HOLIDAY PARK (DE) – Expedition GeForce and Sky Scream

Holiday Park in Germany hosts one of the highest rated steel coaster in the world: Expedition GeForce.

Welcome to The Coaster Report, the section of The Signal dedicated to theme parks and roller coasters.

For my first story, I’ll start with Holiday Park, a family park located in West Germany near Mannheim I’ve visited on October, 9th 2016.

Holiday Park (DE) © Olivier Simard-Casanova
Holiday Park (DE) © Olivier Simard-Casanova

Holiday Park is pretty well-know among roller coaster enthusiasts for the presence of Expedition GeForce, an Intamin hypercoaster designed by Werner Stengel that received huge ratings since its opening in 2001. My choice to go to Holiday Park was definitely driven by the presence of Expedition GeForce. I wasn’t disappointed.

Expedition GeForce

We arrived at the park around 10:30am. We went to a free fall tower (as it was located in front of the entrance), a very intense attraction I’m not sure I enjoyed. Not this free fall tower in particular, which is fine, but more the general concept. After this first ride we headed to Expedition GeForce.

Expedition GeForce © Olivier Simard-Casanova
Expedition GeForce © Olivier Simard-Casanova

But because of the temperature (I guess it was a 5°C night, or something like that), the coaster had to be closed until it warmed up enough. Luckily, a few minutes later it was the case, and we were able to rode it. It was a lot of first time for me:

  • first Intamin (I love their rails)
  • first Werner Stengel
  • first actual hypercoaster (as Silver Star in Europa Park is nothing but a hypercoaster – I’ll explain why I say that when I’ll write about Europa Park)
  • first cable lift

And boy, I absolutely enjoyed Expedition GeForce. It was an absolute delight. I didn’t rode that much roller coasters in my life yet, but Expedition GeForce is by far the most orgasmic experience I’ve ever had. Why is that?

  • the cable lift. You reach the top so quickly, and the additional speed it gives to the train is so cool
  • the 82° twisted drop is scary as hell (at least during the first ride, it gets better after though)
  • the air times. With an “s” at the end. So incredible. The one at the top of the second hill is awesome, and the bunny hops before the final brakes provide super intense air times too
  • the overall smoothness of the coaster is pretty good, for a machine opened in 2001 I was very surprised (but I guess B&M coasters are even smoother)
  • the second third of the coaster is pretty twisted, and one direction change in particular is at the same intense very intense and very smooth
  • the magnetic brakes, so smooth too
  • the overall layout is good looking

At the end, I’m not very surprised to see Expedition GeForce performing so good in the various rankings. It’s a wonderful machine, that embodies everything I can look for in a roller coaster.

Only (minor) drawback though: the trains. They’re fine but compared to B&M hypercoaster trains that allow riders to “float” on the seats (because the feet don’t touch the floor and because of the super open restraints), the Intamin hypercoaster trains lag behind. But again, they’re perfectly fine.

So would I recommend Expedition GeForce? You bet I do! Again, it’s an incredible machine. And the more I rode it, the more I enjoyed it.

Sky Scream

After Expedition GeForce, we continued our park tour and finally headed at Sky Scream. Which is… this thing.

Holiday Park (DE) © Olivier Simard-Casanova
Sky Scream © Olivier Simard-Casanova

Sky Scream is a (triple) LSM launched Premier Rides coaster, a Sky Rocket II model – other installations are for instance Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Tempesto at Busch Gardens Williamsburg or Phobia Phear Coaster at Lake Compounce.

After the very “classic” Expedition GeForce (I mean, it’s a regular coaster with a lift, a first drop and stuff), Sky Scream offers a very different experience.

I’m more “mixed” about this coaster. Emotionally speaking. Do I love it? Yes, I do! It’s super smooth, very well designed and the trains are pretty cool (no shoulder restraints). But at the same time, it scares me as hell. The hang time during the top heartline roll is nothing but horrifying, and I think I have to work on my relationship with launches.

For a lot of reasons it’s been a while since I had time in a new park. I was at Nigloland last year (I’ll write on that very soon), but that’s it since 2010. And even before that, I only rode a tiny fraction of the coasters I actually wanted to ride.

In other words, somehow I lost “track” of the last tendencies in the world of roller coasters, and because of that I was in fact surprized by Sky Scream. After some research I have the feeling that since a few years roller coasters are less inclined toward pure performance or records (“the fastest”, “the highest”…) but more toward “thrill”. With hang times, with weird inversions, with an overall experience that’s not the classic lift-drop-speed regular coasters provide. And that’s awesome. In a way, there’s a tendency to build more “psychological” roller coasters – but don’t get me wrong, Sky Scream is very intense.

The thing is, this this kind of “psychological” coasters are a bit farther from my comfort zone as a rider – machines like Expedition GeForce are closer to what I look for in a roller coaster. It always takes time to accustom oneself after leaving our comfort zone. And at the end, even if I have a kind of love-hate relationship with Sky Scream, Sky Scream is a very good coaster I recommend.

Oh, and I forgot: the zone near the coaster is very well themed.

The park

Holiday Park is a pretty park, very well kept. It features a lot of stuff for kids, and the log flume is super cool (with three falls including a reverse one) – as is the river rapids ride. There’s also a wild mouse, which is always a super fun experience, but calling this one “themed” is a bit of a joke – which is a bit of a shame, as the rest of the park is well-themed.

A drawback: the park lacks some real family attractions, where all the family can go. My sister isn’t that much into roller coasters, and at the end she didn’t rode that many attractions (even if she had fun).

At the end, Holiday Park is a regional, family park with some massive roller coasters. If you enjoy roller coasters you should go to Holiday Park, but if you don’t (or if you’re with people who don’t), well, maybe you may find a better place to spend your money and your time.

Oh, and about money: the park ticket is 29,95€, which is a pretty good deal.

This ends this first Coaster Report. More stories will follow, very soon I hope! I have things to say about Nigloland and its surprisingly intense Alpina Blitz Mack megalite, and also about Europa Park (which is kind of my home park – the other one being Walygator). Stay tuned!

November 21, 2016 – Some minor updates on the style here and there.

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