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About this blog

My lack of having visited Europa had been hanging over me for far too long, so it was decided Germany had to happen...

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pluk

Europa, again

I know it’s been a silly amount of time since I started this, let's wrap it up. The wait has been because sadly my old laptop has died, taking my photos with it until I work out how to rescue them, so shiny new laptop is good for me and means I can finally write this, but a text only end to this is less good for you, dear reader...

 

My only other experience of a Mack spinner is Sierra Sidewinder at Knotts, which is such a pathetic sucky excuse for coaster I wasn't expecting anything from Euro Mir, but it's ace! The lifthill of forever gives some good fun rave times, the first half of the coaster section with the slow spinning I found strangely unnerving because of the height and feeling of hanging over the edge of the track, and the second half so unexpectedly intense it shocked me. I love spinners in general, and this is one of the best. 9/10.

 

The other big old coaster I was less of a fan of, it's just so uncomfortable in there. Euro Sat I can only assume is themed to replicate the inside of an oven, the slow climb steadily reaching into hotter and hotter air until just when I thought I could take it no more it slams you through its manoeuvres relentlessly until it smashes to an end on brakes, which feel like a lump of concrete has been left on the tracks. I don't know at what temperature steel melts, but I was fully expecting the track to fold away from underneath me like plasticine at any moment. I can appreciate the craziness, but it's just a little too chaotic for me. 7/10

 

Then we come to the two newest coasters at the back of the park in Blue Fire and Woodan, and they both blew me away. Woodan is rough enough to know it's wood, smooth enough to be enjoyable for everyone. It flies though the course throwing little nuggets of airtime at you over and over, doing nothing too extreme to offend, but never being dull for a moment. It is perfectly executed from the first step into the queueline until it slides back into the station. Except maybe that adverse camber turn into the lifthill - that freaked me the hell out. Blue Fire I'd probably rate as the best in the park. My first Mack launch, and they clearly should be everywhere. The launch smooth and powerful with the train seeming to crackle down the track and the layout fantastic; probably the best series of inversions on any coaster anywhere, especially the last one where the train seems to disappear from beneath you mid inversion. And it's all made so enjoyable by the comfort and freedom of the restraints. Both a solid 10/10.

 

The place is so huge I could write for pages and pages (I know, I already have!), even on just the outstanding bits, which are many. But I won’t, so just to cover a few bits which stand out in my memory…

- Arthur (or '**** ***** *****, the ride' as we called it owing to the slightly lively lyrics for a children's ride) is an odd one. We really enjoyed it and the theming is well done, but as an advert for the ride from Mack it seems to be a bit of a shocker with loads of downtime, seats out of action all over the place and a locker room of faff which just does not work. The queue was always slow, long, hot and tiresome, which obviously stands out a mile in a park so obsessed with efficiency. It’s decent enough when you’re on it though. They’ve also taken the two best kiddie rides from Holiday Park with the drop towers and bouncy roundabout thing, which is a nice support selection.

- Pirates of Somewhere other than the Caribbean was a blast, really well done, and the second visit to the Wicked Witches clamshells of my youth were vastly superior to the previous encounter on this trip, even if a hanging is a bit strong! Other than that though I think the other dark rides slightly let the park down, with the already mentioned Cassandra, the dinosaur ride being dull and tired, the shooter very forgettable, and the Bench Christmas thing sitting uncomfortably close to embarrassing even if it does just about manage a little hint of charming.

- You can really see and feel the quality in the upkeep and theming of Europa on rides with direct UK comparisons; the teacups glide fast and effortlessly, the pirate ship looks like it was built yesterday, the seastorm boats in a room of effects. It’s all like new.

 

- The rest of everything is pretty much all fantastic; I'm particularly fond of a bobsled and this ones great, the logflume/coaster diamond mine interaction, unexpected things to stumble upon like the crown jewels thing, the food being so authentic to the areas, food loop, beer everywhere, stunning extravagant shows, happy enthusiastic staff, wonderful hotel facilities open to all. I could go on for ever more.


 

Everyone said 2 days wouldn't be enough. They were right. I'm not sure two weeks would be enough, I don't think I could ever get enough. Nowhere is without its faults, but Europa has instantly become my favorite theme park in the world. I feel like I've visited at the right time too; the two newest coasters really round off a hell of a collection, and unfortunately I'm not particularly interested in project V. So for now I've had my fix. As we sat with our cocktails under the dancing fountains of Bell Rock on our last night we decided that we most certainly will be back...

 

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting, night and indoor

 

 

TLDR - The message is Go to Europa Park!

 

 

 

pluk

Europa!

Well, this has been a hell of a long time coming, hasn't it? Partly because it's been sunny and I've had better things to spend half hour on, and party because I didn't really know where to start what with the park being so huge, and also because it seems I'm the last enthusiast on earth to get round to visiting so I don't feel I've got much to add on to what I'm sure you already know. Again I had tried not to spoiler myself too much, so other than the inescapable adoration for Woodan and Blue Fire I didn't really know what to expect from other attractions. I also didn't take many photos, a sure sign that I was too busy getting on with enjoying myself, so apologies for text heavy dullness ahead...

And so after a hell of a trek around a whole mountain due to a closed road, we hit the finale of the trip for two days at Europa. We had initially booked Pension Yvonne Sigg based on recommendations, but then cancelled that and went for Gastehaus Brigitte Duri for half the price. Not expecting a palace, we didn't find one, but it was clean, comfortable and, most importantly, close to both the park and hotels which could both be reached within a 10 minute walk. In hindsight I'd have payed any amount extra for a place with aircon as it was sooo damn hot for our visit. Parking seems to be a bit of an issue with a lot of these smaller places, so rather than have to shunt the car in and out repeatedly as people came and went we abandoned ours on the street where it didn't come to any harm.

Refreshments were needed, and there are plenty of bars and eateries near the park entrance away from the resort hotels, which all seemed decent quality, I'd especially recommend Mythos Greek Taverna and Altus Rasthaus. Rust, like all of Germany it seems, is a neat tidy place which maybe feels a little bit crammed in as everyone tries to make their Euros off the back of the park. Maybe we were unlucky with the weather or time of year, but the one big problem the town has (which they can probably do nothing about) is with mosquitoes. I've never known anything like it; being outside around dusk is just impossible, we were ravaged by the damn things which made trying to sleep in the stifling heat even more difficult.

 Anyway, the next morning with much excitement it was to the park. 

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Greek beer in Germany, why not?

We used the app to purchase electronic part tickets which all went smoothly, and the app is a godsend for show planning and queue avoiding. Thoroughly recommend its use. While the exterior is currently a building site, the entrance to the park is a delight and we were welcomed with live music and a buzzing atmosphere. It's immediately clear the theming, scale, cleanliness and general perfection of the presentation is like nothing else. We made our way round at a leisurely pace for two long wonderful days.

We started with Silver Star. I don't know if this view is controversial, but it was the second big disappointment of the trip. It's just dull. Forceless. Lumbering. I don't know how they get so much height and speed to do so little, but excitement and airtime there are none. We tried it front and back, early and late. Nothing. It's not really themed in the same way as the rest of the park either so feels a bit out of place, although Mercedes the exhibit in the ride building is pretty good, and it was our first experience of the lighting fast operations not hindered by fastrack which made the small queue a continuous shuffle which went by in no time. But the ride itself is poor. 3/10

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Yaawwwwwwn

Unfortunately while trying to find the entrance to Poseidon we accidently stumbled into a madhouse apparently called Cassandra which was also pretty crap. Maybe we are/were spoiled with Hex, but just walking into the room with no explanation just seems odd, then to have it programmed for the walls to start spinning straight over with no correlation with the movement or attempt to make it feel like it builds up to an inversion renders the whole exercise pointless. There's no illusion to it, 3/10.

Fortunately it turned out we had got the worst of the park out of the way, and it was all upwards from here, so I can stop seeming like such a grumpy old sod. Next we managed to find the entrance to Poseidon, which like all the water rides on our blisteringly hot trip unfortunately held a hefty queue most of the time, but it was worth the wait. The coaster element was a surprise to us and although pretty rough and jolty a lot of fun, especially the double dip at the end. Good long ride, refreshing splashdowns and such complete intricate theming it is just like driftin through actual Greece. 8/10

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England boat ftw!

I'll leave it there for today, before we head into the general insanity that is Russia.

pluk

Into the Mountains

From there it was the longest drive of our trip, into the mountains to the small town of Todtnau. I'll start with a TopTip: If you visit Tripsdrill and your journey takes you right out of the carpark, beware; just before the first town the 70kph road suddenly drops to 30kph for no apparent reason and then raises to 50 kph after about 100 meters. The 30kph section has a speed camera which duly took my photo as drifted through it trying to work out what was going on, a month later I've had nothing through from the car hire company, so fingers crossed that's going to come to nothing! Sneaky speed cameras aside driving and roads throughout Germany are a delight, everything is so well maintained, clean and tidy, and just works. We had one short delay on the outskirts of Stuttgart but other than that the roads flow at speed and with ease.

 

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Out of the car window 

 

Maybe it's just the route we took, but the whole area is stunningly pretty. Even the industrial areas looked neat, tidy and prosperous unlike the dives we have over here. Once in the mountains some of the roads are a bit precarious, but it's worth the trek once you are up there. We checked into guesthouse Lamm, which is just outside of town and took the short walk to a small selection of bars and restaurants at the base of the mountain for that evenings beer

 

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Beer!

 

and a look at what the next day would bring

 

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mountain! 

 

It's a lovely relaxing place place for a day or two

 

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doesn't look real, does it? 

 

The next morning I was eager to get up that mountain for the main even, the mountain coaster. 9 Euros a pop includes your trip up on the chairlift and slide down the coaster. The views from the top of the town bellow and surrounding mountains are stunning, and for the less adventurous the chairlift can be taken as a round trip. Toptip: Don't forget you are up a mountain and the sun is different here, industrial strength suntan lotion required!

 

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High

 

The ride itself was the highlight of the whole holiday for me. It's insane fun. As you are in control of your own braking you can have as wild or sedate ride as you like, so it really is for everyone. I tried to use the brakes as little as possible, my wife though was not pleased with this decision as we were going down together in one cart, and I only really applied them near the bottom to stop us smashing into the person in front. With barely any banking in the corners it really feels like it is trying to fling you from your little cart if you take them at speed, and the standard three point seat belt does little to make you feel secure, which all adds to it for me.

 

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That's me, speeding again

 

I loved it and went up again, my wife less so and sat out go two. As it got a little later in the day the queue at the top built up to about 30 minutes, so try not to hit peak times if you can. TopTip: Chose your place in the queue wisely; you don't want to be getting on just after someone who is likely to be going down slowly, so get on behind teens and not a young family. If the ride is backing up a bit the op will let you wait at the top for a minute or two so you can get a clearer run.

 

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if you are still speeding at this point you are in trouble

 

I can't put into words how much I loved this. I would recommend it to everyone. If you have any opportunity to do one of these then take it, it's an absolute must. I could have spent the whole day going up and down here, but we didn't, we went to look at some waterfalls instead.

 

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pretty

 

A short drive out of the other side of town, the waterfalls are stunning and climbable from top to bottom if you are into that sort of pain. We were happy with more sedate wander through parts of it.

 

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wet

 

And very nice it was too. Then by afternoon it was time to be off, drive out of the mountains, and on to the climax of it all. Europa Park! I'll leave you with what I think may be one of the best photos that has ever been taken. If ever a picture could sum up our differing feelings of an experience, this is it...

 

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I did mention I didn't use the brakes!

 

pluk

Tripsdrill Wildlife Park

...and what unusual accommodation it is. 

 

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Wood!

 

The Wooden Wagons are brilliant. Such a quirky way to provide accommodation that is not intrusive to the natural beauty of the place, but very comfortable and functional. Set in three little clusters, and with further larger treehouses in the forest, it's a small set up so feels so very secluded and natural when the sun goes down and you are surrounded by forest and darkness.

 

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more prettiness

 

Inside they are pretty small, but well designed with a double bed and two single bunks, a TV, a fridge, worktop and dining table. Even in the 100+ degree heat the inside remained cool and pleasant with the help of a beer or two from the fridge.

 

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Don't come a knockin' when the wagon's rockin' 

 

Once the park is closed the only on site refreshment comes from a vending machine, there is a resturant a short drive away which the reception will book for you, but as we had made good use of the winery this was not an option for us! We opted for a pizza delivery from a nearby town which they give you a leaflet for when you book in, the pizza was OK at best, having suffered a little from what I presume was quite a long journey for hot food. This is the places one downfall, and its a shame they don't arrange a single trip minibus for the restaurant, or use the wildlife park facility in the evening. The other issue with this is the lack of anywhere to keep things refrigerated during the day before you check in, with no option to keep food fresh it's pretty much the pizza or nothing, and the beers took a while to cool in the little fridge having come from the meltingly hot car sitting in the sun all day. 

 

In the morning continental breakfast is served in the wildlife park, it's quite an uphill trek so thankfully breakfast is good and plentiful as you really need it when you get there. As the whole place is pretty small (and was far from full up when we visited) it's all very calm and tranquil, a really delightful way to start your day.

 

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yum

 

Also worth mentioning the shower and toilet block is impressive too, spotlessly clean, plenty big enough and really quirkily themed in great detail.

At about £60 for the night, and including the breakfast, entrance to the wildlife park and heavily discount on theme park tickets, it's well worth a stay.

 

After checking out we spent a few hours in the wildlife park, which is plenty of time really. While it is obviously stunningly beautiful, and what is there is very well done, it's not really the hugest place and there aren't that many exhibits. If you like deer and goats you are in for a treat though, as they make up about 80% of the park!

 

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Deer

 

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Goat

 

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Repeat

 

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etc

 

It's fair to say, they do like their dears and goats. There are other things too though...

 

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proud bird

 

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lazy bird

 

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contemplative bear

 

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I think he's seen me

 

It's worth mentioning the wildlife park feels like it is built on a cliff face; the paths are steep and knackering in the heat and sometimes the payoff of another goat isn't worth the trek. Toptip: This is not a place to wear flipflops. As with the themepark it also suffers from zero English signage; maybe some of the exhibits would have been more interesting had we been able to read about them too.

 

The food looked good, it appeared they set up fires and then sold meat for you to go and cook on massive swinging grills hanging over them (I'm not sure if that was happening, due to lack of English), but we were to be on our way by lunchtime for the adventure to get a little more adventurous. Away from the theme parks and into the mountains for some real Germany.

 

 

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pluk

Another early start for the longer journey to the second park and accommodation of the trip, trippsdrill. I'd recommend staying closer to this park than we did; it's in the middle of nowhere and the pretty long journey was a bit arduous before a long day on the park, especially as much of this was on winding roads with junction after junction. TopTip: You need a good map or satnav to get here; the road signs are sporadic to say the least with many junctions left for you to guess at.

 

Tripsdrill is properly German, with little to no concession made for non German speakers. All adds to the fun, but there were a couple of times we found ourselves entirely unable to make ourselves understood, which is of course because of own ignorance and not their fault at all. The first time this becomes apparent is using their online booking for the treehouses and wagons which is entirely in German, and even using google translate for the documents sent out I couldn't find a way to actually pay them. I emailed them requesting someone phoned me back which they and it worked out fine, but I've since noticed they can be booked on booking.com, which is probably a lot easier.

 

It was another term time weekday, and another largely empty park. Again I had very little expectation, knowing virtually nothing about the place. Again I loved it.

 

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Pretty

 

A working vineyard set in largely unspoiled rolling hills, it's something of an understatement to say the place is picturesque. The grounds are well kept with everything feeling clean, fresh and vibrant, it's the sort of place you'd be happy to be at not riding anything. The park is split into two distinct areas of old and new, with the old world being tightly knitted together surrounding the entrance with more traditional attractions, and the new area of bigger thrill rides in a separate more spacious area. This seems to work really well having both styles without them jarring against each other.

 

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See, pretty.

 

Staggered opening gives you the first hour to explore the old world before the other side opens. I gather it is designed to depict a traditional German way of life, and does so in a charming way with little automated and interactive scenes in what I presume to post humor which was entirely lost on us and our Englishness. Some of the more traditional rides like spinning barrels tranquil boats are intermingled with fun little diversions like funhouse style moving walkways. There's also the downright bizarre with the likes of the armory, an admittedly impressively huge display of old guns and weapons that you can not imagine sitting in a UK family theme park. There's a few flats too, all well run and again looking so well maintained. TopTip: No-one is going to check your restraints here, sit down and strap in as it's on you if you come flying out! Some rides are run with one op between two, who is only paying attention to the loading and off loading of the stationary ride and not the one which is actually running! I love that tbh, Germans a clearly less dumb than us Brits..

 

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Tilting treehouses of doom

 

The highlight of this area for us was the wine museum and cellar, a cool dark underground bar where Tripsrill's own wine can be sampled along with a good few others from the surrounding for a couple of Euros a glass. Could have spent many hours in there hiding from the 100 degree plus heat outside, it's so nice finding somewhere so genuine in the fake world of theme parks, and we spent longer in there than we probably should have! The elderly man behind the bar was so helpful and clearly very knowledgeable of the wines, we had a great time with him trying to converse in his very broken English and he seemed to love trying. Oh, and the wine glass is free and to keep! TopTip: Even if you're not a drinker pop in with your park ticket and collect your glass. Free merch!

 

Over to the 'modern' side and first up was unfortunately one of only a couple of disappointments of the whole trip. Mammut is wood. I like wood. I like wood a lot. So inevitably it was what I was hoping to be the highlights of the park, but it is anything but. Slow, dull and uninspiring, it rattles along in an annoyingly pointless way achieving very little. It looks like it's a decent size and and has points which look like they are there to provide some airtime, but the speed it goes round none of it amounts to much. 

We rode a few times, front and back and hoping it would warm up later in the day, but no. 4/10

 

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Disappointment 

 

On to their newest coaster, I didn't too expect much from Karacho based mostly on me not being much of a fan of the other original Infinity coaster The Smiler. This is such a better coaster than that; glass smooth track, fun little indoor section, powerful rolling launch, interesting varied layout with some great moments climaxing in a two suburb inversions with the dive into and roll out of the tunnel, all in the extreme comfort of those lapbars in the stylish trains. It's just sooo much fun, everything the Smiler isn't. I know they are not trying to achieve the same thing but this being the same type built by the same people at the same time shows how much better you can do by not chasing gimmicks and building something good and solid instead.

 

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Look, I told you it was pretty.

 

I rode many times and didn't even begin to get bored of it. I also got  bonus bit of geekery when they swapped a train over just as I was boarding, seeing the transfer track disappear into the false wall of the far side of the station and watch the poor staff push the trains back and forth as this track isn't powered.

 

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Actually Smile. Always.

 

I like Rage a lot, but why our other (read Merlin) Geursts are so poor in comparison I do not know. It's a shame. Karacho was another massive hit for me on this trip. 8.5/10

 

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One of these is enjoying it less than the others

 

Also over this side are some really fab rapids, with a much better lift and loading system than we have over here, decent length and a good amount of rough water and wetness in strange bendy boats which feel disconcertingly top heavy. Probably one of the better rapids I've ever been on, 8/10. A good mouse/bobsleigh type affair interacts with a brilliant flume including a backwards section and an unexpected nude spa float through. Mental. The flume was the only ride to hold a proper queue all day, I can only asume it's those kids wanting a titillating glimpse of latex nipple.

 

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Overall we had a wonderful day. It's not perfect, but then nowhere is. I'd hate for the place to lose its German-ness, but I don't think that would be spoiled by some English and French on the museum type exhibits which line the queue lines, their splashbattle type affair is useless, and we weren't allowed on a couple of the kids rides (boo) and the park map isn't up to much. But I was smitten with the place, I implore you to go if you get the opportunity.

A short stroll in the evening sun back to the wildlife park to us to our slightly unusual accommodation for the night...

 

pluk

With GeForce getting us on to a high it was in to the rest of the park to see what it had to offer, and it turned out there were a couple of other stand out bits.

First up was something else I had little expectation of having not done the type before and thinking they looked awkward and a bit cheap and nasty, Premier Rides Sky Rocket Sky Scream.

 

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Hanging

 

Again I was wrong and I loved it. The launch is fast and smooth, I think this was my first rolling launch and it's a fantastic feeling being given that boost backwards and forwards, and the coaster above a whole lot of fun. As the ride twists from inside to outside the track at the top it really whips you away from you seat but even with the slow inversion and tight maneuvers on the way down it's all very comfortable with the lap bar nice and snug.

 

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A beautiful mess

 

The walk through (thankfully not 'queue' in our case - I imagine the throughput on here is its biggest downfall) before the ride is well done too, great theming. TopTip: The coaster feels very similar from the front to the back, in this case the view from the front probably makes a bit of an extra wait worthwhile. Real good fun, a solid coaster. Certainly wouldn't mind one of these making there way over here sometime soon. 8/10.

 

Then my favorite discovery of the whole trip that I'm sure won't be new to most here but it was to me. The perfect flat ride that is a Gerstlauer Sky Fly. It can be all things to all guests; while my wife was happy gently rocking away I could spin and spin like a mad thing, pulling what must be incredible sustained forces, in absolute comfort. I could spend the whole day on this. If I went all Michael Jackson with some rides in my back garden this would absolutely be top of my buy list. 

 

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Getting going

 

It's in what will be a nice area, with a little balloon ride already open and a couple of other small round rides of some sort currently being built, all on a flight theme. This will be the star though, and was the only thing with a (still small) queue in the whole park. I got myself spinning nicely, probably strung about 20 together in one sustained spin, but when it starts to feel like it might be a bit much it's very easy to bring it under control give it a little break then flip it over and off you go again. TopTip: the front outside seat (2nd row) is the easiest to get spinning.

 

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I'll be the upside-down one

 

Hours and hours of fun. The only limit to there being one in every park is the throughput. I wonder if it'd be possible to have one with seating all the way round before lifting and tilting? Anyway, this is now my favorite flat ride by a mile. 10/10

 

The a whole are which shouldn't have been for us, but is so well done we loved it. The kiddies area based on a bunch of characters I've never heard of was brilliant, not just the fabulous colourful and complete theming, but the rides themselves for kiddies fare are excellent. The ride ops didn't seem to mind that we were a couple of adults squeezing ourselves in and were quite happy laughing at us. As Benin might say, don't care, got creds.

 

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Bouncing frog of crazy

 

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Yes, I'm on a grasshopper. And what?

 

We ate in this area too, a burger restaurant in the middle of the land was good quality and value. A couple of other eateries we saw around the park appeared prety expensive in comparison. TopTip: all drinks bottles have a deposit added when you buy and given back when you return, this is standard across Germany. We didn't know this, and threw away a few Euros worth before a helpful staff member told us.

 

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Flying high in the land of creds

 

All reminiscent of Peppa Pig land in what it is doing, but on a larger scale and with better rides. The drop tower and frog carousel (same ones as at Europa) are genuinely brilliant, so much fun, but there's loads of little rides and not a duff one between them. Certainly worth a visit if you are an adult on park and presuming this is recent shows the they really are going the right way with their theming efforts and general quality. 8/10

 

Once a day off peak, the WaterSki Stunt Show does its thing on the lake. As always with these things presenter faff to stunt ratio is way off, especially when that faff is incomprehensible to my English ears, but that said this was fun and it was pleasing to know that the Germans main opinion of the French is that they smell a bit. Maybe we're not so different after all.

 

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Casually watersking with no skis

 

Some of the stunts really were spectacular though, and a bit of pyro is always nice, so we really enjoyed it. But it could have done with 15 minutes of presenter being lopped off its running time, and even that would still leave a lot of presenter. Bonus points for not giving the tiniest crap about health and safety (if I had stood up at one point I would have been kicked in the head by someone on a zip wire flying above me!), this sort of entertainment is what is most sorely missing from UK parks. Bring it back! 7/10

 

Aside from that there's a good solid support ride line up, couple of spiny rides running well, rapids and nicely themed flume both decent without setting the world on fire. A lighthouse tower that as far as I'm concerned can do one along with all the others ever made, pleasant little boat ride etc. A little museum on the parks history was interesting, although there was no English translations it appeared to show one old exhibit where you could come and look at the dwarfs, living in a little train! Times have changed. Even with the lack of dwarfs to look at these days there's still certainly enough to do to while away a whole day.

 

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Standard boat-ride selfie

 

It's not perfect though. The whole right side of the park from SkyScream to the kids place feels really tired and in need of attention. The PhantomPhantasia-a-like ghost train is dire really, especially when ridden a few days apart from Europa's take on the same thing, and the carousel is horrible, really dilapidated and deeply coated in grime. Worthy of special mention, just up the path to Sky Scream in the most jarring extremes of quality is Hollys Wild Autofart or something. A particularly awful and out of place wild mouse. Horrible theming, rattly horrible ride. Looks so cheap compared to the more recent additions/re-themes and the quality of the park as a whole. 1/10 - burn it. These things only really stand out as the newer stuff really is very good.

 

Overall I was very impressed with Holiday Park as a whole, am glad I went and would certainly return. It was a short drive back to Speyer for an inevitable couple of beers before another early start the next day, off to the second park of the trip...

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The first day proper began with a short easy drive to Holiday Park of about 15 minutes, Speyer really is an ideal base for a visit here. On a term time weekday with the Germans all tucked up behind their desks somewhere we were greeted with a practically empty park and some rather generous 09:00 - 18:00 opening hours.

 

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Arriving a bit early we were let through to the little holding plaza where the two pathways into the main park were held with barriers, while some of the few people waiting played in the great dancing fountains. Looming over the entrance is the drop tower, but no-one cared; nearly everyone was crowded around one of the two pathways jostling with anticipation. A check of the map confirmed what I suspected - this was the pathway (TopTip, it's the left one, get to the front and just follow the path) to the main attraction, Expadition GeForce. We dutifully joined the mini scrum and at the stroke of 09:00 were on our way...

 

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Big FM Expedition GeForce, to give it its full annoyingly sponsored title

 

Before we made our trip I had deliberately not spoilered myself too much with individual rides and, as much as possible while still wanting to plan effectively, whole parks. I didn't know much about Holiday Park or anything there, other than that GeForce existed and was consistently rated as one of the best coasters in the world. I didn't have the highest hopes for either to be honest; a couple of times it was said to not bother with Holiday Park at all and go elsewhere instead, and as for GeForce being one of the best I had seen it derided as massively overrated many many times. I'd also seen POV's of it and thought it looked pretty average too. 

 

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Anticipation...

 

I was wrong. Everyone doing it down was wrong. If it is over hyped and overrated it is by the tiniest of margins; it really is one of the best. The first drop is great, but it is really only the means to gather the momentum for the ejector chaos which is to follow. The second hill crest is one of the best moments on any coaster anywhere, the attempt it makes to fling you from under your little lap bar is extreme and sustained like nothing else, followed by a couple more similar but less violent and more sustained peaks. Every moment of it is fast and fun; the right to left on peak transition change halfway through whips you through spectacularly, the bunny hops to the finish are taken at a perfect floaty speed. As is nearly always the case, back is best. TopTip: The front row queue line is actually for the front two rows, and when you get up there everyone wants to ride the actual front row, obviously, so the wait for that is even longer than it looks. This even held quite a queue when the rest of the ride/park was walk on. Just don't bother, why wait longer for less good? 

 

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Joy (sweaty man in red, if you weren't sure)

 

It's safe to say I rather enjoyed it, and with it being walk on even on single train operation I whored the hell out of the back rows towards the end of the day. Lost count of rides, easily in the double figures and I left the park with some pretty heavy thigh bruising, but it was well worth it. First coaster of the holiday and it's unexpectedly straight in the top 10, put me in rather a good mood for the rest of the park and the rest of the trip.

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The journey

My lack of having visited Europa had been hanging over me for far too long, so it was decided Germany had to happen. Not wanting to go all that way without seeing any of the country or other nearby parks, a plan was made to add Holiday Park, Tripsdrill and a mountain coaster to the week long trip. A plan which was made largely guided by trip reports and advice from the lovely members here and on TowersStreet, so thank you all, and I’ll try and include some bits which might help other thinking of doing similar.

With Stanstead to Baden-Baden flights booked at the stupidly cheap Ryanair price of £32 return, a car hired for the very reasonable £150 from Europcar, and accommodation booked for each night, myself and the Mrs headed off on our little adventure to southern Germany…

 

Firstly, I was really impressed with Ryanair. We'd never used them before, just out of circumstance not snobbery, but I probably preferred it over Easyjet for general ease of travelling with them. Shame about the nauseating iluminous yellow headrests inescapably glowing in your eyes. Europcar were also very good; the internet is full of people claiming to have been ripped off by them (and practically every car hire company it seems) with hidden charges and claims of phantom damage being charged, but all went smoothly for me with the invoice following me home for exactly the amount I was expecting. Top Tip: buy excess insurance in the UK for about £20, don't take the excess waiver policies that do exactly the same for 10 times that amount with the hire company.

 

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The beast. (That's the car, not me)

 

And so with the mighty 1.1 purring with anticipation at my toes, it was to the Autobahn to try not to get killed. I found driving in Germany a pleasure in general; the roads are very well maintained, clearly signposted for directions and far less crowded than here in the UK. Everyone knows how to drive on multiple carriage way roads (ie, if you are not overtaking something, get the hell out of the way) so it all works rather well. Some things to look out for include:

- the lack of speed limit signage (you'll often get one as the limit changes, but there are no 'repeaters' as we have here, so you have to notice and remember)

- speed cameras are grey and hidden to catch you rather than warn you

- on autobahns you really have to watch the speed of those coming up behind when you look to move out for an overtake. It's easy to glance in your mirror at a small speck, go to pull out and notice it's already up with you doing 200mph, when we are used to everything doing roughly similar speeds.

- on smaller roads merging traffic often has right of way over what appears to be the main carriageway, but not always, and confusingly there aren't always any road markings (which I could decipher) to warn you which way round it is. Everyone else seemed to know what was going on, but not me. Only one near miss but be cautions!

- when roads are closed, that's your problem. No diversion signs!

TopTip: this might be obvious, but I hadn't thought about it, your phone needs data for satnav, so buy a roaming package before you leave rather than having German Virgin Mobile faff like I did.

 

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This paper saved my life a few times. So simple but effective.

 

We headed off to our first destination of Speyer, about an hours easy drive from the airport for a place giving relatively easy access to both Holiday Park and Tripsdrill. Arriving in the early evening there was no hint of a rush hour on the roads despite us driving through the peak time. We stayed at Hotel Am Wartturm which was very nice and good value, close to the motorway exit so avoid any driving though town stress and about 20 minutes stroll though a strangely beautiful graveyard. We slung the bags in the room and took that stroll to what is one of the most important moments of any trip...

 

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...the first beer

 

Speyer is a beautiful place. Like everywhere in Germany it seems immaculately kept, with beautiful architecture and a relaxed but busy vibe with bars and eateries lining the streets, all seeming to be good quality, with people out drinking and being happy without anyone ever being rowdy. If you tried the same set up on the streets of the UK it would be carnage. We took in a few bars and a restaurants for a lovely evening, but didn't want to go crazy and spoil the theme park fun that was to come with a hangover.

 

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Cultured cathedral shadow drinking

 

Although we were there for two nights and had a good look round (the bars, primarily!) both evenings, I wish we had allowed ourselves more time to spend in the town itself, spend some time there during the day. I've heard good things about the Technik Musium there too, one for next time.

 

So nice and sensibly early to bed ready for the excitement of the next morning, when this supposed theme park trip report might actually make it to a theme park...

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