Theme Park Unpopular Opinions

Who's ready to get triggered? If you fancy reading something rage inducing these evening, stick around as I've decided I fancy getting some theme park unpopular opinions down on virtual paper for all the world to see. Inspired by one of Screwy Loops' videos, today I'm going to be chatting through some of my most controversial opinions, mostly because I enjoy hearing yours off the back of confessing mine and we can all have a go at each other in the comments. Personally I've never really been one to go with the flow of what the majority are saying, and over the years I think it's fair to say that I've got in my fair share of online arguments for daring to disagree with the general consensus. Hell, I've even had full on hate campaigns targeted at me because I don't think Icon is good! I guess something else I want to get out of this is to (continue, as I feel I do this a lot) normalise rational and respectful discourse around different opinions we might have, and why bullying or harassing those who disagree with you online is not something we should be engaging in. 

And on that note, obviously this post is going to contain some controversial takes. There are most likely going to be some things here that you disagree with, there might even be things that make you angry. But it's OK. It's just theme parks and roller coasters, I promise you everything will be fine. Just. Breathe. And of course, if you disagree with me - let me know in the comments (but don't be rude, be constructive and we can have a conversation!) Let's get stuck in.


I've lumped these two small footprint coaster types together because they're quite similar both in the way they ride and the ridicule and hatred they receive. Mention the word 'Zacspin' out loud and you can practically hear the collective groan of a thousand enthusiasts who hate these things with a passion. 

Personally, not only do I not find Intamin Zacspins or S&S Free Spin coasters bad or painful, I actually find them really enjoyable! I absolutely love a mad, violent ride - I've always been a fan of whippy Wild Mouse type coasters that seem to want nothing more than to get you OFF of them, and for me Zacspins and Free Spins are just a slightly different variation of that sensation. I adore the feeling of being flung around like a ragdoll so helplessly, being so at mercy of the machine you're strapped into and the complete disorientation felt from the minute you dispatch. There's not a single one of these I've ridden that I haven't come away from crying with laughter, I think they're absolutely class. 


I find it really hard to get excited about B&M coasters. Not because I think they're bad, please understand. Oblivion, Nemesis, Oz'Iris, Yukon Striker - some of my favourite coasters in the world are built by Bolliger & Mabillard and honestly I think if one were to really interrogate their portfolio I think you'd be hard pressed to identify any coaster you could truly call 'bad'. 

No, what I mean is they don't excite me in the way Intamin excite me. The way Gerstlauer excite me (we'll get on to that in a minute). Hell, even the way Vekoma excite me. No, what you get with. B&M is a sturdy and reliable product. You know it's going to be robust, you know it's going to be forceful and you know it's going to reliably deliver exactly what it sets out to do. Which is a fantastic thing, especially if you're a park looking to invest in a safe bet, none safer than B&M. But let's be real, they're the Lemon & Herb of the coaster world. There's absolutely no spice, no wondering what the hell they'll come up with next, no not knowing exactly how the thing is going to ride before you've experienced it yourself. I'd even go as far to say they're the dullest of the big coaster manufacturers in that they're so reliable and predictable, and whilst that's by no means a bad thing I think it's something a lot of coaster fans would find hard to swallow. 


Ah, the infamous Furius Baco, notoriously known for being one of the most brutal and rough coasters on the planet and one we surely all agree on as being an absolute dumpster fire from start to finish. Well...not me I'm afraid. Not only do I not find Baco too painful (although I would be straight up lying if I said it wasn't rattly - especially towards the back end of the train), but I would have to say that Baco's launch is easily one of my Top 10 coaster launches in the world (ooh, new blog post idea!). 

The pre-show to Baco is absolutely nuts as well and something I'm sure will never be emulated anywhere else in the world because it's so batshit. It lulls you into this distracting sense of 'wait, what the fuck?' before hauling absolute ass out of there and plummeting down into the ravine, delivering one of the most intense ejector airtime moments in Europe. Say what you will about the rest of the layout being a little uncomfortable, but honestly it's something I'm willing to put up with because that pre-show/launch/airtime combo is just glorious. 


When I visited the legendary Cedar Point for the first time last year it was probably the most anticipated moment of my career as a coaster enthusiast. Across all corners of coaster geekdom will one seldom find a less fanboyed park than the iconic coaster clad peninsula that is Cedar Point. It's a park that, despite it being talked about as the must-visit Mecca for any self-respecting coaster fan, I'd managed to largely avoid spoilers for (aside from the obvious hard-to-miss stuff like Top Thrill Dragster.) With 17 operating coasters we pencilled in two days to spend exploring this most famous of theme parks to ensure we had as much time as possible to soak it all in. 

And...yh, after spending the majority of the first day cred-whoring we came to find that actually, we were spending an awful lot of our time in the same area of the park. The top end where the really good shit is (I'm talking Steel Vengeance and Maverick, of course), occasionally trekking down to get in a few rides on Top Thrill Dragster. The truth is for me, a hell of a lot of Cedar Points line-up is one-and-done type coasters. Fun, sure. But nothing I'd really go out of my way to reride, especially not when the likes of Maverick and Steel Vengeance are right there. When I think of Cedar Point and the stand out rides for me I think of three coasters, and then I look at a park like Phantasialand where I can't even count on two hands the rides I'd consider to be stand out. 


Ooooh I can't WAIT to see the reaction to this one. I can feel the furrowed brows and increased angry heart rates from here having just read this title. But I stand by it. Wandering around Gardaland this year was when I actually came to the realisation that, for all the nit-picking and hatred thrown their way, Merlin actually pull out some really excellent and innovative theming. Looking at how visually impressive the theming being sucked into Oblivion's Black Hole was, how alive, how REAL it felt despite being a mostly static piece of theming, I was kind of in awe. And then it hit me. Krake's gaping fanged sea monster, Wicker Man's wicker man, Smiler's Marmaliser, Derren Brown's suspended Victorian ghost train carriage, Tiger Rock's tiger head. All of these are absolutely fantastic pieces of theming, extremely photogenic and absolutely fantastic set pieces around which to build a theme park ride. 

And yes, of course we'd all love to see completely immersive landscapes like Klugheim or Pandora that swallow you whole into the world's they've created, but sometimes I think we need to take a step back and actually appreciate great theming for what it is instead of poo-pooing it because it's not as immersive as [insert other park here]. 


I know y'all know this one because I've talked about it a lot before so I'll try and be brief, but for me Europa Park is one of those quantity over quality places. I've visited twice, both times I went with an open mind, wanting to explore for myself and make up my own mind about the place. But sadly, with the exception of Arthur and maybe Wodan's queueline, for me Europa Park just always felt just a step shy of the mark. Like there was just one more piece of the puzzle missing to make it truly fantastic in my eyes. 

Again, this isn't to say it's bad or poorly done or anything, quite the opposite. I think it's gorgeous and extremely well done, but there's something about it that leaves me cold which is really hard to put into words. It's actually a park I'm very keen to revisit and am gutted to say will be missing out on finally getting back to this year due to the stupid virus. I last visited in 2015 and I'm lead to believe that the new additions to the park since then are all fantastic, and have taken large steps towards moving away from the Disney rip-off thing they'd gone for in years previous towards a more personal and unique style, which is something I'm really interested to experience for myself to see if it will change my mind. 


Recently I've been pondering where the hatred for Gerstlauer came from, especially here in the UK. The conclusion I've come up with is that it can be traced back to SAW: The Ride at Thorpe Park, everyone's favourite theme park they love to hate. A lot of rides at Thorpe get bashed simply for being at Thorpe and nothing else, so it makes sense that a ride like SAW, which is a perfectly good Gerstlauer Eurofighter that maybe suffers from a slight case of headbanging at the bottom of the first drop, gets absolutely (and undeservedly) crucified. But objectively speaking, and thinking about the coasters on an individual basis, I've decided that Gerstlauer might be good, actually. 

Not just good in fact, but great. Innovative thinkers who dare to be different and deliver the unusual, the unexpected. Recently reriding Karacho made me realise what fantastic coasters Gerstlauer can deliver, and that then got me thinking about the ridiculousness of Karnan, the daringness of Smiler, the whimsy of their classic Bobsled. Gerstlauer coasters are fun, rerideable, unpredictable. They do things no other coaster manufacturer can and are incredibly versatile. Not to mention ridiculously photogenic. Aside from maybe Vekoma, no other coaster manufacturer operating today excites and entices me quite like Gerstlauer, and I truly cannot wait to see what they do next. 

Might as well end with a bang, so here it is. RMC are overrated. And again I must stress, this by no means means I think they're bad. I truly, truly don't. Indeed, RMC have built some of my favourite coasters in the world and were pivotal in shaping what the 2010s coaster landscape looked like. But this ridiculous notion that every theme park in the world needs to get an RMC, every old woodie in the world needs to be RMC'd to make it good or keep it relevant is as exhausting as it is ridiculous. RMC make some damn good coasters, that's an undeniable fact, but they are not the second coming of coaster-Christ that everybody and their dog makes them out to be and surely I can't be the only one who's just a little bit tired of seeing those three letters pop up over and over again. 

Watching the Iron Gwazi POV cemented this for me. Was I excited watching the POV? Sure was. Did it leave me feeling breathless and with butterflies in my stomach like the Velocicoaster or Pantheon videos have? No it certainly did not. Because I KNOW it's going to be excellent. I know it's going to deliver insane airtime, weird zero-g moments, incredible drops and unmatched speed. For me to be stirred by a coaster design it has to do something I was expecting, something I haven't seen before, and I'd absolutely love to see RMC continue to innovate so they can continue making the mark they have on this industry with exciting new ideas but for now they've become far too predictable. Predictably excellent, but predictable nonetheless. 

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Are you still here? OK good, that wasn't so bad was it? The truth is, something I've always said about this hobby and this community is that it would be an extremely boring place if we all agreed with one another all the time, so it's nice to occasionally let loose and wreak havoc but revealing our most deeply repressed unpopular opinions to lighten the load and mix things up a bit. 

What do you think of my list - were these as controversial as I built them up to be or are they tamer than you expected? What's your most unpopular theme park opinion? Leave a comment below, I'd love to have a chat. 

Talk later xoxo,

4 comments

  1. Controversial Opinion:

    I really hate the Transformers Ride ending.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think that after trying a thousand of anything, one starts to develop a taste for whatever catches you off guard.

    And yes, Europa Park is WAY overrated.

    ReplyDelete