At the end of July/beginning of August, several of us took a trip to the mainland to sample some of Europe's finest theme parks/roller coasters. The parks Walibi Belgium, Walibi World, Efteling, Phantasialand, Tripsdrill, Holiday Park, Europa Park and Parc Asterix.
Park reviews part 1
Walibi Belgium Walibi Belgium provided me my first taste of mainland European theme parks back in 2004 and it was nice to return once again. All the rides are dotted around a huge lake. We didn’t have much time here so hit all the coasters (and Challenge of Tutankhamon) first before cramming in as many of the other rides as possible and doing the odd repeat ride. Was a shame about Vertigo being delayed until 2007 (it looks amazing), but it just gives me an excuse to return in the future.
Walibi World If you are looking for a park with amazingly hospitable staff, then Walibi World is the place to be. They were all smiling, helpful, had fun with guests and genuinely seemed as though they were enjoying their jobs. The landscaping here is also second to none.
Efteling Set within fairly tail lands full of magic, Efteling is one of those parks where you really can escape reality. Theming is top of the agenda at thus place.
The park has four realms:
Fairy Realm, where the attractions are based on story book characters
Alternative Realm, where visitors will find things a bit out of the ordinary
Adventure Realm, where you'll find most of the coasters and white knuckle rides
Travel Realm, attractions based on journeys and travels around the world.
Phantasialand Phantasialand is a park that oozes sheer quality. I goes without question that this is my favourite European theme park experience what with its highly themed rides/ride areas, the immersive atmosphere, brilliant staff, fab food etc (I could go on for longer!), it all goes part in parcel for one of the best theme park experiences you could ever have. Black Mamba is just the icing on the parks ultra tasty cake! One thing I wI ill say is be wary of fast pass holders if queuing for Mamba front seat. They get priority, which could mean an ultra long wait for those queueing in the normal front seat line.
Tripsdrill The order of the day at this Vineyard themed park was fun over thrills (and for us relaxation after the previous day of intense riding!). A park like this doesn’t need to rely on the latest G machine to keep folk happy. The weird and wonderful rides (including the fantastic spinning tub ride) and side stalls do all that. Tripsdrill is surrounded by rolling countryside covered in Vineyards which provide beautiful views from within the park. We spent about 6 hours here which was more than enough.
Photo highlights part 1:
Entrance to Walibi Belgium
Their 'OK' SLC, Vampire.
Turbine is the Schwarzkopf shuttle loop. The launch into the enclosed loop is fantastic! And going backwards is just as much fun.
Loup Garou is the parks fantastic Vekoma (yes, a fantastic Vekoma) woodie. It has a suprising amount of airtime and some nice laterals.
A view of Turbine from the big wheel.
Next up is Walibi World.
El Condor is the parks Vekoma SLC. Its darn smooth considering it’s a prototype!
Our first siting of the amazing ride that is Goliath, the parks Intamin Mega Coaster. Overall, I prefer this ride over the much hyped Expedition Ge Force.
It's up there!
Express is a launched looping Vekoma. It’s basically Rock n Rollercoaster but outdoors and without the music! The launch is great but the ride runs out of steam nearer to the end.
Robin Hood is another of the 3 Vekoma Woodies in existance. Not as good as Loup Garou in my opinion, but still a barrel of fun. This one has more of an out and back layout unlike its twisted counterpart.
El Condor from above.
Goliath at Dusk.
On to Efteling
Python is a Vekoma double looping corkscrew coaster.
The lift hill takes forever. Ride itself is pretty average, and is in between the realms of smooth and rough. Its doing well for its age
It has had new trains installed since my last visit. I didn’t find them particularly comfortable.
As you know, their water coaster (Vliegende Hollander) won't be opening until next year. The theming looks stunning though. Will head back in a couple of years.
Pegusus is their junior Intamin woodie
Vogel Rok is an indoor Vekoma MK900 coaster based on the travels of Sinbad and the Vogel bird. It lacked the soothing lighting which it had two years ago, but still provided a fantastic ride experience.
Dreamflight is a superb suspended dark ride (Vekoma transit system) takes travellers through some spectacular, highly themed set pieces which include castles in the sky and fairy/elf/goblin filled forests. ‘Detail’ is the keyword here.
Villa Volta (built in 1997) was the first of the next generation haunted swings to be built by Vekoma.
This is certainly the most ‘ornate’ one that I’ve ridden. But far from the best I’m afraid.
Their Flying Island provides some stunning views.
Bobbaan is an Intamin bobsled coaster. The trains on this coaster have been upgraded to two across (rather than the traditional singular ones which were I experienced during my last visit), which is no doubt a blessing in terms of capacity.
Phantasialand was the next park on the tour. Here you can see Colorado Adventure AKA The Michael Jackson Thrill Ride.
This ride is certainly thrilling to say the least. What with its multiple lift hills and extensive layout, you know that you will certainly be going on an epic adventure. This ride has all the ingredients that all good mine trains need and then some.
Winja’s Fear and Force are duelling Maurer Söhne Spinners. Both rides are fast, furious and full of ‘surprises’. That’s about as much as I’m going to say so as not to spoil it for those who haven’t ridden it yet.
I have a preference for Winja’s Force. Those that have ridden it will probably know why. But together both Winja’s make for a world class ride. Its surroundings (Wuze town) really add to the immersive atmosphere.
River Quest is without a doubt one of the best rapids rides in the world. This ride is full of suprises, which I won't ruin for those yet to experience it. All I'm going to say is that its fun, thrilling and definitely aint yer typical rapids
Mystery Castle is a highly themed shot and drop set in the confines of a castle tower. Shame the ride cycle is so short, but it is fun whilst it lasts.
n the walk though section I encountered several costumed characters who were doing a great job at scaring and interacting with the crowds.
And saving the best till last. Yes, its Black Mamba!
Well, what can I say? Talk about feeling like I was really in Africa (to a certain extent anyway). Talk about an immersive experience.
The Africa/Black Mamba landscaping is simply divine. Detail, detail and more detail. Mud buildings, Moroccan style architecture, tribal artefacts, waterfalls, rock faces, greenery, catchy music score complete with dramatic station music.
Now, I knew the ride was going to ‘look’ good, but kept an open mind in regards to the ride experience. Obviously I knew it was going to be ‘good’, but what I experienced was a whole lot more than good, it was simply stunning.
The ride provides relentless, fast paced and intense journey through valleys which head straight towards rock faces, under bridges, over mountains (Jr Immelmann), and if you like your strong G’s just you wait until the rides finale.
The station theming is out of this world.
Foot choppers aplenty including this rock work and a waterfall.
Goodbye Black Mamba :(
Next it was time to take a chill pill at Tripsdrill
My oh my, what fun this was. Another ride of the ‘biggest isn’t always best variety’. The seats are hoisted up to the top of the tree house before tilting (takes you by surprise even after witnessing it in action) before going into a drop and shot cycle.
On this ride you get the opportunity to spray passers by. Great way to cool down.
This spinning tub ride was certainly weird and wonderful.
Jungbrunnen aka The Bathtub ride
is a cool ride with a disturbing (but highly amusing) dark ride section. I won’t spoil it for those that haven’t been there yet, but the ‘sexy’ lady in the next photo will give you an idea of what to expect.
Geoff doesn't seem to think so though.
G’sente Sau was the worlds first Gerstlauer Bobsled. And it’s a ride that I’ve wanted to ride for a number of years. The first thing that gets you attention is the rides setting.
The wild mouse and helix sections of the ride are intertwined with the parks bath tube themed flume ride whilst the airtime hills dive through a terrain of vivid flower beds.
There is a rather funky walkthrough section in the queue-line before entering the station area. The ride itself is good fun. And is a perfect example of a ‘family’ coaster. It zips around the track and a good speed with the helix’s pulling some strong G’s
Holiday Park I'd been wanting to visit this park since the birth of Expedition Ge Force. Tis medium sized park has a good selection of rides and shows spread about its wooded confines. I expected to get everything done within hours, but found out that this a certainly a day park. Especially for folk like myself who have never been before. Oh if you ever go, you have out check out their amazing log flume.
Europa Park Walking through the gates of this park was yet another dream come true. I’d wanted to visit this theme park for many years, even more so after the introduction of Sliver Star (which can be seen for miles outside the park). The first thing you notice when walking through the gates is the attention to detail. Like Phantasia, themeing is high on the agenda (some of it is quite simply stunning). For those that don’t know, the park has a European theme with each area representing a different European country. We spent two days here and I’m glad we did. It meant that we could experience all the attractions (dont miss out their Mad House) and shows at a leisurely pace. For those that don’t know, the park is owned my ride manufacturers Mack, and acts as a showcase for their rides. Oh, and the word 'downtime' isnt in their vocubulary it seems
Parc Asterix First visited the place last year and have been one of its biggest fans ever since. Its well themed and has a fantastic selection of rides and attractions including one of the best woodies on the planet!
Photo highlights part 2:
Welcome to Holiday Park
Onto Ge Force. I’m afraid to say that I was ‘slightly’ disappointed. Even so, there’s no denying that this is a great ride, especially in the back seats.
The first section of the ride is ace, with its twisting first drop and fantastic airtime hill which follows (not as powerful as Goliaths second hill though in my opinion).
The train then dives through the woods, twisting and turning every which way including the infamous Stengel Dive before going through some trim brakes which cause a lacklustre finale.
The first trims are fine. The second lot just ruin what could have been the perfect ending. They cause the train to crawl over the final airtime hills before coming to rest in the station.
No doubt I’m going to face the wrath of Ge Force diehards, but I’m afraid that not everyone has the same gilded view of this ride.
A couple of banners proudly state that Expedition Ge Force is ‘the best roller coaster in the world’ (according to the Mitch Hawker poll). Not in my world I’m afraid.
The calm before the storm. it literally chucked it down at one point.
But German efficiency meant all rides were up and running as soon as the thunder and lightning dispersed.
Punishment for criticizing Expedition Ge Force!
Super Wirbel is just another bog standard (and surprisingly smooth) Corkscrew. One ride was more than enough for me.
New for 2006 is a Funtime StarFlyer called Light House Tower. The ride was introduced mid season, not long before our visit.
And you could tell because workmen were still working the paving and bits of queue line when we were there! The ride was closed first things, but we came back later in the day to find the ride operating and the workmen gone with the job at hand complete!
The ride itself wasn’t thrilling (it’s not supposed to be) but was a lot of fun. It’s basically a glorified observation tower.
Hello Europa. Our view of Sliver Star from the car park
Silver Star was another one of those rides that I’d wanted to ride since it opened, yet at the same time keeping an open mind after hearing stories about its infamous trim brakes.
Whilst it looks awesome, I found the ride experience rather underwhelming.
The first drop is fantastic with its floater airtime, as is the first hill.
But once it hits the trims, it goes downhill from there on in. It just turns into an average ride.
It gets slightly better nearer to the end but it still left me feeling rather disappointed. I certainly don’t consider it a high speed thrill ride, more of a sedate family coaster that just happens to be 239 feet high!
Kleiner Horror Laden is one for all those that loved Phantom Phantasia/Wicked Witches Haunt (myself included). It uses exactly the same ride system. A true classic as far as dark rides go.
Euro Sat is the coaster that is housed inside the giant golf ball (temporary football).
Some of you may call me mad, but I LOVE this ride.
Never mind the funky escalators, it’s the techno filled lift hill and crazily relentless laterals of the ride circuit that really do it for me.
The ride circuit is littered with weird and wonderful scenery, colours and noises, as well as the ace sound track. Best ride at the park by far in my opinion.
Matterhorn Blitz AKA glrofied wild mouse with funky lift hill
Schweizer Bobbahn is an average bobsled
This would be my first ‘proper’ water coaster experience. Super Splash at Tusenfryd and Atlantica SuperSplash are just glorified ‘shoot the shoot’ type rides.
First thing I must say is that the coaster section is rough (a running theme on Mack’s rides) but it wasn’t a nasty roughness. Just rough enough to make me hold on.
It had two Splash sections. Neither getting you that wet (Atlantica gets you soaked though).
The themeing makes up for what is an otherwise ok ride experience.
Atlantica Supersplash bored me somewhat.
This spinning ride is based around the Mir space station. Cool spiral lift hill. Disorientating circuit. Good ride
Pegasus is the new for 2006 Mack YoungSTAR junior coaster. Fun whilst it lasts.
Alpen Express is the parks mine train ride that has a funky but brief dark ride section. You can also walk through this.
The themeing turns nasty!
Mainland European parks really know how to keep their guests cool.
Europa's 'main street'. Look at the detail.
Final stop of the tour. Parc Asterix.
This way to Goudurix!
Goudurix is the infamous multi-looper (seven inversions) from Vekoma.
Talk about a ride being given an unfair reputation. I personally loved it.
It’s certainly not the rough brain rattler that some enthusiasts go on about.
There is a slight jolt during the butterfly element, but that was the only noticeable ‘bit’ of roughness that I felt.
I love wooden rollercoaster’s. And TDZ is no exception. In fact it currently stands as my number 2 woodie.
It seemed to have been given an adrenaline injection since last year because it was running better than ever, especially by the end of the day.
The ride was so insane that I had to hold on at various points.
The first drop into the tunnel is simply fantastic, and what follows is a relentless tour de force of speed (its main emphasis), laterals and good old airtime.
Zeus complete with spotty knickers
Insane magic carpet
Goudurix first drop
Vol D'Icare. A Zierer Hornet
Oxygenarium. Lots of fun.
La Trace Du Hourra
This is the parks well themed Mack bobsled ride.
Its extensive circuit races through trees and around rocks.
Gets my vote for being the best bobsled coaster out there.
Nice Trip Report! I also noticed the blue & lightblue cars on the trains on TDZ, its kind of funny but it looks a bit ugly to. Apparently you have a strong tolerance for rough Vekoma's, i can believe Super Wirbel being smooth becouse it doesnt go as fast, but Goudurix kicked me in the head several times starting from the first drop till the corkscrews, beautiful coaster though.
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