Tim's Trips: Return to Europa Park

Discussion in 'Europa-Park Trip Plans and Reports' started by Tim, 6th Sep 2012.

  1. Tim

    Tim TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    2,356
    Likes Received:
    2,075
    Location:
    Cambridge
    Favourite Ride:
    Air / Blue Fire
    August: (23rd-25th) 2010, (22nd-25th) 1012

    Return to Europa Park


    I know I’m slightly late to the party (by several months) but when everyone else was bringing over their Europa Park trip reports from TowersTimes I decided to wait in the knowledge that I’d soon be returning. Well now I’m back from yet another fantastic trip and rather than right my report from scratch I’m going to take the best from last time and merge it with all new (and hopefully insightful) opinions.

    Warning this post covers 7 Days at Europa Park from two trips in 2010 and 2012, It’s going to be long!
    But don’t worry I’ve marked all the new content and I'm not expecting anyone to read it all at once. You can always skip right to the end if Wodan is all you’re interested in ;)

    The original review can still be found here if you want more of a standard trip report format

    [​IMG]

    I’ll begin with a little bit of back story. Last time we arrived at Europa Park was by bus from Baden Airport. This time the plan was to take a very different route. Travelling to Stuttgart we (me, my brother* and parents) took the opportunity to spend 2 days in the city before and after making a round train trip to Europa park. This gave us a slight breather at the start and end of the holiday (or not as it turned out) and the chance to explore Germany. It did mean a 3 hour train trip to and from the resort but it went by without a fuss and wasn’t something we regretted.

    *Who decided he didn’t feel like going on holiday at the last minute

    So where were we staying?

    [​IMG]
    Hold on this looks familiar... wasn’t that exactly the same place we stayed before!

    As it turned out we ended up in the same hotel, on the same floor, down the same corridor and only two rooms to the left of our rooms from before. However there was one major difference... the view:

    [​IMG]
    You have no idea how incredible it was to wake up to this view each morning

    Also unlike last time we had the whole day to ourselves with only a brief hour for end of day rides. We spent most of this time exploring the resort, something I could talk about but would likely double the length of this report. So instead I’ll keep things short by discussing the one part of the resort that was completely New:

    Bell Rock
    Now I know some of you aren’t as keen on the New England look as some of Europa parks other Hotels but I absolutely loved it! Just exploring Bell Rock felt like being in a dream. From tiny details such as the diagrams in the pictures to the grand design of the restaurants and paint used on the walls it felt like the place I’d love to be. I was almost disappointed that I wouldn’t be staying there although as the picture above shows I couldn’t have asked for a better view of it.

    But I did get to experience some parts of the Hotel, the main feature being the pool. While it’s fairly basic it does offer the best place on the resort just for swimming and the only sizeable indoor pool. Highlights include several water jets along the side, the 3 nozzle showers and the lockers shaped like a Ships cargo and barrels.
    My parents also spent a fair bit of time in the new fitness centre (which was still receiving work while we were there). Apparently the facilities are great but they would have liked the pool to have been on that side of the hotel so they could swap between the two.

    [​IMG]
    Work in progress on what is now the Bell Rock Fitness Centre

    I also got to see Waterfire (the fountain show) several times which was enjoyable to watch. And while trying to sneak my way inside the lighthouse I stumbled upon Roland's Lodge - African Bar. I’d be intrigued to know more about that place as it was locked up tight and besides a comment once on here and a reference on their website I’ve never seen it mentioned before. It wasn’t even marked on a single sign at the Hotel. Any info about the top floor of the lighthouse would also be good to know.

    It’s at this point in a standard trip report that I’d start talking about the last hour at the park and the following 3 days in the order which all the interesting talking points occurred. However as my first destination was the newly opened Wodan and this report would be an absolute mess if I kept jumping between rides I’m just going to follow the park layout round, inserting my view wherever necessary. Consider this my Ultimate guide to Europa park:

    Europa Park: Park Tour

    So we begin in Germany which serves as the park’s main entrance and almost nothing else. As such and as a hotel guest there was very little reason for me to be there which was why on my last trip I almost completely ignored it. I suppose that’s the unfortunate reality of a slowly growing park which started off with its focal area in the very corner of what would become a massive resort.

    However it’s a fairly nice area and the gardens offer a good escape in the middle of a busy day. There was also one shop in particular that caught my eye. Labelled as the “Fan Shop” I honestly thought it was a mistranslation but no it actually was a shop for merchandise of EPFans; the parks official fan forum.

    [hr]
    Moving on to Italy the area has changed a fair bit in the last two years with the acceptation of one ride:

    Geisterschloss (Altered Review)
    Ghost Castle
    If you go back to my original review of Geisterschloss I was quite critical of the fact that this ride is very clearly a takeoff of Disney’s Haunted Mansion. While this is still true and still an issue for a first time rider I feel less inclined to criticise the ride as much since AstroDan pointed out that this ride pre-dates Disneyland Paris. As such it’s still a Disney clone but with no Euro-Disney Europa was just trying to offer a Disney experience closer to home. However since there has now been a Disneyland in Paris for 20 years It would be nice to see the Ghost Castle undergo either a re-theme or at the very least a few moderations to break away from the Disney formula. The same applies to Pirates in Batavia.

    There are however two things of note about this ride. The first is in the pre-show which in true Disney tradition ends with the reveal of the hanged man. But unlike the original the body literally drops from the rafters, very close to impacting with whoever (in this case me) was standing below. It’s a nice touch. The second is the slightly interactive addition of water sprays. If you’ve come on this ride to escape a brief downpour (like we had) then be warned you won’t escape getting wet, although only mildly so.
    ***

    New: Of the other two rides in Italy Piccolo Mondo Is a very quaint children’s ride which maintained a lot more of the former Ciao Bambini than I thought it would. Even the old music (which I previously compared to the famed tune of it’s a small world) is still present although thankfully for the operators sake it’s no longer blasting out over the station :p
    Then there is the brand new Volo da Vinci. I love the Da Vinci inspired design of this pedal monorail ride and I like the way the pedals can be adjusted. Unfortunately I’m too tall for it at any position (not unusual for me) but what annoys me more is just how little feedback the pedals have. I know it’s designed for kids but it would be nice if it had an adjustable resistance option (like a gym bike). Still a good ride.

    There’s also the theatre show which I’d recommend from both trips. I could add a review but with so many rides to cover I’ll save it for now.

    Now onto France and without any faff let’s get onto the rides:

    Eurosat
    Against my better nature this is an absolutely brilliant ride. It's completely mental. Much faster than most indoor rides of its type with sharp direction changes which almost collide with the over head supports. Beside some laser effects there isn't much on-ride to look at, however the ride doesn't need it and felt better without such distractions.
    If I was to fault anything it’d be the spiral lift which is great for capacity but takes forever. Oh and the final breaks can be a bit sharp. However those are some of the only faults I can find and as such it cements its place firmly in my top 10 coasters. While such a high ranking might seem weird to anyone who hasn’t been on Eurosat trust me when I say it’s just one of those rides that need to be experienced to be belied.
    *****

    New: Magic Cinema 4D: The Secret of Balthasar Castle
    Without a doubt the best 4D show I’ve seen. But it’s not the effects that make it good, which are subtly used and only in appropriate places. What makes this show a league above the rest is its engaging story and endearing characters. Despite barely speaking any German I felt more attached to this films story than many genuine full length films. I actually got so interested in what was happening I completely forgot it was a 4D show, only to be cruelly reminded by a sharp whipping around the legs.
    I don’t often praise 4D Cinemas but this one won my heart :D
    ****

    New: Universum der Energie
    With an extra day at the park I managed to try out a few odd rides which didn’t look like anything special on my last trip. Universe of Energy was one of them as I’d never heard anything special about it nor did it look that exciting. But after downloading the Europa Park pack for RCT3 I discovered that this was actually a proper dark ride similar to Geisterschloss and so I had to give it a try. Conclusion? It’s quite interesting. There’s a well maintained cavernous queue line followed by a trip through A Jurassic Jungle with some fairly impressive animatronic dinosaurs. There was even a decent jump scare as the cart rotated straight into the jaws of one of the beasts.
    ***

    Silver Star
    New Intro: Last time my Silver Star review started off badly with the criticism of the old display in the Mercedes-Benz Hall and how dull it made the queue. However this year’s Vrooar display is so much better. It’s a big and bold display of a comic-book racer that counters most of my previous faults. I still wouldn’t class it as anything special but the queue is much closer to what I originally expected.

    The ride itself is a good B&M Hyper; not quite inspired enough to make it amazing but with enough character and solid engineering to make it a great ride. Highlights include the sharp drop after the mid-course break run and the final S-bend which puts some variety back into the ride just in time to end on a high note. It's such a shame they aren't able to build a B&M Hyper in the UK because the amount of airtime on Silver Star is incredible and something we’re really missing. It’s even better if you take advantage of the 9 cart trains by sitting near the back.
    ****

    [​IMG]

    Up next is Greece and a chance to relive some of my favourite reviews from 2010:

    Pegasus
    Pegasus is a really nice family coaster. It's short but the track layout is well thought out, especially the dip before the final turn. We took the hint from the signs about sitting on the back of the seats so there was plenty of leg room. I’d recommend anyone reading this does the same as the front rows are supposed to be really cramped. The only slight downside to the ride is just how slowly the queue moves with only one train and the unorganised scramble that normally forms on the station platform. Fortunately a second train in 2012 went a long way to fix the former problem. Oh and look out for falling water as the ride is built under Poseidon’s Roller Coaster section.
    ****

    Poseidon
    As one of the first attempts at a Water Coaster Poseidon must have been a fairly big deal at the time. The dream of combining a water ride and roller coaster was a turn of the millennium idea which among manufactures must have seemed like the next big thing. It was certainly given a grand setting with a whole area themed around it and a massive queue scattered with the type of detail and props that the park wouldn’t match for another 12 years.

    [​IMG]
    Don’t spend too long under this seemingly innocent Trojan horse, it has been known to relieve itself on passing guests.

    Mack did a fairly good job of bringing this concept to life however when riding Poseidon you are not experiencing the perfect balance between water ride and roller coaster. To achieve such a thing would need a radically new design which could make the most out of both types of ride. Poseidon cheats by taking a normal water ride and modifying it to run on coaster track. The result is not too dissimilar to rolling a boat down a hill; fine in a straight line but as soon as you hit your first bump any notion of comfort is lost.
    Thankfully the only proper coaster section comes right at the start and by the time you reach the final drop you might have even forgotten the unfortunate first half. The water section is no disappointment which hasn’t yet managed to get me soaked but there is a nice spray of water, just how I'd like most British water rides to be.
    ***

    Fluch der Kassandra
    [Spoiler Alert] For those that don't know this is Europa Parks version of Hex... and I can honestly say it touched me like now other ride has. Seriously I mean that physically. I'll get on to the rides rather shocking hidden feature in a bit but first the pre-show.
    I was disappointed with the pre-show because as far as I could see there wasn’t one. I expected a few flashy effects with a voice over telling the tale of Kassandra’s curse. However nothing happened. We were allowed into a small library area and just stood there. I guessed there was meant to be some effect on the ceiling as I could just about see through to some Mythical creature beyond. But 2 minutes of silence later the door opened onto the main show. What was that all about?
    Anyway the ride itself seemed to be working fine. On my first ride I took a back seat on the right side and sat down. Only to stand up again as I'd sat on something uncomfortable. I moved slightly and sat down again. The doors closed, restraints lowered and the room began to spin. The first noticeable difference to Hex was the use of rather powerful air cannons in the back of the seat. Then the seat rests would occasionally judder as if a powerful enchantment was acting upon them. But what really shocked me started halfway through the ride. Something stroked my arse! Turned out the thing I had sat on earlier was a roller that runs underneath the padded seats. The effect was definitely creepy. If it weren't for the same expressions on my family’s faces I would have freaked out. Oddly the group opposite seemed to be unaffected and were giving us a really strange look. Either there side was broken or they were used to this sort of thing.
    I recommend going on this once, but if you run straight around for another go I'd be worried about what turns you on.

    Update: I’ve since re-ridden the ride on the left side and thankfully found it to be a little less intrusive. I can’t guaranty though that it wasn’t just a broken seat on the return trip.
    ***

    Atlantis Adventure
    There's a lot of debate if an interactive dark ride can be a good attraction or not. Of the 4 examples I've been on Duel and Tomb Blaster have good themes but most of it is left over from better versions of a former ride. Legoland’s Laser Raiders has interactive scenery but is way too small and I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds the larger targets harder to hit.
    Unfortunately Atlantis Adventure is somewhere in-between. Like Laser Raiders the ride is aimed at a younger audience and has a similar large target weapon that lacks any sort of precision. Not that my poor aim mattered as one of the major targets towards the end multiplied my score by so much I beat all my family anyway. Fortunately it’s not quite as bad as Laser Raiders as the theme looks good, the scenery is triggered by your actions and we had great fun playing with the rotation joy stick. But given that I left the attraction still preferring Duel and Tomb Blaster (which let’s be honest aren’t great either) it’s not the inspirational type of attraction I expect of Mack.
    One day they'll be a good interactive dark ride but it wasn't this ride.

    Edit in 2011: There is it’s called Maus au Chocolat and it hands down beats any other shooter ride I’ve been on.
    **

    New: Before finishing the Greek section off I feel the need to give mention to the parks Ice Show. To say I was stunned by the storyline would be an understatement. I know that Mack like to throw themselves some praise once in a while (or more accurately all the time) but basing an Ice Show on a recent IAAPA award (That’s the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) has to be taking it to a new level. Thankfully the show realises it’s nothing more than a shameless promotion about half way through and quietly moves on without referring to it again. I would have liked to have seen just how far they could push it but I think Mack already have too much of a god complex as it is. Once again I’ll save a full review on this but for anyone wondering if it’s worth their time and I’d recommend it.

    Switzerland now which is a surprisingly small looking area mainly consists of two fairly well hidden coasters given their prime location:

    Swiss Bob Run
    Set in a traditional mountain village the queue travels through the cobbled streets and under the ride putting you right in the middle of the action. It starts to cattle pen nearer the station though so you wouldn’t want to be part of a long queue. The ride itself is good. A bit more interesting than Blackpool’s but let down by the rides very long ending. This is unfortunately due to the finale break run being as far away from the station as it's possible to be. I did here rumour that the ride was meant to be extended into the Matterhorn’s area which would explain the bizarre choice of ending. But as it never happened the train has to complete a lap of the village after the ride is effectively already over.
    It also should be noted that my brother (who was sitting in front of me) spotted that the seat and restraint are on separate parts of the cart. This meant the restraint would sometimes push down mid-ride, making it quite painful. I like the Mack Bobsled as an idea but in practice they are not the best ride design.
    ***

    Matterhorn-Blitz
    A Mack Wild Mouse but with a couple of twists that make it one of my favourites. The queue for this ride is excellent. Most of it is under the ride until it starts to get close to the station. The line then enters a log cabin in which animatronics act out a tradition Switzerland family. The little details are excellent including several animals.

    [​IMG]

    The ride also has the best start of any Wild Mouse. Two trains leave the station and enter a loading shaft. I had a quick glance at the mechanisms which is huge. I would love to see a proper behind the scenes tour for this ride. The carts travel upward but this is no standard lift. The lift is actually a section of track that is effectively a train itself. The track has four sets of wheels that connect to one of two vertical tracks either side of the shaft. Some form of driver mechanise (which I was unable to spot) drives the track with both trains on it up the tower. Why doesn't it use a simple elevator system? Here's the clever bit, the two tracks lean to both the left and right side of the tower so as the cart rises it sways, creating a great rickety lift effect and letting the descending lift down. The effect works perfectly, carrying both carts to the top.

    [​IMG]
    Techy photo: the track starting to lean as it swings to the left ;)

    The rest of the ride is a fairly standard Mack Wild Mouse. Fun but I've never got the point in sharp cornering. Overall an excellent ride but it is still a Wild Mouse.
    ****

    In contrast to Switzerland England is a really large area but without much in it. I suppose the main attraction is The Globe Theatre but I wasn’t sold on either of the two shows I could have seen there.
    Unlike previously I did get on the Crazy Taxi which I had to try just to say I’d been on one of those figure of 8 rides. For a kids attraction it packs a fair punch.
    I also gave The Queen’s Diamonds a try. For those that don’t know it’s a laser dodging game to see if you can get through a corridor to reach the Crown Jewels... in a set time limit and without setting off all the alarms. Obviously someone else beat me to it as there were no Jewels in sight. While it’s sort of a non-attraction at Europa I’d quite like to see a small regional park add something like this as I can imagine getting really competitive over it.

    Of course there is the Historama (which I always thought was in Russia).
    2018 Edit: Apparently it's in Luxembourg now. At least now the building has a permanent home, even if the Historama has been replace by the Rulantica Preview Centre

    Historama
    Now as my dad was quick to point out Europa Park certainly like to blow their own trumpet. A show based on the park (and companies) own history might seem strange to most guests but I can't see anyone on here complaining if Alton Towers did the same. The first part of the building houses quite a few displays such as the model of the Hotel Colosseo pictured above.

    [​IMG]
    Can I have one of them on my shelf?

    All of them are great to look at, especially the model of Eurosat which gives an idea of what it looks like inside. By following the displays we reached the queue for the Historama show. The show is a big revolving theatre so the seats move every 6 minutes to show a different part of the stage. I won't give too much away but some of the highlights were a model park that built up ride by ride (although the wooden coaster was a bit confusing) and a history of the park with each piece of a map highlighting as the years past. Apparently the old show had laser and water effects which are still present. Good fun although a bit over the top.

    New Edit: Well I spoke too soon about the Wooden Coaster being out of place, maybe that was a hint :p
    However I unfortunately have to say the Historama show is not looking too good. The show is exactly the same as two years ago (Happy Birthday song and all) which probably wouldn’t have been a problem at any other park but given how much Europa has changed it already feels dated. Plus some of the effects have stopped working which doesn’t help the out dated feel. If you’re going to make a show celebrating the company’s success it really does need to remain up-to-date and in top form.
    ***

    But there is something new that everyone must try: the FoodLoop restaurant. If you don’t know what it is just Google it. Loved the place and despite only being able to order snacks after 4 o’clock the Spaghetti I ordered was a full meal anyway :)

    As this tour of the park is now in Russia it’s time for:

    Euro Mir
    I knew this would be a strange ride and I’m still not sure what to make of it. Euro Mir is just odd, from Mack’s spiral lift hill to the supposedly random but very much controlled spinning. It looks odd too with the sky scraper style buildings trying to hide the section of not so sharp hairpin turns. The result is good but nothing I’d rave about. The spinning also felt rather strange as we rode most the ride facing the same direction. Not so much a spinning coaster as an indecisive one.
    A little bit of advice: For anyone seeking a front seat view get the front train but facing backwards, it’ll flip round on the lift hill. Also watch out for the final bakes.
    ***

    Passing back by the Historama to Holland and although there wasn’t much here to interest me there was:

    Pirates in Batavia
    Europa Parks answer to Pirates of the Caribbean.
    I’ve already expressed my opinion on the matter of copying Disney with the Geisterschloss review above so I won’t add anything more here. While it can never compare to Disney’s quality there's a nice old nostalgic feel. The queue line has quite a few animatronics. German Animatronics are not like their American counterparts. They’re much more simplistic but not because they have to be but because they seem to like them like that. Even on the most recent rides they have the same creepy plastic faces and the trend followed over to another German park Tripsdrill but more on that later.
    The ride itself is good although it does borrow a bit too much from Disney, including the restaurant at the ride exit. Something I particularly enjoyed was the waterfall projection of a dragon. The shear amount of models would have made it fun to re-ride although there wasn’t a story to progress so some of the characters looked at odds to their neighbours.
    ****

    A small note also needs to go to the Jungle Rafting and Enchanted Forest but these are area’s that really need to be explored.

    Now we reach some of my favourite areas with Scandinavia There are several attractions of interest here such as the Vindjammer and Fairy Tale Tower.

    2018 Edit: RIP Batavia and Scandinavia :(

    End of part 1
     
    Last edited: 19th Sep 2018
    Jonathan likes this.
    Posted 6th Sep 2012
    #1
  2. Tim

    Tim TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    2,356
    Likes Received:
    2,075
    Location:
    Cambridge
    Favourite Ride:
    Air / Blue Fire
    Part 2: This is a review from 2012 but due to forum repairs I have had to split the original post

    Fjord-Rafting
    I'm a great fan of rapids. They get you wet, but not too wet and have a much more interesting layouts than log flumes. Fjord-Rafting is a great example of this as the best rapids I’ve ridden. It could be slightly longer but as a result it's a bit choppier so the rides more exciting. Great fun with good use of mist and water jets.

    New Edit: Since my last trip the Troll Village has been added to the Fjord. It’s a great little addition which included some great smoke and fire effects and one very cruel water bucket. Definitely my favourite rapids as it perfectly manages to guaranty danger even though there is a chance to make it through dry.

    I should also add that there are 3 different ways to leave the ride. Pulling a raft across the river, Crossing the floating bridge (with added mist) or taking a normally path if you’re no fun.
    *****

    Austria contains possibly my favourite attraction in the whole park but mention also needs to go to the other attractions, especially as two of them are dependent on my favourite.
    Viennese Wave Swinger is a fairly standard ride for its type although with a few quirks such as the double seats and water fountains which were unfortunately outdone by Phantasialand’s fountain swing.

    [​IMG]

    Alpenexpress
    A really fun powered coaster. Shorter than the runaway mine train but it generally felt faster. The speed it passes through the station was great fun but it really needed to go slower through the World of Diamonds.
    ***

    Tirol log flume
    Unlike the two major water coasters the log flume is quite a bit older and so isn't modelling any of the funny quirks of a modern Mack log flume. The layout’s simple; up a large hill into a small drop, followed by winding around the caves and finally a small hill into a large drop. It’s nice but fairly standard.
    Like most of the water rides at Europa Park the log flume didn’t manage to get us wet, besides the occasional splash. So we came off a bit damp but nothing compared to other log flumes
    ***

    But the best attraction has to be:

    Zauberwelt der Diamanten
    Magic World of Diamonds
    Now for those of you who know Europa Park quite well you might find it strange that I'm reviewing a walk through attraction. Like any park that has grown up over time there are several areas that are off the beaten track. The world of Diamonds was the most stunning that we came across.
    On my first trip we originally found it by passing from the Spanish to Austrian section while trying to find the entrance to Alpenexpress. Oddly it never occurred to us that we had come from the Hotel entrance and that the proper entrance would be facing into the park. So when we found the rides exit it felt natural to assume the entrance opposite was for the same attraction.
    The supposed queue line lead around the track of Alpenexpress until it reached a couple of animatronics bears. At this point the path cut sideways into a cave and I started to realise our mistake. The Cave opened up and I just stood there staring.

    [​IMG]
    As good as this picture is you're only seeing a fraction of the room and without the sensory overload of smell and sound that hits you in the cave it just feels... incomplete

    The Cavern of Diamonds is where Alpenexpress and Tirol log flume meet so there are a few pictures on the RCDB but they really don't do the cave justice. It's beautifully themed, full of motion and ambient lighting. But the smell is what gives it that extra something. The place is just so charming.

    [​IMG]
    One of my favourite props was the metal serpent/dragon/whatever it is. Seen here from behind to give an idea of scale.

    We walked round the Cave on the narrow wooden bridge before descending into a few more tunnels which eventually lead into a jewellery shop.

    [​IMG]
    Out of the main cave was a very well themed underground town.


    Only a place like Europa Park could make an attraction like this work. The fact we had stumbled across it by accident made the discovery even better. Please don't just ride Alpenexpress or the log flume and say I've seen this attraction. Trust me, unless you stop and have a good look you really haven't.
    *****

    Around the corner is the Spanish section of the park. Spain is a strange place as it is both the back of the park and the gateway to the hotels which makes it an odd hub between the two. The attractions here are enclosed so as to be used for night events such as the one during our 2012 trip. These include Feria Swing and Columbus Dinghy which are both good examples of the rides that they are. The main attraction though is the Arena which has been designed for stunt shows including live animals such as horse riding. We were lucky enough to see a late night performance after the park had closed which was great as It wasn’t something I’d have planned to see. The show was good but as this report’s already far too long I won’t go into detail.

    Right next to Spain is Portugal, home to:

    Atlantica

    [​IMG]

    Walking through the queue I couldn't help recognising the choice of music. It was the main theme from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. It worked really well although I was surprised that Disney would allow another park to use it. The rides queue, themed around a ship and Portuguese fort had plenty of detail.
    The boat’s design is allot better than Poseidon as it uses the newer clam shell like restraints. They were certainly an improvement over Thorpe Park’s Tidal Wave restraints which nearly always Knock the wind out of me. Up the chain lift hill and the first turntable was a nice surprise. We weren't sure if the ride was going forward or backwards as the boat turns more than a complete revolution. It's a bit like a game of roulette the first time, wondering which way you'll be facing. An added bonus is you can watch the boat ahead as it plunge over the main drop. The answer to the turntable roulette was a backwards drop before spinning forwards on the other turntable for the main event. Both Turntables were playing music although it was slightly too quiet to hear.
    The drop is great fun and when watching off ride there's a water skimming plume of water before the main splash down which adds some nice character to your standard Shoot-the-Chute. As we hit the water my brother was clipped round the head by a park map. I had to keep it as a souvenir and because it's in German is currently proving very helpful for translating ride names.
    The splash on Atlantica isn't very wet, despite what the name claims. Unlike Tidal Wave the huge wall of water is aimed out rather than up and so you won't get completely drenched. But that was fine as we weren't in the mood to get soaked anyway. A really simple and fun ride.

    New Edit: Thanks to some good luck I managed to get two rides on Atlantica at night. It’s a great ride in the dark and due to the turntables it’s probably one of the best ways to see the park at night. They also had a DJ stage set up but as the weather had been terrible there were only a handful of people around.
    ****

    Which at last brings us onto Iceland:

    Whale Adventures: Splash Tours (Altered Review)
    Now this’ll probably come as a surprise but I actually quite like Alton’s Battle Galleons. Built outside of Britain it would be a fairly well received ride, it’s only the weather that tends to let it down. Whale Adventures has a similar issue although it’s now central position between two very popular coasters (something it didn’t have last time) have gained it a bit more attention and mean there’s no shortage of people manning the cannons off-ride, even if they’re not committed enough to ride.

    [​IMG]

    The queue is really nice, with tones of facts about whales, much like you would find in a sea life centre but a bit more interactive. Unfortunately I can’t even imagine the queue reaching all the way to here so all the detail feels slightly wasted.

    [​IMG]

    The queue line continues above the station platform by circling a big whale model before walking down to the station. Like many of the other attractions at Europa this is brilliantly designed but I can't help but feel they missed the point of an interactive boat ride. A normal queue needs good scenery to distract guests from the wait. But if the ride is interactive then why not combine the queue with the ride experience? Take Battle Galleons as a good example. The queue fills up the land between the station and the track, which makes the people in the queue more aware of the ride as well as giving the people on the inner side of the carts something other than targets to shoot at.

    [​IMG]

    Now onto the ride and while Battle Galleons has what I consider to be a better queue design Whale Adventures makes up for in the actual ride. The first thing we noticed was that they had a "borrow a Poncho" system, a really good customer friendly idea. It didn't look like they were charging for them so don't expect many other parks to start doing this.
    The water jets have also been slightly updated since Battle Galleons. They turned a lot easier making them more child friendly. Even better if you put in real effort they could reach around 5 meters and aim higher up. So if anyone decided to arm the onshore turrets you could easily soak them, even if they tried running away.
    Actually there were quite a few different features. The first onshore turret fired a spray of water rather than a single jet. While not as effective at getting people wet it managed to hit everyone in the boat and was a much nicer start than being hit in the face by a jet of water.
    The water itself was slightly salted to make it feel like the sea. A nice idea but not pleasant if you do get some in your mouth. To go with the idea of being at sea there was a wave machine so that the boats rocked from side to side. A great idea but slightly floored because as you pass the wave machine the boat turns and with our combined weight the turning effect countered out the wave machine. Hopefully they'll use this effect on another interactive boat ride but on a straight section of track.
    The targets, like on Battle Galleons, suffered from a reliability issue. Nearly all of the ones on the outer side were not operating but thankfully all those on the inner side were (which was a good thing as there isn't much else to shoot at on the inner side).
    The lighthouse was also another neat idea as there are several cracks that are big enough to shoot through that most people off ride wouldn't notice.
    The ending however was a bit weird. You discover the Whales in the small alcove at the end of the ride but as you’re not supposed to shoot them all the guns stop working. This effectively made the ride feel like it had ended unexpectedly.
    Overall we had a great time, this is definitely the wettest ride on the park but only if you sit on the side closest to the loading platform. It's also nice to see that Mack have done so much experimenting with the rides design. I'd say Whale Adventures is slightly better than Battle Galleons but both have aspects that I like for different reasons. I can't wait to see the future of interactive boat rides as I feel Whale Adventures showed allot of potential. Just build them somewhere with sun in the future ;)
    ****

    Blue Fire and the Gazprom building (Altered Review)
    First thing that has to be said; Blue Fire is by far the best looking roller coaster I've ever seen. I could (and almost did) spend hours admiring it from every angle. It just looks like a roller coaster should.

    [​IMG]

    The queue starts outside the Gazprom building which on reflection is quite a bizarre introduction. First we have the cattle pen of fountains. Some are just for show but others jump right over the queue line. I even remember this whole queue filling up with mist but on that one occasion it was quite a hot day. Once inside we find the 3 circular cinemas which actually do an excellent job of setting up the rides premise. However I’m not a fan of the bare concrete floor in-between the first and second cinemas which is incredibly slippery when wet, good job we haven’t just been queuing through a load of fountains... oh wait.
    Despite this the queue section was the better part of the Gazprom building. The rest of it is rather bare, which is unfortunate as I remember the original plans having a multilayered themed exhibition. At least it looks good from the outside but so much more could have been added inside.

    Once back outside we’re in the heart of Iceland. Dramatic rocks and winding paths make for a great backdrop for the engineering marvel which is Blue Fire. The ride is incredible, and continues to get all the more enjoyable every time I return. Nothing else I’ve been on offers the same sense of freedom. Of course It’s not perfect but does so much right and tries so hard that what it does get wrong barely even bothers me.
    Starting off with the launch which may be inferior to Intamin’s Hydraulic system but I still find myself preferring it. There’s less kick but it’s more drawn out; continuing to keep you glued to your seat along the launch track. The force subsides as the train rises up the squashed top hat and with that deceleration we go from pinned back to just floating. Mack’s restraints work their magic and from here on in we’ll never feel restricted again. There is nothing quite like cresting the top of the circular loop and just being able to relax with arms fully extended, reaching for the ground.
    Of course as I said before the ride isn’t perfect. For all its good points Blue Fire is not a master of pacing. How can there be pacing when each element offers a similar sensation to the one before? As much as I enjoy the sense of freedom there are some points (the turn after the loop and between the horseshoe) which would have benefited from some good ‘old brute force. But this was Mack’s first attempt and intentional or not any criticism I could level at Blue Fire for a lack of pacing quite literally gets thrown out the window with an ending I can only assume to be an accident. From the horseshoe roll onwards everything about the ride suggests a gradually slowing conclusion. The train lines up with the finale inversion but suddenly something goes wrong. It was probably a miscalculation in the heart lining but what should have been a serene finale roll suddenly accentuates into a motion that feels like you’ve been thrown bodily from the ride. Maybe it was intentional but to me it seems that Mack accidently turned an otherwise forgettable ending into a truly dramatic twist.

    And still with this description I’ve only touched the surface of what makes Blue Fire such a fascinating ride. For a ride that proclaims itself a Megacoaster it certainly lives up to its title.

    New: There have been a few alterations in the two years since my first trip. The main one is the new on-board music. Since this was something I previously criticised I’m in favour of the change which actually adds something (although not much) to the riding experience. I did prefer the former dark ride music section but overall it’s a net improvement. Talking about the dark ride there’s also a new animatronic right before the launch. It wasn’t something I really felt was needed, but I suppose if your Germans better than mine it adds a bit of pre-launch tension. Or maybe it’s a clever ploy by Mack to somehow trying and convince people the Danger signs are not the totally generic “Oh no something’s gone wrong” storyline that they appear to be ;)
    However there is one downside I hadn’t noticed before which is just how strong the magnetic breaks are on the mid-course break run. Granted this probably isn’t a new thing but I don’t recall it being such a sudden pace killer before. Despite this the second half felt faster than it used to so whatever speed was lost it didn’t stop the finale inversion from losing its title as the most insane coaster manoeuvre in existence.
    *****

    Now there’s one more ride to talk about but I promised to leave it until last so let me just conclude with some closing comments beforehand:

    Closing Comments:
    Europa Park is a really good mix of great scenery, excellent all round rides and good shows. I would say it is the most complete park I’ve been to although there isn’t much in the way of big thrills. Roller Coaster wise they're different to what you would find elsewhere which for me was exactly what I hoped for.

    For anyone else that’s planning a visit here are a few pointers that I think may be of use:

    Europa Park certainly like water attractions. There are multiple children’s water areas around the park along side 4 boat rides, 3 flumes/water coasters and the rapids. Not to mention all the fountains and other water effects. However there’s no need to worry about getting wet as the only way to get really soaked is to stand in an obvious splash zone. Don't be afraid to ride the big water rides because you’re worried about getting drowned. Even Whale Adventures isn't that wet if you sit facing away from the entrance.

    The park train is literally hop on and off (as along as it’s not full). It often crosses the paths but relaxed H&S means no pesky barriers. I will say that getting around is rather difficult and confusing but that’s part of the charm of the park.

    If you’re on a multi-day trip take the first day out to explore. Don’t try and do everything in one day!

    If you’re staying at the hotels, use the very cheap vending machines to buy fizzy drinks. They come in Glass bottles so you'll need to bring a bottle opener (couldn't find any to buy in the park) with you but it's worth it. Also if you’re like me and don’t like Coke or other fizzy drinks there’s a very limited range of bottled drinks available to carry round with you. However you can find some in the shops near the entrance.

    For all the downsides of Merlin’s up-selling they do at least offer a good range of merchandise. The range at Europa is quite a bit less. On this trip I picked up more than last time (A Blue Fire bag, 2 T-Shirts and Wodan’s music) but there’s a lot of merchandise I would have liked (more ride themed stuff please) or saw but didn’t like the quality (most the Blue Fire merchandise uses an awful plastic material). Still at least your wallet will be happy.

    I’m sure I’ll think of more to add later but I’ve already delayed the final review long enough.

    New: Wodan

    [​IMG]

    And so I get onto Wodan, the main reason for my return. By now Wodan needs no introduction. Its announcement slogan “Ein Mythos Erwacht (A Myth Awakens) summarises the ride perfectly. It was the ride that everyone wanted to see, but no one dared to believe. Not only is its existence a miracle but it managed to maintain the legendry states by the level of devotion shown by both Mack and GCI to insure this ride went far beyond anything we’d seen before.

    And yet I really am unsure how I feel about it.

    Before I go any further I think I need to highlight that I’d always been curious as to how I’d rank Wodan. My list of previous wooden coasters is limited. For the most part I’ve only experienced the ancient offering available in England. However there was one notable exception, Balder; a world renowned coaster which I have to admit has faded from my memory in the 6 years since. This meant that I was riding Wodan with two main questions in mind. Firstly how does a modern wooden coaster (that isn’t a prefab) compare to the older rides? And secondly as this would be the first time I’d be riding a wooden coaster that could actually challenge Balder how would the two compare, especially given my vague memory of the former?

    [​IMG]

    The first area where Wodan excels is a no brainer. The queue is magnificent. It’s filled with great props, atmospheric environments and the odd special effects to bring it to life. But there are also a lot of clever design choices such as a proper breakaway area for the mid-queue shop, the odd Viking facts board and something I’ve always thought would be a good idea a mid-queue toilet.

    Beyond the queue Wodan continues to impress as we depart the station under the watchfully eyes of the Valkyries. While Balder precedes straight to the lift hill Wodan meanders its way down to ground level before taking an all too sharp outward banked turn. So far everything’s in Wodan’s favour and as we reach the top it sets itself up for what I can simply describe as the second best ride opener I've experienced, only beaten by the legendary Nemesis.

    [​IMG]

    But after circling in towards the main decent and the promised rush straight down to the pit below one thing became apparent to me: As smooth as these modern wooden coasters look off-ride that’s not how they actually ride. Take the next section of track which rises up from the pit and arcs around Blue Fire. It isn’t a perfect arc but a constantly changing shape which sometimes would alter quite abruptly all while banked at odd angles. This I assume is part of the charm of a wooden coaster but it did come with an issue. While I wouldn’t go as far to call Wodan rough there is a judder, hardly noticeable towards the front but amplified for every cart back. The combination of the two motions made for quite a different experience to what I had expected.

    With Balder I don’t remember this. Maybe it was because of the 6 seat carts or maybe because it rode more like a steel coaster. This led me to the conclusion (which I’m sure Diogo will be happy to hear) that Steel rides are more my thing. As good as Wodan is it didn’t feel how I felt it should.

    [​IMG]

    But this was hardly a deal breaker. In fact when experienced in the front seat I must admit Wodan turned out to be one of my best coaster experiences in a long time. This was in part due to some good company from my Father but also because the pacing did not die away after the drop as I had original feared. After rising out of the second tunnel and through the station (so fast that I barley even registered the tilt) the twists and dives came in rapid succession until all too soon we’d hit the break run.

    I got off glad to have experience Wodan. It lived up to its name but not quite my expectations of a modern wooden coaster. Maybe I just needed to get another wooden coaster under my belt before I could make a true judgment. Or maybe I should attempt to sample one of the new hybrids from the Rocky Mountain Construction Group. If their coasters can flex like a woody but run as smooth as steel then that’s the type of ride I would love to experience.
    *****

    And that ends my second trip to Europa Park. I left the park shortly after my last ride on Wodan. The ride was on my mind all the way to the train station and I was wondering when I’d next get the chance to experience another wooden coaster. It would be convenient if such a ride existed within easy travelling distance of my next destination...

    ...To be continued at Tripsdrill
     
    Last edited: 19th Sep 2018
    DiogoJ42, RicketyCricket and Jonathan like this.
    Posted 19th Sep 2018
    #2
  3. Tim

    Tim TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    2,356
    Likes Received:
    2,075
    Location:
    Cambridge
    Favourite Ride:
    Air / Blue Fire
    I'm back again from Europa Park!

    I hope no one minds me resurrecting this old thread but I feel that it is the right place to continue my story. This is the second time I've been back to Europa since 2012. My last trip (June 2014) saw us miss the opening of Arthur by barley two weeks, which consequently didn't give me much to talk about. My luck hasn't got any better this time, missing out on CanCan's public opening by a single night! At least 4 years on I can finally talk about Arthur and the other big developments:

    Arthur:
    I have mixed opinions. The ride system is undeniably impressive and the world they've built is full of high quality set pieces and special effects. However as a ride I was underwhelmed by the experience which seemed to end before it could even get going.

    The problem can best be defined by two moments on the ride. The first is inside as the trains fly overhead, Shortly followed by the second around the helix over the river. Both moments are preceded with nice sudden moments of acceleration, really making use of the unique ride system. Then suddenly the ride stops! not a complete stop but it slows to a crawl, killing the momentum. It's unfortunate that the second time this happens is the last section of the ride, signalling the rides end just as it was getting exciting.

    For a while I was completely perplexed as to why the ride would do this. I know Arthur is a family ride but the trains were already travelling at speed and the track is banked in a way that suggests the speed is going to be maintained. The strange thing is my parents had been on park Christmas 2016* and absolutely loved Arthur, but when I asked them they didn't recall any moments like this. Then it hit me! I'd watched the ride testing 4 years earlier and noticed a train stop in this exact location.

    [​IMG]

    Being a powered coaster there is no need for traditional block points but I suspect that given the Mack's desire to maximise throughput the ride is probably running too many trains. To keep them spaced evenly through the ride I'm willing to bet some sections had to be slowed down. This wouldn't be a problem over Christmas but at the end of summer, during a last burst of good weather I could see this being the case.
    Regardless of if my prediction is true or not I do think the ride would be better running less trains and maintain a bit more momentum like Alpenexpress does next door. Ideally that whole final outdoor section should be taken at speed, only slowing as the train re-enters the building. The experience would be so much better if it did!
    ****

    * Footnote: I mentioned that my parents visited back in 2016. I should note they are not theme park fans and only used to visit parks with me. However they love Europa so much they'll stop by if they are in the area!
    They also loved to let me know they got on Arthur before me... I expect the same to happen with the CanCan Coaster!

    Actually I can't be too bitter about missing CanCan because If I had visited any later I'd have missed the last night of this year's summer show; Colossal: il viaggio per Rulantica.
    I love good projection mapping. Two years ago me and my girlfriend shared the most amazing experience sitting under Animal Kingdoms tree of life for almost an hour, watching the animals come to life! This show was not quite as mesmerising but effective in its own right. There's something insanely cool standing in the centre of Colosseo and watching the projections surround you. I highly recommend checking it out on YouTube, now it is no longer running. My only real critic is that unlike previous Colosseo shows this one was all about the projections. there were some dancers and a great Violin solo but having previously seen horses gallop through the Hotel and Gladiators topple the Coliseum it would have been cool to see more practical elements included.

    From one Rulatinca show to another, this time Rulantica - The Musical! Me and my girlfriend love musicals (only a few weeks until Hamilton! Woop!) so we were curious as to how well this would hold up. Pretty well all things considered.
    Our biggest concern was the language barrier. Thankfully this was not a problem as TV screens mounted at either side of the stage give a basic synopsis of each event as it happens (sometimes to our amusement slightly before they've happened) in English and French. You obviously won't get the full experience unless you speak German but we never lost the plot.
    At 45 minutes the show lasts long enough to tell a complete story without taking up too much of the day, made even better if like us you catch a show that ends after the parks closure.
    Most importantly the music is good and the songs are appealing. Certainly something different to see at a Theme Park!

    I will say though that as much as I'm looking forward to Rulantica I think the cross-promotion has gone over the top! At the time of our visits there were two shows, an entire preview centre (including the re-purposed Historama as a 3rd show!) and merchandise everywhere. That's not even mentioning the massive entry portal and sign outside the construction site. The fans might love it but I was conscious of the four first timers we had with us who were expecting a hard sale... unless it was coming from me of course.

    I briefly want to mention the other shows. Paddington on Ice is fun and colourful but not the most impressive Ice Show we've seen. Definitely the kid friendly show for this year's line-up, as it was mostly over the top comedy with only a few impressive stunts. Times - The Show however was a real surprise as we were mesmerised all the way through. Finally a great show in The Globe! The Dark Prince is as always a great show for people that love horses. Jousting was this year's headline act but I also enjoyed the slightly unconventional story that had us routing for the bad guy! It's worth noting that Europa have an impressive number of rare horse breeds which I'm informed they are only allowed to keep because of their high standard of animal welfare.

    This just leaves two new attractions I wanted to experience. Madame Freudenreich Curiosités is bizarre, but oddly right up my street. The ride could best be summed up with a sketch in the queue which showed a snake swallowing some large mammal, creating a dinosaur. Mind blown! Bonus points; the ederley lady reminds me of my own grandma.

    But I've saved the best for last...

    Voletarium:
    Is a fantastic ride. Honestly I was blown away.

    By a strange coincidence when Europa officially announced Project V as a flying theatre I was in Florida, about to ride Soarin' for the first time. "Soarin' Around the World" to be precise, which had only debuted several months earlier. Soarin' was good, I enjoyed ridding it but looking back I wouldn't consider it a highlight of the trip. Voletarium however I absolutely adore. Let me try and explain why:

    For starters there is the queue, a beautiful blend of old world architecture reminiscent of Universal's Wizarding World and rich with the world building details I loved from Disney's Expedition Everest. The first room even has vibes of Hex as well as having one of the coolest animatronics I've ever seen. I refer to the drone which bounces around overhead. For those of you who have seen it you may be asking "how is that one of the greatest animatronics? you can clearly see the wires!"... Trust me I know a thing or two about Animation and the logistics of building something that can fluidly glide just out of reach of a stationary crowd below is quite the accomplishment!
    Further in there's also a lovely peppers ghost effect blended with real would animation. Not to mention a labyrinth of hidden detail I only discovered when the curtains to the extension queue were opened on returning for a second ride.

    The pre-boarding video also found a way to be more immersive. Rather than using TV screen the video is projected onto a gauze. The effect, while simple, added another layer of depth to the image. It helps that I love the eccentric professor that runs the attraction (search Die Erstflug Theorie on YouTube and you'll see what I mean) and having a Eurowings air hostess do the safety briefing works perfectly.

    As we arrive at the ride this was the first time I had my doubts. On both our rides we were sent to the top floor and I couldn't help immediately notice that the screen is not a dome, but stops at the ceiling. I genuinely thought this would be an immersion breaker but once the ride starts I was surprised to find that the motion base is so convincing I barely even noticed. It was as if the roof was moving with us like the underside of a giant airship (If they wanted to really go next level with the theme that would be a wonderful detail to add).

    By this point I was already in love with the ride, I haven't even mentioned the music which does a great job of building the mood. The only question I had left was how it would compare to the standards Disney set with Soarin'. Honestly very well! Starting the ride in space as the carriages emerge into the screen is a grand opening for a ride that won me over with its up-close and personal approach. I loved the choice of filming locations (especially Iceland which I had only recently visited). Unlike Disney's version which tries too hard to visit every wonder of the world Voletarium favours lesser known and local venues that I felt had more personality to them. I hear that the original "Soarin' over California" took a similar approach but sadly I never had chance to experience it. The transitions from scene to scene also felt more natural. There's a mix of clever cuts and cross fades which didn't become predictable and distracting. Anyone who's been on Soarin' Around the World will know about the scene to scene guessing game that foreshadows the end of each scene.

    Overall Voletarium is a great ride. It's transformed the park's entrance into an area that finally feels worth visiting. It even makes use of the main gift shop. If Voletarium is a showcase of what's to come we have a lot to look forward too!
    *****
     
    Posted 19th Sep 2018
    #3
  4. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

    Messages:
    7,143
    Likes Received:
    11,740
    Location:
    Staffordshire
    Favourite Ride:
    Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
    I think from a theming/experience point of view, Voletarium is one of the strongest attractions in Europe.

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
     
    Tim likes this.
    Posted 20th Sep 2018
    #4
  5. Tim

    Tim TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    2,356
    Likes Received:
    2,075
    Location:
    Cambridge
    Favourite Ride:
    Air / Blue Fire
    Agreed. I'd been told the queue was good before I visited but I'd expected something similar to Wodan. Voletarium goes beyond that, it almost feels real, like the building has an actual history.
     
    AstroDan likes this.
    Posted 20th Sep 2018
    #5
  6. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

    Messages:
    11,006
    Likes Received:
    15,212
    Location:
    Leicestershire
    Favourite Ride:
    Steel Vengeance
    I'm glad that you enjoyed Voletarium, your thoughts on it seem to match mine perfectly.

    Regarding Arthur, was it slowing down/stopping on that turn over the water for you all of the time? I know that it can slow down there depending on the spacing of the trains but more often than not when I have ridden Arthur this has not happened and it maintains speed. Needless to say it is much better when that whole section is taken at speed and it only slows down for the ORP and re-entry in to the building.

    :)
     
    GeorgeT and Tim like this.
    Posted 21st Sep 2018
    #6
  7. Tim

    Tim TowersStreet Member

    Messages:
    2,356
    Likes Received:
    2,075
    Location:
    Cambridge
    Favourite Ride:
    Air / Blue Fire
    We only managed to ride Arthur twice (so much else to do). Both times it slowed but didn’t stop. I have however seen it stop there on numourous videos.

    That is excellent news if it normally doesn’t slow so much. I have no doubt I’ll be back on it again one day so will reserve judgment until then.
     
    GeorgeT likes this.
    Posted 21st Sep 2018
    #7
  8. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

    Messages:
    7,143
    Likes Received:
    11,740
    Location:
    Staffordshire
    Favourite Ride:
    Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
    It always slows down once it gets over the river. It's just what it does, really.
     
    Tim likes this.
    Posted 22nd Sep 2018
    #8

Share This Page