Next morning we ignored the dreaded words ‘Ange Michel’ that were still ringing in the back of our minds and ploughed on to the very north-western tip of France, to the home of the most significant ride of the trip so far (not difficult).
Day 3 – La Récré des 3 Curés
Dubbed more affectionately by ourselves as ‘Reccy 3’, this was the second park in a row to feature a tunnel under a road to reach the entrance, though far less massive this time. With tickets purchased and gates unlocked it was straight to the back of the park for some Gerstlauer goodness.
Here it is, #1 Vertika. The Eurofighter you probably forgot existed, I know I had. Looks rather fetching.
Only about 10 people had made it to the entrance of the ride as they sent some test cars and opened it up, so the one train operation was more than adequate for us to grab multiple walk-on laps in succession.
It’s a decent ride, very nice to see a new layout for this model, though I can’t help but wonder why they don’t just come with lap bars by default these days, with multiple options available.
There’s a suspenseful little slow down at the crest of the lift which felt a little different. The loop is unusually wide? By that I mean a larger than average horizontal gap between entrance and exit.
A couple of alright airtime moments in the top of the twisty and in the banked speed hill thing up into the non-inversion, which hurls you back down into the final corkscrew, threading the loop rather nicely. It’s not an unpleasant corkscrew either, Eurofighters are nailing those inversions nicely at long last.
Solid stuff, short but sweet. Probably wouldn’t go out of the way for it other than for completeness though.
The only other ride on the agenda for this park was the first of the #2 Grand Huits, sharing a name with that fateful Jardin ticket.
Yet another unpainted Soquet with some stuff going on, largely corners and changes in elevation, it was fairly groundbreaking and the train design was a nice touch.
Ange Michel. Would it happen? We swiftly left the park at this point, struggling somewhat to leave through a ton of guests now packed wall to wall in the entrance tunnel, still queuing to get into the park. Timed that right then.
A man had to move a cone for us to exit the car park, perhaps rather unusually, at no more than one hour through the operating day and then a couple more later we had reached park number two.
Though good progress had been made, it all came to a grinding halt here.
The first queue we entered was for the elaborately rethemed Zyklon Galaxi, #3 Apollo Steamrocket. Steampunk really is all the rage these days, though it’s unusual to see it on a ride of this calibre.
It appeared to be working in terms of popularity, attracting a 30 minute wait from guests who mostly seemed to be loving it. I zone these things out so hard that they just become an extension of whatever conversation is going on and it was at this point we decided the day would be ‘make or break’ at the dark ride.
Next up was #4 Speed Chenille, a vicious looking kids coaster with a comically huge bug face. It used to live at Jardin with an apple, but no speed.
Though not quite what I’d hoped for, it certainly had some go to it and the crazy looking airtime hill was sufficiently disproportionate to the layout.
Turns out it was ‘break’ at the dark ride. Though not a large queue by any means, time was ebbing away and the situation was starting to look exactly the same as the previous day. We could make it to the next park, but they’d probably close in our face.
This was a fairly standard wild west themed shooting dark ride, the type that sets off small effects as you travel around, rather than being a points scorer.
The last coaster was another stock model Pinfari that used to live at the Gullivers park we were just recently let into. It looks surprisingly good as #5 Gold Rush, again they’ve put a fair amount of effort into glamming it up. It was also weirdly smooth and totally not what I expected. I’m calling witchcraft.
Park complete it was time to assess the options. Ange Michel was gone, again. Some wacky worm looked like too much effort as we still had a long, long way to go. A funfair had appeared on route that was slightly less detour and meant to be a +2 instead of a +1. Let’s give it a go.
Oh, this was the journey with the McDonalds that had a convoluted outdoor entrance barrier, staff that were smoking in our faces while they scanned our vaccine codes and that then wouldn’t let me in with what had so far served me adequately as a face covering (read – a snoody thing that may or may not be imbued with anti-virus magic). They wanted something better (read – 2p’s worth of blue and elastic from China, off Amazon) that I also had with me.
Just something to be wary of for now, it turns out a fair few Europeans across various countries seem to have a bit of a thing about this at the moment and are spoiling for an argument, whether looking like a bandit instead of a surgeon makes you a ‘covid ain’t real’ conspiracist, or everyone’s now a medical professional.
To be clear on my stance, I’m not a medical professional and am happy to wear absolutely anything from scuba mask to space suit so long as it lets me get on with daily life, the problems only arose through inconsistent instruction and/or the attitude with which it can sometimes be delivered.
At the fair, nope, though they claimed ‘some rides were open’ from 5pm, it was a ghost town, in a poor location, next to a dodgy supermarket/construction site.
There was one more brief sightseeing stop on route. Bastille Day, 2018, again. A hotel with no air-con in 35°C. One of our staple activities on short trips to France was established, namely watching a TV show called Fort Boyard. If you’re familiar with the Crystal Maze then it’s that, French, with celebrities, for charity, on a fort out in the sea, with 1000x more risk of death and endless comedy.
Anyway, here it is, the fort itself, just about. Seeing it in person was a pretty cool moment.
Luna Park Palmyre
Never mind that other funfair. This was a funfair. And also our first taster of what would become a bit of a staple over or the next week – French semi-permanent parks that don’t start until 8pm and stay open until 2am. They’re also rather deceivingly reported on RCDB due to the travelling nature of half the lineup, so make sure to check another source like Coaster Count if you ever plan on visiting one of these, you may be surprised by what turns up.
#6 Jet Star was imposing over us at the entrance, so the adventure began on that. The signature single file seating and forceful layout full of crazy compact turns didn’t disappoint. Smooth, powerful, exposed, Schwarzkopf doing what he did best.
Beyond the permanent resident, they also had #7 Le Dragon. Doesn’t need much description past ‘more than a Wacky Worm.’
And a spinning #8 Wild Mouse. Prepare to get sick of the sight of them.
Maybe Michael Jackson designed Thriller instead of Space Mountain. In any case this was my first and last time paying for crappy ghost trains on this trip. I was thinking about putting myself through every single one for the sake of research (or, a dangerous thought, maybe even competitively counting them one day) but there’s just nothing to say about these. They’re an event, not an experience. Loud noises and cheap decoration, not my kind of thing.
This massive drop tower caught our eye somehow. Mega King tower looked rather good offride, reminiscent of the old Power Tower that used to frequent Hyde Park Winter Wonderland before they swapped it for an inferior model.
While queuing we watched a hilarious looking offroad jeep ride that was launching people off of dirt hills, not something you expect to see at your average fair.
Huge, good views, an extended double cycle and a kick ass drop. It delivered on all counts, but it was worrying how easily we got distracted by something like this. No time for distractions later down the line.
Finally, again for the benefit of DRDB research, we jumped on the log flume Le Splash, which was described as having a dark ride section.
Not really, though it was a fun water ride with some extremely intense water braking on the drops, the second one putting me in an entirely standup position for a moment at the bottom, the ‘indoor section’ didn’t meet the criteria at all and I’ve since had it removed, so that’s a positive outcome.
With that, the day was complete, other than a late night drive to the next hotel, where more plans would have to be drawn up for a certain forgotten park.