"Day 3? What happened to Day 2 though Josh? Have I missed a magnificent report of a wonderfully obscure French park that most people don't care about?" I hear no one ask.
Well, it's been edited into my previous blog entry, to save me hogging all the blog entry space
When this trip was planned, it was prior to the Formule incident at Parc Saint Paul. For those who don't know: a woman fell out of one of their roller coasters (Formule1), dying. The ride has a poor history, also being the reason another person died at the park in 2009. It was later found out the ride should have had a seatbelt restraint as well as a lapbar, but the seatbelt had been removed by the park, by decision of the director. They have said the ride will be removed once all investigations are complete.
I didn't know much about the park beyond their reasonably new woodie, but after the accident I'd read more on it. Needless to say the accident was shocking in itself, and the reaction from the park's director was even moreso. There was a point where loads of rides were closed, and even rumours the park may be closed as a result of the incident, so we had looked at alternatives to the day if that was the case. This turned out attention to Jardin d'Acclimatation - a small garden-theme park type area on the outskirts of Paris, somewhere which I had completely discounted / forgotten about.
Ultimately, Parc Saint Paul had all rides bar Formule running, but we realised we wouldn't need a full day, so decided to do both parks. More creds! And "Jar-da" (which was much easier to say) also had 2 Soquets - even better!
Parc Saint Paul
Like other parks, they had signs saying where masks were obligatory. From memory, I think basically all the rides we did you had to wear one. There were a few hand sanitising points about, and social distancing seemed minimal. It seemed that some rides were having seats sanitised after every 2-3 cycles too.
We pretty much arrived as the park opened at 10am, but most rides weren't meant to open till half 10. After some milling around, and a go on their slide, first ride of the day was the log flume. Credit to the staff member here who was brilliant too. Set an expectation that the park would be one of those ones where staff were the right level of friendly, whilst also being efficient. Turned out she was the exception - most staff were more focused on talking among themselves.
Log flume was exceptionally wet though; took a solid couple of hours to get dry.
We moved onto Wood Express, which I later realised was my first Gravity Group woodie. I was both surprised and disappointed by the ride - there's a good few moments of airtime throughout. Nothing major or really powerful, but a few moments which were nice. But the ride was incredibly rattly. For a ride that's barely 2 years old, it was really bad. Vibrating all over the place and really just not that enjoyable to ride. The restraints aren't the greatest either which doesn't help. So yeah, despite some nice moments, it's just not that good.
A quick go on the spinning wild mouse (where we sat sensibly this time and had minimal spinning!) and drop tower (which takes WAY too long to reach the top), we moved onto their open Pax - Wild Train. It had the classic Pax uncomfortable-ness from going side-to-side, but the first drop was pretty damn fun at the back.
We moved on quickly and collected the final 3 open creds (Wacky Worm - which actually had a queue, disgraceful! - the custom Vekoma Rollerskater which was meh and the Zamperla Mini Mouse). All creds done by 11am! Temperatures were soaring so we cooled down on their dingy slide, which has an impressive entrance feature, before heading to the infamous Telepherique. For those unacquainted, this thing...
I'd heard about this a few times before visiting, and had forgotten on the day it was actually here until I saw it. For those who don't know - you stand on a little podium suspending under the track. You run off the platform and gravity goes the rest; with your platform swinging and spinning frantically throughout. I'm sure there's videos on Youtube showing it off better. Frankly, it's a bloody terrifying experience. I was hanging on for dear life throughout, and I spun an obscene amount through the second half, to the point I had no clue how to stop myself near the end. Took me a few minutes to recover too; bloody spinning rides making me feel old...
To more or less round the day off, we did their indoor walkthroughs. In particular, Le Château Hanté was fantastic! A really well done, scary walkthrough in my eyes - some solid jump scares, really dark and good triggered effects. It does feel like it would be a bit better as a Ghost Train rather than a walkthrough, but I guess that any walkthrough done this well would be the same.
We wandered round the park a bit more, opted to do a second ride on Wood Express, which was a little more uncomfortable at the back, which rounded off our time at the park, a little before midday.
I rarely do Disk'os, and this was no exception - but it looks really cool!
Honestly, I wasn't a big fan of Parc Saint Paul. Rides themselves weren't great anyway, despite some pockets of good theming, but the park just didn't sit right with me. From things like the seemingly circus-like lion show, which feels like an outdated principle, to them parading the fact they have extremely tall and extremely short staff members like they're an attraction in themselves, it just felt off with me. Along of course with the recent incident. With most (perhaps even all?) parks I've visited, I could at least envision myself revisiting them in some circumstances - but Parc Saint Paul, I really don't envision me wanting to return, without some larger changes.
For those wondering what the state of Formule is...
Some fences with fake grass draped over them. The cars are covered in tarp. No signage accompanying it.
Taking to the road, an hour and a bit later we were at the outskirts of Paris, in 30C+ temperatures getting ready to enter Jardin d'Acclimatation...
Entering was a bit of a faff. There was a small queue to buy entry/tickets, and since we were paying by card, we were directed to the automatic machine for buying entry. However, it wasn't till after we got there that we realised we couldn't buy the wristband (which gives entry and unlimited ride access) there, and instead had to queue to get to a booth, which took a long time.
We were eventually in, and food was the first sensible stop. The first food place we went to was out of all lunch options, except for a few kids sandwiches. We eventually found somewhere that was open, albeit with a long queue and food options weren't the greatest. It was just after 2pm by the time we ate - meaning it took about 50 minutes to enter and find found. Not the greatest start, but given this was a Sunday on the outskirts of Paris with temperatures now peaking at 33C, perhaps not overly surprising.
Just another little word about that pesky virus. Masks seemed to be obligatory on all rides. Interestingly, they have also set up 'zones' whilst walking around where masks are obligatory, with the rest of the pathways only being recommended. Hand sanitising points were all around, and particularly just before you got on a ride, and social distancing was recommended to be 1.5m (though, as was rather common in France seemingly, not really adhered to much!).
After eating, the first stop was Dragon Chinois, one of the park's two Soquets. It has a weird layout, with three "lift hills", if you can even call them that, and honestly not much else. Wasn't the most exciting thing in the world. I didn't even get a photo of it...though that was in part down to me eating my lunch, and having my ice cold drink, a bit too quickly I think..!
We would have done Machine à Vapeur, their powered Soquet, next. But alas, it was closed, and has been for a while it seems. The first spite of the trip! Fortunately, having got the alpine cred the day before, I was still on track for hitting 200 creds, but I would need no more spites...
Instead, we moved over to Speed Rockets, their Gerstlauer bobsled. The ride had a long, almost full queue, and a little bit of downtime, but we were on quick enough. Given the park can't go above tree height, the ride does a good enough job with it's restrictions. But it's still probably the weakest one of these I've done - it just doesn't have much to offer. But the weird double down drop element is fun - would love to experience more of these!
Weird-but-fun mini double down!
Carrying on with the cred-theme, Souris Mécaniques, their junior Reverchon spinner, packs a little punch. Due to the park's '2 adult per car' rule, I was in a car by myself. For such a short and weird layout, I got a surprising amount of spin in my car. Not something I particularly enjoyed, but if spinning is your thing, I'd guess that would be..
None of the creds were worth a re-ride, and all had very long queues, so we took the opportunity to just wander round the place and do a few of their smaller rides, including their cute little boat ride. A stand out in terms of rides was Kinetorium, their shooter. Another 'sit on a saddle in front of a screen with 20 other people' experience, this had a pretty cool pre show (with not-perfect English subtitles) explaining the story: some biology thing gone wrong basically. The system was much better than Bocasse's one (it actually worked with a room full of people!), and the story and video were much better. A fun little experience; so much so that we did re-ride it.
Originally, Jardin was meant to close at 7pm, with rides shutting at half 6, but clearly due to the weather and how busy it was, they extended both closures by an hour! However, by 5pm we were pretty much done - with nothing worth doing again and having explored around the non-ride side of things, along with the beating heat and little shade, it was time. Despite some areas only being 'masks recommended', I wore my face covering everywhere on site too, so this was my first time wearing one in hot temperatures - I was fine with it, but certainly appreciated taking it off after a few hours!
Overall thoughts: whilst a nice-looking place, Jar-da didn't do much for me. They've done great to integrate a park into the surroundings, but yeah, it doesn't do it for me. The really hot weather probably didn't help either tbh. Glad to have gone and experienced it though. I was also surprised at how few English signs were about, and how little English staff seemed to speak. Given the location, I expected some more multi-lingual-ness. I guess it's not big with tourists given the location and what it is, but still, surprised me a little. Didn't affect my day as I was able to get by with my limited French, but yeah, surprising.
Another Premiere Class Hotel awaited us, and this one was ever so slightly better than our previous one! Still not good enough to warrant spending an evening in it, so after another Buffalo Grill meal, we headed to a nearby bowling centre which was open. One of the group is a big bowling fan, but since he hadn't had the chance to bowl for a few months, I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to come close to his score...