Quick Notes Regarding Mirabilandia and Gardaland

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Mark Rosenzweig

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Sep 22, 2006, 3:25:49 PM9/22/06
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Photos and perhaps a more detailed report will follow within the next
week or two, but I did want to give my impressions of Italy's two
largest parks after my first visit to each last week during the IAAPA
Summer Meeting...

Mirabilandia is clearly Italy's "Cedar Point". Aside from the
beautifully themed entrance plaza, the rest of the park consists of
meandering paths, wide open concrete plazas, and a far more sterile
feel than Gardaland (which I guess I'd call Italy's "Disneyland").

Now, by sterile in European Park standards, I guess that'd equate a
nicely themed park here in the states. Mirabilandia is relatively
compact (maybe a little bigger than Astroworld was), but does feature
several stand out attractions:

Katun rocked. Not going to overhype it saying its the end all be all
of coasters, but I'll say this- if you like Raptor and Montu, its
basically like the two of 'em had a baby. Best first drop of any
invert (steep and straight with a swoop off the lift). All the
elements are shelf items, but taken with great pacing and with some
strong forces. The finale features a second straight drop off the mid
course block, with flatspins in alternating directions separated by an
underground tunnel. Easily Italy's best coaster.

Sierra Tonante (collaboration between Stengal and Cobb) was forgettable
at best. The bizarre SDC trains (inspired by Morgan's trailered
fiberglass model) took the course well enough, but the design just
lacked inspiration. No airtime to speak of, and way too much time
spent high in the air at low speeds. A decent mid course helix didn't
do much to save this forgettable woodie. Also took rides on the Mack
powered coaster and the Monosaurous monorail (riding in a dinosaur
egg).

Other notables were the Intamin Autosplash flume ride, Intamin's Rio
Bravo Rapids, the new Haunted House ride through, and the huge PAX 300
ft tall EuroWheel. Due to rainy conditions, the Schwarzkopf Katapult
never opened. Passed on the Vekoma Roller Skater, L&T kiddie, and L&T
Mouse.

Gardaland is probably more along the lines of a typical European theme
park (from what I've seen). While the overall ride package is bizarre
and lacking in some departments, the park is incredible. Landscaping
and food that is on or above the level of any Disney, Busch, or
Universal park. Theming that was great, but somewhat bizarre in terms
of lack of transition between areas. While Disney and Busch have done
a great job in telling guests where one section ends and another
begins, Gardaland just sort of plops amazingly themed attractions and
buildings everywhere with little to no rhyme or reason.

Coasters? Somewhat forgettable. Blue Tornado (Vekoma SLC with
extended helix finale) was actually...rideable. Took 3 rides and
couldn't get over how smooth the ride was (not B&M smooth, but you
know, not SLC rough either). Magic Mountain is your typical Vekoma
double loop/corkscrew that seems to be a twin of Python at Eftling.
Sequoia Adventure is one of 3 operating S&S Screaming Squirrels. The
ride is actually pretty fun for what it is, but fails in that while the
"over the edge" element/visuals work well, this really acts as but one
element of what should be a more complete coaster. As this model
stands now, most riders exit with some kind of "that's all?" face.
Still, not much else that could have fit where this thing was wedged
(that being inside of Magic Mountain's footprint).

Gardaland shines in the dark ride and water ride department. Colorado
Boat is a really well done Mack/Arrow Log Flume that features a nice
windy course through the woods and plenty of theming. Jungle Rapids is
just a notch below Popeye/Kali/Grizzly in the theming dept for rapids
rides. This amazingly long ride comes complete with volcano, whirlpool
section, and animatronic scenes! Fuga Da Atlantide is a one-of-a-kind
ride from Intamin that features two cable lifts (each about 40-50 ft
tall), two coaster drop splashdowns, and long stretches of nothing
inbetween (allowing for time to absorb the amazing theme package I
suppose). The ride runs eight 16 passenger boats with no lapbars- just
a seatbelt.

La Valle Del Re features an Epcot-esque continuous ride system from
Intamin. Some interesting effects, and I'd say a dozen or so
animatronics too. The storyline is as follows (according to park
media): The Pharaoh's treasure has been found. Many thousands of years
have past since human footsteps have trodden on the sands of the desert
that has covered and protected the magnificent tombs of the Pharaohs.
Today, numerous explorers are on the traces of this ancient
civilization. Their tracks will lead us to discover the Valley of
Kings.

The real crown jewel of Gardaland is their Pirates knock off "I
Corsari". Being that Gardaland has been given such strict height
regulations, they have dug into the ground to house many attractions,
including this one- where the boarding area is 15 meters underground!
The ride vehicles are modified Intamin Spillwater boats, linked in sets
of two (40 people dispatch at a time!) Not quite up to the Disney
rides, this thing is still amazing, and probably the best ride in the
park.

Other notables include an Intamin Flying Island, the Space Vertigo
Intamin (not so) Giant Drop, and the Fantasy Kingdom area complete with
giant fantasy tree and Vekoma Mad House in the basement.

I hope to have photos and a more complete report up as time allows.

-Mark

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