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.
Coo’s gone! One of the many statements made at Phantasialand. If we thought De Panne was hard to get into, it wasn’t even the worst of the Plopsas for having an awkward calendar, running weekends only and having sporadic blackout dates for total takeovers, Plopsa Coo suddenly became unobtainable mid-trip. This meant that a day that was originally billed to be boring +1s for the sake of a Plopsa card was freed up for some unfinished business.
After almost two weeks without riding a Soquet, it was good to get reacquainted with the French classic.
#1 Grand Canyon was most notable for having hilariously violent braking on the ‘mid-course’ and the fact that the layout has been extended since the original design. Bonus helix!
Another park with coasters all the same colour. Another Zierer Tivoli. This time a small called #2 Ronde des Rondins.
And of course their signature S&S El Loco, #3 Timber Drop.
Rode smooth, I still kinda like them for their quirky elements. Not bad at all, if you get the restraints just right (years of Slammer experience finally paying off).
Highlight of the park is this monster though, the Golden Driller.
A massive Intamin drop tower with a vast array of seating/standing options. I love how the guy is still wearing his hat in each, no fear. Warmed up on the sit down tilt, which was really good, then went for the standing tilt, which is apparently the tallest in the world for that specific configuration. I thought I had no fear either when it came to drop towers these days, though it was triggered by something unexpected. Once you get to the top there’s a camera thing on a stick pointing at you from above. For some reason clocking that, rather than something in the far distance, then noticing what it’s attached to suddenly made me appreciate the full extent of what was about to happen, far too late. Which made it all the more fun of course. Love a good stomach plummeting drop.
The park obviously have a thing for drop towers as well, as they also have this vicious little Le Cactus. One of those teasing bouncy numbers that violently chucks you forwards at the last second of the cycle. Terrifying.
With that it was park complete, time to grab some crêpes for the road. Felt good to finally dust off Fraispertuis, yet another one of those parks that kept meaning to happen but never did. It’s a great little place, though wouldn’t be much cop if ridiculous drop towers aren’t your thing, other than the +3. On a personal note it’s a shame I now feel like I don’t really have anything left to do in France though except wait for Asterix to step the game up, twiceover.
We were now geographically as close as we were going to get to revenging that silly Swiss Chocolate Museum that also never happened. Time for another stupid drive to Lucerne I guess…
The place, officially, is the Swiss Transport Museum.
But we were here for their dark ride – a shipping container on a scissor lift.
Or maybe that was just the weird means of getting to the right floor, complete with themed screens.
The actual Swiss Chocolate Adventure ride is a fascinating use of trackless vehicles as a ‘virtual tour’ of Lindt’s chocolate making process. All the audio is in German, but they provide you with little handheld walkie talkie type devices that can shout whatever language you like right into your ear, provided you don’t get distracted easily or push a wrong button.
It’s really long, thankfully, goes on for around 20 minutes in total and travels between a combination of just screens with narration.
Rooms with physical sets.
Rooms with layered rotating cutouts of cows.
Rooms with mesmerising mechanical devices stirring up chocolate that may or may not be real.
And, most importantly of all, a room where you drive up to a nozzle that shoots out a load of free chocolates (wrapped) at you.
It’s nothing thrilling obviously and there wasn’t even much in the way of groundbreaking information from an educational perspective. People farm beans, we buy them, we squash them, chocolate. I liked watching the system go to work mainly, the positioning of all the different places you need to get to in the right order is a little all over the place, so there’s many an opportunity for cars dancing around each other, queueing up or getting stuck and plenty of second guessing as to what’s coming next. We had a weird interlude, for want of a better word, where it just went round and round the warehouse looking outer area for a bit, gold disco lights flashing and music blaring. My best guess is either a cover story for an interruption in operation or it simply broke itself and thought that was the most fun way to compensate – I’m inclined to agree.
I had a lot of fun with it, but by no means would I recommend going out of your way for this thing, especially not to the extent that we did. If you’re in Switzerland, give it a passing thought, but it ain’t no Cadbury World.
2020 was set to be the most exciting year of my life.
Almost as soon as the year started me and Heartline booked our much anticipated return trip to the US. There’s no doubt in my mind that this would have been the greatest trip yet, if not ever. Over 100 new coasters for the count, featuring among others, Cedar Point, Silver Dollar City, Kings Island and Holiday World. I had created my playlist and researched all the parks in great detail to make sure we got the most out of them, I even purchased a membership card to get us into Holiwood Nights for trimless Voyage. I was literally losing sleep in excitement months before we went and I’d wake up every morning and text Heartline a running countdown of the days until we left.
To make it even better, to break up the wait Heartline had a plan to visit Poland, a country we’d been putting off for a while but were both dying to visit. Zadra, Hyperion and Lech Coaster a couple of months before the best trip of my life, that’s almost too strong.
There was even serious discussion about a 2nd US trip in 2020, this time to Florida, a destination I’ve been dreaming of for years now.
And then it all went wrong…
Everything closed, everything ruined, you know the rest…
I rode my first coaster of the year in late July. Although an amazing day out it reopened the wounds of losing the trips I’d been so excited for.
Well it’s a good thing I’ve got Heartline.
Once stuff started to reopen he asked me this, “do you want to go on a mega trip across Europe that includes Poland?” ….yes!
A few weeks before our trip the UK government started to remove countries from their newly formed safe list. Here we go again I thought, another trip ruined, this was all I had this year and now it’s gone, can we just put 2020 in the bin now?
Thanks to sheer luck we thankfully would be able to go but with the understanding that anything could change at any moment. The first casualty of this was France and Fraispertuis, this meant we’d have to drive all the way to Germany without stopping. I’m just happy to leave the house at this point, I’m up for anything.
And anything it was, because now we’re not allowed to go to the Netherlands either, which means we’ve got a lot of spare time on our hands. Heartline rebooked the entire trip and it now included several parks I’d never heard of, but I’m not complaining, there’s something special about visiting the lesser known parks.
Finally it was here! The first and only proper trip of 2020, it’s never felt so right to get up at 2am and make the faithful drive to the Channel Tunnel.
In high spirits the 7 hour drive across France flew by and we were soon in the beautiful mountainous bottom left corner of Germany.
The first stop of the trip was something rather special, one of the longest alpine coasters in the World.
We parked in the pretty village at the base of the mountain and then after buying tickets jumped on the ski lift that takes you to the coaster’s station. Having never taken a ski lift like this before I managed to travel more than half way up the mountain before I realised that I hadn’t pulled the safety bar down… I’m not used to people putting this much faith in me not to be an idiot.
Thankfully I didn’t fall out and lived to see the stunning views from the top.
How was the trip back down though? It was amazing! And a little bit scary.
Normally on alpines I just pin the handles to the floor and take it all at full speed but this beast showed me pretty early on that wasn’t going to work today. Several times on my long descent I had to feather the brakes to stop myself from being destroyed.
It was fast, it was intense, it was long, the views were stunning, what a great way to get back into the game and to start the trip.
We had planned to visit a second park today but by the time we were finished at Hasenhorn we wouldn’t have been able to make it much before park close. Thankfully we’d be able to add it to the already stacked list of activities for tomorrow.
And we did.
Around 25 minutes north of Hasenhorn was Steinwasen Park, a small family oriented park that was nestled in yet more beautiful mountains.
We were rather busy today so we arrived at opening. Despite what their website claimed the rides and attractions wouldn’t be opening for another hour though, so we’d have time to explore first.
I thought this was a dark ride after looking at their website, but no it’s just part of a walkthrough, it does amuse me though.
At the end of the walkthrough is this yeti, you also meet him when you ride the park’s powered coaster.
As well as a scary yeti and a questionable seal the park is also home to a massive suspension bridge.
Which gives views like this. See I told you this park is beautiful.
Steinwasen Park is also home to a strong selection of animals which is always appreciated. This big horny bastard had the right idea, it was very hot today, as is tradition whenever we visit Europe.
Sight seeing over, it’s almost time for the rides to open.
And first up was Coasterbahn, another alpine coaster. Now obviously it wasn’t as good as the monster from yesterday but it was easily my 2nd favourite I’ve ridden of these things. I think I’m getting hooked!
Next we rode the park’s crazy elevator lift water ride, you can see it in a previous photo. This was far better than than any of us expected, which almost caused the death of Heartline’s wife who wasn’t braced for what this thing was handing out.
Next was Gletscherblitz, a Mack powered coaster that takes place almost entirely indoors, features the previously pictured yeti and duels with a Bobkart. It was good fun with it’s wacky set up and strong (for it’s type) coaster layout.
Speaking of the Bobkart, it was named Spacerunner and it was pretty awesome. I love Bobkarts as they are but this one being indoors, duelling with Gletscherblitz and with strobe lighting made everything feel extra intense.
And that was everything we deemed worth experiencing at Steinwasen Park with our limited time. I liked this park and I’m sure with enough time on your hands you’d easily enjoy a whole day here.
A 45 minute drive east on awful roads took us to Tatzmania Löffingen, a zoo that features a small amusement park area with 2 coasters.
We moved at serious pace through this park so it may be our fault but to me it felt as though the staff here weren’t as great as those as Hasenhorn or Steinwasen. This is strange when you consider that all 3 parks are owned by the same people.
First up was African Spin, an SBF spinner. I was just happy for this thing to finish because we were getting seriously sunburnt while riding.
Next and last was the park’s Gerstlauer Bobsled coaster, Gold Rusher. I was rather excited to see how this new (to me) layout rode but thanks to being stapled in half by the angry ride operator I was just happy for it to be over.
And that was Tatzmania Löffingen.
Wait! I’ve heard of this park!
Just over the Swiss border, barely an hours drive from Tatzmania, lives Conny-Land, Switzerland’s only real amusement park. The park doesn’t have a massive selection of attractions but is home to 2 that are absolutely worth making the journey for.
Before we get to them though let me first say the staff here were great and all showed great pride in working at the park.
The main reason for coming to Conny-Land was of course their insane Pax shuttle coaster named Cobra. I’m a huge fan of the previous Pax creations I’ve experienced and Cobra was no different.
You board the fantastic new for 2020 trains, which are comfy and also extremly open. This becomes terrifying almost instantly for some as you climb the beyond vertical spike that starts the coaster and are forced to use your legs to stop yourself from sliding out of your seat.
Once you are thankfully released you fly through the station and into 2 airtime hills which provide decent air on the first pass. Then you enter an intense loop before experiencing the scorpion’s tail which provides great hangtime and holds you dangerously close to the top of the loop.
Before you experience it all again in the opposite direction. Note how I didn’t say backwards or forwards at any point, this is because the new trains have seats facing in both directions, so it’s completely up to you which way is which. Me and Heartline preferred boarding the train in the backwards seats, yes the lift isn’t anywhere near as scary but the rest of the coaster is even more fun.
Conny-Land is also home to another extremely unique creation that’s almost on par with Cobra for how messed up it is, it’s known only as Mammut Tree.
You board a free swinging 16 seater cable car, that after a bit of teasing takes you into a massive tree where things happen. Almost all of the fun of this thing was wondering what was going to happen next inside that tree so I will remain tight lipped but I assure you it’s both terrifying and amazing.
Dino Attack, the park’s slightly ghetto shooting dark ride was next. It’s a pretty low budget affair but we had fun with it nonetheless.
After a loop of the park to make sure we hadn’t missed anything, we took a few more re-rides on Cobra before playing with some parrots and then taking our leave.
I’m quite the fan of Conny-Land and I hope that despite the lack of competition the park continues to grow in the future.
To end the day we went for a spot of sight seeing around Liechtenstein.
It’s home to vicious mountains.
And River Quest.
Thanks for reading, click here for day 3, where we visit Tripsdrill and Schwaben Park.
On the neighbouring mountain to the previous one is a small park owned by the same people as the big boy Alpine that looked like a bit of fun.
Day 2 – Steinwasen Park
Although the website claimed the rides opened with the park and we were banging on the door at opening o’clock, they ended up starting an hour later so we had time to take in the surroundings.
Inside there’s an Ice Cave walkthrough with a scary looking seal.
And a man milking a horse?
Outside is a humble affair with a few animals, a big bridge and more nice views.
Apparently it can hold 10,000 people, though not in the current climate. It wobbles unnervingly with the wind too.
A queue was forming near the entrance to the rides area and we opted to head to the alpine first as it was likely to get the busiest.
2 back to back then. This one had the traditional lift hill that goes on forever. It started as wild as the previous one, with the added bonus of overgrown grass scraping my hands at full throttle but ended up with too many helices of doom.
The water ride nearby looked interesting with its bare metal styling and elevator lift.
Essentially Storm Surge with dignity, it kicked up one hell of a spin and then collided with a wall at full pace, nearly causing a casualty. Good.
In another display of Wiegand’s inventiveness, the summer toboggan cars automatically fold themselves in half here at the bottom of the layout before riding up to the top with a ski lift system.
Back inside there’s a rather unique combo of a duelling Mack powered mine train and Bobkart. One is themed to Yetis, the other themed to space. The mine train had a violent airtime moment upon exiting the station flythrough and I rather enjoyed the interaction between the two rides.
The Bobkart started in strobe lights and ended in concrete walls, with the layout being both entertaining and unrestricted.
Having finished everything of interest it was off to the next park on the itinerary.
A zoo with creds.
Only the finest too. An SBF spinner with no less than 3 ‘loops’.
And slightly more interestingly a Gerstlauer Bobsled. Same layout as the one at Motiongate including a random block section where the indoor portion should have been. Only 2 of this one in the world so far, set complete.
Done. I’m sure it would have been a nice place to stay a little longer but we’re worn out on zoos right now and there were still borders to cross and bigger things to come.
I’ve had my eye on the only park in Switzerland for a while now. My only previous experience with the country was sleeping on the floor of an airport (the bastards) so it was nice to arrive by car instead.
For a nation that’s home to two of the biggest ride manufacturers in the world, getting a Pax was certainly an interesting choice, but I’m not complaining. It’s by far the most well presented of their coasters I’ve come across. I learnt on the spot that NEW FOR 2020! the trains have been replaced with ones made by the people who build butterflies. They’re now comfortable and exposed – the perfect combination.
As the exit shop contains this reaction shot of opening day on the original trains, I’d hazard a guess at the new ones being an improvement.
The backwards lift up a beyond vertical spike is as unnerving as it sounds, relying on raw leg power to keep yourself in the train by the time you reach the top.
Putting shuttle loops to shame, the two airtime hills deliver decently on the outbound trip.
And I actually liked this monstrosity of an element. The loop realises halfway that it needs to change alignment to not crash into itself, jolting riders to the side in amusing fashion and the hang in the tail is pretty glorious. I’d describe Cobra as rugged, not rough and I’m very glad we made the trip to try it. Oh, the new train has some BACKWARDS! seats too. The lift isn’t as good but the rest of it is even better this way.
The craziness doesn’t end there as a strange attraction called the Mammut Tree was beckoning. A 16 seater open cable car that randomly stops, bounces and sways as it traverses a straight line towards this tower. It passes straight through, teases for a while and then gets dragged back inside. The doors close. The deep voiced tree says “HALLO.” Words should not describe the sequence of events that happen next but it’s as one of a kind as Cobra was and I loved it.
They also have a dinosaur shooting dark ride with that cheap Golden Nugget type hardware. For sanitary reasons I ended up playing a game of spotting how many modern screens they have shoehorned in that all play the same animation of a baby dinosaur breaking out of an egg.
There’s a second cred! Wait. Gerstlauer clearly invented these just to annoy us didn’t they.
I didn’t want to leave them but we wanted another country cred before the day was out, with a whirlwind culture cruise through one of those little places beginning with L.
Starting with Liechtenstein cat.
‘Tis a mountainous place.
Looking for a castle, found a church by mistake.
Where the King lives.
And where the King doesn’t live. Also cat #2 in the shadows. I believe they outnumber the human population here.
Austria had been announced as the next no-go destination the previous night so being extra goody two shoes we skirted around it and back through Switzerland (which followed suit the very next week) into Germany’s safe arms again.