Back in 2017, shortly after experiencing the magical Taron at Phantasialand for the first time, I was eager to see what park will go and invest on another Intamin Blitz Coaster using similar systems and those sexy trains. Then out of nowhere Linnanmäki released a picture from NoLimits of their proposed new coaster, I was instantly flawed by the insanity of it. A spaghetti bowl of blue track, two launches and inversions, some of the shaping looks abit wacky so I was abit dubious that any of this will actually become a reality. Fast forward to 2019 and the thing is ready to ride, and it still baffles me that this thing got built.
We decided to visit Helsinki in August with the boys (aged 6 & 8) as they’re massive thrill seekers and Arthur loved Taron. Flying out was pretty easy with Finnair and after 3 hours and a taxi ride we arrived at our quirky AirBnB which was on the same road as Linnanmäki.
The next day we got up early to head over to the park and caught one of the trams to the entrance (it took longer than walking, but we were early and trams are fun right?!). Unfortunantly when we arrived at the park we were informed it does not open untill 1pm, something that is clearly stated everywhere on the website, so that was a big lesson learnt… And although it tortured me slightly I got to go round the back of the park and get a good look at Taiga in all it’s glory. This little park by the side is actually the best place to view the ride I found out, as not a lot of it is visible from the inside.
We took some time to explore the Sea Life, it’s pretty standard and if you’ve been to any of these you’ll know exactly what to expect nothing majorly exciting. It did indicate just how busy the park might be though, with most the corridors being absolutely packed. We sat and had food before heading in, into the crowds.
So my first impressions of the park. It reminds me very much of other city parks I had been to, but also some uniqueness to it, you could feel that the place has some history and the locals very much appreciate it’s existance, but there’s a modesty about it too. I would say that it lacks the grandure of Liseberg, but has a lot more charm than Blackpool. The layout of the park is almost hub-like with all the major rides sitting around the edge of the hill and the path ways all around the middle, gives a nice sense of height to the area and from a majority of the rides you get a fantastic view of Helsinki.
With the park being so busy, we didn’t waste any time getting on the primary reason we were there, getting on Taiga. With the pathways so rammed it took a while to get our wristbands (turns out there can also be bought from any restaurant) and the queue had already racked up to 2 hours. Luckily there is a shortcut ticket that allows you in a separate queue similar to a fasttrack, but it has to be bought ontop of a wristband or individual ride ticket, which is pretty good. So we headed straight up to the station.
So firstly I want to just talk about how this ride is presented. From an enthusiast’s perspective, this is a big deal. Multi-launch coasters such as Helix and Taron have really driven forward the roller-coaster scene across Europe, their new way of designing coasters that increasingly gained intensity broke the mould. So for a while we were all looking to see when this technology will re-emerge. Linnanmäki came out of nowhere with this thing, I almost didn’t believe it would get built when I first saw the concept with it’s perfect blend between the two existing pioneering multi launches in such a small fairly unknown park. Once I was standing there in person I was a bit surprised to see how it was put into the area, it has a level of modesty and the station tries it’s best to sit well next to the amusement park style. The level of theming execution was like that of a community college, or a small family run park. I did quite like it though, I found it cute rather than cheap. It’s almost like the park doesn’t quite know how monumental this thing is.
Anyway onto the actual ride, the trains are perfection as expected, still stand by this, but Intamin have met that perfect balance with this after years of bad restraints lets keep this please (and maybe retrofit some fits). You start with a slow roll out towards the first launch and it kicks in without warning without stopping and this little stretch of track has a punch! It’s not quite hydraulic power, but gets your breath. With no time at all you fling into the first inversion.
This thing is a perfect introduction, it’s really wacky in it’s shaping. I’d describe it best as a wave-turn zero-g roll hybrid (it needs it’s own name). It starts by kicking you outwards and sideways completely out of your seat into a massive WTF moment before it carries on the roll completely upside down and really high up. This is not like anything I have experienced before, but the way it plays with forces in a new way was fantastic.
Once you’ve gotten to grips of that weirdness you’re flung in the part that most resembles Taron. Some fast corners with decent force and those great direction changes. I was actually surprised how much I was into this part, on POVs and off ride it kinda looks like it dies down, but on ride it definitely doesn’t feel that way. It’s paced really well and is one of the first examples of fantastic layout design due to it’s placement, you kind of have to ride the banking changes correctly to to avoid smacking into the person next to you (something you will learn from Taron).
This first run of elements really sets you up for the second launch, because despite it throwing some really great stuff at you, it only get’s madder from here.
The second launch has some kick to it, not quite as much as Taron but it does the job to get you flying into the top hat. This thing is great, it rides very much like most Intamin top hats, with some great air in the front row as you enter and some great whip at the back. But the main highlight is trhe view, you find yourself floating over all of Helsinki for a moment that had me screaming “Oh My God” every single time.
The track then dives down past their mine train and into the Zero-G Stall. I rode my first one of these on Wildfire in Kolmarden and it was the highlight of the ride (and what I think RMC will always be remembered for introducing to the world). Intamin pull this off absolutely beautifully, the banking transitions are fast and whippy yet the upsidedown hang-time type air is so graceful. Combining this with the terrain to add height and Tulireki right above your head, it’s a real magic moment, I can feel my heart even racing when I picture myself up there.
You then fly all the way down to the rides lowest (and I imagine the fastest point) and are hit with an intense ejector air-time hop before rising up into the huge immelman. The transition out of this is aggressive and before you know it you’re hit with more air-time in an S-hill. The next corner really slams you into some positive Gs as is tightly winds you up over the station. Its this series of elements that are the most intense series of elements on the ride and they really leave no prisoners, this is what makes this next element, a small peice of trick-track, a very welcome moment to catch your breath. This is another great example of layout design by mixing the forces up to keep the pacing. On Taron the tricktrack towards the second launch feels like a dead spot, but here on Taiga it’s used to help you feel the intensity of the elements around as it allows everything to breath.
Then out of nowhere (and especially on the back row) your hit by more ejector air as you dive back down the lowest point again by the road, then back up round into another pop of air before swinging round into the last inversion. This bit surprised me too as it manages to keep up that pacing with some clever interjections of air-time between the turns and a fast paced inversion to finish the ride. Then it’s done!
I managed to ride this a few times, on the front, in the middle and the back. Every seat was breath taking and it really is a masterclass in layout design and pacing. It’s almost like Intamin took the weaker points of both Taron and Helix and improved them. Taron has a tendancy to die down before the second launch and the end and also could do with an inversion, and Helix’s launches are really weak and it can be seen as a little tame for some before it warms up. Taiga really is fantastic, although I feel the way it’s presented and the experience outside of the ride hardware is lacking a bit, it feels like Linnamaki accidentally built something amazing and arn’t quite sure what to do with it, I really hope they open up some paths under the ride at some point. But yeah this is nitpicking. This is close to a perfect coaster.
I don’t want to go into a detailed report into the other coasters here as they’re mainly focused towards a family audience or are clones of rides I had done before (Ukko & Kirnu), and due to the parks business we didn’t manage to do alot. However I do want to highlight their scenic railway, Vuoristorata, which is a great example of a vintage woodie with a brake man that rides with you, which is surprisingly intense. Also their Maurer Spinning Coaster, Salama is SO smooth, I was shocked after years of riding Spinball Whizzer! A lovely little gem there. Most of the rides were running at full capacity and the operations seemed pretty decent. Also there’s a small terrace in the middle of the park overlooking most the rides that has live music and some great street food, which was really magical as we hit the golden hour.
Overall this is a great little park, with a lovely charm that stays true to it’s amusement park roots. I imagine it was a nice thing to do when visiting Helsinki, but with the addition of Taiga I’m excited to see what they plan to do next.