France 08/22 – Nigloland

Day 2 – Nigloland

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In order to maintain a degree of significance on both days, we opted for a revisit to one of the nicest parks in France in lieu of a lot more cred running, with the added bonus of a healthy +2. Nigloland already had a cracking lineup for its size, along with a very pleasant atmosphere. This remains, mostly, but what’s new?

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#1 Krampus Expedition, that’s what. This one strikes me as a weird concept, I get that the folklore fits into the Alpine theme of the area and nearby other attractions, but why a water coaster? To fill a gap in the lineup? Probably.

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Whatever the reason, they’ve done a fantastic job with it. The lift looks surprisingly hefty and intimidating in the context of the park. The queueline has some great theming, including wrapping around a massive, spooky skeleton of Krampus himself. There’s also a collection of posters depicting other famous water rides around the world, which seems cheeky.

I’m glad they went for a custom layout of course, would have been too easy to order a Skatteøen and be done with it, but instead we get a more fast paced and fun pre-splash section that even includes an extra little floaty hill. I’m also kinda liking the new track style with the regular Mack track hemmed in by the older water coaster rails. Hopefully it’ll stop it riding like Poseidon and Journey to Atlantis in a few years.

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Alpina Blitz, the original Alpine themed coaster here sits pretty just next door. Sadly it was only running one train so we didn’t get to spend much time with the Mack Megalite on this occasion. Comfortable, powerful, it’s an all-round good time coaster from start to finish. I still prefer it to the more poorly run Intamin equivalents but it hasn’t yet found that killer instinct like Piraten.

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Cheat shot.

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I’m still worried about what they’ve done to my poor Eurosat, but the essence lives on in Spatiale Expérience (and my car playlist). It was particularly amusing on this occasion, with the French getting really hyped up during the extended spiral lift hill and counting down to the first drop, before proceeding to sit in stark silence, perhaps boredom, for the entirety of the actual layout. I don’t quite know how they manage it with this track but it’s so jerky, yet smooth. The train pumps around all over the place in quite an intense manner though it’s all from strange shaping and not roughness as far as I can tell.

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The other new coaster was #2 Noisette Express which somehow manages to be rougher, in a fun, kiddy kinda way.

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I’m enjoying the current rise of these ART engineering projects though, they all have a great aesthetic and seem to end up being a cut above your average plonked family coaster. The profiling of that first drop amuses me for a start.

The squirrel character on the back of the train is great, he also has a little story throughout the queue. It’s a tad inconsistent as it declares he was born on the same day the ride opened, along with the contradictory fact that he’s been doing forest conservation engineering projects for years before this. It’s like Duplo Dino all over again with these details.

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Hoping this is an homage to the Wacky Worm that is no more at this park, having been replaced by a circus tent opposite the new ride.

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Cheat shot. Le Donjon de l’Extrême kicked more ass than before, which is saying something. A combination of not being stapled and being able to see properly led to a world class drop tower experience. Love it.

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I don’t remember Maison Hanté hauling so much either. The open-benched seating is still so much fun in the ghost train environment and it was spinning so hard through the downhill slalom graveyard section at the end that I could barely walk straight upon exiting.
Still irks me that the spooky building always seems to be framed poorly against the sunlight, though it’s probably just a summer month problem.

Highly satisfied with another half day visit we snacked on some great value crêpes on park, continuing to prove that this place has lots of great food, then headed out on a bit of a mission.


Plopsaland de Panne

Not a cred mission though, a labour of love you might say. I’ve still got that season pass and I’ll find any excuse to use it. What’s a 5 hour drive between parks?

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Cheat shot.

Yup, Ride to Happiness is still the second best rollercoaster on the planet. It’s ridiculous and I can’t get enough.

It was hard to tear ourselves away and head for that ferry, but all in all a joyful little jaunt of a weekend with something to offer on both extremes of the spectrum. A +7 for the coaster count and a +1 for morale.

Thanks again.


France 08/22 – Le Fleury, Mer de Sable + Parc Astérix

Right back at it again. This was originally billed to be a little birthday weekender to treat myself to some Gravity Group wood but it ended up being deferred for a Kpop festival in London no less – about the only thing in the world that can trump coasters these days. This all worked out for the best in the end, not least as one of us was still missing a renewed passport by the time the original dates rolled around, along with the fact that the outbound journey process was far less ruined than it could have ended up being, though still not without issue.

Turns out you can’t go anywhere any more, by any method of transport. We arrived at Dover, bleary-eyed and far too early before the new recommended time allowance and proceeded to get stuck in a 90 minute queue for passport control. Just like Heathrow this didn’t really make sense, as it was running at a higher capacity than ever before, but still, we ended up getting pushed back to the next ferry, which was then half an hour late itself.

As always, there was an overly ambitious plan afoot and some quick calculations during the crossing soon made it clear that an Alpine coaster at Parc D’Olhain was immediately gone, along with a +1 at another park, which I had already forgotten existed by the time the trip rolled around.

We were also slightly fearful of how the fastrack/back row system worked at Parc Astérix, particularly regarding whether it had the ability to sell out or not and, after failing to find any details online, booked ourselves a slot on the app as soon as the park opened. This went wrong straight away however, as it immediately counted us down through a 15 minute cooldown period and then insisted that we had to be on the ride between 10:15 and 11:15. This would be just a little tricky while still being on the ferry. Oh well, no time to worry about it now.

Instead it was straight to

Day 1 – Le Fleury

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We were amused and confused to arrive at the car park only to be greeted by a road-side banner that stated Le Fleurby. Have we even come to the right place? Turns out it’s the name of the mascot.

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Started strong on this beast. #1 Aircraft is not your average SBF Visa creation and the only one operating in the world apparently. I’ll take that.

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Lazy research on my part had me believing Bayou Express was the next +1, but we’ve sadly since discovered that I’d already ridden it in Tivoli Gardens. At least the rest of the party needed it.

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Yet another relocation operates here under the guise of #2 Rhaegal. This one found infamy fairly recently after derailing in Scotland and subsequently helped my tradition of picking up all the Scottish coasters after they’ve emigrated away. Like the near identical Pinfaris of late, it rode unnervingly smoothly and was even half decent. On a day like this.

Next.


Mer de Sable

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I remember us looking at this park online while standing in a queue at Parc Saint Paul several years ago, before performing a cost-benefit analysis and deeming it unworthy of our time. It was wise to hold off as there’s a bit more going for it now, plus maybe my standards are a little lower.

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After immediately getting lost and trudging through one of the many sand dunes that make up the park’s pathways, we stumbled across their dark ride first, Jungle des Chikapas. *insert Chiapas song here*

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It’s a fun little theme, lots of puppeteered animals playing dress up, doing a whole dose of dancing and being their own civilisations. Very solid.

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I hadn’t expected any themes beyond Wild West at this park, but we next wound up in an Asian sort of area. #3 Tiger Express was running like an absolute maniac on-ride with not a single block engaging and what would have been a 90 minute queue courtesy of Cedar Fair took a mere 20.

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Up the top of a hill is the nicely rethemed and relocated Vekoma junior, #4 Silver Mountain, that once resided at Ratanga Junction in South Africa. This lands me two out of three coasters from the deceased park in as many months, though I’ll have to visit Chile sometime if I ever wish to complete that particular collection. The ride had great views of the surrounding countryside, a fear inducing water effect and even a bit of mist. Very solid.

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It all went a bit grim to finish as we ended up in the longest queue of the day for #5 Bandidos, just another SBF spinner. The ride was twice as popular as it had been when we passed it earlier for some reason and we found ourselves in the midst of a group of about 20 children throwing sand around with their shoes.

Park complete though.


Parc Astérix

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They were just the entrées, time for the main dish. Signs were positive as we powered towards the entrance gate, in that a lot more people were heading out rather than in for the day. The machine gun wielding guards of the past were no longer at security to greet us and, already having the measure of the place from our very amateur visit in 2017, we headed straight to the new for 2022 refurbished Tonnere deux Zeus and found the fastrack gate.

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Once again the system was confusing, splitting into two rows up some stairs which I immediately assumed were for forwards or backwards, though neither sign made it clear that this was the case. We later surmised that the separation was in fact for ‘one-shot’ fastrack holders and multi-fastrack pass holders. Nevertheless we bowled up with our own backwards seat one-shot that had now been expired for a good 5 hours and in our already predicted French fashion, the host who was working hard and doing about three jobs at once didn’t even have the time for the discussion as to what went wrong, and let us straight into the back row.

Which was the plan all along, you can’t beat a good backwards ride when you simply have no clue what’s coming next. I wasn’t overly fussed about the old Zeus, we only managed to ride it the once and spent most of that worrying about our bag flying all over the place as it wobbled my thighs around some corners in amusing fashion. Coming into this experience I knew nothing of what the mad lads at Gravity had done to the ride for the refurb, trains aside, so it was quite the unnerving experience heading up that lift hill with all the wrong views.

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First off, it was amazing. There’s something I find so joyous about the not knowing what’s coming, it just results in nervous and/or excited laughter whenever something significant happens, which in this case happened a lot. The first drop was a little shaky but it really found itself after that and just kept on giving. It felt like it went on for an absolute age, with endless little bursts of airtime which, with the direction of travel, provided an unusual accentuation in how the exit of each hill was lower than the entrance. It really drags you through it all in those seats.

As a counter point it was almost a little exhausting and mildly stressful. I’ve never done wood backwards before and that extra fear of being murdered by roughness at some point led to me never fully letting myself relax and be in the moment, always slightly on edge and braced for the worst. Fantastic fun though, one of a kind experience (right now) and highly recommended.

Buzzing with the eventual success, after the anxieties of the day, we headed over to the only other coaster we were specifically interested in revisiting. On route we skipped past old Goudurix and decided it was best left alone, having treated us kindly in the past.

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Something that didn’t treat me so kindly was Ozlris, a ride that 5 years ago punched me in the head on the first drop, rode subsequently about as poorly as the Vekoma and was my first real taste of B&M, and inverts specifically, not being all that consistently good any more. I went in hoping for another Nemesis or Black Mamba, and it wasn’t even close. Since that day this one has sat dead last on my invert rankings, which I’ve always felt a little uncertain about as I’ve literally piled another 20 rides onto that list since, shunting it further and further down. Was it really that bad, baffes aside?

Yes and no. That pronounced, violent jerk was still present on the first drop in the back row, though I was ready for it this time. I suppose it could be considered a good thing to start off that boldly and then immediately be contrasted with the unusually floaty first inversion. Contrast hits again and it’s more forceful through the next part and into the loop than I previously experienced. That weird jarring lurch in the exit is still there and on closer inspection it’s a trim brake, which I find very odd (and funny). Is there also a bump in the track or is it purely the friction that gives it that strange feeling?

The ride loses pace a bit from there (I wonder why), which is one of the main issues I took from before as it does several sluggish turns over unlandscaped land, only diving in and out of the ground for some fun inbetweeny sections parallel to the station. One of the zero Gs was especially glorious and overall I much preferred it to how I found it before. It definitely isn’t the worst one but is also quite a step down from the best. Very solid.

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Having completed what we had set out to do in surprisingly quick fashion, the plan was now up in the air. Their madhouse, Le Défi de César, had been a highlight of our last visit and so we checked it out again. Sadly it wasn’t operating either of the preshows, from which I remember nothing but fountain peril, although it was rather interesting to walk straight into the ride system from the exit doors with absolutely no context as to what was going on.

This one has always stood out to me as being the one that gets a little inventive with screens rather than just the usual physical decorations. It ain’t no Hex, but it sets it above your average, confusing story fest. The effect wasn’t quite as pronounced as before, though not especially helped by the fact that at least one of the screens was losing signal and cutting out throughout the ride. We went though our army test, got attacked by a giant squid and came out the other side in one piece. Very solid.

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Another semi-dark ride that I hadn’t realised existed and subsequently missed before was Epidemaïs Croisières. For some reason we had great trouble even finding it this time, with the park app indicating it to be in the rocks under the Grand Splatch. Somehow we managed to walk straight past it at least once, staring insistently and completely 180° in the wrong direction of where we thought it was supposed to be.

Boats happen, a large man happens, countries happen and then it goes into a cave for some more happenings. The story was more than a little lost on me, in the end it could all be a dream/imagination as the bloke is playing with his toys in the bath, including our boat. That’s my best guess anyway. Supposedly I’m meant to know this stuff.

We weren’t sure what to do with Tonnere deux Zeus other than knowing it demanded some further rerides, but by this time the question had been answered for us. The backwards seats were no longer available to book and so we queued up for some back to back forwards laps through an impressively efficient regular queue to close the day out in style. Without doing it one more time and trying to really relax, I’d say it’s essentially as good in vanilla mode as it is in the special seats, with a far less pronounced difference in intensity between the two when compared with legends such as DC Rivals and Hollywood Dream.

Gravity have done wonders with it as far as I’m concerned, the still shaky first drop and leads into the satisfying CCI-style turnaround and it’s already hauling by this point. Fresh wood hits in the form of the new sideways airtime hill which packs a powerful punch that I’m all too familiar with and is a real highlight of the new design. I like the homage touch of the old train and some track sticking out above the turnaround at the far end, although it’s a shame you can’t really see it that often.

The next two straight sections remain chock full of airtimey speed hills, which amusingly are half retracked and half as-was, leading to a very special sequence of float and crunch as it bounces between the two. This segment ends with a wicked lateral jerk to the side as you’re still out of your seat from the last hill and thus begins the helices of doom.

They’re alright, the thigh wobble is sadly a thing of the past but there’s still enough of my preferred level of rattle to keep things interesting and then the new deafening tunnel full of lightning effects is hilarious. Yes it’s loud, but when you’ve done Hades 360 you can put up with just about anything. The finale is a little weak, as we’ve found with many recent woodies of this scale, a couple of slower hills, one wonky, on a piece of structure that has a rather impressive sway to it. The Voyage corner to finish is even a bit of a damper but it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable entity and a well earned revitalisation. Very solid.

Can’t wait for the one-two punch it’ll form with Toutatis. France are kicking our ass.

Day 2


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 08/21 – Azur Park, Lunapark Fréjus + Antibes Land

Day 10

Today marked the end of our, give or take, 10 days in France. Unfortunately though we wouldn’t be able to give the country the send off it had earned, thanks to there being very little to do, park wise, in the area. It was therefore decided that we’d spend the day sight seeing before visiting the final 3 Summer Funfairs when they opened later in the evening.

For the sight seeing we visited a gorge, which despite previous hesitations, I really did find myself enjoying.

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In what felt like no time at all, it was time to leave the stunning scenery behind and begin the final Summer Funfair crawl of the trip.

Azur Park

First up was a “park” I won’t forget in a hurry, but mostly for the wrong reasons.

We arrived at Azur Park for opening and 2 things became immediately apparent, the coaster line up had changed (from my research) and almost nothing looked like it was ready to open…

So we decided to do a lap of the park.

In the area previously home to what I spent the entire trip calling the single rail Wild Mouse, was something even more exciting, Le King. King as far as I’m aware is royalty on the French touring scene and I was so excited that I was going to get to ride it, when they actually decide to open it that is.

Around 15 minutes after the park opened, several, mostly smaller rides, began to test.

Pomme

After another 10 minutes or so they opened the Wacky Worm. Much like Chenille from earlier in the trip, there was most certainly something wrong with this Worm, it was barely moving and almost stalled on each of our 3 laps.

And now we play the waiting game…

We spent the next 20 – 30 minutes bouncing between Le King and Le Crazy Mouse, watching them both not being open, until…

Crazy Mouse

Finally the spinner opened and my God were the operators not pleased to take our money and welcome us on board. Maybe they were just bitter because this was one of the weakest spinning mice that I’ve ridden.

Now all that was left to do was camp outside Le King.

After another frustating 15 minutes the operators appeared from out of nowhere and slowly began getting things ready.

Le King

As soon as the shutter to buy tickets opened we were there money in hand ready to finally take our seats and get this over with, but no…

After we purchased our tickets they let us onto the train, where they left us sitting for another 15 minutes…

Finally though, only an hour and half late, it was time to experience Le King.

How was it? I’m not sure.

I equal parts like and dislike this travelling monster.

On one hand, it’s a Soquet, it’s fast, it’s intense and it’s visually pretty cool. On the other, it’s brutally rough and the restraints are evil. I really think I need to re-ride it with a fresh mind and body to truly form a worth while opinion of it, but for now I’m just happy to be able to say that I’ve ridden Le King.

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And that was Azur Park and we were now running late and wouldn’t have time for pizza anymore…

Lunapark Fréjus

Next up was Lunapark Fréjus.

Crazy Mouse

Which was home to a much better spinning mouse.

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Magic Mountain

And the only operating Top Fun Typhoon in the World. I’d been intrigued about Magic Mountain from the moment I first saw a photo of its janky looking checkered inclined loop and it’s fair to say the coaster lived up to this assumption. It was rough, rattly and poorly transitioned but in the kind of way that’s more funny than offensive.

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Tokaido Express

Up next was another super rare coaster.

Tokaido Express is one of only 2 operating (3 exisiting) Mack Blauer Enzian Version 1s in the World and I thought it was great fun. This thing hauls way faster than modern versions of the layout and that coupled with no restraints and the ghetto seating position made for an exciting experience.

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Train Gourmand

The final coaster of Lunapark Fréjus was Train Gourmand and we’d have to really put in effort if we wanted to ride it.

Do you remember the Wacky Worm from Parc d’Attractions Marseillan-Plage? The one that was a massive headache to ride but I promised that a funfair later in the trip tops it? Well this is it…

Instead of being able to buy jutons (tokens) to ride Train Gourmand at a cash box at the attraction, you had to purchase them elsewhere. Where was this elsewhere? Well after several laps of the bustling funfair, getting lost and accidently ending up in restricted areas, we finally found out, from the main cash desks at the entrance to the fair, in other words, nowhere near the coaster…

This still seems utterly pointless to me and I’ve no doubt many riders wouldn’t go to that effort and thus money would be lost, but what do I know…

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Yeah, the dreams of a pizza are long gone now.

Antibes Land

The final Summer Funfair of the night, and the trip, was Antibes Land.

Wild Mouse

First up was Wild Mouse, a fully refurbished and smooth as silk Mack wild Mouse that rode great.

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Turtle’s Coaster

Next up was Turtle’s Coaster, an EOS spinning coaster that rode 100 times better than the one at Gulliver’s Milton Keynes used to but was still terrible. It did look nice though.

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Pomme

It almost felt fitting to end our series of Summer Funfair runs on a Wacky Worm, I dread to think how many I’ve added to my count thanks to these fairs.

Almost 1am now, still haven’t eaten, 6 Croque McDos? Yes.

Tomorrow we’d be going on an epic roadtrip through various countries in order to reach Austria before it got too late.

Heartline had discovered there was a massive trackless dark ride themed to chocolate at the Swiss museum of transport. So, while eating our McDos we booked our slot to ride and then planned when we wanted to wake up. Not too early as it’s almost 1:30 now, but with more than enough time to make our time slot. Yes, that sounds good, we might even need to find something to do in Switzerland to kill time before our slot, if only we knew…

Day 11

We got a decent amount of sleep and then jumped in the car with a strong buffer period for any issues on the way.

First up we flew through Monaco, just to say we’d been. Despite what I’d been told about the place, this was the only “country” today that we didn’t face any hold ups in.

Then it was into Italy where far too much time was lost thanks to motorway traffic and endless roadworks.

Finally though we were able to escape the hold ups of Italy and enter Switzerland still with enough time to spare. Only for it to all be wasted to more motorway traffic and even more roadworks. At one point we were stationary for over half an hour on approach to a tunnel and this wouldn’t even be the worst tunnel related incident we’d witness today. See I told you the roads were out to get us and this is far from the worst example we saw on the trip, that’s coming, get excited.

The sat nav told us that we’d arrived 20 minutes after our booked slot, which was the last slot of the day. Knowing the museum stayed open for another couple of hours after this, we phoned to ask if they would honour our slot, but no, we’d need to pop in to get a refund or tickets to return…

We opted for the tickets to return and then decided we didn’t come all this way for nothing, so let’s do a spot of sight seeing in Lucerne.

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Despite how I should feel given the circumstances, I cannot deny that’s one hell of a view.

Thanks to missing our time slot for the museum, then doing a couple of hours sight seeing, we were now way behind schudule on arriving in Austria at a sensible time. How bad can it be though? Checks sat nav. Yeah that’s not too bad, we should still be able to get a decent enough sleep tonight. Can you guess what happened next?

More roadworks, more traffic, more hold ups and the teased tunnel incident from earlier.

We were around an hour away from our hotel, still looking like we’d arrive at a semi sensible time, then it happened.

The 5th longest road tunnel in the World, the Gotthard Road Tunnel, was operating 1 lane only, due to, you guessed it, roadworks. We waited almost an hour for our turn to drive through this stupid hole in the mountains, turning our promised decent enough sleep into something stupid like 5 hours.

It was a shame really because the hotel was stunning, but never mind, I was still buzzing, the trip was about to enter phase 3, finally getting to visit parks that Heartline had visited and I was dying to see.

With that being said, thank you for reading, please click here for day 12 of my trip report where we visit the charming Freizeitpark Familienland and the wonderful Fantasiana.


Europe 08/21 – Magic Park Land, OK Corral, Funny Land + Magic World

Day 9

Today began with a trip to what could quite possibly be the worst park in France, Magic Park Land.

I’ve seen some truly awful excuses for car parks in my life but Magic Park Land’s attempt is hands down the worst ever, it was like driving on the surface of the moon. Honestly it was impossible to not enter at least one of the thousands of potholes while dodging the literal boulders in the way. I’ve no idea how we managed to escape without any lasting damage.

Already at odds with the place, things were only about to go even further downhill.

You’ve heard it all before, long queue, in the sun, barely moving. This time though it was even longer still, featured frequent queue jumping and worst of all took place in the shadow of a Pinfari. Are we sure this is worth it?

Storm

And straight to that Pinfari we went…

When I rode this it was named Strom, now that its name has been spelt correctly this jerky, rattly, piece of crap coaster has absolutely nothing going for it.

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Formula 1

Upon arriving at Formula 1, an off the shelf Fabbri spinning mouse, we discovered that the park operates some of their attractions like Jacquou Parc. Which in this case means 2 things, badly and that they close rides an hour after you’ve entered the park to have lunch.

Thankfully this time we just beat the cut off point to enter the queue. Not so thankfully we’d be forced to watch shady operations from an operator who clearly only had his mind set on his upcoming lunch, while the coaster structure itself was on the verge of collapsing any second.

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Shark Trip

Once again we just beat the closing cut off point for the best ride in the park, Shark Trip.

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Now let’s get out of here.

OK Corral

To a much more exciting place.

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If the picture above and park name don’t give it away, OK Corral is a family theme park dedicated to the Old West.

The park managed to win my trust before we’d even entered, when they agreed to give me a refund on the spot after one too many tickets were purchased through a misunderstanding. I’m certain very few parks would react in this way so that’s major bonus points to OK Corral.

Speaking of bonus points, OK Corral is a visual delight. The Western theme is solid throughout and that coupled with the park’s location surrounded by mountains mean there’s always something nice to look at.

Gold Rush

The first coaster to check out was one I was excited about.

Gold Rush is a Gerstlauer family shuttle coaster and it would be my first time getting to ride one of these rare beasts.

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But first, sadly, OK Corral couldn’t help itself and made quite possibly the strangest entry into the medical mask saga so far.

We were waiting at the airgates in Gold Rush’s nicely presented station. All 3 of us were wearing our go to masks we had been wearing all trip. Some people in the station weren’t even wearing a mask. Then the operator comes up to Heartline and tells him that his mask isn’t good enough and he needs to change it…

Let that sink in. Some people weren’t even wearing masks, Heartline’s wife was wearing the exact same mask as him, but no he has to go change his, only him. It still makes my head hurt now…

Anyway back to the coaster, it’s really good fun, twisty, fast paced and with nice pops of air. Gerstlauer family coasters are some of the best out there and I’m happy to discover that their shuttle models are just as good.

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Pioneer

Up next was yet another rare coaster type I was excited to check out.

Pioneer is one of only three custom Zierer ESCs in the World.

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What makes this rare coaster even more unique though is its seating arrangements. In keeping with the park’s Western theme, the front 3 rows of the coaster are ridden on horseback, while the rear 3 rows are ridden in chariots. While I honestly preferred riding in the chariots, there is no denying that for both visual and re-rideability reasons this was a genius move taken by the park.

No matter where you sit though, Pioneer is great fun and I’d really like to see more custom Zierer ESCs pop up around the World.

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Serpent Hopi

To complete OK Corral’s coaster line up we next headed over to Serpent Hopi, the park’s Zierer Tivoli.

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Mystères de l’Ouest

Then it was time to check out the park’s only dark ride offering, Mystères de l’Ouest. While nothing special, this ghost train themed to the Old West did manage to make this coward jump a few times, so I don’t feel in any position to bad mouth it.

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The ride is in the building to the left of this picture.

The nice lady at admissions who helped me sort out my refund told us that we needed to check out one of the many shows the park run daily, so with time to kill before tonight’s Summer Funfair we took her up on that offer.

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This is a view of the show arena, do you see what I mean about there always being something nice to look at now?

The show then…

It was certainly interesting…

First you got a fun and horse stunt heavy introduction to the bad guy Indians. Then you got a fun introduction to the good guy Cowboys. Then there was a fun and stunt filled battle between the 2, where all the Cowboys died and then the show was over…

No epic Cowboy revenge scene? In a park themed to Cowboys? No? Alright then.

I enjoyed it but man was the ending strange. How many of you would want me dead if I said I preferred it to Raveleijn? Sorry wait, no, that’s spoilers.

With that our visit to OK Corral was over and I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed it. Heartline always had this park listed as something special but to me it was the surprise hit I desperately needed after the immense letdown that was Magic Park Land.

Funny Land

Next was a quick stop off at a place named Funny Land in order to ride their Wacky Worm.

The park is a free to enter, jutons (tokens) to ride affair, making it perfect for a speed run.

Crazy Chenille

The Wacky Worm ended up being the rarer and better model with the diagonal lifthill. These models from experience offer stupid unexpected airtime as you launch over the drop and Crazy Chenille was no exception to this rule.

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Magic World

The final park of the day was Magic World and was yet another Summer Funfair to add to our count.

Mouse Coaster

With another Reverchon spinning mouse. This one however I forgot to take a photo of.

Banzai

Banzai was next on the list and what a strange contraption it was.

The coaster is essentially a 100 foot tall butterfly and really is an experience of 2 halves. The honestly unnerving climb to the top, before turning into 2 minutes of endlessly rocking back and forth.

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Magic Pomme

The final coaster of the night was, you guessed it, another Wacky Worm.

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Thank you for reading, click here for day 10 of my trip report, where we visit another 3 Summer Funfairs, Azur Park, Lunapark Fréjus and Antibes Land.


Europe 08/21 – Piratland, Parc Spirou Provence + Amigoland

Day 8 (Still)

Our reward for pushing so hard yesterday was that today would be relatively easy going, with only 1 “proper” park on the cards before hitting just 1 Summer Funfair after 7pm.

Piratland

But first we needed to stop off at Piratland.

The “park” is a collection of childrens rides at the side of the road that’s free to enter and uses a token system. With that being said, “3 for the mine train please”.

Train de la Mine

This heavily cloned and tiny SBF Visa coaster kicked our asses with how brutally it was riding, I’m not going to lie, I quite enjoyed it.

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After quite literally being blinded by a sand storm in the Piratland car park, it was time to get back on the road and head over to Parc Spirou.

Parc Spirou Provence

You know when you really want to dislike something, and have many valid reasons to, but you can’t because there’s 1 thing stopping you? That’s the Parc Spirou experience in a nutshell.

As we drove past the park and entered its large car park it became immediately obvious that we were about to be burnt to a crisp by the blazing sun, due to the park and car park itself having absolutely no shade whatsoever.

On the long walk from the car park to the park entrance our theory instantly came true, don’t worry though, there’s a shelter we can hide under just up ahead. Then it happened…

It was Parc Spirou’s time to write a chapter in the ever growing saga of the medical mask.

A security bloke slid out from behind a table to tell Heartline and his wife that they weren’t wearing masks. They were, that’s not up for debate, but we’d learnt by now that this meant you’re not wearing a mask that I like the look of.

It was much less insulting to be told outside of a park that your mask wouldn’t fly and it was nice to see for once the consistency in both Heartline and his wife’s identical masks being an identical issue. What wouldn’t fly and what wasn’t nice was that we’d now have to walk back to the car in the blazing sun to go get medical masks.

En avant Seccotine

Trying to cool down, both literally and figuratively, we first joined the queue for the park’s Zierer Force Zero, En avant Seccotine.

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Wanted Dalton

Next we dodged the sun on route to Wanted Dalton, the park’s Zierer Force Two, only for the queueline to offer almost no protection when we got there. To add to our problems a heavily sunburnt local woman attempted to queue jump us and couldn’t see the issue when her family told her not to…

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Spirou Racing

To complete the Zierer trifecta we took our unshaded place in line for Spirou Racing. If Heartline’s wife hadn’t been a genius and brought an umbrella for us to hide under I’m almost certain one of us would have ended the day in A&E.

For the record Force One at Schwaben Park is better. Why? Because it’s not at Parc Spirou.

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With most of the coasters ticked off we decided it would be a good idea to check out the park’s dark ride offering next in an attempt to get out of the sun.

Gaffe à Gaston

So we joined the long but thankfully shaded queue of Gaffe à Gaston.

I’m happy to report that this simulator attraction was absolutely worth the wait and that I really enjoyed it. Literally nothing about this ride made any sense in the greatest way possible and its ending had me crying with laughter.

Have we just found a ride at Parc Spirou that’s worth riding?

The queue for Gaston had massively eaten into our time at the park and soon the rides were going to close, so we’d need to get tactical and fruity in order to ride everything we needed.

Nid des Marsupilamis

Sadly we’d have to waste time riding the park’s Roller Ball…

I didn’t enjoy the one at Schwaben Park, would adding 9.5 metres help? Nope.

These coasters are the very definition of pointless as they slowly rock you back and forth as you slowly descend the structure.

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Supergroom et les Dinozorgs

Supergroom et les Dinozorgs was next and while it was far from the best example of one, I always enjoy immersive tunnel attactions.

Zombillénium Tower

We saved the best for last though in the form of Zombillénium Tower. This 300 foot tall gyro drop tower with tilting seats was fantastic and easily the best ride at the park.

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With that we had just managed to ride everything we wanted before park close.

As we walked away from Zombillénium Tower, Heartline’s wife realised that her phone was missing. We quickly walked over to a patch of dry grass and poured the contents of our overflowing bag onto it, she was right.

The last time she remembered having the phone was while we rode Supergroom et les Dinozorgs, so we ran over there to discover that the attraction had closed and all staff had left the area.

Worried now, we headed to guest services to see if they could help. Here, we met a super nice bloke who first told us to once again attempt to catch a staff member from the ride, so we went back over.

This time there was a lady walking away from the ride, so we asked her had they found a phone during their close down checks, she told us that they hadn’t.

So we went back to guest services to file a lost item report with the previously mentioned super nice bloke. He really helped to calm the situation down, first by promising it will be found and then by trying to find comedy in the situation.

Just as we were coming to the end of the report a lady came in with a big smile on her face, they had found the phone! The sheer relief and happiness of this moment, combined with how great the bloke was, is why I can’t officially dislike Parc Spirou. I think once again I’ll need to adapt Heartline’s review of Futuroscope in order to describe our time at Parc Spirou, it was alright but it wasn’t without its issues.

Buzzing with excitement and relief, we started a horn battle in the car park before ordering a pizza and leaving.

Amigoland

After eating well, possibly too well, we next headed to yet another Summer Funfair and the last park of the day, Amigoland.

La Pomme

Where we immediately picked up where we left off last night, with another Wacky Worm.

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Jumbo Jet

Before moving onto something much more exciting, one of only 2 operating Schwarzkopf Jumbo Jets in the World.

While no where near as bone crushingly intense as Jet Star earlier in the trip, Jumbo Jet was amazing.

There’s just something about these old Schwarzkopfs that make me smile. They just have this sense of danger and sentience that most coasters (for better or worse) lack. You just jump into your ghetto seat and become one with the rider infront, you feel the heat of the lift motors burning your legs and then you’re thrown around a track made up of nothing but high speed forceful corners. It’s not often you get to experience something like this and it really did feel special.

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And that’s where our slightly more relaxed day ended.

Thank you for reading, click here for day 9 of my trip report, where we visit the awful Magic Park Land, OK Corral, Funny Land and Magic World.


Europe 08/21 – Anatolia Parc, Naturland, Lou Bac Mountain, Pirat’ Parc, Parc d’Attractions Marseillan-Plage, Lunapark + Fabrikus World

Day 6

Today we’d be temporarily leaving France and heading into Andorra to ride 2 alpine coasters, the World’s longest and the other one.

We didn’t initially plan to ride any other coasters today but this was quickly rectified when we discovered that a park on route had a Chinese caterpillar up for grabs.

Anatolia Parc

Never before in my life have I gone from fearing arrest to feeling the most welcome you could possibly feel as quickly as the time I visited Anatolia Parc.

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You know that feeling you get when you shouldn’t be somewhere? That was exactly what I was feeling as we parked up in a small gravel car park and slowly edged our way towards the above pictured entrance building of Anatolia Parc. If L’Île aux Géants felt exclusively for children, which it did, this was another level, not at all helped by the fact you couldn’t see any rides from outside of the park.

Thankfully almost instantly the tone would change.

While going through the process of purchasing tickets from a slightly confused woman, an absolute hero of a man walked over, we shall name him Mr Anatolia. We are certain he was the owner and he knew exactly why we were here. “Have you come to test my coaster?”, we have indeed! He then instructed us to enter the park and make our way to the coaster.

Chenille

Soon after we arrived, we watched Mr Anatolia power over to us ride keys in hand and soon we were riding his admittedly rather kick ass Chinese caterpillar.

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After our ride we had a little chat with him about the recent parks we’d visited and where we were heading next. He was interested to hear our thoughts on Namazu and happy to tell us that he would be visiting Andorra soon too.

We left the park buzzing from how much of a gentleman Mr Anatolia was and how well what could have been an awkward experience went.

Right, onto Andorra now, but not before stopping off just one more time I promise…

On our route to Andorra we’d be passing over the tallest bridge in the World, the Millau Viaduct and it felt wrong not to give it a little bit of attention.

For once in our lives we listened to a tourist guide in order to find out where the best place to view the bridge was. It ended up being a a small village in the valley and from there we got amazing views of this incredible piece of engineering while surrounded by stunning scenery and beautiful old buildings. Oh and then the second Rafael of the trip came hurtling through the valley and suddenly this was the best detour ever.

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Now we are actually going to Andorra.

Thanks to the World being against us traffic wise, which is a recurring theme for the trip, when we finally arrived in Andorra it was too late to go ride either of the two alpine coasters, so we opted to do some research in person at the site of Andorra’s lesser alpine coaster.

We pulled up at Mon(t) Magic Family Park, or at least the cable car station that takes you to the park and tried to figure out how the whole thing worked. All we wanted was 3 return tickets for the cable car and 3 tickets for the alpine coaster at the top, simple right?

Well we couldn’t figure it out. The information boards and leaflets only mentioned various expensive packages and that’s not what we wanted. So we asked the lady behind the counter, who only made us more confused. Right, never mind, we can just check the website tonight…

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After a spot of sight seeing, yeah Andorra is pretty stunning, we made our way to the hotel to do our alpine coaster research before going to bed and falling asleep to the sound of the stream behind the hotel.

Day 7

Naturland

Knowing today was going to be time critical, we arrived at Naturland, formerly Naturlandia, at opening and it was a good thing we did because we took the last parking space in the rather feeble car park, before making our way up to the park itself.

Naturland is split into 2 different parks at 2 different altitudes, with the only way to get between them a drive up and down a mountain road. The majority of the attractions are located at the lower of the 2 parks though, including the only reason we came, Tobotronc, the World’s longest alpine coaster.

We joined a massive queue to buy tickets and keeping in tradition for this trip we were immediately getting intensely sunburnt in a queue devoid of any shade.

There was a man walking up and down the queue with an iPad, giving out information and selling tickets in an attempt to get through the line faster. When he came over to us we told him what we wanted, “3 for Tobotronc please”, his response however was not what we wanted to hear, “I’ll have to check but I think you need to book online for the Tobotronc”. He then walked over to the ticket counter, spoke to a woman and then came back to us, “yeah, you needed to book online for Tobotronc, you can’t buy a ticket for just Tobotronc today”. He then went onto explain that the only way we could ride the alpine coaster today would be to buy a 1 go on every attraction package ticket that cost 35 pounds each. Oh and he couldn’t sell it from the iPad, we’d need to keep getting sunburnt before we could get robbed.

As mentioned earlier, last night we had gone on the Naturlandia (at the time) website and did our research, primarily into how much it was going to cost us, 6 or 8 pound each for just Tobotronc if I remember rightly. There was nothing at all about having to book online if you just wanted the alpine coaster. Yes there was a page where you could book slots for it but it said it was only needed to guarantee you a ride during busy times. It was also no use to us because the next available slot was in 3 days..

We’d pretty much come to Andorra with the promise of riding the World’s longest alpine coaster and it seemed unlikely that we’d return any time soon, this left us with no option really, we’d have to set ourselves up for robbery. The park weren’t making this decision feel any less dirty though…

When we got to the counter we figured that we’d have nothing to lose in trying again to get just 3 tickets to Tobotronc, big mistake. For this, the woman behind the counter started ranting at us, not even stopping when we said, “yes we understand, sell us the package then”.

Not only had we just been robbed and insulted, we were now going to be late on a very time sensitive day thanks to being given a time slot to ride Tobotronc that was over an hour away, I’m starting to think this isn’t a very nice park…

Well, what can we use our 35 pound ticket on to pass the time? Nothing apparently. There was only 1 attraction of interest to us, dirt buggies round a snail pace course, but this had a queue moving slower than the buggies themselves, meaning we would have easily missed our Tobotronc slot.

Tobotronc

Far later than anyone could have expected, it was finally time to ride the mighty Tobotronc, the longest alpine coaster in the World.

It is definitely fair to split the Tobotronc experience into 2 halves, the 5,577 foot lift and the 11,811 foot decent.

The lift, which takes almost exactly 12 minutes to climb is honestly almost as good as the ride back down. It is the perfect combination of relaxing (as you breathe in the mountain air and float past some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen) and terrifying (as you think to yourself how can we still be climbing, this can’t be real).

Then it’s time for the trip back down the mountain and I think I’m about to upset some people. Don’t get me wrong, it is fantastic, but I don’t think it brought anything else to the table that other great Wiegand alpines haven’t already, other than repetition. I certainly wouldn’t put the descent section of Tobotronc above that of the amazing Hasenhorn Coaster. Also the length, combined with Andorrans being less exciting than Germans meant catching up to the rider infront was inevitable.

I’m very grateful to have ridden it, even OK with paying 35 pounds this time, there is no way I’d pay that again for repeat rides though.

Now let’s get out of this rip off park…

It was time to go ride Andorra’s other alpine coaster, the one at Mon(t) Magic Family Park, would we be able to make sense of it this time? It turns out it didn’t matter if we did…

What had we learnt on the website last night? 2 things. That the alpine coaster itself was rather feeble, a 10th of the length of Tobotronc and that there was possibly a deal where you could get a package for just the cable car and the alpine coaster, but it was very vague.

We rocked up, parked in our scouted car park from last night and then once again made the lengthy walk to the cable car station. A walk I had to make twice, because I left my mask in the car…

Walking in, knowing exactly what we wanted and not settling for anything less, we made our way to the ticket counter. We were not prepared to be tricked into buying an expensive package for an average looking alpine coaster on a mountain. Then it happened…

It was Andorra’s turn to enter the saga of the medical mask.

We all approached the counter. All wearing our masks. The same masks we had been wearing all trip. We stood on the floor marking 1.5 metres from the counter. All for the woman behind the security glass to point at Heartline and in the rudest way possible explain that he wasn’t wearing a mask…

Already late, knowing that we’d probably be scammed into buying some expensive package, that the alpine coaster itself wasn’t going to be great and now being spoken to like that, it was time to leave and never look back.

Now let’s get out of this rip off country…

Lou Bac Mountain

And straight back into the sweet embrace of France, on a very pretty drive to Lou Bac Mountain.

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What a novelty it was to see a sign on the ticket office window clearly displaying the very reasonable prices of a one way trip on the cable car and the alpine coaster.

Luge Lou Bac Mountain

Before even getting to ride this beast of an alpine coaster I was already in love with its crazy operations.

Firstly, they load the empty coaster cars into the cable car with you, which I thought was amazing.

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Then when they reach the top, they put them onto an incredibly over engineered transfer system to get them over to the loading positition.

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Enough about the operations, how was the coaster? Well, it’s my new favourite alpine coaster ever and that’s coming from a man who rode Tobotronc a couple of hours ago.

Technically a Sunkid but basically a Brandauer, this coaster rectifies everything that was wrong with Clézy Gliss (another Brandauer) and amplifies everything that was great about it.

As you can see in the photo above, booster back rests are used when only 1 rider is present. This pushes you forward in your seat, positioning the controls perfectly for the insanity that’s about to come.

And my God the insanity…

Remember that I said the single rail and smaller less weighty cars of Clézy Gliss made it feel unsafe in the best sort of way? The layout of Luge Lou Bac Mountain, with that level of insecurity made for some truly terrifying moments. I was into double digits of doubting my safety on this thing and loving every second of it.

Never before on an alpine coaster have I had to slow down in fear of actually coming out the car, it was ridiculous.

Speaking of ridiculous, look at that brake run! Who designed this thing? What else have they designed? Move over Wiegand, Brandauer and Sunkid are the new kings of this game.

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Thanks to the misfortune that was Andorra we were now actually ahead of schedule before tonight’s run of Summer Funfairs, meaning we could take it easy on route to Pirat’ Parc.

Pirat’ Parc

Just after opening we arrived at the first of many of the Summer Funfairs we had in store tonight, Pirat’ Parc.

I must warn you that as the night draws on my memories are probably going to get more and more blurry, I can’t lie tonight was rather intense.

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Pirat’ Parc felt the least like a fun fair out of the all the Summer Funfairs we experienced and I think the themed entrance and park wide token system helped to make it feel that way.

Gold Mine

The first coaster of the night was Gold Mine, 1 of only 2 Reverchon custom coasters in the World. For reference the other one is Tigre de Sibérie at Le Pal, which I’ve also ridden.

Bragging aside, Gold Mine was great fun, helped massively by the fantastic ride operator who was trying his best to get the party started. This included but was not limited to, blasting party tunes, excessive use of a smoke machine and breaking into dance, a great start to our night.

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Mini Racer

Up next was Mini Racer, a single car twisty wild mouse kind of coaster, from manufacturer unknown. Though if you asked me to guess I’d say I.E. Park were responsible, responsible for almost killing us. Yeah this thing was insanely brutal and I’m not sure if I enjoyed it or not.

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Cars

After literally walking through a wedding photoshoot taking place at Pirat’ Parc (which is totally something I’d do) we arrived at Cars. We were not however ready for what we were about to experience.

We noticed while watching the coaster, which looked a lot like one we’d ridden in Korea, that on its second lap it stopped for a short while on its enclosed brake run. Was that just part of it’s operations or does something happen in there?

During our first lap this brake run area just looked like a metal tunnel, so imagine our surprise when we entered it a second time, the doors closed and things happened. I seriously don’t want to ruin the surprise but it’s fair to say that it turned this janky kids coaster into something really memorable.

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Big Apple

Sadly we’d end up saving the least interesting coaster until last.

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And onto the next one…

Parc d’Attractions Marseillan-Plage

Parc d’Attractions Marseillan-Plage was next and was home to a coaster I was genuinely afraid of riding.

Roller Coaster

But before that it was time to ride the 3rd (I think) Zyklon Galaxi of the trip.

Much like how night times and being wrecked make spinning mouses 10 times more intense, the same applied to this lazily named coaster.

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Gotham

Somehow Gotham, formerly Tornado from M&Ds, was even more intimidating in person. This coaster literally ran away from us before we had the chance to go and ride it and now it was me who was contemplating the very same.

Credit where it is due, in its current setting, the coaster does look rather impressive. It towers over the rest of the park and the new paint scheme, at least at night, looked great.

I’m putting it off aren’t I? Let’s go ride it.

To my surprise it wasn’t too bad, but I did go in expecting to be destroyed and was riding as defensively as humanly possible. I’ve certainly ridden worse but I wouldn’t line up for a re-ride any time soon.

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Pomme Enchantée/Brucomela

This Wacky Worm was unnecessarily difficult to buy jutons (tokens) for. Instead of having a pay box located outside of the ride, the coaster was located in an area where all the rides (mostly childrens) shared a ticket counter and jutons. Don’t worry though, another fun fair later in the trip takes this stupid idea and makes it even more difficult.

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We done?

Lunapark

It was about now that I completely lost track of what was happening and where I was.

Roller-Coaster

Didn’t we just ride this at the last park?

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Apocalypse

It was while waiting to dispatch in the station of the park’s Vekoma Corkscrew that my brain officially checked out. The bright lights and loud music of these fairs are great at first but when you’re this worn out they are basically torture.

I spent the whole layout shouting “where’s the bayerncurve?!”, then it punched me in the face to announce its arrival.

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Day 8

Luna Pomme

Past midnight now. Hey look, another Wacky Worm…

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Fabrikus World

I was pretty much the walking dead by the time we arrived at Fabrikus World.

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Crazy Mouse

Which made the spinning mouse one of the most intense experiences of my entire life, we span so much it was unreal.

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EuroLoop

Another park, another stupid Vekoma, this time without a bayerncurve. This thing was riding awful, a real slog to endure, so of course they sent it round twice…

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Eurospeed

Even in my completely ruined state I was able to appreciate the quality of this custom Mack powered coaster.

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Pomme

The 4th Wacky Worm of the very long day (is this some kind of twisted record?) meant we were now able to leave the flashing lights and loud music and return broken but triumphant to our hotel rooms, ready to do it all again in less than 24 hours…

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Thanks for reading this very long instalment of my trip report, I couldn’t think of a better way to do it. Click here for the next one, where we visit Piratland, Parc Spirou Provence and Amigoland.


Europe 08/21 – Jacquou Parc, Parc Fenestre + Vulcania

Day 5

Jacquou Parc

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.

Sombrero

Once we finally made it into the park we first stumbled upon Sombrero, a coaster(?) that felt questionable in almost every way imaginable.

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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.

Speedy Gonzales

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.

Crazy Coaster

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.

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Now let’s get out of here.

Parc Fenestre

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.

Cacahuète Express

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.

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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

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.

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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.

Namazu

Speaking of Namazu…

After getting lost, see I told you the layout was fun, we arrived at Intamin’s newest Family Launch Coaster.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Stunning isn’t it?

Volcans sacrés

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.

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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

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.

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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…

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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.

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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.


Europe 08/21 – Parc Ange Michel, L’Île aux Géants + Futuroscope

Day 4

Today began by righting the wrong that was forgetting Ange Michel’s existence on the second day of the trip. This would come in the form of driving a considerable way off-piste. This upset the car enough to kickstart oil issues that would plague us for the rest of the trip.

Parc Ange Michel

Let’s hope this place is worth the emergency oil change we performed in a supermarket car park.

It wasn’t looking promising at first, as we joined a rabble of people getting sunburnt in an attempt to buy tickets.

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Tourbillon

Once in though we were able to run between shade until we stumbled upon Tourbillon.

This would be the second of these stupid Gosetto spinning coasters that I’ve ridden, and the worst, but only because it was a whirlwind of large bugs and blinding sun.

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Tacot en Folie

Tacot en Folie sucked and stains the great legacy of Soquet.

This coaster bored me enough to start contemplating if it was worth driving hours out of our way and breaking the car to visit Ange Michel. The worrying thing is I still think it was.

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Flash Tower

Thankfully we were able to find something to cheer us up and it’s name was Flash Tower.

We figured we might as well as we wandered past the park’s Zamperla tower ride and it turned out to be a fantastic decision. This ride doesn’t work like a conventional drop tower, instead it pulls you up and down the tower repeatedly throughout the cycle. That doesn’t sound that impressive but you need to understand that every time it pulls you down it delivers absolutely outrageous ejector airtime. At least 8 times during the cycle you are thrown up into the restraint so hard that it almost feels wrong. By the fouth time I was sure I was used to it, but no, it kicked my ass every time and I loved every second of it.

For once I am legitimately upset that I forgot to take a photo of the ride.

Tornado

We ended our visit to Ange Michel with a ride on Tornado, another spinning mouse, this one tame enough that it’s suitable for people who hate spinning and going backwards.

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With wrongs now righted we could finally put Ange Michel behind us and move onto bigger and better things.

L’Île aux Géants

Like a park exclusively for children…

On one hand L’Île aux Géants is located a short distance from Futuroscope and it felt almost rude not to pay it a visit. On the other hand we weren’t sure we’d get in and it would cut into our Futuroscope time. Decisions…

In the end we took the plunge and I’m glad we did because it was certainly an experience.

From the very second we arrived everything was screaming that there was no way we were going to get in without children. The place couldn’t have looked anymore children only if it tried and the pricing structure implied adults couldn’t enter alone.

It was therefore rather tense as we approached what you could loosely call a ticket counter and asked for “2 adults please”. To our surprise and without a strange look or single question from the staff member we were granted our request and made our way into the park.

Avengers Roller Coaster

And straight to Avengers Roller Coaster, yet another Zyklon Galaxi. What this one lacked in immense theming, it more than made up for in copyright infringement.

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Being a very small park, with a small team behind it, attractions operate on a rotational basis. Because of that the second and final coaster of the park was currently closed and would remain that way for another 15 minutes, this is where the true genius of L’Île aux Géants shines through.

The park is littered with plastic lawn chairs that are free to use and free to be taken anywhere you please.

In the future, when I look back at my life in this hobby, I pray that I never forget the time I sat on plastic lawn furniture in a children’s park waiting for a Wacky Worm to open.

Brocomela

At exactly the scheduled time of reopening the operator of the Zyklon walked over and we swapped our lawn furniture for seats on the back of the Brocomela, if only it was always this convenient.

Well that went far better than it had any right to, let’s head over to Futuroscope now.

Futuroscope

I’m going to be completely honest, until recently I had never heard of Futuroscope. Heartline tried his best to get me up to speed though, informing me that the place is extremely popular and focused on learning, that probably wasn’t the best way to sell it to me.

The park, if you could call it that, feels like what would happen if you combined Epcot, a World’s fair and a museum. Many massive impressive buildings everywhere with one or two attractions in each. In my opinion this led to a serious lack of atmosphere while bouncing between attractions but we will get back to that.

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Objectif Mars

Because first we need to talk about Objectif Mars, the only reason I’d heard of the park and the sole reason for our visit.

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Objectif Mars is an Intamin family spinning coaster and it opened at the park in mid 2020. I’d been wanting to ride the coaster ever since it was first announced, with promises of the project costing insane amounts of money and the indoor sections being spectacular.

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I’m disappointed to announce though that the experience as a whole was quite the let down and I rate it as a whole experience because if you were to judge it on the coaster alone you’d be even more disappointed.

The queueline was no where near as impressive as I was expecting, in fact it was one of the least exciting queuelines in the park, which isn’t great when you consider the coaster is pretty much brand new. I was getting serious Smiler but not as crap vibes throughout the tedious “warehouse but with some optical effects” themed queueline.

Now onto the coaster itself, or lack thereof. You start with an indoor section which to me at least just played out like a series of unlinked special effect demonstrations. Here’s some Telsa coils and here’s some fire effects, don’t get me wrong I love to see this kind of stuff but it was hardly presented in a spectacular way. The indoor section ends with an admittedly great effect though as you are tilted onto your back via a trick track, while looking up at screens mimicking sitting in a space shuttle engaing warp speed.

Then you very slowly and awkwardly come off the trick track and turn a corner in silence to go outside and start the main coaster section.

Next up you engage a launch that barely gets things moving, go over an airtime hill that doesn’t have airtime and then float around a couple of corners barely moving before you hit the second launch.

This section of Objectif Mars is a lot better. The launch is quite punchy, the cars start spinning properly, the twisted airtime hill provides actual airtime and the following couple of corners provide some nice forces. It’s just a shame this section lasts about 14 seconds from entering the second launch to hitting the final brakes.

Objectif Mars does end on a high though, with probably the best drop track in the World. I feel it would have worked so much better to have this section at the start though. It feels very disjointed and like another showing off of effects to have the drop track at the end of the coaster.

I think disjointed is great way to sum up the entire experience actually. From the mediocre queueline promising you a trip to Mars, to the unlinked special effects show inside, to the snail pace boring first half, to the pretty great second half and finally to the intense drop track section, nothing really flows properly in my opinion. It’s such a shame really, I really wanted to love Objectif Mars but sadly it wasn’t to be. Don’t worry though, there are 2 more very similar Intamin coasters on this trip that I loved.

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Arthur, l’Aventure 4D

Next we headed to the Arthur 4D cinema, which was located in its own huge building.

Coming from someone who doesn’t like the Arthur film series or normally enjoy 4D cinemas, this thing was fantastic!

The theming inside was amazing and the 4D film itself was insane. I couldn’t stop laughing from the combination of comedy on screen and the relentless aggression from the 4D ride system. Arthur was awesome, but wouldn’t be the best 4D cinema at the park…

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La Gyrotour

As we passed the park’s observation tower we noticed that it closed earlier than the rest of the park, so with it being quiet at the time we figured it was now or never.

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La Vienne dynamique

That crown of best 4D cinema in the park? In Europe? In the World? Ever? Belongs to La Vienne dynamique, which from the second we passed through its beautiful waterfall facade escalated comedy to heights previously unknown to me.

Heartline had convinced himself and me that this was a leaning on a bar simulator experience about nature that we only need to experience for the sake of the Dark Ride Database, how wrong he was…

At first we were ushered into what looked like a dank and dark cinema from the 90s, but the screen wasn’t a screen at all, it was a solid sheet of high pressure water. Wait what is this ride again?

Then as best I can remember, an advert played on the water screen, nothing else happened and the house lights came back on. Was that it?

Doors to the left of the water cinema then opened and we were ushered into an even bigger cinema, this one clearly the main event, with a massive screen and what looked like at least a hundred 2 seater simulator pods. What actually is this man? I’m getting nervous now.

I cannot explain even a second of what happens next and do it justice, you wouldn’t even believe me if I did. All I can say is that the ride film was hands down one of the greatest motion pictures ever etched onto film and that physical comedy was redefined 6 times over, all while the simulator pod tried to murder me several times.

I couldn’t tell you how long the ride film lasted, all I know is that I couldn’t breathe for more than half of it and I haven’t cried that much from laughter in my life. What a find this ride was, I can’t believe we almost didn’t experience it, the best ride in the park without a second thought.

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La Machine à Voyager dans le Temps

Still trying to regain our composure we next headed to La Machine à Voyager dans le Temps, a tracked screen based dark ride themed to time travel and those annoying Rabbid characters no one likes from the Rayman universe.

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Futuroscope goes 2-0 in creating rides from franchises I don’t like and making them enjoyable.

The interior queueline for this ride was pretty special and incredibly detailed, further throwing shade on the half arsed job over at Objectif Mars.

I was quite sceptical on what I’d make of the ride itself, Rabbids and screens aren’t high on my list of dark ride preferences but to my surprise I really enjoyed it. The ride goes a lot harder than I was expecting and little surprises here and there really helped make it a memorable experience.

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L’Extraordinaire Voyage

Talk about ending on a low…

While we were always of the understanding that L’Extraordinaire Voyage was a flying theatre, which I’m not really interested in, the park more than once led us to believe that it was going to be much more than the usual flying over the blurry landscapes of the World…

The exterior of the ride takes your past illustrations based on creations from the fantastic mind of Mr Jules Verne.

The beautiful interior queue has you waiting in a room inspired by M.C. Escher, with all the various extraordinary voyages we could possibly go on today.

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Then it all goes wrong…

Next you get led into a generic preshow room to watch a generic preshow about how we are about to go on a generic blurry flight around the World…

But it gets better. We need to board a shuttle thing to take us to our aircraft. Cue a hundred people in a cramped room that simulates us crudely making our way over to it. Note that the room doesn’t have any motion or vibration effects, so it’s just a hundred people crushed together while screens pretend we are moving.

Wait we are having too much fun now, so let’s stop here for 5 minutes after that ends before we make our way to the flying theatre itself.

Oh you thought that killed the ever fading momentum of the experience? You’ve seen nothing yet.

Take your seat on the flying theatre but please don’t expect to move for another 5 minutes because this is the slowest loading simulator in the World.

Then, as expected, it is finally time to go on our blurry flight around the World, what a rip off…

To pick our spirits up we were thrilled to see we had time for 2 more laps on Objectif Mars, it ain’t great but it’s better than what that just was.

On the first of our 2 laps the legend of the medical mask struck again.

A ride host came over to an already restrained Heartline to inform him that he wasn’t wearing a mask, when he was wearing a mask, the same mask he has worn all trip so far and all day at Futuroscope.

When Heartline asked what he was meant to do about it while he was already strapped in and ready to go, the host shrugged and walked off in a huff, right OK then.

It was tonight that we started to slowly come to the conclusion that certain people only consider you as wearing a mask when you are wearing the blue medical masks. None of our current masks were this spec, in fact they were proven as better than that. We had a pack of medical masks in the car though and we would of course wear them if requested at the park entrance. To get to this point in the day though and be told by one man that your mask isn’t suitable is an insult and really frustrating, and it wasn’t even me being told off, don’t worry though, that day will come…

After finding something to eat in the very lacklustre “food court”, we opted to watch the evening show from the footpath as opposed to the designated seating area just incase someone else decided to find fault in Heartline’s mask at the end of a 6 hour visit.

The show was fine but not even close to what I was expecting from the park if I’m honest.

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I think Heartline said it best with a statement about the park that has now bled into my everyday life, “it wasn’t without its issues”.

The park itself did little for me atmosphere wise. Like I said earlier there is very little going on between rides, thanks almost entirely to most of them being hidden away in big buildings.

Then the rides. Objectif Mars let me down, Arthur and the Rabbid time machine were great, La Vienne dynamique changed my life and the flying theatre was awful.

The evening show was meh and that one bloke from Objectif Mars sadly ruined my opinion of the staff there.

I’ll say this, I’m so glad we were able to get stupidly cheap evening tickets. I feel like if I paid full price I’d be even more bitter but as it stands I’m happy to think of Futuroscope as a good time but not without its issues.

Thanks for reading, click here for day 5 of the trip, where we visit Jacquou Parc, Parc Fenestre and the much better than Futuroscope, Vulcania.


Europe 08/21 – La Récré des 3 Curés, Kingoland + Luna Park La Palmyre

Day 3

The initial plan for Ange Michel redemption was to add it onto today’s already stacked line up, this meant today we’d have to get extra fruity.

La Récré des 3 Curés

Which was why we were knocking on the door of Récré 3 at opening.

La Récré des 3 Curés is yet another small family park that I’d never heard of. This time I felt extra stupid though because it turns out that the park opened a brand new custom Gerstlaurer Eurofighter last year and I managed to completely miss it.

Vertika

It’s name is Vertika and after a brisk scenic walk to the back of the park we were now standing in the shadows of the beast waiting for it to open.

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At exactly 11 a friendly member of staff opened the queue and it was time for the first “major” coaster of the trip. So how was it?

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It was great! You’ll never find me getting too excited for a Eurofighter but this is certainly one of the best that I’ve ridden. It’s smooth, forceful, snappy and has some good airtime moments.

4 rides back to back, with every intention of riding again if we weren’t in a rush is probably the strongest compliment that I can give Vertika.

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Can I just say before we move on, olive green supports and bright red track shouldn’t work, but it really does.

Grand Huit

Whilst clearly not up to the standards of 1066, Grand Huit still offered a fun time, this time devoid of the Soquet shuffle but only because I was sharing a deep seat with Heartline.

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With that our time at La Récré des 3 Curés had come to an end and although it was brief it was certainly enjoyable. The park looks nice, the staff are friendly and Vertika is great, what’s not to like?

Kingoland

2 hours from Récré 3 was the next park of the day, Kingoland, a small park that was, at least in the case of today, hot as hell.

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Apollo Steamrocket

Avoiding sunburn as best we could, we first ventured over to Apollo Steamrocket, the World’s most heavily themed Zyklon Galaxi.

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The queueline had multiple intensely themed walkthrough sections and the ride station was also heavily themed.

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I still don’t know what to think of it honestly. Yeah it’s great that the park have gone to the effort of making the coaster look nice but also it really feels like time and money wasted going to this extreme on such a underwelming throw away coaster.

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It became apparent once we reached the very much unthemed final 40 minutes of the Apollo Steamrocket queue that Ange Michel would not be possible today and I began looking for possible alternatives almost immediately.

Speed Chenille

With that unpleasantness out of the way we knew we needed to cheer ourselves up with some more Soquet goodness, so we headed over to Speed Chenille.

Speed Chenille swaps the Soquet standard deep seats with padded benches with no restaints and then sends you flying around swooping bends and an airtime hill multiple times at speeds which feel too fast for the set up, it was pretty great.

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Next we headed to Kingoland’s only dark ride, Old West Shooting, it was nothing special but it did get us out of direct sunlight for a couple of minutes.

Gold Rush

The final attraction on our must ride list was Gold Rush.

This Pinfari Mini Mega Coaster had only been installed at the park last year and both looked and rode like it was brand new. I was not at all ready for this thing to be butter smooth. Did it make it a decent coaster? Not at all, but I’m not complaining that I came off bruise free.

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Thankfully we could now get back to the car, out of the sun and head to our replacement for Ange Michel.

I had found a funfair nearby that officially didn’t open until 8pm but they promised that “some attractions” would be open from 4 which was perfect timing. They had a couple of coasters and I assumed, being their star attractions, that they would be the ones to open at 4, little did I know…

After getting lost several times we finally rocked up at the funfair, which was twinned with a sketchy looking supermarket.

There was absolutely no activity at all visible from outside of the fair, so we ventured in. Inside all we could find of life was a few other groups of people walking past clearly closed attractions and getting annoyed, this may have been a waste of time…

To add insult to injury we next tried to get some snacks from the nearby supermarket. It was in a state of disrepair, had a rather interesting smell to it and worst of all had almost nothing worth buying.

Heartline’s wife comes up to me, “the staff keep staring at me”, “nah surely you’re just being paranoid” I replied, but no it became clear when we got to the cashier that she was right and a whole new saga was about to begin.

The saga of the medical mask, a statement and frame of mind that would end up haunting us for the rest of the trip, we just didn’t know it yet.

“You’re not wearing a mask” the haggard woman said to Heartline’s wife, who was wearing a mask, the very same as Heartline’s infact. The 4 of us entered a hilarious stand off of pure confusion, that only ended when fed up she left the store and the cashier finally continued with our transaction.

Let’s get out of this hellhole…

As we still had time to kill until tonight’s Summer Funfair opened, we went on a rather fitting pilgrimage.

On mine and Heartline’s very first Eurotunnel trip to France, we were flicking through channels in the hotel and landed on Fort Boyard, an insanely entertaining game show that takes place in a real fort off the west coast of France. We were hooked straight away and now try our best to watch the show whenever we can.

Today we had the pleasure of seeing where the magic happens with our own eyes and it was moving, massively helped by the beautiful sunset.

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Luna Park La Palmyre

Reignited, we now made our way to Luna Park La Palmyre, our first ever French Summer Funfair and we were excited about what we’d find when we got there.

These kind of ‘parks’ generally start operations at 7pm and then stay open until 2 in the morning, so even with it now being almost 10:30 at night we still had plenty of time to explore.

Upon entering the atmosphere was absolutely electric and I completely forgot that I’d been awake for 14 hours. There were thousands of people, countless attractions, enough lights to rival the sun, pounding music and something happening wherever you looked, this might not be for everyone but I was loving it.

Jet Star

Speaking of loving it.

Jet Star is one of only three operating Schwarzkopf Jet Star 1s in the World, it was my first time experiencing one and I was not at all disappointed. After me and Heartline wedged ourselves into the single car we were taken on one hell of a ride.

Jet Star delivers what Schwarzkopf does best, brutally crushing positives and vicious changes in direction, all while being as smooth as glass. It took my breath away both literally and figuratively, honestly scared me in places and was the perfect start to what would be a great night out.

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While Heartline and wife rode the Thriller haunted house I soaked in the atmosphere of the place and was reminded of a time long ago when Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland used to be good.

Le Dragon

Next up was Le Dragon, a Wacky Worm, but it’s a dragon. The operator ended up giving us 6 laps I think. I spent all of them trying to see where the final coaster of the park was, in the sea of lighting packages, smoke machines and vicious looking flat rides.

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Wild Mouse

In the end we did find it though.

Even though my mind was perfectly awake, buzzing even, my body was tired from the days events, this perfectly worked in the favour of Wild Mouse, which was a standard spinning mouse affair. When you’re tired and it’s dark suddenly spinning around on these things becomes 10 times more intense.

I forgot to take a photo of this one, so you’ll have to picture it yourself. You can decide if it was a Reverchon, Zamperla or an exciting exotic brand, I honestly cannot remember, it was fun though.

Mega King Tower

Despite it now being almost 11:30 and us having a 2 hour drive to tonight’s hotel, we just couldn’t turn down a ride on Mega King Tower, the massive drop tower ride that was our beacon for finding the park earlier.

My research leads me to believe it is manufactured by Funtime, one of my favourite drop tower manufacturers, and stands over 260 feet tall. All I can tell you for sure though is that it scared me to death on both the cycles we got on it and that the drop itself is fantastic.

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Le Splash

Heartline had read on the Dark Ride Database that a ride named Le Splash at one of the Summer Funfairs had a so called dark ride section and he really wanted to verify this for himself. While walking past tonight’s Le Splash we noticed that it did have some kind of indoor section to start the ride off, this lead to us needing to ride and comedy ensuing.

We boarded our boat, me in front and set off into the great unknown. The indoor section would end up being filled by halloween props and lasers, a dark ride it was not, as for hilarious, it certainly was.

Maybe it was the excitement and electricity of the fair speaking but I really enjoyed the following log flume. Not because it was good but because it was just fun getting into perilous situations with my friends. The highlight of which was the final drop where ejector airtime led to the World’s most brutal water braking, sending everyone behind me violenly launching into my back.

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Our first Summer Funfair had been great and we were looking forward to the many more than we had planned for the trip. All we had to do now was stay awake on the almost 2 hour drive to the hotel.

Thankfully we’d be staying in many B&B hotels while we were in France. Thanks to their machine based check in system you could show up at anytime and still get in, a real life saver.

Thanks for reading, click here for day 4, where we finally visit Ange Michel, as well as L’Île aux Géants and Futuroscope.