The Great Escape

Discussion in 'Your Trip Reports and Plans' started by Vik, 27th Aug 2021.

  1. Vik

    Vik TowersStreet Member

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    Not usually one to post a trip report, but having managed to escape the UK for a week, thought I might as well share my experience. Both myself and Dave took a mini road trip, not the mega trip I had in mind at one time, but hey ho, visitng Parc Aterix(1 day), Rulantica(1 day), Europa Park (3 days), and Walygator (scraping the barrel at 1/2 day). This first part is the initial planning, setting off and Parc Asterix, will do part two later with Rulantica, EP and part 3 the journey home via Walygator.

    For context, having had 2 trips cancelled last year, firstly a road trip to the US East Coast and then secondly, as last minute put together road trip around Europe scuppered 24 hours after booking thanks to the then aptly called Quarantine Thursday lottery draw, this time, thanks to our glorious leaders putting France back in to Amber there was an opportunity to get away again. So myself and Dave set out on cobbling something together. The downside for Dave that he couldn't go until 16th August as that was 2 weeks after his second jab and then that left us with just a week as it was my last week off work.

    A few options were banded about before France went back to amber in the latest round of Traffic Light Thursday, including flying over to Poland and going to Legandia and Energylandia but we decided that we really wanted to go back to Europa Park and simply spend some quality time there. We had credit from the ferries from our cancelled trip last year so set about getting it organised.

    Eventually we came up with a plan of an early morning ferry out on Monday 16th with a day at Parc Asterix, and after park close heading towards EP, stopping en-route and continuing next day, then staying at EP until Saturday, returning home on Sunday afternoon, via another park on the Saturday, which, for our sins, turned out to be Walygator (They have The Monster, and it was cheap, it was also on the way home!!)

    The biggest issue we faced was trying to find accommodation in Rust for EP and waterpark tickets so late on. We eventually settled to having a night on resort so we could go to Waterpark, but of the few remaining spaces left, these seemingly had no waterpark tickets available. Eventually a space became available for the Tuesday night in Hotel Colosseo and we were able to get Waterpark tickets too. Then we opted for the remaining 3 nights in Rust. many places were already booked up and what remained was stupidly expensive, but at some point availability became available at Guesthouse Mama, about a 6 or 7 minute walk to the main entrance. I stayed here many years ago more than once, and although now under new ownership, looked like a good bet.

    So then, early doors Monday(1AM), after no sleep, we left Daves in Purfleet (On Thames) and took the 90 minute journey towards Dover for our 4AM crossing to Dunkerque. Despite a section of the A2 being closed and the diversion route also being closed, we made good time arriving about 2:20AM. Going through French Passport control was a breeze with a quick check of our passports, checking our vaccine status by looking at the code as the guys scanner wasn't working. Then checking in to Ferry, we were asked if we wanted to get the 2:40 to Calais as they were just boarding, so opted for this rather than wait around for another hour. Ferry was very quiet. Plenty of trucks but only 3 other passenger cars.

    In no time at all we were in Calais so set about heading to Parc Aterix, which is around a 2.5 hour drive, and given it had just gone 5AM, there was no rush so 1/2 way had a long stop off and plenty of double double expressos to keep me away.

    Eventually arrived at Parc Asterix around 9:15(Park open 10-7) and made our way in. Vaccine statuses were checked here, and also scanned. I have visited previously in 2012 & 2014. With 2012 being pretty woeful for operations, an air of hostility about the place akin to Thorpe Park and Goudurix being pretty horrific. 2014 was quite the opposite so I looked forward to seeing if this still held up.

    Weather was warm and sunny, with a max of around 25c late afternoon

    Parc Asterix certainly impressed me again. It was fairly busy. Most popular rides such as Zues, Oziris, Pagase Express usually around 45 minute mark most of the day. Zues I love, it is quite fast and furious, though does peter out towards the last 1/4, but none the less still a fantastic ride. This time managed 3 rides, with 1 front and 2 back row, where as previously only got 1 due to the 90 minute wait.

    Oziris, this time 4 goes, 1 normal queue and 3 single rider. So front row first, 2 back and one middle. This has really grown on me now. Previously I thought it was just OK, but this time it really had a bit of oomph to it. Felt quite intense too where previously I though it felt a bit bland and underwhelming. Some great theming too, and for me is a decent stand out coaster now.

    Pegase Express is certainly a great family coaster. Nothing to blow you way just decent and fun. Only had one go, didn't really think that a 40 minute wait to go again was justified I guess.

    Goudurix, still have found memories of 2012 and the painful roughness which probably gave me multiple brain aneurysm, 2014 though was much improved but was expecting it to of returned to some sort of brutality after such a long time. However it was fine and no major roughness to speak about. Only had 1 go, it isn't really worth anything more than that, even with the 10 minute queue, just something to ride as it is there.

    Once we got the main rides done it was generally the case of re-rides and the occasional rest stop, but not too long as tiredness kicked in on occasions so needed to keep at it.

    After park close, we headed off for our just over 1/2 way stop off point which was the Ibis Budget just outside Metz, which was around a 3.5 hour drive. So a couple more stops and a couple more double expressos on the way. Then it was time for some much needed sleep ready for an early start next day for our 3 hour non toll road journey to Europa Park

    Overall positives for Parc Asterix. Rides : Decent selection of rides suitable for all the family.

    Operaions: Operations, as back in 2014 were fantastic, queues moved very quickly and the advertised waits were usually showing much longer than you really waited.
    Atmosphere: Great atmosphere, lots of families around, greatly improved from 2012 and even 2014 where there was an air of hostility about he place.

    Negatives : €15 to park your car.
    Food: Seemed a number of decent food outlets closed. And whilst other places were not overly busy, what was on offer was rather below par. Eventually settled on what turned out to be the greasiest Pizza I've ever had, and I had one once at Alton Towers back the 90's and that takes some beating.

    Part 2, Rulantica and Europa Park coming up sometime later or tomorrow.
    MattyH, Poisson, djtruefitt and 9 others like this.
    Posted 27th Aug 2021
  2. NuttySquirrel

    NuttySquirrel TowersStreet Member

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    Sounds good, but travelling essentially through the night followed by a full day on park (and with an early start the next day!) would completely wreck me. I admire your dedication! Hope it was worth the sleep deprivation?
    Posted 27th Aug 2021
  3. Vik

    Vik TowersStreet Member

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    It almost wrecked me :p. Though I don't mind the long drives (Did 750 miles over 14 hours in the US in 2015), if I had more time would of broken it up a little bit more and travelled some of it the evening before.

    Anyway, on to part two. Rulantica (I've decided to put Europa Park in part 3)

    Had a nice earlyi get away just before 7AM to head to Europa Park. Quite a nice drive which avoided the toll roads, even though I hadn't selected no tolls. Oddly though rather than take us through the Tunnel de Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines which had a toll, it took us around some very twisty roads up a mountain and back down the other side. Had I been more alert I probably would of spotted the deviation and corrected accordingly. However I was without coffee at this point so it wasn't going to happen :cool:. Not much time lost, maybe around 10-15 mins so no big deal.

    Crossed over in to Germany and approached Rust from the south, arriving at our Hotel for this one night Hotel Colosseo at around 9:50AM. After a quick checkin and picking up our Rulantica tickets we then headed over to Rulantica for the day via the bus transfer. There was quite a bit of a queue to get in, but it moved fairly quickly and were soon in the water park. This is our second visit, and the outdoor section is completely new to us.

    Decided to 'secure' a lounger outside as the weather was looking pretty decent. Plenty available outside, nearly all taken inside. Took a walk around outside to check out our options later on for food and drink before heading back inside for some slides etc. Feeling peckish after a long drive, decided on a snack first, nice butter Pretzel washed down with an Erdinger. :). Then decided on the wave pool. Had to wait a cycle as they were only allowing so many people in at a time at the moment. Quite enjoy this though it can get quite tiring, so of course that meant a stop off at the swim up bar for some more beer.

    After trying out a few of the indoor attractions decided to venture outside to relax on the lounger for a bit. Though by now it was cloudy and felt a bit cold, so back in the pool to the outdoor pool bar for a couple of beers and a couple of cocktails.

    Sampled the new outdoor attractions, which are a great addition and good fun, even if one did take a chunk of skin off my arm :p. After this went and grabbed a Bratwurst and some more beer then decided to see if there were any free loungers inside as outside was pretty cold now with the sun still hiding behind some clouds. It was around 5pm at this point, and some people had left so managed to grab some overlooking the wave pool. Decided to relax for an hour, and promptly dozed off, being awoken around 5:50pm by the sound of the claxon given warning the waves were about to start. This obviously meant more beer and food was needed, so headed off to Lumalunda and grabbed some Pizza, and of course, another beer.

    Couple more slides later, and another beer, decided to wait for Svalgur Rytt and Vinter Rytt. These had had waits of around 45 mins all day but now both around 30 mins, this meant would of took us to near closing time.

    Getting close to 10pm, headed off, paid the tab (which was around €70 each :eek:, and took bus back to Colosseo. Bar Colosseo was closed, no great loss, I'm not a massive fan of that place, but our only option there was what is sometimes referred to as 'The bar of last resort', which is Commedia dell’Arte. Again a place I am not overly keen on, but didn't fancy checking out other bars just in case any others were closed and have a wasted journey and it was getting quite late. Sat outside, and after getting our beers informed that they will be taking last orders shortly (a little after 11pm), so checked out the cocktail list and ordered a cocktail to finish the night off.

    Then after a nice relaxing sleep, it was time for our first visit to Europa Park since NY 2019/2020.

    Positives about the water park:-

    The place is huge and there is so much to do, and the outdoor pool and slides has made the park a pretty much full on all day place. It is on 10:00-22:00 and certainly for a first, or even second visit it is worth spending a whole day there. Just try not to spend to much :p

    Overall appearance and cleanliness is spot on for the most part.

    The slides are great. The indoor ones may have a bit of a wait at times but they seem to move fairly quickly.

    Enjoy the atmosphere. Even though the place is massive and fairly busy it doesn't really feel it. I usually find waterparks acoustics to be pretty poor with lots of echo's from peoples conversations making these places seem cavernous but don't really notice it here.

    One negative, though not a massive issue, I hope it is addressed before it gets a bit out of control :-

    The state of the steps leading to some of the more popular slides such as Svalgur Rytt, Vinter Rytt etc. Some of the edging tiles have broken off leading the possible areas where people can cut themselves, and not to mention bacteria can get in to there as well. Some have been patched up with Duct tape, which seems very unprofessional for Europa Park even if it is temporary. This is something I expect to see at Waterworld in Stoke, not at Rulantica. Finally some of the riser tiles are looking very very dirty. Not a major issue as you obviously don't come in to contact with them, but just looks a bit meh.

    Overall a very positive visit and hope to visit again in the not to distant, or possibly very distant future.
    Jonathan, NuttySquirrel and AT86 like this.
    Posted 28th Aug 2021
  4. Vik

    Vik TowersStreet Member

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    Last but not least, part 3. Spending 3 days(Wed, Thur, Fri) at Europa Park and journey home via Walygator.
    Try and keep it brief as possible, honest!

    Breakfast on Tuesday was the Buffet Breakfast in Colosseo. not until 8:45 as that was al that was available, but no big deal. Stuff our faces, grab our bags from the room, check out via app, bundle bags in to car for later on and head on park via hotel entrance.

    Wednesday was more of a rides day really, with needing to move the car later in eve to next accommodation, any alcoholic beverages were rather limited to a lunch time beer. It was the quieter of the 3 days and managed Blue Fire and Wodan at start of day, only missing out on Can Can coaster as well as a few of the lesser coasters. Waits were not too bad, peaking at around 45 mins for Can Can and Wodan etc with rest hovering around 30-40 mins. Ride close extended until 7pm.

    Quick drive through Rust to our next accom for 3 nights at Guesthouse Mama, then after a brief rest head to Silver Lake Saloon for evening meal at 8:45pm. Quite a queue to get in but were seated within 10 minutes. After meal, headed to Hotels and wasted the rest of evening until around 1Am in El Circo bar in El Andaluz supping beers and cocktails. Did try Buena Vista bar but sadly closed as it was all 3 nights just like bar Colesseo.

    Thursday and Friday on park were pretty busy, which was kind of expected. With Wodan, Blue Fire, Can Can all reaching 60 mins at one point early afternoon. So these were more of a relaxing days drinking beers in various places. Shame The Irish Bar upstairs was closed as usually can waste best part of an afternoon here if I'm not careful. Thursdays evening food option was Harbourside Buffet in Bell Rock with evening drinks again in Spirit of St Louis, with Friday being and eat on park day at Fjord Restaurant sitting on balcony overlooking the Rapids and again evening drinking at Bar of St Louis. Sadly no outdoor seating left, sat inside, which was quiet, but were kind of forgotten about and had to ask on more than one occasion to order drinks, though when it got busy inside later on service was much better. Again on both days ride close was 7pm.

    On Saturday, began the journey home, stopping via Walygator and an evening in Metz. First though had to take the lateral Flow test to ensure we would actaully be able to get back home. There were 3 places that were doing these tests for a cost of €27. Chose Al Andaluz as we were going to be heading that way anyway to the Autobahn. In and out within 30 mins and heading off after a negative result, arriving at Walygator aroun 11AM (delayed around 30 mins due to a crash en-route)

    I wasn't expecting much from Walygator and it certainly didn't disappoint in that respect. This was chosen because it was cheap (€27) and was not going to spend a whole day here. Was on way home and also, had planned to do in 2017 but never got there due to a tyre blow out. Only really went for The Monster, the B&M invert.

    Walygator ops were pretty dire, with everything on one train (which probably would of been fine) and not loading bays until the previous train had emptied out and people left the station. The main street looks akin to a 1980s garden centre.

    Comet, the pretty bog standard ancient Vekoma was pretty bland. not rough which I was expecting, but not worth another go, especially with the 20 minute wait (it could of been at least 1/2 this were they to load the bays whilst the train is out on the circuit. Anaconda, the Woody is again a bit bland, no airtime, lateral Gs and certainly not worth the 45 minute wait. Again something that could of been reduced by filling up bays before the train arrives, and everyone who has got off has left the station.

    The Monster, again awful ops, with despatches taking as long as 7 or 8 minutes on our first go, though they did get better (from when train stopped to actually leaving again) and waited in a seemingly short queue for around 45 mins (Similar size queue for Nemesis would probably take less than 10 minutes). Actually really like this. Completely themeless but it does pack a punch and quite intense in places. A good old school B&M invert. Did have a second go later, where the queue length was about sane but only waited about 20 mins this time as despatches were much quicker.

    Did queue for Rapids as it was quite a hot day. Was expecting a bit of wait, but after barely moving for 45 minutes, we eventally reached the station area and greated with a sign indicating 45 minutes from this point, at which point I sighed loudly and decided life weren't living anymore and left the queueline. I don't mind waiting for rides, but when the queue doesn't move at all, it is really frustrating. Decided to watch Rapids for a while to see hey queue didn't move, and watched 3 boats in succession pass by and wondered why we weren't moving. But then we waited for the next boat, and we waited, and we waited and we waited. Nearly 3 minutes passed before we seen 2 more boats, then another 4 minutes before 3 more and then we understood why the queue didn't move.

    Finally escaped around 3pm, deciding to skip food, headed to Metz, checked in to Hotel (after figuring out how to use the parking meter, and only after I fed it some coin I noticed I could of downloaded and App to pay). On checking in the hotel decided to fill in the Passenger Locator form, which seemed to take an age as they want to know everything. Eventually heading out in to Metz for an evening of Beer and Food. Despite the fact that showing Vaccine status was obligatory, it seemed they really weren't that bothered with checking. Usually a quick glance seemed to suffice.

    Leaving Sunday, not booked on Ferry until 5pm but figured if we get there handy we could get 3:30pm, which we managed to do, but checkin was such a faff, with having to show everything multiple times (passenger locator form, vaccine status, proof of negative test, took about 40 mins in total, in stark contrast to heading out where no one seemed to be that bothered. Thankfully the Check in for DFDS was quiet and we boarded the 15:30 no problem, which in stark contrast to the P&O checkin which were telling people up to 90 mins wait.

    Positives for EP:-
    Always a delight to be here. No matter what you go for there is something for everyone.
    great atmosphere on park. fairly busy.
    Wodan and Silver Star both running great, managing front and back rows on both
    Mir backwards
    Good to get back on Pirates, though the start before the drop down seems a bit empty.
    Operations were great. Queues moved pretty quick.
    It's Europa Park

    Some negatives :-
    The virtual queue lines are very hit and miss. Whilst I don't mind them really limiting the numbers it is very difficult to get a slot. Over the 3 days managed Pirates, Arthur, Wodan and Can Can Coaster. Sometimes slots became available last minute and there was no way you would be able to get there in time. Also, they have replaced single rider queues.

    Ride close 6pm extended to 7pm. Usually in summer earliest ride close is 8, which would of been much better. Wodan, Blue fire, Can Can were still showing queues of 45-50 mins on Friday at 7pm,even Shweizer Bobbahn was still showing 40 mins, which was seemingly consistent to what it was showing all 3 days.

    Walygator positives:
    The Monster
    The exit

    Negatives :

    Needlessly long wait times and very slow moving queues

    One other negative. Getting home. It has become so much of a faff and time consuming. Daren't get anything wrong otherwise you're not getting in. The passenger locator form seems to assume that you are not a UK citizen and you need to isolate when you get home. The details they want seem massively over the top. Though using Ferry wasn't too bad, I heard from a friend who travelled by plane from Frankfurt in Germany that people were denied boarding simply for having the arrival time wrong by an hour (easy to do when you are in a different time zone) or simply putting a seat row in such as 12 instead of a seat number like 12A for example, so were forced to fill in a new form. I hope this is scaled back in the not too distant future.

    Overall a very positive trip. Nothing like what was previously envisaged, but was great to spend some quality time at Europa Park. Great to get over in the car too. Whilst toll roads in France are pretty expensive, as is petrol, they are a pleasure to drive on and so much more relaxing than a journey on the M1 or M6.
    Posted 29th Aug 2021

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