A revisit to Disney has been on the cards forever by now, as I had still never completed the creds. It’s been 8 years since I had last visited, which is ridiculous given what’s been done in the interim. Given the distinct lack of other major things to do since our last minute change of plans, this seemed like a suitable opportunity. It also marked the last in the worldwide set for the wife, which was another bonus.
It probably seems like everyone’s worst nightmare to book a visit to Disneyland a mere two days in advance, on a public holiday weekend. As we’ve learnt though, it’s only as hard as you make it. One of the ‘perks’ of the Paris property is that the way their hotels are priced vs. park tickets, we pretty much got a free nights stay out of it, along with the extra park hours that come with being a guest. I do wish a lot of other places around the world used this strategy, it’s always surprising to me how many ‘on-site hotels’ don’t even get you into their respective parks.
They’ve spruced up the Santa Fe accomodation since we last saw it, and it was perfectly serviceable as the lowest of the low options. Somewhere clean to lay your head for 7 hours, with a few Cars on the walls, all you really need. The staff were friendly and early-morning check-in was smooth and efficient, picking up our magic passes, being able to park right outside the room, even dump the luggage inside and take the shuttle bus to the park, all before the 08:30 magic hour for hotel guests began.
Days 3 & 4 – Disneyland Paris
And here it is. It’s been a while.
This is the sort of Disney crowding I can get behind.
First on the to-do list was Space Mountain, or #1 Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain: Rebel Mission as it is now more catchily known. This cred has eluded me since January 2007, not that I would have been brave enough to try it back then. It was closed to, eventually make it worse(?), last time and when it reopened, other actually decent things closed and it was just never that much of a priority. Why?
Because it’s just some old Vekoma looper in fancy dress (and not the only one of those on resort). And the dress isn’t even that fancy any more. It seemed a shame that it ploughs into the launched lift at some pace, only to stop on it instead of keeping that exciting momentum going. Once out of the tube, the new Star Wars overlay is… poor. The new vests restraints were appreciated. It was a thing, that happened in the dark. Went upside down a couple times, including the world’s only ‘tongue’ inversion (tick) that I couldn’t tell you what it is, turned left a lot.
I believe it used to be cool, with the old theme and music, but sadly can’t confirm. +1.
With new experiences already out of the way for this park, I’ve hit that revisit wall again. It’s going to get a bit rambly.
Buzz Lightyear. They have one of those. In fact is this the only ride that’s in every single resort in the world? S’alright.
Star Tours always intrigues me because of the seemingly endless possibilities of sequences. We gave It a couple of goes and had both a pod race on Tatooine and the legendary flight across salty old Crait that I have, for some reason, been obsessing about for many years now. Oh, and that water planet from that film I don’t like. It really has it all. Quite violent in the corner seats too, I hit my head on the rear panel at one point, which made a great noise.
Leaving Discovery Land behind it was time to rekindle with some old favourites. This was, traditionally, my favourite Big Thunder Mountain. It had some work done in the interim, but I’m pleased to report that it remains the best.
It tracks the most vigorously and therefore is the most runaway. The tunnels under the lake are insane and genius. The wildest ride in the wilderness you could say.
I think you can tell by the photos that this was a two-day visit. They’ve done a little something to Phantom Manor too. Notably to me, the pre-show is less obvious about its graphic nature and they changed the mirror scene at the end to feature a creepy ‘will you marry me [creepy laugh]’ from Emily Alton. Please exit the vehicle.
I’ve always thought this one finishes a little strangely, but is otherwise rather incredible. As with its neighbour, it haunts the most vigorously and is therefore the best haunted mansion.
It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten how different this version of Pirates of the Caribbean is, in terms of layout at least. The lift hill sequence is far more intimidating and epic looking and, in general, I’m in love with this ride too, even if Jack Sparrow now has to feature everywhere.
That’s the top 3 on park out of the way, all downhill from here. I didn’t take any other pictures besides the legendary dragon under the best castle, so that sums that up.
Casey Jr. is sweet, Indiana Jones was skipped. Peter Pan is disproportionately short for the queues it gets, therefore Pinocchio and Snow White are better. Small World had just come out of refurb and was looking pretty fresh. Philharmagic is fab. I think that’s about it. Next.
Walt Disney Studios Park
There was one new thing for me over at the other park, famed for once having a lack of things to do. I was there then, it was bad.
Marvel stuff. As one of the more forgiving fans of the MCU these days it seems, this area was a bit something and nothing to me. I guess it’s hard for a theme park, how can you sum up 50 films with a centralised, recognisable location, though it would have been cool to go for something a bit more niche than… this.
It’s a testament to the strength of something like Star Wars land I suppose. Something about that galaxy far, far away just feels so unique and lived in. This looks generic and uninteresting, with very little visual cue to tell you what it actually is.
I deplored Avengers Assemble: Flight Force. I don’t like Rock’n’Rollercoaster at the best of times, but this rode like absolute trash. Left turn, the ride, again, but far worse. I don’t know what was going on inside, just that it wasn’t impressive. The presence of Iron Man bugged me and then something about aliens, and rocks, and Captain Marvel being unnecessarily sassy. Nah.
Oh look, Spider-Man. He has a ride too, you know.
This thing is actually new, and not a rehash. The queue was pretty lame for new Disney. Pre-show room was great, loved how much was going on in there, loads of little details. Feels like most of the heart of the attraction went into this.
I can’t think of one redeeming feature about the ride itself. It was bad. Kinda expected better from nu-Ninjago tech but from my experience it created exactly the same issue. I can’t tell what the hell I’m doing. Flailing arms around didn’t seem to produce any precision or meaning. The action on screen is a blurry mess of nonsense that you can’t follow, so it wouldn’t matter if you were accurate anyway. If you’re going for the chaotic approach, I think it’s visually much better suited to something more fantasy and cartoony, which this wasn’t. Dingy warehouses and metal spiders.
They big up that you can do clever, advanced motions, but none of us could make that work, so what’s the point? I didn’t realise it would be just screen, flail, screen, flail, screen, flail end and even that was tiring, while also being disproportionately short of a ride experience for the popularity, again. And it’s not like you’d want to wait that long again to try and get better at it. Nah.
We left the area and never looked back.
From the worst Disney dark ride, to the best. God damn scary door. I was getting slightly worked up there while writing and now I’ve got the chills. I already absolutely adored Tower of Terror. They’ve made it even better.
Atmosphere of the queue and lobby is legendary as always and the French seem to have the best staff for this type of experience. One thing I noticed is that getting the pre-show in French is suboptimal, not having THE narrator voice just doesn’t quite hit as right. We ended up with English just the once though, somehow. Perfect.
it took the very first moment of the very first go to realise something was different. It dropped violently downwards immediately, which killed me. Didn’t even know that was possible. Since that, we looked it up to learn that there are three possible sequences currently. The Malevolent Machine, The Shaft Creatures and The 5th Dimension. They all feature Emily Alton again and just make it that little more creepy and special than it was before. New projections of her floating about in hallways, increased potency of jump scares in both visual and audio effects, each one ending with her skipping off while absent-mindedly humming the twilight zone tune. Little things, big difference.
Oh, and the hardware itself is still second to none. That wonderful drop tower butterfly sensation that I simply don’t get on coasters any more, hits again and again. It’s so playful, yet so vicious. The new sequences seem to toy around with it even more, teasing at the doors not opening sometimes, bouncing around unexpectedly. Extra, bonus motions like shaking, wobbling or juddering as if you’re being attacked. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This is why I do Disney parks.
Crush’s Coaster isn’t, but we sucked up the queue once as a reminder. Such poor capacity for such a major park, why. Ride itself was slightly better than I remember. Didn’t really recall it having actual scenes, and then it expressed a modicum of vigour in the actual layout, where some of these Maurers can otherwise be surprisingly lacking. Such a varied coaster type.
I remember not being impressed with the Ratatouille ride at all, and that was with very little experience. Considering it’s amongst my absolute favourite Pixar films, I wondered why. Fact is, it’s just not conducive to a ride experience. I enjoy these movies for their emotional beats, not the skidding around a kitchen floor. It’s overly screen heavy, from someone who is usually more forgiving about those things. It doesn’t use the trackless tech to any real effect, from someone who is very unforgiving about that. It doesn’t make sense as a story – you start in the kitchen with the short, angry guy and end up in Remy’s own kitchen. Curly hair and his love interest are working in both of them, simultaneously. Nothing happens in between these two locations to change things narratively. Why?
Talking of why, Cars. They’ve made the tram tour about it. It’s fine on the surface, some onboard video screens about driving route 66 and seeing the sights, and then seeing some sights. What doesn’t really work is the catastrophe scene with the fire and the water and the oil tanker falling off a cliff. Without context from a film I’ve never seen, the oil tanker character is enjoying what is essentially a sequence of him dying. And then you laugh and wave and say your goodbyes.
Damn, I wanted to end on a positive note, but having run out of attractions, all we have left is the night time spectacular. They started out with a lite version, using drones and stuff. It was ok.
Then the 30th anniversary, soon to end, whatever it was, simply didn’t pack the punch of the 2015 equivalent. Partially personal preference, the film representation and song choice was just a bit mediocre, with a ridiculous amount of overlap with Philharmagic. The overarching theme was Peter Pan’s shadow for some reason and there’s only so many times you want to hear Be Our Guest, Lion King and the Genie in your day. Hunchback was a curveball, but hey, France I guess. No newer stuff beyond the highlight that was Tangled and, just like Tokyo I imagined most guests left thinking ‘where was Encanto’. I don’t believe there was any appluase, which usually says it all. It also really missed having a dragon catch on fire.
Tower of Terror though. God damn.
Thus ends our long weekend in France. +9 for the count, including a new top ten in Toutatis and a Chance Toboggan. Didn’t expect either of those things. I’ll take it.
Under the last minute change of plans, the following day was purely dedicated to the pursuit of nearby creds. A number of these parks were casualties of some ferry delays last year, it’s always good to get that closure.
Day 2 – Parc d’Olhain
As such, d’Olhain was no longer gone. We arrived in the vague vicinity first; it’s a very outdoorsy place with other stuff going on, in the region of France’s weird pyramid things. It took a long walk through a forest to reach the alpine coaster on the far side.
There’s nothing remarkable about #1 Luge 4 saisons other than perhaps the deep levels of organic growth attached to the rails and the accompanying brush attachments, but a solid start to any day in the higher pursuit.
POV: you’ve just got the cred.
In the nearby city of Lille, things were cooking up a treat. Nestled within the boundaries of a moat, in the inner greenery, between zoo and castle, lies one of the many Requins in the region.
#2 Requin Express’ was on the usual French lunch break upon arrival but quickly opened up again to customers.
This donkey has no hat, but otherwise a solid performance from Cita-Parc.
Construction, get excited.
Looming over in the distance from here was a certain ride type that has been eluding me for a while now. The funfair was in town, and look what delights they had brought with them.
Wisconsin, 2021. The spite of Monster at Adventureland meant we never took in a planned visit to Little Amerricka in order to pick up one of the only known permanently operating Chance Toboggans.
Southampton, 2022. One was in town and I took the drive down, only to sit in front of it and see the whole operation closed for weather. Evil looking things, aren’t they?
Here’s a better question – why do we ride coasters that cause us pain? From someone who had landed the Southampton one, #3 Toboggan had been bigged up to be one of the worst coaster experiences ever. And so it was with trepidation that we boarded, two abreast on the operators insistence – more momentum, less room for movement.
Concerning sounds and the smell of grease fill the claustrophobic vertical lift hill, as the clunky little car inches its way up the inside of the tower. The ladder here is a novel feature, I can’t quite bring myself to picture an evacuation on one of these.
The spiral is the killer, the builder of both speed and suspense. It goes on for an age and yet is over in a flash, while you best figure out a way to brace for what’s to come. The track levels out and then immediately hits the poorly profiled drop at such a pace that bodies fly, and then come back down with a sickening crunch at the base. The landing was the worst part, but I’ve had far worse. From there it car crashes its way back to the station while you’re likely still processing the earlier parts of the circuit. Tick.
It’s rides like these that often worry me more, after the fact. Preparing for the worst and coming out relatively unscathed is a danger that can lull one into a false sense of security. Perhaps next time I will be riding alone, the car will be less padded, it may still yet be a true horror show.
#4 1001 Pattes though, can’t go wrong with those. A bonus travelling +2 was a welcome addition to the trip.
Down the road is a slightly more unusual setup. Loos Parc is located within an industrial estate/retail park, round the back of an Aldi (more parts of the world need creds like this) and contains another delightful one-two punch.
#5 Requin for a dream.
And the cold steel of #6 Train de la Mine.
Both are of Turkish origin, bringing me a couple of steps closer to that highly sought out Kılıç Lunapark set. It’s their Wacky Worm with spinning cars that intrigues me the most though.
With the afternoon whittling on, there was just one more establishment to go. To me pronounced ‘Chitty Park’, this one is within the grounds of a larger communal green space including baseball field and canoe club (more parts of the world need creds like this).
Only a single #7 Nessi is on offer, but what a Nessi this is. The track is in invitingly good condition and it rides like the beast it so accurately portrays.
A fitting close out to a successful day. Who needs Intamin anyway?
Oops. You may well know by now about the ridiculous levels of journeys to which I’ve stooped throughout Europe in the last few years. The plan here was to head into France, pick up a certain Intamin, then head into Spain and pick up another certain Intamin. Madrid and back in 3 days, the fresh (and unused) Reunidos passes we’d just picked up, the phrase ‘Intamin it to win it’, one of those silly looking maps, it was all going to write itself. Then Batman la Fuga: Attack on Arkham Asylum didn’t open in time of course, necessitating a late swerve. Not having much luck with this so far.
Day 1 forged on as previously planned though.
Day 1 – Parc Astérix
I think coming here last year for deux Zeus was the right call, it allowed the ride enough time in the spotlight for us. This time there was only a single thing on the agenda yet again, and it most certainly took all of our attention.
And here he is, #1 Toutatis, protector of the tribe.
As a fan of pleasant surprises, I knew very little about this attraction going in. It’s been kicking around in our heads for many years that something big was going to Parc Astérix, I was there behind a camera when the ride designer explained the thinking behind the trim and we saw the spike in person last year of course. Other than that, who knows what’s going to happen here. The surprise was more than pleasant.
We begin with a little drop out of the station. I wanted this to be a Helix moment, but it wasn’t. Much more of a tease.
Within the trench, the first launch hits and immediately things get wacky. Overly banked turns, that awesome beyond sideways hangtime thing and what one would suspect are some RMC-inspired wonky hills. They all make for an endearing start.
Out of that the train audibly grates itself sideways around the, of course, under-banked piece of switch track with quite a welcome sideways lurch. An out of control entry into an out of control launch sequence. Bam.
I’ve been thinking these humpy launches are a bit gimmicky so far, but god damn have they finally nailed it on this swinger. It’s fun and zippy forwards, with a bit of float up into the failed attempt at cresting the top hat. The return run delivers some wild ejection not once, but twice. Across the hump and then hopping back out of the trench straight this time, launching further in between each. Particularly when seated further forward, this sequence is insane.
The reverse spike is alright, nothing ground breaking this time, but seemed to nearly always have a nice little interaction moment of people on the ground, in the queue for one of those stupid flat rides again, looking up and waving. Other examples of this track piece, around the world, lack this.
I’m oh so sold on the swing launch itself now as we pass it for the final time, it’s by far the best example I’ve experienced to date (hmm, which ones haven’t I experienced at the moment?). That little bit of a Taron trench feeling for extra visuals and sense of speed, combined with the mid launch out of seat moments fully justify what could otherwise be seen as faffy and suboptimal.
Talking of faffy and suboptimal, the trim. I love it. There’s some decent ejector up into the top hat and then a weird sustained moment of pause, of contemplation, just as promised. It maintains momentum of course, but if you let yourself flop a bit you’ll find yourself folding down towards the seat below in a rather satisfying manner. Good thing the cars aren’t articulating at that point. It’s at the perfect point in the layout to still do something interesting with it and not just be plain annoying. B&M.
All of this wonderful stuff has already happened, and yet the layout only starts proper now. It’s no slouch after that trim, the rest hits one after another at a very decent pace. The base of the big drop has a weird kink of a left turn that was popping air as the day went on. The stall feels like it has a slight over-correction which flips you upside-down, and then a little sideways after. This is great, because dare I say the element has otherwise become a little stale now that everyone’s doing it.
On the exit of this there’s a tree branch that they’ve just unceremoniously chunked off and it still sticks out like a lethal looking near miss. There’s airtime in another corner. There’s a stonkingly awesome ejector hill on the return leg, proper top-tier wild, it can’t be understated. A twisty one after that. All fab.
The sideways hill is potentially the most lacking moment of the whole thing. There’s too many of these in layouts now and they quite often don’t do anything. To this ones credit, it did seem to get better as the day went on, with a slight outwards pull towards the extremes of the train.
I haven’t yet mentioned the positives on this thing, you really start to notice it as you drop out of that and corner through the queue. Most sections between all the elements have a good force to them, giving you that greater contrast I always admire. That’s a plus for sure.
This final inversion is great, taken with speed and whip. It ain’t no mosasaurus but it’s different, with what felt like a bit of right to left tug and the horns of those blokes judging you.
Final overbank turn was also a weaker moment earlier in the day but grew to stick in some more positives before the hilarious and silly miniature hops into the brake run. It’s always good to end on a laugh.
Anyway, wow. This thing took me on a journey throughout the day. I loved it from the off, but only like I love a lot of other things at this point. It was clear from the first few moments alone that Toutatis is everything Pantheon isn’t. The first bit is better. The launch is better. The last bit is better. Once that was established, it became a case of how far could it climb throughout the day?
– – –
Oh, they have other rides here too, you know. But they didn’t really matter, that wasn’t what this visit was about.
Got a courtesy lap in on Pégase Express, becoming interested to learn that they’ve ripped out the bag holder system that they weren’t even using opening year. It’s such a solid family coaster, with a fantastic length to it and I love the forwards-backwards two train interaction moment.
Gave Zeus a flying visit, becoming interested to learn that it’s already a fair bit more violent than last year. Not to its detriment just yet for me, it was still a cracking ride, but if Gravity reckon Timberliners are less hard-wearing on the track then those old trains must be vicious.
Park operations still kick ass and it’s always been a very pleasant place to be, I’ve just only ever had a weird relationship with it for some reason.
– – –
Back to where it’s at though, at the end of each Toutatis lap it just felt that little bit more special. Some rides you find new things every time to appreciate, in particular I find this to be an Intamin trait. By the 3rd lap I was loving all of it. It was clear to me then that I preferred it to Velocicoaster, much more of an all killer no filler coaster.
By the 5th lap I was buzzing, thinking it’s probably just had Kondaa. The launch sequence alone just packs a punch of pacing that a -0.7G lift hill can’t.
By the 7th I was reeling. Is it better than Taiga? Then we closed the night with an 8th and I tore my rotator cuff. I think it is.
It feels like there’s going to be an ever present elephant in the room since my visit to the Point, and this marks the first time I’ve encountered it. The process of actively placing things above Steel Vengeance, because it is just too big of a legend to ignore, rather than just having casually slotted it in below other things. Putting this above Taiga did just that, and it was a huge leap, but having had my usual time to reflect on it now, I believe it’s merited.
Toutatis ticks all the boxes of my usual top ten material, just like those that came before. It’s an outstanding version of its type. It did things to me I haven’t experienced before in those backwards launches. It hurt me to hands up by the end of the day. Most importantly it was a welcome reminder to me that I’m not on some downhill slope of this hobby just yet, having wondered about becoming so jaded for not being blown away by such big names last year. Have faith, I can still feel that spark, there’s always a special set of circumstances and a special ride out there. It just needs to be my bag, and this one is just that.
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?
#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.
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.
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.
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.
The other new coaster was #2 Noisette Express which somehow manages to be rougher, in a fun, kiddy kinda way.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mer de Sable
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.
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*
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
And that was Azur Park and we were now running late and wouldn’t have time for pizza anymore…
Next up was Lunapark Fréjus.
Which was home to a much better spinning mouse.
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.
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.
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…
Yeah, the dreams of a pizza are long gone now.
The final Summer Funfair of the night, and the trip, was Antibes Land.
First up was Wild Mouse, a fully refurbished and smooth as silk Mack wild Mouse that rode great.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Once again we just beat the closing cut off point for the best ride in the park, Shark Trip.
Now let’s get out of here.
To a much more exciting place.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To complete OK Corral’s coaster line up we next headed over to Serpent Hopi, the park’s Zierer Tivoli.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The final park of the day was Magic World and was yet another Summer Funfair to add to our count.
With another Reverchon spinning mouse. This one however I forgot to take a photo of.
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.
The final coaster of the night was, you guessed it, another Wacky Worm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After eating well, possibly too well, we next headed to yet another Summer Funfair and the last park of the day, Amigoland.
Where we immediately picked up where we left off last night, with another Wacky Worm.
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.
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.
Today we’d be temporarily leaving France and heading into Andorra to ride 2 alpine coasters, the World’s longest and the other one.
We didn’t initially plan to ride any other coasters today but this was quickly rectified when we discovered that a park on route had a Chinese caterpillar up for grabs.
Never before in my life have I gone from fearing arrest to feeling the most welcome you could possibly feel as quickly as the time I visited Anatolia Parc.
You know that feeling you get when you shouldn’t be somewhere? That was exactly what I was feeling as we parked up in a small gravel car park and slowly edged our way towards the above pictured entrance building of Anatolia Parc. If L’Île aux Géants felt exclusively for children, which it did, this was another level, not at all helped by the fact you couldn’t see any rides from outside of the park.
Thankfully almost instantly the tone would change.
While going through the process of purchasing tickets from a slightly confused woman, an absolute hero of a man walked over, we shall name him Mr Anatolia. We are certain he was the owner and he knew exactly why we were here. “Have you come to test my coaster?”, we have indeed! He then instructed us to enter the park and make our way to the coaster.
Soon after we arrived, we watched Mr Anatolia power over to us ride keys in hand and soon we were riding his admittedly rather kick ass Chinese caterpillar.
After our ride we had a little chat with him about the recent parks we’d visited and where we were heading next. He was interested to hear our thoughts on Namazu and happy to tell us that he would be visiting Andorra soon too.
We left the park buzzing from how much of a gentleman Mr Anatolia was and how well what could have been an awkward experience went.
Right, onto Andorra now, but not before stopping off just one more time I promise…
On our route to Andorra we’d be passing over the tallest bridge in the World, the Millau Viaduct and it felt wrong not to give it a little bit of attention.
For once in our lives we listened to a tourist guide in order to find out where the best place to view the bridge was. It ended up being a a small village in the valley and from there we got amazing views of this incredible piece of engineering while surrounded by stunning scenery and beautiful old buildings. Oh and then the second Rafael of the trip came hurtling through the valley and suddenly this was the best detour ever.
Now we are actually going to Andorra.
Thanks to the World being against us traffic wise, which is a recurring theme for the trip, when we finally arrived in Andorra it was too late to go ride either of the two alpine coasters, so we opted to do some research in person at the site of Andorra’s lesser alpine coaster.
We pulled up at Mon(t) Magic Family Park, or at least the cable car station that takes you to the park and tried to figure out how the whole thing worked. All we wanted was 3 return tickets for the cable car and 3 tickets for the alpine coaster at the top, simple right?
Well we couldn’t figure it out. The information boards and leaflets only mentioned various expensive packages and that’s not what we wanted. So we asked the lady behind the counter, who only made us more confused. Right, never mind, we can just check the website tonight…
After a spot of sight seeing, yeah Andorra is pretty stunning, we made our way to the hotel to do our alpine coaster research before going to bed and falling asleep to the sound of the stream behind the hotel.
Knowing today was going to be time critical, we arrived at Naturland, formerly Naturlandia, at opening and it was a good thing we did because we took the last parking space in the rather feeble car park, before making our way up to the park itself.
Naturland is split into 2 different parks at 2 different altitudes, with the only way to get between them a drive up and down a mountain road. The majority of the attractions are located at the lower of the 2 parks though, including the only reason we came, Tobotronc, the World’s longest alpine coaster.
We joined a massive queue to buy tickets and keeping in tradition for this trip we were immediately getting intensely sunburnt in a queue devoid of any shade.
There was a man walking up and down the queue with an iPad, giving out information and selling tickets in an attempt to get through the line faster. When he came over to us we told him what we wanted, “3 for Tobotronc please”, his response however was not what we wanted to hear, “I’ll have to check but I think you need to book online for the Tobotronc”. He then walked over to the ticket counter, spoke to a woman and then came back to us, “yeah, you needed to book online for Tobotronc, you can’t buy a ticket for just Tobotronc today”. He then went onto explain that the only way we could ride the alpine coaster today would be to buy a 1 go on every attraction package ticket that cost 35 pounds each. Oh and he couldn’t sell it from the iPad, we’d need to keep getting sunburnt before we could get robbed.
As mentioned earlier, last night we had gone on the Naturlandia (at the time) website and did our research, primarily into how much it was going to cost us, 6 or 8 pound each for just Tobotronc if I remember rightly. There was nothing at all about having to book online if you just wanted the alpine coaster. Yes there was a page where you could book slots for it but it said it was only needed to guarantee you a ride during busy times. It was also no use to us because the next available slot was in 3 days..
We’d pretty much come to Andorra with the promise of riding the World’s longest alpine coaster and it seemed unlikely that we’d return any time soon, this left us with no option really, we’d have to set ourselves up for robbery. The park weren’t making this decision feel any less dirty though…
When we got to the counter we figured that we’d have nothing to lose in trying again to get just 3 tickets to Tobotronc, big mistake. For this, the woman behind the counter started ranting at us, not even stopping when we said, “yes we understand, sell us the package then”.
Not only had we just been robbed and insulted, we were now going to be late on a very time sensitive day thanks to being given a time slot to ride Tobotronc that was over an hour away, I’m starting to think this isn’t a very nice park…
Well, what can we use our 35 pound ticket on to pass the time? Nothing apparently. There was only 1 attraction of interest to us, dirt buggies round a snail pace course, but this had a queue moving slower than the buggies themselves, meaning we would have easily missed our Tobotronc slot.
Far later than anyone could have expected, it was finally time to ride the mighty Tobotronc, the longest alpine coaster in the World.
It is definitely fair to split the Tobotronc experience into 2 halves, the 5,577 foot lift and the 11,811 foot decent.
The lift, which takes almost exactly 12 minutes to climb is honestly almost as good as the ride back down. It is the perfect combination of relaxing (as you breathe in the mountain air and float past some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen) and terrifying (as you think to yourself how can we still be climbing, this can’t be real).
Then it’s time for the trip back down the mountain and I think I’m about to upset some people. Don’t get me wrong, it is fantastic, but I don’t think it brought anything else to the table that other great Wiegand alpines haven’t already, other than repetition. I certainly wouldn’t put the descent section of Tobotronc above that of the amazing Hasenhorn Coaster. Also the length, combined with Andorrans being less exciting than Germans meant catching up to the rider infront was inevitable.
I’m very grateful to have ridden it, even OK with paying 35 pounds this time, there is no way I’d pay that again for repeat rides though.
Now let’s get out of this rip off park…
It was time to go ride Andorra’s other alpine coaster, the one at Mon(t) Magic Family Park, would we be able to make sense of it this time? It turns out it didn’t matter if we did…
What had we learnt on the website last night? 2 things. That the alpine coaster itself was rather feeble, a 10th of the length of Tobotronc and that there was possibly a deal where you could get a package for just the cable car and the alpine coaster, but it was very vague.
We rocked up, parked in our scouted car park from last night and then once again made the lengthy walk to the cable car station. A walk I had to make twice, because I left my mask in the car…
Walking in, knowing exactly what we wanted and not settling for anything less, we made our way to the ticket counter. We were not prepared to be tricked into buying an expensive package for an average looking alpine coaster on a mountain. Then it happened…
It was Andorra’s turn to enter the saga of the medical mask.
We all approached the counter. All wearing our masks. The same masks we had been wearing all trip. We stood on the floor marking 1.5 metres from the counter. All for the woman behind the security glass to point at Heartline and in the rudest way possible explain that he wasn’t wearing a mask…
Already late, knowing that we’d probably be scammed into buying some expensive package, that the alpine coaster itself wasn’t going to be great and now being spoken to like that, it was time to leave and never look back.
Now let’s get out of this rip off country…
Lou Bac Mountain
And straight back into the sweet embrace of France, on a very pretty drive to Lou Bac Mountain.
What a novelty it was to see a sign on the ticket office window clearly displaying the very reasonable prices of a one way trip on the cable car and the alpine coaster.
Luge Lou Bac Mountain
Before even getting to ride this beast of an alpine coaster I was already in love with its crazy operations.
Firstly, they load the empty coaster cars into the cable car with you, which I thought was amazing.
Then when they reach the top, they put them onto an incredibly over engineered transfer system to get them over to the loading positition.
Enough about the operations, how was the coaster? Well, it’s my new favourite alpine coaster ever and that’s coming from a man who rode Tobotronc a couple of hours ago.
Technically a Sunkid but basically a Brandauer, this coaster rectifies everything that was wrong with Clézy Gliss (another Brandauer) and amplifies everything that was great about it.
As you can see in the photo above, booster back rests are used when only 1 rider is present. This pushes you forward in your seat, positioning the controls perfectly for the insanity that’s about to come.
And my God the insanity…
Remember that I said the single rail and smaller less weighty cars of Clézy Gliss made it feel unsafe in the best sort of way? The layout of Luge Lou Bac Mountain, with that level of insecurity made for some truly terrifying moments. I was into double digits of doubting my safety on this thing and loving every second of it.
Never before on an alpine coaster have I had to slow down in fear of actually coming out the car, it was ridiculous.
Speaking of ridiculous, look at that brake run! Who designed this thing? What else have they designed? Move over Wiegand, Brandauer and Sunkid are the new kings of this game.
Thanks to the misfortune that was Andorra we were now actually ahead of schedule before tonight’s run of Summer Funfairs, meaning we could take it easy on route to Pirat’ Parc.
Just after opening we arrived at the first of many of the Summer Funfairs we had in store tonight, Pirat’ Parc.
I must warn you that as the night draws on my memories are probably going to get more and more blurry, I can’t lie tonight was rather intense.
Pirat’ Parc felt the least like a fun fair out of the all the Summer Funfairs we experienced and I think the themed entrance and park wide token system helped to make it feel that way.
The first coaster of the night was Gold Mine, 1 of only 2 Reverchon custom coasters in the World. For reference the other one is Tigre de Sibérie at Le Pal, which I’ve also ridden.
Bragging aside, Gold Mine was great fun, helped massively by the fantastic ride operator who was trying his best to get the party started. This included but was not limited to, blasting party tunes, excessive use of a smoke machine and breaking into dance, a great start to our night.
Up next was Mini Racer, a single car twisty wild mouse kind of coaster, from manufacturer unknown. Though if you asked me to guess I’d say I.E. Park were responsible, responsible for almost killing us. Yeah this thing was insanely brutal and I’m not sure if I enjoyed it or not.
After literally walking through a wedding photoshoot taking place at Pirat’ Parc (which is totally something I’d do) we arrived at Cars. We were not however ready for what we were about to experience.
We noticed while watching the coaster, which looked a lot like one we’d ridden in Korea, that on its second lap it stopped for a short while on its enclosed brake run. Was that just part of it’s operations or does something happen in there?
During our first lap this brake run area just looked like a metal tunnel, so imagine our surprise when we entered it a second time, the doors closed and things happened. I seriously don’t want to ruin the surprise but it’s fair to say that it turned this janky kids coaster into something really memorable.
Sadly we’d end up saving the least interesting coaster until last.
And onto the next one…
Parc d’Attractions Marseillan-Plage
Parc d’Attractions Marseillan-Plage was next and was home to a coaster I was genuinely afraid of riding.
But before that it was time to ride the 3rd (I think) Zyklon Galaxi of the trip.
Much like how night times and being wrecked make spinning mouses 10 times more intense, the same applied to this lazily named coaster.
Somehow Gotham, formerly Tornado from M&Ds, was even more intimidating in person. This coaster literally ran away from us before we had the chance to go and ride it and now it was me who was contemplating the very same.
Credit where it is due, in its current setting, the coaster does look rather impressive. It towers over the rest of the park and the new paint scheme, at least at night, looked great.
I’m putting it off aren’t I? Let’s go ride it.
To my surprise it wasn’t too bad, but I did go in expecting to be destroyed and was riding as defensively as humanly possible. I’ve certainly ridden worse but I wouldn’t line up for a re-ride any time soon.
This Wacky Worm was unnecessarily difficult to buy jutons (tokens) for. Instead of having a pay box located outside of the ride, the coaster was located in an area where all the rides (mostly childrens) shared a ticket counter and jutons. Don’t worry though, another fun fair later in the trip takes this stupid idea and makes it even more difficult.
It was about now that I completely lost track of what was happening and where I was.
Didn’t we just ride this at the last park?
It was while waiting to dispatch in the station of the park’s Vekoma Corkscrew that my brain officially checked out. The bright lights and loud music of these fairs are great at first but when you’re this worn out they are basically torture.
I spent the whole layout shouting “where’s the bayerncurve?!”, then it punched me in the face to announce its arrival.
Past midnight now. Hey look, another Wacky Worm…
I was pretty much the walking dead by the time we arrived at Fabrikus World.
Which made the spinning mouse one of the most intense experiences of my entire life, we span so much it was unreal.
Another park, another stupid Vekoma, this time without a bayerncurve. This thing was riding awful, a real slog to endure, so of course they sent it round twice…
Even in my completely ruined state I was able to appreciate the quality of this custom Mack powered coaster.
The 4th Wacky Worm of the very long day (is this some kind of twisted record?) meant we were now able to leave the flashing lights and loud music and return broken but triumphant to our hotel rooms, ready to do it all again in less than 24 hours…
Thanks for reading this very long instalment of my trip report, I couldn’t think of a better way to do it. Click here for the next one, where we visit Piratland, Parc Spirou Provence and Amigoland.