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Eurodemption #2 - Part 22: Holiday Park, Klotten & Summary

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
It's been far too long. This time last year I was bemoaning those first world problems that 2020 brought to the realm of theme park trips, telling some lowly tales about dusting off European +1s (oh, and Zadra), while silently hoping that 2021 would be the one to turn it around.

It didn’t.

The same trip plans I back then had were cancelled again not once, not twice, but three times over.
Turns out it’s actually harder to go anywhere this year than it was last. There’s now a lot more hoop jumping, many more unfathomable rules and plenty of persistent website checking to be done. But where there’s a will there’s a way and Eurodemption 2 – The Revenge was born. Bigger, badder and more burdensome than ever.

The primary chunk of the trip revolved around France this year, which was a nail biter in itself as they had barely made it off of the ‘amber plus’ list in time. Two weeks had been pencilled for what was basically a loop of the country, along with some cheeky bonuses to finish. As more borders sprang into life the itinerary grew even more adventurous and sporadic, and it’s fair to say that the trip wasn’t without issues. But that’s the fun part.

Day 1 – Parc du Bocasse

Bastille Day, 2018. The tour de France was in town and the Gendarmerie were breathalysing us in a layby at 2 in the afternoon. Freedom was in the air. Those were the days.
We had visited Bocasse before for a quick +3 and a surprise Soquet log flume with elevator lift, while somehow skipping a dark ride that may or may not have existed at the time (it did). The park have been keeping themselves very busy since then, adding another 2 coasters and completely changing the face of another and so they seemed like the perfect starting point for a post channel tunnel journey.

I’m already feeling too wordy, but what are these reports for if not to be educational? If you want to do anything in France right now (from England at least) you’ll want to get yourself two vaccines, an NHS Covid Pass QR code and a healthy supply of 'medical masks'. Oh, how we're going to have fun with that term. All (legit) parks like to scan this code on entry and you may even find yourself needing all of these things to even get into a McDonalds, while they smoke in your face.

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With the revelation that French phone apps recognise said code and the system actually works, it was straight to the newest and most major coaster.
Orochi is the 600th Orkanen to have been built since 2013 and though it’s a really good layout and experience for what it is, with all the forces in the right places, they’re definitely starting to wear me down, as all clones do.

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It is particularly nicely presented, that pale green is rather striking in a way that makes me wonder how we’re still discovering new colours for coasters in this day and age and the big snappy dinosaur is a nice touch on-ride, though hard to capture in any great detail from afar.

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They’re not quite done with the finishing touches, some of the queueline is yet to be built and there’s a pond on the way, but I’d say they’ve done well with this one. It just doesn’t seem that popular yet with a bit of an awkward dead end location on park. Like the Swarm.

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I was playing around with this superwide lens on a different phone for the other new-to-me coaster in the park before deciding I don’t like it that much. This Prestion & Barbieri classic was struggling to park itself on multiple occasions, resulting in far more laps than strictly necessary for the checklist.

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Ah yes, there it is. I can forgive myself for missing out on Apiland before because it looks like the building for a children’s play area and not a major attraction. The dark ride is actually surprisingly elaborate and themed to bees, bees existing happily in many different environments. It has a catchy onboard tune and meets just about every requirement to be a quirky and fun indoor attraction. Don’t miss it.

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There was still time for a token lap on the park’s previous star rollercoaster, now Fort D’Odin. The before and after shot shows how much effort they’ve put into this thing and it was surely worth it. I’d forgotten how secretly good a lot of these medium Soquet coasters are. They’re like the Japanese jet coasters of Europe, an unpredictable frolic through weird and wonderful forces that you just don’t get from your stock models.

Other highlights from this ride include overhearing a man awkwardly describe to his children how this park was a warm up to Disneyland and that they should be looking forward to ‘that Space coaster designed by Michael Jackson.’

Poor Jules Verne. And that’s not the only time I’ll be saying that on this trip.

Jardin d'Acclimatation

I always get the name wrong for this one and have been meaning to visit for at least 7 years now, never quite getting round to it for various reasons from laziness to lack of effort. The drive into Paris was surprisingly pleasant, with no accidental trips round the Arc de Triomphe and though my planned car park didn’t appear to exist there was plentiful metered parking on the road that runs along the top of the ‘garden’.
Parking with flawed increments of money at least. It suddenly gets very expensive if you choose over 4 hours, but there’s no indication of a no returns rule. We paid for what we thought should be enough (see if you can guess where this is going) and headed in, QR codes at the ready.

The epic sounding ‘grand huit’ was our ticket of choice for the visit, which grants entry and huit (8) attraction tickets. It’s also the name of multiple coasters elsewhere on this adventure, stay tuned for that excitement.

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Hadn’t really thought about it, but the place felt rather busy. The queue for the main draw, Speed Rockets, was spilling just outside of the entrance but in reality it just can’t hold that many people and the operations are pleasantly swift. We were on in under 20 minutes.

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I’m so glad these Gerstlauer Bobsleds are becoming so diversified over time because they can be cracking little rides. There’s tons of character in this one, from the multiple lift hills, weird double down drop, whippy overbanks and solid pops of unusual air. I really liked it and quickly thought to myself it could be the best one yet.

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After the pleasant reminder of Soquet earlier, Machine à Vapeur killed, in the best way. A janky powered coaster with speed in all the wrong places is punctuated by a ridiculously violent plummet into, and subsequent ejection from, a small concrete tunnel that marks the final stretch of each circuit. There’s only one setting to the lap bars on these things and the result is absolute carnage.

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The Kinetorium had recently come onto my radar after learning that not all 100 of the Alterface interactive theatres in the world have to be Desperados 4D, ones like these have pre-shows, custom theming, the works. (More here if you’re interested in that stuff).
'Plants grow big and evil, by mistake, and you have to shoot them with chemicals' is the general gist of the experience, which combines the fun of both a communal competitive atmosphere with everyone else in the room and a surprisingly energetic ride-on seat that makes it a right romp.

Trouble was afoot. Souris Mécaniques, the rare baby Reverchon spinner wasn’t open for business and I really wasn’t planning on being spited this early. There were however signs of life, even though it was getting pretty late in the operating hours. Someone was in the control box and at one point a test car was sent.

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There are gardens here too, as the name would suggest. The Korean garden had me reminiscing about better times again, but never mind that, let’s focus on the highlights of the here and now.

Further down the path, the final coaster of the park was also ‘temporarily closed’ and undergoing some test laps, with a significant queue forming outside.
It was clear that any hope of success was not going to be immediate and that our parking was going to run out in due course, so while they warmed the various seats for us it was time to quickly pop out and rectify that particular situation.

Upon leaving the park at the far exit we asked the nearest member of staff about the re-entry policy, something which you’re not technically allowed to do for whatever reason (money). As it was a literal 2 minute ‘pop out to the car’, she kindly stated that of course she’d let us back in, so long as we were quick. While passing several other admissions staff on the way out I remarked about how nice that gesture was and jokingly hoped aloud that she wouldn’t suddenly change shifts or go home on us.

2 minutes later, she was gone. The four other staff members that had also been there at the time were suddenly acting like they had never seen us before in their lives. Our admission tickets with half their active ride tokens still available on them were suddenly a source of great suspicion and after a failed attempt to reason with what had literally just happened, we were forced to buy another set of admission only tickets while one of the staff was adamantly warning the sales office not to ‘let us get away with anything else’, like we were out to commit some heinous crime.

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With that unpleasantness out of the way, it was time for more Soquet goodness in the form of Dragon Chinois, with it’s pleasant landscaping and overdose of lift hills for such a small layout.

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The mini spinning mouse had come back to life by now and felt weird with all the proportions being off from what we’re used to with these things. The ride had a bit of a slow start to proceedings but managed to get sufficiently violent by the end. Always nice to try new models.

Believing the day was done, it was out of Paris and off to the first hotel for the night. Hang on a minute, is that a cred at the side of the road? Braaaaaake!

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Yes it is. By complete chance, we had stumbled across this temporary setup about halfway on route. Never mind that it’s for enfants.

Le Festival Des Enfants

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The cred in question was this piece of magnificence. Fully prepared to not even find it on the sacred coaster count database, detailed pictures and notes were being taken before, surprise, it already exists, under one of the seven possible combinations of words printed on and around the ride. As an added bonus it had only been previously documented in photo form, closed in a field and there were no registered riders. I’ll take those 10 rare points now, thanks.

You know it’s not a good sign when riding rollercoasters causes you grievous injury on the first day of a long trip. The seatbelt mounts happened to be sharp, protruding and located at shoulder blade height in the centre of each car. On the fastest corner of the first lap I let out an involuntary scream as the laterals of the ride tried to cut me open. The operator looked concerned, but he had bigger things to worry about as one of the lap bars further up the train wasn’t down properly, prompting a quick on the fly fix as it came through the station for the second lap.
After endless laps of fear and defensive riding, I discovered later that the ride had indeed drawn blood and given me the ugliest graze imaginable. It’s far from the first time I’ve suffered for my art and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Up next – forgetfulness.
 
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JoshC.

Giga Poster
Glad you managed to find Apiland on this visit! ;) Cute (not-so-)little dark ride! Also enjoying the little bit of Soquet love <3


I wasn't totally sure if it was the language barrier or what, but I also found a fair few staff at Jardin a little on the cagey side to deal with when I was there last year. I imagine with the location they have to be a bit firmer compared with other places to stop trouble makers, but it's a shame when it does affect the experience so negatively.

It's good to see the powered Soquet is alive and kicking though. Was very much dead on my visit, and I later found out it had been for quite a while. Sounds brutal, but still better than the `more lift hill than ride' Soquet.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Also enjoying the little bit of Soquet love <3
Plenty more where that came from!



The second day was in theory going to be fairly chill, a calm before the storm of many, many late night ride establishments. As we started to head anti-clockwise around the country, the first park of the day was a humble affair by the name of

Day 2 – Papéa Parc


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The names will definitely start to blur by the time we’re done, but the individual characters are at least holding for now. This place is home to

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A poor Chenille with a missing antenna.

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A nice looking Tivoli Large. Take care not to skim your hand in the stones as though it was the water at Tripsdrill.

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Time to kill means time for small ferris wheels, made by Technical Park, of 'Italian dinosaur log flume that may or may not be a coaster' fame.

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And cute little boat rides with Irish ride ops that play royalty free panpiped Lion King music.

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Before the main event, more Soquet goodness.

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This one had a bit of a stewing queue, but it was eventually worth it for some of that strong terrain game and unpainted finish.

Being the literal definition of ‘some creds’, I don’t have a huge amount to say about Papéa. It was an overall pleasant park and put another +3 under the belt. It’s located near the Le Mans race circuit and the Goodyear blimp likes to hover ominously around the sky. As we left, some sort of anniversary celebration was going on in the form of a middle aged man calmly DJing from a laptop to an audience of none, while what looked like his parents were sitting just to the side, texting and making orange squash.
Next?

Festyland

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Another very pleasant park. Seems I don’t have an actual entrance shot of the place, instead just this humongous tunnel which you get to pass through from the car park.

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With back to back Soquets, Drakkar had me worried that it was some sort of clone as the ending sequence near the station looked very similar to the previous one. Fortunately the rest of the layout was rather different and contained some decent landscaping of its own. I like to imagine the manufacturer used to just turn up on site with some steel and wing it on the day.

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The real star of the show is 1066 though. I simply loved this thing. It’s a little more significant than most other Soquets and rides with a real vigour.

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The face of the bull on the front says it all (I’m not even sure how he’s related to the battle of Hastings), as it just plunges down this big hillside and gets surprisingly intense in places. For one of these at least.

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Time to kill means time for flat rides, in this case ‘better Cyclonator’.

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And time for water rides with a ridiculously violent trough spin on them. Seriously, watch out for the Kaskade.

Wait.
Wait.
Wait.
This all feels too easy to me. Something isn’t sitting right. A look of concern had crossed my face as we left this ride and a sudden, horrific thought occurred to me – we’ve forgotten a park.
I’ve become overly complacent with knowing the itineraries off the top of my head these days (with how much fruitless trip planning I’ve done this year, it’s no surprise) and had somehow subconsciously fooled myself into thinking this was an easy two park day. In actuality it was meant to be a go-hard three park day.
What an amateur.

After racing back to the car and punching some numbers into Google, it simply wasn’t to be. Ange Michel, a name we would come to curse regularly throughout the coming weeks, would just have to wait for another day.

Clécy Gliss

There was however now time for a bonus round instead. On a hillside down the road was our first of these weird contraptions.

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The single rail Alpine coaster. These are manufactured by Wiegand’s Austrian rival Brandauer, who actually started the 'mountain coaster' game one year earlier, back in 1996, and have since been acquired by Sunkid, of ‘Butterflies and random new trains on dodgy coasters’ fame.

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Single rail = terrifying. I’ve had my moments over the last few years of fearing various alpine coasters. Though you’re sufficiently upstopped on rails while riding of course, there can be something unnerving about the way the structures just sit on what appear to be loose rocks, I’ve still never been 100% convinced you can just no-brake every installation that ever existed and the relatively exposed feeling of sitting on a tea tray doesn’t often help matters either.

These things feel even more exposed and slightly more ghetto, which is an interesting combination. They also appear to have the ability to perform much steeper drops, an experience all in itself.
A solid last minute find at the very least and a warm up, perhaps, of what’s to come.

Up next - beautiful Pinfaris
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
I always really enjoy reading your reports @HeartlineCoaster - you travel to places more off the beaten path than most (places which I’m unlikely to ever visit) which means it’s always a ‘fresh’ take and an intriguing, fun read. Thanks!
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Oh glad to see that Korean letters in European park
Is there any meaning to it, out of interest? I couldn't make sense of it beyond 'Jusujeong'(?).

I always really enjoy reading your reports @HeartlineCoaster - you travel to places more off the beaten path than most (places which I’m unlikely to ever visit) which means it’s always a ‘fresh’ take and an intriguing, fun read. Thanks!
Glad you like 'em, I aim to please!



Next morning we ignored the dreaded words ‘Ange Michel’ that were still ringing in the back of our minds and ploughed on to the very north-western tip of France, to the home of the most significant ride of the trip so far (not difficult).

Day 3 - La Récré des 3 Curés

Dubbed more affectionately by ourselves as ‘Reccy 3’, this was the second park in a row to feature a tunnel under a road to reach the entrance, though far less massive this time. With tickets purchased and gates unlocked it was straight to the back of the park for some Gerstlauer goodness.

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Here it is, Vertika. The Eurofighter you probably forgot existed, I know I had. Looks rather fetching.

Only about 10 people had made it to the entrance of the ride as they sent some test cars and opened it up, so the one train operation was more than adequate for us to grab multiple walk-on laps in succession.

It’s a decent ride, very nice to see a new layout for this model, though I can’t help but wonder why they don’t just come with lap bars by default these days, with multiple options available.

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There’s a suspenseful little slow down at the crest of the lift which felt a little different. The loop is unusually wide? By that I mean a larger than average horizontal gap between entrance and exit.

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A couple of alright airtime moments in the top of the twisty and in the banked speed hill thing up into the non-inversion, which hurls you back down into the final corkscrew, threading the loop rather nicely. It’s not an unpleasant corkscrew either, Eurofighters are nailing those inversions nicely at long last.

Solid stuff, short but sweet. Probably wouldn’t go out of the way for it other than for completeness though.

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The only other ride on the agenda for this park was the first of the Grand Huits, sharing a name with that fateful Jardin ticket.
Yet another unpainted Soquet with some stuff going on, largely corners and changes in elevation, it was fairly groundbreaking and the train design was a nice touch.


Ange Michel. Would it happen? We swiftly left the park at this point, struggling somewhat to leave through a ton of guests now packed wall to wall in the entrance tunnel, still queuing to get into the park. Timed that right then.

A man had to move a cone for us to exit the car park, perhaps rather unusually, at no more than one hour through the operating day and then a couple more later we had reached park number two.

Kingoland

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Though good progress had been made, it all came to a grinding halt here.

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The first queue we entered was for the elaborately rethemed Zyklon Galaxi, Apollo Steamrocket. Steampunk really is all the rage these days, though it’s unusual to see it on a ride of this calibre.

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It appeared to be working in terms of popularity, attracting a 30 minute wait from guests who mostly seemed to be loving it. I zone these things out so hard that they just become an extension of whatever conversation is going on and it was at this point we decided the day would be ‘make or break’ at the dark ride.

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Next up was Speed Chenille, a vicious looking kids coaster with a comically huge bug face. It used to live at Jardin with an apple but no speed.

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Though not quite what I’d hoped for, it certainly had some go to it and the crazy looking airtime hill was sufficiently disproportionate to the layout.

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Turns out it was ‘break’ at the dark ride. Though not a large queue by any means, time was ebbing away and the situation was starting to look exactly the same as the previous day. We could make it to the next park, but they’d probably close in our face.

This was a fairly standard wild west themed shooting dark ride, the type that sets off small effects as you travel around, rather than being a points scorer.

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The last coaster was another stock model Pinfari that used to live at the Gullivers park we were just recently let into. It looks surprisingly good as Gold Rush, again they’ve put a fair amount of effort into glamming it up. It was also weirdly smooth and totally not what I expected. I’m calling witchcraft.


Park complete it was time to assess the options. Ange Michel was gone, again. Some wacky worm looked like too much effort as we still had a long, long way to go. A funfair had appeared on route that was slightly less detour and meant to be a +2 instead of a +1. Let’s give it a go.

Oh, this was the journey with the McDonalds that had a convoluted outdoor entrance barrier, staff that were smoking in our faces while they scanned our vaccine codes and that then wouldn’t let me in with what had so far served me adequately as a face covering (read – a snoody thing that may or may not be imbued with anti-virus magic). They wanted something better (read – 2p’s worth of blue and elastic from China, off Amazon) that I also had with me.

Just something to be wary of for now, it turns out a fair few Europeans across various countries seem to have a bit of a thing about this at the moment and are spoiling for an argument, whether looking like a bandit instead of a surgeon makes you a ‘covid ain’t real’ conspiracist, or everyone’s now a medical professional.
To be clear on my stance, I’m not a medical professional and am happy to wear absolutely anything from scuba mask to space suit so long as it lets me get on with daily life, the problems only arose through inconsistent instruction and/or the attitude with which it can sometimes be delivered.

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At the fair, nope, though they claimed ‘some rides were open’ from 5pm, it was a ghost town, in a poor location, next to a dodgy supermarket/construction site.

There was one more brief sightseeing stop on route. Bastille Day, 2018, again. A hotel with no air-con in 35°C. One of our staple activities on short trips to France was established, namely watching a TV show called Fort Boyard. If you’re familiar with the Crystal Maze then it’s that, French, with celebrities, for charity, on a fort out in the sea, with 1000x more risk of death and endless comedy.

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Anyway, here it is, the fort itself, just about. Seeing it in person was a pretty cool moment.

Luna Park Palmyre

Never mind that other funfair. This was a funfair. And also our first taster of what would become a bit of a staple over or the next week – French semi-permanent parks that don’t start until 8pm and stay open until 2am. They’re also rather deceivingly reported on RCDB due to the travelling nature of half the lineup, so make sure to check another source like coaster count if you ever plan on visiting one of these, you may be surprised by what turns up.

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Jet Star was imposing over us at the entrance, so the adventure began on that. The signature single file seating and forceful layout full of crazy compact turns didn’t disappoint. Smooth, powerful, exposed, Schwarzkopf doing what he did best.

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Beyond the permanent resident, they also had this Dragon thing. Doesn’t need much description past ‘more than a Wacky Worm.’

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And a spinning wild mouse. Prepare to get sick of the sight of them.

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Maybe Michael Jackson designed this one instead of Space Mountain. In any case this was my first and last time paying for crappy ghost trains on this trip. I was thinking about putting myself through every single one for the sake of research (or, a dangerous thought, maybe even competitively counting them one day) but there’s just nothing to say about these. They’re an event, not an experience. Loud noises and cheap decoration, not my kind of thing.

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This massive drop tower caught our eye somehow. Mega King tower looked rather good offride, reminiscent of the old Power Tower that used to frequent Hyde Park Winter Wonderland before they swapped it for an inferior model.

While queuing we watched a hilarious looking offroad jeep ride that was launching people off of dirt hills, not something you expect to see at your average fair.

Huge, good views, an extended double cycle and a kick ass drop. It delivered on all counts, but it was worrying how easily we got distracted by something like this. No time for distractions later down the line.

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Finally, again for the benefit of DRDB research, we jumped on the log flume Le Splash, which was described as having a dark ride section.

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Not really, though it was a fun water ride with some extremely intense water braking on the drops, the second one putting me in an entirely standup position for a moment at the bottom, the ‘indoor section’ didn’t meet the criteria at all and I’ve since had it removed, so that’s a positive outcome.

With that, the day was complete, other than a late night drive to the next hotel, where more plans would have to be drawn up for a certain forgotten park.

Up next – one of those Intamins with a drop track.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
You know what time it is. It’s Ange Michel time.

Day 4 – Parc Ange Michel

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By sacrificing another, less interesting park (and that’s saying something) we finally had the time to lay this demon to rest. It was only a mere 6 hour detour, but time needed to be killed anyway for the benefit of what was to come later in the day.

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After parking in a field we ended up at this Gosetto spinner first. They’re a rare breed, only 7 in the world and are worryingly similar to those SBF spinners – as if we didn’t have enough of those already. The ride was only notable for being so tame that butterflies would try and land on it, mid cycle.

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At the top of the hill was the next chapter in the Soquet saga. Sadly it’s probably the weakest one yet and doesn’t do much of anything at all. A rare lapse in character. ‘I think this one just goes round, bro.’

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Feeling a little deflated after all the extra effort we jumped on a small drop/bounce tower to try and justify the journey a little more. It was insane – violent, terrifying ejection at the top of each upwards burst, it knew exactly what it was doing. Apparently it used to have fire effects, would have loved to have seen that.

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Right down the bottom of the park is the last cred, a spinning wild mouse. One that I won’t get sick of the sight of because I’m particularly fond of that car design. Can’t go wrong with brightly coloured tornados with faces.

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So there we have it, park complete. Now let us never speak of it again.

L'Île aux Géants

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Next up was an obscure little setup at the side of a main road, just a few minutes away from Futuroscope, obviously capitalising on some passing trade. Conveniently the adult ticket price is cheaper than the child ticket price, but let’s not let that reflect on the quality of the attractions.

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A handy sign is located just past the entrance which shows all the half hour time slots in which each ride operates. The two coasters are located next to each other and run alternately and with 8 minutes to spare between changeover we had timed it just right.

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The officially endorsed Avengers rollercoaster (or is it yet another Grand Huit?) was first, another Zyklon Galaxi, painted in a colour synonymous with the franchise. I believe we got the Spiderman car.

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Conveniently there were two plastic chairs parked up directly in front of the Wacky Worm, so in a display of childrens' coaster confidence to make @Hixee proud, we parked ourselves right on those and waited for it to open.
Not sure I’ve ever done two pink coasters back to back before.

Futuroscope

Elated from that success it was time to pop down the road to something a little more significant. I’ve known the name Futuroscope for at least half of my life. It’s one of the most visited places in Europe and I believe it was even a potential school trip destination back in the day but it ain’t no Disney – where are the (closed) rollercoasters?

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Of course recently they’ve gone and solved that problem for us fussy people by building one and though I didn’t follow it too closely, it sounded pretty special. Because it was already a well established destination a full day ticket is a little on the pricey side, but if you choose a day with late opening, there are ridiculously cheap options to come in after 5pm, which is what we opted for.

Major faff was happening on the way in, even though more guests seemed to be leaving the park than entering at this point. There was a separate checking area for scanning vaccine codes and providing guests with white wristbands to prove status, but with just one group in front of us it took an extraordinary amount of time to purchase tickets and get in.

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But we were in, and headed straight to the back of the park for Objectif Mars. First impressions, the park does fit its own name rather nicely. There’s a lot of weird, I guess futuristic, stuff, around and then little touches like the queue times being stated to the exact minute only add to that.

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The new for 2020 coaster was on something like 38, which seemed reasonable, and so the queueline experience began. It looks like it can hold about a million people in the outside cattlepen area of concrete and signs, but we progressed fairly quickly to the indoor section which starts with these posters and holograms. I was getting a bit of a Merlin vibe at this point, not sure if that’s a good thing.

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Next are the anti-gravity rooms, trippy.

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Followed by a green screen room where you can see yourself standing in a Martian base.

Eventually you climb some stairs past a screen with ‘space flight times’ and come out in the top floor of the station, before heading down and being batched onto the ride. The trains look rather funky with their only-forwards-facing spinning cars, the intention of which is primarily to give everyone the best views of all the show elements of the ride.

It all begins in rather joyous fashion, heading out of the station and twirling, twirling towards freedom. The point of the ride is that you’re testing all the protocols of a flight to Mars as opposed to actually going there, so first up is the environmental stuff. You get a room full of fire. Fire is good. A room full of tesla coils. Sweet.

A surprise fun moment has the track suddenly bank to 45 degrees and the train parks itself with all the cars pointing to the left, riders facing upwards. Some screens simulate a launch sequence, but then the immersion breaks a bit as you trundle outside in to concrete and white walls to stop on an actual launch track.

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From here on out it’s largely underwhelming as a rollercoaster, sadly. A mild launch into a hill and 2 corners round the plaza, not much spinning going on. Then comes a second rolling launch that feels largely unjustified given so little has just happened, leading to another hill and 2 corners. All style and no substance.

Lastly it gets good again, entering a shed for the gravity test, which is a powerful drop track moment of which I’m always a fan of. What I’m not so keen on is when rides end on them, it feels like a bit of a come down if there’s nothing left of the experience afterwards, but I guess with a layout that insignificant it was a logical step.

A mixed bag then, I appreciate the flashy innovation side of it, just not the coaster itself.

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Construction, get excited.

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But this place is mainly about the dark rides, so let’s try some of those. A 4D Arthur simulator lives just round the corner. Yes, that very same Arthur from Europa Park. Why does he get so many rides out of a film that doesn’t feel at all popular?

Wasn’t a fan of the queue in here, we were at the very front of a pack for the downstairs batching point before getting into a lift. The pack followed in behind us and then of course ended up in front of us in the upstairs queue, resulting in just us missing out on the next 10-15 minute slot, left to stand in a room featuring obnoxious ‘making of’ documentaries about said film. "It rained on set once, hahaha, good times…"

The next waiting area featured an amusing little instructional animation of a large stick man slithering all the way to the end of a long row of cinema seating that kept us entertained for the next 10-15 minutes.

Thankfully the ride itself was totally worth it. An overly violent simulator vehicle with hair ticklers and all sorts that made for a very chaotic and fast paced experience that was unintentionally hilarious. Better than powered coaster Arthur for sure.

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Decided to hop on the observation tower before it got dark, so here’s some more striking architecture and an overview of the cred.

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The remaining three attractions of particular interest were all located at the other end of the park and after assessing the queue times we opted for the one with 0 minutes, Vienne Dynamique. An encouraging indication of quality?

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Well it should have been, because this cinema/simulator is secretly amazing, was by far the best thing in the park for me, and one of the standout moments of the whole trip.
But all of that is very conditional. It is to be enjoyed in complete ignorance, sparingly, in the right frame of mind, with the right company and with a particular sense of humour.

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There’s an unremarkable ‘preshow’ in which you all sit in a huge theatre that shows adverts for the park on a screen in the middle of some gushing water, with no context. We were half thinking ‘is this the ride?’ at this point and wondering whether I’d done my research wrong. Doors eventually open to the left of the cinema and everyone files out, while being shouted at to now only fill the front 7 rows for some reason.

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Apparently Intamin of all people made these weird two-person simulator seats that feel unnerving to strap yourself into. From what I’ve read I’m expecting some boring film about rivers and to gently list from side to side in a 1990s equivalent of a flying theatre.

The actual film is like no other film you’d ever expect to see at a theme park. Just the fact that it’s live action and not animated was a bit of a shock to the system. Again this is entirely subjective and, like Arthur, was 100% benefiting from being unintentionally hilarious. Side splittingly, can’t breathingly, tears streamingly funny, to me. It was far too much to handle and I can’t really explain it, but I’ll try. I’ll also spoiler it because I think it’s going to go on a while and maybe, just maybe, you’ll need the surprise yourself.

We begin with a French man lying uncomfortably, dead to the world, in the sleeper car of a train. A slow pan and zoom shot, no context. It’s like an independent film from the appropriate decade for the ride system, have they pushed the right button?
He wakes up groggily, stumbles out of bed and then panics, eventually staggering out into the corridor to ask a man what time is it, where are they, what’s the next stop? Etc.
I don’t pick up enough of the French to know what exactly it is that he’s late for but he’s shouting at this man for information, who’s a bit of a caricature himself, standing there in a doorway with a moustache, slowly eating peanuts out of a packet, bemused.
Our hero heads to the end of the carriage and to the train door, not a single movement from our seats yet by the way, and opens it. He sticks his head out, loses balance for a second and it cuts to a low outdoor shot of him flailing as the train hurtles along, wind and trees rushing past. The simulator suddenly kicks in for the briefest of moments, we feel this with him. The comedic timing is unreal. What is this ride?
It cuts back inside, where without warning he pulls the emergency brake for the train and then hurls himself out of the door, tucking and rolling down a grass slope and into some trees.
A slow burn moment, he picks himself up. Is his life ruined? Why so serious? What was he late for? He stumbles around again in the forest, with nothing but the night clothes on his back, screams aloud in rage and anguish and punches a nearby tree in despair.
A pause. The tree begins to magically transform. Eventually a small, old, gnarled tree character is formed, who then instantly looks at the camera and sneezes into it. Water in the face.
Our man stumbles back in shock through the leaves and twigs, falling over backwards in a heap in the process. My sides are starting to hurt.
The tree comes up to him and jabbers on about stuff for a while, with an incredible voice, then presents him with a nasty looking mushroom. The man is given the power to fly and, without hesitation, the ride suddenly turns into a flying theatre, soaring over French towns and landscapes. Again, what is this?
A cut. The tree character is now driving a golf cart and naming random sports with no context. Our man suddenly lands on the roof of the cart, tumbling to the floor. No more powers?
Poof. He’s in a formula 1 car. He screams aloud ‘NOOOOO!’ in terror and realisation, but too late, a scene change and we’re off. A simulated POV lap of a racing circuit, cars careering off around us, he’s doing quite well. He wins the lap! He then heads straight for a wall of tyres with no sign of stopping. Oh no, oh no, how are the seats going to respond to this?
Poof. We’re still in the formula 1 car, but now we’re screaming up cobblestones in old French villages, with everyone having to get out of the way in terror, cars honking, bicycles swerving, this is dangerousss-straight into another wall. I’m so distracted by the story and the visuals at this point that I’ve forgotten what the seats are even doing.
Poof. More villages, more chaos, eventually he finds a way to slow down. We’re parked at an angle on the cobblestones of a narrow street. A man in a stripy jumper who couldn’t look more out of place is rollerskating towards us. He sees us. He tries to react. He very slowly, clumsily, hilariously, comes to a stop and falls over in front of us.
Poof. A town square, we drive up to an old woman on a bench who gives us a telling off. Cut to our man sitting in his racing car in embarrassment. Poof. It’s gone, he’s sitting on the cobblestones. An aerial shot of him getting up and sprinting into the church across the road. Ohhhhhh. He was late for his wedding!
Wedding begins. All is well. Hang on a minute. No. A veil reveal. The bride is the tree. Looks at the camera. Sneezes into it. End.

The greatest ride of a generation, what can I say? It’s that or a complete waste of time depending on what you find funny in life. All I know is I haven’t laughed that hard, for that long, in a very long time.

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Well the day could end there, but there’s something about rabbits just opposite. A dark ride themed to Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids with an interactive queueline. It has Lost Gravity’s vibrating floor, a trick secret entrance with sound effects. Deformed railings, humourous artwork, the lot. Bit of a pain of a cattlepen though.

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Indoors there’s a ton more attention to detail with altered paintings, artifacts, a real universe builder. The rabbids have made a time machine out of a washing machine and we’re going to observe them on their adventure.

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The dark ride vehicles are side on benches, intricately decorated so that guests are in fact sitting on toilet seats. They travel sideways to each room in turn, in a giant circle, with each physical set being accompanied by some on screen action. Each scene throughout the ages contains a combination of the seating slowly rising and then suddenly dropping when something happens, or vibrating vigorously, whichever suits.

The humour is a little on the crude side for my tastes, what with these and Minions and all, there’s too much of this characterless hordes of lookalikes causing random childish chaos out there. I’m all about the subtleties of sneezing trees and people falling over, but I have to admit that it’s an impressive and well done attraction.

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Last up was the actual flying theatre and it was one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. After not being without its issues, the park was strongly beginning to warm to me again given the quality of certain attractions. The sheltered outdoor queue for this ride had various Jules Verne trinkets and stories scattered about for intrigue.

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You then get batched into this gorgeous looking atrium, with all the walls decorated in different styles that represent a wealth of difference Jules Verne novels, along with a flight departure board that lists all the classics we know from well known attractions.
So, you know, I actually got rather excited for this one. After the recent Sky Lion revelation that fantasy flying theatres are a cut above the sightseeing ones, here I was thinking that this ride would be the former, flying through all these different worlds, a cut above the rest, as heavily implied by the queueline.

The first preshow begins, with some obnoxious pilot giving us a rundown. Today we’re going to be doing… around the world in 80 days.
Oh. It’s one of those then.
He waffles on for another 10 minutes while I lose complete interest in the setup and we’re batched into another room with screens on the walls. Here we get a visually simulated ‘shuttle journey’ to our actual craft. You know, like one of the many boring/unpleasant parts of being in an airport.
Then we’re batched into a corridor for another safety briefing on small screens where I’m losing the will to live. This attraction has lost ALL momentum from that first room, and for what?

We finally board the vehicles, standard fare, seatbelt through the hoop in the middle. A 5 minute ordeal of someone over the PA shouting random letters and numbers in an unthemed cinema room of who hasn’t got their seatbelt on yet, while I’m just in hysterics at this point at how poorly paced this ‘themed experience’ is.

Film begins. Yawn. Film ends. What a waste of potential. Poor Jules Verne.

Luckily there was still time for one more go on Objectif Mars before both ride closures and the start of the second showing of the night time special.
The queue had died down quite a bit by this point and we were soon on. While sitting in the train, lap bar down, one of the ride hosts appeared alongside us and made the simple statement ‘that’s not a mask’ to my face, with no further instruction. Well this is awkward, here I am, strapped in, what would you like me to do about it? Nothing. Dispatch.
Looks like I’ll be wearing blues for the rest of France then. Again I’m not at all bothered by the concept, just that it occurs at 10pm one night, in a park where you’ve gone through so many other checkpoints to be where you are now i.e. the one at the main entrance when you’re having your vaccination status approved and displayed. Surely that would be the point at which a member of staff could politely ask ‘have you got X type of mask instead of Y type of mask with you, for your visit today?’, rather than randomly being accosted by a singular ride host halfway through your umpteenth attraction who, on looks alone, seems to think your piece of material is less effective than another piece of material, regardless of how well it’s being worn, particularly when half the other guests (in the same train) don’t even have them over their noses.

Anyway, I’m letting all that nonsense interrupt a good trip report, just like it interrupts a good day out. It was the same ride, just dark outside. S’alright.

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Having spent the entirety of the visit either queuing for, or being on rides, we had missed the opportunity to grab some food on park. Now having half an hour to spare until the night time show started, sadly most of the options had been closed and depleted, so we ended up with the staple cheese and ham baguette and opted to stand at the barriers just above the stadium seating area for the show, rather than joining the masses.

I liked it. I didn’t understand it, but I liked it. There’s an actor with some sciencey DJ set who gets sucked into a portal to meet a wizard and a big evil furry creature. Their disputes are settled through the medium of song (the bad guy gets a rather epic rap track) and are displayed through fountains, water projections, fire and fireworks. All that jazz.

I don’t know what to think of Futuroscope. It wasn’t at all what I expected in both good and bad ways. There’s a fair amount of quality in there, but the ‘better’ attractions are probably the worse ones and vice versa. It definitely feels like a place you need to experience in good company and spirits (well, moreso than just any old theme park). I get the sense that a solo visit would have been a complete drag.
A drag just like this report, which has gone on far too long now.

Up next – one of those Intamins with a drop track.
 
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HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Day 5 - Jacquou Parc

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What a burden this place was. We arrived for opening to join a reasonably sized queue of guests lining up to buy entrance tickets. It moved incredibly slowly, though not covid related as there was a man moving up and down the queue scanning qr codes as he went along, so it was purely on the speed of two ticket windows that we didn’t get inside the park until an hour after it first opened.

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The first thing we came across was this highly questionable cred. You can spin the car as you go around, just like a teacups ride, which is rather novel and makes up for the terrible speed of the layout.

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And by the time we had finished one attraction and walked over to the spinning mouse, one of the ride hosts had come down the queue and closed it for ‘lunch time’ right in our faces, 10 minutes before the time advertised on the sign and a mere half an hour after those amongst the ‘first guests’ had even been on park. A small disgruntled queue of various families immediately formed behind us in unified dismay at this act and all proceeded to give the evils to the staff member and shout that it wasn’t even 12:00 yet. He looked visibly nervous and shifty about what he’d just done, but wouldn’t change his stance on the matter.

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The worm (mouse?) across the way was still open for business, so we got that out of the way.

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Now, because of the 90-minute lunchtime closure, there was literally nothing to do but leave the place and entertain ourselves with a 15 minute rally stage each way to get our own lunch, wasting time until we could complete the poxy park.

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A different operator eventually reopened the spinning mouse, no doubt saving his colleague from the many disgruntled guests who now had it in for him. He was back on station exit though, still looking super guilty about it.

Turns out that shambles was probably my 1000th steel coaster as well, a distinction I’ve never bothered kept track of. Bah.

Parc Fenestre

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Next up was this much nicer establishment in the recreational area of a small, scenic town. It was a little confusing to navigate, with the first point of entry having only a small stall at which you could seemingly only buy ride wristbands, while having absolutely no attractions in sight and with no indication that pay-per-ride was also an option.

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After a long uphill slog of a journey (don’t go downhill, there’s nothing there but extra walking), things become a bit clearer and there are two locations amongst the attractions at which you can buy the jetons you need for any ride.

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The only ride we were after was Soquet’s most recent build after a hiatus of 7 years, an unpainted powered coaster with a donkey on the train.

Kicks Jacquou Parcs ass.

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They also have real donkeys, not in hats, though I tried to improvise one for @Howie.

Vulcania

Finally we moved on to another major establishment for the evening, again taking advantage of some heavily discounted late entry tickets.

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As the name would suggest, this park is themed entirely to volcanoes, inspired primarily by being situated in France’s volcanic region, which is also where Volvic water comes from. The recent opening of their debut coaster of course put them on our radar for the first time and it was that which we headed to first.

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Namazu revolves around a seismological research expedition and is another of Intamin’s quadbike based family launch coasters.

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The pre-show is amazing, taking place in this well detailed room.

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There’s three possible outcomes for the video footage you get onscreen (always a nice touch for rerideability), each based on a different region of seismic activity (France, Turkey & Japan). They also come with different explanations of what’s going on underneath the surface with these cool holograms.

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Oh, but the best part is that the whole room goes dark, sirens go off, the floor shakes and vibrates, part of the roof collapses, all to simulate you being caught up in the earthquake.
One of the team members manages to get the emergency power back on and you enter the station.

The ride itself begins with an indoor turn into a cavern, where the same team member greets you on screen. The cavern begins to collapse and pow! drop track.

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From there you’re launched out into the turnaround over the plaza, followed by a hill and some twisty moments.

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As it winds its way back alongside the queueline you hit the second launch running, propelling you further up the hillside.

This part really focuses on a decent section of fast and sharp transitions before the final brakes, some of which have a surprising whip to them for a family ride.

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It’s a much more cohesive experience from start to finish, while also being far better as an actual rollercoaster than the disappointments of Objectif Mars the previous day. Again it’s a little on the short side, particularly for being multi-launch, but what it does do is really very good. The underdog wins and I couldn’t be happier for it.


With that success under our belts it was time to check out what the rest of the park had to offer. With Namazu being the outlying ride, up in the fields and trees, the remainder of the attractions all revolve around a central building hub of multiple floors accessed via lifts or stairs.

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We begin with Volcans Sacrés, a trackless dark ride.
Sure it’s a little on the educational side, looking at how volcanoes are perceived by different cultures around the world, but it’s really well done.

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The car moves you from scene to scene, getting really up close and personal with each setting and story. Extra effects come into play like bursts of heat and animated props which all add a nice touch.

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The final room is fantastic, you get to perform a dance of death with this dedicated trackless vehicle, to the tune of some threatening tribal music. I love it when these ride systems get used in innovative and captivating ways (looking at you, Bazyliszek).

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On the same floor is Premier Envol, a flying theatre with a twist.

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The vehicles are all standup platforms where at best you get a rail to lean on, at worst you’re left to your own sense of balance. They tilt quite a bit as things go along, following various impressive birds as they fly over the volcanic regions of France.
A refreshingly different experience and one that's far less pretentious than certain theatres that I shan’t name.

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Dragon Ride 2 is a recently updated and refurbished cinema with simulator seats. It’s now got a little preshow and the story follows a guy who is trying to collect various elemental dragons. S'alright.

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The day ended on another big night-time show. It had literally everything they could throw at it, from rising volcanoes to fireworks, from a live guitarist to circus performers, from massive neon dragons to glow in the dark dance troupes.
For me it was a bit much, rather hard to follow and went on a little too long, with some really noticeable peaks and troughs in the quality of the spectacle, but it had a good atmosphere throughout.

Overall I was a fan of the park. It had a very relaxed vibe, in a nice settting, with a strong starter pack of rides that can hopefully grow even further over time. That and I've always liked volcanoes and stuff.

Up next – a new country.
 

Howie

Giga Poster
Touched and humbled by the donkey gesture, Heartline'. 🥰

With all these off-beat French amusement parks on the itinerary I was eagerly awaiting Fraispertuis to turn up, but now I see you're leaving France. Did you not go to Frays-per-too-iss? 😮
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Touched and humbled by the donkey gesture, Heartline'. 🥰

With all these off-beat French amusement parks on the itinerary I was eagerly awaiting Fraispertuis to turn up, but now I see you're leaving France. Did you not go to Frays-per-too-iss? 😮
Let's just say it was a very temporary leaving of France, there's plenty more of it to come. There's also two and a half weeks left of reporting to do and I'm sure Fre-par-twee will turn up when you least expect it 😉
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Just the one coaster in this part, along with a lot of travel and a bit of sightseeing. Not really good enough is it.

Day 6 – Anatolia Parc

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Who knew that there was a Chinese-built worm coaster in central France? Not me. Of course I had to go and ride it though.
Upon entering the shop to buy entrance tickets, a man who I shall refer to as Mr. Anatolia Parc saw right through our game and immediately started chatting coasters with us.
"You’re here to test the worm?"
"Yes we are."
"Are you going to test the Namazu? It’s a new Intamin Coaster."
"We already have, it was great!"
This man clearly knows his stuff.

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He warmly instructed us to head towards the back of the park where we found this in all its glory. Moments later he joined us on the platform, ready to run the ride.
“Have you been to Mont Mosan?”
“I… um… no <visible confusion>. Not yet. I’ll add it to the list.”
Upon later research we discovered that it was too late for that. Mont Mosan was a park in Belgium that once hosted exactly the same ride type – perhaps where he got his fantastic business idea from. Sadly that one no longer exists.
What a legend though.

Oh, the ride. Brutal.

Overjoyed with that encounter, it was time for a very long drive to our next destination. On route I had my heart set on seeing the ridiculous Millau Viaduct, a bridge I’ve admired for many years, as close-up as possible.

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So we drove right underneath it.
Look at it. Over 1000ft tall. Beat that Intamin.

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Before finding a pretty spot to gaze upon it from afar.

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Which happened to be in this fascinating village that’s actually built into the side of a cliff.

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We then drove over said bridge, which was amazing, and many hours later hit the border to a new country cred, deep (high?) in the Pyrenees. Sadly not the B&M Invert.


Andorra has:

Ridiculously low fuel prices (well, for Europe).

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Big old mountains.

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Some old churches.

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One of the biggest spas in Europe, also their tallest building. Don't ask how.

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And as is the tradition in all new countries, an Andorra cat.

Up next – they also have a certain alpine coaster.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
From just 1 coaster in a day to almost unfathomable amounts, this one’s a bit of a marathon.

Day 7 - Naturlandia

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It all began at the primary reason for visiting Andorra, the park collection of equipment that includes the world’s longest (Alpine) coaster. Nice setting for it.

Immediately didn’t get on with the place as we essentially got ripped off. Due to the fast and loose nature of the trip as a whole, the pre-booking of the various necessary attractions was left as late as possible in most cases so that we could continually monitor each and every border situation.

We had tried to book the Alpine a few days prior but found that the time slots we wanted (any time in the morning) were unavailable. Turn up and wing it was the verdict. Surely with the capacity of a ride like that it can’t be completely sold out.

So on the day, queuing for tickets, a bloke walks up to us with a tablet and asks what we’re there for.
“Tobotronc mate.”
“Did you book online?”
“No, we couldn’t get the time what we wanted.”
“Ah… wait here.”

He ran off to the ticket window to conspire with the sales team and came hurrying back. We can do this for you but… you can't buy tickets for the ride, you’ll have to get the adventure wristband.
Unfortunately for us, while an adult ticket for the ride is advertised as €15, a wristband is €35.

Upon reaching the window, “Tobotronc please.”
Same lame repeated speech.
“Fair enough, I’ll buy whatever gets us on Tobotronc please.”
The sales woman instantly flares up as if I’m trying to rip her off, not the other way round. “I TOLD YOU IT HAS TO BE THE WRISTBAND.”
Just... take the money already.

There was nothing remotely interesting about the other attractions available on the wristband, which comprised of jumping on a big bag of air, going on a nature trail while staring at a tablet or climbing some ropes. Nor did we have the time to mess around with it. Though our timeslot for Tobotronc was only 20 minutes away anyway we took a quick look at some big dune buggy things (everybody loves dune buggies) you could drive, expecting something insane to happen like launching off some jumps at 50Mph. Instead it’s a course of ‘skill’, meaning all you get to do is a single lap of pottering around some bumps at 1Mph while the instructor shouts at you to slow down.
Nope.

Tobotronc had no queue, so that timeslot system was a load of gimmicks and lies.

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Ah well, it’s why we came to this country. The bottom station is located at the 1600m part of the establishment, where you board and are told it’ll take about 20 minutes in total. That’s crazy.

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90% of the experience is this view of course, and it’s sure to give you a bad back.

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I occupied myself with some onboard photography, here’s someone being slowed down through one of the 6000 downhill turns.

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Reverse POV lift hill shot.

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You get the occasional glimpse of the amazing views beyond, though most of the ride is hidden within the forest.

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Still going.

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Finally, the second station at the 2000m point of the mountain. It begins.

Tobotronc is 17,388ft long which, to put into perspective, is over twice the length of Steel Dragon. It’s also not done at 95Mph at any point, so it drags on far longer. The ride is ridiculous, impressive and definitely worth experiencing, but it’s far from the best Alpine out there. It gets rather repetitive obviously, with a lot of the layout blurring into one and the same. Straight with a little bump, downhill turn, rinse and repeat, and the views don’t really change either.

Sadly this was also the first ever time I’ve run into the problem of catching up with the competition in front and this really isn’t the one on which you want that to happen, though it’s likely inevitable. The result is having to spend at least half the ride continuously easing off, then speeding up to compensate for the pace in front.

Worth the 35? Just about, if only for the immense scale of the thing and its legendary status. Shouldn’t have needed to be though.

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It was time to get out of Andorra before they could do any more damage, though we swung past this scenic bridge on the way.

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Back in the mountains of France, it was time for a better Alpine experience.

Lou Bac Mountain Luge

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Right off the bat, this thing is better, because it has such a cool system.

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The vehicles sit on their little trolley and ride up in a cable car with you.

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While the views are just about as impressive and a little less obstructed.

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And yes, it’s another of those terrifying single rail versions, only insanely huge.

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It’s also brand new, and one of only 5 Sunkid have made so far since acquiring the model from Brandauer.

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The cars are wheeled off of the trolley and onto this amazing piece of kit that auto shunts them around and queues them up on different rows depending on the throughput.

The Lou Bac Mountain Luge is legitimately one of the scariest rides I’ve ever done.
A thought suddenly dawned on me, as I plunged down into the first section, that there’s really not much keeping me on this piece of plastic. If you’re riding solo, you get a squidgy little booster seat that pushes you out from the back rest in order to reach the handle easier. Because it's a central brake handle and not the relaxed ones at the side, you're also continuously in the lean forward position. This makes it feel extremely open on either side, with nothing but a standard little seatbelt keeping you from plunging down a mountainside.
There’s some ridiculous claim on the website that the track achieves angles of 70° and I’m inclined to believe it. Certain drops are far more intense than you’d ever get on a Wiegand (including the incredible Speed Bob) and you can pick up some insane momentum very quickly which, combined with any lateral forces on the turns will do its best to try and kill you.
The ride was a gamechanger for me in that the level of fear on these things has now switched from ‘can the physical hardware take it if I don’t use the brakes?’ to ‘will I just fall out and die if I don’t use the brakes?’ It takes a lot for a ride to put me out of my comfort zone these days and this delivered that by the bucket load. I was screaming, laughing nervously and loving/hating it the whole way down. Incredible.

It was now time to swap the mountain air for some seaside parks, in the most ambitious run of 8pm – 2am summer fairs so far.

Pirat’ Parc

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Proceedings began at Pirat’ Parc, where the sun was just setting and an atmosphere was starting to build.

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After scouting out the number of tokens required, we climbed aboard the largest of the coasters here, a rare custom Reverchon that’s a standard sit down.

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The operators here were in such a party mood, switching on their various amps for the first time and blaring out some tunes before laying down some killer moves in the walkways while waiting for customers to arrive for the night.
Oh, and the ride was really good for what it is too. Unusually smooth with a couple of good drops.

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This wild mouse looking thing with Mini shaped cars was the next in a long list of rides that tried to kill us. I half came out of the side in one of the many violent turns. An instant classic.

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As was this amazing Cars ride. I expected just a clone of that baby coaster at E-World in Korea, without the singing, but that shipping container at the back… things happen in there. Mind blowing things.

The train stops dead inside the shipping container on the final lap and the doors close at both ends. Smoke fills the room. To the right, a flap opens up and several police car headlights appear, blaring their horns. The whole track section suddenly then tilts you to the side, towards them!

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Last up was a Wacky Worm with a good apple game, that inflatable caterpillar bouncing up and down out of the side was a right laugh.

And that’s the great thing about these parks. What RCDB would have you thinking was a +1 becomes an instant (and memorable) +4. Next?

Parc d’Attractions Marseillan-Plage

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I can’t even remember these places by name any more, I think this checks out.

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Pink Zyklon Galaxis appear to be all the rage these days.

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Hang on. I recognise this layout. Tres turbulent?

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Oh no! We’ve found Tornado from M&Ds in it’s new home. I'm hoping I can complete their entire lineup one day without even visiting the park.
It looks rather good with a fresh lick of paint on it, but will it kill?
I’ve done worse. Far worse, though I dread to think what the removed corkscrews would have been like. The most violent part ended up being the weird hill up in the air across the front edge, which has some horrible banking on entry. Silly Pinfari.

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Sorry, previous Chenille.

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Your animated caterpillar game just got beaten.

We got impressively lost on the way to the next park, which further backs up that they all start to look the same.

Luna Park Agde

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Haven’t we just done this?
Well this is where I learnt for the first time that they’re not all the same. The version here had different hills at the end and, interestingly, is the only operating coaster on RCDB made by Mondial, of flat ride fame.

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They also have a Vekoma Corkscrew (with Bayerncurve). Not your average funfair ride. Not good either.

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And for the third time tonight, a pomme. This one was most notable for having a swinging ship that came insanely close to the top of the layout while it was in motion.

Got room for one more?

Fabrikus World

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Oh look, a spinning wild mouse to shake things up a bit. This one was on par with the best spins we’ve ever had. So fast and so hard that you can’t even see any more, then that final section with the speed bump just murders.

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They also have Python from Efteling. Not your average funfair ride. Not good either.

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What we thought was a stock model Mack Powered coaster that turned out to have an impressive, unique layout.

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And, to finish the night on a high, a pomme. This one was most notable for being the 16th coaster of the day, a new personal record that surpassed Energylandia 2020 for most creds.
I’m infinitely more happy that this was achieved across a ridiculous distance and six parks compared to a lazy stroll around just the one establishment. That’s how records are meant to be broken. Don’t you dare go and ruin it, Cedar Point.

Up next – a meagre milestone.
 
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HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Day 8 - Piratland

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The following day began here, where I started to get the sense that every park in this part of the world contains the word Pirat, Luna or Magic.

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Just a humble +1 on the cards, a surprisingly lively SBF Visa that isn’t a spinner.

Moving swiftly on.

Parc Spirou


This was the main destination for the day, the relatively new park themed to Spirou Comics. I’d had it on my radar for a few years now, back when the original plans included a Zierer Tower coaster like Impulse or Wicked, which would have been exciting. Seems it wasn’t to be, instead they ended up with one of everything from the smaller half of Zierer’s back catalogue.

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The Force Zero.

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The Force Two.

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And the Force One.

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This one ended up being my 1100th coaster, mainly down to lack of any better options. It might well be my most boring milestone yet, a clone of a ride from Schwaben Park. They’re alright as a model, those ‘inspired’ raised open trains are rather nice, but they do seem to develop quite a rattle after a few years, which in turn saps away any force it once had.

Alongside the coaster selection, the park so far felt pretty bland. There’s a slightly off air to it, having had 3 years to bed in it still feels a bit sparse and sterile and none of the guests seemed to be having a particularly good time, sweating away in poorly shaded queues.

Luckily there’s a dark ride to breathe a bit more character into the place.

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I’m not sure how best to describe Gaffe á Gaston other than three simulator pods in front of a screen.

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Maybe the comic will do it for me. The film is basically a POV of the bloke on his weird suspended chair that travels around an office environment causing various mishaps. The ride concludes with him delivering a message to a romantic interest, she seems impressed and then walks off as he turns to a mirror and says “m’enfin?” (finally).
It was funnier and more entertaining than I’ve made it sound, but it ain’t no Vienne Dynamique.

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Also like Schwaben Park, they have a Roller Ball. It doesn’t even come with a killer soundtrack and is just as pointless of a ride experience.

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Seems every immersive tunnel in the world has to be themed to dinosaurs.

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Even if it is based on an comic that doesn’t look like it needed to be themed to that at all.
I struggled to follow this one. Some professor bloke with a time machine, this superhero boy and his flying squirrel companion versus some dinosaurs and an evil man who I think is Dalton, of Walibi Belgium drop tower fame.

Talking of drop towers, somehow the day was already through and we had to sprint to get a last ride on Zombillénium Tower, so apologies, no pictures. It’s one of those big, cool Funtime ones with the nice restraints. It does some scary tilting things on the way up but not for the actual drop sequence, which surprised me. Good though.

I’ve since learnt that the Zombillénium name (whatever it is) was supposed to go to a trackless dark ride, so add that to the list of things that didn’t open which are now holding this place back. Surely they could have just not bought the roller ball or something, as it was built to make a pointless statement (unique in Europe, of two, and of a ride type no one should really care about), which only lasted a year anyway.


Only having three parks in a day now seems relatively relaxing and the last stop was another late night funfair that, for obvious time reasons, didn’t quite make the cut the previous night.

Amigoland


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Jumbo Jet is an even bigger one of those single-file Schwarzkopf beasts. Apparently this one was once built, but never operated, at Six Flags Great Adventure.
It feels very open at the top of that spiral lift hill and the number of cars on track was a spectacle to behold all in itself. Thrilling, forceful, fun. Had it all really. This being the best coaster of the day again proves how Spirou need to up their game a bit.

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There was also a bonus worm on park to keep things perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
I think that made 5 of these in a 24 hour period.

Up next – horses.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Day 9 – Magic Park World

Had a bit of Jacquou déjà vu the following morning, while queuing outside this catchily named place. Once again it took forever to get in, though this time there were two unfathomably long lines that actually went to different places – pre-booked or on the day. The car park was made of the worst surface imaginable and took some serious off-roading to even navigate. Off to a good start.

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Off to a very good start. This Pinfari is named Strom, which I like to believe is in tribute to the legend that is Strom Chaser. It’s also terrible.

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Things almost got extremely Jacquou Parc here, as by the time we reached the second attraction of the day, after being amongst the first guests on park, the spinning mouse was ready to close for ‘lunchtime’.
Luckily this time around we managed to squeeze in just as the rope was put in place after us. Once again it created a huge conflict between staff and the guests who were being told they can't ride a major attraction for 90 minutes, no more than an hour into their experience. I don’t get it.
This Fabbri is named Formula 1, probably as it has a lot in common with the sport. It’s also terrible.

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We continued to dodge the staggered lunchtime closures and hit the ghost train next. I will of course ride these when I don’t have to specifically fork out for them. It’s also terrible.

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Best ride of the park? Probably. Something about weighting issues and the fact that it made several children cry and then not board meant that the train was dispatched with just our party of 3 adults on board, while a disproportionately large queue looked on in disgust.

All in a day's work.

OK Corral

This was the main park for the day, the park themed to the old West, not that that narrows it down much. I’d had it on my radar a few years now, ever since riding Gipfelstürmer and subsequently wanting to complete the rather obscure set of Gerstlauer family shuttle coasters.

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And so the visit began at Gold Rush. You know, that one they’re building at Gyeongju World now, with the confusing closed circuit bit at the top.

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It starts like a normal boomerang, completes one full circuit around the top and then another half, before stopping on the reverse ‘spike’ and doing a backwards half.
Basically you get a longer and better ride out of it than you would on the German Goat or at Adventure City where the third version lives, and even as standard they’re much better than the Vekomas.
For the briefest of glorious moments I now have the full collection, with both Korea and Australia about to spoil it for me, any second.

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Next up was this fascinating piece of kit. I had it in my head after Spirou that this was yet another Force One, but it’s actually one of the very few custom Zierer ESC 535s . It also has unique trains, with the front 6 seats being horses and the rear 6 being a carriage.

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It’s quite a nice terrain layout with a couple more attempts at airtime and twisty moments than the standard model. The carriage suffers from the exact same rattle that the others develop, but the horses are a winner.
I was dreading them as I usually do for any ‘motocoaster’ experience but they’re completely different in design, with no horrible back clamps forcing you into an uncomfortable position. If anything it rode more like a stand-up, nice and exposed. I liked it.

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Final coaster was a Tivoli large as a snake.

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They also have Croc Drop before it went vertical.

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And a dark ride called Mystères de l'Ouest, a decently paced (for once) ghost train style attraction with a western theme to fit the park. Well, until the end, when 4 or 5 cars were stacking outside the station leaving people stuck in the last scare for multiple takes.

We were told by the friendly admissions staff not to miss ‘the show later’, so heeded their advice and settled down in the arena once all the rides were done.

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It was underwhelming to say the least, though probably alright for the budget – I am rather spoilt when it comes to this stuff. A bit of a twist on cowboys vs Indians with some mild horsey action. I didn’t manage to follow the storyline. One bloke wanted them all to co-exist in peace, performed a ‘traditional’ dance, then the cowboys all got beaten up and it ended.

We lasted most of the day here, which was nice. It had a genuine and friendly vibe, a solid and interesting lineup of not quite just +1s and a decent coherent theme.

Funny Land

This park was known only to me as the 1am Wacky Worm, because it is just a Wacky Worm, one that stays open until 1am.

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Wait a minute. This is no ordinary Wacky Worm. It’s the rare type with the diagonal lift hill, a straight big dip and a more violent final drop. Class.

Once again the night ended on a big funfair affair.

Magic World


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Not sure I can handle any more magic in one day, but I like the sign.

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Oh look, a spinning wild mouse. This one also killed. Obviously not afraid to run them hot in the south of France.

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Banzai is just silly. A massive and pointless U-shaped shuttle coaster. It performs a teasing first sequence of reverse lift hill, drop, then coasts back and forth for at least 5 minutes with no braking until it comes to a natural stop.
Is that it? No. It then performs another lap, but this time it starts a bit higher up the spike, drops, then coasts for at least 5 minutes with no braking until it comes to a natural stop. Oh, and the combination of shoulder restraints and weird lap bar is awful.

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At least they have a Wacky Worm with an oversized inflatable to end the night on a high.

Up next – more of that.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Having completely exhausted all the options of daytime parks in the region, there was nothing left to do but have a well earned lie in, play some mini golf and do some sightseeing.

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The location of choice was the Verdon Gorge.

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With tons of massive birds hovering in the sky.

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The sort of place that pictures (well, mine at least) don’t really do justice. It was all rather breathtaking though, particularly if you take part in some foolish daredevil antics like walking along one of the narrow stone walls above a 1000ft drop, or climbing out onto precarious rocks that overhang the fast flowing river below. I somehow managed to scare myself more than the Lou Bac Luge.

After that excitement there was one more crawl of evening parks to complete on our last night in France.

Day 10 - Azur Park


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Which began with a surprise. The originally billed Super Railway (a single rail Schwarzkopf wild mouse) had been swapped for something equally interesting, the legendary travelling Soquet, King. I believe it’s the biggest coaster they ever made.

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We had arrived for opening and they clearly weren’t ready however, so it was time for another worm, with spare train faces for decoration.

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Lost about an hour waiting for them to finally open it up, but that did mean it turned into a night ride. King toes the line nicely between intensity and brutality. The second half feels way too fast for the momentum it’s carrying (including random Yoda graffiti tunnel), almost like they didn’t know what to do with something this size. The result is rather spectacular in an 'it's different' kinda way, if a little rough round the edges.

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Oh look, a spinning wild mouse.

Running late now, on to the next park.

Lunapark Fréjus

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Oh look, a spinning wild mouse. Oddly enough, this one’s a Beijing Jiuhua model, which means no double up or speed bump, those elements are far too advanced.

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This worm that’s actually a mine train was a bit of a mission. It’s part of a separate kids lineup of rides that requires tokens instead of cash, but is located miles away from any of the rest of said rides, along with the desk that sells said tokens.

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I’d been waiting all week for the night that Magic Mountain would show up, never remembering which park it was at.

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Not sure why it had particularly caught my attention, something about this stripy inclined loop makes it stand out a bit I guess. It’s a Top Fun Typhoon, whatever that may be, and it gives Tornado a run for its money on trying to beat you up. All that fuss for nothing.

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Or maybe I was just too softened up by this point. Even this rare 1st gen Mack Powered coaster with single file seating was trying to hurt me. It does about 100 laps in either ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ mode and it’s highly unnecessary.

Still more to endure though.

Antibes Land

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Classic Mack Wild Mouse. Used to live in Japan and then at Walygator, maybe it came as a bonus with Monster?

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Having never ridden an EOS spinning coaster until just recently at Gullivers, I’ve now managed to pick up a second. Still better than the SBFs and this one had the added excitement of the operator providing a bonus manual spin each time it came through the station.

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And, to end France in style, a Wacky Worm. This one had the added excitement of the operator providing a bonus balloon for certain guests to ride with.

Up next – something old and something new.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Day 11, which was primarily dedicated to travel, ended up being an abject failure.

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It began rather nicely with a whirlwind tour through a new country cred, a certain principality by the name of Monaco. We hit the streets bright and early so as not to get caught up in those densely packed roads.

From there it was planned to be a simple 6 hour drive to Switzerland, more specifically Lucerne, where we hoped to visit a museum/chocolate factory dark ride and do some further general sightseeing. Perturbed by our experience at Naturlandia we figured it was best to book a timeslot for the attraction, though it appeared to be completely empty for the entire day, even on the day, and opted for the latest possible time just to be safe.

Italy was open for transiting only, no mingling (nor did they recognise UK vaccine status at that time if you wished to stop off and visit something specific anyway), so the idea was to speed run it straight to the next border. The Italian roads just weren’t letting that happen sadly, from multiple bouts of standstill motorway queues to the endless starting and stopping of roadworks that almost became parody, it took about twice as long as it should have to finally reach Switzerland.

Despite all that, there was still a reasonable chance of reaching our next destination in plenty of time as we bought our Swiss Vignette (a fixed fee sticker to drive on their motorways) at the border. Our driving woes didn’t end there however as the ridiculously huge Gotthard Tunnel, the longest road tunnel in the world at the time of opening (now a mere fifth), didn’t want to play ball either. At over 10 miles in length it’s a rather surreal experience to cruise through, but the fact that it’s paced by traffic lights at the entrance, which inevitably bring all motorway traffic screeching to a halt, causes an absolute nightmare of yet more standstill queues.

Battling until the very last, we reached Lucerne with what we thought was just moments to spare, but it wasn’t to be. The final faff of city driving, parking and not being familiar with the surroundings upon arrival tipped the balance and the day was over. Fortunately the ticket desk were able to swap our booking for a voucher that could be used any time in the next 5 years.
This instantly became an Ange Michel 2.0 situation for us though, I can’t just walk away from that empty handed. The cogs began to turn. How can we make it back, during this trip?

Oh well, regular, basic, stress-free sightseeing it is.

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This here is the Löwendenkmal, or Lion Monument.

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That there is the Jesuitenkirche, or Jesuit Church.

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And this one looks like a bit of a Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge to me. History lessons available on Google.

The catch with Switzerland however, no parks (except Conny-Land, Conny-Land is cool), so perhaps foolishly the journey was only half done and our hotel was still another 4 hours away. Next stop, Austria.

Again it took far longer than necessary and we quickly began to resent these massive tunnels, with the Arlburg Road Tunnel stopping us dead for an hour at traffic lights because it had decided to be one-way for the night. All 9 miles of it. With a toll at the end for the privilege.

I believe the day gave way to a new record for hours behind the wheel on any of our road trips, impressively (or perhaps not) surpassing the 850-odd mile journey from Massachusetts to Tennessee, even though this was only a mere 850-odd kilometres. In the end we had a criminally short amount of time in a gorgeous hotel for that night. I was at least glad to be back in this part of Austria, because I’m a big fan of it. Let’s see how well it treated us.

Day 12 – Freizeitpark Familienland

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I had been very tempted by this park while in the area almost exactly 5 years prior. It seemed a little pricey for a +1 and (believe it or not) too far out of the way at the time. Oh, how the desperation (enthusiasm? no, that's not right) has grown exponentially since those days. Luckily they’ve doubled their cred count since then too!

The morning began in amazing fashion as we joined a single train wait for the main coaster. A single train wait is the entire queueline for this ride as the park is very tiny and cute, basically sitting within the footprint of said coaster. Problems were occurring with the train parking in the station, however.

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So this guy just walks out onto the track, sees that it’s a sensor fault, whips a spare one out of his pocket and changes it on the spot. Train parks correctly. One test lap. Back open.
That would have been the day over in most other places and I can’t overstate how satisfying it was to watch.

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Big Bang is yet another custom Zierer ESC, after just a few days, this one again has a nice refreshing layout.

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A couple of mild twisty airtime moments against a stunning backdrop, it was well worth visiting for. Trains are still developing those rattles though.

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Wicky is an extended SBF Visa job, once again not a spinner, with a funky little pair of speed hills between helices, hidden behind this viking (pirate? no, that's not right) hut.

Satisfied with that haul it was time to visit an old friend.

Fantasiana

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The reason I was in the area all those years ago was to visit this fabulous little park. Just this year they’ve opened a rather special new coaster and I figured it would be rude not to check it out, given half a chance.

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Fridolin's verrückter Zauberexpress is no ordinary family coaster. It’s a rare ART Engineering build, of Ba-a-a Express and Duplo Dino fame, but it does a lot more than those. So much more.
Sometimes I hate silly claims, sometimes I love them. I love this one. World’s lowest height restriction on a multi-launch coaster.

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The trains are awesome for starters. Comfy little seats and Fridolin himself, loving it, on the back.
The station has a couple of nice effects with a screen and some projections to enhance the starting sequence which takes riders backwards out of the station, seemingly by mistake, before launching forwards through it and into the layout.

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Into this nicely decorated first section, waterworks and all.

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it bursts through (at low speeds of course) this misty little hut and into a little twisty.

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Hold onto your wizard hats, here comes the second launch. This gives just enough momentum (in a satisfying manner) to crest the highest point of the layout and complete the final two turns back into the station, where it accelerates again for a second lap. 5 launches total. Brilliant. Beautifully done. This park just nails everything and it’s joyous to behold. (Is it worrying that this might be better than everything I’ve just talked about in France?)

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With the newness sadly no longer new it was time to get assaulted by Wild Train.

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This was my first ever Pax back in 2016 and taught me everything I know about how ridiculous their tracking is. The results are still as quirky and powerful as ever, with dangerous levels of airtime being delivered in all the wrong places as it ducks and dives through those impossible clearances.

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Children seem to be unaffected by it. Adults are not. Best coaster of the trip so far, non-ironically this time.

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ABC drop towers with themed storylines. A mixed bunch at best. Knightsride Tower has always been the standout for me.

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From this fellow chilling in the atmospheric and scary queueline (mainly because it’s dark and devoid of guests), to the tension building sequence of rising up through various scenes.
You reach the top. You get poked in the back. You flinch and cry out in terror. You drop before you’ve sat back in your seat (and it’s a damn good drop). It’s all perfectly executed and gets me every time.

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Sinbad the fun-loving scary dark ride. Love it.

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Almost as much as I love the soundtrack for Mami Wata. IMAscore out of their comfort zone often results in them at their best and sometimes you can’t beat standing under an ambient speaker at a park and hearing it blare a piece of music you know so well. I bought the CD on my last visit and it's still a playlist regular to this day.
Oh, and as a turntable + elevator lift Hafema log flume this ride is also spot on. Well worth the soaking.

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Something else I hadn’t tried before was these old-timey cars.

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They don’t look much on the surface but they do double through a shed with various little scenes from around the world in it. I like a hidden surprise.

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Turns out this tiny park has even more to offer. On the running theme of unintentionally hilarious 3D films I’ve got going here, this cinema was playing a certain number that can best be described as discount Pandadroom, with turtles.
I feel like it’s a very generic film that you could perhaps find at many parks around the world and yet I’m just not sure. Maybe it’s unique or maybe it’s that the German dub is just a little… off character, in the best way. A deep and wise voice that just doesn’t match the face of the main protagonist as he explains how humans are ruining the planet in a wistful and woeful way.
He reminisces about various adventures from his youth, alongside a friend, in which humans destroy the ocean, the ice caps and the rainforest (I miss Pandadroom so badly right now). The special effects are used very sparingly, making them totally on point and real crowdpleasers.
The conclusion finds him old again, on a beach, helping a newborn turtle learn to walk to the sea, but there’s a road in the way. It cuts to black with him looking straight at the audience with a sad, yet at peace expression that to me says ‘that little one isn’t going to make it, and it’s your fault’. It’s simultaneously light hearted and able to bring a tear to my eye.
What is this park doing to me?

The day was seen out simply re-enjoying the many standout attractions of this wonderful park, primarily seeing how much Wild Train the human body can take. Visits like that make it all worthwhile.

I’m starting to sound way too positive. Don’t worry, Prater’s up next. I hated the place last time.
 

Howie

Giga Poster
So, that's about 20 parks that I've never even heard of and yet you manage to make all of them sound like 'must-visits'. Yes, even the bad ones.
That's quite a gift you have!
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Yes, even the bad ones.
That's quite a gift you have!
Even through the negativity, I strive to inspire.


Day 13 – Family Park

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The last ‘major’ park in Austria for me is a bit of a tease. Though coast2coaster would have you thinking it’s a healthy +4, I was shocked and appalled to discover that it’s only really half that.
I'm all about that Rattenmühle though, even for the name alone.

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First stop was Götterblitz, the original 'other' layout of the Mack Youngstar model, a criminally undersold family coaster. This one once again reminded me why that is, they’re offensively smooth and give you just that little bit more to think about with the forces here and there.

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Well there’s one of the issues. It was the first time I’ve seen one of these operate and it even had a queue!

The other issue was a Butterfly that, even if it counted, was closed.

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The park is still deceivingly large though, there’s a lot of nice looking other stuff around that we didn’t do.

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Genius.

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Construction, get excited.

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And here we are, the main event. Rattenmühle kicked ass, as it rightly should have. It had a very nicely themed station and a unique, interesting and punchy layout. Every time I ride one of these Gerstlauer Bobsleds I keep thinking it’s the new best one.

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For all the stuff we didn’t ride the morning had felt a little empty, so we gave this weird looking thing a go, never seen one before.
It’s a cool visual, watching all the arms intertwine and never quite crash into each other, but it lacked a little on force. I was hoping for Magic Carpet style lurches and all I got was a light breeze.

Next stop was the affectionately dubbed ‘other Prater’, a small collection of rides elsewhere in Vienna that should be better than the real thing.

Böhmischer Prater

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Spot the inconsistency.

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In reality it was a bit of an incohesive place, transitioning awkwardly from interesting heritage

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To cheap creds. And you know what we were here for.

But if you really want a ridiculous hit of creds in Vienna, there’s only one place to be.

Wiener Prater

Doing a solo run of this place at lunchtime, offpeak, was a pretty grim experience that I really didn’t care for. It was a monetary exchange of 50 euros for 11 creds and nothing more. Staff were rude, the place felt like a dump and it was a complete faff.

This time round I entered the park care free and at ease. A couple of new creds to grab, a handful of dark rides to try and the opportunity to watch someone else suffer through everything I didn’t have to. That’s how you need to experience this park.

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We began at Megablitz, which is the only attraction I gave the honour of a reride, as it was by far my favourite of the bunch last time around. Much like the Jet Stars and Jumbo Jets of earlier in the trip, this Vekoma is a ridiculously forceful set of twists and turns that take place in single file seating and it’s really damn good for what it is.
Loving the look that new paint job too, glad to see it getting some attention. It’s a bit off the beaten path compared to most major attractions here and always seems less popular than it should be because of that.

Stuff I enjoyed not doing:

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Well, not so much that one. Such a tease.

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Stuff I didn’t do but wish I had.

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Stuff I did do. Eisberg is amazing and that’s all you need to know.

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But for context it’s an interactive dark ride where the ‘guns’ are cameras. It contains elevator lifts, big talking polar bears and tasteful physical comedy.
Dangerous for me to say it, but put it on your must do list, with a higher priority than the coasters.

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Especially when said coasters involve this stupid thing, AGAIN.
Oh well, set complete. Let’s hope they stop at 3.

After sitting out another hundred coasters we decided to dine at another Rollercoaster Restaurant that they now have on park here, next to a Flying Theatre I didn’t really want to pay for and that mercifully doesn’t open in the evenings (5pm close if you're interested).

The restaurant had a rather different vibe again to ones we’ve tried before, with an emphasis on interactive table games (though not during covid times) and dancing robot arms.
The food was good, the service was sneaky. Be wary of being offered ‘sauce’ with a portion of fries like it’s a friendly bonus, it comes as a handful of those ten a penny sachets and they charge you a pound, per sachet, for the privilege. I prefer the places where you order on a tablet for this very reason.

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I had two missions for this visit and one of them was to finally suss out what went on in here, with conflicting evidence floating around on the internet.
Blue Planet is a dinosaur walkthrough with several features.
Aside from the walking, which contains dinosaurs, it has a mysteriously unattended lift near the start with crude screens on the walls. The lift shakes around for what feels like an age, playing loud sound effects and trying to intimidate you with repetitive footage of angry dinosaurs. It ain’t very good.

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You then walk through some dinosaurs and come to the fun part, a mysteriously unattended simulator room under the name Dino Tour. As you enter and sit down, the doors shut you in and a statuesque driver with elf ears (no idea why) pretends to take you through the jungle a bit while the room jiggles around in all directions. Animatronic dinosaurs attack from the outside, all physical, things get scary and then you have to escape.

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You then walk through some dinosaurs and come to the other fun part, a mysteriously unattended lift with an open side that descends down a rock face. Halfway down, big old dinosaur (not pictured) comes out of the rock to get you and the lift performs a little evasive manoeuvre, tilting away from and then back towards the wall. Just as you hit the bottom and exit the floor does a little jump scare jolt to leave a lasting impression.

I thought it was fantastic overall. I love the complete lack of staff interaction even though there’s some technical ride elements going on inside, really adds to the anticipation factor particularly if your party is alone.
Dangerous for me to say it, but put it on your must do list, with an equal priority to the coasters.

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Talking of coasters, the other new one for me was another Gerstlauer Bobsled and also another Gesengte Sau (apostrophe excluded this time).

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It was having many teething issues with block sections and temporary ceasing of operations. A couple of engineers were hovering, one of whom was actually in Gerstlauer overalls. They were working hard and managed to restarted it several times over the course of our queueing.

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The ride is very vertically stacked as a layout and contains some pretty huge drops with some great airtime, good pacing and some solid all round fun. I was really impressed by it. Every time I ride one of these I keep thinking it’s the new best one.

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My final investigation was into Jack the Ripper, the haunted walkthrough.

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I’m no real fan of these types of things, there’s a lot of walking through unpleasant situations with a deadpan expression, though I’m probably just doing it wrong.

Eventually you reach a room where the atmosphere (not that I liked the atmosphere) is ruined by a member of staff awkwardly telling you to wait for a lift, in a room full of loud screaming, ultra violet light and set pieces. Have you tried Blue Planet, sir?

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While waiting you can watch this amusing animatronic scene of Jack himself stabbing a woman. She slowly crumples to the floor in a highly convincing manner as he slithers away.

I think the lift itself tried to do some stuff but I already had scary elevator fatigue by that point and have legitimately forgotten what went on.

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At the bottom of the lift is a mysteriously unattended haunted swing ride (the origins of a madhouse). It’s no Hex, it travels at a million miles an hour and is super disorientating, in a rather unpleasant and sickly way. You leave on an anti climax and the experience is over.
Don’t put it on your to do list. Spend the money on a cred instead, even if it has to be the Boomerang.

Well aside from that downer at the end, which is entirely my own fault for committing myself to research these type of things, I really enjoyed my second visit to Prater.
The lesson is come at night, don’t come alone, and experience a wide variety of attractions. Bring lots of money too. Lots of money.

Up next – more abject failure.
 
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