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Photo TR: Chuck Returns to Europe at Last with TPR

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Fine Art of Amsterdam and the Wackiness of Walibi--and also of Amsterdam (just scroll, pilgrim)

Chapter 2: Meanwhile, on the Way to the Heide Park Abenteuer Hotel . . . Potts Park

Chapter 3: “Bleah,” “Arrr,” “Yeehaw,” and “Huh? I Forgot?”--Heide Park

Chapter 4: Castles, Curses, and Creative Vision--Hansa Park

Chapter 5: The Most All-American Park in Germany--Movie Park

Chapter 6: The Wild, the Whimsical, and the Wacky--Phantasialand

Chapter 7: Not to Be Confused with a Park in Indiana--Holiday Park

Chapter 8: Still the King of Europe--Europa Park

Chapter 9: By Day and by Night--Grona Lund

Chapter 10: You Know, There's More Here than Wildfire: Kolmarden


Chapter 1

The Fine Art of Amsterdam and the Wackiness of Walibi--and also of Amsterdam


When I walked from my office to my car after work today, Virginia slapped me in the face. All the heat and humidity seemed even more oppressive than usual. Why? Perhaps because I never had the chance to get used to a Tidewater Virginia summer after spending a bit over two weeks in Europe with TPR, where we experienced but one oppressive day (more on that later).


I haven’t been anywhere near Europe since 2009, but it was more than cooler weather that drew me there. Yes, there were a few new credits for me, but that’s not the whole reason. I just love the different vibe of countries like the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden. Plus, how can you go wrong traveling with TPR anywhere?


I met the group in Amsterdam on Saturday, June 18. The jet lag hit me pretty hard that morning, and I was dozing off in the hotel lobby when the TPR bus pulled in around 12:30 pm. I was supposed to visit a few museums and stroll around the central city with Elissa, Kristen, Sarah, Dan, Derek, and John, but I wondered if I was going to be sleep walking most of the day--an American Zombie in Amsterdam. But after a shave and change of shirt, I was ready to set out with the crew for a guided tour of the city’s museums and other cultural spots. Yes, we marveled at the paintings of Van Gogh and Rembrandt, admired the architecture of old Amsterdam, and eye-balled a few hookers in the city’s famed Red Light District. I even survived a night of beer drinking with Dan, John, and Derek as we hopped from pub to pub. What a great start!


Next up was a day of fun (and ride filming) at Walibi Holland, a park that I last visited in 2008 with TPR. This is the home of Goliath, an Intamin hyper, which was the park’s star back then. It’s still a headliner, but now has to share the spotlight with Lost Gravity, a particularly insane Mack creation. This coaster packs some Skyrush-style moments of airtime and lots of craziness into a relatively small space. The group loved this ride, but the local Dutch enthusiasts didn’t seem to care for it--a puzzlement, indeed. I think this was the biggest under-the-radar surprise for most of the group. When you first see the twisted mass that is Lost Gravity, you think, “Oh, hell no!” By the time you’ve ridden it, you're thinking, "Oh, hell yes!" Well done, Mack and Walibi. Well done! My thanks to the Walibi staff for treating us so well and getting through the park quickly via some backstage paths.


There were two other “new to me” rides, which weren’t quite as inspiring: a Vekoma Boomerang and a launched coaster, which were both closed in ‘08. The Boomerang has been reworked as Speed of Sound, and sported some funky “rock and roll” theming along with onboard sound and the new, more comfortable Vekoma restraints, which made it tolerable (but still just a Boomerang). The launched coaster, XPress, used to be Superman: The Ride, back when the park was owned by Six Flags. Essentially, it’s the same layout as Walt Disney World’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, only outdoors. The ride is a bit clunky, but not too bad. Ka-ching!


Overall, it was a great day a Walibi--and a good time in Amsterdam.


Ah, Amsterdam! A city of great beauty . . .


. . . quirkiness, . . .


. . . and a touch of depravity.


Let’s leave our disturbing butcher behind to appreciate more of the sights of Amsterdam, such as canals and quaint architecture, . . .


. . . the genius of Rembrandt as shown in his famous painting “Night Watch,” . . .


. . . and Van Gogh’s invention of the mass-market potato chip. As with his paintings, Van Gogh didn’t see a dime for his chips. (OK, so I didn’t take any other photos in the Van Gogh Museum. I admit it.)


There’s lots of great beer in Amsterdam, too. This is Brouwerij 't IJ, and it's supposed to be one of the ten best bars in the city. It was certainly busy, and the beer was excellent.


This was a close as we got to touring the Anne Frank House. The line to buy tickets was hours long.


This is Biercafe Gollem--another great place, if you don’t mind some creepy little guy constantly bugging you to play a game of riddles with him.


To sum up the “cultural” section of this report, Amsterdam is the genius of Rembrandt . . .


. . . combined with hookers, hash, and hops. Not too shabby, eh?


Good morning, Intamin, you magnificent bastards. More on Goliath later.


After an evening in kinky Amsterdam, the family-oriented atmosphere of a theme park comes as something of a relief.


Or does it? There might be a few hidden “hard gaans” in this photo.


Every day in Holland should start with a filming session on Goliath.


But no day should ever start with this.


Yes, that’s much better.


They took us backstage to get photos of XPress (or “Buck Nekkid Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster”) while they tested it.


The ride’s a bit “clunky,” but not bad--and did I mention it's "buck nekkid"? Pretty sure I did.


Even so, Dan’s expression betrays a certain amount of foreboding. Is it the ride's "nekkidness" . . .


. . . or his proximity to the "danger zone" that troubles him so?


Prithee? Where may I find the one called “Robin Hood”? I wouldst join me up with his band of merrie outlaws.


No, he wasn’t in one of your nicely themed privies.


Aha! I will take me hence!


I am in haste to robbeth from the rich and giveth to the poor!


What? "A manly initiation," say you? Bringeth it on! Ouch! Odds bodkins! My spine is cracked in twain!


Maybe I’m not cutteth out for this “Merrie Men” folderol.


Methinks the Sheriff of Nottingham might be hiring.


Walibi is a very nicely landscaped park. I wonder what’s at the end of this nice, quiet pathway?


Oh. Well, at least it’s free.


How did we end up at Six Flags America? Must be some warp in time and space.


Yes, there’s definitely something odd going on here. To find out what, you'll have to scroll on to my next post.

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Yes, where did the mysterious path past the "Campsite of Carnage" lead us? Perhaps to a disturbing alternate dimension--or a great little coaster.


The whole world has gone crazy!


Lost Gravity is the only coaster in the world with a DJ in a helicopter and a school bus in an “Express Pass” queue.


My first thought upon seeing this mess of track: “This is going to be great or really bad and painful.”


It’s like Mack saw the Eurofighter and said, “Challenge accepted, Gerstlauer.”


This ride can hold its own with any of a number of other coasters.


Just insane fun from beginning to end . . .


. . . as you can tell by their expressions.


More parks need to build these rides--especially in the US!


Even this t shirt is amazed.


I wonder how many people needed these after riding?


You gotta love Europe.


Are you ready for Super Freeze Coke in a bottle?


It’s a bit more dangerous than you might think.


So dangerous, it’s legal only in the Netherlands!


Poffertjes (little Dutch pancakes) are much safer than Super Freeze Coke.


As I recall, this kiddie coaster was themed to a stereotyped Chinese dragon back in 2008.


This woman seems a bit embarrassed. Perhaps she misses the dragon.


One last look at the twisted, wonderful insanity of Lost Gravity. Well done, Mack!


You know, you can add all the goofy theming and onboard music that you want . . .


. . . but a Boomerang is still a Boomerang. At least it had the new restraints instead of the jaw-breaking OTSRs.


This was the first SLC ever built. Why does it not have its own ACE plaque?


I’m sure that Moe, Larry, and Curly enjoyed it. I stayed a safe distance away.


Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.


Yes, the aftereffects of El Condor can be felt as far away as Lost Gravity.


I’m sure many people were seeing stars after riding the SLC.


Fortunately, the blessing of the Blue Alien Woman saved them.


We may as well finish this chapter with Goliath, eh?


As I said earlier, Intamin is a company of magnificent bastards.


If it weren’t for Expedition GeForce, this would be the best steel coaster in Europe.


Fast as greased lightning, . . .


. . . airtime filled, . . .


. . . and smooth as butter--not to mention better curves than you'll see in most of Amsterdam's Red Light District.


I think the guy in the second car is going to toss his poffertjes.


Yep--time to "Wab it up." Next up--one of those goofy German “do-it-yourself” parks.

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Woah I totally missed this until I saw the link on the TPR twitter page. Great trip report, Walibi Holland is quite a nice park indeed. Very nice natural scenery, some good theming, and a couple of great rides combined with some not-so-great ones.


I didn't find Robin Hood to be very rough when I rode it during my visit in the spring. However I did have a problem with the restraint, which tightened during the ride and made it rather uncomfortable. As for Lost Gravity, I wasn't quite as wowed by it as you guys seem to be. The first half is very good, but the second half felt a bit slow to me and seemed to focus more on hangtime and that's not quite my cup of tea. I must add though that due to a rather long line I only rode it once, and I've always thought that in order to get a really good impression of a ride you need to ride it more than once. But overall I do think it's a rather solid ride.


Btw, that backstage area of Xpress looks awfully familar!


I’m sure that Moe, Larry, and Curly enjoyed it. I stayed a safe distance away.


A very wise decision indeed!


Looking forward to see more from your trip!

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Chapter 1

The Fine Art of Amsterdam and the Wackiness of Walibi--and also of Amsterdam


. . . and Van Gogh’s invention of the mass-market potato chip. As with his paintings, Van Gogh didn’t see a dime for his chips. (OK, so I didn’t take any other photos in the Van Gogh Museum. I admit it.)


You mean to tell me that THIS masterpiece wasn't in the Van Gogh Museum?!? Stunning omission!

I guess you had to: 'Exit through the Gift Shop.'


Thanks Chuck, for such an entertaining opening to your trip with TPR. Amsterdam, as you so well document, is a deliciously quirky place (altho the quirkiest thing I did there was probably eat herring from a street vendor....no Zabar's to be found!).


It's been way too long since I've been to a great theme park, but your pix of Goliath and Lost Gravity made me want to "Get my motor runnin'.....Head out on the highway....Looking for adventure!" Etc. etc., Baby Boomers rule! I'm looking forward to all of your trip follow-ups -- your great photos and droll dialogue! Thanks.



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^Lost Gravity really is a great ride, although you couldn't tell from what some of the local coaster enthusiasts were saying about it. The ride offers some crazy fun, with some pretty interesting theming and surprises in the queue. Then again, any park would have trouble coming up with an encore for Goliath.

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Yay for this report getting started so I can revisit this trip already!


I’m sure that Moe, Larry, and Curly enjoyed it. I stayed a safe distance away.

No, no, a thousand times no. Second worst coaster of the entire trip. Thank you so much for commemorating my last minutes before riding!


^We could use a new Park Index page for this place (Potts Park). I did get some photos of the park's coaster and some other rides.


I created it this morning

I'll contribute some also, after Chuck gets it started. I have some ride signs too.

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^We could use a new Park Index page for this place (Potts Park). I did get some photos of the park's coaster and some other rides.


I created it this morning

I'll contribute some also, after Chuck gets it started. I have some ride signs too.


Cool. Between the two of us, we should have the park pretty well covered.

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Speaking of Potts Park . . .


Chapter 2

Meanwhile, on the Way to the Heide Park Abenteuer Hotel . . . Potts Park


It was a six-hour haul from Amsterdam to our next major park: Heide in Germany. This would necessitate a lunch stop of some kind along the way. But why stop at McDonald’s or a standard Autobahn rest area--especially when you can have lunch at one of those wacky German “do-it-yourself” parks and playgrounds? Why not combine a meal with at least a slight chance at bodily injury? It’s the TPR way!


Elissa did some research and discovered that one such place was on the way to Heide: Potts Park. At first, the staff there seemed a bit skeptical. Why do a bunch of “adults” want to stop at a kid’s park? But they warmed to the idea and treated us very well--and fed us a nice lunch of currywurst and fries.


Potts Park didn’t disappoint. There were the usual assortment of do-yourself-rides there, such as Nautic Jet jump boats (for both big and little kids) along with a “slides-of-death” tower and one bona-fide coaster credit: Potts Blitz, a Zierer family coaster themed to planes. There was even a powered suspended coaster, which was also themed to aircraft: Turbo-Drachen. These coasters, and some of the other attractions (such as the log flume), did have ride ops, but often had to “share” them.


The park mascot was a badger (at least I think it was badger) named Potzi. I don’t recall seeing him wandering around the park that day, but his likeness was all over the place. And from what I found online, he does greet guests from time to time.



He also seemed to have a thing for pigs--particularly shapely sows. Yes, crazy, self-operated attractions, nicely maintained grounds, and suggestions of interspecies bestiality. What more could you want?


“OK, kids. Go wild in the park . . .


. . . while me and your Mom have a couple of brews next door.”


“If you hurt yourself, just rent one of those ‘Potzi-Buggies’ and ask a ride op to drag you to the infirmary. We’ll pick you up after Happy Hour.”


A glance at some of the craziness to come.


I’ve always liked these “Jet-Ski” type rides; unfortunately, it broke down.


But Turbo-Drachen, the powered suspended (not a credit) coaster was up and running.


Everybody get that? Important instructions, people!


Aaron was a bit confused by the big sign out front, but there’s really only two things he needed to know.


“Up” = “slow.” “Down” = “fast." The latter was especially important.


And it does move at a pretty nice clip once you clear the lift hill.


How many small parks would include as actual airplane as part of their theming?


I was surprised at how far the planes swung out on the curves.


The course is nice and curvy--much like the pig women favored by Potzi (a little more on this later).


All in all, this is a very good ride for families . . .


. . . if it weren’t for the damn paparazzi!


Sarah, you can trust Derek. I’m sure this will end well.


You see? What did I tell you?


Two grown men in a swing ride for kids?


What could possibly go wrong?


My god, even Potzi was terrified!


It’s probably a good thing that Derek, John, and Sarah had currywurst after all that gut-churning craziness.


“Oh, how hard could this be?”


“Look--even John can do it!”


“I’ll be just fine!”


“Agh! Save me Jeebus!” More to come from Potts Park.

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Yes, it looks like a perfectly normal day at a crazy German kids' park, doesn't it? But things are about to take decidedly surreal turn.


All seemed “normal" enough as we rode the park’s bona fide coaster credit.


The infamous Red Baron sets out to destroy Snoopy and his Hundehaus.


“He vill see zee Great Pumpkin . . . in Hell!”


Robb, I think that’s a good way to get kicked in the head.


Fortunately, he ducked out of the way just in time.


Dan preferred to observe from afar. All was serene.


Then the cosmic axis shifted a bit. I was a bit confused about the pig hierarchy at Potts Park.


Apparently, some pigs were only fit for riding . . .


. . . while others were fit for, well, fulfilling any sick need that Potzi had. I guess Potzi liked his sizzling bacon to be as curvy as possible.


“Why does that there badger get all our wimmen?”


There was this interactive exhibit, where kids and adults could learn about scientific concepts, . . .


. . . such as how to properly play with one’s balls. I should've realized that something odd was going on at that point.


This was all just a front. Potzi's world of scientific wonders had a far more insidious agenda: mind control!


The 1,000 Eyes of Potzi commanded us all to obey his will.


Here we see more new minions being fitted with prosthetic legs to become part of Potzi’s Army of Giant Zombies!


High in his tower, Potzi called upon his new slaves to consecrate the bonds of obedience . . .


. . . by riding giant bunnies and slaying all who dared to get in their way!


Potzi even practiced draconian punishments and odd rituals in the bathrooms.


I’m sure that a few southern states have already sued me over this photo.


“Bathroom humor” was taken to its logical extreme. What did it all mean?


“Oh, the posh, posh traveling life! The traveling life for me!” (Yes, it's a “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” reference. I have no shame. I blame the aftereffects of Potzi's mind control.)


Yet another arcane rite required by Potzi.


Those who survived were worthy to be his servants.


Potzi’s powers were growing exponentially!


No, Kristen! It’s a trap!


“Haw, haw, haw! I was a human being once! Fly, you fools!”


Sometimes, you just have to fight madness by being a little mad yourself. We all managed to escape Potts Park with at least some of our sanity intact. Next stop: Heide Park!

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