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Eurodemption #2 - Part 4: Ange L'Île aux Futuroscope

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

Mega 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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