Cheese & Wine 2020: (another) European Road Trip

Discussion in 'Your Trip Reports and Plans' started by Burbs, 17th Aug 2020.

  1. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

    Messages:
    4,778
    Likes Received:
    4,894
    Location:
    London
    Favourite Ride:
    Untamed, Walibi Holland
    On Wednesay 29th July, @AstroDan, @John, @Mattmash and I embarked on an 18-day long European theme park road trip, visiting a mix of our old favourites, as well as wholly unexplored territory for a lot of enthusiasts! With coronavirus rates slowly rising across some of the countries we were set to visit, there was always a certain air of anxiety of "how far will we actually get?" The trip was even nicknamed "The Blocked at the Border Tour", but fortunately we managed to get through the vast majority of the original trip plan before having to make alternative arrangements. It eventually became the following:

    Day 1: Drive to Portsmouth - overnight Ferry to St Malo
    Day 2: Mont St Michel (sightseeing)
    Day 3: Puy Du Fou, inc. Cinescenie
    Day 4: Futuroscope
    Day 5: Le PAL
    Day 6: Walibi Rhône-Alpes
    Day 7: Chamonix/Mont Blanc/Moléson (sight seeing/alpine coasters)
    Day 8: Rulantica
    Day 9: Europa-Park
    Day 10: Europa-Park
    Day 11: Europa-Park
    Day 12: Tripsdrill
    Day 13: Phantasialand
    Day 14: Movie Park Germany
    Day 15: Walibi Holland
    Day 16: Slagharen/Avonturenpark Hellendoorn
    Day 17: Efteling
    Day 18: Drive home

    Originally, day 1 was supposed to include Paultons Park, but this was removed when it was found that Storm Chaser wouldn't be opening. Day 16 was meant to be Bobbejaanland, 18 Toverland and an additional day 19 Bellewaerde, but these were altered and removed respectively when it was announced that travel within Belgium and the Netherlands should be essential only.

    As per my last trip report, I intend to review the parks on the trip that I haven't done before, and I may or may not discuss my views of the new bits of the parks in their own topics, which others on the trip have done too.

    :)
     
    Posted 17th Aug 2020
    #1
  2. Pleasure Beach Valhalla

    Pleasure Beach Valhalla TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    470
    Location:
    West Midlands
    Favourite Ride:
    Nemesis
    So you managed to do a remarkable thing despite things a potential blockage. And you got to do Tripsdrill's new coasters i presume reviews for some parks might arrive soon for ones you haven't recently done!
     
    Burbs likes this.
    Posted 17th Aug 2020
    #2
  3. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

    Messages:
    4,778
    Likes Received:
    4,894
    Location:
    London
    Favourite Ride:
    Untamed, Walibi Holland
    Yes we were very fortunate in the end, especially considering that on our second night before Puy Du Fou we were discussing that we could come across some serious problems not too far away. I'd also not visited Tripsdrill before, so will be reviewing the whole park at some point!

    Aaaaanyway, onto the start of the trip report proper!

    Day 1 - Ferry Crossing
    Our vessel for the crossing to Europe would be Brittany Ferries' "Bretagne", departing from Portsmouth at 20.15 and arriving in St Malo exactly 12 hours later. It's certainly not the most common journey to take when doing a European theme park trip, but due to the fact that the first parks we'd be going to were in the west of France, it made sense to avoid a further 5-hour drive from Calais. That, and also it's somewhat more efficient in the way that you're travelling and sleeping simultaneously, effectively saving another night in a hotel.

    It was not busy on board the ship at all, with everyone booked on needing to have a cabin booked, reducing the capacity to around 50%. This meant that there were plenty of tables available throughout the evening in the counter-service restaurant, despite the à la carte restaurant being closed altogether. I was expecting average food charged at a premium, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I could get a starter, main, dessert and glass of wine for under £20. Well, WINE not?! The bar was also very spacious, which we relaxed in after our meal, and though the whole thing felt very dated, it was nice to see entertainment on board.

    The cabins themselves were very small, though for just one night it's fine. We'd paid an extra £10 for an outside cabin with a window, so as not to feel too claustrophobic, and this was certainly worth the up-charge at £2.50 a head. Departing the ferry in the morning, however, was a somewhat rushed affair. Each car was assigned one of three different colours, which were called in sequence to get prepared to depart. Though our call was merely 30 minutes after the wake up call, and I believe one of us was still in the bathroom at the time. God forbid if we'd have opted in for breakfast!

    Overall it was a very smooth and enjoyable crossing, which I wouldn't hesitate to do again if heading to the west of France.
     
    Posted 17th Aug 2020
    #3
  4. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

    Messages:
    7,214
    Likes Received:
    12,016
    Location:
    Staffordshire
    Favourite Ride:
    Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
    Please note: A crossing from Portsmouth was also chosen to its proximity to Paultons Park, where originally we'd have been visiting to experience the new area. However: EEZ CLOSED.
     
    MattyH, Rojo, Skyscraper and 3 others like this.
    Posted 17th Aug 2020
    #4
  5. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

    Messages:
    4,778
    Likes Received:
    4,894
    Location:
    London
    Favourite Ride:
    Untamed, Walibi Holland
    Day 2 - Mont Saint-Michel

    [​IMG]

    We departed the ferry in St Malo, France at around 8.45am in the end, and set out for our first destination: Mont Saint-Michel... CULTURE! Uh! The car parks were located approximately 2.5 miles away from the destination itself, and cost around €15 for the day, however "free" (cost absorbed) regular shuttle buses were provided, meaning it only took about 5 minutes to get to the destination.

    The monastery on top of the island is extremely impressive, and could be something straight out of Harry Potter. Access to the island is free and there are restaurants and shops aplenty along the winding narrow streets going uphill. There are a couple of up-charge museums which we didn't do, but we did do the tour of the monastery itself, which cost €11 in advance, or free if you're under 25... Win! The views from the top are stunning and there's lots of different rooms and areas to explore. It's certainly worth doing if you're visiting, but make sure to book in advance as we noticed a massive standby queue, whereas we just rocked up at our time slot and went straight in.

    In all we spent around 2.5-3 hours there from parking up to leaving, as we had a bit of a drive to our next destination. Our hotel for the following 2 nights would be Best Western Omnubo, which was a short 10 minute drive from Le Puy Du Fou. The rooms were very modern and the air con icy-cold, especially useful considering the temperatures outdoors were upwards of 30°C. All the rooms seemed to have a large balcony each which we spent some time on before heading to a local pizzeria for our evening meal. I'd certainly recommend this hotel if visiting Puy Du Fou or are just generally in the area.

    :)
     
    Posted 18th Aug 2020
    #5
  6. Pleasure Beach Valhalla

    Pleasure Beach Valhalla TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    470
    Location:
    West Midlands
    Favourite Ride:
    Nemesis
    I'm glad to see you enjoyed it! I went when back in 2018 on a very clear and sunny day and the views you get are just stunning if there's no mist!
     
    Burbs likes this.
    Posted 19th Aug 2020
    #6
  7. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

    Messages:
    7,214
    Likes Received:
    12,016
    Location:
    Staffordshire
    Favourite Ride:
    Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
    *Delays writing own Puy du Fou commentary*

    :cool:
     
    Posted 19th Aug 2020
    #7
  8. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

    Messages:
    4,778
    Likes Received:
    4,894
    Location:
    London
    Favourite Ride:
    Untamed, Walibi Holland
    Day 3 - Le Puy du Fou

    [​IMG]

    As someone who works and studies within the theatre industry, I've had an interest in visiting Puy du Fou since I first heard of it. It's often described as a "theme park just for shows", but it's so much more than that. The park is split into two effectively: the Grand Parc and La Cinéscénie, with the former being where everyone spends the day, then you can choose to pay extra to see the latter in the evening... if you're a) visiting on one of the few days throughout the year it's on, and b) lucky enough to get a ticket! But more about that later.

    Firstly, the main park is absolutely huge. It's home to 6 major show venues, which each seat between 1000 and 8000 people, and every show is full of surprises. 2 of the venues are indoors, and it seems as though the shows there have been around for many years and are likely to stay that way. The majority of the shows are based on real local and national history, and unlike your typical theme park show, takes itself very seriously on the whole. The technical and visual elements to each are simply bewildering, even those with a minimal set will surprise you. Unfortunately it's not possible to see all 6 of the shows in a day, with 5 being the maximum due to the scheduling of them and having to arrive at the venues around 30 minutes prior to curtain-up. That being said, we did manage to see 5, all of which were excellent.

    I won't go in to much detail about the shows themselves as I firmly believe that any theme park enthusiast should aspire to visit this place at some point, however if you want to watch YouTube videos of the shows then so be it, but you'll just be spoiling it for yourself. We managed to see the following:

    • Les Vikings - self explanatory
    • Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes - BIRDS show, where @AstroDan nearly had his head taken off by an eagle
    • Mousquetaire de Richelieu - Musketeers type thing, this was probably my least favourite that we saw
    • Le Signe du Triomphe - Roman arena style show
    • Le Dernier Panache - Based on an 18th century genocide in the area... this is the one that had the most lasting impact on me, both from a content and technical point of view. Don't go into this expecting your typical theme park show.
    In addition to the main shows, there are also a plethora of other entertainment offerings, shown frequently throughout the day. You wouldn't feel short-changed if you missed them necessarily, but they're fun to just happen upon. We managed to see:
    • Les Grandes Eaux - @John's favourite ;) - visual diatribe
    • Les Automates Musiciens - In the French square near the entrance, a musical sequence is played by rudimentary animatronics that appear in shop windows
    • Le Grand Carillon - Another musical sequence, but with live actors jumping around a large bell tower, as you do
    There were a handful we didn't do as well, but if that wasn't enough there's also 3 stunning indoor walkthroughs to experience, all of which are relatively new:
    • Le Mystère de la Perouse - Themed to a sailing ship on some very choppy waters indeed
    • Le Premiere Royaume - Something about doing battle with the fallen Roman empire
    • Les Amoureux de Verdun - Walking through the trenches of the WW1 whilst listening to love letters being sent from a soldier to his significant other - pretty harrowing this one
    If you're really into the shows then I'd recommend spending 2 days at PDF, so that you can make sure to see everything as it's impossible to do so in 1 day. If not, then 1 would be enough, just expect a bit of time stress, as you really do have to plan your day to see everything you want, which can easily get messed up if you get to a venue a moment too late.

    We were fortunate enough to have tickets for La Cinéscénie - the biggest open air show in the world. The stadium hosts 12,000 audience members, and there's around 1000 volunteer cast members in every performance, which lasts about 100 minutes. I believe the premise is that you're being taken on a journey through 1000 years of the area's history during that time, and is akin to the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony to an extent, in terms of scale. There's always so much going on and you've no idea where to look at any one time. This is another show which doesn't hold back, with some scenes being quite traumatising really.

    La Cinéscénie doesn't begin until it's dark, so that was 22.30 for us, meaning we didn't get out until gone midnight. A very long day considering we were at the Grand Parc for opening time, but absolutely worth it.

    Our day at the Puy Du Fou surpassed already high expectations, and if I was in the area I'd be determined to visit again.
     
    MattyH, AT86, jon81uk and 7 others like this.
    Posted 19th Aug 2020
    #8
  9. Thameslink Rail

    Thameslink Rail TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    1,786
    Likes Received:
    1,880
    Favourite Ride:
    The Smiler
    Do they have English translations of the shows?
     
    Posted 19th Aug 2020
    #9
  10. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

    Messages:
    4,778
    Likes Received:
    4,894
    Location:
    London
    Favourite Ride:
    Untamed, Walibi Holland
    Good question - I'm not entirely sure. You can certainly get a translation service for La Cinéscénie, but I'm not sure about the rest. To be fair, you get a good gist of what's going on in each show regardless, and you don't necessarily need to understand the dialogue. Most of them are great on their own as a spectacle, but there's a couple where translation could have been beneficial. Le Dernier Panache, for example.
     
  11. John

    John TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    2,727
    Likes Received:
    3,888
    Location:
    Im Turm von Mystery Castle
    Favourite Ride:
    Steel Vengeance
    According to the park map, translations are available on the app for all the main shows - we didn't bother though.
     
    Burbs likes this.
  12. IDB

    IDB TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    302
    Likes Received:
    408
    Embarrassingly I'd never heard of Le Puy du Fou until I've just read your reviews. However, it's going straight on the list of places to visit. It sounds amazing.
     
    Burbs and AstroDan like this.
  13. Pleasure Beach Valhalla

    Pleasure Beach Valhalla TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    470
    Location:
    West Midlands
    Favourite Ride:
    Nemesis
    @AstroDan how come an eagle nearly took off your head?
     
  14. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

    Messages:
    7,214
    Likes Received:
    12,016
    Location:
    Staffordshire
    Favourite Ride:
    Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
    Look at my separate trip report and you'll see my photos. The birds get within inches of you.

    Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk
     
  15. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

    Messages:
    4,778
    Likes Received:
    4,894
    Location:
    London
    Favourite Ride:
    Untamed, Walibi Holland
    Day 4 - Futuroscope

    [​IMG]

    After another night at the Best Western Omnubo, we set off for Poitiers, and another long day at Futuroscope! This is certainly the most bizarre theme park I've ever been to, and is more like an elaborate science museum come sculpture park. Like Puy Du Fou, Futuroscope is very well-known in France, and has exceptional opening hours throughout the year. For us, the park was open between 10am and 11.30pm (extended from originally 10.30pm, and then 11pm).

    The park is full of "futuristic" architecture, most of which house a different ride/attraction/media-based experience. It feels quite dated on the whole, and more of an 80s view of the future. Unfortunately, I think whenever you build something with a futuristic theme, it is prone to becoming dated very quickly indeed. This didn't really detract from our overall experience though, and there was a good amount of attractions and entertainments to keep us occupied throughout the day. So, without further ado, onto the rides!


    Arthur: The 4D Adventure
    (x1) - Imagine a 4D cinema combined with a motion simulator. The queue line theming was very similar to being in the queue for Arthur at Europa-Park.

    Dances with Robots
    (x2) - A selection of 10 KUKA Robocoasters, all synced up to Martin Solveig's DJ mixes of pop music. This ride can be really intense, and so you get to choose your intensity level, between 1 and 3. We originally went with 3 which, whilst hilarious, was quite painful as it just flings you about in every direction. We later re-rode on level 2, which was far more acceptable. A really fun and upbeat ride though!

    The Gyrotour
    (x1) - An observation tower, offering views across the park and surrounding area.

    Dynamic! (x1) - A very intense motion simulator type thing with a film based on flying through an alien planet.

    The Time Machine (x1) - Remember Rayman Raving Rabbids? Yep, they have their own dark ride at Futuroscope. To quote @AstroDan, the best way to describe it is "inane".

    The Extraordinary Voyage (x1) - One of the newest attractions at Futuroscope, a flying theatre, opening in the same year as Voletarium, but my word you can tell it's budget. I genuinely thought it was about 20 years old looking at the ride system.

    Dynamic Vienne (x1) - A slightly different ride system to the aforementioned "Dynamic!", this seats 2 people across rather than 4, and has a very odd film about a man on a train who meets a tree that comes alive... or something.

    La Forge aux Étoiles (x1) - The evening show, produced by Cirque Du Soleil, featuring a few water effects, fireworks and acrobatics. This was fairly disappointing having been to the PUY DU FOU! Uh! the day before, and in hindsight I'd have opted for a night time ride on Objectif Mars had I known. And talking of which...

    Objectif Mars (x2) - Futuroscope's first, and hopefully not last, coaster! Unfortunately, it's a bit dull. Despite the fact that it's a launched, spinning, free-fall drop coaster, none of the elements are particularly good at all. The ride is perfectly fine as a family coaster, and the theming is nice, but beyond that, I'm not a big fan. It also had a lot of technical problems throughout the day (unsurprising), and we didn't get on until late in the afternoon, when it stayed open for just long enough for us to ride before it broke down as we were on the break run. Evac cred! It did re-open again shortly after, and we got another ride in.

    Sebastian Loeb Racing Xperience (x1) - A massive room filled with VR headsets attached to racing car passenger seats. Like a lot of the attractions at Futuroscope, the concept is really odd, and with having tonnes of people on each ride cycle, the VR faff is terrible. I had to switch seats twice before I found one that was working, and it's not overly clear what you should and shouldn't be able to see. It was only through talking to the others in the group that I realised it wasn't functioning properly. Eventually it was fine, but the experience was very short and fairly anti-climatic.

    Total ridecount: 12

    We had an enjoyable day at Futuroscope, but it's not somewhere I'm dead set on going back to any time soon. Hopefully they will invest in another coaster at some point, something a bit more thrilling could work really well for them.

    Our accommodation for the night was the Campanile, a 15 minute walk from the park, which we got a few hours in before having to leave at 6.30am the next morning for a long drive to our next destination.
     
  16. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

    Messages:
    7,214
    Likes Received:
    12,016
    Location:
    Staffordshire
    Favourite Ride:
    Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
    Some people call it "Retroscope" rather than Futuroscope. It's certainly one of the more interesting parks in Europe. I don't think it's especially good at any one thing, although there's some nice art installations and architecture.

    I'd concur about Objectif Mars. It's a jack of all trades yet master of none.
     
  17. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    4,670
    Likes Received:
    4,049
    I went to Futroscope in the mid-nineties on my french exchange trip.It was incredibly futuristic back then when 4D cinema was new and exciting. I remember a very cool cinema with screens on all walls and floors, but the film were closer to demo loops showing 360 oceans or rollercoaster on-rides. Unfortunately as that technology is now actually in some cinemas I guess what I saw 25 years ago just wouldn't be interesting anymore.

    I also have strong memories of trikes that floated and you could pedal round a lake.
     
  18. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

    Messages:
    4,778
    Likes Received:
    4,894
    Location:
    London
    Favourite Ride:
    Untamed, Walibi Holland
    Yep, they're still present! We didn't bother though, looked like a lot of effort on a hot day. :p
     
  19. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

    Messages:
    7,214
    Likes Received:
    12,016
    Location:
    Staffordshire
    Favourite Ride:
    Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
    You are talking of the Magic Carpet. This has since been replaced with the Flying Theatre.

    The trikes on a lake are still there!
     
  20. Matt N

    Matt N TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    8,121
    Likes Received:
    6,627
    Location:
    Forest of Dean
    Favourite Ride:
    Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
    Would European Epcot be an adequate term with which to describe Futuroscope, as that’s how it’s always seemed to me, from the perspective of someone who’s never been?

    Terms you used in your report like “elaborate science museum” and “80s view of the future” definitely bring back memories of Epcot’s Future World portion for me! Even though I ended up really enjoying Epcot as an overall park, that was in large part down to the beautiful World Showcase and really nice, relaxing atmosphere.

    On another note, shame to hear Objectif Mars proved underwhelming; it always looked like quite a fun, quirky ride, so I’m disappointed to hear that it apparently isn’t as good as hoped!
     

Share This Page