Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Thrill Seeker’s Journey

Some people love roller coasters and others hate them with a passion. I guess that if you are naturally a thrill seeker you will discover coasters eventually whilst those of a more delicate nature and with a fear of heights will avoid them like the plague. My own journey started with visits to the local fun fair as a small child and developed into a passion that I cannot shake. Continue reading

The Swarm


I can still remember all of the excitement surrounding the arrival of the Swarm. I was working at Thorpe Park at the time and watched with eager anticipation as the land for the new ride was being excavated and the Swarm Island rose up gradually out of the lake surrounding the park. We understood that the ride was going to be a B&M Wingrider but as none of these had yet been opened nobody really knew what this attraction would deliver. Continue reading

The Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster – Paris

It seems like yesterday when my cousin returned from one of many trips to Florida to inform me that the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster was a great ride. As a confirmed fan of coasters in the dark I was very jealous as this ride appeared to be right up my street. Happily it wasn’t long before I found myself at Disneyland Paris after the same ride was opened there. Continue reading

Chessington Ban Animal Print Clothing

Chessington_World_of_Adventures_Resort,_official_Logo (1)

I have just heard that Chessington World of Adventures are banning guests from wearing animal print in the park as it is confusing the resident wildlife! The announcement made the BBC news but that doesn’t mean it is true. Merlin Entertainments have a long history of gaining valuable publicity from PR stunts and this might turn out to be just another of those. If it is I think it might be a bit counterproductive as this policy is something which is guaranteed to annoy people. Continue reading

Theme Park Art

Theme parks are generally bright and colourful places with lots of interesting structures and forms. You would think, therefore, that they would make great subjects for paintings but I am struggling to find art which features roller coasters and rides. I would like to reflect my interest in rides and amusement parks with art in my home but the choice is surprisingly limited. Continue reading

Supersized America


As a frequent visitor to the US I should be used to their propensity to supersize everything but each time I visit I am always shocked at the contrasts with the UK.  I thought that with all the publicity about obesity and the cost of fuel, the food portions may have shrunk a little and people would be driving smaller cars but last year when I visited Cedar Point and Six Flags Magic Mountain nothing seemed to have changed. Continue reading



Valhalla represented a huge investment for Blackpool Pleasure Beach and was a commendably ambitious foray into new territory. The ride is a combination of water ride and dark ride which mixes drops, water effects and lighting and temperature changes to provide an intense all round sensory experience which has made the ride an absolute triumph. The Viking theming is the perfect complement to a dramatic water ride. Valhalla look enticing before you even enter the station. Continue reading

Do Theme Parks Need Mature Workers?

ccr driver

An oldie driving the train!

When I worked at a British theme park I was unusual amongst my colleagues because I was in my late 40’s. Most of my fellow workers were much younger and I often wondered if this was a good thing. Having visited Europa Park in Germany where the operation of the rides appears to run much more smoothly I was interested to note that many of the workers there were much older than those in the UK. Europa Park can attract mature workers so what is happening at parks in the UK and is it better to have an older workforce?


I think the main obstacle to attracting older workers to British parks is the seasonal nature of the employment. Mature people generally have financial responsibilities and need to work year round but with so many people either unemployed or retired there surely has to be a good number who would appreciate the job. I simply don’t think that the positions are marketed well to the older generations who may not have considered giving theme parks a try. Perhaps advertising the vacancies in a different way would result in more mature applicants.

The Environment

I know that when I applied for a position at a park I did so wondering if I would fit in as I was aware that most of the workers were young. I went ahead anyway and I shouldn’t have worried because the youngsters accepted me immediately and it transpired that the other older employees at the park were amongst the most popular people there. Indeed probably the most celebrated and loved person in the workforce where I worked was one of the oldest.

Older people may feel that that they would not enjoy the environment at a theme park but they would almost certainly be wrong. It is great fun, highly social, you get to meet lots of people and the exercise is good too!


I guess the burning question would be are older people effective workers at theme parks? After all there can be a lot of new skills to learn and information to take in and some of the jobs are pretty active with it. Older people are thought to learn new skills more slowly than the young and to have memory issues. There are a lot of tests to pass to work on rides so were this true it could be a stumbling block. In truth there is nothing that complex to get to grips with and I am pleased to see that recent research in Germany has revealed that the older generations memories are not as impaired as previously thought. Indeed the research showed that mature workers they are often more effective employees in repetitive tasks as they are more motivated to do well and do not suffer from over confidence.

Older workers also bring life experience to the job often making them better at handling difficult situations and dealing with guests and in my experience they are better at simply being responsible. In an environment where health and safety is crucial this is very important.

The German research did support the notion that older people pick things up a little more slowly but I don’t think this really matters in the context of the parks. I certainly learnt how to operate a roller coaster much more quickly than I have been able to get to grips with skiing and horse riding in my recent attempts to learn new skills! Whilst I have frequently been on the point of throwing out my riding gear and disposing of my skis, I never struggled with thrill rides.


I think it would be better all-round if more mature people worked in theme parks. There would more responsible behaviour and the rides would be run with greater efficiency. The older generations have a lot of skills and knowledge which would be very valuable in a theme park environment and so it is a shame to see so few applying for the jobs.


Article by Sally Stacey

Project Helix

I have always been an enormous fan of Europa Park which possesses a winning combination of great rides, extreme efficiency and brilliant food. My trips to Europa Park have been so enjoyable that I have always been left wondering why I can’t find the features I so admire elsewhere. Most parks have dreadful food, British parks seem incapable of keeping their rides running and most curiously nobody seemed to have picked up on Blue Fire as act of brilliance. Nobody until now that is because Blue Fire technology is coming to Sweden!

blue fire (650x488)

Blue Fire

Blue Fire is an exceptional roller coaster and quite different from any other ride. A decent launch is followed by a fun and thrilling circuit packed with twists, turns and inversions which makes you grin with pleasure until you are back in the station. There are no shoulder restraints and so guests have a great feeling of freedom and are not assaulted in the head.  The ride has a fabulous throughput which keeps the queue moving along nicely, a great boon in a busy park and Blue Fire’s greatest asset is the smoothness of the ride experience which is second to none. Blue Fire is so smooth and therefore so quiet that it is surely a ride system which is ideal for parks with concerns about disturbing the neighbours and yet unlike so many other coaster models this one has not been taken up with enthusiasm.

New Coaster

Whilst B & M’s wingriders are all the rage without any real justification in my personal experience, the potential of Blue Fire has been overlooked until now.  A longer and more dramatic coaster with Blue Fire technology is being built at Liseberg in Sweden and this is enough to get me planning trip! I had not considered an expedition to Sweden before, at least not to visit a theme park, but the new coaster, currently dubbed Project Helix, looks fabulous. Project Helix will offer 2 minutes of ride time on a 4500 ft track and there will be two launches on the circuit. With the smoothness of Blue Fire thrown in this one is sure to be winner and I want to give it a go.


Liseberg were concerned about noise pollution from a new ride and this fact heavily influenced their decision to go with Mack for their latest attraction. This is a ride that is sure to run smoothly with Mack technology and Scandinavian efficiency. The Scandinavians don’t appear to be able to do anything wrong these days. The clean lines and functionality of their furniture and homewares has taken the world by storm and I now suspect that I may have missed a trick in not sampling the theme park offering.

Sweden will almost certainly be a place where I can visit a park which will be clean, attractive and which runs its rides efficiently. There is a fair chance that I will like the food too and so it is time to plan a trip. The new ride opens Spring 2014 which sounds as good a time as any for a Scandinavian adventure.


Article by Sally Stacey

Bags and Baggage

If you are going to spend an entire day at a theme park then it can be difficult to take everything you need in your pockets but carrying a bag can be a total pain. Unless you are at a Disney Park where they don’t appear to care what you take onto the rides with you then your bag is going to have to go somewhere whilst you experience an attraction. Parks have adopted various solutions to the bag issue but not all of them work too well. Continue reading