What are your Vekoma-experiences?

April 4, 2016, 6:02 PM

As a person that is interested in themeparks and rollercoasters, I'm active in many communities about these topics. Which I found in each of them, even here on TPI lately, is that it seems like most people dislike Vekoma rides. Since I am kinda spoiled because I only got to ride Mack, Gerstlauer and B&M coasters, I am curious about how big the difference really is, because I'll probably stand in front of a Vekoma coaster one day. That's why I wanted to hear your personal opinion on the Vekoma coasters you have ridden, and how good/bad they are compared to coasters from other manufacturers. Is it really as bad as many people portray it? Does it apply to all Vekoma rides or are there some that are really good? Did it become better with newer generations of their rides (They are using other track types, e.g. on the BoosterBike model or the family boomerang they are building in a themepark in my country), or are they still way behind their competitors in things like running smooth and being fun (and not giving you headaches)?
I'm really looking forward to hearing what you think about this topic and I'll consider it when planning a trip to a themepark that has at least one Vekoma rollercoaster.
Thanks in advance!

Replies (24)

Edited: April 5, 2016, 6:10 PM

Out of 350+ coasters, 36 of those I've ridden are manufactured by Vekoma. To be honest, there is a huge range of quality across their products. I haven't ever ridden a Vekoma I'd consider outstanding, but I've gotten everything from a surprisingly good ride to an absolutely horrible ride on a Vekoma. It's probably easiest to go through the types individually.

Boomerang: This is Vekoma's most common model. I've ridden 10 of these, and they vary from good to marginal. The biggest factor on these rides seems to be train type. In general, Boomerangs running a Vekoma train tend to be fairly smooth while those running an Arrow train are usually pretty rough. The really new trains with a vest restraint eliminate the headbanging but ride rougher than older Vekoma trains.

Invertigo/Giant Inverted Boomerang: Much less common, these usually run smoother than the standard Boomerang coasters. They aren't perfectly smooth, but I've never had a problem with one of these rides.

SLC: After the Boomerang, this is another top seller of Vekoma and comes in several different layouts. I've been on 6 of these and have yet to experience a good one. While not the roughest coasters in existence, they can be fairly painful and are not something you'd want to ride repeatedly. If you do not count credits, I'd suggest skipping SLCs unless you're curious about the ride.

MK-1200: This is Vekoma's standard sit down coaster. There are a number of stock versions of this ride that contain 2 or 4 inversions (generally a double corkscrew and one or two loops), but custom layouts also exist. In my experience, this is the worst product Vekoma produces. At best, these ride about as good as an SLC and, at worst, they could give you a bad enough headache to cut your day short. While I haven't ridden it, Goudurix at Parc Asterix is one of these and is often considered among the top 5 worst steel coasters. I would avoid these unless you are a credit counter. The ONLY exception I've experienced is Space Mountain: Mission 2, which, while rough, is actually a pretty cool ride.

Junior Coaster: Vekoma's junior coasters are extremely common. They are pretty decent family coasters, though they are often tamer than they look. If you see a custom model, it is definitely worth a spin. The larger stock model is also a decent ride, but the smaller stock model is a little dull and short even by junior coaster standards. If you're not sure which you're looking at, the larger model begins with a helix and the smaller is just a curved drop.

Suspended Family Coaster: Despite their size, these can be worse than an SLC. If they have lapbar trains they're decent rides, but if they've got shoulder harnesses they may deliver a beating. Most of these use a similar layout to the larger junior coaster model, but there are smaller and larger versions as well.

Flying Dutchman: Since these are only in the US it is unlikely you'll encounter one, but if you do I highly recommend riding it. The Flying Dutchman is the best thing Vekoma has ever made in my opinion. I've ridden two of these (Firehawk at Kings Island and Stealth many years ago at (then) Paramount's Great America). It's not glass smooth, but I didn't find the ride uncomfortable at all. It's also more intense than most of the B&M flyers.

Other Stuff: Vekoma does a lot of work with Disney, and those rides generally are pretty good. In fact, those are usually considered the best Vekoma rides. I can't comment on the Motorbike or Family Boomerang coasters as I've never ridden those models, but reviews tend to be a lot more positive for those than Vekoma's pre-2000 work.

Vekoma is not a premier manufacturer, but they do have some quality rides. Don't expect the quality of Mack or B&M, but don't expect the worst ride ever (except for a non-Disney MK-1200). I wouldn't specifically plan to visit a park just for a Vekoma, but chances are that if you start traveling you'll eventually run into one (there are nearly 300 of them, after all). When you do, I suggest giving it a try, and if you don't like it just avoid that particular model in the future (unless you count credits, of course, in which case you should ride everything).

April 6, 2016, 4:45 AM

Bomarangs are okay, but they have a big rattle.
Flying Dutchmans are good but not as good as a B&M Flyer.
And SLCs... *shudder*.

April 6, 2016, 1:43 PM

AJ Hummel, Thank You a lot for this elaborate answer! I am still student and didn't get to travel around a lot, but I want to visit themeparks around the world in the future. It makes me really happy that you wrote something about each different type, this will make it so much easier for me to decide whether I want to ride a Vekoma or not if I encounter one, since finding out the type is pretty easy thanks to Wikipedia and RCDB. I really appreciate the work you've put into it.
Of course I am also happy about hearing what Jaiden thinks, the more opinions the better.
Thanks a lot again guys!
(If everyone else has to say something about this topic, I am happy about every answer!)

April 6, 2016, 3:14 PM

I'm lucky because my home park, Six Flags Great Adventure, does not have any Vekomas. In fact, we have more B&Ms than any other park in the world (although one of them is a crappy standup)!

April 6, 2016, 3:59 PM

My homepark is Europapark, except for one, all of their coasters are Mack rides (since Mack founded and runs Europapark). The other one is a B&M. The "worst" of them is Eurosat, which is about 26 years old. There are strong vibrations, but it is still a lot of fun to ride, it roughness kinda fits the "ride through space" theme though. The new Mack rides like Bluefire are really smooth and I just love the seats. The holding grips are like a steering wheel, which is better than grips on the lap or grips near your chest on the over-the-shoulder restraints if you ask me. I was thinking about visiting de Efteling, Holland, but they have not that many rollercoasters, and one of them is a MK 1200, which I don't really want to try after reading the review of this type here. They also built a B&M dive coaster recently, but I don't think I want to visit the park for one ride I want to ride. Another themepark in my country has rides from several manufacturers, Vekoma (an older MK 900 darkride and a very new family boomerang), Maurer, B&M and a brand new Intamin multi launch coaster. I assume the Vekoma coasters they have there are not the worst of their kind, so I am looking forward to visiting this one. I don't know if you actually heard that much about the manufacturer Gerstlauer, but their rides are also really smooth. Another themepark that is about 2 hours away from me was Gerstlauer's first customer and continued to cooperate with them. Gerstlauer was founded by former Schwarzkopf employees and they are still building coasters in the same halls. Even their first ride they ever built is very smooth, and I also like their Infinity Coaster a lot, which I think should get more attention in my opinion (not in the way the Smiler got attention though). As I already said in the original post, I have the luck that I didn't ride a really bad rollercoaster yet. Since I always check coasters before I ride them, that won't happen in future as well I hope. I am riding for fun, not for credits, so I'll just use my knowledge and the tips I got here in order to decide which rides will be fun for me. I'm really happy to have people to talk about such things a bit, since most people around me just get annoyed when I start talking about rollercoasters. They just don't understand my love for these huge, beautiful machines that can be so much fun.

April 6, 2016, 8:55 PM

Ireeb, I believe it is actually two non-Mack coasters at Europa Park...Silver Star (a B&M Hyper) and Wodan Timbur Coaster (a GCI).

One other thing I will say about the MK-1200 model is that I have not ridden one with the new trains featuring a vest restraint. Based on how these trains run on the Boomerangs, my guess is that the ride would likely still be pretty shaky but would not be painful. You're also correct...the Vekoma Mine Trains and MK-900 coasters generally aren't disliked by enthusiasts, it is mainly the rides with shoulder harnesses that get complaints as those can cause headbanging.

Other than Disneyland Paris, I haven't been to any European theme parks (one day...), but I've traveled fairly extensively around the US and Canada. I'm a credit counter, so while I don't go out of my way to ride kiddie coasters I do try to ride every non-kiddie coaster at every park I visit. Out of what I've ridden, I'd say somewhere around 40% are good rides that I'd go out of my way for (about 1/2 of those are what I'd consider travel-worthy coasters), 25% are decent rides that I'd ride again if I was at the park and the line wasn't too bad, but wouldn't make a detour just for the ride, and the remaining 35% are credit coasters that I either thought were just okay or were not very good and aren't something I'd be likely to re-ride. You are very lucky to live near Europa Park, as I consistently hear that is one of the best parks in the world. Chances are that the more you travel, the more you'll start finding that some rides are outstanding, some are very good, some are decent, some are just okay, and some really aren't very good. My advice is anytime you encounter something you haven't experienced before, give it a try. You may find that you like a ride more than you expected, and if you really don't enjoy it you can avoid that type in the future. B&M and Premier Rides are probably my favorite coaster manufacturers (RMC is great as well, but I've only ridden two of their coasters), but I've found quality rides from some of the manufacturers that enthusiasts generally dismiss (even Togo). You really never know until you ride how an individual coaster is going to be.

April 6, 2016, 10:19 PM

You are completely right with the Wodan which is a CGI, I don't know why I keep forgetting about it (probably because I'm rarely riding it since the queue times are usually pretty long and I prefer steel coasters.). What I am looking forward to is visiting Phantasialand in my country, that's the one with the brand new Intamin. While I wouldn't call it a world class themepark, I still think it is worth visiting it. I didn't get to ride an inverted coaster yet, and I really want to do that, Phantasialand has a B&M inverted coaster (Black Mamba) which looks really cool.

April 7, 2016, 4:11 AM

@Ireeb
Yeah we've got Gertslauter in the US, but they aren't popular because of Smiler, low capacity on the Eurofighters, and a woman falling out of the Texas Giant RMC coaster that had Gertslauter trains. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure if I've ever been on a Mack coaster before.

April 7, 2016, 5:17 PM

Jaiden, with SFGAdv as your home park you've likely been on at least one Mack: Dark Knight. For the most part, Mack has a fairly limited presence in the US, but their wild mouse ride is extremely popular here. I'd like to see more of their rides here, but nobody seems willing to invest in one of their larger rides.

Gerstlauer is mostly a niche manufacturer in the US. Their spinning coasters were extremely popular when they debuted, particularly with Six Flags. They also sold several Eurofighters, but these coasters simply don't have the capacity required for larger parks and can actually be pretty uncomfortable. Additionally, the company has had several high profile accidents lately.

Right now, major parks in the US are generally buying their thrill coasters from one of two manufacturers: B&M or RMC. If Mack and Gerstlauer can sell their products at a price point available to small and mid-size parks, perhaps those manufacturers will have a chance to gain more prominence (the US is getting their first Infinity coaster this year, after all, and it's going to a mid-size park). However, RMC has such a low price point for what they offer (RMCs generally run $10-15 million vs. ~$25 million for a big coaster from a European manufacturer) that their rides are a tough sell to the US market.

Ireeb, Phantasialand has always looked like a great park to me. No one ride looks amazing, but the complete park looks like it is probably the second best overall in Germany (after Europa Park). If you haven't visited it yet, Holiday Park might be another good place to check out that isn't too far from you. I obviously haven't been, but while it is small everyone I know that has visited considers Expedition GeForce to be the best coaster in Europe (if not the world). Considering my favorite coaster is an Intamin Mega, it's definitely on my list when I get a chance to visit Germany (along with Europa Park, Heide Park Resort, Phantasialand, and one or two others).

April 8, 2016, 3:48 AM

@AJ Hummel
And the Dark Knight is in my bottom 5 coasters so I guess I really don't like Mack.

April 8, 2016, 1:19 PM

I just visited Europa Park today for the first time, so I feel the need to hop on the discussion concerning Mack. Blue Fire Mega Coaster is easily my favorite coaster* in my limited experience (Orlando, Six Flags Over Georgia, Dollywood, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Efteling, Disneyland Paris, and Europa Park). The only one's that rival Blue Fire are heavily themed so that it is hard to compare. The other Mack coasters there are good.

As for Vekoma, Efteling's MK 1200 is nothing special, but it isn't bad. It's just an average coaster. Granted, I also enjoy the Ninja at Six Flags Over Georgia, which is probably the most underrated roller coaster I've experienced. I generally really enjoy Disney's Vekoma coasters, but I'm also biased because they are heavily themed.

*Okay, perhaps I'm just caught up in the moment, but Blue Fire is insanely smooth compared to all other coasters (including anything by B&M). Perhaps I am just comparing it to the only recent ones I've experienced at Efteling, Europa Park, and Disneyland Paris. And Blue Fire is decently themed and it's heartline roll at the end is absolutely wonderful. Did I mention how comfortable it is? and the airtime throughout the ride?

Edited: April 8, 2016, 2:25 PM

Jaiden, I will say that Dark Knight is probably the worst Mack coaster I've been on. However, some of their wild mouse rides are pretty good (the larger model that begins with a big drop is the best) and most of their other coaster types are good rides as well (except powered coasters...those are just OK). I definitely wouldn't write them off based on one coaster, but it is a shame that the company doesn't have more of a presence in North America.

David, based on my experience with Mack's launched coaster (Manta at SeaWorld San Diego), I concur that it is one of the absolute smoothest rides I've been on. The only coasters that might be smoother are the recent Premier Rides installations (Full Throttle and similar). The trains on that ride type are also very comfortable...probably second to B&M Hyper trains in my opinion. Manta isn't one of my favorites since it's more of an extreme family coaster, but it is very good and I could definitely see the larger launch coasters being top tier rides.

April 8, 2016, 5:34 PM

I am surprised and happy about all the new answers! I am still not sure if it just were bad coincides that so many Gerstlauer rides had accidents or if they have to improve a few of their constructions. All that I can say is that I didn't hear about an incident on a Gerstlauer ride in Germany yet, but I didn't actively research on that. I am unsure whether Gerstlauer will be more successful, maybe in small to medium sized themeparks, since their rides usually don't have that much capacity. The biggest trains for the infinitycoaster has the capacity of 32 persons, that is less than many B&Ms. If you want a vertical lifthill, the maximum is 16 (like on the smiler). What I think is pretty cool is the Schwur des Kärnan by Gerstlauer. In the beginning, there is a vertical lift inside a completely dark tower, but before reaching the top, the train drops backwards and is pulled up again to the top and released on the tracks. That's pretty creative and I'd like to see more of it, that is one reason why I actually like Gerstlauer. As for holiday park, there is again the problem that they don't have enough good rides. Of course Expedition GeForce is very popular, but besides that one and Skyscream, which doesn't look that appealing to me, they don't have many big rides. Also, expedition GeForce derailed on the lifthill once. Imagine if that happened on the actual ride... I don't really trust them. Mack's smaller rides like powered trains or youngstar coasters are really not much better than the average, but their Mega and Launched coasters are really amazing and I think it is just a question of time until they become more popular. Their first coaster of the new type, Bluefire, was opened 2009, and until today they built 9 more of them, which is not too bad and they are building another one right now I think, but it has not been confirmed yet what coaster type it will actually be. It's really sad that they didn't get to build a real launch or mega coaster in the US yet, Manta is really pretty low compared to Bluefire, it is much slower, less high and doesn't even have inversions. The 3 heartline rolls on Bluefire are amazing. It was actually the first coaster I rode that has inversions, and that basically turned me into the rollercoaster freak I am today. Before it I was always kinda afraid of big coasters, but I have never felt so good before like I felt in the moment Bluefire's train reached the final brakes, because that was the first moment I could think clearly again and realize what just happened and how amazing it felt.

April 9, 2016, 7:10 PM

The main Gerstlauer accidents in recent memory are Smiler at Alton Towers and New Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas. Neither of these were really Gerstlauer's fault, but it still reflects poorly on the company. I know that Six Flags has stopped purchasing Gerstlauer products and they were the company's biggest customer in the US. I do think there is a market for them among independent parks that want a big coaster but can't afford a B&M, but their rides are likely a better fit for European parks in general.

With Holiday Park, if it's not within about a 2 hour drive from you it probably wouldn't be worth making a trip specifically for the park, but if you ever do a longer trip it would be worth including a stop in your route. Of course, it depends if you're visiting for the whole park or just for the roller coasters. If the latter, you'd be better off sticking to the bigger coaster parks. That said, I've heard excellent things about Expedition GeForce and based on my experience with Superman Ultimate Flight (of which Sky Scream is a clone), that coaster delivers a much better ride than it looks like it would. Of course, the choice is up to you. I'm not trying to get you to go there instead of somewhere else, it's just another park that is definitely worth considering if you want to expand your coaster horizons without traveling too far. I also wouldn't avoid Intamin coasters just because they've had some incidents in the past. Their rides are generally best if you're looking for the most extreme or most intense coasters out there, and while their safety record isn't as good as many other manufacturers it is still much safer to ride an Intamin than it is to do many daily activities.

Edited: April 10, 2016, 4:12 AM

It's not that I wouldn't trust Intamin, I trust them as much as I trust B&M or Mack, but I don't fully trust the maintenance of Holiday park. A while ago little girl has been killed in a carousel because the ride operator didn't pay attention. About expedition GeForce I read that one car derailed once on the first airtime hill, not on the lifthill, you can see it on this picture here http://bilder.bild.de/fotos/nach-etwa-15-minuten-ist-die-feuerwehr-da-12375094/Bild/4.bild.jpg (source: Bild.de), many coaster fans in a German Themepark/Rollercoaster forum confirmed that the coaster is in a bad shape and they wish it would actually be in a different park, that's what I think too. I am not really ready to pay 35$ for two rollercoasters, because the rest of the park is really just for little children. It is actually pretty close to me, but just not attractive enough for me to invest time and money I'm it right now, since both are limited for me as I am still student. Because of that, I rather spend my money on the bigger themeparks in and around my country. A also wanted to visit Alton Towers, even though the Smiler had an accident, but the park took the full responsibility for it and changed a lot, I am pretty sure they won't allow something to happen again. It wasn't even a technical defect, it was just extremely incompetent ride operators and mechanics who caused the crash.

April 10, 2016, 2:53 PM

I wasn't aware of the carousel incident and I wasn't aware that Holiday Park in general is in rough shape. I'm mainly going off the word of a few friends who visited in 2012 and highly recommended the place (though that could be because Expedition GeForce was the their favorite coaster on the whole trip, which included Italy, Germany, and France). They did say that other than the coaster(s), there were only a few other noteworthy rides (a starflyer, drop tower, and dark ride if I remember right), with everything else being more of a family ride and something common at many parks. It's also possible maintenance has declined over time...you'd know better than I would. I agree, however, that if you're mainly interested in roller coasters and you really don't have much of a budget I'd save the money for bigger parks with more things you're interested in.

April 10, 2016, 3:52 PM

These are exactly my thoughts. Even though I do also enjoy slow rides or shows, my main reason to visit themeparks are rollercoasters. On the other hand I wouldn't enjoy visiting a themepark that is poorly decorated and doesn't offer anything besides rollercoasters. That's why I and many other people love Europapark, it has everything. Even my mom who doesn't ride any rollercoasters that is no family coaster loves Europapark, because even for her there are so many things she can do. I really hope though that I'll also get to visit themeparks in the US, especially Cedar Point, in my future. And thanks again for sharing your thoughts and experiences with me, it means a lot to me! :)

April 11, 2016, 12:10 PM

Long story short they typically aren't great coasters, but other than their SLC's or Boomerangs they aren't the worst coasters in a park. The big issue is maintenance. I've been on some Vekomas that have been as smooth as glass and others that were pretty awful. Read reviews before riding and you can get a pretty good feel of how well the park maintains their coaster.

April 11, 2016, 3:33 PM

You are probably right, in some cases the maintenance is more important than the manufacturer. We talked about Holiday Park in this post earlier, their maintenance doesn't seem to be very good, even their Intamin is causing problems. I assume that there are many Vekomas that run better than this slightly neglected Intamin. I'll just try to avoid the SLCs and MK 1200s in particular and read reviews about the other ones I could ride. I am also curious how their really new coasters are running, like the family boomerang in Phantasialand which is not even opened as far as I know.

Edited: April 11, 2016, 10:43 PM

I found Stealth when it used to exist at Great America to be as smooth as any B&M, but that was cause it was at a park that has always maintained their steel coasters consistently well. Even the old Vertigo Suspended Boomerang was smooth. Now you travel just North to Discovery Kingdom and you get a poorly maintained boomerang and probably the worst SLC I've ever ridden with Kong. All were built around the same era so it's not really on Vekoma in a lot of cases. In general the reason SLC's and boomerangs are so poorly maintained is the fact they are cheap rides for cheaply maintained parks. I've been on one or two tolerable SLC... And a handful of great boomerangs.

April 11, 2016, 9:49 PM

Maintenance can definitely play a part. An excellent example of that is my local Boomerang (the one at Knott's Berry Farm). This ride used to be very rough and received minimal maintenance, but a couple years ago the park completely tore down the train and replaced a number of components with all new parts. Since then, the ride has been running a lot better. It isn't the smoothest Boomerang out there, but it is by far the smoothest with an Arrow train (at least in my experience). If you ride multiple versions of the same style ride, you'll find they all ride a bit differently, and this is mostly due to the maintenance quality. This is true of all manufacturers, not just Vekoma.

April 12, 2016, 4:38 AM

@Court E
I never rode Stealth but I rode it's almost identical twin Batwing at Six Flags America a few weeks ago and it wasn't as smooth as a B&M flyer it wasn't rough either.

Edited: April 12, 2016, 10:30 AM

Stealth was at (Paramount's) Great America which has taken very good care of their steel coasters. I can't say the same for every Six Flags park, or matter of fact any park in general. Six Flags is extremely hit or miss on what and how well rides are maintained, where as Cedar Fair has done fairly well with at least steel coasters here on the Weat Coast.

April 12, 2016, 12:34 PM

Nighthawk at Carowinds (the current form of Stealth) is supposed to be a really rough ride.

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