Fluch von Novgorod

9

 

The simplistic answer to the question what's the difference between an amusement park and a theme park is theming, however the answer isn't quite that simple. I can think of a number of what I'd consider amusement parks and fairgrounds I've been to with lots of well themed rides, but I wouldn't consider them theme parks, with the possible exception of Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. I think what ultimately makes the difference is story telling, so your no longer riding a log flume but exploring a fantasy world. Your not doing a well themed coaster, your riding a mine train in a wild west town. It's an important concept, it can turn a mediocre ride into an attraction, or as is the case here, turn a great ride into something truly memorable.

Even before the ride starts it draws you in, thanks to its well themed queue line, that starts in the grounds of the old building the rides set in, followed by the second part in the building itself where everything has been done exceptionally well, setting the scene and drawing you in before the ride itself.

There are some obvious comparisons between this and Saw: The Ride. They're both built by the same manufacturer, and both start with a dark ride like section, seeing the train going around a building, and incorporating various coaster like elements, including sudden drops hidden in the darkness. It does out do Saw in a number of ways though, one of the most notable ways being in the transfer to the outdoor coaster section. On Saw it is handled well with the vertical hill lift and the theming, and to be honest it wasn't until trying this ride I realised there was another way it could be done. Here instead of a hill lift the car rolls on to a section of track where a power launch is set up, that causes the car to start to accelerate immediately, with no pause or break in pace. From there the car speeds around the track at a good pace taking in a number of elements. Now admittedly it's not as intense or thrilling as Saw, but considering this is clearly aimed at a more family friendly market there's nothing to really complain about.

Where this really puts itself ahead is the part after the outdoor coaster section. On Saw it's back to the station and down a themed exit tunnel, here though there is more in store. As you head inside you hit a short vertical hill lift, and do another short indoor coaster section, including a good thrilling first drop, then after the station instead of a walk to the gift shop there's a small themed maze like area to explore, before your finally out, which is a great final touch, and acts like extra chocolate sprinkles on top of a cake that has already been given a generous layer of icing.

Overall an amazing example of how good story telling can create a great ride. It would be a pretty good coaster even in a barren unthemed environment, but with all the extra effort put in, it ranks as one of the better family thrill seeker coasters I've done.