Europa Park September 21, 22 2016

Associated parks:
Europa Park, Rust, Germany

Saturday, September 24, 2016 10:10 PM

About an hour ago I arrived back in Amsterdam to reunite with Jim and what's left of the group, stay overnight and fly home tomorrow. I can't wait to get home.

Not that I didn't have a great time. It's always nice to go, but it's great to get home. And anyway, I got to visit the best park on earth so I can go home now.
Wait.... Is it?

I got up pretty early Tuesday morning, but the effects of Oktoberfest came to take their toll. And truthfully, I wasn't in any hurry. I had planned a travel day to Rust knowing it would be at least a 4 hour drive, so after a little breakfast, some re-packing, a short nap and goodbyes I finally hit the road.

The drive took longer than expected. When it was fast it was great, but there were stretches of construction to slow the pace. European drivers can be bats outta hell, but they also use common sense. (Aside to Gonch: They know how to use the "zipper" over here and it works. I hereby take back everything bad I ever said about you.). During one if those stretches Siri popped in to ask if I wanted to save six minutes, and if so she knew of a better route. Well, hell yes! Who doesn't want to save six minutes? And her little detour got me stuck in such bad traffic in Stuttgart it wound up adding 45 minutes to my total trip. I cussed her up one side and down the other.
I had blindly made reservations at a hotel that promised to be across the street from the park (yeah, right) and eventually Siri's directions took me, bleary-eyed, off the autobahn at the exit marked Rust. I could see a theme park in the distance, but it was from across cornfields while I drove down a country road. I said "Dammit, Siri, I know we're fighting, but do you have to be such a ...." Then I pulled into the most charming little town. She took me down narrow streets full of quaint, brightly painted cottages and small houses, across canals and such, then finally my destination was on the right. And sure enough the Hotel am Park (I don't know what it means) was right there directly across the street from the entrance to Europa Park. Whaaaa?.... I had no idea. (It probably means "across the street from the park".) When I checked into my modest single room, I looked out the window and my view was directly into the front part of the park. I said to myself, "Oh, this is gonna be GREAT!"

And it was. The park opens at 8:30, rides at 9, so I showed up promptly after strolling across the street to the front gate. My 60+ 2 day ticket ran 72.00€ and my parking was free, so I don't know how that goes. I also got a coupon for a free piece of cake at some restaurant I couldn't pronounce, and another for one free on-ride photo of my choice. (The coupon had an example photo with two white-haired seniors having a blast on the roller coaster. Well... ok, I'll own it)

Side note: In my few visits to some of the best parks in the region, I've developed a theory as to why these parks are so amazing. It's because they have to be. See, Europeans already have and live around quaint, old villages, and things like castles. Real castles, that are right down the road. So, the Europeans ain't buyin' it, unless it's something extra special. And that, friends, is why these parks are so over-the-top in appearance and theme.

And then you have Europa Park that's amazing because they can be.

Europa was founded in 1975 as a family park owned by the Mack family, the famed builder of amusement rides. It started small, with a collection of small rides, boat rides, etc. and some of those still operate today. And since then it's grown slowly, through time, into one of the most beautifully themed parks with some thrilling rides to boot. It's basically a show room for the Mack catalog, and it's hard to think of a Mack ride or system that isn't represented there. (I can think of one, there is no Musik Express/Himalaya ride- hard to believe. Unless I just couldn't find it).
The park is divided into themed sections representing the various and assorted counties found on the European continent. Well, there's 14, anyway. Plus there are other areas devoted to things like storybook characters. The beautifully landscaped stretch called Grimm's Enchanted Forest depicts the stories of the brothers Grimm in living picture-book fashion. There are 5 deluxe hotel resorts, also themed to Europe, a campgrounds, and there's a water park on the way. First an indoor place with another new hotel attached, and eventually expanding into an outdoor park as well. They are open through Halloween then close for a bit only to reopen fully decorated for Christmas. I hear they get 5.5 million visitors a year. There's a convention/event center and another being built as we speak.

Ok, on to the rides.
They have a GCI wooden coaster, Wodan, Timbur Coaster, and it was good. I rode it both days, twice in the single rider line and once standby. In addition to being a traditional wooden ride, and nothing apart from some of the better rides we have, it goes the step beyond with a story line and a beautifully themed queue. I was glad I took the standby line so I could experience it.
The other non-Mack coaster of note is Silver Star, the B&M hyper. I was so looking forward to it, but my expectations exceeded the actual experience. It looked a little Nitro-ish, but wasn't as fun, and I can think of a few B&M's in the states that are better. Oh well. The queue was interesting- a lot of the coasters at Europa have outdoor queues directly in front of the ride and a host stationed to allow groups of riders into the building to finish their wait. Silver Star's interior waiting area and exit walks riders through a display devoted to Mercedes Benz with race cars to check out. So that little tie-in was cool and creative.

And that leads me to Blue Fire, a ride I've always been curious about. I've heard many enthusiasts wonder why more of those rides don't appear stateside. It was awesome, comfortable seats, on-board video, a pulse meter on the bars, and a smooth ride. Once on board there was a little pre-show in a dark room while the launch set up. Doors opened and off we went. The first over banked high turn had a surprising stall, the loop was huge with more hang time and the rest of the ride was twisty, turny with two more inversions. I believe it's Europa's most popular ride and I know why.

Operations at this park are outstanding, and it may be a testimony to Mack engineering. Blue Fire runs four trains, and both Eurosat and Euro Mir have many, multiple trains as well. Loading is fast and efficient and at no time did I feel like I was going to die somewhere in a queue. It was so refreshing.

The aforementioned Eurosat and Euro Mir were two of my favorite rides at the park. They're older, and both have long indoor spiral lifts. Expensive to build, I imagine, but so cool. Euro Mir is in Russia and is actually two attractions. The coaster is four, maybe five four-passenger back to back rotating cars. Once outside the track zigzags high in the air around mirrored towers then goes through a series of thrilling drops. The other attraction is a walk through above the queue and is a trip through the space station. Eurosat is in France, is a Space Mountain kind of experience, and is enclosed in the huge, iconic silver ball. Below the ride is the show building through a dinosaur dark ride, that uses a continuous Mack vehicle system, of course. The queues for each of these rides are modern and feature driving, futuristic house music.

Many rides at Europa intertwine, overlap, and interact. Three different monorail systems meander through the park. There's a little locomotive train ride, there are little charming boat rides, and three car rides. They all travel through some of the most beautiful scenery ever.

Water rides abound at Europa. There's a Mack splash coaster in Greece that is spectacular. Then in Iceland there's another large splash coaster/boat ride with a reverse section. Overkill? Nah, they're showing off their many products there, so why not? Both rides are popular and very busy.

Dark rides are many and well done as well and each has a type of Mack conveyance system. I rode each one, large or small. My absolute favorite ride at the park was Arthur, a family dark ride/suspended coaster attraction. It lives in, out, and around its own little indoor area that's brilliantly themed to a children's story. Loading is continuous and the trains consist of three four across cars. The dark ride portion of the ride is amazing, and the coaster portion sends the trains over everyone's heads both inside and outside the building. The cars twist and turn throughout to face scenes or to provide a thrill. I know nothing about this impish Arthur and his Pinnochio-esque antics, but I found the story and ride to be heart warming in any language.

So what else to say about my last theme park in Europe? It's just beautiful there, rivaling Efteling in landscaping, scenery, and theming. The food was amazing, and I had forgotten that the Food Loop restaurant was there, it's also a Mack invention. For those who aren't familiar, this restaurant received world wide attention for it's totally automated delivery system where the food, drinks and desserts are sent to the table via an overhead coaster track. Spirals and loops are part of the course and it's amazing fun to watch. My salmon with potatoes and vegetables was delicious and miraculously arrived in tact!

So. Is Europa Park the best amusement park on earth? I loved every inch of it so I'm going to say yes. But aren't such things totally subjective? Some park fans spend all day running from one thrill ride to another and couldn't care less about the rest. And some, like me, prefer to look at the bigger, overall picture. And anytime a park is new to me it's always special.
But let's give Europa Park the edge for perfect devotion to theme, story, cleanliness, deliciousness, and thrills.

But here's some food for thought. I wore a Cedar Point shirt of some kind both days at Europa. I was kind of hoping for attention, and I got it. Many people asked me where I was from and exclaimed that Cedar Point was on their personal bucket list. I was happy to tell them about it and invite them over, and told them of my favorable impressions in regard to their lovely park. One young Swiss couple at my Europa hotel had spent their honeymoon in California and raved on and on about SF Magic Mountain. And they said "We HAVE to get to Cedar Point some day! We've been here so many times it's just kind of meh to us by now." Really!
So maybe it just comes down to what you know. And maybe the other man's grass really is greener.

OK, I'm done. I finished up this lengthy trip report during the eight hour trip back from Amsterdam. And now that I'm back in my own house safe and sound I'm ready to hit the send button.
Thanks to everyone here for allowing me to share this once in a lifetime trip and opine at length about my new and wonderful amusement park experiences.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016 11:10 PM

RCMAC said:

(Aside to Gonch: They know how to use the "zipper" over here and it works. I hereby take back everything bad I ever said about you.).

This makes me so happy.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016 1:19 AM

SWSD's Manta is a Mack launcher, the only stateside one according to RCDB. I don't know how it compares to Blue Fire, but it is a great ride. The preshow is pretty cool with some swirling action of the train and the launch is decent, but not stellar, the air is great and some of the trench work is really nice. I don't know what I liked so much about the ride (there wasn't a singular feature or moment that made me say "wow") but I couldn't wait to get back on.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016 11:07 AM

Thanks, Andy. I knew there was at least one in the US but I couldn't place it.
I can't say enough about those Mack coasters. The Bobsled was awesome, and longer than the one at KD. They're my favorite of the current Bob rides out there, but so expensive. Matterhorn Blitz is a Mack extended wild mouse just like the ones at KD, Knotts, etc. The difference is there's an elevator lift to the top and the ride passes through buildings and structures with animated farm animals, squawking chicken coops, etc. There was minimal braking, too, so the ride got wilder and wilder as we got to the bottom.

Maybe it's German engineering at its finest, but the capacity and blocking on all the rides was astounding.

I wish there were more Mack rides over here. Unless it's a small production model like the mouse, I imagine it's extremely expensive to build one here. Shipping alone, right? The steel is fabricated somewhere in Germany, I think their plant is only about 20 km. from Rust, so there's that. As opposed to B&M who's more local.

The flats were numerous and often, and like I said just about all of them were represented somehow. And many of them were kind of hard to find, the name of the ride was on the map but there was no description. And many of them were not outdoors, but tucked inside small buildings. Two extra charming ones were the Sea Storm and the Schlittenfahrt which I fortunately came across along a small street in Italy, but not til my second day. The Sea Storm was particularly awesome, as it was in a building with windows but when the ride started shades automatically covered the windows. The ride was interactive as there were guns on each boat you could shoot. There was a large lighthouse in the center and if riders were skilled enough with their shooting, projections on the interior walls depicted a slowly crumbling building, as if you were shooting down the walls. If the group does particularly well you were awarded with an extra sequence of a dark interior with a lightning storm projected on the walls. The platforms and ramps surrounding the ride were brick. I couldn't believe such care in detail for a silly flat ride. I rode it twice in a row, it was so much fun.

Did I mention this place is the best amusement park on earth?

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Monday, September 26, 2016 3:35 AM

Great TR!

For the awesome capacity, its a combo of efficient rides, great operators and a park management willing to move people. I don't know if you noticed... but Wodan is the only GCI WITHOUT seatbelts. You have the lap bar that locks at a certain point and that's it. They run 3 trains on their 3445 feet long wooden coaster with no mid course brakes and they can get a cool 1200 guests per hour on. Compare that with the average two train GCI that has a theoretical capacity of 720 guests per hour in a perfect world. Slap the usual CF or SF individual seatbelts, "Visual Scans" and what not and you're lucky to get 500 guests an hour. At Europa Park, the air gates open, the guests leave, next guests sit and the ride ops quickly check restraints before dispatching. How come this is impossible out of Disney and Universal in the US?

On the subject of Wodan, it is the only GCI to run urethane wheels due to the nearby village and the need to follow strict noise restrictions. As GCI had never built any coaster with those wheels before, they went to Beech Bend and used the Kentucky Rumbler as a test bed to see what kind of energy loss the wheels would generate. End result? They stopped at 7 cars out of 12 with the new wheels and went back to their office. They designed a massive 131 feet tall coaster with a relatively short 3445 feet layout and the ride passed planning permission with flying color.

Silver Star was modified after opening to include scream shields on the first drop similar to what is on California Screamin'. Both Euro-Sat and Euro-Mir can run seven 16 passenger trains.

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Monday, September 26, 2016 7:52 AM

I absolutely loved Europa Park, even though the visit was limited to just a few short hours and the ride selection limited to the coasters. Your TR was fantastic, and reminds me just how much I missed on that visit. I'll absolutely have to go back.

I think that where I probably differ the most was with Silver Star. That ride absolutely knocked my socks off and I'd put it as the best B&M I've ridden in the 200'-300' range. You're exactly right that it's very Nitro-esque (which is a very good selling point in my eyes), and while I think that Nitro's airtime finish is tough to beat, Silver Star managed some more impressive turning maneuvers. I especially like the post-MCBR helix with the nice airtime pop on the exit drop. My uncle was an even bigger fan, putting Silver Star over Expedition GeForce (we rode it earlier in the day at what was supposed to be the only park we visited).

I enjoyed blue fire too, but I have to say that it didn't knock my socks off quite the way it does with a lot of other people. It was extremely enjoyable, no doubt, but I likened it to Maverick and it didn't supplant the Cedar Point standout in my eyes.

Most of the others were also good fun, but it was such a hurried day that I can't really remember them too well. Anyway, excellent trip report, and I'm glad you had a great time!

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Monday, September 26, 2016 10:10 AM

Thanks.

I had only the one ride on Silver Star and sat in row 2. A Dutch/German enthusiast I met and hung out with on day two told me the back is the best on that ride for yank-em kind of airtime. I suppose I should have given it another try.

I liked this guy, his name is Peter, and we met because he's a single rider on his trips to the parks around Bavaria. In the morning when I went to Wodan I took the standby line and when I got on the train he was my single rider partner. He noticed my Cedar Point shirt and we struck up a conversation and he asked me if I wanted to go around with him. He was very knowledgeable about the park and gave me a lot of history and info about things that have changed at the park throughout the years. He was also very into the details that make a park great, so we hit it off. He told me what it was like to be an enthusiast in Europe and a little bit about the various clubs they have over there. They play a bingo game, where if you successfully complete a ride on all the coasters at a particular park you get a bingo. So as a goof I was able to exclaim all day that I finally got my coaster bingo, my water ride bingo, my dark ride bingo, my stupid kiddie ride bingo, and it was a lot of fun.

Another thing- I have mentioned that a lot of the people in this part of Europe especially the Netherlands are very tall. So on many of the coasters there was the measuring stick for children to see if they were tall enough but there was also an extension of the same stick to tell if a person was going to be too tall to ride. If your head hits the bar at the top of the stick you can't ride. So the thing amongst the European enthusiasts, and a never ending point of discussion, apparently, is whether coaster manufacturers should pay particular attention to the fact that customers over there are getting taller and taller. Hmmmm.
I said to him it's a lot like the discussions we have in America about the fact that we are often too fat to ride and what should be done about it. (besides the obvious...) He looked at me and said "yes.... I know...".
Well!
But apparently it's a real bone of contention with the enthusiasts from the Netherlands, because they go on these trips to parks around Germany and find out that they are too tall to ride when they get there. Who knew?

A shout out to Peter, who I will never see or hear from again. Thanks for making day 2 of my visit simply awesome.

Last edited by RCMAC, Monday, September 26, 2016 10:11 AM
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Monday, September 26, 2016 6:50 PM

RCMAC said:

Side note: In my few visits to some of the best parks in the region, I've developed a theory as to why these parks are so amazing. It's because they have to be. See, Europeans already have and live around quaint, old villages, and things like castles. Real castles, that are right down the road. So, the Europeans ain't buyin' it, unless it's something extra special. And that, friends, is why these parks are so over-the-top in appearance and theme.

Yes. This. And it doesn't just apply to amusement parks, it's any public space or human environment. This is why the quaint old villages are still intact today. Europeans appreciate quality because they are immersed in it. Their culture favors beauty and charm over size and convenience. Americans love traveling to Europe but they tend to talk about it in terms of food, art and culture. They seem to overlook what I see as the biggest lesson to bring home: people living in beautiful environments, built at human scale, for everyone's enjoyment. I find this to be one of the quintessential pleasures of being in Europe.

Europa Park sounds nice too. Thanks for sharing.

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Friday, October 7, 2016 9:50 PM

I love that the Cedar Point shirt got so much attention. It reminds me of how my dad used to tell me as a teen that I didn't know how good I had it living so close to a park like Cedar Point.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016 9:34 AM

Thanks for the report. This is the ultimate park on my list to visit in the future. From the pictures of it, and what everyone says, most American parks are ghetto compared to this amazing park.

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Sunday, July 23, 2017 11:23 AM

RCMAC said:

,,,The park opens at 8:30, rides at 9,

Yes you can enter the park at 8:30 but depending on crowd expectations for that day are not able to much further then the first sector of the park. As of June 2017 they open the new ride Voletarium around 8:40, this is their new flying theater that is located at the lefthandside when entering the park.

RCMAC said:

It's basically a show room for the Mack catalog, and it's hard to think of a Mack ride or system that isn't represented there. (I can think of one, there is no Musik Express/Himalaya ride- hard to believe.

Europapark was build as show room for Mackrides, back in 1975 the press wrote that this kind park would never function and the expected it to have a shortlifespan.

"fun"-fact.. Europapark is NOT called Europa ( German and Dutch word for Europe ) because they wanted to use different countries of Europe to be themed areas there. The name came from a lake, Europasee ( see = lake in German) where they originally planned to build this park, the location in Rust was therefore not their first choice. Of course they did use the name to their advantage by building all those themed areas

RCMAC said:

The beautifully landscaped stretch called Grimm's Enchanted Forest depicts the stories of the brothers Grimm in living picture-book fashion.

The fairytail part was allready there in 1975, but it looked differently, after 2007 they rebuild sections to have it look like it is now. Btw most of what you see there now was designed by Michel den Dulk ( a dutch designer), who worked before for Efteling and now for Disney his most recent work that came " alive " is the Frozen-ride in Epcot.

RCMAC said:

Operations at this park are outstanding, and it may be a testimony to Mack engineering. Blue Fire runs four trains, and both Eurosat and Euro Mir have many, multiple trains as well. Loading is fast and efficient and at no time did I feel like I was going to die somewhere in a queue. It was so refreshing

I love Europapark since my first visit in August of 2001, and those Operations are a big part of that. Only in a handfull of park you get this kind of treatment, not trying to push you to somekind of paid lineskipping.. no everybody is treated the same and on no occasion you have the feeling standing in line too long, even when things get broken you see how good / fast and efficient everything in that park works.

RCMAC said:

Three different monorail systems meander through the park.

Yes, but they all have a different purpose.

The BIG one, goes around the whole park , even has a stop at the hotel. The small one used to be a sightseeing ride, then in 2009/2010 they build Iceland and made that monorail into a transportaion between Russia (ok now Luxembourg) and Iceland, that area was not connected to the big monorail... from Luxemburg you can then enter the Trainride or walk to Greece to get the BIG monorail, thus getting without walking back to the mainentrancearea.

RCMAC said:

Water rides abound at Europa. There's a Mack splash coaster in Greece that is spectacular. Then in Iceland there's another large splash coaster/boat ride with a reverse section. Overkill? Nah, they're showing off their many products there, so why not? Both rides are popular and very busy.

Back then Roland Mack was the chief of the park and one year after the Poseidon ride he wanted to build the bigger one. First because the Poseidon ride was soo populair with regulary a cueline of 90 minutes and more ! Second reason being that Mackrides did not had sold a MackSupersplashride, so back to the catelog idea. They build it a few years later. In 2000 Poseidon was opened, in 2005 Atlantica. Btw Atlantica is Portugal which since 2010 connects to Iceland.

More often Mackrides builds prototypes in thei park, but this time that was not the case. In 1999 ate SeaWorld Orlando came the first Mack Watercoaster and I believe the first SuperSplash came in Tusenfryd in Norway ( I could be wrong there, maybe somewhere else in the world perhaps?)

RCMAC said:

So. Is Europa Park the best amusement park on earth? ......
But let's give Europa Park the edge for perfect devotion to theme, story, cleanliness, deliciousness, and thrills

To me it makes me happy each time I get there, because of operations and general theming etc You can't disagree that the park really delivers compared to what you have to pay for it.

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