After another refreshing night at our hotel, we trekked on over to Plopsaland de Panne for Day 2. I'll keep this brief as I've babbled on about this loads before...
We arrived at the park to be greeted by loads of school kids swarming about, so we headed straight for Heidi - The Ride, the park's coaster which was meant to be open last year but had loads of noise issues. It's a lot of fun. It holds its speed for most of the ride, features nice pops of airtime and the odd intense. It's practically a clone of White Lightning at Fun Spot America, so anyone who's ridden that will no doubt know what to expect. It's a bit on the short side, and it's a shame they didn't do more sound tunnels during the ride given all the extra fencing required. but it's still a very, very good family coaster and just what the park needed.
We rode it 3 times during the course of day, including front and back, and it remained equally fun at all points - woohoo!
One sad thing was how the ride opened on one train (fortunately we arrived just before all the school kids arrived to the coaster), and I imagine any sort of queue would then be painfully slow. Not to mention the queue is just a wooden, indoor cattlepen. It was also a 1-man op job at the time (like most of Plopsaland's rides!). However, it did go up to 2 trains later on, and at one point had 3 staff working on, easily the most I've ever seen working on 1 ride at Plopsa.
Area looks nice
They play the Heidi TV show in the queue, which has hilarious screenshots.
We also finally got to do Vleermuis, the park's twin suspended batflyer coasters, which had been SBNO on our previous 2 visits. These had become a bit infamous for me, as they always looked 'fun' and odd, but their life at the park had come under question several times over the past few years. They're fun enough little coasters, even if they do kill you legs thanks to to tight restraints - worth a try if you ever visit I'd say. (I didn't get any good pictures, so check out RCDB for photos - https://rcdb.com/932.htm )
With the new stuff ticked off before 11, we then had 7 hours on park to just go around and enjoy the park, which has a solid selection of rides. Their Gerstlauer launch coaster Anubis proved great fun again, though I've noticed it can give uncomfortable rides on the back row which is a shame. Their Vekoma rollerskater, Rollerskater, had received some new theming which was nice to see. And despite all the school trips, and warm weather, we never really had to queue that long for anything, which is always a Plopsa plus!
We then left and made our way to Leige, where we stayed in another hotel which looked like a prison on the outside, but was nice enough on the inside. We went to McDonald's for dinner, which served macarons as a dessert - good ol' Europeans!
Day 3 then arrived, and it was time for another new park - Plopsa Coo!
Plopsa Coo is situated in a very hilly (and picturesque!) part of Leige, and getting to it felt like going to a more complicated version of Alton Towers. The entrance to the car park appears out of nowhere, so the park is very well hidden amongst the countryside.
Since we arrived super early, we had a wander around the car park and surrounding area, and accidentally stumbled upon the park's bobsleigh - literally the 'ride area' could be easily accessed from outside the park...
Deciding not to venture any further to make sure we weren't kicked out before we even got in, we headed to the entrance, where the park promptly opened at 10am. Unsurprisingly, lots of school kids were about, and most headed straight to the park's headline spinning coaster, Vicky - The Ride (more on that later). The bobsleigh hadn't opened due to the rainy weather, and it didn't look like it would open any time soon (with rain and thunderstorms predicted for the whole day!). So we headed to the park's charlift...
The chairlift was built long before a theme park existed on the site, and takes you 220m (~722ft) high (and the park itself is 240m above sea level!). At the top of the chairlift is a tower, which allows for some fantastic views of the surrounding area...
You can vaguely see the park here. To the left is their measly 60m tall star flyer. The small hill on the right is where the bobsleigh is located.
All in all, our time on the chairlift and tower took us about 45 minutes, which was a great way to start the day. Unfortunately the weather was still drizzly, so the bobsleigh still hadn't opened, and the front part of the park was swarming for kids, so we trekked to the back of the very small park. We ticked off a water slide and log flume, which were nice but nothing to write home about, before moving onto Halvar, the park's oldest coaster. It's a bog standard Vekoma coaster, but basically completely hidden behind loads of trees and such, which made the ride a bit more fun than it otherwise would have been. I didn't take any photos unfortunately, so check out RCDB - https://rcdb.com/931.htm
We then moved onto the nearby Labyrinth, which was a big surprise of the whole trip really. It's an outdoor maze, made out of really tall wooden fences...with a twist. Throughout the maze are a series of locked doors, which you need a code to open. The code to each door is found by answering a question at a dead end of the maze. We had no idea what was going on until half way through the maze (thanks to us just following school kids through unlocked doors). Once we knew what was going on, it made the maze very interesting, and it's certainly a concept I'd like to try again!
A question with 3 possible answers and corresponding codes.
After a spot of lunch and some general wandering around the very small park, we headed over to Vicky - The Ride, which still had a very long queue. This Gerstlauer spinning coaster opened in 2011 and was pretty much our main reason for knowing the park existed! It looked pretty interesting, and had potential. After going through the very slow queue (we were essentially right next to the station and it took a good 30-40 minutes...), we were on, and were left disappointed. The layout doesn't lend itself to much spinning. The huge cars with inward-facing seats makes it difficult to get a good weight balance. And in general, it just felt a bit bland and meh. Maybe expectations were a little too high, but it was disappointing...
Because of the constant on-off rain (though fortunately no thunderstorms!), the bobsleigh still wasn't dry enough to do. So instead we ticked off the star flyer (which felt so tiny thanks to our views from the chairlift), and the FREE mini golf, which was surprisingly decent with a variety of interesting holes, including this one which had no hole...
It was now just after 3, and the park closed at 5. The rain had held off for a long time. We headed back over to the bobsleigh, where plenty of drying of the track was going on - things looked promising. After some lurking about, our prayers were answered - it opened!
The bobsleigh was set on a really tall hill, and featured a random backwards incline to take you to the top, and 2 slopes to take you down. I've no idea how tall the hill was, but the slopes were 600m each and it was reasonably steep at some points, so it was quite cool. There's some awesome turns and fun spots, and some neat points to really gain speed. Unfortunately on my first go there was a crash in front of me about half way down, which really killed the experience. Fortunately we did a second run later on, and I got pretty much to the end before encountering a kid who had stopped on the tracks - joyous. Nonetheless, these were truly a huge highlight of the park and one of the biggest hidden gems of the trip!
Between our rides on bobsleigh, we did a second go on their waterslide, but also did their FREE go kart track. Unsurprisingly it had a long queue, but you got 3 circuits on a decent length track in some cars which picked up an okay enough speed for what they were. Was certainly a pleasant surprise to be able to do something like this for free.
After park close, we made our way into Germany and the wonderful city of Koln. Our beautiful hotel was situated nicely between two very explicit adult shops, our room offered a lovely view of the bin storage area of the hotel, but the beds were super-comfy and the room was huge, which was 2 things the previous 2 hotels didn't have. Woohoo! It was also a 10 minute walk from Hard Rock Koln, not that the restaurant chain interests me that much.
So all in all, Plopsa Coo is a very nice and quaint little park. At one point we were concerned we wouldn't have enough to do, and then seeing all the school kids we were concerned we would be stuck in queues all day. But the park offered a great balance for us so we were able to comfortably do everything in the 7 hours the park was open, without rushing or feeling bored. Sure, it's not a must-do park, but it's certainly a nice park and definitely worth considering if you're anywhere nearby and want a little theme park fix.
Next time, Day 4 - Phantasialand!