Vekoma New Wave: A Love Letter

If you're a long term reader here at Cupcakes and Coasters you'll be aware that back in April I took a little trip over to Poland to visit Energylandia and Legendia - namely to ride the incredible looking Hyperion but also to check out the intriguing Lech Coaster. I've always been a bit of a Vekoma fan girl and whilst I'm not going to see here tonight and tell you that their whole portfolio is actually excellent (obviously it's not, looking at you SLCs) but I do wholeheartedly believe that Vekoma are entirely undeserving of the negative rap they've received over the years and in the past it's not been uncommon for me to find myself explaining why actually their coasters aren't that bad.

But in recent years, that's all changed with what I like to call 'New Wave' Vekoma. Somewhere around the early 2010s Vekoma kind of went quiet on us. That's not to say they stopped making coasters, far from it, but there seemed to be a focus on their family offering. Family suspended coasters, family boomerangs and junior coasters popping up here, there and everywhere which seemed to keep the business ticking over whilst they squirrelled away doing lord knows what.

Those family coasters have always been Vekoma's bread and butter - in my opinion they're easily the best family coaster manufacturer and the three aforementioned designs never fail to give a solid ride - when well themed like the likes of Raik, Flight of the Pterosaur and even the higher budget end of the scale like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are easily some of the best family coasters on offer and it's fab that Vekoma are able to offer such flawless designs for such a wide range of parks from the extremely high budget to the independently operated low budget. Vekoma offer something for everyone and I'd argue that it's their versatility in being able to cater for these different budgets whilst never compromising on quality that's kept them afloat all these years. There's no risk with a Vekoma family coaster, you know you're going to get a great product whatever your investment capability - if that's not a surefire sign of quality I don't know what is.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere in 2016, Formula at Energylandia came onto my radar and I remember doing a double take at the design. This...was a Vekoma design? But it looks so smooth? A launch?! What the hell? Vekoma have always been creative and innovative but this felt like a bit of a gamechanger - we'd never seen the likes of this from Vekoma and I was SO excited. But obviously that excitement didn't come without a pang of cynicism - as much of a Vekoma-defender I'd been in the past I was nervous about this design. Inversions...they've never really been Vekoma's strong suit and the inversions they'd created previously seemed hellbent on delivering nothing but headbashing and earache. And a launch? Really? After those horrendous trundling launches on the booster bike coasters and the like of Rock n Roller Coaster I wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect. But either way, this design looked new and exciting and...airtime filled which is something we'd NEVER seen from Vekoma before. Is it possible to be cautiously excited? This felt a lot like that.

And then they kept coming at us - TRON Lightcycle Power Run came on the scene shortly after Formula which, let's be honest it's Disney so even if the coaster itself was bad the theming would obviously made up for it but something seemed different about this. This wasn't your standard rattly ol' booster bike, this was booster bike 2.0! Then fastforward to mid 2017 and we get the fabulous Lech Coaster which on paper looked like everything Vekoma wasn't. It looked...unwordly, a complete reimagining of everything we'd every come to expect from Vekoma and I remember just SALIVATING over the pics and videos coming out of Legendia. And that settled it, I HAD to get myself on one of these new wave designs to finally see once and for all how they rode. Surely they couldn't be as good as they looked? From Vekoma? We would see...

Fastforward to today and I've now ridden TRON, Lech and Formula and good lord, these coasters are absolute gamechangers in the best possible way!

Firstly let's talk TRON. Obviously the theming is obscene because it's Disney and yes I will confess that I audibly went WOW when the coaster entered the show building proper but theming aside for the purpose of this discussion - the coaster itself is absolutely incredible. Firstly, the launch. Considering I only really had the likes of Booster Bike and Velocity to compare this to you can imagine my surprise when this thing HAULED ASS out of the station building. The launch is just so powerful and impactful, it had me gasping for breath the first time I rode as I was absolutely not expecting to be whipped down the track with quite so much gusto. I'll be honest I...don't remember too much about the coaster itself once inside the show building because I was too busy being distracted by the awesomeness inside. But I guess you could see that as a good thing in that the coaster was so glass smooth and the forces flowed so well with the theming and narrative of the attraction that it was barely noticeable. Incredible.



Lech Coaster and Formula are clearly sequels to each other and you can definitely see where Vekoma have taken all the best bits from their Formula design and used them to create the perfection that is Lech Coaster. I'm not going to dive too in depth into my thoughts on Lech and Formula here and I've chatted about it EXTENSIVELY in my other blogs and vlogs from the parks and I bet you're probably sick of me gushing on by now about how bloody incredible they both are but I'll just say this. They're both excellent coasters and I insist you book flights to Poland immediately so you can go ride them.

So yes, it's fair to say that I am VERY excited to see what we'll be getting from Vekoma in the future. I can't wait for more people to experience the incredibleness that is TRON when it opens at Magic Kingdom in Orlando, the new 'extreme' coaster coming to Energylandia in 2020 looks absolutely obscene and obviously we're all absolutely gagging to finally try out FLY at Phantasialand to see what the hell kind of coaster Vekoma are building in that big ol' pit. Given how Lech, Formula and TRON ride I have full confidence that FLY may well be one of the best coaster experiences in the world when it finally opens. The future is looking very bright for this previously shit upon coaster manufacturer and given the world class coasters they've churned out in recent years I can't wait for the days coming soon where we're talking about Vekoma in the same league as B&M, Intamin and RMC. In my opinion they really are that good and the only way is up from here!

Talk later xoxo,

CONVERSATION

2 comments:

  1. I think the Flying Dutchman Flying Coasters and Giant Inverted Boomerangs scared alot of US parks from buying Vekoma's and are still scared about the reliability.

    I wonder if their Boomerangs have gotten any better?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Potentially true but I've never seen a reliability issue with the standard Boomerangs and SLCs?

      Delete

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