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What order for the European parks?

Rupert

New Member
(I thought about posting this in the trip planning area, but I think there is plenty that covers general discussion too. Feel free to move it if deemed best!)

Like many on the forum, I’m always thinking about which parks I’ll be visiting this year or the next. Many on the continent are easily doable in a weekend, which ends up leading to some kind of personal ranking or order of parks to do. The question I have for the forum is - how do you prioritise the European parks and the order to visit them in? For me it gets harder once you’ve done the obvious ones and start looking at the smaller parks with fewer coasters. I’m primarily looking this at someone from the UK travelling, but I think it’s much the same wherever you live on the continent, or even if you’re coming from beyond to make a trip.

For coaster enthusiasts, I think it’s widely accepted that there is an upper tier of parks in Europe: Europa Park and Phantasialand, for example. You could also put in Efteling, Parc Asterix, Liseberg or perhaps Alton Towers (?). But do you choose based on the headline coaster, the total selection, the theming, the nearby cultural options (e.g. near a great city), or the travel distance?

I think I’ve done most of the obvious tier, and so am now moving to focus on the mid-size parks, though no doubt I’ve missed a few large ones because I’d rather go to smaller ones or it’s just worked out this way. I’m not too sure why but I have no real interest in the Disney parks for example, and similarly Heide Park doesn’t excite me despite it’s pretty good selection of coasters - perhaps from visiting a few Merlin parks and finding them soulless. But through this I’m missing some really obvious creds that are ranked pretty highly. I’ve also picked up some of the small-mid size German parks like Holiday Park because they fit well on a road trip and Expedition GeForce has such a reputation I felt I couldn’t miss it. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have made a dedicated trip exclusively for it, I would go to a more rounded park if I was to make a single-park trip.

For what it’s worth, I’ve done the main UK parks (excluding Drayton); Walibi Holland, Efteling, Phantasialand, Holiday Park, Tripsdrill, Europa Park, Parc Asterix, Liseberg, Tívoli, Gardaland (was on holiday nearby), and Port Aventura.

I think the obvious top tier parks I’m missing are Parque Warner Madrid, Heide Park, the Disney parks, and Mirabilandia. I would then have a mid-tier to-do list, which includes Toverland, Hansa Park, Gröna Lund, Linnanmäki, Energylandia, and Walibi Belgium. I’ve definitely missed some off here but can’t think of them all now, and I’m sure some would put Energylandia in the top category already.

So for my next park I’ve booked to go to Hansa Park in September (assuming travel is allowed...). It’s got Kärnan which looks ridiculous, Fluch Von Novgorod, and looks generally a really nice park with the UNESCO city of Lübeck close by for a good overall break. For next year I’m saving Energylandia (I want Abyssus to be finished before I visit for the first time), and hopefully Walibi Belgium (for the new Intamin) and Plopsaland de Panne (for the new Mack spinner). Beyond that I don’t really have plans, but a weekend in Helsinki would be great to get Taiga perhaps.

So what about you? Have you ended up going for any smaller parks over the more obvious choices? Do you have a different ranking or tier of parks? For those not in the UK, is Alton Towers low down on your list just because it’s so difficult to get to? How do/did you decide which parks to go for over others?
 

HeartlineCoaster

Active Member
Whatever feels manageable at the time. In an ideal world I'd say it's purely down to which park creates the most excitement/intrigue at any given moment and new builds are always a significant factor, but that can often be pushed aside for something more practical/affordable.
Sometimes it's good to shortlist 2 or 3 trips in your mind and then research those in further detail - flight costs & timings (particularly important on a weekender), average hotel cost, car hire/public transport cost & practicality, seasonal operation of parks etc. and then usually one will stand out as the best pick at that point in time.

Personally I don't rank or tier them before I've been (there's a dirty idea), if I'm going to do them all eventually anyway then it doesn't really matter in the long run.
 

caffeine_demon

Well-Known Member
" mid-tier to-do list, which includes Toverland, Hansa Park, Gröna Lund, Linnanmäki, Energylandia, and Walibi Belgium. "

Toverland, hansa, Energylandia and walibi belgium are pretty much top tier anyway! grona lund is perhaps a bit small - but still awesome!

Coast2coaster and rcdb are great for planning groups of parks to visit!
 

JoshC.

Active Member
I've been doing bigger trips since 2015, so not as long as some people here. But for me personally, I prioritise parks I haven't visited which have major new investments which I find interesting. From there, you can build a trip round it (whether that means including more parks or turning it into a city / more-touristy break). If / when that's exhausted, I look at bigger parks I haven't visited, or trips with a larger number of creds.

For example, 2017 I did a road trip which included Plopsaland (Heidi) and Movie Park Germany (Star Trek) and smaller parks in between, but then included a couple of other parks along the way. I then also did Liseberg (which admittedly was poorly planned with Valkyria coming in 2018).

2018 I did Bellewaerde (Dawson Duel) and Toverland (Fenix) as a trip, Poland (Hyperion) and then also did Flamingo Land for something new

2019 was Linnanmaki (Taiga, combined into a city break), Netherlands (Untamed) and East Germany (Dynamite at Plohn), whilst also doing Paultons as something new.

This year, there weren't any major new additions that interested me, so I was going to go to Heide/Hansa, Port Aventura and Europa Park (along with Tripsdrill, because new creds) to tick off bigger parks I haven't visited.

It's not a perfect system, and money is obviously a limit (I wanted to do a Denmark trip when Drage Kongen opened up, but simply couldn't justify it at the time, and in years since, haven't been able to fit it into my schedule), but it works out pretty well. It gives the opportunity to explore new places regularly, minimises the risk of missing out on a big new ride and gives enough flexibility too. There's been loads of trips I've looked at which haven't happened for one reason or another (like @HeartlineCoaster says, having a couple in mind and then researching them in further detail is always good), but I'm pretty relaxed by that since I feel like I'll get to many of those parks sooner or later.
 

Fi

Member
It’s a bit of a balancing act between all the factors.

Id usually take the rolling approach to whittle down the choices:

1. with which parks/ rides excite you most, whether it’s new investments, old favourites, volume or creds or ones I just haven’t got to yet. What is it that interests you and makes you want to go anywhere? Go wherever inspires you first. If I’m aware of an awesome new cred being built then I’d hold off on going to that park until the shiny new cred opened. I also went to Poland twice last year because Zadra and rerides on Hyperion was a more compelling prospect than some average park for the sake of ticking some creds off.

2. how accessible they are from the airport, if it’s more than about 2 hours from the airport I think it’s a bit too much for just a weekend usually.

3. Flight schedule Personally I prefer saving my annual leave for long haul trips so if flight times don’t fit nicely into a standard weekend then the parks will be bumped down my priority list. Expedition G Force is still on my wish list for this reason.

4. Price Europe has a comprehensive budget air network so if flights are looking expensive for somewhere that’s met the 3 criteria above I’d wait and chose an option which had cheap flights for the time I wanted to go away.

5. Events some parks have good seasonal events so worth visiting for more than just creds, but equally if your not interested in the event it’s probably best to avoid the park as it’ll like.y be busier than it otherwise would be.


Season is also a factor, no way would I go to say PA in August, but it’s a good option in Nov/dec when many parks are closed or operating a limited selection of rides.
 
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