From the top of your head, what would you consider to be a noteworthy coaster that is in a Wildlife Park?
Sure, there is the RMC Topper Track Woodie “Wildfire” at Kolmarden Zoo in Sweden, the Vekoma Family Boomerang Racer “Tweestryd” at Wildlands Adventure Zoo in the Netherlands is at least noteworthy for being the, to my knowledge at least, only dueling shuttle coaster in the world, but after that it get´s hard to even think about a Wildlife Park that has any coasters.
May I introduce you to my Home Park then? The Wild- und Freizeitpark Klotten (translated: Wildlife- and Amusement Park Klotten) is located somewhere in the middle of nowhere up the hills of the Moselle River near the city of Cochem. Chances are you never heard of this Park what so ever, but it is a really nice, small, family owned Park with some stunning and breathtaking views, especially from the lift of their water coaster and the area they use for their bird show. They mostly have animals that live in middle European forests, but they do also have some Grizzly Bears and Bald Eagles.
As the Parks name suggests they also have a more ride focused section, but given that it is a small family operated Park the Wildlife section does have priority when they have to make a decision where the money flows. In 2004 they opened their first bigger attraction, a custom Gerstlauer Bobsled coaster originally named “Heiße Fahrt durch den Vulkan” (translated: Hot ride through the Volcano). That name probably doesn´t make any sense to you, especially since a Castle is the prominent theming feature of the ride and not a Volcano. Thing is, the Park is located in a area referred to as the Volcanic Eifel. Back in 2004 a concrete structure was build with the coaster, the original plan was to build a water ride (this did happen in 2012) and then theme the concrete structure as a Volcano and create a event restaurant inside it. At some point the plan to create a Volcano was ditched and instead it was supposed to become a castle, but the restaurant idea remained. In 2020 they finally themed the concrete structure as a castle and build a interactive Darkride instead. Somewhere in the middle of all those changed plans the coasters name was shortened to just “Heiße Fart” (translated: Hot ride).
In case you don´t know, a Gertlauer Bobsled is pretty much a Wild Mouse coaster on steroids. It features similar 4-seater ride vehicles, they usually feature a few Wild Mouse style turns, but the overall layout does so much more than a Wild Mouse with some Helixes and Airtime Hills thrown in for good measure. And it really seems that Klotten let the designers at Gerstlauer run wild when creating this particular coaster.
The first drop already gives a small hint that this is might be a thrillseekers favorite family coaster. It dives down in a right turn wrapping around what is now the castle and above the water rides drop and then going up again over it´s own lift hill and into a few Wild Mouse style turns. While being up there, riders pass the first block brake, that usually doesn´t do anything, and drop down a somewhat tight left helix-spiral that ends in what can only be described as a speed hill combined with a direction change into a fast right turn. This little hill gives you a solid pop of airtime, especially in the rear right seat. This turn rises up a bit into another direction changing hill, this time giving people in the left a better pop of airtime. We are now in a left turn that rises up into the second block brake. This one slows you down pretty much all the time, but I have to admit that this is truly needed given that the following mostly unbanked turns is still somewhat violent and sudden. But it is the fun kind of violent turn.
What follows is probably the best section of track ever built on a family coaster: 4 back-to-back airtime hills, all of a pretty much identical shape and size taken at pretty much the exact same speed because the track as a whole slopes down. And these hills truly deliver when it comes to airtime. You are out of your seat from the top of the hill until you reach the bottom. On all of them. And it is really easy to get some space between yourself and the lap bar restraint. Following this airtime-madness is the 3rd and last block brake that, similar to the first one, usually doesn´t engage. Because you keep a solid momentum, you get jerked to the left and into a right hand helix that leads into the final turn.
Sure, my small home coaster doesn´t have the stats on it´s side, it´s just 17.5m (57.4 ft) high, with 55 km/h (34 mp/h) it´s barely beating the speed that we Germans are allowed to drive a car in most towns and the track length is just about beating the 500m (1640 ft) barrier, but it delivers on what truly counts in a good coaster: pure fun. In addition of being a fun ride, it also packs in more and better airtime than some large scale thrill coasters, and that is the reason why I consider “Heiße Fahrt” to be a hidden gem. Even people that have ridden over 500 coasters are regularly taken off guard by the punch this coasters packs.
Below you can find both a regular POV and a selfie-onride of this coaster, both where taken during my 2021 visit of the Park. Sadly this was a rainy and foggy day. I am not the person filming, but I am in the ride vehicle in both videos. If you ever find yourself traveling between Phantasialand and Holiday Park, doyourself a favor and plan in at least a couple hours in Klotten, and don´t hesitate to shoot me a message if you plan a visit here, I´m happy to meet up with just about anyone and give English translations where needed.