24-26th July 1998

Travel, Düsseldorf Fair
Phantasialand, Düren Fair (surprise addition)
Düsseldorf (behind the scenes), Travel

 

David Dowson
Around 70 enthusiasts converged at the hotel in Düsseldorf from all over Europe and the US for the CoasterBahn ’98 trip. On the Friday night we were cautioned by a German member that the fair would be very crowded due to a fireworks display – this was an understatement. It was so busy that I decided only to do one ride that evening, Star World, and then to just enjoy the atmosphere of the fair.

I took in the fireworks display from a grass bank above the fair, which provided a great view of both the fair and fireworks. When the fireworks were over, and everybody headed for the fair, we fought our way through the throngs of people back to the hotel to try to get some sleep before the early start next morning.

Saturday was Phantasialand and a “surprise” that had been included on a revised agenda and had us all guessing. All I knew of Phantasialand prior to the trip was from a report in a recent issue of First Drop and I was very pleasantly surprised by the park. The ERS on the Colorado Mine Train was wonderful, it is definitely the best one I have been on, the ride is fantastic.

Following the ERS, the group split up and did the rest of the park. I was very impressed by the general standard of the park and in particular, the coasters. The Mountain Railway was a revelation with a wonderful series of long sweeping drops and turns that reminded me of the old Scenic Railways. The Space Center with its three lift hills again was a terrific ride, with some very good effects.

After lunch in the Chinese restaurant, which was superb, we were given access to Mystery Castle. The main free fall area inside the tower is incredible, appearing much larger inside than you would expect when viewed from the outside. The ride is not yet finished, but it is still a very impressive ride indeed and will no doubt be superb when it is complete.

The surprise was revealed over lunch – this was not to be a single fair trip, but that we would be visiting the fair in nearby Duren where the Olympia Looping coaster was operating. Having missed riding Thriller, this was the next on my list of must-do coasters, so I was very happy to say the least.

The Duren fair was smaller than Düsseldorf, but still far bigger than anything in the UK. We arrived at Olympia slightly concerned at its reputation as a rough ride, but it was awesome. The first curved dive down into the first loop was awesome, the turnaround into the next two consecutive loops was stunning, the rise up onto the brakes and the swoops down into the final two consecutive loops was fantastic. What a ride, truly awesome but smooth with it, it was that good. As you may have guessed I liked the ride. With only two hours at the fair, a ride on the Wild Mouse just had to be done, we had to return to the coach to go back to Düsseldorf. The bad news on the return trip to Düsseldorf was that EuroStar was not operating due to a fault on the chain, would it be running by Sunday? Fingers were crossed.

A swim in the hotel pool early on Sunday set the day off to a good start, but the news of EuroStar was not what we wanted to hear. We made our way to the fair only the see the crane working, so the ERS looked out of the question. Still, this being an ECC trip, we were soon being allowed access to Star World to look around inside and climb over this fantastic coaster. The coaster is one of my favourites and is fantastic and the cars were spinning wildly. The Wild Mouse was then opened for us to ride followed by Airwolf and the new Maurer Sohne Power Tower. Apparently this was set to the “Mad Bastard” setting, I can’t think why! But it was a really good ride.

We were due to leave the fair shortly after, but were asked to be at EuroStar where we were met by Ingar Bruch, wife of the owner Oscar. She apologised profusely, but pointed out that the chain was English! We were then offered a drink, and while we were talking there was the unmistakable roar of a train on the first drop of EuroStar. In unison, 76 people put their drinks down and ran towards the coaster, where we were immediately ushered to the rear exit ramp and onto the train for a single ride before rushing back onto the coaches. It was everything I remembered from Bremen: exhilarating, intense, a wicked helix, just fantastic.

What a superb weekend. From start to finish, it was wonderful. Many thanks to Liz, Justin and Mark Wijman and everybody involved in the trip – it really was fantastic. The highlight for me must have been Olympia, a dream come true.

 

Chris & Claire McFarlane
What a great time we both had on the CoasterBahn II trip, the Düsseldorf fair was excellent and it was good to get back on some of our favourite rides that were on the original CoasterBahn; EuroStar, Wild Wasser III, and Star World which was running faster that last year! It was good to get on a few new rides as well: the Power Tower, a Take Off (what g’s!), Circus Circus, and Flying Circus (which did not live up to its reputation). It seemed as though the entire population of Germany was at the fair on the Friday evening, although there were only short queues for the rides!

It was good to get back to Phantasialand and ride the excellent Colorado Adventure and the new Mystery Castle. Phantasialand was thankfully not as busy as we were expecting and hence not that long to queue for the rides. Mystery Castle, which is still being run in, was very good and neither of us can wait to ride it when it is running at full speed.

The Duren fair was a great addition to the trip. As well as Olympia, rides included Jumping (Huss freefall jump spin ride) and the Huss Freefall tower.

Finally, many thanks to everyone involved in organising the trip and also to Ingar Bruch, Tim Derrichs and Tim Herre. So when are we going to do this again?

 

Cathie Cook
I’d like to say an enormous thank you to everyone who helped to make CoasterBahn 2 the amazing trip it was. What an ERS that was, on the Colorado Adventure at Phantasialand! The park really did us proud. What an exhilarating ride it is, too. Twists and turns, dives and plunges through darkness, a cascade of water, excellent scenery; and so fast and smooth compared with Vekoma’s usual knockabout style.

For the rest of the park: another smooth Vekoma, Space Center. One huge dark-ride, maybe not pure white knuckle fare, but good value for your queuing time, and definitely worth a few goes. I also snatched a quick ride on the other main gravity coaster Mountain Railway, a Schwarzkopf pink knuckle ride.

Of the non-coaster rides, probably the ones which stand out the best, for me, were the non-identical twin Log Flumes, pleasantly wet, with a surprisingly small queue, considering the hot weather. Plus, of course, Mystery Castle, an indoor freefall, that had just opened and was still in its testing phase. A big thank you to the park for allowing us to sneak in and try it. Being indoors and facing each other across a spooky column of mist, while you shoot roofwards, certainly adds something different to the ride.

And, for the rest of the trip – not one fairground, as expected, but two! I can still hear the cheers when Justin announced it. A surprise detour to Duren, and the five-inversion Olympia Looping; what else can I say? I’ve got a soft spot for Schwarzkopf loopers anyway, so this was a real bonus. The g forces are incredible, the whole thing is so intense, it really does make you wonder, first time around, just looking at it and watching it, if you really, truly do want those back/front seats you’re queuing for. Then you ride them, and you definitely do.

Many, many thanks to the showmen at Düsseldorf for their generous hospitality, particularly the Bruch family for their free ride tickets, and the amazing wad of cash we were given to share out, in lieu of quite unexpected food.

First and foremost, of course, was Düsseldorf and EuroStar. Something wild in purple steel, larger in effect than Drayton Manor’s Shockwave; and, like the Olympia, this monster travels!? It was a pleasant surprise to find that, whether their restraints just suited my height or something, neither Eurostar nor Olympia were half as rough as I’d heard. Wonderful rides; if only there was room for them in British fairgrounds. We can but dream.

The impromptu ERSs on Sunday morning were a welcome bonus too. Now, at last, I can see what people meant about Star World. What an amazing feeling, spinning round like a Waltzer while you’re on a coaster, with flames and all sorts going off around you, especially if you manage to grab the back seats. I’ve never ridden anything else like it. An instant hit.

Finally, due to Skater (Düsseldorf’s version of Extreme) running a sort of two-minute beginner’s trial-size program, on Sunday morning, I at last got to try a Top Scan. It feels totally weird. Lots of sweeping around at strange angles, while your legs flap chaotically about in the air, and your stomach does very peculiar things indeed. I don’t think I could take very much of that, but it was good at least to get a “safeish” chance to try it.

One last big thank you, of course, must go to the folk from Crosskeys, and especially, for me and John, to driver Dave and hostess Christine, who between them, kept us entertained, fed and watered, and happily got us back to London just in time to leap onto our train. A brilliant trip, all round. Thank you, Justin, Liz, Mark Fulcher and everyone else who organised it. It was a cracker!

 

Brian Watson
It was my first trip to Düsseldorf to visit a German funfair and I was not at all disappointed. I was quite amazed to see how large the fair was. The atmosphere on the Friday night was electric with much jostling through crowds to get to Eurostar.

The next morning saw an early start to Phantasialand to ride the Colorado Adventure. Wow!, what a ride. I have never been on a Mine Train like this one before. It was the best Mine Train that I have ever been on. Another highlight of the day was our surprise visit to a fair at Duren which had the Olympia Looping, a five looping roller coaster. Then it was back to Düsseldorf funfair for more rides. I liked the spinning rides, but after doing Take Off and then Extreme, I was feeling quite sickly.

The next morning at the fair it was my last chance to do Flying Circus, so I plucked up the courage and rode it. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be and I was glad that I had done the ride.

The trip was very well organised and was most enjoyable from start to finish.

 

Tom Marshall
This was my first time on a Club trip, but having read the reports from previous trips, I had a rough idea of what this was going to be like, but I wasn’t prepared for everything that happened.

On the first evening we arrived in Düsseldorf, and wasted no time in getting checked-in at the hotel, before getting down to the fair. I only got one ride that evening, on EuroStar. First impressions of the coaster were very good, although I did find the first drop and loop a little rough, even so, a first class steelie, very quick and very intense.

The next day was at Phantasialand, and the ERS on the Colorado Adventure Vekoma mine train. I was expecting a rough, brutal, uncomfortable coaster, what I found was a quite intense, fun, and fast one. This coaster, along with the Space Center dark ride is a testament to what Vekoma are capable of when they don’t use shoulder restraints.

The big surprise of the trip was a visit to a second fair at Duren. This was host to the Schwarzkopf Olympia Looping, as well as a Huss “Shot ‘n Drop” ride. Olympia was, for me, the best coaster on the trip, as smooth as a B&M, very quick, surprisingly comfortable.

At breakfast, stories were circulating that Eurostar had a snapped chain, this meant we would not be getting access to it as planned. We were kept busy though with a walk around the inside of Star World, the enclosed coaster, then free rides on the Wilde Mouse, Power Tower (another free-fall), and Airwolf. This was my first (and last!) experience of a Mondial Inferno.

The biggest “thank you” of all has to go to the Bruch family and the crew on EuroStar for doing the seemingly impossible. Other thank you’s go to the people who organised the trip. Dave, driver of coach “M” (Ed: We had two coaches, coach “B” and coach “M”), for getting every last bit of speed out of the coach on the run from the tunnel to London, and to everyone else who was there for making me feel so welcome on my first, and certainly not last, Club trip.

 

James Tipler
Thanks for the trip. I liked the Mystery Tower and Colorado roller coaster, and the fair rides were the best. I really like them.

 

Ruairi Ross
What a weekend! Up at who knows what hour to catch the coach at Victoria, a few hours (!) in the coach and Graham, my son, and I were in Düsseldorf on the eve of the coasting experience of our lives.

The first ride of the trip for me was Star World, the dark, spinning ride lifts you gently to start with but soon you’re hurtling down through the darkness, broken only by the flashes of laser lights criss-crossing the huge indoor space which encloses the ride. The Wild Mouse was also fun, but the high point of the night (and the weekend as it turned out) was EuroStar. When we came back down to earth, we’d already had all the fireworks we could take, so we headed back to the hotel for our first taste of he dark nectar they call Alt beer. About four hours of sleep later, we were on the coach to Phantasialand.

Our visit began with an ERS on Colorado Adventure, a coaster masquerading as a runaway mine train. Anyone who wanted could ride continuously for the whole of the one hour session. Personally, three or four circuits leaves me needing a rest, but I noticed some members, nine-year-old Graham included, who only got off the train to change seats.

We tried Wild Wasser 1, (one of the parks twin log flumes), and the Mountain Railway ride before meeting the group again for lunch and then an exclusive session on Mystery Castle, Phantasia’s newest ride. The theming throughout the park is excellent, but in Mystery Castle the designers have excelled themselves.

Justin had announced the surprise of a second fair, including the Olympia Looping. We rode it the back where the g forces were terrific. Unfortunately, the shoulder harnesses pulled down too tightly and this, combined with the roughness of the ride consigned Olympia Looping to second place behind Eurostar. That night I celebrated my birthday with a couple of bottles of beer, some Belgian chocolates (my present from Graham) and Graham, Tim and James Tipler singing “Happy Birthday to you” in our room at midnight. I loved it.

On Sunday morning we had a bit of a lie in before returning to Düsseldorf fair. Once there we were taken on a close up inspection of the inside of Star World and on an exclusive session on AirWolf. After that it was time to relax. Graham and I declined the opportunity to ride the Wild Mouse again but couldn’t resist Wild Wasser 3, the largest travelling log flume in the world.

Ingar Bruch, wife of the owner, met us in front of EuroStar. She was incredibly nice, apologising for the fact that the ride wasn’t working, inviting us all to have a drink at her expense and even forcing 500 DMs into Justin’s hand to compensate us for not having time to enjoy a meal with her. As we stood at the bar there was a roar from around the corner. It could only mean one thing, we were going on EuroStar. This time the ride was much faster than when we first rode it. One of the great things about exclusive sessions is knowing that everyone else on the ride shares your enthusiasm. This time around the atmosphere was electric.

I’ll try not to gush, but I just can’t think of a better introduction for us to the European Coaster Club on tour.

 

John Lawson
After the joys of Paris in the spring, could Germany in the summer match? After greeting everyone I knew, we started on the long trip to the German fair. At the hotel I was immediately struck by how “upmarket” it was. It has constantly amazed me how Justin and Liz arrange such fantastic weekends at such low prices, and this confirmed my view. The hotel was superb.

I walked to the fair, and after a few failed attempts at queuing for rides, I spotted the indoor coaster Star World with no queue, so I jumped on board. Hooray! I had ridden something, and what’s more, it was a good ride too! It was while I was being thrown upside down on the adjacent Airwolf that the fireworks started, so I had a great vantage point to watch them from – even if I wasn’t the right way up to appreciate them fully!

It was now quite late, so we decided to fight our way back through the crowds, and made it back to our hotel for a quick couple of beers, and a gossip to see what the others had been up to without us. Then bed.

Day two started early as we all headed off to Phantasialand to ride the excellent Colorado for an ERS that lasted over an hour.

After lunch we made our way to the back entrance of the Mystery Castle, so we could get a sneak ride in. Excellent theming made it well worth a visit, and the ride was fantastic. I cant wait for it to be up and running fully, as it seemed to be going quite fast already.

We then headed off for a surprise visit to another fair, to ride the five looping Olympia Looping. This was a brilliant ride which was spiced up for me, when it was pointed out how much the structure moved and shook after the cars went through the last inversion.

A final early start next day brought bad news – EuroStar had broken down. A little downheartedly we arrived at the fair to the sight of workmen trying to mend the broken lift chain. We were instead shown around the inside of Star World, where an impromptu Q & A with the owner took place. Then onto an ERS on the Wilde Maus and Airwolf. We then split up, so a group of us headed to the Log Flume, which was able to turn round the cars in the ride, to send them plummeting backwards! Excellent, and a welcome cooler on a day that was becoming a scorcher.

Arriving back at EuroStar we met the ride owner’s wife, Angela Bruch, who apologised for the lift breaking down. Whilst we were having a final goodbye drink with her, a loud rumbling was heard. EuroStar had been fixed!! This meant a mad dash for the ride, an entrance round the back, and in front of some bemused locals, one final ride on the front seat of the best ride all weekend. The g forces in the front were incredible, and I don’t think the smile left my face the rest of the day.

I’d like to thank Justin and Liz and all the other people who made it a great trip, and I can’t wait for the next one.

 

Bob Walden-Hall
Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed the trip and the people on it. Very well run and very good value for money, let’s hope that the next one falls on one of my rest days.

 

Mark Fulcher
Many thanks for another superb ECC trip. It’s great to be around other coaster fans and ride some of the best rides Europe has to offer. The whole weekend was one non-stop roller coaster ride (to coin a phrase) from the moment we left Victoria to our sad goodbyes on Le shuttle and back in London.

The group worked well together, any larger and you could be in danger of becoming “a number.” Special thanks to Justin and Liz for all their hard work, most of which is done behind the scenes and arranged months in advance.

Thank you again and I’m looking forward to the next trip!!!

 

Tim Tipler
Firstly, I’d like to say “Thank you” for a very enjoyable trip to Düsseldorf. The fair on Friday night was fantastic with the added bonus of half an hour of fireworks.

The next morning at Phantasialand started with an ERS on their Colorado Mine Train. They ran all three trains which meant that no one had to wait, and rides were almost unlimited. For a Vekoma ride, it was very smooth.

With our new found friends, Graham and Rauiri Ross, myself and my nine-year-old son, James explored the rest of the park. Some of the most prominent rides were Space Center, a Vekoma dark ride and again a very smooth track, and Grand Canyon, a fun, figure of eight Schwarzkopf ride.

An early lunch at the parks’ Chinese Restaurant prepared us for our preview of Mystery Castle, an Intamin prototype ride, not the best “shot and drop” type ride I have experienced, but as it is new, I’m sure it will improve with time. We all met up, after the parade, back at the coach to be told of a surprise up Justin’s sleeve, a trip to the Düren Fair which houses Rudolph Barth’s Olympia Looping, amongst others. What a superb ride, and again, so smooth.

The next morning started with a behind the scenes tour of Space World, a spinning, dark coaster. After a speech and demonstration of some of the special effects, the owner, Klaus Renoldi, treated us to a ride, which was just magic. Airwolf was next, a mad, spinning ride, which we were “lucky” enough to have a free ride on. This ride is pretty gut wrenching, but Justin persuaded the ride operator to “pump it up” somewhat! I staggered off, feeling rather sick, but enjoyed it nevertheless.

Due to the chain lift problem the previous day, EuroStar had not been running, so we were really pleased when Justin announced one last ride on it before we left. I found it very fast and a little rough, but really impressive.

We had a long trip back, arriving home at 1:00 am Monday morning, but it was well worth it. Another fair, and possibly a woodie next year? I hope so. Thanks.

 

John Phillips
In one weekend, my top two steelies have changed from Nemesis and the Big One to Olympia Looping and EuroStar. What a trip!

This was my first coaster trip outside the UK and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Like everyone, I was amazed by the organisation of the German fairs, but one aspect which really surprised me was the way the rides were run. On Friday night the queue for EuroStar was so big that I, being used to UK park queues, expected at least an hour wait. Ten minutes! Park owners ought to look at these rides seriously, as they prove not only that you can have great rides with incredible capacity, but also allowing riders to choose seats needn’t hinder efficiency as long as the staff know their job, as the EuroStar crew did.

The fact we got to visit a second fair was a double-edged sword. Yes, it was fantastic to visit and had some awesome rides (Olympia Looping and Jump), but it is awful to think that with such great fairs so common in Germany, the UK is so very far behind.

Phantasialand really had a job on their hands to compete, but they were excellent too. Colorado Adventure was a great ride (and another real queue shifter), while Mystery Castle was truly superb and very atmospheric, especially during the group riding session.

The only disappointments were the travelling freefall towers and that EuroStar broke down – the way that that last ride came about more than made up for it though!

Thanks to all who organised this truly great weekend, to the very generous Bruch family, and Tim Derrichs who not only allowed us inside Star World but also arranged a wonderful 2:00am impromptu ERS on this astonishing ride. You can put my name down for Coasterbahn 3 now.

 

Mark Riley
“It can’t possibly travel.” This was the phrase to sum up the recent Coaster Bahn trip to Düsseldorf Fair. It was my first trip to a German Fair – truly a life changing experience. I stood in disbelief as I watched (and rode) a triple drop Log Flume, Dark Coaster, Free Fall tower, Inverted Coaster, huge spinning contraptions and countless other wonders. Not only were these top class thrill machines, but they would no longer be here in a week’s time.

For me, and I am sure many others, the highlight was the Olympia Looping. This being a surprise “extra” to the tour made it all the more special. Again, the size of this portable ride is breathtaking. For a travelling ride, it was exceptionally smooth, yet the intensity was wild.

Well, thanks to Justin and the rest of the team for a great weekend. The Nottingham Goose Fair shall never be the same again…

 

Justin Garvanovic
I need to thank a fair (bad pun intended) few people: Liz, for handling the paperwork, and being my much appreciated “right hand man.” Mark Wijman, for handling the Phantasialand side of things. The Dave’s and Christine’s for the coaches. Mark Fulcher for looking after coach “M” for me. Tim Derrich’s for being nothing less than a top geezer. Tim Herre for being my translator. And to everyone else who helped out in some form or another.

Finally, many thanks to the Bruch family, still some of the best people I know in the entire amusement industry.

 

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