After being part of this forum for 5 years, I was really excited to finally join a CoasterForce meeting! Experiencing a park with so many other goons feels truly special and I was looking forward to see the faces behind so many forum users.
I wanted to take some pictures and videos of Pégase in the morning. I managed to to that, but as you can see, the weather really made it tricky. The coaster looks nice even with the poo weather though.
The Temple de la Méduse, which contains the backwards trick element, is left with some very obvious unfinished theming. That's a little disappointing, especially since Parc Astérix can really do fine theming when they want.
Even though I arrived early at the park, taking all this footage meant I ended up late to the appointment of 10:15 am. The stress of not making it in time, the weather and being stuck at the entrance line with a bunch of noisy school people actually killed my mood for a while. Adding to that, the school pupils's adult accompanist would't let me though the security gates because I ended up in the middle of their group, despite there being clearly no sign of a specific "group" entrance thing and the school kids themselves line-jumping me. Very irritating and very French-y to do, but I managed to talk my way though anyway. Oh well...
I quickly ran towards the new Pégase area where we would meet only to find no one there yet Since it was 10:35, I was worrying that the group actually left me behind x)
Whilst I was alone, I took the opportunity to take some shots of the scenery. Some French jokes and context setting explaining for you guys! "Kiosque Journaux" means newspaper stand, and the Goudurix headline here is about the comic character that actually appeared before the namesake coaster, although the wink is obvious. Then you have the fake photo booth named "Pikasos", a pun on Pablo Picasso of course. I don't know how well-known Picasso is in Britain, but he lived in France for decades after fleeing the Spanish Civil War and is arguably among the more recognized artists here.
Le Cheval de Troie was moved a little to make way for the new Pégase Plaza. The old flat ride makes a nice complement to the 2017 coaster! It's a shame that Astérix doesn't add more thrill rides to their line-up, but the Park is likely to improve on that in the next years.
After a short wait, I met CFers at last! It was a cheerful moment despite the poor weather After some debate which included noticing that Goudurix already had an outrageous hour wait, we chose to start our credding adventure with la Trace du Hourra, which is themed around prehistoric cavemen.
It opened in 2001 as the tallest and longest Mack Bobsleigh and still holds the record to this day. Despite this, the ride felt fairly short to me and a bit uneventful except for the significant amount of vibrations and side-shuffle the trains goes through.
(Apologies for the poor video quality)
Understandably, ticking off all the credits was the priority so we headed next to SOS Numérobis, the local Zierer Tivoli which was relocated to the Egypt section to provide something the kids could ride while the older uns could enjoy the B&M Invert nearby. In the rush of things I did not take a picture (what a miss!) but here's a an on-ride POV instead. I hope you don't mind me chatting a bit with Sandman during a third of the ride!
Having recently ridden Black Mamba and The Monster, I was curious to see how would OzIris compare. My first ride, towards the back, was honestly underwhelming. It was mostly forceless and a little uneventful, even though the core layout is really good. The drop is nice and the elements order is fairly original for a B&M. I got another ride later which did the coaster more justice.
Say hello to the camera guys!
The group proceeded to cash in the Pass Rapidus on the park's flume ride, Menhir Express. It's among the more soaky flumes so I sat out to take some pictures of the park instead.
Kudos to all of those who also braved the not-so-warm weather and rode Le Grand Splatch (yes, the park spells it that way...) too!
Walked around meanwhile. The middle of the park is actually the quietest part. It has a kiddy zone as well as the Village Gaulois, which is an imitation of the Astérix village prominently featured in the comics.
Astérix's best buddy, Obélix was also there!
The Carousel is among the more uniquely themed. How often do you get to ride the derrière of a fat Gallic guy in an amusement park flat?
Joining back the group for the awaited ride on Pégase Express! I got to say Astérix put a fine effort with the station scenery. Lots of cool details including the fake train schedules board which contains a lot of jokes. Too bad the GP kept photobombing me when I tried to take a picture of it!
I actually waited this meeting to ride Pégase Express for my first time. It's a fun family coaster with some really good moments, but also some noticable flaws. The ride ops make a loud and cheerful countdown right before the launch out of the station, which is in fact pretty fun to hear and really adds to the excitement. The layout begins in medias res with the aforementioned launch along with a couple of turns before entering the first lift hill - which really slowed down the pace for me. I would have loved to have another launch to keep the momentum going, especially since there's not much theming around that lift. After that, the train goes through a series of mostly uneventful twisted hills and one little camelback which provided no airtime at all. Decent speed though.
Onto the second lift and then the infamous Temple that launches backwards. The medusahead animation is decent, yet I couldn't help but notice the metal sheets making up the ceiling of the building. That unfortunately was a big immersion-breaking shortcoming. Thankfully the launch out of there led to a backwards airtime hill, which despite the very slow speed seen off-ride, is actually decent fun! The rest of the layout kinda blurred to me, but it's a series of surprising fast twisted hills. The best part of the layout and one that makes me think Astérix + Gerstlauer could have produced an even better coaster if they dared to spice it up just a little more like on the final section. I still like Pégase Express though, and I think it's a successful addition to the park.
Le Vol d'Icare received a completely new track and... it doesn't show. The old/new Zierer still feels outdated and mundane except for the few jolts throughout the layout, including the turn after the first drop. I've known much worse and more uncomfortable "family" rides nevertheless.
I skipped Discobélix both because I'm not that fond of Disk-O rides and because I wanted to have more pictures of Tonnerre de Zeus. Turns out I wasn't able to get nice enough views of the woodie anyway, because it is mostly hidden in the woods. I should have known better about my home park -_-
Tonnerre de Zeus was my first wooden coaster, and left a memorable impression when I discovered it as a kid back in the early 2000s. However it left me a sour taste on my last visit - I could only remember violent shaking, underwhelming pace and no airtime. This time it was noticably better as I went for the front row The drop is actually decently impressive even though I've been on much scarier woodies since (El Toro? Balder anyone?), and the following layout is particularly long and ridden with small humps, vintage laterals and banking and tons of headchoppers. It's not as intense as the modern RMC/Intamin coasters, but has a classic out-of-control appeal due to its significant shuffle. The vibrations did not get to the point it is unbearable however.
Because it isn't included in the Pass Rapidus, Goudurix ended up being the longest wait of our day. That's pretty hilarious actually! That queue time is in fact unusual, because one train was in maintenance. I never got over a 20-minute long line over the last decade. But heh, at least I got to talk Chinese knock-off SLCs and Spinning Wild Mice (Mouse?) with the (un)lucky few CFers who tried them during the queue!
And after what turned out to be a 50-minute wait in reality, I went aboard at the front. I guess you want to know my opinion of this legendary awful old Vekoma, so here it is: it is truly bad, but I think there's even worse coasters in the world. The headbanging is brutal in many places including any inversion minus the vertical loop, and the final helix provides some unpleasant laterals too. There was some distinct rattle at the bottom of the shallow first drop as well.
I think the layout is in essence very good. Unfortunately, it was implemented by Vekoma in the late eighties, when no-one in the world (except perhaps Schwarzkopf) actually designed a good multi-inverting steel coaster. It's like a rookie gymnast in his first year trying some fancy somersaults, the end result gets very nasty!
We uninamously decided it was needed to get back to a good and smooth coaster so OzIris was a natural destination. It was there that I had a chance encounter with Deanrell, who is the biggest coaster Youtuber in France! His commentary is more on the cringy, overacting style, but he's a really nice fellow and very knowledgeable about coasters too. I never met him before, however he gave me some good advice for this CF Live meeting and was happy to see him He posted a very insightful video comparing OzIris with nylon and polyurethane wheels:
Deanrell, with his partner AlpinaCoasters joined the group and we went inside the OzIris regular line together as we wanted to get front row. I ended up talking more with them rather than taking pictures and chatting with CFers which I feel a little guilty about I didn't want to be that guy who stays with his fellow Frenchmen but I guess the excitement to talk coasters with someone I follow on Youtube and just met was too much for me!
We then rode OzIris at the front together. To my surprise, Deanrell did not indulge in his usually over-the-top screaming, perhaps knowing my more understated style of on-ride recording and commentating. I have to say this front row ride was miles better! I really felt the graceful, floaty side of this Invert. It's a totally different take on the Inverted coaster type that B&M went for, and I have to say it works very well when you seat in the front seats.
After my morning ride I considered dropping OzIris below Batman: the Ride clones because it ran quite weak, but that later front ride did the complete opposite on me and I was tempted to rank it above The Monster considering how enjoyable that lap was. It shows how sometimes giving a second chance to a coaster is worth attempting.
So my current B&M Inverted ranking stays as follows:
1 - The Monster (Walygator)
2 - Black Mamba
3 - OzIris
4 - Batman: the Ride clones (SFGAdv + La Ronde)
We grabbed another ride on Trace du Hourra since the ride ops forgot to tick our single use fast passes the first time. Boy this Bobsled gets rattly in the afternoon! The entire lap was shaky like a drill. Not like I did not expect it, but I think that could have been a decent and fun family coaster if it wasn't for this notorious discomfort.
By this point it was already 6pm and I had to take my bus shuttle back to Paris. We said goodbyes at the end of the Mainstreet and I really appreciated the warm, cheerful atmosphere of my first CoasterForce meeting! The start of the day was a bit sketchy due to the rain, but the weather improved as the day went on and by late afternoon we enjoyed a regular warm sunny summer climate. Meeting many members of this forum made me really happy, and though I wish I could talk to them a little more, it is a very good reason to meet you guys again!
I wish you all went back home safely and some more fun coaster adventures in the future
Nice report - and glad it looks like the weather improved as the day went on!
I'm finally getting back to Asterix in August after a 5 year absence, and was hoping to hear Oz Iris would have bedded in and gained a bit more character, as it was downright forceless in parts when last we met, but it sounds like this is not the case. At least Pegase Express looks promising
A quick round-up then:
We got a ferry at 6.40AM. There were some drunk Scousers who I thought were German because of their drunken slurred accents. I took a selfie in the toilet.
We went to Plopsaland. I met a goat. it made me very happy.
We stopped for lunch and AJ was masquerading as a cleaner.
The next day we went to Parc Asterix. We got a kiddie cred. I feel on my arse getting into the train.
We went on some more things. I fell down some stairs. Here's the result of that.
It was a fun trip! Haven't done one of these mad weekenders for ages and suffice to say it did actually catch up with me (must be getting old!) Kind of made me miss the old days where we used to do these all the time. Different crowd but not in a bad way. Weather at Asterix was a bit poo but glad it picked up at the end of the day even though my fringe has been utterly destroyed by that point!
After a ridiculous queue to get into France (a sign of things to come we thought?) we travelled to Bellewaerde to add an extra park to the trip. I think this park was one of the biggest surprises of the trip as I believe we were all expecting something a bit small and drab. This park was infact more cute and fab! The whole park has a chilled out atmosphere with animal exhibits and rides dotted in-between lush folliage. You can tell that the park has some history to it.
The alpine "coasters" were a big surprise for me because I was expecting terrain hugging, small attractions and I was met with rather large, high up, posh (for what they are) looking alpine coasters. Not going to lie I was legitimately scared queueing up and when we finally got on, it was slightly terrifying going out of the station with nothing either side of you, nothing to hold you in but a seatbelt, sitting on nothing but a glorified tea tray! Nobody else seemed to share my fear but if you have any sort of fear of heights I think you'll find the beginning of this ride 'exhilarating'. We did a load of other rides, including the back-shattering kiddie cred that gave me a bruise that I could feel for the rest of the trip and a boomerang that had a particularly fierce reverse cobra roll and end brakes. It was, in my opinion, quite re-rideable.
The topple tower was a must do as it was working and we all knew how temperamental these things are. The ride was more thrilling than expected but still weird as hell as a concept. It looks great offride. I also did my first breakdance flat which was not as intense as I was expecting, probably due to it's location in a family park. Huracan was another pleasant surprise, with great theming, a water element and indoor and outdoor sections. It had some cool light effects in the indoor section. The park was kind enough to give us bracelets for the evening event so that we could finish all the creds and we mopped up a few more flat rides during the more relaxed evening before leaving to get to our hotel and to get food.
This was the lower end of the tea tray ride! Day 2
Plopsa day! This park was kind enough to give us ERT on Heide which, as a lot of others agreed wasn't quite as good as White Lightning but it was still a very enjoyable family coaster. I have a feeling that other factors other than the ride experience might have contributed to this opinion such as people having ridden WL first, Wl's fancy lights and the fact that WL is in Florida and not France. The whole area around Heide is really cute and well themed and fits in so well with the older medieval theming across from it that you could be forgiven for thinking that they had been designed together.
The park as a whole was pleasant, not as much as Bellewaerde imo, but still very nice and had a number of interesting rides. My favourite ride at the park was Anubis, which surprised me as I'm not usually a fan of launches. The rolling launch took the surprise out of it and it was a short and sweet burst of speed that took you straight into a lovely airtime-filled top hat before it traversed the rest of the elements. The coaster was unlike anything I'd ever ridden before so it's novelty was something that appealed to me. Other notable mentions for the day were the silly bat flyer creds which were amusing to ride and the great supersplash which unfortunately although it had a great drop section, was very short. We had a nice site down meal in a pirate restaurant in which I had a nice spaghetti bolognaise.
We stopped off at a place which served one of the best beers in the world to squeeze in some culture and I think everyone will agree with me that the beer was indeed pretty good. We then went to our "hotel" and erm, weren't too impressed so we went elsewhere! Lol
This was the day that everyone had been looking forward to the most. The day started off to a bad start when it started to rain and we got caught in a big queue to enter the car park and then another one to get through security. I stupidly hadn't brought my coat so I was filled with dread thinking I was going to spend the day soaked through. Luckily Ian was kind enough to lend me his umbrella for the worst downpours so I stayed dry, until later on anyway! Once we had met everyone we proceeded to squabble over where everyone wanted to go first. We had all got the fastracks but even then the queues looked to be massive for every big ride and because it was still raining the cred anxiety was rising in the group. One we had all ridden the bobsled coaster this cred anxiety started to fade away, as did the rain and everyone chilled out a bit.
I really liked the bobsled even though most people don't care for these types of coasters. I think Avalanche is possibly more thrilling than this one but this one had more height and a longer layout which was nice. We then rode a kiddy cred where Sue unexpectedly forced a poor teen boy out of his seat and into a row with his friend due to her desperation to nab the cred. Hilarity ensued.
We then finally got on Oziris. This coaster was both good and bad for me. I absolutely loved the theming, the pond outside, the water effects, everything looked awesome but the cred lacked the intensity I have come to expect from B&M inverts. This made it more of a relaxing ride, which was still fab and the zero-g roll over the station was the best one I've ever done no question! We did a log flume that nobody expected to be so ridiculously wet. It had a great indoor coaster dip section that took everyone in my boat by surprise so it was amusing to hear everyone exclaim "oh!" as the track came into view. It was certainly one of the best log flumes i've done I would say. While we were wet we decided to do the shoot the chutes style ride that lacked a lot of theming but had a pleasant double drop at the end. We ended up getting wetter that advised on this too, so I ended up being wetter than I was when I had got damp by the rain earlier. This time I was positively soggy!
I really enjoyed L'Oxygenarium for some reason. I thought it was a really unique, quirky ride with a good theme. I am a sucker for steampunk theming so I loved the steampunk/victorian area of the park that this ride was in. Later in the day we did pegase express which was one of the least memorable bits of the day for me because it was a kiddy/family coaster. It reminded me a bit of 13 and beforehand I wasn't sure whether it was a backwards launch or a drop track in the shed halfway through. The backwards section that swooped close to the water was a nice touch and gave you a sense of speed. We did another kiddy cred which was pretty rough and had restraints that didn't really restrain you at all and then moved on to the fabulously themed and named "Discobelix" a disk'o coaster (model name, not sure it's a credit though).
We then did Zeus which was on the rough side but had a nice tunnel at the bottom of the drop and some good airtime humps throughout the ride. I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not but after a later re-ride I decided that I did. Goudurix was next (after the first ride of Zeus) and because it wasn't on the pass rapide we had to queue about 45 mins for it (1 train). I really really wanted to enjoy this ride and I sort of did but I banged my ears a few times during the transitions so that kind of spoilt it for me a bit. I would liked to have re-ridden it to try a different riding position but that would have been too much of a burden with that massive queue!
We did Oziris again and queued for front row which I found better/slightly more intense than the previous row but it still was one of the least forceful inverts that i've done. I was impressed with the theming of asterix but not so impressed with their lack of good merch. Plopsa also serverely lacked in this department which was a shame.
Day 4 was another random bonus park, Parc Saint Paul. With 6 creds to get (7 if you include the telepherique thing) it made sense. This park was a mixture of carnival and crappy and pleasant and cute and was much better than all of us had expected (or remembered in Ian's case). Unfortunately the place had a circus tiger show, which we avoided and disapproved of but it must be remembered that on the continent such things are not considered as so culturally innappropriate as they are for us. Times are changing though so this exhibit, which seemed like a relic of the past may be long gone in a few years. They could take a leaf out of Bellewaerde's book and exhibit animals in a more natural way, who knows. Anyway, moving on from that.
The creds were weird as heck! Two of them were especially weird. Wild Train sounded like it was about to break every time they dispatched the train and the back few rows gave you some ridiculous airtime over the first hump. There was another airtime hill later on and the whole thing felt like a guilty pleasure. The second guilty pleasure coaster was the Formule 1 coaster. Covered with rip off f1 slogans you sat in a mock f1 car and descended one of the steepest lift hills known to man. You then proceeded through some outrageous profiling which included a double up, airtime hills and outward banked hairpins! We all enjoyed this weird coaster and ended up re-riding two or three times! I finally did a Musik express with Dave which was fun and then we did some more of the creds.
One of the silliest things at the park was this weird zipline style thing where you launched yourself off a platform and clung to a mental pole that rolled down a track. If you fell off this thing you took a risk of hitting your head on one of the many surrounding unpadded metal supports. I naturally clung on tight to the pole (standing up) and so by way of physics spun around faster and faster. Leaning out to reduce the spin only made it easier to fall off so I endured some terrifying moments clinging on for dear life whilst getting this sort-of-cred. We all did it at least twice because it was so wacky.
They had a (quite frankly terrifying) horror walkthrough and a crazy house flat ride which are pretty rare. Naturally we had to ride but I think a lot of the "story" was lost on us because we couldn't understand the french. It was pretty underwhelming and boring if I'm honest but I'm glad that I got to get the rare flat ride cred. Before we left Chris and Rachel had photos with one of the ridiculously tall security guards. Now there is tall, and ridiculously, outrageously tall and these guys, particularly one guy, were definitely the second. They had signs up around the park talking about their height and how they were proud to have them at the park! Chris was particularly fascinated by their size and pondered their life decisions on the car journey to the airport. We then attempted to visit a nice chateau before our flights in an attempt to "see some actual culture" but it turned out to be a ruined mansion fenced off in a park. We had a nice walk around anyway. Typical! Rachel and I then split off from Ian and Chris at the airport and got out flight back to Heathrow.
Thanks to everyone who came along and made it fab and thanks to Ian for organising the trip!
More photos to follow as and when I sort them out.
I'm going to call a spade a spade - this was not my favourite Live. Plopsaland was the better of the two days, but with the fact it was quiet we kind of did everything by lunchtime and then there was some twiddling of the thumbs. Heidi and Anubis were really fun, but when you rush a park like that you quickly realise how there's not that much there to keep us lot entertained, and we never really took the time to be silly and mess around as much as usual.
Then Asterix was just a bit meh - I really like the park, and Pegases is a great little ride, but the delayed start and general faff meant we were a bit on the back foot and everyone was just a little bit gloomy.
I don't know, it didn't really feel like a Live to me? It just didn't really kick off and have the same atmosphere to it. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it and wasn't happy to see people, but it just never seemed to reach the level of a Live for me?
Sooooo my weekend started disgustingly early on the Friday morning with a 6.30am flight to Paris along with Emily. It was my first time at Heathrow (airport cred, yay!). Flight was short and faff free until we arrived at CDG airport where we waited an hour to get through security. Once through met up with Chris and Ian, picked up the hire car and were on our way to the first park!
Arrived at the park around 1ish and the park was fairly quiet. Managed to get everything done we wanted. Originally we thought the park closed at 6, but when we tried to get our 2nd go on Dawsons Duel we were told the park was shutting at 5, to reopen for a special event at 6. Luckily being with Ian from Coasterforce has its perks and he managed to blag us all wristbands for the event (which was some special “Schools Out” thing with DJ's aimed at teens/young adults). Overall the park really surprised me, we all said its exactly what Chessington should be. A good selection of rides with nothing too extreme, lots of animals with reasonable looking enclosures, nice landscaping and a pleasant environment. Onto the actual rides then-
Dawsons Duel – My first alpine coaster and I wasn't really that impressed. It was too controlled and quite frankly a bit boring. Huracan – This has a really cool indoor section at the start. The rest of the ride is ok. I felt that there could have been more going on once it went back into the building, still it was the best coaster at the park. Boomerang – It's a Vekoma boomerang. It was vile. Do I need to say anymore? Keverbaan – Horrible vibrating Zierer Tivoli, how can something so small be so rough and unpleasant? Bengal Rapid River - Disappointing rapids really, went on for ages with one 15 second section where it got a bit rough, and then carried on smoothly. River Splash – I rode every log flume this weekend so i'm finding it hard to remember what they all did – this was was alright I think, nothing really made it stand out. Screaming Eagle – Really good shot/drop tower which whilst it didn't have the most impactful of launches or drop, it really picked up some speed as it was dropping. Also did a surprise second cycle which I wasn't expecting which was fab. Big Chute – Depth Charge ride where you have to carry your own boat to the top, WTF?!
The others did the Topple Tower ride, I wasn't really in the mood but it did look good. We also looked around at some of the animals, I wanted to do the Bengal Train thing but it was closed in the evening when we went to ride it, oh well. I think my individual ride opinions aren't great but overall I did think it was a lovely park and with some investment (maybe a GCI woodie similar to Heidi) it could really put the park on the map.
After a decent nights sleep at a local Premiere Classe Hotel, we made our way to the 2nd park of the trip where we joined up with everyone else. ERT on the Heidi first thing was really good, I think we managed to get about 6 or 7 rides in. Thankfully I had no cred anxiety at the park as i'd been before, but the day was really chilled with minimal queues meaning that we picked up all the coasters fairly quickly, unlike us poor souls who had to endure a 3 hour backstage tour previously. Rides then.....
Heidi – Really good little woodie which is a perfect addition to the park. Not a lot of airtime but there doesn't need to be, it's butter smooth, completely re-rideable and bags of fun. Obvious comparison is White Lightning which I do prefer, but this is still good in its own right. Warmed up nicely for a ride later on in the day. Anubis – Still has a brilliant launch which really punches you in the gut, but has definitely become a bit rougher in the few years since I last rode it, which is a shame because I think at the time I placed it in my top 10.
I'm not gonna go through every thing I rode in this park because i'm sure I gave my opinion before and not a lot has changed. Couple of other highlights of the day was the log flume with its EastEnders section -
“You can't tell me what to do, you aint my mother!!!!!”
“Yes I am!!!”
*Drums eastenders theme tune”
Also we spent about 10 minutes stroking the baby goats which were soooooo cute!
Opinions on Plopsaland haven't really changed, it's a lovely park with some cool theming which now has 2 stand out rides. Will be interesting to see where they go from here.
Since we were done so early at the park, we stopped off somewhere that apparently does the best beer in the world. I don't like beer so I had a glass of wine. It was in a beautiful location and the sun was shining, nice way to spend an hour before we headed back to the hotel.
There was some hotel faff that night. But i'll leave that story for Chris to tell.
This day didn't get off to the best of starts. The weather was absolutely awful, it takes ages to get into the car park, ages to get through security, the place was heaving and no one could decide what to go on first. The day got better as it went on – fortunately we had the fast passes which took a lot of the stress away and eventually the weather did improve. Those first impressions stayed with me though and overall I didn't walk away with the best opinion of the park and I felt like I didn't really have time to take anything in or appreciate the theming etc. But the day left me with no desire to come rushing back which was unfortunate as I'd wanted to visit the park for a long time. Anyway......
Trace Du Hourra – Bobsled ride which was alright I guess, It felt pretty fast and deep down there's always a part of me that thinks I might die on one of these. Horrible jolting at the end when the train lines up again. OzIris – First of all I have to say I was surprised at how big it was, i'm not sure why but I though it was one of those “interacts with the landscape” inverts like Nemesis but it's massive. I loved the whole area around the ride too and how you watch the whole coaster and its really photogenic. The experience itself though I'm afraid to say disappointed me. It had one nice moment where it swooped down into the tunnel but the rest was just a bit of a let down. Not a bad ride by any means, but I'd just heard a lot of good things about it and so it didn't live up to my expectations. Slightly better at the front, but it didn't blow me away like i'd hoped. Tonnerre de Zeus – Best coaster in the park #sorrynotsorry. No it doesn't have bucket loads of airtime but it didn't need that for me to enjoy it. It has a brilliant first drop, it's fast, its relentless, its the right kind of rough which never becomes painful, it throws you around on the corners in a good way and it comes to an end at just the right time. It was amazing and a massive shock at how much I enjoyed it. Pegase Express – I didn't really follow the construction of this so there was some nice little surprises which I wasn't expecting. I was definitely expecting it to drop Thirteen style. The gentle launch out of the station was a good part as well. Overall a decent family cred. Goudurix – Vile. It was disgustingly intense and I greyed out a bit on the first inversion. Awful headbanging. No redeeming features whatsoever. Vol D'lcare – I just looked this up and I don't even remember it. Next. SOS Numerobis – Kiddie cred. Highlights were Sue pissing off a french teenage boy and Jordan falling over. Discobelix – Disk-o ride where I managed to cause faff by deciding I wanted to put my coat on after i'd sat down and then not being able to find it. Nicely themed.....just like every other Disk-o ride though, although with some annoying french screaming teenagers. Log Flume – Really fab with a surprise dip on the first drop. Also really rapidy as it went round. Le Grand Splash – Boat ride where CFers took over one boat. Got pretty wet on the drops. Could do with something to look at as it travels round though. L'Oxygenarium – Storm Surge type ride which has some cool theming in the station and as you go up the lift. However the ride section felt quite short and we didn't get a lot of spinning so I didn't enjoy it that much.
The park did extend its opening hours, fair play to them, which meant we managed to get in a couple of rerides. Finished in the park just before 7 before heading to our final hotel. We decided to go for something nice to eat that evening (well nicer that KFC and McDonalds) so we went to the Buffalo Grill near our hotel. We got there at about half 8. We got our main courses at 10 past 10. Yea France.
Parc Saint Paul
Final park then. Everyone who had previously visited the park had told me the same thing - “Ghetto”. So I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't that bad. It is kind of like a load of rides plonked in an area at the side of a road, but it was nice enough and had some interesting rides. Massive problem though. Tigers in a cage on the back of a lorry – nah not cool and put a big downer on my opinion of the park.
Wild Train – Weird. I don't think I liked it as much as the others, better at the front with a strange pop of airtime on one of the dips. F1 Coaster – Mental! One of the steepest lift hills i've ever experienced, weird airtime on the double up, outward banked turns, and then a crazy airtime hill near the bottom which kept making me throw my head back (which actually hurt a little) but I loved it!
None of the other creds were anything to write home about. Crazy mouse that didn't spin, big apple, baby Zamperla and a Vekoma junior coaster.
There was the stand up zip wire thing which I've counted aha! Oddly terrifying and made me really dizzy. Log flume was themed to dinosaurs and soaked us. Indoor horror walkthrough was actually really good and had a couple of decent jump scares. I think thats it.....
The park has some of the world's tallest men working as security guards, which they proudly display on posters. I asked for a photo and he kindly obliged. His hand felt really heavy on my shoulder.
Anyway we were done a bit early so we decided to visit an old Chateau close to the airport. It was covered in Graffitti, no surprise there then.
And that was it. I had a really great time and it was cool to meet quite a few new faces. I got 20 new creds on this trip, taking me up to 295 (so close!!!!).
Massive thank you to Ian for the organising and also for doing the driving, really appreciate it!
I'll leave you with the handful of pictures that I took on this trip.
Lovely reports everyone <3 Interesting that Plopsa left you all with a positive impression, visited the place in early April and was less than convinced. But it was rainy weather and I suppose that plays a lot into how you appreciate a park. Now I feel I must give a second chance to Plopsa!
Also, that big costume picture of Parc St Paul is priceless.
Although Telepherique is clearly not a cred, including Parc St Paul was a good choice - it may be 'ghetto' and I'd probably not spend more than a couple of hours there, but it's a real surprise package.
The dodgems are fab, the log flume's unexpectedly good and has dinosaur theming, the walkthrough is... disturbing, despite containing approximately nothing, Wild Train is one of the best family coasters I've ever been on, and Formule 1 is probably the only coaster in the world that you can ride in a car themed to an old Force India
Ive got the majority of the report typed up I just need to get the photos embedded which is always a faf. I head to Kefelonia for a week on Wednesday so i'll probably get it all posted after that. I had an awesome time with a really nice crowd, great to meet a few new faces so shout out to them. I know your all itching to see my videos of the awful creds...
It had only been Saturday for an hour when the alarm sounded and I hauled myself out of bed and into the shower in preparation for another CoasterForce Live. Soon bleary eyes were being washed away and replaced with growing anticipation and excitement at the thought of seeing everyone again. But there were many miles to go and a ferry crossing between Kent and Plopsaland, so I grabbed my bag, shoved on some tunes, pushed the pedal to the floor and turned up the volume for an unusually empty and enjoyable drive down the M2. Perhaps I should travel everywhere at 2am! 45 minutes later and I was queuing for the ferry and hoping that the light rain that had started up would soon pass over. It took most of the crossing to pry six hash browns out of the unhelpful café lady. She gave them up one at a time like they were made of gold or something. Then I had a bit of a sleep.
We finally arrived in Calais to further rain and very stormy looking skies, which didn’t look like they would let up any time soon. Having the rain to contend with was one thing, but then France did its best to kill me when I hit an oil spill on the flyover out of the port and completely lost control in an epic fishtail, narrowly missing the barrier. In future, I’d like to limit my adrenalin hit to rides thanks France. The rest of the short drive was, thankfully, uneventful and I pulled into Plopaland’s car park an hour and a half before meet-up to the wonderful unobstructed sight of Heidi. What a way to begin! It was way more substantial than I was expecting. Still not sold on the odd plastic soundbreaks to the structure, but it’s always nice to see wood so close to home so I’m not complaining.
I had another little nap before wandering over to take the obligatory picture of the big door and to hover around next to the words ‘Meeting Point’ until some other wet and bedraggled goons appeared and ticket faff commenced. My first time meeting both Witchfinder and Sandman - lovely to see some new faces instead of the same old farts all the time – hope you enjoyed it! Everyone remarked on the poor weather, lack of sleep and new colour of Rachel’s hair before a Plopsa guy showed up and took us into Heidi the back way. Ohhh!
The new area is small and gorgeous. Did I expect anything less? No, because this is exactly what Plopsa have been doing over the last couple of years, taking a tiny amount of land and theming it to the hilt. Mayaland, Wickiland, the waterpark, and now this – Plopsaland is on a role (I just can’t wait to see what they do with Holiday Park). Swiss chalets and wooden structures surround you on all sides as you wander through to the coaster. There is an adorable low-level carousel with carved animals to ride and cute bunting strewn everywhere.
As we entered the empty queueline, Heidi still had that new wood coaster smell. I remember the live-action version of the show from my childhood but this new cartoon revamp is fresh and cute and ticks all the right boxes. The station is all wood carved into hearts and the train is tiny and covered in delightful little painted flowers. I think I was having cute overload! I managed to nip into second row for the first ride and we were off. The drop is actually quite steep for a kids ride and it manages to pick up some real speed during the course. There were no real decent examples of airtime and, on that front, it was very reserved but the snappy section after the tunnel had me giggling like the child this ride was meant for. While I’ve not been on White Lightening to make the obvious comparison, Heidi is definitely tamer than the other smaller woodies I’d tried (Twister, Cu Chulainn, Tomahawk) but I loved it. I actually think it’s perfect for the park, as was proven later when we re-rode with the public, by the sheer number of little kids who were willing to give it a go. Anything that gets kids into coasters is a thumbs up from me. We managed to get quite a few rides on ERT (thanks so much Plosa). I tried the back and this proved a bit stale because of the lack of airtime. I tried the front and it seemed to be less fierce somehow, maybe slowed by the weight of the train behind? My favourite rides were, strangely, in the second and third rows which seemed to give the best snappiness in the second half.
With that, it was off to whack out the Batflier before the queue got too monstrous. Luckily for us, it was only about 10 minutes a side, so the newbies got to get both done straight away instead of having to sacrifice their lunchbreak for shame. I gave one side a whirl and it’s still just as odd and pointless and the brakes still as painful as always.
While the others queued a second time, the weather began to improve as the rain stopped and the sun began to shine a little. The latecoming couples all turned up and our new, larger group headed over to mop up some of the kiddy creds. ‘Draak the powered dragon who lives by the logflume’ was up first I think. People seem to really like this ride but personally I’ve never been sold on the fake-looking rockwork or the strange hummocky track section. The cred used to have on-ride video that you could email to yourself for €2 (which I always thought was a bargain) but this had been removed, sadly. It did, however, give us a nice view of the closed logflume, sans water, which I had been rather anxious to ride as it has a fab drop.
On then to the Rollerskater and Tivoli, both of which had a much shorter queue than normal – we were just eating up the creds today! We got to enjoy the washing machine theming, the new (and, quite frankly, terrifying) Capri Sun theming, and the cartoon space ship theming. Why does everything in this park have a face on it? ****ing weird! Chris also decided to ride the rollerskater alone just so that he could film the cred with his go-pro! He had to suffer the whoops and cheers of everyone else off-ride. Know who I'm voting for as biggest goon this year...
By this time, the sun had begun to shine properly and it was actually starting to get very hot with a bit of wind. But the wind was too much for the Starflier, which was great as I didn’t have to appear a woss and blouse out of it...I mean, which was awful, what a shame we had to miss out on this! So instead, we mooched over to the new Princessia Castle which houses the elaborately themed spinning teacups and a restaurant so pink it’s like sitting inside an internal organ. I was just admiring the outside of the castle, which is extensive and almost Efteling in quality, when there was a huge commotion on the path behind. Some staff member had managed to run over a child’s leg with an ice cream cart and we hot-footed it out of there as carnage ensued.
I forget the order but I think we did Anubis next? Anyway, I was very much looking forward to Anubis again - it’s my second-favourite launch after Dodonpa (no, I haven’t done TTD yet) as I love the way, in the front of the cars, that you get a proper gut-wrench. Rolling launches <3. Everyone cooed at the dark and ominous theming as we entered the queue. I was missing Nic and Peep at this point as not one person asked where Joy was? Don’t worry, I found her. My first ride was in the back so the newbies could enjoy front, and so the launch was slightly less joy-filed than normal. There was also the small problem that Anubis is now getting a bit An’old’bis and, of course, as with many Gerstlauers, is starting to get a bit rough and, in this case, headbangy.
At some point we did the Forest of Plop, because it’s actually quite fab and come on, it’s called the Forest of Plop… It was good to revisit the evil penguin and the annoying song of the gnomes. This is the quietest I’ve ever seen the ride. Usually you have to battle through fifty strollers strewn across the entranceway but, today, there were only three. Ian suggested that the new Heidi area was perhaps pulling people in.
We also wandered into the farm area. I had some fun trying to herd troublesome goats who were trying to escape and we peered into barns that contained many guinea pigs and chickens with funky hairdos. The group photo happened around the flashing pig.
Lunch was called. I joined the big group trying out the restaurant by the SuperSplash which had a really tasty tofu/noodle option and settled in to listen to Ian’s stories of the err…darker side of CoasterForce over the years. Soon we were full with food and, having caught up with a good natter, we headed over to the SuperSplash for underwelming SlightlySodden times. The elevator lift is fun but short and the low number of boats in operation meant that the slow meander back from the drop failed to be interspersed with the usual anticipation of a second splattering.
We wandered into Wickieland and rode the disco. This whole area has great theming and we stayed a while to soak it up and appreciate how good a disco can look if you can actually be bothered.
Having polished off the creds, log flume was called, or at least a check to see if it was running on the other side of the pond. The group did what CF does best and turned into big kids to scale the rope course across the pond, pausing half way to block traffic while we got ‘cred air’ and waited to take a photo of the boat coming down the drop. Luckily for us, the log flume had, indeed, re-opened and we got to enjoy a peaceful boat ride in the sun, followed by the fab double-down drop. Eastenders: The Ride has a very windy river section which resembles the opening credits and even has a picture of Jeanine in the station. We spent the queue deciding which Eastenders character all the CFers would be. Clearly, Ian would be Grant or Phil XD.
Then it was time for some re-rides on Anubis and Heidi. I got a much better front row ride on Anubis this time around. The launch was just as fab as I remembered but the shakiness was still there, sadly. It’s still a cute snappy little ride but I worry that the roughness will only get worse. Heidi had warmed up a treat and was flying round. I plumbed for the second row again and was thoroughly sold. Here’s two rides then that would work so, so well at Chessington. Come on Merlin – wake up! Family friendly doesn’t have to mean a cardboard cut-out of the Gruffalo, kids can have a few thrills to ease them in too.
And with that, we were done. I can’t quite believe that we got the park finished off so early and, I completely agree with what’s been said already, that the lack of queues was actually a bad thing as we didn’t get the chance to chat and piss about in the normal CF way. Some of the atmosphere did seem a bit lacking. We faffed for a while and checked Coast-to-Coaster but there was nothing close enough to entice a cred run. Plus we were all feeling knackered from our early starts that morning. Dave suggested a trip to a monastery producing ‘the best beer in the world’ which sounding more than appealing. The group murmured a consensus and off we went.
The strangely named In de Vrede was in an even stranger location. I think we all missed the turning, not wanting to believe our sat navs as we took a trip deep into the Belgian countryside down single track farm roads. Suddenly, a car park appeared from nowhere with a large number of cars and, behind that, there was a large pub. We all converged in the sunny beer garden and tested our way through the three beers the monks had to offer. I had a blonde as I was driving, but the full-strength beer was really tasty. Lots of different flavours going on at once – I can definitely see why it’s rated so highly. Sadly, they only make a small amount every day and it’s sold nowhere else, so there was none of the fab stronger beer left to take home. Dave and I found out that we’d booked the same hotel that night by luck and so invested in a pack of the lighter beer for later.
It was a couple of hours drive south to Parc Asterix and my hotel was tactically just five minutes from the park, which went some way to make up for the fact that it was a little bit ****. On the way down, I had that authentic French experience of a lone driver of a UK car – the ‘get out and run around to the other side for the toll both experience’, also known as the ‘piss off everyone behind you experience’. Dave and I had dinner in a nice Italian place. Totally the best veggie option I’ve found in France to date of salmon and cream cheese salad without the salmon or the cream cheese XD. It did have artichokes though, FTW! We talked far too late into the night considering my 1am start the previous morning, drinking beer, chatting about creds and planning trips.
Day 2: Parc Asterix
Morning came and I opened the curtain to a wall of torrential rain. Oh dear. Dave and I shared a car to the park and soon joined the long queue at Asterix’s gate. Sadly, it didn’t look like the rain had at all put off the general public from turning up. Anxiety was building as it got closer to the meet up time, but a text from Ian soon suggested that we weren’t the only ones stuck in traffic. It took something like 45 minutes to park up and get through the bag searches. They were being extra strict and were obviously concerned that the park might be a terror target, hence the large number of intimidating security guys with very large guns on the gate. Kinda puts Blackpool’s scanner system to rout out your picnic into perspective!
Finally got through and realised we had to queue again to pick up the fast passes. Burdenous! Passes acquired, Dave and I legged it round to the meeting point outside the new cred, through the pouring rain, only to find it devoid of goons. I initially thought that we’d got there first but alas, some others had beaten us and buggered off to ride things. They turned up looking very wet, followed by Coaster Hipster (who it turns out is Portmine! - lovely to meet you finally) and everyone else, who appeared, sludging though the rain looking miserable, wet and pissed off at the crowds. Welcome to Asterix!
All having arrived, we hit up Pegase Express for new cred times. It’s odd how you can see the cred from the front of the park but can’t get to it without walking right round past the madhouse. I’m pretty sure they’ve moved some of the flat rides in the area and have obviously expanded out to cover a considerable bit of land between here and the car park. The coaster also sits quite nicely over the lake, which might have given some photogenic views had the sun been shining. As with everything else at Asterix, this was nicely themed with lots of puns going on. I remembered Coaster Hipster telling us all about the train station pun and sure enough, there was a timetable hanging up over the train as you exit. I love all these touches; I just wish I understood them all.
So the ride then. It was cute, nothing amazing but, just as Heidi the day before, it’s a great introductory ride to get the kids into coasters. I loved how the ride ops hyped everyone up in the station before launching the train. Then it was out along a twisty, quite long section of track that went right over to the car park before entering the scary temple building. Cue ‘what’s in the shed?’ comments. The inside was fairly creepy for what it was and that the backwards section worked better than the drop on Thirteen (a similar style family ride) but was less scary (possibly better for the kids then). The backwards bit was a little juddery (it is a Gerstlauer after all) and I worry that it might get worse over time.
Having been to Asterix a few times (four now I think), I wasn’t too concerned about the rest of the day. Asterix is a big and professional park and I didn’t doubt that we’d get all the creds, especially with the Pass Rapide. But no one else seemed to be sharing the optimism after the late start and, with Ian taking a backseat on organisation, there was a minor amount of squabbling as to what to ride next – kiddies before the queues got too big or OzIris to make sure we didn’t miss out? At least the rain was starting to ease off now.
Finally, OzIris was called and we headed over that way with everyone wet and in a bit of a bad mood. We nipped in to the bobsled Trace du Hourra on the way and once that was done, the group tension seemed to ease, thank goodness. I rode with Alex and we were subjected to the huge lift hill, the long windy track and quite a bit of bumpiness. I know it’s supposed to be a giant trailing a log or something but why on earth would you paint this turd brown? It amazes me every time.
That over, and with spirits lifting as the sun began to shine a little, we headed down towards to the Egypt area. A quick stop was called as we entered to pick up the kiddie cred which, thankfully, had no real queue. I was going to sit it out but then everyone else went on so I thought ‘what the hell’ and joined in. And then there was drama! I kind of forgot what I was doing for a minute and followed the random guy in front of me thinking I could share a seat, then remembered it was a tiny kiddy cred so I retreated to avoid awkwardness. But it was too late, he’d seen me and offered me the seat, moving into the back to squeeze in next to his friend. Opps! So I rode the cred (the cred that I already had) on my own, having displaced a randomer, to the whoops and cheers of the other CFers in the station. Oh the shame!
Asterix’s Egypt is ****ing fab. I think it’s one of the best coaster spectacles out there as you walk into the area. There are track and trains flying all around you and the amazing dive below the lake. Then there are big buildings and pyramids and huge brightly coloured hieroglyphics. All with puns of course! And then there’s the fab spooky Egyptian music with the evil cartoon Pharaoh talking over the top occasionally. I love it! It’s not often that I feel a theme is let down by a B&M invert. Well, never in fact. Usually, a B&M invert makes everything better. But I do find it hard to get excited about OzIris. I want to like it but it just feels a bit lethargic and completely forceless. There’s a bit of force in the loop and the zero-g is floaty and gorgeous but the rest just feels a bit weak. I understand how people like it, if you don’t like intense forces for example. It’s also very re-rideable and the lack of force allows you to better appreciate the subtleties of the ride maybe. I don’t know. But for me, I like big forces that make me go ahhhh. What can I say, I’m uncouth. It’s still a B&M invert though so already the day was improving no end.
Feeling better about life and with the sky continuing to brighten, it was time for the log flume. Menhir express is great with an unexpected ‘such a cred’ section of track half way round. It’s also really twisty and the boats spend a lot of time crashing into the sides. Two great log flumes in two days. With these log flumes you were really spoiling us! Those of us near the front of the boats got absolutely soaked!
Staying with the water theme, we went on the nearby Grand Splatch. It’s such an odd ride that doesn’t really do much and has a long meandering section before the drop that pisses about with water and smoke effects in an amusing way. But there are big gaps between the effects – I suppose to build anticipation – that in reality just led to long, awkward silences.
Lunch was called and I opted to stay with the new kids and say hi. We headed to the main square by the colosseum theatre where there were multiple food options and we picked the big fast food restaurant place. I had a healthy two packs of chips and a small side salad. Oh France, you are a bit poo for the veggies. It’s amazing what a bit of a sit down, some food and a spell in the dry can do for your mood and when we all met back up after lunch, everyone was back on form.
I think we did the Icarus ride next. That means I'd gotten to ride both of the Hornet models in 8 days. Yay stats! I find them quite punchy for a kids ride and this one has a cool theme, so I was laughing all the way round despite the lumps and bumps.
Then we headed over to the lake for Discobolix. I joined the queue of the disco but bloused out when it started to piss it down. So instead I hid under the disco’s arch and watched for its redeeming feature, the intermittent fire.
Zeus happened. My most anticipated cred of the trip! Zeus is one of my favourite woodies and still in my top 15. It gets a lot of hate and is a bit rough, granted, but I find it just the right amount of rough and I love it. I’ve heard people complain that there’s no airtime which I never understand because I find the back row just full of it. So I made the point of asking a few people to review their airtime experience and most were quite positive so I don’t know. Haters gonna hate I guess. Getting into the station, the ride op had problems reading my fast pass so the ride filled up from the main queue and I was forced to wait for another train in the back row. How terrible. But the stupid on-ride bag policy meant that my bag tried to violently escape half way round and as I bent down to retrieve it, got totally and unbearably pinned. Boo.
The last cred of the day was Goudurix, the only one that wasn’t on the fast pass. I like Goudurix (and don’t think it’s as bad as some people make out) but I wasn’t waiting an hour for it. Normally there’s never more than a 10-15 minute queue but it was only running one train.
So instead, I joined the rebel dark ride splinter group of Ian, Dave and Harry. We crossed the lake into one of my favourite themed areas of any park anywhere the world – the medieval village. I really wish Asterix had more areas with a different (non-Asterix) theme. We entered the fab queue for the Transdemonium ghost train which is all dark and spooky and which takes you down to board the train in the bowels of the castle. Another ‘such a cred’ ride at this park, Transdemonium has coasting sections, genuinely scary moments, an ‘Over the Hills’-style surprise, and an exit through a giant demon mouth. What more do you need? Then we faffed about with coffee while we waited for the others to call us post-Goudurix; had a little mooch around the indoor diorama sections which are so odd and out of place and walked out to the 'hidden carousel'.
Ian went off to re-join the main group while the three of us committed to the mad house near the front of the park. I love the very 'French-looking' section here with the rocky fountain and cute glass-roofed cafe.
In my opinion, the mad house is the best thing at Asterix after Zeus. The theme is really original - you are recruited into Caesar’s army and sent to sea. I won’t spoil what happens but the whole thing is like half an hour like with three pre-shows and loads of audience interaction. The others seemed to love it too so I think we made the right decision. Definitely unlike any other mad house out there.
The three of us returned to the front of the park where some of the CFers were meeting to get a bus back into Paris and dithered in tat shops for a while.
After some sad farewells, I wandered back up the hill to meet the others exiting OzIris. I had a little wait outside, sitting on a wall by the pond, soaking up the hot sun and the extensive theming. I would have been happy to sit there all evening to be honest, it was so lovely. Finally the others emerged with stories of exhilarating front row rides.
Their plan was now to go re-ride Zeus and then call it a day. Realistically, I didn’t have enough time to join them and get back to the ferry by 10pm but **** it, Zeus was calling. If I was late, they’d just put me on the next ferry, right? So I joined the now chilled out group as we headed over to the other side of the park. We nipped in to re-ride Trace du Hourra on the way (we sneakily still had our fast passes as the ride ops hadn’t checked them before the ride earlier).
We spent the Zeus queue playing games and trip planning. I love this queue. In addition to the flowery underpanted statue of Zeus that guards the entrance, the queueline fences are all shaped like coaster track – subtle but effective (and unquestionably geeky). I got a much better ride this time, less stapled but somewhere in the middle of the train, so it was a little stifled. Still, a great way to end the day, seeing the enormity of Zeus’ track suddenly appear as you crest the lift hill.
After a telling off from the ride op for leaving my bag in the station (I was taking no chances with my phone this time, but they decided to steal it and hide it in the operators booth - stupid Asterix), I legged it back to the car park. Sorry for the very quick goodbyes all. I think it was just after 7 when we got off Zeus and by 9pm I was queuing for the Dunkirk ferry home.
So, a great couple of days then. Maybe, as others have said, the atmosphere was a little muted compared to a normal Live. That was a combination of rain and cred anxiety, and possibly a bit of disorganisation on the Sunday (I really do think someone has to be charge if it isn’t Ian, sorry but sometimes we can be like a bunch of unruly Plopsaland goats that need herding). But it was still fab to meet some new faces, you’re all lovely!
All in all, a weekend of puns, gentle creds and really good beer. Bring on GhosterForce...
Finally got round to writing something up. Can't believe it's already been over a week since coming back, Ghosterforce will be here in no time at this rate!
At around 9.30pm on Thursday, I made the haul up to Manchester Airport from Cardiff. I was already knackered after working all day, so arriving at Terminal 3 at around 2am was probably not a great idea. For some ridiculous reason I thought I’d just nap the next few hours away, but what I sort of forgot is that Terminal 3 is full of Magaluf regulars at that time.
So, with the idea of sleep firmly behind me, it was time to meet the rest of the Waliplopstrix crew and sort out all the pre-park faff. Once we were on the road in Belgium, it was time to head to our first destination - Walibi.
Friday - Walibi Belgium
A few of the other guys had the Walibi queue time app on their phones, so upon arrival I was a bit gutted to learn that it was likely Pulsar was on a spite mission, having been closed the previous 2 days.
I should also mention that Cobra (Vekoma boomerang) was closed too. Not as annoying as Pulsar, but just a bit annoying that 2 creds were down for no given reason.
Our first ride was on the Vekoma woodie, Loop Garou. Eh, not the worst woodie. Rode somewhere near the back to begin, and it wasn’t too rough, just some lateral shakiness on a few of the corners. The track never goes very low to ground so it doesn’t really get ‘out of control’ or very thrilling either. Nice couple of airtime moments on a few of the hills which still made it fairly fun though.
Next up was Dalton Terror, the Intamin drop tower in the western themed area of the park. Very odd.I actually thought this had some decent force and airtime on the drop. It actually ascends the tower pretty fast compared to other towers I’ve been on (Condor, Apocalypse) but generally I’m not a huge drop tower lover.
Afterwards we walked onto the neighbouring Vekoma mine train, Calamity Mine (it’s fair to say the park wasn’t too busy on this particular day). Pretty forgettable to be honest. Looked the part though, but just didn’t really achieve anything as a coaster.
We took a break some time around midday for food, which was pretty much your average theme park slop, does the job but nothing special. Throughout dinner, we had our eyes fixed on Pulsar from across the lake, hoping for a surprise late opening. It is a fairly pretty ride with its lakeside location at the park. No good news yet, though.
The stubborn little git
Our next +1 took us towards the back of the park, which was pretty dead at this point. Coccinelle is a bog standard small tivoli. We were thrilled to bag this cred, as you can tell.
The locals were out in force.
Goons flocking to the big blue tube.
Psyke Underground was probably the most anticipated coaster at this park for me with Pulsar being down. This was probably the longest we queued all day (10-15 mins?). It was my first Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop so I was fairly intrigued by what sort of experience it would offer, especially with it being enclosed.
Well, I have to admit, I thought it was absolutely fantastic. Of course, these shuttle loops aren’t the longest of ride experiences, but what you do get is a solid, thrill coaster. I think with the coaster being entirely indoors it really did enhance the experience (especially the low lighting which made the launch into the loop feel considerably intense). After the loop it became incredibly disorientating to the point where I genuinely didn’t know if I was inverting or not. Never really get that on other coasters to be honest. The funky europop music and staff interaction also made the ride a pleasantly upbeat experience. I came walking out of the exit nodding my head and feeling genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed Psyke. Oh, and then we got another surprise. Pulsar was open!
The group walking pace had increased, so I knew this meant business. We headed over towards Pulsar’s station and had a quick look at what was in store. After a 10 min queue, we were on.
The loading turntable is pretty cool, and I was quite surprised by how massive the boat felt once seated. I don’t actually think my feet touched the floor! It was a fairly comfortable ride experience too. The first little push (I can’t bring myself to call it a launch) up the half pipe doesn’t really give much in the way of force but as you fall back into the backward launch, it really takes it up a notch. Some pretty decent airtime actually, and fab hang time on the final launch before the splash. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it amazing, but it is really good fun albeit a short experience.
So after Pulsar, we noticed Cobra was open. Not really any need for me to go into detail on the final 2 creds as they are both standard Vekoma trash. I’ll sum up the remainder of our ride count:
Cobra - Unpleasant vibratey boomerang.
Vampire - Semi-visually pleasing SLC with marginally less rattle than Infusion.
"Pretend you're having fun!"
Flashback - Funky log flume with a couple of tunnels and a backward section.
Radja River - Lethargic Intamin rapids with nice rockwork and terrain. Some fun interactive water effects but not until ¾ through the ride. Queueline took longer than crossing Mordor.
"Is that it?"
Challenge of Tutankhamun - Standard shooty dark ride with Egyptian theme. Some fairly okay sections in there… enjoyed it more than Duel.
We did actually manage re-rides on Pulsar, Psyke and Loop Garou before finishing the day too.
I actually enjoyed my day at Walibi Belgium. Initially I was unsure as to how much I’d enjoy it. I’ve heard many a horror story about how stale the park is, and yeah, I think you do pick up on the lack of quality rides upon visiting. I just don’t think it’s particularly that bad. I wouldn’t rush back now until the park has properly invested in some substantial attractions (which we now know is in the works). Still worth visiting for a first-time experience with friends, and I think Psyke and Pulsar are both worthy of some appreciation. Next up, Plopsaland.
Saturday - Plopsaland De Panne
So, after a well earned sleep in a shady hotel, we headed out into a grey, damp Dunkirk morning to join up with the rest of the CF group at Plopsaland.
Some optimistic faces on a moody morning.
Here she is...
We met outside the entrance by the big door until a Plopsaland staff member led us through to Heidi for ERT. Although the weather was still a bit grey and moody whilst walking through Heidiland, I could still appreciate the humble effort made by the park to create a little Swiss area. It was quite cute, actually.
(Taken as the weather picked up)
After 7 rides on Heidi during ERT (in various seats) I wound up with the opinion that it is a cracking little woodie. Nice short out and back layout with a reasonable amount of variation to keep the ride fun throughout. Don’t really need to say more than that!
Slowly but surely, the sky started clearing, as it did the previous day at Walibi. We found ourselves reluctantly queueing for the notorious Bat Flyer cred. Awful capacity, even on a quiet morning. The ride itself was just a bit too short and odd to really enjoy, even for it’s quirkiness. Essentially it’s just a couple of turns and some awful brakes. The initial lift is cool from an enthusiast perspective, but generally it’s a meh from me. Onto the next.
Draak is a fairly nondescript Mack powered coaster. The best it has going for it really is the station. Not much springs to mind about the layout except that it has some brief interaction with the log flume.
I always get to a point during writing about trips where everything just mushes into one and I can’t remember the chronology of events. I think we did the washing machine cred next, which I’m excited to see Chris’s POV of, and we followed that up with another tivoli.
The irony being it could do with a clean itself.
Anubis was next on the agenda, so we headed that way and stopped briefly to admire the view of the station. I think we waited around 20 mins for our first ride, which wasn’t too bad because the station interior is fab.
The ride itself is pretty fun (I think that’s how I’ve described 90% of rides thus far), the best moment for me is of course the rolling launch into the top hat. Some lovely pace and force followed by a very distinctive pop of airtime. The rest of the layout is fine really, it’s just not that stand out for me. I also found it a bit rattly in places but I wouldn’t say it’s very rough. After my re-rides, it remained that Psyke was my fave new cred so far, with Heidi in second.
After Anubis, the group split up for lunch. We re-grouped in Wickieland which is a lovely little area of the park. Most of the group went on the Disk-O, but I sat it out in favour of a drink break.
At one point we went to the farm area, which I had no idea existed. Lots of cute little animals, the highlight of which was the goat petting area. Loved it. Could have easily stayed there for the remainder of the day!
We then headed over to the super splash, which looked really cool offride but was essentially just an elevator lift and drop/splash. I enjoyed it, but then again I enjoy most water rides.
I’m not quite sure if the log flume was next or if we’d done it earlier, but yeah, we did the log flume which was actually really great.
The group then re-rode Heidi one last time with the sun beating down.
We decided to call it a day at Plopsa a bit earlier than expected. Everyone was satisfied with what we’d done already and I think a lot of people just wanted a rest. It was decided that beer would help at this moment, and so off we went to taste the best in the world, apparently. I enjoyed it, and the setting was pretty lovely for it.
So to sum up Plopsaland. I’d say it’s actually a very pleasant family park. It shouldn’t be judged by it’s coaster line-up, because it’s very clearly not what the Plopsa brand is all about. I sort of saw it as a better themed Chessington, with a more upbeat atmosphere and a better quality of major investments. I’m not saying it’s the same as Chessington but I think both aim for a similar market and I think as a child or family with kids living in the London area, Plopsaland is a viable alternative to the fairly mundane UK family park selection.
Sunday - Parc Asterix
The final day of our trip was spent at Parc Asterix. Our experience began with a slow moving queue to park up. Again, this was a fairly miserable morning but after the previous 2 days I expected a slightly brighter afternoon to enjoy.
The car park offers nice views of Pegase.
Here we go.
Initial plans were to meet outside Pegase Express, but with all the faff getting everybody into the park with the fast passes, a few of us decided to knock a cred on the head before queues started building. We opted for the closest coaster, Flight of Icarus. Not a huge fan of these family Zierers but it was okay. Just a bit painful on the brake sections.
As the group reformed and stressed over large queues and bad weather, it was decided that it would be best to just hit all the creds first with the fast pass. Our next ride was on the peculiar looking Mack bobsled, Trace Du Hourra.
I actually loved the ride colour and the way its layout swerved through large trees and subtly blended in with the surroundings. My first ride on this was sitting as the front passenger, and I really enjoyed it. The second ride I was sat against the back seat, which was much more vibratey. Probably more fun than Avalanche at BPB because of the setting and the ride duration which includes a few more helixes and other strange sections which Avalanche lacks. The only issue really is that the ride is broken up into sections by mid circuit brakes which are preceded by some very weird sloped sections. All good fun though.
Kiddie cred came next. No description necessary.
OzIris was undoubtedly the most anticipated coaster of the trip for me. B&M inverts are probably my favourite coaster type, so it felt good to have this view greet us across the way.
A few of us were hoping for a front row ride but our hopes were inevitably dashed when staff allocated us somewhere towards the middle of the train.
So, OzIris. It was fun. Can’t help but feel slightly disappointed, having expected something up there to rival Nemesis & Mamba (and possibly knock them off their spots). Okay, so the good points of OzIris for me were towards the end of the ride. The floaty zero g was absolutely wicked, as was the last couple of turns before the brake run. That was almost Nemesis/Mamba-esque in terms of pace and force. The rest of the ride was pretty tame though. I’d put it above Nemesis Inferno but I still put Nemesis, Mamba and Batman La Fuga above this. I’ll probably get shot for that, but I really WANTED to love this, instead it’s just a reasonably good B&M for me.
I’m losing the chronological order again. At one point, the group decided it was time for some water rides. First up, another fab looking flume.
This one is up there with Silver River Flume at PA for me. I mean, it even has a *secret enclosed drop/airtime hill* that I totally didn’t expect. So good! Great theming and a pretty lively experience for a loggie.
Everyone else braved the shoot the chute, but I knew better.
Dinner time came, and I managed to get a few miscellaneous snaps whilst everyone finished off.
Pegase time came shortly after. Interesting station and surrounding area. The ride itself wasn’t too bad for a family coaster. There’s not really any force or airtime etc, but it’s still likeable enough for what it is. The best moment is probably the initial section after the lift hill. Backwards section is a bit of a laugh but nothing to write home about.
Tonnerre De Zeus was our final fast pass cred, and after hearing several claims of severe roughness, I was dedicated to riding front row.
The legend himself.
Manual focus lift hill selfie fail
Turns out the front isn’t actually that bad at all, probably no rougher than Loop Garou at Walibi. Essentially it’s just juddery on the turn sections, but all the drops and hills seemed to be fine. I actually really enjoyed the first drop into the tunnel and the smaller bunny hops towards the end of the ride. I can see why this ride had a fairly big reputation a decade or so ago. Obviously can’t comment on how rough it is towards the back of the train - but for me this was actually a really enjoyable ride.
Our last cred was the notorious Goudrix. The queue was advertised as 50 mins but I’m fairly sure it was closer to 30 mins. I was really hoping this would be another Zeus in that I’d enjoy it more since I was expecting it to be horrible. Second row for this one.
Awful. One of the roughest steel coasters I’ve had the displeasure of riding. I went in with an open mind as it seemed that the guys who rode on the back came off relatively unscathed and somewhat pleased, but those first 3 inversions killed me off from the beginning.
Asterix is a weird one. Absolutely lovely park in terms of landscaping, theming and a varied ride selection which makes it a good option for enthusiasts who have different tastes. I wouldn’t say there’s really a stand-out coaster personally, but hopefully that will come with time. The main problem is that on what many seasoned enthusiasts were describing as a ‘quiet’ day, it was still too busy to really have a laid back day. To me, the park is designed to be quite laid back as well, weirdly enough. It looks like the sort of park you want to wander through and appreciate at your own leisurely pace but instead you’re pretty much forced to plan ahead in order to avoid standing around in queues too much. I don’t know how I would have found my experience had we not opted for fast passes.
Anyway, just to summarise. This was my first CF Live, having been on the forum on & off for quite a number of years. Despite the weather and crowds being fairly unpredictable, and the group initially panicking at the beginning of our time at Asterix, this was a really great trip for me. Experiencing 3 new parks with a new bunch of people (all of whom were friendly and very humble) was fantastic. I know for many CF regulars this was probably not the most enthralling of trips, but I massively appreciate everyone who turned up, made good conversation and shared some new rides together. I’m hoping for more of the same in future!
Goodbye France & Belgium Thanks for a cracking weekend.