You may wonder what a wax museum, such as the famed Madame Tussauds, and an amusement park like Heide Park Resort have in common. Well, they are both owned and operated by Merlin Entertainment, which also owns other attractions such as the LEGOLAND franchises. Hans-Jürgen Tiemann of Tussauds Group, who opened the park in 1978, acts in an advisory capacity but in early 2007, Merlin Entertainments Group bought the majority of Tussauds Group shares from Dubai International Capital, which had taken over the shares in 2005.
Heide Park, located in Soltau, Lower Saxony, Germany, was once a zoo but opened as an amusement park when the zoo was destroyed by a storm in 1972. One of the contractual agreements required upon opening the park was that the chapel for which the park was named, Heidenhof Chapel, was to be maintained in the park as was keeping all indigenous animals that remained. When the park opened there were only six rides, among them the Heide-Park Express, a Chance-Morgan CP Huntington train, the Oldtimerrundkurs (Old Timer Track), and the Floßfahrt (tow boat ride), which all remain in operation today. However, it wouldn’t be long before Heide Park would begin adding bigger thrills!
The park is divided into four sections, each having a unique theme. The most recognizable landmark in the park besides the rides is a replica of the Statue of Liberty which was built in 1986. There are many rides that coaster enthusiasts will love at Heide Park. The park’s oldest coaster in operation is Big Loop, a Vekoma custom coaster. Heide Parke is also home to two Mack Rides coasters; a powered coaster called Grottenblitz built in 1985, and a bobsled coaster called Schweizerbahn built in 1993. In 1999, the park added a Vekoma suspended looping coaster called Limit.
Heide Park was ready for something BIG and different. Enter Colossus. Colossos is very different from conventional wooden roller coasters since it is prefabricated. The track is cut ahead of time in a factory instead of being cut and shaped by hand, which achieves better accuracy of fit. The pieces then snap together much like Lego pieces. This innovation has been used several times in building other very successful coasters.
In 2007, and 2008, the park added Desert Race, an Intamin launched coaster and Indy-Blitz, a Zierer Force-One family coaster. Heide Park was not done yet! Among the fantastic water rides and hotel they added, they also brought in Bollinger and Mabillard. Their collaboration with B&M resulted in the addition of not one, but TWO coasters. In 2011, the Krake was released! As was an interactive live action complementary horror maze shortly after. The coaster is the latest of B&M’s dive coasters and Krake ALIVE! which opened in 2012 is an indoor maze that guests can go through with seven different scenes, special effects, and live actors ready to scare the daylights out of them! In the Transylvania section of the park, the aptly named Flug der Dämonen (Flight of Demons) is the park’s newest addition. B&Ms new winged coaster takes flight at 131.3 feet, going up to 62.1 mph, taking riders through five inversions. Ride it if you dare.
Heide Park offers well-appointed rooms in a pirate themed hotel called Hotel Port Royal which opened in 2007. They also offer a Holiday Camp that opened in 2005. If you are looking for a great time, with lots of thrills in Deutschland, give Heide Park a try.
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