Top 7 Fav New Things I Rode This Year

So, the 2016 season is coming to a close *long drawn out sob* (OK, let's not pretend I haven't been trawling the internet trying to find a cheap trip abroad somewhere, but that's besides the point!). Without a 'big' trip of new-for-me stuff this year I can't say I was particularly enthused about what 2016 would bring my way, but looking back I actually rode some pretty badass stuff! So whilst I'm sat here pining over the closed season I thought I'd take this opportunity to look back over the year and pinpoint my highlights!

1. Lost Gravity, Walibi Holland
Probably the dark horse of this year for me. I briefly peeked into the construction of this a few times last year and overall my reaction was always kind of 'meh'. Yes, I'll admit I was a little baffled when we finally saw what a weird layout it was, but to me it always look a little too much on the Gerstlauer side for me to even consider it potentially being fab. Even when I finally made it to Walibi Holland mid-October, I was just counting down the hours until Halloween Fright Nights began and the rides were merely a way to pass the time.

Wow. How wrong I was! This ride is SO much fun and so rerideable, I was actually super gutted that its queue was full for most of the day as I'd have loved to ride this so many more times. Weird forces, smooth fast-flowing pace and pops of insane ejector alongside a feeling of total exposure if you're lucky enough to be in one of the 'off-track' wing seats. Ferocious little coaster!

2. Fraispertuis City
Always on the list of European parks I'd like to visit, this year I finally made my way to this weird little slither of a park in deepest darkest France. It's nothing like I expected in all the right ways! We did this on the same day as another park but realistically I could easily have spent many more hours exploring this weird and wonderful quirky little place. Whilst I don't rate S&S El Loco coasters I can appreciate a good cohesive theme and an innovative use of space, both of which Fraispertuis City has by the bucket load. Honorable mention to the cactus themed drop ride, both terrifying and utterly ridiculous at the same time. It's hard to think of another ride that had me equal parts shitting myself and giggling at the silliness of it all.

3. Baron 1898 and the Efteling Hotel
A trip to Efteling is a surefire way to win my heart so imagine my excitement when Conor whisked me away for a Valentine's weekend to this most magical of resorts. I'd wanted to try out the Efteling Hotel for such a long time so it was so much fun to finally check ourselves in! Whilst it is a little on the expensive side and wouldn't be somewhere I'd make a habit of staying in, the place is full of the cute, intricate and magical details one would expect of Efteling.

Our other reason for visiting was to get ourselves a ride on Baron 1898. I remember the moment I heard Efteling were getting a Dive Machine and the excitement continued right the way through to the moment I buckled myself into the seat. The finesse is indescribable, Efteling's ability to translate and communicate a story through such an odd medium as a theme park ride rivals even that of Disney. Yes, the coaster alone is nothing to shout about, but the whole picture and the combination of 3D projection mapping, music, animatronics, theming and coaster is stunning.

4. Mako, Sea World Orlando
When the whole Blackfish debacle happened, I immediately said Sea World need to turn their attention away from animals and focus more on the theme park aspect of their business by building a big fuck off coaster, Low and behold, my wish was granted and seemingly overnight B&M built Mako, the tallest, longest and fastest coaster in Orlando! I'll take it!

Luckily for me I was able to ride before the thing opened to the public and I was absolutely blown away. Save for an overpowering trim as you make your way back to the station, Mako does everything a good B&M hyper should and looks damn good doing it. The station is gorgeous and modern and the ride brings some much needed airtime to the Orlando coaster scene.

5. Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley, Universal Studios Orlando
Keeping on the Orlando theme, this year I finally visited the sequel to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter over at Universal's Islands of Adventure and travelled through the back alleys of old London Town into Diagon Alley. Even if you don't really 'do' Potter, there's no denying that this place is absolutely unbelievable. Literally everybody just spends their first few minutes in the land just standing around gawping at how incredible everything is. It truly is amazing, you can't even begin to comprehend how they managed it (and how they managed to HIDE the bloody thing too!). We spent ages here just wandering around and mooching in shops, playing dress up and sampling some more Potterverse goodies.

This land is also home to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and impressive coaster/dark ride combo journeying into the vaults of Gringotts bank and the shenanigans that ensue (seriously why would you, did you not notice the MASSIVE FUCKING DRAGON guarding the entrance?!) Whilst the ride is undeniably world class and I LOVED the seamless way the coaster track was blended into the theming, there were just a few too many screens for this to be 10/10 for me, much preferring Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey over at IoA. But let's face it, it's still fucking cool.

6. Wildfire, Kolmarden
OK, unpopular opinion, I'm not THAT fussed on RMCs. Of course, they're fun, but I do find them a little too calculated, you can almost see what's coming and there are no hidden bumps or surprises. So that said, I wasn't as keen as my fellow enthusiasts about Wildfire, Europe's first and currently still only RMC. I think this is probably why it blew me away so much. I went in expecting to like it OK and I left LOVING it!

The thing looks absolutely obscene diving in and out of the trees and around the rocky terrain and is full of complete WTF moments that had me laughing out loud with joy, as well as probably my favourite element of all time in the ridiculous Zero-G stall where you suddenly find yourself upside down, in what seems to be slow motion completely surrounded by wood from every angle. Absolutely insane.

7. Klugheim and Taron, Phantasialand
Yh, I know I've only recently gushed about this but my god, I can't talk about it enough. Klugheim is giving me Game of Thrones meets Lord of the Rings vibes and I LOVE it, there are two coasters that actually have steam pouring from them and, as with every land in Phantasialand, the theming absolutely towers over and consumes you, completely immersing you in their narrative.

And Taron. Oh Taron. How I love thee, let me count the ways. From the jaggedy Mordor-styl rockwork to the way the coaster slithers amongst the theming to the obscene ejector airtime to the soundtrack to just...urgh. Everything. It's perfect and I can't implore you all enough to go ride it.

So actually, looking back I had a pretty epic year, despite not boosting my coaster count by as much as I'd have liked! Roll on 2017, who knows what joy it will bring!

Talk later xoxo,