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Erik & Smisty & TPR do Germany, Belgium, and France

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Erik & Smisty here. You may remember us from such trip reports as Erik & Smisty & TPR do Holland, Poland, and Swedeland.

Travel has been kind of weird the past 3 years--and still is--but if TPR was ready to give organized trips a go again, we were down. We went to 12 new-to-us theme parks, rode something like 40-45 new roller coasters (I don't really count) and 30-40 new dark rides.

There was less sightseeing on our own this trip, both because of timing and the fact that we flew in and out of the same city this time. But we still got in a few extra things.

As a reminder, in addition to being overweight, I have scoliosis. And while my condition has never (to my knowledge) been exacerbated by riding roller coasters, and I can generally fit on most everything, how a particular ride's restraints fit me will often greatly affect my opinion of the ride in a way that often won't make a lot of sense to other people. On the other hand, I tend to be pretty forgiving of general roughness or violence as long as it's not specifically targeting me. So, for example, I find Helix (at Liseberg) awful, but I love Desperado (at Buffalo Bill's). So, just because I don't like a particular ride certainly doesn't mean that you won't love it. Everybody good with that? Okay, great!

Also, please bear in mind that I am crafting the first part of this trip report whilst under the influence of European Brand COVID™, so my already often strange captions may or may not end up being total gibberish.

Off we go...!


Part 1: France in Germany

Part 2: Germany in Germany

Part 3: Exotic Belgium

Part 4: America in France




Okay, enough of that.



Wait, this is my first coaster of the trip?! I don't even ride s#!t like this! But the park was so nice to us that I didn't want to appear rude.

Which, I guess I'm kind of being rude now. Sorry. Let's start again.

The first official park of the trip was originally meant to be Europa. But since that's a 10-hour drive from Paris, and European labor laws required a fairly lengthy break in the middle of that for our bus driver (fair enough) it just made sense to stop at Walygator Grand Est. Just one problem: Walygator was closed that day. But Robb somehow convinced them to bring in a few people to walk us around and let us ride a couple of their coasters. So that's kind of amazing.



This is Anaconda. A William Cobb woodie with a super-interesting layout and a super-bad reputation.

However, the park has recently put quite a bit of work into it, and that reputation needs to be reexamined. Sure, it's not particularly wild, but it's very smooth. How smooth? Well, I started with a front seat ride to get a feel for it, and then happily hopped into a wheel seat towards the back--which was also good. This ride is tons of fun! I mean, it doesn't really have airtime or significant laterals or anything, but it's certainly not the second-worst coaster in Europe or whatever. Great job, Walygator!



I skipped this, but Misty loved it! Here you can see her having convinced the poor Walygator PR guy to ride with her.



If Anaconda is not intense, it's only because this ride has sucked all the intensity to itself. I'm not sure that makes sense, but basically this is Raptor except somebody forgot to install brakes on the mid-course brake platform, resulting in a first half of Raptor-ish intensity, followed by a second half of holy-crap-Raptor-is-a-kiddie-ride intensity.

I respect it, but once was enough for me.

It wasn't part of the plan, but Smisty asked Elissa if she could talk the park into letting her by a stuffed Waly Gator. So they opened up a gift shop for us. Now, I had pretty much convinced Misty to buy a gator that would fit into her bag. But then Elissa (who is now dead to me) was all Satanic-influence with, "Hey, they opened this gift shop for, you have to get the big one!"

But it gets worse. See, Misty was then talking to one of the park managers and thanked him for opening up the gift shop so she could buy a stuffed alligator, and he responded by gifting her a frigging Monster road wheel.



Happily, they also gave 9 other wheels to the group, and I'm pretty sure that everyone who wanted one got one, so I'm not the only one who knows the joy of trying to get what (out of context) looks a bit like part of a nuclear reactor through airport security.

But hold on, there's lots more parks before we start worrying about heading home!



Our first day at Europa began with ERT on the indoor CanCan Coaster, followed by Silver Star (in the rain).

CanCan Coaster (inside the golf ball) was fun and well-themed, though the restraints/seat horns weren't entirely ideal for me. Still, I rode it three times (once with the lights on) so they weren't that bad.

I liked Silver Star a lot, despite a bit of rattle. That rattle was a deal-breaker for Misty, though.

And yes, the golf ball is rather Epcot-like--except they put a roller coaster in it.

Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.



Now on our own, we headed for the park's newest dark ride, Arthur.



But, really, Arthur is more than a dark ride. It's an indoor/outdoor powered coaster dark ride with a whole indoor area built around it. And it's great. We rode it 3 or 4 times over our 2 days at Europa, which required some effort and commitment considering how popular it is.



I honestly had no idea that Europa had a fairy tell walk-through and push-button area!

See, after the last trip, I was left with a conundrum: did I prefer Efteling or Gröna Lund?

Thankfully, I now have an answer: I prefer Europa.



Look, they even have self-operated rides!

(Well, one. 🤪)



It pretty much rained the entire first day. But that was fine by me! It kept it from getting too hot and scared most of the locals away. No lightning, though. So we rode lots of stuff, including some water rides--including this splash battle, which also had indoor dark ride sections. Because everything at Europa is a dark ride.



Of course, the weather wasn't ideal for photography. But that just gives me an excuse for my crappy photos! So, again, a win.

This powered coaster intertwines with the log flume and then they both intertwine inside a man-made mountain along with a walk-though attraction about elven slave-labor gem mining.



The nice gentleman working the log flume asked if we wanted to stay on and ride again and we did.



Is a dive show in the middle of a water ride safer if the guy misses the pool or less safe?



There was a small language barrier with the guy in the ice cream shop on account of the fact that I am an American and do not speak any other languages secure in the knowledge that I will never need to understand any other culture and his English was only almost perfect. But it did result in this amazing waffle cone sundae thing and my new motto: "Yes to everything."


Actually, this might be the park's newest dark ride: Snorri Touren. It's easy to find as it's located in a basement through a random door in the Scandinavian section of the park. And Misty had a stuffy of Snorri shipped to us in the states months before we visited this park.



Josefina's Magical Imperial Journey might be the snootiest name for a ride ever. It also has a fascinating narrative, in that it's utterly unburdened by conflict or adversity. Basically, a princess meets a prince, their respective families approve, everything is what it seems, they get married, and everything is wonderful.



See? They don't just rip off Disney.



We didn't eat at Food Loop because Elissa said the food was bad. But I don't why I should listen to her "buy the big gator" slander.

Oh right, the line was also long. Looks like I'll trust her opinion after all and just take a photo instead.



I'm told that folks around these parts like pictures of roller coasters. So here are two in one photo. Can I go back to pictures of foliage now?

Wodan is my new favorite GCI, by the way, and probably the best coaster I rode on this trip.



For anyone who doesn't know, Europa Park was ostensibly started as a showcase for Mack Rides. But there's clearly more to it then that.



Indoor spinning ride? Check.



Okay, I do have one minor complaint. This is a Mack water coaster. Essentially, it's the same ride type as Journey to Atlantis at SeaWorld Orlando. Except what's cool about that ride is that it's a log flume and a dark ride and a coaster. This is just out in the open, and mostly unthemed (outside of the station). Which is doubly odd as everything at Europa is a dark ride. Except this, which really should be.

It's like, a duck is cool because it can walk and swim and fly. But a duck just walking is kind of lame. Get a goat or a cheetah or something.

I insist that this is a perfect analogy and will not hear otherwise.



By my count, Europa has 6 proper dark rides. Including this one, Geisterschloss, which roughly translates to "Moist Cattle."

I'm sorry, that should've been "Clothed Hassle."

Damned auto-correct.



This ride is just a bunch of things that Germans think Italians are into, but it ends with a gelato room, so I like it. And also the Russian dark ride is worse because it's so much about snow and ice and cold that penguins actually show up at the end.



But those all pale in comparison to this one. As near as I can figure--and I did zero research but don't correct me--there was an existing dinosaur themed ride but they wanted to retheme whatever this section of the park was before to France and this was how they bridged the gap: an old French women collects weird things, including and mostly consisting of live dinosaurs.

The best part of this ride was that a live squirrel wandered into it and was just as confused about the whole situation as I was.



Ireland is the park's kid section, which seems kind of insulting if you're Irish...?



Except that when I say "kid section" I actually mean completely awesome family section filled with more tracked outdoor scenic rides than I can count.

I mean, I would give a lot of parks half credit for having a dark ride if they had anything half as good as any one of these indoor/outdoor scenic rides, and this area has like 4 or 5 of them.

And also one of those Lindt chocolate stores that Ireland is so famous for.

God, I love Europa so much.

But mostly because I'm not Irish.




This nightmarishly-themed water cups ride is called (and I'm not making this up) "Puppet Boat Ride." 

Note that the sign in the background reads "CIRCUS MACK'S IMUS" because Mack.



Old Mac Donald's Tractor Fun

Yes, that's its actual name.

Note the observation tower in the background, as we're going there next.

I am the master of transitions.



You know how people are always like, "They should have benches in the queue." Well, these crazy bastards went and did it.

Also, Misty representing.

Her favorite ride manufacturer was Mack before we went to Europa.

Yes, she likes this park,



A view from the observation tower of the 3 coasters we'll have ERT on the following day.



Back to our on-site hotel, El Andaluz. A large contingent of the group headed to Europa's new indoor waterpark, Rulantica, for the evening. But we're old and tired and I'm under court order not to be seen in a bathing suit.



This tapas at the hotel restaurant was so good we ended up going back and getting it again the next evening.



Yes, we got this two nights in a row, also.



The big bed is for gauchos and donkeys. The top bunk is for little boys. The bottom bunk is for maracas.



Day 2 started with ERT on Euro-Mir. This was Mack's prototype spinning coaster. It's kind of weird, it doesn't free spin, and some of the transitions are a bit...Arrow. But I like weird, the spiral disco lift and the mirrored towers are fun, and it's not overly painful. I rode twice, once experiencing the bulk of the ride forwards, and once experiencing the bulk of the ride backwards. So I figure I pretty much got the full experience.

I'd hate for them to get rid of this ride. But I also feel like they could do better now. Maybe like a full-scale revamp/refurb? Make it spin freely and reprofile some of those transitions?

I'd say they might just go full Ride to Happiness, but I don't think Mack wants really extreme rides in their park. Still, they have two water coasters, so who knows?



Voletarium is their flying theater ride. You know, like Soarin'.

But when was the last time you rode Soarin' and there wasn't a seam or a blemish on the screen or a bit of trash at the bottom?

Everything at Europa works. Buttons actually activate things, screens are pristine, animatronics move like they're supposed to, operations are top notch, and policies actually make sense.

Also, the transitions were really good. (I hate smash cuts.) And the ending? Oh yeah, you end at Europa with fireworks going off.



I don't carry a big camera. I just use my phone. Both because I want to travel light, and because I don't want to fall into focusing so much on photography that I miss out on just , you know, experiencing things. But I did want to bip out the front gate for some quick photos of the park entrance and Silver Star.

So here's an example of what I was talking about before. If you leave the park, and wish to return that same day, there's an automated system that takes your photo and attaches it to your ticket. Now, obviously, that's to prevent people from giving their tickets to others. But, you just know that if a US park were to do something like this, they'd make everyone attach their photo upon initial entry. But why? Most people don't leave in the middle of the day and come back again. So Europa only does it when it matters.

And, yes, I suppose you could go with a traditional handstamp instead, but kids were defeating that when I was a kid, and I'm old as dirt.



A small Mack/Europa museum at the front of the park.



And a much weirder "Narrenscheune Museum" (whatever that is).



Just a weird garden-y section near the front of the park. I imagine that a lot of people miss it.

And again, this park is so much more than just a Mack Rides showroom.



How am I supposed to drive this thing?! The steering wheel is on the wrong side!?

Also, there are no guns on this thing!

That's like an America joke, right?

I have no idea. I'm way too handsome to be an ugly American.



Sex joke...?



Wait, maybe this is the park's newest dark ride. Yes, it's a Pirates of the Caribbean rip off. But really, I think of it as more of a companion piece. Like, I honestly think you'd enjoy it more if you were already familiar with PotC. Quality-wise, it's pretty much on par (or maybe just a slight notch below) but has much more of an Asian-vibe.

Or, to put it another way, how can you improve Pirates of the Caribbean? If your answer is "add a tiger," then this ride might be for you!



Honestly, what kind of lunatic makes an otter in a tiny pirate costume walk the plank?



Is this theming Disney quality? I dunno, I'm not that into Disney. This is good enough for me, though.



Raclette. The hype is real.



Was excited to see this football bumper car thing, but it's apparently been replaced by some kind of virtual garbage. Boo.



How about some ERT on my new favorite GCI?

It's just so good. Plus, no seat belts, so operations are lightning fast.

Speaking of which: This story is second hand, but I don't think anyone would object to my paraphrasing it here. Essentially, the ides is that Europa feels that they have to have excellent operations because they want to sell these rides to other parks, and they don't want those parks to think they make low-capacity rides.

Of course, this isn't a Mack ride, so I guess maybe they just want to take care of their guests, as well.



Everything is a dark ride.



I haven't really talked too much about Blue Fire. I dug it. The restraints were mostly pretty okay for me, but that last hangtime inversion was a little owie, so I stopped after about 3 rides. Still, that's a pretty decent amount for me.

In fact, I rode all 5 of their big coasters 2-4 times. There really wasn't one that I rode once and was done with. Which, if you know me, is pretty good.



We asked Robb and Elissa if they could just leave us here, but apparently Europa insisted that we go experience some other German parks...? Seems a bit insulting, but I guess we have to respect their wishes.

Anyway, is Europa the best park in the world? Well, I haven't been to every park in the world, and we still have 10 more parks to talk about from this trip, so technically it's too early to say.

But yes.


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GREAT start to the trip report. . . loved it, and sad that I missed going out the front gate of Europa - there just wasn't enough time!   So I love seeing your pictures, as that area looks lovely.

I did make it to the Soarin ride - I liked it too - and the Berlin Wall piece, but never out the front gate. . so it really makes me sad I missed it (but thrilled to see it in your pics).


also agree that Woodan was my favorite wooden coaster of the trip (tho some did come close to snagging that spot. . Woodan took my heart and I did every ERT ride, plus a few extras).   And I was blown away by how smooth Anaconda was!  as you noted, not the most exciting, but it was pretty smooth and a fun ride.   Loved that Wallygator was so kind to us, and were willing to open up after Robb approached them!


was so nice meeting y'all and can't wait to see the rest of your report!  


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Erik - I’ve always enjoyed your Trip Reports, and this one is no different!! You manage to make reading worthy again!

However…. I did notice a distinct lack of: cynicism, snarky comments, personal opinions, casual observations, and otherwise random, senseless pics.

Looking forward to the rest of your trip!!



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It's nice to hear that Walygator has turned Anaconda into an enjoyable ride. I haven't been there since 2008, when that coaster would've put any torture by the Spanish Inquisition to shame.


Europa looks excellent, as usual. I appreciate the beautiful theming and the "balance" of the park (good mix of thrill and dark rides).

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We spent two days at Europa in 2019 and we fell in love with it! Easily one of the best parks we have stepped foot into. Solid collection of rides, fantastic theming and the overall 'experience' of the place. We stayed at Hotel Krønasår just a few weeks after it opened and it was stunning. Even jumping around hotel to hotel bar hopping is a great time after hours.

Also not a big fan of Disney parks, but Europa far exceeded the overall experience in comparison for me. It is a complete package all-around. Just stunning!

I just love all the parks we visited in Germany/Netherlands (Holiday Park may have been the only ho-hum one, Expedition GeForce aside...). Just a whole different experience from those in the US, we can't wait to get back over to Europe to go visit more!

Fantastic TR, look forward to the next parts!

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20 hours ago, CP_RULES said:

Your pictures are breathtaking! What kind of camera are you all using?

Well, thank you. But honestly I don't really think of myself as a photographer, per se. More of a storyteller, if anything. I just use my phone these day (currently a Pixel 6). I did play around with the photos a bit before posting them, which should be fairly obvious on a least a few of them.

Thanks for reading and replying!

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fun report.

Wodan is way up there on my list!   As is Europa park in general.   I think Wodan, Silver Star and Blue Fire are all three quality coasters, and several others are fun.

Not to mention all the other fun dark rides, and the overall quality and vibe of the park.

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On 7/16/2022 at 6:01 PM, SharkTums said:

You know you love me and my amazing shopping influence!!!

No, I love you for your food influence. 


On 7/13/2022 at 6:19 PM, PKI Jizzman said:

Europa is such a bucket list park. If you wanted to stay longer, how long would you plan a return trip there for? Or as a first timer? 

Not sure you should go by me, but I think I'd like to spend about 4 days there, just to really feel like I did everything as much as I wanted to. And I would definitely stay on site (again).

For most people, I would say that 1 day is certainly not enough to do everything, but 2 probably is.


On 7/11/2022 at 5:34 AM, Invertalon said:

Also not a big fan of Disney parks, but Europa far exceeded the overall experience in comparison for me. It is a complete package all-around. Just stunning!

What I've come to realize is that I love Disney rides but I dislike Disney parks. But that's a story for the final part of this trip report. Two more to go before that!

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12 hours ago, Electerik said:

What I've come to realize is that I love Disney rides but I dislike Disney parks. But that's a story for the final part of this trip report. Two more to go before that!

Same here. I tell people who ask me about Disney that the parks themselves are beautiful, the food is great and they have some really solid/fun rides. But then I admit I simply won't go to the parks without comp tickets (and may decline those depending on our trip length) because we really don't enjoy spending the day at Disney parks. It's simply not worth the cost to have a hindered experience due to terrible reservation systems, the need for planning months in advance to eat at restaurants, crowds, limited worthwhile attractions at a single park, etc... The "experience" once within the park just doesn't do it for me. But I do appreciate what they are and why people love to visit. But at the end of the day, I'd pick other local options without question. 

Europa on the flipside took the best parts of Disney and 'fixed' all the bad parts. Once in the park, we could ride/experience everything offered for one... We enjoyed two different resort restaurants without reservations after the park closed for the day. The ride collection was great, the park theming was stellar and overall, it was just a far more fulfilling/magical park than any Disney visit. 


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Okay, time for part 2. And this will be the longest one, I think. So let's get started!

Part 2: Germany in Germany



Day 4 of the official trip began with a park that had been on my radar for quite some time, Erlebnispark Tripsdrill!



Tripsdrill is a small, oddly laid-out, oddly-everythinged park that seems to be transitioning to bigger park status. This is the park-end of their "main street."



I've always been fascinated by this ride (G'sente Sau) and the way it interacts with their log flume (Badewannenfahrt zum Jungbrunnen...because screw you if you don't speak German).

I was even more excited to ride it after experiencing Vilda Musen at Grona Lund back in 2019. However, it turned out to be quite tame. Still, it wasn't bad, by any means.



This ride is famous for a small dark ride section that features an animatronic that drops her top to show her boobs. Sadly, this animatronic was broken and had her top permanently in the down position--which, obviously, is an outrage. Through no fault of my own, I came off of this ride overboobed.



Smisty ditched me to ride with other TPR members. That seems okay...right?

Being left behind in the station did allow me to witness some German teens throw their bags across the track, and one leap *over* the track to gently place his bag on the other side. He didn't even get fussed at by the operator. That was even more mentally assaulting than the continuous unbroken boob exposure.



Tripsdrill has two of these weird spinning-tub-on-a-powered-track rides. Please note the guest barrier between the midway and the ride area.



Speaking of which, please take a moment to examine this duck ride. No fences, no signage, no queue. You just get on a duck when it stops, I guess.

Look, I spent many years of my life as a ride op at various US parks. This is noteworthy to me.



Shoot an egg out of a chicken's ass into the mouth of the animal or human of your choice. I am not being vulgar. I'm just describing the thing.

Of course, it will cost you money. Making this someone out there's exact kink. Maybe Mr. Erlebnispark.



Mammut, as I understand it, is the only wooden coaster ever built by Gerstlauer. And I can see why they stopped.

To be fair, the layout looks nice, the queue has some stuff to look at, the restraints aren't bad, and there's a cool little malfunctioning-sawmill dark-ride scene between the station and the lift--but otherwise this ride is quite dull. Just very slow and forceless. And yet, it still manages to have a notable push-pull shuffle throughout the entire ride.

I can't even hate this ride. I feel sorry for it. It only has one train, also.

Like, they could RMC it and I wouldn't even be mad. And if you know me, that's really saying something.



Climb up a ladder and an animatronic come out of the window to shout at you in German. I like to think they're yelling at you for climbing up their ladder and trying to look in their window. You are a perv.

Inside the building is a walk-through attraction that consists of a dark, narrow, twisting hallway with buttons on the wall that will light up a little mannequin who will tell you their life story (I think).



Guess what her life story is.



This not-quite a tilt-a-whirl is themed to baking. Literally translated, "Gugelhupf" means, "You are a muffin."




This park is quite pretty. And there's a wine museum, if you're into that sort of thing.



There's also a quite simple, rustic-looking fun house.



And a death slide.



Karacho has the most alarming beginning of any coaster I've even been on. You roll out of the station into a tunnel, where you take a quick dip, turn, slow roll inversion, and launch, all in total darkness.

Um...spoilers, I guess. Maybe I should've said that first.

But I suppose if you don't want to be spoiled, maybe you shouldn't be looking at a trip report. Take some responsibility for your own actions, man.

Anyway, Smisty really liked this one. And I thought it was okay. The restraints weren't the worst.



What the...? Why?!



Every other parks' water cannons are a lie.



The rapids ride is themed to laundry.

Although...I'm not quite sure from what era. All of them, I guess?



A fairly uninteresting splash battle, the famously "don't look that scary" drop towers, and their two new Vekoma family coasters, Volldampf (which means "goat-sex") and Hals-über-Kopf (which means "head up your butt.")

Goat Sex was kind of boring (which...frankly, was a surprise to me) but Head Up Your Butt was the best coaster in the park.

Not that I was here for the coasters. I was here for weird. And despite the lack of a proper dark ride, Tripsdrill delivered the weird.

But there's no time to consider what just happened! Back on the bus!



We left Tripsdrill early in order to get to Holiday Park before they closed, in order to have Expedition GeForce ERT at the end of the day (when the ride was good and warmed up) rather than the next morning.



Rain came in, but many hardy souls kept riding anyway.



Proof that I rode it. And I also took this photo. Because I'm that good.

So...did I like it?

Well, I didn't dislike it. But here was the problem....

[Feel free to skip to the next photo if you don't want a long boring explanation about restraints and the way they fit me.]

I usually like these Intamin T-bar and European-style seatbelts just fine. They tend to be tight, as the parks shorten the seatbelts in order to be the determinator of whether or not someone is too big, and then allow the lapbar to rest comfortably in one's lap--which allows me slight upward movement (i.e., airtime) even as the seatbelt is holding me (tightly) back toward my seat. But Holiday Park does it differently. Here, the seatbelt is relatively long, but the lapbar has to be down to "within two fingers" of the seat side bar. So, I fit, but I was so stapled that any and all airtime was experienced by me as pressure on my upper legs. This wasn't painful, but it also wasn't particularly exciting. Kind of what I imagine a deaf person's experience of music might be. Like, they can't actually hear it, but they know it's there because they can feel the bass.

None of which is me complaining. I'm just trying to explain why, for me, even though I love rides like Millennium Force, Ride of Steel, or Goliath at Walibi Holland, Expedition GeForce didn't do much for me.

Seems like most other folks on the trip quite liked it, though.



After ERT, Smisty and I headed to a German grocery store because....well, why would we not do that?



Because we needed water. Yeah, that's it. Water.



Biggest bathroom of the trip. Not sure if everyone's was like this. I assume not.



The next morning we had ERT on Sky Scream. That's the red Premier Sky Rocket in the back, not the leftover piece of old-school Vekoma track there for decoration.



This one is special because it has lapbars rather than over-the-shoulder restraints.

Not special enough for me to ride it, though. Smisty did.

I just asked her what she thought of it, but she doesn't remember.



These are cool. I like that you can kind of tailor the ride to the kind of experience you want to have (although it takes skill if you want it to be wild).



Haunted Mansion rip-off #2.

I say "rip-off" with love, though.

This one was the most torture-y, as I recall.



The back of the park had a beach-themed area. We rode the Sky Flyer three times in a row, by ourselves, because no one else was back there yet. And we like those. It had a nice view. And it was already hot out and the breeze felt nice. Look, I don't need to explain myself to you. Also, this is not the Sky Flyer.



I don't know what "Wickie" is but a couple of park's we visited had really similar "Wickielands." It seems to have something to do with cartoonish viking characters.

Also, log flumes in Europe have no faith in themselves. They're all about turntables and backward sections. Just be log flumes, guys.



I love when parks have little museums dedicated to themselves. Holiday Park has theirs as part of a restaurant. So that's pretty cool.



Two parks on this trip had dinosaur-themed water rides. I intended to ride both, but wound up riding neither, for whatever reason.

Hey, you gotta roll with the situation, you know?



Wow. That's quite an admission, Holiday Park. I mean, yes, it's true. I just didn't expect *you* to put it out there like that.

Back on the bus!



A quick drive through beautiful German resort areas brought us to Wild- & Freizeitpark Klotten. (And yes, that hyphen is part of the name. Yes, in the spot, with a space after it and then the & symbol. Don't ask me.)

We only had about 2 hours to explore this very strange place, but it's not particularly large. It is weird, though. Like, weirder than Tripsdrill weird.



Self-operated rides? Yup.

Allow me to explain how this one works.

I have no idea. It's powered? And there are multiple buttons, some of which are red and some of which are black. And you have to climb over bars to get into the seats. And then you push the buttons. Which do something...? Or maybe they don't? No one on the ride could figure it out either.



Oh yeah.



So this is just a small kids ride that goes in a circle. But it has water guns that you shoot at the park's mascot in the middle. So it's got that going for it.



A saucy puppet show.

It might not have been saucy. I didn't watch it. But I have watched Futurama.



Um, no thank you,



Hey, it's another one of those Gerstauler Bobsled coasters like at Tripsdrill!

Oh s#!t, no it's not!

This thing is waaaaay wilder.

It also wraps around a big round...um, castle thing...that also houses a log flume and a shooting dark ride.



Zum Rittersturz features a spiraling vertical lift and a trim brake on the drop...?!

Also water. Lots of water.



I did not take this photo. I think Robb did. But I'm borrowing it because y'all need to see this.

So, here's what I think happened: The park said they wanted magic wands instead of guns, but the designer wasn't sure what those should look like, so they googled "magic wand" but didn't realize that safe search was off, and well...this was the result.

It's quite a short, simple dark ride. But they did a good job of hiding how little is actually going on. I do mean that as a compliment. It feels like they had very little money but made it work.

Maybe someone donated the, um, "wands" and they just went with it.



Here's another photo of Heiße Fahrt.

And it will make you fahrt!

Wait, that just means "journey."

Airtime could be described as a journey, right?

This isn't working. Look, there's airtime. And laterals. Sometimes at the same time.

I liked it better than Expedition GeForce, let's just say that.

Wait, that's going to get me hate mail.

Look, cute animals:


See, Klotten is also a zoo.



Grizzly bears!



Wait...are all of these animals from North America?

I mean, I guess that's cool for their normal clientele. But all these guys live down the street from me! I didn't travel all the way to Germany to see American animals!



You're not fooling me, Trash Gremlins!



Homemade whip type thing. I would've liked to have ridden it, but when the German-only-speaking ride op asked me how many kilos I was, I had no choice but to fold.

Um....800,000? Does that sound right?



I would like Klotten to be my home park. Not so much because of it, but because I want to live here.

It was cool, though.



Our hotel at Phantasialand.

Are you tired of my coaster opinions yet?


F.L.Y. was terrible.

It was cool staying in a hotel that was built all around a coaster, though.



The weird, ugly proper entrance to Phantasialand.

Which I'm not sure is bad, actually. It makes for quite a dramatic transition once inside the park, certainly.



Phantasialand's "main street" is interesting in several ways, not the least of which is that rather that being full of shops and services, it's mostly eateries and attractions.

It's also called "Berlin." Their main street is Berlin.

"Berlin is on this map!"

"So it is."



For example, their hotel-themed fun house is located there. Which contains this weird elevator that doesn't go anywhere and an operator with fake ponytails who only communicates via whistle.



Maybe not quite as fun as the one at Grona Lund, but elevated by its awesome crooked house hotel theming.



Misty doesn't like fun houses, so this is what she did instead.



The far end of Berlin, where you must then choose to go left or right. The park's layout is weird. In fact, I'm not even going to try to explain it.

Okay, I will.

Imagine the roman numeral 3, but not connected at the bottom. Kind of like this: TTT  And that middle part is Berlin.

Or just google a map of Phantasialand. That might be easier.



The park's newest dark ride, Maus au Chocolat, is also in Berlin.



It's like Toy Story Mania, but better and way longer.



The covered midway that connects Berlin to Wuze Town. On the left is the only gift shop in Berlin.

That's just fun to say.



So, they're all about dragons in this park, with each dragon representing a separate themed area.



Whereas I am all about chocolate-covered fruit. I opted for the pineapple, whilst Misty got grapes. Also pictured, apples (of course) strawberries (sure) and pears(!?)



Looks like it's closed. No doubt to be replaced soon by Spectre, now that they have the rights.

That joke is really just for me. Don't worry about it.



Chiapas is quite a well-regarded log flume, and rightfully so. A bit on the wet side, and the restraints are awful (I suspect for everybody, not just me) but the theming is great and it has a neat soundtrack!

On the other hand, it's in Europe, so it goes backwards for entirely too long. Still, it was really good!



Phantasialand has a reputation for great theming. And I think this is a pretty good example of that. But I will say that it seems like there are several areas that are highly-themed but just have like one thing in them. This is Mexico, but really it just has Chiapas. At least, that you can see here. I guess there are technically two other rides in "Mexico," but it doesn't really feel like it.

This isn't really a complaint so much as me saying that in the grand battle of Europa versus Phantasialand, I much prefer Europa's ride layering.



Meanwhile, in a completely different part of Mexico, the famous Talocan--combining fire, water, intensity, inversions, and nope.



The African section, which contains Black Mamba and...um...this stairway.



Okay, so when you're in a foreign country, you don't want to be problem.

We went to ride Black Mamba and got in line for the front row, when a ride op came over and told me that I had to ride in row 5. Now, I know what's going on here. I'm fat, and he's directing me to the big boy seat. Of course, I can usually fit in any row of a B&M invert, but I don't want to argue with the guy. And, like, what if he's right and I insist on the front only to not fit and I hold up the whole operation? I don't want that.

So we moved to row 5. And the ride sucked. Look, Black Mamba is supposed to be themed. I say "supposed to be" because you can't see anything on a B&M invert unless you're in the front, So who knows if it's themed or not? Not me. I can tell you that it was intense in a way that I didn't really care for (ball-crushing positive g's in every pull out) and probably wouldn't have liked in the front row either. So, yeah, one and done for me.

No big deal, though. It was unlikely that I was going to love a B&M invert anyway. Moving on.



Presented without comment.



Colorado Adventure is themed to the old west and located in Mexico, allegedly.



What's the most frightened you've ever been on a roller coaster? For me, it was the moment I realized that the entire middle third of this arrow mine train was going to be in complete darkness.

Good ride, though.



The Asia section contains *two* rides, a super goofy kung-fu themed mad house and the park's other dark ride, "Ghost Rickshaw."



Yes, it's Haunted Mansion rip-off #3--but this one distinguishes itself by being filled with weird monsters from Asian Mythology (I assume). And, as such, it was the best of the 3.



Beware of hitchhiking ghosts!



Ah yes, the 4 slushie flavors of the apocalypse: Flamingo, Gummibarchen, Waldmeister, and Fresh and Cool.



The Asia section looks quite nice, though. This is a full-service restaurant, in case your curious.



The queue for River Quest, the park's raids ride, located in the (*ahem*) Mystery section of the park.

That's an option?! You can just have a "mystery" section? Nobody tell Six Flags.



I knew this ride had some tricks, so I wanted to check it out. However, I was kind of disappointed. Yeah, the vertical lift and the 3 drops were fun, but otherwise it just meandered around, with no rapids to speak of. And the theming was (appropriately enough) a bit of a mystery. I mean, it's a castle, I guess. And the boats have bats on them. But there's nothing else to suggest, say, vampires or whatever it's supposed to be. And the name doesn't help much. It's just kind of a mystery castle.



Mystery Castle.

It's a completely enclosed drop ride. But not like Tower of Terror. More of a normal drop tower, but with a variable programs and some theming. So like Tower of Terror. But not really.

I normally skip drop towers these days. But the theming drew me in. And I enjoyed it!

Of course they built an enclosed one because of neighbors-who-complain-of-noise, but I think it all worked out in this case.



Now we enter Klugheim, which as near as I can tell is part of "Mystery."



It's also home to a full-service restaurant that serves meat to the brave.

And let me tell you I am brave.

Smisty had soup.



Klugheim is also home to two intertwined roller coasters: Raik, a Vekoma family boomerang--and Taron, a custom Intamin launch coaster. 

For my money, Taron is the best coaster in the park. Fast, smooth, airtime, some laterals...it's just fun.



Wuze Town. So for those of you keeping track, the themed areas are: Berlin (a city in Germany), Rookburgh (a made-up steampunk place), Mexico (which includes the American Old West), Asia, Mystery (which includes Klugheim, which is again made up), Africa, and Wuze Town (which is made up also, I think?)



This indoor section was interesting but felt a little rundown and dingy.

As for Winjas, they were fun...but both tracks kind of seemed to be fighting against themselves in terms of spinning, as they both pretty much just follow a right turn, left turn, right turn, left turn pattern. Having said that, it seemed like most people I talked to preferred Fear, but I actually like Force better. For one thing, I thought it's track trick was more interesting. But also, for me, the larger drops of Fear didn't combine particularly well with the ride's seat horn.



Some neat-looking kids rides sort of hidden at the top back part of the indoor area.



Okay, so the other thing people talk about with Phantasialand (besides the theming) is how little room they have to work with. Which is interesting because they have this area, which is like a quarter of the park and consists of a long winding path around some grassland and a lake that contains nothing, and a gigantic "calm boat ride" that clearly used to be Splash Battle but isn't any more.

I can only describe this area as "unpopular," as it only seems to be (briefly) visited by people who are on day 2 at the park (like us) and the profoundly lost.

Clearly, this can and should all go. And, I can only imagine, will.


The orange and yellow building in the background of the last photo can probably go as well, as it houses a long-closed dark ride (Hollywood Tour, which I would've liked to see) and Crazy Bats, an indoor coaster that's been give the VR treatment.

We did ride Crazy Bats, and it was my first ever VR coaster (a concept I have little use for, but it wasn't an upcharge and we were here and had time, so why not?) It was...fine. I mean, it probably would've been better in one of its previous regular-indoor-coaster iterations, but whatever.

Yeah, fire sale this whole area. (I mean, not Wuze Town. Wait, is this Wuze Town? What even is this area?)



Back to the Charles Lindbergh Hotel. I probably should've taken a picture of it before we scattered our junk everywhere, but hey.

I must say that I didn't love this room as much as I thought I would. I dig small spaces, but the thing is, if you're going to design a small space, the you can't afford mistakes. Everything has to work together. You can't have, say, a really low, shallow sink and a really high faucet. Or effectively no air in the room and a window that's just a big round door. (I mean, I know Europe has a different view of air conditioning than the US does, but at least give me a window I can open with a curtain over it.)

I suppose it's a bit of a metaphor for all of Phantasialand. They do their own thing, and they march to their own drum, but it just doesn't always work they way they think it does.



Nice view, though.

Okay, so F.L.Y.

Look, I don't really like flying coasters anyway. I just don't find them very coaster-like. It doesn't feel comfortable or natural to me to be facing downward. But, this is a new generation Vekoma, so I thought there might be some hope. But it was kind of just like lying face-down on the ground while someone jumps up and down on your back. It's certainly intense, if that's what you're looking for. And there is one moment of airtime (which is cool, if kind of weird). But even with nothing to obstruct the view, it turns out that, even with all that theming, the ground is mostly just ground.

As an aside, this is also the first coaster that ever put me through a metal detector. I wasn't particularly bothered by it...but still, wow.

To be fair, most of the group seemed to love it. But Misty didn't like it either, so it wasn't just me.

Overall, though, I do think Phantasialand is a pretty good park. I like Taron and Chiapas and Maus au Chocolat quite a lot. Colorado Adventure and Geister Rikscha were pretty good too. They have a cool fun house, some beautiful theming, and some amazing sweets.

Okay, whew. That was a long one. Join me again in like two weeks to hear me complain about some parks in Belgium!


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Nothing on these forums gives me more joy than an Eric and Smisty trip report. Great work as always here.


It's nice to read a different perspective on these parks than the usual reviews. I've always thought that Phantasialand looks really cool because of how much stuff they have crammed into such a small space, but have also thought that it might be kind of annoying in person? I don't know I guess it's more of a personal taste thing. If I had to pick one park in Europe to experience it would probably be Europa first, then Phantasialand and Eftling after that

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Great review and photos! Interesting to see a different viewpoint from the usual. We worked together at SeaWorld at one time, I think JTA brainwashed you into disliking (other?) water rides.

I didn't realize Tripsdrill was going to be so awesome! I love weird stuff.

Looking forward to my visit to these parks. Not trying to over hype things in my head, some pretty harsh realizations and opinions here, but obviously everyone is different and it is nice to hear the good and bad.

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4 hours ago, Doppel Looping said:

It’s like it’s their official language or something. 

Interesting if true!


1 hour ago, anonymouscactus said:

Great review and photos! Interesting to see a different viewpoint from the usual. We worked together at SeaWorld at one time, I think JTA brainwashed you into disliking (other?) water rides.

Yeah? Too bad you're anonymous.

I like water rides. The log flume at Europa was awesome. I liked Chiapas, as well.

I actually like most log flumes. I just don't think they need to go backwards.


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Tripsdrill is a park I need to visit again. It was a lot of fun back in 2008, but it looks even better now. 

As for the great "Europa v. Phantasialand" debate, I'm on Team Europa, although I like Phantasialand, too. If only they had kept Hollywood Tour--its cheesiness made it adorable.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Part 3: Exotic Belgium



The third part of our story begins in at Walibi Belgium, with this vaguely W-shaped flower display.



But actually that's a lie, because our story really begins with Smisty eating escargot from a vendor at a random Belgium street fair down the road from our hotel and then riding a couple of questionably maintained and operated spinning rides with Bert and Goldballs.

Summoning all of my courage, I bravely stood by and watched.



Loup-Garou, like Anaconda at Walygator, was a wooden coaster with a bad reputation that was actually pretty good. This one wasn't quite as smooth, but did have a bit of airtime--a trade off that was well worth it, in my opinion.



Tiki-Waka was a very pretty Gerstlauer Bobsled that interacts quite nicely with the surrounding Polynesian-themed area. Smooth and fun, if not particularly forceful. Just a really nice family coaster.



Smisty likes two things: octopuses and spinning. Whereas if I encountered either of those things in a dark alley, I would curl into a ball and pray for a quick death.

No, I'm just kidding. I would try to run a bit first.



In addition to some nicely themed areas, Walibi Belgium features two shooting dark rides, both of which were really good. This one is Challenge of Tutankhamon, a Sally Dark Ride that really shows what Sally is capable of with a decent budget.



Easily the best Sally Dark Ride I've been on, with very complete theming and some really cool effects.



Calamity Mine is a Vekoma Mine Train Coaster that was...okay. The most interesting thing about this one is the side by side lift hills.

It's worth mentioning the park was absolutely jammed with school kids, resulting in very long queues for the thrill rides. But we had the highest level paid fastpass at every park that offered it, and that absolutely saved us here.



A gift shop in the park's old west section.

What, you don't want to know what the gift shop looks like? Then go read someone else's report!

Oh...I'm the only one doing one this time.

Well, then, learn to like gift shop photos, I guess.



For a (former) Six Flags, it's quite pleasant-looking here. The building left of center is the park's mad house. We went on a lot of these this trip. Which is cool, because they're fun. This one was themed to a djinn or something...I think. It's kind of hard to keep them straight at this point.



 I don't know much, but I do know one thing: If your Karma World has a Boomerang in it, you were a very bad person in a previous life.



By Grabthar's hammer, what a savings.



Apparently the highlight of the park.



Isn't this supposed to be a whole checklist worth of rides? No? Just the rapids ride? Okay.

Welp, I didn't ride it, so I guess I've still never been to Walibi Belgium.



The park's other shooting dark ride, the weirdly/awesomely themed Popcorn Revenge. This one was built by, um...Alterface.

Alterface? That's the name of the company? Alterface.

On their website, 'Alterface' describe this as an "erratic ride."

*looks around*

Is this a prank?



There are like 500 spoof movie posters in this rides queue and along the exit path and they are all exactly this good.



The vehicles enter and exit the station facing backwards, for no discernible reason.

The ride itself is quite enjoyable, and seems like it doesn't take up much space (since you're just moving from screen to screen to shoot at different genres of popcorn creature).



I'll take "What do Belgians think Mexican food is?" for $500, Alex.

Well, I guess not Alex. Ken or Mayim now. Unless you're reading this far enough into the future that there's a different host now.

I'll take "What do Belgians think Mexican food is?" for $500, Undead Cyborg Alex.



The best thing about Pulsar, operationally-speaking, is that it can run two boats via a turntable. As demonstrated here on the busiest day in the history of visiting-children-who-enjoy-thrilling-water-rides ever by its running of one boat.



Such a weirdly cool ride. I could watch this splashdown area empty into and then refill with water from the lake all day.



Just a fun car ride not themed to speed dating, much like its counterpart at Walibi Holland which is also not themed to speed dating.

Smisty says I just can't let that go. And she's right. I don't even want to.



It's called Vampire because it'll make your neck bleed!

It's called Vampire because...

Nope, I just had that one.



I was trying to take a selfie with this cool ladybug that landed on me but instead I got a weird twilight zone photo of what I'll look like when I need to carry around an oxygen tank with me everywhere I go.



Did I mention that the park was busy?

This log flume is themed to...uh...tunnels with Christmas tree lights? Steam punk but without steam or punk? Like, colorful retro-future farming? Boxes? It's called "Flash Back" if that helps.

It's a European log flume. Enjoyable enough, but...I wonder if people in Europe just think log flumes are all the same everywhere else in the world too? Like, they come to America and they see a log flume but they skip it because they've been on log flumes before? That makes me sad.



The bright new star of the park, Kondaa.

Did I like it? Yes, I did. The restraints weren't great for me, but they were good enough. As for the layout, well, I liked the first three hills a lot. The "non-inverting cobra roll" kind of seemed like a waste of track, though. It doesn't even really work as a turnaround because it's not at the end of an out-and-back section but kind of off to the side. But, it's fine. Really, the whole middle third feels kind of like they didn't really know what to do here. They had a clear idea for the magic carpet "this is what RMC does, right?" finale, though. And it's...interesting?

Man, it sounds like I hate this ride. But I actually really enjoyed it. The nearest analog, that I've been on, would probably be Hyperion (though the seating arrangement is quite different). And I prefer Hyperion.

Um...anyway, Kondaa is good!



This is the best photo I took of Kondaa and now I feel like I need to do a whole explanation of why there was only one person riding it.

But I don't feel like it, so just make something up that works for you.



Next park: Plopsaland De Panne!

Not really a great sounding name to a native English speaker, but I guess that's my problem, not theirs.

So, like, if you live in Belgium, and you have a baby, do you need to cross reference whatever name you're thinking about giving it with every surrounding language? Like, this sounds great in French, but does it mean something bad in Flemish? How about German? English? Danish? Oh, it means "bumpy ears" in Polish? That's unfortunate.

Seems like a real burden. In America, we'd just name it Dylan or whatever and never care that it means "bad at sex" in Norwegian.



From Kondaa to Ride to Happiness by Tomorrowland!



I enjoyed this more than I thought I might. It was fun! The slow roll out of the station is a gimmick I could do without, though. Especially as I suspect that it's the reason they won't let you wear glasses on the ride even with a strap.

Which brings up a bigger issue for me. Like, I kind of don't like that they keep making more and more extreme rides but then you can't really enjoy them because the safety features need to be equally extreme. Like, I'd rather just ride Wodan, you know? I guess this is really just my RMC complaint put in a broader context, isn't it?

Smisty was disappointed that it didn't spin more!



Heidi The Ride is a lot like White Lightning at Fun Spot in Orlando. Except that I remember that having airtime...? It's been a few years, so maybe I'm wrong.

This one has the benefit of a small scene at the end. (Calling it a dark ride section would be too much, but I'll take it regardless.)



Not a fan of staggered openings. They just really punish the planners. And then it had technical problems and still didn't open at it's "posted at the ride" opening time. So we gave up. The dinosaur theming looks cool, though.



Pretty sure Plopsaland and Holiday Park are are part of the same company. Because both parks have nearly identical cartoon Viking areas (as well as very similar indoor kids ride sections).



An all-dessert restaurant? Best park ever.

Oh. It's closed all day. Worst park ever.



Anubis has a cool station building.



And a queue you could live in!

Smisty's description of the ride: "Average."



Okay, so you know how Knott's started as a berry stand? Well, Plopsaland started as a honey stand.

(In case it's not clear, that's not a dumb Erik joke. It is factual.)



What's the best ride at Plopsaland? Het Bos van Plop!



Or, you know, Ride to Happiness. But this indoor boat ride dark ride through a weird puppet village is pretty great.



Is Plopsaland boring you, Ma'am?



While I'll never forgive them for that dessert restaurant thing being closed, these are the best Dunkin' Donuts flavors I've ever seen or eaten or stuck parts of my body into.



My fingers, you freaks.

Maybe a little tongue.

I am not the problem.



Indoor kids rides. And a bee character. Because honey.

Or it's a coincidence. I think this bee character was at Holiday Park also.



This food item had a name.



I like when I don't have to write jokes.



Plopsaland De Panne was okay. We had fun. In the grand scheme of things, though, it was probably one of the less good parks we visited. I mean, that's how it works, right? There has to be a best park of the trip (*cough* Europa) and there has to be a least best park of the trip (spoilers!)



It's like that song, "Walking in Belgium." That's a real song, right?

No, I don't know what she's doing. Belgian stuff.



Our lovely homey hotel in De Panne.

Fun fact, this part of Belgium mostly speaks Flemish (which is really just Dutch). Whereas Wavre (where Walibi is) mostly speaks French. But, of course, most people speak multiple languages because Europe is better than America.



This was supposed to be our hotel, but none of the men could find it.

I insist that this is the best caption I've ever written.



De Panne is a seaside resort town. I probably should've started with that information. Well, too late now. We're moving on.



I will never spell the name of this park correctly.



We start with two of their most interesting rides: Hurican (a mostly indoor dark ride/family coaster) and El Volador (one of the last remaining Huss Topple Towers).



Hurican was fun. Again, a family coaster, but a nice dark ride section full of Aztec temple stuff and big stone faces (like the one above) followed by a short outdoor section (you can see all of it in the previous photo) and finally a dark-ish "coaster in a box" section.

In general, Bellwardeeee's coaster lineup is very family-friendly, with a Boomerang being the only real "thrill coaster."



The log flume wasn't earth-shattering, but it least is was a different layout than most of the other European ones.



 No reverser section! Woo!

(How on earth did hating reverse sections on log flumes become my thing? I'm the "RMCs are bad actually" guy!)



The French may or may not hate "American culture," but they sure do love the American Old West.

Wait, what part of Belgium are we in? The Dutch-speaking part? Okay. Well...the Belgians apparently like the Old West also. You got a problem with that?



Hey, it's that ladybug coaster from RollerCoaster Tycoon!



Beleweraerd is also kind of a zoo! This is an ass.

Sorry, wait. This is an ass of a oxen.

He was a jerk is what I'm saying. He wouldn't even face me.

This is not the best caption I've ever written.



This was supposed to be our hotel, but none of the men could find it.



The park's themed "tow boat" ride, with animals. Known by various names over the years, including Jungle Mission, Jungle Adventure, Het Zoemende Ei, Voodoo River, The Ride to Happiness by Tomorrowland, and Steve and Rebecca Marry a Big Snake.



Dude. Put down the pipe.



My something something brings all the goats to the fence.

I think I'm having a stroke.



I don't know, guys. It's a rapids ride. I'm all out of caption juice.



A mad house! This one was themed to Harry Houdini, but he was evil for some reason? It didn't really make sense. But also it was in Dutch I think, and we went on like 8 of these and they're all starting to blend together now.



Okay, this was cool. A train ride through animal enclosures, featuring lions and tigers.



A lion.

I think you'll find that it is.

I'm almost 100% sure.



Wakala is a Gerstlauer family coaster with switch track and reversing sections that they stole from the log flume.



Just a little rainy today. Good for (not having) crowds, not normally great for photos, but I like how this one turned out.



Ice Cream Burger

Their words, not mine.



Big Chute, with Dawson Duel in the background.



Dawson Duel are a pair of dueling alpine coasters. Except instead of being built on a mountainside like sensible alpine coasters, they're just built up in the air with tall supports. So that's different,

Not sure why we have to walk up to the top though. The thing has a perfectly serviceable-looking lift.



I'm going to be honest. I only rode one side because I didn't want to walk up there again.



Bellaweirdy was funky and interesting and unique. Not exactly a thrill park, but I enjoyed it. And it had animals too!

Well, that's it for Belgium. Next up, the thrilling French conclusion!

As always, thanks for reading.


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