Salvaging Summer (European Tour) - Park thoughts

Discussion in 'Your Trip Reports and Plans' started by AstroDan, 17th Aug 2021.

  1. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    From 31st July to 16th August, myself and @John embarked on a 'salvaging summer' trip. Our grand plans of a road trip in tatters due to the government's chopping and changing, we set about using public transport only to visit some of our favourite parks in Europe. All the parks we had been to before, aside from one.

    The parks we visited, along with some sightseeing in Paris and Cologne, were:
    • Jardin d'Acclimatation
    • Parc Astérix
    • Disneyland Paris (Parc Disneyland & Walt Disney Studios)
    • Europa-Park & Rulantica
    • Phantasialand
    • Toverland
    • Efteling
    In this topic, I will post a few summary thoughts. Note - this isn't a trip report thread. I have been to all except Jardin d'Acclimatation before, so don't have any real urge for a general trip report - but some observations and thoughts about the parks in 2021 will of course be made, together with thoughts on any new attractions since my last visit.

    Jardin d'Acclimatation

    This was the only new park of the trip and was mainly visited because we were already in Paris. What is there to say? It's fairly charming, clean, tidy and located in fairly central Paris on Metro Line 1. It feels a little like a much more basic version of Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen - in that it's like a public park with some cute rides thrown in amongst the flora and fauna. There isn't anything outstanding here, but it has four rollercoasters. Speed Rockets is a perfectly reasonable little Gerstlauer Bobsled. Don't expect Cobra or Heisse Fahrt here, but it's certainly a nice little investment for this park, which along with everything here, is aimed squarely at the young family market - but without the brash IPs you'd find at Paultons, Alton or Chessington. Other rides include a fun (OMG AIRTIME in the front row!?!?!) powered coaster from Soquet, a well presented Soquet family coaster (Le Dragon Chinois) and a pretty dire small Reverchon spinner (le Souris Mechanique). There is also a nice little boat ride and some other little rides to round it off. Food is good quality in the park, we sat down to a lovely meal in a lovely setting. There are also some aviaries and other animals. The price is fairly high given the offering ,though, but this is Paris and we all know capital cities come with a supplement. Around €25-30 will be enough for just the coasters (entry + pay per ride) but €35 will allow unlimited rides in the park. Certainly glad to have been to this CdA park but there's not going to be any pressing need to return.

    More parks to follow.
     
    Last edited: 17th Aug 2021
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    Posted 17th Aug 2021
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  2. John

    John TowersStreet Member

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    Thanks, Dan – may as well use this thread to add some of my thought on the parks too, maybe I'll even get to the end of the trip at some stage...

    Before getting onto the parks though, a little background. The original plan was for Rob and Burbs to join us for a longer road trip, unfortunately the UK vaccine program was too slow for them to be able to go, so the original plan was abandoned. We quickly put together a rough outline of an EP/Phantasialand/Toverland/Efteling trip. Sounds simple? There were a few issues to complicate things:

    1) Dan planned to visit France shortly before the trip. At the time, anyone arriving in the UK who had been in France in the past 10 days was required to go into quarantine regardless of vaccination status. To avoid this, Dan would simply stay in France rather than return home. The rest of the trip would therefore have to be long enough that 10 days could be spent outside of France before returning home.

    2) Germany only allows UK citizens to avoid quarantine on arrival if fully vaccinated, a minimum of 2 weeks after the 2nd dose. This meant I couldn’t enter Germany until 5/8

    3) The Netherlands required anyone who had been in the UK in the past 10 days to quarantine, regardless of vaccine status. Combined with 2), this posed me a bit of a problem as we wanted to get to Toverland on the 12th. Fortunately, a further quirk of national restrictions emerged:

    4) France considers people to be “fully vaccinated” 1 week after the 2nd dose. Fully vaccinated arrivals from the UK are not required to quarantine. This meant I could enter France a week earlier than Germany which, in turn, would also allow me to enter NL a few days earlier.

    Putting all of that together, a slightly longer trip plan emerged. By adding the Parisian parks before doing EP, we could buy enough time so that I could enter NL the day after we did Phantasialand, whilst also ensuring enough time would have elapsed after leaving France to avoid quarantine on returning home, and so the "jumping through hoops" tour was developed.


    Anyway, onto the parks:

    Jardin d’Acclimatation

    This isn't a park that’s really been on my radar, even after they added the Gerst Bob “Speed Rockets” in 2018. It’s very much a family park, and whilst Speed Rockets was a slight step-up compared with the other rides in the park, the offerings are still skewed heavily towards families with young children.

    The park has a range of ticket options – you can either get a wristband or pay-per-ride, with several discounted ticket packs available. We opted for PPR as, based on the ride line-up, it seemed unlikely we’d be doing enough rides to justify the wristband cost. We ended up with slightly more tickets than we needed, mainly as we hadn’t done our research. It turns out most of the coasters only cost 1 ticket and doing all 4 requires just 5 tickets, so the "grand huit" ticket (entry + 8 tickets) would probably suffice for most geeks.

    The attractions comprise a mixture of rides, animals (mostly birds and farm animals) and gardens - sort of similar to Paultons but without the bigger rides. They have clearly put a lot of attention into the presentation of the rides over the past few years, with all 3 of their older coasters having been rethemed/refurbished in the past 5 years. The rides are concentrated in two distinct areas in the northern half of the park – the farmyard in the north-west and a steampunk area in the north-east, which is home to most of the coasters. Speaking of which…

    Speed Rockets is one of the smaller Gerst bobs I’ve done, with 2 lifts due to the low overall height. It’s the sort of thing Gerst are excellent at – custom family coasters that are not intimidating to younger riders yet still fun for everyone.

    The nearby Machine à Vapeur (“Steam Engine”) is an unusual Soquet powered coaster. It has a slightly odd layout which features a number of small hills. Towards the end of the layout the ride drops into a tunnel, picking up a fairly high speed. The front row then gets a pretty sharp burst of airtime as it emerges from the tunnel – probably not what the designers intended and fairly uncomfortable due to the train design, but still great fun

    The 3rd coaster in the area is Souris Mécaniques (“Mechanical Mice”) is also a rare coaster type – a junior reverchon spinner. Only 3 have been sold, all to French parks. Unlike the full-size spinners, this is a permanent installation and has a totally different layout compared to the travelling rides. Sadly it’s not a great ride, it seemed far more reluctant to spin than the full-size version and the layout was pretty forgettable. At least it’s less uncomfortable than the standard model.

    The final coaster in the park is located on the edge of the farmyard area, adjacent to the gardens. Dragon Chinois (I don’t think I need to translate that one) is another Soquet coaster, possibly the smallest coaster in the world to feature 3 lift hills. It has it’s moment, specifically the final corner before the station which generates some fairly strong laterals. Aside from that it doesn’t really do all that much.

    Aside from the coasters the other rides are mostly just a range of roundabouts of various kinds (carousel/seastorm/dumbo etc). Most of these weren’t deemed to be worthy of our tickets, so the only other one we did was a slow boat ride with random dinosaur theming - nothing spectacular but a pleasant enough ride. The gardens are well kept and the park is a pleasant place to spend some time.

    Covid measures: relaxed. All guests must demonstrate they are fully vaccinated OR provide proof of a recent negative test prior to entry. Masks required in indoor/enclosed areas only.

    Next up: Parc Asterix
     
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    Posted 17th Aug 2021
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  3. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Parc Astérix

    Keeping in mind that this trip was far from what we'd originally planned, Parc Astérix was not somewhere that was on our schedule. However, with new government restrictions by the day, it became an easy choice given the simple public transport from central Paris.

    One thing to note is that although the RER (métro) service to the airport (CGD1 is from where the Astérix bus departs) is simple, the bus is not great. They will absolutely pack it full and charge you a princely €10 (£8.50) per person return for the privilege. Either way, at least the bus runs matched to park hours, and you know you can enjoy the full day on park (which was 10-7 in this case) and not miss a moment because the bus was running 1 hour before opening to 1 hour after.

    Our vaccination doses checked, we were in the park! We bought a €15 virtual queue fastpass for the day. Probably not worth it as frankly the park wasn't overly busy, but I still think we benefitted a bit. Their app was really easy to use.

    I am very familiar with the park having visited many times since 2006. Tonnerre de Zeus has always been a main draw to the park although even as a raging fanboy, I recognise that this coaster seems to blow hot and cold depending on the year. This year it had an extra dynamic in that the park are modifying it for 2022 (Tonnerre 'Deux' Zeus) and using Gravity Group. Based on my experiences of Gravity Group wooden coasters, I find this concerning. Anyway, I was thrilled to ride Zeus a few more times. On this trip, the first 2/3 of the ride were sensational but the ride died for the final 1/3 and was screeching horribly by that point, losing so much speed.

    The park these days has really upped its game when it comes to capacity/ops. There have always been those famous 'two trains on the Mack bob lift hill' shots which delight any enthusiast, but these days better operations seem to be across the park. It's also a park which has awesome areas and quality - but also some very tired areas. Oxygenarium and the area outside it are not befitting of a park with beautiful buildings like Pegasus Express nor Oziris. Goudurix continues to operate, nowhere near as rough as it used to be but still hardly a pleasure.

    Overall, though, Parc Astrérix was once more a delightful day out, a park full of humour at every turn, loads of entertainment (roaming actors, shows, photo ops) and bags of rides. There's a new 4D film this year which was funny, although not anything groundbreaking. The pre-show was probably the most interesting thiing. The Mad House, well - the less said the better. Maybe John will explain a little about that...! The new Intamin multi launch coming in 2023 will only cement this park's position further. From being an 'almost a major player' back in the late 2000s, the park is pretty much in the league just below the huge resorts now. It's not EP, Efteling, Europa-Park - but it's certainly in with the Alton Towers, Walibi Holland and Gardaland clique.

    A great day - aside from awful weather at the end of the day which cleared the place out (including us!).

    Oh, and I met a wild boar.

    [​IMG]
     
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    Posted 19th Aug 2021
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  4. JAperson

    JAperson TowersStreet Member

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    Sounds great! I must get to Asterix at some point. Isn't there supposed to me a new coaster next year? If so was there any construction taking place?
     
    Posted 19th Aug 2021
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  5. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    The coaster is opening 2023 (I think it was meant to be 2021, then 2022... now 2023!). We didn't see any sign of construction. I would imagine work will begin this winter.
     
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    Posted 19th Aug 2021
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  6. JAperson

    JAperson TowersStreet Member

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    Thanks, I'm not too up to data on Asterix news.
     
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  7. John

    John TowersStreet Member

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    Parc Asterix

    First up, Covid measures – all guests must present proof of vaccination or a negative test. Face coverings have to be worn at all times except whilst eating/drinking. There are no significant social distancing measures, rides operate at full capacity.

    ---

    Parc Asterix is a park I’ve been visiting for a while and it’s come on a long way. Back in 2009 it was basically all about Zeus in terms of coasters, but they did at least have a range of other rides that I rated highly supporting it, specifically the log flume, mad house* and a couple of the flat rides. Since then, they’ve added 2 excellent coasters and maintained most of the support ride line up, with the only significant casualty being Transdemonium, which wasn’t all that good anyway.

    In addition to their improved ride line-up, they’ve also made marked improvements to ride operations. Trace du Hourra used to be the only genuine queue muncher in the park, now they’ve significantly upped the pace on Zeus, OzIris runs pretty smoothly (staff literally run around undoing seatbelts) and even Goudurix was churning the trains out. All of this rendered our impulse purchase of the basic tier virtual queue a little redundant. In theory you get 1x access to each of the major rides for your €15. Higher tiers reduce your virtual queue time, with only the top tier allowing unlimited access. That’s the theory anyway, we very quickly discovered that we weren’t limited to one use per ride, which made it an absolute bargain even with the relatively short waits. One further quirk of the system is that once your time to ride comes round, you only have 15 minutes to get there. Normally you can queue for other things, see a show or have a meal without worrying about your virtual queue but on several occasions we found ourselves rushing around the park, getting to our reserved ride with only seconds to spare. I didn’t fancy finding out whether or not we’d lose the reservation entirely if we were late.

    The benefit of VQ was the ability to do more of the smaller rides that we wouldn’t normally bother with, including the seastorm and tow boat ride. There’s a lot more to Asterix than the coasters, most of the major flat rides are worth doing (maybe not DiscOblelix as it gets horrendous queues). Sadly the one ride not worth doing at the moment is one of my personal favourites. Defi de Cesar is a rare example of a Madhouse* that doesn’t use a supernatural theme and yet still manages to have a story line in which the ride system itself makes sense. Unfortunately at the moment the story is basically thrown away as the excellent pre shows are not being used. You queue, get on the ride via the exit, the room spins around and you get off. Without the preshows to set the scene it all seems completely pointless - they may as well just close it until they can run the attraction as it’s supposed to be experienced.

    That one negative aside, Asterix is a park that’s rapidly risen up my rankings in the past couple of visits, helped significantly by the improved operations. Combine that with the excellent selection of rides, quirky sense of humour, good food options and wide range of entertainment options and they’ve really got themselves a park that excels in multiple departments. The new coaster could push the park to even greater heights but beyond that a replacement for Transdemonium should really be on the cards as the lack of a proper dark ride is the biggest obvious hole in their offerings. On the other hand, the Zeus work is a concern - there are very few Gravity Group rides I genuinely like, mainly on account of how unforgiving their trains are. I'm genuinely concerned they're going to ruin it.

    Next stop - DLP



    *yes I know it’s a Mack Mystery Swing.
     
    Posted 19th Aug 2021
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  8. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    This was the case when I visited in April 2019, so I wonder if there was just a problem on the day I visited, or whether it's a larger issue if this was the case for you guys.
     
    Posted 19th Aug 2021
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  9. Ian

    Ian TS Site Team Team Member

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    For me Asterix is a park with a lot to love. There’s a very unique charm to it and a solid selection of rides. It’s great to hear they’ve been firming up operations around the park, as that was one of the gripes I had with the place.

    Disappointing to hear about Defi de Cesar. Without the preshows it seems rather redundant. Let’s be honest, while the swing isn’t the worst out there it’s hardly groundbreaking. The water room is what makes the whole ride!

    Glad to hear you got a chance to pay your respects to Zeus before it is vandalised…

    Oh, and nice BOAR :tearsofjoy:
     
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    Posted 20th Aug 2021
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  10. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Disneyland Paris: 3-4 August 2021

    As I have mentioned in the above posts, this trip was very much planned at the last second - with Paris not being a stop on our original plans. Disneyland Paris certainly wasn't one of the places we were looking to visit this year. I'd not been for a few years and was generally of the view that waiting until at least the Avengers Campus is open was the earliest I would look to visit next. But, as we've seen, the pandemic has caused all sorts of issues - and suddenly a trip to DLP was viable. We were staying at the Voco Paris Montparnasse in central Paris, so the classic Metro/RER combo was our saviour to whisk us to Marne la Vallée-Chessy in a little under an hour.

    We paid £162.00 for our 2-day tickets for both parks. We were aware that Studios was significantly reduced due to the re-themes and construction, and that entertainment was also reduced in the parks. As was the case for Astérix, masks were to be worn all day. Hours were very limited for the time of year - WDS was 9.30-6 and PD was 9.30-9.

    There's not really a lot to say. It was a fairly middle-of-the-road experience at a Disney resort which I don't particularly rate. Of course, standout rides were standout rides - but even then, I wasn't really a fan of some of the alterations being made.

    Big Thunder Mountain, whilst excellent, does now have trims in two locations and the downtime was as bad as ever. Many hours of closure over the two days. In addition, whilst the removal of free fastpass has upped the standby queue capacity by an absolute ton - the queue line for that thing is hideous, let's not beat about the bush. I also would like to see Hyperspace Mountain re-worked into its original guise as soon as possible. Pirates and Phantom were of course superb. Throughputs on rides like Crush's Coaster and RC Racer were wholly inadequate and as a consequence both rides attracted waiting times far beyond what was reasonable. Queues otherwise were fine - largely helped by the obscene costs for the new paid fastpass option and the fact that few people in their right mind would fork out €60 (£50) for a family of four to save 20 minutes each to ride the Tower of Terror. Speaking of ToT, they have done the classic 'pushing papers round the desk' thing with the new storylines. I can't say it was any better - it felt a little slapdash and pushed onto what was already a stellar, frankly perfect, ride experience.

    There was a complete lack of shows across both parks, with the only entertainment seen some selfie opportunities with characters and a couple of short cavalcades with princesses. Food and beverage wise we ate at Silver Spur Steakhouse in Frontierland (good, although at €46 (£41) for 2 courses and 2 beers it's very dear), Earl of Sandwich at Disney Village (always a good option) and Hakuna Matata (my personal favourite counter service choice across the parks).

    We also did Cars: Road Trip. What is there to say? It's about the minimum they could have gotten away with. Some static theming has been added to the experience but otherwise it's just the Catastrophe Canyon scene from the old tram tour with the other half removed. Nothing to write home about. Other than this, there was literally no new attractions or additions at the parks since my last visit. Investment in the main park really is dreadful.

    Overall, for the £162 fee paid, I cannot say it was value or anything close to it. Of course, I loved some of the rides - but with no shows, reduced hours, closed attractions (Orbitron, Dragon, RnR etc.) and closed food outlets, it felt really overpriced. Thankfully, for DLP it was not particularly busy but given I don't much rate the resort in Disney terms anyway, I didn't leave feeling like 'Yes, wasn't that a great Disney experience' - it wasn't.

    Far more money needs pushing into DLP than is being done so. The pace of development in WDS is terribly slow and new additions, revamps and more are required across the board.

    Disneyland Paris. The adequate Disney.
     
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  11. Matt.GC

    Matt.GC TowersStreet Member

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    On WDW forums and fan groups, the new "Genie" branded marketing and pathetic excuses for introducing what is frankly a cold, money grabbing rip off introduction of paid fast track is receiving a massive backlash. Having read some of what WDW have said, they've branded this complete money grab in such a way that it's as if they're doing us all a favour! But on second thoughts, if the standbys are better and no one's fooled by it, perhaps they are short term?

    I haven't looked into how DLP have tried to sell this most unwelcome money grab as I have no intention of visiting until they sort that mess at WDS out. How does this all look on the ground? Are they hard selling it or keeping it low key?
     
  12. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    There was little advertisement of the product. The only place I saw it was on the app. I would imagine the main source of advertisement would have come from staff standing at the premium access entrances explaining to guests that the free service had been replaced.

    Clearly, this is all in an effort to harvest as much money out of guests as possible - I can see them pushing it more and more. Especially judging by the poor uptake on my visit.
     
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  13. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    I guess it’s kinda pointless pushing it hard while the queues are relatively short due to Covid etc. Once things are back to “normal” it would be more worth advertising to skip 2 hour queues. But I don’t think many guests will pay €15 to jump a 45 minute wait.
     
  14. John

    John TowersStreet Member

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    Covid measures – masks must be worn at all times, except whilst eating/drinking. Rides load one group per row with dividers between rows on some rides. Screens are installed in queue lines & floors marked with “do not stand here” signs.

    ---

    Compared to the investment in coaster hardware at Asterix, it’s incredible just how little has changed at DLP in the quarter of a century since my first visit, in the main park at least. Since that trip way back in May 1995 – a few days before Space Mountain opened - the ONLY other ride added to the park is Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast. Beyond that and aside from some new dedicated meet and greet locations the only other permanent attraction the park has added in that time is Philharmagique in the Discoveryland theatre, effectively a long-overdue replacement for Honey I Shrunk the Audience. Admittedly, there’s been a lot more going on next door - WDS did not exist back in 1995 but given the ongoing mediocrity of that place it doesn’t excuse the lack of investment in the main park.

    With our trip planning being right at the last minute, we didn’t make any effort to look for deals on ticket prices, instead booking direct through the park website at the staggering price of £82 /day for a 2-day ticket. So what do you get for your money? The answer is: quite a bit less than usual. In WDS work on Avengers campus means almost half the park is closed off (of the closed attractions, only RnRC is a significant loss) meanwhile in the main park Orbitron has been entirely dismantled for refurbishment and even the castle is almost entirely hidden behind construction walls with the dragon galley beneath also closed. There’s no parade, no end of day fireworks show and the meet & greet characters are kept away from guests behind velvet ropes (because covid). All told, if “the Disney experience” is important to you, it’s probably not a good time to visit.

    For those more concerned about getting on the rides, however, there’s rarely been a better time to visit. Thanks to the removal of fastpass and the extremely low take-up of the paid replacement, the main queues move at least twice as fast as previously. A completely full queue on BTM took around 40minues, Space Mountain – 30, Peter Pan – 35, ToT – 20. Social distancing meant the queues were slightly more spread out than normal, but the difference removing FP has made to the queueing experience is enormous. The only rides with what I would consider excessive queue times were Crush (as usual) and RC Racer (running 1 group per row because covid). All of this leaves the new upcharge fastrack as something of a lame duck. Why pay €12-15 per person per ride when the main queue is only (say) 35 minutes? The average family of 4 certainly isn’t gong to blow €60 on immediate access to Peter Pan and we saw VERY few people opting to use the new system. It remains to be seen how it’ll go when the park is busy or whether people just aren’t aware of it yet. Hopefully uptake doesn’t increase much as currently the queues are better for everyone – and this is coming from someone who made maximum use of the old FP and probably benefited substantially from it.

    Anyway, WDS. Since my last visit most of tram tour has been demolished and what’s left is now Cars Road Trip. It’s got a nice new queue line and station and some new (albeit basic) scenes along with a general tidy-up but it’s hard to overlook that it’s a very small ride now. Admittedly the old tram tour was dreadful but removing most of it with without adding much else doesn’t really make for a better ride. Hopefully it’ll be put out of its misery when the rest of the park expansion is finished – I can see why they’d be reluctant to remove it now when there’s so little to do in the park.

    The ToT changes were even more underwhelming, just some ghostly girl floating around in place of the original show scenes on the ride. It seems to be change for the sake of change more than anything else, can we have the original back please?

    Back in the main park (as every minute spent in Studios is time that could be better spent next door) Big Blunder was still blundering on. Seems bizarre that they had the ride shut for an entire year yet were still unable to rectify the staggering reliability issues. Shame about the now trims too, but it’s still by far and away the best of the BTMs. Though the queue moves quickly now, the addition of covid screens makes the indoor section even more claustrophobic than usual, luckily it wasn’t hot when we were there.

    Speaking of covid measures, Phantom Manor’s turned us into the unwitting stars of the pre-show: 13 groups are let into the lift, 12 around the edge separated by screens. We were the last in and were directed to the dead centre of the room, feeling like actors in a theatre in the round.

    Despite my somewhat negative review, DLP isn’t bad by any means. It is, however, pretty mediocre for a Disney resort and WDS is an embarrassment to the brand – the completion of the expansion seems a long way off right now and the park will remain sub-par until at least phase 2 opens. The main park, when devoid of construction walls, is arguably the most pleasant of any Disney “castle park”, it just desperately needs the likes of Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones (Cali version) to bolster the ride line up.

    All told, 2 days was more than enough for us to do everything we wanted and it was time to move on. Next up, EP & Rulantica
     
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  15. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Europa-Park - Rulantica to follow separately.

    As you probably know, I am no stranger to EP having visited countless times since I first stepped foot in the park in September 2004. I am a huge, huge fan of the place - making no secret of it. With exception to the physical rollercoaster hardware, I generally consider EP the best "all round product" of any theme park in the world. It still is exactly that, but of course the pandemic is impacting this privately owned park as much as the next place.

    The park's operations are as good as ever. Quick dispatching is the order of the day and queues keep moving. I particularly liked that on Alpenexpress, because VR sales have reduced now, the ride was sending out in 30 seconds. Just phenomenal. Silver Star, Poseidon, Euro-Mir, Blue Fire, Wodan - the list goes on. The way they effortlessly get these rides dispatched is amazing. The main difference to August 2021 vs. a normal summer pre-Covid is the fact that the park was closing at 7pm, when historically it would have been at least 8pm. In addition, some food outlets remain shuttered: La Cigale is often closed anyway on weekdays, but we can add in to the mix Spices, Walters Wurst and a few other stands. Not great - especially given the park was what I would consider 'medium busy'.

    Either way, it was largely good. Covid measures were similar to last year - masks in queue lines and on rides/indoors but not anywhere else. Piraten in Batavia remains the big new story in the park - and it's absolutely fantastic. There are a couple of minor glitches which remain from last year, but overall this is a top rate dark ride and worthy of a trip to inspect it.

    Other rides were as good as ever - Europa-Park is not a park where you ever run out of things to do. In contrast to Disneyland Paris, a wide range of shows was available and on offer. Even a slightly reduced version of Ed's Party Parade was on each day - although I can't wait for the big new Adventure Parade to debut - hopefully next year now.

    We had some nice meals on park - the beer garden in Germany was great! Such a good atmosphere and the live music by the old couple singing old German schlager songs was just brilliant. We had a fantastic meal at Bodega too, with the Mariachi band arriving just after we sat down to accompany our tapas. See... THAT is a key difference between DLP and EP! At EP, music accompanied two of our meals. At DLP, for double the money, there was nothing.

    In the hotels, everything seemed as expected. We weren't staying on resort this time (we would have been, but as we were just two sharing a room it's too expensive, so we opted for the new Moxy Rust - which was great!). From friends who were in El Andaluz, hotel breakfasts are back to their full buffet offering now (only you have to wear disposable gloves, what a waste...). Spirit of Saint Louis was great as ever, we also had a good hour at Eriksson (the bar at Kronasar) where the cake is awesome, plus we had a good meal at Don Quichotte (slow service to start with but really excellent once we had a word). Silver Lake Saloon was also brilliant - the staff were delighted to see us after so long and the food was delicious.

    I will leave John to go through some of the specifics, no doubt. But either way - EP is EP and I bloody love it.

    It's a place to properly chill, escape, relax, have fun, eat, drink and be merry.

    Get me back.

    Rulantica up next.
     
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  16. Ian

    Ian TS Site Team Team Member

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    What?! Noooooo?! I was not aware of this. What a shocking revelation!
     
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  17. IDB

    IDB TowersStreet Member

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    Wasn’t aware of the new Moxy hotel. May keep it as an option next time we visit.
     
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  18. Matt.GC

    Matt.GC TowersStreet Member

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    My phone keeps reminding me through my photos that I was there this week last year. My kids ask weekly when we're going back. Not the greatest coaster collection, but it's hard to fault the place in any other way. Even after 4 days on park I was noticing new details and attractions every day. I know some reading about EP on here may get sick of hearing how the place runs, but it really needs to be seen for itself. Never known a place so clean and well maintained as well, it makes DLP look like a Merlin park.
     
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  19. John

    John TowersStreet Member

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    Europa Park

    Covid measures - guests to wear masks in queue lines and indoor areas. Social distancing markings in place in queue lines, some screens installed. That's about it, though restrictions increased after we left.

    ---

    What is there to say about EP that hasn't already been said? Whilst the park hasn't escaped covid and there are a few obvious areas where budget cuts have been made as a result of the enforced closures (F&B outlets and opening hours chief amongst them), the park nevertheless seems to be soldiering on regardless.

    It's hard to be sure just how many people the park is letting in at the moment - whilst a few of the rides had long waits the number of people walking around was far less than you get on a peak day. Regardless, ride operations remain on top form and even if there's an hour queue for the likes of Wodan or Blue Fire you can be sure that it's because there's 1000+ people in front of you. The standard bearer for operations continues to be Silver Star, one of a number of rides in the park where the queue can we way out the entrance and it's still just not an issue. Bonus points for using the front row queue to get on the ride 3 trains ahead of the people immediately behind us in the queue who'd been practically standing on my heels. Mir was a similar story, they've even started sending the queue via the space station when they run out of queue line but even then it's only a 35 minute wait.

    Though the park is no longer bringing us new coasters every other year (Wodan seems a long time ago now) the more recent additions nevertheless ooze quality and new Piraten is a real step-up in the quality of their dark rides. The ride is by no means perfect but is now so much more than just the Disney knock-off it was accused of being before.

    We had 3 days in the park and, as it often the case at EP, I came away feeling we'd only really scratched the surface of their line up, though losing a large part of one day to absolutely horrendous weather didn't help (we spent the time sheltering on the boat bar Liberté. We saw no shows, skipped Bobbahn entirely and, had it not been for a mad-dash around the park after the rain finally abated, would have missed out whole sections of the park (we did all of Ireland, England and a selection of other rides in 90 minutes or so). I guess we'll just have to go back at the earliest opportunity..?
     
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  20. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Rulantica - this report mainly focuses on the new for 2021 additions.

    Our full day in Rulantica includes the €10 (£8.50) upgrade to include the new Hyggedal area. More to come on that later. Admission was €42 + €10 upgrade. Not cheap, but you're there 12 hours so it's all OK.

    The park was open from 10am until 10pm - plenty of time to experience all that Rulantica has to offer and chill out too!

    I really enjoy days in Rulantica, it has to be said. I know for some the park doesn't have that 'cutesy charm' of some of the theme park, but at the end of the day this is a brand new, large water park and it's going to be tricky to make it feel like Madame Freudenreich Curiosités throughout. What Rulantica is though, is a very high quality experience.

    I have done all the slides before - but just to quickly mention, my favourites remain Stormvind (the large bowl slide in Vinterhal), Vinter Rytt (the half pipe) and Vildstrom (the wild river). The other slides are all good fun, though and the best thing about the park is that due to the sheer volume of slides, queues for the majority are minimal. Aside from the two 4-person slides (Svalgur Rytt and Vinter Rytt), you'll barely wait more than 10 minutes for anything. It's also good to note that, actually, Svalgur Rytt is one of those attractions that isn't worth the 20-30 minute waits it gets and frankly having done it a couple of times, I will take or leave it. During the day I did Vildstrom (wild river), Munin (racing slide), Dugdrob (drop slide), Vinter Rytt (half pipe), Svalgur Rytt (family raft slide), Tva Fall (raft slide), Stormvind (bowl slide) and Snorri Saga (the lazy river, which is still too lazy for my liking). The main wave pool remains on a limited setting to avoid jostling guests around too much due to Covid. I hope the full setting returns soon as it's really awesome. On a more critical note, theming could yet still be enhanced in the queuelines for some rides in Vinterhal and Ragnakor. Black walls just don't cut it for me.

    The park generally was once again spotless and there's a good range of places to eat and drink, although food itself could still be more varied. Bars include Skal Bar which is on the stilt city (Ragnakor), Skog Bar in Skog Lagune (beautiful swim up bar surrounded by trees) and the outdoor swim up bar at Frigg Tempel. It's such an awesome park to chill in and with a full 12-hour shift, you'll have plenty of time to experience everything and do this too! The Rula-Band payment system is a breeze, too. The only surprise is your bill when you come to leave at 10pm!

    Hyggedal

    This is the new chillout space in Rulantica and requires a €10 upgrade. Generally speaking, although they are permitted, you won't find children here as it's a very quiet, relaxing space upstairs above the Lumalunda pizza/pasta/salad restaurant. Although I wouldn't necessarily recommend the upgrade to everyone, I thought it was worth the money given that we were spending 12 hours in the park. Benefits include:
    • Electronic lockers for your valuables. This means that you can take your mobile phone with you and leave it safely here. There are also larger cubby holes to store things like sun cream, towels and so on - all of which is much better than returning to the lockers several times a day
    • Lounge. This contains lots of reclining chairs and is beautifully decorated with relaxing music. Lovely if you want to lie down.
    • Panoraama Bar. This bar offers a range of mixed drinks and bottled/canned beers along with soft drinks and hot drinks. They also offer a Pokébowl menu which is delicious. We had one for lunch, priced €12.50 (£10.70) and it was a good, healthy alternative to much of the food elsewhere.
    • Outdoor Terrace. We didn't make use of this as it was cloudy, however, if the weather is hot - you can easily get out here and sunbathe on the roof.
    • Sauna. Some of our group used the saunas and were very happy with them. However, you should be aware that in Germany, saunas are textile free and this also applies in here. The 'textile free' area is signed, though.
    Svalgurok

    This is the new outdoor expansion to Rulantica - the first ride additions to the park since it opened. I wasn't really sure what to expect but it's honestly a triumph. ProSlide have worked their magic on this massive structure and it's awesome. Literally crammed full of rides and slides - imagine a supercharged Paradise Plumber's at Splash Landings. Due to the sheer quantity of slides, you will only queue a minimal amount of time for anything here. Indeed, there aren't queue lines. The only slide we really had to wait for was the new bowl slide, which had about 9 or 10 folk in front. All the slides are fairly small, but do not let that fool you. Several are actually pretty intense! Using the classic technique of 'raise your backside off the slide as you go down', you can get some real speeds up. In particular, Spiralrok, which literally is a downward spiral, will give you some crazy laterals as you descend at pace. Expect this to mess with your head. Slalomrok seems basic, but two of the slalom corners towards the end are insane and you'll be flying up the sides. Stormrok is the bowl slide, and the pace of this is crazy. The entry into the bowl is one of the single most intense moments of any attraction in the entire resort. Finally, Vagorrok is a double down banana style slide which again allows for some real speed. The other slides are all perfectly fun, too - with some really small for very young children and others. The theming is also good, and the lighting package at night is stunning. Svalgur watches over, moves, sprays water - it's honestly great fun. This, added in with the new food/drink kiosks and Snorri Strand play area for kids has really boosted Rulantica's line up and I highly recommend it!

    [​IMG]
     
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