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Europa Park, 29th June - 2nd July 2009
eyeamthu1
post Jul 8 2009, 2:02 PM
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Just back from a 4-day trip to Europa Park. This trip was a long time coming, as I'd heard such good things about the park – the lure of the new Blue Fire coaster finally convinced me to book the trip… and indeed, Europa Park didn't disappoint. I wouldn't go as far to say it's absolutely amazing or that it's a 'You Must Get Over There As Soon As You Possibly Can' park, but it certainly is very very good and there is absolutely tons to do there – definitely one of the best options for a theme park break in Europe. I'd label most of the rides as either 'good' or 'unique', and a select few as 'very good' – once more, not earth-shattering – but still very good. The park is really pleasant; nicely themed and landscaped, and superbly run.

Only my brother and I went – we got the horribly early flight from Stansted to Baden Airpark. Ryanair was on-time and cheap, but queues for the 'bag-drop' bordered on ridiculous, and actually meant that we boarded during the flight's final call. Baden Airpark was much more efficient – and the minibus transfer to the park was there waiting as planned. This journey was fairly quick, and we were at the resort by 11:30am.


We were staying in the Tipidorf, which is cheap, very nicely themed and well pulled-off… but it's basically a glorified youth hostel. This suited us fine, as all we really needed was a bed for the night – but be warned – that's all it is. You sleep in a tipi with potentially a few other people. This wasn't as bad as I had initially feared – to be honest, most nights I was so tired that I dropped off instantly. The Tipidorf has a good atmosphere too; it's really nice at dusk with the campfires when the weather cools off a bit. I'd really recommend the Tipidorf if you are doing a trip on the cheap, and literally only need a bed for the night… and I'd imagine it'd be great fun if you were with a bigger group of people. Also, the food there is really nice and good value.

We spent the afternoon of the first day checking everything out rather than going into the park. Walked the 15-20mins to the proper hotels, which looked really nice and well-themed. The Santa Isabel pool was easy to 'scab' into (as you're not strictly supposed to be there) and provided some welcome relief from the intensely hot weather. Colosseo seemed the nicest hotel – there's a lively central area with a decent bar, fountains and a cool mock-up of the Colosseum. We also checked out the rooftop bar in another hotel another night – the Andaluz perhaps – this was a cool place to chill out. Walked back to Tipidorf through the local town, Rust, which doesn't seem to have much to it, aside from one or two restaurants.


The next day, we began our 3-day assault on Europa Park. I'll try and condense the 3 days down to a summary and review of the rides and park as a whole. As I've already mentioned though - the weather was ridiculous. Insanely hot and scorchingly sunny – had to stop for a drinks break at the toilets after every ride. The park seemed quite busy – perhaps a few school trips around – but we rarely queued more than 30mins for anything – and that was only for Silver Star or mainly Blue Fire, the two big rides. This is due to most of the rides having a very high capacity, and the ride operators achieving an incredible throughput. Also, no ride breakdowns at all. This is how a park should be run. Only on the last day did it get a little too busy, with the Blue Fire queue going over an hour. Also worth noting that the queues for front seats get ridiculously long – so either get to those rides first, or face a huge wait.

As I've said, the park was really nicely presented; nice 'general' theming and 'architecture', and some really beautifully landscaped areas of the park further away from the main rides. There seems to be a lot of care taken with the park's presentation: I noticed a lightbulb on one of Silver Star's starting lights wasn't working, but by the next day, it had been replaced. Also, even the toilets are themed. The park is massive and there's a lot of walking to be done… I also took a while to get my bearings which is quite odd for me at a theme park, but I guess that's because Europa Park is massive. Food-wise, there were a few good options… all fairly well priced too. Ticket cost – we used Tesco vouchers and ECC discount, so that our 3 days on the park only cost us 58 Euros each.


Right, let's get to the ride reviews, and we'll start with the big two: Silver Star and Blue Fire. I'd rate both as a solid 8/10 – I don't think either is amazing enough to really threaten any Top 10 lists of the world's best coasters… but both are really great fun, and if they were built in the UK, would definitely be amongst the best – probably Top 5 or even Top 3. The flaw of each ride is the lack of intensity – they're both highly enjoyable, but you come off without that feeling of 'whoa, I've really just been through something', which you get on rides such as Nemesis and Stealth. I did prefer Silver Star, marginally. I wasn't 'disappointed' in Blue Fire at all, and this isn't a negative review of it at all – but I don't think it's in that elusive 9/10 bracket which some people have placed it in. I'd actually rate Black Mamba above both rides.


Blue Fire looks stunning, with a striking blue against the grey, craggy rock structures, which really add a lot to the ride. The queue is annoyingly wide, encouraging queue jumping, which seems to be rather prevalent amongst Germany's youth. Along with the visuals, the ride's strongest point is its trains. Whilst resembling Intamin trains, these are far superior – a clever comfortable lap-bar restraint, which despite being lowered from above the head, goes nowhere to restricting upper body freedom. It holds you in securely but still feels comfy, roomy and unrestrictive. The seats are also raised, so that your feet don't touch the train's floor, thus providing a floorless-style experience. The pulse-meters on the restraints would be a nice touch – as would the on-ride videos – but disappointingly, neither seemed to be working very well, and certainly not consistently.

The pre-ride segment is kind of pointless, but a nice touch I guess. The launch is well pulled-off, with sound and smoke effects, but whilst not disappointing, is certainly more in the league of Rock'n'RollerCoaster rather than an Intamin Accelerator. Likewise, the next element – a top-hat / overbank turn combo – is odd; fun, but lacking the intensity of the normal Intamin top-hat element. The dive down into the loop is great with awesome rock placement, providing one of the best head chopper effects around. There's a good turn out of the loop and some decent pops of air around the mid-course brakes. The next 2 inversions, forming a horseshoe-style element, are well-paced with some equally well-placed rock theming adding to the visual impact. The airtime hill lacks any real power, but the final inline twist is exceptional, and the ride's best part – you're out of the seat the whole time – totally insane.

Other than that, the ride lacks intensity, and that's its only real downfall, and the reason why in my opinion, it can't be classed as a top, top ride. I think Maverick at Cedar Point is the ride's best comparison, but this is nowhere near as good – Maverick is a totally insane, wild ride; Blue Fire on the other hand is super-smooth and feels rather controlled - you don't come off with that feeling that you've just been 'through something'. It's JUST a whole lotta fun. Which isn't a bad thing. I guess that's the ride's primary purpose, and the designers have gone all-out with that notion, with all the superb added visuals on the launch, and with the craggy rock scenery. To that end, this really is a front-seat ride… but beware the massive queue you'll have to endure for those sought-after seats – but worth it!


Silver Star is in my opinion, slightly superior, as it offers a little more in the way of forces – still high on the all-important fun factor, but still lacking that extra special degree of intensity. Silver Star's capacity is incredible, and aside from queuing for the front seats, you won't have to wait too long for this great ride. As expected from B&M, the seats are really comfy and the restraints allow you a lot of freedom; likewise, the ride itself is obviously really smooth. The first drop is nice, but lacks some of the power of other B&M Hypers I've been on, and certainly some Intamins… I suppose it's due to a shallower angle of descent. The ride from here-on-in is one massive floater-airtime fest. It's not that ejector airtime you get on Rita's first hill for example, but there's a huge sustained spell of floater airtime over every hill – a good 3-4 seconds of it, I'd say.

Again, this makes the ride fairly 'gentle' for a hypercoaster – it again lacks that intensity – but it still delivers bucketloads in the fun factor. There are trim brakes on the ride, and I've been on B&M Mega coasters where these have killed the ride (Apollo's Chariot had them on REALLY strong) – but these didn't impact negatively on the ride's pacing, and I didn't really notice them at all. I think if you had the trains going much faster over the hills, the ride would be almost too insane – I was already out of my seat on the crest of the hills, and didn't float back down into it until the next drop bottomed out. So yeh, Silver Star was a whole lot of fun, and in my opinion, just edges Blue Fire.


Other coaster-reviews now, I guess:
Eurosat – odd. Unbelievable that there's that much track crammed into an apparently tiny space. The ride was kinda rough too and didn't do much for me.


Euro-Mir – odd. The lift and pre-drop segment is so weird and drawn out – the actual coaster bit is decent, if not a little rough. Unfortunately also, on my three goes, I ended up facing backwards for the majority of the coaster segment, and I don't think this really added to my enjoyment, and I found it a tad nauseating.

Alpen-Express – a powered mine-train. Probably the surprise hit of the park, and definitely the best of this type of ride I've been on. Nice layout, a great section in the dark with a cool head-chopper effect, and also nice interaction with the surrounding rides. A hidden gem.

Matterhorn-Blitz – decent wild mouse, worth it for the unique vertical lift-hill, although the rest of the ride hardly warrants the queue this thing gets (it's low capacity for a Europa Park ride!). We bizarrely managed to get two goes in a row on this, despite there being a queue – they just kind of forgot to let us off when we returned to the station, and moved the car immediately forward toward the lift-hill again.

Bobsleigh – decent, fun Bobsleigh ride – nothing too special, and certainly very short.

Pegasus – decent family coaster

And then onto the two 'debatable' coasters, which could be called water rides. Atlantica SuperSplash really does stretch the definition of a roller coaster, despite RCDB listing it as one… whereas Poseidon does have an extended coaster-like section. Poseidon was my 300th coaster, and I thought it was great; probably the third best attraction in the park. I wouldn't say it's incredible, but as a water ride, it's near-enough the whole package. The whole area is really well pulled-off and nicely themed – the coaster segment is short but fun – the drops are entertaining, particularly the final one. Also, it doesn't get you soaked, but rather cools you off with just a spray of water – which is good. I'd say Stormforce 10 is at a stretch, the ride's best comparison – a long, themed, varied water ride. Real good.

Atlantica SuperSplash was, when you've got Poseidon in the same park, a waste of space. I just didn't really get it. Sure, it looks stunning and it's worth a ride, but if you've already got Poseidon, I just don't understand why Europa Park have wasted such a huge area of land by building basically a shorter, inferior version of Poseidon on it. Atlantica has this backwards drop segment, which is so small it's pointless... and aside from that, its drop is nearly exactly the same as Poseidon's final drop, only not as well pulled-off with regard to head-choppers / interaction etc. I just didn't get it. The Log Flume nearby is much much better and another surprise hit. The Rapids are also fairly decent as far as rapids go.


Europa Park doesn't have many 'traditional' flat-rides, as I'd call them… in fact, neither did Phantasialand (other than Talocan) – so the ride line-up is bolstered by other outdoor relaxing 'track' rides – vintage cars, boat rides etc. and indoor dark rides, such as a decent Pirates ride and a Haunted House. There's also Football Scooter which could have been really great and unique, had they tried to properly implement the scoring of goals element into the ride… but instead it was just a normal dodgems. Then there's a Pirate ship, and a very easy to miss yet worthwhile attraction – Cassandra's Curse, which is basically a smaller version of Hex. However, there are a few extra surprises in here which add quite a bit. Although Hex is definitely my favourite version of this type of ride, I'd love to see a park chain such as Disney or Universal go all out on one of these rides, and just install a ton of effects on it – could be so, so good.


Also caught a couple of shows while we were there… I'm not really into my shows, and think of them as more of a chance to get out of the sun, chill out and eat some lunch! But I suppose these were decent shows overall. Their settings are great, particularly the arena in Spain where the 'Duel of the Brothers' show is held. I didn't see the musical show in the Globe Theatre, but really really wanted to go in the building at least to see the theatre – it looked great. Duel of the Brothers was decent, but spent a bit too much time on the 'humour' side of things. Magia was the same, and should have had more magic! Saw a laser show thing which was kind of interesting… and then a 4D show, which was odd as it didn't feature a lot of the traditional tricks of 4D shows (so lost out a bit), but did try out some things I haven't experienced before.


Right… I've gone on long enough. I think that's about it for my trip report and review. Overall, I'd highly recommend Europa Park for a short theme park break in Europe. It's easy-ish to get to, if you can stand the early flights, and there is plenty to do there, making a three or more day trip perfectly viable. There are loads of rides, the park is massive – most rides offer something very different to rides found in most other parks… a few of the rides are really very good, although I'd say that nothing is 'out of this world' in Europa Park – nothing totally blew me away. The park as a whole is very nicely themed and looks stunning; and better than all of that, it is run absolutely superbly – top marks for ride reliability, capacity and throughput. I'm not sure I have been to a park which scores higher on those fronts, including Disney parks. So yeh, overall, I suppose it's the complete package... aside from the fact that it just lacks – in my opinion – that one absolutely incredible blows-your-socks-off ride. Blue Fire doesn't disappoint by any means – but like Silver Star, it lacks that necessary degree of intensity and out-of-control feeling which you experience on the world's best rides… but both nonetheless deliver fun by the bucketload.


Having done almost three entire days in the park, and with a ride count of 75, we left the resort at 6:30pm, returning to Baden Airpark and ultimately leaving Stansted at 11pm, with a three hour drive home ahead of us! Thanks for reading - I'd just like to thank anyone who's helped me with the planning of this trip, namely Jayne and especially Dan (AstroDan) who provided me with a lot of info not only in the initial stages of trip-planning but also with some of the harder to find, insider tips. Cheers!



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andy talocanham
post Jul 8 2009, 4:33 PM
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Hiya

Sounded like an excellent trip. In terms of the pools at the Hotels, you can get access to ALL the pools and the Spa area if you pay a deposit of 10 Euros for a towel and key card. And believe me its well worth it.

Bluefire i was highly dissappointed with, it felt slow to me, the best parts were the barroll roles, you get some great air time however the rest of it bored me to tears, and the most annoying thing again for me was the queue line as you commented on. As a group of 6, we managed to all spread out and prevent people cutting in front.

Eurosat: I know its rough but its amazing, that was my favourite ride by miles. As i said while i was there, "its nice to get a good kickin from a coaster", espically if you go at the back.

I do love Europa Park, the hotels and the resort has an amazing feel. I am not sure which park i pefer, Europa or Phantasaland. With Phantasa having Black Mamba, Talocan etc, i feel it offers more 'extreme' rides while Europa offers a more family friendly approach.


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AstroDan
post Jul 8 2009, 6:00 PM
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Certainly some more "middle of the road" Blue Fire reviews coming back thick and fast now - people seem to absolutely adore it or just think it's OK - seems to be dependent on what people are after I guess. For me, the ride was just the most free I have ever felt on a coaster, literally hanging from the restraints on all the inversions.

Glad you had a good time! Europa-Park will never (at least, I very much doubt) install a ride that is simply designed to scare the pants off you - it's just not on their agenda. However, in terms of the park operationally, EP is about the best I have been to.

Glad it was fun.

smile.gif

This post has been edited by AstroDan: Jul 8 2009, 6:01 PM


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