Today we’d be temporarily leaving France and heading into Andorra to ride 2 alpine coasters, the World’s longest and the other one.
We didn’t initially plan to ride any other coasters today but this was quickly rectified when we discovered that a park on route had a Chinese caterpillar up for grabs.
Never before in my life have I gone from fearing arrest to feeling the most welcome you could possibly feel as quickly as the time I visited Anatolia Parc.
You know that feeling you get when you shouldn’t be somewhere? That was exactly what I was feeling as we parked up in a small gravel car park and slowly edged our way towards the above pictured entrance building of Anatolia Parc. If L’Île aux Géants felt exclusively for children, which it did, this was another level, not at all helped by the fact you couldn’t see any rides from outside of the park.
Thankfully almost instantly the tone would change.
While going through the process of purchasing tickets from a slightly confused woman, an absolute hero of a man walked over, we shall name him Mr Anatolia. We are certain he was the owner and he knew exactly why we were here. “Have you come to test my coaster?”, we have indeed! He then instructed us to enter the park and make our way to the coaster.
Soon after we arrived, we watched Mr Anatolia power over to us ride keys in hand and soon we were riding his admittedly rather kick ass Chinese caterpillar.
After our ride we had a little chat with him about the recent parks we’d visited and where we were heading next. He was interested to hear our thoughts on Namazu and happy to tell us that he would be visiting Andorra soon too.
We left the park buzzing from how much of a gentleman Mr Anatolia was and how well what could have been an awkward experience went.
Right, onto Andorra now, but not before stopping off just one more time I promise…
On our route to Andorra we’d be passing over the tallest bridge in the World, the Millau Viaduct and it felt wrong not to give it a little bit of attention.
For once in our lives we listened to a tourist guide in order to find out where the best place to view the bridge was. It ended up being a a small village in the valley and from there we got amazing views of this incredible piece of engineering while surrounded by stunning scenery and beautiful old buildings. Oh and then the second Rafael of the trip came hurtling through the valley and suddenly this was the best detour ever.
Now we are actually going to Andorra.
Thanks to the World being against us traffic wise, which is a recurring theme for the trip, when we finally arrived in Andorra it was too late to go ride either of the two alpine coasters, so we opted to do some research in person at the site of Andorra’s lesser alpine coaster.
We pulled up at Mon(t) Magic Family Park, or at least the cable car station that takes you to the park and tried to figure out how the whole thing worked. All we wanted was 3 return tickets for the cable car and 3 tickets for the alpine coaster at the top, simple right?
Well we couldn’t figure it out. The information boards and leaflets only mentioned various expensive packages and that’s not what we wanted. So we asked the lady behind the counter, who only made us more confused. Right, never mind, we can just check the website tonight…
After a spot of sight seeing, yeah Andorra is pretty stunning, we made our way to the hotel to do our alpine coaster research before going to bed and falling asleep to the sound of the stream behind the hotel.
Knowing today was going to be time critical, we arrived at Naturland, formerly Naturlandia, at opening and it was a good thing we did because we took the last parking space in the rather feeble car park, before making our way up to the park itself.
Naturland is split into 2 different parks at 2 different altitudes, with the only way to get between them a drive up and down a mountain road. The majority of the attractions are located at the lower of the 2 parks though, including the only reason we came, Tobotronc, the World’s longest alpine coaster.
We joined a massive queue to buy tickets and keeping in tradition for this trip we were immediately getting intensely sunburnt in a queue devoid of any shade.
There was a man walking up and down the queue with an iPad, giving out information and selling tickets in an attempt to get through the line faster. When he came over to us we told him what we wanted, “3 for Tobotronc please”, his response however was not what we wanted to hear, “I’ll have to check but I think you need to book online for the Tobotronc”. He then walked over to the ticket counter, spoke to a woman and then came back to us, “yeah, you needed to book online for Tobotronc, you can’t buy a ticket for just Tobotronc today”. He then went onto explain that the only way we could ride the alpine coaster today would be to buy a 1 go on every attraction package ticket that cost 35 pounds each. Oh and he couldn’t sell it from the iPad, we’d need to keep getting sunburnt before we could get robbed.
As mentioned earlier, last night we had gone on the Naturlandia (at the time) website and did our research, primarily into how much it was going to cost us, 6 or 8 pound each for just Tobotronc if I remember rightly. There was nothing at all about having to book online if you just wanted the alpine coaster. Yes there was a page where you could book slots for it but it said it was only needed to guarantee you a ride during busy times. It was also no use to us because the next available slot was in 3 days..
We’d pretty much come to Andorra with the promise of riding the World’s longest alpine coaster and it seemed unlikely that we’d return any time soon, this left us with no option really, we’d have to set ourselves up for robbery. The park weren’t making this decision feel any less dirty though…
When we got to the counter we figured that we’d have nothing to lose in trying again to get just 3 tickets to Tobotronc, big mistake. For this, the woman behind the counter started ranting at us, not even stopping when we said, “yes we understand, sell us the package then”.
Not only had we just been robbed and insulted, we were now going to be late on a very time sensitive day thanks to being given a time slot to ride Tobotronc that was over an hour away, I’m starting to think this isn’t a very nice park…
Well, what can we use our 35 pound ticket on to pass the time? Nothing apparently. There was only 1 attraction of interest to us, dirt buggies round a snail pace course, but this had a queue moving slower than the buggies themselves, meaning we would have easily missed our Tobotronc slot.
Far later than anyone could have expected, it was finally time to ride the mighty Tobotronc, the longest alpine coaster in the World.
It is definitely fair to split the Tobotronc experience into 2 halves, the 5,577 foot lift and the 11,811 foot decent.
The lift, which takes almost exactly 12 minutes to climb is honestly almost as good as the ride back down. It is the perfect combination of relaxing (as you breathe in the mountain air and float past some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen) and terrifying (as you think to yourself how can we still be climbing, this can’t be real).
Then it’s time for the trip back down the mountain and I think I’m about to upset some people. Don’t get me wrong, it is fantastic, but I don’t think it brought anything else to the table that other great Wiegand alpines haven’t already, other than repetition. I certainly wouldn’t put the descent section of Tobotronc above that of the amazing Hasenhorn Coaster. Also the length, combined with Andorrans being less exciting than Germans meant catching up to the rider infront was inevitable.
I’m very grateful to have ridden it, even OK with paying 35 pounds this time, there is no way I’d pay that again for repeat rides though.
Now let’s get out of this rip off park…
It was time to go ride Andorra’s other alpine coaster, the one at Mon(t) Magic Family Park, would we be able to make sense of it this time? It turns out it didn’t matter if we did…
What had we learnt on the website last night? 2 things. That the alpine coaster itself was rather feeble, a 10th of the length of Tobotronc and that there was possibly a deal where you could get a package for just the cable car and the alpine coaster, but it was very vague.
We rocked up, parked in our scouted car park from last night and then once again made the lengthy walk to the cable car station. A walk I had to make twice, because I left my mask in the car…
Walking in, knowing exactly what we wanted and not settling for anything less, we made our way to the ticket counter. We were not prepared to be tricked into buying an expensive package for an average looking alpine coaster on a mountain. Then it happened…
It was Andorra’s turn to enter the saga of the medical mask.
We all approached the counter. All wearing our masks. The same masks we had been wearing all trip. We stood on the floor marking 1.5 metres from the counter. All for the woman behind the security glass to point at Heartline and in the rudest way possible explain that he wasn’t wearing a mask…
Already late, knowing that we’d probably be scammed into buying some expensive package, that the alpine coaster itself wasn’t going to be great and now being spoken to like that, it was time to leave and never look back.
Now let’s get out of this rip off country…
Lou Bac Mountain
And straight back into the sweet embrace of France, on a very pretty drive to Lou Bac Mountain.
What a novelty it was to see a sign on the ticket office window clearly displaying the very reasonable prices of a one way trip on the cable car and the alpine coaster.
Luge Lou Bac Mountain
Before even getting to ride this beast of an alpine coaster I was already in love with its crazy operations.
Firstly, they load the empty coaster cars into the cable car with you, which I thought was amazing.
Then when they reach the top, they put them onto an incredibly over engineered transfer system to get them over to the loading positition.
Enough about the operations, how was the coaster? Well, it’s my new favourite alpine coaster ever and that’s coming from a man who rode Tobotronc a couple of hours ago.
Technically a Sunkid but basically a Brandauer, this coaster rectifies everything that was wrong with Clézy Gliss (another Brandauer) and amplifies everything that was great about it.
As you can see in the photo above, booster back rests are used when only 1 rider is present. This pushes you forward in your seat, positioning the controls perfectly for the insanity that’s about to come.
And my God the insanity…
Remember that I said the single rail and smaller less weighty cars of Clézy Gliss made it feel unsafe in the best sort of way? The layout of Luge Lou Bac Mountain, with that level of insecurity made for some truly terrifying moments. I was into double digits of doubting my safety on this thing and loving every second of it.
Never before on an alpine coaster have I had to slow down in fear of actually coming out the car, it was ridiculous.
Speaking of ridiculous, look at that brake run! Who designed this thing? What else have they designed? Move over Wiegand, Brandauer and Sunkid are the new kings of this game.
Thanks to the misfortune that was Andorra we were now actually ahead of schedule before tonight’s run of Summer Funfairs, meaning we could take it easy on route to Pirat’ Parc.
Just after opening we arrived at the first of many of the Summer Funfairs we had in store tonight, Pirat’ Parc.
I must warn you that as the night draws on my memories are probably going to get more and more blurry, I can’t lie tonight was rather intense.
Pirat’ Parc felt the least like a fun fair out of the all the Summer Funfairs we experienced and I think the themed entrance and park wide token system helped to make it feel that way.
The first coaster of the night was Gold Mine, 1 of only 2 Reverchon custom coasters in the World. For reference the other one is Tigre de Sibérie at Le Pal, which I’ve also ridden.
Bragging aside, Gold Mine was great fun, helped massively by the fantastic ride operator who was trying his best to get the party started. This included but was not limited to, blasting party tunes, excessive use of a smoke machine and breaking into dance, a great start to our night.
Up next was Mini Racer, a single car twisty wild mouse kind of coaster, from manufacturer unknown. Though if you asked me to guess I’d say I.E. Park were responsible, responsible for almost killing us. Yeah this thing was insanely brutal and I’m not sure if I enjoyed it or not.
After literally walking through a wedding photoshoot taking place at Pirat’ Parc (which is totally something I’d do) we arrived at Cars. We were not however ready for what we were about to experience.
We noticed while watching the coaster, which looked a lot like one we’d ridden in Korea, that on its second lap it stopped for a short while on its enclosed brake run. Was that just part of it’s operations or does something happen in there?
During our first lap this brake run area just looked like a metal tunnel, so imagine our surprise when we entered it a second time, the doors closed and things happened. I seriously don’t want to ruin the surprise but it’s fair to say that it turned this janky kids coaster into something really memorable.
Sadly we’d end up saving the least interesting coaster until last.
And onto the next one…
Parc d’Attractions Marseillan-Plage
Parc d’Attractions Marseillan-Plage was next and was home to a coaster I was genuinely afraid of riding.
But before that it was time to ride the 3rd (I think) Zyklon Galaxi of the trip.
Much like how night times and being wrecked make spinning mouses 10 times more intense, the same applied to this lazily named coaster.
Somehow Gotham, formerly Tornado from M&Ds, was even more intimidating in person. This coaster literally ran away from us before we had the chance to go and ride it and now it was me who was contemplating the very same.
Credit where it is due, in its current setting, the coaster does look rather impressive. It towers over the rest of the park and the new paint scheme, at least at night, looked great.
I’m putting it off aren’t I? Let’s go ride it.
To my surprise it wasn’t too bad, but I did go in expecting to be destroyed and was riding as defensively as humanly possible. I’ve certainly ridden worse but I wouldn’t line up for a re-ride any time soon.
This Wacky Worm was unnecessarily difficult to buy jutons (tokens) for. Instead of having a pay box located outside of the ride, the coaster was located in an area where all the rides (mostly childrens) shared a ticket counter and jutons. Don’t worry though, another fun fair later in the trip takes this stupid idea and makes it even more difficult.
It was about now that I completely lost track of what was happening and where I was.
Didn’t we just ride this at the last park?
It was while waiting to dispatch in the station of the park’s Vekoma Corkscrew that my brain officially checked out. The bright lights and loud music of these fairs are great at first but when you’re this worn out they are basically torture.
I spent the whole layout shouting “where’s the bayerncurve?!”, then it punched me in the face to announce its arrival.
Past midnight now. Hey look, another Wacky Worm…
I was pretty much the walking dead by the time we arrived at Fabrikus World.
Which made the spinning mouse one of the most intense experiences of my entire life, we span so much it was unreal.
Another park, another stupid Vekoma, this time without a bayerncurve. This thing was riding awful, a real slog to endure, so of course they sent it round twice…
Even in my completely ruined state I was able to appreciate the quality of this custom Mack powered coaster.
The 4th Wacky Worm of the very long day (is this some kind of twisted record?) meant we were now able to leave the flashing lights and loud music and return broken but triumphant to our hotel rooms, ready to do it all again in less than 24 hours…
Thanks for reading this very long instalment of my trip report, I couldn’t think of a better way to do it. Click here for the next one, where we visit Piratland, Parc Spirou Provence and Amigoland.