Nigloland was the surprise hit of my France trip. I was questioning its inclusion since it was a a 5.5 hour roundtrip drive from Disneyland Paris, but I was intrigued by Mack’s take on a mega-lite. Alpina Blitz was great, but I discovered the park was much more than just that one ride.
One, it was gorgeous. European parks seem to place a greater emphasis on landscaping and Nigloland is no exception. Everywhere I looked, I saw trees, gardens, and fountains. I’m pretty sure you could visit this park just to enjoy the atmosphere.
Two, it had an undeniable charm. Rides were whimsical. Stations were themed. And employee uniforms were themed individually to the ride; the latter was the most surprising since that’s usually only a touch seen at major theme parks like Disney.
Take Alpina Blitz for example. The station is themed to a ski lodge and the employee donned traditional Bavarian attire.
I also need to give Nigloland credit for one of the most efficient loading systems I have ever seen. The turnstile is automated to only allow for enough guests to fill the train. And it can be adjusted dynamically to accommodate for exit passes. A few other rides like their drop tower also used this system.
Their storage bins are way more advanced than I’d expect from a small park. If you’ve been on Flying Dinosaur, little ole Nigloland has the same system. Loose articles go in the front door and you retrieve them from the back door. This means there’s no cluster of exiting and boarding guests.
My first ride was in the front row and it was enjoyable. Like most Macks, it was glossy smooth. And almost every hill gave some nice floater air. But at no point did I feel like the ride was completely out-of-control. But then I rode in the back row and refused to ride anywhere else.
To put in perspective how much wilder the back row is, it has an additional height requirement of 1.5 m (or ~ 60 inches). The added intensity was apparent from the start as the first drop tried to launch me back to Paris. That was followed by a low-to-the-ground turn that had me seeing grey on each ride.
The next hill was the slowest, but it still provided a mix of floater air and laterals. That’s followed by a sizable camelback with strong floater. But that’s it for the floater air. The rest of the ride is ejector.
Like the Intamin versions, the s-hills were the most intense part of the ride. It was a cocktail of ejector pops and wicked laterals. The finale then reverted back to straight airtime hills. These final three hills delivered something in between floater and ejector in copious amounts.
I’m sure many of you are wondering if Alpina Blitz is better than an Intamin Mega Lite. But I’m not the right person to answer it. I’ve only ridden Kawasemi, but I know it wasn’t running to its fullest potential. Tobu Zoo was so empty that it basically only ran when myself and one other TPR member rode it.
So from my experience, I do prefer Alpina Blitz. That may change the next time I ride a Mega Lite, but one thing cannot be debated; Alpina Blitz is a super reridable airtime machine. 9 out of 10
The park’s other notable coaster is Spatiale Experience. Essentially, it’s a space-themed version of Europa Park’s Eurosat, right down to the long spiral lift. Like Alpina Blitz, this one had a clear best seat. Except this time, it was the front row.
The laterals on this thing are borderline violent. The turns themselves are super tight, but it’s made even more intense by the fact they’re taken in the dark (outside of some blacklit cutouts). Picture that final turn on Disneyland’s Space Mountain repeated a few times.
If you’re looking for drops, Spatiale Experience isn’t for you. But if you’re a fan of laterals, this coaster is for you. 7 out of 10
Speaking of whimsical rides, look no further than Apple Flight. The park took what would otherwise be a non-descript wave swinger and replaced the wicker basket seats with apples.
Yes it’s slow, but it’s zany. 5 out of 10
By this point, I realized Nigloland was more than just a credit stop. I made it a mission to try smaller rides too. One of which was Ferme D’Antonin. Google thinks that translates to Ant Farm, but I’ll just call it the tractor ride.
Nigloland has 3-4 different track-guided car rides, but this was the best. First, you ride in tractors. They have the big wheels and everything. Plus the course takes you through a well-themed farm with all sorts of props. Honestly this felt more like a dark ride than a car ride. 8 out of 10
It was then back to the coasters. Schlitt’ Express is the park’s wild mouse. The big drop gave a pop of air, but the rest of the ride was tame and overbraked. 4 out of 10
Usually wacky worms are nothing more than credits and a source of shame for coaster enthusiasts. Since it was pouring, I was the only one dumb enough to ride Chenille. As the operator decided to wait for more riders, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity and sadness of the situation.
In the blink of an eye, the rain stopped and moments later we had a full train. As the operator checked restraints, mine didn’t lock. Was I too big or was it broken? The operator just told me to hold the lap bar down and dispatched the train. It felt like Camden Park all over again.
The first lap was uneventful. The only oddity was that the trimless “big” drop. No airtime, but we were now cruising at a respectable speed. The train then roared through the station unbraked. Something was missing- the brakes. Then the magic happened.
Airtime. Honest-to-god airtime on a wacky worm.
The unexpectedness of the air caused me to let go my lap bar and it rocketed back to its upmost position. I instinctively pulled it back down and was plastered to the side of the train for the pre-lift turn. WTF was that?
The second lap acted like nothing had ever happened and then the ride came to a full stop. But I was still in shock. Maybe it was the rain. Maybe it was a one-time occurance that my lap bar wouldn’t lock. But I will always remember the time a wacky worm genuinely terrified me. 6 out of 10
Straddled with wacky worm PTSD, I boarded the Herissons de la Foret Magique. It was an adorable track-guided ride with a few show scenes. There were some bunny hills (don’t get excited, it’s powered) too for good measure. 7 out of 10
As often as I’ve visited Cedar Fair parks, I’ve never done Dinosaurs Alive. Even if it were free, I’d skip it in favor of the coasters. But at a small park like Nigloland, I decided to try Dinosaures Aventure. The Jurassic Park theme music and entrance was too much to pass up.
As someone who doesn’t speak French, the preshow and information plaques were lost on me. The walkthrough reminded me of an old exhibit at my local zoo. It consisted of 5 or so minimally animated dinosaurs. 4 out of 10
I took a lap on Air Meeting, the Gerstlauer sky roller. I used to own these things. In 2017, I was regularly getting 30-50 flips on these things. But this one kicked my keister. I really had to work for my flips.
Eventually I got the all-important first flip. Usually this leads to a rapid-fire barrage of inversions. On this one, my momentum only gave me 2-3 flips before I’d have to work for more. After the third time this happened, I slowed down before giving myself a hernia.
Either I’ve lost something or the two I’ve ridden lately in Dubai and Nigloland have more resistance to them. 7 out of 10
Manoir Hante was one of the most bizarre haunted houses I’ve ever experienced. From a theming standpoint, it’s well done. The park rips off Disney’s Haunted Mansion, hitchhiking ghost and all. But it has one weird inclusion- spinning.
Now I’m a fan of spinning rides. I’m that blur you see on the tea cups. However, I was perplexed why it was added to this haunted house. The second half has a non-stop, controlled spin, but it didn’t really add anything. It just made it harder to appreciate the ride’s scenes. 6 out of 10
Speaking of Disney ripoffs, the best is the Africa Cruise. Nigoland basically took the Jungle Cruise and cutout the tour guide. As a fan of dry humor, that part stung, but I was impressed by the scenes. How could I not love a hippo pissing towards the boat? 8 out of 10
Donjon de L’Extreme is undoubtedly the park’s most intense ride. It’s surprising to see a drop tower this colossal (300+ feet!) at such a small park, but I certainly appreciated it. It’s another Funtime tower, so it’s a jumbo Drop Line.
The long pause at the top allowed me to appreciate the vast nothingness around Nigloland. That made the wooded setting of Nigloland even more impressive. But as expected, the drop stole the show. No air, but my stomach dropped on the initial descent and it was a long drop. 8.5 out of 10
The last credit was Train de la Mine, a Mack powered coaster. The ride doesn’t have any drops, but it holds its speed, has numerous near-misses with the flume, and even has a few tunnels. 5 out of 10
Speaking of that log flume, Riviere Canadienne was short but sweet. The wooded setting is peaceful, only to be interrupted by the screams of the powered coaster overhead. The final drop wasn’t anything to write home about, but it did offer the perfect wetness. 6 out of 10
Nigoland also has a disko coaster, so I made sure to take a lap on Grizzli. This was your average disko coaster and that’s fine by me. The hump in the middle makes all the difference compared to the standard model, as the whip is quite pronounced. 7 out of 10
Before concluding the night with an Alpina Blitz marathon, I grabbed a batch of fries. And let me tell you, they were delicious. Piping hot, perfectly salty, and a massive portion. It checked all the boxes for me.
I spent the last 45 minutes reriding Alpina Blitz. In total, I think I got 10-11 rides on the coaster. It was never more than a one train wait and I never deviated from the back car. This is the type of coaster I’d love to see more US parks add.
Nigoland closes the rides a half hour before the park itself, so I had some extra time to appreciate the park’s beauty. And eventually that led me to the park’s carousel museum. Apparently, it’s a new addition for 2019. While I wouldn’t quite call it a full museum, it’s certainly something.
They decorated the perimeter of their carousel pavilion with all sorts of props (old horses, band organ) and displays of old rides. If you like the miniatures in the Cedar Point Museum, you’ll love this little exhibit at Nigloland.
Ultimately, I loved almost everything about Nigloland. Despite the intermittent cruddy weather, the park’s beauty was always apparent. And the ride had a great mix of rides. You had the major thrills in Alpina Blitz and Donjon plus some odd family rides ranging from charming to goofy.
The lone downside with Nigloland was the layout. The park consists of two dead-ends. That alone doesn’t bother me. Some parks simply are too spread out to be connected. I get that. What I find odd with Nigloland is that the two dead-ends are mere feet apart yet they aren’t connected.
Again it's a minor thing and I hope one day they can complete the loop.
And I’ve since read online the park is adding some sort of launched kiddie coaster from ABC rides next year. I guess the park wants to one-up their wacky worm.
If I only have two days in Paris, I’m spending it at Disneyland and Asterix. But if I have a third day, I’m going to Nigloland.