Coronation Avoidance Road Trip 2023 - or the border-hopping trip


TS Member
Oh dear, I can hear you all say, @NuttySquirrel has gone and written another long-winded and boring trip report. I can only blame my previous employer for handing me my P45 a month ago and leaving me with FAR too much time on my hands - otherwise you might all been spared.

But as it is I know that @Poisson and @MattyH are out of the country right now so I wanted to rush this out before something much funnier and better-written comes along to upstage me.

So this trip was the follow up to last year's Jubilee Escape Weekend, that marked the start of a tradition of marking royal events by fleeing the country to swap nauseating patriotism with European indifference. We did think of putting a trip together for the Queen's funeral in September last year but figured that would have been in rather poor taste, and in any case they didn't really give us a lot of notice... Assuming that King Chaz and Queen Cammie would be far to busy to feel slighted by our new tradition, however, we got planning.

Obviously, OBVIOUSLY, the main purpose of this trip was to get me out to Europa Park for the first time, this famous Mecca for theme park geeks where operations and throughputs are a cause for celebration rather than frustration and Ed Euromaus (a.k.a. Roland Mack in a costume) showers every guest with good cheer and optimism all day long.

EP is a bit of a trek for a roadtrip so we threw in a couple of other parks as stopovers - Holiday-Park on the outward leg and Parc Astérix on the return. I was sceptical about the first suggestion, being led to believe it's a pretty ordinary park, but was persuaded that I couldn't righty consider myself a coaster nerd until I'd experienced Expedition GeForce - and also that the alternative option given our route plan was Walygator Grand-Est. Parc Astérix was an obvious choice - arguably a must-do park given the hyped-up opening of Toutatis a little over a month ago, and one I'd never visited. We also scheduled in a sightseeing day in Strasbourg which I've been keen to visit for a while - and would also come in handy for explaining the trip to non-enthusiasts without inviting a dozen questions.

Predicably, the weather forecast for the week ahead was appalling - for some reason everytime myself, my OH and @John get together the weather turns against us - but after around 15 years of such treatment at the hands of the weather gods we're pretty used to this and are always well-equipped with extreme wet-weather gear. No such thing as bad weather - just the wrong clothes, as my mum used to say. This theory would prove to be tested to the limit as the week went on.

So we left poor Charlie marching about in the rain and crossed the channel into France, where we were able to get as far as Metz before finding somewhere to lay our heads - an out-of-town ibis that for some reason was obsessed with cows...

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This was a pretty uneventful driving day, but it did give us the opportunity to judge each other's car playlists. I think mine was the winner, an eclectic mix of mainly Euro-Trance and ride soundtracks from our last trip, with some deliberately bad-taste heavy metal thrown in for lols. My husband, on the other hand, had just chucked a few random genres onto an SD card and hit shuffle - zero marks for effort, and not a lot more for quality.

We skipped the cow-themed breakfast and set off early for Holiday Park, arriving in a blaze of sunshine that would turn out to be as much as we'd see all week. I tried to take a group photo at the entrance plaza but everyone ran away...


Undeterred, I ran after them in the direction of bigFM Expedition GeForce. What a mouthful, if it had to have such a terrible name couldn't they have stuck to something shorter like Sik? I guess I'll just call it EGF from now on...

The park wasn't at all busy so EGF was walk-on, though running only on one train so we rushed to the turnstiles keen to avoid having to wait even one ride cycle. And so I got to ride my first Intamin MegaCoaster. As I expected it's a great coaster, fast and intense and with loads of airtime, so absolutely nothing like anything I'd ever ridden in the UK! It does seem like a really random addition to this park, however - with everything else being firmly geared towards the family-friendly market - and you can see why they sell T-shirts in the shop that say 'I'm only here for Expedition GeForce'. But for whatever reason it's here, and well worth experiencing, although I suspect I won't be rushing back to Holiday Park just for one good coaster.

We sampled some of the park's other offerings next, which included a Viking-themed log flume (Wickie Splash) which was actually a lot of fun, a drop tower, and the truly bizarre Sky Scream. Honestly I don't really know what they were thinking with this one. It's a weird two-dimensional swing launch coaster, that's pretty uncomfortable and not terribly fun. Having said that, it felt like an unusual cred and not like anything I've come across anywhere else in Europe (I think there's another one somewhere in Finland), and it was quite amusing watching the train hurtling through the station from right to left, to left to right, to left to right again, like a Scooby Doo cartoon. Interesting idea, Premier Rides, but it's a no from me. I think my left hip is still mildly bruised, actually.

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One of the park's other highlights for us was the river rapids, Dino Splash. As you'd imagine, it's dinosaur themed but in a really bizarre way - sort of like some rich idiot decided to buy a big mansion and turn the formal gardens into a dinosaur park; you are even serenaded with tasteful classic music in the queue line. My husband is a big fan of animatronic dinosaurs so this one went down pretty well with him, unfortunately the soaking he received from the latter half of the ride definitely didn't. Oh well, I would get my comeuppance for laughing at him a couple of days later on Fjord Rafting...


We had a couple of re-rides on EGF and then, as predicted, the dark clouds started to roll in, so we headed into the indoor area to tick off the third and final coaster this park has to offer - Tabalugas Achterbahn. It's a Zierer family coaster, really not very much to say about it, though probably slightly better indoors in a themed area than it would have been outside. The actual theming of the indoor area is a bit random but sort of works, you're either in a fairy kingdom or some sort of christmas village, couldn't decide which, however it's hard to get past the fact that you know you're just in a big blue warehouse. We had a go at the indoor family flat ride, a rider-controlled Zamperla WindstarZ which it's apparently possible to get quite a good swing on. Not so for us - the car we selected was totally kaputt and wouldn't even go up and down, let alone swing. By the time we'd been released the heavens had opened and everyone had piled indoors, so we weren't going to queue for a second attempt!

The weather was now so bad that all outdoor attractions had been closed due to thunderstorm risks, but frankly you'd be insane to want to go on any coaster in that torrential downpour, even Octonauts. With no prospect of the weather easing for the final hour of the day, we decided to call it a day and psyched ourselves up for a mad dash to the carpark. I've not ridden the new Valhalla yet but I'm expecting it to be a similar experience...

So Holiday Park was done, or rather we were done with Holiday Park. Not a spectacular park, but definitely an enjoyable half-day and worth popping into for EGF and the bizarre dinosaur river rapids if you're in the area. NB: Food options at the park aren't much to write home about, but we did OK with pizzas in the Italian-style self-service restaurant Casa Palatina, although all that was on offer for coeliacs was soup and chips. This is also probably where you'd go if you planned to sandwich your re-rides on EGF with litres of beer. And there are toilets nearby for the full BRP experience...
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TS Member
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
Thanks Nutty!

Holiday Park is underrated and yes I'm serious. I'm not saying it's one of the world's great parks but for a mid-sized park primarily aimed at families it's well worth a visit and very little about the place is actually bad. For enthusiasts, EGF offers the main (and arguably only) reason to hand over your cash, but it's far from the only decent ride in the place and the park itself is on the whole very well presented - from the approach to the new(ish) entrance, through the main plaza and out around the park almost everywhere is pleasant and well presented. There are still some glaring weaknesses at the park, most notably their overpriced food offerings and lack of good family coasters, but on the whole it's decent.

Our trip itinerary went through several revisions, not least when we realised relatively late on that the Holiday Park was only open weekends so we were there on a Sunday rather than midweek as had been initially planned. The perennially poor operations on EGF are always cause for concern but throughout our visit they were working steadily (if not rapidly) and the lack of crowds meant we were always able to get straight on, often arriving at the station just as the train was arriving. EGF remains one of the top rides in Europe, even after more than 20 years and it was still running excellently for our visit. I'd still rank it ahead of some of Intamin's newer models (looking at you, Kondaa).

As always, the other rides in the park are mainly done once in between multiple rides on EGF. We did Sky Scream a couple of times, a ride I'm not a massive fan of but not one I find actively unpleasant either, despite Premier's woeful train design. I can see why people really dislike it but I find I can generally arrange myself in the bar in such a way as to avoid significant discomfort and whilst the ride experience is a little unrefined the layout is certainly fun. Watching the train blast through the station whilst waiting is novel too. I've always been a fan of HP's flume which is up there with the best classic log flumes in Europe IMO. The rapids has also been significantly enhanced since I first visited, now featuring dinosaurs and significantly less malodorous water.

There's been a lot of investment in rides and areas since my first visit, in terms of thrill rides it's pretty much just Sky Scream but there's been a lot added for families. The Viking area near the flume, the indoor area and the entire section of the park to the right of the entrance have been added/fully renovated relatively recently and all look pretty decent. Holiday Park has now ended up with quite a collection of rides offering a degree of user control with a Zamplerla WindstarZ (I couldn't persuade it to swing much), Zierer Jet Skis (closed whenever we were in the area) & Flying Gondolas (worst model name ever, basically Dumbo but with airtime). All can be fun rides if you know how to get the most out of them, though all are low capacity and can be some of the longest waits in the park.

The arrival of the weather signalled a slightly early end to our day (though the 10-6 opening hours were more than sufficient anyway) and gave us chance to get to Strasbourg at a reasonable hour, time enough to get some food and see Petite France and the cathedral as part of a more relaxed evening


TS Member
Due to the weatherbomb that cut our day at Holiday Park short (albeit only slightly), we arrived Strasbourg early evening, giving us plenty of time to faff about getting the car into the hotel's tiny underground carpark (ever seen a 17-point turn? I have!) and establish that, no, actually, the air conditioning in either room definitely didn't work. Third time unlucky. Seriously, who does one have to bribe to get working air conditioning in a European hotel room?

We had a really nice evening exploring Strasbourg and got some wonderful night views of the river, Petite France and Strasbourg cathedral. Truth be told I'm a bit of a cathedral nerd, not so much from a religious perspective but from a love of historical, impressive and seemingly gravity-defying architectural marvels. Strasbourg cathedral is quirky in that it only has one bell tower; although plans from 1277 clearly show two, by the time it was completed in 1439 it seems there was no desire to build a second, leaving the final finished building looking rather lopsided! Still, it's lone tower was enough to make it the tallest building in Europe for much of the 17th and 18th centuries.


We spent most of the next day looking around the city and climbing all 330 of the steps up the cathedral bell tower - not recommended for anyone with a heart condition - and attempting to establish whether it was possible to see Europa Park from the top (we couldn't, but perhaps on a clearer day!). It was Victory in Europe day, a French public holiday, so there was quite a festive atmosphere in the main cathedral square, although the city itself didn't feel unusually busy - perhaps the locals preferred to stay at home! Or possibly the rather chequered history of the city, constantly changing hands between the two countries, makes the defeat of one at the hands of the other a rather uncomfortable celebration.


We left Strasbourg at around 4pm and headed west towards Rust, marking the third of four France–Germany border crossings, and quite soon after I got my first glimpse of Silver Star's iconic lift hill and the Europa Park skyline. Yep, we were finally here! Woooh!

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We'd be staying for three nights at the Avalon Apartments, which is a really good option if choosing not to stay onsite at any of the resort hotels, and is roughly equidistant between Europa Park and the Rulantica complex (originally we'd scheduled a day at Rulantica into this trip in place of the city day, but couldn't quite make it work with check-in times, and decided in the end to scrub it in favour of a longer stay in Strasbourg). We celebrated our arrival by cracking open a couple of beers on the balcony, although had I known then how the evening was going to pan out, I might have taken the opportunity to line my stomach with milk instead!

We spent the evening exploring the resort complex south of the park, taking in the likes of Hotel Bell Rock, Santa Isabel, El Andaluz and Hotel Colosseo. Bell Rock was the one I'd heard the most about with its legendary lighthouse suites and outdoor fountain show; it reminded me a little bit of DLP's Newport Bay Club where I'd stayed once before as a teenager. Santa Isabel has a bit of an unusual theme, giving you the feeling of staying in a Portuguese monastery - one feels that talking too loud, drinking too much or public displays of affection might be frowned upon at this hotel! It even has its own actual chapel - in fact one of several at the resort, testament to the Mack family's religious dedication. It goes without saying that all of Europa Park's resort hotels are exquisitely decorated, immaculately well kept and thoroughly immersive. If I had to pick a personal favourite, based on what I'd seen of each, it would probably be Hotel Colosseo - the oval-shaped 'square' and Italian-style buildings overlooking the cafe-style dining areas really do make you feel like you're somewhere in northern Italy, maybe Lucca or Siena.


Having toured the whole complex, we spent a couple of hours at Hotel Bell Rock in the Spirit of St Louis bar, which gives great views of the fountain show, especially if it's warm enough to commandeer one of the outside tables.


A bit later on we took a hotel shuttle bus to Hotel Kronasar and Bar Eriksson, where we'd arranged to meet up with @Danny after his day at Rulantica. Here's where it all gets a bit hazy! For the uninitiated, Europa Park cocktails are STRRONG! And plentiful. Fortunately they're also quite expensive, although it has to be said that once you've started emptying out your wallet straight into the Mack coffers it can be very difficult to rein yourself in! Yes, absolutely Roland, please take all of my money...

We got thrown out of Bar Eriksson in the end as they wanted to close (CLOSE? But it's only midnight!) and made our way back (somehow) to Avalon Apartments. Good job I wasn't in charge of the key card...


TS Member
Europa Park - Day 1 (Morning)

I'd spoken to a few people in the lead up this trip who'd reacted with wistfulness and even a degree of envy that I would be about to have the unique and never-to-be-repeated experience of walking into Europa Park and discovering it for the first time in one's life. A rite-of-passage of sorts, an initiation ceremony into the world of Europa Park fandom, and certainly something to be savoured and cherished for all time.

What I'm absolutely sure they didn't envisage was me shuffling through the entrance gates, white-faced and nauseous, tanked up on paracetamol and Pepto-bismol, considerably the worse for wear from the night before. I tried to remind myself that I couldn't possibly be the only member of Towers Street who had fallen foul of an EP cocktail menu and crossed this threshold with a disgusting hangover, but I couldn't help admitting that this wasn't the optimal start to this first leg of my Europa Park journey.

I should include an honourable mention here to the patience of my travelling companions, who made no complaint about starting off the day not with Wodan or Silver Star but a couple of oh-so-gentle boat rides: Elfenfahrt and Marionetten-Bootsfahrt (which even in my distress I couldn't help but snigger at; sorry, I know that fahrt in German just means ride). These are rather charming little scenery attractions, probably most popular with young children perhaps accompanied by their grandparents, and were delightfully planted up with carpets of spring flowers, although the animatronics in some scenes were certainly showing their age a little.


I was beginning to feel little more human, so decided to brave my first coaster - Matterhorn Blitz, a wild mouse in the Swiss-themed area. As wild mouses (wild mice?) go, this is a lot of fun and has some decent airtime, as well as a rather unusual elevator lift, which was unexpected! It also pulls some considerable lateral Gs around the 180 turns. However it's the queue line decor that makes this one memorable for me - a series of pretty random scenes through (presumably) a historic Swiss farmhouse inhabited by wizened old, largely toothless animatrons...


We'd planned to do Schweizer Bobbahn next, but the queue had got to over 20 minutes, so we figured we come back and tick that one off later. Worth noting that the two coasters in the Switzerland area don't have very high capacity so it's worth doing them early before the queues build - unfortunately I'd scuppered this plan somewhat by delaying everyone by an hour. Another reason it's good to be in the park early is to take advantage of the free Virtual Queue for the more major coasters; slots are released from 9am but you do have to be in the park to be able to book them via the EP app. By the time we got set up on it we could only book for Euromir (which we did, for 1.20pm); however as it wasn't set to be a particularly busy day missing out on slots for Wodan and blue fire etc. wasn't a disaster. I'm honestly not a huge fan of virtual queuing - sure, it's better to wait in a cafe or on other rides than stand in a long queue - but I really don't love the idea of lining up all your big rides like appointments and then spending your day rushing from one 'appointment' to another. I'm glad it's only used in a small way at EP: a very limited number of slots for only a few key rides.

Matterhorn Blitz had helped to blow out the cobwebs a bit, so I decided to be bold and suggested Silver Star for our next ride. Affectionately known as the 'car park coaster' this would in fact be my tallest ride to date, outdoing the Big One at Blackpool by just under 10 metres. Weirdly I found the height a lot less intimidating than at Blackpool, perhaps due to not having to look right down into the Irish Sea from the top of the lift hill or contend with icy gusts of coastal winds! The ride itself wasn't quite what I was expecting - it actually felt very gentle and undulating, with lots of enjoyable airtime, but certainly not extreme or intense like Expedition GeForce (sorry, bigFM Expedition GeForce). Very fun though!

We headed into the Greece area next, and ticked of a few of the smaller attractions such as Pegasus, Abenteuer Atlantis (Atlantis Adventure) and Fluch der Kassandra (Cassandra's Curse). I found Pegasus fairly forgettable, but I guess it's a fun family coaster that I'm sure fills a niche amongst the park's lineup. Atlantis Adventure also failed to make a big impression - an underwater-themed laser-shooter - although with an additional interactive element of being able to rotate your own ride vehicle. Now I'm always up for a good madhouse, but Fluch der Kassandra isn't one - being a Mack Mystery Swing as opposed to an actual Vekoma Madhouse, which I guess is to be expected at a Mack-owned park! But it didn't do it for me. For a start, it's absolutely tiny and has no pre-show (maybe it did once?), and with a queue time of zero not even any time to brief oneself on the storyline. There were also some syncing issues at the start which broke the illusion of feeling movement but appearing to be stationary. And also, WHAT THE HELL was going on under my seat? Definitely not the sort of physical sensations I thought I was signing up for on this trip!

I was also - somehow - persuaded to do the water coaster Poseidon, on the grounds that (a) it's a coaster cred, (b) you won't get THAT went (heard that one before!) and (c) it doesn't open in winter. Oh go on then! It was good fun actually, and to be fair I didn't get as wet as I thought I would (and later did; see below!); however it definitely cemented my viewpoint that boat-shaped vehicles do not make for comfortable coaster cars; ow ow ow!

We then headed over to the Russia area, where we had a 1.20pm booking for Euromir via the virtual queue. However we made better time than expected and were about 15 minutes ahead of schedule; arguably the queue was so short it would have made more sense to just join the main queue and cancel the virtual booking. But in the end we decided to kill time in the area by sitting on a BENCH, which I later found out was considered by some to be a ride. We also found time to pop into England (weird geography going on here!) and give Arena of Football a go. I worked out that it was a dodgems ride pretty quickly but it took longer for me to clock that this was actually a giant football game and there were goal posts at each end. Which direction I was meant to be shooting in, however, I still don't know!

So back to Euromir. Now I'd heard that this is a marmite coaster. Some people love it, some hate it. I've got to say I'm in the first camp. On no account is it modern, elegant, comfortable or refined. But come on, it's themed around the Soviet space programme - no part of which was modern, elegant, comfortable, or refined. I have actually visited Star City, on the outskirts of Moscow, and have to say that Europa Park have managed to capture the sterility, absence of aesthetic charm and overall dingyness of that facility perfectly. The spiral lift hill is a full-on celebration of Soviet-era technology, right down to the old ПРОТОН fuselage, flashing lights and 90s techno-trance. The ride itself is unpredictable, uncomfortable and dizzying - exactly as you would expect a Soyuz landing to feel like. I do sort of wonder if it might work better as a true Mack Spinner, rather than a series of controlled turns, but perhaps that would make it unacceptably nauseating. I know some are very keen for Euromir to get a significant refurb in the not too distant future; personally I think I'd be happy if they didn't change a thing.

So this has got pretty long and we haven't even stopped for lunch yet, so I'll pop this one up and you can all look forward to reading about what happened to me on Fjord Rafting at a later date!


TS Member
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
One minor correction - Poseidon is open in winter season, Altantica is not. Riding a water coaster in January is an option!

Rewinding a little to Strasbourg:

I am not a natural tour guide, thankfully Strasbourg is such a wonderful city that it hardly matters. You can pretty much just wander about the central island and there's loads to see even if you don't really know what you're doing. I opted for the boat tour as a quick way to show off what the city has to offer - you get an hour on the water through the centre of the city out to the European institutions and there's a couple of locks thrown in for good measure. I'd highly recommend it as it comes with an overview of the history of the city, which has found itself crossing the moving French border multiple times over the years which has had a major impact on its development down the centuries.

Another easy win on the tourist trail is the cathedral - though not so easy if you elect to climb to the top (a real fitness test for a couch potato such as myself). The views and exhibits at the top are an excellent reward though. I'm still convinced it should be possible to see Silver Star from up there, maybe if the track was a lighter shade..?

All things considered, it was a very pleasant way to spend a day (well, evening + part of the next day. A day in total). Strasbourg was more than capable of offsetting my own woeful guide skills, I don't think I'd be able to pass for an expert in my home town as well as I managed there!


By mid-afternoon check-in was available and so Rust was calling. I've now stayed at Avalon several times and had nothing but good experiences there. The location is absolutely excellent for Rulantica and the resort hotels and the park entrance is an easy, pleasant walk. The rooms are clean & modern and there's a good breakfast - all told I'd say it's one of the best off-resort options in Rust.

With an early evening arrival we were able to fully explore the hotels and a range of the bars. We started off with the loop from Santa Isabel round to El Andaluz (purely because I enjoy showing the hotels off, frankly). Buena Vista is still only open at weekends so we didn't hang around and instead continued the tour to Bell Rock via Colosseo. There's just so much to see in the resort that even if you're not staying in an EP hotel it's still worth spending a little time exploring the public areas of them all. After a meal at Spirit of St Louis our tour concluded at Kronasar. We slightly embarrassed ourselves by outstaying our welcome at Erikson (for the record I *did* advise Ms Squirrel against finishing her final drink), with Rulantica not closing until 10pm a bar close of midnight is arguably a little too early, however with the opening hours in the park it's probably not that unreasonable really - if hotel guests are getting on-park by 8.30 I guess not many of them are staying up into the early hours. We are not natural night owls ourselves, so we called it a night at that point. EP awaited!


TS Member
Thanks for the correction @John - for some reason I had it in mind that both water coasters closed for the winter season. Good to know; however I doubt I'd be rushing to Poseidon on a cold January morning somehow!

[Re: the Bar Eriksson incident, FYI I had just paid €12 for that cocktail; and with the exchange rate being what it was (1.14), I was damn well going to finish it!]

After our visit to the Russia area we headed across the park to the Minimoys kingdom, the only area of the park not themed to a European country/region, to grab a spot of lunch from DELI Refresh. I'd managed to get hold of a list of coeliac-friendly park restaurants before our visit and this one very helpfully offered a selection of gluten-free salads, which was about all I felt able to eat anyway. I'll probably do a more detailed review of the food options both in the park and on the resort at the end of this write-up. It's a nice cafe to sit in actually, well themed to the Arthur franchise with tables made from oversized leaves, flowers and tree stumps.

It was at this point that we realised that @John had mislaid his phone on a ride (again) - thus ensued a rather frantic hour retracing our steps back through Russia and Great Britain to try to locate it, using a combination of GCSE German and (very rusty!) French to enquire of the ride staff if one had been found. I have to say that they were all super-helpful and really nice about it, the Euromir staff in particular taking the time to search the back cars of all six trains on the system (that firmly cemented the Euromir soundtrack into my brain for all time!). Fortunately we struck gold at the dodgems, so once we'd figured out the best way to describe the lock screen image to Information Services as a security check (Alton Towers of course; strange that they'd never heard of it!), @John was able to add Arena of Football to his growing list of 'lost phone' creds.

We decided not to return to Arthur at this point as the queue had got a fair bit longer, so we headed to what I consider the park's signature dark ride, Piraten in Batavia. Even given my purposefully limited knowledge of the park before visiting I knew all about the devastating fire in 2018 that destroyed the original, and was looking forward to seeing the new offering that had been born from the ashes. I think it's fair to say that, alongside other major parks in Europe, EP isn't particularly known for the quality of its dark rides. Piraten in Batavia feels like a giant leap towards addressing that. For me, it's up there with any of the best dark rides at Efteling or Disneyland Paris (not that I've visited DLP for about 18 years), and provides the best of both classic and modern with high-quality animatronics, modern lighting effects and clever projection mapping without an over-reliance on screens. Although it's not possible to get every detail of the story if you're not a German speaker, some of the dialogues in the queue lines are played in a sequence of German / French / English (although this might have been more useful had there actually been a queue!), and on ride the story is told very visually so it's easy enough to get the gist. Each area is exquisitely detailed and immersive and the music delightful, and I loved the interaction between the ride and the Bamboe Baai restaurant. Jopie the alcoholic otter was a delightful sidekick; who for some reason I felt a real sense of affinity with and thus ended up purchasing a reproduction. This one is a drunkard as well.

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But anyway, one of the best attractions in the park in my opinion - and hopefully a trailblazer for a new era of world-class dark rides for Europa Park in the years to come.

We headed to another boat ride next - Fjord Rafting. For one reason or another - perhaps due to the mild and thorough acceptable sprinklings I'd received on all water rides on the trip so far - I approached this one with very misplaced over-confidence and neglected to even don my raincoat for this ride (I'd been wearing it against the drizzle all morning, and it had been so nice to finally be able to take it off!). Although it wasn't busy, we were asked to share a boat with another group - this likely made the boat heavier and thus its movements more unpredictable. All good until the choppy section after the tunnel; at which point the raft caught a rogue wave, lifted itself up and crashed back down into the 'fjord' - engulfing myself and John with a wall of water. Last time I ever got this wet (fully clothed anyway) was on Valhalla, or possibly the time I fell out of a canoe on a work team-building day. It was complete annihilation. The water had gone through three upper layers and saturated my jeans - I knew there was no chance of any of it drying out before the end of the day. A lesson against complacency learnt the hard way!

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I didn't have any choice but to just suck it up (literally) and go on with the day, so we headed next to the two big coasters in the Iceland area - blue fire and Wodan. I was hoping for good things from blue fire - being the same ride system as Icon but hopefully with a more interesting layout, more inversions and more thrills. I really like the dark section of this ride, themed around the discovery of a volatile new energy source, which really helps to build tension for the launch via a simulated explosion. The first part of the ride is really fun; the power of the launch propelling you up big hills followed by swooping dives down into underground caves and then back up into the daylight; however it seemed to lose energy very quickly after the block section and towards the end of the ride I felt it had completely died, with the exception of one, pretty random, final inversion at the end. It's good, no doubt about it, but it's not standout for me. I wanted to love it, instead I only liked it.

The exit of blue fire is conveniently placed near the entrance to Wodan, so it makes sense to do these as a pair. I was properly looking forward to this one - knowing it to be one of the more highly praised GCI woodies - and with only Wicker Man and Joris to my name thus far I was looking forward to seeing all that this ride system had to give. My god, this coaster is good. It doesn't really do anything drastically different to the other GCIs I've done, and yet it seems to do them with a hell of a lot more energy and force; this really is a wild ride. The additional height it gains from having a taller lift hill than Wicker Man delivers a top speed of 62mph, almost 20mph faster, and boy do you notice it. The final third of the ride, which on comparable coasters can feel a little more pedestrian, is where it delivers its greatest thrills in my view - the final banked turn whipping you around and taking you round to the brake run feeling thoroughly exhilerated. What a masterpiece.


Unfortunately the weather was now rapidly deteriorating, so we took the opportunity to do some of the indoor rides near the park entrance - Voletarium, Mme Freudenrich's Curiosités and EuroSat. I'd only ever experienced one flying theatre before Voletarium, which was Flight of the Sky Lion at LLW, which had received good reviews from both me and my father following our visit last summer (thankfully on an off-peak day!). I found Voletarium a bit of a let-down; unlike Legoland's, the film isn't fantastical but is just a series of flights over European landmarks that felt very artificially stitched together; I wasn't a fan of the Eurowings product placement either, which felt shoehorned in and completely unnecessary. Compared with FOTSL, which is story-driven, fun and imaginative, Voletarium feels really lazy. The queue line is actually a lot stronger than the ride, themed around the explorations of the fictional Adventure Club of Europe, which would seem to me a good starting point to redevelop the film into something a lot more original and immersive.

If I wanted original and imaginative, I need go no further than Madame Freudenreich's Curiosités. This is without doubt the most bat**** insane attraction in the park, and it's absolutely delightful. The premise is simple; Madame Freudenreich has turned her back garden into a dinosaur sanctuary and feeds them all cake. Sure, why not? I don't want to put too many spoilers in here as it's most definitely something that needs to be experienced to be believed. Although it's possibly not the most standout attraction from a technical viewpoint - and it did look as though some of the animatronics were in need of repair - this was certainly one of my favourites, if just for the sheer eccentricity of it. My husband liked it so much I think he would happily have swapped one of our Wodan rerides the next day for another visit to Mme Freudenreich's garden!

We ended our day with EuroSat: The CanCan coaster. I don't really have a very strong opinion about this coaster, good or bad. It's just OK, and like all dark coasters you do wonder how much worse it would be if experienced in the light of day. I know very little about what EuroSat was like before its retheme, but for me the CanCan theme fell a little flat, and the cardboard-cut-out-style track interactions seemed a bit lazy and low-budget. I guess the ride probably fits in better with the France area that its previous incarnation anyway. There's also a VR option for this rollercoaster, which I confess I have absolutely no interest in experiencing.

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It was properly chucking it now, and I was beginning to feel very cold and uncomfortable in my sodden clothes, so we headed back to Avalon Apartments for a change of clothes before heading out (in the car!) for our dinner reservation at Silver Lake Saloon. Predictably, this evening wasn't destined to be a late one!
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TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Giant Squid
You got incredibly unlucky with the weather. We managed the other way with a trip in October, with only our day at HP being a bit dreary (and waiting until midday to hit the magic 8 degrees for EGF to open)

I'd agree that Voletarium is a bit meh. Better than Flying Dreams at FL/PA, but FOTSL is better and Emmet's Flying Adventure is much better than any of the others listed.


TS Member
You got incredibly unlucky with the weather. We managed the other way with a trip in October, with only our day at HP being a bit dreary (and waiting until midday to hit the magic 8 degrees for EGF to open)

I'd agree that Voletarium is a bit meh. Better than Flying Dreams at FL/PA, but FOTSL is better and Emmet's Flying Adventure is much better than any of the others listed.
Luck has nothing to do with it, as I said at the start of the trip report the three of us are clearly cursed by some demon rain god. I firmly believe this. We got half a day of sunshine at HP and that was it.

What's frustrating about Voletarium is that they've obviously put a lot of work into installing the ride system, building a beautiful building for it and giving it a heavily themed queue line and the actual film itself isn't that great. I don't think it would be a huge undertaking to create a new film for it that would live up to the hype suggested by the rest of the experience.


TS Member
Europa Park Day 2

We arrived in the park for our second and final day much brighter and earlier than the day before (although I don't think I'll ever get used to a 9am opening!). A few significant factors contributed to me being in a much better state this morning: (1) I'd had a decent night's sleep, (2) the weather was a lot better than the day before (not hard) and (3) my appetite had returned. Furthermore, I also felt that having some familiarity with the park areas and layout took a bit of the pressure off - I confess I'd felt a bit overwhelmed upon first stepping into the park at the busyness of the place. Not in terms of people, but in terms of the number of attractions, cafes, restaurants, sideshows, etc, all clamouring for your attention at once. There's so much going on in this park that one's first experience of it before you've had a chance to make sense of it all can feel like a bit of an assault on the senses - in my experience anyway.

We headed first to the Switzerland area where we had missed out on Schweizer Bobbahn the day before. I'd only done Avalanche at BPB of this ride type before, and by the end of this trip I would have done three. I've concluded that I'm not a huge fan of bobsled coasters - a wicker chute doesn't really seem to me to be the ideal substitute for a proper coaster track, and it can feel a bit like riding over a cheese grater a lot of the time. Neither is Schweizer Bobbahn the best example of its type, being the original prototype and light on the thrills delivered by Trace de Hourra, for example.


Next up was a return to the Minimoys kingdom, where we had failed to ride Arthur the previous day. This is a standout attraction in the park mainly due to its near-unique ride system - there are only three Mack inverted powered coasters in the world and this was the prototype - which delivers an attraction that's both a family coaster and a dark ride all in one. It's a supremely clever ride system and seems to offer a lot of versatility in terms of how a story can be told. I wasn't familiar with the Arthur storyline but even so the level of detail in the dark areas is hugely impressive, and the technological capabilities of the ride cars is something to marvel at in itself - even the loading system feels cutting edge, using a moving travelator to enable cars to be loaded without stopping. To be fair, the coaster sections aren't that intense, but they do give you a fun sensation of flying over the trees before returning back into the Minimoys kingdom and continuing the dark ride. I'd love to see more attractions in Europe making use of this ride system, but I suspect the price tag would make it a prohibitive choice for many, certainly for any of the UK parks. It would be nice to be proved wrong though.

Determined to try to make this day at least slightly more relaxed than the previous one, I then felt we'd done enough rides to warrant my traditional 'coffee and cake' stop. Fortunately my trusty EP gluten-free guide told us that there were gluten-free cakes on offer in Fjord Restaurant, so we headed to Scandinavia street, which also gave me the chance to properly appreciate the work that had gone into rebuilding this area after the fire. Fjord Restaurant is a lovely building, with the feel of an upmarket sailing club, and everything is still gleaming and new; I'd love to stop here for a proper meal some day. The upmarket feel was tempered slightly by the sight of a man attempting to dry his shorts in the open door of the gents; I guess he had fallen foul of Fjord Rafting just as I had. Hopefully anyway...


In this area is also to be found Snorri Touren, a new dark ride added as part of the Scandinavia rebuild, or more cynically, a shameless plug for Rulantica. It's a fun little dark ride, but definitely not of the same calibre as something like Piraten in Batavia. The music is on a very short loop, and I wasn't convinced by the screen part at the end - it might have been more immersive if I hadn't been able to see all the individual pixels. Controversially, I'm also not sure I've taken to Snorri as a mascot as much as some others have; he's a bit infantile and shrill for my liking. Apologies if that offends anyone!

We then went to do the pair of rides in the Austria area, Tirol Log Flume and Alpenexpress Enzian, both of which interact with each other and with an indoor area representing magical diamond mines, which also has a walkthrough that's quite easy to overlook. I really liked this whole area and the way the two rides interacted with each other inside the diamond mine. Tirol is a good, fun log flume that thankfully delivered only a superficial splash, and Alpenexpress is comfortingly familiar as a sister ride to AT's Runaway Mine Train. The walkthrough is also well worth doing if just to see how it morphs rather inexplicably from a fantasy mine into an art nouveau shopping arcade, and then turns you out into a fossil shop. All very pretty anyway, even if it doesn't really make a lot of sense.


We headed round next to the Portugal area and ticked off Atlantica Supersplash (a.k.a. H.P. ASS) and also the rather tucked away Seastorm flat ride Kolumbusjolle, which is quite a fun version of its ride type with a lot of good effects. The water coaster was fine, I guess; like a lot of splashdown-type coasters it doesn't really do a lot other than that main drop - aside from a slightly bizarre turntable system, which seemed kind of unnecessary - and it's possible to pick a seat that will reliably keep you quite dry, though the pesky dolphin beyond the splashdown seemed to have a few things to say about that. We also saw the arena show in the Spain area, 'The Return of the Sultan', a horse show packed full of stunts and special effects; pretty good fun and well worth making the time to do, though not quite on the same level as Raveleijn at Efteling, which given the latter's Puy-du-Fou collaboration might very well be expected.


Having now covered all the major coasters in the park we could afford to take things a bit more slowly in the afternoon. As if! We actually spent our remaining time cramming in as many re-rides as possible (Euromir, blue fire, Wodan - front row this time, Silver star, Mme Freudenreich's [I did promise him!]) and also ticking off the rather ageing and laughably bad dark rides we'd missed the previous day. I don't want to be unkind about such a great park, but offerings such as Piccolo Mondo and Geisterschloss really don't stand up to the quality of the newer rides such as Piraten and Arthur. I can see that there's clearly some nostalgia appeal, and they're obviously a part of the park's history as much as Alice in Wonderland is at Blackpool - but I don't think they'll be high on my list for any future visits. We also saw the utterly bizarre animatronic show 'Carnival in Venice' which is just plain weird - but I guess it had to be seen to be believed. A surprising highlight was the gentle but very relaxing Volo da Vinci (which I think should actually be Volo di da Vinci, to be pedantic!), a suspended monorail ride with some degree of rider control. Simple but enjoyable - and offering a surprise view of a very pornographic statue.

(NB: I didn't actually photograph the pornographic statue, this is just a duck!)

Predictably, the weather turned on us again, bringing us thunderstorms and torrential downpours that closed all outdoor attractions for a short time. We used the time to do a couple of covered flat rides in the Ireland area. I wasn't sure why John was so keen to drag us onto a Rockin' Tug but Dancing Dingie is actually a lot of fun, although I wasn't sure the Titanic lifeboat theme was entirely appropriate. The best thing about this ride however is the legendary ride operator, who bopped and danced her way through the whole ride cycle in her cabin and then held up a hand-drawn heart to the riders. I believe she's a regular feature - can anyone imagine a UK park having a ride operator with this much enthusiasm and unbridled joy? I confess I baulked at Baa Baa Express as being below my shame threshold, although it did cost me a coaster cred, so instead we did the very grown up and intense Spinning Dragons, which didn't feel at all ridiculous.

Fortunately the rainstorm was short-lived, so we were able to return to Iceland in a blaze of evening sunshine to end our day with a final ride on Wodan. Here's where Europa-Park really delivered for me, by giving us an end-of-the-day ride that was so fast and intense I thought I was going to come out of my seat (actually my restraint was pretty loose!). Coming back into the station John did a headcount and realised we'd timed our queuing perfectly - the next train would be the last and only half full, so we were given the very rare privilege of a last-train reride. It was all extremely chaotic but insanely fun - I'd grabbed a seat as soon John alerted me to the situation but Chris hadn't noticed and had frustratingly decided to be very kind and husbandly and picked up my bag ready to leave the station: cue ourselves and a trainload of Germans shouting at him to dump the bag - anywhere - and sit down lest the train leave without him. That second ride was just as good as the previous one, if not more so for being so unexpected. I will never, ever get bored of riding this coaster.

We headed out of the park via the hotel entrance, where we had a dinner reservation at Donkey Shot Don Quichotte. Unfortunately we'd packed our two days with so many attractions I'd not found any time to properly peruse the merchandise, so not quite a case of been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Oh well, it's a perfect excuse to go back. Right?



TS Member
Favourite Ride
There's not a lot of wearable merch at EP that we found.

I did however buy a mug with dinosaurs on.

Sounds like you've had a great time.

I'm sure me and @Poisson will write our trip report from whichever country it was. But it might have to wait until after the next adventure to "France"...

You also missed the pre refurb Josephine which was incredibly questionable.

Baaaaaa express is simply one of the best creds in the park.

Also EP cocktails are deadly but who wouldn't want a litre of rum?