Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby The Great Zo » Thu Sep 22, 2016 10:44 pm

This gets a bump, as I'm a bit delayed in catching up on trip reports.

azza29 wrote:Having heard mixed reviews of Parc Asterix, I wasn't expecting too much - but we ended up having a great day! The park itself is kind of like an ancient-era version of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, with representations of classical Greece, Rome, Egypti and (of course) Gaul.


Asterix looks pretty nice! I wonder how much of the park's overall reputation is wrongfully built around Goudurix? Based on your report, that definitely seems unfair, and my view of Parc Asterix has been given a boost. There are plenty of things to do in Paris to make me want to return again in the future, but I think Parc Asterix will have to be on that list.

azza29 wrote:Image
This was a reasonably dry rapids ride, nice setting though.


That sure seemed to be a theme throughout the trip -- much different than in the US, where pretty much every rapids ride runs the risk of a complete soaking. I kind of wish I'd gone on a few more over there, but it's not always easy to tell in advance.

azza29 wrote:Image
A popular spot for selfies.


This could easily be amended to "all of Paris." I've never seen so many selfie sticks.

One more stop on this "slides from Paris" tour. The Pantheon!


Speaking of places I need to visit on my next trip to Paris -- wow!

Great shots, can't wait for the rest of the report.
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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby Nrthwnd » Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:27 am

I love the architecture of Paris. Daytime or night time it's all amazing.
Glad to read you got to see so much stuff there. And too bad about the Dragon Coaster
being down. It actually packed a bit of a wallop on it, I remember. (Wallop?)

Oh well, that means another visit there, right? Right Aaron? ;)
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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:56 pm

Paris is an amazing city. I spent three days there in 2009 getting the whirlwind tour, and it wasn't enough time at all. Looks like you got to see most of the important sights. Did you spend any time at the Louvre? That's the single greatest museum I've ever been to.
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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby azza29 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:27 pm

Nrthwnd wrote:Oh well, that means another visit there, right? Right Aaron? ;)

I don't know if I'd go back just for that one, but I'm sure I'll return to Paris at some point!

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Did you spend any time at the Louvre? That's the single greatest museum I've ever been to.

We went "to" the Louvre, but didn't go inside on this visit, mostly due to time. I'd probably head there next time I'm in the city though, it certainly looks worth a visit!
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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:10 am

Ah, oh well. It absolutely is worth seeing. One day is not enough to see everything, but you can get to the major works easily enough. There are maps that will point them out. I spent most of the day in the Spanish, French, and Italian Renaissance rooms, then went down to the basement for the Egyptian artefacts. I feel good about that, but honestly I saw about 20% of the museum.
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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby azza29 » Tue Sep 27, 2016 5:34 am

Bobbejaanland
Our first stop in Belgium was Bobbejaanland, a park with quite the eclectic collection of rides. It's one of those parks that seems to have evolved quite a bit over the years as new attractions and themes are added. They've hit all of the familiar theme park tropes - you've got a Western area next to King Kong, beside the Aztec rapids. There's no faulting the sheer volume of rides, and In that respect it reminded of some of the Japanese parks I visited last year - plenty to do, nothing particularly spectacular.

It's definitely a family park - no Intamin hypers here - but Bobbejaanland was not without notable rides:
- Revolution/Mount Mara was my first chance to try out a VR coaster. In this instance the VR certainly improved on the headset-free experience, though I wasn't quite sold on the whole thing. Riding a coaster is (usually) by nature a group activity, and the VR headsets are weirdly isolating, and the visuals lagged noticeably in spots, even when the train wasn't going particularly fast.
- The El Paso Special - want to shoot Mexicans from the comfort of your bench? Visit Trump: The Ride!
- The Forbidden Caves are Bobbejaanland's newest attraction, one of those new-fangled immersion tunnels. Think of a scaled-down version of Universal's King Kong, complete with tram and 3D glasses. This had a great-looking queue and was impressive for a small park, but the motion simulation didn't quite match the screens, so maybe they've still got some tweaking to do.
- El Rio is a rapids ride with a whirlpool. Awesome!

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Good morning Bobbejaanland!

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Something about European parks, always so picturesque!

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Dizz is a Maurer spinner. Don't let that early nineties artwork fool you, this ride was only opened in 2011.

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Important picture of transfer track in operation.

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Kyle and Jeff are ready to spin!

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So this was one of those spinners which, uh... didn't. We tried quite a few combinations of big/small people in full/empty trains with limited success. It wasn't a bad ride, just didn't spin all that much.

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Typhoon is an early model Eurofighter, which rides like an early model Eurofighter.

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Exclusive picture of coaster maintenance entry!

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What's a trip report without a picture of a coaster wheel assembly?

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If the restraints don't open after the ride, you get to sit there awkwardly and await rescue. While people take pictures...

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It wouldn't be a Eurofighter without a vertical lift hill.

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Typhoon is kind of like a cross between a bigger Eurofighter and an S&S El Loco. It's quite compact, has some funky slow inversions but also something like eight trim brakes so you never really get much speed.

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It's definitely unique, and from memory was much smoother in the back row. But after a couple of rides I was ready to move on.

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Perhaps it's time for some Adventure?

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There's definitely something impressive about a ride which is also 100% theming.

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King Kong looks like something straight out of Rollercoaster Tycoon, and that's awesome!

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Revolution is a Vekoma "Illusion" coaster. I'd never tried one of these before, and was intrigued.

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In the afternoon, everyone wears a VR headset and it becomes Mount Mara.

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Fortunately our group was able to try both modes in one block. Hooray!

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This coaster also has the longest train I've ever seen. No fewer than 20 individual pods. It wasn't hard to see why they chose this ride for VR. The regular "Revolution" experience is about two-thirds spiral lifthill, and after that it's mostly dark with some flashing lights. I'm sure it was impressive 25 years ago when it was new, but not anymore. The VR experience was a little better - I didn't leave completely sold on the concept but it was passable.

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Bob Express is a powered coaster, of formidable length.

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Hooray, we aren't in the line with noisy kids anymore!

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For a powered coaster Bob Express was quite good, decent speed and it had some cool interactions with the log flume.

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Rounding out the family coaster lineup we have Oki Doki, apparently thrilling enough to inspire a Bolt!

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Any ride which can't be built in this era of trigger warnings and hashtag campaigns deserves to be celebrated. One such example, The El Paso Special!

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Please sit down, lower the lapbar, and grab your pistol.

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These Americans sure love their guns...

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There's nothing racist about wanting to shoot a mariachi band.

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More things to point a weapon at!

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This was new - a warm snack vending machine. Basically if you didn't want to line up at the fast food counter, you could just select something from one of the little food fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo.

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Indiana River is an indoor log flume that will get you very, very wet. I was more focused on staying dry than try to follow the story, but it seemed to be some kind of "ancient jungle temple gone wrong" theme.

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Dream Catcher is a Vekoma Swinging Turns.

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It's pretty much like one of their family inverts, except you swing a bit on the corners. Not bad. Like most of the coasters at this park, it's neither terrible nor amazing.

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You enter via teepee though, so there's that.

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Who's excited for a new credit? These guys!

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Genuine Vekoma.

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Bobbejaanland's new hotness is The Forbidden Caves.

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Looks promising...

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The queue is an Indiana Jones-style jungle trek, which is pretty cool.

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Look, rockwork! We must be getting close...

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As I mentioned earlier, the actual ride itself isn't that crash hot. But the overall experience was quite good, so hopefully they can get the ride sequence up to par with the rest of the attraction.

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Hidden in a random corner of the park is Slegehammer!

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Gotta love a good Frisbee!

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I noted in Scandinavia a couple of years ago, it seems like every European park has to have a "Western" area. Bobbejaanland is no exception.

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If Texas is to my left and Arizona is to my right, where am I standing? Belgium of course!

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I have no idea what goes on inside of Rincky Tincky, and I'm not sure I want to either...

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We love pedal horses!

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Rounding out the park's collection of middle-of-the-road coasters is Speedy Bob, a wild mouse.

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If every car is in the station, it's like a giant wild mouse train!

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I'm going to assume that if you're reading this, you've probably been on one of these before.

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The park has gone to the effort of painting the supports to look "wooden". Credit where it's due.

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Speedy Bob's neighbour is El Rio, which I guess is Spanish for "spinning rapids".

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Like most European parks, this one is designed to only splash a little, and not drench riders to their core.

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El Rio has an awesome whirlpool, these should be in more rapids rides!

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That's it from Bobbejaanland...

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...except for BONUS rural Belgium sightseeing! We spent a couple of nights in Wavre, a village outside of Brussels. There's not much to see there, apart from this old church.

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Out the front is a statue of a boy climbing a fence. His butt is shiny because it's good luck to rub it, or so we were told.

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Some decided to try it out...

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and others went in for a selfie.

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Here is a picture of the "American Shop" we found in Wavre. I'm counting this as a culture credit. That's it from Bobbejaanland, next up we check out Walibi Belgium!
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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby The Great Zo » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:42 pm

Any trip report with Le Maca is sure to be a winner!

A very good and fair review of Bobbejaanland. If it wasn't among my favorite parks on the trip, it's only because of how many really great parks we went to.

azza29 wrote:- The Forbidden Caves are Bobbejaanland's newest attraction, one of those new-fangled immersion tunnels. Think of a scaled-down version of Universal's King Kong, complete with tram and 3D glasses. This had a great-looking queue and was impressive for a small park, but the motion simulation didn't quite match the screens, so maybe they've still got some tweaking to do.


Between that and the one at Movie Park, I guess I'm just not a fan of the concept. I think there were screen problems at both locations, actually.

So this was one of those spinners which, uh... didn't. We tried quite a few combinations of big/small people in full/empty trains with limited success. It wasn't a bad ride, just didn't spin all that much.


You get ten seconds to start spinning before you hit the next brake run! Yeah, it ain't Winjas or Crush, unfortunately.

azza29 wrote:Indiana River is an indoor log flume that will get you very, very wet.


Oh my, did it ever.

azza29 wrote:- The El Paso Special - want to shoot Mexicans from the comfort of your bench? Visit Trump: The Ride!


This ride is a family hit. Clearly one of the most popular at Bobbejaanland. I have no idea why it hasn't been cloned and built at other parks all around the world.

Or maybe it's the most terrifyingly awesomely horrible thing I've ever been on, and obviously I was too appalled to actually participate in the insensitive, xenophobic ride experience, as I'm sure the pictures will show.

...scrolls down...

...did someone steal my hat and pretend to be me?

Darn you and your photographic evidence.
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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby SharkTums » Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:54 pm

When Bobbejaanland is one of the 'lesser' parks on a 3 week Europe Trip you know there are a LOT of awesome parks in Europe. I really like the park, it has like this old school Europe park charm to it.

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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby azza29 » Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:56 am

Walibi Belgium
I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Walibi Belgium. It's not a huge park, has changed hands a few times, and on paper the selection of rides looked fairly mundane, without any standout rides. But you shouldn't judge a park by its RCDB listing, and we had a pretty good day there. Pulsar (2016 new hotness) was a great surprise - I definitely didn't expect a shuttle water coaster to have some decent airtime - and no doubt we'll see some clones appear around the place before too long. Calamity Mine was another highlight, proving that mine trains work much better with theming!

Onto the photos, with some bonus Brussels culture at the end!

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Good morning Walibi! That tiny patch of blue sky is encouraging, maybe it won't rain too much?

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Here are some birds. Playing with the zoom lens is in my top ten "things to do while waiting for the park to open" list.

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The park mascot is a slightly crazed looking wallaby. Wallaby? Walibi! Get it?

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Not one, but two shuttle coasters grace the skyline of Walibi Belgium.

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Psyke Underground is one of those delightful shuttle loops, this one is indoors!

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It may not be the most elegant design, but this "coaster tube" keeps the light (and rain) out.

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The ride is adorned with some very, uh, "hip" establishments. Fancy an evening at Club Shake It? If not, perhaps Shakey Dave's Tattoo is more your style.

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Inside the ride. While the traditional flywheel launch was replaced with LIMs a couple of years ago, it still has a good punch, and the whole experience is weirdly disorienting. We had a couple of lights on rides which were even more confusing, but in a good way. I am a big fan of shuttle loops, it's great that Walibi Belgium have given theirs some love.

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Next up, Pulsar (pronounced "pullll-sarrrr").

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Nicely themed queue, there wasn't much of a line but from what I gathered it's something about energy.

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Pulsar features a capacity-boosting turntable loading station, which is amazing and should be mandatory on all shuttle coasters!

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The ride sequence is simple - you go backward, forwards, backwards again, and then get wet.

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The ending is quite spectacular.

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Where does the water end, and clouds begin?

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The splashdown pool is emptied after each cycle, and rapidly refilled while the car is on its final "spike". Four pumps like this make it happen.

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I remember seeing some IAAPA videos a few years back when Mack were shopping their "shuttle water coaster" around, and wondering if anyone would actually buy one. But they did, and overall I thought Pulsar was pretty solid, a fun ride that has good family appeal. Once they've finished with those S&S free spin things, I wouldn't be surprised to see Six Flags adding one of these to every park in the chain.

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Loup-Garou (French for "Werewolf") is a Vekoma woodie! My spine hurts just typing that.

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I've now tried all three wooden coasters built by Vekoma. Mercifully they seem to have decided to stop building them, though this one wasn't the worst.

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Everyone is very excited to be coming into the brake run.

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Vampire is an SLC. Hello, old friend.

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Kyle and Jeff are wearing protection and super excited to be riding this in the back row. In the rain. Good luck guys!

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Continuing the trend of terrible rides having weirdly long waits, this was the only attraction with any kind of queue at the park.

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The imaginatively named Cobra is another Vekoma special - a boomerang!

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Please note the fancy wait time sign.

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Have you taken the damn picture yet? Hurry up so I can stop smiling and BRACE BRACE BRACE!

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The first four seconds of any boomerang ride are always the most enjoyable.

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Coccinelle. A ride for children, and credit whores.

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According to the internet, Coccinelle reaches speeds of up to 16.2 miles per hour!

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Walibi Belgium also has a great shooting dark ride - Challenge of Tutankhamon

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There's a lot to see in the queue, though we didn't have to wait long.

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More tomb stuff.

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It's trackless to boot, which seems to get theme park people very excited.

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So the inside is your standard Sally dark ride, but with two different endings, depending on how many points you scored. Winners are taken in a glorious treasure chamber, losers are summarily dismissed out the exit.

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It a European park, so of course there is a Wild West area!

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Artsy angled photo to fit in the drop tower.

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Calamity Mine is a great Vekoma (who else) mine train, with some excellent theming!

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OK so they have an algae problem, but how great does that ride look?

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One more fountain to keep the algal bloom at bay.

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Calamity Mine was a good, long ride. Much better than most of the regular mine trains!

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One more artistically questionable shot of the drop tower to round out a fun day at Walibi Belgium. Thanks to the park for showing us a great time!

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After the park closed we decided to head into Brussels. I assume this street sign is indicating a picket fence, followed by breasts.

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While waiting for our train we spotted what may be eitehrregular steel beams, or possibly a secret Vekoma project to imitate RMC track.

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This is Brussels. It's not a bad looking town.

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Town hall, or Cinderella's castle?

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I didn't realise we were known for ice cream...

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This tiny statue - Mannekin Pis - is the pride and joy of Brussels, and celebrates public urination.

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Basically 95% of all tourist merchandise here involves some representation of this statue. I mean, it's no Eiffel Tower, but I guess you have to work with what you've got.

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But any city with Tintin murals can't be that bad. So ends our time in Belgium, the next installment will be from Toverland!
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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby Stonem » Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:03 am

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OMG the face of that girl is priceless :lol:
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