Cheese & Wine 2020: (another) European Road Trip

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

  1. Pleasure Beach Valhalla

    Pleasure Beach Valhalla TowersStreet Member

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    So overall would you recommend visiting and what was your favorite coaster or ride?
     
  2. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    Yes I'd certainly recommend a visit. My favourite ride was probably Hals-über-Kopf, though nothing in the park is particularly outstanding, it's an all round nice package. :)
     
  3. Pleasure Beach Valhalla

    Pleasure Beach Valhalla TowersStreet Member

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    The new coasters will look better once the theming's finished, especially from what i've seen, the Junior Boomerang, i really like the train design and the station as well. These STCs look cool and i'm sure we'll see more of them coming soon, especially with Tayto Park investing in them for 2023!
     
  4. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    The exterior of Volldampf seems to be nearly there, but the problem is the station is effectively a green house, and on a sunny day it's absolutely baking in there. Fortunately we didn't have to queue for either of the new coasters but still, the time waiting for the train to arrive was unbearable.
     
  5. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    Day 13 - Phantasialand

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    It was time to visit two parks that myself and @djtruefitt did just 3 weeks prior, which was good as it gave us a chance to get on some of the rides we missed out on previously. This was also where @Pedro joined us for the rest of the trip! Our accommodation the night before and after Phantasialand would be the Holiday Inn Express Cologne Troisdorf. It was quite well-located, just off the Autobahn and only a 30 minute drive from Phantasialand.

    The park on the whole felt quieter than when we visited in July, although due to the baking heat the water rides were suffering. We opted to do River Quest first thing, but by 9.40am, 20 minutes before the ride was set to open, the pre-queue was evacuated by a staff member as the it wasn't ready to open, effectively scuppering our chances of riding at any point in the day. An annoying thing about Phantasialand is that the rides don't open until 30 minutes after the park does, meaning it's difficult to do the usual trick of banging in the more popular rides early on.

    Still, those that wanted to do River Quest (not me, it's TOO WET) managed to get on after another temporary delay with just a 45 minute wait, which quickly ramped up to 100 minutes after more extensions were opened. We did however manage to do Chiapas early in the day with about a 10 minute queue, which became very very long by the afternoon, so good timing there too. Meanwhile the rest of the rides had generally acceptable wait times, with Taron maxing out at about 45 minutes. We got a ride in on Talocan, which was very busy on my last visit so a priority this time round, and I had forgotten since 2017 how bloody intense that thing is. Best flat ride in Europe. It was also good to see MYSTERY Castle back on full (socially distanced) operation, rather than just running 3 of the 6 towers as they were in July.

    After our day at Phantasialand, we returned to the hotel to freshen up, before heading out to a local pizzeria. Who ordered the large?

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    (Photo cred to Pierre, obvs.)

    Day 14 - Movie Park Germany

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    Perhaps my least favourite of the parks we did in July, this was one I would happily have not gone back to, if I hadn't needed 3 of the creds, that is. Of course Van Gerstlauer's Factory is excellent and a redeeming factor for the park, along with elements of Area 51, but the rest I've realised is somewhat lackluster, after a second visit. I still very much like the main studios area of the park, and think it has a nice feel and vibe about it, but I'm not so much a fan of the wild west/boardwalk/Nickelodeon areas which seem somewhat out of place.

    On our first visit I very much enjoyed the ride we had on Excalibur, but after a second ride and watching POVs of what it was before, it's deteriorated so much and just looks appalling. Star Trek I still rank higher than Icon, although among our group opinions were definitely split with regards to this. I noticed this time how cheap the theming looks, with some dead spots throughout the experience such as on the corridor up to the station, and the transfer track. Surely they could have done a bit more with that. What I do like about both these rides though, is their IMAscore soundtracks!

    Movie Park again was a bit quieter than when we last visited, and despite the park officially closing an hour earlier, the rides shut at exactly the same time, so I've no idea what the point in having longer hours is during peak times. Possibly the worst problem was the wasps at this park. Whereas at Tripsdrill they were more centralised around eating areas, at Movie Park they were everywhere and you couldn't escape them. I even got stung!

    This was our last park in Germany, so when we left we headed up to Zwolle in the Netherlands for 2 nights at the Mercure.
     
    Last edited: 28th Aug 2020
  6. Danny

    Danny Gugu Rides’ Number 1 Fan

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    Pussy. The three of us remained totally dry. ;)
     
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  7. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    High potential for unacceptable wetness then!
     
  8. djtruefitt

    djtruefitt TS Site Team Team Member

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    Little did you know you would be getting FAR wetter on a rapids ride a few days later..!
     
  9. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    Day 15 - Walibi Holland

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    Our first park in the Netherlands was one I have a real soft spot for. I loved the quirkiness and vibrance of Walibi Holland from my first visit in 2018, and have since visited in both 2019 and now 2020. There was nothing new for me this time around, but I was more than happy to be getting back on some of my favourite coasters.

    The park was open until 11pm so there was plenty of time to do everything we wanted under normal circumstances, however during COVID, WH operate a reserve and ride system. This means that pretty much everyone in the park is queueing for one of the 10 (ish) main rides on the system, whilst simultaneously either wandering around the park or waiting for one of the filler attractions which isn't on the system. We had apprehensions before our visit that the day could be moderate hellish, and we were correct. Despite the capacity of the park clearly being vastly reduced (it didn't feel that busy even though there weren't many people in physical queues), the wait times on the app for the coasters were all between 1hr and 3.5hrs all day.

    Ordinarily the rides would not get anywhere near these times. It also meant that you have to carefully plan the end of the day to ensure you get on what you want to in the dark before the reservation system reaches capacity for the day. Another flaw in the system is that if a group have booked tickets together, the reservation system would only allow all group members to ride together, and you couldn't split it up, meaning it was a nightmare at the end of the day when we wanted to do slightly different things. We did a lot of waiting around, though fortunately there's a good few areas of the park that are nicely shaded.

    The food situation was somewhat poor, with there not being as much variety in the restaurant we visited as there normally is (the one by Speed of Sound, unsure what it's called), and they have unnecessarily removed lots of tables from in there too. This means you either have to sit outside with all the wasps trying to get at your food, or be lucky enough to find a table free indoors. We tried to stand at the high tables by the door but were told by a staff member that we couldn't due to corona (even though there was no one walking through that area). I'm glad the floor was COVID-secure though!!!

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    (Photo cred to @Dan)


    Rides

    I've already done a trip report from Walibi Holland a couple of years ago, but I'll briefly touch on each ride anyway.

    El Condor (x1) - "Just to make sure." And of course one last ride before they upgrade the trains next season. It's certainly needed.

    Goliath (x3) - The first ride we had on this was really intense and there was a threat of greying-out on one of the corners which I usually find a bit boring. I'm not a huge fan of the ride as I find it can be quite boring in the middle, but the air time hills and final turn are really great.

    Speed of Sound (x1) - The vest restraints are certainly an improvement over the original ones, and I hope it makes a bit of difference to El Condor next year too. Unfortunately the on board audio wasn't working on our row which renders the ride fairly useless.

    Xpress: Platform 13 (x2) - Great queue line, decent launch, dull layout. Some of us did it in the dark too, which was a bit like riding Rock N Rollercoaster without any effects.

    Lost Gravity (x2) - I really like this ride, although opinions seem to be split across our group. The airtime is jarring and it has a nice long layout. The "Mack rattle" seems to be more pronounced this year though.

    Drako (x1) - @Pedro needed the cred.

    Untamed (x2) - I rode this for the first time last year and by the end of the day it was solidly in my number 1 coaster spot. I was worried I'd have second thoughts this time, but still really love everything it throws at you. Besides the endless airtime it offers, I really love that first double-inverting-stall at the beginning. Absolutely incredible. Unfortunately due to the stupid queuing system in place, I didn't get a night ride, though reports from said night ride which half the group were lucky enough to do are that it was something truly special.

    Crazy River (x1) - The log flume and a nice way to cool off with acceptable wetness.

    El Rio Grande (x1) - Previously I quite liked this rapids, but realised that it's actually quite boring and does not a lot. Perhaps this is down to the fact that I'd never queued for it before, but we basically waited 100 minutes this time round.

    G-Force (x1) - My first ride on this HUSS Enterprise. Exactly as you'd expect.

    La Grande Roue (x1) - The ferris wheel offers some nice views of the park and surrounding area. A shame that you only go round once. Another couple of rotations non-stop once loaded wouldn't affect throughput too much and be more enjoyable for guests.

    Merlin's Magic Castle (x1) - The Vekoma madhouse. I remember being quite impressed with the theatrical effects going off on this - perhaps the most I've seen on a madhouse.

    Spinning Vibe (x1) - It's a shame there aren't more HUSS Magics knocking about as they are really fun when operated manually!

    Le Tour des Jardins (x1) - I had forgotten how long this Oldtimer ride is. It just goes on! "Having fun?" "No."

    Walibi Express (x1) - A rather squeaky tour of half the park. It does its job.

    Ridecount: 20

    Overall we did enjoy our day at Walibi Holland, but it's annoying that they have let themselves down with the completely unnecessary mandatory Fastlane system. No other park we visited implemented this in any fashion and there was no need for them to.
     
    Last edited: 28th Aug 2020
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  10. pluk

    pluk TowersStreet Member

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    As great as this trip report is it's currently lacking on the cheese and wine front!

    Did you spend some time in the wine cellar at Tripsdrill? I loved it down there, some really decent wines and a well informed barman to talk through all the varieties.
     
  11. Danny

    Danny Gugu Rides’ Number 1 Fan

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    The cellar was closed off sadly, Covid probably. We managed to get our free glasses, however.
     
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  12. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    Day 16 - Bobbejaanland Slagharen/Avonturenpark Hellendoorn

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    Yes, it was time for us to give the trip a good old shuffle-up! When we were at Europa-Park, it was announced that any travellers in Belgium would have to quarantine for 2 weeks on return to the UK. Fortunately we hadn't any hotel bookings in Belgium, with the original plan to hop over from the Netherlands for Bobbejaanland just for one day. As a result, we decided to do two of the country's lower-tier parks: Attractiepark Slagharen and Avonturenpark Hellendoorn. I'd previously visited these 2 parks on my trip in 2018 but was happy to return as I did enjoy them both the first time round. On a side note, we were very impressed with Bobbejaanland's response to my request for a refund, with the full amount appearing in my bank account within a couple of days, no questions asked.

    Our first park of the day was Slagharen, where we spent 3 hours in the morning. It has a really nostalgic feel about it, with a selection of flat rides and attractions that are seldom seen these days, like the Schwarzkopf Enterprise and the HUSS Troika. The park is very nicely presented (I'll forgive the one bin in the Gold Rush queue line that clearly hadn't been emptied from the day before) and has enough to keep you occupied for a couple of hours, in which time we ticked off all the rides we were at all bothered about doing.

    I'll not list off the rides we did at either park as my opinions of them haven't really changed from my first visits, but Gold Rush felt a lot more intense than I remember, and even though I don't rate it particularly highly any more, I don't blame myself for it being in my top 10 at the time. I also love that this park has a semi-major dark ride! It's something that a lot of these smaller parks lack, and certainly carries more charm than any of the dark rides at Phantasialand in my view. We finished our time at Slagharen with a spot of lunch, before driving 40 minutes down the road to Hellendoorn.

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    Avonturenpark Hellendoorn is much more secluded than our first park of the day, and is set among trees and woodland. It's certainly another family park, but again, enough to keep us occupied for a few hours. I'd argue you could probably spend more time at Hellendoorn than Slagharen, as we did, in spite of the fact that both parks had about the same amount of guests.

    There were a couple of one-way systems in operation at each end of the park, which kind of forced us to do the rides in a certain order, though this wasn't a problem as queues were minimal. One of the things that was most different from the other parks we'd visited was the restraint-checking procedures. Once sat down all guests were to leave their restraints up until the ride host indicated for each row to pull theirs down individually. It would have been more efficient and just as safe to go with the Disney method of just visibly pulling up on your own, though as the park was quiet it really didn't matter.

    After we'd done a couple of rides, we decided to nip on the rapids, which I didn't remember anything particularly special about before aside from the lack of any barrier/fence/wall/anything between the queue line and the trough. See photo above. We got on and had to leave our bags at the station, which you don't often see, but didn't think much of it. As we proceeded to navigate the layout, we noticed quite a lot of very wet people exiting... must be a big wave somewhere, huh? Nope, a bloody water vortex with a weak trajectory, hidden away from the queue line, was absolutely obliterating every boat that went through it. We were all completely drenched, though managed to dry off a small amount in the heat.

    We left Hellendoorn shortly before park close and drove to the final hotel of the trip, the Campanile in Eindhoven. We had 3 nights booked here and the rooms were fine except from the lack of air conditioning, despite the fact that it looked like it had been refurbished relatively recently. This meant that we were absolutely sweltering all night and barely got any sleep. We ate that evening in the hotel restaurant, which was surprisingly nice, albeit quite highly priced, though I suppose you can expect this.

    This was a Thursday night, being the night of the week that the UK government had previously announced countries being added to a quarantine list from 4am the Saturday after. Unfortunately, at about 10.30pm our time, it was announced that the Netherlands and France would be added to the list. This meant that our car had to rearrange the plans for the rest of the holiday to avoid having to quarantine on return to the UK, and considering we would only miss out on 1 more park, this was the right decision. It was fantastic that we were able to get a very quick refund from the Campanile for the remaining 2 nights that we wouldn't use, as this covered the cost of a rescheduled Eurotunnel booking and most of a hotel in Folkestone. The plan then was to leave the following morning, have a full day at Efteling as originally intended, then #BombItThroughBelgium to the Channel Tunnel in France for a 1.22am booking, meaning we'd arrive in the UK a few hours before the deadline.
     
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  13. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    Day 17 - Efteling

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    Our (unanticipated) last park of the trip would turn out to be Efteling, and even though we missed out on 2 parks at the end, it was very nice to end on a high, with possibly Europe's most beautiful theme park. I had apprehensions that the park wouldn't be as pristine as it usually is, what with their somewhat brazen attempt at social distancing measures, and unfortunately this was the case in a lot of areas.

    The majority of the park was looking lovely, but instead of floor markers, which we'd seen in various forms along the trip, Efteling had decided to stick red and white tape all along the walls and fences in queue lines. Combined with the additions of perspex walls between every switchback in cattle pen queues, this looked really ugly and horrendously out of place at such a lovely park. The only thing was, that these measures seemed to be the most effective in terms of keeping groups distanced and people were following the red and white markers very well on the whole.

    For lunch, we ate at Polles Keuken, which I'd been eager to visit on my last 2 trips to the park but the queues had always been far too long. I had a savoury pancake which was nice, although next time I think I'd opt for a sweet option as they seem to have better reviews. Of course the main attraction of eating at this restaurant is the massive animatronic theming element in the middle!

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    Rides

    De Vliegende Hollander
    (x1) - Such a fantastic dark ride! The mist room is especially eerie and it does its job really well. And then... it remembers it's trying to be a roller coaster, and fails miserably.

    Joris en de Draak (x1) - We did the fire side, though none of us could remember which side was ostensibly better. This had the longest wait in the park, and I think we queued over an hour in the end. They had built a couple of extra cattle pen queue lines round the back which made the wait somewhat insufferable, especially when both sides of the coaster combined were only getting about 300pph.

    Python (x1) - A nice and smooth Vekoma, though perhaps a little too short. When they retracked it it's a shame they didn't add a bit more on to the layout.

    Vogel Rok (x2) - What Nighthawk should have been. I have a real soft spot for this ride, and when on the front row the illumination of the scenery items is really quite magical.

    Baron 1898 (x1) - Urgh, I really want to like this but I don't particularly. The theming inside is obviously stunning, but the coaster is terrible. Definitely the worst B&M Dive coaster I've been on, and I'd go so far as to say that track and train I prefer Krake at Heide.

    Max + Moritz (x2) - I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected. We did one ride on each side and I found them both to be good fun! I quite like how it speeds up for the second lap, and the onboard audio really adds to the experience. I'm not too offended by the lack of theming on the ride itself as I'm sure it'll grow in in time, and the station is great! The queue line is woeful though, despite that it has a few interactive theming elements to keep you occupied, it's not charming in any way and feels somewhat temporary. It's made up for though by the high throughputs, so you never really stop moving.

    Carnaval Festival (x1) - Last year the ride was touched up to be less, erm, racist? It's still not perfect but it's better than it was. I also love the music they play when the ride has to stop for accessibility. "Attention, the gondolas are stopping for a fanfare!"

    Diorama (x1) - A delightful exhibition that's somewhat hidden away off the beaten track, but certainly worth a wander around. The attention to detail is amazing.

    Droomvlucht (x2) - I really like this ride. The set designs are absolutely beautiful, and the scale of them is very impressive. Favourite bit being the helix in the final scene.

    Fata Morgana (x1) - Fat MORGAN! Another stunning dark ride with one of the best, most subtle effects I've ever scene on a ride, with that tilting room near the end. Superb.

    Pagode (x1) - Got to love an observation tower, but it's a shame you don't get to complete a full rotation before you're coming back down to the ground again. I like how this model of ride is very hidden away when not in operation and isn't dominating the skyline like most others do.

    Symbolica (x2) - A work of art that even Efteling have done a fantastic job of pulling off. A pity that the pre-show isn't operating properly at the minute as that is the single most magical moment in the whole ride in my view.

    Stoomtrein (x1) - With only one station in use, the steam train is just an observation ride now, though not like it's particularly useful as a transport ride in the first place. It was nice to do a full lap, but about half of it is behind trees where you can't really see a lot.

    Ridecount: 17

    The park was open until 10pm, but by 8pm it was time for Dan, John and I to leave in order to make our rescheduled Eurotunnel booking at silly-o-clock in the morning. We fueled up and got food at the last possible moment, around 250m from the Belgian border. We got to the terminal about 90 minutes before our crossing, but there was a further delay of another 90 minutes in the end before we got on, meaning we didn't get back to the UK until 2.15am, cutting it fine for the 4am deadline!

    Day 18 - Bellewaerde Travel home

    We'd booked a Holiday Inn next to the UK terminal where we crashed for the night before getting woken up by housekeeping shortly before our check-out time! While Danny, Dan, Mike and Pierre were enjoying their meal at Toverland's Flaming Feather, we dined in style at Nando's Ashford. A delight.

    So, after 2 weeks the park reviews are complete! Thank you for keeping up with this extended trip report, if indeed you have been! Despite the additional stresses of the trip and the fact that none of the parks were at their best, we had a truly wonderful time, and it was a blessing to be able to escape the UK while we could. There's a compilation video of the holiday currently in the works which I'll post here in due course.

    :)
     
    Last edited: 30th Aug 2020
  14. Pleasure Beach Valhalla

    Pleasure Beach Valhalla TowersStreet Member

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    So all in all, a good trip, just unfortunate about Bellewarde. Also, would you take Talocan over Loki at Liseberg?
     
    Posted 1st Sep 2020
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  15. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    It is but we got further than expected. It's also quite easy to get to so another trip will be planned at some point I'm sure.

    To be fair, I've not been to Liseberg since they added Loke so I can't comment. It's certainly the best flat ride I've ever done though, excluding drop towers.
     
    Posted 1st Sep 2020
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  16. Plastic Person

    Plastic Person TowersStreet Member

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    Just wanted to chime in and say how much I've enjoyed these reports. Beats a Vlog, any day! Has also reminded me, with some wistfulness, of just how lucky the UK is to be close to Europe and so many diverse parks.
     
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    Posted 1st Sep 2020
    #56
  17. Pleasure Beach Valhalla

    Pleasure Beach Valhalla TowersStreet Member

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    And how much did this trip cost for you @Burbs and what was your favourite park of the trip?!
     
    Posted 1st Sep 2020
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  18. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    That's very nice of you to say, thank you! My intentions of trip reports is to a) give an insight for lesser-discussed and lesser-visited parks, and b) for me to look back on in a few years time. And I agree, while the UK has a mix of park quality, it's nice to know that within a couple of hours you can be on the continent!

    The trip cost me around £2200 in total, including spends. But this is based on 4 of us (for the most part) sharing the costs of fuel and tolls, which I believe only came to about €120 each. My favourite park of the trip would be Puy du Fou.
     
    Posted 1st Sep 2020
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  19. IDB

    IDB TowersStreet Member

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    Echo previous replies. Have really enjoyed the report and it’s given me some food for thought for a trip of my own once some sort of normality returns.
     
    Posted 1st Sep 2020
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  20. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    Good afternoon!

    It's the time to showcase the video from the trip. Yes, it's quite long, but it is 2.5 weeks' worth of footage. I've split up the video into each park so that there's no need to watch all 25 minutes if you don't want to, though I think you have to watch through the YouTube site to see these, rather than this embed.

    There is a bit of strong language at moments throughout.



    Enjoy!
     
    Posted 7th Sep 2020
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