Yes I know what you're thinking, another Europa Park/Disneyland Paris trip report from Mark9. I was blown away by Europa Park in 2010 and 2013 and surely this trip can't be any different. And how could I possibly compete with the three blog wonder of Matt Creek's comprehensive Disneyland trip reports. Well... this is a report with a little bit of difference (Or at least I hope so, this is all on the fly so might just end up me complimenting every aspect of Europa Park). Nonetheless, I hope this entertains or at the least interests you.
Scene 1 - Staying on site at Europa
I make it a point to stay on site at Europa. Unlike other parks where it isn't essential, I feel staying on site gives such an advantage because of the sheer beauty and theme of the hotels. I've previously stayed in the Tipidorf, Hotel Colosseo and Bell Rock, and this time around was Hotel Alcatraz. Themed around a Spanish castle, this 9 floor building is the closest to the theme park.
During check in I was hoping, praying for a view of the park. My wishes came true with an 8th floor view over the entire park. This blows away my previous favourite view of Shambhala and Dragon Khan at PortAventura.
Hotel Alcatraz itself isn't the best of the hotels at Europa but it is certainly the most intimate, As an alcoholic I particularly enjoyed the 40th anniversary special cocktails in the bar on the 9th floor which afforded spectacular views of Wodan and the hotel area. I had a Blauer Enzian (The Mack name for their powered coasters) and a 40th Euromaus special. They were delicious.
Staying at Europa Park is a fantastic experience and well recommended. The staff are friendly, accommodating and the attention to detail in the rooms is second to none. Next time, I'll be staying in Hotel Isabel but for first timers, Colosseo is the one I'd recommend.
Scene 2 - 40 Years of Europa Park
Something that separates Europa out from the competition is its sense of pride in its achievements. It's easy for a park owned by a coaster manufacturer to perhaps do this, investments after all are cheaper and as a showroom for the Mack products, it can afford to be perhaps more extravagant then others. I find this a cop out excuse though. The reason Europa Park is the best park in Europe (perhaps the world) is because it never rests on its laurels, it never slows down and it never stops improving. Back in 2013, massive works had been done to the rapids including a new lift hill building, animatronics and theming and a new tunnel to accommodate the rapids going over the pathway into Iceland. This time around two other rides were in the process of change. Columbus Dinghy, a simple boat carousel like Chessington's Seastorm had seen massive change with new queue line theming, a show during the ride and a simple addition of a steering wheel which allows the rider to control when the boat spins. A small change but massively changes the fun levels of the ride. And completely unnecessary as there was nothing wrong with the ride set up previously.
The other two ride's to see a change is the rides Splash Battle, Whale Adventure. Now with the tag line 'Northern Lights'. It wasn't open unfortunately, still in construction but a massive change and I'll be interested if the water sprayers remain on the boats. Eurotower has been spruced up with new theming and a steampunk look.
Other new additions include a new 40th anniversary parade, a new 4D show which was really fun, a travel escalator in the car park (WOO) and a new show called Fabulous Europe. This was a dud, essentially trying to imitate Disney's Soarin' but lacking any kind of cohesive flow or enjoyment.
Scene 3 - Rides and Stuff
Rides are Europas bread and butter. With so many, it's impossible to get them all done in a day. That being said, there has been some operational changes and it makes me slightly concerned. Firstly, Europa was always a park that wanted you in and out a seat as quickly as possible. That hasn't changed. What does seem different is that the rides weren't at full (or higher capacity). Now maybe it wasn't necessary as the park wasn't packed on our visit, but I was surprised to be hanging around for a few seconds in stations on Euro-Mir and Eurosat along with trains being deliberately stacked. Silver Star's third train never made an appearance, neither did the second Pegasus train. They also seemed pretty intent on checking bars which in previous years only happened on Wodan and Blue Fire. Now the only ride not really checked is Alpen Express, that was the only ride that ran with urgency.
Arthur as a piece of ride hardware is sublime. It's an amazing piece of kit that train. The ride itself could be better. There's some parts of the ride show that don't live up to expectations such as the giant rat in which its pulley system is more noticeable then the rat itself or the fact the first screen on the ride is so in view of the queue that its effect is pretty much zero. I would love for a park like Phantasialand to get their hands on the hardware as they could do it absolute justice. Europa kind of dropped the ball on the ride experience on this one, even though I enjoyed the ride for what it was.
And finally, I just wanted to show some pictures of how beautiful Europa is. Trip reports sometimes get stuck in a list of ride descriptions and misses what makes a park good or bad. This time around, I really wanted to appreciate what makes Europa special.
Atlantica Supersplash and Portugal
And with that another year of Europa Park had passed. Pleas visit this wonderful park. It deserves every accolade and every part of your attention.
Scene 4 - Disneyland time
I'll keep this brief. Visiting at the moment doesn't deliver the Disney experience that people probably deserve, at least if you're going primarily for the rides. With Space Mountain closed for a refurb, a lot of pressure is being put on Thunder Mountain and that seems to have terrible reliability. First day, it was closed, second day it opened at 12, third day it was on and off. With both main coasters down, rides like Indianna Jones and Phantom Manor have 45 minute queues. It's the first time I've ever used an Indy fasts or even seen it running. Beyond refurbs of Thunder and Space, another massive ride is required to spread those queues. A potential Star Tours 2 refurb in Discoveryland will only go so far. All the ride investment is in Studio Parc and even there was rammed. I'm never going to queue 55 minutes for RC Racer or 20 minutes for Slinky Dog. That's an insult.
The park though is on the up and is a very different place from my first visit in 2013. Life seems to be returning such as a new spring time show, more meet and greets occurring regularly and the stages in Frontierland/Discoverylandcoming back into action. With Cafe Hyperion closed in Discoveryland, all the other food places on park were open. I couldn't believe my eyes to see Hakuna Matata open and actually serving food. Hopefully this isn't temporary and will continue to serve in future.
So all in all a successful week. If you read this far, I thank you for your time. Till next time, Mark9 out.