Belgium 10/21 – Bellewaerde + Plopsa Coo by Mega-Lite

Less than 3 weeks after our epic 3 week Europe trip (which you can read about here) it was once again time to get up too early and make our way to the Chunnel.

The main goal of the trip was to visit Walibi Belgium and ride Kondaa, a goal that was not possible during our mega trip due to the park being closed for months after severe flooding in July.

The park was set to reopen this weekend and we figured why not add a couple of other parks on and really make something out of it.

Day 1

Call it Kondaa excitement, but for some reason I was barely able to sleep the night before the trip, meaning our already early start was even more unwelcome. This did have the advantage of putting me in a dream like state during the first day of the trip though, which I think may have been a good thing.

Bellewaerde

The first park of the day and trip was Bellewaerde, a park that me and Heartline had previously visited in 2017 and not thought very highly of.

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I don’t want to get too carried away this early in the report but it appears not only Plopsaland De Panne has improved since our last visit but instead the entire country’s park scene. Whenever I’d exclaim “when did Belgium get good man?” to Heartline he’d always reply the same, “1st July 2021”, the day Ride to Happiness opened.

Bengal Rapid River

So it turned out during our 2017 visit that we missed a few attractions that are apparently Bellewaerde staples, so in order to keep the World happy we checked out some of these attractions today.

The first of which was Bengal Rapid River, a Vekoma rapids ride, and fair play to the critics, it was good fun, aided massively by the funky segmented boats.

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Wakala

Next up however was the real reason for our visit, the park’s brand new Gerstlauer Family Coaster, Wakala.

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As you’d expect from a Gerst Family Coaster, it was great, but I think the park deserve a lot of praise for just how impressive the ride as a whole is presented.

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The soundtrack is fun, the theming looks great, as do the station, trains and queueline, the spike over the water looks fantastic, the location amongst the trees is a treat, hell, I even like the colour choices for the track and supports.

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It was about now that I asked aloud, “when did this park get good?”, oh yeah, 1st July 2021.

Het Magische Huis van Houdini

After a leisurely stroll around the admittedly very pretty park we came upon a ride that had been eluding us for a while now, Houdini’s Madhouse.

We missed it last time we visited, we missed it a couple of times in the US, but now it was finally time.

Despite not understanding the plot at all (90% language barrier, 10% no really what the hell is happening?) I thought it was alright, a mid tier Madhouse maybe, that’s still a good compliment.

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Jungle Mission

Finally, on the new to us list, was another ride that people were upset we missed in 2017, Jungle Mission.

Jungle Mission is like a combination of Disney’s Jungle Cruise (without the skipper) and a river safari, and it was great fun. Live animals, special effects and animatronics, what’s not to like?

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Huracan

The final attraction we chose to experience would be our only re-ride of the day, Huracan, the park’s custom Zierer Force.

Me and Heartline both knew we enjoyed it in 2017 but were unsure if we’d got the best out of it due to rushing and being upset with the park at the time.

It turned out we were right, because Huracan is in fact great fun and is a coin flip away from being the best coaster at the park versus Wakala.

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With that we were done with Bellewaerde and what a massive improvement today’s visit had been against our 2017 one. Operations were great, staff were friendly, the park looked fantastic, Wakala exceeded my expectations, the rides we missed before were great and it was awesome to experience Huracan as it was intended.

This time I filled out all the forms we needed to come home tomorrow on the drive from Bellewaerde to Plopsa Coo, I’m so glad this is a thing of the past, but it did make the drive fly by.

Plopsa Coo

We had planned to visit Plopsa Coo on our mega trip 3 weeks ago, but thanks to the park changing the day we wanted to visit to a private event while we were on the trip, we were unable to.

Now I’m not quite sure what I was expecting the park to be like, but small, mostly empty and located in a stunning location wasn’t it.

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The park had also been a victim of flooding in July, thankfully though they were not as badly affected as Walibi. It comes as no suprise really when this beautiful sight was on the park’s doorstep.

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Vicky The Ride

After flashing our passes to a friendly lady at admissions, we entered the park and immediately made our way to the park’s Gerstlauer spinner, Vicky The Ride.

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I’ve yet to ride one of these (Gekion Live excluded) that is better than “fine”, and Vicky was no exception. I do really like the design of the station building however.

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DinoSplash

Heartline, in a stroke of genius, decided it would be funny to try out the insane looking blue slide (see below) of DinoSplash. Neither of us understood the complicated weight restrictions displayed so just decided to wing it and ride together, leading to an honestly terrifying but extremely fun ride.

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Halvar

Next it was time to check out the park’s star attraction and my second ever (out of the 4 in the World) Vekoma MK-700, Halvar.

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While it’s no Megablitz (Wiener Prater), Halvar was great fun and a nice sit down as you speed around amongst the trees single file on this terrain coaster.

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Bobsleigh

Well, looks like we’ve completed the park already, do you fancy a ride on the Bobsleigh? Sure.

This was even more intense than the water slide…

Too much responsibility was put in the hands of the rider, which in my case is never the right decision.

So you pick up your collapsible Bobsleigh at the bottom of the hill, I swear I picked up the kids sized one. Then you sit on it, which I’m certain I was doing wrong. Before you’re pulled up the hill by some sketchy cable system, all while my Bobsleigh keeps trying to fold in half again and is repeatedly bouncing off the sides of the trough. It was the perfect combination of so funny I couldn’t breathe but also “oh God I’m going to die.”

Thankfully on the race down the hill the situation had slightly improved, which of course led me to going full speed, which almost led to me dying several times.

All in all, a fantastic experience from start to finish.

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And the perfect ending to a very enjoyable visit to Plopsa Coo, “damn man, when did Belgium get good?” “1st July 2021.”

Thank you for reading, click here for day 2 of my trip report, where we ride the incredible Kondaa and Walibi Belgium becomes one of my favourite parks in Europe.


Europe 09/21 – Holiday Park + Wild und Freizeitpark Klotten

Day 23

Here it is then, the final day of an over 3 week super holiday flying around Europe, because none of the rest of the World wanted us. I know I say this every time but this trip easily goes down as one of the best ever and I’d had an incredible time visiting loads of new parks and revisiting old favourites.

Almost as punishment for having such a great time though, the final day of the trip didn’t exactly live up to expectations.

Holiday Park

The day started with a revisit to Holiday Park.

It turns out I never wrote a trip report of my first visit in 2016, but it’s fair to say I’ve never really been a fan of the park. The too long didn’t read summary would play out as such…

Rude staff, not a great atmosphere, they didn’t want to run Expedition GeForce leading us to cut a day short at Europa Park to return and the ride line up without GeForce isn’t good.

Today though, things would be even worse…

Warning! This is going to get ultra descriptive and ranty, but trust me it needs to.

We arrived at the park entrance and much like at some of the other expensive chain parks (Magic Park Land + Jacquou Parc) we got burnt to a crisp in the slow moving completely unshaded cattle pen queue.

During this slow moving queue I’d been reading the Covid safety signs that were everywhere in the entrance plaza. You must wear “a face covering” at all times indoors and while queuing for and experiencing the attractions. You didn’t need to wear “a face covering” while just strolling around in the park.

I bring your attention once more to the phrase, “a face covering”, because it was for this reason I wore my standard mask I’d been wearing all trip. Had they said here that a medical mask was required I would have got one out of the car, exactly like at Phantasialand.

The reason the queue had been moving so slowly is they were checking Covid vaccination certifcates at the front. You were given a wristband for showing one and this enabled you to visit indoor attractions and the shops.

Me and Heartline were given the all clear and a wristband from a man at the front of the queue, all while I’m still wearing my normal mask.

Tabalugas Achterbahn

This wristband enabled us to ride the park’s (new to us) indoor coaster, Tabalugas Achterbahn.

The staff member at the entrance of the building nodded and waved us inside at the sight of our wristbands and soon we were at the coaster, where the operator once again checked our wristbands before letting us on, oh and I’m still wearing the same face mask by the way.

I make this the 6th Zierer Force Two that I’ve ridden, I’m not proud.

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Then it was time for the big one, the reason we’d even returned, the (once) incredible Expedition GeForce.

We strolled over to the ride, I’m buzzing to get back on (what used to be) one of my favourite coasters in the World.

The queue is moving slowly, of course, this is Holiday Park, what do you expect?

When we got to the station stairs though it was clear why things were moving so slowly. One of the two members of staff running the ride was being an absolute word I can’t say here, getting into arguments with everyone for everything and just generally throwing his weight around, thus completely killing the already awful throughput of the ride.

Then it was my turn, for both the final chapter in the medical mask saga and to the face the wrath of this idiot.

I’m standing at the airgates, the coaster train is rounding the final bend in its return to the station and then it happens.

“You’re not wearing a mask”.

“I am”.

“Yeah, but it’s not a medical mask.”

“It doesn’t say anything about needing to wear a medical mask at the park entrance”.

“It’s the law.”

“I’ve worn this same mask countless days in Germany and no one has once said that.”

“It’s the law, you can’t ride the coaster.”

“I’ve literally just ridden Tabalugas indoors and I’ve been given a wristband to say I’m good, are you saying your other staff members have done wrong?”

“It’s the law, you’ll have to leave, get a mask and then come back to ride.” He points as though he wants me to leave back through the queue while wearing my apparently unsafe mask.

“So I’m safe to walk back through the queue but not to ride the roller coaster?” He panics slightly.

“No… you can walk through the coaster, but you can’t ride.”

With that, I left.

I went to guest services, both to get a mask and question what had just happened.

The lady inside gave me a mask and although she agreed my normal mask was fine she wasn’t all that interested in hearing me complain about the idiot over at GeForce.

Expedition GeForce

All medical masked up now I returned to the coaster.

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I caught Heartline on his way mid mini marathon.

“You all sorted now?”

“Yeah man.”

“You haven’t missed much, it’s running bad.”

And he was not wrong…

Almost 7 months later (yes I’m slow at trip reports) and I still can’t 100 percent be sure what the exact cause was, but to say Expedition GeForce plummeted out of my top 25 would be an understatement.

I pin the blame halfway between the coaster itself running no where near how it ran in 2016 and the fact I’ve ridden over 800 coasters since.

Either way, it was real poor. The airtime moments were now meh and the boring stuff inbetween was even more boring.

Just to add insult to injury, upon my return to the coaster, I noticed many guests not wearing medical masks and some not wearing any at all…

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After 2 laps I’d had enough, both of what’s left of Expedition GeForce, and the park itself.

With that, it was time to leave, but even that’s too much for Holiday Park.

We got back to park entrance but couldn’t see any way to exit. People were pouring in through all the turnstyles, the exit gates were locked and the staff were ignoring us as we stood there.

So we walked into guest services, where we were blanked again and once again found no exit.

With no other option we just powered back through the turnstyles into the sea of people, with the staff still ignoring us…

Let’s get the hell out of here.

For the record I’ve emailed the park countless times now asking them to justify any of the crap we faced that day and so far (7 months later) I haven’t recieved anything, not even an insincere apology.

Wild und Freizeitpark Klotten

The 2nd park of the day and the final of the trip would be a park that’s been the butt of many jokes ever since I started taking travelling seriously. “They went all that way for just a Gerst Bob?!” Well today was our turn, but in our defence they have now added a dark ride…

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I think it’s fair to say the park has a rather special setting, perfect for calming down after the shambles that was Holiday Park.

After a rare bit of language related miscomunciation, we purchased our tickets and made our way into the park.

Just after you passed through the turnstyle, but just too far away to see when you are buying tickets was a hand drawn information sign, which was informing vistors that today the dark ride would not be in operation, dirty.

There was nothing at all in the ticket area or on the ticket window itself, nothing on the website and the lady at the desk didn’t tell us anything to that effect, Klotten are happy to take your money before telling you what’s operating apparently…

We stood at the sign for a while seriously contemplating walking back to the desk and asking for a refund, in the end though we decided to press on.

Heiße Fahrt

And head straight to the aforementioned Gerstlauer Bobsled, Heiße Fahrt.

Klotten need to count themselves damn lucky that Heiße Fahrt is as good as it is, because thanks to this coaster alone I almost forgive the park for their dirty tactics.

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This trip had the ongoing joke that every Gerstlauer Bobsled we rode was the best yet, well, with the expection of Van Helsing, Heiße Fahrt is the best in the World.

I think the picture below speaks a thousand words but this coaster goes way harder than I thought the hardware allowed. It’s a truly out of control experience, that feels like it’s going way too fast, throwing you around far too much, oh and then there’s actual freaking amazing airtime, which for a Gerst Bob is insane.

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Don’t take my word as proof though, or even the above picture, ask Heartline, who managed to lose his hat on the ride in circumstances that still puzzle us to this day.

Zum Rittersturz

With the dark ride closed, the only other attraction worth riding in the park was Zum Rittersturz, the park’s giant elevator lift flume ride.

The ride was better than I expected to be fair, it featured a small indoors section which was fun, the drop itself was great and thankfully we didn’t get too wet.

On our way to exit we spoke to the lady at the admissions desk about how we might be able to get the hat back, not even Google translate could help make sense of what was being spoken however.

Upon returning home and emailing the park in German, we got a response saying that many black hats are lost daily and we are welcome to come back and search through the box of black hats to find Heartline’s, 7 months later and I’m still not sure if this is parody or not. At least we got a response however, unlike Holiday Park…

Then it was time to head back to the Chunnel and back to reality, at least for a couple of weeks.

Thank you so much for reading.


Europe 09/21 – Fraispertuis City

Day 22

Today was the penultimate peril, and what better way to spend it than popping back into the place where it all started (France) and visiting a park that had become a bit of a legend.

Fraispertuis City

Fraispertuis had been on the cards, and then removed, countless times over the last few years, but now, today, it was finally time to experience one of France’s most elusive parks.

Call it me wanting to be extra positive because it was the second to last day of the trip, call it me being in a good mood because I hit 900 credits here, call it my broken body enjoying a slightly slower park visit, call it what you want, but I really enjoyed my visit to Fraispertuis today.

In my head I had visions of Fraispertuis being a bit like Parc Spirou, in other words, very busy, very hot and rather unpleasant to exist in. Thankfully though, as we arrived in the very empty and rather damp car park it became clear that this wouldn’t be the case. This was further confirmed when we were welcomed into the park by the friendly staff working at admissions.

Timber Drop

First up was the park’s nicely themed El Loco, Timber Drop.

This would be the 3rd one of these that I’ve ridden and by this point they do absolutely nothing for me, at least Timber Drop is nice to look at.

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Ronde des Rondins

Next up was Ronde des Rondins, which was just next door to (and probably more fun than) Timber Drop.

I think you can clearly see here too that Fraispertuis is a rather pretty park.

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Grand Canyon

We saved the best coaster for last though, my 900th coaster, the best coaster at the park, the last Soquet of the trip, the amazing, Grand Canyon.

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Grand Canyon might honestly be one of the best Soquets ever built. It isn’t content with you just sliding around in your seat like most other Soquets, oh no, Grand Canyon is determined to throw you about in all directions, including a very unexpected moment of vicious ejector airtime. Combine this madness with nice theming, an awesome looking train and headchoppers and I’m proud to have this coaster as one of my milestones.

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Thanks to the park being empty, we had finished all the coasters in about 20 minutes. So in order to get the most out of the park we decided we’d try some of their other attractions.

Golden Driller

Starting with the rather terrifying Intamin drop tower, Golden Driller.

This 200+ foot tall tower ride gives you 4 different options for how you’d like to experience your terror, normal sitting, sitting and tilting, standing and tilting and sitting uncomfortably legs dangling and tilting.

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I was only brave enough to try the 2 sitting options but I really enjoyed it, the views up there are pretty special and this style of Intamin drop tower always delivers a powerful drop.

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Cactus

The last attraction we chose to experience at the park was the Cactus.

This drop tower, manufactured by BEAR, had a very different way of instilling terror in its riders. Instead of taking you up hundreds of feet and then dropping you back to Earth, the Cactus instead features “a trick” during the ride sequence where the entire gondola violently tilts. It was honestly terrifying, even more so for the men on board, but so funny that I find it hard not to recommend riding it if you have the time.

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With that we were finished with Fraispertuis, and what a nice visit it had been, friendly staff, nice atmosphere, fun rides and a beautiful setting, it certainly went some way in giving France the send off it deserved for all the quality time we had spent there this trip.

Then it was time for a revenge mission…

Heartline had taken it personally that we’d failed to ride the chocolate dark ride at the Swiss Museum of Transport 11 days ago thanks to most of Europe now being roadworks. This caused him to basically rearrange the second half of the trip in order to return, and today was that day.

A 3 hour drive from Fraispertuis took us back to Lucerne, and to the museum, this time with plenty of hours left in their operating day.

We exchanged our vouchers (the only evidence of our previous failure) and were given a time slot to ride.

Swiss Chocolate Adventure

After being given a digital translator (which didn’t work very well), we travelled down in an industrial sized elevator to the basement level where you board the ride.

How was it then?

The ride system itself was almost exactly the same as other massive trackless dark rides, think Rise of the Resistance or Symbolica. So the technology itself was very impressive and easy to appreciate.

As for the actual experience though, to put it simply, it wasn’t for me. I should have known going in, being that it’s part of a Museum, but the ride itself quite literally plays out like a Museum on wheels, very expensive and impressive wheels.

Nothing takes advantage of the trackless ride system, the sets (mostly screens) could be experienced exactly the same on foot, I guess the only advantage of being on the ride is saving time walking to the next set.

It wasn’t all for nothing though as they do give you some free? chocolate at the end, which instantly wins my approval.

Either way, we’d ridden it now and our revenge tour was a success.

High on chocolate and the strongest cola I’ve ever experienced (at the cost of a remortgage in the gift shop), I spent almost half of the very long drive back to Germany filling in all of the various forms the 3 of us needed to return home tomorrow.

We weren’t done yet though.

Thanks for reading, click here for the final day of this epic trip report, where we witness the death of Expedition GeForce, I get very angry at Holiday Park and Heartline loses his hat at Klotten.


Europe 09/21 – Movie Park Germany

Day 21

3 weeks into the trip now and it was time to pay a revisit to Movie Park Germany, continuing our quest of riding all of Europe’s new Intamins.

On our last visit in 2017, despite the park and its attractions not blowing me away, I still walked away with a good opinion of the park. It turns out the park is quite consistent in this because today would go down the exact same way.

Movie Park Germany

Exactly like last time, we arrived in the car park to the smell of sewage and the sight of a rusting SLC, this time though we knew the park was more than just this awful first impression.

Studio Tour

Once inside we made our way straight to Studio Tour, the aforementioned new Intamin. I know they had to because the show building was located there, but Studio Tour’s location in the park is really strange, hidden in the far right of the park, behind the children’s area.

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Let’s get it out of the way early, if you were to judge the park’s newest investment as just the roller coaster ride system used, which you shouldn’t, then you’d probably walk away pretty disappointed. It’s fairly tame, rather short and really could have benefitted from the use of a drop track.

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If you are able to appreciate Studio Tour as a full package though, then you’re going to have a great time on this highly themed, charming, complex family coaster on a wacky journey around the Movie Park Studios. You’ll have an even better experience if, unlike me, you are aware of the park’s history, because they have gone to great efforts to throw in loads of ‘easter eggs’ for the fans which is pretty awesome.

Is it the best coaster at the park? No, but it is an excellent addition to a park that even now feels like it needs more things to do.

Excalibur – Secrets of the Dark Forest

Next up was a ride on the recently(ish) rethemed rapids.

I’m happy to say when changing the ride from Mystery River to Excalibur that 70% of the great theming survived, as did 60% of the character. Regardless it’s still a great example of an Intamin rapids and well worth riding.

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Van Helsing’s Factory

Then it was time to reunite with an old favourite.

You know how during this trip report I’ve been finding the greatest Gerstlauer Bobsled yet on a regular basis? Well you need to exclude Van Helsing from that discussion (let’s go with the logic that it’s fully enclosed) because it is the greatest Gerstlauer Bobsled ever made, is the park’s best coaster and I love it.

I loved it before, but somehow experience has made this thing even better. How they managed to make something this insane that doesn’t crack 30 feet tall or 30 mph is ridiculous. Heavily themed, an amazing soundtrack and stupidly intense, Van Helsing is amazing.

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Star Trek: Operation Enterprise

This made me feel a little bit sad.

I may have let my inner Mack fanboy sway my opinion when I first rode and ranked Star Trek: Operation Enterprise. That or somehow it’s now riding considerably worse than in 2017? Maybe a bit of both?

Either way, today, it really wasn’t doing all that much for me.

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Then we sort of hit a wall of things to do.

Time Riders (John Cleese dark ride) was closed for Covid, the immersive tunnel was closed due to Covid, Halloween set up or it didn’t exist anymore. We didn’t want to ride the SLC, because of course we didn’t. We didn’t want to ride Bandit, in case, unlike last time, it was now the worst wooden roller coaster on Earth.

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So in other words, we had many hours left in our day, with 3 things worth riding. Star Trek (which wasn’t riding well), Studio Tour and Van Helsing.

Credit to the park, we decided to stick it out, and I’m glad we did because it all came together quite nicely in the end.

At around 2/3 we took advantage of the Covid tests the park offered in their car park. We needed a negative test to get home in 2 days and were quite worried about how we’d go about getting it done.

I’m not sure how much credit can go to the park for this but the guys running the test centre were incredible. Thankfully English was spoken, the process was super quick, they couldn’t have been more helpful and about 20 minutes later we were now cleared to return home, not before 2 more days of coasters though.

Job done, let’s celebrate with a slushie.

Oh crap, we forgot to ride Area 51…

Area 51

Much like with Excalibur, I think I preferred Area 51 before it was rethemed, when it used to be Bermuda Triangle. Don’t get me wrong, it looks amazing now and is still a great ride but there was something legitimately unnerving about the previous version that I really enjoyed.

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Now, let’s go get that slushie.

Despite feeling like we’d run out of things to do several times, we’d once again had a good day out at Movie Park Germany. I think it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t rush back until the park add another major investment but I once again left the park with a good opinion of the place.

Thanks for reading, click here for day 22 of my trip report, where we visit Fraispertuis City and manage to get back to the chocolate dark ride at the Swiss museum of transport.


Europe 09/21 – Efteling

Day 20

I’d been exicited about a return visit to Efteling from the very moment I left the park after my first ever visit in 2016. The park had left a great impression on me and I immediately rated it as one of my favourite parks in the World.

Today’s return visit however wouldn’t feel anywhere near as impressive as before, thanks mostly to a lack of maintenance and a rather impressive decline in staff quality, the park felt far less special and magical than it had 5 years before.

Efteling

Symbolica

The day did start very strong though with our first ever rides on the brand new (to us) Symbolica.

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In a park home to 2 of the best dark rides ever built, they have managed to best both with this incredible, massive, trackless dark ride around the Palace of Fantasy. In fact, I’m feeling bold enough to say that, hands down, Symbolica is now the best ride in the park

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Like the other 2 outstanding dark ride offerings from the park (Droomvlucht & Fata Morgana), to attempt to explain the experience would do it a massive disservice. I think therefore it would be better to say, my first ride through on Symbolica I wasn’t able to take anything in because I was that awestruck by what I witnessing and on all my re-rides I was never not blown away by how awesome the experience is. If none of that made any sense, is it good? It’s good.

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It would upset me (slightly) to learn after my return home that a few rather important effects that the ride opened with were not in operation on my visit. These missing effects may have made the difference from Symbolica being considered one of the best dark rides in the World and it actually being the best dark ride in the World. This was just the beginning of Efteling’s attractions missing effects today but it bothers me more that they are already letting their new star attraction fade away.

Droomvlucht

Droomvlucht was next and I’m so happy to report that even after 5 years of travelling the World riding some of the best dark rides out there, Efteling’s suspended offering into a World of fantasy is still one of the very best. It’s just a shame some of the effects weren’t working…

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Villa Volta

Then it was time to visit Hugo over at Villa Volta.

Unlike Droomvlucht, time, and the existence of the always incredible Hex at Alton Towers, have made me rather jaded of the once pretty awesome Villa Volta. You sit through far too many minutes of preshows, that not even the locals are paying attention to, to finally be presented by a completely average Vekoma Madhouse. It’s fine, but not the legend I once viewed it as.

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Raveleijn

Next up, disappointment.

After spending far too much faff trying to reserve a slot to watch the show, only to be presented by a mostly empty arena, it was time for us to watch Ravelijn for the first time ever.

I think 3 factors are to blame for my lack of enjoyment, lack of maintenance, meaning the show wasn’t operating as it should, Covid stuff, meaning it was operating even worse than it could have and my high expectations for what many people call one of the best park shows in the World.

Bottom line, nothing exciting happened, and then it ended. I seriously hope that when Covid is gone and the park remember how to maintain attractions that it can return to its former glory, if it was ever that impressive to begin with and I haven’t been misled from the start.

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Fabula

Speaking of misled…

Fabula, the replacement to the incredible PandaDroom is far better than people have given it credit for.

Is it better than PandaDroom? No.

Did PandaDroom need replacing? No.

Is Fabula a fun, cute, 3D film with many nods to the past attraction? Yes, and I enjoyed it.

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Max & Moritz

Next up was the final of the new (to us) attractions we’d need to experience today and it came in the form of the duelling Mack Powered Coasters, Max & Moritz.

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Neither coaster was all that impressive on its own, but as I package I quite enjoyed Max & Moritz. The station theming is pretty impressive, the on-board audio is a nice addition and both coasters were at the very least fun.

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Fata Morgana

After some lunch, which was pretty great (you can’t deny the Kaassoufflé), we made our way over to the fantastic Fata Morgana, the park’s legendary water based dark ride.

Much like Droomvlucht, with the exception of a few effects not working, Fata Morgana was every bit as wonderful as I remembered it.

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Vliegende Hollander

What wasn’t as wonderful as I remembered it was Vliegende Hollander.

Either I’m remembering it wrong or the previously incredible dark ride section that begins the ride has had quite a few effects deactivated. This really mattered because the coaster section somehow felt even more pointless this time around.

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Joris en de Draak

Then came easily the biggest disappointment of the day, they have ruined Draak…

A coaster that I adamantly defended as my favourite GCI and one of the best woodies in Europe was running absolutely awful today.

Slow, enough to ruin the duelling aspect and take out 90% of the airtime, and fun.

Rough, not the good kind, but the kind that gives you an instant headache.

This awful ride experience was also preceded by the worst operations I’ve ever witnessed at Efteling. We were left sitting in the train for over 5 minutes while the staff chatted to each other and with every passing minute I could feel the magic of the experience fading away.

Oh and before we move on, the amazing fire breathing dragon doesn’t even work anymore…

Vogel Rok

With Draak instantly dropping 12 places in my wooden coaster rankings, I really needed something to cheer me up. Thankfully Vogel Rok was kicking serious freakin’ ass today and might honestly now be the best coaster at the park.

Way more forceful than I remember from 2016 and featuring more effects than I remember from back then, Vogel is the only coaster to have improved between visits.

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Baron 1898

After a few more rides on Symbolica, we checked the time and discovered we had just enough to get a lap of Baron in before Aquanura started. So we sent Heartline’s wife to go find us a nice viewing spot as we jogged our way over to the park’s B&M Dive Coaster.

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In 2016, with just over 100 coasters to my name, I thought Baron 1898, as a coaster, was pretty forceless and uninteresting. In 2021, with 900 coasters to my name, I was right.

Not discounting the amazing theming attempts and the awesome soundtrack, Baron as a coaster, really doesn’t do much for me at all.

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During the Aquanura show, which was great as always, I was thinking to myself is it me or the park to blame for today’s visit not being as impressive as before. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably a bit of both, but more so the fault of the park for a lapse in maintenance and staff quality. Either way I really hope they can turn it around soon and that I when I inevitably return in the future the park can blow me away again.

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Thanks for reading, click here for day 21 of my trip report, where we visit Movie Park Germany to check out their new Intamin.


Europe 09/21 – Plopsaland De Panne

Day 19

After my first and only (rather awful) trip to Plopsaland De Panne in 2017, I was slightly nervous about returning. You can read my previous trip report for the full details of what went wrong but the TLDR version is, terrible operations and rude staff meant we were unable to complete the park and we had a miserable time not doing so.

That being said, nothing was going to keep us from returning in 2021, as the park, to I think everyone’s surprise, opened one of the most exciting roller coaster additions in recent memory, in the form of Europe’s first Mack Xtreme Spinning Coaster, The Ride to Happiness.

Plopsaland De Panne

We arrived slightly later than opening, thanks to the worst McDonalds in the World, and two things were immediately apparent, it was HOT and The Ride to Happiness looks absolutely stunning and has completely changed the skyline of the park. Infact, it has changed EVERYTHING about the park, but we will discuss that as we go on.

The Ride to Happiness

Oh boy, let’s just throw it out there before we get too carried away, The Ride to Happiness is now my 2nd favourite roller coaster in the World (out of 918), is completely insane and unlike almost any other roller coasters on Earth.

Let’s start with the theme, it’s incredible, and without a doubt helps to make the coaster as iconic as it is.

Themed around the extremely popular Belgian electronic dance festival, Tomorrowland, The Ride to Happiness goes all out to create, in my opinion, a truly fantasy like experience that really gives a character to the coaster.

The entrance plaza is beautiful, and with the aid of the amazing soundtrack and the ridiculous looking coaster track hanging high above, really makes you feel like you are being welcomed into something special.

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Continuing this perfectly is the queue for the coaster, which first leads you through a fantastic looking indoor queueline. This is where you first meet the “sexy robot lady”, who is going to be our tour guide on our Ride to Happiness. During this indoor queue you walk past awesome looking steam punky, Tomorrowlandy machines that are creating various elements (fire and snow are the only ones I can make out) that will be referenced later.

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Following this you briefly head outside, everyone skips 90 percent of the outside queue by stepping over the shin high fence, you walk up “The Stairs to Happiness”, before heading back inside for another small indoor queueline, where you once again meet the “sexy robot lady”.

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Then after another quick trip outside, you arrive at the ride station, where you finally come truly face to face with the “sexy robot lady” herself, in one of my favourite coaster stations ever.

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There she is, and pictures can’t do her justice, in person she looks more alive than most of the guests waiting at the airgates. She is the main character of The Ride to Happiness, and she knows exactly how amazing and game changing her coaster is. All of her beautiful ramblings are wonderful, but 2 of her statements seemed directed at me personally, “your life is about to change” and “embrace this change”.

This would all be dumb, and a little patronising, if it wasn’t 100 percent true, because The Ride to Happiness is just that good, and here’s why.

The coaster starts with a snails pace Heartline/JoJo Roll, that combined with the immediate spinning of the ride cars is absolute bliss. The hangtime is mind blowing and taken to the next level when your World (currently upside down) begins to spin around you, it’s nuts and probably too much for some, but I love it.

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Then it’s time for the first launch, which you pause before taking. Thanks to this pause, the swelling of the fantastic on board audio and the fact the cars are still free spinning this launch is incredible and hits fairly hard. Depending on various factors you may barely spin as you take the launch, or you may spin to the point of not knowing what’s happening.

No matter how you take the launch though, it ends with an incredible vertical top hat element, with brutal ejector airtime, especially towards the front of the train. Don’t feel bad in the back though, because the drop out of this element is best experienced towards the rear of the train, where it’s now your turn to get violently ejected.

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Now is a great time to once again mention that the cars are free spinning. Ejector airtime is one of the greatest feelings on Earth, experiencing it sideways or backwards is even better and the beauty of The Ride to Happiness is you never know what’s going to happen.

Speaking of, next up is 3 back to back inversions (banana roll, loop & zero g), that perfectly blend together in an absolute mess of what the hell is happening? Spinning while inverting doesn’t sound great to many on paper, but trust me, it’s awesome. Your body feeling all the normal forces of these perfectly excecuted inversions, while your eyes and brain can’t begin to work out which direction you are moving is something else.

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The coaster’s second launch isn’t all that powerful, it’s used only to continue the insanity, it does feature a pop of airtime mid launch though which is very welcome.

Next up is my personal favourite element, the step-up under flip, words can’t even do justice to the insanity this inversion provides while seated in spinning cars, it is absolutely outrageous and stands out as so on an already bonkers coaster.

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Following this madness is a large airtime hill that exits into a snappy left hand turn. You always get a nice pop of air on this hill, but what you really want is the stars (and car) to align so you take the hill facing halfway between backwards and to your left. This way you’ll get viciously ejected up and to the left and will remain PINNED there until the coaster finishes turning left. Sounds complicated, but just trust me, The Ride to Happiness gained even more bonus points when I realised it could throw you out of the seat and hold you there, it’s an incredible feeling.

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Your Ride to Happiness sadly comes to an end not long after this, but not before 2 more back to back vicious ejector airtime hills.

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And there it is! Hopefully I’ve said enough to both sell you on why I love both the coaster and the theme so much, if I haven’t, I’ll steal a line from the park’s website, “In short, an experience not to be missed”.

We rode The Ride to Happiness 16 times today and would have happily ridden it more if it wasn’t so hot and the coaster didn’t demand a break after every 4 laps for recovery.

Oh wait, Plopsaland has other rides too, and two of them at least are actually pretty cool.

Heidi The Ride

Let’s start with Heidi The Ride, the park’s twice cloned small scale GCI woodie.

Last time we visited, thanks to previously mentioned issues, we were only about to get 1 lap and unable to form a real opinion. This time though, after several laps, I can officially reveal, it’s good.

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Bos van Plop

Either through lack of research last time, or not having enough time last time, we completely missed the park’s only dark ride, Bos van Plop.

Thankfully though, this time, we able to take a ride and I’m glad we did because I honestly enjoyed this cute old school boat ride themed to the Studio 100 character Plop.

Anubis: The Ride

We should have left the memories alone in regards to Anubis: The Ride.

The park’s previous star attraction and quite possibly my previous favourite ride at the park now feels completely redundant (and rattly) after the opening of The Ride to Happiness. At least the station building looks amazing, on the outside at least…

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I think the list of things we opted to ride other than The Ride to Happiness, on a very quiet day, perfectly helps show another way that The Ride to Happiness has changed everything for the park.

The place has changed from a family park, with (maybe) 2 good coasters, into a park that is going to draw visitors from all over the World, desperate for their Ride to Happiness.

This leads to 2 other ways the park has changed thanks to The Ride to Happiness.

For better or worse, Plopsaland was 90% coaster fans today.

For most certainly better, operations and staff morale were hundreds of times better than when I last visited. This may have been a fluke, but I’d like to put this down to the park being proud of what they have now and being eager to show themselves off to the hundreds of thousands of new visitors that their outstanding new coaster is going to bring in.

In short, Plopsaland De Panne is now most certainly a park not to be missed.

Thank you for reading, please click here for day 20 of my trip report, where we visit Efteling, only to discover that it’s not as good as it was in 2016.


Europe 09/21 – Duinrell, Avonturenpark Hellendoorn + De Waarbeek

Day 18

Today saw us jumping over the border from Germany in order to attempt the Dutch triple, which is totally something I haven’t invented just now because it makes me laugh…

Duinrell

We started with a park that we’d been putting off since 2016, Duinrell, AKA, the frog park.

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There he is, and what a pretty park he calls home.

The reason we’d put off visiting for so long was the park’s coaster line up consists of only clone attractions. I won’t rant about clones here because it upsets people, I’ll just leave it with the statement that when time is tight I’m much less likely to visit a park that’s full of coasters I have already ridden or can ride elsewhere as opposed to trying something new.

With that being said Duinrell’s coaster line up isn’t bad and thankfully all 3 of them are well presented.

Kikkerachtbaan

Starting with the frog coaster, a Zierer Tivoli Large with the aforementioned frog leading the way.

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Dragon Fly

Next up was Dragon Fly, a Gerstlauer Family Coaster that was pretty fantastic honestly.

I love the paint scheme of this coaster and the way it perfectly compliments the wonderful scenery, I told you it’s a pretty park.

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Falcon

Also carrying the exact same paint scheme was the final coaster of the park, the much less fantastic Gerstlauer Eurofighter, Falcon. At least it looks great.

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With that we were done and we had managed to complete the park so quickly that with seconds to spare we didn’t need to pay for parking.

What a lovely, relaxing and friendly visit that had been, which made our visit to Hellendoorn seem 10 times worse than it already was, and it was already disgusting.

Avonturenpark Hellendoorn

Full disclosure, after emailing the park with the issues you’ll soon hear about, they have apologised, promised it will never happen again and sorted us out for a return visit in the future.

Was it bad? It was bad.

As first everything seemed fine, we parked up, walked to the admissions area and were let in by a friendly member of staff. Almost as soon as we stepped foot in the park though it became apparent that the park was full of school trips. Not the teens that ruined my last trip to Walibi Holland, but young children, hundreds of them, can’t be that bad can it? Oh, it was…

Donderstenen

The first test of endurance was the queue for Donderstenen, the park’s Zierer Force Two.

It was here that it became clear that this visit was going to be horrible as we queued surrounded by a sea of school children who were screaming, shouting, pushing and queue jumping non stop.

It appeared that the children had 1 member of school staff per every 100 of them. It also appeared that these school staff members didn’t care at all in trying to control the awful behaviour of the children.

It once again appeared that the park both didn’t have the staff to deal with all the children and that the ones that they did have didn’t care about controlling them either.

Therefore it fell to paying visitors to try their best to control the situation in order to rescue their day out at the park. This duty fell to a wonderful man we named “Dutch Jesus” in the queue for Donderstenen, who repeatedly stopped queue jumping, while the school and park staff actively ignored it.

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Discovery Club

The park’s only dark ride, Discovery Club, was next and it’s here that the situation changed from deeply unpleasant to potentially dangerous.

We were forced to queue in the dark, on stairs, with several hundred school children shouting, screaming, pushing and repeatedly punching the walls.

Unbearable doesn’t quite cover standing there unable to even speak to your friends over the extreme noise.

Did the park have any staff trying to control the situation? No.

Did the school staff try to control the situation? No, they encouraged it…

How was the dark ride? Amazing, because it meant the queue was over…

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Rioolrat

Can’t get much worse than that right? You’d be wrong…

At Rioolrat, the park’s mostly enclosed Vekoma Junior Coaster, the situation changed from potentially dangerous to actually dangerous.

The entire outdoor awful switchback queue for Rioolrat had poorly constructed (literally driftwood covered in chewing gum) Covid barriers between every row of people. Cue 40 solid minutes of hundreds of school kids violently shaking and trying to push these barriers over onto people.

People in the queue were actively afraid that these barriers were going to fall and injure them, which led to paying visitors having to once again intervene, this time a man we named “The Tall Man”.

Did the park try to stop it? No.

Did the school staff try? No, they were playing on their phones…

How was the coaster? Better than the queueline…

With that we were completely done with the park, our plan was get the final coaster and leave this hell, but the park had other ideas. The park’s Vekoma looper, Balagos, was closed, with no sign of any work being done to it…

Right, that’s it, let’s get out of here.

On the drive to the next park we all came to the conclusion that we’d just experienced one of the worst park visits of our lives and that whatever the outcome we needed to let the park know our disappointment.

I really hope the park keep to their word in their email response and that nothing like we experienced happens again to anyone else because that was awful.

De Waarbeek

It turned out though that all we needed to calm down and put our faith back in the Dutch park scene was a visit to the joint 2nd oldest park in the country, the brilliant Waarbeek.

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After purchasing tickets in what is more a gift shop than an admissions area, we were personally led into this charming little park.

Rodelbaan

We headed straight to the park’s star attraction, the oldest operating fully steel coaster in the World, Rodelbaan.

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At first the ride station was chained off with no members of staff in sight, but soon, after being alerted by another visitor, a friendly member of staff came over and opened the ride for us with a smile.

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She gave us a little speech about how important and special this coaster was, and then we were off, quite literally riding a piece of history, and it rode well.

No seriously, despite being 91 years old, Rodelbaan was awesome and I couldn’t shut off the part of my brain that kept saying “this is special man, savour it.”

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Goldmine Express

After a few laps of roller coaster history, we made our way over to Goldmine Express, which is a travelling coaster that the park were borrowing for the 2021 season.

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Before leaving De Waarbeek, it felt right to go for a walk around the whole park, leading to the discovery of views such as this…

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All I can ask now is what happened at Hellendoorn? Two peaceful, beautiful, friendly parks either side of an absolute car wreck of a park, it doesn’t make much sense to me. Regardless De Waarbeek was great and it’s a must visit park for any true coaster fans.

Thank you for reading, please click here for day 19 of my trip report, where I ride the newly crowned second greatest coaster on Earth, The Ride to Happiness, and unbelievably become a fan of Plopsaland De Panne.


Europe 09/21 – Phantasialand

Day 17

Much like Energylandia, we’d find ourselves returning to Phantasialand just over a year since our last visit in order to ride a new large-scale Vekoma. Unlike Energylandia, I wasn’t really all that excited to ride said new Vekoma or to return at all really, after having gotten a much better than usual trip to the park the year before.

Phantasialand

But alas, back to Brühl.

This time, for the first time, we were directed to park in the car park behind Mystery Castle, which is thankfully one of the decent car parks.

You’ve missed it, I’ve missed it, but medical masks are back and shockingly Phantasialand are one of the best parks in how they handle it.

There was a repeating announcement in the car park and at the park entrance that warned that medical masks must be worn in the park. This gave Heartline the warning he needed to put on one of the blue medical masks before leaving the car. I wasn’t sure if my mask, basically a medical mask in shape, not colour or fabric though, would be accepted, so I brought both masks in just in case.

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After what I believe was actually the nicest greeting to the park we’ve ever recieved, it was time to F.L.Y..

F.L.Y.

In more comparisons with Energylandia, we must discuss the presentation of F.L.Y. and Rookburgh before we move onto how the coaster rides.

Quite honestly Rookburgh is one of the most stunning and highly detailed areas I have ever witnessed at a theme park. There’s so much to look at, I swear I barely took in half of the detail on my visit. There is also so much going on effects wise, with smoke, sound effects and animated theming either going off at random or being triggered by the arrival of F.L.Y..

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Another thing I really like is how the coaster track perfectly blends in with the theming, which means you’ll never be able to memorize the layout.

If I had to nitpick though, I’d say it’s a shame that the intense theming doesn’t really carry all that much into the queue of F.L.Y..

Speaking of the queue, further praise must be given to the park for actually having a completely functional locker system. You can’t bring anything onto F.L.Y., so it’s good that this has been well thought out, unlike Arthur at Europa Park which descends into several thousand people battling for lockers for 15 minutes every time you ride.

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F.L.Y. itself then, how is it?

That’s a really tricky question.

On a technical level it’s something really special, the way the coaster is able to effortlessly switch between sitting and flying to start the ride is something I’d never get bored of experiencing. Also you can’t gloss over how cool the concept of a multi-launch flyer is. Finally the way the coaster interacts with the stunning theming of Rookburgh is incredible.

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Then there’s my 2 major downfalls the coaster has, which stop it from being in any way near my favourite coasters in the World.

It’s uncomfortable.

I’m slightly shorter and slightly chunkier than the average bloke, not by much though, and to me F.L.Y. borders on being a painful experience. The vest part of the restraints cut deep into my shoulders throughout the entire flying experience and then I find myself faffing about trying to push myself off the vest, which takes away quite a bit of the fun of the ride.

It’s pretty boring as a roller coaster.

Take away the amazing theming interactions and F.L.Y. would suck. The coaster suffers from the new Vekoma issue of applying the exact same forces to your body for 90 percent of the experience. This coupled with the flying position (which hurts me) means it’s really hard to understand what is actually happening to you, other than I’m flying on my stomach (and it hurts), now I’m flying on my back (and it doesn’t). Compare this to the best flyer in the World, Flying Dinosaur, which offers a beautiful variation of forces, including weightlessness, followed by crushing positives and I hope you can see where I’m coming from.

In summary, F.L.Y. and Rookburgh feature some of the best theming in the World, the coaster itself though is not a World class ride.

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On the second of our back to back rides on F.L.Y. to start the day, the lady at the entrance of the coaster politely asked me if I would change my mask for one of the blue medical masks. She didn’t expect me to do it right there but instead said I could change it while walking through the queue.

A warning at the park entrance, meaning I had the mask on me and a polite request from a staff member, this is how this sort of thing should be handled, stay tuned for the last day of our trip to see the exact opposite…

That’s enough F.L.Y. for now, let’s go check out the rest of the park.

Maus au Chocolat

Maus au Chocolat was first and remains one of my favourite interactive dark rides.

Black Mamba

Followed by Black Mamba, which wasn’t riding as well as it was the last time we visited but was still pretty awesome.

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Taron

In constrast however, Taron, which is still the park’s best coaster, was riding the best it ever has.

The coaster was back to how I remembered it riding when I first experienced it and nothing like it had been riding in recent years. Airtime was back and it was great, I was being violently thrown out of my seat again and I loved it and the snappy changes in direction were actually snappy again. I don’t exactly know what was causing Taron to suddenly ride much better today but I hope it continues because the coaster has moved way up in my books, sadly not in my top 25 though because Hyperion is still better, sorry.

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Next up, in true Phantasialand style, we were angrily shouted at in German by a staff member for accidentally entering Wuze Town when we weren’t supposed to while lost looking for where you’re meant to queue for Winjas now.

Winjas

It turns out the queue starts outside, opposite the long closed Hollywood Tour.

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You still aren’t able to pick your fate on Winjas, thankfully though we got lucky and were able to ride on the Fear track. Winjas (Fear especially) are always fantastic fun and nothing has changed.

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Crazy Bats

We visited Crazy Bats next, which is still running without the VR, meaning you get several minutes of pitch black riding around a warehouse, which is interesting… It felt good to have a ride though, surely this thing can’t have much long left at the park.

Colorado Adventure

Lastly, for fresh stuff today, we went to check to see if Colorado Adventure is still amazing. Sadly we were unable to get anywhere near the back of the train, where the magic happens, always next time I suppose.

Then it was time to get to know F.L.Y. some more before ending our day with a few awesome laps on the newly reborn Taron.

Phantasialand are famous for kicking you out of the park (and the toilet) as quickly as possible, today however, with barely 30 seconds before the Taron queue was due to close, a wonderful staff member ushered hundreds of people in before the deadline, what park are we at again?

2 trips in a row that I’ve really enjoyed, F.L.Y. for the most part is great, Black Mamba is always an underrated gem, Winjas are awesome and Taron is now kicking serious freakin’ ass. I hate to admit it guys but I might be slowly becoming a fan of the place.

Thank you for reading, click here for day 18 of my trip report, where we visit the decent Duinrell, the horrible Hellendoorn and the wonderful Waarbeek.


Europe 09/21 – Erlebniswelt Seilbahnen Thale

Day 16

Thanks to last night’s shenanigans, we decided we’d make the most of our hotel until they kicked us out at check out. This meant sleeping until the last second, getting ready in record time, then meeting Heartline in his room for some intense last minute ticket purchasing.

Due to Efteling selling out (in more ways than one) the day we were visiting would need to change, as would Movie Park Germany, which for reasons unknown was no longer open on the day we planned to visit.

Laptop closed seconds before house keeping booted the door down, it was time to get back on the road, God help us all…

The revised plan for today was now just a visit to Erlebniswelt Seilbahnen Thale, which from this moment onwards shall be referred to as simply Thale.

This plan sounds a bit lame on paper but was actually both a really good idea and very enjoyable visit.

Erlebniswelt Seilbahnen Thale

The sat nav took us to a large car park surrounded on 2 sides by stunning mountains with at least 2 cable cars travelling up them. Where we went from here was completely guess work but eventually we found our way to the park.

I knew from reading the park’s website that the local area has ties to witchcraft but I wasn’t expecting the small park you walk past on your way to the park itself to have embraced the idea as much as it did.

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The Devil himself chilling in the park, I’m down with whatever happens next because that is awesome.

Shortly after seeing the Devil, we arrived at the park itself.

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Is that the witch herself? Or just a decoy?

Under the gaze of the witch (or decoy) you have a choice to make, turn left and down to enter the main park or turn right and up and head to the cable car station which takes you to the top of the mountain to ride the alpine coaster.

We opted to start at the bottom, mostly through lack of understanding the set up yet.

Unless my memory is spiting me again, all of the rides in the bottom main park are self operated, which for the record I enjoy massively.

This meant you had to purchase a “points card” from a little ticket office, which we eventually did after confusing every member of staff in the area and at one point being quoted a price that was almost 10 times the price it should have been.

Boderitt

Points card in hand, we first started with a ride over the Bode in a witches cauldron on Boderitt.

This wacky suspended Wiegand single rail coaster was good fun, made better by getting to operate it yourself, which was done by tapping your points card on a reader, pulling the lapbar down and then pressing a button when you get the green light, which of course I managed to do wrong, but I enjoyed it so it’s fine.

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Next up Heartline and his wife went to ride Hexenbesen.

Hexenbesen, which I forgot to take a photo of, is an even more wacky suspended single rail Wiegand coaster where 1 rider at a time lays down, unrestrained, in a metal tube, that then goes flying around the course. You board the ride at the top of a flight of stairs, then exit before it goes back up to the start position at the end.

I was slightly too heavy for the posted max weight, so told myself before the trip that I wouldn’t attempt it. I did however see that many credit hunters (currently 241) had got a ride in and no doubt many of them had been cheeky with that restriction. I therefore told myself if the opportunity presented itself I was open to the idea.

Now was not the time though. Heartline and his wife accidentally ended up riding the coaster with a group of children infront and behind them, with parents given them disapproving looks, and they were below the listed weight limit, Heartline is rather tall though.

Butterfly

To cheer myself up I rode my first Butterfly. I won’t rant about how even after riding one they clearly aren’t a coaster, instead I’ll once again praise how much I enjoy self operated rides.

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While Heartline and his wife were riding the Butterfly I noticed via the Coaster-Count app that 2 more credit hunters had added Hexenbesen to their count today, stop tempting me temptation.

In the end though, it proved too much.

While wandering around the park trying to find something to spend the last of our points on, Heartline noticed that Hexenbesen and the area around it were completely empty, so we launched.

Hexenbesen

We ran up the stairs, I slid into the tube, Heartline scanned the card, I pressed the button and there was no turning back.

Did the coaster collapse into a fireball? No. Was I arrested on the spot? Also no. Am I recommending you repeat my actions? Certainly not.

Hexenbesen was really good fun. Sliding about while laying on your stomach in a metal tube just feels so wrong it’s right.

No one had even noticed or cared that I rode Hexenbesen, but in my head I was now Germany’s most wanted, so we made a quick escape to the cable car station, so I could hide at the top of the mountain, oh and ride the alpine coaster.

How great it was to have clearly printed and displayed packages for the cable car and alpine coaster, I’m looking at you Andorra…

We lucked out and managed to get the glass bottomed cable car on the way up, which is apparently highly sought after.

After a leisurely walk through stunning scenery we stumbled on the alpine coaster, named Harzbob.

Harzbob

I really enjoyed Harzbob and it reminded me of a situation that was very simular to our last major Europe trip.

You start the trip by riding several large famous alpine coasters, think the little ones later in the trip are going to be fairly boring and tame, then they absolutely kick your ass.

This was certainly the case with Harzbob which was viciously throwing me around in the woodland, where I was half expecting the witch to appear at any minute.

Another leisurely walk took us back to the cable car station, the fresh air melting away the stress of the night previous.

We got another glass bottomed cable car on our descent, either we are extremely lucky or they aren’t that difficult to obtain.

As we walked back past the small park with the devil on the bench, there was an old lady chanting to the passers by, I think the witch has arrived, let’s get out of here before she finds out I rode Hexenbesen.

I really enjoyed my visit to Thale, it was the perfect relaxing way to recover after last night’s incident and we were now charged back up and ready to experience the final leg of intense days that the trip had to offer.

Thank you for reading, click here for day 17 of my trip report, where we visit Phantasialand to ride F.L.Y. and see if Taron needs to move further down my top 25.


Europe 09/21 – Energylandia

Day 15

A little over a year since our last (and first) visit, it was already time to head back to Energylandia to check out their brand new multi launch coaster Abyssus. This was fine by me because I really enjoyed my last visit to the park and couldn’t wait to get back on 2 of the greatest coasters in Europe, Zadra and Hyperion.

The day started as it always seems to with Energylandia, sitting in miles of traffic on approach to the park at a junction that was never designed to deal with the amount of traffic the park puts on it.

Finally though, only about 40 minutes late, we were riding one of the endless shuttles from Energylandia’s vast car park to the park entrance.

The park’s admissions area never fails to amaze me with just how quickly it churns through people. You arrive to a sea of bodies, think “oh God no”, then realise they have about 50 ticket offices open and you’ll only be waiting 5 minutes tops. I waited over an hour once for less than a 10th of the amount of people to be processed at Alton Towers, the Polish putting us to shame yet again.

“Busy but it’s not really an issue” is a great way to sum up the overall feeling at the park actually. The sheer amount of things to do, shows to watch and things to eat mean that even the most daunting looking crowds doesn’t mean you’ll be walking away with a terrible ride count, looking at you again Alton Towers, OK I’ll stop…

Abyssus

Knowing the park layout this time really helped us in hauling across the entire park in the direction of Abyssus without getting lost.

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Let me just say before we get too critical that Abyssus and its theming (currently not even finished) look fantastic and that I love walking through the centre of the Batwing to the ride’s entrance. It’s also the first time I’ve been fond of Vekoma’s new track design, which in this instance, with that paint scheme, looks amazing. I’m also a huge fan of the train design, visually I mean, not practically, we will get to that.

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Enough with the visuals though, let’s talk about the ride experience, this could be tricky… How can I string out “it’s good but not THAT good” into something interesting to read? I know, let’s see how this brand new Vekoma multi-launch coaster stacks up against the park’s current line up, multi-launch coasters in general and the new breed of Vekomas.

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Let’s start by comparing it against the other new Vekomas that I’ve ridden, F.LY., Hals-über-Kopf, Lech Coaster & Formuła. Abyssus easily offers the best ride experience out of all of them. It is one of the most comfortable coasters I’ve ever ridden, unlike F.L.Y. and Lech Coaster. It has some great air time moments, unlike Lech Coaster. It’s forceful, unlike Hals-über-Kopf and Formuła. It’s very re-rideable unlike literally every other modern Vekoma. Yeah, Abyssus is pretty great when compared to its relatives.

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Now let’s compare the new boy against the park’s other star attractions, this won’t end well… As I said earlier, Zadra and Hyperion are 2 of the best coasters in Europe, Abyssus certainly is not. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not World class. Zadra and Hyperion offer 2 of the best first drops in the industry, Abyssus’ drop is trimmed. Zadra and Hyperion offer some of the most extreme air time in the industry, Abyssus offers decent air time moments, lessened by the vests. Speaking of, Zadra and Hyperion have 2 of the best train and restraint designs out there, Abyssus has vests. Zadra and Hyperion both feature at least one inversion that’s insane, Abyssus somehow manages to deliver the same forces no matter which inversion you are experiencing. Yeah, Abyssus doesn’t stack up well against the park’s other legends, it utterly destroys Formuła though, is it that much of a sin to be 3rd place against 2 of the best in Europe? I don’t think so.

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Now the big one, how does Abyssus stack up against other multi-launch coasters? It doesn’t.

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Light Explorers

After several laps on Abyssus while the crowds in the area were light, we next headed over to the park’s other new coaster, Light Explorers.

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Energylandia’s second Vekoma Family Boomerang (yes really) is much better than its first, both in terms of ride experience and presentation.

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Then it was time to visit an old friend.

Zadra

Still my favourite RMC in the World, still in my top 10, Zadra is still every bit the monster that took my breath away last year, the only thing that has changed is I might appreciate it even more now. My only complaint is that it isn’t any longer, which it really could have been given the insane speed it hits the brakes at.

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After a couple of laps of Zadra, we got a pizza from the shack opposite, which was just as good as I remembered, before making our way over to the park’s other icon.

Hyperion

Much like Zadra, this Intamin monster was every bit as incredible as I remembered it and it still sits proudly in my top 20. The first drop is still legendary, the positive Gs are still crushing, the air time is still ridiculous, the low to the ground quick changes in direction are still great fun, but most importantly Hyperion’s dive loop remains one of my favourite inversions ever.

We spent the next few hours bouncing back and forth between Zadra and Hyperion, loving every second of it and only stopping the carnage to check out the park’s dark ride we skipped last time.

Monster House

I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it.

Monster House takes you a pointless, almost silent journey past static figures in the dark.

My experience was made even more strange by having half of Poland crashing into the back of my 2 seater car, taking away what was left of the atmosphere.

Right, back to the coasters.

More Hyperion, more Zadra, then ending the day with more rides on Abyssus, including getting the last train of the day and a night ride.

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It was so nice getting to experience the park like this, having the time to get enough rides on Abyssus to form a valid opinion and getting countless rides on 2 of my favourite coasters in the World. To those reading who haven’t visited before, that care about counting creds, you seriously need 2 days at the park to truly enjoy it, 1 day for getting the creds and the other for re-riding the big 3.

Once again I was leaving Energylandia with a positive opinion of the place. The park is tied with Liseberg for having the best 1-2 punch in the World, the operations are (mostly) great, the staff are (mostly) friendly and there’s just an atmosphere the place gives off that makes me happy.

Apparently though us having such a great day out angered the spirits and everything that could go wrong after leaving the park did go wrong…

Firstly, the Tesco store we went out of our way to visit as we left the park was a few days off closing down forever, meaning the shelves resembled something out of a zombie movie, or the first week of Covid being a thing.

Then we went to a local Polish supermarket, saw a great deal on chocolate, didn’t get the great deal and left the building with no chocolate.

Enough distractions, we need get going, at present we aren’t going to reach our hotel several miles from the German border until 1am.

Then it happened, the one you’ve all been waiting for, the worst roads hating us incident of the trip and it’s good one…

We are cruising along the motorway, roads are looking quiet, I think we managed to even knock a couple of minutes off the arrival time.

Suddenly we see a police car parked on the hard shoulder with its lights on, what the hell does that mean?

Well apparently that means the motorway’s closed due to a crash lads…

Soon after seeing the World’s most useless police officier we hit the back of a massive standstill traffic jam, where we sat for almost 2 hours, drifting in and out of consciousness, not knowing how long it was going to be before we were moving again.

When we finally did get moving again it was a gruelling drive to the hotel, where of course things went wrong again.

Our hotel had a clone on the opposite side of the motorway, you can see where this is heading…

We entered the hotel, gave our names, then were told, with a laugh, that we were on the wrong side of the road.

Despite the hotel looking barely half full, being owned by the same company and it being 3am we were given no option but to rejoin the motorway, drive 5km in the wrong direction, only to drive 5km back, to get to our beds for the night, absolutely brutal.

Before we finally passed out for the night we knew we’d need to change tomorrow’s plan of getting up at 6am and cut the day’s activities back a bit if we wanted to actually experience the day as functioning human beings.

Thanks for reading, click here for day 16 of my trip report where we visit Erlebniswelt Seilbahnen Thale and I may or may not do something potentially regrettable.