Photo TR: Heth in Europe - Efteling/Heide Park/Europa Park

My 2015 summer holiday
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Re: Photo TR: Heth in Europe - Efteling/Heide Park/Europa Pa

Postby viking86 » Mon Aug 24, 2015 4:06 am

Excellent trip report so far! I really have to get down to Germany/Netherlands and check out some of the parks there, it is way overdue for me. Also cool to see you visited Miniatur Wunderland. Me and a couple of friends have been talking about going down to Hamburg for years to visit the place, now hopefully we'll go sometime in October/November.

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Re: Photo TR: Heth in Europe - Efteling/Heide Park/Europa Pa

Postby delan » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:46 am

Stunning. These pictures are awesome. Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Photo TR: Heth in Europe - Efteling/Heide Park/Europa Pa

Postby Heth » Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:40 am

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.

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Europa Park's main entrance doesn't convey how much this park has within


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.

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It's enormous! [view from Euro Tower observation tower]


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Theming in Italy


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Theming in France/Switzerland


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Theming in Iceland - theming, theming everywhere!


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.

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Blue Fire


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Blue Fire


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Blue Fire


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.

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Wodan is hard to photograph due to its long length and buildings being in the way.


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.

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Whale Adventures


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Me in front of Wodan, Blue Fire and Whale Adventures


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.

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Atlantica Supersplash


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The aftermath of the 'splash zone' of Atlantica Supersplash


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Poseidon


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Poseidon


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Tirol Logflume


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'The World of Diamonds'


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)

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Geisterschloss


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Geisterschloss's interior


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.

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Bobsleds viewed from above


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Excellent Swiss theming


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Euromir


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.

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Silver Star


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Silver Star [viewed from the Euro Tower]


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.

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Relaxed gardens


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.

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My obvious choice for 'final' picture for this theme park trip. I hope you have enjoyed it!


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,

Heth.

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Re: Photo TR: Heth in Europe - Efteling/Heide Park/Europa Pa

Postby Nrthwnd » Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:42 am

Ooooh, I miss Europa Park soooo much.
Great TR on your visit there. :smile:
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Re: Photo TR: Heth in Europe - Efteling/Heide Park/Europa Pa

Postby larrygator » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:22 pm

Europa Park does such a great job maximizing space, yet doesn't feel cramped
As usual, my analysis is free of charge!
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Re: Photo TR: Heth in Europe - Efteling/Heide Park/Europa Pa

Postby GeorgeT » Thu Aug 27, 2015 2:35 am

Thanks for the report !

I totally get what you`re saying about Europa. You can spend sooooo much time riding different rides (not the same over and over again !), enjoying the gardens and theming or eat yourself through the amazing variety of foods. And the quality of the MANY shows is also extremely good IMHO: So getting bored at Europa is a piece of art :lol:

And yes, I agree that many rides are good, but just a few are really standout (for me : Wodan, Blue Fire & Arthur). But a syou said : The whole package is hard to beat. For me it absolutely tops Efteling, which is my second favourite park in Europe...

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Re: Photo TR: Heth in Europe - Efteling/Heide Park/Europa Pa

Postby Heth » Thu Aug 27, 2015 3:20 am

GeorgeT wrote:Thanks for the report !

I totally get what you`re saying about Europa. You can spend sooooo much time riding different rides (not the same over and over again !), enjoying the gardens and theming or eat yourself through the amazing variety of foods. And the quality of the MANY shows is also extremely good IMHO: So getting bored at Europa is a piece of art :lol:

And yes, I agree that many rides are good, but just a few are really standout (for me : Wodan, Blue Fire & Arthur). But a syou said : The whole package is hard to beat. For me it absolutely tops Efteling, which is my second favourite park in Europe...


I'm glad people got that from the review, I was worried I wasn't explaining myself very well! I must concede that, objectively, Efteling is not as good a park at Europa Park, mostly down to the size and number of rides. What has still allowed Efteling to remain at the top for me is how charming and quaint much of it is, the attention to detail and the standout rides it has, particularly in terms of dark rides, which I am a sucker for. Also having studied it academically as a case study for a Masters paper did mean I developed something of an affinity for the park.

Comparing Europa Park and Heide Park and Phantasialand (I was there the year before for 3 days) is interesting. Phantasialand is great, but it kind of the anti-Europa Park. It's rides are generally standout and super well themed, but it has a lot of neglected and forgotten rides which are rather naff. Heide Park felt very un-unique, and lacked the in-between rides and attractions Europa Park has. Europa Park just has the greatest balance of rides of these 3 parks, and is probably in my top 5 parks.

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Re: Photo TR: Heth in Europe - Efteling/Heide Park/Europa Pa

Postby redfoot12 » Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:19 am

Just curious, but as someone who only speaks English, how is it getting around the Dutch and German parks? I figure a lot of the shows would be lost on me.
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Re: Photo TR: Heth in Europe - Efteling/Heide Park/Europa Pa

Postby Heth » Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:33 am

redfoot12 wrote:Just curious, but as someone who only speaks English, how is it getting around the Dutch and German parks? I figure a lot of the shows would be lost on me.


On the whole different languages don't bother me. As long as I can get by in terms of eating and negotiating the park I don't mind if I don't know the stories of shows, so long as they're visually fun. I have visited a lot of these parks solo and with German or Dutch speaking friends in the past, so have had some back-stories explained to me previously (Heide Park excluded).

Efteling - virtually all the staff speak English, and so ordering food, asking advice, buying items etc. will be no issue at all. The vast majority of rides have no English, and most shops/restaurants do not have any translations for food. My advice would be to take a phrasebook for working out what food you actually want, and then you can still converse with the staff in English once you know what you want. Regarding the rides, most of them are very visual, so you won't suffer for not knowing the language in most situations. Villa Volta is very exposition-heavy, but it's still fun to be in the madhouse anyway! Villa Volta does have a sign in English in the queue explaining the story, but the preshows are totally in Dutch. I have found this site to be helpful - 'An Englishman's Guide to Efteling'- http://aegtte.weebly.com/

Baron 1898 is an exception. This ride has signs in English and some of the preshow is in English for the "foreign mine-workers" and forms part of a new push by the park to cater to a more international audience. I wouldn't be surprised if in the future more rides get English signs and translations.

Heide Park - this park was quite hard. This is the first foreign park I've been to with no English park maps what-so-ever. The only English thing I recall was the Express Butler I bought being set in English for me by the staff there. Their website is also only available in German. Some staff speak English, but most do not, and so I'd advise getting to grips with some basic German before going. Altogether the explicit German-only approach reinforces my opinion that this park is more a 'big' local park moreso than international destination.

Europa Park - this park caters mostly for Germans and the French, however many staff speak English. Signs are generally in German only, but due to a larger international audience the staff have flags under their name-tags showing which languages they speak. When I had trouble with one food order (not the park's fault, my own) they had to go find English-speaking staff to help me. Was a bit of hassle, but not a deal-breaker. Shows were in German with some French, but, as with Efteling, they were visual enough to impress without any need to know the language.

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Re: Photo TR: Heth in Europe - Efteling/Heide Park/Europa Pa

Postby delan » Sun Aug 30, 2015 6:01 am

Definitely one of my favorite parks in everdom. This takes me back to the TPR 2012 tour. Thanks for sharing!!!

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