The loss of an icon

Posted in Theme Parks on Monday, October 3, 2016
Author: Dion Verhelst

37 years, that's older than I am right now, but this icon did it's job for 37 years with pride and glory. It was the first roller coaster with an inversion in the Netherlands, opened in 1979 and had a perfect ride, even on the very last day it was operating. I'm talking about Thunderloop, or Looping Star as it once was named and still is by a lot of fans.

Attractiepark Slagharen invited me over to say goodbye to Thunderloop, they had several events planned in the last weekend of it's existence being:

  • Sleeping one night in a tent underneath the roller coaster
  • A possibility to climb the lift-hill
  • A chance to go abseiling from the top of the looping

And last but not least, take some of the last rides it will ever make in this park. Thunderloop will be replaced next year by Gold Rush, a triple launch coaster which includes 2 inversions, and believe me I can't wait for it to be ready and hop on board, but Thunderloop has an icon status in the Netherlands. 

The last rides were planned to be run at 6:30PM, but smart (and addicted) as I am, I arrived a couple of hours before that time so I could take a look around the park before it was time to cry (real men don't cry!) and say goodbye to my old buddy.

A couple of years ago, Slagharen had a change of staff, a new CEO in the form of Wouter Dekkers, a jolly man who earned his stripes in the themepark business. He was the reason that Van Helsing's Factory, an indoor rollercoaster in Movie Park Germany, was build in 2011. Three years later he placed the first European Experience Tunnel in the same park; The Lost Temple.

But then he was asked if he wanted to run Attractiepark Slagharen in 2014, and he said yes (insert cheering sound here). Let me elaborate a little bit on that. Before 2014 Attractiepark Slagharen didn't do very well, things really needed a change, because it was getting a state of despair. Rides needed refurbishments and the overall state of the park wasn't good. Until Wouter arrived. He quickly changed things that needed to be done. Plans for a waterpark were thrown out of the window and re-thought, an outside part was added and the whole thing was built and opened in a couple of months. Wouter scored his first point. 

Next on his list was the Polyp ride; Octopus. The ride was stripped, re-themed as El Torito and it returned to the theme the whole park has, the 1800's of The United States. In other words, the Wild West.

Now, years later, it's sadly time to remove a more iconic ride. The rollercoaster that made the park big: Thunderloop. It sadly could not be saved anymore, maintenance costs were getting to high, and Wouter made the choice to replace it with something more modern, something the future generation can also enjoy. Honestly, with his state of service, I think he made the right choice. Thanks for letting me ride it one last time, thanks for letting me make history with you. I've closed the chapter, and I'm ready to open a new one. Chapter 2. Gold Rush...

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Dion Verhelst

Dion Verhelst

Guitarist, Pixel Artist, Web Designer/Front-Ender and on top of all that, family man. Dion loves entertainment, and what better entertainment than theme parks? For Thrillz he writes blogs and reviews about themeparks and themepark related products, and creates content for the social media platforms.

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