FINALLY! - The first GCI Woodie in Germany!
What a cheer it was, when in summer 2008 the happy news showed up on the homepage of the American wooden roller coaster specialists. For a long time, a lot of roller coaster enthusiasts wondered when the first GCI wooden roller coaster would find its way to Germany. The 1994 founded company delivered numerous top attractions to parks worldwide over the last years. After their first wooden construct for Europe went to the north, nearly to the polar circle and the second wooden gem from Sunbury, Pennsylvania was erected at a small park in the Netherlands, a lot of coaster fans and theme park enthusiasts expected the next GCI-delivery for Germany. A first guess was a small park between Stuttgart and Heilbronn. The Swabians indeed opt for a wooden roller coaster last year, but chose a product completely "Made in Germany". Obviously, it was finally time for a new wooden roller coaster in Germany, after the parks' extensive investments in hotels, steel roller coasters and other attractions over the last years. It would be - after Bandit (Movie Park, 1999), Collossos (Heidepark, 2001) and the just mentioned Mammut (Tripsdrill, 2008) - just the fourth attraction of this kind at the heart of Europe. It was a remarkable surprise, when the small, family-oriented park "Forellenhof Plohn" in Saxony ventured the relatively huge investment for such an attraction.
El Toro is the first GCI creation for the German market and after Troy (Toverland, Netherlands) and Thunderbird (Power Park, Finland) just the third construction for Europe. Great Coasters International Inc. has become known for their roller coasters with highly interlaced layouts and wild and countless twists and turns. All these elements can be found at El Toro, too. Additionally, the engineers had to cope with the given premises and the already existing Wild West town including a flume ride. Now, the raging bull stampedes over hills and through valleys and performs, together with the flume ride, a passionately entwined dance through the Western town. When you have a look at the layout of El Toro, it's very striking to note, that the track runs near ground level most of the time. This keeps the train at a very high speed throughout the whole ride.
The new home of the wild bull, Freizeitpark Forellenhof Plohn, is situated at the Vogtland area near Zwickau, between Plauen and Chemnitz. Until this year, the most spectacular attraction was the Dragon Loop, a flat ride which can be already seen from the parking lot. All other offers of the ride collection are clearly family-oriented. Passing through the Japanese-style entrance portal, the small ticket booth can be found next to the building of the Forellenhof restaurant. Several small paths are winding up beside small animal fences and other attractions over some hills into a nice looking forest. Our path leads us to the left, pass the mine train and the railway station to the far west of "Plohn-City". We spot the first meters of El Toro track next to the entrance of the flume ride running over and under the water ride next to the witch mill and racing around a small lake. Behind the scenery, the lift hill towers, followed by a familiar GCI-twisted first drop. Passing the new pizzeria El Toro, our noses are titillated by luscious whiffs from the pizza oven. The pizza is a delicious tip, by the way, if the bull ride has left you hungry in the wilderness. One last turn around a rock (home of the mine train), and we approach the exit sign of El Toro. Just along the left-hand side of the impressing wooden structure, passing some sheds, workshops and animal compounds, we find a stairway behind the ride, leading us to the station. This area would be a nice spot for another attraction, drawing more visitors to this place to watch the coaster, relax or may dare to take a ride. At the moment, only the brave cowboys who want to take a ride on the bull find their way to this part of the park.
Let's quickly climb the stairs to the bull's barn. As usual for GCI coasters, El Toro's whole station building is made of wood. The only thing missing is the station-flythrough, where some meters of track run over the heads of the waiting passengers, through the structure of the roof, so to speak. But this gimmick is hardly missed, due to the acoustic stress particularly to the ride operators, when a train hurtles through the roof timbers every few minutes.
You better take off your cowboy hat and take a seat on the comfy couch of El Toro's Millennium Flyer train. The bull ride can begin. At a very slow pace, the bull leaves the station and trots leisurely towards the lift hill. With the characteristically clicking sound of the chain, we reach the crest of the hill high above the roofs of "Plohn-City". El Toro is way too hot tempered now to take a rest at the mountain top. Gaining more and more speed, the bull stampedes down the first drop into a right turn and disappears under the flume ride. Out of control, the beast flings itself to the left up a small hill, where we're nearly bucked off for the first time. No time to breathe, we race around a small lake in a large right turn. This is the lowest point of the whole track, where we experience high g-forces. Again, we dive under the flume ride, change direction to the left and crest a small hill. Remember: There are no tall hills on El Toro. Next is a passage through the wooden structure of the lift hill, where El Toro again tries to buck us off. With intense, short jumps, he rushes over three hills and, with a quick twist to the left, whooshing by the station, over a fourth hill with a lot of airtime into a hollow. The bull fiercely changes direction, kicking to the right and throwing itself into a left turn. Again, we decent through a right turn around a small lake. El Toro prepares for the next jump and flies over the exit path, where we are ejected again from our seats. A last turn to the right, taken at high speed with remarkable lateral forces leads us up to the final brake, where the beast is tamed at last. Gently, El Toro trots back into his barn.
|Manufacturer:||Great Coasters International Inc.|
|Opening:||April 10th 2009|
|Trains:||1 Millennium flyer train for 24 persons|
|Cost:||5,1 million Euro|
If you think, El Toro is a roller coaster only for enthusiasts, you're wrong. Children from the age of 5 and higher than 1.2 meters can ride on El Toro. It may looks unfamiliar when you see such small tots on such a wild ride. But when you look at the faces of the mini-cowboys beaming with joy back in the station, you get an idea of what a fun ride El Toro really is. For aficionados of wooden roller coasters, the ride surprises with a layout held low on ground level, well known twisted and with a lot of short jumps, mimicking a wild raging bull. Nearly on every turn or every small hill, quick pops of airtime eject the riders out of the saddle. During the day, when the ride is well run in, these moments are even more distinct. The bull gets wilder every hour of the day - so to speak.
Germany has got its first roller coaster from Great Coasters International. It's a true wooden roller coaster, a purebred "Woodie" and a genuine GCI. Great Coasters International Inc. always accomplishes to add a distinctive and self-contained character to their wooden creations. With this small and fast coaster, aimed with modern construction tools, the artists from Sunbury bring out the best of today's wooden roller coaster manufacturing. Who would have expected such an amount of airtime on a roller coaster of this height? And what a lot of fun can be packed in every meter of track? El Toro is a felicitous new attraction for the small leisure park in Saxony which wins the hearts of the roller coaster enthusiasts as well as elates all visitors without the use of spectacular superlatives.