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