France 07/17 – Parc Saint Paul + Parc Astérix
There’s a few parks in Europe we always considered going to for what seemed like forever. Parc Astérix is actually pretty close to home, if your home happens to be in the south of England so it seemed silly to have been to all these far flung places without trying a couple more ‘local’ parks with supposedly very decent lineups.
And with this thought, the summer channel tunnel tradition was born. Had enough of that flying faff.
Day 1 – Parc Saint Paul
This little gem of a park was on the way down to the main event. Thanks to the Sat Nav, we ended up unnecessarily in the overflow car par. A few other cars had done the same and were beginning to figure things out, but we’d made our bed and sucked up the longer walk. The quirkiness of this place begins at the gate, where the 8ft tall security guards are checking guests bags. That night I was haunted by dreams of being too tall for creds.
Started off with #1 Pomme, one for Merlin – world’s first Wacky Worm with fog machine. Spectacular theming on this ride, wish a few other parks would put a little effort into disguising their inferior hardware like this. Plohn.
Are Pax rides consistently crazy? Yes they are.
Being a shared lap bar on Wild Train, I made the statement “I’ve got some clearance here” as we crested the lift in the back seat. Some entertainingly substantial ejection followed moments later.
They underestimate themselves by having seatbelts in the back row but not the front. It’s an equally wild ride at both ends and a lot of fun, perfectly blurring the line between poorly built and deservedly intense.
Got a +1 on a spinning wild mouse, #3 Une Souris Verte.
I couldnt quite work out what I was looking at from the car park in terms of the track for the other Pax in the park. The only thing I knew going into this ride was that it had crashed in the past.
Impatiently pacing tigers in a small cage next to the ride seemed quite fitting for the daredevil attitude of this hardware. It was a unique experience, but being a bit like a wild mouse in pacing, perhaps not as good as their other one in the park.
Got a +1 on #5 Mini Mouse Cartoon (not Tuff Tuff To-get) while discussing the many ways in which swinging from a pole on a piece of playground equipment, breaking a leg and being carried off is not a cred, though some consider it to be. (Yes, we saw that happen).
I assume Vekoma were trying to counteract the Paxness of this park when they did the design for #6 Aérotrain. Their junior coasters are far from the best of rides anyway, but something was seriously off with the uneventful layout of this one.
Loved this park, sits well inside the realms of friendly, quirky, interesting and not at all busy so you can really get the most out of half a day there.
In a change to the original billing, we decided to utilise both some extra long opening hours and their one-shot fastrack system to make sure this place didn’t screw us over. Turns out we didn’t need those hours at all…
As promised, guns at the entrance to the park and much confusion as to where to pick up the fastrack from.
Somehow ended up at Vol Don’t care first.
Highlight: Didn’t break down on us. Did later.
Lowlight: Almost broke down on us. Block brakes took it to about 1Mph.
Keen to test my French, the info man nearby obliged with the French words “Zeus, Left and Photo” which I worked out to be Zeus, Left and Photo.
Picked up fastrack where Zeus left his photos and immediately went to see what #8 Tonnere de Zeus had to offer. I think my bag had a better time of it than I did, as it was forced onto the ride with me. The experience was all a bit underwhelming in the moment, but it’s slowly improving in my mind the more I think about it since. It’s got length, I’ll give it that.
Highlight: A couple of corners I like to call the thigh wobblers.
Lowlight: A couple of corners I like to call why do these exist.
The notorious Vekoma looper is back on 2 trains thankfully. Really don’t see the issue with this thing, seems I laugh in the face of these rides people call awful. Just strap yourself in and feel the Gs.
Highlight: Shouting about how alright the ride was as it hit a wonky corner and my bag goes flying across the floor of the car.
Lowlight: So much unjustified hate.
#10 Pégase Express is a good little ride with a fair amount of entertainment going on. You get quite a substantial journey out of it over the course of its many sections and it was a pleasant surprise not knowing much about this Gerstlauer family launch coaster.
Highlight: Some train duelling going on with forwards and backwards cycles running at the same time.
Lowlight: The bag policy started to bother me here. They’ve had some automatic dispensers installed in the station but don’t bother to use them. I’m now expecting to ride a B&M Invert with a bag wrapped round my foot…
Which may have made Ozlris more interesting.
This thing didn’t deliver for me at all. To start with, it didn’t really impress me visually. Started in what should have been the best place – the outside seat at the back, on which the first drop gave me one swift baffes – French for punch to the head (so that’s more than Goudurix) and then it had a severely uncharacteristic rattle to it and did absolutely nothing interesting. It had weird tracking moments after the loop and after one of the many corners over mud (so that’s more than Goudurix). We both left the station and stood outside for a while thinking, not wanting to breach the subject to each other – “did this ride just kill B&M?”
Gave it another chance later on an inside seat and it didn’t ride quite as crap or as boring. Half decent at best. Not what I wanted to be saying though.
Highlight: Queue was quite good?
Lowlight: I won’t say any more.
#12 SOS Numérobis (SOS El Nombre to me)
Lowlight: I dunno, some jab at Ozlris being in the vicinity.
Rounded off the coasters in the park with #13 Trace Du Hourra (a Trail of Hurray). Good name for a cred run, we actually broke a new record for ourselves with most creds in a day here.
One of the weaker Mack bobsleds. Didn’t get the theme.
Highlight: Super efficient ride operations, haven’t praised them enough yet.
Lowlight: Bag saga continues with the restraint trying to snap my phone in half upon exiting the ride.
Used the fastrack on Menhir Express the log flume for a laugh. It was my kind of messed up, with the weird rapid-like sections halfway down a tube sending waves over the side of the boat and then the surprise drop feature. A little too much French sweat in my mouth though.
Did the Madhouse, Le Défi de César at some point in all that and it was brilliant. Bit of a slow burner at the start of the preshows, but the fountain room was really great and I loved finally seeing a different take on the technology for the actual ride. It was very refreshing to see the screens on the wall and the swinging of the seats used to emulate the movement of a boat as opposed to a million other ‘it’s a room with some spooky stuff going on’ versions.
Narrowly avoided becoming part of a Samba (not the last time i’ll be saying that on this trip) in the form of a parade that was coming towards us and took shelter in a pizza restaurant to eat pizza and contemplate the park…
It’s alright I guess.
There’s a much better atmosphere than I was expecting and the operations are impressively quick. I suppose I just didn’t expect it be a one and done park.
Since I knew of its existence, I’ve pictured it as quite a significant park on the theming and ride front, but there’s nothing at all now that makes me specifically want to come back for another visit. I had more fun on the mad house and the log flume than any of the coasters, and that doesn’t sit right somehow.
Best ride might have been Zeus as we wanted to give it another chance, but the queue was an hour long and trailing well out of the entrance before and after pizza, then it broke down. Couldn’t be bothered in the end and left the park early for some well needed rest.