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Long winding road to Rust


TS Member
Over the last 3 weeks or so (28/07-21/08) myself and Dave have been taking a road trip across Europe, eventually, after a little over 2 weeks ending up at Europa Park.

We visited the following Parks, in order :-

Plopsa Land; Walibi Belgium; Bobbejaanland; Efteling; Hansa Park; Heide Park; Walibi Holland; Movie Park; Toverland; Phantastialand; Holiday Park; Tripsdrill; Hasenhorn Coaster Todtnau & Europa Park + Rulantica, with some time spent in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Luxemburg and a few other places besides.

I will be posting reports (though not too in depth), on each park as I go along, but not all in one go as will be a bit too long and summarising my best to worst (based purely on the park itself, not the resort side of thing as only stayed on resort at Phantasialand and spent time in resort hotels at Europa Park.

Initially Walibi Holland was planned for 3rd August, for 11pm closing, but due to a booking error with hotels (oops!!), had to reschedule for 6th August instead, which kind of meant doubling back on ourselves after Heide Park and adding around 130 miles to our trip, which came it at over 2000 miles all in + public transport to Hansa Park & Movie Park.

Of course things never start that smoothly. Opting for Eurotunnel option rather than ferry, our scheduled ETA to Calais was around 23:59 on 28/7, and luckily we managed to bag an earlier shuttle, so should of arrived around 23:40, but were met with an hour delay due to 'incident in tunnel under investigation'. No so bad I guess, and indeed we did depart an hour late, but then when we stopped Calais side, nothing happened for ages. Were eventually informed there was a points failure and couldn't proceed forward. After 50 minutes we did start to move, but then quickly ground to a halt again. This time our train had broken down and needed to await assistance.

Finally arrived and disembarked around 2am, arriving at our hotel around 2:30am instead of around midnight. Though we should count ourselves lucky, as if we had stuck to our original departure shuttle of 22:30 we would of not left Folkestone until 5am.

Anyway, next will be Plopsaland & Walibi Belgium.
So; Day 1 Park 1, Plopsaland. Fri 29/07

Park open 10:00-19:00

Seems to be the park everyone loves to hate. I have only been once, and that was a quick stop off on the way home from a 2014 road trip to waste a few hours before the ferry home. Didn't massively rate the place then. This time it was park number one of the trip. Main reason to check out Ride To Happiness & Heidi the ride.

After a shorter than planned sleep in the ever so outdated Ibis Calais Car Ferry (which seems to be the norm for a French Ibis Hotel) and admiring the randomly brown/yellow and green woodchip wallpaper, took the fairly shortish drive to Plopsa arriving in time for opening. Tickets had already been pre purchased, as though we had Europa Park passes entitling us to a 40% discount we were able to find a better discount online, (Same with Holiday Park, which turned out to be a bonus, or maybe not as it meant we had to go regardless :p )

First stop was straight to Ride to Happiness. It opened on 1 train and had around a 30 minute wait. A second train was added around midday, and then the wait was never more than around 15 minutes. Boy this ride is something. The theme is top notch and the whole ride experience from start to finish, from the slow heartline roll to the launch to the sheer lunacy of the rest of the layout made this a firm favourite coaster of the trip. I was expecting something good but it exceeded my expectations ten fold.

As for Heidi the Ride. Felt kind of let down by this one. Was hoping for something half decent, knowing the target audience but just never seemed to get going. Only had 1 ride as later in day queue was always hovering around 45-60 minutes and couldn't justify the wait, especially when RTH was never more than 15 minutes.

Had a couple of rides on Anubis. Kind of have a bit of a soft spot for this. On my previous visit ridden around 7 times, though that was more down to the fact there was little much else to do then.

Total ride count

Ride to Happiness * 8 (Dave got a 9th in but after my 5th go on the trot towards end of day my body was screaming no more 😥), may of been more had there been 2 trains on from start and able to pace ourselves more).
Heidi * 1
Anubis * 2
Draak * 1

Positives of Plopsa: Park does look very nice, clean and well maintained. RTH is pretty damn good.

Negatives : A very expensive park for eating and drinking. A 500ml bottle of coke set me back €5, and a RTH T-Shirt would of set one back €45. Can't remember cost of Bratwurst but it wasn't cheap.

Wasp count :- Reasonably high...

Had a quick walk around the resort hotels. Looks pretty decent. Didn't hang around too long as need to head towards Walibi Belgium and our next Hotel for 2 nights.

Our next hotel was Ibis Brussels Wavre, which conveniently was about 10 minutes walk to Walibi Belgium. When we arrived around 20:30 it was like a creepy Ghost Town hotel with barely a sole in sight. Pretty odd for a Friday night. Though not to worry, by the time we returned later there was a UK coach parked in the car park and the place was full of blue rinsers. :p. In the space of a couple of hours had gone from a creepy Ghost Town hotel to a Granny farm.

Needing food, and a beer, headed in to Wavre, which was a short walk away. Opted for a place to Citizen Kane as the claim was food was served until 10pm, but when we arrived at 9pm was told no food available, kitchen izz closed. However people arriving after us were getting food ok. We ordered drinks, and waited and waited and waited, and upon asking after about 40 minutes, told that they'd ran out of that beer. We ordered another one, which arrived but vowed that on our second night we would not be returning here.

Anyway, day 2, Saturday 30/07. Walibi Belgium. Park open 10:00-19:00

Yay for sort of a lie in as can walk to the park in 10 minutes. New park for me. Really looking forward to riding Kondaa. It certainly didn't disappoint. Real highlight of the trip and far exceeded my expectations. Only down side is only managed 2 rides. Reason being, it opened late (after 12pm and later on went down to 1 train meaning a 70 minute wait.

Also looking forward to Psyké Underground, a Schwarzkoff Shuttle Loop, which is indoors. Another we didn't fail to disappoint but again got a long queue.

The park itself was very busy. It was a Saturday after all, and would say was probably the busiest of all the parks we visited, with the exception of Europa and maybe Phantasialand.

Vampire was first up for the day though which is a rather awful SLC, but advised to ride first as gets a long queue being near entrance and only having one train. Indeed the 10 minute advertised queue was actually more like 30. Took 15 minutes in station alone, by then the queue was stretching out of the entrance. I did pity those poor soles awaiting their unknown fate which will soon be upon them.

Only major ride not done was Pulsar as was around 80-90 minutes all day and just couldn't justify that long a wait.

Tiki-Waka was OK. Got on quick via single rider but nothing made me want to re-ride. Probably would of done had I known that Kondaa was down to 1 train later in day.

Positives : Good atmosphere. Kondaa much better than expected. Park much better than anticipated, was expecting something more like a Six Flags park but was generally much better.

Negatives : Not getting enough rides on Kondaa due to operational issues. Not riding Pulsar due to my impatience at waiting to long:D

Wasp count : High, they like beer and will chase after you if you keep hold of cup.

Ride count :

Cobra *1 :
Tiki-Waka * 1 :
Kondaa * 2
Psyké Underground * 1
Werewolf (Loup- Garou) * 1 :
Vampire * 1
Calamity Mine* 1 :
Fun Pilot * 1

Challenge of Tutankhamen * 1

Evening again in Wavre. Fist of all food over the road at Pizza Hut (Ye I know but after the previous nights Kitchen izzz closed didn't want to take the risk of no food again). Here a british family we seated next to us, and oddly were also doing a theme park road trip. Not quite as ambitious as ours, they usually do 4 or 5 days at a time when they can. Favourite parks Europa and Phantasailand and they had never been to Efteling.

Rest of evening spent at Beer Therapy, which was opposite the place we were at the night before. In contrast, the people who ran this place could not of been nicer, with out choices of beer explained to us, coming over having chats with us, asking what we were doing there etc, and even commenting that the place across the way is renowned for being rather unfriendly to any one not local.

Back at hotel, the Granny Farm had expanded with 3 other coaches from the Uk parked there. At least we were leaving next morning. Not quite ready for my Saga cruise just yet, still 3 years to go.:p

Next up: Bobejaanland & Efteling.....And a trip to Amsterdam :eek:
After a long day in work not doing anything even remotely involving work of any kind, time for next part :

Next park, on Sunday 31/07 was Bobbejaanland, open from 10:00-19:00, which again for me was a new park.

Escaping what was the Ibis and now a Granny Farm around 08:30, took the 70 minute drive, arriving in plenty of time for opening, parking near to a car with the registration 'DUCK YOU' because it was a boss thing to do.

This park proved to be pretty much super quiet for the best part, as was probably the only park where we even really bothered with any of the smaller attractions simply to fill up the time. A decent park, which in places was very nice but in other parts looked rather unloved and overgrown. A quick going over with a hedge trimmer wouldn't of gone amiss in a few places.

Home to Fury, which has a really great little feature (should you chose to queue for it, which seemingly very few did), where you get to vote whether you will ride forwards or backwards. The most votes wins, if a tie then computer decides. When exiting the station on the the turntable then have a coupe of seconds of anticipation before the turntable will turn either to face car forward or turn so you are backwards. Certainly makes for plenty of group co-operation, and usually a cheer when turned to face backwards. Decent ride, though felt a bit short. With minimal waits, a few rides were had.

Also home to Typhoon, another Gerst :eek:. Personally found this one a bit uncomfortable and re-rides were generally to pass the time.

Couple of other coasters to mention include Dream Catcher, a Vekoma Suspended (Thankfully not THAT type of suspended coaster) and of course the mad Revolution which is 30 cars long and holds 60 people. Going up the long spiral (or is rectangle?) lift hill is an experience in itself just looking how long the train is. I was expecting a really poor ride that never gets going, similar to Temple of the nighthawk at Phantasialand but it really wasn't that bad at all. Just odd. A Maurer spinner called Naga Bay, a Vekoma junior called Oki-Doki and 2 mack rides, Speedy Bob a wild mouse and Bob Express, your bog standard powered mine train.

Doing some of the non coaster attractions, came across an attraction called Forbidden Caves which looked rather interesting from the outside, and not one to research the ins and outs of every park (I like surprises :D), thought ye, why not give it a go. Indeed, walking through the queue line was a pretty good start so was expecting something good at the end. Secretly hoping for a mad house to rival Hex or Villa Volta :p. Sadly my high expectations were short lived upon the completion of the pre show and we entered our ride vehicle and a realised in horror that it was very similar to the god awful Lost Temple at Movie Park, which is basically an awful simulator ride with graphics which even Galactica VR would of scoffed at; Where in 2014 we got the blue screen of death, and because one of our group wanted to ride it had to endure a whole day at said park. Both of us a agreed that the best bit was the queue line the rest is better forgotten.

Not the biggest of parks and theming tends to be minimal, but worth a visit if you are passing.

Ride count :

Bob Express 1 : Dream Catcher 1 : Speedybob 1 : Forbidden Caves 1 (too many) : King Kong 1 (again 1 to many)
Revolution 1 : Naga Bay 1 :
Fury 7
Oki Doki 1
Typhoon 4 : Sledge Hammer 1 : El Passo 1 : Aztec Express 1

Positives : Fury when you get backwards (5 times out of 7). Minimal queues, max waited for any ride was 10 minutes.
Negatives : Run down in places. Wasps.

Wasp count : Very high, Dave got stung when a wasp decided to crawl in to his shoe and he had the audacity to move his foot :p. Often fighting off swarms of wasps when eating, and want to put something in the bin? Forget it....

After a joyous day of murdering Wasps, time to make some inroads towards our next destination, Efteling and took the around 1 hour journey to Eindhoven and our base for the evening. Nice retro hotel where everything is still done on paper, have a payphone in reception and the chap manning reception must of been about 100 years old. Took a while to find our booking but got there eventually. Had an evening in Eindhoven, where we had our first dose of rain for the trip but didn't last long.

Next day (Monday 1st August, yep, still a long way to go yet), it was Eftelings turn to endure us. We were stopping in the nearby Kaatseuvel, so parked up there and walked over to Efteling, which took about 10 minutes. Park open 10:00-22:00. Free entry with Europa Park pass.

Have to say I fell in love with Efteling again, it is a delight of a park. I do find their coaster line up, though decent, to be rather short, generally the theming makes up for this, but thing maybe could learn a thing or two from Phantasialand where they can wack a decent ride length in to a small area and also offer imersive theming.

Park was reasonably busy with some waits being up towards 1 hour at times, but did make use of single rider a few times where never waited more than a few minutes.

1st time trying Symbolica, via single rider. Had high expectations for this attraction and didn't disappoint. 2 rides via single rider and managed 2 different cars so had 2 different experiences.

Max and Mortiz, both sides via single rider, no wait. It was OK, but nothing special for me, but a pretty decent family attraction. Baron, main queue never more than 20 minutes from what I noticed. Not overly impressed 1st time I rode it back in 2016. Again for me feels too short but didn't feel as bland as it did back in 2016.

Python was closed most of the day, but spotted it open around 4pm, so made our way over to sample its re-track. Certainly still manages to get a decent queue, which was about 30 minutes for us and had grown a lot by the time we got off. Nothing special as expected, but no roughness or headbanging thankfully.

As for Joris, in the morning though it was a little bit slow and tame but by evening it had warmed up a lot and our last ride just after 22:00 in the dark was pretty amazing. Just a shame we only won once 😥. Queue time never seemed to get over 30 minutes

Ride count :

Baron 2 :
Joris Red side 2; Blue side 2
Max & Mortiz (max 1, Mortiz 1)
Symbolica 2 : Vogel Rock 1 : Carnival 1: Villa Volta 1
Droomvlucht 1: Pirana 1 : Python 1 : Vliegende Hollander 1 : Fata Morgana 1

Positives : 22:00 closing. Park is just a joy to walk around and marvel at, could spend most of the time just taking in photos. Joris at night
Negatives : Most of the coasters just seem a bit to short and bland.

Wasp count : Low. After Bobejaanland lack of wasps was a god send. Could even put something in the bin without being attacked by a swarm of wasps.

Our evening after park was spent in nearby Kaatsheuvel at an apartment that was once a fire station. Pretty unique place, with a door which when opened had stairs leading down to some creepy basement. Sadly said appartment in old fire station was lacking the fire mans pole, but there was a helmet on the shelf ;)

Anyway, waffled on too much now so will add Amsterdam in to my next bit and why Walibi Holland never happened on 3rd (for 23:00 closing), Hamburg and the god awful train journey from Hamburg to Hansa Park and back which made our busy trains look deserted as well of course as Hansa Park, might even throw in Heide too :eek:
Next up, on August 2nd (A Tuesday if you are still following, by this point in the trip I was already lost in space and time somewhere and that was before any Space Cake ;)), was Amsterdam, a place I hadn't visited in over 20 years, so was looking forward to going back. Only a short drive from Efteling, parking at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, making use of the Park & Ride where it cost €1 per 24 hours and around €2.75 each return for metro in to City Centre. Other than the free ferry this was probably the last cheap thing we came across in Amsterdam :p.

Having some time to kill before our hotel check in popped in to a bar I remembered from way back in the day, where in 2001 a beer would of set you back around £3 or less, which then was pretty comparable to London prices then, €18(£15.13) later for 2 pints and decided that, ye, this place is expensive, though I guess still not that far off London Prices really.

Took free ferry across to North side, but the 20 minute walk in the afternoon heat made us realise walking back later should not be attempted. Nice hotel called Tribe. Heading back in to city cost us €3.90 each for a barely 4 minute train ride. Did have a nice evening overall, ventured away from the main 'touristy' areas and found some much more reasonably priced establishments where you could get change out of €10.

Following day (3rd), was initially meant to be Walibi Holland for 11pm closing, but sadly, having booked a place to stay (free cancellation), somehow a few days later managed to book wrong dates for Hamburg, which meant a double booking. I realised within an hour. Our Hamburg hotel was an Ibis, and though non cancellable, hoping Accor may be accommodating in amending as was spotted pretty quick. Rather than a yes or a no, gave us the run around and got fobbed off. So just decided to cancel WH accom and re-arrange our trip, which meant a slight double back after Heidi Park as well as thinking unpleasant things about Accor for messing us around for days with no firm answer either way.

Fun was had at the Arena Car Park where the parking machine was insistent I payed €35, but figured it out eventually and paid the €1 as expected. We had more fun and games at the Hamburg P&R later, when the one there refused to accept our credit cards and one that accepted notes was out of order. Managed to find another note accepting one eventually and after having hissy fits spitting our hard earned € back at us, decided to gobble it up eventually and present us with a nice parking ticket to place on our dashboard. Took S Bahn to our Hotel, still cursing Accor, and had a nice pleasant evening at The Bird, then a stroll down the Reeperbahn sampling a couple of its many delightful drinking establishments.

4th August was Hansa Park, another new one for me (Open 10:00-18:00). Train journey from hell both ways. After a nice crush loaded double decker train to Lubeck, we changed train here to continue our journey to Sierksdorf, which is a short walk to Hansa Park. Sadly, seems everyone else wanted the same train (There are some popular beach resorts up that way, school holidays and €9 unlimited travel ticket, it was bound to happen), and we were greeted with a mass of people slowly trying to get on a 2 carriage train and that's before the masses from our previous train had even got there yet. Another 2 carriages did join up but it wasn't pleasant. Return journey had to miss stops as there was simply no room for any of the hundreds of people waiting on platforms to board.

So, Hansa...Sadly Novgorod was closed all day and didn't get to ride. However Karnan was open. I won't spoil what happens inside, but the main ride, christ, it was intense, fast paced, just amazing. On our last ride, we exited the indoor section in to a torrential downpour, and being on front row it was rather painful. When we joined the queue it was blazing sunshine but as most of the queue is inside and the start of the ride was also inside in the 30 minutes we waited the weather had turned. Seemingly due to the adverse weather, turns out ours was the last train out. Rained solidly for 20 minutes then cleared, giving us ample time to get to station for our joyous train ride back to Hamburg.

Park itself I thought was really nice, and not too busy either, with Karnan having the longest queue of around 30 minutes pretty much all day. Obviously I will have to go back and get Novgorod in too at some point but will make sure its not school holidays, beach weather and a special offer on if I use the train from Hamburg:eek:.

Ride Count :

Karnan 3 : Nessie 1
Royal Scotsman 1 : Barracuda 1 : Crazy Mine 1
Der Kleine Zar 1: Sclange Von Midgard 1

Was count : High.. One flew in to my ear, but much worse was still to come on the wasp front.....

Eventually arrived back in Hamburg around 20:00 having survived being buried in a strangers armpit for what seemed like a life time. Met up with a long time friend who has lived there now for around 4 years(And still can't speak German). Few beers were had by all and eventually sleep was needed as the excitement level for the next park was literally through the roof at this point ;).

So, ye next park, 5th August was none other than Merlins finest, Heide Park... Open 10:00-20:00 but rides closed at 19:00 which gave ample excuse to get the hell out of dodge when we could.:D.

Arrived at 10AM having made our way back to pick up our car. Arrived to a pretty wet and miserable looking park, and was the only time I got out my rain coat. It did brighten up later and was quite nice by around 14:00. And again, another new park for me.

First impressions..Well, you can tell it's a Merlin park. Some parts look like some effort was made at some point then was simply left to rot, and everywhere you look there are obvious signs of past rides where the area they sat has been allowed to become overgrown and unloved, not to mention the closed outlets made the place feel like stepping in to the apocalypse.

Looking forward especially to Colossos especially following its re-track and re-theme to a sort of Wicker Man rip off. Sadly, not overly impressed. Another coaster on the trip which I felt just never really got going. OK it's not a coaster that seems to get massively positive rave reviews unlike one other one on the trip which will be mentioned at some point soon and really disappointed on a massive scale, but I just thought it was a bit..boring all in all.

Dessert Race was about as exciting as taking a bus along for a drag race, Damonen I thought was OK and one of the better wing coasters I have ridden, but there was better still to come :eek:. Bobbahn certainly one of the best Mack Bobsled coasters I have done, pretty long and manages to keep the pace up right until the end. Europa's is just plain boring and Blackpool's, whilst I like it, is a bit too short. Krake, again fine, but as will quite a few Dive Coasters suffers from being a bit bland and a bit too short. Limit?, Well its and SLC innit, nuff said.

Oh, and Ghost Busters 5D, I'll save you the bother of riding it, simply, don't, its pants ;).

Ok, I have critisised the park a bit, after all, what's wrong a bit of Merlin bashing eh ;)? However I did have a quite enjoyable day, and it wasn't too busy either, not really waiting more than 20 minutes max for anything, also, the slightly cooler weather on this day kept the wasps at bay too. They were waiting though, biding their time....:eek:. Would I go back? Yes I probably would, maybe after new attraction. Despite its many faults not a bad park, but it's just not all that fantasic either.

Ride count :

Ghostbusters 5D 1

Colossos 2 : Limit 1 : Dessert race 1
Bobbahn 2 : Krake 1 : Limit 1 : Big Loop 1
Damonen 2 : Indy Blitz 1 : Grottenblitz 1

Wasp count : Low, they were regrouping....

And after Heidi, time to head back towards Walibi Holland and the next park of our trip. So how was Untamed, and those Wasps...Until next time folks............
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Next up on Saturday 6th August was Walibi Holland and another new park for me. Open 10:00-22:00. Being a Saturday I was expecting this park to be pretty busy but whilst it was moderately so, queue times were never really anything extortionate, probably never waiting longer than 15-20 minutes for Untamed for example.

1st impressions of WH? Well, if Thorpe Park & Six Flags New England mated,(I know it used to be a SF park!!) this would be the outcome, but scratch beneath the surface and it aint all that bad. Apart from Wasps, lots and lots of Wasps which launch wave after wave of attack if you dare to sit down for a moment to eat or drink. I had a rather unfortunate incident where I went to take a sip from my Coke bottle and didn't see the Wasp on it getting its sugar fix. Thankfully managed to spit the horrid thing out before it did some pretty nasty damage. Remember folks, check those bottles before you take a sip.

So, rides, or more importantly, coasters? Well it wouldn't be a trip to a European theme park if it didn't have an SLC to offer some head banging and pain. And Walibi Holland has Condor. Granted, has new trains with vest restraints. But its still an SLC, still as rough as a bears backside and jolts you around like you are on the spin cycle in a washing machine. You are however saved from having you ears torn off due to the vest restraints. Sadly, still a massive thumbs down for me on this one.

Lost Gravity seemed all the rage a few years back now, so was interested to see and ride it for myself. Thankfully very little queue all day and on one occasion during afternoon was walk on. Like the theming, nice smooth ride. Didn't blow me away, but perfectly decent and re-ridable.

Goliath I thought was a bit bland and didn't really do anything of note. Even with the near non existent wait time, only one ride. Speed of sound, A Vekoma Boomerang. Oddly, I enjoyed this, love a bit of on board audio, takes away from the fact you are riding a Vekoma Boomerang :p . Platform 13, another Vekoma (Christ!!!), again, another really enjoyable one, and for once didn't find it overly rough (it looks pretty ropey looking at it). The theme I love, have a soft spot for Apocalyptic themes.

Last but not least, Untamed. Christ, this is good. Maybe not my favourite RMC but christ, get thrown around like a rag doll at times, lots of nice pockets of air time (well would of been but you get pinned right down in to your seat so just end up with sore thighs instead). Not overly intense either which meant for some constant re-rides with a short queue and you still wanted more and your body would let you, unlike RTH at Plopsa just a week before where my body gave up the will to live.

Overall, a decent day. I would return. Shame we messed up and couldn't do the 11pm closing but 8pm was perfectly fine.

Ride count :

Speed of Sound 1 : Lost Gravity 3 : Condor 1 : Goliath 1 :platform 13 1 : Drako 1
Merlins Magic Castle 1
Untamed 8 (It would of been more, was hoping for double digits, but at one point every coaster in the park was down for around 20 minutes, guessing some sort of power surge, meant afterwards, for a short while the queue line got quite long.

Wasp count : Very Very high, Wasp Death count was high too so hopefully we helped out future visitors a touch :p.

After park then had a 2 hour drive to Essen in preparation for our next park, Movie Park. I was aware that to access our accommodation I had to ring a number and the host will let us in using 'The Internet', and also aware that the host didn't speak English, and my German speaking skills usually end at ordering a beer. I've had the language barrier many times before but usually face to face so get by with lots of hand gestures, pointing etc, but this time...Phone..I hate using phone at best of times. It took a lot of messing about but finally got in to the apartment, and then went to find Dave, as I had left him with the car a few streets away whilst I sorted everything out. Luckily by then a parking space had become available right outside, so ye, it was mine now. After all the faff was out of the way, took short walk in to Essen and a few beers were had. Saturday night was utterly insane, every bar rammed full, lots of music blasting out, great party atmosphere. In contrast, Sunday was a damp squib, and the bar we couldn't even get in on Saturday was empty.

Next up then on Sunday 7th was Movie Park, (Park open 10:00-19:00) the most anticipated park of the trip (NOT!!). Initially I wasn't fussed about going here, but when planning things out had a few spare days to fill (which is unusual in itself), so thought, ye, why not, there's the new (to me) Star Trek ride, and of course, Bandit. This was another park where the train took the strain from Essen. Indeed another very busy train, but at least this time there was some room to breathe.

I had never planned to spend a whole day here, was hoping to have everything done and be away by 3, but alas it was not meant to be. The place was absolutely heaving, most of the rides had hour + waits, poor operations, though ironically the only ride which seemed to have decent operations and eating through a short queue was Bandit, and that can only just about be ridden once.

Star Trek: Operation Enterprise. In morning was on one train and waited nearly an hour, queued again last thing from pretty much same spot. Queue moved a lot quicker, so ye, on two trains now. Is it any good? Ye its fine, only thing for me is, it felt way too short. Theming seems rather minimal and the indoor cattle pen area feels mind numbingly boring when you are there for ages.

The newest coaster, Studio Tours. Looked like a long wait, but initially the queue seemed to move quickly then ground to a halt for what seemed like a life time. It hadn't broken down as could see the ride still operating, must of just been their batching process. Another OK addition, nothing mind blowing, but a perfectly decent family coaster and some of the scenes during the ride were good and sort of a novelty on a coaster outside the realms of Planet Coaster.

Didn't bother with MP-Express, its an SLC, I have been on it before, it was on one train, the queue was spilling out the entrance.. Err...No thanks... Bandit was as awful as I remember it, if not worse. I think I'd rather ride on a jack hammer. At least the operations were good on this. Actually got round to riding the Rapids, or as its called here, Excalibur: Secrets of the Dark Forest. Good fun, reasonably decent thing queue line, which given we waited an hour, it needed to be. Jimmy Neutrons Atomic Flyer had the most miserable ride op ever encountered (Though we hadn't done Holiday Park yet!!). Van Helsing is still pretty decent, though the queue moves slow.

Ended up staying until closing, being so busy. Seems a mixed bag of a place. Some parts have haphazard theming or pretty sparse at best, other parts they seemed to of made a bit of effort, other areas just look like things have been thrown together and hope it gels. Not likely to go back until there is another top quality attraction or 2 added, there is nothing there that says 'You must come back'

Ride count :

Van Helsing 1 : Star Trek 2 : Bandit 1(too many) : Studio Tour 1 : Rapids 1 : Jimmy Neutron Star Flyer 1

Wasp count : Very high. For dinner, we ate inside, they still popped in to say hi...

Next up will be Toverland, and a 2 day visit to Phantasialand with a stay at Matamba Hotel (sadly with a car park view not a park view). Getting ever closer to Rust, but still after this there is the god awful Holiday Park, and the weird, yet wonderful Tripsdrill.
Moving on, 8th August was the turn of Toverland (Open 10:00-21:00, Port Laguna open until 22:00) to be graced with our ever annoying presence. One minor faux Pax here is that we had pre booked car parking, forgetting that it had already been decided that we would park at the near by GR8 Hotel and walk over. Oh well, only €5 each, so no great loss. Parking at said hotel, quick check with reception that it was OK to do so, and then took the mile long walk to Toverland, arriving a little after 10:00.

Toverland has come such a long way since my first visit in 2014, where you pretty much entered through a metal building. Has grown from a small regional park to one that is probably not far off making a challenge to some of the bigger players. Park itself was fairly busy but queues were fairly minimal for best part.

The Port Laguna area where the entrance is now situated is a great place just to sit down and chill out, enjoy a few of the shows and soak up the ambiance. Indeed, this area is open until an hour after ride close, and of course we made sure we used up every last minute to enjoy a couple of beers and cocktails, and sit back and relax on a sunbed (even if there was no sun at this point, it was warm at least).

New coaster (for us anyway), was Fenix, a B&M wing coaster. Not usually the best of coasters I find, being rather bland and forceless, but felt this one had some punch to it, coupled with some pretty close to the ground moments if you are on the outside right seat.

Dwervelwind I have never really been a fan of, but did kind of like it this time, actually good fun. Booster Bikes, being just a bog standard err, Booster Bike, was not ridden until later on in the evening when the queue had died down to around 15 minutes. Had a rather long 40-50 minute wait pretty much all day prior to that,

Then there is Troy. I really enjoyed this back in 2014, despite some saying that it gave them headaches and was rough, I didn't find that at all then, neither in 2016 either. But this time, whilst I still enjoyed it, and managed a night time ride, I did find it rather rough, ever slightly uncomfortably so. Will give credit to the staff working on here though. 2 members of staff (1 op 1 Host), running 2 trains flat out with minimal stacking, all day. That takes some doing. Wait was minimal, most 15 mins when there was quite a few waiting for back row too.

Djengu River Rapids were good fun. Got ever so slightly wet, and again, minimal wait despite it being a very hot day, unlike every other rapids rides on our trip which all seemed to be an hour+ (Even Europa Parks was on one day).

Really enjoyable day. One of the top parks of the trip. Also, if you do plan on visiting, the GR8 hotel as short walk (or drive) away is a great base. fantastic, modern hotel, lovely staff.

Ride count :

Dwervelwind 1 : Djengu River 1 : Booster Bike 1 : Fenix 4 : Troy 7
Alcoholic beverages : Many Wasp Count : Medium

After Toverland, time to head to some more greatness (hopefully), with 2 days (9th & 10th August) at Phantasialand and our first look at the Rookburgh area and sample F.L.Y. Our accommodation being Hotel Matamba. Prices to stay here have increased significantly since our last visit, and a check of prices for similar dates to last time (Just after Xmas), show same price as what we paid for these 2 nights, which is an increase of around 75% in 4 years. However, do occasionally have to indulge somewhat. Hey you never know The Dragon Bar might be open? (Spoiler alert......It wasn't)

Arriving around 9:30, checked in, which was quite quick, in the past it takes an age here for some reason, so we were on park for 9:45. Park open 09:00-19:00 both days, with rides opening from around 9:40, and stated rides closing around 18:45, but in practice, queue lines stayed open until 19:00)

First off went to Black Mamba, as that is pretty much where we entered the park from. Showing a 20 minute wait but in reality it was walk on. Not a massive fan of this one. The theming, near misses and just about everything about it is top notch, I just find it rides rather blandly. Do think it has aged a bit since my last visit for the better, but still no where near where I would like it to be. Seems to lack that little bit of intensity.

Then heading to Rookburgh to try F.L.Y. Boy, this area is amazing. From the moment you step foot in to here, feels like you are in a different world. Barely even notice there is a coaster there at all. The attention to detail and the immersion is second to none and certainly rivals anything Disney could do. (So it should, took then about 50 years to build it :p ) As for F.L.Y. itself? A fantastic coaster, and again, Phantastialand manage to pull off throwing in a rather long coaster in to a a fairly small area. I did fall foul of the 'Security' check point as I had forgotten to place my sun glasses in the lockers as I had them draped over my T-Shirt, so had to do the walk of shame back :eek:). Fantastic ride overall, plenty of floaty moments. Not a massive fan of the many occasions where you seem quite pressed down in to the restraints, found it a tad uncomfortable. Of course, wouldn't be Phantasialand if it didn't have an inaccurate wait time; Showed 5 (which I knew it wouldn't be), and waited 50. But queue is well themed, moves quick. Gets quite hot in places. There were fans, but they were off for some reason.

First days meal was Rutmor's Tavern. Food here is fantastic, so is the ability to get a 1 litre beer too.

Mystery Castle was on 'Misery' setting both in morning and also late afternoon. Colorado Adventure is still my favourite Vekoma mine train. Chiapas on top form and getting one very very moist (with water ;))

Second day, more relaxed day. Took a walk around the lake and savoured the eerie silence and took a vow of silence so as not to offend the locals. Winjas was, well Winjas. Did Fear side only as by the time we got off the queue had grown quite long. Sent Dave to check on Wuzeball but he couldn't find it :eek:. Mouse Au Chocolate still gives me cramp after a couple of screens and is still the only 'shooter' ride where Dave can beat be consistently one.(Ask him what he thinks about Men in Black at Universal :p).

Klugheim area is also pretty amazing. Don't massively rate Taron, have had some pretty great rides, especially when there has been some late ride time for hotel guests in the past, but generally I feel it tends to meander around and not do a great deal if its having a bad day, which it seemed to on both our days.

The resort side of things. Hotel was great as ever in terms of room (Sadly, had the car park view and not the park view this time). Breakfast was fine. However bar service was slow in Matamba. It was better in ling Bao on first night, but second night they were struggling a lot. Seemed quite a few new staff around and the guy on the bar was looking a bit stressed. The pool in Ling Bao was ok initially but got quite busy about an hour or so after park close. We tried the buffet in Ling Bao on second night. Seemed to of gone a bit down hill compared to previous years, didn't feel like there was as much choice? Next time will try Matamba again to see if that is different. Both A la Carte restaurants were closed.

Overall then for Phantasialand. Probably one of the best visits I have had park wise. It was busy but not overly so. Rookburgh is amazing, and this area alone helps push Phantasialand from being a 1 1/2 day park to a 2 day park. The park itself was looking fantastic and there seemed a very positive atmosphere around the place. Ride close of 19:00 was good to see, and also the fact that queue lines were open until then too, and not closed anything up to 60 minutes early as I have seen in the past

The resort side of things needs room for improvement, though it seems to be a staffing issue? But I was sad to leave.

It may of just knocked Europa Park off the top spot of my favourite European Parks. :eek:

Ride count over the 2 days :

Black mamba 2 : Mystery castle 2 : Talocan 1 :
Taron 2 : Chiapas 3 : Winjas Force 1
Geista Rikscha 1 : Colorada Adventure 3
Hotel Tartuff 1 : Mouse au Chocolate 1
F.L.Y 4

To note the queue times shown on the screens bare no relation to reality, they are either vastly under estimated or vastly over estimated.

In terms of leaving, sadly that it what we had to do, and next up was Holiday Park. So not only was it sad to leave, we were leaving to potentially mediocrity.
So how was it? is EGF overated? Ye, sorry, will have to wait for that bit, I need to compose myself first :p
Sadly, after the delight that was Phantasialand we then faced staring down in to the pit of mediocrity and making a journey towards Holiday Park. It had transpired from a few others who had visited the park, I think the day before, that you could no longer get the 40% off with an EP pass. But fear not, having found a better discount on line, tickets had already been purchased. A blessing in disguise?? Maybe had we not the most likely scenario is we would not of gone, and indeed, checking the tickets validity found it was valid until end of 2024 season, so on balance of wanting to finally get to ride EGF, decided may as well go as only going to be there a few hours anyway.

So, after a rather long winded leaving process, (ye we really didn't want to leave), finally set off, arriving at Holiday in time for the midday rush. (Park open 10:00-18:00) After parking up and making our way to the entrance, greeted, or not greeted by the staff member manning the entrance slouched over the gate looking as miserable as sin. Seem to feel we were an inconvenience by being there, but alas we entered the park. Park felt fairly busy, plenty of families around, but queues for the couple of coasters they had were minimal

First port of call (after a quick toilet cred stop) was of course EGF. One coaster that often gets massive hype, and indeed in the past have seen people dash off from Europa for a few hours just to go and ride it. Very little wait, despite one train operation and quite a lot of faff with loading, checking seatbelts, restraints etc. My personal view though after waiting an extra cycle for back row? It is massively overhyped. Whilst smooth, it didn't do anything. No air time, no intensity, nothing, just ambled round the track at what at times felt like a snails pace. Probably still place it above Apollos Chariot though. Also road front and middle to see if felt any better but not a lot of difference really.

Then there was Sky Scream, where though I liked the theme and the queue theming at least up until the tin shed station, and the ride itself is decent, I guess its just a bog standard layout. Still no wait at all, but only one ride.

Final coaster was the embarrassing 'Kiddie Coaster Cred' called Tabalugas Achterbahn, located in the indoor area called 'Holiday Indoor'. However it is not really and embarrassing one, has a reasonably decent layout and get 3 laps. Also the person operating even raised a smile, which was the only time one was seen in our 3 hours there.

Sampled one of the dark rides called Burg Falkenstein which is basically an omnimover where you go through a castle and get scared at some of the pretty ropey animatronics and ageing scenes. An OK waste of 5 minutes I guess.

Finally decided to call it a day at around 3pm and head to our next stop off before Tripsdrill in a nice little town called Speyer, and wasted away the rest of the afternoon/Evening & night partaking in alcoholic beverages and also the occasional bite to eat.

Overall, A disappointing park with a hap hazard theme, Miserable staff, not so great food; Though I can see the appeal to younger families, certainly plenty of things for younger children to do. EGF was a massive disappointment sadly. Was expecting much more. Glad I made the visit, but at least I know now not to rush back any time soon.

Ride Count :

EGF 3 : Sky Scream 1 : Tabalugas Achterbahn 1 : Burg Falkenstein

Wasp count : High, even with 3 hours there, attacks were common place.
So next, will be Tripsdrill, the great, quirky and weird park, followed by a trip to the Alpine Coaster in Todtnau (Hint, don't go on a Saturday, even in the morning) and then finally arriving at ones second home..
The long winding road is finally nearing its end, and the final park before Europa Park. And this is non other than Tripsdrill, the odd, quirky, but actually very good good park located slightly north of Stuttgart but you feel like you are in a different world. Date Friday 12th August, park open 09:00-10:00. On our last visit back in October 2016, we rocked up at 09:30 to find we were the only car in park and questioned if the place was even open, it was, just very very quiet.

This day, after realising there may of been a bit to much drink consumed the day before, took an hour drive, arriving just after 10 to a pretty full car park this time. Worth noting also that parking is free here. Despite being fairly busy, again, this was another park where for the vast majority of rides waits barely existed at all.

As mentioned, this park is an absolute delight just to walk around, finding anything just unique and quirky; Easy to spot are the guy in the outdoor toilet having a number 2 (the door of which opens to reveal him), A naked Adam & Eve, crying babies in a Well, the chap being sick in to a Toxic barrel at the karacho exit and then there is also the random Egyptian scene on the Badewannen-Fahrt zum Jungbrunnen log flume ride which has a few, errr, near naked ladies.

I guess the Germans are a much less prudish than us, this being a family theme park and all. Can you of imagined a similar scene on The Flume at Towers instead of that Howard the Duck? Poor Karen, Steve and their kids Bethany and Tarquin would be traumatised for life, and be putting on their best compo face for the inevitable Daily Mail article :p

Anyway, I digress, moving on to some of the rides. There is the wooden coaster, Mammut. I recalled this being rather poor last time, and this time was no better. Slow, dull, and getting rather rough in its old age, riding like a jack hammer in places.

Karacho I found was good fun still, but again another one which is getting a bit rough, the short drop down to the rolling launch doesn't half snap your neck. Still good fun though.

G'Sengte Sau, is a rather fun little wild mouse, which does pack some laughs in to its layout. Certainly up there with the better Wild Mouse coasters I have done (though nothing beats Blackpools still!!)

2 new coasters since our last visit, located next to each other, 1st being Volldampf, which is a Vekoma family shuttle coaster. Which in itself may be pretty bog standard, but does interact well with the other new coaster Hals-Úber-Kopf, a Vekoma inverted coaster, a very enjoyable, and smooth coaster, which hopefully will age much better than the god awful SLCs before it. Both great additions to the park.

Managed to spend all day here and still haven't got round to visiting the Wildlife Park; maybe next time? A very good day was had. Just a mad, quirky, odd place to visit. May not look like the best line up on paper but the park makes up for it in charm.

Ride Count :

Rasender Tausendfüßler 1 : G'Sengte Sau 2 : Mammut 1
Karacho 3 : Das Waschzuber Rafting (Rapids) 1 :
Voldampf 1 : Hals Kopf 1 : Weinkübelfahrt 1
Hohenflug 1 : Jungbrunen 1 : Werbelpilz 1

Wasp Count Medium

After a joyful day time for our next and final stopover for the evening near the town of Donaueschingen. We were just outside town, and there was a bar and restaurant next door. Sadly, again, no food, and also the bar closed at 10pm. Did consider walking in to the town, but walking 20 minutes along an unknown unlit road at night you are taking your chances.

So finally, 13th August, finally the time had come...Time to head to Europa Park, but, wait, not just yet, there is still one more task to complete first...

That task being the Hasenhorn Alpine Coaster located in Todtnau, about an hour away from EP. Only a short 45 minute drive away through some stunning scenery, arrived around 10AM. managed to eventually find a parking space and made our way to get tickets. Here you can get a ticket for ride only if you wish, which will mean walking up to the top, which on another day may of done, but really wasn't prepared today. Other option is Cable Cars which whisk you off, rather slowly to the summit. To note, even if you are not a fan of heights, the cable cars pretty much straddle the contour of the mountain up so you are never really that far off the ground. The view though is spectacular.

Spent some time at the summit. Had a drink, took some photos and then joined the now rather lengthy queue for our ride down. This is where we knew that the idea of bombing it down the mountainside really wasn't going to be a thing.

Anyway, when getting to the front, saying I wanted to go fast, was held back for quite a while to give me plenty of space from those in front. So when you do get going, full pelt, boy does this thing fly. Utterly relentless. Alas though, all good things come to an end, and even though a large gap had been left I still managed to catch up with Swiss Family Slow by about 1/2 way down. And even Dave who was a long way behind me managed to catch up with me as those in front were pretty much crawling along at barely above walking pace.

When we did finally get to the end, noticed the wait to get tickets was now massive, stretching back towards the main road, which was quite a distance away.

So moral of the story if you want to do this Apline Coaster how its meant to be done, I.E NO BRAKES. Go on a quieter day. My initial plan was to dash off for a couple of hours from Rust one weekday morning do this then go back. But on planning, just made it less faff, less driving to do it this way. Lesson learned:p

After a quick walk around town, time to then take the hours journey to Europa Park and our accommodation for the next 6 nights (yes, 6 nights) at the Im Unterdorf Apartments, which is about a 5 minute walk from the main entrance to the park. After a short drive and checking in just after 2pm, had a quick shopping trip at Edeka, then made our way on park around 3pm.

So the next and thankfully final part will be an overview our 4 full days (+ the 1/3 day on our arrival date) and also our day at Rulantica. There was certainly plenty to like as always, some not so good stuff, like loads of food outlets already closed when we arrived on Saturday afternoon, including Seahouse, Fjord Restaurant to name just two. The water that cascades through Can Can Coaster when its raining and the grotty queue lines for Slides at Rulantica.

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Finally, the time has come, and the end of the long winding road to Rust, and the joys of Europa Park and Rulantica.

Our Itinerary was Sat afternoon from 15:00: on Park, Sunday and Monday full day on Park, Tuesday Rulantica then Wednesday & Thursday full day on park, leaving on Friday morning to begin Journey home.

Park close Saturday 19:30 : Sunday 19:30 : Monday 19:30 : Wednesday 20:00 & Thursday 19:00. Did make some use out of the virtual queue lines, and it worked well on Thursday which was the quietest day we visited. Other days it was pot luck, and unless you are monitoring the app constantly (which drains the battery a lot), then getting a slot is pretty much impossible. Even when one came up by the time you clicked on it the space had gone, or came up for immediate ride but were to far away, or you find the ride is closed (Can Can Coaster being one example where you could book an immediate time slot only to see it was closed)

Arriving on park on the Saturday around 15:00, took a quick ride on Silver Star, with an advertised 30 minute wait. Went on front row as could see no queue and indeed there was only a 2 train wait, so only waited 20 mins in the end. Still enjoy this ride, but think back row is much better than front row.

Deciding to have something to eat around 15:30 as hadn't eaten yet became a chore as even Sea House Restaurant, Fjord Restaurant were already closed, O'Mackay's was also closed for food. Managed to get some food at the Bier Garten behind Sea House Restaurant, and with perfect timing as we only waited a few minutes but by the time we got served the queue was stretching out down the steps and around the corner. Can't understand why some of the busiest restaurants were closed by 15:45 on a busy Saturday??

On Sunday it was nice to see O'Mackay's open upstairs. Whilst upstairs was open on other days too, this was just for seating, the bar itself was closed.

For the best part queues for the main rides were usually 40-60 minutes all day until last hour or so when they died down a bit. Only Thursday was quieter with queue times never really getting above 30 minutes. On Sunday with ride close at 19:30 there was just enough time to get in Wodan after getting off Blue Fire, but alas it was mot to be as the queue line was closed early. A couple of young lads in front were questioning why as it isn't 7:30 yet only to be told on his watch it is 7:30 and to go away. Even though you could clearly see his watch and it read 19:28. Made up for it next day with an extra ride to fill up a near empty last train of the day :D

Blue Fire seemed to be having some technical issues on a couple of days with quite a lot of break downs, with trains being taken off and then put back on again almost ad infinitum, which meant the advertised wait times were much longer in reality. Wodan was on fine form, and cements my thought that it is probably the best Wooden coaster I have ridden in Europe.

Weather was a mixed bag, was mainly fine and sunny but then changed to torrential downpours which closed most of the attractions and then became nice again within 30 minutes. Other days started off a bit wet and miserable but then turned out to be a really nice day. Thursday, our last day, was forecast to be heavy rain all day and had been like that for over a week, it turned out the opposite and was lovely by 11 AM. Maybe the awful forecast may of put a few off booking hence why it was pretty quiet this day.

Also, to note, if you ride Can Can coaster when its raining, be prepared to get a bit wet, the whole thing leaks like a sieve. I hope this gets looked at at some point.

Abentueur Atlantis is a firm favourite shooting ride and had 11 goes all in all and I came out victorious overall winning 6 games to Daves 4 (Note one ride was void as it was alleged the car wasn't able to turn and gun wasn't working properly). On a couple of goes there was barely 100 points in it between victory and defeat.

Euro Mir is looking rather sorry for itself these days. Whilst I still enjoy riding it, could really do with a spruce up, seems to drag the whole area down along with it. Whole Russia area looked jaded and tired.

Again, missed out on Schweizer Bobbahn as it never had less than a 40 minute queue all the time. Missed out on Pegasus too as though the queue was short at times, not really a must ride for me and venturing in to the area I found it to be a depressing hell hole anyway.

Evenings were spent at the resort hotels, mainly Bar of St Louis. Service all nights was fantastic. Lots of staff on hand and seemed much friendlier than usual. Ate on Monday night at Captains Finest. Service here was quick and the steak was sublime. On Thursday night it was Silver Lake Saloon, with a big 3L tower of beer. Usually service in here is slow but you get there eventually. This time it was really quick. From sitting down to getting our food was probably less that 20 minutes. Can usually take 15 minutes just to place your order sometimes and another 30-40 before you see any whiff of food. Wednesday night was Club Sandwich in Bar of St Louis. Portion size has been cut back a bit, but at least I can eat it all now. Tuesday night was Bar Errikson after Rulantica. Seems a but more relaxed in there now and at least has a little bit of atmosphere to it. Still seems a bit out of the way and probably wouldn't of bothered were I not there for Rulantica that day.

Overall a very positive trip again. Always plenty to keep one entertained. Whilst the queues were sometimes quite long, they do move quick. Good to see extended openings, though would hope that next year we will see the return of the minimum 20:00 close during summer months.

On a negative side of things park wise, it is becoming very very expensive now. There have always been jokes around 'Blank Cheques for Roland' but probably not for off that. Whilst I have never usually had a problem with paying at premium as you know you are usually getting a pretty good product in return, it is getting to the point now where you question the value, especially as the product seems less polished than in previous years, with some parts of the park looking rather tired and neglected. Not to mention the number of closed food outlets, especially on the Saturday afternoon.
Even our host, who I spoke to briefly when I checked in to our apartment said they don't go anymore as it is too expensive and they are becoming rather arrogant too, but didn't elaborate on that.

Everything seemed OK on the resort side of things. Service at the bars was fantastic, food was great as was service at restaurants. There are still bars closed, even at weekends, but it didn't seem to cause a major issue, with plenty of seating available outside. The area outside Hotel Colosseo was very busy, but seemed quite lively and plenty of atmosphere. I do fear though come the colder months with less people wishing to sit outside then capacity could be an issue again if the other bars remain closed.

Will do final part in next few days for Rulantica where much fun was had with the very iffy wifi connection outdoors causing lots of delays when it came to trying to 'pay' for things as at times there seemed to be no reception at all and nothing could be processed; And also overall EP ride count and a general summing up of the trip over all.
Lastly, Rulantica. It may have a couple of flaws, what place doesn't, but generally for me is the best Water Park out there.

We visited on 16th August, taking advantage of 1 of the 2 free tickets you get as part of the Annual Pass. Quick look at Google Maps in the morning showed that is was just a 15 minute walk away, so a bit better than taking a 20 minute walk to the hotel bus stop and hope to squeeze on to a bus. Arriving just before 10. Entry was very swift.

Was a pretty busy day but not overcrowded at all. Lovely weather outside so was able to spend a bit of time outdoors without freezing to death unlike last year. Needed to be careful though as even with sun cream on still got easily burnt. The outdoor pool where all the outdoor slides are is freezing cold, but quite refreshing given the heat outdoors.

The Wave pool had no restrictions on entry this time. Last year you had to queue and wait with limited people allowed in at any one time. Did get very busy, and if you go to the parts where there waves are quite high and water fairly deep it can be quite a good work out, and you can guarantee swallowing a load of water more than once :D. Had a few goes in here.

Snorri's Saga, the lazy river, seemed a vast improvement on my previous go in opening year. Did find it a little dark and claustrophobic in places, but very enjoyable and nice to relax near to the end of a err, relaxing day.

Waiting time for main slides were around 30-45 mins for most of the day, which seemed on par with my previous visits, which considering how busy it was wasn't too bad I suppose.

However the queue lines for these are shocking still. Dark, gloomy and depressing, with broken tiles on the stairs, some repaired with Duct Tape. Also, don't look up or you will see the missing ceiling tiles and other showing obvious signs of water collection and others ready to fall at any time.

There also seemed to be quite a few issues with processing payments outside. Ordering something as simple as a drink could take 5 minutes or more to process with repeated taps as kept on failing. The staff at the outdoor bar were frequently walking over to the main building to get signal to process a transaction and at other locations hoping for the best. One did say it is like that often. This made for some long waits for food and drink outside but no issues inside.

Overall though a very enjoyable day all round. Nice to chill and relax, drink plenty of beer & cocktails, eat plenty of food, rack up a large bill which still comes as a surprise when you go to pay at the end of the day.:p I hope the queue lines for slides are improved somewhat so at the very least they are less dark and dingy. I can live with the duct tape for now if that can be addressed.

Of course, it wouldn't be a long winding road to Rust if it was a straight drive to home, which it wasn't quite. Strasbourg is our usual port of call if we have spare time before or after, but as we seemingly have done this to death over the years it was time for change for our journey home beginning on 19th August. After looking in to a number of options finally settled on Luxemburg City. Plenty of places to eat and drink, which is a must of course. Very reasonably priced too. And the best thing? The public transport is free. Ok our train from the hotel in to the city looked like something out of the 70's but can't complain if I'm not paying to use it I guess.

After Luxemburg, on 20th we settled on Dunkerque as it was then just a short drive then the next morning to the Eurotunnel terminal. Reasonably OK place, but seems like one of the places that has really become down on its luck over the years which is a shame. Another French Ibis and another Ibis that is stuck in the 70's with the woodchip wall paper and random colours.

Next morning, the journey back to the UK went without a hitch, unlike our outbound nightmare. We were booked to leave around 11am, and luckily for us the chaos didn't start to materialise until just after noon so we missed it.

Overall ride count at Europa Park of the 4.25 days :-

Madam Freudenreich Curiosités 4
Abentueuer Atlantis 11
Pirates in Batavia 3
Kassandra 1
Geisterschloss 3
Crazy Taxi 1
Historama 1
Volatarium 1
Feria Swing 1
Panorama Monorail 1
Snorri Touren 1
Fjord Rafting 2

Atlantica Supersplash 1
Euro Mir 5
Silver Star 4
AlpenExpress 1
EuroSat Can Can Coaster 4
Blue Fire 6
Arthur 1
Wodan 9
Blitz 1

So, overall thoughts on trip :-

It was fantastic to get away again pretty much restriction free. No faffing about with passenger locator forms just to get back home and no messing with vaccine passports like last year where in Germany they were pretty demanding, though in France they weren't even remotely interested in checking. It was quite pricey, and was often difficult to get reasonably priced accommodation in some places.

It was fortunate that fuel prices dropped somewhat from the highs earlier in the year, with only Netherlands still hovering around £1.80-£2.00 a litre. Only had one fill up here, and avoided motorway service stations too. Hell, at one point, I even filled up with Super +, which is a rarity. Eating out and drinking out were on par with what I was expecting, maybe except for Amsterdam where my heart must of skipped a couple of beats on more than one occasion.

The parks visited were again on par with what I was expecting. Some were much better than I was expecting, such as Walibi Belgium, others even fell way below my already not so great expectations such as Holiday Park.

In order of preference on parks visited : To note this is based on the park itself not anything resort side as only stayed on resort at Phantasialand and used resort facilities at Europa Park. It is often difficult to put parks in order best to worst as each one is unique in its own right and offers something different. Some times that will appeal to me, other times it won't...

1. Phantasialand. Yep, ahead of Europa. The new Rookburgh area is simply amazing and was probably just enough to push Phantasialand in to the number one spot of parks visited on this trip. Not without its issues, but overall a very positive visit over the 2 days we were there.

2. Europa Park. Fantastic as always. Operations here are still second to none, no messing about. Just let down by certain areas, or rides (here's looking at you Euromir & Russia) looking well below the standards that a park such as EP should be aiming for.

3. Efteling. Fell in love with this place again. Such a charming park and a great place to visit. The coasters, though well themed on the whole are a bit on the short side, which kind of knocks the place down a peg or two for me, but makes up for it elsewhere.

4. Walibi Belgium. Probably the stand out park of the trip for me as I really wasn't expecting anything spectacular really, but was met with a tidy, well maintained park with a good atmosphere, great staff, with some pretty decent rides so it exceeded my expectations. Just a shame it was so busy, but it was a Saturday.

5. Toverland. Great to see how this park has grown over there years since my first visit in 2014. Whilst there is some way to go yet, if they can continue with what they have done with Fenix and Port laguna area then the only way is up.

6. Hansa Park. Another nice park with a couple of great attractions. Shame one was closed, so need to go back.

7. Walibi Holland. Unsure where to put this. As stated previously, first looks make it look like Thorpe and SF New England have mated, but dig a bit beneath the surface and there is an Ok park here. Nothing spectacular and have a decent coaster with Lost Gravity and then you have Untamed....A few areas could do with a bit of TLC, never going to be anything other than an amusement park, but has a decent selection of rides.

8. Tripsdrill. A weird and very unique park. Recommend anyone planning a European road trip to try this place out. Lacks a decent 'killer' attraction hence the lowish rating on my list but still worth a visit all the same just to savour the weirdness of it all.

9. Plopsa. Nearly 7th, but WH just nudged ahead. The place people seem to love to hate. Very well kept park I will give it that. Of course it has RTH which makes it a pretty much must visit park now if going on a European road trip, but one great coaster does not make a fantastic park. Need a couple more please!!. Let down by lack of other decent attractions and also how expensive the place is. I'm still bitter at the €5 coke. :p

10. Bobbejaanland. Near bottom of the list but that doesn't mean it was bad, more it probably fell below my expectations. Fury is great but there wasn't really anything else there that stood out massively, was all just average. Also did look a bit unloved in places.

11. Heide Park. It's a Merlin Park, and unlike Gardaland where you probably wouldn't notice were it not for the upselling of Fastack, this is obviously a Merlin park. A place that has so much potential, some decent rides but everything seems run down and unloved, lacks atmosphere, is screaming for investment to bring it up to what it should be. Not to mention all the obvious past rides areas which have just been left to weeds to run amock.

12. Movie Park Germany. This was never really going to be much higher. On paper, this should be so much better, but just seems to fail to deliver in so many areas. D- Must try harder...

13. Holiday Park. Save the worst until last. My expectations were low and the end result was worse than I expected. The staff were miserable and completely uninterested. Should rename it Flamingo Land Germany . EGF I felt was poor and probably one of the worst of the most over hyped coasters I have ridden. I can see the appeal to young families, there were plenty of smaller attractions but for big kids like us, just not enough there to make a return trip appealing.

To cap off for one final time. #Startgeekmode

Miles driven (less train journeys) 2500
Parks Visited 13 + 1 * Alpine Coaster
New Parks (for me) 6
New Coaster Creds 50

Total coaster cred count to date 450

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