Europe 08/21 – Jacquou Parc, Parc Fenestre + Vulcania
Today began with what was meant to be a short visit to Jacquou Parc, a small park seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
Things were off to a strong and very loud start thanks to a French Airforce Rafale performing a low pass right next to the park as soon as we got out of the car. Sadly this would be the only thing worth remembering from the park.
Ears ringing and adrenaline flowing we now joined a massive queue to buy tickets, a queue that was barely moving and had nowhere to hide from the blistering sun. The park only had 2 ticket counters to deal with the rabble of people and the staff inside of them were moving at the speed of erosion.
Once we finally made it into the park we first stumbled upon Sombrero, a coaster(?) that felt questionable in almost every way imaginable.
After a quick toilet stop we next made our way over to the back of the park where they keep their other 2 coasters, a Wacky Worm and a spinning mouse.
On approach to the spinning mouse the operator closed the queueline in our faces and we immediately knew what was going on.
The coaster was scheduled to close at 12 for lunch and he was being extremely cheeky with that rule. It was currently just before 11:30 and he was closing the queue now to make sure he could leave at exactly 12. The thing was though, there was nowhere near half an hours worth of people in the queue…
At first we stood at the closed queue sign and kept trying to get his attention, expecting him at any moment to notice that he didn’t have a half hour queue to clear and to wave us through. It wasn’t working though, he was trying his best to ignore us, looking guilty and ashamed but unwilling to do anything about it.
Other people were clearly upset too, and can you blame them? Like us they got here for opening, queued forever to get in, rode maybe one ride and now they were closing rides in your face, it was actually insulting.
We decided our best plan for redemption would be to complete the park now, sans the mouse, then be the first people in the queue when it reopened.
Completing the park would be easy, all that was left was the Wacky Worm, where a much nicer operator was positioned, one who actually cared about the paying customers.
Well, we’ve got 90 minutes to kill, fancy some lunch?
The nearest shop was about 20 minutes away, we had time to spare though and the drive there was great fun, there are some advantages to being in the middle of nowhere.
Five minutes before the queue of the spinning mouse was due to reopen we arrived and immediately took our place at the front.
We had hoped the same operator that closed the queue in our faces would be the one who would drop the chain and taste our discontent, but sadly the nice operator from the Wacky Worm took that responsibility and we can’t be mad at him.
Now let’s get out of here.
Clearly running late now, we needed to complete our visit to Parc Fenestre as quickly as possible. Yeah that didn’t happen…
The park was nothing like we were expecting, this became clear when the sat nav ended its guidance at a car park in the middle of a pretty town. So we parked up, next to an abandoned cable car station and continued on foot.
There was a faded park map at the bottom of a set of stairs, so we climbed them assuming it would take us straight into the park, nope. At the top there was a station for a miniature train, a ticket office selling I’m not sure what and absolutely nothing else.
We were fairly certain the park was free entry and went with the logic that the ticket office was probably for the train, so we continued walking in search of other attractions.
Soon the path we were on opened up into a massive wooded park area with no indication of which way to go. At first we headed left because we saw a building that from a distance looked like the Haunted Mansion, it wasn’t and it turned out this way led us back into the town.
Next we headed right and after walking a considerable distance through more beautiful scenery found a less faded and up to date park map, we were heading in the right direction but weren’t even halfway there.
When we finally arrived at Parc Fenestre we noticed 2 things immediately, that the train we saw earlier would have taken us straight to the park and that the park itself was really busy.
We powered straight to coaster to find out how many jutons (tokens) it required and then consulted yet another park map to see where we could purchase them. There were four places if my memory serves me right, a hut that was closed, the exit of the actual Haunted Mansion, that ticket office we saw when we first entered and the hook a duck stall, which is the one we opted for.
Jutons in hand it was finally time to experience the newest Soquet in the World, Cacahuète Express. This powered coaster was great fun, smooth, forceful and full of charm. Not only did I have the pleasure of sliding about in my seat over multiple laps, my phone decided to join me. On 2 seperate occasions it slid out of my pocket, onto the seat and then almost out the side of the car, nothing can resist the power of Soquet.
Time to finally get back on the road and head to Vulcania now, but not before interacting with donkeys that were literally chilling in the ride area of the nearby car ride, I think I like Parc Fenestre.
Vulcania isn’t just themed to volcanoes and how amazing they are, it is actually located in an area that used to be full of volcanic activity. This meant the final leg of the drive to the park was absolutely spectacular, with beautiful scenery on display in every direction. What really blew my mind though is that we drove past the volcano that’s printed on the Volvic bottles. It was crazy to think that the volcano from the label I stare at when I’m bored at work was now right there infront of me.
Despite losing time at seemingly every opportunity today the first thing we did when we arrived was sit on a bench outside the park and watch K-Pop videos. This was because when we arrived we noticed the park had a cheap evening ticket just like Futuroscope and you bet we were going to get that discount.
When it was finally time we purchased our cheap evening tickets from a friendly lady and made our way into the park.
Vulcania’s layout is really fun but also really hard to explain properly, I’ve been and I still don’t fully understand it. Instead of confusing us both it’s easier just to say that the park is split into several floors. The highest floor is the outside section, which is home to Namazu. Every other floor is in a big central building that’s built into the ground.
Speaking of Namazu…
After getting lost, see I told you the layout was fun, we arrived at Intamin’s newest Family Launch Coaster.
Namazu immediately wins points from me for its theme which manages to be both educational and mythological. The coaster is themed to earthquakes in general but also leans into Japanese mythology, with the Namazu name being shared with a giant catfish who brings earthquakes to Japan when he’s not kept in line.
After a small outdoor queue next to the second launch you head inside the lab, where after another short queue you enter Namazu’s awesome preshow.
This preshow has 4 different sequences it can show you, based on 4 different real life earthquakes, which all had different characteristics. Namazu isn’t content with just explaining how those earthquakes went down though, you get to experience them for yourself, minus the massive destruction of course. I loved it, it was interesting to learn about the different types of earthquakes and the earthquake effect the room uses is really quite effective.
Next it’s onto the ride station, which still had that new Intamin smell to it.
Namazu begins with a drop track section, exactly like Objectif Mars should have. It isn’t anywhere near as forceful as Objectif Mars’ drop track but it is one of the nicest themed drop sections I’ve ever seen on a coaster, themed to experiencing an earthquake while being inside of a cave.
After the drop you hit a small dip before rolling into the first launch of the coaster. The launch is quite punchy and sends you into the first section of Namazu which is great twisty floaty fun.
Just before you have time to question “is that all you’ve got Namazu?” you hit the second launch of the coaster and things are taken up another notch.
While it doesn’t suddenly start kicking your ass like Juvelen does after its second launch, this added boost in speed makes the second and final section of Namazu great fun. The twisty bits throw you about nicely, the floaty bits get a little more aggressive and now you are treated to nice positive moments too.
If you couldn’t tell I’m quite the fan of Namazu and I don’t want to imagine what the park would have been like before it’s addition in mid 2021.
Before we move on I’d just like to show you the view you are presented with when looking back towards the rest of the park from the Namazu entrance area.
Stunning isn’t it?
Next we headed into the central building that houses the majority of the park’s attractions and took the elevator to the floor that’s home to Volcans sacrés, Vulcania’s only true dark ride.
Volcans sacrés is a trackless dark ride that’s themed to volcanoes, but more specifically the relationship different cultures around the World have with volcanoes. It’s full of animatronics, special effects and tons of heart. I really enjoyed it, especially a moment near the end of the ride where the trackless system is put to full effect in one of the greatest moments I’ve ever seen on a dark ride.
Premier envol was the next attraction we headed to and I’m disappointed to say it was rather crap.
The attraction is a 4D cinema of sorts that takes you on a flight with a bunch of eagles. Issues arise from the fact the ride film is pretty boring and simulation effects come in the form of a moving platform you’re standing on that gently tilts you from side to side and isn’t all that relevant to what’s being shown on the screen.
Thinking we had now ridden everything we wanted, we went for a few more laps on Namazu before grabbing something to eat.
Nearing the end of our makeshift meal Heartline suddenly jumped up and ushered us over to the open elevator. When we asked what was going on, he could only reply with the statement “Dragon Ride 2”.
Dragon Ride 2
Somehow both me and Heartline had missed the existence of Dragon Ride 2 in our trip research and it wasn’t on either of our to do lists. I had seen the name for the first time earlier on a souvenir coin and at that moment had foolishly guessed that it must be the name of a previous attraction at the park.
The legend and existence of Dragon Ride 2 was coming to life before our very eyes and it left us with many questions.
What happened to Dragon Ride 1?
Was it personal this time?
And most importantly what the hell is Dragon Ride 2?
It’s a pretty crap 4D cinema…
We didn’t want our night to end on that disappointment, so we made a spur of the moment decision to sprint up many stairs for 1 more go on Volcans sacrés. Heartline managed to make it into the queueline seconds before it closed, me and his wife were not so lucky, but thanks to an amazing member of staff we were all able to enter the queue and be the last riders of the day on this awesome dark ride.
The only thing left to do now was to head outside and watch the park’s night time show, which they were billing as a pyrotechnics spectacular.
This meant taking a seat with thousands of other people in a ghetto makeshift grandstand which was unnerving on both counts of it collapsing or giving us covid.
I don’t want to be too negative because I did enjoy it, much more than Futuroscope infact, but it wasnt really what I had in mind. More pyros and less gyrating neon dragons next time please.
I enjoyed my visit to Vulcania, it’s always nice to experience something a little different from time to time, even more so when you’re 5 days into a 3 week coaster holiday. Namazu and Volcans sacrés were great and the park in general had a nice atmosphere throughout, which combined with friendly staff and stunning views made for a great time.
Thanks for reading, click here for the next part of my report, where we visit Anatolia Parc, Naturland(ia), Lou Bac Moutain, Pirat’ Parc, Parc d’Attractions Marseillan-Plage, Lunapark and Fabrikus World.