So I had a couple of weeks booked off work, couldn't quite find the
enthusiasm to trek over to the States for the fourth July running (and
looking at the temperatures over there, this was probably a good idea)
so I booked a few cheap flights and stuff, and off to Germany I went...
Flew into Stuttgart (from Manchester) at some god-awful late time (I said
they were cheap flights!) and crashed out at an airport hotel...
Pick up the car and drive on down to Europa Park, got there about 11am, dump
the car at the Colloseo and head on in...
I wasn't quite sure what to make of this place, I did have high expectations
of the park but then since all the rides are Macks (apart from their beemer) I
wasn't convinced that the coasters would be up to much.
First up was the beemer "Silver Star" - I've "done" the other big B&Ms in the
past (Nitro/Apollo/Raging Bull but not the new Goliaths) and really enjoyed them
- this was very good too, but probably the "least good" of the ones I've
been on - still good though and for me the best ride in the park (even if it
was being trimmed a bit!).
Right next to Silver Star is Eurosat, which is housed in their Epcot like dome
thing, but to celebrate (or cash in?) on the World Cup they had made it up
like a giant football (thats soccer to you ignorant yanks) - most amusing too;
Silver Star and a big football
Very much enjoyed Eurosat as well, very "space mountain" but pretty good with it,
encountered the first of the very odd Mack lift mechanisms - this one being a
giant rotating drum around which the track spirals upwards, the trains attaching
themselves to the side of the drum and are thus dragged up the track. Bizarre.
There was a model of the ride in the Mack museum;
Eurosat and its bizarre lift hill
While I'm on the subject of bizarre lift hills, I just loved Euro Mir's hill - it
has the same rotating drum business as Eurosat, but on acid. Filled with trance
music and the occasional spin around this was just trippy. The best bit of the
ride in my opinion. Not to say that the rest of the ride was bad at all, it was
pretty good indeed, a bit wild mouse like to start up with, then a few drops and
stuff, all with a bit of spinning around thrown in for good measure. I just really
liked the lift bit!
EuroMir's droppy bits
I worked my way around the rest of the park (which is pretty huge) and did all the
other coasters (apart from the big splashy one) - highlights were probably the
mouse "Matterhorn Blitz" with its (again) bizarre lift instead of a hill - and
the Poseidon water coaster (much better than Journey to Atlantis IMHO).
Spent the night at the Colloseo, which was pretty cool too, especially with
all the fountains and stuff going on.
Fountains and stuff
So I had the next day at Europa too - which I didn't think I'd manage to fill, but I
did quite happily. Glad I didn't try to rush it all into 1 day, the place was roasting
too - something like high 30's all week - ouch.
Got on the splashy ride before the queues built up, wasn't too impressed with the
ride (and indeed you didn't really get too wet either, the splash being directed
away from the boat) - but it was very pleasant to watch!
Overall a good couple of days at a nice park. BUT what is with all the Disney rip offs?
I mean the place has a MOUSE as an emblem ("EuroMouse" WTF??) an Epcot dome, Space
Mountain rides, a dark ride called Pirates of the somewhere-not-Carribean!!!
Honestly, its just in your face all the time! The downside of being owned by Mack
is that all the rides are Mack rides (duh!) - apart from the B&M that is, and the place
does have a bit of a "factory showroom" feel about it. Lots of stuff crammed into a
small area too, with lots of things on top of each other.
So in all not quite as "super" as I thought it'd be, but definitely worth the visit!
Spent the night at the Colloseo again (more money than sense me) - and up bright and
early to make the hop up to Hassloch (which a German friend of mine tells me sounds
very much like the German for ar*ehole!) for some Intamin goodness c/o Holiday Park.
Again the day is roasting and the park is seemingly full of day-trippers from local
summer camps. Nothing much to do at this place really apart from the obvious big ride
so thats where I spend most of the time.
So what did I think of the big ride - Well I expected it to be very good indeed, and
luckily it was! Only one dead bit on the whole ride I thought (the left hand turn
before you start back down the home straight of airtime hills) - but I'm nitpicking
here. There were some trim brakes in action as well, which is a shame, but nevermind
it was good times on Expedition GeForce all round!
I bet no-one has every taken this photo before!
Working my way around the rest of this sparse but large park, I did get to go on
something I'd never been on before, one of them StarFlyer thingys which it appeared
that they had only just opened. I must confess to having a great love of Wave Swingers
in general (try never to miss them out, very childish I think), I thought that this
was going to be a super-scary version of that. In practice it was more intimidating
than scary - the ride itself was pretty gentle, fairly sure you don’t spin around
that fast when you are up the top as compared to half way up. But still...
Holiday park's new "Lighthouse Tower"
Their corkscrew was interesting (to me anyway) as well - Alton Tower's version was the
first big coaster I ever went on (back in 1980 when it opened!!!) and I kind of have
a soft spot for the old girl (despite the regular pain she dishes out) - anyway
Holiday Park's Super Wirbel made me smile (before I ridden it and experienced the pain
that is) since it was doing it best to hide in the trees. Whereas Alton's version
in is a big open space surrounded by trees, HP's has all the trees in the middle of
the ride so you can't really see the whole thing at all. Cool.
Another totally unique photo I think
An odd place overall I thought - what on earth came over them when they decided
to add that Intamin mega to this otherwise rather small park? Well whatever
it was, I hope that more park owners follow their lead!
After sating myself on GeForce, it was back on the Autobahn for the trek up to Bruhl
and checking into the Phastasialand hotel for a couple of nights. Strangely I preferred
this place to the Colosseo (hotel geek that I am).
View from my room - not really I was over the car park
Phantasialand. Today was all about one ride, their new B&M Black Mamba (anyone else
notice that BM is a B&M?).
BUT - park opens at 9am, rides DONT open until 10am (apart from a couple which open at
9:30) - and Mamba doesn't open until 11AM - what’s THAT all about?
So since I was in there at 9am sharp, I wander around a get an idea of the layout and
have a play on their indoor Vekoma "Temple of the Nighthawk" - which is surprisingly OK
for an old Vekoma, they don't make much of the potential for effects inside the structure
bit it was quite a good ride.
Their spinning coasters "Winjas" opened at 10, so have a go on them - I liked 'em.
Been on a couple of these spinners (Alton's and the one in Madrid), but these were probably
the best - a few trick track sections, odd lifts, racing around a building - cool indeedy!
They also have a ride that was using the same system as Universal's BTTF rides, only
this time it was all some underwater Neptune stuff going on and there are only 4 vehicles
in the IMAX dome thingy. Oddly, even tough the pre-show films were all in German,
the ride film was all in English - you'd have thought that they'd have sorted that out!
At the stroke of 11 I was in the BM queue - which moves pretty quickly - and which
winds its was through the rode in an excellent manner. A lot has been made of this
ride being a "Nemesis-killer" and the comparisons are apt. A lot of BM is dug into the
ground, its queue line snakes through the ride structure, its small (but perfectly formed!).
The themeing and attention to detail on BM is much better than Nemesis, the ride is not
as intense as Neme though and I'd have to say that I prefer the old girl at the end of
the day...BUT Black Mamba was very good indeed.
The layout is pretty simple, drop, loop, zero-g, junior immelman, couple of wingovers, a bit
of a helix, some wobbling around then you are done. But like Nemesis all this is done
right close to the walls and the queue, its excellent. If you sit on the right hand
side you sweep up past a waterfall on the jr.immelmann and that is just wonderful.
There’s a full African soundtrack as well, beating drums as you despatch and when you
hit the brake run (in the dark) - all in all very cool indeed. Probably the ride I
enjoyed most on this trip.
What of the other rides here - I worked my way around all of them I think. Was a bit
disappointed that the Michael Jackson thrill ride didn't involve any "Jesus Juice", but
was in fact a pretty good mine train. The rapids ride was just wacky - I'd never been
on a rapids that didn't just snake off around the park, this one was all built on top
of itself and involved a lift to get you to the top. Thereafter you did the standard
rapids stuff, interspersed with some definitely non-standard drops! Wacky indeed!
I have to comment on their dark-rides though. They were all absolutely rubbish. Without
exception. From the awful Hollywood Tour to some Haunted Rickshaw thing, a silvermine trip
and some gondola ride thing. Awful, rubbish, tear them all down now and build more
One last work of warning about Black Mamba though, if you smoke in the queue line, ancient
and mystical African spirits will turn you into a hermaphrodite.
NO SMOKING or else!
Drive up the hour or so from Phantasialand to Movie Park and what a change of pace.
In all honesty I didn't have much hope for this place, and I don’t think that my
expectations were met.
It was one of the places that you think should be doing all right, they've obviously
spend lots of money at some point in a few places (their rapids ride was well done, as
was the "Ice Age" dark ride), but the place was empty, their coasters were cack and
the drop ride was broken.
The best of the bad bunch was probably the woody "Bandit", but that was bad too. Their
SLC was extra painful, the Intamin "Cop Car Chase" thingy was potentially interesting
but ultimately painful and pointless. Their mouse was OK, but its just a mouse, and I
couldn't even summon the enthusiasm for their kiddy coaster.
I hate to see places like this. They depress me. I had more fun wandering around the
local shopping mall next to my hotel that night (in Oberhausen) than at the park. (OK
maybe not true, but you get the picture).
I can't even find one decent picture of the place. So thats the lot from here.
The highlight of the day was chastising the waiter at the Irish pub I ate dinner in
for wearing a Portugal top (Gelsenkirchen was just down the road). He should have
expected to be getting grief from English like me, but even the Germans were giving
him stick for wearing it. Good on the Germans.
Fancied a non-park day, so wandered around the Aquarium at Oberhausen (I'm a bit of
an Aquarium fan too) before the long drive across country to Heide. There was a
coaster at the shopping centre in Oberhausen, a spinning mouse - but I didn't indulge.
Aquarium was quite good though (if you like that sort of thing!)
I'd overnighted about 20 miles from Heide Park in some small town - nice part of
the country around here, all trees and stuff. But the countryside wasn't why I was
here, big wooden roller coasters were why I was here, so off to Heide Park I went.
Went straight to Colossos obviously and given that there was no queue, spent the
next hour riding that. Blimey its good. Smooth and just loaded with air. Probably
the woody I've most enjoyed riding ever. Something to do with the fact that it
doesn't bash you around. I've been on some nasty bits of wood in the past with
otherwise good layouts - why can't they be as nice as Colossos?
Hope that El Toro is as good (can't imagine that it can't be) - when Alton get around
to installing their big woody in the woods, hope its one of these!
Oops - my panorama photo didn't quite stitch together!
Of the other coasters here, the bob was perhaps the best, up on the side of a hill
you got a good view from it too.
All 4 of Heide's coasters here (powered ones don’t count)
Their old Vekoma "Big Loop", was old and painful (looked like the original trains
too - ouch). Their SLC was just an SLC, painful as ever, and their powered coaster
was a bit dull. They do have an excellent gyro-drop, perched on top of a hill
too, that was cool;
Overall a very pleasant park. Some odd ride selections (OK I can just about understand
2 log flumes, but 2 pirate ships?????), but plenty of flat rides, lots of transport
rides, nice lake setting and a marvellous huge woody. Can't ask for too much more.
(apart from maybe a new accelerator perhaps?)
More good wood, and it don't look like they've started building next years toy yet
I do think that their sandcastle competition needed more entries though.
And the winner is...
One more thing, there appeared to be a "popular music" festival going on next door,
"Party in the Park" or something - anyway headlining that day were the popular combo
"Tokio Hotel" - big in Germany apparently. Could have been worse I guess, could have
been David Hasslehoff.
Nothing to do today apart from wait around until my unbelievably cheap flight home from
Hanover to Manchester (cheap because it coast me €0.01 + tax - worked out at £15!, which
was the same price as the taxi took to get back from the airport to home).
Anyway, spent the day wandering around Hanover, which was OK. Nice town hall I guess,
..and some very pleasant formal gardens "Herrenhausen Gardens"
which were at least interesting to me as part of a novel I read earlier this year
was set in them! (The novel being the third part of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle
"The System of the World" - which if you have the patience (the 3 volumes are ~1000
pages each) are well worth it, in fact I'd go as far to say that the 2nd volume is the
best thing I've EVER read!).
Nice to finish with a bit of culture don't you think?