Jun 15, 2017

Wild Animal Kingdom

Can a Wildlife Park with a selection of older Fairground rides be so good that it´s worth visiting despite your time required getting to the Park and back home equals or even surpasses the time you are able to stay at the Park itself? At least for the Serengeti Park here in germany I would say yes without even thinking too much about it. The Park is located in North Germany between the cities of Hannover and Bremen near the town of Hodenhagen. It opened in 1974 under the name of "Wild Animal Kingdom" as a series of Wildlife parks all around the world, all of wich shared the concept of presenting exotic Animals in a Safari-Style environment with a few Attractions added for good measure. In 1982 the american parent company filed for bankrupcy and Paolo Sepe, who ran the Park in germany, took the opportunity to buy the Park and since then it is owned and operated by the Sepe Family. In 1983 they began renovating and expanding the Park. In 2004 they recieved permanent recognition as a zoological garden in accordance to current EU-guidlines and north German nature preserve law. Today it is home for over 1.500 animals living on over 200ha of space. The animals live in large, open spaces and where possible multiple species share their space. Of cause predators like Lions and Tigers have areas for themselves. With a few expeptions, wich are for the most part the monkey´s, you can´t reach the animals by foot. Like mentioned above the Park whant´s to give it´s visitors a Safari-Style experience and because of this you need a vehile to see most of the wildlife. You can either do this with your own car at your own pace or you pay 5,50€ to take a guided 1-hour tour in one of the double decker busses, as a bonus the driver will explain a few things about the animals you see. They even have a area with smaller, harmless animals that acts as a petting zoo. During this Safari trip you get to see Giraffes, Rhinos, Lions and Tigers, both in regular and white flavours, Flamingos, Elephants, several variants of Antilopes and many others. Like already hinted at most of the monkeys are not part of this Safari since those are in a seperate part of the Park and you can get much closer to them than you would on the regular Tour. Some of them are on seperate, man made islands without any fence or cage around them what so ever since they wouldn´t cross the water anyway, some other species have a large fence-like structure around them, however you can enter those areas by foot and get very close to the animals.

The Theme Park portion is for the most part nothing too special and not really worth the visit just for the rides. You get common Fairground stuff like Bumper Cars, a Ferris Wheel, a Top Spin, a Break Dancer and a Log Flume. The Highlight of these was, at least for me, the nowadays very rare Condor from Huss named "Senga". Even their Roller Coaster "Chura Racer" is just a plain, old Zierer Tivoli-large model like many others around the world. In addition to these rides you get a few playground areas for the kids, rowing boats and even a ropeclimbing parcours. And while the later is already something special, the remaining attractions are indeed very unique. All of them are centered around somewhat unique motorized vehicles. The "Jungle Safari" seats guests in the back of an Off-Road capable Truck, the first part follows a different path through some of the Wildlife Areas than the regular tour and then enters a forest-area wich is home to some Animatronics and special effects. The Second is called "Quad Safari" and like the name suggest guests take a seat on a larger Quad, two of these seats are mounted in a backwards position, and the driver navigates you through a special Off-Road course filled with Animatronics.

For me the real stars of all of the Attractions are the two Water Based Vehicles. The first one is "Black Mamba" and it features Jet-Boats capable of spinning around in tight circles. Sadly I wasn´t able to ride this one myself. The other one is the "Aqua Safari" and I did ride this one, it would have been crazy to not do this one. The vehicles here are Air Boats used most famously in Floride. These things are essentialy large steel pans with a few benches screwed on top and 500 BHP V8 Engine in a cage on the back attached to a large propeller. The first part of the rides takes you slowly through a narrow canal featuring scenes of destruction caused by King Kong. Once you reach the more open lake the boat get´s accelerated to full throttle, wich is an insane experience. That V8 in your back is screaming so loud that no matter how hard you try, no one would be able hear you, not even yourself. After this incredible high speed part the experience ends with a large King Kong Animatronic and a few Light and Water Effects. To my knowledge Serengeti Park is the only place in Europe, if not the entire world, that features these boats as a Theme Park attraction.

And the best part is that all of these Rides are included in the very reasonable Ticket price of currently (2017 Season) 32,50€ for an Adult. The only thing you have to pay extra is the guided Bus Tour, doing the Safari with your own car is free, just like parking. I visited the Park in April with my niece and she enjoyed every minute of it at least as much as I did, if not even more. The fact that it was a weekday resulted in somewhat low visitor numbers resulting in short waiting times for the rides. The only things with wait times even worth mentioning where the four special rides mentioned above. If you like to visit Zoo´s and Wildlife Parks the Serengeti Park should be on your bucket list for sure! The entire staff was very friendly and highly motivated, the animals all looked healthy to me (I´m no expert though) and I really love that they try to keep the animals in a much more true to nature way than most Zoo´s do.

Please excuse the mostly poor quality of the photos I took in this park, but I forgot my camera at home that day and when I realized it we where already almost at the Park, but like someone probably more famous than myself once said, the best camera is the one that´s with you and in this case that was my entry level Smartphone.

Official Park Website: https://www.serengeti-park.de/en/
For more pictures of this and other Parks visit my Flickr Account: Flickr.com

Jun 14, 2017

08: So sweet that you get diabetes from it

As already mentioned in a previous post that I most likely won´t be able to beat the 52 game challenge and to be honest I don´t care too much about it. I play video games for the fun of it and I don´t whant to force myself into playing games only to beat a self-imposed challenge. However, and this is still something good, I get around to finally play some games I had lying around for a while and / or are on my bucket list anyway. It might come as a surprise that in my entire life I never really played any of the Kirby games and therefore Kirby´s Epic Yarn was my first real expirience with the pink fluffball outside of the Super Smash Bros. Franchise. And boy did I enjoy this one! The unique and colorful visuals with absolutely everything made out of yarn, cloth and everything that is diretly related to these two things gives the game a look like no other game. The entire thing just looks right and allows for some creative gameplay elements like the ability tu pull certain parts of the level to you or to change shapes depending of what you whant to do, i.e. instead of running Kirby transforms into a car to move faster. The fact that Epic Yarn is a 2D game helps the visuals a lot, I´d bet my ass that this artstyle would look terrible in 3D.

As with a certain other Nintendo Franchise centered around an Italian Plumber the Story can be written on a piece of toilet paper. Kirby eats a tomato that belongs to Yin Yarn, an evil wizard, and get´s sucked into Patch land where he is turned into yarn making most of his abilities useless while granting him new ones at the same time. In order to get back home Kirby needs to help Prince Fluff to find seven pieces of magical yarn that held Patch Land together. And that´s all we got for a Story and that´s all we really need and it is presented in well narrated Cutscenes, Besides the visuals the other stars of the show are the gameplay and music, the former features super precise controls and enough variation to keep it interesting, it even features a few Shmup-sections for good measure. The music is some of the best I heard in any video game ever. It varies from very catchy tunes to some epic scores that wouldn´t sound out of place in a Starfox game. Well done Nintendo! My only real gripe with this one is the low difficulty, heck, I would even say that it´s too easy for kids since it doesn´t even have a failure state what so ever, a optional, harder mode would have brought this one to absolute perfection.

Jun 1, 2017

Where Michael Bay learned to make Movies

Old Movies that where shot on location can become a great way to see how a place looked at a certain point in time. Just take the 1996 German Made for TV Action Flick Adrenalin as an example. About half of the Movie is filmed inside the Phantasialand Theme Park. This Park changed drasticly since the Movie was made and barely anything that is shown still exists. Or the 1977 Desaster-Suspense Rollercoaster as an example. A large portion of this movie was filmed in the Kings Dominion Theme Park wich opened just 2 year prior to the movies release and therefore some rides now considered classics, like the Racing-Coaster Rebell Yell, are shown in brand new condition. The opening scenes of Rollercoaster where shot at Norfolk´s Ocean View Amusement Park wich was demolished in 1979. And that demolition inspired the creation of The Death of Ocean View Park, a Made for TV that gained a cult status in the Theme Park enthusiast community for it´s footage of the still operating park and a finale that mixes footage of the real demolition with special effects. The Rocket, Ocean View´s Wooden Roller Coaster, is the main star in the explosion filled climax put up a real fight though. Much to the enjoyment of bystanders and fans of the park the ride survived 2 sets of explosive charges and had to be pulled down by a Bulldozer in order to have the ride finally collapse.

Sadly the Movie itself isn´t as good as it´s spectacular end. The main issue seems to be that they had to come up with a plot that ends with the destruction of Ocean View Park. The Setup is rather simple: Norfolk get´s hit by a Hurricane, that surprisingly enough doesn´t seem to have destroyed anything, afterwards some strange things start to happen. Bumper Cars Move on their own during the night, the entire Park looses Power and sandcastles disappear (I´m serious, that really is a plotpoint in the movie). Meanwhile the wife of a teacher that also happens to work at the park has visions of a terrible desaster happening on July 4th during an big event. During all this a socialy awkward boy tries to find a girlfriend. Succesfully. The Film is full of cringe worthy acting, badly written dialouge and luckily decent shots of Ocean View Park. To me The Death of Ocean View Park realy has only 2 redeeming qualities: It shows the Park before it´s final destruction and that ending is some Michael Bay worthy shit. Huge explosions everywhere, no matter if they make a whole lot of sense or not, they just look good. You can find the entire thing easily on YouTube and a few places even sell Bootleg DVD´s of it, just don´t expect a good movie. Or great acting. If you watch this you come for the Park and stay for the explosions.