We had Tal’s eagle eye to thank for this one. He spotted it on Google Maps a few weeks before the trip, so armed only with possible coordinates and walking directions we hoped were accurate (we didn’t even know the name of the park yet), we emerged from the metro station onto a street lined with apartment buildings to the right and a flea market area to the left. The park soon appeared a few blocks down, but we knew if the coaster existed, it would be ensconced deep within the grounds.
We kept approaching areas that looked vaguely promising, such as a colorful building that, from a distance, appeared to have ticket windows, but closer inspection revealed merely a place with shuttered windows that had absolutely nothing to do with a funfair.
We kept moving, hoping a ride would appear around every new corner, but instead there were just more trees and my consciousness growing increasingly aware of a steadily strengthening headache throbbing in tandem with my steps.
Right past this sign was a children’s train ride, but again, there was almost nothing to suggest other rides in the immediate vicinity.
That is, until I heard the unmistakable thundering of coaster wheels on track and saw flashes of blue and yellow peeking through the trees ahead.
I have to admit, it was exciting. I mean, it had that crashing clatter of a Wisdom Orient Express, so we need to look at “exciting” from a relative perspective here, but the point is that here was a coaster that previously existed only as a blurry image on a satellite photograph and we had actually found the thing for real.
The colorful letters here translate as “vegetable garden,” but at the time, I couldn’t read that. Assuming it referred to the rides, I just zeroed in on the closing time, looked at my watch, realized it was fifteen minutes past, and promptly forgot about the pain in my feet and head as I hustled as fast as I could to the coaster.
Here’s that garden. It wasn’t closing at 7 and neither was the coaster.
Not that I realized that, so I snapped this photo, ran to the ticket booth, showed it to the woman inside, and held up five fingers. Shortly after, we thumped into the train out of breath (but not so out of breath we couldn’t surmise amongst ourselves the coaster’s manufacturer, which seemed to be Golden Horse. Important stuff, you know).
So this is Sputnik and it ran as loudly as the rockets used to launch the real thing.
Rattle, scrape, grind, grate, Sputnik traipsed a rowdy gait.
But for as…shall we say, vociferous…as it was, it was a fun little ride.
There was even a small boost of air entering this helix.
And much like the real Sputnik expedition spurred Americans to critically evaluate its lagging space program, this Sputnik prompted assessment of my own defective social skills.
Just gonna clear my throat, here.
After that came the usual flurry of picture taking.
A few rides for the older kids…
A few for the younger…
And if that’s not good enough, then make your own entertainment.
I noticed chalk drawings and hopscotch games in quite a few of the parks we visited, which was unusual to me. You just don’t see things like that in amusement parks in the U.S. Well, maybe you would if these types of parks existed in the U.S. It made the park’s atmosphere seem much more low key and homey—like you’re playing in your own backyard that just happens to have a roller coaster in it. I would have loved to have had a place like this nearby when I was a kid. I mean, I did have roller coasters to fill the gap when not creating sidewalk chalk masterpieces (yeah, right) on summer afternoons, except mine were all in my head and enacted by running around the yard and doing cartwheels when I came to an “inversion.”
I suppose when it came down to it, my roller coasters were about as much a roller coaster as this is.
This is Indianapolis, which I’m sure you could deduce from the taxi car and completely relevant, not to mention politically correct, figurines guarding the entrance. Unfortunately, it’s powered, which kind of deflated the timing of Richard’s “Now, wouldn’t it be funny if found another coaster here” remark he made just seconds before we both spotted the yellow track, but hey. Can’t win ‘em all.
But you sure can laugh when goons like these can’t get their “credit” because it’s closed for maintenance :)
Isn’t that right, completely licensed Shrek?
Actually, Tal had this uncanny ability on this trip to find people who could speak English—or at the very least, communicate enough that he understood what they were saying—and sure enough, he somehow managed to flag down a member of park management who spoke English to ask a few questions about the ride. Turns out it was moved to the site just two months previously but was having some mechanical problems today. He seemed very willing to stop and answer Tal’s questions. Nice guy.
Nice park, really. It’s obvious they take care of the place, right down to the planters on the fence posts and I think a few parks out there could stand to borrow a page from their employee training manual. I mean, when’s the last time you saw someone this thrilled to take care of your trash, and one wearing a cute little porkpie hat no less, in a Six Flags park? See, that’s what I thought.
Seriously, this was a great find.
Although to be honest, I was pretty much feeling like this right now thanks that headache I mentioned earlier, which had become a pounding migraine.
This is what it looked like from the inside.
Thank goodness this was the last park of the day because in very little time I was reduced to a nauseated, woozy mess. That was a long trek back to the hotel, let me tell you.
Well, I’m not actually going to tell you because I reckon you don’t care. Suffice it to say Excedrin retained one happy customer that night before it was lights out to rest up for the Big Apple Extravaganza the next day.