family coaster ’Doggy Dog’, a dog themed wacky worm and the second ‘Doggy Dog’ coaster in the world after the installation of a clone in 2016 at Old MacDonald’s Farmyard in Essex. However, something far more exciting was set to be announced for the UK on the 11th. Blackpool Pleasure Beach finally announced their brand new multi-launching MACK coaster for 2018! One of the most anticipated attractions the world has seen from Blackpool in years certainly has grabbed attention! Speaking of multi-launch coasters, over at Slagharen they were ready to open their new coaster on the 13th – ‘Gold Rush’. This interesting new take on a Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster sees riders experiencing three launches and a unique layout for a shuttle coaster causing a lot of interest throughout the community. Also on the 13th, Liseberg released a virtual POV and a bunch of new concept images on their upcoming coaster ‘Valkyria’! Heading back to the USA and yet another GCI coaster opening, the most secretive coaster of 2017 was set to open at Kings Island – ‘Mystic Timbers’. April 15th would finally be the day that guests would find out exactly #whatsintheshed and ride the fantastic looking GCI coaster, and what they found was both hilarious and somewhat disappointing – but for lovers of Bonnie Tyler, Hall and Oates or Gary Newman the shed will probably be your favourite part! Moving onto something a bit scarier we head to Heide Park, which opened its new multi-million-pound dark ride ’Ghostbusters 5D – The Ultimate Ghost Hunt’ also on the 15th. This new attraction sees groups of guests jump in an EXCTO-1 and battle Ghosts using their trust proton guns, all in 5D with a blend of great screen tech and high-quality theming! Only a day later on the 16th, Oriental Heritage in China were set to open their new Vekoma family invert named ‘Galaxy Express’. The ride was a clone of the standard 453M layout and looks like a fun ride, whilst being slightly more intense than the smaller models. After a break of new attractions, on the 25th Motiongate Dubai finally debuted their new family powered invert coaster ‘Dragon Gliders’ and How to Train Your Dragon area. These were both met with praise, especially the ‘Dragon Gliders’ attraction for the high theming and the quality of it. This was a relief after he area had its various delays! Finally, April ended off in a bang with 3 noteworthy attractions opening on the 29th. One was Liseberg’s pre-lude to 2018’s ‘Valkyria’, ‘Loke’. This giant new attraction swings riders high in the air whilst spinning and has some fantastic theming for the type of ride. The second was located at Energylandia and was yet another addition to the parks ever expanding coaster line-up. ‘Boomerang’ is the parks first Vekoma family boomerang coaster and goes hand in hand with their 2015’s ‘Dragon Coaster’, also made by Vekoma. To round off the month, a slightly different style of attraction opened at Kienbergpark.’Natur-Bobbahn is a mountain coaster that was built as part of the International Garden Expo 2017. These coasters are interesting and unique, and with this one being built for a purpose, I think its even more special!
 
 
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May was a very exciting month, with all sorts of attractions opening. The main new started to break on the 6th where 3 attractions were set to open. The first being Dollywood’s new 230ft drop tower ‘Drop Line’. The ride takes riders up to its 230ft peak before plunging them back to earth at speeds up to 77MPH. Not only this, but Casino Pier in New Jersey also opened their brand new Gerstlauer EuroFighter ‘Hydrus’, which takes its riders up a 72ft lift hill, and plunged them down a beyond vertical drop straight into 3 inversions. Along with this, a more unique attraction opened at Djurs Sommerland - an Intamin inverted coaster named DrageKongen. This coaster features lap bars and a fast-paced layout, something that looks really interesting. However, something that really should be mentioned is that this also marked the day that TowersTimes hosted its 15th anniversary event, TT@15, where TTFers could experience exclusive ride time on two of Alton Towers’ most famous rides The Smiler and Nemesis. The day was a great way to celebrate the site’s 15th year and it ended with a very happy group of enthusiasts! Staying in the UK, the 11th saw the opening of Fforest Coaster at Zip World in Wales, the only alpine coaster in the UK which makes this a really interesting opening or 2017.  What wasn’t one of a kind though was the first of 3 Joker themed S&S 4D Free Spin Coasters to open across the Six Flags chain. On the 20th, Six Flags Over Texas opened their ‘The Joker’. It’s purple and green rails made it look quite interesting compared to its predecessors, although that wouldn’t last long. In the meantime, however, something huge was about to open. On the 25th, a brand-new step in theme park innovation was taken, and that was... very costly Breakfast at the Rollercoaster Restaurant at Alton Towers. As well as this, Universal Orlando Resort also opened its brand new ‘water theme park’ named ‘Volcano Bay’. This park is a step up from traditional waterparks in many ways, the Tapu Tapu device, the slide and of course the incredible theming. Unfortunately, the park suffered a few glitches, but has proven itself to be a fantastic new experience. The month kept on giving, with more attractions opening in the 26th. One of these was a new wild mouse coaster at the UK’s Dreamland Park named ‘Magic Mouse’, whilst the other was the long awaited ‘Gale Force’ coaster at Playland’s Castaway Cove which was very well received by fans, even after its long delays. The 27th marked the final major attractions to open in May - the first two being the next ‘The Joker’ attractions across the Six Flags chain, with one opening at Six Flags Great America and the other at Six Flags New England. The big thing to top off the month was ‘Pandora - The World of Avatar’ which opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This was the first attempt from Disney to combat The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and although it didn’t live up to Diagon Alley for many, it certainly was an impressive new experience. The headline attraction, ‘Avatar Flight of Passage’ was very well received for its impressive implementation of technology and strong usage of animatronics throughout the attractions queue. May was a fantastic month in 2017, however more was yet to come in June...
 
 
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June kicked off on the 3rd with Alton Towers finally getting the virtual reality aspect on their virtual reality coaster ‘Galactica’ working, something that had been concerning UK enthusiasts since March, and many felt that the new headsets didn’t improve the ride a great deal. On a more positive note, Europa Park also opened their brand new flying theatre attraction ‘Voletarium’ on the same day and it was very well received for its impressive theming and fun ride experience. Moving onto the 6th, Skyline Park opened a world's first attraction from Maurer – ‘Sky Dragster’. This was the first spike coaster to open, with a unique vertical powered track design and high-tech ride vehicles that include on board audio and a colour screen. The concept seems to be interesting, and has already got other models in development. Moving on though, and this time for a visit to France, saw Parc Asterix’s new Gerstlauer family coaster ‘Pegasus Express’ finally open on the 11th. The ride was met with mixed reviews upon opening, but has since grown to be a fan favourite coaster. Something that was met with positive reviews right off the bat however, was Movie Park Germany’s brand-new MACK coaster ‘Star Trek: Operation Enterprise’. The ride had been in a long technical rehearsal period, however opened fully on the 14th. It saw a new style for MACK and the new shuttle-esk design worked seemingly well with the twisting layout of the attraction. Speaking of launch coasters, June also saw the opening of SeaWorld San Antonio’s new family coaster ‘Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster’ on the 16th, an Intamin coaster that was well received by families for its fun layout and exhilarating launches. Along with this, Tayto Park’s new log flume ‘Viking Voyage’ also opened on this day, seeing Tayto Park’s first ‘themed’ attraction. Whilst the exterior of the attraction looked fantastic, the interior was unfortunately a bit of a let-down, with black bags and orange beams ruining the interior of the attraction. Whilst unfortunate, there wasn’t much time to appreciate either of these attraction with Phantasialand announcing their brand-new area ‘Rookburgh’ on the 20th. This also included the announcement of F.L.Y, the new launched Vekoma flying coaster set to headline the area. Not only this, but two days later on the 22nd Walibi Belgium revealed plans to theme their entire park, as well as add new immersive attractions in a €100M renovation plan. To round off the month, Fun Spot Kissimmee opened their new gravity group inverting wooden coaster ‘Mine Blower’, which was extremely positively received for it’s fun and compact layout. It was certainly a great way to end off June.
 
 
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There was no hanging around for Efteling in July, with the park debuting their trackless dark ride ‘Symbolica’, with it immersive theming and smart ride system it was a winner for the growing park. Not to mention on the same day Legendia opening their highly anticipated ‘Lech Coaster’, a modern Vekoma coaster with some interesting twists and turns to throw its riders every which way. The coaster also includes heavy theming and near misses to create an even more impressive attraction. Adding to the various impressive 2017 attractions was the opening of ‘Happy Valley Chingqing’, the next instalment in the Happy Valley chain which opened on the 8th. The park opened with a Vekoma family boomerang coaster ‘Family Coaster’ (a clone of ‘Accelerator’ at Drayton Manor) a, Golden Horse mine train named ‘Mine Train Coaster’ and finally a huge B&M wing coaster ‘Flying Wing Coaster’. These three coasters started the park well, although more was yet to come later. On the 15th it was time for the pavements of Thorpe Park to be filled by the faces of TTFers at the annual ‘Summer Sizzler’ event. This time guests were treated to an exclusive Q&A from the Resort Operations Director Andy Walker, a behind the scenes tour of THE SWARM and exclusive ride time on Stealth. As always it was a great way for enthusiasts to get to meet one another ad have a fantastic day whilst doing so! However, the excitement didn’t stop because with D23 on the 16th, there was some big Disney Parks news to come. Announcements from D23 included; a major EPCOT overhaul inclusive of a new Guardians of The Galaxy coaster, Ratatouille dark ride and general park reimagining, Shanghai Disneyland’s ‘TRON Lightcycle Power Run’ making its way to Magic Kingdom and a brand-new Mickey and Minnie ride ‘Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway’. All these installations painted an interesting picture for the future of EPCOT, and one that not everyone was best pleased with. Moving to a much smaller and new park ‘The Park at OWA’ opened on the 21st. Whilst it doesn’t have many attractions, it’s headline attraction, “Rollin’ Thunder”, was praised mainly for being better than its clone ‘Thunderbolt’ at Luna Park. After this small gap, Universal Orlando decided to bounce back at Disney’s announcement, by announcing the third expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the form of a Forbidden Forest coaster coming to Universal’s Islands of Adventure on the 24th. This announcement was bitter sweet for many, with the expansion leading to the much speculated and inevitable closure of the ‘Dragon Challenge’ attraction. Hopefully it’s replacement will be just as good as these rides, if not better!
 
 
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August started right away on the 1st, with Oakwood opening its new Pinfari coaster ‘Flight of The Giant Peach’. It’s nothing too incredible, but it is nice to see some investment into Oakwood, even if it’s not the next major MACK coaster. Something really interesting though, is Glennwood Caverns opening ‘Haunted Mine Drop’ on the 5th, a huge new 130ft drop ride that drops its riders through the middle of a mountain. Not only this but the attraction features show scenes and theming to make it a truly fantastic experience. Similar to Oakwood, Southport Pleasureland also gained a new Pinfari in August, although this was a looping coaster appropriately named ‘Looping’, on the 10th. To end off August, various major parks announced information about their major additions on August 16th, fittingly National Rollercoaster Day. These included Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point and Time Traveller at Silver Dollar City, ending the slow month of August off with a bang.
 
 
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Unlike previous months, September started with a closure rather than an opening. The closure of ‘Dragon Challenge’ was a sad day for many, but it also a day of looking forward to the future and to what was to come in its place. R.I.P Dragon Challenge. Moving onto something happier, the 9th saw the opening of Happy Valley Chingqing’s GCI wooden coaster ‘Jungle Dragon’. This along with the previously mentioned ‘Flying Wing Coaster’ this added a second solid coaster for this new park. On top of this, Europa Park had a big announcement to share on the 14th. ‘Rulantica’ is set to be their fully themed waterpark, featuring various slides and experiences for the whole family. Could this and Universal’s Volcano Bay mark a new age in hyper-immersive waterparks? We will see when this opens in 2019. Bringing us back to attractions opening in 2017, the 22nd marked the opening day of Warner Bros. Movie World’s ‘DC Rivals HyperCoaster’ created by MACK Rides. The unique backward car gimmick added another level of thrill to this DC themed rollercoaster, making it one of the most memorable additions of 2017. Another announcement was made on the 27th, this time for ‘Avalon’ at Toverland. This new area is set to include the park’s next large coaster, a B&M wing coaster called ‘Fenix’ and a new 12-minute boat ride named “Merlin’s Quest” all set to open just next year. Going along with the announcements, Busch Gardens Williamsburg announced the name of the new attraction replacing ‘Europe In the Air’, ‘Battle for Eire’ on the 27th – a virtual reality motion theatre that will take riders to a mythical land. The ride is based in the Ireland area of the park and is the first of its kind in the USA. Finally, to round off September we have another ride opening in China, this time at Shengming Universal City. Also on the 27th, ‘Stunning Rollercoaster’ opened to the public, and is a Golden Horse take on an Intamin spinning coaster, although this one has a barrel roll in it!
 
 
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As always, October marked the month of scare attractions across the world, such as Halloween Horror Nights, Scarefest, Fright Nights and various scare-only events all over the place! Although, for attractions October was the quietest of the year, with only a single notable attraction making its debut. However, the first of a few announcements came from Chessington World of Adventures with their "Dragon's Falls" refurbishment named 'Tiger Rock' which was announced on the 12th but somewhat more excitingly Energylandia finally announced their new hyper coaster will officially be called ‘Hyperion’, it will be Europe’s tallest hyper coaster when it opens in 2018 on the 15th! Along with this, Motiongate Dubai finally opened their Hunger Games area to the public on the 20th, including their MACK coaster ‘Capitol Bullet Train’. This was another take on the new concept seen with ‘Star Trek: Operation Enterprise’ where riders are propelled backward up a spike before launching forward into a fun filled layout. The coaster was received well, with some saying it is the better of the two, and with this area finally open it meant Motiongate was finally fully operational (ish). Something more sinister was on the horizon in the UK though, with a group of creatures and ghouls appearing at Alton Towers Scarefest on the 21st. The ambush of spooky beings included a pair of menacing mechanics, a bloody bride with her grim groom as well as the infamous Pennywise himself, along with his poor victim Georgie! This was all a part of something so terrifying that it’s hard to type… A HALLOWEEN ENTHUSIAST EVENT! Terrifying, I know. The event in question was the TowersTimes Scaremazing North Event, which saw attendees get a behind the scenes look at Sub-Species: The End Games, House of Monsters as well as the new maze for 2017, and SW8 prequel, The Welcoming. Not only this, but also included was a talk by Wayne Burton, giving a closer look to the top secret new attraction, Wicker Ma-I mean, SW8…
 
 
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Of course, November marked the start of winter and the start of the slow season for theme parks. The month began with a new Vekoma junior boomerang opening in Dubai at Global Village. ‘London Loop’ was added. November also marked the annual IAAPA event, show casing various new ride concepts and information including; SeaWorld Orlando’s ‘Infinity Falls’ boats, Sesame Place’s “Oscar’s Wacky Taxi” trains, Silver dollar City’s ‘Time traveller’ trains, Dynamic Attractions new ‘All-Terrain Dark Ride’ and ‘Dynamic Flight Cycle’ concepts, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s ‘Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster’ trains, Six Flags Over Georgia’s ‘Twisted Cyclone’ trains and various VR doohickies! As well as this, a big event in November was of course, Winter Wonderland 2017! This year the annual event opened on the 17th and was bigger and better than ever. There were plenty of stalls and shops, as well as shows, ice skating and of course the rides. Olympia Looping made it’s return alongside wonderland veterans such are AIR and Ice Mountain. This year was met with praise from most, and the atmosphere was as always, fantastic. There was, however, a big announcement from Mirabilandia on the 27th. They will be opening a brand-new park in 2019 in vein to Ferrari Land at PortAventura World – named ‘Ducati World’. The park is expected to feature various Ducati themed rides and attraction ad be a good investment for Mirabilandia!
 
 
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December, as you might expect was very quiet. The month started out on the 1st with Thorpe Park submitting plans to change their rave themed coaster X, by adding a watchtower entrance and pre-show. Who knows what it might be, but I expect we will be in the safe zone in 2018! A few days later on the 5th, Europa Park felt it was time to reveal what they were up to with Eurosat and its overhaul. This came in the form of a very peculiar and questionable retheme, to Moulin Rouge. The famous cabaret show will be the main focus of the new attraction when it opens in 2018. Finally, to finish off 2017 on a high note, Disney reopened the 'Hall of Presidents' attraction on the 19th with quite possibly the scariest Donald Trump animatronic you’ll ever see! What a way to end the year, eh!
 
 
So, looking back 2017 has really been a great year of opening new and exciting attractions and also for setting up upcoming 2018 attractions. Highlights included Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of The Demon, Universal’s Volcano Bay, Pandora – The World of Avatar, Symbolica, Lech Coaster, DC Rivals and so much more. As well as saying goodbye to some attractions, some for rethemes such as X, Dragon’s Falls and Eurosat and others for good such as the beloved Dragon Challenge. All this being said, I hope you look back at 2017 as fondly as I do, and I hope all the new and exciting attractions it has set up make you all super excited for 2018. Below are some quotes from members of TowersTimes, summing up how they felt about 2017…
 
[move]"2017… The year Mystic Timbers proved you CAN market an empty shed!" - "This was the first year I saw a theme park firework display… and I LOVED it!" - “2017was great, but 2018…PLEASE NO MORE VR” - "2017 has been a 365-day countdown to the smorgasbord of attractions set to open in 2018!" - “2017 has shown me Thorpe Park can make a top notch and truly unique dark ride!” - "This has been the best year yet! I have made so many new friends. Roll on 2018!" - “It’s been a fantastic year for theme parks all over the world!” - "It’s been a great year, and the way it has set up 2018 is really exciting!"[/move]
 
With that, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this. As I said last year these posts take a very long time to construct and gather the information for and so it's fantastic to me when the people it’s created for love it! If you enjoyed this, then let me know below and post what you’re favourite parts of 2017 were!

Thank you to everyone for making my 2017 great, and with that being said…
 
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Liam.W
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Location: Rotherham

Re: 2017 - A Year In Theme Parks

Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:27 pm

Great post Owen! :clap: As much as I've loved 2017, I've got a feeling 2018 is going to be an absolutely incredible year for all coaster enthusiasts out there!
Ride count since the beginning of 2015: 1152!
Cred count: 73!

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Robert.W
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Re: 2017 - A Year In Theme Parks

Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:48 pm

A long, but enjoyable post, Owen :P

2017 has been the best year for a few years for theme parks, I have no doubt that that will carry though to 2018! 
Without going into any detail whatsoever, my favourite part of this year has definitely gotta be my trip to Scarefest! It was absolutely brilliant... wasn't as impressed with the lighting this year, but for some reason, I still think I enjoyed this year more than last years Scarefest.

Here's to an even better 2018! :)
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