Expedition GeForce

 

Holiday Park, Hassloch, Germany

 

In a little town in Germany, at a little mom-n-pop amusement park, they had a little 30th anniversary party. They gave themselves a not-so-little present...

They call it "Expedition GeForce," and it is one of the most spectacular rides on the planet. The ride's theming, an expedition to find a great adventure, is evident only in the tents and such set up around the ride's entrance. The ride itself doesn't need any adventure theming. It is the adventure.

 

The ride sits in a wooded area at the back of the park, and is barely visible until you're right up on it. Then you see the graceful swoops of the orange track winding around the trees, and hear the excited screams of riders executing one perfectly-engineered twist after another. You find the entrance to the queue and look up at a seemingly impossible thing...

 ...the drop. It's just not right. It's too twisted. It's too steep. It's too high! As an avid fan of the PepsiMax Big One's insane first drop, I thought I was prepared to tackle anything that a coaster track could do. This, however, was just wicked. As you climb aboard the sleek train, you become well aware of the lack of comforting restraints. The lap bar and seat belt are more than adequate to keep you securely in the car, but there's nothing to hang on to and no shoulder bars to reassure you that everything will be OK. Too late to think about it... you're already heading up the hill.

 From the climb up the lift, you look to the right and catch a glimpse of the beauty of the coaster's placement in the trees. A portion of it travels over water, and several walkways under the structure allow folks to wave at passing trains. The curves are fluid, and seem to belong to the forest they now inhabit. Enjoy the scene now... in a few seconds, everything you ever knew about coasters is about to get twisted.

 It all happens so fast... the cable-driven lift pushes the train over the hill at a good clip, and by the time you can see over the top, there's no track. No time to think about why there's only air and treetops before you, you're already going almost straight down, your butt is nowhere near the seat, and you are not only freefalling, but twisting at an insane angle, plummeting toward the trees, spinning out of control, still nowhere near your seat that you seemed to be so tightly strapped to just seconds ago. Just as you catch a glimpse of the track, the train twists back the other way a few degrees just to mess with your head a little. The worst must be over, you think, until you see that the bottom of the drop is still almost 100ft further down.
Here's the amazing part of the entire thing: every last moment of insanity in that drop is smooth as silk. There's not a bang, bump, or jolt anywhere.

 

So how do you follow an opener like that? How about several more drops, two sweeping turns banked at more than 90deg, lots of near-misses with trees and supports, an outrageous hump that switches banking angles at the top (while riders are in the air, so your seat isn't where you left it when you come back down), a rapid-fire series of near-perfect bunnyhops, and airtime enough for two or three coasters. When I say 'airtime,' I'm not talking about zero-g tummy-ticklers, I'm talking about negative-g can't-keep-your-butt-seated-if-you-wanted-to airtime. Lots of it.

 
Expedition GeForce is a world-class ride in an out-of-the-way park. It's a park well worth visiting, even without the coaster. But since the coaster is there, too, then Holiday Park should be required riding for any coaster enthusiast.