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Photo TR: Chuck Looks Back at TPR's Europe Trip 2008


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Le Jardin d'Acclimatation is located on the side of the Bois de Boulogne nearly outside of the legal bounds of Paris. It is however beyond the Boulevard Périphérique (Paris' ring that more or less defines the "official" Paris) . It's accessible by the most touristic subway line of Paris: Line 1. This means you have direct access to the park from touristically popular locations such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysées, Place de la Concorde, the Louvre Museum, or Chatelet and Notre Dame Cathedral. The Station is "Les Sablons" and you have to walk about 150m through a classy surburbian neighbourhood to get to the park.

 

If you want to do the whole touristic thing (and want to be sure not to get lost ), get down at Porte Maillot and take the small train that will take you through the woods of Bois de Boulogne to the entrance of the park.

 

According to the website of Paris public transportations, it take less than half an hour with the subway from the Louvre which is located in what could be called 'Central Paris'.

 

Thanks for your Trip Reports, Chuck, they are always an immense pleasure to read!

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Thanks Chuck, this is a great trip report so far!! The photos are great, and the captions are even better! Funny stuff, especially those ones for the gargoyles.

 

All I can say is wow, these mega-TPR trips look to be incredible. The Alveys really seem to put together amazing trips. I need to save up some cash so that the future wife and I can go on one of these trips to Europe. I mean, sightseeing plus coasters - who could ask for anything more?

 

(Incidentally, it was great to see some faces to go with a couple usernames I've gotten to know pretty well on other sites. Yep, I'm talkin' about you, Larry and Rich - aka larrygator and coaster05.)

 

I'm glad you all had a great time. Team Larry rules!

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Chapter 2: All Gaul Is Divided into Three Parts, All of Them Wacky—Parc Asterix

 

I learned three valuable history lessons at TPR’s first “official” park of the Europe trip (Monday, June 23, 2008):

 

  • 1. Caesar and his vaunted Roman legions were even more inept than Colonel Klink and Sgt. Schultz.
    2. The gods of ancient Rome (who were stolen from the gods of ancient Greece—let’s be honest here) liked “exciting” underpants.
    3. Cavemen invented the bobsled.

Yes, I learned so much about the ancient world at Parc Asterix, and had a great time learning it. The inspiration for the place is an old French comic strip about the exploits of Asterix, a little Gaul warrior with a handlebar moustache and horned helmet, and his big, rotund buddy, who I think is named Menhir. Anyway, they both possess superpowers and spend most of their time harassing and thrashing Emperor Caesar’s invading legions.

 

This quirky, very nicely themed park (on a par with the Busch parks) got the trip off to a great start with ERT on its two best coasters. Here they are, from best to worst:

 

Tonnere de Zeus—This is a very good woodie, with a twisty layout and an out-of-control feeling (at least the day that we were there). There’s plenty of airtime, and despite a rough patch here and there, it’s very re-rideable. I liked it a lot.

 

Trace du Hourra—This is, as many have said, the only Mack Bobsled that isn’t themed to be a “bobsled.” It’s a coaster as conceived by a bunch of bored cavemen, and I think it’s the biggest, tallest, and best of the Mack Bobsleds. Lots of fun as it whips around those turns and through those helices.

 

Le Vol D’Icare—A fun family coaster with winged cars themed to the story of Icarus (the boy who flew too close to the sun). It brakes a bit hard, so be careful lest you crack open your kneecaps.

 

Periferix—Family mine-train coaster that’s OK for what it is.

 

Gouderix—Is this really the worst steel coaster ever, as stated in the annual Hawker poll? Well, there are a few SLCs that would give it a run for its money, but this uncomfortable, rough, Vekoma looper and twister is definitely in the bottom five.

 

La Ronde des Rondins—Wee coaster for kiddies and credit whores only.

 

Parc Asterix has a good mix of other attractions. Le Defi de Cesar is an OK madhouse with a great preshow, which gives us insight into how desperate the Romans were to take out Asterix. (Hey, they drafted TPR members to join their legions—that’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel.) Transdemonium is one wacked-out dark ride (with some coasterish moments) about evil demon puppets. The Menhir Express is a very good flume ride that will leave you soaked. L’Oxygenarium is a spinning raft ride with a strange “Jules Verne” look that won’t soak you at all. There’s also a boat ride through the world of Asterix, which involves lots of Romans getting beaten up.

 

Here’s a look at Parc Asterix.

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Yes, that's (shudder!) Gouderix! Why are evil Vekomas always so damn photogenic? More to come from Parc Asterix.

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Then evacin' it, caveman style.

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At last--ridin' it caveman style.

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Behold, a brief glimpse of the pain that is to come. Great view of the park, though.

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"What? Whaddaya mean it's the last train for ERT?"

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"Bring it on! Neanderthal! Cro Magnon! Any style you want! I'll ride it!"

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That's my old UK Trip roomie, Jeff. He's back and ready for action, baby!

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Whee! Who knew cavemen led such interesting lives?

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OK--who's ready to ride it Neanderthal style?

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Here we see the failed prototype train.

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First up, ERT on the Mack caveman coaster.

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"Home at last," sighs Louise.

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"Yeah! It takes a real man to run around in the broiling sun with a purple shag carpet on his head!"

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Neither is copyediting your shirt. ;)

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"Hey, pimpin' aint easy!"

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"Who are these people? Don't they know the park isn't open yet? And why did they bring two pimps?"

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Again, thanks for all the nice comments so far, folks. It's always good to know that somebody's reading.

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Jeff had the credit so he didn't ride. But even being near Gouderix was enough to drive the poor bugger mad! And we're not done with Asterix yet--stay tuned.

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Gouderix tried to kill me. It nearly succeeded.

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As usual, the loop is the least-painful element.

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. . . then I get to scarf 'em down! Yum, yum!"

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"First, Gouderix tenderizes them . . .

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Special? Or sad and pathetic? You make the call.

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Seems like everybody wanted footage of Vol d'Icare. Get any good shots, Brian?

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I went off to take this picture and lost track of Team Larry. Oops.

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He does have a kick-ass coaster.

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Well, he is the father of the gods. I guess he can wear anything he wants.

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Looks like the ladies are ready to ride--as is Shane. Maybe the polka-dot briefs aren't such a bad idea after all.

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Ha, ha! Zeus got polka-dot undies!

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Nice station ya got here, Zeus. But, what--no polka dots?

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Oh, yeah? Well, smite this, pal! I ain't the one with a polka-dot crotch.

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"Wretched mortal! I shall smite thee mightily!"

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Time to ride Tonnere de Zeus--and to "pay homage" to the father of all the gods.

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Our lesson in ancient French history contiunes at Parc Asterix.

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"OK, we've had enough! Back to Rome!" But we're not done yet--one more set of photos to come.

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But the occupation wreaks a horrible toll on the occupiers.

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"Heh, heh, heh! I'm so aroused by half-naked, dancing gypsy men!"

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Yes, the Roman occupation has taken a horrible toll. Watch as this man debases and sells himself!

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Jeff is so ready. "Just give me a cigarette, dammit!"

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I'm not sure that Lou and Chris are ready for it. But we must press on.

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And now, a look at the dark underside of the world of Asterix.

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Why so emo, Elliot?

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This is Periferix. It is not to be confused with a real train. That is all.

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. . . the answer is "not wet at all."

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You know, this is pretty impressive themeing for a spinning-raft ride. I'm not sure what it's supposed to be, but I like it. As for the "wetness" question . . .

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TPR members ponder the eternal question: "How wet will we get?"

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I'm not sure what went on in this building, but I liked how it was themed.

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But they believe in keeping in shape--through torture!

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They're every bit as freaky as those big-headed puppets on Thunderbirds.

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But nobody told me about the scary demon puppets!

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Time for Transdemonium. I love wacked-out dark rides, and Europe is full of 'em.

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^That boat ride was great, wasn't it?

 

Asterix turned out to be so much better than I was expecting. It seems like you really can't judge the European parks by their coaster line ups, because some really good parks often had average-at-best coasters. Asterix definitely fell into this category. The park was at its best when we were just exploring the park finding random details and bits of theming.

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And, so, our day at Parc Asterix comes to an end. Sniff!

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"Hey, the ride's e-stopped! Here's our chance to hock some loogies on 'em!" And on that note, our day at Parc Asterix comes to an end.

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Yes, this battalion certainly inspires confidence.

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Remember--never volunteer to be a "catapult tester."

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And we're them?

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Yes, Caesar's looking for a few good men.

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Time for the TPR takeover of the madhouse.

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But all he finds are more of the horrors of war.

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Chris uses his super-spy camera to help Caesar's men conduct reconnaissance.

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The result--me, Elliot, and Piers.

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The result--Melanie.

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The splash.

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The drop.

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I met up with Team Larry for the Menhir Express. Yeah, it had a bit of a line, but it moved pretty well.

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We conquered the kiddie coaster.

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We came. We saw.

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Parc Asterix is a beautiful place.

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Great pics Chuck. I had forgotten we lost you that day, course i had also forgotten about that cool dark ride. Some of these pics feel like I have never been there. You know it's a great trip when a park as cool as this one has almost been forgotten.

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Get any good shots, Brian?

 

Not really. I suck at taking POVs and any onride coaster videos.

 

BTW, another great TR.

 

I know what your mean. A few years ago, I was with some friends at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. For some reason, they asked me to shoot some POV of Peter Pan for them with their camera. Why they wanted me to do this, I have no idea, as I'd never used their video camera before. Well, the thing was set on "autofocus," and the video was mostly a blurry mess of black light and glowing colors.

 

They gave me a bad time about the crappy video later. Thanks, guys.

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Chuck - not to detract from the great pics but your captions are always so pertinent, I'm sure you could make any 'crappy' photo into something cool. Maybe re^your friends autofocus whatnot you should have supplied an audio commentary, thus making a seemingly bad thing into something most great.

 

Looking forward to the rest of your report. Please take your time though, I need work distraction on a daily basis and if you rush through it all I will only be sad when it gets to the end

 

Steve - ever grateful to you and everyone for contributing quality reports-C

 

p.s. ^^- CHUNCK?? - that is so cool - it is the written equivalent of the sound of a very high speed train in Japan coming to a very rapid halt because....well you know why I guess

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great TR Chuck, as Steve's said the captions really bring back the mood of the place!

 

Asterix was one of my favorite places of the trip, and personally, with an amazing woodie, best bobsled, cool dark ride, best spinning boat ride, awesome food, it actually gets my vote for the best coaster/park line-up of the trip.

 

The emoness in that photo, i think i was just trying to move over so that Lou and Dave could be seen as they're clearly trying to be a part of the picture!

 

Great stuff Chuck look forward to seeing more.

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The emoness in that photo, i think i was just trying to move over so that Lou and Dave could be seen as they're clearly trying to be a part of the picture!

 

Au contraire ELZ - what with Dave and Lou clearly completely ignoring the camera- je pense vous etes caught en camera releasing Le Gas n'est pas?

 

Steve - Trying out Le Franglais ..une langauge nous can tout comprend-C

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Au contraire ELZ - what with Dave and Lou clearly completely ignoring the camera- je pense vous etes caught en camera releasing Le Gas n'est pas?

 

 

 

you've just said that "i think you (plural) didnt think you were caught on camera releasing (english) petrol".

 

hehe. im sure i was trying to get everyone else in the picture. the smell in the air was the aroma of french youth!

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you've just said that "i think you (plural) didnt think you were caught on camera releasing (english) petrol".

 

hehe. im sure i was trying to get everyone else in the picture. the smell in the air was the aroma of french youth!

 

Top translation - see how we all comprend the Franglais - mais un petit pois - I was not using the plural, but using the French use of the plural to indicate respect. BITE ME...oh and give me some dates for the October UK sacrefest.....Hijack over Chunck....keep it going....slowly remember

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^Hmm--I used to have a bad case of "farmpit" when I worked for my Dad during apricot season.

 

Moving right along . . .

 

Chapter 3: If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Walibi Belgium

It’s tempting to label Walibi Belgium the “Fuji-Queue” of the Europe trip, because it’s a park with a bunch of low-capacity rides, but huge crowds. But that would be a bit unfair. I think it’s a much better park than Fuji-Queue—it’s prettier with better themeing and more enjoyable.

 

But those crowds on June 24, 2008, and all that “French crunching,” were pretty annoying.

 

Fortunately, Robb and Elissa had arranged some much-appreciated morning ERT, not only on the park’s woodie, but also on the lower-capacity coasters. This let everybody get their credits in and still have plenty of time to hit the park’s other main attractions. Again, my thanks to Robb and Elissa for ensuring that everybody could maximize their fun, even when the park is crawling with obnoxious kids and teenagers.

 

Here’s how the coasters stack up (best to worst):

 

Turbine—Leave it to Anton Schwartzkopf to grace Walibi Belgium with its best ride: a classic shuttle loop in a box. You’re launched into complete darkness, so the loop is a huge surprise, even though you know it’s coming, and the train climbs nice and high on both the front and back spikes. Nice work, Anton!

 

Calamity Mine—Europeans must love mine-train coasters. There were quite a few of them on this trip, and they were all pretty good. Walibi’s was very nicely themed to the American Southwest and even threw in a few waterfalls. Lots of fun.

 

Loup Garou—I was a bit disappointed in this woodie. It’s an OK ride, but it seems to shuffle a lot (at least when I rode it). This is too bad, because I really like Tusenfryd’s Thunder Coaster (another Vekoma woodie).

 

Cobra—On the one hand, this may be the best boomerang I’ve ever ridden; on the other hand, that’s not saying much. It’s like saying that one punch to the jaw is better than two punches to the jaw and a shot to head. Like saying that a tension headache is better than a migraine. Like saying that I’d rather shoot myself in the head with a .22 than a 12 gauge. (OK, I’ll stop now.)

 

Coccinelle—This tiny ladybug coaster is really for kids and credit whores only, and not always for the latter, it seems. Robb persuaded the operator to let our group ride it for one lap, two adults at a time—provided that we say, on camera, that we are “sad and pathetic.” Did anybody turn him down?

 

But Walibi Belgium’s best attraction, for my money, was its shooting dark ride, Challenge of Tutankmamon. This trackless Sally dark ride offers plenty of targets, loads of atmosphere, and even a bonus room if you car scores enough points. (Mine didn’t, but some other TPR members did.) There’s even real fire! La Chambre Magique du Zanzur is a very good madhouse ride about dueling Arab magicians, hampered by its lousy operations: Instead of cycling the ride for one group while letting the other watch the preshow, guests are forced to wait outside while one group gets the preshow and the ride. This seems counter to any other madhouse attraction I’ve ridden, and it doubles the wait time. There’s also a good, reversing log flume with the sneakiest queue I’ve ever seen (more on that later).

 

The park’s newest attraction, a suspended coaster called Vertigo, was down for the count, which was unfortunate; so was Vampire, the park’s Vekoma SLC, which was just as well.

 

Many of the group also checked out the ropes course at Adventure Parc. I gave it shot, but being as you could fit all my athletic ability into a thimble and still have room for my knowledge of quantum physics, I didn’t last long. Still, I was curious because I’d never done anything like that before, and my thanks to Elissa for the opportunity. My hat’s off to all those who outlasted me at Adventure Parc.

 

And now, a look at both Walibi Belgium and Adventure Parc. Well, mostly at the former. And there was an impromptu snooker tournament the night before.

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Even down to the drop tower. More to come.

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What is it with European parks and American "Wild West" themeing? They're really good at it.

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I pretty much fail at being a werewolf. I do sort of look like Henry Hull in "Werewolf of London," though--but I didn't have "a Chinese menu in my hand."

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The poor werewolf wasn't howling too loud that day. Maybe if I'd ridden it under the full moon . . .

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I think someone must've slipped Loup Garou some wolfbane that morning.

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And no one regretted it. Turbine is fun.

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Everybody chose the box.

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"OK, you can keep the Boomerang and leave now, or have what's in the box! Whaddaya say, pal?"

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. . . profit from our mistakes.

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After all, we must make sure that future generations . . .

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It is crucial that all Boomerangs be thoroughly documented.

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"Hi there! I'm Satan! Enjoy my ride! Think of it as punishment for 'original sin.'"

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. . . and, unfortunately, a functional Vekoma Boomerang.

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WB has a very nice entrance . . .

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And here it is.

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For my money, KidTums snookered them all. On to Walibi Belgium!

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. . . that he impaled himself on his own cue.

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TPDave so regretted teaching Larry how to play snooker . . .

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More ramblin' round Walibi Belgium.

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Vertigo just looks so industrial. Really, I can imagine the shipyard in Newport News, Va., using a similar rig to move parts around the drydock. A bit more Walibi and wee bit extra to follow.

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. . . then ignite your own flatulence? The wish is granted!"

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. . . form a ring around a magic lamp, . . .

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"Let's see. You wish to make many people stand in the blazing sun, . . .

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"I am the genie of the lamp! What is your wish, my master?"

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It's a rather long wait for wetness, but isn't it always better to take things slow?

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Well, at least it was a good flume, anyway.

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"There are queues within queues."

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"I'm afraid it's far worse than that, gentlemen."

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"Wha? There's a whole other freakin' queue in here?"

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"There's a bit of a line for the flume, but it doesn't look too bad. Let's check it out."

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I have no idea what this old guy said, but I think it boils down to this: Grab gun. Shoot bad guys. See fire.

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"Hello! I'm Tut! Can anybody recommend a good orthodontist? No? Well, curse you all, then!"

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. . . and I'm proud!

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I'm sad and pathetic . . .

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Sing it long, and sing it loud!

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Walibis, ropes, and awards next.

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Joe's wife, Liz, was the first winner of Elissa Bingo. Her prize? She gets immunity from Dave's carnivorous bees and rocket-launching bears. Oh, and an auographed copy of Brian Keene's "Dead Sea" (a very good zombie novel). That's all for now.

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"OK, Joe--you can keep this beautiful, Big Mike-designed plaque, or take what's behind Curtain #2!"

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And here they are!

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Winners in Big Mike's Trivia Contest get to choose from these fabulous prizes!

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It was awards time that night in the hotel bar.

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"Larry! Larry! Larry!"

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A boy and his pole.

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"Aw-ee-aw-ee-aw-ee-aw!" (Actually, Chris has far too much dignity to do a Tarzan yell.)

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"Pathetic fools! Don't they know what they're in for? We've been stuck up here for days!"

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It's quite a pretty place, though.

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"Oh, I am so not doin' that one!"

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And now, for those who want to indulge their inner Tarzan . . . Adventure Parc!

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Definitely not this tie.

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So, what else is good at Walibi Belgium?

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"I swear, if I get 'French crunched' one more time . . ."

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And to think they banned the Frito Bandito in the States.

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Hmm--either this joint is owned by some guy named "Whisky," or somebody needs to bone up on their punctuation.

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