Saturday, 28 January 2012

Last words...

So, how did it all go? Ok, let me start by telling you that this is the biggest trip I've planned and I've planned a fair few trips over the years. Seven countries spread across the whole continent, connected by seventeen flight segments in seventeen days is just plain crazy in anyone's book. We went to 20 operating parks, one closed park and another park for which we flew all the way to the Caribbean sea ( Barranquilla) only to find out that the coaster has been removed, four top tourist attractions and a few fairs along the Pacific coast.
 I can say that the trip went well. Even being as complex as it was, things knitting together so brilliantly.

Let me mention some of the trip highlights for me:

  • Visiting the continent of South America for the first time.
  • Iguazú Falls: They are stunningly beautiful.
  • Best country: Has to be Colombia. Didn't expect much but it was beautiful country with lovely people.
  • Best City: Medellin, without doubt, stunningly beautiful.
  • Best Park: It's a four-way split here: Parque Nacional Del Café, Fantasilandia, Complejo Peko's Parque Temático and Parque de la Costa.
  • Best coasters on the trip: No real standouts, but I'm nominating three: Broca at Parque Nacional Del Café, Dark Ride at Mundo Aventura and Super Tornado at Parque Luján

Some low points:

  • Salitre Magico: not living up to its hype.
  • Flight delays: Most of the flights were in the evening meaning losing down time and sleep.
  • Being held up at gunpoint: Okay, we got away unharmed, but it did dampen the morale for a bit. Luckily it was at the end of the trip and we got over it fairly quickly.
  • Parque de la Ciudad: Seeing the current state of the park with rides rotting away.
  • Too many flights: Yes, there was a ridiculous amount of flights but they were necessary to connect all the places we wanted to go to. We covered a lot of ground.

Bottom line: I loved the trip.

A special thanks to George Greenway and Richard Bannister for accompanying me on this trip.




Parque de la Ciudad

  • Saturday, 28 January 2012

Parque de la Ciudad has a fascinating history. Towards the end of a dictatorship the military government decided they wanted to build a world-class amusement park. The military-appointed mayor Osvaldo Cacciatore, chose to revitalise the ward an run-down area in central Buenos Aires. Interama Park S.S.A won the bid to build this park. Interama hired Richard Battaglia who had spent eleven years at Disney, to design the park while the Swiss company Intamin AG would provide the mechanical rides--including the roller coasters. No expense was spared as over $100 million was spent on this project. Parque de la Ciudad opened it's doors with 62 attractions.

It was estimation that 15 million people would attend the park annually. In reality not even one million people visited the park. A year after it opened, the park was handed to the City government due to irregularities with Interama and bad debt. The return of a democratic government and a long, hard recession were the main factors in the park closing in 2003. The park briefly opened again in 2007 only to shut down again in 2008 when the city government decided the rides were not safe.

Walking to the park, you can see the viewing tower from the outside. A small fee gets you inside the park. Half the park is restricted as it's deemed unsafe. You can leisurely stroll through the side where visitors are allowed. Most of the rides, including four of the coasters, are on this side. There are benches and a refreshment kiosk and plenty of shaded areas which some families were happily using. Toilet facilities are also available. Walking around the park, I had mixed emotions. On one hand, I was glad to be able to visit the park and see firsthand the rides that I'd read so much about. But I was upset, seeing the a park that had such sky-high potential and a collection of rides that would be the envy of any park in the world--but are now rotting away. Recent news suggest that there will be a massive concert in the park next year and possibly the rides could be moved for good. If that happens it will be a sad day, not only for the residents of Buenos Aires but for the enthusiast community world wide.

We travelled on a vintage metro train on our way to Parque de la Ciudad. 
The park entrance. See how many ticket booths there are? They sure were hoping for great attendance figures. 
 Approaching the ticket check area. Again note, so many gates.
 Park map. The public are not allowed to enter the left side area from the park entrance.
Viewing tower that resembles a sword buried in the ground.

Vertigorama, an Intamin AG twin track, double roller coaster. Vertigorama has been standing but not operating at the park since 1983. It never opened to the public due to electric parts not arriving. It was the second-longest roller coaster in the world when it was erected in 1983.

Such a sad state.

The back section of the ride.

 Flat ride without the car part.
Super Montaña Rusa Infantil, a children's roller coaster from Intamin AG.
It operated from 2/1983 to 11/10/2003, then was SBNO from 11/11/2003

Only the structure is left for this building.

Half the roof is gone from this carousel.

These toilets seem to have been restored and were in use.

Wild Cat, a Schwarzkopf wildcat designed by Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH.
It operated from 12/1982 to 11/10/2003 and has been SBNO since 11/11/2003.

A uniquely designed Ferris wheel. 

Aconcagua, a Schwarzkopf coaster that operated from 2/1983 to 11/10/2003 and has been SBNO from 11/11/2003. It was South America's highest coaster when it opened.

A refreshment kiosk that was open.

There were more ducks than people in the park.

Montaña Rusa Infantil, the second children's roller coaster from Intamin AG in the park. It operated from 12/1982 to 11/10/2003 and was SBNO from 11/11/2003 to 5/24/2007. It opened again from 5/25/2007 to 3/2008 before being SBNO since 3/2008.

A Goofy placard pointing towards the entrance.


Alpen Blitz, the last coaster in the park. A Schwarzkopf Alpenblitz II model. It operated from 4/1983 to 11/10/2003 and was SBNO since 11/11/2003. It looked to be in the worst state of all the coasters. It was also fully blocked of. All photos were taken from outside the blocked area.

Queue line for the coaster.

One of the food outlets in such a bad state.

Mean-looking octopus ride.

Cable chair.

Tram ride.

It was a sad feeling exiting the park. This park had the potential to do so well but it wasn't able to fulfil its huge potential and was just being wasted. Schwarzkopf coasters are worth their weight in gold and here we had three--plus one in storage--just rotting away. Vertigorama is a coaster I would travel all the way around the world to ride, but it is probably impossible now.