Day 5 – Jacquou Parc
What a burden this place was. We arrived for opening to join a reasonably sized queue of guests lining up to buy entrance tickets. It moved incredibly slowly, though not covid related as there was a man moving up and down the queue scanning qr codes as he went along, so it was purely on the speed of two ticket windows that we didn’t get inside the park until an hour after it first opened.
The first thing we came across was #1 Sombrero, a highly questionable coaster at best. You can spin the car as you go around, just like a teacups ride, which is rather novel and makes up for the terrible speed of the layout.
And by the time we had finished one attraction and walked over to the spinning mouse, one of the ride hosts had come down the queue and closed it for ‘lunch time’ right in our faces, 10 minutes before the time advertised on the sign and a mere half an hour after those amongst the ‘first guests’ had even been on park. A small disgruntled queue of various families immediately formed behind us in unified dismay at this act and all proceeded to give the evils to the staff member and shout that it wasn’t even 12:00 yet. He looked visibly nervous and shifty about what he’d just done, but wouldn’t change his stance on the matter.
#2 Speedy Gonzales the worm (mouse?) across the way was still open for business, so we got that out of the way.
Now, because of the 90-minute lunchtime closure, there was literally nothing to do but leave the place and entertain ourselves with a 15 minute rally stage each way to get our own lunch, wasting time until we could complete the poxy park.
A different operator eventually reopened #3 Crazy Coaster, no doubt saving his colleague from the many disgruntled guests who now had it in for him. He was back on station exit though, still looking super guilty about it.
Turns out that shambles was probably my 1000th steel coaster as well, a distinction I’ve never bothered kept track of. Bah.
Next up was this much nicer establishment in the recreational area of a small, scenic town. It was a little confusing to navigate, with the first point of entry having only a small stall at which you could seemingly only buy ride wristbands, while having absolutely no attractions in sight and with no indication that pay-per-ride was also an option.
After a long uphill slog of a journey (don’t go downhill, there’s nothing there but extra walking), things become a bit clearer and there are two locations amongst the attractions at which you can buy the jetons you need for any ride.
The only ride we were after was #4 Cacahuète Express, Soquet’s most recent build after a hiatus of 7 years, an unpainted powered coaster with a donkey on the train.
Kicks Jacquou Parcs ass.
They also have real donkeys, not in hats, though I tried to improvise one someone who’s a fan of that type of thing.
Finally we moved on to another major establishment for the evening, again taking advantage of some heavily discounted late entry tickets.
As the name would suggest, this park is themed entirely to volcanoes, inspired primarily by being situated in France’s volcanic region, which is also where Volvic water comes from. The recent opening of their debut coaster of course put them on our radar for the first time and it was that which we headed to first.
#5 Namazu revolves around a seismological research expedition and is another of Intamin’s quadbike based family launch coasters.
The pre-show is amazing, taking place in this well detailed room.
There’s three possible outcomes for the video footage you get onscreen (always a nice touch for rerideability), each based on a different region of seismic activity (France, Turkey & Japan). They also come with different explanations of what’s going on underneath the surface with these cool holograms.
Oh, but the best part is that the whole room goes dark, sirens go off, the floor shakes and vibrates, part of the roof collapses, all to simulate you being caught up in the earthquake.
One of the team members manages to get the emergency power back on and you enter the station.
The ride itself begins with an indoor turn into a cavern, where the same team member greets you on screen. The cavern begins to collapse and pow! drop track.
From there you’re launched out into the turnaround over the plaza, followed by a hill and some twisty moments.
As it winds its way back alongside the queueline you hit the second launch running, propelling you further up the hillside.
This part really focuses on a decent section of fast and sharp transitions before the final brakes, some of which have a surprising whip to them for a family ride.
It’s a much more cohesive experience from start to finish, while also being far better as an actual rollercoaster than the disappointments of Objectif Mars the previous day. Again it’s a little on the short side, particularly for being multi-launch, but what it does do is really very good. The underdog wins and I couldn’t be happier for it.
With that success under our belts it was time to check out what the rest of the park had to offer. With Namazu being the outlying ride, up in the fields and trees, the remainder of the attractions all revolve around a central building hub of multiple floors accessed via lifts or stairs.
We begin with Volcans Sacrés, a trackless dark ride.
Sure it’s a little on the educational side, looking at how volcanoes are perceived by different cultures around the world, but it’s really well done.
The car moves you from scene to scene, getting really up close and personal with each setting and story. Extra effects come into play like bursts of heat and animated props which all add a nice touch.
The final room is fantastic, you get to perform a dance of death with this dedicated trackless vehicle, to the tune of some threatening tribal music. I love it when these ride systems get used in innovative and captivating ways (looking at you, Bazyliszek).
On the same floor is Premier Envol, a flying theatre with a twist.
The vehicles are all standup platforms where at best you get a rail to lean on, at worst you’re left to your own sense of balance. They tilt quite a bit as things go along, following various impressive birds as they fly over the volcanic regions of France.
A refreshingly different experience and one that’s far less pretentious than certain theatres that I shan’t name.
Dragon Ride 2 is a recently updated and refurbished cinema with simulator seats. It’s now got a little preshow and the story follows a guy who is trying to collect various elemental dragons. S’alright.
The day ended on another big night-time show. It had literally everything they could throw at it, from rising volcanoes to fireworks, from a live guitarist to circus performers, from massive neon dragons to glow in the dark dance troupes.
For me it was a bit much, rather hard to follow and went on a little too long, with some really noticeable peaks and troughs in the quality of the spectacle, but it had a good atmosphere throughout.
Overall I was a fan of the park. It had a very relaxed vibe, in a nice settting, with a strong starter pack of rides that can hopefully grow even further over time. That and I’ve always liked volcanoes and stuff.