Nickelodeon Universe Top 5 Best Bits

Nickelodeon Universe has always been a park on my must-visit list. I have no idea why, on paper it's nothing world-beating and I've been to a few other Nickelodeon themed theme parky things, so what was it about Nick Universe that had me so intrigued? I guess it was about what it represents? It's a giant IP in an indoor theme park inside a shopping mall - it's the American dream! The idea of a shopping experience being so much more than that - the idea of turning it into a whole day out and a fun, magical experience for the whole family is both revolutionary thinking and also whimsically reminiscent of a time a few decades ago where this kind of madness was booming. The very proposition of the thing smacks of something I'd come up with as a kid with a pad and paper designing my latest theme park ideas.

When we arrived our group were discussing what's so intriguing about the idea of rides...BUT INSIDE! Like, why IS that so enticing? And it is, there's something just extra...special, I guess, about all of those attractions crammed in under one roof. So yes, a place I've always wanted to visit and a place I was absolutely not disappointed with.

The pure energy of the place is felt the second you step through into the place is overwhelming. The kinetic energy coming at you from every angle you look in conjunction with the bright Nickelodeon colours is what amusement parks are all about - it's impossible not to feel like a kid again when you visit this place. And you feel absolutely spoiled for choice - rides on top of coasters on top of rides - the whole place is like a big jumbled up ball of twine consisting of coaster track and ride supports. It's like being a kid on Christmas, you have no idea which direction to head to first because every direction looks like a great time.

In case you couldn't tell, I bloody loved Nickelodeon Universe. And not because it satisfied my expectations, but because it was everything I wanted it to be yet still surprising. Here's my top five best bits from Nickelodeon Universe.

Why did I forget how fun these things are? OK, so the other two of these I've ridden have been slightly different in that they're the bigger models and are outdoors, but surely that can't have that much of an impact on my enjoyment of the ride? The impact of the launch really blew me away - I was expecting a DiskO style gradual build up but NOPE, Avatar Airbender boots you straight out of the station as quickly as it possibly can and hurtling towards that glass ceiling like Charlie bursting out of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. The airtime that follows is gorgeously floaty and the way the ceiling continually gets almost too close for comfort at every turn is hilarious fun. What a great little coaster!

Mmmmm indoor log flume. Why is that so tantalising? I get the same vibes from the Log Flume at Toverland, I'd love to understand the psychology as to why they're so fab but I guess that's a discussion for another day. ANYWAY, Log Chute. Log Chute is...well it's bloody great? Once inside the structure it's quickly obvious that there's a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to this attraction - starting with the fact that there's a load of animatronics and dark ridey bits to the ride, including a giant Knott's Berry Farm jam jar? OK? I howled as we slowly ascended the lift hill towards the giant holy beacon that is the Hooters logo before plummeting down towards a huge Paul Bunyan model. This ride is madness, has no business being in Nickelodeon Universe given that it has zero to do with the franchise but that only makes me love it more. I wish I could ride it again right now.

I make no attempt to hide the fact that flat rides aren't really my bag. Which I guess isn't that odd, I know a lot of fellow enthusiasts who are in it solely for the coasters, but I will happily go to a park and ride no flat rides and not really care less. But Shell Shock is one of those iconic flat rides, it's something I've seen pop up on my feed time and time again and something I've always been intrigued to ride for myself. This was one of the first Gerstlauer Sky Flys and to me it looked like it offered a slightly different flat ride experience to the classic spin 'n' spew. Doing a Sky Fly indoors is definitely an experience! You don't have the natural wind to pick you up and give you that extra oomph to help with your spin, so you really have to work for it, but when you finally topple over it's super satisfying! Plus, Shell Shock has a much less restrictive restraint compared to some of the European versions I've ridden, so it's kind of terrifying to be flying around upside down with pretty much nothing but a lap bar holding you in. Also, the theming is great! Ride control panel disguised as a pizza cart? Hell yes.

OK so is the coaster amazing? No, not really. It's not my least favourite Eurofighter by a long way but being one of the earlier models you can definitely feel that clunk that became synonymous with this ride type. BUT - I bloody love Spongebob so anything themed to that franchise gets instant win points from me. I know this is a crazy thing to focus on but the sign for this coaster is insane. It's absolutely HUGE - I really do think it might be one of the biggest coaster signs in existence, I couldn't stop staring at it. Also, on occasion Eurofighters have been known to deliver some ass-kicking moments of airtime (looking at you, Speed) and Rock Bottom Plunge is no exception. After the vertical loop there's the tiniest inflection of a bunny hill and it sends you absolutely FLYING out of your seat - a moment so joyous you almost forgive the brutality of the rest of the course. Very fun coaster.

Sometimes a coaster is great not for the thrill factor but because they offer something special and unique. You know the crazy energy I was speaking about earlier that you feel when you enter the park? The Pepsi Orange Streak allows you to dive head first through it all and immerse yourself in it. The coaster cuts directly through the heart of the park and provides a birds eye view of the action. Don't get me wrong, it is a fun ride, but if this thing were sat in a field without the park surrounding it it wouldn't have even a fraction of the appeal. AND for extra bonus points, it's got a mini-dark ride section where it interacts with the log flume and urgh, it's all just so satisfying when everything synchronises and your coaster train flies through just as a log is plummeting down the drop. It's the kind of thing I'd build in RollerCoaster Tycoon and I thought it was wonderful.

Did I mention that I loved this place? I'm so glad I got to tick this off of my must-do list and we had an excellent few hours soaking up the zaniness!

Talk later xoxo,