The Best New Things I Rode In 2017

As I mentioned in my previous post, 2017 wasn't a big year for new things for me. It was more of a focus on visiting quality parks and enjoying more of the rides we love. But that said, 2017 wasn't without its new stuff for me too, and whilst nothing new I rode this year broke into my Top 10, I did want to take the time to go over some ride highlights.

Just for clarity, this post does contain some New for 2017 attractions, but is actually focussing on new-for-me attractions. A few of these rides opened prior to 2017, I just didn't get the chance to ride them until this year!

Kicking off the list is a ride that technically isn't entirely new, but it's so unrecognisable from what it once was that I feel it warrants a mention. The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure opened at the start of the season at Chessington World of Adventures and I instantly fell in love. For context, I have absolutely no idea about the Gruffalo IP outside of this attraction, but I absolutely adore it. The wondrous soundtrack, the use of the fibre optics, smells, lighting and large set pieces make this attraction absolutely adorable for me and I've made sure to get a ride in every time I've visited Chessington this season.

If there's one thing I love about theme parks it's stumbling across the absolutely what the fuck attractions that catch you completely off guard. Blue Planet at Wiener Prater was one of those attractions. All we could tell was that this was a huge fun-house style thing apparently themed to dinosaurs. What's not to love? We paid the €4 for our tickets and had no idea of the weird joy that awaited within. I guess what's so great about it is how ambitious it is? It's absolutely huge, multi-layered with so many different sections to enjoy, all pulled together with kitschy dinosaur animatronics and blacklit sets. It's a little bit like being inside a fever dream, as all the best dark rides should be!

More from the world of totally mental dark rides comes Apiland at Parc du Bocasse. This was a park of Paultons Park circa 2010 level attractions - family-based thrills with moderate theming all around. At the centre of the park lies Apiland, a dark ride that takes the magical journey through a fully working beehive. It seems like it should be cute, but there's just something off about it that makes it slightly uncomfortable, and I am all about that weirdness. There are literally HUNDREDS of bee animatronics, meaning an epic orchestra of piston going off as all of their tiny wings animatronically beat slightly out of time. There's bright colours, music blared so loud that it's distorted through the speakers and each room is crazier than the last. I rode the whole thing with a massive grin on my face and would be willing to go back to Parc du Bocasse just to ride that.

Honestly, I wasn't fussed on this at the start of the year, but I was gagged for Movie Park's Halloween event so made sense to go back. And again, my first ride on this coaster was distinctly underwhelming - I made the mistake of thinking front row was the way to go and all that landed me with was a butt-load of loathsome hangtime and slightly too intense transitions. However, everyone else who chose to ride at the back came off singing its praises so we decided a re-ride was in order.

Back row is an entirely different story - loads of lovely floaty airtime, punches of force and an all round better ride. I would have loved a go at riding in the dark but was a little too pre-occupied with the horror mazes for that - either way, it was an absolute blast. Not Top 10 worthy by any stretch but seriously fun and something I would happily spend ages reriding if the queue weren't hours long like it was when we visited.

Reading the reviews of this new Merlin dark ride meant that my expectations for Ghostbusters weren't exactly the highest. People had been left less than impressed so in my opinion I was going to ride and see what it was like for myself but didn't really expect great things. But I guess you could argue that that is the best way to go into these things because I was absolutely blown away. The way the IP was translated into ride form, the little nods to the franchise here and there, the actual gameplay combined with the visual and live effects. I absolutely loved it and we immediately ran straight back around for another go!

I've gone on and on about Karnan on this blog so I won't bore you again too much. It made me shit myself - something coasters don't really do nowadays. The theming is spectacular and really works to compliment the narrative and ride by adding to the intensity of the build up. The forces are just ride, a dash of hangtime, a pop of strong ejector airtime here and there and one of the most unique layouts of recent years.

It's completely changed the skyline of Hansa Park as well as proving that, given the blank canvas they were given in this instance, Gerstlauer really come into their own and can produce world class attractions! Again, not a Top 10 changer for me because of the 'element' faff, but still a corker of a coaster by all accounts!

December rolled around and we decided we'd better get ourselves over to sunny Salou to try out Red Force. I adore launch coasters but was a little skeptical of this one considering non-hydraulic launches tend not to pack as much of a punch. I wasn't wrong, but it didn't actually matter in the end - the ascent, top hat and descent provided enough fun to balance out the lack of kick from the launch. So, so much fun, infinitely re-rideable and a fabulous addition to Port Aventura - even if it is a little outdated as coaster types go.

And rounding off the year beautifully is the spectacular Symbolica. I was so worried that this ride wasn't going to live up to the majesty I'd set out for it in my head - and hearing a few friends with similar ride tastes to me say they weren't impressed with it had me a little worried. But I needn't have blinked an eye - it is absolutely magical. The pre-show! The observatory room! The lighting! The music! THE FUCKING WHALE! Urgghhh, everything is just so, so magical and there's just so much to look at and so much going on. It feels like somebody from Efteling rode Mystic Manor and decided that Efteling needed their own version, which is exactly what I think they got with Symbolica.

Granted, it doesn't have quite the same impact as the classic Efteling rides like Fata Morgana and Droomvlucht, but I can definitely see this becoming an institution for future generations of visitors. If I'd had the time I would have spent all day riding this over and over again, it just made me beam from ear to ear!

We definitely rode some great attractions in 2017 - I can't wait to see what 2018 has in store!

Talk later xoxo,