The Best New Things I Rode In 2020

Despite the year being not what we expected this time 365 days ago, I've been really trying to look back on the year fondly and making the extra effort to take not of all the good stuff we did get to ride, despite the weirdness. As much as the highlights of this year for me have certainly largely taken place at old favourite UK based attractions like Thorpe Park and Alton Towers, that's by no means to say that I haven't still been lucky enough to ride some fantastic new-for-me attractions throughout the year too! 

Whether it be discovering a hidden gem of a dark ride or discovering that a coaster most enthusiasts slag off actually isn't that bad, this year has been full of fun moments enjoying new attractions and that's something I'm so grateful for in a year as difficult as this one. So I'm clear, this list consists of new for me attractions, not new for 2020 attractions. So every attraction listed is something that I've experienced and enjoyed for the first time this year as opposed to attractions that opened new this year. 

Kicking off with abc rides coaster K2 located at Karls Erlebnis-Dorf Elstal in Germany. I've banged on and on about how much I loved this park, full of sweet smells, great theming and quirky rides. K2 itself was the main reason we were there and having ridden Familieachtbaan at BillyBird Park I had some kind of idea of what to expect from this coaster. And man, was every expectation blown clean out of the water. Firstly, I had NO clue that this ride features quite an extensive pre-lift-hill dark ride section and heavily themed queueline. From what I can work out the coaster is themed to a family crips-making business, and the queueline is the family home leading to the dark ride section which showcases the crisp-making process (please correct me if I'm wrong - this is just my interpretation). 

And then if that wasn't delightful enough, the coaster itself is absolutely wild. The exposed nature of the bobsled-style trains means you feel every ounce of speed this coaster delivers, and it comes in bucket-loads. It's a really fun and relentless layout, as relentless as a family coaster can be, and FULL of ridiculous airtime hills and transitions. Oh, and there's a giant potato-man animatronic you whizz past too. It's just delightful. 

It's no secret that I absolutely love me an alpine coaster and our original plan for part of our trip through Bavaria was to hit up many of the alpines that litter the drive down from Leipzig to Schloss Neuschwanstein. Whilst the horrendous weather made short work of much of our plans, we luckily were able to make a stop at Altmühl-Bob for a ride on the outrageous-looking Speed Bob. 

I'd discovered this mad Wiegand contraption whilst poring over Coast2Coaster and immediately knew I had to make a pilgrimage to ride it, and I'm pleased to say it lived up to my every expectation. Essentially it's like an extreme version of an alpine coaster but the aim for the game is airtime - you don't have the usual speed/break controls, you simply go up, and come down. And up and down again. And again. It's absolutely wild and hilarious, mostly for the fact that you're sat politely in a little pod as you're subjected to this ridiculous airtime, hurtling down the track with the most glorious view of the mountains stretched out in front. It's fab. 

Ooh OK Huracan. So I don't know why but Huracan is a coaster I was always intrigued about, and much the same goes for Dare Devil Dive, a similar coaster in Six Flags Over Georgia. I'm guessing it has something to do with the train configuration that gives my brain serotonin but I can't explain it. Anyway, despite my fascination with this cred, I'd only ever heard terrible things. Mostly that it was incredibly rough and uncomfortable. The same has been said of most Gerstlauer Eurofighters over the years but for some reason Huracan has always been a particular source of flack. So I boarded the coaster hesitantly with baited breath. 

So my first ride I'll admit, was not my favourite. It wasn't the brain-rattling shit show I'd been promised but not the most comfortable either. But this was the anomaly. We rode several more times throughout our visit to Belantis and this coaster just got better and better, peaking with a particularly spectacular lone night-ride in the cold October evening. Once you've plummeted down the first drop the rest of the layout is just great fun, whipping through the inversions one after the other with some great little airtime hills dashed in here and there. By no means the terrible coaster I expected it to be and in fact, a hell of a lot of fun. 

Oh god, this ride. Talk about a hidden gem. I'd seen on the Klotti website that the park were advertising a new dark ride for the 2020 season so that solidified my needing to finally get to this park. Located inside a bizarre structure at the centre of the park you'll find the three main attractions - a Gerstlauer bobsled coaster, a flume ride and inside the main structure themed as a castle, the wonderful Kunibert's Abenteuer. 

Built by Dutch company Lagotronics Projects, the tiny two-minute long dark ride is an absolute treat from start to finish. You enter the building into a Hogwarts-inspired hall of living portraits and descend the staircase to the heart of the castle where begin your adventure. The whole thing is like some twisted fever dream, a medieval/castle style theme but told with strange Tim Burton-esque marionette creatures. The use of lighting and mirrors throughout the scenes makes maximum use of the small space in transforming it into a wonderful fantasy world, oozing with whimsy and the kind of strangeness many of us who grew up with the UK dark rides of the 90s are nostalgic for. I absolutely adored it and would urge anybody heading to east Germany to make a stop at Klotti Park to check it out. 

Ever since I rode Lost Gravity at Walibi Holland for the first time back in 2016 and fell in love with it I've been gagging for more parks to invest in the joy that is the Mack Big Dipper. I feel like these are Mack's answer to the Gerstlauer Eurofighter, but still manage to be different enough to distinguish themselves from this most prevalent of coaster types. So yes, alongside the family GCI coaster El Toro and the presence of a mini-Efteling style fairytale forest, Dynamite was one of my main reasons for wanting to finally get out to Freizeitpark Plohn. 

A great thing I find about these smaller regional European parks is that they really don't shortchange you on the theming-front and Dynamite is no exception. Located in the Wild West portion of the park, we enter the queueline for this coaster through a ramshackle mine shaft style building, beckoned in with sassy vulture animatronics and entertained again whilst waiting our turn by a crazy old miner guy animatronic, aimlessly wielding a stick of (lit) dynamite. It's all quite old-school fun and I love it for that. 

And the coaster itself is tons of fun too. I'm a big fan of the overhanging seats plus lapbar restraints on the Mack Big Dippers, a true sense of freedom and flying through the layout. The inverted first drop and subsequent plummet into a mine-shaft is fantastic fun, and the compact yet thrilling layout that follows is a delight. The ONLY letdown is the out-of-nowhere horrendously janky zero-g roll, that while it frames the queueline entrance quite spectacularly I could really do without. 

Oh god, where to start with Pangea at Movieland Studios in Italy? I remember hearing about this ride a few years ago and wanting to ride it immediately, but I'll admit I'd largely forgotten about its existence until we headed to Movieland Studios this August. Essentially the premise is a traditional dinosaur jeep car ride, but the catch is that you get to drive the jeep. Oh, and the track is all crazy off-road terrain full of deep rivets, rickety dinosaur infested bridges and giant puddles. There's also several great themed scenes making great use of the standard dinosaur animatronics that most parks just set up and are done with - this ride really goes out of it's way to paint some sort of narrative. 

To put it bluntly this ride is completely batshit. I sat in the back where there are no seatbelts and no back gate - I could simply get up and jump off the back if I so chose. The self-drive functionality is extremely convincing, and even though there's somebody somewhere with a computer helping you that doesn't mean you're not in actual real danger of ending up off track, on your side in a ditch somewhere. And that is what makes it so thrilling and fun, the sense of real impending doom at any given moment. 

Aha, an actual new for 2020 coaster on my list! I've discussed my thoughts on the new for 2020 coaster Hals-Uber-Kopf at Tripsdrill in my review so I won't go into much detail here, but just know that it's really great fun, fantastic airtime and swooping transitions and it's only going to get better once the theming is complete. Fantastic new addition to the park for 2020.

And of course, the best new for me attraction of my year as mentioned in my previous blog post is of course the fantastic B&M dive coaster, Gardaland's Oblivion - The Black Hole. It's my opinion that there are no bad dive coasters and Oblivion - The Black Hole is no exception to this. First drop is forceful with some truly incredible theming, the subsequent layout, whilst short, adds an extra layer of thrill without detracting from the main event (the vertical drop). Fantastically fun coaster and special to me because it completed my set of European B&M coasters!


So clearly 2020 wasn't a total bust! Honestly, despite the year's obvious down sides I'm glad I managed to enjoy so many great new-for-me attractions and I'm excited to see fabness 2021 brings, especially in terms of unexpected hidden gems!

What about you - what were your favourite new-for-you attractions you ride in 2020? Did you discover any hidden gems you can't stop raving about? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,