Ranking the Coasters At Oktoberfest 2017
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany is best known for being the worlds largest beer festival. But there’s a lot more to do there than just drink beer and eat pork (although those are both good). Oktoberfest is kind of like an enormous state fair, which means it’s full of attractions like dark rides, ferris wheels, and fun houses next to the giant beer tents. Along with having a huge number of flat rides that would fit at any major amusement park, it’s home to a whopping FIVE roller coasters (and I think in the past there were even more).
I was lucky enough to visit Oktoberfest last week (and before you ask, yes, Oktoberfest takes place in September. Long ago the Germans cleverly moved it two weeks earlier from the original date to get better weather and longer days). In between liters of beer I rode on four of the five coasters, a couple of them multiple times. Since lots of these rides are unique, and show up at Oktoberfest ever year, I thought it’d be fun to provide my ranking for future Oktoberfest visitors.
First though, I should say that every coaster I rode was good. I think they all actually beat my expectations. They were all impressively smooth, and impressively long for being portable coasters. Any would be a great fit at a permanent park, and I think almost all would probably rank towards the top of my home park’s coaster lists. So don’t think of the lower ranked ones as bad, just slightly less good. One last point, as every ride costs a different amount, I factored in the price along with how I would normally rank roller coasters (uniqueness, excitement, theming, etc.). That helped break tie breakers.
N/A – Wild Maus
Ok, so I admit I skipped the Wild Maus. Mostly because it’s a wild mouse coaster, and while I’m not sure it’s exactly the same as other Wild Mouse coasters, it was close enough that I figured with limited time (and the cost of cash), it wasn’t worth it. Certainly if you’re spending a long day at the festival and less time in beer tents than I was, it’s probably worth a ride (or if you really like Wild Mouse coasters). It does have the benefit of being only 6 Euros, I believe the cheapest coaster. Also worth noting there are actually two coasters here, mirrored tracks of each other.
4. Drifting Coaster
The Drifting Coaster is new at Oktoberfest for 2017, and was built just last year. It is a unique coaster, blending elements of a Wild Mouse and a Suspended coaster with swinging cars. The drift coaster uses cars that hold four riders back to back, and the seats are suspended above the track on a bar that can swing side to side. It means that the seats essentially bank around every corner, rather than the track, the way an arrow suspended coaster works. The track is designed to basically force as much swinging as possible, with zig zagging track layouts in the middle that force the cars to swing.
Unfortunately, while the swinging is a fun gimmick, the coaster is sort of designed just for that. The layout is pretty small and kind of repetitive, and it never picks up very much speed. I think it’s probably more fun than a Wild Mouse, and at only 6 Euros probably worth it for the unqiue experience, but it’s not really interesting enough for me to put above the other coasters even with the fun swinging. One cool thing about it, it’s built by Reverchon, a French ride manufacturer that has very few coasters in the US. It was definitely my first Reverchon coaster.
3 – Höllenblitz
Höllenblitz (Hell blitz) is the worlds largest indoor portable coaster. First built by Gerstlauer in 1992, the train has fifteen spinning cars on it. It’s a deceptively long coaster, and very disorienting as it goes in and out of the mountain. The theme as I could roughly understand appears to be about a mine that maybe digs to deep and reaches hell, or something like that. While kind of cartoony, the theming didn’t come off as cheap, just campy, and it’s pretty detailed. Effects included lots of laser lighting, water falls on the outside, and some pyrotechnics. It was actually pretty impressive, especially for being a portable coaster. So, why not ranked higher? Well, this is where the cost helps me choose the ranking. At 9 Euros per person, it’s tied for being the most expensive coaster (with Olympia Looping). If you’re there to ride coasters, you should definitely ride it. If you’re on a budget, or only have time to go on one ride, the others are better bets.
2. Alpina Bahn
Maybe the most “traditional” coaster of the Oktoberfest lineup, Alpina Bahn first showed up at Oktoberfest in 1983 (although it was gone from the Wiesen from 1995-2008). Designed by famed coaster makers Anton Schwarzkopf and Werner Stengel, it reaches speeds of nearly 80kph (about 50 mph), featuring a banked first drop. At nearly 90 feet tall and almost 3,000 feet long, the coaster has specs of any respectable permanent coaster from it’s period. Most impressively, through the twists and airtime hills, it’s really smooth. It was a great, classic ride, and felt like a fully designed coaster. Definitely worth the 7 Euro price tag.
Finally, the best coaster at Oktoberfest is definitely the most iconic, Olympia Looping. With it’s five loops colored like the Olympic rings, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen a picture of Olympia Looping even if you didn’t know where or what it was. And yes, it’s definitely also a portable coaster. Another Schwarkopf/Stengel design (and built by the company that would become Maurer), it’s the largest portable coaster in the world. The coaster drops at 52 degrees and reaches speeds up to 100 kph before entering the first loop. It continues back through two more loops before a slight rise (and a small lift booster), then going into the final two loops. The coaster ends with two great low to the ground helices (it’s more than just loops!) on opposite ends of the track before returning to the station. It is over 4000 feet long and lasts almost two minutes, easily rivaling permanent coasters. Fun fact, the loops are also slightly less clothoid and more circular shaped than most roller coaster loops, so the forces are stronger.
It’s the only portable coaster with five inversions, and I’m still sort of amazed that it’s able to go through five loops with the height of the drop it has. What actually makes it rank this high for me, though, is how incredibly smooth it is. Who would have guessed a five loop portable coaster from the 80s would be this buttery? It has that combination of powerful forces (up to 5g) but a comfortable ride that makes a great coaster. It’s also a great testament to how good Schwarkopf and Stengel were/are designing coasters. I can see why it regularly showed up on the Mitch Hawker poll. At 9 Euros it’s pricey, but worth every penny. And a tip, if you ride it on “Family Day” at the festival it’s only 7.50!
So there you have it, my ranking of the 2017 Oktoberfest roller coasters! Again, I should emphasize none of these were bad rides, and I was really impressed at the quality for a bunch of portable rides (especially compared to US State Fair attractions). I’d also say one of the great benefits of pay as you go rides at an event like this (that isn’t ride focused), there were basically no lines!
Technically the rides could change every year, but I doubt Olympia Looping or Alpina Bahn at least will ever stop showing up. Have you ever been on any of these? Let us know in the comments what you think, and which you’d be most excited to ride!
And if you want more details on any of them, the website wiesnkini.de is a great source for info on all of the Oktoberfest attractions! Prost!