St Petersburg, Rusland
“Surprisingly modern amusement park”
Krestovsky Ostrov is an island in northern Saint Petersburg. Football fans may know it because of the Gazprom Arena, the home of FC Zenit Saint Petersburg. However, the island has more to offer. And of course, I’m especially interested in the island’s amusement park. Visiting theme parks in Russia may cause some concerns, though. Can I trust those rides? Is it safe to go there? Will I be able to communicate with the staff? Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist going to Wonder Island during my trip to Saint Petersburg. This is the city’s largest amusement park and Russians call it Divo Ostrov.
This Russian theme park has imported a Dutch roller coaster from Thailand… that’s pretty exotic, right? Meet Whirl Wind Looping Coaster, my very first Russian credit. It once was the highlight of an amusement park in Bangkok, but it was relocated to Divo Ostrov in 2003. I was expecting a rather rough ride, as most 40 year old Vekomas are a little shaky. However, I have to admit that it wasn’t bad at all. The seats are comfortable and the trains run surprisingly smoothly. Even the ride’s colour scheme looks shiny and new. Cool!
Divo Ostrov is a family park, but thrill seekers aren’t forgotten. There’s a large number of flat rides and three of the park’s four roller coasters contain inversions. A large number of inversions actually; Velikolukskiy Myasokombinat-2 has ten of them. You’re a genius if you manage to pronounce that name correctly, but I don’t consider the coaster’s designers as geniuses. Divo Ostrov opted for an Intamin 10-Inversion Coaster, a pretty common type nowadays. The layout is basic and unoriginal, especially during the second half. Five consecutive heartline rolls needed to be added to reach the total of ten inversions. And although I don’t hate heartline rolls, this is just too much. Fortunately, there’s good news as well: the ride is intense, the safety restraints are comfortable and the smoothness is remarkable. But dear people of Intamin, please try to invent a more original way to cram ten inversions into a roller coaster. Thank you very much.
I wouldn’t say that Big Roller Coaster is an original name, but at least it gives a good impression of what to expect. This is, indeed, an impressive machine. From a distance, it even looked like a wooden roller coaster because of its abundance of supports. Luckily, Big Roller Coaster didn’t rattle like an average woodie. The ride is actually relatively smooth. However, it wasn’t the most enjoyable experience and that was entirely due to the safety restraints. In addition to the traditional lap bars, the train features completely unnecessary shoulder harnesses. These things put an uncomfortable pressure on my upper body and they transformed every transition into a painful moment. You may recognise these so-called accordion restraints from Olympia Looping and that’s no coincidence. Big Roller Coaster was built by the same people who invented that well-known funfair roller coaster.
We defied the ten inversions of Velikolukskiy Myasokombinat-2 earlier, but Divo Ostrov also offers Velikolukskiy Myasokombinat (number 1). When I searched for a translation on Google, I ended up with Velikoluksky Meat Processing Factory. And although this may sound bizarre, these two roller coasters are indeed sponsored by the company that supplies hot dogs and hamburgers to Divo Ostrov. Talking about juicy rides…
Theming a roller coaster to sausages… why not? I’m an open-minded person, so it’s fine by me. Besides, Velikolukskiy Myasokombinat looks just as tasty as a German Bratwurst. That’s no coincidence, because this ride has German roots: it’s an exact copy of Blue Fire, one of my favourite European rides. In terms of decoration, this Russian version doesn’t perform as good as its sibling at Europa-Park. The station is ugly and there’s no dark ride section or whatsoever. Still, it’s an outstanding roller coaster. Seats are comfortable, the layout is wonderfully balanced and the last inversion is just as crazy as in Rust. Mack has delivered the best roller coaster at Divo Ostrov. And the most photogenic one, too…
One of the park’s biggest surprises was called The Rocket. This is a unique flat ride that’s located right next to the Ferris wheel. I realise that Russian rockets don’t often make people happy, but this version is different. It’s an impressive attraction that was manufactured by Funtime. This Austrian company is mainly known for its Star Flyers, but this ride is considerably more thrilling. The Rocket is, as the name suggests, a rocket-like vehicle that winds through the air. A steel arm rotates in huge circles and at the same time, the rocket turns around its own axis. The result is an inversion machine that’s spectacular for passengers and for spectators.
Thrilling flat rides are spread throughout the park and tons of family attractions are located in an extensive children’s area. Of course, I skipped those slides, the carousels and the (rather misplaced) Sombrero puke machine. However, one specific attraction in this area attracted my attention. I’m talking about Alien Dark Ride, which can be found in a giant blue dome. The building seemed huge, but it’s partly filled with arcade games. Still, the actual attraction didn’t disappoint in any way. This is an interactive dark ride with laser guns and rotating vehicles. Although sets were mostly static, it all looked pretty convincing. Especially if you’re expecting the level of a third-rate funfair (like I did), the attraction performs surprisingly well. Dark ride lovers really shouldn’t miss this one.
Similar to many amusement parks in northern Europe, entering Divo Ostrov is free of charge. Here, you pay per ride or you purchase an all-in wristband. These wristbands are the most economical choice at many parks, but it seems that single tickets may be the better option at Divo Ostrov. For comparison: an all-in ticket costs 2000 rubles (approximately 28 euros), whereas an individual roller coaster ride varies between 200 and 300 rubles. We were planning on riding every roller coaster and the Ferris wheel once, so separate tickets were considerably cheaper for us.
WORTH A VISIT?
Honestly, this Russian amusement park has exceeded my expectations. Theming is limited, but Divo Ostrov has a surprisingly complete array of attractions and the coasters were decent. Besides, staff were okay (I wouldn’t say friendly, though) and there weren’t any considerable queues during my visit. I expected Divo Ostrov to be some kind of old-fashioned funfair, but this was definitely not the case. The atmosphere was pleasant, they’ve got some nice attractions and most of them aren’t overly expensive. I guess that an average Russian amusement park visitor can have an excellent afternoon here.
Please don’t order airline tickets to Russia if you just want to visit Divo Ostrov. However, combining this amusement park with a city trip to Saint Petersburg is definitely worth it. It takes some effort to apply for a Russian visa, but this city provides a great way to avoid yet another trip to Barcelona or Paris. Do consider Saint Petersburg as a must see European destination. You won’t be disappointed.
Would you dare to ride Russian roller coasters? What’s your favourite roller coaster at Divo Ostrov? And don’t you think that the font of the park’s logo looks familiar? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.