PART 3 – EUROPA PARK
The journey from Hamburg to Europa Park was a very long one! I left the hotel at 9am and arrived in the apartment with my friends at 8pm. The train was first, travelling to Frankfurt, at which point some Dutch friends picked me up and drove the remainder of the journey. The group of us had 3 full days at Europa Park, staying in an apartment in Rust. Rust is a town which is comprised almost entirely of guest-houses and hotels, and there are not many facilities.
My time at Europa Park was very good. I have been once before, but that was a 4-park trip, with only one day at each. Whilst this was fun, it was too little time to enjoy the park, and the 3 days was much more appropriate. Over these 3 days the park was incredibly busy, but since the park has so many little attractions to enjoy it is very easy to fill 3 days and have a fantastic time. For the sake of the report I won’t review the days in strict chronological order, but will instead go through and review the rides more broadly.
Entry into the park starts at 9am, which definitely feels unbelievably early! The park gets busy super quickly, especially at the park’s B&M Hyper Coaster – Silver Star. The group of the 4 of us walked right across the longest length of the park to reach our first two rides: Blue Fire and Wodan. The park is huge, something that should not be underestimated when visiting. It is much like Efteling in this sense, but the park is much more jammed with rides than Efteling. The park’s scenery is excellent throughout, with each land’s buildings themed to different European countries. The park can sometimes feel a bit cluttered and haphazard, but it is rammed with themed elements throughout. Our walk through the park to get to the back took us past a lot of these themed buildings.
First ride of the day (and my favourite in the park) was the multi-inversion launched coaster Blue Fire. This ride is just wonderful. I am not the biggest fan of really high forces, and so this fast-paced, smooth and ‘floaty’ coaster is just my style. The ride may not satisfy people who like really high G-forces, but it is an amazing ride to me. It also looks amazing, and this ride is situated in probably the best part of the park, the Iceland themed section, which also contains Wodan and the Whale Adventures splash battle ride.
Wodan was also an excellent ride. It is a wooden coaster by GCI and is the second tallest wooden coaster I’ve been on (I’ve only been on 5 so far – 4 of which featured on this trip [I’m counting Joris en de Draak as 2]). The theming is top notch throughout, and is better themed than Efteling’s Joris en de Draak. However, I do prefer Joris en de Draak’s track due to its more exciting air-time hills and curves. Wodan is excellent nonetheless.
In the same area was my first experience of a splash-battle ride: Whale Adventures. It was very fun! I enjoyed the ride most when the sun was out and more guests tried to interact with the ride. Of particular note was a model puffin on the rock-work which squirted at pedestrians if they tried to shoot water at the boats. I had not been on the ride before its 2015 refurbishment, but it was very well themed and much fun.
Continuing with the train-of-thought regarding water-rides, Europa Park has them by the (water) bucket-load. Atlantica Supersplash is a Mack splash boat ride in ‘Portugal’, Poseidon is a water-coaster in ‘Greece’, Fjord Rafting a river-rapids ride in ‘Scandinavia’ and Tirol Wildwasserbahn a log flume which interacts with a walkthrough and powered coaster themed to a gnome-filled diamond mine in ‘Austria’. That’s a lot of water! Needless to say these rides were experiencing severe queue times over the 3 hot days we were there.
The park is notorious for the number of little rides the park has crammed into every conceivable space, and dark rides are something the park has in droves. The big new ride from 2014 is one of these. Arthur (themed to the French franchise ‘Arthur et les Minimoys’) was the best of these. The ride is part-powered coaster part-dark-ride and has wonderful theming mixed into its exciting track. The other dark-rides aren’t quite to this level…in fact many are very far from it. There’s Piccolo Mondo in Italy (themed to Italy’s festivals), Schlitterbahn (AKA Bench – The Ride, themed to Russian snow and ice), dinosaur themed Universe of Energy and the laser-shooter Atlantis Adventure. Two dark rides which have proven somewhat controversial are Piraten in Batavia and Geisterschloss. Whilst these two rides are both fun, both have an undercurrent of copying Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion rides, which some scenes sadly ripped (poorly) from those rides. Both are good fun, but pale in comparison to their Disney cousins.(I'm afraid I have no photos of most of these)
Whilst there are some outstanding examples in the park (see Blue Fire, Wodan and Arthur) these dark rides sum up what is great and what is less-great about Europa Park. Few of the rides in Europa Park are outstanding, but what the park lacks in internationally amazing rides it compensates for in its generally good standard and the sheer quantity of rides. None of those water-rides are the best-themed or best layouts ever, but all are good quality and the amount of them fills 3 whole days. Where Efteling is better themed and has rides like Droomvlucht and Fata Morgana, Europa Park has fairly good theming and 3 times as many rides. Many of the outdoor rides in Europa Park have well-themed buildings, but don’t have much once on the ride. Overall I prefer Efteling for this reason, but Europa Park is still firmly in my top 5 parks world-wide for the sheer number and variety of rides.
Europa Park’s roller-coasters don’t just stop at Blue Fire and Wodan. The park is filled to the brim with some exciting coasters, many of them quite rare to find. The Swiss-themed section, my second favourite themed section, contains a Mack bobsled track, which was just ‘ok’ and a rare wild-mouse with a vertical lift-hill and a lot of theming called Matterhorn Blitz. EuroMir and EuroSat, a spinning coaster and indoor coaster respectively, are well-known and popular in the park, but did not prove a hit with me or my friends, the former making some nauseous and the latter being rather rough.
Towering above the park, and most of the car park is Silver Star, the B&M Hyper coaster. Rather mundanely themed to racing (and apparently in love with the colour grey) the ride was scary for me due to its height (remember than European rides are rarely this tall) and very enjoyable, though it had something of a rattle to it that provided me with a bit of a headache. As pointed out at the beginning, this ride gained ridiculous queues due to being at the front of the park and extremely obvious from the car park.
As you might be able to tell from this review, the park is very difficult to review on an individual attraction basis. One look at the park-map would reveal that the park has far too many rides and attractions to review in one typed review. There are a ton of tow-boat and leisurely-paced boat rides through gardens, loads of car rides, flat rides tucked aware everywhere and even a laser-maze! On each day we rode/saw/experienced 15-20 attractions or shows. That is huge! Even on day three about half of the things we did were first-time rides for the trip. Despite my comments that the park only had a few ‘stand-out’ rides the park is just outstanding as a whole. Even when the park was absolutely full to bursting with people on the second day of the trip we managed to completely fill the 9am-8pm day with shows and attractions. Even for down-time and relaxation there were lots of park-like spaces, rivers and secluded spots to be able to properly unwind. The variety of food on offer was also excellent, often themed relevant to each land of park.
Sure, Europa Park may not have that many outstanding rides, but the park as a whole is definitely one of the best European parks, if not one of the best internationally. No park I have been to has the variety of attractions this park has and very few have as much theming on their buildings. Whilst I have come out of this trip holding Efteling at the top of my mind, Europa Park has launched much higher after having 3 days to dig my heels in more thoroughly.
Following this part of the trip I spent a few days back with my girlfriend in the south of France....sadly no theme parks there, but it was a great and relaxed 'antidote' to a hectic theme park trip
Thanks for reading,