I got to the park right on time, just before the gates were opened. My first reaction was "wow, are you sure this isn't a Disney park?" They had a brass band playing and the whole entry area looked like a European main street. Not to mention their mascot is Euro Maus... perhaps a distant German cousin of Mickey?
In any case, I was impressed from the start. I also was pleased that they had maps in English (as well as German and French). I certainly don't expect that out of a German park, but its pretty nice nonetheless.
So the park opened, and I was off to Silver Star. Apparently the "running of the bulls" is not just an American phenomenon! I was in the back row of the first train of the day. Sounds like a good place to start! This was a good reminder of how much I love the B&M hyper restraints. So minimal, so comfortable, and yet there is no way to get out of them! I thought it was funny that they didn't physically check my restraint. Just took a look at it and decided it was ok. Thats a big change!
The ride itself was fun. Not absolutely amazing, but a good solid ride. There was plenty of airtime, even on that first ride of the morning. Nothing violent, but certainly air on every hill. The brakes are there, but don't trim it too badly. I love the s-turn near the end of the ride. What a cool element!
After that, I walked into the Switzerland area of the park. Once again, I was taken aback by the brilliant theming! The area looked like an honest-to-goodness Swiss village! Heck, they even had a little stream running across the path! It was all really nicely put together (and thats certainly a pattern for the day).
Matterhorn Blitz was having technical difficulties, so I went around the corner to Schweitzer Bobbahn.
This would be only my 3rd bobsled coaster, and I'm not sure where to rank it. The theming, as usual was top notch. The ride was longer than Avalanche at Blackpool and pretty close to Disaster Transport's length. It was interesting that it had a real drop towards the beginning, as I've never seen that on a bobsled. But the ride was rough- not painful, just consistently bumpy. In any case, it was a so-so ride, if only because of the bumps.
The operator decided that we ought to go again since there was no line. I say this because I don't think I had the option of getting off the ride- they didn't release the lapbars and simply sent us again. Oh well, it was a decent ride so I've got no complaints!
Next up I went back to Matterhorn Blitz, wanting to catch a ride before the lines got long. It was running now, so I jumped in line.
If I wasn't convinced I was at a Disney park (with more coasters) before, this one convinced me (and not just because it has Matterhorn in the name). Ok, fine- it beats the crap out of Mullholland Madness. So is Europa better than Disney quality? Nevermind. The queue had at least 50 animatronics in it. The idea is that you are winding through a Swiss farmhouse, so you have animatronic animals and people doing chores. To give you an idea of how detailed this is, there are animatronic chickens moving around in the rafters. I couldn't believe it.
And the ride was no slouch either! The elevator lift (I'm guessing like Sea World's Journey to Atlantis) tips from side to side. I forgot that it did that! The tipping was a little more pronounced than I expected, which was cool. Anyway, you come out at the top of the tower and its on to a good, solid wild mouse ride. Actually, this one blows away any other mice I have been on. It starts out with a good sized drop, and has a couple of nice drops during the ride. Once again, good theming as you zip through covered areas at the bottom of the drops. Its really long as well. All in all, its a lot of fun, and is pretty much as good as a wild mouse can get.
It was still early, and I walked over to check out Posiedon. Once again- the theming is incredible. You really feel as if you are in a little coastal Greek town. I didn't want to ride just yet, as I had my camera and wallet on me, and wasn't sure how wet I might get on the ride.
I did check out a haunted swing ride called "Cassandra's Curse." It was well done, with a decent storyline, but it paled in comparison to Hex at Alton Towers. Still, I think haunted swing rides are neat.
Walking out of Greece, I journeyed to Russia. Cool entryway, which can be seen in my photos. In here was Euro-Mir. I've heard mostly that its a weird ride. Isn't that the truth!
I thought it was cool they had a model of the Mir space station over the queue, which you can walk through. I didn't but it looked neat. Walking in, I had to laugh as it was a bit cheesy. Blacklights and glowing stars painted on the walls. The station was cool, as they had a video about the park's history playing. Irrelevant to the ride at hand, but I thought it was nice. English subtitles made it even better!
Getting on the ride, it was interesting. If you haven't seen them, the cars are round with 2 seats facing forward and two backwards. The ride starts out around a corner with water jets spraying you with mist and spacemen floating around. Yep, its strange. But thats not the strange part. wink.gif The spiral lift begins. Imagine this: You are sitting in the dark, slowly spinning around as your car ascends gently in big spirals. You can't really see anything- but you can hear some random techno song. Are you freaked out yet? Ok, now imagine that this goes on for about 3 minutes (longer than most coasters!).
When the ride (finally!) makes it out of this building, you aren't really as high up as you should be after going up for 3 minutes. wink.gif From here, the ride acts like a spinning wild mouse, gliding around these metallic blue octogonal towers. Its funny to see your reflection as you go by, not to mention the reaction of the people sitting across from you (since you are facing people in the other car).
As gentle as its been so far, the ride isn't without some bite! Euro-Mir goes into a tall, sweeping banked drop. It gets pretty intense from here on out as you spin and fly around the bases of these towers.
So what do I think? Euro-Mir is great. Sure, its freaking weird, but I guess thats part of the fun of it all. If nothing else, I can surely say there is nothing else like it!
After the strange ride on Euro-Mir, I decided I went on a dark ride in the Russia section. If was very kid-oriented and had something to do with a St. Nicholas bringing Christmas to the people. Its best described as cute. Moving on...
I passed the England part of the park. They had a model of the Globe Theatre, which was kind of cool. There was also a small Victorian-era street.
Doubling back, I went to the Holland section of the park, passing under a big windmill to get there. Its time for another Disney ripoff. Well, actually, its hard for me to call what Europa Park does a ripoff, as that seems to imply that its a crappy imitation. I mean, sometimes Europa Park is cheesy, but other times, its just darn good. So when I call it a Disney rip-off, I mean it in the nicest way. I mean, there are worse companies to emulate. smile.gif
So the next (and maybe most blatant) Disney ripoff? A ride called "Piraten in Batavia." I'm not sure I understand the background of the ride too well, but the queue was really nicely done!
So lets see, we get on a boat ride that begins with a drop. Sounds familiar? Actually the drop was kind of cool, as it had this projected (Fantasmic style) gate at the bottom. I swear I didn't realize it was a projection until after we passed it! That was pretty cool!
So general scenes (with tons of animatronics) of pillaging, plundering etc. Of note we had a burning town (with fans and shiny fabric of course), a monkey holding a key away from some imprisioned pirates and of course the politically incorrect pirates chasing the ladies. Wow, it almost seems like I'm back home again. wink.gif Ok, not quite.
So the ride was certainly um...inspired by Disney. Obviously, this isn't Disney by any means, but its probably the best animatronic based ride I have seen outside of a Disney or Universal park.
I went to check out Atlantica (the park's other water coaster), and decided to put my stuff away in some lockers. On the way I stopped for lunch in the Enlgand section, having a very British meal of a hamburger and fries. I was shocked that the lockers in the park were only a single Euro for unlimited use throughout the day! Nevermind, this is certainly not an American park! smile.gif
It was time for some water coasters, but I'd make my way there eventually. First up was the "Space Mountain" ripoff, Euro-Sat. To further the Disney connection, its in the geodesic dome that would appear to be right out of EPCOT!
I think they decided to rip off the old-school Space Mountain in Disneyland, as Euro-Sat has an escalator to get up to the ride and a cheesy robot animatronic at the entrance (No Fed Ex packages though wink.gif)
Once again we have a spiral lift and cheesy techno music. Always a good time! Oddly, all of the dialogue on the ride, including the countdown at the top of the lift was in English! I thought this was a German park? The ride was pretty bad though. I think the main problem was that it was so dark that you had no way to brace yourself for what was about to happen. Either way, I remember getting thrown around a lot. I guess thats going to make me even more grateful for the new Space Mountain in Anaheim!
Next door was a ride called the "Universe of Energy." Another Disney rip-off? Eh, more of a "Kingdom of the Dinosaurs" ripoff- but better! The queue was all indoors and was pretty nicely done. The ride features "doombuggy" style cars as you slooowlly creep past a bunch of dinosaurs. Not the best ride ever, but I can appreciate a park that builds dark rides!
After these couple of detours in France, I headed back to Greece for Posiedon. I forgot to mention that it was almost 80 degrees that day! After living in England these past few months, you have no idea how appealing that is! This was probably the longest wait of the day at 25 minutes. Not too bad- made a lot better because this ride has theming that is simply superb. It takes place in a Greek ruin, with lots of details as you finally move towards the temple that is the ride's station. Check out the pictures, its really cool! The station has crates all over as if this were an archaeological expedition, with a giant stone trident slammed into the ground in the corner of the temple.
The ride begins with a slow cruise through a ruined Greek town, complete with an animatronic old man. I won't give a play-by-play of the whole thing, but the ride is incredibly good! Some nice turns and drops, with two soaking splashdowns. I haven't been on Sea World's Journey to Atlantis, but this one has set the bar very high. In fact, I'll go as far as saying that this was my favorite ride of the day!
The ride was perfect for the nice warm day.
ATLANTICA SUPER SPLASH
I ventured to the back of the park to get my last credit of the day, Atlantica Super Splash. This ride is brand new and is themed beautifully. Its in the Portugal section, and it feels like you are walking out of the woods and onto the coast, complete with seagull sound effects! The station is nicely themed towards the outpost for the famous Portugese explorers like Henry the Navigator. The boats look great- like little galleons.
While it is a water coaster, the boats are quite different than Posiedon. They seat 4 across instead of Posiedon's 2. I'm assuming they don't turn as well, hence the silly turntables. So when you get to the top of the lift you turn around backwards, go down a small drop and then go forwards once more. The drop is modest at best, but it seemed like the families at the park loved it! The next drop is pretty cool as it drops, just barely tags the water, then up over a hill and into the water for the big splash. Its actually pretty fun, but its a very short ride- kind of like Perilous Plunge with a small drop in the middle and no silly restraints!
This one certainly pushes the limits of the "is this a coaster?" debate. It does have two drops and a camelback, but it certainly feels like a shoot-the-chutes ride the rest of the time. Eh, I count it, but its certainly more debatable than Posiedon.
So all in all I enjoyed it! It wasn't a "wow" sort of ride, and its not worth a huge wait, but its a fun ride.
Believe it or not, it was still early afternoon at this point! Next door to the Portugal section of Atlantica is the Austria area. Since I was already a bit wet (though drying quickly!), I decided to take a spin on their log flume, the Wild Wasser Bahn. I nominate that for the best ride name ever. Its actually kind of cool, as it has this indoor section themed to a diamond mine, with these odd animatronic troll creatures doing the mining. I'm not sure I get that entirely, but it was cool nonetheless.
Next door was the Alpenexpress, a Mack powered coaster. I don't call that a credit, but with a 5 minute wait like it had, I was willing to give it a spin. Its a cool ride, nicely landscaped in the forest. It also goes through the diamond mine, and has a fun blast of fire when the train goes by. Any ride with real fire effects is a winner in my book!
Well, I'll wrap it up. The last couple hours of my day there I got plenty of re-rides in. I got 3 laps total on Silver Star (one in the front), 3 on Posiedon, 2 on Euro-Mir, 2 on Euro-Sat, 2 on Schweitzer Bobbahn and 2 on Atlantica.
I was tired and ready to get back to the hotel. Thankfully, I made the bus with probably less than a minute to spare. Heck, the train was even on time. And within 40 minutes, I was back at my hotel in Offenburg after a great day at Europa Park!
Europa Park is a wonderful park. First, its got a solid selection of rides, including a handful of nice dark rides and some good coasters. But perhaps even more impressive to me is the theming, representing many of Europe's nations. They pulled the theme of with lots of charm and authenticity, even if they do resort to "borrowing" some Disney ideas. smile.gif
Honestly, its a park that I'd be just as happy doing no rides and simply walking around taking photos and admiring the scenery. In addition, the atmosphere of the park is excellent. They have entertainers of all sorts, from brass bands to stilt walkers to the ever-popular Euro Maus. Thats pretty cool, and its something you don't really see a lot of outside of Disney.
I finished my day with a ride on Silver Star and a nice crepe from the France section of the park. Mmm... good stuff.
Here are the photos from my day at Europa Park:
I think I took about 70 photos overall, so this is just an overview. Hopefully it will help the epic trip report make a little more sense!
Hope you made it through all of that and thanks for reading!
I love reading about the European parks....and I *will* be getting there sooner rather than later. Just have to remind myself not to cash in the return flight ticket, LOL...;)
good to see an american getting out there and enjoying the parks around the world.
What was so good in Munich that made you bypass expedition g force??
And never regret skipping a coaster (even if it is considered by those who have ridded to be the best) for a cultural day in another country ;).
Its not to say that my trip to Munich was completely devoid of coasters. ;) I went to the Fruhlingsfest (Spring festival), a smaller cousin of the Oktoberfest. The rides weren't as extensive as I had hoped with just one credit (a regular Maurer wild mouse). The Top Spin did however invert 13 times (I counted) over a 5 minute(!) cycle. It had water effects too.
But the beer hall was the highlight of the Fruhlingsfest. It was quite the cultural experience. I'm not a huge drinker by any means, but they bring these HUGE glasses of beer poured right from the wooden barrels. Combine that with a nice bratwurst plate and then I really start feeling German. They had a traditional oom-pah band playing and people were generally having a good time. It was quite an introduction to the Bavarian culture. Very friendly people.
The highlight of my short time in Munich was my visit to Dachau concentration camp. That alone made up the entire trip, as it was incredibly disturbing, emotional and enlightening to see in person. Its one thing to read about this stuff in a history book- its another to step into the gas chamber yourself and see the incinerators used to burn the murdered prisoners.
I also got to tour around the rest of the city, seeing some of the old buildings as well as the site of the 1972 Olympics. Pretty cool.
So in a nutshell, thats why I skipped EGF, and I have no regrets whatsoever.
Just wanted to mention how incredibly good the German Rail website is (bahn.de). It makes travel in Germany really as easy as it can be for a non or limited German-speaker.
So if any of you do plan to make it to Germany for the parks or otherwise, that is the place to go!
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