During fall 2017, I finally visited a park that I wanted to go to for years: Holiday Park in Hassloch, Germany. While casual fans might not know that this park even exists (at least people in Belgium don’t know about it), roller coaster freaks as myself know it as the home of Expedition GeForce.
Expedition GeForce, manufactured by Intamin and designed by the even more legendary Werner Stengel, is a world class roller coaster. It always ranks high in roller coaster award lists and it was the tallest roller coaster operating on the European mainland Until Silver Star at Europa Park in Rust, Germany, opened. In this post, I’ll try to tell you almost everything there is to know about Expedition GeForce.
Wow, just wow. It’s hard for me to explain how great of a ride experience Expedition GeForce offers. From the second your restraint closes until the final break run, this coaster really spoils its lucky riders.
First, Intamin’s fast cable lift takes you up 57m (188 ft), giving riders a great view of the surroundings. There’s no time to relax though: before you know it, you plummet down 53m (174 ft) at an angle of 82° while making a 74° turn to the right. I was surprized by the forces the drop creates when first riding Expedition GeForce. Later on, as I knew exactly what was going to happen, I started leaning into the first drop. You should try that, too. Next up is the first (and biggest) camel back. I can honestly say that this is coaster is now in my top 3 of airtime machines, after Colossos at Heide-Park and El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure. If we weren’t safely restrained, we might as well have been ejected out of our seats and landed at the other side of the park. A-ma-zing. A few banked turns follow before you hit a straight section of track with a trim break on it. Luckily, I didn’t feel the trim impacting the train’s speed all too much. I did, however, feel the breaks more during our last ride during sunset when it was raining a little bit. You then plummet into more banked turns before you hit the last part of the track with 4 really fun camel backs, each one giving at least as much ejector airtime as the one before. After the first camelback of that section, there’s a cool headchopper as it seems that you miss one of the horizontal support elements by only a few inches. Ultimately, you get your picture taken before flying into the final break run. Time to breathe!
Place in the park
The first thing we noticed when driving on the park’s parking lot was Expedition GeForce. The tone for the day was set. At least one part of Expedition GeForce’s orange track can be seen from almost every area of the park. No matter where you walk: there always seems to be a camel back, banked turn or massive lift hill nearby. I love it when parks have such kind of signature ride.
Additionally, it was fun to ride a roller coaster that’s so deeply buried in the woods. Lately we mostly have been riding steel coasters on concrete parking lots in the States, so racing through the trees (during fall!) was a refreshing change for us. The trees do however make it a little harder to take pictures of the ride. The best view I had on the layout was from the top of the park’s free fall tower, but ofcourse I didn’t want to take out my iPhone to snap some pictures I can easily find on the internet.
Trains / coaches
I love those Intamin trains as they provide an open feeling. I always have the feeling that I’m not ‘in a car’ but rather ‘on a plate’ (if that makes any sense). If I could chance one thing, I would make the restraints a little softer or ‘broader’, so that they rest on a larger part of your thighs. This machine provides an insane amount of airtime and the restraints sometimes felt a little uncomfortable on our upper legs. I didn’t had that feeling on Millennium Force at Cedar Point or Goliath at Walibi Holland as they have less ejector airtime in my opinion. But heck, I’d choose airtime any day of the week.
I’d like to start this off by saying that the theming isn’t too bad, even though I placed this in the cons part. The coaster is nicely implemented in the park’s scenery, the adventure theme is visible throughout the area and the worn out orange paint job actually fits the ride’s theme perfectly. On the other hand, I found some inconsistenties that stopped me from writing these sentences in the pros section.
First of all, the coaster is sponsored by BigFM, a radio station. This basically means that you’ll constantly hear big room house (a.k.a. Tomorrowland mainstage music) while waiting. I can imagine some themed music would’ve upped the waiting experience a tad more. But I also obviously understand that it’s just a money thing. Second, I think the ride’s theme could be a little more visible in the waiting area. We had to wait a lot (read more below) and didn’t really have something interesting to do or look at during that time. The same goes for the station. It does have a general adventurous feel to it, but I didn’t get the feeling that I was completely submerged in the adventure theme. I can’t quite put my finger on it though.
This is the main concern I had during our visit to Holiday Park. You see, Expedition GeForce’s trains have a capacity of 28 people per train. I clocked the duration of a full cycle (which means: from the moment the train leaves until it leaves again, including dispatch and the ride itself) a few times and learned that an average cycle lasted 4 minutes. This means that, on that particular day, Expedition GeForce had a capacity of 420 people per hour based on 15 cycles. That’s far too low.
“Huh, isn’t there a second train?” Yes, there is. Expedition Geforce has three blocks (station, lift hill and the final break run), which means that there are two trains. However, the second train wasn’t put into use for the entire day (unless maybe after 7 pm, when we left). As it was a Halloween fright night, you can imagine the waiting line getting longer and longer each minute. I can’t understand why park operations wouldn’t use that second train as well. Of course there could be a valid reason for that, in which case I completely understand only operating one train. I asked the park on Twitter about it but didn’t receive a response yet.
As the purpose of this post is to provide an in-depth review of Expedition GeForce, I didn’t want to go into detail about the rest of the park and its surroundings, but I can’t help myself. Here are a few quick notes:
- The park is owned by the Plopsa group. If you’ve ever visited another Plopsa park before (like Plopsaland in De Panne), you’re going to recognize some theming aspects and characters.
- I thought the park was very neat and well-maintained.
- Even though the water show (with jet ski’s, wakeboarding, etc.) was entirely in German, we understood most of it and had a lovely time.
- The park’s only other roller coaster, Sky Scream, was great fun as well! I never rode this type by Premier Rides but loved it. Especially the backwards launch.
- In 2013, SuperWirbel was closed. This was a legendary coaster built by Vekoma way back when. To commemorate the ride, one of the corkscrews still stands in the park. It now acts like some kind of gateway to Sky Scream. What a lovely touch!
- If you can, plan your visit to Holiday Park as part of a weekend trip! We stayed at the Salischer Hof in Shifferstadt for two nights and can highly recommend it. Great room, friendly people and lovely town. On one night, we had dinner there as well. Amazing food and service.
- The cities of Mannheim and Heidelberg are nearby, as well as plenty of nature. On our first night, we took a streetcar up to the Heidelberg castle ruins, walked down, did some shopping and had dinner in the old city during sunset. Memorable night.
In short, I think Expedition GeForce has a few things that could be taken care of to enhance the entire experience a little more, but for me it’s a world class coaster nonetheless. It’s one of my top 3 roller coasters in Europe and definitely even one of my top 5 roller coasters worldwide. If you’re looking for new thrills and love nature, I recommend you visit Hassloch and its surroundings for a long weekend and ride Expedition GeForce while you’re there. I can assure you that we’ll we back sooner than later.