This is just a quick report and selection of photos. To see the rest of the images click here.
I had a spare couple of days prior to heading out to Sweden (oh, hark at this globetrotter) so I decided to head out to Rainbow Magicland, a new park located in the small town of Valmonte, approximately 30km east of Rome, which opened this month. The park is getting a lot of attention due to the quality of theming, which is pretty top notch from the entrance right through the park.
The park's signature attraction is a large Maurer-Sohne launched rollercoaster called Shock. Located just next to the end of main street and running out over the central lake, the steam-punk themed ride looks to be a great choice for the park indeed. Although not carrying passengers on the day I was there the ride was being tested throughout which elicited very positive reactions from the public watching it, despite not being able to ride.
The park currently has two water rides and both are encountered if you head clockwise from the entrance. Drakkar is the rapids ride, themed around a viking journey and with some nice theming along it's course and a couple of sections that did get passengers pretty wet which is the perfect counter to the melting heat. Yucatan is the Big Splash attraction which had stunning Aztec style theming and a huge slighlty animatronic demon that spat water on the boats travelling underneath. The latter ride unfortunately was not open today.
Next to Yucatan is one of the most photogenic pieces of theming that the park has to offer. The minotaurs take on Abu Simbel building houses an indoor dark ride called Huntik. Alas I know nothing of the ride as looking through the doors I could see the finishing touches still being applied to the queue line within it. The building however is huge, which bodes well...as long as it's not just a queue line inside it :) In the rides absence the externals became a backdrop to photos as visitors clambered aboard the giant lizards and had their photo taken on them.
The park has a show theatre next door which can hold a sizeable crowd and on the day I was there featured two circus style shows. For those interested in stage lighting, and I know of at least two friends who are, the show is primarily LED based adding a very rich level of colour to what was an average show. Be warned that if you're in the front row and the clown is doing a routine that has him and a member of the audience spitting water, you are likely to get spat at...in the face. Amusing, unless you're the recipient.
The second biggest coaster and the one pulling the crowds because it was running was a spinning coaster called Cagliostro. The theming on the building for this ride is stunning and as a fan of MC Escher I'm surprised his style of mind-boggling structural designs hasn't been used before. The external theming was triggering a lot of debate about how good the internal theming was going to be; well perhaps disappointingly there isn't any. It's an enclosed ride completely in the dark. Given the theme of confusion and bewidlerment that comes from being in a world where up cannot be determined from down perhaps this was all they could have done. For the people who want to see what the ride is like, one turn takes place outside the building. The ride also suffers from including what I believe to be the most anti-climatic element in its design, that being a lift hill at the end. Having said that the ride was being run very well and what appeared to be a daunting queue line was actually eaten up quite quickly. The queue line for this runs outside the building and for those who may be worried that the queue continues inside needn't. The station is right inside the entrance, that was a nice relief when queueing.
Coaster numero trio sits opposite the Cagliostro building and features a flying ship travelling in and around a small volcano. Called L'Olandese Volante (The Flying Dutchman) this appears to be a cookie-cut Vekoma layout, the one with twin lift hills. The ride itself was fine, perhaps the wheels need a little more time to bed in as there was a slight vibration throughout much of the first half. But as a family coaster this was running two trains all day and a decent contingent of people, old and new on each, so clearly the right coaster for the park.
At the top-end of the park is the Planetarium which is actually the 4D cinema. This showed a film I'd not seen before, but I'm not sure it's unique to the park. It features a couple of turtles having to deal with man-made disasters (oil spill, deforestation, ice caps melting etc). I'm not sure the eco-conscious message was reaching the audience however; most of them seemed happy trying to squish the 3D fish between their hands.
In the back corner of the park is a whole area dedicated to younger children. In here there are two more coasters here for the credit hunters. Both are bog-standard models but feature unique train theming. The first one is called Amerigo, this is the caterpillar ride. The second is a rollerskater with a rather demonic looking front train called Bomborun. Special mention should be made of the Rocking Tug ride in this part of the park which has a great looking spider theming and has the Rita-esque name of Ronnie. In fact the theming in this part of the park was really impressive, all of the rides looked unique. The only exception being a childrens rapid ride tucked away at the back. For those who're worried that a childrens area means childrens only you'll be pleased to hear that there was no problem getting onto either coaster. However if big wheels are more your thing, getting into the little one at this park is going to be a bit of a challenge.
A large building on the south side of the park contains an inverted dark ride called Believix. This ride takes you on a flying journey through a number of worlds where the fairies live. Great for the little kids, not so much for the adults as the fairies here are just animatronics and not hot Italian women in costume.
In the south-west corner of the park is a flying island ride, which gives a great view of the park. With the tower ride still being constructed and the Shock coaster not running this was the only opportunity to look down on the park. One nice touch was that the car park was covered by solar panels, keeping the cars cool and generating some power too. It was also a surprise to see new construction projects already underway in two places around the park. The next wave of investment perhaps? (there's a clue there)
In my report on Ferrari World I made a comment that the park had been poorly attended and I believe a complacency in the brand being enough to bring the public to the park as being at fault. Well the marketing people behind Rainbow Magicland should be applauded for the promotional work that they've been doing. In and around Rome I saw billboards and posters advertising the park. Deals have been struck with local hotels and the sightseeing buses to include the park in package deals. Also the public in Rome knew about the park and if when it came up in conversation every local I spoke to knew of the park and more importantly had plans to visit. This has to be seen as a very promising sign that the park owners got their strategy right. The attendance in the park wasn't vast but given that the park was in its first week of opening, and I was visiting on a Monday just before their national holiday, perhaps this wasn't a surprise.
A few little tips for the park.
1. Bring a hat. It's hot and it's open.
2. The toilets are mostly, but not completely, of the squat variety. So get working those leg muscles and your aim.
3. The urinals are higher up than usual, so work on your aim whilst being on your tip-toes.
4. If you need to leave a bag somewhere there aren't any lockers but the information room on the right as you enter will kindly look after it for you for 3 euros. You will need to leave some form of ID behind so bring your passport with you and be prepared to hand it over.
5. If you are going to leave your bag, don't ignore point 1 and choose to leave your hat in it.
6. The queue lines use a counting system that for the most part self-regulates the queue line and ensures rides and attractions are filled up. Don't enter if the sign says ALT, that means HALT, the H being silent. The numbering can be messed up by parents carrying kids through the turnstiles.
7. If you want a good ride on the spinning ride try not to complete a group of 4, but be prepared to be disappointed when randoms fill your car instead.
8. The cheapest way of getting to the park is the free bus from the centre of Rome. Details can be found at www.escursioniroma.it. The dearest way is private limo which can cost around 130 euros from Fiumcino airport or the centre of Rome.
Here are some videos of Shock testing.