It should come as no surprise that i am an old school Schwarzkopf fan. Growing up we had a Jumbo Jet at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. I can still hear the sounds of the anti rollback ratchets from across the midway. They used to startle the crap out of me and define the thrill of being at the ‘Ex. As i got old enough, I got to ride on it a few times to the distress of my mother before it got dismantled and taken away. There was something that drew me to it. Wether it was the radar tower on top, or the spiral lift hill or that you could stand at the foot of the first drop and watch the coaster scream down the hill directly at you before breaking into a steeply banked high speed curve at ground level and heading back up the tower. and those ratchets…
Thanks to the magic of the internet and the need to divert attention from responsible productive activities, i stumbled upon a blog, “the lost coaster” dedicated to the cedar point jumbo jet. https://thelostcoaster.wordpress.com/
The author had been drawn to it in the same way and had gone about finding out what happened to it. It was here I learned about a still running Jumbo Jet at a seaside park called Amigoland in the south of France which i filed away for future reference. It is one of the few remaining of the 7 that once graced Coney Island, Morreys Piers, the Ex, Cedar point and Walibi Belgium. There is still one in Mexico operating, and maybe one in Belarus. France seemed my best bet since i almost speak a version of the language and the food is good there too.
Since my wife and I are not traveling to the US unless absolutely necessary these days, she suggested the south of France for our summer vacation. I said, “Sure, and since we are going there anyway, do you think we could stop off and see something cool?” It seemed perfectly reasonable…
Amigoland is a small seaside fair, open only for July and August in a resort area called le Grau de Roi. It is an hour or so west of Marseilles, with a long beach on a peninsula that goes on for miles into the Mediterranean and lots of motels and vacation attractions that you would expect to find at such a place. And Amigoland. And one of the worlds few remaining Jumbo Jets!
Having said all of that, they don’t make it too easy to find out about it either in french or english. There is a vague facebook page with few details, and a few random tripadvisor reports. The park is only open during july and august, so we chose the last week of august to start our trip. (despite the fact that one does not go to France in august since they are all on holiday then.) We were staying in Aix en Provence which is a cool little town we chose as our home base. If/ when we go back i would stay at one of the hotels on the beach so we can enjoy it there and don’t have to travel so far. The park opens late, at 8:30pm, so we were waiting for it to open with a 1.5 hr drive home to look forward to afterward.
We were curious about what kind of food they would have at a french fair. Would there be a Chien Chaud au mais (corn dog?) hey had hot dogs in a steamer jar. they also had baguettes with meat and cheese that they would grill fresh for you. It turns out that the french word for cotton candy is Barba pappa. Who knew? Surprisingly they had a few stands selling Churros. There were a few odd mexico references as well. Maybe the name Amigoland is related but there is no explanation to confirm or deny this.
So, as it turns out, amigoland is a mid sized fair with a decent selection of modern flat rides, a whacky worm, some kids rides, a semi permanent flume fide, a giant ferris wheel and of course, a jumbo jet. Everything looks to be well maintained and in good shape.
tomorrow i will post a review of the jumbo jet and try to explain why i am so obsessed with the coaster.